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Latest Israel News – 9th May

Musical Flash Mob Brings Sunshine to Shaare Zedek Hospital in Jerusalem

A few years ago, thirty five students from the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance’s (JAMD) Community & Youth Project played a flowing series of events in the Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem.

Starting with a concert in the hospital lobby, and taking a classical approach to the Beatles  hit song “Here Comes the Sun” , the students continued and played in various locations throughout the Medical Center as doctors, patients and passers-by joined in the fun.

Shaare Zedek Medical Center is Israel’s fastest growing hospital, responsible for medical care for more than 500,000 people each year. A national and globally recognised leader in both clinical care and academic research, Shaare Zedek is home to more than 30 inpatient departments, 70 outpatient units and dozens of research institutes. The hospital proudly serves as a center of advanced medicine for all the peoples of Jerusalem and the surrounding areas with constant attention to patient-centered care while embracing the latest modes of medical technology.

The Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance is unique in the Israel’s higher education system. With 800 students in the Performing Arts of Music, Composition, Dance and Choreography, JAMD’s Community & Youth Project operates over 20 different projects throughout Israel allowing more than 300 children and young people from disadvantaged areas to study serious music & dan

Attempted stabbing attack thwarted at Jerusalem’s Damascus Gate

An unidentified Palestinian woman who threatened Border Police officers with a knife at the entrance to the Old City’s Damascus Gate was shot Sunday by her would-be victims. None of the officers were wounded.

The attempted attack took place shortly before 7 p.m., according to police.

“The female terrorist approached Border Police officers who were on patrol at Damascus Gate, waved a knife in the air at the officers, and the terrorist was shot and critically injured,” said police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld.

“The area was immediately cordoned off and security heightened as we look into the identity of the terrorist and where she came from,” he added.

The Damascus Gate remains a volatile area nearly one year after multiple attacks took place there at the height of the so-called “stabbing intifada.”

On April 14, Hannah Bladon, a 20-year-old British exchange student, was stabbed to death in an attack on the Jerusalem Light Rail, a few meters outside the Old City, where tens of thousands of visitors from around the globe were observing Passover and Easter.

The 57-year-old suspect in that attack, a resident of east Jerusalem’s Ras el-Amud neighborhood, boarded the train, which was heading toward the center of town, at Damascus Gate stop.

Two weeks earlier, two Jewish teenagers and a police officer were stabbed in the Muslim Quarter by an Arab assailant who was shot and killed after attempting to seek refuge in a nearby residence.

Just days prior, Siham Rateb Nimir, a 49-year-old east Jerusalem woman, was shot dead by Border Police after unsuccessfully attempting to stab an officer near the Damascus Gate with scissors. (Jerusalem Post)

Barghouti’s lies caught on film

Arch-terrorist and mass-murderer Marwan Barghouti, who has led a hunger strike by jailed terrorists held in Israeli prisons, has been eating in secret while maintaining the pretenses of his own hunger strike, footage released Sunday reveals.

Barghouti, who is believed to be responsible for the deaths of 26 people in suicide bombings and shooting attacks during the Second Intifada and is currently serving five consecutive life sentences for murder, declared the hunger strike in a New York Times opinion piece in April, in the middle of the Jewish festival of Passover.

But footage of Barghouti’s jail cell reveals that the arch-terrorist feigned his own hunger strike, eating in secret in a corner of his room, just as he did in the previous hunger strike he led.

A senior member of the Fatah-Tanzim terror group, Barghouti retained his seat in the Palestinian Authority legislature despite his conviction and imprisonment. Barghouti nevertheless remains a popular figure within the Palestinian Authority, and is often touted as a potential successor to current PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.

Minister of Internal Security Gilad Erdan (Likud) mocked Barghouti, accusing the jailed terrorist of orchestrating the hunger strike to improve his own political standing while failing to take part in the strike itself.

