Friday, February 17, 2017

From Ian:

Caroline Glick: The Trump-Netanyahu alliance
Given that at the heart of the two-state model is the conviction that Israel is to blame for the presence of Islamic terrorism and extremism, and that the only way to proceed is to establish a terrorism- supporting PLO state, it naturally follows that the policy’s adherents in the US cannot see any real purpose for the US alliance with Israel. It is also natural that they fail to see any potential for a regional alliance led by the US and joined by Israel and the Sunni states based on the common goals of defeating Iran and radical Islamic terrorist enclaves.
In other words, the two-state formula dooms its adherents to strategic myopia and defeatism while holding their strategic and national interests hostage to the PLO.
The insanity at the heart of the two-state formula, and the US and Israeli public’s desire to make a clear break with the strategic defeats of the past generation, makes its abandonment a clear choice for both Trump and Netanyahu. Abandoning it wins them support and credibility from their political bases when they need their supporters to rally to their side. And to the extent they are able to implement more constructive policies to defeat the forces of radical Islam, they will weaken the establishments that are working to undermine them.
By leaning on Netanyahu to help him to secure victories against the forces of radical Islam, and so putting paid to the bureaucracy’s most beloved policy paradigm, Trump can both secure his base and weaken his opponents.
So, too, by developing a substantive alliance with the Trump administration and increasing Trump’s chance of political survival and success, Netanyahu gains a formidable partner and makes it more difficult for the legal fraternity and its media flacks to bring about his indictment and fall.
Amazingly then, to a significant degree, the survival of both leaders is tied up with their success in keeping their promises to their voters and defeating their foes – domestic and foreign. (h/t Elder of Lobby)

Dr. Mordechai Kedar: New leader, same old terror
From Hamas' point of view, since Israel's defensive systems cannot stand up to a multi-rocket and missile attack launched from close range and from every direction, the strategy that Hamas has chosen will sooner or later lead to victory over Israel and the elimination of the Zionist project. Yehya al-Sinwar will be the leader, not manager, who will bring the Palestinian, Arab and Muslim masses after him to a major, final battle that will bring Israel to its knees and scatter the 21st century Jews to all corners of the earth, to the exile that Allah prophesied for them because of the their sins as enumerated in the 7th century Koran.
All that is left for Hamas to do, in addition to military preparations, is to encourage other forms of Jihad - economic, media, political, public and academic, so that Israel's international standing becomes shaky and its name is vilified around the world, while Hamas calls for the world to abandon and boycott Israel, punish it and pull all investments out of it using BDS. It intends to buy politicians, media and academic personalities using money from its Qatari friends, encourage the world to prevent moving embassies to Jerusalem and advance BDS decisions in international bodies that will proclaim that Jerusalem does not belong to Israel.
All these actions are intended to turn Israel into easy prey for military Jihad that will lead to its final destruction, to occur under the wise leadership of Yehye al-Sinwar and his deputy Khalil. Now that Hamas' sinister plans are clear as day, Israel - if it wants to survive - must challenge the new Hamas leadership in every way that can convince them and those who will be left after them to give up the dream of eliminating Israel. This is not an easy objective to attain, but it can be done using good Intelligence, exact measures and a firm decision by an Israeli leadership that looks ahead to what lies in store in the future.
In the Middle East, peace is granted only to those who are not vanquished and succeed in convincing their enemies that it worth their while to leave them alone. Hamas knows the rules of the game, and the question that is left open is whether the Israeli pubic realizes that the Middle East is not a place where acting according to the rules of the games played in other cultures allows for survival. (h/t Elder of Lobby)
David Singer: Bush, Obama, Russia, EU and UN buried under Trump Landslide
Obama proceeded to trash those commitments made with one of America’s closest allies with disastrous consequences for America’s foreign policy, its reputation and integrity.
Trump however had difficulty in reaffirming all of Bush’s commitments because one of them stated:
“ the United States remains committed to my vision and to its implementation as described in the roadmap. The United States will do its utmost to prevent any attempt by anyone to impose any other plan”
Trump doesn’t like long negotiations without any deal – and Trump wants to cut a deal.
