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Latest Israel News – 8th June

Israel’s right to Jerusalem established firmly in int’l law, expert says

The Jewish people’s right to Jerusalem was granted under international law at the end of the First World War, a leading international legal scholar said at the UN Monday.

“[The] title over Jerusalem and its Old City was granted to the Jewish people during the San Remo conference of the Principal Allied Powers in April 1920,” Dr Jacques Gauthier said at an event by the Christian group European Coalition for Israel (ECI) and the Forum for Cultural Diplomacy, which commemorated the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem with a High Level UN breakfast briefing in New York with the Mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barkat, as a guest of honor.

In the Gregorian calendar, June 7 marks the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem.

Gauthier said it was in San Remo that the claims presented on the behalf of the Jewish people on February 27, 1919, during the Paris peace conference – the rights of the Jewish people to reconstitute a Jewish national home in what was then called Palestine – were approved.

“The rights granted in San Remo were incorporated in the treaty of Sevre in 1920 and the Mandate for Palestine approved by the League of Nations in 1922,” he said. “These rights included the recognition of the historical connection between the Jewish people and Jerusalem and the right to reconstitute in that City their ancient capital.”

He warned the UN ambassadors who attended the breakfast briefing not to dismiss the undeniable facts that had been presented to them in his presentation but to take them in to serious consideration whenever new resolutions on the issue of Jerusalem are discussed in the future.

He also commented on the popular notion that Israel could not have the title over east Jerusalem through military conquest by noting that this principle of international law does not apply in a situation where the title has already been granted to the territory in question.

Although Jordan illegally occupied east Jerusalem and the Old City in 1948, Israel could not be expected to lose their rights when they reconquered it in 1967, since it was already theirs under international law, he said.

Following the presentation, ECI Founding Director Tomas Sandell handed over an open letter for a united Jerusalem to Mayor Barkat.

More than 50 senior political leaders from around the world, among them presidents and vice-presidents, support Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem as the best guarantee for a united and open Jerusalem where people of all faiths and none can co-exist in respect for each other. The letter has also received support from deputies from all five major political groups in the European Parliament.

Barkat responded by speaking about Jerusalem as an open, inclusive and united city which is important for billions of people around the world.

“In one square kilometer there are more synagogues, mosques and churches than anywhere else in the world,” he said. “When Jerusalem was reunited in 1967, no mosques were destroyed and no churches were taken down. We maintain openness and respect for all religions,” he said, reminding the audience that this does not exist anywhere else in the Middle East.

The mayor concluded his speech by saying that Jerusalem should not only be for the Jews but for the benefit of the whole world.

The high-level UN breakfast meeting concluded an international campaign by ECI for a united Jerusalem, which was launched at the Annual Policy Conference in the European Parliament in Brussels on March 30 and has gained international support ever since.  (Jerusalem Post)

Erdan calls on US to halt funding for PA as long as it supports terrorism

In a forceful speech to the American Jewish Committee on Monday night, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan called on the US to halt its funding for the Palestinian Authority until it stops supporting terrorism.

“This funding for terror must stop, and the United States should stop funding the PA until the PA stops teaching children to kill,” he said.

“But not one cent of American tax-payer money should support Palestinian terror.”

According to a paper published last year by the Congressional Research Service, the US has given the PA $5 billion in bilateral economic and non-lethal security assistance.

It is the PA’s tacit support of terrorism that is an impediment to the peace process; only when you put an end to this support, can fruitful negotiations with the Palestinians occur, he argued.

He also urged the international community to form an alliance against terrorism. Deeming global terrorism an ”era-defining challenge,” he called it an opportunity for world unity that Israel, with its expertise, was uniquely positioned to lead.

“Now is the time for Israel, for moderate Arab states, the US, Europe and all like-minded countries to come together to build an international alliance to fight terror,” he said. “We are willing to take a leading role in the formation of the new alliance. We want to leverage our experience and expertise in Israel to help save lives across the world.”

