Thursday, February 22, 2018

Trump's MidEast Realism



America & Israel in the Trump Era - John Podhoretz

With Israel’s 70th anniversary coming hard upon us, the question one needs to ask is this: What if the realists were nothing but fantasists? What if their approach to the Middle East from the time of Israel’s founding was based in wildly unrealistic ideas and emotions? 

Central to their gullibility was the wild and irrational idea that peace was or ever could be the result of a process. No, peace is a condition of soul, an exhaustion from the impact of conflict, born of a desire to end hostilities.  Only after this state is achieved can there be a workable process, because both parties would already have crossed the Rubicon dividing them and would only then need to work out the details of coexistence.

There was no peace to be had. The Arab states didn’t want it. The Palestinians didn’t want it. The Israelis did and do, but not at the expense of their existence. The Arabs demanded concessions, and the Israelis have made many over the years, but they could not concede the security of the millions of Israel’s citizens who had made this miracle of a country an enduring reality. The realists fetishized “process” because it seemed the only way to compel change from the outside. And so Israel has borne the brunt of the anger that follows whenever a fantasist is forced to confront a reality he would rather close his eyes to.

That is why I think what Trump and his people have done over the past 14 months represents a new and genuine realism. They are dealing with Israel and its relationships in the region as they are, not as they would wish them to be. They are seeing how the government of Egypt under Abdel Fattah el-Sisi is making common cause with Israel against the Hamas entity in Gaza and against ISIS forces in the Suez. They are witness to the effort at radical reformation in Saudi Arabia under Muhammad bin-Salman—and how that seems to be going hand in hand with an astonishing new concord between Israel and the Desert Kingdom over the common threat from Iran. This is a harmonizing of interests that would have seemed positively science-fictional in living memory.

[F]or now, the replacement of the false realism of [Obama] with a new realism for the 21st century seems like a revolutionary development that needs to be taken very, very seriously.
Note: The author did not support Trump's election.
[Commentary] 

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Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Called "Revolutionary Leader"

"Revolutionary leader" Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

- Dennis Ross

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's efforts to transform Saudi society amount to a revolution from above. MBS is not trying to secularize Saudi Arabia. In his words, he is trying to "restore" Islam to its true nature and turn it away from those who sought to spread an intolerant, austere faith that created a justification for violence against all non-believers.
    
The drive for change in Saudi Arabia is more credible because it is homegrown, not a response to outside pressure. It is being driven by an understanding that Saudi Arabia cannot sustain governance based on the lowest common denominator among all the factions of the royal family, the approval of the Wahhabi clerics, an economy dependent almost exclusively on oil for revenue, and 80% of Saudi households dependent on the government.
    
We in the U.S. have a tremendous stake in MBS' success. He is a Saudi revolutionary, and the success of his policies will be felt not just in Saudi Arabia. So would their failure. 
The writer, counselor at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, served in senior national security positions for four U.S. presidents. 
(Washington Post)
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Monday, February 12, 2018

Israel - Iran War Has Begun

Flames rise from part of a missile in Hasbani village in southwest Lebanon on Saturday. According to Lebanon's national news agency, the fragment appears to be part of a Syrian air defense missile that was targeting an Israeli warplane. (Associated Press)

Iran & Israel Engage Each Other Militarily - Noga Tarnopolsky and Nabih Bulos

An Iranian drone incursion into Israel early Saturday spiraled into a major confrontation that included the downing of an Israeli fighter jet and an extensive attack on Iranian military assets in Syria. 
(Los Angeles Times)


Open War with Iran Has Begun - Ronen Zvulun

What happened in northern Israel on Saturday is the beginning of the overt and direct war between Israel and Iran. The infiltration and interception of an Iranian drone over Israel, the downing of an Israeli F-16 and Israel’s retaliatory strikes against Syrian and Iranian targets that followed, are apparently just the opening scenes of a potentially wider conflict that could erupt if Iran continues trying to fortify its presence in the new Syria.

This was long in the making. Years ago, the Iranians came to the rescue of Bashar Assad in Syria and, together with Russia, ensured his survival. The problem is that they haven’t left. On the contrary – even though Assad is today in control of the majority of Syria, Iran is staying put and trying to establish an even greater presence within the country. On Saturday, we saw how determined it is to do just that.