Trump has accordingly ditched the Bush two-state solution – endorsed by Russia, the European Union and the United Nations. It now joins the diplomatic graveyard housing other two-state solutions proposed by
* the 1937 Peel Commission
* the 1947 United Nations Partition Plan,
* the 1993 Oslo Accords and
* Israel in 2000/2001 and 2008.

The Arabs have missed yet another opportunity to end the 100 years old Arab-Jewish conflict.

PM: I’m speaking up about Iran threat on behalf of Arabs too
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday that he is speaking up on behalf of the whole region that is threatened by a malevolent Iran, and that this is bringing Israel and its Arab neighbors closer together.
Netanyahu told Fox News’s Sean Hannity that although he was the most outspoken against the Iran nuclear deal, Arab nations, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, were quietly saying the same thing.
“The Arab countries sort of whisper things in the dark; they wouldn’t say it outright,” he said. “I had to sort of speak out for everyone in the region.”
“Iran has become more aggressive, more deadly, sponsoring more terrorism,” Netanyahu, who was visiting the US, told Hannity. “With more money. And people are saying ‘wait a minute, this roaring tiger, if it’s not stopped, it will devour all of us.”
Netanyahu praised former US president Barack Obama for his support of Israel, but said that he is glad to have a new president in the White House who sees eye to eye with Israel and the Arab states on the dangers of a nuclear Iran.
Netanyahu speaks out about global threat posed by Iran

Netanyahu on US-Israel relationship under President Trump

The Commentary Magazine Podcast - One States, Two States, Whatever
On the second Commentary podcast of the week, Abe Greenwald, Noah Rothman, and John Podhoretz dilate upon Donald Trump’s seeming revolution in the U.S. posture toward the Israelis and the Palestinians while asking this question: Does the president actually know what the “one-state” or “two-state” solution is?
They also point out that just as paranoids have enemies, Trump has reason to believe he is under attack from inside his own executive branch—but that his response may hurt him and not help. Also, like Jack Benny and Fred Allen’s radio shows of old, we have a sponsor! Give a listen.
An Unconventional Middle East Peace?
It was a shock to the status quo on Tuesday when, standing beside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Donald Trump abandoned decades of U.S. policy by suggesting he would no longer insist on a two-state solution as a prerequisite for peace. Trump went on to demonstrate his contempt for precedent by noting that Palestinian school children are “taught hate from a very young age.” Trump’s disregard for diplomatic niceties may yet end up causing him headaches, but he could also find the restive Middle East more receptive to a breakthrough. Ironically, it was Barack Obama who made Trump’s job of pursuing an out-of-the-box solution to the region’s conflicts all the easier, albeit inadvertently.
While Trump’s comments at Tuesday’s press conference are being parsed in the press, the administration is forging ahead with what may be a more important initiative than the disinterment of the peace process. The Wall Street Journal’s Maria Abi-Habib reported on Tuesday that administration officials are in talks with at least five Arab nations to form a mutual defense alliance. It would include an intelligence-sharing regime with the Israeli government.
“The alliance would include countries such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates that are avowed enemies of Israel as well as Egypt and Jordan, which have long-standing peace treaties with Israel,” Abi-Habib reported. The alliance’s core objective would be to formalize and expand upon the Saudi-led coalition currently executing strikes on the Houthi militia in Yemen. In broader terms, the founding of a majority Sunni alliance with the operational assistance of Israel that has one core mission: Contain a resurgent Iran.
Media Party missed “Big Deal” in Trump-Netanyahu press conference

Ruthie Blum: A Bear Hug for All the Mullahs and Other Israel-Detractors to See
The strong reactions elicited by Wednesday’s joint press conference held by US President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are warranted, but mostly for the wrong reason.
One commentator after another has been highlighting and debating about the supposedly major about-face in American foreign policy vis-à-vis the Palestinian-Israeli conflict that was being announced from the podium.
“So I’m looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like,” Trump said, alongside a beaming Netanyahu. “I’m very happy with the one that both parties like. I can live with either one. I thought for a while the two-state looked like it may be the easier of the two. But honestly, if Bibi [Prime Minister Netanyahu] and if the Palestinians — if Israel and the Palestinians are happy, I’m happy with the one they like the best.”