“The terrorists’ hunger strike has nothing to do with their prison conditions; it is simply a [tool] for Marwan Barghouti’s political interests, both inside prison and in the Palestinian Authority.”           (Arutz Sheva)

Dershowitz on Trump and peace: Real opportunities vs double-edged sword

Although US President Donald Trump presents “real opportunities” his “unpredictability is a double-edged sword,” famed lawyer Alan Dershowitz told the Jerusalem Post Conference in New York on Sunday.

On the positive side, Dershowitz argued that “there are real opportunities with this new administration to do something constructive in the Middle East. When the US has Israel’s back and Israel feels strong, it is willing to make compromises and concessions.”

On the negative side, he exclaimed seemingly aghast, “President Trump is utterly unpredictable. We don’t know what he will do next. We don’t know what surprises” are next and “we didn’t know what he would do with” Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

“Unpredictability is a double-edged sword. It could drive people together, but it also produces uncertainty, so it could make it more difficult to come to a resolution,” he continued.

Overall, he suggested that Trump’s real Middle East policies will become more clear in the near future as he visits in the region in late May.

Another major message Dershowitz had was a surprisingly strong condemnation of various groups on the American political Left, despite his is affiliation as a lifelong-Democrat.

He said that US “progressive have abandoned” Israel and that such “progressives are repressive…want to bar pro-Israel speakers and…are intolerant.”

Further, he called on American-Jews to “marginalize progressives within the mainstream Democratic party,” saying that he will fight bigotry on both the American political Left and Right.

The renowned lawyer also advocated maintaining Israel as a bipartisan issue in the US, and it appeared his anger was directed at groups on the Right and Left which he believed were trying to break-up the bipartisan stance on Israel.  (Jerusalem Post)

Jewish Trump confidant: US president has convinced Abbas to make concessions

US President Donald Trump has succeeded in persuading Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas to make the kind of concessions that will enable the diplomatic process to move forward, World Jewish Congress President Ron Lauder told Israeli politicians at The Jerusalem Post Annual Conference in New York.

Lauder is the Jewish leader closest to Trump: their families have been friends for decades; he has free access to the president; and he has advised him on how to advance diplomatic initiatives in the Middle East. He also has built up ties with Arab leaders for decades and was Netanyahu’s unofficial envoy to Syria in the latter’s first term as prime minister.

Behind the scenes at the conference, Lauder briefed ministers Naftali Bennett, Ayelet Shaked and Ofir Akunis, as well as opposition leader Isaac Herzog on his impressions from talking to Trump about how to solve the Israeli- Palestinian conflict.

“Trump is very optimistic that he can renew the peace process,” one of the politicians told The Jerusalem Post after speaking to Lauder. “Lauder understands from Trump that he believes Abbas can be convinced by him and Arab leaders to come back to the table and make concessions.”

Bennett, Shaked and Akunis, in their speeches at the conference, emphasized their opposition to a Palestinian state and continually denigrated the Palestinian Authority and Abbas.

Ahead of his visit to Israel and the Palestinian Authority later this month, Trump will make his first foreign stop as president in Saudi Arabia. The visit is intended to show that Trump respects the Muslim world and to seek Saudi help in advancing a regional approach to solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Trump hosted Abbas at the White House last week and has met recently with the leaders of Egypt and Jordan. The politicians who spoke with Lauder said Trump was counting on the Arab leaders to add to his own pressure on Abbas to concede.

Herzog revealed at the conference that he had offered Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a parliamentary safety net for concessions in a peace process led by Trump.

Interviewed on stage by Post Editor-in-Chief Yaakov Katz, Herzog praised Trump while questioning Netanyahu’s goals on the Palestinian issue.

“So far, Trump’s peace efforts have been impeccable,” Herzog said. “We know what Trump wants. What Netanyahu wants, no one knows. I have grave doubts about Bibi’s intentions.

If he wants peace, he will enjoy political support even from my camp. But if he opts for what Bibi usually wants, he will find us a fierce opposition and we will replace him as soon as possible.”

