Monday, January 02, 2017

From Ian:

Omri Ceren: Kerry on Israel: An Alternate Universe
For months one of the worst-kept secrets in foreign-policy circles was that Secretary of State John Kerry would give a speech about his vision for an Israeli-Palestinian agreement, just as soon as the 2016 elections were safely over. Gossip revolved around which staffers were getting pulled in to write, which wonks were being brought in to vet, how far it would go, and so on. A few weeks ago, Kerry even nudge-winked about just how much of an open secret his plans had become, telling an audience in London that he’d be moved to speak on the issue some time “in the next weeks, months, or over the year.”
What few people expected is how totally irrelevant Kerry’s performance would end up. The secretary’s remarks, which extended for over an hour, have already generated the expected heap of praise and criticism. But the praise feels like writers rationalizing how they wasted a day on what will ultimately become a footnote in American diplomatic history, and some of the criticism is crankiness over the same thing.
Kerry’s speech was already going to be drowned out by the global din around United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334, which passed in recent days after the U.S. abstained, and which among other things lumped Judaism’s holiest sites in East Jerusalem together with the West Bank and declared all of them occupied Palestinian territory. It has been criticized first as a diplomatic gambit that detonated the peace process and, second, as an abandonment of Israel contrary to decades of U.S. diplomacy aimed at blocking international assaults on the Jewish state.
The resolution presented another rhetorical problem for Kerry: To even get to the parameters, he was going to have to get past those two criticisms. He needed to paint a world in which the UNSCR built on the peace process rather than detonated it, and boosted Israel rather than abandoning it.
Algemeiner Editor-in-Chief: ‘Obama Has Given Incredible Boost to March of Antisemitism’ by Abstaining From Vote on Anti-Israel UN Resolution
US President Barack Obama “has given an incredible boost to the march of antisemitism,” the editor-in-chief of The Algemeiner said in an interview on Friday.
Discussing the latest moves by the lame-duck administration in Washington to put pressure on Jerusalem — abstaining in the UN Security Council vote on anti-settlements Resolution 2334, and Secretary of State John Kerry’s subsequent harsh address, warning that Israel cannot remain both a democracy and a Jewish state — Dovid Efune told Rush Limbaugh Show guest host Buck Sexton that such behavior encourages and invigorates the deligitimization and demonization of Israel, both defined as antisemitic by the US State Department.
It is for this reason, said Efune, that Kerry caused such a stir.
“His speech was essentially a glorified attempt to justify the vote at the UN last Friday, which the US — in an unprecedented move — abstained from, angering the Israelis, betraying the Israelis. And I can tell you from where I stand: The mainstream Jewish community in this country is seething, outraged, furious across the board with this stab in the back and, as some have even defined it, a stab in the front,” Efune said.
Listen to the full interview below (Efune’s remarks begin at 37:30):

How UN Security Council Resolution 2334 Relates to Palestinian Terrorism
On December 23, 2016, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 2334, with 14 countries voting in favor. The United States abstained allowing the resolution to pass. Resolution 2334 deals mostly with the Israeli settlements in Judea, Samaria and east Jerusalem, over which there is broad international consensus. The issue of terrorism is included in the resolution but its weight is slight (as opposed to extensive dealing with the settlements, which are represented as the main obstacle to peace). Moreover, for the most part the terminology used in dealing with terrorism is general and vague. The resolution does not explicitly refer to Palestinian terrorism, the Palestinian terrorist organizations (especially Hamas) and popular terrorism and violence(the so-called "popular resistance").
1. By not explicitly mentioning Palestinian terrorism and the Palestinian terrorist organizations,the resolution can be expected to lead the Palestinians to interpret the operative paragraphs dealing with terrorism and violence as relating to Israel and not Palestinian terrorism(Paragraphs 6 and 7; see Appendix A). That was manifested at the recent 7th Fatah Movement conference when Mahmoud Abbas rejected terrorism "regardless of motive and source," including the terrorism of a country [i.e., Israel] and the settlers. He claimed that "we [Palestinians] adhere to culture and tolerance."

