+61 3 9272 5644

Credit: AFP

Latest News in Israel – 3rd January

Australian PM condemns ‘one-sided’ UN settlement resolution

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull broke with much of the international community on Friday, attacking last week’s United Nations Security Council Resolution as “one-sided” and “deeply unsettling.”

Turnbull, speaking at a menorah-lighting ceremony at Sydney’s Central Synagogue, said that “Australia stands with Israel. We support Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East,” The Australian Jewish News reported.

Turnbull’s comments come after his foreign minister said Thursday Australia would likely have voted against United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334, which condemned Israeli settlements.

The resolution determined that Israel’s establishment of settlements anywhere outside the pre-1967 lines “has no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law.” The resolution did not distinguish between the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

On Thursday, the British government, which voted for the resolution, criticized US Secretary of State John Kerry’s subsequent speech for focusing on Israeli settlements and commenting negatively on the makeup of the Israeli cabinet. A spokesman for Prime Minister Theresa May said it was inappropriate of Kerry to attack the makeup of the democratically elected Israeli government. “We do not … believe that the way to negotiate peace is by focusing on only one issue, in this case the construction of settlements, when clearly the conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians is so deeply complex,” the spokesman said. “And we do not believe that it is appropriate to attack the composition of the democratically elected government of an ally.” The British government, the spokesman added, “believes that negotiations will only succeed when they are conducted between the two parties supported by the international community.”

The Australian leader affirmed his country’s support for a peace deal between Israelis and Palestinians, which he said could only come about through direct negotiations between the parties, a stance Israel has repeatedly put forward.

“We support a peaceful resolution of the disputes between Israel and the Palestinians,” he said, according to The Australian Jewish News. “We support a two-state solution just as the government of Israel does.” But he said that any deal “can only be negotiated between the parties.”

However, he told worshipers at the candle-lighting that such a deal would not come as the result of UN involvement. “It is not assisted by one-sided resolutions made at the councils of the United Nations or anywhere else,” he said, “and that is why Australia has not, and does not, support one-sided resolutions.”

Turnbull emphasized Australia’s support for Israel. “Above all, we stand shoulder to shoulder with Israel in the fight against terrorists,” he said.

The prime minster’s comments follow Thursday’s announcement by Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, who said that Australia would likely have voted against the UN resolution.

Speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald, Bishop stressed that Canberra is not currently a member of the Security Council and therefore could not vote on the resolution. However, she added, “in voting at the UN, the Coalition government has consistently not supported one-sided resolutions targeting Israel.”

Bishop, known to be a staunch supporter of Israel, urged both Israelis and Palestinians to refrain from steps that damage the prospect for peace and to “resume direct negotiations for a two-state solution as soon as possible.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is set to visit Australia in the next few months.  (the Times of Israel)

Tony Abbott urges cut in $40m aid to Palestinian Authority

Former prime minister Tony ­Abbott has called for Australia to cut its $40 million-a-year aid budget to the Palestinian Authority while it “keeps paying pensions to terrorists and their families”.

Mr Abbott has recently returned from a visit to Israel where he met Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, visited the Palestinian territories and met Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah.

In an article to be published in The Spectator Australia today, Mr Abbott also canvasses Australia expressing its “unswerving support for Israel as the region’s only liberal, pluralist democracy” by considering following any move by the Trump administration to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Although Jerusalem is the national capital, all nations with diplomatic relations with Israel locate their embassies in Tel Aviv, the largest city.

This is because most nations do not formally recognise Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem, occupied after the Six-Day War in 1967.

Mr Abbott’s remarks reflect widespread sentiment in the Liberal Party of dismay at what is seen as a one-sided, anti-Israel resolution the US allowed to pass the UN Security Council, where it normally vetoes such votes.

Although Australia is not a member of the Security Council, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has made it clear Canberra opposes the resolution as passed.

In response to the resolution’s passage, Ms Bishop authorised comments to the effect that Australia did not support anti-Israel resolutions at the UN.

While not mentioning the resolution by name, it is clear Ms Bishop was referring to the recent vote, which branded all Israelis who live anywhere beyond the country’s pre-1967 borders, including those in the Jewish quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City, as illegal settlers.

