Wednesday, January 29, 2020

From Ian:

Abe Greenwald: The Opponents of Peace
The thing about peace between Israel and the Palestinians, however, is that the devil isn’t in the details; it’s in the broad strokes. Israeli leaders have long wanted peace while their Palestinian counterparts want to destroy Israel. Trump announced the framework at the White House today alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Both men spoke in hopeful terms about opportunity, peace, prosperity, and warm relations among allies.

The Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, on the other hand, has called for a “day of rage.”

Which gets to the heart of the matter. Palestinian leaders will take a day of rage over a decade of peace every time. And it’s their very refusal to recognize Israel’s right to exist and to negotiate in good faith that’s doomed the long-suffering Palestinian people. Palestinian officials have refused to meet with Americans since Trump announced the opening of the American Embassy in Jerusalem in 2017.

For decades, such self-defeating obstinacy found support among other Arab leaders in the region. This kept the Israel-Palestinian issue at the center of any discussion about Middle East stability. But that has unofficially come to an end. With Iran’s increased aggression against its Sunni neighbors—and Barack Obama’s mistaken effort to strengthen the Islamic Republic—Saudi Arabia and other Sunni kingdoms have formed an unspoken alliance with Israel against Tehran. They have more pressing concerns than Mahmoud Abbas’s latest tantrum. And without the undying support of the Saudis and other critical allies, the Palestinians have lost much of their leverage.

This is in part why the U.S. felt no pressure to wait on Palestinian input before rolling out its framework. And it’s also why, if Palestinian leaders once again fail to seize the opportunity before them, everyone will get along just fine except the Palestinian people.
Eugene Kontorovich: Palestinians wrong to reject Trump Israeli-Palestinian peace plan – It's fair and just
Moreover, the Trump plan ends the failed paradigm where the future of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) is held hostage indefinitely to Palestinian intransigence.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has already made clear that the U.S. does not regard the Jewish settlements as illegal. Now Israel will finally be able to regularize their status, immediately – a historic victory for Jewish rights to their heartland.

Unlike earlier peace plans, the Trump peace plan is based on justice and realism at the same time. The mass expulsion of people from their homes has never been part of peace agreements with separatist groups, nor is it a decent thing to ask for.

Claims that the plan’s release was timed to impact either President Trump’s domestic difficulties or Netanyahu’s reelection are demonstrably false. Democrats have had Trump under investigation since his first days in office, and Israel has been in an unprecedented series of failed elections for a year, with no clear end in sight.

There is nothing specific about this timing of the release of the peace plan. It is no secret that the U.S. has been working on this plan since near the start of Trump’s term. The Trump administration had hoped to release it much earlier, but then the Israeli election drama kicked in.

Forced to choose between abandoning its efforts and pressing on, the Trump administration eventually chose the latter.

Finally, the Trump plan must be compared to prior diplomatic initiatives, all of which failed to deliver peace and instead mainstreamed Palestinian terrorism. Trump’s proposal is unlikely to do worse.

But to avoid falling into past mistakes, the Trump plan and its implementation must make clear that its contemplation of possible Palestinian statehood is not something Palestinian Authority President Abbas can bank on if he rejects everything else.

For this plan to be fundamentally different, Trump must make clear that Palestinian rejection of the plan means rejecting Palestinian statehood itself.

If Palestinians are unwilling to make needed compromises – as Netanyahu has already agreed to do – the Palestinians must get nothing.

Noah Rothman: Trump’s Successful Iran Policy and Team Obama’s Existential Crisis
For months, Tehran demonstrated a willingness to court risk, and a direct conflict with Iran appeared imminent. As Secretary of State Mike Pompeo confessed last October, it was incumbent on the U.S. to “restore deterrence.” That was a serious warning. When a revisionist adversary is undeterred, it will test its freedom of action until it encounters an unacceptable level of resistance. Neither Iran nor the U.S wants a war. But by failing to calibrate its attacks, Iran could have easily miscalculated its way into one. It was incumbent on the administration to impose costs on Iran that would deter reckless acts of aggression against vital U.S. interests. Its decision to neutralize a terrorist commander soaked in American blood appears to have had the desired effect.

That is not to say that Iran’s provocations have abated. Sporadic rocket and mortar attacks from inside Iraq on U.S. positions, including Baghdad’s Green Zone, continue. But they are of the more sporadic than the assaults U.S. forces regularly endured last November and December. Foreign policy observers are correct to note that Iran is still likely to respond in unpredictable ways to the killing of Soleimani, which could take the form of asymmetric terrorist attacks on civilian targets far beyond the Middle East. That’s a worrisome prospect, but we have to remember that Iran has executed asymmetric attacks on soft targets since the Islamic Republic came into existence. If that is the form Iranian retaliation takes, it is a return to the status quo ante, and an indication that the Trump administration has made the regime more cautious.

Which leads us back to the American political media’s response to the news that Iran had, in fact, injured U.S. forces in its calibrated and telegraphed ballistic missile attack. Trump was accused not only of deceiving the public but also of callously downplaying the extent of the injuries U.S troops suffered. But what reaction would the nation’s tastemakers have preferred to see from the president? Histrionics? An ultimatum demanding satisfaction from Iran? A kinetic response against Iranian military and government targets? What strategic purpose would that have served other than to upend the president’s successful effort to deescalate the conflict?

For so many of the last administration’s devotees, the Trump administration’s approach to containing Iranian aggression is beyond comprehension. They do not seem to have ever considered that this is less an indictment of the president than a confession of their own insularity and strategic blindness. The worst-case scenarios these and other Trump critics imagined have thus far failed to materialize. That’s a relief to most Americans, but it’s a double-edged sword for the president’s most committed critics. The unavoidable implication that Trump and the hawks with whom he is surrounded were right about Iran is too much for them to stomach.

John Podhoretz: Palestinians Must Wake Up to New Reality in Mideast
Its hostility to Israel was one of the few things Iran had in common with other countries in the Middle East. But as Iran continued its march to ­enriched uranium, something extraordinary happened.

Implacable Arab foes of Israel (the ones that follow the Sunni tendency in Islam rather than Iran’s Shia denomination) grew terrified by the prospect of a nuclear Iran. That was especially true of Saudi Arabia —which has Mecca, the holiest site in Islam, within its borders, a city Iran would love to have under its ­control.

The Saudis, long thought to be Israel’s most dangerous geostrategic foe, suddenly discovered they had common ground with the Jewish state.

This new connection, navigated mostly in secret, meant that the importance of the Palestinian cause to Arab countries other than Iran began to recede rapidly.

A strong Israel was suddenly not such a terrible thing to them, and there was a reason for them to lose interest in weakening Israel.