Thomas Friedman’s Unhinged Attack on Trump and Netanyahu
Probably the one columnist I have critiqued more than any other in my blogging career is Thomas Friedman of The New York Times.
Friedman, one-time NY Times Jerusalem bureau chief, is considered The Times’ go-to expert on the Middle East, globalization and environmental issues.
However, when reading Friedman’s columns, it’s easy to see that rather than being an expert on any of these topics, he holds certain beliefs and uses all of his observations to support his deeply held beliefs. He often conveys his convictions using superficial metaphors that sound clever, but are meaningless or misleading.
Given his long history of animosity towards Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his admiration for President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry, it’s no surprise that he sided with the administration in its decision to allow anti-Israel United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334 to pass and Kerry’s subsequent speech.
What may not have been predictable is how incredibly unhinged Friedman was in his column Wednesday covering what Charles Krauthammer called Obama’s “most shameful” legacy last week.
Friedman begins his column, Bibi Netanyahu Makes Trump His Chump:
For those of you confused over the latest fight between President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu of Israel, let me make it simple: Barack Obama and John Kerry admire and want to preserve Israel as a Jewish and democratic state in the Land of Israel. I have covered this issue my entire adult life and have never met two U.S. leaders more committed to Israel as a Jewish democracy.
Rabbi Abraham Cooper: Why 2334 leads our top 10 list
You want to guarantee a peaceful two-state solution? Convene a Security Council meeting on how to dislodge Hamas from Gaza, and you’ll have one.
They might want to consider the price of continuing one-sided bullying of Israel by the United Nations. They should reflect on the fact that the US has refused to pay $400 million in dues to UNESCO, because its acceptance of “Palestine” as a member state violated a US statute signed into law by Democrat president Bill Clinton. If the UN, under new leadership, continues its nonstop demonizing of the Jewish state, we hope that the new Trump administration will seriously consider endorsing Sen.
Lindsey Graham’s threatened bill to downsize the US’s oversized annual financial contribution.
As for Obama and Kerry, their last-minute UN gambit seeks to add a fourth “achievement” to their Middle East legacy. Here are the other three:
1. Failure to destroy Islamic State, early and outright.

2. The Iran nuclear deal, which has succeeded only in further empowering the Mullahocracy.
3. Syrian redline debacle.
The Jewish people are a people of memory.
We approach our collective future with eyes wide open. No matter what the pressure, no Israeli government, left, right or center, will ever accept that our people’s sacred sites are built on stolen land; nor will it ever validate the lies denying the Jewish people’s 3,500- year link to the Holy Land – those very lies that now pass for historical fact at the United Nations.
And rest assured that Israel will never walk the gangplank for the convenience of a hypocritical world.
ADL: UN vote and Kerry speech will impede prospects for peace
Whatever the motivation of the Obama administration, the events of this past week mark a dramatic low point in US-Israeli relations. The Kerry speech has commanded attention in the past 48 hours, but the disastrous decision to abstain on United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 2443 is more likely to be recorded as a milestone that doomed the peace process. It is a moment that could trigger any number of highly destructive consequences for Israel and the two-state solution that the administration claims to champion.
To start with, the abstention represents an incredibly negative bookend that closes the foreign policy section of the Obama Library. Indeed, the Obama administration’s Israel policy seemed uneven at best and unfair at worst. There were many moments that fed the skepticism of the pro-Israel, pro-peace community. These include the initial decision to skip Israel in a series of speeches across the region in 2009; the ill-advised decision to force the Israeli government to freeze settlement construction before supporting peace talks that same year; the push in 2015 for the Iran nuclear deal despite the protests of Israelis across the political spectrum and the blithe dismissal of the genocidal rhetoric of the Islamic Republic; and the complete failure to deal with surging non-state actors like Hezbollah because of their alignment with Iran.
It should be noted that the administration has stood by Israel in other respects. The president might point to prior UNSC vetoes and the landmark $38 billion arms deal concluded earlier this year. Yet, the personal rancor between President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seemed to drive the dynamic of the bilateral relationship for nearly eight years. The patronizing tone of Secretary John Kerry’s speech seemed familiar to many Israelis, who had grown weary of hectoring from the Obama administration.
