Terror wave: Three stabbing attacks in Jerusalem and area
Knife-wielding terrorists ages 13 and 37 shot in Pisgat Ze’ev and Damascus Gate in Jerusalem; third attack occurs south of Ma’aleh Adumim.
Within a few hours on Tuesday afternoon, there were three terrorist attacks in Jerusalem and area.
Two attacks in Jerusalem occurred within minutes of each other after 12:00 in the afternoon.
In the first attack, at roughly 12:30 p.m., a security guard was stabbed in the upper torso at a Jerusalem light rail station in the Pisgat Ze’ev neighborhood.
According to Police spokeswoman Luba Samri, the guard was accosted by two Palestinian minors, ages 12 and 13, one of who stabbed him with a knife before the guard shot and disarmed him.
“Passengers on the train took control of the second attacker until the rapid arrival of police,” said Samri.
The shot assailant was seriously injured.
Pat Station Commander, Chief Superintendent Avi Cohen praised the security guard and train passengers for their quick actions.
“The rapid determination of the guard and tram passengers prevented more innocent people from being harmed,” he said in a statement.
The unidentified security guard was treated at the scene by Magen David Adom paramedics before being transferred to Shaare Zedek Medical Center in fair condition, Sami said.
Minutes later, a 37-year-old terrorist wielding a knife charged two security guards at Damascus Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City.
Samri said one of the guards shot him, leaving him in critical condition. He later died of his wounds.
Kedem Police District commander Chief Superintendent Chaim Shmueli praised the security guards for their quick actions and emphasized that the capital will remain on a heightened level of security.
Later on Tuesday afternoon at around 3:00 p.m., a Palestinian man with a knife was shot dead by security forces after he allegedly ran toward Border Police officers screaming “Allahu akhbar” (god is great) southeast of Jerusalem.
The incident occurred near a junction south of Ma’aleh Adumim in the West Bank, which lies on the outskirts of the Israeli capital.
Prior to Tuesday’s attacks, the most recent terrorist attack in the capital took place on October 30 at the Ammunition Hill light rail stop, when an Arab man stabbed a Jewish man before being shot dead by police.
A second Jewish man was accidentally shot in the leg by police in the ensuing crossfire. The victims are now in satisfactory or good condition.
For nearly two weeks before that, over 5,000 deployed Border Police officers – aided by the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and the IDF – had succeeded in preventing any serious attacks in the city for nearly two weeks. (Jerusalem Post)
Netanyahu on mending ties with Obama: ‘Our meeting was good, one of the best’
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Barack Obama attempted to lay to rest their long history as diplomatic sparring partners, as they smiled and shook hands in front of television cameras at the start of their much anticipated meeting at the White House on Monday morning.
“It was a very good and constructive meeting,” Netanyahu told reporters after his two-and-a-half hour conversation with Obama, which ran 45 minutes beyond its scheduled time.
“It was one of the best,” he added.
Unlike some past conversations, “there were no arguments or confrontation,” he explained.
It was the first face-to-face meeting between the two men in 13 months, during which time they held a ferocious public battle over the Iran deal.
In March, Netanyahu irked the White House by accepting an invitation from former House speaker John Boehner to address a joint session of Congress on the deal to curb Iran’s nuclear capability.
He urged the Congress to vote against Obama on the Iran deal, which he believed was a historic mistake that would only strengthen Iran’s military and nuclear capability.
Obama refused to meet with him during that visit.
US Secretary of State John Kerry and Vice President Joe Biden were also not available to talk with him.
It was Netanyahu’s only visit to Washington since he took office in 2009 in which he did not meet with Obama.
But even when he did meet with him, things did not always go so well. His October 2014 visit to Washington, in which he also spoke with Obama at the White House, ended in a public battle over settlement building.
After Netanyahu left the White House, its spokesman, Josh Earnest, attacked him for building Jewish homes in east Jerusalem and the West Bank.
Such criticism, “is against American values,” said Netanyahu. “To say that we [must] have this ethnic purification as a condition for peace, I think its anti-peace,” he added. His words only earned him a second rebuke from the White House.