Asserting that countries once far removed from Israel’s problems are now fighting the same terrorism in their own backyards, he said, “When people hear of attacks in Israel, they now recognize the means, the incitement and the culture of hate. They are experiencing these same things at home. People across the world have come to realize that this is not just Israel’s problem. They now realize that in the struggle of our generation, we are on the same side.

“I have lost count of the number of critics of Israel who have approached me recently to say, ‘Now, we understand,’” he added.

Reiterating the refrain espoused by many Israeli politicians of late, he said, “terror is terror is terror.”  (Jerusalem Post)

US says ‘both sides will be forced to compromise’ for Mideast peace deal

A State Department official said Tuesday that Israelis and Palestinians will “be forced to compromise” in order to achieve US President Donald Trump’s goal of brokering peace between the two sides.

In her first press briefing as the department’s spokesperson, Heather Nauert wouldn’t address a question about UN Secretary General António Guterres’ statement lamenting 50 years of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, but pivoted to say that both Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson were committed to forging an agreement despite the inevitable challenges that will arise.

“Middle East peace is something that’s very important to this administration,” Nauert told reporters. “The president and the secretary have both said they recognize that it will not be easy, that both sides will be forced to compromise.”

Tillerson, for his part, recently told reporters that Trump was “very forceful” with both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas during his trip to the region last month, in which he sought to jumpstart negotiations.

“He put a lot of pressure on them that it’s time to get to the table,” Tillerson said.

Since taking office, Trump has repeatedly emphasized his intent to succeed where other presidents have failed by striking a final status Israeli-Palestinian accord.

Nauert reiterated this point Thursday. “The president has made this one of his top priorities, and we are willing to work with both of those entities to try to get them to come together and make some — and to finally bring about Middle East peace,” she said.

Indeed, Trump has already hosted both Netanyahu and Abbas to the White House and has tasked his son-in-law Jared Kushner and former real estate lawyer Jason Greenblatt with charting a course forward.

Greenblatt, Trump’s Special Envoy for International Negotiations, has gone on multiple “listening tours” throughout the region. On these trips, he has listened to multiple stakeholders in the conflict, including other Arab leaders.

During Trump’s first foreign trip last month, which included stops in Saudi Arabia, Israel and the West Bank, he gave a speech at the Israel Museum calling on both sides to put aside the “pain and disagreements of the past” and work toward peace.   (the Times of Israel)

Netanyahu pledges Israel will never give up Golan Heights

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated on Tuesday morning at a youth conference of the Ministry for the Development of the Negev and the Galilee: “I came to tell you that the Golan Heights will always remain under Israeli sovereignty. We will never leave the Golan Heights. It is ours.”

“I suggest you go outside and see the ancient synagogues,” Netanyahu said. “When you stick a shovel in the ground, you see here synagogues and writings in Hebrew from the Talmudic period. The Golan is ours, and it will remain ours. If we are not here, radical Islam will come, and we all understand the implications.”

The prime minister added: “Come to the Golan. This is your home, and it will always be ours.”

Before him, Interior Minister Aryeh Deri spoke. He commented, “It’s accepted that the young people of today are not the young people of previous generations, that we were less spoiled and not lazy, and that today’s generation is spoiled with a silver spoon.

“And I want to tell you it’s just a stigma. Today’s generation is very diligent. A generation that a couple together work from day to night. A generation that needs 150 months of work to get a normal apartment. You are our future and the engines of growth, and for you we are here.”  (Ynet News)

Netanyahu: Israel will keep security control over Judea and Samaria

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday that Israel will maintain control over all security aspects in Judea and Samaria regardless of a peace deal with the Palestinians.

Speaking at a Jerusalem ceremony marking the 50th anniversary of the Six-Day War, Netanyahu stressed that Israel seeks true peace with its neighbors but has to ensure its own security.

“For that reason, in any agreement, and even without an agreement, we will maintain security control over the entire territory west of the Jordan River,” he said.

