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Latest News in Israel – 23rd September

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met in New York with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull

“It’s always a pleasure to see you, you’re a great friend of Israel. Australia and Israel have a solid friendship.

I’m looking forward to coming to visit Australia. And I hope to see you in Israel”


Netanyahu: Israel won’t accept UN ‘dictating our security,’ calls for direct negotiations

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu invited Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to come “speak to the Israeli people at the Knesset in Jerusalem,” during his speech to the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Thursday,

In return, he offered to “gladly come to speak peace with the Palestinian parliament in Ramallah.”

“The road to peace runs through Jerusalem and Ramallah, not New York,” Netanyahu said.

In reiterating his persistent call for direct negotiations with the Palestinians, Netanyahu rejected any possible United Nations plan to unilaterally impose a solution to the conflict.

“We will not accept any attempt by the UN to dictate terms to Israel,” Netanyahu said.

“I call on President Abbas: you have a choice to make. You can continue to stoke hatred as you did today or you can finally confront hatred and work with me to establish peace between our two peoples.”

Netanyahu began his UN address by slamming the international body for consistently condemning Israel, calling it “a disgrace” and “a moral farce.” He also called the UN Human Rights Council a “joke” and UNESCO a “circus.”

“The sooner the UN’s obsession with Israel ends, the better.

The better for Israel, the better for your countries, the better for the UN itself,” he said.

Nonetheless, he predicted that change will come soon.“Ladies and gentlemen, one message for you today: Lay down your arms, the war against Israel in the UN is over,” the prime minister told the member states.

“The change will happen in this hall because back home your governments are rapidly changing their attitudes toward Israel, and sooner or later that’s going to change the way you vote at the UN,” he told the assembled representatives.

“More and more nations see Israel as a potent partner.

“World leaders increasingly appreciate that Israel is a powerful country with one of the best intelligence services on earth.

Because of our unmatched experience and proven capabilities in fighting terrorism, many of your governments seek our help in keeping your countries safe.”

Netanyahu stressed that “Israel’s diplomatic relations are undergoing nothing less but a revolution,” especially in its relations with Arab countries in the region, which he said have started to “recognize Israel not as their enemy, but as an ally” in the fight against radical Islam and terrorism.

As for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Netanyahu said that while settlements are an issue that needs to be solved, they are not – and have never been – the core of the problem.

The source of the conflict, rather, is “the persistent Palestinian refusal to recognize the Jewish state in any boundaries.”

“The real settlements Palestinians are after are Haifa, Jaffa and Tel Aviv,” he declared. “Israel is ready, I am ready to negotiate.

But one thing I will never negotiate is our right to the one and only Jewish state.”

Netanyahu also discussed Palestinian incitement to hate and said “hundreds of thousands of Palestinian children are being indoctrinated with hate every day, every hour.

“This is child abuse,” he continued.

“How can any of us expect young Palestinians to support peace when their leaders poison their minds against peace?” But he also said he wished to make clear he has not given up on peace and on the two-state solution, and that changes now happening in the Arab world provide a good opportunity to advance peace.

At the same podium an hour earlier, Abbas vowed to submit a resolution to the UN Security Council against Israeli settlements and “the terror of the settlers against the Palestinian people.”

He said the Palestinians will support all efforts for a UN Security Council resolution on Israeli settlements, and pointed to the US by saying he hopes such a motion will not be met by any veto.

“I call on you to declare 2017 the year to end the Israeli occupation of our land and our people,” he told the plenum.

In his speech, Abbas also called on Britain to apologize for the 1917 Balfour Declaration and claimed that as a result of Britain’s endorsement of a Jewish homeland in the Holy Land, Israel “since 1948 has persisted in its contempt for international legitimacy” and seized more than the land additionally allotted for the Jewish state.

In his speech, Netanyahu ridiculed the Palestinian leader for these claims.

Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon also criticized the PA president’s speech.

“Abbas chose to use the UN pulpit to represent Palestinian terror. His dangerous words are sure to lead to even more terror attacks against Israel,” Danon said. “The Palestinian youth listening to his speech today will be the terrorists of tomorrow.

Abbas’s words are like a ticking time-bomb.”

On Wednesday, Netanyahu met with US President Barack Obama and spoke on a number of topics including settlement expansion and the desire to reach an agreement on the twostate solution. Netanyahu also thanked Obama for signing a $38 billion, 10-year military aid package last week.