It is too early to tell what lesson Iran has learned from the clash on Saturday. On the one hand, it succeeded in infiltrating a drone into Israel, even though it was ultimately intercepted. Its ally Syria succeeded in shooting down an Israeli fighter jet. On the other hand, Israel carried out its most widespread bombings in Syria since it destroyed almost all of Syria’s air defenses in 1982.
Israel’s retaliation was important for two reasons – it needed to neutralize the Syrian batteries that were used to down the F-16, but also to exact a price from Iran by bombing the control center used to operate the drone as well as other Iranian targets in Syria – the nature of which we will likely learn over the coming days.

The question will be whether Israel succeeded in boosting its deterrence. That depends on what Iran decides to do next. Will it keep on building its presence in Syria? Will it attempt another violation of Israel’s sovereignty down the road?

While the downing of a fighter jet is a heavy blow to Israeli morale, it was not totally unexpected and needs to be viewed through the wider context of what has been going on for the last five years. Israel has carried out more than 100 strikes in Syria, and in war there are always wins and losses. The fact that a plane hasn’t been shot down until now is the real story and speaks volumes of the IAF’s superior capabilities.

[Jerusalem Post]
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Israel Destroyed a Significant Portion of Assad's Air Defense

Oubai Shahbandar, a fellow at the New America Foundation [said] "the Assad regime's military suffered a major blow as a result of Iran's military incursion. The Israeli airforce counterattack destroyed a significant portion of Assad's long-range SA-5 integrated air defense network outside Damascus."
(Arab News-Saudi Arabia)


Iran Setting Up Air Base outside Syrian City of Palmyra - Judah Ari Gross 

An Israeli military official said the T-4 base is being used by Iran to transport advanced weaponry to Syria, Hizbullah, and Shiite militias in the region. "It is part of a process of a force build-up against Israel," he said. 
(Times of Israel)


Iranians Pushing for New Status Quo in Syria - Ron Ben Yishai 

The Iranian drone was launched from Tiyas military airbase (T-4), one of Syria's largest airfields, which is routinely used by the Russian Air Force as well as by Iranian agents.
    
The attack on the base needed to be carried out with surgical precision to avoid hitting any Russian military aircraft or personnel.
(Ynet News)


White House: Israel Has Right to Defend Itself

The White House said Sunday: "Israel is a staunch ally of the United States, and we support its right to defend itself from the Iranian-backed Syrian and militia forces in southern Syria." It urged "Iran and its allies to cease provocative actions and work toward regional peace."  
(VOA News)



The balance sheet on the day of fighting with Iran and Syria was clear: Israel demonstrated its ability to defend its skies. It struck Iranian forces in Syria directly and exacted a price from Iran. It destroyed many Syrian SAM sites and left Damascus exposed to future attacks.
The writer, former chief of Israeli military intelligence, heads the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University. 
(Twitter)


This is part of a wider Iranian plan not just to besiege Israel but also to achieve ascendancy over the Sunnis.

For years Israel has warned of the consequences of Tehran's aggression, but its warnings have been largely ignored by the West and the UN. Britain and the EU could play an effective role in containing Iranian aggression but their answer is appeasement. Instead of sanctioning Iran and supporting Israel, they mouth platitudes about restraint by both sides, which further emboldens Tehran. 
The writer is former head of the international terrorism team at the Cabinet Office. 
(The Times-UK)



"There is no doubt that an event like this [sending an Iranian drone into Israel] was not coordinated in advance with the Russians and occurred without their knowledge, and this was very serious for the Russians. Putin is counting on there being quiet in Syria and that Russia can manage events there to advance its own interests. 

Now Russia has received proof of Israel's warnings that Iran is dangerous, and that granting Iran freedom of action in Syria is not helpful to Russia. Rather, it will just upset the area and disturb the quiet."
(Mida-Hebrew-10Feb2018)
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UPDATES


Nuclear Deal Linked to Iranian Gains in Syria - Jonathan S. Tobin

The conflict heating up on Israel's northern border is a direct consequence of the Iran nuclear deal

By choosing to normalize relations with Tehran - and signing a deal that legalized their nuclear program and ignored everything else it was doing - the U.S. set in motion a series of events that led directly to the presence of significant Iranian forces in Syria.
    