As soon as the two leaders left the stage, pundits and politicians in America, Israel and the Palestinian Authority began weighing in frantically on the significance of that statement, reporting on it as though Trump had declared the United States was no longer supporting a key pillar of its Mideast policy.
US looks to form Arab alliance against Iran — report
The Trump administration is reportedly working to create a military alliance of Sunni Arab nations that would share intelligence with Israel and the US to counter the rising threat of Iran.
A NATO-like mutual defense pact would include Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and other nations, according to a report Wednesday in the Wall Street Journal.
The concern about Shiite Iran’s expansionist aspirations unites these nations, and the goal is to create a pact whereby an attack on one of them would be treated as an act of aggression against all of them, according to five unnamed sources who are involved in the ongoing discussions on behalf of those nations.
Neither the US nor Israel would be directly part of the pact, but both would provide intelligence and backing to the group.
“They’ve been asking diplomatic missions in Washington if we’d be willing to join this force that has an Israeli component,” according to one of the diplomats. “Israel’s role would likely be intelligence sharing, not training or boots on the ground. They’d provide intelligence and targets. That’s what the Israelis are good at.”
Analysis: Arab states unlikely to clash with Trump over two-state solution
Although seen by Palestinians as very dangerous, Donald Trump’s appearance of backing away from long-standing US support for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is likely to elicit only a restrained reaction among Arab states – at least initially.
For one thing, leaders of Arab states, like many other observers, may not be sure exactly what to make of Trump’s remarks during his press conference Wednesday with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in which he said either a oneor a two-state solution was acceptable, provided the Israelis and Palestinians agreed on it. Before doing anything that could risk raising the temperatures in what are delicate relations with a new administration, they will want to gauge whether Trump is really intent on ditching what has been a cornerstone of US policy.
“Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan have good reasons to cozy up to Trump. They’ll want clarifications but they will be very low key about all this,” said Prof. Bruce Maddy-Weitzman, a Middle East specialist at Tel Aviv University’s Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies.
After the Palestinians, Jordan is probably the most concerned about any possible US shift away from the two-state solution. With most its citizens of Palestinian origin, Amman fears that escalation of tensions among Palestinians in the West Bank could spread into Jordan. Its nightmare scenario is that in the absence of a two-state solution Israel could, under circumstances of war, expel Palestinians to the East Bank, threatening the existence of the Hashemite monarchy.
Dennis Ross: The Road to Peace
The belief that President Abbas sees the two-state solution as a steppingstone to a one – Arab – state solution leaves many Israelis cynical about the peace process and tiring of the rhetoric about two states. Mr. Trump may have shifted that momentum.
President Trump afforded Prime Minister Netanyahu an opportunity to assert – despite American denials – that Palestinian schools’ textbooks teach Palestinian children to hate Jews. Israelis wholeheartedly believe that accusation to be true. They know of the Fatah Party’s incendiary boast on Facebook that it had killed 11,000 Israelis and that the Palestinian Authority recently named its fourth school for Salah Khalaf, mastermind of the 1972 Munich Olympic massacre of Israeli athletes. While President Barack Obama obliquely acknowledged in his eulogy for Shimon Peres, the former Israeli president and prime minister, that “Arab youth are taught to hate Israel from an early age,” Mr. Trump gave Mr. Netanyahu a stage from which to make the accusation explicit.
Outward appearances of confidence notwithstanding, Palestinian leaders undoubtedly understand that the jig is up – gone (for now) are the days in which they can tell the world one story and their people another. That actually gives Israelis hope that – if the Palestinians want political sovereignty – the Palestinian Authority will have to lay the groundwork by forging an entirely different narrative about Israel and Jews.
There is still no reason to assume that President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu can forge a deal. Mr. Trump’s White House is in disarray, Mr. Netanyahu is under investigation for corruption and politically weakened, Mr. Kushner has not a day of diplomatic experience, the other Arab countries that Mr. Trump and Mr. Netanyahu hope will be part of an agreement may or may not cooperate and Palestinian hatred of Jews may be too deeply entrenched.
Yet there is at least cause for a glimmer of hope. On Wednesday, whatever ambivalences about Mr. Trump many Israelis have, they heard from a United States president sympathetic to their story, sensitive to their fears of Iran and committed to their safety. That may matter a great deal. For Israelis who feel safe and protected are infinitely more likely to make accommodations for peace.