Earnest retorted from the White House podium, “It did seem odd for him to defend Israel’s position by saying the US position is un-American. American values are why this country’s support for Israel has been unwavering.”
But already in September of this year, Netanyahu changed his public rhetoric on Obama. During his annual address to the UN, he publicly thanked Obama for his commitment to Israel’s security.
On Monday, Netanyahu and Obama went to great lengths to show the public that their dueling days are over, particularly when it comes to the issue of the Iran deal, which has since been approved and executed.
Earnest characterized the ” professional relationship” between Obama and Netanyahu as “Effective..[which] allows them to advance the interests of their two countries and most importantly, advance our shared interests.”
“That is what you would expect the leaders of allied nations to do,” he said. (Jerusalem Post)
Netanyahu gave red line to Putin on Syria intervention
Meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow in September, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he would respond “strongly” to any effort by Iran to establish an offensive corridor on Syria’s border with the Golan Heights, he said on Monday night.
Speaking to the conservative American Enterprise Institute, which honored him at a black tie gala with its highest award, Netanyahu said that Israel’s first and foremost priority was to prioritize Israel’s defense threats, and to defeat or mitigate them accordingly.
Those begin with Iran, which— according to the premier, in conversation with the institute’s Danielle Pletka— is creating new proxies in both hemispheres on a bimonthly basis.
“Giving Israel the tools” to defend itself, Netanyahu told the gala of two thousand at the city’s National Building Museum, requires a drop in the bucket in US aid compared to the cost of Washington’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Netanyahu met with Obama earlier on Monday and asked for an increase in US defense aid to Israel from $3 billion to $5 billion a year between 2017 and 2027.
“I bet on this alliance,” Netanyahu told AEI. “I think it’s pivotal for the future of our world.”
The conservation with Pletka showed the convergence of opinion Netanyahu has found with American conservatives— not just on foreign relations, but on economic policy.
Repeatedly, Netanyahu noted his fiscal conservatism as prime minister of Israel.
Unprompted, Netanyahu raised the issue of an elusive peace with the Palestinians. The failure to secure a two-state solution, he said, is not the result of settlement activity, but of a “persistent refusal to accept [Israel] in any boundary.”
The Arab world, he contends, is intent on turning “the result of the conflict into its cause.”
“Are you willing to make the deal?,” he asked at the end of his talk. “Are you willing to recognize the Jewish state?”
“We will have peace,” he concluded, “when they accord us with what they ask us to accord them.” (Jerusalem Post)
Israel busts up Hamas network in West Bank town of Kalkilya; 24 arrested
Israeli security forces arrested 24 Hamas terrorists before dawn on Tuesday in what is being described as a significant anti-terror dragnet in the West Bank town of Kalkilya.
The operation was conducted jointly by the Israel Defense Forces, the Israel Police, and the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet).
The Hamas terrorists who were arrested are alleged to have planned a number of attacks within Israel proper. Security forces believe that this group of suspects received funding, training, and instruction from Hamas officials in Gaza and Qatar with the aim of reviving the Islamist movement’s activities in the Kalkilya area.
Among those arrested were senior Hamas officials who had already spent time in Israeli prisons and were released. Security forces also confiscated NIS 35,000 in cash that was alleged to have been used in funding the organization’s activities.
Hamas’ presence in Kalkilya spans decades. It has historically been considered one of the more active branches of the Islamist movement in all of the West Bank.
The arrest operation is considered significant since it exposes the continued efforts by Hamas senior officials based outside of Israel and the areas it controls to rebuilt the organization’s capabilities in the West Bank.
The dragnet was carried out by a number of special forces units, including Duvdevan, Egoz, and Yamas. They were assisted by battalions from the Artillery Corps. (Jerusalem Post)
‘Current wave of Palestinian terrorism can continue for an unknown time’
In light of the ongoing wave of Palestinian terrorism, the IDF’s Central Command will call up reserves at the start of 2016 in order to free up conscripted battalions for training, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said on Monday.