Whatever the motivation, the failure to veto UNSC 2443 was a disaster which will have a number of highly destructive consequences for Israel and the peace process. I can see several constituencies that will be impacted by this decision, all in ways that will hamper, not help, the peace process.
On Israel, A Resolution To Repudiate
Once Mr. Obama advanced the thesis in his Cairo speech of June 4, 2009, that all settlements are illegal and an obstacle to peace, ignoring the Bush letter of April 14, 2004, that recognized Israeli control of the major Jerusalem settlements as the likely outcome, Obama made it impossible for any Palestinian leader to demand less, and much more difficult for any Israeli leader to rely on U.S. representations.
The irony for those who support a two-state solution, including Mr. Netanyahu, is that this resolution has caused many Israelis to favor more settlement construction. Every important Israeli leader denounced the U.S. abstention, because they know that the Palestinian Authority prefers costless victories at the U.N. to condemning terror and accepting a Jewish State.
Whatever the U.S. may say about its intentions, as Ms. Powers acknowledged, any U.N. action will be exploited against Israel. Even the resolution's condemnation of terrorism, and its call to end incitement, will be used against Israel and ignored by those whose actions the U.S. pretends will be altered. In allowing the resolution's adoption, the U.S. joined those very states that Ms. Powers has repeatedly condemned for lacking moral conscience, even for Arabs let alone Jews.
The abstention, in short, was a shameful act openly touted as punishment for Israel's failure to abide by a U.S. policy that set back the prospects of peace. The Trump administration must repudiate Resolution 2334 in order to preserve the possibility of a two-state solution, by recognizing that Israel's settlements are not an obstacle to peace if peace were genuinely pursued.
Bolton to Trump: Cut aid to UN settlement resolution supporters
Former US ambassador to the UN John Bolton has reportedly called on the incoming Trump administration to retaliate against countries who supported a recent UN Security Council resolution against Israeli settlement.
Washington-based news site The Hill quoted Bolton as telling New York radio station AM 970 that Malaysia and Venezuela in particular should have their US aid cut.
However, Bolton advised that the US and Israel give the 14 countries that voted in favor of the resolution one last chance to correct themselves.
"I think what Israel, together with the incoming Trump administration, should do is say, ‘Look, we’re going to give everybody a chance to do this over again, repeal this resolution and pass something that’s acceptable. And if not, we’re going to take steps to show our unhappiness," he was quoted as saying.
How the UNSCR 2334 scuttles hope for a Palestinian state
Widely condemned by Israelis from all sides, UNSC Resolution 2334 was seen as a stab in the back. It was not; it was a stab in the chest. And, given the hostility of the Obama administration and members of the Security Council, it was predictable and unavoidable. Ironically, however, the resolution may have created the basis for legitimizing Israeli annexation and sovereignty in Judea and Samaria.
The resolution changed the rules of the game: it abrogates the Oslo and interim agreements that divided Judea and Samaria into Areas A and B, under the Palestinian Authority, and Area C, in which Jewish communities (“settlements”) were built under Israel control. The issue of settlements was left for final status agreements, along with the issues of return of Palestinian “refugees” to Israel, and the status of Jerusalem. By seeking to impose an Arab Palestinian state without negotiations, as a fait accompli, and declaring settlements to be illegal, the UNSC Resolution 2334 has wiped out all prior agreements.
The question is who should be the responsible authority in the disputed areas? If that goes back to 1967, it can’t be the Palestinian Authority, since it did not exist then. Moreover, the new UNSC Resolution seems to contradict 242 and 338, which recognized Israel’s legitimate claims.
Jordan cannot be considered the authority, since it renounced all claims to Judea and Samaria, which it had acquired by force in 1948, and was never recognized as the legitimate sovereign in those areas. The only legitimate claimant of sovereignty in what was called Palestine by the international community according to the League of Nations and the British Mandate is the State of Israel, the “Jewish national home.”