On Thursday, however, Minister- without-Portfolio Tzachi Hanegbi panned the US president as “naive and messianic” toward Israel.

The Likud lawmaker said that there had been an “improvement” in Obama’s stance toward the Jewish state in his second term, however he also said that the US president was “not acting as the world’s strongest man, but as an employee of the Clinton campaign.”

Netanyahu will end his visit to New York on Sunday.   (Jerusalem Post)

Obama and PM patched up ties, avoided Palestinian ‘elephant,’ Israeli official says

The meeting between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Barack Obama was held in a very positive, even “light-hearted atmosphere,” a senior Israeli official said Wednesday, hours after the two leaders met in what was presumably the last encounter in their current positions.

The official, part of the Israeli delegation to New York, denied that US concerns over settlements had played a central role in the talks, contradicting a White House official who reported that Netanyahu and Obama clashed over the issue.

There is a “mellowing” in the personal relations between the two leaders, the Israeli official said.

“There is an interesting change in the relations [between Netanyahu and Obama]. It’s like an on old couple that is just getting to know each other.”

Another senior official in the prime minister’s delegation even compared the two leaders to Statler and Waldorf, the two grumpy old men from the Muppet Show.

That relationship was on display as the two leaders sat down in front of the cameras before their meeting, joking about golf and being able to avoid stuffy meetings when Obama visits Israel next.

Iran, which has proven a point of contention between the two, did not come up at all, and Obama only made brief mention of peace efforts with the Palestinians and concerns over settlement building.

But behind closed doors, senior Obama administration officials claimed Obama was more pointed, raising “profound US concerns” that settlement-building was eroding prospects for peace. Netanyahu challenged that notion, said one official, adding that the two leaders had not “papered over” their differences.

Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes had told reporters before the meeting that he was certain that Obama would raise the issue of “continued settlement activity, the potential viability of a Palestinian state in the face of that settlement activity.” However, he downplayed reports that Obama would seek to push forward a new peace initiative.

The Israeli official confirmed that the possibility of a US-led initiative to advance the peace process in the period between the US elections on November 4 and Inauguration Day on January 20 was not discussed at all during the meeting.

“There’s an elephant in the room. But [they] didn’t talk about it,” the official said, noting that both knew the elephant was there.

The senior Israeli official said Israel’s settlement policy was the sole bone of contention between the prime minister and the president.

Netanyahu presented his view, arguing that the few thousand Israelis in the West Bank are no obstacle to peace, but the Palestinians’ refusal to drop their demand for the right of return and to recognize a Jewish state in any borders are.

“There are differences of opinion, that is not new,” the senior official said. The discussions over settlements “weren’t the essence of the meeting. They didn’t take up much time in the conversation. It was a marginal part of the meeting.”

Most of the meeting dealt with security and intelligence matters in the Middle East, the senior official said.

Syria was discussed at length, and even Iran came up, he added, refusing to elaborate.

“We agree on almost everything. We coordinate on more things than people think,” the senior official said, adding that intelligence cooperation is “truly a two-way street,” and arguing that Israel was widely recognized as a military and security powerhouse.

The meeting between the two leaders, likely the last after six years of thorny relations, was held on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, where Netanyahu is slated to speak Thursday. On Tuesday, Obama told the world body that Israel could not continue occupying Palestinian land.

The senior official said the Israeli leader was willing to meet with either presidential candidate if they request a meeting. So far neither Donald Trump nor Hillary Clinton have requested to meet with the prime minister.   (The Times of Israel)

Arab states said ‘revising’ strategy against Israeli nuclear secrecy

Arab members of the United Nations’ International Atomic Energy Agency will refrain this year from trying to pressure Israel into nuclear transparency until a revision of their strategy yields results, the Reuters news agency reported Wednesday.

Arab League Ambassador to the UN Wael Al Assad told Reuters that this will be the first time in three years that a resolution will not be submitted at the IAEA’s general conference, which meets in a week’s time.

The last time such a resolution succeeded was in 2009, but it did not force the UN to watch Israel’s nuclear activity any more closely, Reuters reported.

“We need to deal with this in a more results-oriented way,” Al Assad said. “We are not interested in resolutions that have no implementation mechanism.

“We need to seek other means and policies; we are now in a process of revision (until next March),” he told Reuters. He did not go into what changes were being considered.

Israel maintains a policy of so-called nuclear ambiguity, neither publicly confirming nor denying the existence of an atomic arsenal.

