Aussies, Kiwis turn out in Jerusalem to honor ANZACs
The annual ANZAC Day memorial ceremony at the Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery on Mount Scopus is also an opportunity for reunions.
The event, which commemorates the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps soldiers who fought in the Middle East in World War I to liberate the region from 400 years of Ottoman misrule, brings Aussies and Kiwis to Jerusalem from across the country.
Also attending are members of the Australian and New Zealand contingents serving in the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO), the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO), tourists from the antipodes visiting here, and Australian diplomats.
(New Zealand doesn’t have diplomatic representation in Israel, and the ceremony is organized by the Australian Embassy.)
Because ANZAC Day coincides with the Passover holiday this year, embassy staff did not anticipate a large turnout, and were pleasantly surprised to see how many people did in fact turn up, especially Australian and New Zealand youth who are spending time in Israel.
In previous years, busloads of Zionist youth were brought in with the assistance of the Zionist Federation of Australia. This year the youth came of their own volition.
Australian Ambassador Dave Sharma is away. In his stead, the ceremony was led by Second Secretary Ben Rhee, who noted ANZAC Day commemorates April 25, 1915 – when Australian and New Zealand troops landed at Gallipoli. Two thousand of them died that day storming ashore on the peninsula that forms the northern bank of the Dardanelles, trying to capture the Ottoman capital Constantinople (today Istanbul).
By January 6, 1916 when the expeditionary force was withdrawn, 57,000 Allied soldiers and 87,000 Ottoman servicemen had died there. After Gallipoli, the ANZACs were deployed to other theaters of war, including Palestine.
On ANZAC Day, Australians and New Zealanders around the world honor the sacrifice of those who fought in WWI and subsequent wars, and those who continue to serve, said Rhee.
The ceremony began and ended with the skirling of bagpipes.
Australian Chargé d’Affaires James McGarry laid the first wreath at the base of the cenotaph, followed by John Bok who heads the Israel New Zealand Friendship Association.
Other wreaths were laid by military attachés from Britain, Canada, Germany, Turkey and the United States, as well as representatives of the IDF, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Australian contingents of MFO and UNTSO, the New Zealand contingent of UNTSO, the Association of Jewish Ex-Servicemen and Women (who served with the British Forces), the Israel Britain and the Commonwealth Association, the Zionist Federation of Australia, the Israel Australia Chamber of Commerce, Zionist youth organizations Betar, Bnei Akiva, Habonim Dror, Highway Israel, Hineini, Israel by Choice, and Netzer. Wreaths were also laid by the Gallipoli Association, the Society for the Heritage of World War One, and the New South Wales Ex-Servicemen’s Association.
The military attachés and officers from the Australian, New Zealand and Israeli armies wore an assortment of medals and ribbons. It transpired from recognition of insignia that an Australian expat and a British expat who were present had both served in the IDF in the 1982 First Lebanon War.
“Australians and New Zealanders who fell in combat are buried in many places, including here,” said Rabbi Raymond Apple, who led the service at the graves of Jewish soldiers.
Apple, chief rabbi emeritus of Sydney’s Great Synagogue and former senior rabbi to the Australian Defense Forces, was joined by Rabbi Edward Belfer, who recited the Kaddish prayer, and Dr. Mervyn Doobov.
“Those buried here are especially remembered every year on ANZAC Day. This year that tradition is harder than usual, because it is Pesach. (Passover).
We are pulled in two directions, chag (festival) and anti-chag. The chag calls us to celebrate the great, memorable achievements of civilization over the past century. The antichag reminds us of the world’s great, memorable failures, especially the distinct lack of success of the United Nations’s pious declaration in 1945 that it would save the world from the scourge of war,” said Apple.
“What about the chag philosophy? Does it have an answer? It does. It simply says, ‘See the face of a brother before you. Let him sit under his own vine or fig tree with no-one to make him afraid!’” (Jerusalem Post)
Security forces arrest 4 Hamas members in Hebron
Four Hamas members were arrested in two West Bank raids in the Hebron area on Monday.