The recent UNSC Resolution has made the issue even more complicated, by declaring that all Israeli settlements and buildings beyond the 1949 Armistice Lines (“the Green Line”) are “illegal according to international law,” which the International Criminal Court could declare a war crime. But, what is “the law”?
Bennett: We will annex Ma’aleh Adumim first and then all of Area C
Bayit Yehudi chairman and Education Minister Naftali Bennett declared in Ma'aleh Adumim on Monday that his party was advancing a law to annex Ma'aleh Adumim as part of a strategy to annex all of Area C in the West Bank.
Bennett was speaking alongside Ma'aleh Adumim Mayor Benny Kashriel, and said that he expected all members of the government to support the law.
“Citizens of Israel have paid in no end of victims, and no end of denunciations for this messianic policy of a Palestinian state,” said Bennett.
“We have to stop marching towards the unjust path of a Palestinian state and to impose Israeli law on Ma'aleh Adumim, the Jordan Valley, Ofra, Ariel, and all of Area C as soon as possible. This is how we win.”
The Bayit Yehudi leader said that there was a small window of opportunity open to begin annexing Area C, in reference to what is expected to be the favorable policy of President-elect Donal Trump toward Israel.
Cotton: Anti-Israel UN Resolution Passed with 'Explicit United States Coordination'
On this weekend’s broadcast of “Fox News Sunday,” Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) said the anti-Israel U.N. resolution that the Obama administration declined to veto could only be voted on and passed with “explicit United States coordination.”
Cotton said, “Anyone with an ounce of common sense knows how the real world works and the United Nations Security Council works. Senegal and Malaysia, some of the countries that sponsored the resolution, don’t call the shots there. If Barack Obama and John Kerry and Samantha Power hadn’t been speaking for months about the prospect of this resolution and had not been creating a climate inside the security council to let it come forward without firmly saying we will veto any one-sided anti-Israel resolution, no country would have brought that resolution forward. It only could have been brought forward and passed with explicit United States coordination with other members of the security council.”
Netanyahu, Putin speak for second time in a week
Russia was one of the 14 countries that supported the anti-settlement resolution at the UN 10 days ago, but after the vote, issued a statement criticizing the way it was brought to the Security Council for a surprise vote just a day after Egypt pulled its own proposal on the matter.
“Our experience shows convincingly that a two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is only possible through direct talks between Palestinians and Israelis without any preconditions,” that statement said. “It is with this aim in view that Russia has been working and will continue working as a member of the Middle East Quartet of international intermediaries to facilitate such negotiations. We would also like to reaffirm our readiness to host a meeting of the leaders of Israel and Palestine in Moscow.”
Russia’s Deputy Ambassador to Israel Alexander Dubrovin told Army Radio last week that Moscow had wanted the vote delayed, but was rebuffed on this matter by the other countries on the Security Council.
He also said that Moscow was not happy that the resolution focused primarily on the settlements.
Moscow also criticized US Secretary of State John Kerry’s speech on Wednesday, with NRG quoting a statement from the Russian Foreign Ministry as questioning the timing of Kerry’s harsh indictment of the settlement enterprise, saying that “narrow partisan interests” were involved.
The statement questioned why Kerry was making pronouncements about the Mideast diplomat process now, rather than in 2014 when the Washington-led negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority hit a standstill.
JPost Editorial: Support down under
At a time when Israel is recovering from the shock of UN Security Council Resolution 2334, comments made by Australia’s government are encouraging. In a statement released on Thursday, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop voiced her disagreement with the resolution.
Australia is not currently a member of the Security Council and therefore is not eligible to vote, noted Bishop. However, “in voting at the UN, the coalition government has consistently not supported one-sided resolutions targeting Israel.”
One day later, at a Hanukka menorah-lighting ceremony at Sydney’s Central Synagogue, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said that “Australia stands with Israel. We support Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East,” the Australian Jewish News reported.
Canberra’s support for Israel should not be taken for granted. Pro-Palestinian activists have lamented the fact that consecutive Australian governments have been out of step with public opinion. While a large proportion of Australians tend to be critical of Israel and its policies, Labor and in particular Liberal governments have been very supportive.