Despite unprecedented American military aid, Netanyahu said the main lesson from the 1967 war is that Israel cannot rely on its allies for its defense.

“We will never place our fate in the hands of others,” he said. “We respect our allies, first and foremost our friend the United States, whose support we greatly appreciate. But in the moment of truth, Israel must be prepared and capable to deliver a serious, even deadly blow to anyone who wants to harm it. In the Six-Day War, Israel learned that it had to defend itself on its own. We withstood that test, and we will never go back and leave our fate in the hands of others.”

Netanyahu reiterated that Israel “seeks true peace with its enemies. This is why we insist that the Palestinian recognize the Jewish state west of the Jordan River.

“There is a change in the way other [Arab] nations perceive Israel — they see us as a partner in the war on radical Islam, not as an enemy. The seeds sown during the Six-Day War are bearing fruit today,” Netanyahu said.

President Reuven Rivlin, who also spoke at the ceremony, noted the 1967 conflict “sparked a lively discussion in Israeli society and presented us with challenges that we are dealing with to this day. Israeli society has changed since then. So has the IDF. But one thing has not changed — our duty to defend ourselves by ourselves, with the help of the IDF.”

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman told the audience that the “historical lesson” to be learned from the war was that “in any future conflict, we must stand united and lead to a swift and decisive result, even against an enemy that is not clad in armor.

“It is our duty to educate future generations of fighters in the spirit of the values of the commanders and soldiers in 1967. One historical lesson that we must remember is that, despite the peace agreements signed since [the war], Israel remains under threat. We need the power of deterrence and [military] might with which to win.”  (Israel Hayom)

ADL Admonishes UN Secretary-General Over ‘Misleading’ Six-Day War Statement

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has rebuked United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres for what the Jewish civil rights organization described as an “incomplete and misleading” statement marking the fiftieth anniversary of the outbreak of the 1967 Six-Day War.

In the statement, Guterres asserted that “[e]nding the occupation that began in 1967 and achieving a negotiated two-state outcome is the only way to lay the foundations for enduring peace that meets Israeli security needs and Palestinian aspirations for statehood and sovereignty. It is the only way to achieve the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people.”

Guterres also described the aftermath of the war in purely negative terms, saying that it “resulted in Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, Gaza and the Syrian Golan and the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians and Syrians,” without acknowledging the threat of destruction Israel faced on eve of the conflict.

“We are troubled by the secretary-general’s incomplete statement on the anniversary of the Six-Day War and urge him to clarify his remarks,” ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said in a statement. “While we share his desire for a return to negotiations to achieve a two-state solution, this anniversary cannot be viewed in a vacuum. It is grossly misleading to examine only the enduring effects of the war while ignoring the context in which the war took place — the belligerence of the Arab states in the spring of 1967, and the silence of the international community in the face of these threats and its failure to ensure the rights to free passage of international waterways.”

Greenblatt noted appreciatively that since the beginning of his term at the start of this year, Guterres “has made a number of important supportive statements on Israel, including recognizing the double standard with which Israel is treated at the UN, and his labeling as anti-Semitism the delegitimization of Israel’s right to exist.”

“We would have hoped that he would use this anniversary to address the Palestinian condition and call for peace and resolution in a fair-minded and historically accurate manner,” Greenblatt concluded. (the Algemeiner)

Israeli fire reportedly kills Palestinian after he throws rocks near Gaza border

Israeli soldiers opened fire at Palestinians who were throwing stones near the border fence in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, killing one man and wounding seven others, residents and hospital officials said.

An Israeli military spokeswoman said dozens of Palestinians had gathered at the fence and were trying to damage it. Soldiers on the Israeli side of the border fired warning shots in the air after their calls to halt were ignored.

Residents of Gaza, which is run by the Islamic militant group Hamas (considered by Israel, the US, EU, UK and others to be a terrorist organization) said the protesters were throwing stones near the fence when the Israeli troops shot at them. Hospital officials in Gaza said a 25-year-old man was killed.