The idea that the fate of the Palestinians is central to peace in the Middle East was axiomatic 25 years ago. It’s simply laughable today. That is the reality the Trump plan grasps, and grasping the same reality is the only hope the Palestinians have of getting past their wretched status quo.
Caroline Glick: Trump’s heroic truth and Israel’s historic opportunity
In Israel’s early years, every time the US ambassador traveled to Jerusalem to meet with government leaders, he would have his chauffeur stop his car at the entrance to the city, and replace its diplomatic license plates with regular civilian plates. The State Department refused to recognize that Jerusalem was part of Israel. The license plates were for Israel. And so, in a show of contempt and rejection of Israel’s right to its capital city, he removed his diplomatic plates before entering Jerusalem, and put them back on when he left.

President Harry Truman was the first world leader to recognize the State of Israel, just moments after David Ben-Gurion declared its independence on May 14, 1948. But his recognition was skin deep. Truman, like all of his successors until Donald Trump, recognized Israel’s existence but didn’t recognize the Jewishness of Israel. He saw Israel as a refuge for Holocaust survivors and other Jews fleeing persecution. But he didn’t accept that the nation of Israel in 1948 was the nation of Israel from the Bible. He didn’t accept that the Jewish refugees in European DP camps were the descendants of the prophets or that the forefathers of the kibbutzniks in the Jezreel Valley were the priests at the Temple in Jerusalem.

Israel, as far as he was concerned, was a new state, a poor state of Jewish refugees. And he treated it accordingly.

Truman’s anti-historical view of the Jewish state produced a two-faced American policy towards Israel. On the one hand, the American officials spoke warmly of the Jewish homeland. On the other hand, they treated Israel like a beggar that should be thankful for scraps and loose change.

This patronizing American approach changed after the 1967 Six-Day War. President Lyndon Johnson realized that a nation capable of triumphing over four enemy armies in six days and tripling its size is a nation worthy of respect and better treatment. Johnson upgraded Israel militarily and supported it diplomatically in the aftermath of the war.

But America’s ambivalence towards Zionism – the liberation movement of the ancient Jewish people – persevered. The US’s adamant refusal to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and Washington’s opposition to all Jewish settlements in Judea, Samaria and Gaza attested to this fact.
Ben-Dror Yemini: Trump's peace plan is last chance at 2-state
The current situation, however, which some mistake for "stagnation," is still very dynamic.

After all, the hard liners on the right take advantage of the situation to advance its vision of a Greater Israel. What they don't understand is that it will result in the demise of the Jewish State and the Zionist vision.

The historical Labor movement, which Meretz is largely a part of, built this country from nothing. It always picked the proposals presented to it on the basis of whether it will fulfill the vision of a national home for the Jewish people.

The Trump deal shouldn't be judged based the controversies surrounding the American president or by its peculiar timing. The only relevant criteria to consider is whether the plan promotes the Jewish-democratic vision.

The answer to that question is clear - opposition to the deal on the left will serve the opposition to the deal on the right and strengthen the Palestinian cause. This will result in one single outcome – a bi-national state.

I implore you to adopt the deal of the century, even if your support may pose a problem for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

It will strengthen the resistance on the right and portray Netanyahu as having achieved partial annexation but also as someone who defected to the left and facilitated the establishment of a Palestinian state.
On second thought, this might not be such a bad outcome.
Raphael Ahren: Despite Trump deal’s nod to 2-state solution, there’s no Palestine on horizon
In June 1990, Benjamin Netanyahu, who was a freshman Knesset member at the time, accompanied then-prime minister Yizhak Shamir to Washington. During the trip, US secretary of state James Baker famously rebuked the Israeli leader for his hardline positions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

There won’t be peace unless Jerusalem changes its approach, Baker said, warning that the US administration was ready to drop the whole issue and let Israel deal with the conflict by itself.

“I have to tell you that everybody over there should know that the telephone number is 1-202-456-1414,” Baker said. “When you’re serious about peace, call us.”

Thirty years later, as President Donald Trump unveiled his much-anticipated blueprint for a solution to the Israeli-Palestinians conflict, Netanyahu feels that the tables have turned 180 degrees.

“Now Trump is telling the Palestinians: if you’re serious about peace, call us,” the prime minister told reporters during a briefing held shortly after the “Deal of the Century” was unveiled in the White House’s East Room on Tuesday.

“I feel great. It’s a great moment. It’s really a historic moment,” he said. “No one knows how it’s going to develop. But it’s a change. We got used to being victims. We win wars, turned into a world power, and still act like we don’t have any rights. This is an archaic model. No longer.”
Jews Should Trust the Trump Plan
Ask yourselves what would David Ben-Gurion do? Refuse to deal unless he gets everything, now, or take whatever he can get his hands on and declare a Jewish state there. Come on, people, you know there’ll never be a Palestinian state, because there are no Palestinians – the only time Arabs call themselves Palestinians is when there’s a bunch of Jews nearby. Their allegiance is to their own clan first, and then to the great Arab Uma-nation out there, from the sands of Arabia to the Maghreb mountains. They have no use for a Palestinian state other than as a vehicle to make money and get rid of the folks from the clan across the wadi.

In the dangerous and blood soaked years of the 1936–39 Arab Revolt in Mandatory Palestine, the brave men and women of the Zionist movement invented Choma U’Migdal (Tower and Stockade). The establishment of new Jewish settlements was legally restricted by the British authorities, but the British generally gave their tacit accord to the Tower and Stockade actions as a means of countering the Arab revolt.

During the course of the Tower and Stockade campaign, some 57 Jewish settlements, including 52 kibbutzim and several moshavim, were established throughout the country. The legal base was a Turkish Ottoman law that was in effect during the Mandate period, which stated that no illegal building may be demolished if the roof has been completed. So our guys built the roof first.

They built 57 settlements in less than three years. We can surely annex a few dozen settlements in less time than that, can’t we? I recommend finishing the job by Sunday morning.

Just ask yourselves: what would Ben-Gurion have done?
JPost Editorial: First a government
The US is putting forward an unprecedented peace proposal that could revolutionize both Israeli-Palestinian relations as well as the Middle East, if it is handled correctly and with wise decision-making skills. At the White House on Monday, US President Donald Trump hosted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Blue and White Party leader Benny Gantz.

This “Deal of the Century” should be welcomed, but it must be welcomed with a caveat: Israel first needs a government coalition before it can begin to implement it. An interim Israel government, with endless elections, cannot properly handle the important, once-in-a- quarter-century kind of deal that is currently being proposed.