Consecutive public opinion polls have shown that Australians are divided over their support for Israel. A Roy Morgan Research poll from November 2011 found that Australians were just as sympathetic with Israelis as they were with Palestinians. Only 17% said they supported Jewish settlements while 63% opposed it.
And more than half of Australians supported the Palestinian push for recognition as a full member state of the UN.
Former Australian PM: Cut off aid to Palestinians
Former Australian prime minister Tony Abbott called on his country to cut millions of dollars of annual aid to the Palestinian Authority, accusing Ramallah of funneling the money to “terrorists and their families.” He also called on Canberra to join any move by the incoming Trump administration in the US to relocate the embassy to Jerusalem.
In an article penned by Abbott and published in The Spectator Australia weekly on Monday, the former PM said Canberra should offer “unswerving support for Israel as the region’s only liberal, pluralist democracy,” and “join any move by the Trump administration to move its embassy to Jerusalem.”
During the 2016 election, Trump pledged to end a longstanding White House policy to perpetually defer a 1995 Congressional decision to recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital and move the embassy there.
Abbott’s comments come days after Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull panned the United Nations Security Council resolution that criticized Israeli settlement building as one-sided and biased against Israel.
Tony Abbot (fmr. Australian PM) : Jerusalem diary
‘To know how the world goes without America, look at Aleppo’. That’s the kind of insight (from the head of one of Israel’s security agencies) you get at the Australia-Israel-UK Leadership Dialogue. The brain-child of Melbourne businessman and jazz musician Albert Dadon, the Dialogue has been going since 2009 and in its present format since 2011. It was four days of discussions, just before Christmas, between MPs, officials and analysts of the three countries. The Australian delegation included Opposition leader Bill Shorten, Trade Minister Steve Ciobo and ten other federal and state parliamentarians.
Originally intended as another forum to familiarise Australia’s leaders with Israel, the Dialogue has become an opportunity for leaders from like-minded countries to consider issues in common, as well as to analyse in-depth the security problems of Israel and the wider Middle East. Along with the ‘two state solution’ to the Palestinian question, the challenge of Iran and Syria, the Sunni-Shia divide, the interplay of religious and economic grievances, and the consequences of United States’ and Russian policy in the region, there were vigorous discussions of Brexit, border protection, housing affordability, fiscal and monetary policy and the science of climate change – which turns out to be far less settled than most people think.
We often forget the role that Australians have played in this part of the world long before our FA18s and our military trainers joined today’s fight against the death cult in Syria and northern Iraq. In the Great War, the Australian Light Horse formed the spearhead of General Allenby’s British army that liberated Beersheba, Jerusalem and Damascus from the Ottoman Turks. In World War Two, Australia’s Seventh Division was the bulk of the British force that freed Syria and Lebanon from the Vichy French. And long before we were taught to think of ourselves as a multicultural country, Jews had been Australia’s chief justice, army commander and head of state (as that’s what our governor-general is). Indeed, we’re the only country with this distinction other than Israel itself.
Australian FM: We won't relocate embassy to Jerusalem
Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said that Australia "does not have any plans to move the Australian embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem," The Sydney Morning Herald reported on Monday.
Bishop's comments came in response to a call from former Australian prime minister Tony Abbott to move the embassy to Israel's declared capital as US President-elect Donald Trump has vowed he will do once in office.
In the column, Abbott wrote that "Australia should cut our $40 million a year aid to the Palestinian Authority while it keeps paying pensions to terrorists and their families," adding that Australia should demonstrate its "support for Israel" by mirroring Trump's plan to "move its embassy to Jerusalem."
Bishop rejected both of Abbott's suggestions, defending Australian aid to the Palestinian Authority, which she said is stipulated on a "zero tolerance policy" for fraud and corruption.
Head of the Palestinian delegation in Australia, Izzat Abdulhadi, warned of possible sanctions from Muslim countries if Australia were to take Abbott's suggested measures. Abdulhadi said that relocating the embassy would "severely damage the prospects for a two-state solution to the conflict - the solution that is supported by Palestine, Australia, and the international community."
