Tuesday, January 31, 2017
Friday, January 20, 2017
Iran Repopulates Syria with Shia Muslims - Martin Chulov
People are starting to return to the valleys between Damascus and Lebanon, where whole communities had abandoned their lives to war. But the people settling in are not the same as those who fled during the past six years. Unlike the predominantly Sunni Muslim families who once lived there, the new arrivals are Shia Muslims, not just from elsewhere in Syria, but also from Lebanon and Iraq.
The population swaps are central to a plan to make demographic changes to parts of Syria, realigning the country into zones of influence that backers of Bashar al-Assad, led by Iran, can directly control. Iran's project will fundamentally alter the social landscape of Syria, as well as reinforce Hizbullah in Lebanon, and consolidate its influence from Tehran to Israel's northern border. "Iran and the [Syrian] regime don't want any Sunnis between Damascus and Homs and the Lebanese border," said one senior Lebanese leader. "This represents a historic shift in populations."
U.S. Should Isolate Iran Immediately - Jeb Bush and Dennis Ross
A pattern of Iranian aggression has accelerated in the year since the nuclear deal with Iran was implemented. Yet the Obama administration has ignored the comprehensive nature of the Iranian threat and soft-pedaled non-nuclear sanctions seemingly out of fear that Iran would walk away from the nuclear deal. As a result, Iran's leaders have become more emboldened and its footprint continues to grow across the region.
Iranian advisors with Shia militias from as far away as Afghanistan flooded Syria, giving Tehran a military arc of influence stretching to the Mediterranean. Eleven Arab states also recently accused Iran of sponsoring terrorism and meddling in their internal affairs.
The U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control should not provide licenses to Boeing and Airbus until Iran stops using Iran Air and other carriers to ferry weapons and personnel for the Assad regime and Hizbullah in Lebanon. The new administration must also establish unmistakable red lines for continued Iranian harassment of U.S. Navy ships in the Persian Gulf. Only through a new campaign of pressure can the U.S. demonstrate to Iran that it runs very great risks if its policies don't change and if it is ever tempted to pursue nuclear weapons again.
Jeb Bush was governor of Florida (1999-2007). Dennis Ross, counselor at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, was a special assistant to President Obama (2009-2011).
The Sunni Muslim World vs. Iran - Zvi Mazel
Sunnis make up 85% of the Muslim world, while Shi'ites are less than 15%. Nevertheless, Iran enjoys an advantage because it is the supreme Shi'ite religious and political authority, whereas in the Sunni world, every imam can issue his own fatwas - though there is no general obligation to follow them. The lack of religious solidarity - let alone a common policy - severely hampers the ability of Sunni countries to counter the Iranian threat.
Beginning with Khomeini, Tehran has developed a powerful and aggressive army to push its agenda: exporting its Islamic Revolution to Sunni states as a first step before attacking "the great Satan" - the U.S. and its allies. Iran was a major driving force in the disintegration of Iraq, Syria, Yemen and the shambles that is Lebanon.
The writer is a former Israeli ambassador to Romania, Egypt and Sweden.
Trump Administration: Turning Point in MidEast Policy? - Dore Gold
The inauguration of Donald J. Trump as the 45th president of the United States is likely to lead to a major transformation of U.S. Middle East policy. Many of the assumptions that accompanied the years of President Barack Obama will no longer be held by American policymakers.
(Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
Thursday, January 19, 2017
Moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem - Robert Satloff
Any assessment of moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem needs to place appropriate value not just on repairing a historic injustice but on the powerful signal broadcast to the Middle East - and the wider world - that a new administration is determined to chart a new course in the region, one in which fulfilling commitments to allies is a top priority.
The move of the U.S. embassy is 69 years overdue. Given that American administrations of both parties have done official business with the government of Israel in Jerusalem for seven decades and that five presidents have held official meetings with Israeli prime ministers in Jerusalem going back to the early 1970s, it is right and proper that America's main diplomatic mission to Israel be situated in the city Israelis have considered their capital from the founding of the state. Moreover, the U.S. should call on all UN member states to join in establishing their embassies to Israel in Jerusalem.
U.S. officials should tell Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas that the relocation is happening and that he and the PA have an interest in preventing, not provoking, violence from which only radicals, especially Hamas, can benefit. Abbas should be told not to urge mass protest that has the potential to turn violent, and that the continued provision of economic aid will depend on how the Palestinian leadership comports itself in presenting the facts of the embassy relocation to the Palestinian people.
The writer is executive director of The Washington Institute.
(Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
Trump: I Did Not Forget Jerusalem Pledge
- Alexander Fulbright
President-elect Donald Trump was asked by Israel Hayom if he intends to go through with his pledge to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem. "Of course I remember what I said about Jerusalem. You know that I am not a person who breaks promises," Trump responded in remarks published in Hebrew on.