Far from encouraging Iran to be a responsible member of the world community, ending sanctions encouraged its leaders to treat the deal as a green light for their quest for regional hegemony. The only solution is going to have to involve rolling back the gains Iran has made since the U.S. signed a deal that set them on their current path. 
(JNS.org)
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Must Israel Do America's Dirty Work? - Jonathan Tobin


Netanyahu waves a drone remnant in a recent speech
Though Trump deserves credit for helping to achieve a victory over ISIS in Iraq and Eastern Syria, which eluded the Obama administration, he also appears content to continue his predecessor’s policy of letting Russia control what is happening elsewhere in that country. Which means that for all of his bluster about Iran, its power is growing on his watch as much as it did under Obama.
While no one expects or wants U.S. forces to directly engage the Iranians in Syria, Trump can do Tehran more damage by announcing a firm date for more sanctions on Iran, in addition to a commitment to punish anyone who does business with the regime unless it renegotiates the nuclear deal. That would give the Europeans a stark choice between doing business with Iran or with the United States.

[Netanyahu w]aving the drone debris was a warning to America that if it doesn’t act, then Israel will. the Israelis aren’t likely to tolerate Iran consolidating its hold on parts of Syria. 
All of which means that a Trump administration that has been asleep at the wheel on Syria and Iran had better wake up soon before the situation deteriorates.
[JNS]

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Monday, February 05, 2018

Egypt's Secret Military Alliance with Israel, is No Longer a Secret

Thanks to the New York Times, Egypt's secret military alliance with Israel, is no longer a secret

Secret Alliance: Israel Carries Out Airstrikes in Egypt, with Cairo's O.K. 
- David D. Kirkpatrick 

For more than two years, Israeli drones, helicopters and jets have carried out a covert air campaign, conducting more than 100 airstrikes against jihadists in northern Sinai with the approval of Egyptian President el-Sisi.

Egypt and Israel are now secret allies in a covert war against a common foe.

American officials say Israel's air campaign has played a decisive role in enabling the Egyptian armed forces to gain an upper hand against the militants.
(New York Times)
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Friday, February 02, 2018

Advice for Trump from American Israelis




Advice for the American President - Caroline Glick 

[F]or the better part of the past quarter century successive US administrations have played by the Palestinians’ rules.

But then Trump showed up. When Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, he took something away from the Palestinians. That has never happened before. And now, reports that the administration is considering holding the UN’s Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA to the same definition of “refugee” as the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees means another Palestinian high card is in danger. If Trump carries out his threat, then the only Palestinians who will be eligible for refugee status will be the 20,000 Palestinians who left Israel between 1947 and 1949. In one fell swoop, Trump would wipe out the Palestinian demand to destroy Israel through mass immigration of five million foreign-born Arabs to its territory – in the framework of peace.

In an interview with Fox News, chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat was asked what the administration can do to placate the Palestinians’ anger and convince them to renew their contacts with Washington. Erekat said the only thing the US can do is cancel its recognition of Jerusalem. Meaning only unconditional American surrender to Palestinian demands will bring America back into the PLO’s good graces.

It’s time for Greenblatt to understand that the peace process is over. And unless Trump intends to humiliate himself and America and sell Israel down the river like his predecessors did, the peace process will not be resuscitated. The longer he and his colleagues pretend away the truth, the more they imperil themselves and empower a people that will be more than happy to move beyond eggs and tomatoes and effigies and banners.

Caroline Glick was born in Chicago and made aliya to Israel in 1991, after receiving her BA in Political Science from Columbia University. 
[Jerusalem Post]

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How to Restore U.S. Credibility in the Middle East - Michael Oren

Standing firmly with its Arab and Israeli allies against Iran will contribute immensely to restoring America's credibility in the Middle East. It will also have a material and positive effect on nonproliferation efforts elsewhere in the world. 

Michael Bornstein Oren is an American-born Israeli historian, author, politician, former ambassador to the United States, and current member of the Knesset for the Kulanu party
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CNN)
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Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Kushner's MidEast Cookbook



Don't Ignore Kushner's Quiet Mideast Gains - Ahmed Charai 

Jared Kushner, who supervises America's Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts, recognizes that Iran now matters more to the Arabs than Palestine.
    