Donald Trump’s Indifference Regarding the Two-State Solution Makes Peace More Likely
After their meeting yesterday, President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu gave a joint press conference, at which the former made clear that the U.S. has no a-priori commitment to the two-state solution. “I like the [solution] that both parties like,” said the president. “I can live with either [one state or two].” Jonathan Tobin comments:
His statement was typically Trumpian in that it displayed either his ignorance or his lack of interest in the details, but it’s clear that the president wasn’t supporting either the one-state or the two-state option. Instead, he was endorsing a diplomatic principle that is just as important: the U.S. cannot impose peace on terms that aren’t accepted by the parties, and we shouldn’t behave in a manner that encourages Palestinians’ ongoing refusal to make peace. . . .
But just because Trump isn’t demanding a two-state solution doesn’t mean he is opposing it or even that his stance makes it less likely. For eight years, President Obama insisted that the Israelis give up the West Bank and part of Jerusalem in order to allow for the creation of a Palestinian state. Putting all the pressure on the Israelis was a bigger mistake than anything Trump has said. Obama didn’t take into account that Palestinian politics and the Hamas-Fatah rivalry made it impossible for their so-called moderates to accept the legitimacy of a Jewish state, no matter where its borders might be located. Obama’s approach had the effect of rewarding Palestinian intransigence, which doomed his efforts.
Changing the conversation
President Donald Trump took his long-running battle against political correctness to his White House press conference with visiting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday.
There, with the cameras whirring and the world watching, Trump ditched the glib, politically correct catchphrase everyone throws around as the magic solution for the Mideast: the two-state solution.
In the most significant line from the 30-minute press conference, before Trump and Netanyahu met for the first time since the president’s inauguration, Trump – asked whether he was giving up on the idea of two states – replied: “So I’m looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like. I’m very happy with the one that both parties like. I can live with either one.”
In other words, what the businessman-turned-president essentially said was, “I’m not married to any formula; whatever works for you guys, works for me. Go figure it out.” His subtext: Negotiate.
The Israeli Right was jubilant, interpreting this to mean that the idea of ever having to create a Palestinian state in the biblical heartland of the Jewish people was put to rest.
And the Left, both in Israel and abroad, was aghast.
DannyAyalon: The Truth About Jerusalem (h/t IsraellyCool)

Trump’s Pick to Serve as Next US Envoy to Israel: Challenges of Reaching Peace Deal ‘Daunting’ While PA President Abbas Still in Power
The challenges of achieving an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal while PA President Mahmoud Abbas is still in power are “daunting,” attorney David Friedman — President Donald Trump’s pick to serve as the next US ambassador to Israel — said at his Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearing on Thursday.
The PA, Friedman noted, has “positions that are inconsistent with lasting peace.” For example, he pointed out, Abbas “refuses to accept Israel as a Jewish state.”
“I hope that there is a new generation of Palestinians that wants the same thing everybody wants, which is a better life, better opportunities for their children and to live in peace,” Friedman said. “We have to do what we can to help foster, both economically and politically, the development of that political class and accompanying middle class to try to draw out that type of leadership.”
Asked whether he supported or would advocate annexation of all or parts of the West Bank, Friedman replied, “I will not.”
Regarding the two-state solution, Friedman stated, “I think it’s the most ideal…I think it’s the path that’s received the most thought and effort and consideration. Obviously, it’s been tried for a long, long time and we continue to wrestle with it. Much smarter people than me have tried to make progress and have failed, but it still remains, I believe, the best possibility for peace in the region.”
UN Sec-Gen Claims Terror Group Hamas-PLO Combo Will "Renew Democratic Legitimacy"
On February 16, 2017, the UN's "Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People" held its opening 2017 session at UN Headquarters. During the meeting, Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti, Chef de Cabinet (Chief of Staff) to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, delivered a statement on behalf of the Secretary-General.
In the words of the statement:
"The recent announcement by the Palestinian Government to hold municipal elections throughout the country on 31 May, if they can take place both in Gaza and the West Bank, should present an opportunity to renew the democratic legitimacy of the Palestinian leadership and institutions. I encourage all to participate in these elections. The formation of a single, legitimate, inclusive Palestinian government, on the basis of the PLO principles would greatly contribute to advancing the Palestinian cause."
