Friday, February 09, 2018


JEWISH KING JESUS IS COMING AT THE RAPTURE FOR US IN THE CLOUDS-DON'T MISS IT FOR THE WORLD.THE BIBLE TAKEN LITERALLY- WHEN THE PLAIN SENSE MAKES GOOD SENSE-SEEK NO OTHER SENSE-LEST YOU END UP IN NONSENSE.GET SAVED NOW- CALL ON JESUS TODAY.THE ONLY SAVIOR OF THE WHOLE EARTH - NO OTHER. 1 COR 15:23-JESUS THE FIRST FRUITS-CHRISTIANS RAPTURED TO JESUS-FIRST FRUITS OF THE SPIRIT-23 But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.ROMANS 8:23 And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.(THE PRE-TRIB RAPTURE)

LUKE 21:28-29
28 And when these things begin to come to pass,(ALL THE PROPHECY SIGNS FROM THE BIBLE) then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption (RAPTURE) draweth nigh.
29 And he spake to them a parable; Behold the fig tree,(ISRAEL) and all the trees;(ALL INDEPENDENT COUNTRIES)
30 When they now shoot forth, ye see and know of your own selves that summer is now nigh at hand.(ISRAEL LITERALLY BECAME AND INDEPENDENT COUNTRY JUST BEFORE SUMMER IN MAY 14,1948.)

JOEL 2:3,30
3 A fire devoureth (ATOMIC BOMB) before them;(RUSSIAN-ARAB-MUSLIM ARMIES AGAINST ISRAEL) and behind them a flame burneth: the land is as the garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness; yea, and nothing shall escape them.
30 And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke.(ATOMIC BOMB AFFECT)

ZECHARIAH 14:12-13
12 And this shall be the plague wherewith the LORD will smite all the people that have fought against Jerusalem; Their flesh shall consume away while they stand upon their feet,(DISOLVED FROM ATOMIC BOMB) and their eyes shall consume away in their holes,(DISOLVED FROM ATOMIC BOMB) and their tongue shall consume away in their mouth.(DISOLVED FROM ATOMIC BOMB)(BECAUSE NUKES HAVE BEEN USED ON ISRAELS ENEMIES)(GOD PROTECTS ISRAEL AND ALWAYS WILL)
13 And it shall come to pass in that day, that a great tumult from the LORD shall be among them; and they shall lay hold every one on the hand of his neighbour, and his hand shall rise up against the hand of his neighbour.(1/2-3 BILLION DIE IN WW3)(THIS IS AN ATOMIC BOMB EFFECT)

47 And say to the forest of the south, Hear the word of the LORD; Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will kindle a fire in thee, and it shall devour every green tree in thee, and every dry tree: the flaming flame shall not be quenched, and all faces from the south to the north shall be burned therein.

18 Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them in the day of the LORD'S wrath; but the whole land shall be devoured by the fire of his jealousy: for he shall make even a speedy riddance of all them that dwell in the land.

1 For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven;(FROM ATOMIC BOMBS) and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.

And here are the bounderies of the land that Israel will inherit either through war or peace or God in the future. God says its Israels land and only Israels land. They will have every inch God promised them of this land in the future.
Egypt east of the Nile River, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, The southern part of Turkey and the Western Half of Iraq west of the Euphrates. Gen 13:14-15, Psm 105:9,11, Gen 15:18, Exe 23:31, Num 34:1-12, Josh 1:4.ALL THIS LAND ISRAEL WILL DEFINATELY OWN IN THE FUTURE, ITS ISRAELS NOT ISHMAELS LAND.12 TRIBES INHERIT LAND IN THE FUTURE

Analysis-As war clouds gather, northern storm looks more foreboding-Hamas disinterest in conflict despite humanitarian deterioration makes Israeli war with Hezbollah over Iran's missile manufacturing the more likely course-By Avi Issacharoff-FEB 8,18-TOI

