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Latest News in Israel – 23rd January

Netanyahu congratulates ‘my friend President Trump’

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu congratulated Donald Trump ahead of his inauguration, calling him his “friend.”

“Congrats to my friend President Trump,” Netanyahu wrote on Twitter Friday, several hours before the president elect was scheduled to officially assume the title following his inauguration in Washington DC. “Look forward to working closely with you to make the alliance between Israel and the United States of America stronger than ever.”

Netanyahu and President Barack Obama have had a tense relationship, amid Netanyahu’s vocal opposition to an US-led deal between six world powers and Iran that offers Tehran sanctions relief in exchange for scaling back of some of Iran’s nuclear capabilities. Obama has also criticized Israel’s activity in settlements and in the West Bank and east Jerusalem ore openly than some previous presidents.

On Dec. 25, after the United states abstained during a UN Security Council vote that ended with a condemnation of Israel’s settlements activity, Netanyahu said in a speech that he had told State Secretary John Kerry that “friends don’t take friends to the Security Council.”

Yuval Steinitz, a senior Israeli cabinet minister, said on Thursday that Israel was “praying” that President-elect Donald Trump will be responsible, courageous and serious.

Steinitz, Israel’s energy and infrastructures minister, who is considered to be a close ally of Netanyahu, said in an interview on Army Radio Friday that “we are all praying that, alongside his sense of humor and colorful personality, Trump will understand the weight of responsibility lying on his shoulders and will turn out to be a courageous and serious president.”

Israel’s education minister, Naftali Bennett of the rightist Jewish Home party, was quoted by Army Radio as having congratulated Trump ahead of his inauguration.

“President Trump, in the name of the people in Israel, congratulations and good luck!” Bennett was quoted as saying. “We look forward to a deep and strong relationship. May God bless our nations.” (Jerusalem Post)

Rabbi Hier remembers Zion and Jerusalem in benediction for President Trump

Rabbi Marvin Hier, the first Orthodox rabbi ever to give a benediction at an American president’s inauguration, cited psalm 137 at President Donald Trump’s inauguration on Friday.

“By the rivers of Babylon,” he recited. “We wept as we remembered Zion. If I forget thee, Oh Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its skill.”

Rabbi Hier opened his speech by saying, “Eternal God, bless President Donald J. Trump, and America, our great nation. Guide us to remember the words of the Psalmist: ‘Who will dwell on your holy mountain, one who does what is right, and speaks the truth. Who knows that when you eat the labor of your hands you are praiseworthy. That he who sews in tears, shall reap in joy. Because the freedoms we enjoy are not granted in perpetuity, but must be reclaimed by each generation.”

Further Jewish participation in the day’s events included the reported rabbinic permission Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner, who are Jewish, received to travel the evening after the ceremony by car, though this is normally considered a violation of the Jewish Sabbath.

Further, according to CNN, this year’s version of the traditional pre-inauguration religious service for the then president-elect and his inner circle at St. John’s church in DC focused on when God chooses a leader, specifically the biblical figure of Nehemiah, who rebuilt the walls that protected Jerusalem.

Rabbi Hier, 77, is the dean and founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles. His participation in the ceremony was protested in change.org petition posted by a Los Angeles businesswoman, Myra Stark.  The petition read “Hier is the head of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, named for the heroic Nazi-hunter, and the Museum of Tolerance — normalizing Trump with his participation will turn these organizations into a mockery and be a shame on the Jewish name forever,” reads the petition. “Apparently, Hier thinks it is acceptable to legitimize and collaborate with a political figure who the KKK is literally marching in the streets to celebrate.”

Hier told the Los Angeles radio station KPCC that the Inaugural Committee contacted him about his participation and that he said “it would be my honor to do so.”

Hier’s benediction continued with scriptural quotations: “As our ancestors have planted for us, so we must plant for others. While it is not for us to complete the tasks, neither are we free to desist from them. Dispense justice for the needy and the orphan, for they have no one but their fellow citizens, and because a nation’s wealth is measured by her values and not by her vaults.”

“May the days come soon when justice will dwell in the wilderness,” he concluded, “And righteousness will abide in the fertile fields, and the work of righteousness will be peace, quietness, and confidence forever, Amen.”               (Jerusalem Post)

Maaleh Adumim annexation bill delayed until after Netanyahu-Trump meeting

In an apparent move to want to coordinate steps with Washington and not surprise the new Trump administration, the security cabinet decided unanimously to postpone a discussion on annexing Ma’ale Adumim until after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets US President Donald Trump.

The two are expected to meet in the coming weeks, though no date has yet been announced.

The security cabinet also decided to hold another meeting on the settlement issue, and what policies on the issue Netanyahu will present to Trump, before the first meeting between the leaders.

Education Minister Naftali Bennett, who is a member of the security cabinet, tussled with Netanyahu over the weekend about whether the bill to annex Ma’aleh Adumim should be advanced now, or whether it would be better to wait until positions are coordinated with Washington.

While Netanyahu advocated not surprising the US, Bennett was eager to press ahead, saying that Israel needed to take immediate advantage of the “new diplomatic era” that has dawned as a result of the Trump inauguration.