“The situation can continue – I don’t know for how long. It can eventually end up in an escalation or calm,” he said. All of the recent attacks have been carried out by lone attackers, and in recent weeks, no Palestinian organizations have been able to pull off organized attacked, though this could change in the future, Ya’alon said.
“We’ve been on the offensive since Operation Defensive Shield [in 2002, when the IDF retook control of Palestinian cities following waves of suicide bombings],” the defense minister added.
“More significant hostile action is a possibility,” he warned. Hamas and other organizations are trying to organize shootings and bombings in the West Bank and Israel, but have so far failed due to Israel’s intelligence and operational grip on the territories. “Hence, we are left with lone attackers.”
The current wave of terrorism started on September 11, when east Jerusalem youths snuck into the Aksa Mosque with Molotov cocktails and pipe bombs, and used them to attack ordinary visits by Jews to the site, Ya’alon said. He vehemently rejected Palestinian claims that Israel planned to change the status quo on the Temple Mount.
Although the Palestinian Authority and its President, Mahmoud Abbas, have toned down their incitement, for fear of the violence spreading anarchy in their own turf, the Internet remains filled with incitement to violence, triggering individuals to commit attacks, Ya’alon said. Images of murder promoted by ISIS in Iraq and Syria are also influencing Palestinian youths, he said. “The deeper background is what is taught in the PA. Its education system does not prepare the next generation for co-existence.”
Israel has refrained from imposing a closure on the West Bank, as “there is no need, so far,” Ya’alon added. “We are safeguarding the economic routine for Palestinians – this is of course our interest.”
Meanwhile, in Gaza, Hamas is continuing to keep to the cease-fire due to Israeli deterrence, which was replenished during last year’s conflict, Ya’alon said. Between 800 to 900 trucks ferrying all manner of goods enter Gaza every day via the Kerem Shalom crossing, which Ya’alon described as Gaza’s “oxygen tube.”
A small Salafist terrorist organization in Gaza fired a rocket at Israel on Sunday night, after feuding with Hamas, due to arrests made by the Gazan regime, Ya’alon added.
The Israel Air Force bombed a target affiliated with Hamas – which Israel holds responsible for all incidents out of Gaza – early on Monday, in response to the rocket, which exploded in an open area in the Sha’ar Henegev Regional Council.
“A situation has been created in which Hamas has no interest in an escalation in Gaza, but it is interested in escalating the situation in Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria,” Ya’alon said.
“Hamas did not want Gazans to hold demonstrations on the Gaza – Israel border, but it accepted them. Hamas is not happy about rocket and sniper fire from Gaza. It is working to stop this,” Ya’alon stated.
Ultimately, he said, Israel’s policy is based on the concept of punishing terrorists, but enabling the general Palestinian population to live its life with dignity.
In the long term, Ya’alon expressed doubt about chances of reaching a peace agreement with the PA, but said Israel will refrain from acts that will undermine a potential outline for a peace accord in the future (Jerusalem Post)
Iranian hackers targeted Israeli nuclear scientists, security researchers say
European authorities have taken action to take down a cyber espionage campaign believed to be linked to Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard, which has targeted 1,600 high-profile targets, including Israeli nuclear scientists, NATO officials and Iranian dissidents, according to security researchers.
The hacker group – dubbed “Rocket Kitten” by security experts who have been hunting the outfit since early 2014 – has mounted cyberattacks on high-profile political and military figures globally since that time, according to researchers from several cyber security firms who have monitored its activities.
The action could hamper Tehran’s efforts to gather sensitive intelligence from rivals including Israel, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States which were among the nations targeted.
“We have discovered the inner workings of a cyber espionage campaign,” Shahar Tal, research group manager for US-Israeli security firm Check Point Software, told Reuters in an interview.
“It is extremely rare to obtain a comprehensive check-list of an nation’s military intelligence interest,” Tal said of the list of espionage targets discovered in the Iran hacker group’s databases.
An official with Israeli internal security service Shin Bet told Reuters: “This matter is familiar to us and is being attended to,” but would not offer more details. Europol and the FBI said they could not immediately comment.