The IDF declined to provide details on the cause for the arrests, and did not answer a question on whether the raids were launched to thwart an imminent terror plot.
According to the IDF’s statement, army units arrested two Hamas members in Hebron, and two additional Hamas men in Dahariya, southwest of the city. “We are not providing further details on those arrested,” an army spokeswoman said.
On April 21, near the beginning of the seven-day-long Passover holiday, the military imposed a general closure on the West Bank and shut down the Gaza border crossings.
On the same day, police and the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) confirmed that a Palestinian bomber who attacked a bus in Jerusalem was a 19-year-old Hamas-affiliated resident of Beit Jala, near Bethlehem. Several Hamas members from the area were arrested within 24 hours of the blast, which injured 20 passengers.
Earlier this month, a senior military source said security forces quietly foiled a large number of Hamas mass-casualty terrorism plots forming in the West Bank recently, often at a very advanced stage of preparations.
The officer said the IDF Judea and Samaria Division, together with the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), encountered a continuous series of attempted attacks orchestrated by Hamas.
“Often we thwarted them at a very advanced stages, involving bomb labs that we recently raided. What characterizes these cells is funding by organizations and a desire to carry out a ‘quality attack.’ We encounter M-16s and Kalashnikovs. Many of the plots are aimed at shooting attacks.”
There have been more than 10 attempts to carry out kidnappings of Israelis since October, he stated. (Jerusalem Post)
Majority of West Bank youth back knife attacks on Israelis, poll finds
A public opinion poll published on Monday showed that 40 percent of youths in the West Bank and 66% of those in the Gaza Strip believe that the recent wave of terrorist attacks on Israelis serves the Palestinian cause, while only 23% in the West Bank and 17% in the Gaza Strip say it harms the cause.
The poll was conducted by The Jerusalem Media and Communications Center (JMCC) and covered a random sample of 1,000 Palestinians between the ages of 15-29. The poll has a margin of error of 3%.
The results showed that among 47% of Palestinian youths in the West Bank opposed knife stabbings, while 28% of youths in the Gaza Strip supported their continuation.
More than 35% of respondents in both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip predicted that the violence would develop into a fully-fledged uprising, the results showed.
Palestinian youths seem to be equally split over “military operations” against Israel: 43% in favor and against.
Support among Palestinian youths for the two-state solution stands at 42%, according to the poll. Nearly 20% said they preferred a bi-national state. An overwhelming majority of 67% of respondents believe that negotiations will not succeed in resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
In addition, the survey found that a majority of 63% of Palestinian youths oppose working with like-minded Israeli youths to find a solution to the conflict, while only 27% supported the idea.
A majority of 52% supported a possible resumption of negotiations with Israel in comparison to 43% who opposed it.
If elections were held now, 37% of respondents said they would vote for Mahmoud Abbas and 23% for Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh. If Abbas does not run, 15% of Palestinian youths said that they would vote for jailed Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti.
Haniyeh got only 14%.
The JMCC poll found that 83% of respondents had negative views about Islamic State (ISIS) in comparison to 5% who said they had a positive opinion of the terrorist group.
More than half of those polled said that ISIS is harmful to the Palestinian cause.
The poll also showed that a majority of 60% of youths relies on Facebook and Twitter as a first source of news. Only 28% said they get their news from watching television. (Jerusalem Post)
Concern in the North: ISIS cells in the Golan could use chemical weapons
The security echelon in Israel has estimated that the Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade, an Islamist organization that identifies with ISIS in the southern Golan in Syria, has acquired some of Syrian President Basher Assad’s chemical weapons stockpile, Channel 10 reported on Tuesday.
Security forces have kept a close eye on the activities of the Islamic State sympathizers near Israel’s northern border as it fears that its militants will attempt to use the newly obtained explosive devices with mustard and chlorine gas payloads against Israel.