Reading the headlines, there is a clear sense that Israel will soon enter a two-front war against Hamas in Gaza and against Hezbollah in Lebanon. Statements made by senior officials, lawmakers, ministers and military personnel, one after the other, seem to be prepping their respective constituencies for such a scenario.While tensions are rising on both fronts, it is the northern border that presents the more combustible situation and higher likelihood of actual conflict breaking out.The IDF’s large parachute drill and Beirut’s leaks to various media outlets about its Iranian-financed underground rocket factories both create a feeling that there is serious potential for escalation along the Blue Line.Israel has made it clear on more than one occasion that it does not intend to agree to the establishment of precision rocket factories in Lebanon.A similar facility in Syria no longer exists, as a result of an Israeli airstrike, according to Arab media outlets.But Iranian-backed efforts to build missiles remain in Lebanon and Yemen, where the country is backing the Houti rebels, though it officially denies this. While the Yemen concern is Saudi Arabia’s problem, efforts in Lebanon are of utmost concern to Jerusalem, and Israeli military action seems only a matter of time.This is where Hezbollah’s response comes into play. The Shiite organization has made it clear in the past that while it may let Israeli actions in Syria pass with no more than angry denunciations, when it comes to Lebanese soil, there is no such grace. Rather, there is a distinct possibility that an Israeli attack would invite a Hezbollah military response.-The suspected Iranian base located 50km from the Syrian-Israeli border.Both sides have made it clear that they are capable of causing serious damage to the other and both are right.The question now is whether either side will choose to blink — Israel by ignoring Hezbollah’s missile factories or Hezbollah by ignoring an Israeli attack.-No interest from Hamas-Things are a bit less explosive in Gaza, where, though there is a growing humanitarian crisis, war is apparently not necessarily on the horizon.The distress there is indeed severe — apparently unprecedented, even for the coastal enclave. On Monday, three more medical clinics were closed due to electricity shortages, and more than 15 others are only functioning partially.With the unemployment rate at roughly 46% and more than half of the population — 1 million people — requiring food aid from human rights organizations to survive the month, Gaza’s economic collapse, as Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot stated Sunday, is only a matter of time.It is true that the more severe the humanitarian crisis in the Strip, the greater the danger of a violent outbreak, since Hamas has less to lose. And yet, Hamas still has no interest in war.The terror group does not want a violent confrontation, and that has been made clear from its actions in recent months. Hamas has reportedly been cracking down on Salafi groups in the enclave, in an effort to prevent additional rocket fire at Israel.The endless Israeli jabbering on this issue has created a feeling in Hamas that Jerusalem might be the one to make the first military move as it has in past wars.For this reason, Hamas headquarters have been evacuated and the terror group announced a “state of emergency” in an attempt to create as few targets as possible for the Israeli side to hit.And again, in almost every conversation, sources in the Gaza Strip say that despite the severe economic situation, Hamas is not interested in an escalation in violence.

Space roadster overshoots Mars, now headed for asteroid belt-Elon Musk confirms Tesla launched aboard world's most powerful rocket went beyond trajectory, still hails flight as success-By Marcia Dunn-TOI-FEB 8,18

CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (AP) — The world’s first space sports car is cruising toward the asteroid belt, well beyond Mars.SpaceX chief Elon Musk confirmed the new, more distant route for his rocketing Tesla Roadster. The red electric convertible was the unorthodox cargo aboard his company’s brand new Falcon Heavy rocket during a test flight on Tuesday.With the successful launch, the Heavy became the most powerful rocket flying today.And Musk’s Roadster became the fastest car ever, hurtling off the planet and zooming away on a route that will now take it all the way to the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.Late Tuesday, Musk said the final firing of the rocket’s upper stage put his car on a more distant trajectory than anticipated. Not only is it headed toward Mars, but almost to the dwarf planet Ceres in the asteroid belt.A mannequin dressed in a “real deal” SpaceX spacesuit — dubbed “Starman” by Musk — is strapped in behind the car’s wheel.Usually test flights carry nothing of value, like concrete blocks. Musk found that “boring” and put his cherry-red Tesla on top. He’s in charge of the car-maker as well as the private space company.Images of the exposed Roadster and “Starman” — named after a David Bowie song — against the backdrop of our blue planet, were burning up the internet long after Tuesday’s launch.Third burn successful. Exceeded Mars orbit and kept going to the Asteroid Belt.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 7, 2018-“I think it looks so ridiculous and impossible. You can tell it’s real because it looks so fake, honestly,” Musk said Tuesday night. “It’s still tripping me out.”The Roadster is in an even more elongated orbit now that stretches from Earth on one end, all the way to the neighborhood of Ceres on the other. The original plan had the car traveling only as far as Mars, coming close to the red planet but hopefully not nicking it. If it survives the swarming asteroid belt, the car and its occupant are expected to continue orbiting for millions if not billions of years.Like so many others, NASA astronaut Ricky Arnold was awe-struck by the live-streaming of “Starman” and his ride. Arnold is preparing for his own ride to the International Space Station next month.“Perfect day for a cruise in a ragtop,” Arnold tweeted, offering congratulations to SpaceX. “Awesome! At this speed, two hands on the steering wheel please #Starman.”And Buzz Aldrin, second man to step onto the moon, also celebrated after watching the rocket soar “from my favorite launch pad.” The Heavy lifted off from the same spot as NASA’s now-retired but more powerful Saturn V moon rockets and space shuttles. The Heavy is a combo of three Falcon 9s, that SpaceX uses to ship space station supplies and launch satellites for its customers.Mars is driving all of Musk’s space efforts.Musk said he does not plan to fly people on the Heavy — that will mainly be used to launch supersize satellites. But he is accelerating development of an even bigger rocket for deep-space crews — “a beast.”His overriding goal is to establish a city on Mars, sending people there in a flotilla of SpaceX spaceships launched by colossal SpaceX rockets. Before dashing off to the red planet, Musk said he would want to try out this spaceship in orbit around Earth — possibly in three to four years with the supersize rocket — and then the moon.At a news conference Tuesday night, Musk told reporters that as early as next year, he may begin test flights of the mega spaceship in Texas. These short hops would take the ship several miles high and then come back down for a landing. It is the landing part that is especially hard, he noted, especially at the speed the craft will be traveling when it comes in for a touchdown on another planet.Tuesday’s success of the Heavy provides a confidence boost to these future plans, Musk said. Two of the three first-stage boosters flew back for side-by-side landings; the third was lost at sea.Rocket recycling is the key to SpaceX’s launch cost-cutting strategy. The Falcon Heavy is price-listed at $90 million, a bargain in the business of rockets.The president of the Mars Society, a space advocacy group intent on exploring and settling Mars, cheered SpaceX’s achievement — and reduced price. “This is a revolution,” Robert Zubrin said in a statement. “The naysayers have been completely refuted.”In the meantime, with the Heavy demo out of the way, Musk said SpaceX is putting its commercial crew effort for NASA front and center. He said the company is still on track to launch astronauts in a SpaceX Dragon capsule, aboard a Falcon 9 rocket, at the end of this year.SpaceX is competing with Boeing to be the first to send Americans into orbit from US soil again, something that has not happened since NASA’s last shuttle flight. US astronauts have been riding Russian rockets to get to the space station, costing taxpayers tens of millions of dollars a seat, since the shuttle program ended in 2011.Musk noted that SpaceX used only internal funds to finance the Heavy. He is hoping that will encourage other companies and countries “to raise their sights and say, hey, we can do bigger and better, which is great.”“We want a new space race,” he said.