Bennett, before the weekly cabinet meeting, told reporters that “today a new era is starting in the American administration, and no less importantly, a new era in preserving Israel’s security. I am convinced that all the cabinet ministers and Likud ministers will support extending sovereignty in order to prevent an Islamic State on Route 6. Sovereignty comes before politics, security comes before politics,” he said.

Netanyahu issued a response to Bennett at the weekly cabinet meeting, saying that regarding the settlements, “there is no one more concerned about them than me or the Likud government, and we will continue to take care of them responsibly and wisely for the good of the settlement enterprise, and the State of Israel.”

At the Likud ministerial meeting before the cabinet, Science, Technology and Space Minister Ofir Akunis criticized Bennett for making political capital over the issue, but then added that – as opposed to the prime minister – he is against a two state solution, and that this was also the Likud’s position.

Netanyahu, repeating a position he has articulated a number of times over the last number of years, said that what he was willing to give the Palestinians was not a state in the full sense of the word with full authority, but rather a “state-minus,” which is something the Palestinians have not agree to accept.

Akunis, Netanyahu said, would not have opposed Netanyahu’s position on this if he had understood what he was proposing.

Netanyahu laid out this position clearly in a speech three years ago this month at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv.

“We don’t want to annex the Palestinians as Israeli citizens and we don’t want to rule over them,” he said at the time.  “But the Palestinian state must be demilitarized, which means that certain signs of sovereignty need to be limited. The minute you demilitarize a state, you limit certain capabilities. That is necessary; that is the real Middle East.”

Meanwhile, Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz, who also holds the Intelligence and Atomic Energy portfolios, laid out the principles in the Security Cabinet of a a far-reaching initiative he thinks the government should put forward.

Katz said that in light of the “complicated “ regional and global reality, Israel should initiate a widespread program that would included the following:

Building an artificial island off the coast of Gaza that would be linked by a bridge to Gaza and give the Palestinians an outlet to the world without endangering Israeli security. The island would include a port and both a desalination and power plant that would serve the Gaza Strip

The linking up of the country’s rail lines with Jordan that would serve as a land port that could be used by Sunni states in the east to transport their goods to Haifa, through the Jezreel valley. The Palestinian Authority, according to this plan, could also be hooked up to this statement as well, something that could have a significant economic impact.

The establishment of a Greater Jerusalem metropolitan area – similar to what exists in London and Paris – through expanding the capital’s borders to strengthen the Jewish majority by extending Israeli sovereignty to settlements in close proximity to Jerusalem such as Ma’aleh Adumim, Givat Ze’ev, Gush Etzion and Beitar Illit. These areas would retain their municipal independence, but be a part of Greater Jerusalem.

A similar municipal authority would be established for the Arab Jerusalem neighborhoods beyond the security fence, which today are cut off from all Jerusalem municipal services.

Katz’s plan also calls for clarifying Israel’s construction policies beyond the Green Line to the new US administration that would allow for building throughout Jerusalem, and would also allow for construction on state land within the municipal boundaries of the settlements in Judea and Samaria.

“This plan strengthens Israelis position and improves the situation in the region and does not preclude the possibility of negotiations or arrangements in the future,” Katz said. He made clear that he does oppose Bennett’s plan of extending Israeli law to Area C, which would necessitate the granting of citizenship to 150,000 Palestinians who live there.

Katz presented the outline of the plan to the security cabinet, and a more in-depth discussion is expected to take place before Netanyahu goes to meet Trump.  (Jerusalem Post)

New UN chief pledges to be on front line of fight against antisemitism

Antonio Guterres, the new United Nations secretary-general, told worshipers at Manhattan’s Park East Synagogue Saturday morning he would be on the front lines of denouncing antisemitism and condemning all forms of expressions of it at a special service in commemoration of the upcoming International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust.

The Park East Synagogue, led by Rabbi Arthur Schneier, holds the special Shabbat service, to which it invites the UN secretary-general and members of the UN diplomatic corps, annually.

The Holocaust, Guterres told the congregation, was not simply “due to the insanity of a group of Nazis, but the culmination of two millennia of continued hatred and discrimination against Jews.”

“Antisemitism is not a quest about religion, but a manifestation of racism,” the secretary-general stated at what was his very first appearance in New York, outside of the United Nations headquarters.

He added that he is troubled by the “new forms and expressions” of hatred against Jews, which show that “antisemitism is alive and well.”

Guterres, who has served as prime minister of Portugal, spoke with regret about his home country’s past actions against Jews, which he said Portugal is working to repair. He also paid tribute to the late Elie Wiesel, whom he called a “voice for mutual respect and acceptance.”

In concluding his speech, the secretary-general pledged to work so “the Holocaust will never be forgotten,” a statement for which he was loudly applauded. He did not mention Israel in his remarks.

“May the UN be a place where nations of the world come together and restrain from their self-interests,” Schneier, a Holocaust survivor himself, said on the pulpit as he introduced Guterres. “May God give you strength and the wisdom you have to unite your constituents for shalom – peace.”

Dozens of UN ambassadors were in attendance, including Israel’s representative Danny Danon, as well as UNESCO officials. The service was followed by a special luncheon for the diplomats.

Guterres, who took office on January 1, held the position of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees from June 2005 to December 2015, one of the world’s foremost humanitarian organizations with nearly 10,000 staff working in 125 countries.

