+61 3 9272 5644

Trump Netanyahu The Times Israel USA

Latest News in Israel – 12th December

Netanyahu: Trump feels ‘very warmly’ about Israel, Jews

US President-elect Donald Trump feels “very warmly” about Israel and the Jewish people, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in an interview with CBS’s 60 Minutes set to be broadcast Sunday.

In an excerpt from the interview released early, the Israeli leader said: “I know Donald Trump. I know him very well…his support for Israel is clear. He feels very warmly about the Jewish state, about the Jewish people and about Jewish people. There’s no question about that.”

Asked if he expected a better relationship with Washington after the tumultuous years of Barack Obama’s administration, Netanyahu admitted that he had had differences of opinion with Obama, particularly on the US-led nuclear accord with Iran. But he insisted that the matter was never personal.

“Yeah, we had differences of opinion, I had differences of opinion with President Obama,” he said. “Suppose we had the greatest of personal chemistry, okay? So what, you think I wouldn’t stand up against the Iran deal if I thought, as I did, that it endangers the existence of Israel? Of course I would.”

A poll last week found that the vast majority of Israelis believe Trump will be a “pro-Israel president.”

According to the poll conducted by the Dialog polling firm, 83 percent of Israelis view Trump, a Republican who has made statements putting him in line with many of the Israeli government’s right-wing policies, as pro-Israel.

Trump has said he will seek to broker an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal, while statements by him and advisers have painted him as supporting or being willing to tolerate settlement building and recognize a unified Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, two issues on which the Netanyahu government often clashed with Obama over the last six years.

Most Israelis polled also said they were not overly concerned with fears of a rise in anti-Semitism in the US in the wake of Trump’s victory, which has emboldened some racist and anti-Semitic groups, part of the so-called “alt-right.”

In regards to the Iran nuclear deal, which Trump said during the campaign he would tear up, calling it one of the worst agreements in history, 42% of Israelis believe there is no chance he will scrap the nuclear accord, with only 13% saying there is a high chance he will tear up the deal.

Netanyahu himself said last week that Israel’s settlement policy is not governed by the United States and the incoming Trump administration will not change that.

The premier told the annual Brookings Institution’s Saban Forum for Middle East Policy on Sunday that he would raise the “bad” Iran nuclear deal with Trump, and urged continued US intervention in the Middle East. He also appeared to brush off fears of an uptick in anti-Semitism in the US, noting that the fringe trend of anti-Jewish hatred was a feature of all democracies.

Right-wing politicians have contended that settlement construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem has nearly ground to a halt under the Obama administration, which forcefully condemns any building over the Green Line.

Asked whether Trump’s incoming administration will allow Israel to do whatever it wants regarding settlement building in the West Bank, Netanyahu said “I think we have been doing what we want.” (The Times of Israel)

Palestinian Authority delegation heads to US hoping to meet with Trump

The Palestinian side hopes the Washington meetings will result in the establishment of bilateral working committees to manage relations with the US.

Saeb Erekat, the secretary-general of the Palestine Liberation Organization

A senior Palestinian delegation is headed to Washington in a bid to exert influence over US policy in the waning weeks of the Obama administration.

The delegation is being led by Saeb Erekat, a top aide to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas who has overseen negotiations with Israel in the past. He confirmed the trip to the Voice of Palestine radio station Saturday.

According to a report in Al-Quds newspaper, the delegation, which includes intelligence chief Majid Faraj and Husam Zomlot, Abbas’s strategic affairs adviser, is scheduled to meet with US Secretary of State John Kerry on Monday.

The delegation also hopes to meet officials from the incoming Trump administration, Al-Quds reported.

During the talks with Kerry, the delegation is expected to try and persuade him that the US should refrain from vetoing a Security Council resolution critical of settlement activity that the Palestinians hope will be voted on in early January before the Obama administration leaves office. The delegation may point to the Knesset’s passage on first reading of a bill legalizing settlement housing built on private Palestinian property to boost its case.

According to Al-Quds, the Palestinian side hopes the Washington meetings will result in the establishment of bilateral working committees to manage relations with the US, similar to what the Palestinians have with the European Union. Analysts say the intention of the Palestinians is to forestall an erosion of US-Palestinian ties under Trump, who during his campaign for the presidency promised to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

“Mahmoud Abbas wants to have some kind of strategic partnership with America and to establish a strong and stable relationship that can’t be affected by a change in the administration with the coming of Trump to the White House,” said Ashraf Ajrami, a former PA minister.