Bahrain accuses Iran of training oil pipeline bombing suspects-Manama arrests four men who allegedly blew up pipe connecting country to Saudi Arabia, claims Revolutionary Guards instructed them-TOI-FEB 8,18-By AFP

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Bahrain said Wednesday that it had arrested four men suspected of bombing a Saudi Aramco oil pipeline, accusing Iran of training and arming two of the suspects.The blast on November 10 of last year cut off the pipeline linking Bahrain’s Bapco refinery with oil giant Aramco’s main pumping station in neighboring Saudi Arabia’s Dhahran province.Authorities at the time blamed “terrorists” for the explosion.The interior ministry said Wednesday that four Bahraini men, aged 23 to 27, had been arrested for “plotting” and “remotely bombing” the pipeline outside the capital Manama.Two of the four had received “intensive training at the Iranian Revolutionary Guard camps with the help of the leading fugitive terrorists living in Iran,” it said in a statement.Three others remain at large, according to the statement.The interior ministry accused all seven of belonging to the “February 14 Coalition” — a reference to a protest movement that emerged in 2011 against the Al-Khalifa dynasty, which has ruled Bahrain for more than two centuries.Protests have continued to rock the Sunni-ruled, Shiite-majority kingdom, as authorities escalate their clampdown on political dissent, frequently accusing opposition figures of links to Shiite Iran.Since 2011, hundreds of Bahrainis have been stripped of their citizenship and protesters and opposition leaders jailed or driven into exile.Bahrain accuses Tehran of supporting the opposition in a bid to overthrow the government, but Tehran denies involvement.Manama has drawn harsh criticism from leading rights groups, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, over its treatment of the opposition.A key ally of Washington located between regional rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran, Bahrain is home to the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet.