Gallup poll: 71% of Americans view Israel favorably
Although an increasing number of Americans oppose the establishment of a Palestinian state, a new Gallup Poll shows the American public is divided over the Palestinian demand for a sovereign state of their own.
Currently, 45% of Americans say they support the creation of an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza and 42% are opposed to it, which is a 5% increase compared to last year
According to the Gallup Poll, a large portion of the American public supports and views Israel favorably. Of the Americans asked, 71% said they support Israel, despite 27% who voiced an opposing view.
This was the fourth consecutive year in which support for Israel remained above the 70% mark.
The low point in American public support for Israel came 28 years ago, in 1989, when only 49% of people polled said they supported Israel. The high point, surprisingly, was just two years later, in 1991, when support reached the 79% mark.
When it comes to political affiliation, it appears support for Israel is greatest among Republicans, 81% of whom say they support the Jewish state. Among Democrats, 61% said they support Israel.
Dershowitz Trump’s 'one-state' comment a ploy to pressure Palestinians
US President Donald Trump’s bombshell mention of the possibility of a one-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was a tactic to pressure the Palestinians to accept a deal on two states, Alan Dershowitz told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday.
Dershowitz said the Trump press conference with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was “very positive... I was happy to see the obvious camaraderie” – but that the media misreported what the president said.
“Trump said he would not object to a one-state solution if both parties supported it. He did not say he would impose a one-state solution. And the Palestinians won’t accept it. I think he put it out there to pressure the Palestinians,” the renowned legal scholar said.
He explained that Trump’s message for the Palestinians was: “Don’t count on the UN, the International Criminal Court, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign, the EU or the Russians – if you want a two-state solution...negotiate it in Ramallah or Jerusalem.”
This is a “shift from the Obama administration, which only pressured Israel and never pressured the Palestinians,” Dershowitz said.
Dershowitz will be a speaker at The Jerusalem Post Conference in New York on May 7.
US ‘absolutely’ favors 2-state solution, UN ambassador says
The United States “absolutely” supports a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict but is thinking of new ways to push for a peace deal, US Ambassador Nikki Haley said Thursday.
It would be an “error” to say the United States is abandoning its decades-old policy of backing a Palestinian state as part of a final settlement, she told reporters.
“We absolutely support a two-state solution, but we are thinking out-of-the-box as well,” Haley said following a Security Council meeting on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
She repeated her statement of support to the two-state solution three times in response to questions from journalists outside the council chamber.
The United States wants to help bring the Israelis and Palestinians to “the table to have them talk through this in a fresh way, to say, ‘Okay we’re going back to the drawing board. What can we agree on?'” she said.
Raphael Ahren: Despite Trump’s indifference, the two-state solution isn’t dead… yet
Theodor Herzl, the founding father of political Zionism, famously said of a revived Jewish homeland, “If you will it, it is no dream.”
Nearly 70 years after Herzl’s vision became a reality with the founding of the State of Israel, Donald Trump on Wednesday said that, if you will it, the Jewish state can be turned into a binational Jewish-Arab state. Whatever you guys want.
“I’m looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like,” the American president said at a press conference in the White House, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stood alongside him, chuckling. “I can live with either one.”
Delivered in a remarkably nonchalant manner, Trump’s was a dramatic statement that appeared to upend decades of US foreign policy. In Israel, right-wingers cheered and left-wingers lamented what sounded like a death knell for the two-state solution.
But the truth is that while Palestinian aspirations for an independent state took a hit on Wednesday, it isn’t time to bury the two-state solution just yet. It may have been deep-frozen. But if and when the current circumstances change, it can be resuscitated, at Israeli and Palestinian discretion. It’s diplomatic cryonics, Middle East-style.
Germany says settlement construction could lead to war
German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel warned Thursday that continued Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank endangers the possibility of a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians and could lead to war in the Middle East, Reuters reported.
“We are concerned that unlimited construction of settlements will … make a two-state solution impossible and could increase the risks of conflicts in the Middle East, including possible war,” Sigmar Gabriel said during a news conference at a meeting of G20 foreign ministers in Bonn, Germany.