Calling the deal the “Opportunity of the Century,” Netanyahu is well placed to understand the historic opportunity here after overseeing ten years of stalled peace negotiations. More than twenty-five years after the Oslo Accords – an agreement that Netanyahu criticized – the prime minister finally has a chance to work with a friendly White House to craft a concept that meets Israel’s interests.

However, Netanyahu must follow his own advice on this and make sure that Israel negotiates from a position of strength. The strong survive; weak, chaotic governments cannot make peace, and they are at the mercy of their adversaries and short-term politics.
JCPA: Israel’s Critical Security Needs for a Viable Peace
Israel has historically been a small state surrounded by hostile countries, some of which are many times its size. In its first fifty years, it found itself engaged in five full-scale wars.

Israel has little strategic depth. Only 44 miles separate between the Jordan Valley and the Mediterranean Sea. A modern fighter bomber can cross this distance in three minutes.

After the Six-Day War in 1967, when Israel came under attack by four armies on three fronts, UN Security Council Resolution 242 declared that Israel had the “right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force.” It was not expected to withdraw fully to the fragile armistice lines from which it had been repeatedly attacked.

Prior to Israel’s unilateral disengagement from the Gaza Strip in 2005, President George W. Bush sent Prime Minister Ariel Sharon a letter of assurance about the West Bank in which he stated, “The United States reiterates its steadfast commitment to Israel’s security, including secure, defensible borders.”

Both Houses of the U.S. Congress overwhelmingly approved the letter.

What are Israel’s defensible borders?

Netanyahu: Palestinians must take first step on 'Deal of the Century'
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke on Wednesday afternoon on the Fox News program Fox and Friends, explaining that "we have a way to get" to peace with US President Donald Trump's "Deal of the Century," but "the Palestinians should take the first step."

He explained that the Palestinian people "must be given a vision, which I think is what the president did. Once we define the direction... I think we can get there.

"Getting Hamas out of Gaza isn't going to be easy," he continued. "Assuming we have a peace agreement, then the two parts of where the Palestinians [live] will be connected. We have a way to get there, but the Palestinians should take the first step."

Netanyahu said he is "ready to make those compromises and make those decisions."

"We are going to leave open the map in such a way that we will not contradict... the outline that the president put forward," he explained. "We are going to maintain our policies. Israel will act according to what the plan signals.

"The Arab states... have said, 'This is something you have to consider.' I think this is an amazing achievement for President Trump," he added.
"Trump is the best friend that Israel has ever had in the White House," Netanyahu continued. He additionally expressed his appreciation for America's recent airstrike which killed IRGC Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani.
FULL: President Trump Unveils His Middle East Peace Plan (Pt.I)

FULL: Prime Minister Netanyahu Delivers Remarks on Middle East Peace Plan (Pt.II)

EXCLUSIVE: US State Depart Spox Ortagus Remarks on Middle East Peace Plan

This peace plan comes with a map, why is this significant? - analysis
The map that US President Donald Trump put out on Tuesday to accompany the “Deal of the Century” indicates that Israel will cede some 70% of Judea and Samaria.

Olmert’s map showing a willingness to cede 93.7% of the territory, and to compensate the Palestinians with 5.8% inside the Green Line, was never formally presented. Trump’s map now has been. With the presentation of the map, a significant line has been crossed and a barrier broken.

Some may argue that this is an American plan, and an American map, and therefore not binding on anyone. They are correct. But considering the very close cooperation between Jerusalem and Washington, and considering the input that Israel had in drawing up the plan, it is almost inconceivable that Trump would have presented this map without Jerusalem’s consent.

As one senior US official said, for the first time in the 52 years since the Six Day War, there is a map that indicates for all to see what Israel believes it can live with in the context of Palestinian state.

The presentation of a map does not a deal make, obviously, and there is no guarantee that there will be a Palestinian state. But if there ever is one, this map shows the territory that Israel feels it can live with within the context of that state. It shows, for the first time, the territory Israel feels is vital for it to retain in a situation where it cedes land to the Palestinians to separate from them.
Kushner slams Palestinian leadership, urges giving up ‘fairy tales’ for peace
US President Donald Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner on Tuesday launched scathing attacks against the Palestinian leadership, which he said has lied to the Palestinian public for years by promising them “fairy tales” that cannot be achieved.

In media interviews Kushner gave to the pan-Arabic Al Jazeera network and US broadcaster CNN, he answered questions about the Trump administration’s peace plan, which was released earlier in the day, and which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he would agree to.

The plan does not include some key demands by Palestinians, such as the Temple Mount in Jerusalem being part of their capital, the return of Palestinian refugees to live in Israel, and the removal of Israeli settlements in the West Bank. It also allows for broad Israeli annexation moves. It provides for a future Palestinian subject to a series of conditions and limitations, with Israel retaining overall security control of the area.

“It’s time to let go of past fairy tales that quite frankly will never happen,” Kushner told Al Jazeera.

“The Palestinians have been lied to for so many years and they have been promised things and there has been no counter to the promises that have been made to them,” he said. “If they have expectations that are not realistic then I feel bad for them. They’ve been lied to by their leadership and they’ve been lied to by a lot of people and they’ve been used as pawns in the Middle East.”
The Trump Plan: How Israel Should Respond
How, then, should Israel respond? Given the opportunities and risks, Israel should respond favorably to the plan while taking appropriate action to maximize the plan’s benefits and to mitigate its risks. The response should include the following elements:
-Israel should thank the Trump administration for its efforts and creativity and accept the plan in principle as a basis for continued discussions with the United States regarding details.

-Israel should extend its sovereignty to all the areas in which, according to the plan, the United States has agreed to recognize Israeli sovereignty. This should be done by cabinet decision immediately upon signing, even prior to Israeli elections. Knesset approval of the decision is not required by law, but can be considered. Failure to move boldly on extending sovereignty would be perceived as a loss of nerve with long-term repercussions and would almost certainly, and deservedly, cause the Prime Minister grave electoral damage.

-Israel must make clear that its acceptance of the plan does not constitute recognition of a Palestinian state or the right to such a state, but rather is predicated on the obvious fact that the Palestinians are not anywhere close to satisfying the conditions set down for such a state.

-Israel is agreeing to this plan because of its trust in this particular American administration. Consequently, it should be agreed by Israel and the United States that Palestinian progress towards satisfying the conditions will be reviewed within several months. If it is found that no progress has been made, Israel will, in coordination with the Trump administration, extend its sovereignty to further areas of Judea and Samaria that are required for its long-term security.

-Israel has been negligent in acting against illegal Palestinian construction in Area C. Now that the United States itself has called for a freeze on Palestinian construction in all of Area C, Israel must enforce this freeze strictly and completely.
-Israel should ask the administration to anchor the plan in a binding agreement with Israel so that the conditions for Palestinian statehood could not be easily reversed or ignored by subsequent administrations.
Five Comments on Trump’s Revolutionary Peace Plan
Here are 5 quick comments on a peace plan like no other before it, or, as President Trump defined it, a “fundamentally different” plan. More news to follow in the coming hours and days.