Danon had welcomed Guterres’s nomination in the fall, saying he hoped the change in leadership “will bring an end to the organization’s hostility towards the Jewish state” and encouraged Guterres to appoint a special envoy to combat antisemitism.

The United Nations will mark the 72nd anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp on January 27, the annual international Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust.  (Jerusalem Post)

PM Netanyahu reaches out to Iranians, says he’ll discuss regime threat with Trump

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reached out to the Iranian people on Saturday evening, slamming the regime that he said oppresses them and vowing that aggression by Tehran would top his list of priorities during his first contacts with US President Donald Trump.

In a clip posted on Facebook minutes after Shabbat ended, the prime minister stresses that Israel does not consider the Iranian people to be the enemy, but only the regime that rules them. While stopping short of calling on the Iranians to revolt, he described a brutal dictatorship preventing them from living the Western lives they ostensibly seek.

“I plan to speak soon with President Trump about how to counter the threat of the Iranian regime, which calls for Israel’s destruction,” Netanyahu says in the video, speaking in English with Persian subtitles.

“But it struck me recently that I’ve spoken a lot about the Iranian regime and not enough about the Iranian people, or for that matter, to the Iranian people. So I hope this message reaches every Iranian — young and old, religious and secular, man and woman.”

The Iranian people prefer to live without fear, enjoying Western freedom and liberties, the prime minister says. “I know you’d want to be able to speak freely, to love who you want without the fear of being tortured or hung from a crane.”

Iranians have a proud history and rich culture, he adds. “Tragically, you are shackled by a theocratic tyranny. In a free Iran you will once again be able to flourish without limit. But today, a cruel regime is trying to keep you down.”

Iranians burn a poster of late Israeli president Shimon Peres outside the former US embassy in the Iranian capital Tehran on November 3, 2016. (AFP PHOTO / ATTA KENARE)

Netanyahu goes on to describe how the “ruthless regime” continues to deny the Iranian people’s freedom “by disqualifying thousands as candidates in elections or by stealing money to support Syria’s President Assad.”

“By calling daily for Israel’s destruction, the regime hopes to instill hostility between us. This is wrong. We are your friend, not your enemy. We’ve always distinguished between the Iranian people and the Iranian regime,” he says.

“The regime is cruel – the people are not; the regime is aggressive – the people are warm. I yearn for the day when Israelis and Iranians can once again visit each other freely in Tehran and Esfahan, in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.”

Israel and Iran enjoyed close ties before the 1979 revolution that saw the secular regime of the Shah swept from power by the Islamic fundamentalist regime that still rules the country today.

Israelis and Iranians “can work together for a more peaceful and hopeful future for both of us,” the prime minister concludes. “We must defeat terror and tyranny and we must ensure that freedom and friendship win the day.”

Reacting on Twitter to Netanyahu’s post, Education Minister Bennett said that Iran was an important subject, “but preventing another Iran in the heart of Judea and Samaria [West Bank] is no less important.”

The “pretext of the Iranian threat” must not be allowed to cause Israel to “miss a historic opportunity to prevent Palestine on Route 6,” Bennett said, referring to a toll road that runs almost the entire length of the country.

Bennett, the leader of the pro-settler Jewish Home party, was referring to Netanyahu’s stated support for a two-state solution. Bennett, on the other hand, vehemently rejects the idea of a Palestinian state anywhere in the West Bank, arguing that Trump’s ostensible pro-Israel policies will allow Israel to annex part of the area. Earlier on Saturday night, he hailed Trump’s presidency on Twitter as the dawn of a “new diplomatic era,” and vowed to push for a partial annexation of the West Bank.  (the Times of Israel)

Brave new Anglosphere: Israel revels in fresh support from US-UK-Australia triumvirate

As Trump vows to radically change America’s approach to the Middle East, Theresa May’s Britain and Malcolm Turnbull’s Australia defy international consensus on the peace process, irking Ramallah

By Raphael Ahren                                        The Times of Israel


It’s springtime for Israel’s relations with the Anglosphere. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu loves to talk about burgeoning ties with the Arab world, but in the months and years ahead, a newly formed pro-Israel triumvirate of English-speaking countries looks set to form the backbone of international support for the Jewish state.

The first and most important indication of this trend is, of course, the change in the White House. Arriving on Friday, the Donald Trump administration has made plain its intention to shut out the public daylight that Barack Obama introduced between Washington and Jerusalem, vowing all but total support for Netanyahu’s policies.

In addition, the United Kingdom has in recent weeks surprisingly and dramatically aligned itself with Jerusalem, defying European and even global consensus.

Completing the pro-Israel trio is Australia, which has long been exceptionally friendly toward Israel but recently reached new heights in opposing anti-Israel measures embraced by the rest of the world.

Canada is a fourth English-speaking country that is staunchly pro-Israel, but as opposed to the US, the UK and Australia, it has remained silent on the dramatic diplomatic developments of recent weeks. The two odd countries out are Ireland and New Zealand, whose relations with Jerusalem remain tense.