Herzog said the only way to bring about a change in power in Israel is to form a strong centrist bloc with other centrist movements. He invited former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon to join such a bloc, along with fellow former IDF chiefs Ehud Barak, Benny Gantz and Gabi Ashkenazi; rebel Yisrael Beytenu MK Orly Levy-Abecassis; and MKs in Kulanu.

“Together, we can present a clear, centrist vision for Israel,” Herzog said.

Meretz leader Zehava Gal-On said she disagrees with Herzog, calling Ya’alon too right-wing to lead a centrist bloc of parties that would challenge Netanyahu.  (Jerusalem Post)

PA sought to bring Trump to Arafat’s grave

US President Donald Trump will not pass by the grave of the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat during his visit to Israel and the West Bank later this month, despite reported efforts by the Palestinian Authority to bring him by the site.

According to a report Monday in the Israel Hayom daily, the PA sought to hold a ceremony welcoming Trump at the Muqata’a compound in Ramallah, to which he would have arrived by way of the adjacent mausoleum housing Arafat’s remains.

Citing an unnamed PA official, the report said that the Palestinians intended to keep Trump and his entourage in the dark as to the plan to lead him through the grave site.

However, a second unnamed official from the office of PA President Mahmoud Abbas told the paper that the Palestinians were informed by members of the Secret Service arranging security for Trump’s visit that due to the political and diplomatic sensitivity the US president would not arrive at the Muqata’a by way of the mausoleum.

“Senior officials in the Trump administration got in touch with us and let us know that President Trump could not pass by Arafat’s grave site, as this could produce an embarrassing situation [for him] back home politically, as well as a diplomatic crisis with Israel, and we were asked to find an alternative route,” he said.

The PA official denied that the Palestinians had any intention to bring Trump to the grave itself, saying that the first official was solely intending to stir up controversy.

“It seems that someone was looking to make something out nothing. The Americans asked to avoid the possibility that it would appear as if the [US] president was visiting the grave, even though he was supposed to pass near [the grave] and not by way of it,” he said.

Arafat, who died in 2004, remains a venerated figure among Palestinians, but is seen by many in Israel as an unreformed terrorist who doomed the 2000 Camp David peace talks, orchestrated the suicide bombing onslaught of the Second Intifada that followed, and disseminated a still-prevailing narrative among Palestinians that denies Jews’ history and legitimacy in the Holy Land.

A report last week from Channel 2 said that during his visit to Israel Trump is not expected to visit Ramallah, preferring instead to go to Bethlehem.

Trump is set to arrive in Israel on May 22 for a one-day visit along with his wife, Melania, daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner, the latter two of whom also serve as his advisers. He will stop first in Saudi Arabia, where he has said he will meet leaders from the Muslim world to discuss fighting terrorism.

Following his trip to Israel, Trump is scheduled to travel to the Vatican, as well as NATO and G7 summits in Brussels and Sicily.

Trump’s visit comes amid efforts by the US president to renew long-dormant peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

Last week, Trump hosted Abbas at the White House for a meeting during which he expressed confidence in his ability to broker a peace deal.

“We will get it done. We will be working so hard to get it done. It’s been a long time, but we will be working diligently, and I think there’s a very, very good chance,” Trump said during a joint press conference with Abbas.

The president, who has referred to an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement as “the ultimate deal,” said he would be willing to play whatever role was needed to strike an accord.

Both Abbas and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have welcomed Trump’s interest in reviving talks, although the two have also sought to cast blame on each other for the lack of any peace process.

It is not clear if Trump will use his trip to the region to unveil any plans concerning peace talks, but the timing of the visit — coinciding with Jerusalem Day, when Israel will celebrate 50 years since capturing the east of the city during the 1967 Six Day War — has sparked speculation that he might use the trip make a major announcement regarding the city.

Over the course of his campaign, Trump repeatedly promised he would move the embassy, but since assuming office, he has seemingly stepped away from that pledge.

