Video: Dr. Eran Lerman explains why Israel is not isolated
Israeli strategic analyst Dr. Eran Lerman tells an AIJAC event in Sydney that, contrary to popular perception, Israel is far from diplomatically isolated.
Residents of Southern Israel Welcome Construction of New, Technologically-Advanced Barrier on Gaza Border
Israelis who live near the Gaza Strip are welcoming the construction of a new technologically-advanced border wall, the Hebrew news site Ynet reported on Thursday.
The barrier — which will include sensors to detect underground activities — will be completed within two years.
During its last war with Israel in the summer of 2014, the Gaza-ruling Hamas terrorist group used an extensive cross-border tunnel network to attack IDF troops.
On Wednesday, an IDF official warned Hamas to not try to thwart the wall project, saying, according to the Times of Israel, “Israel will defend this barrier in every way possible. This barrier will be built.
Sderot Mayor Alon Davidi told Ynet that the wall would “significantly increase the sense of security” of border area residents.
Alon Shuster — the head of the Sha’ar HaNegev Regional Council — expressed a similar sentiment and added that the building of the barrier would bolster an ongoing population boom the Gaza border area has been experiencing during the relative quiet of the past three years since Operation Protective Edge ended.
Yifat Ben Shushan, who lives in Netiv HaAsara, said, “I was pleased to learn the project is advancing steadily and will indeed provide us with protection against the most worrying threat — the tunnels. This certainly improves my sense of security as both a resident and a mother of children.”
However, Ben Shushan pointed out, the barrier was only an “operational solution.”
In Gaza, she said, “there are close to two million people living under Hamas rule and in a difficult humanitarian situation.”
“The problem with Gaza will continue after the barrier is built,” she cautioned.
Meanwhile, the IDF on Thursday published several graphics showing how Hamas hides tunnel entrances in civilian areas in Gaza (the Algemeiner)
Hamas warns: New Gaza barrier is ‘a declaration of war’
Hamas on Thursday warned that the new underground barrier Israel is building on its border with the Gaza Strip is “a declaration of war” and it will not allow the barrier to be completed.
The IDF is building the 60-kilometer (37-mile) barrier, which includes underground and underwater sections, to counter the threat from Hamas’ grid of terror tunnels.
GOC Southern Command Maj. Gen. Eyal Zamir told reporters on Wednesday that work on the barrier is progressing and will continue even if Hamas renews hostilities with Israel.
The situation in Gaza “is stable, but volatile. … If Hamas chooses to go to war over the barrier, it will be a worthy reason [for Israel] to go to war. But the barrier will be built,” Zamir said. He added that the barrier is expected to be completed within two years.
“This is a declaration of war. We will not allow the occupation to carry out its plots and crimes against the Palestinian people in Gaza, and we will prevent the construction of this barrier by all means,” a senior Hamas official declared Thursday.
“The entry of the occupation army’s troops and equipment into the Gaza Strip to carry out this work is tantamount to a military incursion into Gaza and Hamas will respond accordingly. We will not sit idly by and we will respond with force the likes of which Israel has never known.”
Hamas spokesman Hazem Kassem said that while the group, which rules the Gaza Strip, does not wish to escalate tensions with Israel, it will not hesitate to engage in an armed conflict with the IDF if necessary.
“The steps taken by the occupation will never provide it with security as long as it continues to occupy our land, impose a siege on Gaza and commit crimes against our people,” Kassem said. “The threats of the Zionist occupation army do not deter or frighten us. We will continue to engage in all possible forms of resistance.”
Israel on Thursday warned Hamas against trying to sabotage the barrier’s construction, saying it had mapped Hamas assets hidden under civilian sites in Gaza that could become targets for attack if a new conflict erupts.
The IDF said it had identified two residential buildings in the northern Gaza Strip as potential military targets after discovering Hamas tunnels beneath them. The military released satellite images of the homes, located near the Israel-Gaza border, but did not say how the tunnels had been identified.
“The location of the tunnel shafts in these buildings is intended to disguise them under civilian cover,” the IDF said in a statement. “In wartime, these exploited locations become legitimate military targets under international law.”
Zamir noted that “these two targets, as far as I’m concerned, are legitimate military targets, and in the event that a new war begins, anybody in them is endangering himself and his family, and the responsibility [for their fate] will fall on Hamas.”
Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum called the Israeli statements “lies and fabrications that aim to damage the image of the Palestinian resistance and justify the mass killing of thousands of Palestinian civilians.”