A new possible disaster for Angela Merkel
No Islamic country will take in Palestinians (nor the refugees in the Middle East or North Africa), nor will any deed them unused land. They want Islam to eradicate Israel's very existence and make no secret of this. Instead of assisting "refugees," they opt for the West's submission to hijra, or spreading Islam through migration, they rely on the moral narcissism of Europe, led by Angela Merkel.
Merkel's New Year's Eve speech is insight into what we can expect in the future. Merkel's nation is both under attack and in the midst of a revolution that seeks to undo the submission to Islam her administration has facilitated. For security in Cologne, politicians had police hire Muslim security guards on New Year's Eve 2015, but on New Year's 2016, they "protected" Germany by barring a peaceful march by those who disagree with Merkel. By following the pattern of absurdity, we may predict what comes next.
In 2015, Merkel took front and center to become the "greatest woman" and leader in Europe when she said, "We will take them all!" – regardless of the cost to her own nation or the nations of Europe. She nullified the "refugee agreement" and brought a torrent of Islamists from the Middle East and North Africa whose own ideology is to conquer Europe. She was hailed throughout the world by the political elite and mainstream media. She is now running for re-election.
What can she do as an encore?
She can offer a two-state solution.
Merkel, and the EU in general, can "demonstrate their compassion" to the Islamic world by ceding lands that are already, de facto, under Islamic control, and come out to show Israel and the world, by example, how to obtain "peace" with Islam.
PreOccupiedTerritory: Following J-Street Lead, Enemies Of Israel Now Calling Selves ‘Pro-Israel’ (satire)
Arab and Muslim countries long committed to the destruction of the world’s only Jewish State have taken a page out of left-leaning advocacy organization J-Street and have begun to refer to themselves as, “pro-Israel, pro-peace.”
Iran, Syria, Malaysia, Pakistan, and several other states that have no diplomatic relations with Israel and have never sought rapprochement with Israel have noted recently that explicit threats to destroy Israel play less well in powerful Western circles than the J-Street-pioneered strategy of painting oneself as in favor of Israel but redefining the Israel in question to mean the country that would exist after the current one ceases to function as a recognizably Jewish entity or a haven for Jews from persecution.
Public relations consultants working with a number of Middle Eastern, North African, and South Asian Muslim states gathered in the US capital this week to compare notes on the ongoing efforts of those governments to rebrand themselves as pro-Israel in the mold of J-Street. The professionals discussed multiple options for presenting their clients’ stated desire to exterminate the Jewish State – and many or all of its Jewish inhabitants – as pro-Israel, just as J-Street’s goals point to the undermining of the Jewish character of Israel and its ability to establish and maintain security for its citizens, while the organization calls itself pro-Israel.
“We’re following the trail blazed by Jeremy Ben-Ami and his group, with an assist from the New Israel Fund,” explained Roger Gasleiter of JCPOA Associates, a Washington-area firm. “Better late than never, so for the next couple of weeks while Obama is still in office and his door is open to liberal groups à la J-Street, maybe we can get this new strategy and image going, and burnish our clients’ credentials with the American pro-peace camp, but without our clients’ having to actually change their pursuit of Israel’s destruction in any meaningful way.”
IsraelCool: Is There An Illegal Occupation Of Judea And Samaria (West Bank) By Israel?
However the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs stops short of actually declaring that settlements are legal. Some people say that’s a mistake.
If you want something hostile, you can read Wikipedia’s entry which, using a whole lot of words basically boils down to “everyone says settlements are illegal” without providing anything much in the way of actual evidence to back that up.
For the other side Eugene Kontorovich’s excellent lecture, explained here, gives reams of evidence to back up his legal opinion. If you have any good faith desire to understand this issue it’s pretty much essential you watch his lecture or read the summary.
To sum up, you can believe arguments one way or another, but you can’t yet say the matter of settlements is settled. It’s not even clear that Jews living in Judea and Samaria are settlers. As I’ve shown over and over with the indigenous nature of Judaism and Jews in these lands, trying to equate our Jewish return to these lands with a colonial invasion is dishonest and ahistorical.