Ajrami predicts that the delegation will seek that the administration “support the headlines of American policy that considers the 1967 borders the base of the two state solution, considers east Jerusalem occupied territory and to have a peaceful agreement based on the [Clinton parameters],” which specify that Jewish neighborhoods of Jerusalem be part of Israel and Palestinian ones be part of a Palestinian state.

If a meeting takes place with Trump aides, the Palestinians will “want assurances that the Trump administration will not go in the opposite direction of Obama and the previous administration.

Abbas wants to keep American policy as it is now and maybe urge the administration of Trump to intervene in a very helpful way to help the two sides to reach agreement,” Ajrami said.

Abbas hopes “to build on the declaration of Trump that he wants to end the endless war between Palestinians and Israel,” Ajrami said.

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal shortly after the election, Trump termed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict the “war that never ends” and said that as a dealmaker he wanted to do “the deal that can’t be made. And to do it for humanity’s sake.”

One day after the election, Trump invited Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to meet him as soon as possible.

Trump’s election was hailed by many on the Israeli right, who viewed it as a chance to have a freer hand in building settlements and moving toward annexation in the West Bank.

Last March, in a speech to AIPAC, Trump criticized the Obama administration’s policies and blamed the failure of the peace process on the Palestinians’ rejecting ostensibly generous Israeli offers. “When I become president the days of treating Israel like a second class citizen will end on day one,” he said.

But Ajrami said that Trump in power may be different than he was on the campaign trail: “Trump as a candidate is not Trump as president. In the White House he will behave in an official way and cannot oppose American interests or the guidelines of American policy.”   (Jerusalem Post)

Hamas cell plotting kidnapping arrested

A 7-man Hamas terror cell planning to carry out a shooting and kidnapping attack in Israel has been arrested in a joint operation between the Shin Bet, the IDF and the Israel Border Police, it was cleared for publication on Thursday afternoon.

The members of the cell from Tzurif and Hebron, set about planning an attack of various kinds, most of which included shootings and kidnappings of people who would then be used in negotiations to secure the release of prisoners.

In preparation for the attack, the militants set about creating observation posts which they used to watch IDF forces in the Tzurif area.

One of the main conspirators in the cell is a prisoner named Ibrahim Abdullah Ranimat. Born in 1958, Ranimat was behind the abduction and murder of Israel Defense Forces soldier Sharon Edri in 1996 and the bombing attack on a Tel Aviv cafe in 1997, in which three Israeli women lost their lives.

Police arrested Ranimat in the village of Tzurif, southwest of Bethlehem.

Ranimat was also involved in a couple of shooting and suicide bombing attacks in which at least three Israelis were killed.

The investigation against the cell led to the discovery of large quantities od weapons in their possession, including two Kalashnikov rifles, three handguns, a hunting rifle, an M16 machine gun, magazines and ammunition. All the weaponry was located and confiscated by security forces.

As part of the investigation six other Hamas terrorists were also arrested. Their investigation has concluded and over the coming days, indictments are expected to be issued against them by a military prosecutor.

Two of those arrested in the plot were Ranimat’s sons Fadi and Shadi Ranimat. Muhammad Ranimat, Ibrahim’s son-in-law, who directed the operatives of the cell, was also arrested.

Haitham Hamidan, who hid weapons for the Ranimat’s family, and J’ad Sultan, who delivered arms to the cell, were also arrested. Rami Rajoub from Dura was also nabbed in the operation conspiring to carry out an attack with Ibrahim Ranimat while in prison.                   (Ynet News)

Israel Arrests East Jerusalem Arab Terror Cell

The Shin Bet and Israel Police cleared for publication on Friday that they arrested Arab Israelis in eastern Jerusalem on suspicion of being part of a terrorist cell that was planning attacks in the capital and at an IDF base.

The uncovered terrorist network was located in the neighborhoods of Sur Bahar and Sheikh Jarrah. The authorities suspect that their plans included shooting attacks at an IDF base and in northern Jerusalem. Amongst those detained, most of whom are minors, were Hamas operatives.