The Israeli spokeswoman said the military was looking into reports of a Palestinian fatality.

At least 248 Palestinians and one Jordanian citizen have been killed since a wave of sporadic violence began in 2015 in Israel and the Palestinian Territories.

Israel pulled out of Gaza in 2005. The Palestinians hope to to establish an independent state including Gaza, the West Bank and east Jerusalem, territories Israel captured in 1967 during the Six-Day War.

An Israeli panel approved plans on Tuesday for the first new Jewish settlement in the West Bank in two decades, drawing Palestinian condemnation and defying repeated international appeals to avoid such measures. (Ynet News)

In the Aftermath of Trump’s Visit to the Middle East

By Prof. Eytan Gilboa     BESA Center  (Begin Sadat Center for Strategic Studies)

In the Aftermath of Trump’s Visit to the Middle East

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: In his recent visit to the Middle East – his first visit abroad, and one fraught with symbolic messages – President Donald Trump achieved most of his goals. Never has a US president been received with so much tribute, praise, appreciation, and admiration by both Muslim and Jewish leaders. Heads of the most important states in the Arab world lauded his friendship, qualities, and strategic aims. There is no great surprise here. Trump completely reversed the attitude of Obama, which verged on hostility, towards both the pro-American Arab states and Israel. The Saudi royal reception for Trump was a particularly vivid response to Obama’s policy.  The huge arms deal Trump signed with Saudi Arabia could challenge Israel’s national security. Trump failed to implement his election promise to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, primarily because it seemed to contradict his plan to engineer an “ultimate deal” between Israel and the Palestinians.

Barack Obama’s and Donald Trump’s initial visits to the Middle East were very different. In April 2009, Obama visited Ankara to show his esteem for Erdoğan and the “demo-Islam” he had created – supposedly a functioning integration of Islam and democracy. In June of that year, he went to Riyadh and Cairo to launch a historic reconciliation between the US and the Islamic countries. He bypassed Israel to show that he was distancing himself from it, which, in his view, was required for this historic reconciliation. Obama did not manage to fulfill any of the objectives of his visits.

Like Obama, President Trump has also put the solving of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict high on his order of priorities. After his critical remarks about Islam and placing a limited ban on entry of Muslims from seven countries into the US, Trump sought to appease the Arab and Muslim world, which, out of strategic interests, elected to ignore both slights.

Any visit abroad by a US president conveys orders of priority. The president is accompanied by hundreds of journalists and receives extensive media coverage in both the US and the rest of the world. Every choice of whowill accompany him, where he will visit, with whom he will meet, sign agreements, give speeches, and dine – is made fastidiously, with the aim of transmitting messages.

Trump brought along his top foreign policy and defense officials: the secretary of state, the secretary of defense, and the national security adviser. He may have wanted them to help him analyze situations in real time, or they may have wanted to keep an eye on him and prevent blunders. Simultaneous meetings with counterparts in the different countries were no less important than Trump’s meetings with heads of state. Senior officials were able to exchange views on specific issues for which they are responsible. The fact that, in unusual fashion, they were added to the entourage reflects the importance Trump attributed to this visit, which was aimed at rehabilitating strategic relations with allies in the region that had been damaged during Obama’s tenure.

Despite the months of effort that go into every detail of a presidential visit, the planning of the visit to Israel was flawed. Frequent changes regarding events and times indicated confusion and disorder. Still, the visit managed to proceed without hitches, gaffes, or surprises.

Framing Trump’s Middle East visit as an attempt at collaboration with the three great religions in defeating Islamic extremism and terror was a brilliant public relations idea, and it had other advantages as well. The visit to Saudi Arabia as guardian of the Islamic holy places forestalled envious complaints by countries such as Egypt; the visit to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Bethlehem averted the need to visit Ramallah; and the fact that the first-ever visit to the Western Wall by a US president was characterized as private precluded the participation of Netanyahu, which could have been interpreted as recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the location.