The threat of unconventional weapons, such as mustard or chlorine gas is particularly fear-inducing as it could be disseminated to effect a large portion of the civilian population. If inhaled, chlorine gas turns to hydrochloric acid in the lungs, which can lead to internal burning and drowning through a reactionary release of fluid in the lungs. Similarly, mustard gas can be proliferated through the air and cause, among other complications, respiratory infections and ultimately death.
The Yarmouk Martryrs Brigade is currently situated in the abandoned UN outposts in the southern Golan Heights and is presently occupied with its struggled against the Syrian opposition forces. As of now, defense authorities assert that is does not appear that the militants are planning to launch a chemical attack on Israel. However, security experts have not eliminated the option that they could change their tactic.
There have been multiple reports of ISIS using chemical weapons in battle.
Last August, the Wall Street Journal reported that ISIS used chemical weapons for the time during an insurgency in Iraq.
Russia similarly reported in January that there is a high chance that ISIS has been using chemical weapons in combat in Syria. In the same month, the Central Command Headquarters of the United States Army reported that a chemical weapons expert from the Islamist organization in Iraq was killed in an aerial attack by the Coalition forces in Mosul.
Additionally, the Americans captured a senior special from ISIS’ chemical weapons program.
Assad has likewise come under fire repeatedly for his use of chemical weapons. Israel Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said, “the Syrians used military grade chemical weapons and lately have been using materials, chlorine, against civilians, including in these very days, after the supposed ceasefire, dropping barrels of chlorine on civilians.”
Furthermore, a fact-finding mission of the global chemical weapons watchdog (OPCW) concluded in 2014 that the use of chlorine gas has been “systematic” in the Syrian civil war, even after the country surrendered its stockpile of toxic weapons. (Jerusalem Post)
Pollard enjoys ‘unforgettable’ Seder on parole
It was Jonathan Pollard’s first Passover Seder since entering prison in 1985, and it was a dream come true for the Israeli agent who thought until recently that he might never see the light of day.
Pollard was released on “mandatory” parole on November 20, 2015, after serving exactly 30 years in prison for conspiracy to commit espionage without intent to harm the United States by delivering classified information to Israel in 1984 and 1985.
Due to his parole conditions, requiring him to wear a GPS monitoring device and obey a 7 p.m. curfew at his New York home or risk further imprisonment, Pollard was still limited during the Festival of Freedom. He and his wife, Esther, were alone at home for the meal, but those who have been in contact with him said he enjoyed the Seder.
“It was wonderful,” he reportedly said. “I will remember it for the rest of my life.”
Pollard was not religiously observant before he entered prison, so it was his first Seder as an Orthodox Jew. He was very complimentary of Esther when asked about how the Seder went.
Pollard has purposely been keeping a low profile since he left prison, but ahead of the Seder, he went grocery shopping in New York.
The US District Court for the Southern District of New York has granted Pollard’s request to reopen his appeal against his parole conditions.
The court set a June 13 date for oral arguments on the case.
But Pollard’s lawyers have had to ask for a later date, because June 13 is during the Shavuot holiday. (Jerusalem Post)
Large U.S. Senate Majority Urges Obama to Boost Israel Military Aid
More than four-fifths of the U.S. Senate have signed a letter urging President Barack Obama to quickly reach an agreement on a new defense aid package for Israel worth more than the current $3 billion per year.
Eighty-three of the 100 senators signed the letter, led by Republican Lindsey Graham and Democrat Chris Coons. Senator Ted Cruz, a 2016 presidential candidate, was one of the 51 Republicans on board. The Senate’s Democratic White House hopeful, Bernie Sanders, was not among the 32 Democrats.
“In light of Israel’s dramatically rising defense challenges, we stand ready to support a substantially enhanced new long-term agreement to help provide Israel the resources it requires to defend itself and preserve its qualitative military edge,” said the letter, which was seen by Reuters.