Check Point plans to issue a report later on Monday. According to an advance copy obtained by Reuters, the report details how its experts burrowed inside the hacker group’s database, giving them a map of malicious software tools and remote-controlled computers used by the group.
In coordinated actions, “command and control” computer links hosted unknowingly by five commercial data hosting and satellite communications operators in Europe, have largely now been shut down, Tal said, crippling the hackers’ capacity, at least for some months, to launch fresh attacks.
Computers in Europe were used by Rocket Kitten hackers in Tehran to stage remote attacks on targets in Saudi Arabia, other countries neighboring Iran, Israel, Europe, the United States, Venezuela and Iran itself, according to Check Point researchers.
“We believe these attacks are very similar to the ones previously attributed to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps,” Tal said of links between the two groups. Other cyber security researchers have stopped short of linking the two groups.
A spokesman at the Revolutionary Guards’ headquarters in Tehran declined to comment. Iranian foreign ministry officials were not available for comment.
Iran has been hit by several debilitating computer virus campaigns including Stuxnet, a cyber weapon jointly developed by the United States and Israel that destroyed some Iranian nuclear production facilities. Iran has responded with its own cyber spying capabilities since 2012, computer experts say.
The actions come as US President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met on Monday for the first time since the Israeli leader lost his battle against the Iran nuclear deal. (Ynet News)
Are Australia and Israel destined to be best mates in high-tech?
Australia is one of the world’s richest and most democratic countries. So what were a visiting group of politicians and business leaders hoping to discover in Israel?
By Simona Weinglass The Times of Israel
By any measure, Australia is one of the most successful countries in the world. It ranks seventh in personal freedom and well-being (Israel ranks 38th), 11th in perceptions of corruption (Israel is 37th), and is considered the tenth richest country globally.
“We’re very lucky to live where we do,” Wyatt Roy, Australia’s assistant minister of innovation, tells The Times of Israel.
No doubt Israel has a lot to learn from Australia. But last week, an Australian trade mission of parliament members, venture capitalists, business leaders and entrepreneurs visited Israel to learn something valuable from this country, namely, how to jump-start Australia’s startup scene and transform the country into a knowledge economy.
“Everyone oversells Israel. We’re pragmatic people so we have to cut through that,” says Jonathan Marshall, CEO of Bondi Labs, a startup that creates job training games for the developing world, “but I was blown away.”
Indeed, if there’s one area where Israel actually excels, it’s in startups. Israel ranks fifth on Bloomberg’s index of the world’s most innovative countries (after South Korea, Japan, Germany and Finland) and attracts more venture capital per capita than any country on earth.
Simon White, CEO Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce (AICC) for Queensland, explains that Australia has enjoyed 25 years of uninterrupted economic growth, in part due to the mining of gold, diamonds, coal, iron ore copper.
Avi Hasson, Israel’s chief scientist with Assistant Minister Wyatt Roy
But as growth has slowed, Australia is seeking to diversify its economy.
“We compete with Asia to grow food, but their production costs are a lot lower. Rather than compete, let’s innovate, let’s be the best in the world at agritech, drones in agriculture. But the barrier is Australians are risk-averse.”
“We have capital, talented people and access to markets,” says Murray Hurps, the general manager of Sidney-based Fishburners, Australia’s largest startup space. “The problem is the cultural part, ambition, people thinking they can do this.”
Wyatt Roy, who at 25 is Australia’s youngest minister, says he came to Israel because he wants to see the two countries collaborate more.
“I think Australia and Israel are a more natural partnership than Australia and Silicon Valley. We both have strong anti-authoritarian streaks, ‘chutzpah’ and ‘rosh gadol’ (thinking big),” he riffs, using Israeli slang.
“In Australia we support the underdog and always want to challenge authority.”
Specifically, Roy was impressed by his meeting with Avi Hasson, Israel’s chief scientist, whose office subsidizes Israeli startups to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars a year.
“I want to adopt Australian versions of these policies,” he says, noting that Hasson, representatives of VC firm Jerusalem Venture Partners, and serial entrepreneur Jon Medved are coming on a trade mission to Australia in a few weeks.