Ms Bishop’s office pointed to similar resolutions that Australia voted against and the US always vetoed, when Australia was last in the Security Council in 2014. The Turnbull government has already taken tough action to restrict and scrutinise Australian aid to the Palestinian Authority.

Following allegations against World Vision that some of the money it was disbursing in Palestinian territories was going to the terrorist group, Hamas, Ms Bishop suspended all relevant funding to World Vision in August.

World Vision denies the alle­gations, which are currently before the courts in Israel.

In the five years up to 2015, Australia had provided $13 million to World Vision for activities in the Palestinian territories. In 2015-16, Canberra provided $42m aid to the Palestinian Authority channelled mainly through UN agencies and some NGOs, including Oxfam and CARE.

It is believed the figure has declined this year. In the review Ms Bishop ordered following the World Vision allegations, she also requested a thorough accounting of all Australian money going to the Palestinian territories to ensure it was being properly spent.

The political fallout from the Obama administration’s decision to reverse its previous position of vetoing one-sided anti-Israel resolutions continues. Diplomatic observers regard it as inconceivable now that Mr Netanyahu would go ahead with a planned visit to New Zealand, scheduled to take place in several weeks.

New Zealand, as a temporary member of the Security Council, co-sponsored the resolution.

New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully visited Israel in November and saw Mr Netan­yahu, but, according to sources, did not raise any possible Security Council resolution with him.

It is not at all clear how much New Zealand’s new Prime Minister, Bill English, knew about, or understood the significance of, the resolution before it was put to the Security Council.

US president-elect Donald Trump opposed the resolution, and had actively campaigned against it.

New Zealand’s active collaboration with the Obama administration in such a partisan action will damage its relations with the incoming Trump administration.  (the Australian)

Netanyahu, again opposing Kerry, says Palestinian issue ‘relatively marginal’ in Mideast

Nearly a week after 14 nations, including four permanent members of the UN Security Council, voted in favor of a resolution demanding Israel stop settlement activity in territory claimed by the Palestinians for a future state, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared Thursday that the Palestinian issue was relatively “marginal.”

Speaking at a graduation ceremony for Israeli Air Force pilots in the Hatzerim air force base a day after US Secretary of State John Kerry warned that Israel’s settlement enterprise was killing any chance of peace, Netanyahu said that “with all due respect to those who talk about the heart of the conflict in the Middle East,” the greatest and most genuine catastrophe affecting the region was “the scope of the destruction of [neighboring] states and cities, the mass slaughter of innocents, the endless flow of refugees to other continents” — a reference to the raging civil war in Syria — and not “our conflict with the Palestinians, which is a relatively marginal issue.”

The real issue, Netanyahu argued, is “the collapse of whole nations, of whole states in civil wars, and in the wars of radical Islam over the future of the Arab and Muslim world.”

“In just a few months in Syria, in Yemen and in [South] Sudan, more people were killed than in a hundred years of conflict [with] the Palestinians…[and these killings] have nothing to do with us,” he said, adding that “our hearts are with the innocent civilians suffering the evils of war.”

Without the State of Israel, Netanyahu said, developments in the Arab world over the past several years — revolutions and coups and violence — would have “swept through this land” too, and the Palestinians would have been affected.

“Israel is not a source of instability in the region,” the prime minister charged. “Israel is an anchor of stability and security in the region, it is a force preventing a further avalanche, and many in the world — and of course in the United States — understand this.”

In the same speech, Netanyahu also adopted a softer tone vis-a-vis the United States, however, touting the “strong” relationship between Israel and the US despite their differences of opinion. This came after nearly a week of lashing out daily at the Obama administration in the wake of its abstention on Friday’s anti-settlements resolution at the Security Council.

“I am grateful to the American people, to Congress and to the American government for defense aid to Israel, including the two F-35s we received,” he said.

“The alliance between our countries is strong, even when there are disagreements between us. I look forward to working with the new administration to further strengthen the security of the two nations,” Netanyahu said.

His comments also came a day after he lambasted Kerry for what he called a “skewed” speech on the Middle East peace process, laying out principles for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  (the Times of Israel)

Attempted stabbing attack thwarted near Jerusalem

A female terrorist attempted to stab Israeli soldiers at the Kalandia checkpoint near Jerusalem Friday morning.