1. What’s in the Trump peace plan? Two important items (and “peace” is not one of them).

Important item number one: Israel must agree to a Palestinian State. Small, demilitarized, but a state.

Even more important item number two: This Palestinian State no longer means an evacuation of settlements or an Israeli withdrawal from territory it deems crucial for its security or for symbolic reasons. In fact, the opposite is true: Israel can quickly annex the rest of the territory.

2. All peace plans pose the same dilemma to Israel and its neighbors: Is this the best deal the sides can hope for, or maybe they ought to wait for a better option, in some unknown, distant future?

The Palestinians have no doubt: The future will be better than the present. They could be right. Although, it is worth remembering that they relied on the same math when they rejected all previous peace plans.

Israel faces a true moment of choice this time. In return for the many advantages this plan offers compared to all previous plans, would Israel accept, on principle, that the Palestinians deserve to get something that they can call a “state”? I assume the answer is likely to be a resounding yes.
It's time to build in Judea and Samaria as we do in Tel Aviv
US President Donald Trump has spent months formulating the much-anticipated counter-Oslo Accords measure.

Yes, it is precisely this president, who many allow themselves to disrespect, who understood Middle East reality better than countless pundits, experts, statesmen, diplomats worldwide, and other advisers who, out of loyalty to magical-yet-misguided paradigms, and with a fixed mindset, bound our future and our fate with that of the Palestinians.

We are no strangers to slogans such as "give land to get peace" or "give them a state and the world will recognize us." In practice, we gave land and got terrorism, blood, and agony. But then we were told it was happening because we were "occupiers," and if we wanted it to stop, we needed to cede more land and give more. And more.

The Trump administration's "deal of the century" approached one of the most complex dilemmas in Israeli history with an objective mindset, recognizing immediately the urgent need to change its concept. Its true greatness is that it reflects the reality on the ground and has been adapted accordingly.

Trump's plan gives Israel the means to step away from the Oslo delusion, which now belongs to archaeologists to ponder over. This plan not only corresponds with the current reality – not the utopian one – but also gives Israel the opportunity to shape its own boundaries.

Netanyahu has now reached the same level of Israel's first Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion's achievements, not only in terms of the length of his term on office, but also in terms of establishing sovereignty and setting borders. Because in Washington we founded Israel's borders.
US Amb. Friedman: Before annexing settlements, committee approval needed
US Ambassador David Friedman said Wednesday that applying Israeli law to all Jewish settlements in the West Bank is a "process that requires some effort."

His comments came after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decided to delay a planned vote on Sunday to annex settlements in Judea and Samaria and the Jordan Valley.

Friedman clarified that Israel would first need to present detailed maps to a joint US-Israel committee before receiving official US recognition of the move.

"The agreement that we have with the Prime Minister [Benjamin Netanyahu] is that in exchange for Israel agreeing to freeze the territory that is allocated to a [future] Palestinian state and accepting our plan, we will form a joint committee to convert the conceptual map into more details, and calibrated, so recognition could be immediately achieved," the ambassador said.

"There will be a committee, it will work with all due deliberation to get to the right spot, but it’s a process that requires some effort, we need to see the dimensions to make sure it's consistent with the maps," he continued.

"I think everybody’s right," he said when asked about different statements [made by Netanyahu and others] about the timing of the move.
Donald Trump reveals Boris Johnson called to support Middle East peace deal
US President Donald Trump proposed creation of a Palestinian state with a capital in East Jerusalem, dependent on Palestinians taking steps to become self-governing, in an attempt to achieve a peace breakthrough in their decades of conflict with Israel. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday touted the Trump administration's Middle East peace plan, saying it presented a "realistic path”. The US President noted Boris Johnson was along with other world leaders gave his full support.

Speaking at the press conference, President Trump said: “America is prepared to work with all parties on our vision so, many other countries are willing, ready and able to work with us.

“I’ve spoken to many of them. I cannot believe the amount of support this morning has.

“I have been called by leaders, Boris called; so many called.

“They’re all saying, ‘whatever we can do to help’.
Britain Urges Israeli, Palestinian Leaders to Give Fair Consideration to U.S. Plan
Britain called on Israeli and Palestinian leaders to give fair consideration to a U.S. plan to bring peace to the Middle East, foreign minister, Dominic Raab, said on Tuesday.

U.S. President Donald Trump has proposed the creation of a Palestinian state with a capital in Eastern Jerusalem, in an effort to achieve a breakthrough.

Under the proposed plan, the United States will recognize Israeli settlements on the occupied West Bank and in exchange, Israel would agree to accept a four-year freeze on new settlement activity while Palestinian statehood was being negotiated.

“This is clearly a serious proposal, reflecting extensive time and effort,” said Raab in a statement.
Australia Welcomes U.S. Mideast Plan
Australia has welcomed Donald Trump's "Vision for Peace" as a first step towards a two-state solution to resolve the Israel-Palestine conflict.

The US president announced his plan at a White House event with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu standing at his side.

Mr Trump said he had told Palestinian leaders the territory allocated for a new state will "remain open and undeveloped for a period of four years".

"During this time, Palestinians can use all appropriate deliberation to study the deal, negotiate with Israel, achieve the criteria for statehood and become a truly independent and wonderful state," he said.

Foreign Minister Marise Payne said any peace arrangement needed to be negotiated directly between Israel and the Palestinians.

"We recognise that the US must play a role in any credible peace process," she said.

"Australia supports mechanisms that address the legitimate concerns of both Israel and the Palestinians, and we strongly encourage Palestinian representatives and Israel to enter into good faith discussions on a peace process.
Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Qatar, UAE welcome Trump peace plan
THE QATARI News Agency released a statement, saying that "the State welcomes all efforts aiming towards a longstanding and just peace in the occupied Palestinian territories."

"It also appreciates the endeavors of President Trump and the current US administration to find solutions for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. All solutions should be consistent with international law and the relevant UN resolutions," the statement continues.

Qatar also called on the sides to hold direct negotiations. However, unlike Saudi Arabia and Egypt, the Qatari statement also calls for a Palestinian state "within the 1967 borders, including East Jerusalem," as well as the right of return.

Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates, Yousef Al Otaiba, said that his country appreciates continued US efforts to reach a Palestine-Israel peace agreement. "This plan is a serious initiative that addresses many issues raised over the years," he wrote.