On Thursday, former US secretary of state and four-star general Colin Powell alleged that Israel possesses some 200 nuclear weapons, in an email apparently leaked by Russian hackers.                (The Times of Israel)

Syrian children brought to Israel for treatment

The number of wounded who have sought medical treatment in Israel since the Jewish state began accepting wounded Syrians stands at approximately 2,500 people.

In mid-August of this year, a bus from the Jewish-American aid organization Amaliah brought 21 Syrian children and their parents to the Ziv Medical Center in Tzfat. The Syrians are all from the Qunietra region on the other side of the border with Israel. The Western Galilee Medical Center in Nahariya has also been receiving busloads of Syrian children accompanied by their families over the past few weeks.

Syrians don’t independently decide to come to Israel in search of emergency medical assistance – but cases whereby the Jewish-American aid organization Amaliah coordinates with officials in Syrian territory to have children and their families transported from various collection points to be brought directly to hospitals for treatment in Israel.

Moti Kahana, Israeli-American businessman and president of Amaliah, said “These children haven’t even seen a hospital in five years. It’s horrible. The idea of our organization is ultimately to help Syrians on the other side of the border help themselves.”

Previously, Syrian children received aid in Israeli hospitals at the expense of the Israeli taxpayer. This time Amaliah is footing the bill.

“It is difficult to erase decades worth of hate, but we have to at least show who we really are. We can be proud that our country does what no other country does,” said Kahana, who hopes to get Americans and Europeans to donate to the organization.

After hours of treatment, the children and their parents board the bus adorned with a sign in both Hebrew and Arabic bearing the name of the organization, which translates to “Act of God.” The children and their parents go back to Syrian territory with aid packages from the organization containing food, baby formula and more in the hopes that they will survive the bloody conflict raging between the regime and its opponents, a war which seems to have no end in sight.

Amaliah aid packages continued to make their way into Syrian territory throughout the recent Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, all while UN humanitarian aid struggled to make its way from Turkey into Syria.

In terms of the organization’s long term goals, aid ventures such as packages and facilitating the entrance of children for medical treatment are just the beginning. The organization hopes to eventually establish a “safe zone” near the border where the Syrian army has no presence. The ultimate goal, is ultimately to rebuild civil society in Qunietra, which has been hit hard as a result of the civil war. The plan is designed to be carried out in three stages, with the first stage being to bring in medical equipment and establish a field hospital so the Syrians who can’t cross the border can still receive medical aid. The second stage is a planned reconstruction of education facilities, and the third stage is bringing in vital supplies and food.

Only time will tell if this will be successful given the turmoil and unexpected events on the border between Israel and Syria.                     (Ynet News)

We should be so lucky: Israel considers direct flight to Australia

Two weeks after Australian Minister of Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop enjoyed a successful visit to Israel, the Australian Embassy in Israel will launch the first Israel–Australia Week, called Ozraeli. The celebration will highlight the common features both countries share and their strong diplomatic ties.

Australian Ambassador Dave Sharma has already recently led a public beach cleanup effort at the Sea of Galilee with 150 other Aussie mates. This Friday, a football game will take place at the Sporteque at Yarkon Park in Tel Aviv. The event will include a picnic with a barbeque and Australian beverages. The main event, though, will take place at the Peres Peace House and will include refreshments, alcohol, music and live shows, all in the Aussie spirit.

Sharma also disclosed that he has begun working toward the establishment of direct flights between Israel and Australia. He acknowledged the fact that the lengthy, 27-hour flights that include at least one layover limit the amount of tourism and commerce between the two countries. He added that every Australian he encountered who visits Israel for the first time returns to Australia determined to improve the relationship between their homeland and the Holy Land, and that the same goes for Israelis returning from Australia.

Sharma noted that with today’s advances in air travel, it is possible to make the flight in 16.5 hours. He said that currently he is looking into the financial viability of setting up such an endeavor.

Australia is becoming a popular destination for Israelis and Australians alike. 12,000 Israelis visit Australia every year, while 35,000 Aussies visit Israel. According to Sharma, Australia and Israel’s work permit that allows 500 Israelis to legally fly over to Australia and work for one year was filled within three months, prompting Australia to consider increasing the limit to 1,000 Israelis.

For now, though, Sharma is focusing his energies on the upcoming meeting between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull during the UN General Assembly meeting in early 2017.