Vice President Mike Pence told American Jewish leaders last week that Trump was still deliberating on the relocation.

“The president of the United States, as we speak, is giving serious consideration into moving the American embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem,” he said.

Trump will have to make an important decision on the matter.

Congress passed a law in 1995 mandating the embassy be moved to Jerusalem, but it allowed the president to exercise a six-month waiver on national security grounds.

Every president since, including Barack Obama’s predecessors George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, signed that waiver every six months.

The last one, signed in December by Obama, expires at the end of May, when Trump will be forced to either sign it or follow through on his campaign promise.     (the Times of Israel)

US Embassy in Saudi Arabia removes Israel from Trump itinerary

A prominent congressman accused the US State Department on Monday of conforming to Saudi Arabia’s “rejectionist” public approach to Israel, after the US embassy in Riyadh appeared to edit out of a promotional video mention of US President Donald Trump’s visit to both nations this month.

Trump announced last week that Riyadh, Jerusalem and Rome would be his first stops abroad as president— an homage to the world’s three major monotheistic religions. The State Department produced a video promoting the trip, but the embassy in Riyadh released a version that makes no mention of his stop in Israel.

“This video plays into a rejectionist narrative and thus has no place in any social media— or any other form of communication— associated with the United States government,” Rep. Eliot Engel, a Democrat from New York, wrote US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

The shorter video has since been removed from the embassy website. The full version remains available online.  (Jerusalem Post)

Israel’s Ministerial Committee for Legislation Unanimously Approves Controversial ‘Nationality Law’

Israel’s Ministerial Committee for Legislation unanimously approved a new version of the “Nationality Law” Sunday, four years after the much-debated bill was originally proposed.

The legislation would preserve the notion that Israel is the homeland of the Jewish people, stipulating that all Israeli law must be understood based upon this principle.

“The Nationality Law is critical in a time like this, when elements from within and without are trying to reject the Jewish people’s right to a national home in its country and the recognition of the state of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people,” said Member of Knesset Avi Dichter (Likud), who initially proposed the legislation, Yedioth Ahronoth reported.

The bill details the symbols of the state such as the national anthem and flag; the capital of Jerusalem; the official language of Hebrew; the right of return to Israel for diaspora Jews; Jewish settlement of the land; Israeli relations with the diaspora; the Hebrew calendar; and holy sites.

The legislation will proceed to a preliminary reading in the Knesset and will then return to the Ministerial Committee for further discussion. Opponents of the bill say it discriminates against minorities in Israel such as Arab Israelis, as it downgrades Arabic from being an official language to having “a special status in the state,” meaning its speakers have “the right to language-accessible state services.”

Israeli Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon (Kulanu) is expected to raise objections to some aspects of the bill.  (the Algemeiner)

Israeli politicians: ’French democracy won, antisemitism was defeated’

Relieved Israelis on Sunday night welcomed the election of Emmanuel Macron to the French Presidency. He defeated far-right candidate Marine Le Pen to become the youngest person to hold that post since Napoleon over 200 years ago.

“I look forward to working with President-elect Macron to confront the common challenges and seize the common opportunities facing our two democracies,” Netanyahu said.

“One of the greatest threats facing the world today is radical Islamic terror which has struck Paris, Jerusalem and so many other cities around the world. France and Israel are longtime allies and I am sure that we will continue to deepen our relations,” Netanyahu said.

Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely immediately sent out a congratulatory tweet in English, “looking forward to continuing Israel’s close relations with France.”

MK Shelly Yachimovich (Labor) “French democracy won and anti-Semitism was defeated. In a world has experienced manifestations of extremism and racism, Macron’s election reinforces moderation and sanity and strengthens the European Union.”

“His overwhelming victory is good for France, for Europe, for the world and for the relationship between Israel and France,” Yachimovich said.

But MK Oren Hazen (Likud) who had supported Le Pen said he was concerned about what this meant for the battle against terrorism and Islamic extremism.