Campbell Newman of the Springfield Land Corps is the former mayor of Brisbane and is now in charge of creating a high-tech precinct in the planned city of Springfield, Queensland. The town currently has 30,000 residents but is expected to grow to 150,000 in the coming decades.
“I’ve been identifying features of the startup nation to be deployed in Springfield,” he says, explaining his motive for joining the mission.
Newman says he has already pitched several Israeli companies to open an office in Springfield.
“It’s a great place to get access to Asian markets and it’s a safe, secure environment with a great legal system.”
Newman currently has 42 hectares of forest and hills that he plans to transform into a cross between an office park and a hip urban hub.
“I am curating this innovation precinct. We’ll have incubators, accelerators, companies and large corporations. But also apartments, wine bars, restaurants and coffee shops. So there’s an active life and buzz.”
An amazing innovation
Michael Betar of Standard Commodities spent his day off visiting Sobhi Basheer, an Israeli Arab food engineer who he said has developed a breakthrough method to convert used cooking oil into biodiesel. Basheer’s company, Transbiodiesel, uses a natural catalyst as opposed to the traditional method that uses polluting chemicals.
“It’s amazing, it’s natural and it cuts costs of time and energy by virtually half.”
Changing the world
Jonathan Marshall, CEO of Bondi Labs, speaks as quickly as the ideas spill out of him.
During his travels in India and China, he said, he noticed that a few million people work in high-tech while hundreds of millions lack job skills altogether, a situation he fears could lead to civil unrest.
One day Marshall noticed a friend who is a civil aviation pilot using a flight simulation app on his iPad.
“It can’t be that good,” Marshall ventured, to which his friend replied, “it’s almost as good as the flight simulator I used to sit in ten years ago that cost $10 million.”
This gave Marshall an idea for his company. “What about flight simulators for farmers, healthcare workers, construction and aged care? In Australia we have a lot of game designers. I decided to create games for the environment and food security.”
Marshall’s clients are companies and aid organizations in the developed world. He has created a game that helps farmers diagnose diseases in plants.
“Forty percent of crops in the developing world are wiped out by pests and diseases. Yet even farmers who are illiterate have mobile devices.”
So far the app has been used by 3,000 farmers in over 30 countries, which he admits, is a drop in the bucket, but he hopes to reach 300,000. He’d also like to develop a game to train people in Sierra Leone to identify Ebola.
A spiritual question
As for why Marshall came to Israel, he said it was to answer a personal question
“One of my best friends — we grew up together in Canberra — was a Russian Jewish immigrant to Australia, very bright, and his father was a nuclear physicist at the university.”
Twenty years ago, this friend, Ari, decided to immigrate to Israel, leaving Marshall confused.
“I never understood his connection to this desert outcrop. He was living a great life, he had great potential. I wanted to understand that connection.”
Marshall said he still didn’t get it when he arrived in Israel, but on the first Friday of the trip, when the group arrived in Jerusalem, and the next day, at Masada, it hit him.
“Masada was one of the most spiritually powerful experiences. It made me sad, because I love Australia, but that deep connection, it’s hard for me to comprehend. As I was doing my runs in the morning and around bits of Jerusalem, I went into the ultra-Orthodox neighborhood. I never understood [ultra-Orthodoxy], but then I saw that connectivity, that community. I said to myself, ‘I don’t have this.’ I went to the Western Wall, seeing the absolute immersion in something that is much more than yourself.”
Marshall believes this observation has something to do with Israel’s success in high-tech.
Israel reminds him a bit of Papua New Guinea, where he spent the first few years of his life. “It’s the village, it’s the village connectivity. There’s all this technology that people say connects us, but not at the human level. And people are becoming atomized. If you go to a Papua New Guinea village now — the young people go to the city, they spread away, leave mom and dad. It’s happening in Africa, it’s happening everywhere.”
Israelis, he says, also have a strong sense of community and meaning, “except, here, it’s actually being used as a motivator to get people together and it speeds up progress. I’m still thinking it through. It’s the religion of the book; there’s something remarkable here around knowledge as we move into a knowledge economy.”