With Iran and Islamic militants threatening the survival of major Arab states, many Arab leaders have quietly decided to align with Israel - dialing down their interest in the Palestinian drama.
    

Consider that President Trump's plan to move the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem did not touch off huge protests in Arab capitals or angry editorials in the Arab press.
    
Kushner realizes that more than 60% of Arabs are too young to remember the 1967 and 1973 wars with Israel.
    

As a result, younger Arabs largely accept Israel's existence as a settled fact, and generally see trading with its prosperous economy as essential to their own economic growth.
    

I know. I have heard them tell me these things in the privacy of their living rooms.
    

Kushner has befriended Saudi Arabia's deputy crown prince Mohammed bin Salman. Both are seen as disrupters of the status quo and both favor practical solutions over symbolic displays.
    

Other Gulf Arab leaders that I have met tell me that they have heard positive things about Kushner and are eager to work with him.
    

In short, Kushner's correct reading of this unique moment in Arab politics positions the U.S. to make historic progress in the Middle East.
The writer, a Moroccan publisher, is a member of the board of directors of the Atlantic Council.

(National Interest)
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Israel and the Arab States: A Historic Opportunity?
- Moshe Yaalon and Leehe Friedman 
  • In recent years, the scope of common interests between Israel and the Sunni Arab world has widened. Given the rise of the Islamic State (ISIS), chaos stemming from stateless Libya, and civil wars in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen, the Arab states - which are a pragmatic lot - can no longer claim that the Palestinian issue is the region's top priority.
  • The Arab people likewise see the Palestinian issue as a less pressing concern. An annual survey of young people in the Arab world, conducted by ASDA'A Burson-Marsteller, revealed that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was rated eighth among the region's main threats, down from seventh place in last year's survey. On top of this, the Arab states have reduced their financial assistance to the Palestinians.
  • The main obstacle to normalization is public opinion in the Arab world, which "obliges" Arab regimes to put a solution of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute before normalization. This hurdle must be overcome, either by settling the conflict or by persuading the Arab world that it is worth separating the artificial linkage between the two issues.
  • Current geopolitical conditions have created a critical mass of new and overlapping interests between Israel and the Arab countries, and there is now a historic opportunity to promote a process of normalization.
  • Hinging normalization on the resolution of the intractable Israeli-Palestinian conflict has not brought the region any closer to a solution; what it has done is to make both the Arab states and Israel hostages to a conflict that has no solution on the horizon.
  • It is therefore time for the pragmatic Arab camp to abandon this formula, which has so far led only to stagnation, and instead to seriously examine steps toward gradual normalization that will help to build mutual trust.

    Lt.-Gen. (ret.) Moshe Yaalon is a former Israeli defense minister and IDF chief of staff. Leehe Friedman is a research assistant at the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University.
(Foreign Affairs)
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Monday, January 29, 2018

Miracle: Saudis Commemorate Jewish Holocaust

Dr. Mohammed Al Issa

A Holocaust Awareness Awakening in Saudi Arabia - Robert Satloff

In December, I led a delegation from The Washington Institute on a visit to Riyadh, the Saudi capital, where among the high-ranking officials we met was Dr. Mohammed Al Issa, secretary-general of the Muslim World League. The MWL has long been cited as the key facilitator of Saudi Arabia's global effort to export a radical, hate-filled, anti-West, anti-Semitic version of Islam. Al Issa, a former Saudi justice minister, was appointed its head in August 2016.
    

Taking his lead from Muhammad bin Salman, the Saudi crown prince who has vowed to cleanse his country of extremism and return it to "moderate Islam," Al Issa seems to have a mandate to transform the MWL from an organization synonymous with extremism to one that preaches tolerance.
    

I was skeptical, but in our meeting, Al Issa struck an impressive note, underscoring a commitment to religious outreach and speaking fondly of his recent visit to a Paris synagogue. When I returned home, I wrote Al Issa, invited him to Washington to address my institute and urged him to tour the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum during his visit. He surprised me by welcoming my invitation and agreeing to visit the Museum.
    