More troops sent to West Bank following uptick in attacks-Forces to operate primarily in areas near Nablus and Jenin, as manhunt for Ariel stabber continues; several battalions also to be placed on stand-by-By Jacob Magid-TOI-8 February 2018

The Israel Defense Forces on Wednesday said that it was deploying additional battalions to the West Bank as reinforcements, following a recent uptick in terror attacks that have taken place over the Green Line, as well as a manhunt for a terror suspect.The forces will operate primarily in the northern West Bank, where the primary points of friction have been, the army said. Several battalions will also be placed on stand-by.Hours earlier, clashes broke out between Palestinians and Israeli troops in the southern West Bank town of Halhul, as troops raided the home of the terrorist who stabbed a security guard in Gush Etzion’s Karmei Tzur settlement and then was shot dead.On Monday, a terrorist fatally stabbed 29-year-old Rabbi Itamar Ben-Gal outside the settlement of Ariel. The suspect, 19-year-old Abed al-Karim Assi, managed to flee the scene and remains at large.On Tuesday, troops raided two homes in Nablus, including one reportedly belonging to Assi’s father, amid a large-scale manhunt for the suspect. One Palestinian was killed and 47 others were injured in ensuing clashes with IDF soldiers as they left the area, according to the Palestinian health ministry.Ben-Gal’s widow, Miriam gave a video statement on Wednesday evening, saying that retribution for her husband’s murder could only come from building their settlement of Har Bracha into a large city.“They (the terrorists) should know that such actions only lead to the further development of the Jewish people, to the strengthening of the Jewish people in the Land of Israel,” she said.Ben-Gal’s murder came less than a month after Raziel Shevach was gunned down by Palestinian terrorists outside the northern West Bank outpost of Havat Gilad.On Tuesday, Israeli troops shot dead Ahmad Nassar Jarrar, the suspected ringleader of a terror cell responsible for the Israeli father of six’s murder during a pre-dawn raid in the village of Yamoun, near Jenin.Judah Ari Gross contributed to this report.

Iran ‘accountable’ for ailing US prisoner’s health — White House-Trump administration calls for 'immediate and unconditional release' of 81-year-old Baquer Namazi, accused of espionage and suffering from heart problems-By AFP-TOI-8 February 2018

WASHINGTON — The White House on Wednesday warned Iran that it will be held responsible for the health of 81-year-old American citizen Baquer Namazi, who was recently sent back to prison after medical treatment.Namazi and his son Siamak were sentenced to 10 years in prison for “espionage and collaboration with the American government” in October — a charge denied by the family and dismissed by US authorities.The elder Namazi “has been hospitalized four times in the last year and continues to suffer from life-threatening heart problems,” a statement from the White House read.“He remains in urgent need of sustained medical care, and the United States government holds Iran fully accountable for his well-being.”“The Trump administration again calls for the immediate and unconditional release of all unjustly detained and missing United States citizens in Iran, including Baquer Namazi, his son Siamak Namazi, Xiyue Wang, and Robert Levinson.”Namazi was rushed to a hospital on January 15 — the fourth time in the last year — after a “severe” drop in his blood pressure, and irregular heartbeat.On Sunday, Iranian authorities granted Namazi, a dual US-Iranian citizen, leave from prison on humanitarian grounds. In September, he underwent emergency heart surgery to install a pacemaker.His lawyer, Jared Genser, said then that under the terms of the leave, he could not leave Iran. His son, a business consultant and also a dual national, is also still in jail.Wang, a Chinese-American researcher from Princeton University, has also been given a 10-year sentence for espionage.Former FBI agent and CIA contractor Levinson went missing in March 2007 after apparently traveling to an Iranian coastal island.Washington and Tehran have had no diplomatic relations since April 1980, in the wake of the Islamic revolution, and tensions have sharpened under Trump after a brief warming under his predecessor, Barack Obama.

Hamas: PA ‘lead’ helped IDF track terrorist behind rabbi’s killing-Terror group's military wing slams security coordination with Israel as 'a clear act of collaboration'-By Khaled Abu Toameh-TOI-FEB 8,18