The heads of communities near the Israel-Gaza border welcomed the IDF’s statement on the progress made in the barrier’s construction.
Eshkol Regional Council Head Gadi Yarkoni said, “The barrier is the tiebreaker with regard to the defense of the communities surrounding the Gaza Strip, in terms of the threat posed by terror tunnels and infiltrations into Israel. This barrier will bolster residents’ sense of security and ensure the area’s continued prosperity.”
Sdot Negev Regional Council Head Tamir Idan urged the IDF to “continue with the barrier’s construction even if it entails an escalation, so as to prevent serious security incidents that could take place without it.”
Shaar Hanegev Regional Council Head Alon Schuster welcomed the progress made by the IDF, saying that “despite the continued threat, which is some respect has even intensified, our communities are in the midst of demographic growth.”
Yifat Ben-Shushan of Moshav Netiv Haasara, whose residents have often alerted the IDF to digging sounds under their homes, said she “welcomed the barrier’s construction and development.” But she stressed that the issues are complex and that as well as security solutions, there should also be solutions for other issues, such as “the humanitarian problem in Gaza that threatens the entire region.”
Meanwhile, Palestinian media reported Thursday that Hamas is considering relinquishing the civilian administration of Gaza in favor of imposing martial law.
According to Palestinian sources, the move is being considered over the economic sanctions placed on Hamas by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, over the group’s refusal to hand the reins of control in Gaza to Abbas’ government.
Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip in 2007 in a military coup, driving rival Fatah officials out of the enclave.
Abbas’ government on Thursday remained unfazed by Hamas’ threats.
Last month, while top Hamas officials were meeting with Egyptian intelligence officials in Cairo, Abbas declared that he would be willing to lift the economic sanctions if Hamas dismantles the Gaza Strip Administration Committee and hand control of Gaza and its border crossings to the Palestinian Authority.
He offered to integrate Hamas’ civilian police force into the PA force, and integrate members of Hamas’ military wing, which controls the border crossings, into the PA’s security forces. But Hamas has rejected all of Abbas’ offers. (Israel Hayom)
Security guard stabbed, lightly wounded in Jerusalem attack
A Palestinian woman stabbed and attacked an Israeli security guard outside the Old City in Jerusalem on Saturday, police said, adding that the guard was lightly injured.
Police said the attacker was overpowered and arrested by police officers at the scene. She was taken for questioning.
The attack occurred on Sultan Suleiman Street near the Damascus Gate, the same street where Border Police officer Hadas Malka was stabbed to death in June.
Over the past 18 months the Old City, and the Damascus Gate in particular, have seen several attacks by Palestinians, and in two cases by Jordanian nationals.
Since September 2015, mainly Palestinian assailants have killed 48 Israelis, two visiting Americans, a Palestinian man and a British student, mainly in stabbing, shooting and vehicular attacks. In that time, some 259 Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire, a majority of them attackers, according to authorities.
Israeli security officials believe that aside from the ostensible ideological motive, many of these attacks — particularly those carried out by women or young girls — are a form of “suicide by cop,” or “suicide by soldier.” (the Times of Israel)
Seeing ‘opportunity’ to renew talks, Trump sends three envoys to region
With the Temple Mount crisis ended and calm largely restored, US President Donald Trump believes an “opportunity” has opened up to advance his peace initiative, and is sending three of his top envoys to the region in the days ahead, a senior White House official told The Times of Israel Friday.
Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner, Special Envoy for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt and Deputy National Security Adviser for Strategy Dina Powell will all soon head to the Middle East. The three will meet with leaders from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Jordan, Egypt, Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
The decision to send the delegation was made after consultations with a cohort of the president’s top advisers, including the newly installed Chief of Staff John Kelly, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster and US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman.
The senior administration official said that Trump sees an opportunity to keep pushing ahead with his attempts to renew negotiations.
“He believes that the restoration of calm and the stabilized situation in Jerusalem after the recent crisis on the Temple Mount/Haram al Sharif has created an opportunity to continue discussions and the pursuit of peace that began early in his administration,” the official said.
President Trump has asked his delegation to focus the talks on this trip around several broad themes, inclusive finding “a path to substantive Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, combatting extremism [and dealing with] the situation in Gaza, including how to ease the humanitarian crisis there.”
They are also instructed to discuss “strengthening our relations with regional partners and the economic steps that can be taken both now and after a peace deal is signed to ensure security, stability and prosperity for the region,” the official added.