A few days later, with International Holocaust Remembrance Day approaching on Jan. 27, I asked Al Issa whether he would send a letter to the Museum's director, Sara Bloomfield, for the occasion. Again, Al Issa surprised me, labeling the Holocaust "an incident that shook humanity to the core."  
The writer is executive director of The Washington Institute for Near East Policy. 
(New York Daily News)


- Dr. Mohammad Al Issa 
  • "On the occasion of the International Holocaust Remembrance Day, celebrating the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp...I confirm...our great sympathy with the victims of the Holocaust, an incident that shook humanity to the core, and created an event whose horrors could not be denied or underrated by any fair-minded or peace-loving person."
  • "This human tragedy perpetrated by evil Nazism won't be forgotten by history, or meet the approval of anyone, except criminal Nazis or their genre. True Islam is against these crimes. It classifies them in the highest degree of penal sanctions and among the worst human atrocities ever."
  • "One would ask, who in his right mind would accept, sympathize, or even diminish the extent of this brutal crime."
  • "We consider any denial of the Holocaust or minimizing of its effect a crime to distort history and an insult to the dignity of those innocent souls who have perished....Islam...decrees that anyone who assaults and kills an innocent soul will be held accountable as if he has killed all people."
(Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
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Thursday, January 25, 2018

Iranian Woman Becomes Symbol of Resistance


In the footage, she could be seen waving a white scarf which appeared to be her own head covering.  The brave woman is now missing, having not been seen since. 
- Danyal Hussain 

The Iranian woman who protested the country's 'modesty' dress code by standing on a pillar box in Tehran and waving a hijab, is missing and feared to have been arrested.

She had taken off her white headscarf and tied it to a stick in an apparent reference to the 'White Wednesday' protests against clothing restrictions on women in Iran.

Not covering your hair in public is a punishable offense for Iranian women, and the unnamed protester, a 31-year-old mother-of-one, is believed to have been arrested by police.

The woman has not been seen since the video of her standing on the pillar box on one of the city's busiest thoroughfares, without a headscarf or long coat as required under Islamic law, went viral.

The video, widely shared on social media, showed her waving a white scarf in a solemn and brave protest. 

The video and images of the woman are thought to have been taken on December 27, a day before economic protests broke out across the country, which helped the images go viral even though they were apparently unconnected.


Thousands of social media users have shared messages, dubbing her the 'Girl of Enghelab Street' after the area in central Tehran where she staged the protest. 

Using the hashtag '#Where_is_she?', supporters have been sharing the video and images of the woman, demanding that authorities reveal her whereabouts.

Graphic illustrations show her fighting dragons and using her hijab as a weapon against police batons.

Others have been inspired by her brave protest, and copied her act of defiance by filming themselves waving their headscarf in public.
[Daily Mail - UK]
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"Paying to be Abused"




- Yoram Hazony 
  • In a speech to the PLO last week, PA President Mahmoud Abbas denounced the British, Dutch, French, and Americans for having conspired, ever since the 1650s, to create a Jewish colonial outpost. He then cursed both President Trump and the U.S. Congress: Yehrab beitak("May your house be razed").
  • American administrations have sought to make a peace partner out of the PLO since President Ronald Reagan announced a dialogue with it in 1988. President Trump, Vice President Pence, and UN Ambassador Haley are pioneering an alternative policy, which can be summed up in Haley's words: "We're not going to pay to be abused."
  • For decades, Washington has crafted policies based on the tacit assumption that America needs the PLO if it is to bring peace to the Middle East. In its effort to "balance" the demands of this extremist organization against Israel's concerns, American policy inflated the PLO's importance, and it learned to tolerate and even embrace an organization whose views have always been profoundly anti-Western, not to mention anti-Semitic.
  • These policies did not bring peace to the Middle East. But they severed the ties between American diplomacy in the region and common sense - to the point that more than a few U.S. officials ended up believing that not only the PLO, but even Iran, whose parliament regularly curses the U.S., could be made a peace partner if it were paid handsomely enough.
  • In the relations between nations, it matters who blesses you and who curses you.
(National Review)

Prior to a meeting between President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, the president said: "We will be moving our embassy, as you know, to Jerusalem. And as we also know, that is way ahead of schedule, by years, and we anticipate having a small version of it opened sometime next year."
    