Eugene Kontorovich speaking a Maxwell School of Syracuse University, Mar 2016.

Ex-CIA director: I was sure if we didn’t strike Syria’s nuclear reactor, Israel would
Gen. Michael Hayden provides an inside look into the attack that stopped Assad's nuclear ambitions in their tracks. From that fateful moment when Meir Dagan entered his office with photos of the reactor, through the clash between the Mossad director and the CIA’s analysts, who feared an all-out-war with Syria, to the secret meeting at Bush’s residence in which Hayden announced: ‘Mr. President, the Syrians are building a nuclear reactor, and it is part of a weapons program.’
"It was one of the most candid conversations I’ve ever had with him," says Gen. Michael Hayden as he recounts that fateful meeting with Mossad director Meir Dagan on the seventh floor of the United States Central Intelligence Agency headquarters in Langley, Virginia.
It was in April 2007, at the office of General Hayden, the director of the CIA at the time. When Hayden with his broad smile talks about a “candid conversation,” he means one between two people who have known each other for many years and had great respect for one another. But at least in that conversation, there was total disagreement between them.
That charged conversation at Langley revolved around one question: “How can this thing, which undoubtedly endangers the peace in the region, be destroyed without starting an all-out war in the Middle East?”
“This thing” was the Syrian nuclear reactor that was secretly being built at the time in Deir ez-Zor, not far from the Euphrates River.
Israeli ambassador on new UN secretary-general: 'Just be fair'
Former Portuguese prime minister Antonio Guterres took over from Ban Ki-moon on Sunday as the UN’s new secretary-general, and Israel has one request: Just be fair.
“I met with him and was impressed with his wide knowledge of the UN and the international arena,” Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon told The Jerusalem Post. “I hope we can turn a new page with him.”
Danon acknowledged that Guterres has a difficult job when it comes to Israel and the Middle East.
“I told him that the UN system creates so much negative energy against Israel, we just want him to be objective – not for Israel, but objective – and able to withstand the tremendous pressure against Israel that exists inside the UN.”
Trump ‘aggressively’ pursuing Netanyahu to attend inauguration — report
US president-elect’s White House transition team has been “aggressively” pursuing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to attend the inauguration ceremony in Washington, DC later this month, the New York Post reported on Sunday.
“There’s a plan for Trump to meet with Netanyahu,” a source close to the transition team said, according to the paper.
“They’re talking all the time. And Netanyahu is talking about possibly going to the inauguration,” the source was quoted as saying.
The report said Trump staffers, led by son-in-law Jared Kushner, were “aggressively courting” the Israeli prime minister in an effort to persuade him to attend the January 20 ceremony.
Netanyahu’s tense relationship with outgoing US President Barack Obama was exacerbated in recent weeks, after the White House publicly clashed with Israel over its West Bank policy and later declined to veto a UN Security Council resolution condemning settlements.
Trump has assured Israel that things will be different after he takes office, and last week lamented that the Jewish state was “being treated very, very unfairly” by the international community.
Think Tank: Hezbollah Remains Israel’s Greatest Threat
Hezbollah remains the most serious conventional threat Israel is facing, more than Hamas or Iran, a report released Monday by the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) determined.
According to the report, submitted to President Rivlin by INSS head Maj. Gen. (res.) Amos Yadlin, Hezbollah has rockets that can reach any range, precision-guided missiles, attack and suicide drones, the best Russian-made air defense systems and ground units that are training to conquer Israeli towns and cities.
The INSS recommended to improve Israeli intelligence gathering in an effort to continue reducing the transfer of advanced arms to the terror organization and consequently reduce the chances of an escalation.
However, the potential for the eruption of a conflict with Hamas is higher than with Hezbollah or Iran.
Hamas, the INSS determined, may have been deterred after the 2014 Operation Protective Edge in Gaza, but it is continuing to build up its strength.
Furthermore, even if both sides are not interested in escalation, a conflict can break out over violent incidents or due to the deep social and economic frustration in the strip that will manifest itself in violence against Israel.

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