Only the Anglosphere unconditionally supports Israel

In the face of an ascending and ever-aggressive Shiite Iran and the threat of Sunni jihadist terrorism, many Arab governments have softened their sworn enmity toward the Jewish state. But those ties, which focus mainly on security cooperation and the sharing of intelligence, will remain clandestine for the foreseeable future, since Arab leaders vow not to formalize their relations with Jerusalem in the absence of an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.

The possible relocation of the US Embassy to Jerusalem could further complicate the much-touted quasi-rapprochement between the Arab world and Israel.

The European Union remains Israel’s largest trading partner, and there are some indications that 2017 will see an improvement in currently tense EU-Israel ties. But the union’s position on the peace process especially its vehement objections to settlement expansion and Israeli demolition of EU-funded buildings in the West Bank, will dominate bilateral interactions and likely cast a shadow over any conceivable detente.

Even Germany, Israel’s closest ally on the continent, fully backed recent multilateral initiatives geared at reining in Israel’s settlement policies.

By contrast, the world’s leading English-speaking nations are poised in 2017 to strengthen their already-strong alliances with Israel regardless of what happens in the West Bank.

US President-elect Trump has campaigned on a radically pro-Israel platform, which includes not only recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moving the embassy there. He also denounced the Iran nuclear deal and UN Security Resolution 2334 the outgoing president, Barack Obama, allowed to pass last month. Additionally, he appointed several staunch supporters of Israel to top positions in his administration, some of whom are known advocates of the settlement enterprise.

Bibi & Turnbull

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) meets with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in New York, on September 21, 2016

“We cannot continue to let Israel be treated with such total disdain and disrespect. They used to have a great friend in the US,” Trump tweeted last month, “but not anymore. The beginning of the end was the horrible Iran deal, and now this (UN)! Stay strong Israel, January 20th is fast approaching!”

British Prime Minister Theresa May and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, too, have recently taken surprising, even unorthodox steps demonstrating support for Israel.

The UK Foreign Office helped draft Resolution 2334, which harshly condemned the settlement enterprise, and Britain voted in favor of it on December 23. However, there are indications that May was unaware of the resolution, or of why Israel deemed it so unacceptable.

After US Secretary of State John Kerry gave a long speech on December 28, in which he again lambasted the settlements and proposed parameters for a future Israeli-Palestinian peace deal, 10 Downing issued an exceedingly rare statement denouncing America’s outgoing top diplomat.

“We do not believe that it is appropriate to attack the composition of the democratically elected government of an ally,” a spokesperson for May said. The settlements “are far from the only problem in this conflict. In particular, the people of Israel deserve to live free from the threat of terrorism, with which they have had to cope for too long.”

London’s defiance of the international community’s stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict continued on Sunday, when it refused to sign the joint declaration of a peace conference in Paris, which endorsed a two-state solution and called on both sides to relaunch negotiations.

While the text was much softer than the the Security Council resolution and affirmed positions the UK principally agrees with, the Foreign Office criticized the meeting for its inopportune timing ahead of a new US administration, and for the fact that neither Israelis nor Palestinians were present.

Practically adopting an Israeli talking point, a spokesperson for the Foreign Office said Sunday that the Paris summit risked hardening Palestinian negotiating positions “at a time when we need to be encouraging the conditions for peace.”

Even senior observers of the UK-Israel relationship were caught by surprised. “I was gobsmacked,” Jonathan Hoffman, a former vice chair of Britain’s Zionist Federation, told JTA. He called it a “a watershed moment for UK-Israel relations and a huge change from anything I had seen before.”

Upping the ante, Britain on Monday blocked France’s effort to have the Paris conference’s final communique adopted by the EU’s Foreign Affairs Council.

British foreign minister Boris Johnson attends an EU foreign ministers meeting at the European Council, in Brussels, on January 16, 2017. (AFP/EMMANUEL DUNAND)

UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson at an EU foreign ministers meeting in Brussels, January 16, 2017. (AFP/Emmanuel Dunand)

The Palestinians reacted with concern to London’s recent actions. “We were expecting the United Kingdom, in particular, to play an effective role in the international system that rejects the Israeli occupation and its settlement enterprise,” Palestine Liberation Organization Secretary-General Saeb Erekat said Monday evening.

“The United Kingdom should revise its positions by holding Israel accountable, as well as support the Palestinian and international initiatives. It is time to end the historic injustice that befell our people who will soon mark the anniversary of the infamous Balfour Declaration.”

(Last month, May called the Balfour Declaration, which declared London’s support for the creation of a Jewish homeland in Mandate Palestine, “one of the most important letters in history.”)

Many European officials and analyst interpret May’s unusual moves as having less to do with Israel and more with her effort to cozy up to Trump.

“It’s madness. Just three weeks ago the Brits pushed for UN Security Council resolution 2334 [which criticized] the settlements and voted for it, and now they’re blocking resolutions on the matter at the Foreign Affairs Council,” a European diplomat told Haaretz this week. “With all due respect to the British, you can’t run foreign policy according to someone’s tweets.”

Great Britain, having voted to leave the EU last year, is no longer afraid to defy European consensus on the Middle East. Indeed, its new policy vis-a-vis the peace process can be seen as an effort to reassert itself as a sovereign nation pursuing an independent foreign policy.

“They’re starting to feel the loneliness,” a senior European diplomat told The Times of Israel this week.