President Trump said, "When they [the Palestinians] disrespected us a week ago by not allowing our great Vice President to see them - and we give them hundreds of millions of dollars in aid and support - tremendous numbers; numbers that nobody understands. That money is on the table, and that money is not going to them unless they sit down and negotiate peace. Because I can tell you that Israel does want to make peace. And they're going to have to want to make peace too, or we're going to have nothing to do with it any longer."
    
"This was never brought up by other negotiators, but it's brought up by me. So I will say that the hardest subject they had to talk about was Jerusalem. We took Jerusalem off the table, so we don't have to talk about it anymore....You won one point, and you'll give up some points later on in the negotiation, if it ever takes place. I don't know that it ever will take place."
    
"But they have to respect...the fact that the U.S. has given tremendous support to them over the years, in terms of monetary support and other support....Respect has to be shown to the U.S. or we're just not going any further."  
(White House)
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Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Pence's Stellar Knesset Speech


Wow!  Vice President Pence delivered pro-Israel speech that will blow you away.  At just over 30 minutes, it's no 'soundbite.'  But it's a good time investment.


  • Through the generations, the American people became fierce advocates of the Jewish people's aspiration to return to the land of your forefathers.
  • Jerusalem is Israel's capital - and, as such, President Trump has directed the State Department to immediately begin preparations to move the United States embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. In the weeks ahead, our administration will advance its plan to open the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem - and that United States embassy will open before the end of next year.
  • In announcing his decision on Jerusalem, the President also called, in his words, "on all parties to maintain the status quo at Jerusalem's holy sites, including at the Temple Mount, also known as the Haram al-Sharif." And he made it clear that we're not taking a position on any final status issues, including the specific boundaries of the Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem or the resolution of contested borders.
  • President Trump reaffirmed that, if both sides agree, the United States of America will support a two-state solution.
  • The United States appreciates your government's declared willingness to resume direct peace negotiations with the Palestinian Authority. We strongly urge the Palestinian leadership to return to the table.
  • The United States will continue to work with Israel, and with nations across the world, to confront the leading state sponsor of terror - the Islamic Republic of Iran.
  • Two-and-a-half years ago, the previous administration in America signed a deal with Iran that merely delays the day when that regime can acquire a nuclear weapon. The Iran nuclear deal is a disaster, and the United States of America will no longer certify this ill-conceived agreement. At President Trump's direction, we're working to enact effective and lasting restraints on Iran's nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
  • Unless the Iran nuclear deal is fixed, President Trump has said the United States will withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal immediately.
(White House)

    Pence Says Embassy to Move on Faster Timetable
    - Jenna Johnson, Loveday Morris and Carol Morello 

    The U.S. will open its embassy in Jerusalem next year, Vice President Pence said Monday in Israel's parliament. After Trump formally recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital in December, the State Department began looking for a possible site on which to build an embassy to replace the existing one in Tel Aviv.
        
    The administration weighed whether to build an entirely new embassy, which could take as long as a decade and be very expensive, or whether to retrofit one of the consulate buildings in Jerusalem. A State Department official said the building being eyed is the U.S. consular service building in the Arnona neighborhood, which opened in 2010 on a site originally slated for the embassy. 
    (Washington Post)
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    UPDATES: 

    Pence Visits Israel's Capital - Rabbi Meir Soloveichik

    Vice President Mike Pence's address was one of the most Zionist speeches ever given by a non-Jew in the Knesset. The vice president is a devout evangelical Christian and threaded his remarks with references to Scripture. His speech was a window into the heart of many American Christians who observe Israel's emergence with wonder and reverence. "The miracle of Israel is an inspiration to the world," Pence concluded.
        