"The plan announced today offers an important starting point for a return to negotiations within a US-led international framework," he added. Otaiba was among the three Arab ambassadors who attended the ceremony at the White House earlier on Tuesday. Ambassadors of Oman and Bahrain attended the event as well, signaling warming ties with Israel and support for the administration's vision.

Jordan and Turkey, on the other hand, were critical of the plan. Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said in a statement following the announcement of the US peace vision that an "independent Palestinian state on June 4, 1967, lines with East Jerusalem as its capital – living in peace side by side with Israel on the basis of the two-state solution that fulfills the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people, in accordance with international law – is the only path to a comprehensive and lasting peace."
Arab Reaction to Trump's Israeli-Palestinian Peace Plan
Trump’s Mid-East Peace Plan is getting support from many in the Arab world . Ambassadors from the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Bahrain participated in the ceremony, Egypt and the Saudis are encouraging the Palestinian to look at it .

Saudi Arabia Backs U.S.-Israel Efforts to Achieve Mideast Peace
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has viewed the U.S. Administration's announcement of its peace plan titled: "Vision for Peace, Prosperity, and a Brighter Future".

In light of the announcement, the Kingdom reiterates its support for all efforts aimed at reaching a just and comprehensive resolution to the Palestinian cause.

Since the time of the Founder King Abdulaziz bin Abdulrahman Al-Saud, and through the reign of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has been at the forefront of the efforts in support of the brotherly Palestinian people, and in standing by their side in all international forums to attain their legitimate rights.

Among these efforts was the presentation of the Arab Peace Initiative in 2002, which stressed, in clear terms, that a military solution to the conflict has not brought peace or security to any party, and the comprehensive and just peace is a strategic option.
Egypt Urges Israel, Palestinians to "Carefully Study" U.S. Peace Proposal
Egypt says appreciates US efforts to 'achieve a comprehensive and just peace'

The Egyptian Ministry of Foreign affairs urged Israel and Palestinians to carefully review the peace proposal from the US administration and hold talks -- with the US mediating.

In a statement published on its Facebook account, the ministry said Cairo "appreciates the continuous efforts exerted by the U.S. administration to achieve a comprehensive and just settlement of the Palestinian issue."

It urged the two sides hold talks to find a solution "that satisfies the aspirations of both peoples to achieve a comprehensive and just peace" and sets the stage for "the establishment of an independent Palestinian state".

Egypt is a major player in the Israeli-Palestinian drama, controlling part of the Gaza Strip's border.

Earlier, reports emerged suggesting that Cairo was infuriated with the chief of Hamas, the terror group running the restive enclave, over his decision to head to Iran for the funeral of Qasem Soleimani, the leader of the expeditionary Quds force killed in a US drone strike.
Why the Palestinians Will Reject the U.S. Peace Deal
The Palestinian rejection of the U.S. peace deal will not come as a surprise to anyone familiar with their consistently expressed demands regarding any future peace deal. Cumulatively, these demands require the destruction of Israel as a Jewish state. Any suggested peace deal that does not meet these demands will be rejected by the Palestinians.

The Palestinian Authority was created as a function of the 1993 Oslo agreement. While the Palestinians were happy to assume the control and jurisdiction in the West Bank and Gaza afforded to them by the accords, they had no intention whatsoever to negotiate any settlement regarding the other issues.

The PLO/PA stance on Jerusalem is that the city is holy Islamic territory that no earthly body has the right to forfeit to non-Islamic rule. Any peace deal that suggests leaving any part of Jerusalem under non-PA/Islamic jurisdiction will be rejected.

Moreover, any peace accord that does not ensure the dismantling of every "settlement," including multiple neighborhoods in Jerusalem, and the expulsion of every Israeli from those areas, will be rejected.

Any peace plan must ensure the right of every Palestinian refugee to return to the area in which he, or most likely his father/grandfather, lived in 1948. There are 5,545,540 Palestinian "refugees" registered with UNRWA. The PLO/PA understand that the influx of these refugees would signal the end of the democratic Jewish state.

For years the Palestinians have consistently expressed their demands regarding any potential peace plan. Any peace plan, offered by any person, at any time, that does not capitulate, in full, to the PLO/PA's demands, will be rejected. The PLO/PA are still living in 1947 and still reject the very existence of Israel. No appeasing of them, short of offering the destruction of Israel, will ever suffice.
After Trump deal unveiled, Jordan warns of ‘new reality’ on Temple Mount
The Jordanian Awqaf and Islamic Affairs Ministry warned on Wednesday against a “new reality” being applied to the Temple Mount, a site revered by both Jews and Muslims.

The ministry said that it publicized the statement in light of Israeli authorities entering the central parts of the Temple Mount and taking action to halt its operations at the site. But it was notably issued less than a day after the US administration unveiled its plan to resolve to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“The Awqaf and Islamic Affairs Ministry cautions against the imposition of a ‘new reality’ at the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque,” the ministry, which largely manages the administration of the Temple Mount — known by Muslims as Haram al-Sharif or Al-Aqsa Mosque — said in a statement posted on its Facebook page.

“Non-Muslims have no right in the Al-Aqsa Mosque,” it added.

The US plan calls for maintaining the status quo on the Temple Mount, but it also appears to contradict itself in stating: “People of every faith should be permitted to pray on the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif, in a manner that is fully respectful to their religion, taking into account the times of each religion’s prayers and holidays, as well as other religious factors.”
Trump plan includes apparent contradiction over prayer rights at Temple Mount
The Trump administration’s Israeli-Palestinian peace plan appears to include a contradiction regarding the acutely sensitive question of prayer on the Temple Mount.

Located in the heart of Jerusalem’s Old City, the Mount is the holiest site in Judaism and the third-holiest for Muslims, who refer to it as the Noble Sanctuary (Haram al-Sharif) or the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.

Under the current 52-year-old status quo at the site, Muslims can pray at the site while Jews are allowed to visit — under heavy restrictions, in a predetermined route and only for several hours on weekdays — but not pray there.

The Trump peace plan calls for the status quo at the site to “continue uninterrupted.” And a “Conceptual Map” published in the document specifies that the “status quo over Temple Mount / Haram al-Sharif is preserved.”

But the document goes on to say that “people of every faith should be permitted to pray on the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif, in a manner that is fully respectful to their religion, taking into account the times of each religion’s prayers and holidays, as well as other religious factors.”
Lessons From Palestinian Rule Over Bethlehem
From 1967 until 1995 Bethlehem thrived. Christians came on pilgrimages to the Church of the Nativity in the millions and Jewish worshippers flocked to the revered Tomb of Rachel. Local vendors, restaurants, and hotels experienced great success as people from all faiths felt free to visit and walk the city streets.