Australia has long been an unconditional friend of Israel. It first distinguished itself from the rest of the world in early 2014, when Foreign Minister Julie Bishop in an interview with The Times of Israel refused to call Israeli settlements illegal.

Last month, Canberra once again broke with international consensus by being the only country in the world, besides Israel, to denounce Security Council Resolution 2334. Bishop declared Australia would have likely opposed the text and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull — who has Jewish ancestry — later attacked it as “one-sided” and “deeply unsettling.”

It didn’t stop there. Like the UK, Canberra on Sunday sent only a junior delegation to the Paris peace conference and expressed concerns over the joint declaration issued at the end of the event.

The stance prompted harsh criticism from the PLO.

“We are actually quite unhappy with Australia,” which is standing on the “wrong side of the law,” said Hanan Ashrawi, a senior member of the organization. It is “shocking that Australia of all countries would decide to stand outside the global consensus.”

Erekat, the PLO’s secretary-general, called on Australia to “correct this mistake” and to recognize the State of Palestine. “The real risks threatening peace lie in such positions that grant Israel impunity and encourage it to continue with its illegal settlement enterprise on the land of Palestine,” he said.

Canberra did not hesitate to respond to Erekat’s criticism, stating that “Australia’s longstanding position is that a Palestinian state can only be achieved through direct negotiations with Israel. Neither Israel nor the Palestinian Authority was represented at the Paris Conference.”

Netanyahu has good reasons to be elated about the prospects of working together with three important Anglo-Saxon leaders ready to go against the flow. Despite the current corruption probe against him, he is still planning to become the first-ever sitting Israeli prime minister to go Down Under next month, to thank the country for its unwavering support.

He is also reportedly planning a trip to Washington to powwow with Trump in early February, and given Theresa May’s recent moves it will surprise no one if he were to make his way to London some time soon too.

Jerusalem is the Center of Gravity

By Prof. Efraim Inbar,           BESA      Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies,


EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Making strategic choices requires distinguishing which issues are urgent and which are important. Right now, the securing of Jewish control over Jerusalem is both urgent and important. Jerusalem carries great symbolic and strategic value for Israel, and Israeli control of the city must be protected.

Israel’s control of a united Jerusalem is challenged now more than ever. UN Security Council Resolution 2334, adopted on December 23, 2016, declared the Jewish Quarter, the Western Wall, and the Temple Mount occupied territory and any Jewish presence there illegal if it is without Palestinian consent. This followed the October 2016 UNESCO resolution ignoring Jewish links to the Temple Mount. Moreover, US Secretary of State John Kerry announced on December 28, 2016 that for the first time, the US supports the idea that Jerusalem should be the capital of two peoples.

Many Israelis console themselves that President Donald Trump will move the US embassy to Jerusalem, signaling a new era. Even if the move takes place, and even if it goes smoothly with few repercussions, it is not at all clear that the rest of the world will fall in step.

In all probability, most of the world will refuse to come along, despite the fact that West Jerusalem is not disputed territory. It will not help that there should be no legal or political problem moving an embassy to the Western part of the city. There was great reluctance to move embassies to pre-1967 Jerusalem long before the Palestinians issued any demands for parts of the city. No particular sensitivity to the Palestinian issue was displayed during the 1948-67 period.

The truth is that many foreign ministries have not yet put to rest the November 1947 UN resolution for the partition of Palestine, which includes an article to internationalize the city under UN control. They simply do not want the Jews to have full control over the eternal city, and are eager to help the Palestinians prevent such control. In the Christian and Muslim worlds, Jerusalem has great resonance, and we know the attitudes towards Jews in those cultures. These factors, together with diplomatic inertia (which certainly plays a role), explain the persistent international refusal to acknowledge that Jerusalem is the seat of government and the capital of the Jewish state.

Jerusalem carries great symbolic value. There is no Zionism without Jerusalem, and David Ben-Gurion accordingly gave the city first priority during the 1948 War of Independence. The Palestinians understand this, which is one of the central reasons why they insist on claiming Jerusalem: they hope to water down Jewish attachment to the Land of Israel.

They have not been entirely unsuccessful in this. Today, the most assimilated elements in Israel’s society advocate parting with the Temple Mount for the sake of peace. Most Israelis, however, continue to believe that Jerusalem and the Temple Mount are more important than peace. Indeed, they are ready to fight for it. (For the time being, the Palestinian leadership feels the same.)

Jerusalem also carries great strategic value. Control of Jerusalem secures dominance of the only highway from the coast of the Mediterranean to the Jordan Valley, a route along which military forces can move with little interference from Arab communities. If Israel wants to maintain a defensible border in the east, it must secure the east-west axis from the coast to the Jordan Valley via an undivided Jerusalem. The military importance of Jerusalem, and Jerusalem’s central role in Israel’s eastern line of defense, cannot be overestimated – especially given the immense potential for political upheaval east of the Jordan River. The turmoil of the past few years in the Arab world suggests the need for great caution.

Jerusalem is an issue that commands consensus in Israel. Maintaining social cohesion in the protracted conflict with the Palestinians is easier, not harder, if the struggle is for a united Jerusalem. Therefore, educational efforts should be directed towards reinforcing the national love for Jerusalem, in tandem with budgetary preferential treatment for the development of an even more thriving city.