    For many centuries the Jewish people received little love and much hate from the nations of the world. Today, tens of millions of non-Jewish Americans share Mr. Pence's sincere affection for Israel. 
    The writer is director of the Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought of Yeshiva University. 
    (Wall Street Journal)


    At the Knesset on Monday, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence reiterated for anyone who may have forgotten that Israel is right when it comes to the conflict with the Palestinians, Iran, and the world. And perhaps most importantly, that Israel is on the right side of history. I sat in the Knesset and saw a modest American vice president with a clear message for the Middle East: The rules have changed. The U.S. will operate based on the values it shares with Israel and will not grant veto power to destabilizing players that issue threats. 
    (Israel Hayom)

    - Zev Chafets

    The Arab countries that matter aren't even pretending to be outraged by the Trump administration's tilt to Israel. The Palestinian Authority, having boycotted an American vice president, has had a chance to measure the efficacy of that approach. Mahmoud Abbas came home understanding that salvation is not going to come from Brussels. 
    (Bloomberg)


    Palestinians in Race Against Time - Prof. Eyal Zisser

    The Palestinians have steadfastly held to the belief that the passing of time without a peace agreement works against Israel, and that it was to their advantage to avoid making tough decisions and painful concessions for the sake of peace in the hopes that Israel would collapse or that the international community would force Israel to accept the Palestinian position. But the majority of Arab states have come to understand that time is actually on Israel's side and that every day that passes without peace ultimately inches them, not Israel, closer to social and economic ruin.

    President Trump's efforts to think outside the box and try to dismantle some of the landmines blocking the path to peace - such as the Jerusalem question - have thrown PA President Mahmoud Abbas off balance. Abbas' response was to declare diplomatic war on the U.S. In doing so, however, he is squandering an opportunity to entrust the diplomatic process to the only player who can move it forward. 
    The writer, vice rector at Tel Aviv University, is former director of its Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies. 
    (Israel Hayom)
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    Friday, January 19, 2018

    USA Pops Palestinian Bubble





    U.S. Won't Pay Additional $45 Million Pledged for Palestinian Aid

    The U.S. will not provide $45 million in food aid for Palestinians that it pledged last month as part of the West Bank/Gaza Emergency Appeal led by UNRWA - the UN refugee agency for Palestinians, the U.S. State Department said.

        
    The State Department said that Washington would withhold a separate $65 million from UNRWA, saying it needed to make reforms. 
    (Reuters)

    US Pops Palestinian Bubble - Caroline Glick 

    The Trump administration may be just about done allowing the PLO to use the US as its piggy bank and punching bag. 

    The US’s first response to Abbas’s call for Trump’s “house to be destroyed” was to announce on Tuesday that it will postpone the transfer of $65 million of its annual $370m. contribution to UNRWA. 

    On Wednesday, Haley indicated that the hold on the funds was not going to be the administration’s last move.  Speaking to Voice of America, Haley said the administration is done being the Palestinians’ patsy.

    On Thursday, Israel Hayom reported that Haley isn’t UNRWA’s only problem. The US Justice Department is conducting an investigation of UNRWA’s relationship with the PLO and Hamas for the US Congress.

    Abbas said that Jews have no ties to the Land of Israel. He said the Zionist movement – that is, the Jewish national liberation movement – has nothing to do with the Jews. Rather, Abbas the historian, who got a doctorate for his dissertation denying the Holocaust, said that Zionism is a European imperialist conspiracy cooked up by Oliver Cromwell four centuries ago and implemented by mercantile mariners from the Netherlands.

    On Tuesday, Channel 2’s diplomatic reporter Dana Weiss had a “scoop.”

    It works out, she revealed, that Abbas only torched his relations with the Americans because he was desperate and hopeless, poor thing. His representative had just been to Saudi Arabia. The Saudis told him the details of Trump’s developing peace plan. Trump, it seems, is willing to give Abbas far less than he is demanding.

    Obviously, under the circumstances, he had no recourse but to call for Trump’s home to be destroyed and to curse Trump’s ambassadors.

    As ridiculous as Weiss’s scoop was on its face, it was even more ridiculous at second blush. Abbas has never met an offer he liked. In 2008, thenprime minister Ehud Olmert offered him everything he demanded, and Abbas walked away.

    In 2014, then-president Barack Obama offered him even more than Olmert did.

    And Abbas walked away.

    So the fact that Abbas now rejects the draft of the Trump proposal is no surprise.

    Weiss’s story tells us more about the Israeli media than it does about Abbas.

    Her report, which every major and minor Israeli media outlet then re-reported, begs the question: What is our problem? Why do we make excuses for our enemy? 