But then in 1995, Israeli negotiations with the Palestinian leadership led to the Oslo II Accords in which Israel agreed to hand over civilian and security control to six cities – Jericho, Tulkarem, Nablus, Qalqilya, and Bethlehem.

Bethlehem’s longtime Christian mayor, Elias Frej, begged Israeli Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin not to give the city which has a majority Christian population over to the Palestinian Authority. He was afraid what Muslim rule would do to the Christians living there. But Israel, seeking a breakthrough in its relationship with the Palestinians, handed Bethlehem over to Palestinian rule on December 21, 1995.

This led to a period of horrific unrest in and around the holy city. Palestinian snipers began shooting at Jewish visitors to Rachel’s Tomb and even killed IDF soldiers who were protecting those worshippers. At times, the holy site which was fortified with concrete walls and roofs, had to be closed because of the threats from Palestinian terrorists. At other times visitors could only travel to the holy site in armored vehicles.

Aside from the attacks against Rachel’s Tomb, Bethlehem became a home base for terrorist cells and the launching pad for terror attacks against Israeli citizens. Its proximity to Jerusalem made the capital vulnerable.
Democratic Presidential Candidates Dismiss Release of Mideast Peace Initiative
As if on cue, 2020 Democratic presidential candidates dismissed details of the peace plan announced on Tuesday by US President Donald Trump. Right away, they jumped on positions set forth in the 180-page document aimed at resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict—or at least, to jump-start the process into action.

“The United States can bring unequaled leadership to resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but we must use that leadership to promote a just and durable agreement. Any acceptable peace deal must be consistent with international law and multiple UN resolutions,” tweeted Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). “It must end the Israeli occupation and enable Palestinian self-determination in an independent state of their own alongside a secure Israel. Trump’s so-called ‘peace deal’ doesn’t come close, and will only perpetuate the conflict. It is unacceptable.”

“Trump’s ‘peace plan’ is a rubber stamp for annexation and offers no chance for a real Palestinian state. Releasing a plan without negotiating with Palestinians isn’t diplomacy, it’s a sham. I will oppose unilateral annexation in any form—and reverse any policy that supports it,” tweeted Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).

“This president’s Mideast ‘Deal of the Century,’ like so much else he’s done in foreign policy, makes complex situations worse. Peace requires both parties at the table. Not a political green light to the leader of one for unilateral annexation,” tweeted former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

“A peace plan requires two sides to come together. This is a political stunt that could spark unilateral moves to annex territory and set back peace even more. I’ve spent a lifetime working to advance the security & survival of a Jewish and democratic Israel. This is not the way,” tweeted former US Vice President Joe Biden.
Rashida Tlaib and her 'squad' decry Trump plan
US President Donald Trump’s vision for peace received a warm reception in the White House on Tuesday, however, the radical left annihilated it before the ink had even dried.

The so-called "Squad" – four freshmen Congresswomen – Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) – admonished the deal immediately after Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu completed their remarks.

"Let’s remember: Trump has been impeached and Netanyahu was indicted," Pressley tweeted, even though that strawman argument doesn’t exactly pertain to the legitimacy of a peace plan.

"Releasing a plan without negotiating with Palestinians isn't diplomacy, it's a planned distraction," she speculated, calling the deal a "peace sham."

Tlaib – who retweeted a virulently anti-Semitic blood libel at the weekend – retweeted Pressley's tweet. She also chimed in, writing that the plan is a "political stunt and non-starter."

Although she’s not a member of the squad, progressive Boycott Divestment and Sanctions activist Linda Sarsour, accused Trump of rolling out the deal for his own political gain – even though his administration has been working on the plan for almost three years, well before his re-election campaign had begun.

Ocasio-Cortez didn't offer any thoughts of her own, but did retweet a J Street comment which accused the deal of being an "annexation plan" and not a peace plan.
203rd Mideast Peace Proposal Set to be as Successful as the Last 202 (satire)
The Trump Israeli-Palestinian peace proposal has been confidently described by experts as highly likely to be just as good and long lasting as the two hundred or so that have proceeded it since 1967.

A spokesman for Jared Kushner, special adviser to the President for the Middle East, and the wooden boy that was promised he could be a real boy if this plan works, commented, “Clearly if you absolutely refuse to study any history it’s remarkably easy to convince yourself that if people would just be reasonable and calm down, we can guarantee peace all the way to the inevitable Baron Trump presidency of 2060. We really don’t see what all the fuss is about. Now excuse me while we all cluster around a TV to watch Fox & Friends and have our confidence further enhanced.”

An Israeli government spokesman commented, “What’s the big deal? Peace deals are easy. You just give one side everything they ask for. Pose for a nice photo op on the White House lawn, and we can be at the bar for happy hour. Doubles all round!”

A Palestinian spokesman asked, “Does Trump… Does Trump think Benny Gantz is with the PLO?”
Silence speaks louder than words: PA has exhausted Arab leaders' patience
The Saudis and their Gulf neighbors are growing exceedingly tired of being held hostage by the regional conflict with respect to normalizing relations with Israel, and cracks in the norm by which such efforts are forbidden are now clearly visible. Those looking for proof need look no further than the fact that as of Sunday, Israelis can travel to Riyadh for religious or business purposes.

The two exceptions in the Arab world's understated approach to the American peace plan are the Palestinians and the Jordanians.

One can understand, although not justify, the enraged response by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who now understands how all of the generous offers once made to the Palestinian and rejected will never return

One can also understand Jordan's concern, as applying Israeli sovereignty in the Jordan Valley would further jeopardize the already precarious domestic stability in the kingdom.

But one also has to agree that Trump's plan – even if it does not meet an eager Palestinian partner in the foreseeable future – lays a more logical and sane foundation than any of its predecessors for future talks on resolving the conflict, which has been exhausting everyone for over 100 years.
Where Once There Was Fury, Palestinian Issue Now Stirs Up Apathy
For much of the last 70 years the cause of Palestine stirred the Arab street. From Yemen to Morocco and all points in between, laments were sung in song and enshrined in poetry as the decades mounted without a Palestinian state. Regional statesmen built careers by standing by a people without a land. Wars were fought and lost in their name.

After the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq, that slowly began to change and by the time Iran became the preoccupation of the US and its allies in the region, the Palestinians were cast into the unfamiliar role of playing second fiddle. Then came Donald Trump, and ever since the once-overarching cause of the region has barely been given a seat in the orchestra pit.

The unveiling of the US president’s much-delayed Middle East “peace plan” has generated neither enthusiasm nor anger – only apathy – in a region that no longer views the fate of the Palestinians as a lynchpin, or – in some cases – even a cause worth championing loudly.