She was neutralized and taken into custody by police.

A similar attack was also thwarted at the same checkpoint last week, and earlier in December, a different unidentified Palestinian woman was arrested the checkpoint, which separates Jerusalem from Ramallah, after driving her vehicle toward Border Police and then charging officers on foot with a knife.

According to Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld, the suspect drove her car in the wrong direction toward police guarding the checkpoint.

“The officers fired warning shots in the air, and the female terrorist exited her vehicle with a knife and charged them screaming ‘Allahu Akbar!,’” said Rosenfeld. “She was disarmed and arrested at the scene without being injured, and the area was temporary closed off.”   (Jerusalem Post)

Kerry speech will make peace with the Palestinians much harder

by Alan Dershowitz                The Jerusalem Post

http://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/Dershowitz-Kerry-speech-will-make-peace-with-the-Palestinians-much-harder-476951

What if the Secretary of State gave a policy speech and no one cared? Because Secretary Kerry’s speech came after its abstention on the Security Council vote, few in Israel will pay any attention to anything he said. Had the speech came before the abstention, there would have been some possibility of it influencing the debate within Israel. But following the US abstention, Kerry has lost all credibility with Israelis across the political spectrum.

This is why his speech wasn’t even aired live on Israeli TV.

The speech itself was as one-sided as the abstention.  It failed to mention the repeated offers from Israel to end the occupation and settlements, and to create a Palestinian state on the West Bank and Gaza: Arafat’s rejection of the Clinton-Barak proposals in 2000-2001: and Abbas’ failure to respond to the Olmert offer in 2008. To fail to mention these important points is to demonstrate the bias of the speaker.

Kerry also discussed the Palestinian refugees, without even mentioning the equal member of Jewish refugees from Arab and Muslim countries. If Palestinian refugees deserve compensation, why don’t Jewish refugees deserve the same?

Finally Kerry seemed to confirm that in his view any changes from the pre-1967 lines would not be recognized without mutual agreement. This means that the prayer plaza at the Western Wall, the access roads to Hebrew University and Hadassah Hospital on Mount Scopus, and the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem are now all illegally occupied. This is, of course, a non-starter for Israelis. It is also wrong as a matter of history and law. Jordan captured these historically Jewish areas in 1948 when all the surrounding Arab countries attacked the new Jewish nation in an attempt to destroy it. It’s illegal occupation and ethnic cleansing of Jews was accompanied by the destruction of synagogues, cemeteries, and schools, and the bringing in of Arab settlers to move into the Jewish homes. When Jordan attacked Israel again in 1967, Israel recaptured these Jewish areas and allowed Jews to return to them.  That is not an illegal occupation.  It is a liberation.

By failing to distinguish between settlement expansion deep into the West Bank and reclaiming historical Jewish areas in the heart of Jerusalem, Kerry made the same fundamental error that the Security Council resolution made. Moreover, equating Jewish Jerusalem with Amona and other Jewish settlements deep in the West Bank plays into the hands of Jewish hard right extremists who also believe there is no difference between Jerusalem and Judea-Samaria: both are equally part of the historic Jewish homeland. Kerry thinks they are equally illegal; the right wing extremists believe they are equally legal. Both wrongly believe they are equal.

Kerry’s one-sidedness was also evident in his failure to press the Palestinian leadership to accept Netanyahu’s open offer to begin negotiations immediately with no pre-conditions. Instead, he seemed to justify the Palestinian unwillingness to enter into negotiations now.

Kerry’s pessimism about the two-state solution poses the danger of a self-fulfilling prophecy. The existing settlements – even if expanded – do not pose any danger to the two-state solution, if the Palestinians really want their own state more than they want there not to be a Jewish state. A contiguous Palestinian state is certainly possible even if all the existing settlements were to remain. Israel proved that in Gaza when it dismantled every single Jewish settlement and evacuated every single Jew from the Gaza strip. It is simply a historical geographical and logical error to assume that continuing settlement building – whether one agrees with it or not, and I do not – dooms the two-state solution. To the contrary, settlement expansion is the consequence of Palestinian of the Palestinian refusal to accept repeated offers from Israeli governments to end the occupation and settlements in exchange for peace.