Trump’s visit demonstrated broad agreement between the Arab leaders and Israel on the threats hovering over the region and ways to deal with them. The bedrock of this concurrence of views is their position on Iran. Trump repeated his promise to prevent Iran from going nuclear and to counteract its sponsorship of terror and subversion of friendly regimes. He also claimed, in light of support from Arab allies and the desire to return to negotiations with the Palestinians, that Netanyahu and Abbas had expressed to him that an opportunity for Israeli-Palestinian peace had arisen. He steered clear of that minefield by avoiding any mention of terms, details, or time schedules.

The visit had domestic American ramifications as well. Trump’s success in the region will not help him tamp down the probe of his administration’s ties with the Russians during and after the election. But the signing of wide-ranging agreements on weapons for the Saudis and investments in the US will help him claim that he knows how to exploit international opportunities to boost employment in the US – especially in the defense industries, with their current travails.

The huge arms deal, however, estimated at $100 billion, could challenge Israel’s national security. It may create new conventional arms races in the region, and have adverse effects on the balance of conventional arms between Israel and Saudi Arabia.  Furthermore, “the Arab Spring” has shown that no government in the Middle East is immune from revolution or coup d’état. On several recent occasions, American weapons have been found in the hands of enemies.

ISIS, for example, has captured and used large quantities of American weapons. If the royal regime of Saudi Arabia were to be removed and replaced by an Islamic, anti-Western government, the new weapons might be directed against Israel. During the administrations of Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter, Israeli leaders strongly protested similar deals. Netanyahu kept silent, probably because he didn’t wish to antagonize Trump during his visit. Israel will have to address this challenge sooner or later.

The transfer of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem was another controversial issue for Israel. Many presidential candidates have promised to move the embassy, but none ever did it. On October 23, 1995, Congress passed the “Jerusalem Embassy Act,” which instructed that the embassy be moved no later than May 31, 1999 and called for Jerusalem to remain an undivided city recognized as Israel’s capital. President Bill Clinton argued that such laws infringe on presidential authority in foreign affairs, so an article was included in the act allowing the president to delay implementation due to national security considerations. The article requires the president to send a waiver every six months. Both branches of Congress approved the law by overwhelming majorities: the Senate 93-5 and the House by 374-37.  Since then, Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama all failed to implement the act.

On June 1, 2017, Trump was required either to order the embassy transfer or sign a waiver. Unlike other presidential candidates, Trump repeated his commitment to transfer the embassy and seemed determined to implement it. His visit to Israel coincided with the fiftieth anniversary of the unification of the city and with the concomitant “Day of Jerusalem” celebration. Many in Israel expected him to announce the transfer during his visit. Trump did not do so, and after his return to Washington, on May 31, signed the waiver. His spokesperson explained that he still wants to move the embassy and may do so in the future.

The explanation for this reversal appears to be Trump’s determination to seek an “ultimate deal” between Israel and the Palestinians. He was told by all the Arab leaders he met in Washington prior to the visit, as well as during his time in Riyadh, that the transfer of the embassy will prevent a deal and cause anti-American violent protests throughout the Muslim world. Trump can use the transfer as a way to pressure the Palestinians to resume negotiations and soften their extreme conditions for peace.

Like Obama’s visits, Trump’s visit fostered very high expectations for concrete results in a short time and on complex issues, such as stopping Iran, solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and affecting the course of events in Syria. If failures occur, those high expectations will lead to deep disappointment. At present, one can only make temporary assessments of the visit’s accomplishments. Only the test of time will enable a more precise appraisal of the visit’s significance for the Trump presidency, US foreign policy, and the history of the region.

Time for Israel to be proactive

By Isi Leibler        The Jerusalem Post

http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Time-for-Israel-to-be-proactive-495046

After years of relentless bias and harassment from the international community we are now blessed with an American president who publicly expresses his support for the Jewish state.