So far has the pendulum swung that ambassadors from Oman, Bahrain and the UAE were present when Trump unveiled the plan in the White House. This was no longer whispered support from the shadows – instead it marked a very public endorsement.
Arab Israelis reject Trump's 'transfer' plan
Arab Israelis have reacted with anger, disbelief and sarcasm to US President Donald Trump’s idea of swapping the area known as the “Triangle” into the future Palestinian state.

Unveiled on Tuesday, Trump’s plan for Mideast peace, also known as the “Deal of the Century,” leaves open the possibility that Israel will swap Arab communities in the “Triangle” – such as Kafr Kara, Arara, Baka al-Gharbiyya, Umm al-Fahm and more – into the Palestinian state, if and when it is established.

According to the plan, Trump’s “Vision contemplates the possibility, subject to agreement of the parties, that the borders of Israel will be redrawn such that the Triangle Communities become part of the State of Palestine.”

Several Arab citizens, community leaders and politicians condemned the talk about placing their cities and villages under Palestinian control as racist and dangerous.

Leaders of the Arab community are scheduled to hold consultations in the coming days to devise a plan to combat the portion of Trump’s plan that talks about the “Triangle” area.
Abbas on US plan: ‘We say 1,000 times: No, no and no to the deal of the century’
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas firmly rejected the Trump administration’s plan to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on Tuesday, calling it the “the slap of the century.”

Abbas addressed the plan in a speech to senior Palestinian leaders, including representatives of the Hamas and Islamic Jihad terror groups, at the PA presidential headquarters in Ramallah.

“We say a thousand times: No, no and no to the ‘deal of the century,'” Abbas said, adding that the US plan “will not come to pass” and that “our people will send it to the dustbins of history.”

“We just heard President Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu talking about the slap of the century. If God wills, we will strike them back with slaps,” he said.

Abbas spoke about an hour and a half after US President Donald Trump released the plan alongside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House.

Breaking with past US administrations, the plan envisions the creation of a Palestinian state in about 70% of the West Bank, a small handful of neighborhoods in East Jerusalem, most of the Gaza Strip and some areas of southern Israel on condition that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state and Hamas and other terror groups in the Gaza Strip disarm.

The plan also calls for allowing Israel to annex settlements, granting the Jewish state sovereignty over the Jordan Valley and overriding security control west of the Jordan River, and barring Palestinians from entering Israel as refugees.

Abbas declared that “Jerusalem is not for sale” and the Palestinian people’s “rights are not for sale or bartering.”

JCPA: First Palestinian Responses to the “Deal of the Century”
Trump’s deal was received with fury in the Palestinian Authority’s Muqata headquarters in Ramallah, but it has not yet explicitly publicized how the Palestinian Authority would respond.

Our sources in Ramallah told us that the city’s tradesmen have refused to engage in the trade strike that the PA sought to initiate, and the parents of schoolchildren have refused to involve their children in PA demonstrations.

Our sources estimate that hundreds of protesters, consisting mostly of PA civil servants, participated in supervised demonstrations. Palestinian security officials fear that extremists such as Islamic Jihad and Hamas will take advantage of the turmoil to fire at IDF soldiers. Therefore, yesterday security forces conducted widespread arrests to prevent troublemakers liable to ignite uncontrollable outbreaks of violence.

At the PA’s request, the Arab League will meet in Cairo on Saturday, February 1, 2020, to discuss the Trump proposal.
PMW: Fatah threatens anyone supporting the deal of the century - in song on Fatah Facebook
“We are trampling the deal of the century"
Yesterday, when US President Trump revealed his Middle East peace plan – the deal of the century – Abbas’ Fatah posted a song that threatens anyone who supports and follows the plan. Singers dressed in military uniforms and carrying handguns and assault rifles sing that they have “experienced men who undergo training alongside death,” with “weapons in their hands,” and promise that “if talking does not help, we will erase it with cannons” - all while stepping on binders labeled “the deal of the century”:

Song lyrics: “We are trampling it, trampling it, by Allah we will trample it
We are trampling it, trampling it, trampling the deal of the century...
[We will trample] everyone who has signed it
and everyone who adheres to it
We are trampling it, trampling it, trampling the deal of the century
We have experienced men, who undergo training alongside death
We are trampling it, trampling it, trampling the deal of the century
Their [the men’s] weapons are in their hands,
beware not to come near them…
You seem to have forgotten their actions
and even their terrifying deeds…
If talking does not help, we will erase it with cannons”

Posted text: “We will trample it”

[Official Fatah Facebook page, Jan. 28, 2020]

Palestinian Media Watch documented that the PLO called for terror to protest the deal prior to Trump’s announcement of it.

Two days before Trump revealed his plan, official Palestinian Authority TV broadcast a filler between programs showing footage of Jews visiting the Temple Mount while text announced that they were “invading the Al-Aqsa Mosque” and that that “Jerusalem will not be defiled”:

Hezbollah blasts 'deal of shame' by 'savage Trump administration'
The Lebanon-based Hezbollah terrorist organization denounced on Tuesday what it labeled as "the deal of shame" announced by "the savage Trump administration."

In a statement issued in Beirut Tuesday, the Iran-controlled terrorist group described the plan as dangerous, adding that it will have very negative repercussions on the future of the region and its people.

It said the US has capped decades of blind support for Israel, its occupation and aggression against Arabs by trying to eliminate the historical and legitimate rights of the Palestinian people.

"This deal would not have taken place had it not been for the complicity and betrayal of a number of Arab regimes, secretly and publicly involved in this conspiracy," it added, in a reference to Gulf Arab countries.

The statement said the deal announced in Washington Tuesday "confirms that resistance is the only option" to liberate occupied land.

In Iran, an adviser to President Hassan Rouhani dismissed the peace proposal as one of "imposition and sanctions."

"This is a deal between the Zionist regime [Israel] and America. Interaction with Palestinians is not on its agenda. This is not a peace plan but a plan of imposition and sanctions," Hesameddin Ashena tweeted after Trump unveiled details of plan in Washington.

ITV News unfavourably compares Trump map to…1947 UN partition plan
A Jan. 28th ITV News video report by their Washington Correspondent Robert Moore focused much of his analysis of the new US peace plan on the immediate Palestinian rejection of what President Trump termed “the deal of the century”.

Whilst some of the criticism he cited seems uncontroversial, he included one line of argument that’s somewhat bizarre, not to mention highly misleading.

Yes, that’s right. The journalist is complaining that the US map doesn’t compare favourably to the 1947 UN partition plan, a plan that Jews accepted, and Palestinians not only rejected, but launched a war to prevent its implementation – inspired by an opposition not merely to those particular boundaries, but the entire idea of any Jewish state in the region. (Even pro-Palestinian activists typically only advocate a return to the boundaries as they were after the 1948-49 war – not the borders proposed by the UN in 1947.)