“ I hope that the new president Macron, I hope that the new president will know how to deal with, and fight with a strong hand, radical Islam and the growing global terrorism,” Hazen said.

Aside from the larger issues of democracy and terror, Israelis are also hopeful that Macron will strike a more moderate tone when it comes to the Israeli Palestinian conflict. Under his predecessor, President Francois Hollande, France had threatened to recognize a Palestinian state should the Israeli-Palestinian peace process remained frozen. It had also advanced a unilateral process to create conditions for talks, which Israel had feared with would create new terms of understanding for the conflict, that would strengthen the call for a two-state solution at the pre-1967 lines.

Before the election Macron said he opposed unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state, preferring to see it happen as the end result of a peace process.              (Jerusalem Post)

UK government said to cancel Prince Charles’ visit to Israel

A potentially historic visit to Israel by a senior member of the British royal family scheduled for later this year has reportedly been canceled by the country’s Foreign Office over fears it would anger the UK’s Arab allies.

The Sun tabloid reported Sunday that Prince Charles will not visit Israel in the fall of 2017 for a trip that was planned to coincide with the 100-year anniversary of the Balfour Declaration.

Though never officially confirmed by London or Jerusalem, a senior British Jewish community leader told The Times of Israel last November that plans were underway for a member of the royal family to visit Israel in the first-ever official visit.

In March, in a meeting with UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, President Reuven Rivlin publicly extended an invitation to Prince Charles to visit Israel during the centennial year of the 1917 signing of the Balfour Declaration.

But according to The Sun, the Royal Visits Committee, the branch of the Foreign Office that coordinates trips on behalf of the royal family, nixed the visit in an apparent effort to “to avoid upsetting Arab nations in the region who regularly host UK Royals.”

The report said Rivlin’s invitation never reached the office of Prince Charles.

The UK Foreign Office denied a visit had ever been planned, in a statement to The Times of Israel.

“Her Majesty’s Government makes decisions on Royal Visits based on recommendations from the Royal Visits Committee, taking into account advice from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The Committee never proposed a royal visit to Israel for 2017. Plans for 2018 will be announced in due course,” a spokesperson said.

While royals have visited Israel in the past, no representative of the British monarchy has ever come to the country on an official “royal tour.”

Prince Charles’s attendance at Shimon Peres’s funeral last year and the funeral of slain prime minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1994 did not include diplomatic meetings and are not considered official royal visits. Nor was a brief 1994 visit by his father, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, to attend a ceremony commemorating his mother, Alice of Battenberg, who is buried on Jerusalem’s Mount of Olives.

Despite numerous invitations over the years, no UK government has approved such a visit to Israel since the end of the British Mandate and the establishment of the state in 1948.

Israeli officials have bristled at royals’ unwillingness to come to the Jewish state, while they appear to have no qualms about visiting authoritarian states like Saudi Arabia and Qatar. (the Times of Israel)

Double standard on Holocaust denial

by Rafael Medoff    The Jerusalem Post


Not only has Abbas never disavowed what he wrote in his book, he has reaffirmed it.

A French political leader who referred sympathetically to a prominent Holocaust denier has been forced to resign in disgrace.

But a Palestinian political leader who referred sympathetically to the same Holocaust denier was welcomed at the White House this week. Why the double standard? Jean-Francois Jalkh, leader of France’s National Front party, resigned in disgrace on April 28 after it was revealed that in a 2000 interview he said it was “impossible” for the Nazis to have carried out mass murder with poison gas. As his source, Jalkh cited the convicted Holocaust denier Robert Faurisson, whom he described as “trustworthy.”

Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas has referred to Faurisson in similar terms, in a bizarre and disturbing book that Abbas wrote in 1983 called The Other Side: The Secret Relations Between Nazism and the Leadership of the Zionist Movement.

The central thesis of the book, which Abbas wrote as his doctoral dissertation at Moscow University, is that David Ben-Gurion and other Zionist leaders “collaborated with Hitler” and wanted the Nazis to kill Jews, because “having more victims meant greater rights and stronger privilege to join the negotiating table for dividing the spoils of war once it was over.”