Australia is considered a consistent ally of Israel’s and has a record of supporting Israel in important UN votes as well as other international organizations. Among other examples, Australia is not quick to rebuke Israel for settlement building, as the US and European countries have been known to do.

Responding to the matter, Sharma replied that Australia views any unilateral move that hinders the chances of founding an independent Palestinian state an inefficient move, but that this includes not only the settlements but Palestinian incitement, terrorism and unilateral decisions that are carried out in the UN. He acknowledged that Australia is not comfortable with settlement building, but that his country nevertheless has an impressive record of supporting Israel, and that it will continue to do so.

Israel and Australia also have an established relationship regarding counterterrorism, Intel exchange, high-tech, public welfare, telecommunications and education.    (Ynet News)

3D tech proves Hebrew Bible ‘unchanged for 2000 years’

The charred lump of a 2,000-year-old scroll sat in an Israeli archaeologist’s storeroom for decades, too brittle to open. Now, new imaging technology has revealed what was written inside: the earliest evidence of a biblical text in its standardized form.

The passages from the Book of Leviticus, scholars say, offer the first physical evidence of what has long been believed: that the version of the Hebrew Bible used today goes back 2,000 years.

The discovery, announced in a Science Advances journal article by researchers in Kentucky and Jerusalem on Wednesday, was made using “virtual unwrapping,” a 3D digital analysis of an X-ray scan. Researchers say it is the first time they have been able to read the text of an ancient scroll without having to physically open it.

“You can’t imagine the joy in the lab,” said Pnina Shor of the Israel Antiquities Authority, who participated in the study.

The digital technology, funded by Google and the US National Science Foundation, is slated to be released to the public as open source software by the end of next year.

Researchers hope to use the technology to peek inside other ancient documents too fragile to unwrap, like some of the Dead Sea Scrolls and papyrus scrolls carbonized in the Mt. Vesuvius volcano eruption in 79 CE. Researchers believe the technology could also be applied to the fields of forensics, intelligence, and antiquities conservation.

scroll in Israel

The biblical scroll examined in the study was first discovered by archaeologists in 1970 at Ein Gedi, the site of an ancient Jewish community near the Dead Sea. Inside the ancient synagogue’s ark, archaeologists found lumps of scroll fragments.

The synagogue was destroyed in an ancient fire, charring the scrolls. The dry climate of the area kept them preserved, but when archaeologists touched them, the scrolls would begin to disintegrate. So the charred logs were shelved for nearly half a century, with no one knowing what was written inside.

Last year, Yosef Porath, the archaeologist who excavated at Ein Gedi in 1970, walked into the Israel Antiquities Authority’s Dead Sea Scrolls preservation lab in Jerusalem with boxes of the charcoal chunks. The lab has been creating hi-resolution images of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the earliest copies of biblical texts ever discovered, and he asked researchers to scan the burned scrolls.

“I looked at him and said, ‘you must be joking,’” said Shor, who heads the lab.

She agreed, and a number of burned scrolls were scanned using X-ray-based micro-computed tomography, a 3D version of the CT scans hospitals use to create images of internal body parts. The images were then sent to William Brent Seales, a researcher in the computer science department of the University of Kentucky. Only one of the scrolls could be deciphered.

Using the “virtual unwrapping” technology, he and his team painstakingly captured the three-dimensional shape of the scroll’s layers, using a digital triangulated surface mesh to make a virtual rendering of the parts they suspected contained text. They then searched for pixels that could signify ink made with a dense material like iron or lead. The researchers then used computer modeling to virtually flatten the scroll, to be able to read a few columns of text inside.

“Not only were you seeing writing, but it was readable,” said Seales. “At that point we were absolutely jubilant.”

The researchers say it is the first time a biblical scroll has been discovered in an ancient synagogue’s holy ark, where it would have been stored for prayers, and not in desert caves like the Dead Sea Scrolls.

The discovery holds great significance for scholars’ understanding of the development of the Hebrew Bible, researchers say.

In ancient times, many versions of the Hebrew Bible circulated. The Dead Sea Scrolls, dating to as early as the 3rd century B.C., featured versions of the text that are radically different than today’s Hebrew Bible.

Scholars have believed the Hebrew Bible in its standard form first came about some 2,000 years ago, but never had physical proof, until now, according to the study. Previously the oldest known fragments of the modern biblical text dated back to the 8th century.