The fervent hope shared by most Israelis – despite the frustration of some American Jews – is that US President Donald Trump will overcome his domestic political problems and strengthen the US-Israel alliance.

Trump’s visit to the Middle East consolidated our status.

We are in a remarkably good position.

After years of relentless bias and harassment from the international community, led by our purported ally, the United States, we are now blessed with an American president who publicly expresses his love and support for, and alliance with, the Jewish state.

Those who dismiss as mere posturing Trump’s presence at the Western Wall, his very sensitive remarks at Yad Vashem and his warm and supportive speech at the Israel Museum simply fail to appreciate the profound political implication of his remarks. To that must be added his call on the Sunni states to confront Iranian terrorism and combat extremism, explicitly including antisemitism, within their ranks. Not to mention the revolutionary US campaign to confront the anti-Israel obsession at the UN. All of this represents a significant reversal of the tide in our favor.

In this context, one should also consider the dramatic success of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in developing economic and diplomatic links with Russia, India, China, Japan and now Africa. To this can be added the incredible, almost overt relationship with Saudi Arabia and other Sunni states. One must be blind not to appreciate that these significant improvements in our international status have largely been achieved as a combined result of the deft diplomacy of Netanyahu and the new Trump administration policy.

In fact, today, we have an extraordinary, unique window of opportunity. But it requires us to take the initiative and display our willingness to cooperate with Trump’s peace initiatives, on condition that our security is not compromised.

Netanyahu must show leadership and initiate steps and not merely respond to pressures.

He should be prepared to implement a temporary freeze on construction in areas outside the settlement blocs that will always remain part of Israel. He should undertake to continue to strive toward enhancing the quality of life in the autonomous Palestinian areas and offer additional humanitarian assistance.

But this offer can only be made in the context of reciprocity. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas must cease the incitement and end the disgraceful encouragement of killers, including the PA’s rewarding of their families with huge pensions amounting to over $300 million annually for their crimes. He must also recognize Israel as a Jewish state and cease demanding the “right of return” to Israel of Arab refugees and their descendants, which would amount to the dissolution of the Jewish state. A solution to dealing with Hamas will also need to be considered.

Until this happens, Israel cannot be expected to negotiate borders or even contemplate a Palestinian state.

Despite his assurances about supporting peace, there is little likelihood of the duplicitous Abbas agreeing to any of these basic prerequisites.

Should that be the case, we should call for an end to the phony peace process and, in conjunction with the US and possibly even the Saudis, seek to create a working relationship with those living under Palestinian autonomy – if necessary, bypassing the current leadership.

This will not eliminate terrorism but our security will be vastly enhanced if we have the support of the Americans.

Our main objective must be to promote the truth and cease providing cover for terrorist leaders who speak to the West with forked tongues endorsing peace, yet continue to incite their followers.

If we can do this in tandem with the Americans, in due course we may resolve other issues, such as the formal annexation of the settlement blocs, recognition of Israeli sovereignty on the Golan Heights, moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem and ensuring that Trump honors his undertaking to help the IDF retain its qualitative edge despite the arms buildup provided to the Saudis.

All of this is dependent on Trump not being persuaded like his predecessors that the easiest way to retain stability is to maintain a fake peace process, perpetuating the deplorable lie that this conflict is a struggle between two peoples over real estate. The cause of the conflict is the intransigence of the Palestinian leaders and their brainwashed citizens whose objective is not a two-state solution, but a single Palestinian state from the river to the sea.

To minimize the likelihood of this happening, Netanyahu must act now and demonstrate his willingness to explore any opportunity for peace.

But to achieve this with our dysfunctional political system and narrow coalition is not an easy challenge.

Bayit Yehudi and even some Likud elements threaten to bring down the government if Netanyahu imposes limitations on construction outside the settlement blocs.

But his current standing in the international arena would ensure that the majority of Israelis would strongly support such a move. At present, there is no one remotely able to promote Israel’s diplomacy as effectively as Netanyahu.