The “real” number of Jews murdered by the Nazis was “much lower” than six million and might well have been “below one million,” Abbas wrote. “Many scholars have debated the figure of six million and reached stunning conclusions – fixing the number of Jewish victims at only a few hundred thousand.”

One of the alleged authorities whom Abbas cited was the same Holocaust denier at the center of the recent controversy in France. “In a scientific study published by the French professor Robert Faurisson, he challenges the existence of gas chambers which served the purpose of killing living Jews,” Abbas wrote. “He claims that the gas chambers were only used to burn corpses, out of fear of spreading plagues and viruses. It would not take a great effort in order to prove and document this aspect of the truth.”

Not only has Abbas never disavowed what he wrote in his book, he has reaffirmed it. In a January 21, 2013 interview with the Lebanese television station Al-Mayadeen, Abbas was asked about his Holocaust writings. “I challenge anyone to deny the relationship between Zionism and Nazism before World War II,” Abbas responded, adding that he has “70 more books that I still haven’t published” that supposedly would prove his claims.

Back in 2003, there were rumors that Abbas might visit Israel. Writing in The Jerusalem Post, Isaac Herzog (then a member of Knesset from the Labor Party, today leader of its successor, the Zionist Union) called for any such visit to include a public “apology and correction” by Abbas for his 1983 Holocaust book. Abbas’s “intolerable accusation” against Jewish and Zionist leaders needed to be explicitly retracted, Herzog insisted.

Herzog’s point is equally relevant today. The hope of achieving genuine peace rests on the willingness of the PA leadership to sincerely reject the anti-Israel and anti-Jewish hatred of the past. Every time a PA official or media outlet denies, minimizes, or distorts the Holocaust (including comparisons of Israel to the Nazis), they are stoking the old flames of hatred that were supposed to have been extinguished with the signing of the Oslo accords in 1993.

In France, the National Front’s Jean-Francois Jalkh was compelled to resign because the force of public opinion made it clear that he had crossed a line. Civilized society does not tolerate Holocaust deniers. It should not tolerate Abbas’s version of Holocaust denial, either.

The author is founding director of The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies and author or editor of 16 books about the Holocaust and Jewish history.

Israel Is Still at War

by Prof. Efraim Inbar               BESA Center   (Begin Sadat Center for Strategic Studies)

Israel Is Still at War

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Israel just celebrated its sixty-ninth anniversary. Its citizens can be proud of its many impressive achievements, and particularly the building of a very strong military that has withstood many tests. Yet acceptance by all its neighbors has not been attained. Israel is still at war.

After several military defeats, the largest and strongest Arab state, Egypt, signed a historic peace treaty with Israel in 1979. The defection of Egypt from the anti-Israel Arab alliance largely neutralized the option of a large-scale conventional attack on Israel, improving Israel’s overall strategic position.

Yet Cairo refrained from developing normal relations with the Jewish state.  A “cold peace” evolved, underscoring the countries’ common strategic interests but also the reluctance of Egypt to participate in reconciling the two peoples.

Jordan followed suit in 1994, largely emulating the Egyptian precedent. Jordan’s peace treaty with Israel also reflected common strategic interests – but was commonly referred to by Jordanians as the “King’s peace,” indicating a disinclination for people-to-people interactions with the Jews west of the Jordan River.

The inhibitions in the Arab world against accepting Israel should not be a surprise. Muslims seem to have good theological reasons for rejecting the existence of a Jewish state. Moreover, the education system in the Arab countries has inculcated anti-Semitic messages and hatred toward Israel for decades. Unfortunately, the dissemination of negative images of Jews and Israel has hardly changed in Arab schools and media.