The primary barrier to the two-state solution remains the Palestinian unwillingness to accept the UN resolution of 1947 calling for two states for two peoples – the Jewish people and the Arab people. This means explicit recognition by Palestinians to accept Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people. Kerry did not sufficiently address this issue.

The most important point Kerry made is that the Obama administration will not unilaterally recognize a Palestinian state, without an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. He also implied that US will not push for any additional Security Council resolution. Kerry’s speech is therefore just that: a speech with little substance and no importance. It will be quickly forgotten along with the many other one-sided condemnations of Israel that litter the historical record.

Kerry would have done a real service to peace if he had pressed the Palestinian leadership to come to the negotiation table as hard as he pressed the Israeli leadership to end settlement expansions. But his one-sided presentation did not move the peace process forward. Let us hope it does not set it back too far. What a missed opportunity – a tragedy that could have been easily averted by a more balanced approach both at the Security Council and the Kerry speech.

I hope the Trump administration will understand, and act on, the reality that the real barrier to peace is the unwillingness of the Palestinian Authority to sit down and negotiate with Israel, with each side making painful compromises, and both sides agreeing to end the conflict once and for all.

Britain and Australia more supportive of Israel than Obama and Kerry

by Alan M. Dershowitz                The Gatestone Institute

https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/9686/britain-and-australia-more-supportive-of-israel

When the British Prime minster and the Australians foreign minister both criticize the Obama administration for being unfair to Israel, you can be sure that something is very wrong with what President Obama and Secretary Kerry have been doing. This is what Theresa May said:

“We do not believe that it is appropriate to attack the composition of the democratically elected government of an ally. [W]e are also clear that the settlements are far from the only problem in this conflict. In particular, the people of Israel deserve to live free from the threat of terrorism, with which they have had to cope for too long.”2

This is what Julie Bishop, the foreign minister of Australia, said in explaining why Australia would not have voted for the U.N. Security Council resolution:

“In voting at the UN, the [Australian] Coalition government has consistently not supported one-­‐sided resolutions targeting Israel.”

And these are only the public criticisms. In private several other countries have expressed dismay at the problems caused by the last minute moves of the lame duck Obama administration.

Initially, the New York Times failed to report these important international developments,

presumably because they disagree with them. Only after other media featured the British and Australian criticism did they decide to cover it. They did immediately report that the Jewish community – both in the United States and Israel – is divided between right-­‐wing Jews who oppose the Obama administration’s moves and liberal Jews who support them.3 This is simply fake news: Israel is not divided over the Security Council’s resolution and the Kerry speech. All Israeli leaders and the vast majority of its citizens opposed these developments. This is true even of the Israeli leftists and centrists who are critical of Israel’s settlement policies. The same is true with regard to American Jews, despite the New York Times reporting to the contrary. Many liberal Jews and non-­‐

Jews, including Senators Schumer, Blumenthal, Gillibrand, and Wyden have been vocally critical. So have numerous liberal congressmen and pundits.4 I certainly count myself as a liberal Democrat, who opposes Israel’s settlement policies, but who is strongly critical of the Obama/Kerry moves.

Only J Street -­‐-­‐ which carries Obama’s water -­‐-­‐ has expressed support, along with a few handfuls of hard-­‐left reform rabbis and professional Israel bashers, who the Times reporter quoted as if they were representative of the larger Jewish community.

In contrast to the relative uniformity of the Israel’s leaders and citizens in opposition to the Obama/Kerry initiatives, the Obama administration itself and the Democratic Party are divided.

Most who have expressed views have been critical, but we have not yet heard from several leading Democrats, especially Keith Ellison who is seeking the chairmanship of the DNC. This is an issue on which silence is not a virtue. It is important for all Democrats to stand up and be counted.

There is actually some good news growing out of the Kerry speech. Arab leaders have expressed support for his proposal, which would require the Palestinian Authority to recognize Israel as a Jewish state (or as I prefer to put it “the nation state of the Jewish people.”) Despite this implicit support for such recognition from Arab leaders, the Palestinian Authority adamantly persists in refusing to recognize Israel’s Jewish character.