Despite being one of Israel’s strongest allies, Germany has taken a more critical stance against Israel of late, particularly in regards to Israeli settlement policy.
On Monday, the Haaretz daily reported that Germany cancelled an upcoming summit in Jerusalem between the Israeli and German governments due to Angela Merkel’s unhappiness with a law passed in the Knesset last week legalizing outpost settlements built on private Palestinian land, as well as the announcement of some 6,000 new homes in the West Bank and East Jerusalem since the inauguration of US President Donald Trump in January.
The cancellation of the summit followed unusually harsh criticism issued by Germany last week after the so-called Regulation Law was passed, with the foreign ministry saying many Germans who usually “stand firmly by Israel’s side in a spirit of heartfelt solidarity are disappointed” by the passing of this law.
Sarsour Calls Trump, Netanyahu Two ‘Bigoted Peas in a Hateful Pod’
Linda Sarsour, Women's March organizer and executive director of the Arab American Association of New York, said outside the White House on Wednesday that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is a bigot who is not welcome in the United States.
She also called President Donald Trump a bigot, and said that he and Netanyahu are two "bigoted peas in a hateful pod," Twitchy reported on Thursday.
Sarsour, a Palestinian activist, has become known for her controversial and sometimes contradictory statements. Twitchy noted two tweets in particular that appear to contain opposing messages. In the first tweet, she wrote that two women deserve an "a$$ whippin," and she wished she could "take their vaginas" because "they don't deserve to be women."
PreOccupiedTerritory: We Zombies Have Nothing On The Two-State Solution By Urgh(satire)
People make a big fuss over zombies rising from the grave and menacing the living, but at least you can kill a zombie again with the right equipment. Our staying power has nothing on the patently untenable Two-State Solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Considering that the two-state vision was doomed from the get-go once the Palestinians rejected the idea of recognizing Israel as Jewish, it’s had a phenomenal run. Country after country, administration after administration, has touted it as the only viable resolution to the century-old conflict. Pundits continue to pontificate on the centrality of the two-state solution to any peaceful future for the Middle East, despite no practical indication that it could form the basis for constructive negotiations, let alone work. We zombies can only marvel at the phenomenal undead properties it has, and wish we, too, could continue to haunt the world despite repeatedly being shot down, crushed, buried, or otherwise rendered unviable.
It’s been almost a quarter of a century since that historic moment on the White House lawn, with Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat shaking hands as a a proud Bill Clinton looks on. Rabin may never have agreed to the formation of an actual Palestinian State, that didn’t stop anyone else from declaring it an inevitability – the only real possibility, in fact, if you take the Thomas Friedmans of the world seriously. But the two-state solution came into the world stillborn, as there was never a chance the Palestinians would accept Jewish claims to the Jewish homeland. Nevertheless, this already-dead blueprint for a final-status arrangement proved ridiculously hard to kill with any finality. It still dominates the thinking of a hefty portion of the left-leaning political class. No zombie could hope to take that much of a beating and still remain intact, let alone kicking. We doff our rotting caps to it.
MEP calls Israel “Terrorist state” during useless debate
Two days ago European Parliament (EP) debated “the situation in Judea and Samaria, in particular settlements“. The wisdom of the EP doing so was questioned by some of the MEPs.
The debate was opened on behalf of the EU’s Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini, who was unable to attend. The main point of contention was “the new Israeli settlement announcements and the adoption of the regularisation law by the Knesset. With this new law, the Israeli Parliament has legislated on the legal status of land within the occupied Palestinian Territory, which is an issue that remains beyond its jurisdiction.”
Savour the irony of Mogherini calling out someone else on acting on issues “beyond their jurisdiction.” But it gets better. Because as MEP Lars Adaktusson says: “it is very likely that the bill will be deemed unconstitutional by the Israeli Supreme Court,” and at any rate, it hasn’t been implemented yet. In other words, even if Israeli policy is something to be discussed by the EP, it is too early to do so now. If the Israeli Supreme Court decides unfavourably, the only thing this debate, lasting the better part of 90 minutes, has achieved, is MEP Papadakis calling Israel “a terrorist state.”