The haredi (ultra-Orthodox) parties would seek to avoid an election because in a future coalition their influence would be significantly weakened or even eliminated.

Even if it leads to breaking with the delusional radical- right elements in his coalition, Netanyahu should bite the bullet and, if necessary, face elections.

The polls indicate that with his current rising support, he is likely to achieve a resounding victory, and with Labor decimated, there would be opportunities to set up a new coalition that could provide a stable centrist government.

Such a united front would immeasurably strengthen our international standing. It should be followed by a global Jewish solidarity conference in Jerusalem along the lines of the March 1989 initiative of the Shamir national unity government.

I have no doubt that in the context of a unity government, all Jewish organizations and leaders – apart from the utterly radical anti-Israel elements – will be competing to participate. It will put an end to the prevailing assumption that significant elements of the committed Jewish community and its leadership have abandoned Israel.

This requires courageous leadership.

It must be tempting for Netanyahu to bask in the current good light Israel finds itself, sit tight and avoid action.

This would be a mistake and possibly forfeit a historic opportunity.

Despite the optimism engendered by Trump, we cannot afford to sit back and merely be reactive. There are no quick fixes and Israel is obliged to remain strong to deter or defeat future efforts by its adversaries to destroy it. And blindly relying on Trump to endorse the status quo could lead to disaster.

As Netanyahu stated, “Trump did not give Israel a diplomatic blank check on the Palestinian issue.” Now is the time to be proactive and demonstrate to the Trump administration and world at large that we are prepared to reach a settlement but that the culture of death and evil permeating the Palestinian leadership is the major obstacle.

Only then can we move forward and create the necessary conditions to enhance their autonomy and living standards, relegating a two-state solution to the back burner. While not ideal, this will provide us with the opportunity of stabilizing our security and bringing an end to the hostility that has been created over the years by adherence to the fake peace process and the distortion of our narrative.

The Six-Day War and the 50-year occupation

The war and the motive behind it caused the occupation — not the other way around

by Clifford D. May                        The Washington Times

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/jun/6/six-day-war-led-to-50-year-occupation/

Fifty years ago this week, the young state of Israel faced the threat of extermination — a second Jewish Holocaust in a single century. Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser stated candidly what he and other Arab leaders envisioned. “Our basic aim will be the destruction of Israel,” he said.

“High time to destroy the Zionist presence in the Arab homeland,” echoed Hafez Assad, Syria’s minister of defense, later to become its dictator. Added Iraqi President Abdul Salam Arif: “Our goal will be to wipe Israel off the face of the map.”

Their confidence was justifiable. Not only did Arab forces vastly outnumber those of Israel, they also had five times as many tanks and more than four times as many planes. On May 31 1967, a cartoon in Al Jarida, a Lebanese newspaper, showed a figure with a large, hooked nose and wearing a Jewish star standing on the edge of a ship’s gangplank. Eight cannons point at him. Labels in Arabic identified them as the guns of Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Algeria.

The war began on June 5. Three days later, in the Egyptian newspaper, Al Goumhourya, another cartoon showed three intertwined serpents — one with an American flag, one with a British flag and one with a Star of David. A bayonet is being plunged into the Israeli snake. The caption reads: “Holy War.”

But on June 10, that war came to a sudden end. Those who had intended to exterminate the Israelis were soundly defeated. Yitzhak Rabin, then chief of staff of the Israeli Defense Forces, later to be prime minister, gave the conflict a modest name: the Six-Day War. President Nasser called it al-Naksa, the reversal.

In other ways, too, it soon became clear that this would not be the last war fought to annihilate the re-established homeland of the Jewish people. On Sept. 1, at an Arab s summit in Khartoum, a resolution was passed proclaiming what became known as the “Three No’s”: no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with Israel.

Nevertheless, some Israelis thought the outcome of the war presented a unique opportunity to resolve what was then known as the Arab-Israeli conflict. They had taken the Sinai and Gaza from Egypt, the West Bank from Jordan, and the Golan from Syria. Perhaps they could trade these territories for an end to hostilities.