The Shin Bet’s investigation revealed that during 2015, while serving prison sentences for violent disturbances of public order, the eight members of the network established a cell to carry out shooting attacks in Jerusalem. The IDF base that they were targeting is on Mount Scopus, adjacent to Hebrew University.

Some members of the cell observed the army base after their release from prison to evaluate the options for a plan of attack. In addition to this, it became clear that some members of the cell were involved in violent riots in the Old City of Jerusalem and on the Temple Mount last Ramadan and during days in memory of terrorists who were recently killed in the capital.

The Shin Bet stated, “Thwarting the network prevented the realization of serious terrorist attacks in Jerusalem, and its exposure again demonstrates the great risks of terrorists with Israeli identity cards who enjoy freedom of movement, access to means of warfare, and the relative ease of carrying out attacks.”    (Ynet News)

Israel to hold bodies of Hamas terrorists, return other bodies

Israel will hold the bodies of terrorists from Hamas, but will return the bodies of other terrorists to their families, Haaretz reported Friday morning.

According to the report, the new policy comes after a disagreement between Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman and Major General Nitzan Alon regarding the issue of returning the bodies of terrorists. Liberman expressed complete opposition to the return of the bodies of terrorists and said that holding the bodies establishes a deterrent against future terrorist attacks.

Gen. Alon disagreed and argued that holding the bodies only increases tension with the Arabs in the PA and Gaza. He said that it does not deter terrorist attacks, but instead encourages them,

The dispute occurred at a security cabinet meeting Wednesday. Israel is currently in possession of five terrorists who were killed while carrying out attacks against Israelis. The court required the state to explain why it was still holding the bodies after a petition by the families of the terrorists to have the bodies returned.

A compromise was reached where it was decided to return the bodies                 (Arutz Sheva)

Zionist Union MK warns Europe against letting in terrorism

Europe must take immediate action to prevent refugees from Syria from engaging in terrorism, Zionist Union MK Hilik Bar said in a speech to the European Parliament over the weekend.

Bar was the keynote speaker at a conference in Brussels on “Terrorism and Security: What EU can learn from Israel.” It was organized by the European Christian Political Movement in collaboration with the European Coalition for Israel and the Knesset Christian Allies Caucus. Some 200 parliament members, European Jewish leaders and other VIPs attended the event.

“There is no doubt that the recent flood of refugees to Europe can be manipulated by terrorist organizations, and we’ve already seen tragic examples of these tactics,” Bar said in the speech. “The Syrian civil war and the Islamic State are fueling the global jihad, and this gives some terrorists the impression that they can change the world – change our world. The clash of civilizations is here and now, and only by standing together and fighting this extremism, can we show that they are on the wrong side of history.”

A humane policy toward real refugees must be combined with a shrew counter-terrorism policy focusing on two main components: infrastructure and motivation, Bar said. The infrastructure to be targeted includes weapons, bases, commanders, soldiers and money, he said. They should be destroyed both at home and abroad, through a mixture of intelligence sharing and a strong, shared determination to take the fight to the terrorists and not wait for them to come to the people, he said.

Bar, the head of the Knesset’s Caucus for the Two-State Solution, said Palestinian terrorism pushes away the Palestinians’ dream for a state of their own.

“We have to make terrorists understand that terror is and will always be counter-productive to any goal they want to reach,” he said. “We should prove them that noble goals can only be achieved through noble means. To those who wants to live here, in Europe or the Middle East, instead of us, we should give a very clear and sharp answer – it will never ever happen! We have to fight them – fearlessly –and with all the means that we have. We have to fight terror with zero tolerance and seek peace in every corner we can.”

Bar has presented his diplomatic plan at the European Parliament, the British House of Commons, the United Nations in Geneva and several state legislatures in the US, as well as Harvard University.

Last month, he presented it at Japan’s parliament, the Diet.               (Jerusalem Post)

UN expected to vote for funding UNHRC blacklist of companies with ties to Israel

The United Nations Fifth Committee, which oversees the international body’s budget and administration, is expected to vote next week to fund a blacklist of Israeli and international companies operating in Jerusalem, the Golan Heights and the West Bank.

The blacklist, which is to be updated annually, was initiated back in March when the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva passed a resolution in order to put it together. The resolution, which was then supported by 32 countries with 15 abstained and no oppositions, was designed to help stop settlement activity.