The military wing of Hamas, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, on Wednesday claimed that the Palestinian Authority provided the lead that helped Israel track down and kill Ahmed Jarrar, the terrorist suspected of heading the cell that killed Rabbi Raziel Shevach last month.Meanwhile, Hamas and other Palestinian groups renewed their demand for an end to security coordination between the PA and Israel.Jarrar, a member of Hamas’s military wing, was killed in a shootout with the IDF on Tuesday in the village of Al Yamoun in the Jenin area.A video posted on the Al Qassam website claimed that immediately after Shevach was shot dead on January 9 in the northern West Bank, Israel and the PA began working together to identify the perpetrators.“The Palestinian Authority provided the lead to the enemy,” the video charged.It said that after becoming aware of the PA’s collaboration with Israel, Jarrar began preparing himself for a “confrontation” with the IDF.According to the Al Qassam video, Jarrar managed to evade capture during an IDF raid on January 17.During that operation, Jarrar’s cousin, who is also called Ahmed, was shot dead.The Hamas group claimed that despite a manhunt conducted by Israel and the PA, Jarrar afterwards managed to evade capture at least twice.A senior PA security official in Ramallah strongly denied the Hamas claims as “fabrications” and “lies.”Following the killing of Jarrar, several Palestinian groups, including Hamas, renewed their call to halt security coordination between the PA security forces and Israel.Hamas’s political leaders and spokesmen have thus far refrained from holding the PA responsible for the killing of Jarrar, although they continue to demand an end to security coordination with Israel.The Al Qassam video marked the first attempt by Hamas to directly link the PA to the killing of Jarrar.The PA has long faced criticism from many Palestinians over continued security coordination with Israel.“Security coordination (with Israel) is a crime against our people and resistance and a clear act of collaboration,” said Ismail Radwan, a senior Hamas official in the Gaza Strip. “Security coordination must end.”Another top Hamas official, Ismail Al Ashkar, said that his movement was convinced that security coordination between the PA and Israel had “played a major role” in tracking down Jarrar.“Our people and our factions need to take a stance against this security coordination,” Al Askar added.Abu Mujahed, spokesman for the Palestinian Resistance Committees, a coalition of various terror groups in the Gaza Strip, claimed that were it not for the security coordination, Israel would not have been able to track down and kill Jarrar.“Security coordination with Israel must end for once and for all,” Abu Mujahed told the Hezbollah-affiliated Al Mayadeen TV station.Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine also repeated their appeal to the PA to end all forms of security cooperation with Israel in wake of the killing of Jarrar.PLO and Fatah leaders who met in Ramallah recently recommended that the Palestinians suspend security coordination with Israel. The PA government announced on Tuesday that it has formed a committee whose goal is to devise plans for terminating relations with Israel on all levels, including security and economic ties.

Shin Bet holding ‘gentle’ talks with far-rightists to head off revenge attacks-Defense official says not especially concerned about Jewish extremists retaliating following terror attacks that killed Raziel Shevach and Itamar Ben-Gal-By Jacob Magid-TOI-8 February 2018

In an effort to calm growing tensions, the Shin Bet security agency is initiating “gentle conversations” with far-right activists who have been demanding a harsher military response to the Palestinian terror attacks that left two West Bank rabbis dead within the span of a month.A defense official said that despite the recent uptick in Palestinian violence, and Israeli calls for “revenge,” there was no particular concern among the defense establishment that rogue settler attacks may soon follow.“However, we’re holding gentle conversations with activists in an attempt to lower the flames and calm tensions,” the official told The Times of Israel, adding that such dialogue is being held in consultation with social services.“Now is not the time for ‘price-tag’ attacks,” he said, referring to offenses carried out by Jewish extremists in retaliation for actions and policies against the settlement enterprise.“We are reminding them not to take the law into their own hands,” the official added.Over a dozen far-right activists have been arrested during protests held throughout the West Bank following the Monday murder of Itamar Ben-Gal.The demonstrators have been blocking roads to Palestinian traffic near Nablus and Ramallah, demanding that the army re-institute checkpoints at the entrance to those cities.At one such demonstration on Tuesday, protesters hurled rocks at Palestinian cars, moderately injuring one passenger.Some critics have accused Israeli security agencies of handling far-right extremists with kid gloves compared to how they treat Palestinians.Tzvi Succot, who heads the far-right Otzma Yehudit organization that has been organizing many of these demonstrations, was among those detained on Monday, hours after Ben-Gal’s murder.He refuted the defense officials’ claim that any “gentle conversations” had been held with the activists. “They called me a few weeks ago, but there definitely have not been ‘conversations,'” Succot said, adding that he had received a restraining order, temporarily banning him from the West Bank, following his arrest.At the funeral for Raziel Shevach last month, dozens of mourners interrupted Education Minister Naftali Bennett’s eulogy with calls for “revenge.”The Jewish Home party leader attempted to calm the crowd by saying that “the only revenge is to keep building.”Revenge attacks have ranged from graffiti and rock throwings to deadly incidents, such as the killing of East Jerusalem teen Muhammed Abu Khdeir in 2014 in retaliation for the killing of three Israeli teens.

Palestinian who tried sneaking into settlement in army uniform turns himself in-Suspect arrives at Civil Administration headquarters after evading capture in Itamar last week-By Jacob Magid-TOI-FEB 8,18

A Palestinian suspect who managed to avoid IDF capture after attempting to infiltrate an Israeli settlement last month wearing an army uniform turned himself in to security forces, the army said Wednesday.On January 28, soldiers near the settlement of Itamar spotted men dressed in army uniforms trying to enter the north West Bank community.The troops detained one of the suspects, but the second one managed to evade capture.During searches of the area, forces uncovered binoculars, when the captured the first suspect. Later, they found several prepared Molotov cocktails as well.It was not clear if there was a terror motive in the incident.Earlier Wednesday, an Israeli security guard was lightly wounded when a Palestinian assailant attacked him with a knife at the entrance to the settlement of Karmei Tzur in Gush Etzion.The terrorist opened the door to the guard post at the entrance to the community, and stabbed one of the guards in the palm of his hand.A second guard present at the scene shot the assailant and killed him, according to the Israel Defense Forces.He was later identified by Palestinian officials as Hamzeh Yousef Zamaareh, 19, from the town of Halhul, near Hebron.On Monday, a terrorist fatally stabbed 29-year-old Rabbi Itamar Ben-Gal outside the settlement of Ariel.Israeli forces are still hunting for the killer.