This is the phony excuse Hanan Ashwari, the official spokesperson for the Palestinian Authority, gave for why it would be “against our principles” to recognize Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people:

If you want to give religion to states, then this is against our principles. I don’t recognize Islamic states. I don’t recognize Christian states. I don’t recognize Jewish states. A state is a state for all its citizens. It has to be Democratic, inclusive, tolerant, and has to be genuinely representative of all its people. You cannot give added value to any people because of their religion or ethnicity.”5

This statement may win the award for Ashwari as hypocrite of the year. The Palestinian Authority, which she officially represents, has the following in its Constitution:

“Islam is the official religion in Palestine…. The principles of Islamic Shari’a shall be the main source of legislation.”6

Moreover, the Palestinian Authority recognizes Iran, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan, which are all countries that define Islam as their state religion and discriminate against non-­‐believers in their particular brand of Islam.

Is Ashwari really saying that the principles of the Palestinian Authority require it to renounce their own Constitution and to withdraw recognition from all their Muslim allies? What about from Great Britain, which has an official state religion? If so, I challenge her to say that explicitly!

Israel is the only state in the Middle East that grants religious equality to all its citizens as a matter of law.7 Israeli Arabs enjoy more rights than do Arabs (let alone Jews) of any Arab state. They serve in all branches of government, including the Knesset and the Supreme Court. They have their own religious authorities recognized by the state.

Contrast this to the Palestinian leadership that has vowed that “not a single” Israeli Jew will be able to reside in the future Palestinian state.8 Furthermore Israeli Jews are banned from Palestinian universities and other institutions.9

So let’s have three cheers for Great Britain and Australia, a cheer and a half for Arab leaders, and a big raspberry for the hypocrisy of Hanan Ashwari and her Palestinian Authority.

Responding to Obama’s malicious betrayal of Israel

by Isi Leibler    The Jerusalem Post

http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Candidly-Speaking-Responding-to-Obamas-malicious-betrayal-of-Israel-476935

As predicted, on the eve of his retirement President Barack Obama betrayed Israel. The former long-standing congregant of the paranoid anti-Semitic pastor Rev. Jeremy Wright who has a penchant for supporting to the Muslim Brotherhood, broke with 40 years of US bipartisan policy of protecting the Jewish state from the wolves at the United Nations.

His action as a lame duck president was a last ditch effort aimed at undermining his successor’s intended policies, carried out with the understanding that it is virtually impossible to rescind a Security Council resolution. At the end of his eight years in office he exhibited an unprecedented abuse of power, knowing that in his last month he would be unaccountable, despite the fact that his vindictive initiative was totally opposed by Congress, the American people and by many members of his own party.

European countries represented on the Security Council voted in favor of this abominable Resolution 2334 which was essentially drafted and orchestrated by the US and ultimately initiated by New Zealand, a Western country whose foreign policy is largely determined by the extent that it promotes export of lamb. Its co-sponsors were the rogue states of Venezuela, Malaysia and Senegal.

The resolution, passed during the week that Aleppo was conquered by President Assad in the midst of brutal torture and massacres of thousands of innocent civilians, highlights the duplicity and hypocrisy of the United Nations, a body dominated by anti-Israel and rogue states, with democracies groveling in an effort to appease the dominant Muslim nations.

It will serve as an instrument for Israel’s adversaries to further promote boycott, divestment and sanctions, and the International Criminal Court will be encouraged to define Israel as a criminal state.

It officially nullifies the disastrous Oslo Accords, negates Security Council Resolution 242 and repudiates the concept of defensible borders. It paves the way for criminalizing all settlers, including those in the major blocs that will always remain part of Israel, and even Jews resident in Jewish neighborhoods of east Jerusalem. It actually defines the Old City of Jerusalem and the Kotel (Western Wall) as occupied Palestinian territory.

In this context the Palestinians will demand that any negotiations accept these bizarre territorial definitions as opening benchmarks – a status that no Israeli government would ever contemplate accepting. The UN resolution has effectively negated the concept of direct negotiations, thus ensuring that a peaceful solution to the conflict is more remote than ever.

In this poisonous anti-Israel international climate, we should not be influenced by the prophets of doom in our midst.