Israel’s government should make this priority clear in its dealings with the new American administration. With that in mind, it should encourage the US to overcome complaints and threats from the international community and move its embassy to Jerusalem. That would be an important step in securing Jerusalem for the Jewish people.

Of course, most of the work remains to be done by the Israelis themselves. Fortunately, Jerusalem is in our hands, and we have a clear advantage in deciding its future.

Battles are often won by taking over the center of gravity. Jerusalem is the center of gravity in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in both a symbolic and a strategic sense. This insight must be internalized by Israeli society.

Efraim Inbar is professor emeritus of political studies at Bar-Ilan University, and the founding director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies.

Europe’s Jihad against Israel

by Salim Mansur               The Gatestone Institute


Resolution 2334 was as sickening a surrender to the Arab-Muslim jihad in the name of “peace,” as was the surrender of UK Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain to Adolf Hitler at Munich in September 1938.

The UN before 1967 did not refer to the West Bank and Gaza as “occupied” territories when they were “occupied” by Egypt and Jordan after the 1948-49 war, which the Arab states launched against Israel. The Arab states then were the “occupiers” of parts of Palestine west of Jordan until 1967, and rejected any notion of Jews having a historic connection with Palestine, which they claimed was an integral part of Arab lands.

From the time of the Balfour Declaration and the League’s Mandate for Palestine until the UN Resolution 181 (1947), reference to Palestine meant land with historic connection to the Jewish people. It was on this basis that the Jews’ (Zionist) claim to reconstitute their national home was given legal recognition by the League, which the UN, as its successor, was legally bound to protect.

From the Arab perspective of religion and politics there never was a “Palestinian” people, or nation, distinct and separate from Arabs as a people or nation. The jihad called by the Mufti Haj Amin el-Husseini against Jews in Palestine after 1921 was in the name of “Arabs” and Islam, and it has so remained since. According to the Hamas charter, “the land of Palestine is an Islamic Waqf [Trust] upon all Muslim generations till the day of Resurrection.”

Jerusalem, its principal city, was built by King David, a Jew, some ten centuries earlier.

For the past nine decades and more, however, Arabs and Muslims, with 56 Muslim states in the OIC, have been waging jihad to destroy the one and only state of the Jews. And Christendom, as if oblivious of its own shameful past history of anti-Semitism, has even more shamefully supported the falsification of history. Now, with Security Council Resolution 2334, the UN, with the enthusiastic the backing of Europeans and the prodding of U.S. President Barack Obama, is complicit in this jihad against Israel.

UN Security Council Resolution 2334, adopted as a result of the United States abstention, on the instructions of outgoing President Barack Obama, confirmed the historic bigotry against Jews and Israel entrenched within the United Nations, just as it was within its predecessor, the League of Nations. As previously indicated, Arab and Muslim states could not move a single anti-Israel resolution in the Security Council without the complicity of the Western powers, representing the historically Christian nations.

The collusion of the Western powers and the Islamic countries against Jews and Israel is now ostentatious, without any subterfuge. Resolution 2334 was as sickening a surrender to the Arab-Muslim jihad in the name of “peace,” as was the surrender of UK Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain to the Adolf Hitler at Munich in September 1938.

The gathering in Paris on January 15, at the invitation of French President François Hollande, was further evidence of appeasing the Arab-Muslim world’s jihad against Israel.

The timing of the Paris gathering – five days short of the 75th anniversary of the notorious Wannsee Conference of 20 January 1942, held in the suburbs of Berlin, in which top-ranking Nazi officials finalized the preparation for the “Final solution to the Jewish problem” in Europe – could not have been more overtly insulting to Israel. Members of the European Union plotted shafting the Jewish state in accordance with the wishes of their Arab and Muslim friends of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) – 56 Muslim states, plus “Palestine,” and the biggest bloc at the UN.

“Fake news” and writing “fake” history have long been the modus operandi of tyrants; nothing new. The “big lie,” repeatedly broadcast so that people might succumb to believing it, was an art that Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s minister for propaganda, practiced to devastating results. The most notorious Arab ally of Hitler, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Mohammed Amin al-Husseini, as an admiring student of Goebbels, passed on the art of “fake” history and “big lie” to his allies.

It is grotesque and criminal that the EU and the UN, together in “ganging up,” insist that Israel comply with their resolutions – Israeli withdrawal to pre-June 1967 boundaries – without having shown any attempt to have the “Palestinians” of the so-called “occupied territories” end their jihadi terrorism.

It was not an oversight in the Security Council Resolution 242 of November 22, 1967 that there was no mention of “Palestinian” people, or “Palestinian Arabs,” or “Palestinians.”

In the decades after the passage of Res. 242, there was a systematic push by the OIC states in the UN, supported by the EU and its predecessor, the European Community (EC), to refer to disputed territories taken by Israel in a defensive war initiated by Egypt, Syria, and Jordan as “occupied” territories. The Egyptians had closed the Strait of Tiran at the mouth of the Red Sea, an act that was a casus belli, legal cause for war.