This is also why the euphoria of the 1990s elicited by the “peace process” with the Palestinians, and propagated by the “peace camp”, was unwarranted. Indeed, the peace negotiations failed miserably. The process did, however, allow the Palestinian national movement a foothold in the West Bank and Gaza. As a large part of the Arab world is in deep socio-political crisis and another fears the Iranian threat, it is the Palestinian national movement and the Islamists that carry on the struggle against the Zionists.

The Palestinians are at the forefront of the war on Israel, despite their lack of tanks and airplanes. They use terror, and pay the terrorists captured by Israel as well as their families. The use of force against Jews is applauded, and killed perpetrators are awarded the status of martyrs. They use missiles against Israel’s civilian population. The limits on their firepower are the result of Israeli efforts to cut off their supply of armaments.

The Palestinian national movement denies the historic links of the Jews to the Land of Israel, and particularly Jerusalem. The Palestinian Authority (PA) demanded of the UK that it apologize for the 1917 Balfour declaration, which recognized Jewish attachment to the Land of Israel. There are endless examples in Palestinian schools and media to sustain the conclusion that the Palestinians are not ready to make peace.

Moreover, the PA cannot conclude a “cold peace” like Egypt or Jordan. Those two countries take their commitment seriously to prevent terrorism from their territory. In the West Bank, the PA – established by Yitzhak Rabin on the premise that it will fight terror in exchange for the transfer of territory – refuses to honor its part of the bargain. It encourages terror by subsidies to jailed terrorists and by innumerable steps to eulogize the “martyrs” and honor their “heritage.” The ruling Palestinian elite in Gaza, Hamas, formally refuses to give up armed struggle against Israel.

The “Oslo process” was an attempt by Israel to push the Palestinian national movement into a statist posture and to eventually adopt a statist rationale along the lines of that of Egypt and Jordan, which led them to a “cold peace” with Israel. But the religious and ethnic dimensions of the conflict with Israel have overcome any underdeveloped statist Palestinian instincts. The ethno-religious impulses of the Palestinians nurture their continuation of violent conflict.

So far, no Palestinian leader who has adopted a statist agenda, prioritizing state-building over other Palestinian aspirations, has garnered popular support. Salam Fayyad, who was admired in the West for his attempts to reform the PA’s bloated bureaucracy, seemed to tend in this direction. But his level of support among the Palestinian public never rose above 10%.

Palestinian society is becoming more religious and radical, similarly to other Arab societies. This trend benefits Hamas, which is becoming more popular. The ascendance of Hamas further feeds hostility towards Israel. A drive to satisfy the quest for revenge, and, ultimately, to destroy Israel – which would be an historic justice in the eyes of the Palestinians – overrides any other consideration.

A renewal of negotiations leading to Israeli withdrawals is extremely unlikely to result in a durable and satisfactory agreement any time soon. Israel will need to maintain a strong army for many more decades to deal with the Palestinian challenge. Moreover, changes within neighboring states can be rapid. Unexpected scenarios, such as a return of the Muslim Brotherhood to the helm in Egypt or the fall of the Hashemite dynasty, might take place, and a large-scale conventional threat might reemerge. Finally, the Iranian nuclear specter is still hovering over the Middle East.

Israel must remain vigilant and continue to prepare for a variety of warlike scenarios. The understandable desire for peace should not blur the discomforting likelihood that Israel will live by its sword for many years to come.

Efraim Inbar, professor emeritus of political studies at Bar-Ilan University and founding director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies (1991-2016), is a Shillman-Ginsburg fellow at the Middle East Forum.

Why a Middle East peace deal is difficult

Abbas’ claim that Palestinian children are raised “on a culture of peace” is a deadly flight of fancy

By Bridget Johnson                     The Washington Times


President Trump is intent on achieving the Middle East peace deal that President Obama sorely wanted as the linchpin of his legacy, and warmly welcomed Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to the White House with praise for his new peace partner.

But the realities that have prevented an agreement include roadblocks that even the best boardroom negotiator won’t be able to deal-make away.