Jewish groups slam Trump's handling of antisemitism questions
Two prominent US Jewish organizations have criticized the 'mind-boggling' way US President Donald Trump has responded to questions about an uptick of antisemitism in the US in two separate press conferences in the past two days.
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and American Jewish Committee (AJC) have expressed their concern over the issue.
A statement released by Marvin D. Nathan, ADL National Chair, and Jonathan A. Greenblatt, ADL CEO, said: "On two separate occasions over the past two days, President Trump has refused to say what he is going to do about rising anti-Semitism or to even condemn it. It is mind-boggling why President Trump prefers to shout down a reporter or brush this off as a political distraction. This is not a partisan issue. It’s a potentially lethal problem -- and it’s growing."
After dressing-down, Jewish reporter defends Trump against anti-Semitism claims
The ultra-Orthodox reporter who received a tongue-lashing from US President Donald Trump at a press conference on Thursday later defended him against claims of anti-Semitism.
“It’s very unfair what’s been done to him and I understand why he’s so defensive. And I’m with him when it comes to being outraged about him being charged with this anti-Semitism,” Jake Turx, a reporter for Ami Magazine, told Fox News.
US Jewish groups and some lawmakers berated Trump for his treatment of Turx.
But asked whether he was angry by Trump’s reaction, Turx replied: “I’m going to say something that will surprise you and will probably surprise a lot of your viewers, but I was actually very hopeful because it shows a president who is so committed against this problem of anti-Semitism. That it bothers him on a personal level, a deep personal level, and it makes me very hopeful that he will work together with the community [to combat the phenomenon].”
“He’s done an unprecedented amount of outreach with the Orthodox Jewish community,” Turx said during the interview. “And so we understand why this is so hurtful for him, to see himself being called an anti-Semite.”
Middle East Experts: Trump’s Promise to Israel That Iran Won’t Be Allowed to Get ‘Nuclear Weapons Capability’ Could Indicate Shift in US Policy
The Trump administration’s promise to Israel this week that Iran will not be allowed to get “nuclear weapons capability” could indicate a US policy shift vis-à-vis the Islamic Republic, two Middle East experts assessed on Thursday.
A day earlier, a White House-published joint readout of the meeting between US President Donald Trump and visiting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, “The two leaders agreed that the Iran nuclear deal is a terrible deal for the United States, Israel, and the world. The president assured the prime minister that Iran must not, and will not, obtain nuclear weapons capability.”
In a Thursday conference call for reporters organized by The Israel Project, David Makovsky — director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy think tank’s Project on the Middle East Peace Process — said the language of the statement “might be signaling something.”
“Is he [Trump] saying that the United States will not allow Iran to get highly-enriched uranium, that’s weapons-grade uranium?” Makovsky stated. “It would be interesting to ask either at the White House or the Pentagon about the meaning of the phrase that they use because every word here is pregnant with meaning and the past administration did not want to use that word ‘capability.’ They said, you know, ‘they will not get a nuclear bomb, period.’”
Netanyahu, Ryan Affirm Commitment to Hold Iran ‘Accountable’ for Actions
In his meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Wednesday, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) affirmed his commitment to hold Iran “accountable” for its actions.
In a statement issued by Ryan, the Republican leader said the two spoke about “the need to hold Iran accountable for its actions, bolster Israel’s qualitative military edge, and push back against international efforts to delegitimize the Jewish state.”
“Prime Minister Netanyahu and I redoubled our commitment to strengthening the historic alliance between the United States and Israel,” Ryan added.
In addition to meeting with Ryan, Netanyahu also had sit down discussions with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).
“The prime minister discussed the issues of Iran, Syria, Hezbollah and the Palestinians,” the prime minister’s office said.
January tally of terrorist attacks in Israel bloodiest in 6 months
The slaying of five Israelis in January by Palestinian terrorists made that month the deadliest since June, according to the Shin Bet security service.
Four of the victims were killed by a terrorist in Jerusalem on January 8, when the assailant drove his truck into a crowd of soldiers near the Armon Hanatziv building in the neighborhood of East Talpiot.
Another man was killed the previous week in Haifa. A total of 100 attacks recorded in January left 16 wounded in total, according to Shin Bet’s monthly report, which was published earlier this week.