The principle of “land for peace” would be formally established in U.N. Security Council 242, passed in November 1967. Eventually, the Israelis did withdraw from the Sinai in exchange for a peace treaty with Egypt.

Over the decades to come, a “two-state solution” appeared the obvious answer to what became known as the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. And on several occasions, the Israelis made specific offers of statehood to Palestinian leaders. Each time, however, those leaders declined, putting no counteroffers on the table.

And in 2005, then-Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon embarked on a bold experiment. Despite vehement domestic opposition, he withdrew from Gaza based on this simple theory: If the obstacle to peace with the Palestinians was Israel’s “occupation” of territories the Palestinians wanted for a state of their own, giving up one of these territories should ease tensions and, over time, lead to meaningful progress.

The experiment failed. Within two years, Hamas, an Islamist terrorist group and branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, had taken control of Gaza and begun firing missiles into Israel. A blockade of Gaza was the response to those and subsequent attacks — not the cause.

Despite this history, some of President Trump’s longtime friends are now advising him that he has a unique opportunity to broker “the ultimate deal” — a final status agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. They point out that the Middle East is changing. The Sunni Arab states are threatened by Shia Persian Iran, which has troops in Iraq and Syria, supports Houthi rebels in Yemen, and both finances and instructs Hezbollah, the most powerful militia in Lebanon. The Islamic State, al Qaeda and other Salafi jihadi groups present a danger as well.

The rulers of the Sunni states also are smart enough to recognize that Israelis would never put a missile on their breakfast tables without cause. Why not get those states to press the Palestinians to negotiate, offer concessions and, finally, resolve the conflict?

The problem with this theory is that it does not overcome the biggest obstacles standing in the way of a successful peace process. Among them: Hamas regards every inch of Israel as “occupied territory” and, more significantly, as an endowment from Allah to the Muslims. It is not conceivable that Hamas would or could recognize the right of a Jewish state to exist.

As for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, he, too, has declared that he cannot accept Israel as the sovereign nation-state of the Jewish people. That inconvenient fact notwithstanding, might he make the compromises necessary to ensure that the West Bank, following an Israeli withdrawal, would not become another terrorist haven — this one within mortar-range of Israel’s largest population centers and international airport? And were he to exercise such leadership, would a critical mass of Palestinians follow?

If, as I believe, the answer to both questions is no, President Trump would be wasting precious time and political capital attempting to do anything more — at this moment — than mitigate the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. A half-century ago, Nasser’s dream of destroying Israel was deferred. The sad truth is that it persists. Until that changes, a serious and enduring peace will remain out of reach.

Five Reasons Why Israel Should Care about the Qatar Crisis – Seth J. Frantzman

  1. It hurts Hamas. Qatar has supported Hamas over the last decade and hosted former Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal for the last five years in Doha. The new pressure on Qatar has encouraged it to expel Hamas members and will reduce its support for the group.
  2.  It brings Israel closer to Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the Gulf. Israel has shared interests with Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states in opposing Iran. The crises with Qatar allows writers in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf to speak out more firmly against Hamas. Saudi’s Al Arabiya has showcased interviews with Wonder Woman’s Gal Gadot.
  3. It shows U.S. influence is back in the region. The background of the current crises was a feeling that U.S. President Donald Trump’s speech to “drive out” terror gave a blank check to local states to act.
  4. It delegitimizes terror. The regimes that have broken relations with Qatar pay lip-service to fighting terror and instability. Israel prefers a stable region without terror groups undermining neighboring states. So long as Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and other states work in concert, the winds of stability will blow in Israel’s direction as well.
  5. It bolsters Israel’s hand in general and Israel’s current government in particular. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has spoken about the Iranian threat for two decades. If the Arab states are more concerned with Iran and Qatar, than with the Palestinians, that takes pressure off of Israel. (Jerusalem Post)