The Israeli mission to the UN said the list is expected to be utilized by BDS activists for anti-Israel activities.

Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon said the Israeli Mission will publicly oppose the list and is committed to bringing together international partners and pro-Israel organizations to do so as well in the form of a task-force. The groups will propose new ideas to combat the initiative.

“We will not be silent in light of this shameful initiative,” Danon said. “The UN’s intent to mark Jewish businesses and international companies with ties to Israel so that they can be boycotted reminds us of dark times in history.”

“The Human Rights Council is already known as an antisemitic and anti-Israel entity, but it is unacceptable for the UN itself to support this despicable decision,” the Ambassador continued.

The UN had already agitated the Israeli mission earlier in the year after the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization [UNESCO] passed a resolution omitting any Jewish ties to the Temple Mount and Western Wall in Jerusalem.

Following a 24-6 vote taken in October by UNESCO’s 58-member Executive Board, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu slammed the decision, saying “The theater of the absurd continues at the UN.”

Just over a month later, the UN General Assembly overwhelming voted to support a similar resolution that used solely Muslim language to describe the Temple Mount.

Out of the United Nation’s 193 member states, 147 voted in favor, seven voted against and eight abstained.

The Jerusalem resolution, voted on November 30, was one of six resolutions condemning Israel and supporting the Palestinians that the General Assembly approved as part of its special annual session for the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.                       (Jerusalem Post)

Lapid: ‘I’m the only alternative to Netanyahu’

Speaking on Chanel 2’s “Meet the Press” program on Saturday, Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid cited Channel 2’s recent poll, which had his Yesh Atid party and the ruling Likud party each winning 25 seats if elections were held today. “We are keeping our perspective and humility, but we saw the polls,” he said.

“No one can compete with Netanyahu but me,” said Lapid. “For many months, we have been the sole alternative government.”

Regarding his political agenda, Lapid said that “We need to remove the Palestinians from our lives – we need to do this by building a high wall and making them disappear. Otherwise, there will be no peace. We do not want the two countries to be packed into a single state.”

Responding to remarks by Interior Minister Aryeh Deri Shas) and Health Minister Yaakov Litzman (United Torah Judaism), who vowed that Lapid would not be prime minister, Lapid said that his party “does not play the game of making offers to the residents of the State of Israel and then throwing it all away in order to build a coalition. The political system cheats the citizens, and I’m not ready to play this game.”

He said that “I think the State of Israel should unite (but) they are dividing us and pulling us to death. We have to live together. Therefore the first thing I will do (upon winning election) is to try to form the largest national coalition.”

Lapid also responded to Likud Coalition Chairman David Bitan’s remarks stating that he would prefer that the Arabs not vote in elections. “Begin told Israel’s Arabs that he did not want to see them as enemies and that a A Jewish government would give them full equal rights. This (Likud) camp is not a national camp. A truly national camp would not behave this way.”

According to the survey, conducted on Friday, Likud would be down from 30 to 25 seats, while Yesh Atid would be up from 11 to 25 seats. In third place would be the Arab Joint List with 13 seats, followed by Jewish Home at 11 seats, Zionist Union at 10 seats, Yisrael Beitenu at 8 seats, and Shas, Meretz, Yahadut Hatorah, and Kulanu, each at 7 seats.

Lapid, formerly a journalist, started the Yesh Atid party prior to the 2013 election, where he won a surprising 19 seats and became the Finance Minister in the government. His party fell to 11 seats in the 2015 elections, and it currently sits in the opposition.   (Arutz Sheva)

Israel set to receive ‘historic’ first delivery of advanced F-35 jets

The $90 million F-35 is a one-seat attack plane with stealth capabilities

Two F-35 fighter jets are expected to land at the Nevatim Airbase in southern Israel Monday, where they will be integrated into the Israeli Air Force’s Golden Eagle squadron.

The military on Thursday evening relayed a message from one of the American pilots flying one of the planes to Israel, who said, “This is a historic moment for you, for the world, and for the region to receive a plane like this.”

The F-35 is widely considered the most advanced warplane in the world today. Israel has already purchased 33 additional F-35s, which cost $90 million each and are set to be delivered over a period of several years, with the last one expected to arrive by late 2021. Israel also has the option of purchasing 17 additional jets.