The UN, before 1967, did not refer to the West Bank and Gaza as “occupied” territories when they were “occupied” by Egypt and Jordan after the 1948-49 war, which the Arab states launched against Israel. The Arab states then were the “occupiers” of parts of Palestine west of Jordan until 1967, and rejected any notion of Jews having a historic connection with Palestine, which they claimed was an integral part of Arab lands.

The entire jihad of Mufti Haj Amin el-Husseini, and since, is based on the argument that Jews have no historic rights.

From the Arab perspective of religion and politics, there never was a “Palestinian” people, or nation, distinct and separate from Arabs as a people or nation. The jihad called by Husseini against Jews in Palestine after 1921 was in the name of “Arabs” and Islam, and it has so remained since. According to the Hamas charter, “the land of Palestine is an Islamic Waqf [Trust] upon all Muslim generations till the day of Resurrection” (Article 11).

Hence, that there ever had been a “Palestinian people” was a “big lie,” pushed by Arab states after 1967, and that the Western nations unquestioningly swallowed.

“Palaestina” – in a still earlier effort to strip the area of its Jewish roots, this time by the ancient Romans – was the name the Emperor Hadrian gave to territory on both sides of the River Jordan – Judea and Samaria – after crushing the Jews in the Bar Kokhba Rebellion in 135 CE.

Jerusalem, its principal city, was built by King David, a Jew, some ten centuries earlier.

In the seventh century CE, Arabs seized “Palestine” from the Christian Byzantine Empire and it became part of the Arab, later Ottoman Empire.

The Crusaders conquered Jerusalem in 1099 during the First Crusade, and subsequently the surrounding area, to establish the Kingdom of Jerusalem in the twelfth century. Arab armies evicted the Crusaders from Palestine at the end of the thirteenth century. For the next six centuries, in the name of Islam Arabs, then Turks under the Ottoman Empire, ruled over Palestine until 1917, when the British Expeditionary Forces arrived during World War I.

The defeat of the Ottoman Empire left its former Arab territories between Egypt and the Persian Gulf, including Palestine, under the control of the victorious Allied Powers, Britain and France. In the Balfour Declaration of 2 November 1917, the British government committed itself to “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people,” while noting that this should not “prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities” therein.

At the San Remo Conference of April 1920, the Allied Powers agreed that Britain, under the authority of the League of Nations, would be the Mandatory Power over Palestine. The League officially handed the Mandate for Palestine to Britain as a trust in London on 24 July 1922.

The Balfour Declaration was incorporated into the Palestine Mandate; the twenty-eight articles of the Mandate stipulated how Palestine would be governed until, as everyone understood, the Jews were capable of “reconstituting their [Jewish] national home” – meaning the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine. There was no mention of a “Palestinian” people in the Balfour Declaration or in the Palestine Mandate, since speaking about Palestine primarily meant everyone there. Everyone born there at the time – Jews, Muslims and Christians – were Palestinians; that was what was stamped on everyone’s passport.

From the time of the Balfour Declaration and the League’s Mandate for Palestine until the UN Resolution 181 (1947), reference to “Palestine” meant land with a historic connection to the Jewish people. It was on this basis that the Jews’ (Zionist) claim to reconstitute their national home was given legal recognition by the League, which the UN, as its successor, was legally bound to protect.

Britain’s record as the Mandatory Power in Palestine between the two world wars was nothing short of shameful. British administrators of the Colonial Office, sent to Palestine, devised policies limiting Jewish immigration and favoring Arabs, as the first of a series of decisions that undermined the primary objective solemnly pledged in the Balfour Declaration and incorporated into the Mandate.

The subversion began with Sir Herbert Samuel, an English Jew, appointed the High Commissioner for Palestine in 1920, after the San Remo Conference. As the author William B. Ziff, documents in The Rape of Palestine – published in 1938 to the consternation of the British – Britain’s “stiffing” of Jews under the specious policy of treating the demands of both Jews and Arabs “equally” was in effect deliberately prejudicial against Jews.

The British historian of the Middle East, Elie Kedourie, born in Baghdad, Iraq, also documented in The Chatham House Version (1970), how Samuel’s policy, designed to conciliate Arabs, increasingly hurt Jews. Similarly, Pierre Van Paassen, a Dutch-American Unitarian minister, documented in The Forgotten Ally, (1943), the “stiffing” of Jews in Europe by the Western nations, and especially Britain as the Mandatory power in Palestine.

Britain’s perfidy over Palestine took root with the election in 1921 of a known felon, Haj Mohammed Amin al-Husseini, a younger brother of the deceased Mufti (religious head) and known to be a rabble-rouser, as the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem.

Husseini, despite the notoriety surrounding him, was the preferred candidate of Samuel for the position. The Grand Mufti, when World War II began, enthusiastically embraced the Third Reich, Hitler and his “Final Solution” for the Jews, and found his way to Nazi Berlin.

The poisonousness of Samuel’s choice of Amin al-Husseini as the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, however, was exceeded by his role in creating the Emirate of Transjordan (present-day Kingdom of Jordan) at the expense of the Palestine Mandate. This was done at the behest of the Colonial Office under Winston Churchill, reputedly the most ardent English friend and supporter of Zionists, to appease Arabs.

In 1922, the chunk of Palestine east of the River Jordan, amounting to about two-thirds of the Mandated territory, was sliced off and gifted to Abdullah, son of Sharif Hussein of Hejaz, under whose name the flag of the 1916 “Arab Revolt” against Ottoman rule was raised.