The text discovered in the charred Ein Gedi scroll is “100 percent identical” to the version of the Book of Leviticus that has been in use for centuries, said Dead Sea Scroll scholar Emmanuel Tov from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, who participated in the study.

“This is quite amazing for us,” he said. “In 2,000 years, this text has not changed.”

Noam Mizrahi, a Dead Sea Scrolls expert at Tel Aviv University who did not participate in the study, called it a “very, very nice find.” He said the imaging technology holds great potential for more readings of unopened Dead Sea Scrolls.

“It’s not only what was found, but the promise of what else it can uncover, which is what will turn this into an exciting discovery,” Mizrahi said.             (the Times of Israel)

‘Waze’ for walkers

The Israeli app Waze took the world by storm, making it easier for drivers across the world to bypass traffic and reach their destination quickly.

Now there’s Sidekix,  an Israeli navigation app geared to people walking in cities. The iOS app shows walkers the best on-foot routes, even orienting the map as you move so you always know which way is forward.

But it doesn’t necessarily show you the straightest line from Point A to Point B. The free app customizes your routes based on preprogrammed interests in the categories of art, culture, shopping, nightlife and food.

If you’ve indicated an interest in, say, museums, Sidekix will include nearby ones on the way to your destination, relying on recommendations from social media, lifestyle websites and local bloggers. If you don’t have a specific destination, it will create a walking route for you in a city based on your interests alone.

Maybe you need to get cash at an ATM. Sidekix will steer you there, too.

“Shopping spree, pub crawl, gallery hop? Sidekix chooses routes by what you want to see and do along the way. Get there with the only navigation app that offers walking routes based on interest, not just distance,” the website explains.

Want to meet up with friends as you walk? The app allows you to share your route with your contacts. If you’re walking solo in unknown territory or at night, you can ask a friend to monitor your progress remotely via the app so you can feel safer.

Currently available in more than 60 cities in the US, UK, Europe and Israel, Sidekix plans to expand into additional major cities around the globe. Four or five additional cities are rolled out each month. A future Android version is planned.                     (Israel 21C)

Six takeaways from another smiling display of mutual Obama-Netanyahu frustration

Netanyahu hails ‘Barack,’ as Obama hails Shimon Peres; Netanyahu focuses on ‘unremitting fanaticism,’ while Obama worries about settlements

By David Horovitz                The Times of Israel


There were smiles and handshakes and plenty of “thank you”s as Barack Obama hosted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in New York on Wednesday, for what may well be his last time as US president.

Clearly, both men wanted to publicly end what have been years of roller coaster personal relations on a relative high.

Nonetheless, some of the differences peeked through — on issues trivial and more substantial. As so often with these two leaders, their best effort to showcase warmth and empathy were only partially successful, and even their brief exchanges underlined some of the frustrations each has always felt with the other.

Bibi and Obama UN

Barack, unreciprocated

Netanyahu, seeking to underline the familiarity of their relationship, referred to the president at one point as Barack: “I want you to know, Barack, that you’ll always be a welcome guest in Israel,” he said.

Obama, who did make the effort to call Netanyahu by the affectionate nickname “Bibi” several times when he visited Israel in 2013, did not reciprocate this time, however.

Still, he did offer to set a “tee time” to play golf with Netanyahu in Caesarea, after the PM had highlighted the president’s “terrific” golf skills. Unfortunately for would-be spectators, Netanyahu made clear that he doesn’t play golf.

The ‘candid’ PM, and the ‘giant’ Peres

Rather than invoking first names, Obama hinted at the tensions that have often afflicted their relationship when he declared, “One thing I can say about Prime Minister Netanyahu is he has always been candid with us, and his team has cooperated very effectively with ours. We very much appreciate it.”

Candid? Hardly the warmest of praise.

Obama reserved more effusive descriptions for Israel and its people, promising to “visit Israel often, because it is a beautiful country with beautiful people” and to bring his wife and daughters.

And he saved his greatest praise for the man Netanyahu defeated in the 1996 elections, Shimon Peres. Sending wishes for Peres’s “speedy recovery” after his stroke last week, Obama called the ex-PM and ex-president “a giant in the history of Israel,” no less. It is beyond unlikely that he would ever refer to Netanyahu in such terms.

Disagreement unmasked

For all that this was the upbeat public farewell, Obama was emphatic in raising the aspect of Netanyahu policy over which they have always clashed. A day after he said at the UN that “Israel must recognize that it cannot permanently occupy and settle Palestinian land,” the president returned to the theme — both in his brief public remarks, and again, we subsequently learned, in their private talks. “We do have concerns around settlement activity,” said Obama as the cameras clicked. “And our hope is that we can continue to be an effective partner with Israel in finding a path to peace.”