In fact, Marshall has decided to join forces with his now-Israeli friend Ari, who currently works for the Joint Distribution Committee.
“We want to use tech to solve food, climate and water problems. Ari wants to take drip irrigation into Ethiopia. We’ll work together, it’s a prototype. That’s what I’m taking away from this trip. Let’s do it.”
Better Israeli defence ties will boost Australian hi-tech industries
by Anthony Bergin The Australian
Beersheba is a modern Israeli city and a burgeoning cyber-security hub in the Negev.
Sadly, last month it was the scene of a terrorist attack at its central bus station
I was recently in the city to attend commemorations for the 98th anniversary of the Battle of Beersheba. The 4th Australian Light Horse took less than an hour to overrun the trenches and enter Beersheba, with 1000 Turkish soldiers taken prisoner.
The success of the attack relied on the daring and bravery of those soldiers commanded to charge directly on the heavily fortified town.
They did what no one, least of all the Turks, expected. Some 500 riders charged, short bayonets in hand, because they didn’t have swords. The Light Horse — mounted infantry who theoretically only used their horses to get from one place to another — dismounted to fight.
Their success was not only due to their courage and daring, but also to their ability to be disruptive and to take risks, the characteristics we need today in our national reform agenda.
Two Australian delegations attended the service for the Battle for Beersheba. I was with a group of defence experts who were in Israel to participate in a forum convened by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute and the Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies.
The other delegation, of about 50 entrepreneurs, industry representatives and government envoys, led by assistant Minister for Innovation Wyatt Roy, was in Israel to seek inspiration for the Turnbull government’s innovation agenda.
The success of Israel’s hi-tech industry is remarkable. Israel generates more start-ups and venture-capital investment than Japan, China, the US, Canada and Britain.
Its success has spawned a burgeoning series of books and articles that is almost a start-up industry of its own.
Israel attracts the world’s leading technology companies, such as Microsoft, Facebook, Google and Intel, to establish R&D centres in the country.
The government offers safety net funding to young start-up companies to mitigate the risks for young people who are dedicating their best years to pushing technology into unknown territory.
Our exchange on strategic issues soon demonstrated a wide range of areas where our military forces could learn from one and other.
These ranged from defence industry co-operation (our army has purchased an Israeli battle management system) to counter- insurgency, urban intelligence gathering, coalition warfighting, countering improvised explosive devices, military education, the use of reservists, airpower developments (both countries are acquiring F-35 joint strike fighters), military procurement processes and maritime security (Israel is developing offshore gas fields). Issues related to counter-terrorism and societal resilience were highlighted as common interests of both states.
A lesser known aspect of Israel’s defence management is the policy links between the Israeli military establishment and the country’s innovation agenda.
The Israeli military is a lively ecosystem, spanning not just defence industry, but also its hi-tech sector, which feeds to and off the military.
Through an expanded defence dialogue with Israel, there’s potential to enjoy early access to new technologies and applications, especially in cyber security. Israel’s military is now in the process of establishing a dedicated Cyber Command to lead operational activities in this emerging field.
We can learn how the Israel Defence Forces have managed to position software engineering and cyber science as among the most elite units for new recruits.
These same elite military recruits go on to become the rock stars of Israel’s hi-tech industry.
While acknowledging here that Israel has the advantage of conscription, there’s aspects that we can adopt as we try and develop our crack troops in cyber operations.
The founders of Waze, the world’s largest community based traffic and navigation app, acquired by Google for more than $1 billion, made their start in technology units in the IDF.
At a time when the Middle East is convulsing, Australia can benefit from sharing learning with a key democratic player and put some flesh on the bone of our strategic relationship with Israel.
Establishing a defence attache position, as we’ve done in Turkey, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, would be a good start.
The US, Britain, Canada, Korea, Japan, China, India and EU nations such as the Dutch, Germans, Italians, Spaniards, Finns and Norwegians have all seen the advantages of having defence representation in Israel.
Such a position would not just bring us military benefits, but by leveraging hi-tech connections with Israel also help us to develop as a start-up nation.