Nabil Abu Rdeneh, a spokesman for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, welcomed the impending visit.
“We are committed to peace based on the two state solution.” he said. “We informed the American Administration that we are ready for peace on this basis. And we are waiting now for the American delegation to work together toward peace.”
The announcement comes as numerous Palestinian leaders have started to criticize the US since the crisis, a seeming ending to the warm embrace when Trump visited the Palestinian territories in May.
King Abdullah II of Jordan, however, has thanked Trump for reducing tensions and helping find a solution.
The latest announcement also comes after off-the-record remarks by Kushner — made to a casual gathering of congressional interns — were leaked to the media in which he said there may not be a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
And yet, Kushner also stressed that the administration would strive to broker a deal and find a workable solution.
“We’re going to focus on it and try to come to the right conclusion in the near future,” he said, but that he wasn’t sure the US could offer the parties “anything unique.”
He also made remarks that seemed to side with Israel on its handling of the latest flare-up surrounding the Jerusalem holy site.
After a July 14 terror attack in which three Arab Israelis shot dead two Israeli police officers with weapons they had smuggled onto the site, Israel installed new security measures, including metal detectors and cameras, which set off near-daily clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli security forces in and around the Old City, East Jerusalem and the West Bank.
It also triggered a boycott by Muslim worshipers who threatened not to return to the site until all the installations were removed.
Kushner said the incident showed how “combustible” the conflict was, while he also went on to defend actions Israel took after the attack, saying Israel’s security measures were “not an irrational thing to do.”
“They say look, you know, this is a change to the status quo. The Temple Mount is an [unintelligible] occupation of Israel, and Israel was saying we don’t want anything to do with that, we just want to make sure people are safe,” he said. “And that really incited a lot of tension in the streets.”
On Friday, the White House official emphasized Trump’s belief that a solution cannot be imposed but only reached through direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.
“While the regional talks will play an important role, the President reaffirms that peace between Israelis and Palestinians can only be negotiated directly between the two parties and that the United States will continue working closely with the parties to make progress towards that goal,” the official said.
Trump, he added, “has previously noted that achieving an enduring Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement will be difficult but he remains optimistic that peace is possible. (the Times of Israel)
Facing Palestinian criticism, White House says closeness to Israel is an asset
Before a shooting on the Temple Mount last month threw the region into a harrowing, if temporary, crisis, talk of a US-led peace process between Israelis and Palestinians was light, vague and full of promise, with neither side willing to criticize the new and ambitious administration over its lofty pursuit of peace.
Two weeks of crisis management were an early test of Donald Trump’s Mideast peace envoys, and to players on the ground, revealed their true colors. Since the Temple Mount dispute was settled with an Israeli concession on its security arrangements at the holy site, Palestinian officials have been more vocal with their criticisms of the US team, questioning its ability to serve as fair broker in the negotiations to come.
Speaking with The Jerusalem Post, several Palestinian officials said the Trump administration’s handling of the crisis confirmed its political alignment with the Israeli government.
It was a pivot moment for the Palestinians in this regard. But White House officials are embracing that position, claiming it is in fact an asset for the Palestinians that Trump and his team are close with the Israelis.
The crisis ended after the Israeli leadership removed metal detectors installed at the entrance to the Temple Mount in light of the fatal shooting of two Israeli police officers there on July 14. The introduction of new security measures had enraged the Palestinians, who believed that Israel was trying to exert additional control over the al-Aksa compound, deeply holy to Muslims.
Amid riots region-wide, US officials refused to instruct the Israelis to act one way or another and publicly defended Israel’s installation of metal detectors as a “responsible” security measure, given its precipitating events.
“It was a negative response by the Americans,” said Nabil Sha’ath, international affairs adviser to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, recounting the negotiations.
“The Americans could have really intervened to stop what the Israeli forces were doing and what the Israeli government was doing – and by doing that, it would have really demonstrated its seriousness in following that up with the peace process,” Sha’ath continued. “Instead the position was really meaningless, almost.”
Saeb Erekat, chief diplomat for the Palestinians, unloaded on the administration last week over its silence on settlement construction and on the deaths of several Palestinians during the July clashes.
Mustafa Barghouti, a PLO Executive Committee member, told the Post that Trump’s team “is more biased toward Israel than all previous administrations,” and is unable to serve as mediator.