It did not provide a figure for the suggested aid. Israel wants $4 billion to $4.5 billion in aid in a new agreement to replace the current memorandum of understanding, or MOU, which expires in 2018. U.S. officials have given lower target figures of about $3.7 billion. They hope for a new agreement before Obama leaves office in January.
The funding is intended to boost Israel’s military and allow it to maintain a technological advantage over its Arab neighbors.
The letter said the Senate also intends to consider increased U.S. funding for cooperative missile defense programs, similar to increases in the past several years.
Obama has asked for $150 million for such programs, but lawmakers are believed to be willing to send Israel hundreds of millions for programs like its Iron Dome air defense system and David’s Sling medium- and long-range defense system. (Haáretz)
Obama’s Double Standard Toward Netanyahu
by Alan M. Dershowitz The Gatestone Institute
As President Obama winds up his farewell tour of Europe, it is appropriate to consider the broader implications of the brouhaha he created in Great Britain. At a joint press conference with Britain Prime Minister, David Cameron, President Obama defended his intrusion into British politics in taking sides on the controversial and divisive Brexit debate. In an op-ed, Obama came down squarely on the side of Britain remaining in the European Union — a decision I tend to agree with on its merits. But he was much criticized by the British media and British politicians for intruding into a debate about the future of Europe and Britain’s role in it.
Obama defended his actions by suggesting that in a democracy, friends should be able to speak their minds, even when they are visiting another country:
“If one of our best friends is in an organization that enhances their influence and enhances their power and enhances their economy, then I want them to stay in. Or at least I want to be able to tell them ‘I think this makes you guys bigger players.'”
Nor did he stop at merely giving the British voters unsolicited advice, he also issued a not so veiled threat. He said that “the UK is going to be in the back of the queue” on trade agreements if they exit the EU.
President Obama must either have a short memory or must adhere to Emerson’s dictum that “foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.” Recall how outraged the same President Obama was when the Prime Minister of a friendly country, Benjamin Netanyahu, spoke his mind about the Iran Deal.
There are, of course, differences: first, Israel has a far greater stake in the Iran Deal than the United States has in whatever decision the British voters make about Brexit: and second, Benjamin Netanyahu was representing the nearly unanimous view of his countrymen, whereas there is little evidence of whether Americans favor or oppose Brexit in large numbers.
Another difference, of course, is that Obama was invited to speak by Cameron, whereas, Netanyahu was essentially disinvited by Obama. But under our tripartite system of government — which is different than Britain’s Unitary Parliamentary system — that fact is monumentally irrelevant. Netanyahu was invited by a co-equal branch of the government, namely Congress, which has equal authority over foreign policy with the president and equal authority to invite a friendly leader. Moreover, not only are the British voters divided over Brexit, but Britain’s Conservative Party itself is deeply divided. Indeed, the leading political figure in opposition to Britain remaining in the European Union is a potential successor to Cameron as leader of the Conservative Party. So these differences certainly don’t explain the inconsistency between Obama’s interference in British affairs and his criticism of Netanyahu for accepting an invitation from Congress to express his country’s views on an issue directly affecting its national security.
So which is it, Mr. President? Should friends speak their minds about controversial issues when visiting another country, or should they keep their views to themselves? Or is your answer that friends should speak their minds only when they agree with other friends, but not when they disagree? Such a view would skew the market place of ideas beyond recognition. If friends should speak about such issues, it is even more important to do so when they disagree.
A wit once observed that “hypocrisy is the homage vice pays to virtue.” It is also the currency of diplomacy and politics. That doesn’t make it right.
The President owes the American people, and Benjamin Netanyahu, an explanation for his apparent hypocrisy and inconsistency. Let there be one rule that covers all friends — not one for those with whom you agree and another for those with whom you disagree. For me the better rule is open dialogue among friends on all issues of mutual importance. Under this rule, which President Obama now seems to accept, he should have welcomed Prime Minister Netanyahu’s advocacy before Congress, instead of condemning it. He owes Prime Minister Netanyahu an apology, and so do those Democratic members of Congress who rudely stayed away from Netanyahu’s informative address to Congress.
The Jewish story is under assault
By Yossi Klein Halevi The LA TImes
Who are the Jews? A religion? A people? The question has taken on a special urgency in our time. At the heart of the anti-Zionist assault is the notion that the Jews aren’t a people but only a faith. That premise is normative throughout the Arab world, and especially in the Palestinian statehood movement, all of whose factions deny the existence of a distinct Jewish people with a right to national sovereignty.
The Jewish calendar tells a different story. On Passover, we celebrate the birth of the Jewish people through our escape from Egypt; it’s the beginning of a coherent historical narrative. On Shavuot, two months later, we celebrate the giving of the Torah at Sinai, imprinting the Jewish people with a distinct path to God. The Jews, then, are a people with a specific faith. In that order.
The Passover Seder implicitly reinforces that hierarchy of identities. The essential Seder ritual is the retelling of the exodus — “as though you yourself left Egypt” — and the message is: There is no Judaism without the Jewish people and its story.
My late teacher, Rabbi David Hartman, noted that the definition of Jewish heresy provided by the Haggadah, the text read at the Seder, simultaneously offers a definition of Jewish identity. The “evil child” of the Haggadah refers to the Jewish people as “you” rather than “us.” Unlike Christianity and Islam, where heresy is the rejection of belief, for Judaism heresy is self-exclusion from the community.
As a religious Jew, I believe that our relationship to God is the purpose of Jewish existence. I believe that contemporary Jewish life has been impoverished by the diminishment of the Divine, the abandonment of the quest for the living God in our collective and personal lives.
Yet I also believe that peoplehood is more crucial to Judaism than faith. How else can we make sense of the Jewish atheist? Christians or Muslims who reject religious doctrine are no longer a part of their faith community, while Jews who reject Judaic beliefs but still identify with the Jewish people, its values and its fate are universally regarded among Jews as one of us.
All three monotheistic faiths share the same goal: the revelation of God’s presence in this world. But Judaism, once again, works a little differently. While one can of course convert and become a Jew, Judaism was never intended to be a universal faith, only the faith of a specific people — whose purpose is to be a spiritual avant guard within humanity for its eventual redemption. Judaism is a particularist strategy for a universalist goal.
In its early stages in 19th century Germany, Reform Judaism tried to turn Jewish identity into a faith without a people and a land, insisting that its Zion was Berlin, not Jerusalem. Ultimately, though, the Reform movement returned to a more classical understanding of Jewish identity. Even ultra-Orthodox Jews, who routinely place the most strict interpretation of Jewish law over the well-being of the Jewish people, accept peoplehood as a core religious principle.
The Seder culminates with the affirmation, “Next year in Jerusalem,” a reminder that the Jewish story that begins in Egypt ends in the land of Israel. We’re a specific people bound to a specific place.
Last week, as Jews around the world prepared for Passover, the war against the Jewish people and its story — against the meaning of Passover itself — took a particularly ugly turn. A UNESCO resolution, sponsored by seven Arab countries, denounced Israel for supposed violations of Muslim rights to prayer on the site that Muslims call the Haram el Sharif and Jews call the Temple Mount. The resolution ignores the fact that the Israeli government enforces a ban on Jewish prayer at the holy site, granting Muslims exclusive right to pray there. Worse, the resolution implicitly denies the Jewish connection to the area by never actually using the term Temple Mount (only Haram el Sharif). It does refer to the Western Wall, but places that label in quotation marks while leaving the Muslim equivalent, Al Buraq, intact, as though that were the only authentic name.
Reading the resolution, one could conclude that there was no ancient Jewish temple on the Temple Mount, that the Mount isn’t the holiest site in Judaism, that the Western Wall isn’t the heart of Jewish prayer. One could conclude, therefore, that the Jews living in Israel today have no historic claim to the land, passed down through generations. Of all the attempts to destroy us throughout our history, the campaign against history itself is the most devious.
Passover suggests this definition of the Jews: We are a story we tell ourselves about who we think we are. The current assault on the Jewish story is so dangerous precisely because it strikes at that core idea.
Yossi Klein Halevi is a senior fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem. He is author of “Like Dreamers: The Story of the Israeli Paratroopers Who Reunited Jerusalem and Divided a Nation.”
Palestinians: Peace Starts with Facing the Harsh Reality of Hate
by Fred Maroun The Gatestone Institute
The Arab states, many Europeans and the so-called “pro-Palestinian” movement have been using the same tactic since 1948 — keep the Palestinians in poverty, victimhood, and dependence so that Israel can be blamed, with the hope that Israel would lose legitimacy and its Jewish residents would be thrown into the sea or they would pack up and leave.
Values that bring peace (acceptance of differences, religious tolerance, and non-violent conflict resolution) are taught all over the liberal democratic world, including Israel, but somehow, when it comes to Arabs, all expectations of socialized behavior are thrown out the window.
Somehow, people expect to resolve a conflict without neutralizing the root cause of that conflict: programming people to hate.
Teach Peace: This is the solution that Western politicians urgently need to talk about when they meet Palestinian officials. It should be at the start, at the middle, and at the end of every meeting and every speech, and all funding should be made contingent on it and strictly linked to it.
As an Arab, the situation of the Palestinians breaks my heart, as does the situation of Syrians, Lebanese, Iraqis, and even those living in relative peace under dictatorships. But the Palestinian situation bothers me most because no realistic solution is ever seriously considered.
While Palestinian refugees are scattered over several countries and given few rights by their Arab hosts, and while they live in various states of dependence in Gaza and the West Bank, resolution of their status is delayed decade after decade, with occasional lip service paid to a negotiated two-state solution — the magic solution that would supposedly cure everything!
Who should be blamed for this? Most of the world is quick to blame Israel. I do not blame Israel for one second. The Jews accepted the UN partition plan of 1947 which would have given the Palestinians a state more viable than what was given to the Jews, but the Arab states convinced the Palestinians that it was a bad deal, and the Palestinians have been rejecting all opportunities for a state ever since.
The Arab states, many Europeans and the so-called “pro-Palestinian” movement have been using the same tactic since 1948 – keep the Palestinians in poverty, victimhood, and dependence so that Israel can be blamed, with the hope that Israel would lose legitimacy and its Jewish residents would be thrown into the sea or they would pack up and leave. Obviously it has not worked and it never will, but it has created what seems a carefully-planned hate culture for the Palestinians. This hate culture started from traditional Arab anti-Semitism, was combined with European anti-Semitism and has evolved into the most notorious and possibly the worst culture of hate on earth today. Less than a week ago, in the official Friday sermon on official Palestinian Authority (PA) television — not Hamas — the PA preacher was praying for genocide:
“Allah, punish Your enemies, the enemies of religion, count their numbers and kill them to the last one, and bring them a black day. Allah, punish the wicked Jews, and those among the atheists who help them. Allah, we ask that You bestow upon us respect and honor by enabling us to repel them, and we ask You to save us from their evil.”
All attempts by the U.S. to facilitate a final-status agreement between Israel and the Palestinians have failed. Has any reasonable person really expected those attempts to succeed?
A society whose leaders campaign for a convicted terrorist to be given the Nobel Peace Prize, a society that teaches its children hatred and violence as part of its standard curriculum, a society that unabashedly teaches anti-Semitism through all means available, a society that puts suicide belts on children during political celebrations, a society that honors, glorifies and funds terrorists, a society that uses a hateful version of religion to poison the minds of its children, a society that engages in widespread jubilation when Jews are victims of terrorist attacks, is not a healthy society that can develop peace of any kind.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas claims that he wants a Palestinian state in Gaza and the West Bank, yet he refused it when it was offered to him because he knows that he cannot sell any reasonable solution to his people. He knows that Palestinians have been taught for generations to believe that the only solution is the end of the Jewish state, and he and his predecessor Yasser Arafat hold a huge part of responsibility in that brainwashing.
Peace cannot be achieved as if by magic. Teach the Palestinians the values that bring peace (acceptance of differences, religious tolerance, and non-violent conflict resolution) rather than the lies that bring hate. Stop the anti-Israel incitement and maybe in a generation or two, the Palestinians will be ready for peace. These are the values taught all over the liberal democratic world, including Israel, but somehow, when it comes to Arabs, all expectations of socialized behavior are thrown out the window.
That peace requires — first — the end of the Palestinian culture of hate is obvious; yet this point is rarely made except by Israel and its supporters. Somehow, people expect to resolve a conflict without neutralizing the root cause of that conflict: teaching hate. Apparently, no one wants to face the reality that fighting hate is far harder than fighting warplanes, armored vehicles, missiles, or armies. But far more important.
When well-meaning but naïve (or disingenuous) people talk about how “both sides” in the conflict are at fault, I get nauseated. While it is technically true that both sides have faults, the imbalance is so great that the analogy is not only meaningless, but, more importantly, dangerous. It papers over the most fundamental issue in this conflict — the need to resolve the huge moral failure on the Arab side, its anti-Semitic hatred.
Resolving the hatred would finally allow Palestinians to look after their own interests rather than be obsessed and distracted with damaging the interests of Israel. They would find that their interests are quite consistent with those of Israel, and that peace would bring them huge dividends. They would be able to see these facts because they would no longer be blinded by hate.
Teach Peace: This is the solution that Western politicians urgently need to talk about when they meet Palestinian officials. It should be at the start, at the middle, and at the end of every meeting and every speech, and all funding should be made contingent on it and strictly linked to it.
Until this approach is adopted, there is really no point in talking about a negotiated two-state solution.
IDF Intelligence: Threats and Opportunities for Israel on Many Fronts – Yoav Limor (Israel Hayom)
According to four key Military Intelligence officers, tunnels in Gaza, a wave of terrorism across the West Bank, Islamic State attacks in Sinai, the Syrian civil war, Hizbullah’s improved arsenal, the future of Iran’s nuclear program and the stability of the Egyptian and Jordanian regimes are only a few of the challenges facing the Middle East, and Israel within it.
Gaza has never been quieter. Still, Hamas is pursuing a steadily intensifying armament effort, as evident by the terror tunnel recently discovered under the Israel-Gaza border. Egypt has turned its back on Hamas and now sees it as no better than Islamic State, and its Saudi and other Arab patrons have more urgent matters that require funding. Iran remains Hamas’ main sponsor.
In the West Bank, Abbas’ regime is fraying at the seams. With no apparent successor, a complex succession battle is almost certain. Hamas may try to seize the strategic opportunity presented by the leadership vacuum and seize control of the West Bank.
International efforts to end the fighting in Syria have led to a change in Israeli intelligence assessments. Instead of the prospect of prolonged bloodshed with no end in sight, there may be tangible chances of a diplomatic agreement that will end the fighting in a way that would make Syria a functioning nation again.
Any arrangement in Syria will have to include Russia as the keeper of Alawite, Iranian and Hizbullah interests, as well as its own. There are currently over 10,000 Shiite militia operatives fighting alongside the Syrian army, as well as 1,500 Iranian soldiers, thousands of Hizbullah operatives, and significant Russian forces.
While it is clear Islamic State will not be overrunning Syria, Iran will not be tightening its grip on it, either. Any future deal will include an Israeli demand to curtail the delivery of Iranian weapons to Hizbullah via Syria, delay the rehabilitation of the Syrian military, and devise a mechanism that would ensure calm on the Golan Heights.
The Syrian civil war has exacted a heavy toll from Hizbullah, with over 1,300 operatives killed and nearly 10,000 injured. Some 7,000 of its operatives are currently fighting in Syria. Nevertheless, Hizbullah is investing considerable resources in acquiring long-range missiles that could wreak havoc on Israel.