We need to be as innovative as Australia’s mounted infantry at the Battle of Beersheba if we’re to secure our prosperity.
Anthony Bergin is deputy director of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute.
At sensitive meet, Obama and Netanyahu carefully present themselves as allies
PM needs to restore Israel’s bipartisan US legitimacy; Obama doesn’t want to alienate pro-Israel Democrats. And so the two made life easy for each other in joint White House presser
By David Horovitz The Times of Israel
After a year of acrimonious and public differences, US President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a demonstrable effort to present themselves as allies bound by shared interests at the White House on Monday.
Netanyahu had gone to the extraordinary length of lobbying In Congress against the president over the Iran deal in March. Obama has repeatedly attacked the prime minister’s settlement policies. Each thinks he knows better than the other about how to run both of their countries.
But Obama does not want to move toward the end of his term in open dispute with Israel and its supporters in the United States. He may soon be entering the last year of his presidency, but he wants to ensure that it is a Democrat who succeeds him, and thus to avoid alienating voters for whom Israel is a key concern.
And Netanyahu, accused by many critics of turning Israel into a partisan issue in the United States through the ferocity with which he campaigned against Obama’s Iran deal, would plainly like to begin working to bolster the previous, long-time bipartisan support for Israel in the American body politic.
Thus, in their remarks to the press at the start of their first meeting since last October, the two leaders were manifestly respectful of each other, and even helpful to each other, belying all the frictions that lie beneath.
Obama spoke of the imperative to work together to counter common security threats. He talked of the need to get “a head start” on a new framework for long-term American defense assistance. He acknowledged the deteriorating security situation in the region. He said he would be seeking the prime minister’s “thoughts” on how to get back on the path to peace with the Palestinians.
These were all subjects he was bound to raise, but his choice of words was engaging, not demanding or hectoring.
Even on that most bitterly contested of their issues, the Iran deal — the “historic mistake” as Netanyahu has termed it — the president was magnanimous. Their disagreement, he asserted, was confined to the “narrow” issue of the specific accord — but did not extend to the shared awareness of the need to ensure Iran not get the bomb, and to blunt Iran’s destabilizing activities. Infuriated though he may have been by Netanyahu’s battle against the deal these past months, Obama was showing a willingness to now move ahead. He and Netanyahu, he said gently, would be “looking to make sure we find common ground” on the issue.
For his part, Netanyahu also highlighted the desire to work together — and the shared values, interests and destiny that underpin this most vital of Israel’s alliances.
He sought to reassure the president that, even though the White House has concluded that it cannot broker an Israeli-Palestinian accord in the time Obama has left, Israel would “never give up our hope for peace” and specifically for the two-state solution — featuring, as Netanyahu put it, “a demilitarized Palestinian state that recognizes the Jewish state.”
He took a few moments to thank the president personally for ensuring “generous assistance” to bolster Israeli security over the years, and stressed his own and the Israeli public’s personal “appreciation” for those efforts.
And he handled that Iran deal in perhaps the most effective way possible: He didn’t mention it.
Needless to say, furthermore, nobody spoke of that little matter of the new Netanyahu media chief who in March branded Obama anti-Semitic.
Their press statements over, the public display of mutual re-engagement successfully negotiated, Obama tellingly waved away the idea of taking questions, and allowed himself to quietly say “Good” in summation.
Job done publicly. And then off to work in private.
Bennett vs. Sebastian – Fighting for Israel in hostile interview
Naftali Bennett, Israel’s Minister of Education and leader of the Jewish Home Party, faces BBC’s Tim Sebastian.
You decide how he handled the interview. Understand that although Bennett’s parents were Americans, he was born and raised in Israel
How to avoid Israeli brutality short guide
Knives, cars, molotov cocktails, ! This step-by-step guide will help YOU avoid “Israeli brutality”.
Palestinian terror is no laughing matter, but this tongue-in-cheek cartoon exposes a bitter reality.
This information is compiled by Dr Ron Wiseman, Board Member of the Zionist Council of NSW