Aside from the two F-35s already on their way, three more are scheduled to arrive in April and four more will be delivered next summer, giving Israel a total of nine F-35s by the end of 2017.

Six months ago, an IAF delegation comprising pilots, airborne mechanics and administrative support personnel traveled to the U.S. to train on the new jet and become familiar with its maintenance.

While the first aircraft are equipped with American systems, within four years Israel will have integrated its own components.

Manufactured in Texas by aerospace giant Lockheed Martin, the F-35 is a one-seat attack plane that can also be used for reconnaissance. The model Israel is currently in the process of receiving is the F-35I. In the future it will receive the F-35B, which has unique short take-off and vertical landing capabilities.

The plane is equipped with the most highly advanced electronic warfare and computerization systems, along with sophisticated radar systems that help it identify targets and attack them from great distances. The plane’s maximum speed is Mach 1.6 (1,930 kilometers per hour), and it has an operational combat range of 2,220 kilometers (1,379 miles). It is armed with an automated 25 mm Gatling cannon and can carry eight tons of ordnance, such as air-to-air missiles, air-to-sea missiles and more. It also has stealth capabilities, meaning it can be invisible to enemy radar.

Several countries have already purchased the F-35, but Israel is the first country to receive the plane. The next country in line is Turkey.   (Israel Hayom)

Why is the Middle East so disappointed with Obama?

by Yaacov Katz     The Jerusalem Post

http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Editors-Notes-Where-are-we-going-474884

A few months ago, an Arab state in the Persian Gulf received intelligence about an arms ship that was scheduled to leave Iran on its way to Yemen to arm rebel Houthi forces.

The Gulf state decided to pass the intelligence on to the Americans and give them everything they knew – the ship details, the weapons and the timetable.

As the days passed though, nothing seemed to be happening. The ship was still on schedule, set to leave soon for the short trip from Iran to Yemen.

So the Gulf state decided to go with an alternative plan and reportedly passed the information about the ship to the Mossad, Israel’s vaunted foreign intelligence service. Israel reportedly took the tip seriously and delivered a stern warning to Iran that if the ship set sail it would be stopped before reaching the shores of Yemen.

As a result, the ship never left Iran.

This story is making the rounds in Washington where I heard it this week from a former top US official who recently visited the Persian Gulf. I don’t know if it is true, and it doesn’t really matter since it accurately reflects the sentiment of frustration with the US throughout the Middle East, a feeling shared by Israel, Egypt, Jordan and most of the Arab countries in the Gulf.

The explanation for the frustration varies by who you ask. If you speak with Egyptians, they are upset with President Barack Obama’s call for Hosni Mubarak to step down in 2011, and his subsequent hesitant support for Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s 2013 coup d’etat and ousting of Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Morsi.

The Gulf states are disappointed with the Iran nuclear deal, which might have been successful in delaying Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear weapon but failed to address the Islamic Republic’s continued support of terrorism throughout the region, as well as its advanced ballistic missile program. These countries – Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and others – face an empowered Iran that hasn’t stopped its efforts to undermine their regimes.

Israel’s frustration is multi-faceted.

Jerusalem is certainly disappointed by the Iran deal that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fought tooth and nail to prevent. In recent months though, Jerusalem is more upset with the vacuum the US created in Syria that enabled Russia to sweep inside. While Israel has wisely established ties with Moscow, it would have preferred a more engaged US in the Middle East, one that is feared and respected by all.

US Secretary of State John Kerry conceded, a tad too late, that the US had made some mistakes when it came to Syria, noting at the Saban Forum on Sunday that failure to enforce the redlines Obama set in Syria “cost us significantly” by leading the world to view America as weak.

But that is not the end to Israel’s frustration.

In his remarks, which took on a somber tone, Kerry listed how many times he met and spoke to Netanyahu throughout his tenure as America’s top diplomat: 375 conversations, 130 hours on the phone, and more than 40 trips to Israel.

Many in the audience were left (sarcastically) to wonder what Netanyahu and Kerry could have spoken about so often, and why it took the secretary of state so long to realize that Netanyahu wasn’t really going to make the concessions needed for a peace deal with the Palestinians.

Either way, this herculean effort by Kerry created huge expectations on the Palestinian side, which contributed to the current impasse Israel, the PA and the US have been stuck in for the last two years.