(Times of Israel)
Call to Move U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem Began as a Liberal Initiative with McGovern
- Robert Abrams
Moving the U.S. embassy to Israel's capital began as a liberal initiative in 1972. As early supporters of George McGovern, my friend Hilly Gross and I were asked at a meeting of key advisers to help hammer out elements for a McGovern Middle East program. That summer, Democrats adopted the following statement in the party's platform: "The next Democratic administration should recognize and support the established status of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, with free access to all its holy places provided to all faiths. As a symbol of this stand, the United States Embassy should be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem." It was the first time an American political party adopted such a proposal. Soon thereafter, Republicans adopted it as well.
In 1995, during Bill Clinton's presidency, the Jerusalem Embassy Act was passed to fund the relocation of the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The legislation included the ability of the president to waive the requirement of moving the embassy. That, however, was envisioned as a safeguard in the event negotiations were at a particularly sensitive moment; it was never intended to be the default policy of the U.S., certainly not during a time when negotiations were not even taking place.
The embassy would be placed in West Jerusalem, a part of the city that under any peace plan will remain part of Israel. The real reason Palestinians object to an embassy move to any part of Jerusalem is that they still do not accept Israel's existence as a Jewish state, which is what truly hinders prospects for peace. If moving the embassy to an undisputed section of Jerusalem is sufficient "provocation" to derail any chance for peace, we must concede that such a chance was an illusion to begin with.
The writer is former attorney general of New York.
(New York Daily News)
Jerusalem Already Has Plenty of Embassies - for the Palestinians
- Eylon Aslan-Levy
Lost in the controversy over moving the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem is the fact that the U.S. is one of nine countries that already has a de facto embassy in Jerusalem - to the Palestinians. The U.S. consulate-general in Jerusalem, just around the corner from the Prime Minister's residence - handles diplomatic relations with the Palestinian Authority. While the consulates of the UK, Turkey, Belgium, Spain and Sweden are in eastern Jerusalem, the consulates of the U.S., France, Italy, and Greece are in western Jerusalem.
None of these countries recognize Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem and say they cannot host embassies there lest it give the impression that they recognize Israel's sovereignty in the city. At the same time, the Palestinians enjoy the privilege of diplomatic missions in the very same city.
Moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem would be recognition that since the Palestinians already enjoy diplomatic missions in Jerusalem, the denial of the same to the country that controls that city is an act of inconsistency. Moving the U.S. embassy would right a historic wrong.
The U.S. Should Move Its East Jerusalem "Embassy" to Ramallah
- David Bernstein (Washington Post)
- American policy with regard to Jerusalem is incoherent. On the one hand, U.S. policy has long favored a negotiated settlement between Israel and its adversaries based in some way on the 1967 armistice lines, which places west Jerusalem firmly in Israeli hands.
- On the other hand, the U.S. government refuses to officially recognize that any part of Jerusalem is part of Israel. As a result, American citizens born in west Jerusalem must register their country of birth as "Jerusalem," not Israel. Moreover, the U.S. government keeps its embassy in Tel Aviv rather than in west Jerusalem, the seat of Israeli government.
- Nevertheless, the U.S. government maintains a consulate in east Jerusalem that serves the Arab residents of east Jerusalem and the West Bank. The consulate's own website notes that "the Consulate General has served as the de facto representative of the United States government to the Palestinian Authority."
- This raises an obvious question: If the U.S. government refuses to place its Israel embassy in west Jerusalem, what possible rationale could there be for its de facto Palestinian embassy to be in east Jerusalem?
- Informing the Palestinian Authority that the U.S. consulate is moving to Ramallah might even make the P.A. rethink whether it really wants to oppose having the U.S. Embassy relocate to west Jerusalem.
The writer is a professor at the George Mason University School of Law.
Friday, January 13, 2017
|In Paris, Kerry called ISIS attackers there "psychopathic monsters." He appears to hold another standard for Palestinian jihadis.|
The Threat of Radical Islamic Terrorism Is the Same in Europe and Israel
- Dan Diker
Radical Islamic terrorism in Europe and Jerusalem are both motivated by extremist ideologies and must be condemned equally.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry branded the ISIS terrorists who massacred 130 people in Paris in 2015 as "psychopathic monsters." "Psychopathic," ideologically and religiously motivated terrorists also live and work in Jerusalem, like the "truck terrorist" Fadi al-Qanbar.