EU relieved after Merkel clinches grand coalition deal-By Eric Maurice-EUOBSERVER

BRUSSELS, 7. Feb, 17:52-Germany's Christian Democratic Union (CDU/CSU) and Social Democratic Party (SPD) concluded a coalition agreement on Wednesday (7 February), taking a step closer to ending a five-month long period of political limbo in Berlin.The deal, under which the two partners will share what they considered as the most crucial ministries for themselves, will however to be approved by SPD members in the coming weeks.Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats will occupy the ministries of interior, defence, agriculture, economy and health.The sensitive interior portfolio - with the management of migration policies - was expected to go to Horst Seehofer, the leader of the CSU, the CDU's Bavarian branch. Seehofer, a hardliner, has been one of the main opponents of Merkel's migration policy since 2015.Peter Altmeier, one of Merkel's closest allies, and finance minister since September, was expected to become economy and energy minister.The finance ministry has been attributed to the SPD, with Hamburg's mayor Olaf Schorf being the favourite for the post, also as vice-chancellor.Social Democrats will also get the ministries of labour and social affairs, justice, as well as foreign affairs for Martin Schulz, Merkel's opponent in the elections last September.Schulz meanwhile will quit the SPD leadership and be replaced by Andrea Nahles, the leader of the party's group in the Bundestag.The 177-page coalition agreement was concluded on Wednesday morning after a night of discussions on the final sticking point, job contracts and doctors pay."It was intensive negotiations in the truest sense of the word," Merkel said Wednesday afternoon.She said the agreement would give Germany "at last a government, but a stable one."Schulz insisted that the coalition programme would offer "an improvement of the life conditions of the people."-'Good news for Europe'-The deal was welcome with relief in the EU."I'm completely happy with the coalition agreement," EU finance commissioner Pierre Moscovici told journalists in Brussels."It's not only good news for Germany, but also for Europe," he said, adding that a "stable, solid, ambitious, pro-European government" would allow the EU take decisions on the future of the eurozone."There is clearly a very strong pro-European will there," he noted.Martin Selmayr, the powerful chief of cabinet for European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker, noted that the agreement contained "a strong Europe chapter, numerous committed references to the EU framework in all sectorial chapters."The agreement, which supports investment capacities for the EU, as well as the appointment of an SPD finance minister, are considered as a boost for French president Emmanuel Macron's plans.-'No copy-paste' from Macron-The EU is more likely to succeed "when Paris, Brussels and Berlin are pulling together," said Moscovici, adding that there were "common concepts" between the three capitals."This will open this famous window of opportunity which will require from all of us a very intense period of work," he added.But debates at EU level are likely to still depend on priorities and personalities within the grand coalition's parties."Germany is now ready to sit at the table and to negotiate," said Manfred Weber, the leader of the centre-right EPP group in the European Parliament.But Weber, who hails from the CSU, insisted that "it doesn't mean copy and paste of the Sorbonne speech" - the speech in which Macron laid out his ideas last September.He noted that "there is a French perspective to reform Europe," and that all "have to seat together and find a common understanding."

Opinion-'Operation Olive Branch' for self-defence and regional stability-By Faruk Kaymakci-EUOBSERVER

BRUSSELS, 6. Feb, 13:48-Entering its seventh year, the conflict in Syria continues to be a direct threat to international security and regional stability.Turkey's land border with Syria and Iraq, measuring 1,295 km in length, requires Turkey to be alert to the developments within its neighbors and vigilant towards the security threats emanating from these countries.Turkey's national security is under the direct threat of Syria-based terrorist organisations, among which Deash and the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK)/Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK)'s Syria-affiliate Kurdish Democratic Union party (PYD)/People's Protection Unit (YPG) are at the forefront.The recent increase in rocket attacks and harassment fires (more than 700 so far), directed at Hatay and Kilis provinces of Turkey from the Afrin region of Syria, which is under the control of the PKK/KCK/PYD-YPG terrorist organisation, resulted in the death of scores of civilians and soldiers.On the other hand, the recent advance of Deash terrorists into the Afrin region from other parts of Syria has heightened the risk of Deash elements infiltrating the Turkey-Syria border and targeting the security of Turkey as well as EU countries.It must be underscored that these terrorist groups are also a direct threat to the unity of Syria and are a main source of instability which impedes civilians to reside peacefully in their habitats.The PYD/YPG's real intention is not to fight Deash or protect Kurds and Yazidis. Their real aim is to force demographic change and create separatist enclaves or terrorist hide-outs in the north of Syria.Measured and proportionate-In countering the threat of terrorism, Turkey's response has always been measured and proportionate, in line with its international obligations and based on the right of self-defence.As such, Turkey has successfully concluded the 'Operation Euphrates Shield' in 2017, through which 2,015 square kilometres of land was cleared from Deash and a safe zone free of terror could be established, enabling thousands of displaced Syrians to return home.To counter the recent surge of terrorist incursions and attacks on its territory, Turkey initiated the 'Operation Olive Branch' on 20 January 2018.'Operation Olive Branch' is not conducted against the Kurds of Syria.Neither does Turkey have an ulterior motive of invading or remaining in Syria.It must be underlined that Turkey, unequivocally committed to the territorial integrity and political unity of Syria, has undertaken this measure with a view to reinforcing these basic principles and contributing to the efforts of the international community to reach a political solution in the framework of the Geneva peace talks.Furthermore, 'Operation Olive Branch' is aimed at ensuring our border security, neutralising terrorists in Afrin and preventing a demographic change in the north of the country, helping Syrians to return to their homes as well as facilitating humanitarian assistance to the liberated areas through secured corridors.As such, the operation targets only terrorists and their hideouts, shelters, emplacements, weapons, vehicles and equipment. All precautions are taken to avoid collateral damage to the civilian population.Turkey and the EU have common security interests when it comes to eradicating the terrorist threat emanating from the region and alleviating the migratory pressure caused by the mass influx of displaced millions fleeing bloodshed.It must be emphasised that Turkey remains staunchly committed to finding a genuine political solution to the conflict in Syria as outlined in the Geneva communique and the respective UN security council resolution (2254), and will continue its efforts to make this a reality as soon as possible.In the meantime, it is vital that Turkey, an EU candidate and NATO ally, has the backing of its European allies and friends in addressing its legitimate security concerns, which contributes to the overall security and stability of the EU and beyond.Faruk Kaymakci is Turkey's ambassador to the EU

Catalan separatists mull 'symbolic' presidency-By Eric Maurice-EUOBSERVER

BRUSSELS, 5. Feb, 18:55-Catalan separatists leaders are discussing a plan that would allow exiled Carles Puigdemont to keep influence in the region even if he cannot be elected president of the government.Puigdemont met a delegation of the Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC) party, in Brussels on Sunday, and deputies of his Together for Catalonia (JxCat) party on Monday to discuss the plan.He was also due to meet envoys from the Popular Unity Candidacy (CUP), the third separatist party in parliament.Under the plan, Puigdemont would be sworn in by the Association of Municipalities for Independence (AMI), a group of Catalan town councils, to form a "legitimate and symbolic" government in Brussels.In the meantime, the Catalan parliament in Barcelona would elected a leader of the regional executive, which under the plan separatists refer to as an "operative" presidency.According to Catalan media, Puigdemont would prefer changing the regional law in order to create a 'council of the republic', which he would chair from Brussels in parallel to the regular Catalan government in Barcelona.Puigdemont, who fled to Belgium in October to escape charges of sedition, rebellion and embezzlement over an unilateral independence process, is the only candidate for the position.But the Spanish supreme court said that he could be elected only if he is physically present in the parliament, with an authorisation from judges.Last week, the speaker of the parliament, Roger Torrent, of the ERC, postponed the vote a few hours before it was due on 30 January.-Make Puigdemont happy-The plan is the solution found by JxCat and ERC to unblock he situation, but "it will be very difficult to implement," said Oriol Bartomeus, a political science professor at Barcelona's Autonomous University."The question is how Puigdemont can perform this symbolic presidency," he told EUobserver."Will he have regular meeting with the government by Skype? In the end, it will be impossible for him to really control the government in Barcelona," he said.Torrent officially blamed the Spanish government for preventing the Catalan government electing Puigdemont. But behind the scenes, the two parties have been increasingly at odds, with ERC putting pressure in JxCat to let another candidate step in.In a text message to a deputy, caught by a TV camera, Puigdemont said that he was "sacrificed" and that his bid was "over".The symbolic presidency plan is to make Puigdemont "happy", Bartomeus noted."It's to avoid an open confrontation inside the separatist bloc and have Puigdemont fade away with time," he said.'Sounds good' While JxCat's spokesman Eduard Pujol said that the talks were "going in the right direction", ERC's spokesman Sergi Sabria said the plan "sounds good" to his party.He said it would "give value to the legitimate government in Brussels, and [would] be compatible with finishing with [article] 155, return Puigdemont and form a government."Article 155 is the Spanish constitution provision under which the Spanish government dismissed the Catalan government, took over the region's administration and organised elections in December, in reaction to the declaration of independence on 27 October.The government has said it would stop applying article 155 when the situation is back to normal.On Monday, the general coordinator of the ruling Popular Party (PP), Fernando Martinez-Maillo, said that the "only valid" government would be one that comes from the parliament and applies the laws."There can be no symbolic investiture," he said.If Puigdemont's presidency is purely symbolic and the elected Catalan government follows the law, "maybe the government will let it go," Bartomeus said, adding that it would also depend on "the PP's electoral needs".Separatists will have first to find a new candidate to lead the regional government. 

With Puigdemont in Belgium and ERC leader Oriol Junqueras in prison since October, neither party has an obvious candidate to propose."We have to go down the list to find somebody who is not charged or about to be charged," Bartomeus pointed out."The race is quite open and quite strange," he said.

EU draws red line on UK customs deal By Andrew Rettman-EUOBSERVER

BRUSSELS, 6. Feb, 09:28-Britain cannot keep its EU trade perks if it quits the customs union, the European Commission has warned as Brexit talks resume."Without a customs union and outside the single market, barriers to trade in goods and services are unavoidable," the EU's chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, said in London on Monday (5 January)."Time has come [for the UK] to make a choice," he said.Barnier spoke after a brief meeting with British prime minister Theresa May and her Brexit negotiator, David Davis, ahead of the first round of talks this year.The French politician added that Britain would have to abide by all EU laws during a transition period after it left the European Union in March next year."Everyone has to play by the same rules during this transition," he said.Davis told British TV afterward that the UK would definitely quit the EU customs bloc. "It's perfectly clear what we want to do and there's no doubt about it … we're leaving the customs union, but we're aiming for a good future for Britain," he said.May's spokesman had also said before the Barnier meeting that "it is not government policy to be members of 'the' customs union or 'a' customs union".The spokesman said the UK wanted a "customs partnership" or a "highly streamlined customs arrangement" instead.The "partnership" would give the UK a unique right to negotiate free-trade deals with other countries, such as the US, but would see it mirror EU requirements for imports at British borders.The "streamlined arrangement" would see it quit the customs union, while using high-tech gadgets to speed up the resulting new customs formalities.The Brexit talks will take place in Brussels for the rest of the week.Barnier said he expected May to put forward a detailed document on her customs plan "in the next few weeks" ahead of an EU summit dealing with Brexit in March.Any customs deal will have to honour the UK's existing pledge not to introduce security checks on its land border with Northern Ireland."If the UK wants to put up barriers to trade that is their choice … our priority will be to ensure there is no border put up again on the island of Ireland," Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament's Brexit negotiator said on Monday.-Squeeze on May-May's room for manoeuvre is also being tightened by Conservative Party politics.Hardline eurosceptics, such as Tory MP Jacob Rees Mogg and foreign minister Boris Johnson, are threatening to oust her from office if she gives in to EU demands.Asked by UK press on Monday if he was interested in her job, Rees Mogg said: "I'm very happy as a backbencher and what I do want is Mrs May to stay prime minister".But he added: "If you look at Mrs May, it seems to be quite clear she does it because it's her duty to do it. I don't get the impression that it's a lot of fun for her. It's hard work".He also criticised her "gloomy" election campaign, in which the party lost its parliamentary majority, last year.A UK leadership contest would slow EU talks as the clock ticks to Brexit, increasing the risk of the UK leaving without any deal in place.-Banking cliff-Andrew Bailey, the head of the British banking regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority, said that would do untold damage on both sides of the English Channel."There's a range of operational issues arising from Brexit which, if not tackled, will create financial stability risks and issues for both the UK and the European Union," he told press in London on Monday.He said there were €13.6 trillion worth of financial derivatives contracts that extended beyond March 2019 and 36 million EU and UK insurance policies whose validity could be put in doubt.Bailey said British banking authorities ought to sign bilateral "memorandums" with those in other EU financial centres, such as Berlin, Frankfurt, and Paris, to work together no matter what happens in the Brexit process."I think this point is increasingly understood on both sides. It's not a matter of scaremongering to get negotiating advantage," he said.