Senior members of that US team are taking stock of what they learned during the crisis, and are largely dismissive of criticisms leveled against them.
“If they are not involved in the closed-door conversations, I’m not sure what ability they would have to speak,” one senior White House official told the Post, responding to Palestinian criticisms. “You have to take it with a grain of salt.”
If the Temple Mount dispute served as a strategic pivot point for the PA, it served more as a teaching moment for the Trump administration, which considered the crisis a microcosm of the larger conflict: the status of Jerusalem, the question of security, the challenges of dialogue and the clash of religions all were brought before the desks of Jason Greenblatt, the president’s special representative for international negotiations, and Jared Kushner, his son-in-law turned senior adviser leading the US peace effort.
“We wouldn’t say that this crisis taught us that peace is any more or less achievable – we put into practice the relationships that we developed over the past several months,” the senior White House official said.
“We understand there will be ups and downs throughout these discussions. This did not derail our optimism over what we can accomplish.”
One relationship put to the test was that with Jordan, which serves as custodian of the Temple Mount while Israel controls the security of the site. US officials coordinated closely with King Abdullah II to “contain” the crisis, and largely credit him for its swift conclusion.
But when Abdullah visited Abbas in Ramallah on Monday, the Temple Mount crisis – now two weeks old – was still raw. The Jordanian king spoke to Abbas of the importance of engaging with the Trump administration in its efforts to advance peace, according to officials in Amman.
“This is a way for the Palestinians to try and message the administration: We have to see some sign that you in fact take our interests into account,” said Dennis Ross, a senior Middle East diplomat and veteran of the George H.W. Bush, Clinton and Obama administrations.
“I see it as a way to try to influence the administration.
I’m not surprised by it, but I’m not sure those in the administration are really going to be responsive to it.”
White House officials say that Abbas takes the Trump team more seriously knowing that Kushner and Greenblatt are personally close to the Israelis – a distinction from members of the Obama administration, who by the end of his first term had less leverage and trust with the Israeli government.
“What they mean to say is that ‘because we’re close to the Israelis, we have the ability to influence Israeli behavior,’” Ross said. “And that indeed could benefit the Palestinians, to an extent.”
Palestinian officials were particularly struck by the administration’s refusal to take a stand on the introduction of new security hardware at a site where the status quo has long been considered fragile and valuable by the State Department; any new development there was bound to disrupt it, and this basic fact to the conflict seemed lost on the US team.
The White House stands firm that, while it seeks to respect the status quo at the holy site, it will not dictate security procedure.
“We didn’t ask Israel to take down the security apparatus, because we feel that Israel needs to make security decisions by itself,” a senior official said.
But from the Palestinian perspective, this was a line strongly suggestive of bias toward Israel. They did not believe Trump’s advisers understood the metal detectors represented more than the sum of their parts, and were in effect symbols to their people of Israeli control on that sacred ground.
“Crises like the week of the Temple Mount disturbances can also be opportunities.
For the United States, it’s an opportunity to show the parties that we understand their needs and also that we are willing to make tough asks of all sides,” said Dan Shapiro, former US ambassador to Israel in the Obama administration who is now a distinguished visiting fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv.
“The administration has nothing to apologize for when it comes to being sympathetic to the Israeli position on security. They could have used that moment to ask the Palestinians and the Jordanians, ‘What steps do you recommend and what steps are you willing to take to prevent the next attempt to smuggle weapons to the holy site and target police officers and civilians?’” Shapiro continued. “At the same time, it was probably not tenable for Israel to maintain magnetometers as a unilateral measure, and indeed, they ended up removing them.”
One senior Israeli government official said the whole crisis seemed like an instructional moment for the Trump administration, which only through practice and trial will truly understand the challenges of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“This made them realize that this is not just about real estate,” the Israeli official said. “There may be some other factors at play here.”
The official cited comments made by Kushner to a group of congressional interns last week – leaked to the press by one – in which he characterized the Temple Mount crisis as an example of the combustibility of the conflict writ large. The Israelis reacted to a terrorist attack at the holy site by responding in a way that any other government would, the official explained.
“People went nuts,” he said. “You have metal detectors around every holy place in the world – why not have them here? People realized that it wasn’t about the Temple Mount – it was about Jews.”
The official said that Israel’s lesson from the ordeal was that the Temple Mount “must be dealt with somewhat more delicately.”
“Israel’s paramount responsibility is security, but the stability of the holy sites in Jerusalem is also a question of security,” he said.