Shin Bet recorded 98 attacks in December. Before January, fatalities among victims of terrorist attacks occurred in October, when two victims died in such incidents, and in January 2016, when five victims also died.
Of the attacks documented last month, 81 involved the hurling of firebombs.
Liberman, Iranian FM to share stage at Munich security meet
Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif will together take part in a panel discussion Sunday at the high-level Munich Security Conference, Israeli officials said Friday.
The two are set to take part in a discussion entitled “Old Crises, New Middle East.” Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir and Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu are the other two participants.
There is no recent precedent for serving senior Israeli and Iranian ministers to share a public platform in this way. Iran repeatedly encourages the demise of what it calls the Zionist regime.
The annual weekend gathering is known for providing an open and informal platform for allies — and adversaries — to meet in close quarters.
Liberman’s office said the defense minister was aware that Zarif would be speaking at the same session, but noted that he would “be speaking before the Iranian.”
'Israel would be the first to help Gaza if Hamas relinquished terror'
Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Thursday he would like to promote direct dialogue with the Palestinian people, saying Israelis and Palestinians must find ways to coexist and collaborate.
In an interview with the new Arabic-language website launched by the Office of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, Lieberman stressed that the settlement enterprise was not an obstacle to peace.
Israel, he noted, "withdrew from territories, and evicted 21 communities in the Gaza Strip, but didn't get peace in return. The problem is not the settlements, but rather a deep [Palestinian] economic crisis, unemployment, and the lack of [political] horizon," he said, adding that given the opportunity, Israel would help the Palestinians overcome these issues.
"Once Hamas relinquished [terror] tunnels and rockets, we will be the first to help them build a seaport and an airport, as well as industrial zones Kerem Shalom and Erez," he said, referring to Israel's two main border crossings with the Gaza Strip.
"We can create 40,000 jobs for the people of Gaza immediately, if Hamas would relinquish its call for the destruction of Israel, relinquish the tunnels, the rockets, and of course -- first and foremost -- return our soldiers bodies and the Israelis it's holding captives," he said.
Hamas rejects Liberman’s offer of aid in return for disarmament
A senior Hamas leader on Friday rejected Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman’s offer of massive assistance to the Gaza Strip in return for the terrorists giving up their rockets and attack tunnels.
Responding to Liberman’s statement on Thursday that Israel wants to help build Gaza economically as soon as Hamas gives up terror, Mahmoud al-Zahar said that if Gaza wanted to be like Singapore it would have done so already, Hebrew media reported Friday.
Zahar, a spokesperson for the Hamas terrorist group, also said that Liberman’s call for Hamas to return the bodies of the fallen IDF soldiers and the three Israeli civilians it is holding in exchange for economic prosperity was misplaced.
Referring to Palestinian terrorists held in Israel jails, Zahar said that Hamas will only release the captives when Israel releases “all the heroic Palestinian fighters from all factions.”
Launching the new Arabic, Hebrew and English website of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) — the Defense Ministry body that acts as liaison between Israel and the Palestinian territories — Liberman offered economic growth and prosperity for the residents of Gaza if they would only end the violence against Israel.
Lebanese Reports: Hezbollah Received 'Game-Changing' Weapons From Iran
Lebanon-based terror group Hezbollah is stronger than ever before, with “game-changing” weapons provided by Iran and an ongoing partnership with Hamas’ military wing, Lebanese reports have claimed.
The group is also reported to have increased its military activity south of the Litani River on the Lebanon-Israel border, in violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701.
An editorial published on January 24 in the pro-Hezbollah daily Al-Akhbar and translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) declared the terror organization as more capable than ever before of facing Israel in a direct confrontation, a fact that “greatly worries” the Israeli enemy.
Israel’s “vigorous efforts” to thwart Hezbollah, which include the targeted killings of senior operatives, have had the adverse effect of strengthening the group, the paper’s board chairman Ibrahim Al-Amin wrote. The terror group’s leadership has introduced “harsh retaliatory measures, up to and including readiness to enter an all-out confrontation,” he said.
Hezbollah’s involvement in the Syrian civil war has allowed “a vast supply of advanced, state-of-the art weapons of various kinds, including weapons provided by Iran, to flow into Hezbollah’s depots,” the editorial said.

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