This is important to note because when Donald Trump takes office on January 20, he will have his work set out for him in trying to rebuild order and trust in the region – assuming he even wants to.

While still highly skeptical of Trump, Israelis have taken some comfort in the announcement that Gen. (ret.) James Mattis will be the president’s candidate for secretary of defense.

As commander of CENTCOM between 2010 and 2013, he visited Jerusalem a number of times even though Israel was not under his jurisdiction and fell under EUCOM. During those visits he got to know Gabi Ashkenazi, who served at the time as IDF chief of staff, and Amos Yadlin, who was then head of Military Intelligence.

During one of their conversations with Mattis, Ashkenazi asked what his three biggest challenges as head of CENTCOM were. The Israelis expected to hear about Iraq and Afghanistan, but Mattis surprised them: “Iran, Iran and Iran,” was his reply.

What this means practically is still unclear, but the consensus in Israeli defense circles is that Mattis and Trump are unlikely to rip up the Iran nuclear deal, which, while problematic, does have an upside as long as it is kept by Tehran.

What it probably means is that Mattis and Trump will support taking a tougher stance when it comes to Iran’s other activities in the region. Some Republican senators are already working on new legislation that would impose sanctions on Iran for its ballistic missile program and ongoing support of terrorism.

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman has also voiced support for such sanctions.

When it comes to the Palestinians though, there is even less clarity on what will be Trump’s vision for a resolution to the conflict. Does he believe in a twostate solution? Seemingly yes, based on the enthusiasm with which he recently declared his desire to make the “ultimate deal.”

On the other hand, the Israel advisers that surrounded him throughout the campaign have given a completely different message: that settlements are not an obstacle to peace, that Israel can build wherever it wants, and that peace does not necessarily mean the establishment of a Palestinian state.

What is important is what Liberman said during his address last Friday. Israel’s first and foremost objective, the defense minister said, needs to be the creation of a “common policy” with the new administration.

After eight years of a roller coaster relationship between Washington and Jerusalem, that is a good place to start.

I know that for some people this will be difficult to read, but President Barack Obama has stood strongly by Israel at the United Nations throughout his eight years in office.

While previous presidents allowed the UN Security Council to pass resolutions that took Israel to task for its actions vis-à-vis the Palestinians – and occasionally even had their ambassadors vote for them – Obama has not allowed one anti-Israel resolution come out of Turtle Bay during his presidency.

In 2011, he vetoed an anti-settlement resolution – the only time he used his UN veto throughout two terms in office – later explaining that his administration believed in negotiations, not unilateral measures.

This is true until today. There are however still six weeks left to his term, and a lot can happen in six weeks.

While the chances of the US bringing its own resolution to the UN are slim, Obama could instruct Ambassador Samantha Power to simply let the next one that comes up – brought, for example, by the French – to pass without an American veto.

This is important to keep in mind as the Knesset continues to advance the controversial settlement bill that is meant to legalize homes built on private Palestinian land. While the bill does not save the outpost of Amona, which will be evacuated by December 25, it does help hundreds of other homes throughout the West Bank.

The fear within the American-Jewish community – on the Left and Right – is that Israel would be making a strategic mistake if it passes the bill before Obama leaves office on January 20.

While it has passed a preliminary and first reading, there is still a second and third to come – usually voted on together – before the bill becomes a law.

“This bill will be like taking the settlements and putting them smack in front of Obama’s face and asking him to do something,” one former administration official told me. “Why give him such an excuse?” Tactically, it makes sense for Israel to wait on finalizing legislation, but there is a bigger strategic question that needs to be answered regarding this whole Amona-settlement bill issue: What does Israel ultimately want? What is Israel’s long-term strategy? I’m not sure anyone has a clear answer, but it was interesting to see the results of John Kerry’s impromptu survey during his address before the Saban Forum in Washington on Sunday.

At one point, Kerry turned to the audience and asked people to raise their hands if they support a two-state solution. A vast majority of the mostly Democratic and left-leaning audience did. He then asked people to raise their hands if they oppose two states. Two people did.

“All right,” Kerry continued. “So the question for all of us is not the road we’ve traveled for the last 100 years. The question is what are the next 100 years going to look like. Where are we going?” Now that is a great question.