The senior White House official who was interviewed for this report said that no single event – including the Temple Mount crisis – “has impeded our decision to pursue peace.”
Trump remains active and engaged in US efforts to forge peace, the official added.
“There are many lessons that could have been learned about why the American patronage of the peace process did not succeed,” said Sha’ath, a close ally of Abbas. “We are still open – I mean, if the US comes today with something really serious and will take us forward and produce relevant negotiations.
“Instead,” Sha’ath continued, “the Israeli government is just trying to take the Americans for a ride.” (Jerusalem Post)
Israeli Gaming Company Plarium Sold To Australia’s Aristocrat For $500M
Australian gaming giant Aristocrat has acquired Israeli social gaming company Plarium for a whopping $500 million, in one of the largest Israeli “exits” in recent months. The transaction is expected to close in December.
Plarium is a developer of popular mobile and social games played daily by millions worldwide. The company has nine key titles and a game pipeline across multiple genres. Its most popular game to date, “Vikings: War of Clans,” has repeatedly been ranked in the top 10 grossing strategy games since its launch two years ago.
“Plarium has proven content, ability to monetize social games and global game development talent across multiple studios,” Aristocrat said in a statement today.
Founded in 2009 by Ron Rofe, Michael Morgovsky and Avi Shalel, Plarium offers free mobile, social and web-based games (with certain features available for players to buy). Headquartered in Herzliya, it employs some 1,200 people across five genre-specific studios. It operates several offices throughout Europe, Israel and the US. CEO Shalel will continue to lead Plarium post-acquisition.
“The hard work and efforts of Plarium’s employees have positioned Plarium as a world class mobile game publisher,” Shalel said in a statement. “Aristocrat is an ideal partner for us given our common aspiration to be a global leader in social gaming.”
In Plarium’s hugely popular game “Vikings: War of Clans,” multiple players must cooperate with each other to create their own clan. The goal is to capture the place of power – a unique location placed at the center of every kingdom. Other popular Plarium games include: “Terminator Genisys: Future War,” “Soldiers, Inc.,” “Sparta: War of Empires,” “Stormfall, Total Domination” and “Throne: Kingdom at War.” The company’s social games are available on Facebook, and on Russian social networks such as Odnoklassniki; its mobile games are available on iOS and Android devices.
In 2012, Plarium released “Stormfall: Age of War,” one of the fastest-growing social games on Facebook. In 2013, Facebook recognized “Soldiers, Inc.” as one of the top social games of the year.
“Plarium’s success has been driven by its ability to attract top game development talent in the global technology hubs in which it operates,” according to Aristocrat. Plarium’s management team has “successfully scaled the business through a portfolio strategy that targets growth opportunities in multiple segments through robust market and competitor analysis.”
Aristocrat CEO and Managing Director Trevor Croker said in a statement that “Plarium’s business is strongly aligned with Aristocrat’s, with similar operational approaches to game development and segment and market entry.” (No Camels)
Palestinians and Israelis actually agree on something: They don’t really want the One-State solution
The leaders of the BDS Movement seek to impose a one-state solution in the Middle East. Palestinians and Israelis beg to differ.
By Yair Rosenberg Tablet Magazine
Last week, Israeli and Palestinian pollsters released their annual temperature check on the two nations’ attitudes towards peace. As usual, narrow majorities of both publics voiced support for a two-state solution, and as usual, this fact grabbed most of the headlines. But a far more interesting finding, one that also represents long-running trends, was largely overlooked: both Palestinians and Israelis overwhelmingly rejected the so-called “one-state solution.”
Offered several possible outcomes for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, just 11 percent of Palestinians chose a one-state solution, which the survey characterized as a “solution by which Palestinians and Jews will be citizens of the same state and enjoy equal rights.” (By contrast, 52.5 percent of Palestinians preferred a two-state solution.) Similarly, just 11.6 percent of Israeli Jews and 16.7 percent of Israeli Arabs supported one-state.
The survey was conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research and the Tel Aviv University Center for Peace Research with funding from the European Union. The lack of grassroots support for a one-state outcome it uncovered tracks with previous surveys. Back in 2014, for instance, veteran Palestinian pollster Khalil Shikaki found that 71 percent of Palestinians “oppose the abandonment of the two-state solution and the adoption of the one-state solution.”