He was not driven by socioeconomic deprivation or nationalist sentiment. He enjoyed complete freedom of movement and received the same social and economic benefits as Jewish residents of Jerusalem.From a jihadi point of view, there is no difference between terrorism in Berlin, Nice, or Jerusalem. Palestinian jihadis and their fellow travelers in ISIS, al-Qaeda, Jabhat Fateh al-Sham in Syria, Hamas, Iran's IRGC and its Hizbullah proxy have declared that Islamic terrorism against Europe and Israel stems from the same radical roots and aims for the same extremist end: exclusive Islamic sovereignty across the lands of the Near East and ultimately the world.
The West must condemn and battle Islamic terrorism unconditionally and without reservation wherever it strikes.
The writer is director of the Program to Counter Political Warfare and BDS at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.
A Life of Degradation and Bitterness under Fatah Rule
- A letter from a West Bank Palestinian attorney
(Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
The Jerusalem Center was contacted by a respected Palestinian attorney from a West Bank city. After personally interviewing him, we are publishing a letter he wrote. His identity will not be made public to ensure his safety.
Below are excerpts. Read the full letter here.
- Palestinian Authority/Fatah leaders forget that the people lean toward Hamas not because they love it, but because they hate what the Fatah movement does - which only gets worse by the day.
- The Palestinian citizen suffers from ugly terror if he expresses an opinion that is opposed to that of the PA, or insists on his rights before an official or has refused to pay a bribe to a senior official, his sons, or his bodyguards.
- The citizen wonders - is he supposed to pay the extortion money to the members of the Fatah Executive Committee, or to the members of the Fatah Central Committee, or to their sons, when he does not have the wherewithal to protect himself from their evil and from the evil of their sons, their bodyguards, and Fatah?
- I demand of the international legal organizations that pretend to defend human rights, the states of the European Union, and the United States, the great economic and rhetorical supporter of the PA, and even of the United Nations, which has a commitment to human rights, to set up investigatory committees on the irregularities of the Palestinian Authority.
- The security apparatus of the PA and the Fatah movement has been committing crimes against the Palestinian people, which reach the level of crimes against humanity, for half a century - and the crimes continue. I still have never heard of any settler, Israeli soldier, or Israeli officer extorting a Palestinian citizen. It is what the PA and Fatah people do.
Tuesday, January 10, 2017
On Palestinian Statehood - Bret Stephens
- Would a Palestinian state serve the cause of Mideast peace? This used to be conventional wisdom, on the theory that a Palestinian state would lead to peace between Israel and its Arab neighbors.
- Today the proposition is ridiculous. No deal between Jerusalem and Ramallah is going to lift the sights of those now fighting in Syria, Iraq or Yemen. Nor will a deal reconcile Tehran and its terrorist proxies in Lebanon and Gaza to the existence of a Jewish state.
- Aren't the Palestinians entitled to a state? Maybe. But are they more entitled to one than the Assamese, Basques, Baloch, Corsicans, Druze, Flemish, Kashmiris, Kurds, Moros, Native Hawaiians, Northern Cypriots, Rohingya, Tibetans, Uyghurs or West Papuans - all of whom have distinct national identities, legitimate historical grievances and plausible claims to statehood? What gives Palestinians the preferential claim?
- Comparisons aside, would a Palestinian state be good for Palestinian people? A June 2015 poll by the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion found that a majority of Arab residents in east Jerusalem would rather live as citizens with equal rights in Israel than in a Palestinian state.
- But isn't a Palestinian state a necessity for Israel? Can it maintain its Jewish and democratic character without separating itself from the Palestinians?
- In theory, Israel would be well-served living alongside a sovereign Palestinian state that lived in peace with its neighbors. But Israelis don't live in theory. They live in a world where Israeli prime ministers made good-faith offers of Palestinian statehood and were met with rejection and violence.
Friday, January 06, 2017
The goal of the Palestinians is the colonial conquest of another people's country. That country is the State of Israel, the homeland of the Jewish people, whose unique connection goes back to antiquity. In the 7th century the Arab world conquered Judea, as the ancient kingdom of the Jewish people had been known. The Jews are the only people for whom this was ever their national kingdom. Now the Arabs want again to conquer and colonize the same land, which since 1948 has been restored to the Jewish people.
Mahmoud Abbas has explicitly rejected Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state. The Palestinian Authority indoctrinates its children to conquer Israeli cities. You've only got to look at the insignia and maps, not just of Hamas but also Abbas' "moderate" Fatah, to see that the land they demand for a state of Palestine includes the whole of Israel.
The Palestinians claim there can't be a state of Palestine while Israelis are living in the disputed territories. Well, why not? Arabs make up some 20% of Israel's population. There is no reason apart from sheer racism and antisemitism - racist ethnic cleansing. Israel's "occupation" is nothing of the kind and the "settlements" are lawful.
The writer is a columnist for The Times (UK).