Of course, Moore doesn’t inform readers of these inconvenient facts, nor that Palestinian leaders have rejected every serious peace plan offered to them since 1937.

BBC’s Tom Bateman misleads on the Oslo Accords
A report headlined “Trump’s Middle East peace plan: Smiles and sorrow on the ground” was published on the BBC News website’s ‘Middle East’ page late on January 28th. Written by the corporation’s Jerusalem-based correspondent Tom Bateman, much of the article recycles vox pop interviews in Jerusalem which appeared in his audio report aired on BBC radio 4’s ‘Today’ programme (from 2:48:40 here) earlier the same day.

The written report, however, commences with an inaccurate and misleading portrayal of the Oslo Accords. Bateman writes:
“Palestinians and Israelis know from decades of history that past peace initiatives are strewn with turbulence, division and bloodshed.

But the Oslo Accords of the 1990s also left a structure in place, however fragile, that was meant to become the basis for a permanent peace – the so-called “two-state solution”.

It calls for an independent Palestinian state made up of the West Bank and Gaza with East Jerusalem as its capital, alongside a secure state of Israel along the territorial lines shown on the map before the 1967 Middle East war.”

The Oslo Accords in fact make no mention of the two-state solution and do not ‘call for’ a Palestinian state. They certainly do not dictate that the end-product of negotiations would be “along the territorial lines shown on the map before the 1967 Middle East war” – i.e. the 1949 Armistice Agreement.
New York Times Bares Its Bias in Peace Plan Coverage
President Trump’s new peace plan and meetings this week with Israeli politicians are turning into a fresh opportunity for The New York Times to display its bias.

The latest wave of Times problems began with a preview article by Mark Landler that carried a London dateline.

The Times article declares that Trump’s decision to move the American embassy in Israel to Jerusalem “drove away the Palestinians, who cut off contact with the White House, and doomed the White House’s efforts to build Arab support for its plan.”

The logical flaw there is that the three previous presidential administrations — Clinton, George W. Bush, and Obama — all failed to consummate a final Arab-Israeli peace agreement, notwithstanding the noncompliance by these administrations with the 1995 US law recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and requiring the embassy move. Maybe the effort was doomed anyway, regardless of what happened or did not happen with the embassy. The Times doesn’t consider that possibility, instead blaming Trump’s embassy move for Trump’s failure to achieve so far a goal that eluded the three preceding presidents.

The Times preview article is also inaccurately dismissive of Trump administration efforts to advance Palestinian prosperity. The Times writes that White House aide and presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner “followed up with a two-day workshop in Bahrain, which was boycotted by the Palestinians.” Actually, the Times reported last year that “about a dozen Palestinians” defied the so-called boycott.

Amid ‘Deal of the Century’ Tensions, IDF Beefs Up Forces in Jordan Valley
As tensions rose ahead of the publication of US President Donald Trump’s Israeli-Palestinian peace plan on Tuesday, the IDF beefed up its forces in the West Bank’s Jordan Valley region.

“In accordance with a continuing assessment of the situation by IDF, it was decided to reinforce the Valley with infantry forces,” an IDF spokesman said early Tuesday, according to the Israeli news site Walla.

The disputed territory constitutes Israel’s eastern security border and has been the focus of discussions on possible annexation of parts of the West Bank. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged to annex the Jordan Valley before last September’s Knesset elections, and his chief rival Benny Gantz has also endorsed the idea.

The Palestinian Authority authorized a “day of rage” to protest the Trump’s plan, and PA President Mahmoud Abbas called on the Arab League to hold emergency talks on it.

A conference has already been held on the issue between Palestinian factions, including members of the terrorist group Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip.
Dutch Court Not Competent to Hear War Crimes Case Against Israel’s Gantz
A Dutch district court on Wednesday threw out a case alleging war crimes against former IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz brought by a Dutch Palestinian who lost six relatives in an Israeli air strike in the Gaza Strip in 2014, saying it did not have jurisdiction.

The civil case for damages was filed referring to universal jurisdiction rules by claimant Ismail Ziada.

Judicial authorities in countries that recognize universal jurisdiction for serious offenses such as war crimes and torture can investigate and prosecute those crimes no matter where they were committed.

“A Dutch judge is not competent to rule on the case of the claimant,” presiding Judge Larisa Alwin said, explaining that universal jurisdiction could be applied for individual criminal responsibility but not in a civil case.

In civil cases in national courts, Gantz enjoys immunity from prosecution due to his government function at the time of the alleged crimes, Alwin said.
Russia to release backpacker as gesture to US, Israeli official says
An Israeli official on Wednesday said Russia was set to release Israeli-American backpacker Naama Issachar from prison imminently, ahead of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to Moscow for talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The Prime Minister’s Office said Tuesday that Netanyahu would travel to Russia from Washington to update Putin on US President Donald Trump’s Israeli-Palestinian peace plan, raising speculation the trip could herald Issachar’s release.

Putin, who has the final say on a pardon for Issachar, has yet to publicly announce a decision on her fate.

The Israeli official said the expected release was the result of a Russian goodwill gesture toward the United States, stressing that Israel did not give Moscow anything in return.

“There was no deal with Russia. Naama’s release was done as a gesture by President [Vladimir] Putin to the US,” a senior official in an inter-ministerial committee dealing with the case told reporters in Netanyahu’s entourage.
Likud source: Jonathan Pollard will be brought to Israel before election
After the unveiling of the Trump peace plan and the expected imminent release of Israeli-American backpacker Naama Issachar from Russian prison, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu could soon pull another rabbit out of his hat, ahead of the Knesset elections: bringing Jonathan Pollard to Israel.

A source in Netanyahu’s Likud party has told Zman Yisrael, The Times of Israel’s Hebrew-language sister site, that Netanyahu is aiming to have the former spy land on the tarmac at Ben Gurion Airport a week before the March 2 vote.

Pollard, who served 30 years in prison for providing sensitive intelligence to Israel, made a public appeal to Netanyahu in August and asked him to intervene on his behalf to urge US President Donald Trump to commute his parole, so he could care for his sick wife.

He told Channel 12 news at the time that Esther Pollard had been diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer for the third time.

“It’s a matter of life and death, it’s a very human issue, it’s a crisis for my wife and me,” he said.

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This blog may be a labor of love for me, but it takes a lot of effort, time and money. For over 19 years and 40,000 articles I have been providing accurate, original news that would have remained unnoticed. I've written hundreds of scoops and sometimes my reporting ends up making a real difference. I appreciate any donations you can give to keep this blog going.


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