This robust rejection of the one-state paradigm should not be surprising. In fact, it is entirely intuitive. Israelis and Palestinians have been engaged in a vicious intergenerational blood feud for generations. Naturally, they do not think that the solution to their miserable and immiserating conflict is to move in together with their arch-nemeses. Rather, they want to hammer out terms of a divorce. Palestinians prefer to have their own Arab and Muslim state which would respect the rights of all religious minorities, as outlined in article 4 of the Constitution of Palestine, while Israelis prefer to have their own Jewish state which also upholds the rights of other faiths, in accordance with Israel’s Declaration of Independence.
This, too, should not surprise. After all, Palestinians and Israelis are acutely aware that the Middle East is currently littered with failed states comprised of warring ethnic and religious groups that could not coexist within the same borders, with ISIS and the Syrian war being only the latest manifestations of this devastating dysfunction. The borders drawn decades ago by Western powers have proven to be utterly inadequate to the aspirations and antagonisms of their populations. For a majority of Israelis and Palestinians, then, the idea that one of the modern Middle East’s most intractable conflicts would be solved with a one-state paradigm that has failed pretty much everywhere else in the region strains credulity.
And yet, this paradigm is exactly what the leaders of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement against Israel seek to impose on both populations in Israel/Palestine. Take Omar Barghouti, co-founder of the BDS Movement and a founding committee member of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel. Israel, Barghouti wrote in 2001, “was Palestine, and there is no reason why it should not be renamed Palestine.” In 2004, he declared, “the two-state solution was never a moral solution to start with,” a fact that might surprise the majority of Palestinians and Israelis who continue to support it. Speaking in 2013, Barghouti opined (5:53), “Most definitely we oppose a Jewish state in any part of Palestine. No Palestinian, rational Palestinian, not a sell-out Palestinian, will ever accept a Jewish state in Palestine.” Similarly, Ali Abunimah, leading BDS advocate and editor of the Electronic Intifada, devoted an entire book to promoting the one-state solution over the two-state one, entitled, One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse. Ahmed Moor, editor of After Zionism: One State for Israel and Palestine, has been even more pointed about the BDS movement’s aims: “BDS does mean the end of the Jewish state.” Linda Sarsour, perhaps the most prominent proponent of BDS on the American political scene, has publicly rejected two states in favor of one.
Thus, we are left with an astonishing state of affairs: the BDS movement claims to represent the Palestinian people, even as it seeks to impose living arrangements on them that most of them reject. Moreover, rather than attempt to persuade the majority of Palestinians and Israelis to accept the one-state paradigman entirely legitimate form of political advocacythe BDS movement seeks to marshal international pressure on Israel to impose this paradigm against the will of both populations.
Now, BDS leaders in America and Europe may come by their one-state support honestly, rather than from a desire to eliminate the world’s only Jewish state. They may truly believe that a single, secular state is the best and most moral arrangement for modern peoples. But then, many others seeking to meddle in the Middle East through the centuries have also come by their principles honestly. In fact, we have a word for those attempts to use international power to impose borders and living arrangements on native populations against their preferences for their own good: imperialism.
And we all know how that turned out.
Stay strong and consistent
by Isi Leibler Israel Hayom
Over the past few weeks, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been under tremendous pressure. Barbaric terrorism and incitement, problems with the Trump administration, excessive demands from the haredim, constant criticism from government ministers and above all the campaign to indict him for alleged corruption have taken their toll.
In hindsight, the installation of metal detectors on the Temple Mount was a blunder. Under normal circumstances, it would have been legitimate, but given Palestinian fanaticism, Netanyahu should have anticipated that this would be exploited to incite frenzy. He also should have realized that this would create major problems for our more moderate neighbors, who face enormous pressure from their own citizens when swept by the hysterical accusation that Al-Aqsa mosque is being defiled by the Jews.
Had Netanyahu resisted the demand to remove the detectors, Israeli public opinion would have supported him. But he recognized that if he refused, he would risk a new intifada and would probably set back his covert alliance with the more moderate Arab states. Any responsible leader weighing up the issues would have acted similarly.
The issue was compounded by Netanyahu’s mishandling of the Jordanian crisis. No doubt, the embassy guard acted in self-defense when he fired after being attacked with a screwdriver. But Netanyahu’s parading him as a hero was grossly inappropriate. The government should have instituted a legal review even though it would have exonerated him. Besides, an apparently innocent bystander was accidentally killed, which merited an apology and restitution.