    For 25 years Abbas and his predecessor Yasser Arafat, and the PLO, Fatah and the Palestinian Authority more generally, have not hidden that they are Israel’s enemies. They have said outright that they will never make peace with Israel, and seek our destruction.

    And for 25 years, our media and security and political elites have made excuses for them.

    Right after Arafat signed the initial Oslo Accord on the White House lawn on September 13, 1993, he jetted off to give a speech at a mosque in Johannesburg, South Africa. A courageous member of the Jewish community recorded the speech.

    Arafat told the faithful that the peace process was a Koran-inspired ruse. He was simply following the example that the Prophet Muhammad set with the Quraish tribe of Jews in Arabia. When Muhammad started out, the Jews of Quraish were more powerful than he. So he signed a peace deal with them. When the balance of power shifted in his favor, he invaded their territory and annihilated them.

    When news of Arafat’s Johannesburg’s speech reached Israel, the media, along with then-prime minister Yitzhak Rabin and then-foreign minister Shimon Peres, were quick to dismiss its importance.

    What did you expect Arafat to say, our betters sneered? Did you expect him to be a Zionist? And anyway, what does it matter what he says? If he so much as tries to continue his terrorism, we’ll crush him like a bug and send him packing back to Tunis.

    And when the suicide bombers started exploding on buses and cafes, they said it wasn’t Arafat, it was Hamas.

    And when Arafat rejected then-prime minister Ehud Barak’s peace and statehood offer at Camp David in 2000, the media said it was Barak’s fault. He was rude and domineering. The two men just didn’t have the right chemistry.

    And when Arafat launched the largest terrorist campaign against Israel in its history, our elite said Arafat was a patsy. He was too weak to stop the attacks so we shouldn’t blame him. And then they turned around and said Arafat was the only one who could stop the attacks, so we needed to be nice to him.

    Finally they said, true, Arafat was our enemy. But it didn’t matter because Abbas was replacing him and Abbas was a real peacemaker.


    And when Abbas wouldn’t make peace, it was our fault. And when he financed Hamas and paid hundreds of million a year to terrorists, he had no choice. If he didn’t finance terrorism, he would be overthrown.

    And when he incited terrorism and said Jews were poisoning Palestinian wells and “polluting the Temple Mount with their filthy feet,” well, he was hopeless and frustrated, and anyway, he’s really old.

    The thing of it is that the public has never bought these excuses. Rabin was elected on an anti-PLO platform in 1992. And despite the fact that the media and the Left said the entire right wing was responsible for Rabin’s assassination in November 1995, the public’s desire not to be associated with the murder couldn’t surpass its desire not to be murdered. So less than six months after Rabin was killed, the public voted in the Likud and Binyamin Netanyahu into power.


    [T]he Israeli media make[s] excuses for a tin pot dictator who spends his time inciting the murder of Israelis and pretending that the Palestinians are the Canaanites, the Philistines, the Jebusites and the Hittites, all rolled in one[.] 
    [Jerusalem Post via Jewish World Review]
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    U.S. to Relocate Embassy to Jerusalem by 2019 - Mark Landler

    The Trump administration is moving to transfer the American Embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv by 2019, senior officials said, following Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Instead of constructing an entirely new embassy compound, the State Department has settled on a more modest plan to convert an existing consular building in Arnona, a neighborhood in west Jerusalem. That will reduce the cost of the project and allow Ambassador David M. Friedman and his staff to move there as early as next year.
        
    The building, which now issues visas and offers consular services to American citizens, is a fairly new structure with better physical security than the embassy in Tel Aviv. 
    (New York Times)
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    On Jan. 15, the Palestinian Central Council called on the PA to stop "all forms" of security coordination with Israel and declared all Palestinian commitments under the Oslo Accord "null and void." Yet the PCC decisions will probably quickly be exposed as empty threats. The PA is in a bind. It cannot exit the Oslo Accord and survive.
        
    An Israeli security source said "[o]n the day the PA, backed by the PLO, decides to suspend recognition of Israel and cast off the Oslo and Cairo [economic] accords, it will collapse."
        
    The PA's entire structure and that of its security, economic and civilian institutions are based on the Oslo Accord. If Abbas decides to adopt the PCC's recommendations, he will be signing the death warrant of his rule and of the PA he is heading. 
    (Al-Monitor)
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