After the 1922 partition of Palestine, which gave most of the land promised to the Jews to Transjordan, the substantially reduced Mandated territory remained only west of the River Jordan. Transjordan, as an Arab state, became closed to Jewish immigration.

Consequently, the policy of allowing Jewish immigration, according to the formula of “absorptive capacity” adopted during Samuel’s tenure in Palestine, turned increasingly restrictive. Arab opposition, with incitement to violence against Jews by the Mufti and his supporters, escalated, and Britain’s appeasement of the Arabs became routine.

The sordid legacy of Britain, as the Mandatory authority in Palestine, was the restriction of Jewish immigration from Europe when it turned out to be most urgently needed. As the desperation of European Jewry mounted after Hitler came to power in Germany in 1933, the response of the Western powers was completely to deny entrance to Jewish refugees who had started fleeing the Nazis.

Finally, a meeting of the Western nations to consider the Jewish plight was called at the initiative of U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt. Thirty-eight countries attended this meeting in July 1938, known as the Evian Conference, held in France.

The Evian Conference was doomed even before it convened. Among the countries attending, not one – not even Canada, Argentina or Australia, with vast open spaces – was prepared to accept Jewish refugees from Austria and Germany. Even worse, the United States and Britain refused to open their doors to Jewish refugees from Hitler, while at the same time Britain also prohibited Jews from entering Palestine.

The Evian Conference was the last gasp of Western powers to lend assistance to a people threatened with extinction by their enemies. The spectacle of the Evian Conference as a charade, according to the historian Robert Wistrich, could only have firmed the resolve of Hitler to proceed with his plans for the “Final Solution.” In his book, Hitler and the Holocaust, Wistrich wrote:

“If Nazi Germany could no longer expect to export, sell, or expel its Jews to an indifferent world that plainly did not want them, then perhaps they would have to do something even more drastic.”

After the defeat of the Nazis, and after their crimes against Jews were no longer disputed or hidden, the Western powers, through the UN, could have established Israel, as justice demanded, in what was left of the Palestine Mandate on the entire territory west of the River Jordan.

But the subsequent history of Palestine, approached by the Western powers with a second partition under the UN resolution of November 1947, turned out predictably as sordid as that of the Mandate under Britain’s supervision during the period 1922-48.

The Arab states, in failing to achieve their objective of defeating Israel during the 1948-67 period, adopted the unconventional means of jihadi terrorism backed by the repeated broadcast of the “big lie” that the Western nations, or Christendom, willfully accepted. The “big lie” is that the “Palestinians,” as a people under a supposed “occupation” by Israel – to which the Arabs had agreed in the Oslo II Accord (section: Land) – deserve a state of their own.

The state for the “Palestinian” people (Muslims and Christians) in two-thirds of Palestine was created arbitrarily by Britain in creating Transjordan in 1922. The “two-state” solution in Palestine therefore has been in existence for the past ninety-five years.

For the past nine decades and more, however, Arabs and Muslims, with 56 Muslim states in the OIC, have been waging jihad to destroy the one and only state of the Jews. And Christendom, as if oblivious of its own shameful past history of anti-Semitism, has even more shamefully supported the falsification of history. The first time it was done by UNESCO, in calling ancient Biblical sites (including Jerusalem) Islamic, when Islam did not even exist at the time.

Now, with UN Security Council Resolution 2334, the UN, with the enthusiastic manipulations of U.S. President Barack Obama and the backing of most European leaders, is complicit in this jihad against Israel.

ump Administration: A Turning Point in Middle East Policy? – Dore Gold (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

The inauguration of Donald J. Trump as the 45th president of the United States is likely to lead to a major transformation of U.S. Middle East policy. Many of the assumptions that accompanied the years of President Barack Obama will no longer be held by American policymakers.

But equally important, many elements that had in the past been fundamentals of U.S. policy, and had been forgotten and had not been part of the repertoire of the White House in the last eight years, could be reintroduced.

The first element involves Israel’s future border. Ever since 1967 when Israel captured the West Bank in the Six-Day War, the question of Israel’s future borders was governed by UN Security Council Resolution 242, which talks about an Israeli withdrawal from territories – not all the territories – to secure and recognized boundaries.

Now some people think that’s being very picayune with the language. But in fact the decision on the language of 242 was decided at the highest levels of the U.S. government, by President Lyndon Baines Johnson himself. And that language was preserved by successive U.S. presidents and secretaries of state.

For example, the Reagan administration in 1988, through its Secretary of State George Shultz, talked about the fact that Israel would never negotiate from or return to the 1967 borders. During the Clinton administration in 1997, Secretary of State Warren Christopher, in a letter to Israel, spoke about Israel getting “defensible borders,” and that idea was enshrined in 2004 by President George W. Bush in a letter to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon that was approved by both houses of Congress.

Unfortunately, over the last eight years, Israel’s recognized rights have been eroded, culminating in the most recent UN resolution on December 23, 2016 – on which the U.S. abstained – which made constant reference to the 1967 lines as its primary point of reference.

Dr. Dore Gold, president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, is a former Israeli UN ambassador and director-general of the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs.