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Latest News in Israel – 28th February

Joint Austrailian Israeli Statement (Only Australia affirms supports 2-state solution)

THE HON MALCOLM TURNBULL MP PRIME MINISTER OF AUSTRALIA

HIS EXCELLENCY BENJAMIN NETANYAHU PRIME MINISTER OF THE STATE OF ISRAEL

JOINT STATEMENT

  1. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met in Sydney on 22 February 2017, during the first visit by an Israeli Head of Government to Australia. Leaders welcomed the opportunity of the visit to reaffirm the strength of the relationship and its importance to both countries. The friendship between Israel and Australia dates back to Israel’s earliest days, and is anchored in our shared values, commitment to democracy and mutual interest in a rules-based international system. Both leaders committed to invigorate the relationship to maximise the opportunities it presents and to enable it to meet today’s challenges.
  2. Australia re-affirmed its commitment to Israel’s right to exist, as the nation-state of the Jewish people, in peace within secure borders, and its steadfast opposition to attempts to undermine Israel’s legitimacy. Israel thanked Australia for its consistent support in this regard. Both countries re-stated their support for a directly negotiated peace between Israel and the Palestinians. Australia affirmed its support for a two-state solution.
  3. Australia and Israel remain committed to a stable and secure Middle East. Leaders discussed current security challenges in the Middle East, including terrorism. Both countries agreed that Iran must fully implement its obligations under UN Security Council resolutions, and expressed concern about Iran’s ballistic missile program. They also expressed concern over Iran’s support inter alia for Hizballah and the threat Hizballah poses to regional security. Israel welcomed Australia’s ongoing military contribution to stabilisation efforts in the region, including the anti-ISIL coalition, the UN Truce Supervision Organisation, and Multinational Force and Observers in Sinai. Leaders agreed to maintain and to enhance close coordination and dialogue in the defence and security spheres.
  4. Both sides reiterated their strong common resolve to combat terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, including the financing, supporting, harbouring, training and equipping of terrorists. Both sides emphasised the importance of strengthening bilateral, regional and international cooperation required to meet this challenge; and reaffirmed that violent extremism constitutes a serious common concern for both states.
  5. Australia and Israel agreed to explore opportunities for bilateral cooperation in the field of cyber as well as promote global cybersecurity efforts that enhance an open, free and secure Internet. Leaders noted the importance of cyber capability in ensuring the resilience of their national security systems, as well as the opportunities it offers in the commercial context, and expressed their intention to enhance dialogue between their respective government and private sectors.
  6. Both sides affirmed the importance of bilateral defence cooperation in areas of mutual benefit. They also agreed to review opportunities to enhance exchanges between the defence authorities of the two countries.
  7. Leaders committed to support the expansion of trade, investment and commercial links between Australia and Israel, for their mutual benefit and prosperity. Leaders welcomed the signature of a bilateral Air Services Agreement facilitating enhanced air links between our countries. They also welcomed the signing of an MOU between airline companies from both countries, which will enhance connectivity between Australia and Israel, expanding business and tourism links. They resolved to work towards concluding a Double Taxation Agreement which would remove tax impediments to bilateral economic activity and enhance the integrity of our respective tax systems. They welcomed the success of the Working Holiday Visa arrangement in promoting greater tourism flows.
  8. Recognising that productivity and innovation are national priorities of both countries, leaders vowed to strengthen linkages in this area. Israel welcomed the establishment of Australia’s Landing Pad in Israel, intended to facilitate Australian entrepreneurs accessing Israel’s high-tech economy.
  9. Leaders welcomed the signature of an Agreement on Bilateral Cooperation in Technological Innovation and Research and Development as a further enabler, and committed to negotiations on an Agreement on Science and Technology Cooperation. Leaders also committed to strengthen ties on education and innovation, including through possible teacher, academic and entrepreneur exchanges, to build science, technology, engineering and mathematical capabilities and foster a collaborative culture of innovation.
  10. Leaders committed to explore opportunities for future collaboration in the areas of agriculture, water, energy and oil and gas. The two leaders also agreed to promote collaboration in the field of environmental protection, including sharing of knowledge and experience between both countries. To this end, the Australian Minister for the Environment and Energy will visit Israel in the first half of 2017.
  11. Australia and Israel recognise the historical significance of the Battle of Beer Sheva as a foundation stone for the relationship between the two countries. Leaders committed to host a major commemoration in Israel, to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the Battle, in October 2017.
  12. Leaders affirmed the importance of the role played by Australia’s Jewish community in underpinning and giving vitality to the relationship, and in the major contribution it has made to all sectors of Australian life.
  13. This joint declaration reflects the mutual commitment of Australia and Israel to their deep friendship, and their determination to elevate their bilateral cooperation for the benefit of their two countries. Towards this end, Prime Minister Netanyahu invited Prime Minister Turnbull to visit Israel at the earliest opportunity. (IMRA)

Benjamin Netanyahu says his visit to Australia was ‘wonderful’

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will take a circuitous route through South East Asia to dodge Indonesian airspace as he departs Australia for Israel.

The Israeli PM and wife Sara Netanyahu jetted out of Sydney Airport on Sunday morning bound for Hong Kong after a five-day visit meeting with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and a slew of Australian officials.

The Israeli PM left Sydney just 10 minutes behind schedule, after a morning meeting with Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, during which he described his stay as “wonderful.”

“This has been a wonderful visit here. You people are amazing,” Mr Netanyahu told Ms Bishop before talks behind closed doors.

Less than one-hour into the specially chartered flight, tracking data for El Al ELY34 indicated the jet would take a detour around Indonesian airspace en route to Hong Kong, in a move that echoed its inbound journey from Singapore.

Bibi and Bishop

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with Foreign Minister Julie Bishop.

The delegation arrived at 6:30am on Wednesday from Singapore, with the flight taking two hours longer than the average eight and a half-hour transit from to Sydney after the pilot took a sharp turn to avoid crossing into Indonesian airspace.

El Al is the Israeli national carrier and is prohibited from entering the airspace of a series of Muslim countries, including Indonesia. The carrier holds the contract for the majority of the PM’s international travel, but this will change within four months when the Israeli government takes receipt of new, dedicated aircraft for the Prime Minister.

The purpose-built plane is due for completion during the Israeli Summer.

The leader and Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull this week agreed to deepen business and travel links between the two countries, during a week of official discussions which covered Iran, prospects for a two-state solution in Israel, and future opportunities for collaboration between Australia and Israel.

His visit was also notable for the heavy security presence that followed the delegation for each meeting and blocked off tracts of Sydney’s inner city.        (the Australian)

Netanyahu returns to Israel amid legal, political turmoil

Aside from landing straight into an expected uproar over the comptroller’s report on the 2014 Gaza fighting, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will find a series of legal and political challenges on his return from Australia and Singapore.

First, he will have to endure attempts by political rivals to tarnish his image as Mr. Security, using State Comptroller Joseph Shapira’s report on Operation Protective Edge.

His rival for leader of the Right, Bayit Yehudi head Naftali Bennett, intends to showcase his own role by pressuring Netanyahu to take action against the threat of terrorist tunnels from the Gaza Strip.

Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid also will present himself as a potential prime minister who would not have made the same mistakes as Netanyahu, while Zionist Union intends to file no-confidence motions over the report.

Within the Likud, potential future party leaders are readying themselves in case Netanyahu is harmed politically by the report and criminal investigations that are intensifying.

Netanyahu faces two criminal investigations – Case 1000 and Case 2000. Hebrew media have reported that police are likely to recommend indicting the prime minister in Case 1000, which alleges that he accepted illegal gifts.

Meanwhile, daily leaks about the Netanyahu investigations, presumably from within the police, that flooded Israeli televisions in January have created an atmosphere of the prime minister vs the media and the police.

In January, some Likud MKs accused police investigators of leftist bias, and opposition MKs, last week, shot back over a reported plan by Police Commissioner Insp.- Gen. Roni Alsheich (a Likud appointee) to take larger role in controlling investigations of politicians, by restructuring the elite investigative unit Lahav 433.

Police have already recommended indicting two of Netanyahu’s former chiefs of staff – Gil Sheffer for alleged sexual assault and Ari Harow for alleged conflicts of interest.

Meanwhile, Perach Lerner, former senior adviser to the prime minister, admitted to fraud and breach of trust last week as part of a plea deal with prosecutors.

Right-wing lawyer Harel Arnon, who was supposed to represent the state in defending the Settlements Regulation Bill, also faces a police recommendation to indict over alleged involvement in the Harow case.

Finally, Netanyahu’s personal lawyer Yaakov Shimron is at the center of a police investigation into Case 3000, which has been dubbed the “Submarine Affair.”

Netanyahu has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing in Case 1000, which is based on allegations that Israeli Hollywood movie mogul Arnon Milchan gave Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, gifts worth hundreds of thousands of shekels, including cigars, champagne and jewelry. The Netanyahus have not denied accepting gifts, but reportedly have said they were given between friends in a manner that does not constitute a breach of trust or bribe.

Australian billionaire James Packer is also involved in the investigation, on suspicion that he gave the premier’s elder son, Yair, lavish gifts, including free hotel rooms and flights, in order to influence his father.

Yair was questioned by the police on the matter on January 17.

Packer, a friend and neighbor of the Netanyahus, was conspicuously absent from the prime minister’s three-day trip to Australia.

Meanwhile, Netanyahu is expected to undergo another police questioning in Case 2000, regarding an alleged attempt by Netanyahu to broker favorable media coverage with Yediot Aharonot publisher Arnon Mozes in exchange for supporting a Knesset bill to weaken competing newspaper Israel Hayom.

According to a report in Haaretz last month, a decision on an indictment over Case 2000 is expected in September.

Then there are cases 3000 and 4000 – the former regarding allegations that Shimron lobbied defense officials on behalf of German shipbuilder ThyssenKrupp for a multi-billion shekel submarine deal. Case 4000 is still under wraps and little is known about it.

In late January, Alsheich told the press that Cases 1000 and 2000 were nearing conclusion, saying: “We already know what conclusions we have reached in the investigation.”

On Sunday, however, a spokeswoman for the police’s Intelligence and Investigation Division said the probes are ongoing.

“We will inform you when a decision is reached,” she said.           (Jerusalem Post)

Report: Hamas currently has 15 border-crossing tunnels

There are currently at least 15 Hamas attack tunnels crossing the border into Israel, sources inside and outside of the cabinet told Channel 2’s Amit Segal on Sunday, ahead of the release of the State Comptroller report dealing with that threat.

Two new sections of the State Comptroller’s Operation Protective Edge report will be published on Tuesday at 4pm, focusing on the tunnel threat from Gaza and the cabinet’s decision-making process before the war and during its early stages.

The report will reveal what happened in the months and years that preceded the campaign in the Gaza Strip and is believed to include criticism of former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over the way the security cabinet functioned during that time. Former IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz is also expected to be harshly criticized in the report.

“I don’t accept what’s been written (in the report),” Gantz, who was the IDF chief during the war, said over the weekend. “You can’t operate systems and win wars without intelligence,” he stressed, adding: “During Protective Edge we had quality intelligence—it was excellent, accessible, not always perfect. I’m willing to go on the next campaign with the kind of intelligence we had for the last campaign.”

Leaks to the media during the operation revealed that the cabinet was presented with an assessment that conquering the Gaza Strip would incur heavy casualties on the IDF and cause serious damage to Israel’s international standing.

“We could have conquered Gaza,” the former IDF chief asserted. “At no point in time were we asked to do this, nor did we recommend it. The result was that (a decision was made) to seriously hurt Hamas, disrupt its tunnel operations, create deterrence, and Hamas remained on the ground. Forget what is being said.”

“The truth is,” Gantz added, “that no one had an interest to go back to even one percent of Gaza.”

Meanwhile, the defense minister during the operation, Moshe Ya’alon, posted a video on Facebook, writing alongside it: “There are those who leak, and those who fight.”

“In the coming week, you’ll hear a lot about Protective Edge,” Ya’alon said. “Those who dealt with politics in the cabinet during the war, in an unprecedented manner, will continue to do so this week as well. They will tell you they didn’t know, that they weren’t told, that they didn’t receive reports. And the greatest lie of all? They’ll tell you we weren’t prepared and that we lost. This is nonsense.”

Ya’alon hinted at criticism he suffered at the hands of Education Minister Naftali Bennett, who a month ago said that “the Protective Edge report will be an earthquake for security, but will also bring with it an opportunity.”

According to Bennett, “the State Comptroller report clearly shows that the root of the failure was in the rigid thinking of the leaders of the country. We need a new security mindset. No more rigidity and treading in place, but victory. Clear and decisive victory. A victory that requires no explanations or excuses. A victory that does not require public relations, but one that speaks for itself, without need of words. No more 50-day wars that end in a tie. We must switch from rigid thinking to innovative initiative.”

Minister Yoav Galant, the former GOC Southern Command, also laid the blame on the defense officials, noting on Twitter: “The soldiers acted bravely during Protective Edge. Gantz and Ya’alon failed. Negligence and being wholly unprepared. Hesitancy to use power. Now they’re hiding behind the cabinet’s skirts.”

The minutes of cabinet meetings during the war that were published a month ago show that then-IDF chief Gantz shared Netanyahu and Ya’alon’s belief that Hamas must be contained rather than defeated.

“Hamas doesn’t want to act,” Gantz is quoted as saying in one of the meetings.

In another meeting, at a later stage of the operation, Gantz continues along the same line. “I oppose a ground offensive. We’ve had great achievements so far: Hamas is beaten, the tunnels are a reasonable risk to take.”

In response to Gantz, Bennett said during that meeting “I expect you to arrive to cabinet meetings with operational plans and offensive policy. I’m not the one who’s supposed to present plans to destroy the tunnels. Be wild horses, not lazy bulls.”                            (Ynet News)

IDF strikes 5 Hamas targets in Gaza after rocket attack

IDF jets and tanks struck five Hamas terror targets in the Gaza Strip on Monday afternoon in retaliation for a rocket that landed in southern Israeli territory overnight, the army confirmed Monday afternoon.

“The strikes occurred in response to high trajectory rocket attacks on the western Negev in the morning,” the statement said, adding that “the firing of rockets constitutes a threat to the security of Israeli citizens and harms the sovereignty of the State of Israel.”

According to Palestinian reports, at least eight airstrikes are said to have hit Hamas positions in the Gaza Strip, including in Beit Lahiya and according to Ashraf al-Qidra, the spokesman for the Health Ministry in Gaza, four men were “moderately wounded east of Rafah during the Israeli bombardment.” According to Palestinian Maan News agency, two strikes targeted the Shuhada Hamas military site in the central Gaza Strip west of the Nuseirat refugee camp.

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman stated that while Israel has no intention of initiating any military action in Gaza, “we have no intention to continue to absorb drippings (of rockets out of the strip). Hamas must take responsibility and relax.”

Meanwhile Hamas on Twitter accused the IDF of escalating tensions with Gaza.

“We place full responsibility for the continuation of this dangerous escalation in Gaza on the Israeli entity, which is targeting the Palestinian resistance and the people of Gaza,” Hamas charged in a statement. “The continued targeting of the resistance’s locations, the purposeful explosion of the situation in Gaza, and the imposition of new formulas on the resistance can not be permitted regardless of the price.”

Both Hamas and splinter Islamic organizations have launched rocket attacks into Israel. There has been no official claim of responsibility for the launching of the projectile, but Israel holds Hamas responsible for all fire coming from the Strip.

Red alert sirens were not sounded as the rocket fell in an open field.

The rocket and subsequent retaliatory strikes came ahead of the state comptroller report into the 50 day Operation Protective Edge which Israel and Hamas fought in 2014.

In February the Gaza-based al-Mezan Center for Human Rights expressed concern that the uptick in violence with Israel could be leading up to a wide-scale military offensive, stating that  the “escalation was reminiscent of the incidents that lead up to Israel’s wide-scale military assaults on Gaza.”

There have been several rockets launched at southern Israel in February, including two incidents in which the Islamic State group in the Sinai fired a barrage of rockets towards the southern city of Eilat, three of which were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile system while a fourth landed in open territory.

Two weeks ago, following another rocket attack, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told reporters in London that his directives are to respond with force to every missile attack.

“The two-and-a-half years since Operation Protective Edge were the two quietest years since the Six Day War,” he said, adding that Israel will be steadfast in responding to every attack, and not permit a “drizzle” of missile attacks that go without a response.

Two weeks ago rockets launched from Sinai landed in southern Israel a day after Islamic State-linked media claimed that an unmanned Israeli drone had bombed and killed five members of ISIS in Egypt in the northern Sinai.

According to the Islamic State-linked Amaq agency, the five “fell as martyrs to the Jewish enemy” in a strike that targeted a car carrying the terrorists in the village of Shibana south of Rafah, near the Egypt-Israel border.

The IDF has not commented on the claim, but Israel is reported to have carried out drone strikes “with Egypt’s knowledge and blessing” against terrorists in the restive peninsula.

The group said the attack was launched “in order to teach the Jews and the Crusaders a proxy war will not avail them of anything” and threatened future “calamitous” attacks.

Israel has not officially retaliated against the Eilat attack.    (Jerusalem Post)

Palestinians: Why a “Regional Peace Process” Will Fail

by Khaled Abu Toameh               The Gatestone  Institute

https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/9983/regional-peace-process

Many Palestinians sometimes refer to Arab leaders and regimes as the “real enemies” of the Palestinians. They would rather have France, Sweden, Norway and Belgium oversee a peace process with Israel than any of the Arab countries.

Hani al-Masr, a prominent Palestinian political analyst, echoed this skepticism. He, in fact, believes the Arabs want to help Israel “liquidate” the Palestinian cause.

The Jordanians are worried that a “regional solution” would promote the idea of replacing the Hashemite kingdom with a Palestinian state. Former Jordanian Minister of Information Saleh al-Qallab denounced the talk of a “regional conference” as a “poisonous gift and conspiracy” against Jordan and the Palestinians.

The Lebanese have for decades dreamed of the day they could rid themselves of the Palestinian refugee camps and their inhabitants, who have long been subjected to apartheid and discriminatory laws.

Israel as a Jewish state is anathema to Palestinian aspirations. Any Arab or Palestinian leader who promotes such compromise is taking his life in his hands. And Palestinian history will record him as a “traitor” who sold out to the Jews and surrendered to American and Israeli pressure.

Abbas and his Ramallah cohorts are already up at night worrying about the talking between Israel and some Arab countries, particularly Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states. Such “normalization”, in the view of the PA, is to be reserved for after Israel submits to its demands.

Any “regional solution” involving Arab countries would be doomed to fail because the Palestinians and their Arab brethren hate each other. Any solution offered by the Arab governments will always be regarded as an “American-Zionist dictate.”

Here is what Palestinians really want: to use the Europeans to impose a “solution” on Israel.

Here is a fundamental misapprehension: Arab countries can help achieve peace in the Middle East by persuading, or rather pressuring, the Palestinians to make concessions to Israel.

This misapprehension is both misleading and baseless.

Recently, officials in Israel and Washington started talking about a “regional approach” to solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In this view, as many Arab countries as possible would be directly involved in the effort to achieve a lasting and comprehensive peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. Advocates of the “regional approach” believe that Arab countries such as Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, Qatar and Saudi Arabia have enough leverage with the Palestinians to compel them accept a peace agreement with Israel.

The Palestinians, however, were quick to dismiss the idea as yet another American-Israeli-Arab “conspiracy to “liquidate” their cause and force them to make unacceptable concessions. Chief among these “unacceptable concessions” are recognizing Israel as a Jewish state and giving up the demand for a “right of return” for millions of Palestinian refugees into Israel.

What the recent Washington-Israeli notion misses is that Palestinians simply do not trust their Arab brothers. The Palestinians consider most of the Arab leaders and regimes as “puppets” in the hands of the US and its “Zionist” allies. Worse, Many Palestinians sometimes refer to Arab leaders and regimes as the “real enemies” of the Palestinians. They would rather have France, Sweden, Norway and Belgium oversee a peace process with Israel than any of the Arab countries.

In general, Palestinians have more confidence in Western countries than they do in their Arab brothers. That is why the Palestinian Authority (PA) headed by Mahmoud Abbas continues to insist on an international conference as its preferred method for achieving peace in the region and not a “regional approach” that would give Arab countries a major role in solving the conflict. Arab involvement in a peace process with Israel is, in fact, the last thing Abbas and other Palestinians want.

Hani al-Masr, a prominent Palestinian political analyst, echoed this skepticism concerning a potential role for Arab countries in the Middle East peace process. He, in fact, believes the Arabs want to help Israel “liquidate” the Palestinian cause.

He also predicted that the recent rapprochement between Israel and some Arab countries would embolden “all opposition and jihadist groups” that are fighting against the Arab regimes. According to al-Masri, it is not even clear that any Arab states, especially Israel’s neighbors, are keen on a “regional solution.” The Jordanians, for example, are worried that a “regional solution” would promote the idea of replacing the Hashemite kingdom with a Palestinian state.

Echoing this fear, former Jordanian Minister of Information Saleh al-Qallab denounced the talk of a “regional conference” as a “poisonous gift and conspiracy” against Jordan and the Palestinians.

The Egyptians, for their part, are worried that a “regional approach” would mean giving up land from Sinai to the Palestinians of the Gaza Strip — a highly unpopular idea in Egypt. The Egyptians have good reason to be worried: some Arab leaders and countries have expressed interest in this idea.

Likewise, the Lebanese are worried that a “regional solution” would force their country to grant full citizenship and equal rights to hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees living in that country. The Lebanese have for decades dreamed of the day they could rid themselves of the Palestinian refugee camps and their inhabitants, who have long been subjected to apartheid and discriminatory laws.

Another adjacent state, Syria, is far too preoccupied with own implosion to think about peace between the Palestinians and Israel. Besides, when have the Syrians ever expressed concern for the Palestinians? Since the beginning of the civil war five years ago, more than 3,400 Palestinians have been killed and thousands injured. In addition, more than 150,000 Palestinians have been forced to flee Syria to neighboring Arab countries or to Europe. The Syrian regime does not care about its own people, who are being massacred in large numbers on a daily basis. Why, then, might it be expected to care about Palestinians? It would be a Syrian nightmare to resettle Palestinians and grant them full rights and citizenship. Like most Arab countries, Syria just wants its Palestinians to disappear.

Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon and Syria are rather wary, then, about a “regional solution.” And no wonder: it poses a massive threat to their national security. So, which Arab countries would help to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Saudi Arabia? Qatar? Kuwait? Oman? Tunisia? Morocco? Really?

Israel as a Jewish state is anathema to Palestinian aspirations. No Arab leader in the world can persuade the Palestinians to give up the “right of return” for Palestinian refugees or accept a solution that allows Israel to retain control over certain parts of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Any Arab or Palestinian leader who promotes such compromise is taking his life in his hands. And Palestinian history will record him as a “traitor” who sold out to the Jews and surrendered to American and Israeli pressure.

Moreover, Abbas and the Palestinian Authority are far from interested in any Arab-Israeli rapprochement. Abbas and his Ramallah cohorts are already up at night worrying about the talking between Israel and some Arab countries, particularly Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states. This is “normalization” — plain and simple. Such “normalization”, in the view of the PA, is to be reserved for after Israel submits to its demands.

Abbas’s foreign minister, Riad al-Malki, made it clear this week that the Palestinians reject the idea of a “regional solution” that would give Arabs a role in the peace process. Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, he said, was mistaken to think that rapprochement between Israel and some Arab countries would produce anything good. Al-Malki denounced Netanyahu’s “regional approach” as a “twisted policy,” adding: “Netanyahu thinks that by establishing ties with Arab governments he could force the Palestinians to enter negotiations with Israel.” According to him, the Palestinians wish to see the Europeans, and not the Arabs, at their side when they “negotiate” with Israel.

The Palestinian foreign minister is saying that the Palestinians would rather have the Europeans in their court than their Arab brothers when it comes to trying to squeeze the life out of Israel. The Palestinians think that this is a better bet.

In any event, any “regional solution” involving Arab countries would be doomed to fail because the Palestinians and their Arab brethren hate each other. Moreover, even if Abbas were to accept terms dictated to him by such an alliance, his own people would reject them. Any solution offered by the Arab governments will always be regarded as an “American-Zionist dictate.”

Here is what Palestinians really want: to use the Europeans to impose a “solution” on Israel. That is why Abbas sticks to the idea of an international conference like a dog that holds for dear life onto his bone.

Claims that Relocating the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem Will Derail a Comatose Peace Process Ring Hollow – Amos Yadlin (Financial Times-UK)

The decision to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem would be a long-awaited recognition of Israel’s historic capital by its closest ally. Although the proposed relocation is accompanied by some risks, smart and co-operative diplomacy can mitigate the dangers.

Opponents of the proposal note that it risks obstructing the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, would cause the deterioration of Israel’s relations with its Arab neighbors, and could incite Muslim terror groups worldwide. But all these warnings are overblown. Claims that the embassy move will derail a peace process comatose for nearly a decade ring hollow.

The exact opposite might be true: the decision could prompt the Palestinians to re-evaluate their strategy of refusing direct negotiations, which has paralyzed the peace process.

Predictions of a looming intifada ignore reality: the Palestinians have little interest in escalating the conflict in light of the meager results that violence has achieved compared with the heavy toll it has taken.

Consultations between the U.S., Israel, Egypt and Jordan should clarify that relocating the U.S. embassy does not recognize Israeli sovereignty over the entire city of Jerusalem, nor does it affect Jordan’s role in administering – or Muslims’ access to – holy sites.

Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Amos Yadlin, former chief of Israeli military intelligence, heads Tel Aviv University’s Institute for National Security Studies.