To add to our discomfort, the international community reverted to its classical posture, with the U.S. State Department applying moral equivalence to both parties. President Donald Trump, facing his own domestic problems, remained disappointingly silent rather than condemning the bogus Palestinian hysteria.
The Palestinians believe they have humiliated Israel and won a major battle. But we should not exaggerate or allow these events to blur reality. Whatever rage and frustration the Palestinians may express, Israel remains firmly in control on the Temple Mount.
However, we must face reality. A substantial number of Palestinians and some vocal Israeli Arabs are vicious barbarians who would slaughter us at any opportunity. They behaved like savages when they murdered the Israeli policemen at the Temple Mount and butchered the Salomon family at their Shabbat table in Halamish. The street celebrations after the murders and mass of 10,000 Israeli Arabs in Umm al-Fahm who, at the funerals of their murderous kinsmen, chanted “You are the shahids [martyrs] of Al-Aqsa,” spoke volumes. The terrorists were hailed as heroes and their families were financially rewarded. The murderer of the Salomon family will receive a massive pension.
Almost $345 million is allocated annually to the families of “martyrs” and those in prison — amounting to almost half the foreign aid provided to the PA. This despicable practice, now belatedly dealt with by Congress, must continue to be highlighted. We should not equivocate because Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas threatened to terminate cooperation with Israeli security forces.
Palestinian leaders and the bulk of their followers are unwilling to reach any peace agreement and are determined to fight on for their ultimate objective: the obliteration of Jewish sovereignty.
Besides, with the impending retirement of Abbas, chaos may prevail and the Palestinian security forces could well turn their weapons against Israel. We must be prepared.
The police must also take immediate steps to enforce law and order in Arab-Israeli areas that have been ignored. We should take immediate action and indict any Arab-Israelis inciting violence.
If we adopt a tough, consistent approach, avoiding religious confrontations, it is likely that the more moderate Arab countries will continue distancing themselves from the Palestinians extremists, as they face their own challenges in which Israel is a covert ally.
Each country must be dealt with individually. Peace agreements with some have not brought stability. Turkish President Recep Erdogan launched a vile campaign of incitement against us and is competing with the Iranians to fund Palestinian extremists. Jordan’s King Abdullah is surrounded by a Muslim Brotherhood-dominated parliament that seeks to sever diplomatic relations with Israel and a government whose foreign minister praised the murderers as shahids.
We also need to criticize the Trump administration, in particular Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s State Department, for reverting to Obama rhetoric and failing to defend an ally.
Unless he is indicted over corruption charges, Netanyahu — despite his mishandling of recent crises — remains the only credible leader with the ability to make progress on the international level. Hopefully, he has overcome what were temporary lapses of self-control. The government must close ranks and display a united front, and when a policy has been formulated, all ministers should be bound by cabinet responsibility. Resignation should be mandatory for any minister publicly castigating their own government.
As we have learned from history, we can only rely on ourselves and thus must make every effort to strengthen the IDF and continue building our alliance with the U.S. and other nations that have common interests with us.
Above all, we should remind ourselves that today Israel is a superpower — militarily, economically, and technologically.
Recognizing a Palestinian State before a Peace Agreement with Israel Undermines the International Rule of Law – Peter Wertheim (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
Those who advocate immediate recognition of a Palestinian state, without a peace agreement with Israel, show cavalier disregard for well-established legal principles for the creation of states and their recognition.
The four criteria of statehood set out in the Montevideo Convention on the Rights and Duties of States (1933) are widely accepted as the minimum required by customary international law for the creation of a new state. Two of the criteria – a single, centralized government and the capacity to enter into relations with other states – are manifestly not satisfied by any Palestinian entity.
For reasons which are entirely internal to Palestinian society, there is no reasonable prospect for the foreseeable future of any government being formed which would exercise effective control over both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, and would have the capacity to give effect to any agreements purportedly entered into by “Palestine.”
Recognition of any such entity as a state would be to affirm a fiction, contrary to the imperatives of international law.
Applying the additional requirements for recognition contained in the European Community Declaration and Guidelines (1991), the Palestinians have failed, and are likely to continue to be unwilling to make commitments to respect the inviolability of the frontiers with Israel, to repudiate all territorial claims by Palestine against Israel, and to settle all disputes with Israel by peaceful means.
Recognition of a Palestinian state at the present time would also contravene the internationally recognized and witnessed Oslo Accords between the Palestinians and Israel.
The writer is executive director of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry.