US vice president bills Israeli attacks on Iraq, Syria as ‘self-defense’

In this file photo taken on June 18, 2019 US Vice President Mike Pence addresses media and guests at a press conference to address the US Naval Hospital Ship Comfort at the Port of Miami in Miami, Florida. (Photo by AFP)

US Vice President Mike Pence has reaffirmed Washington’s support for Israel in the wake of the regime’s recent acts of aggression against Syria, Iraq and Lebanon, writing them off as "self-defense."

Pence talked to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday, after the Israeli and American officials confirmed that the regime was behind a bout of attacks against certain targets in the Middle East region over the weekend.

“Had a great conversation with Prime Minister Netanyahu this morning. The United States fully supports Israel's right to defend itself from imminent threats. Under President Trump, America will always stand with Israel!" he wrote on twitter, without specifying the nature of the imminent threats.

On Saturday night, the Syrian air defenses shot down a number of enemy missiles over the capital Damascus, an attack that Israel claimed targeted alleged Iranian positions.

Hours later on early Sunday, the Lebanese movement Hezbollah announced that two Israeli drones were destroyed in suburbs of the capital Beirut.

Hezbollah secretary general Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said later in the day that the Saturday night attack in Damascus targeted the group’s civilian structures in the area and killed two of its members. He also revealed that the two drones crashing in Beirut were on their way to bomb specific targets.

On Sunday afternoon, Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), or Hashd al-Sha’abi, accused Tel Aviv of carrying out deadly drone strikes that killed two of its forces near the border with Syria.

The attacks in Iraq came two days after unnamed American officials confirmed that Israel had been targeting Hashd al-Sha’abi, hitting one of the pro-Iraqi government force’s arms depots near Baghdad last Tuesday.

Lebanese President Michel Aoun has denounced Israel’s recent drone strikes in Lebanon as “a declaration of war,” taking the matter to the United Nations.

The Israeli escalations come as experts believe Netanyahu is looking to cement his position ahead of fateful elections later this year by trying to prompt counterstrikes so it can portray the regime in a vulnerable light.

The embattled premier failed to cobble together a coalition following general elections in April and called a fresh vote, which is scheduled for September 17.

Trump to unveil parts of ‘Mideast peace plan’ before Israel vote

Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump said Monday that his administration might release parts of its plan to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict before Israel’s elections.

Speaking during a joint appearance with Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi on the sidelines of the annual G7 summit in Paris, he claimed both Israelis and Palestinians were interested in the content of the long-delayed deal.

“We’re going to know who the [Israeli] prime minister is going to be fairly soon,” he said. “[A deal] won’t be before the election, I don’t think… But I think you may see what the deal is before the election,” the American head of state said Monday. “And I think the deal will happen.”

The deal, referred to by the Trump administration as “deal of the century,” was supposed to be unveiled over the summer but cold shoulders from Palestinians and Netanyahu’s failure to form a government delayed its much-touted reveal.

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