And though Mr. Trump said he’ll “do whatever is necessary to facilitate the agreement” and declared a such a pact “maybe not as difficult as people have thought,” Israel should not be pressured to take the plunge if the security risks remain as they are now.

Yes, those risks are many despite Mr. Abbas‘ smooth talk at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., where he proclaimed “a new opportunity, a new horizon.” He publicly heaped praise on Mr. Trump for his “leadership,” “determination,” “courageous stewardship,” “wisdom” and “great negotiating ability,” and the “Art of the Deal” negotiator gobbled up the adulation.

At a press conference alongside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last month, Mr. Trump declared “the Israelis are going to have to show some flexibility” and asked the prime minister to “hold back on settlements for a little bit,” while the Palestinians “have to get rid of some of that hate.” With Mr. Abbas, Mr. Trump said, “Hopefully, there won’t be such hatred for very long.”

Here’s how that hate manifests, and why it’s not so easy to sing kumbaya. Just before the Trump-Abbas sit-down, Hamas released an ostensibly softer version of their principles document with the same jihadi fine print stressing their duty to seize all of Israel. “Hamas rejects any alternative to the full and complete liberation of Palestine, from the river to the sea,” the terror group said before suggesting openness to an initial 1967 borders agreement to pique the gullible giddiness of those who crave an agreement at any cost.

Hamas leader Khaled Mashal then appealed to Mr. Trump to seize the “historic opportunity to pressure Israel,” telling CNN that the president has a “greater threshold for boldness” than his predecessors.

Hamas, of course, controls Gaza and is a terrorist organization with nefarious ties and a mission to destroy Israel, regardless of the new PR campaign. If a peace deal is forged with only Mr. Abbas‘ Fatah party, then you’ve only dealt with the West Bank and Hamas will not abide by the security agreements. If you manage to bring Hamas in on the deal, then you’ve automatically created a state that is a state sponsor of terrorism. As difficult as people have thought, and more.

Not that Mr. Abbas exactly has his hands clean in the terror market: Can a peace deal be forged with a government paying monthly stipends to the families of terrorists? Can a territory hospitable to Hezbollah, al Qaeda and ISIS ever be a partner in providing the kind of security needed to ensure the safety of Israelis and the Jewish state’s existence? No wonder Mr. Abbas did enough of a song-and-dance that Mr. Trump praised him as being a faithful fellow foe of ISIS.

Israel says recognition of the Jewish state is a must-have in any peace deal.

The Palestinians have made clear this is a no-go. If Israel gives in on this demand over its very definition, then the Palestinian jihad wins a battle that will reverberate through and give empowerment to the global terrorist community. Even a limited victory will further empower those who insist all of Israel is theirs for the taking.

Learn from Gaza: If you give jihadism an inch, be prepared for terrorists to take a mile. No matter what good will leads up to any future partition, the rockets can start flying the day after the pullout. And a truly workable deal needs to be backed up with international support: with the United Nations still unabashedly anti-Israel, who would enforce Palestinian violations of a peace pact?

It’s also foolish to believe that jihad doctrines, kids’ shows or school textbooks in the territories will stop calling for the destruction of what’s left of the Jewish state if the Palestinians win 1967 borders. Thus, the painful round of facepalms when Mr. Abbas assured Trump that Palestinians “are raising our youth on a culture of peace.”

The time is not now until the Palestinian Authority has leaders who want peace instead of what their textbooks preach, who combat violence instead of rewarding terrorists, who are willing to change the culture of never-ending jihad and refuse to welcome terror groups who vow “al-Aqsa, we are coming.”

Mr. Abbas, whose Fatah party lauded the killer who stabbed to death 13-year-old Israeli-American citizen Hallel-Yaffa Ariel last year as she slept and whose government cuts a monthly check to the killer’s family, is not that leader.

Hopefully the president sees through his sweet talk before Khaled Mashal gets the next White House invitation between Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Rodrigo Duterte.

M Netanyahu Shows Us What to Do with Fake News and Fake “Moderate” Hamas Documents