That latter sentence, as ever, underlined Obama’s conviction that Netanyahu is acting against Israel’s own interests by expanding the Jewish presence in the West Bank, complicating the prospect of a withdrawal, and reducing the capacity of the United States to broker a viable agreement.

Netanyahu’s declaration “that I and the people of Israel will never give up” on the effort to forge a “durable peace,” however heartfelt, is simply not persuasive to Obama, given his conviction that every single new home built for Jews over the pre-1967 line constitutes a blow to that aspiration.

Disagreement ignored

While the Palestinian issue featured prominently in Obama’s remarks, the other major area of their disagreement — Iran, and the nuclear deal that Obama so championed — was conspicuous by its absence from their public comments. (Word is that the issue was raised in their private talks.) Perhaps the two men decided this was one subject where no amount of finesse could cover over their differences.

After all, their bitterly opposed attitudes to the deal continue to resonate. It was only two months ago that Obama declared that the “Israeli military and security community” now sees the year-old accord as “a game-changer.” The president meant “game-changer” in a positive sense. Israel’s Defense Ministry rushed to make plain that is sees a game-changer all right, but in the most negative sense, invoking the Allies 1938 Munich Agreement with the Nazis by comparison.

The basics restated

Differences aside, Netanyahu and Obama did credibly reaffirm the robust fundamentals of Israel-American ties: the security and intelligence partnerships; America’s military aid for a strong Jewish state as serving American as well as Israeli interests; the shared values and aspirations. Obama has indeed seen himself as a dependable protector of Israel, and Netanyahu paid personal tribute to his role in ensuring Israel’s well-being.

Where he and Netanyahu have always parted ways has been in their very different assessments of the opportunities for peacemaking by this firmly US-backed Israel, the risks involved, and the appropriate paths to follow. Where Obama just cannot get past those settlements, Netanyahu keeps trying to underline the dangers of “unremitting fanaticism.” It’s a recipe for mutual friction, and always has been.

Not quite over yet

There was no hint of bitterness when Obama remarked that while he is “only going to be president for another few months,” Netanyahu will be prime minister for “quite a bit longer.” And only a cynic would have detected a hint of pleasure from Netanyahu in his invitation to the soon-to-be ex-president to go play golf in Caesarea.

There are those who think we will yet see a sting in the tail — that Obama might back a UN Security Council resolution on Palestine in the final weeks before he hands over power, or endorse a French initiative, or unveil a detailed peace plan, or publish past understandings as a blueprint for the future.

Obama-Netanyahu won’t be over till it’s over, of course, but unleashing a dramatic new gambit at the very end of a two-term presidency would see Obama asked pointedly why he had left it all so ineffectually late. And it is probably worth looking at the close of his public remarks, as a possible guide to his state of mind. He said that he hoped to now hear from Netanyahu “how Israel sees the next few years, what the opportunities are and what the challenges are, in order to assure that we keep alive the possibility of a stable, secure Israel at peace with its neighbors, and a Palestinian homeland that meets the aspirations of their people.” (Interesting choice of that Balfour Declaration-echoing word “homeland.”)

Obama was seeking assurances from Netanyahu, in other words, that the door to a two-state solution would not be gradually closed in the coming years. Not the formulation, one might reasonably conclude, of a departing president seriously contemplating one last, drastic, bridge-burning — and almost certainly doomed — bid to try and impose a solution.

Putting Obama’s Words on Israel-Palestinians in Perspective – Herb Keinon (Jerusalem Post)

In his final address as president to the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, President Obama devoted 31 words of a 5,600-word speech to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: “Israelis and Palestinians will be better off if Palestinians reject incitement and recognize the legitimacy of Israel, but Israel recognizes that it cannot permanently occupy and settle Palestinian land.”

Reflecting a penchant to play up the negative, the Israeli media highlighted the second part of Obama’s sentence while downplaying the first part: that the Palestinians must reject incitement and recognize Israel’s legitimacy.

But in reality, Obama’s sentence was telling in its symmetry, apportioning responsibility equally to both sides. And the Palestinians came first in the sentence order.

Queen with Adam Lambert and Brian May –Concert in Tel Aviv September 2016 -Hava Nagila