We are more powerful today than ever before and in the course of our history we have successfully overcome far greater threats to our existence than the United Nations. Now is a time for us to display unity and strength.

Despite the many initial concerns, we should thank the Almighty that the American people elected Donald Trump as president. Were we faced with a Clinton Democratic administration, which in all likelihood would retain Obama’s policies, we would be confronting a real nightmare.

In this context, if the proclaimed decision to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem is implemented it will send the world a powerful message. To his credit, Trump used all his weight as an incoming president in efforts to ward off the UN resolution, albeit unsuccessfully. He described the UN “just as a club for people to have a good time” and stressed that after January 20 “things at the UN will be different.” In the wake of his selection of pro-Israel David Friedman as ambassador to Israel he appointed another pro-Israel man from his team, Jason Greenblatt, as his point man for Middle East negotiations.

He also demonstratively refused to grant an audience to retiring UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

In light of these developments most of the mainstream US Jewish leaders who were in denial over eight years should share a deep sense of guilt and shame.

They remained silent as Obama treated Israel as a rogue state whilst he groveled to the ayatollah. They continued voting for him, and we now see how he repaid them. The only consistent critic was the indefatigable Morton Klein, head of the Zionist Organization of America, who has been more than vindicated.

Individual American Jews are free to express their personal political opinions in any manner they deem fit, but mainstream Jewish organizations are obliged to avoid activity which reflects political bias. The disgusting behavior of liberal mainstream leaders exploiting their positions to promote a partisan bias against Trump, including accusations of antisemitism against him and his co-workers before and during the elections, stands out as being utterly unethical and outrageous.

After the elections the Anti-Defamation League and the Conservative and Reform moment leaders all issued statements conveying their anguish and even mourning the results. Some of these publicly supported the election to the Democratic Party leadership of the Muslim extreme left-wing anti-Israeli congressman Keith Ellison whilst bitterly protesting Trump’s appointment of a pro-Israel ambassador. Others even protested that moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem would harm the peace process.

The climax was the almost comic but bizarre boycott by major liberal mainstream Jewish organizations of a Hanukka celebration in Washington co-hosted by the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations and the Azerbaijani Embassy, because it was being held in a Trump-owned hotel.

But now is the time for us to look forward and unite. This UN resolution was not just about settlements. It was designed to undermine the security of the state and pave the way for antisemitic boycotts and sanctions by those seeking Israel’s demise.

The resolution employing Obama’s malevolent views made no distinction between isolated outposts and settlements in outlying regions, and Jewish neighborhoods and suburbs of Jerusalem and the Western Wall.

Any Jew who endorses the view that Judaism’s most sacred site – formerly occupied by the Jordanians who denied Jews access – is occupied territory is reminiscent of medieval mosers (informers), who were ostracized from the religious and social life of the community. Those in J Street, the New Israel Fund and other far-left Jewish groups who consider Jewish districts of Jerusalem and Judaism’s holiest site to be “occupied territories” should be regarded as renegades and treated as such.

The immediate challenge is to encourage the Trump administration to salvage what it can from Obama’s betrayal of Israel.

There are grounds for hoping that when the extremism of this resolution is fully comprehended, some countries will have a change of heart. Besides, if current trends prevail, many European countries will follow the pattern of America and elect governments which will be far more pro-Israel than those appeasing the Muslims.

But above all, we must be optimistic that if president Trump will stand by his recent statements, Israel may enjoy the closest relationship it has ever had with the United States – which could more than compensate for the UN whose rogue actions have encouraged Trump to display open contempt for the body. This is relevant when taking into account that the US funds 22% of the UN budget.

Most important to note is that the moderate Sunni countries of Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states will be desperate to ally themselves with Trump and are hardly likely to do more than express formal protests if and when the US treats Israel as a genuine ally.

But for this to be effective, Israel must tread cautiously and not provoke the incoming administration by seeking to impose arrangements without consultation.

Naftali Bennett and other right-wing elements should be silenced and Prime Minister Netanyahu must be enabled to determine the attitude of the new administration. They should also realize that whilst there is close to a consensus for ultimately annexing the settlement blocs and creating defensible borders, most Israelis do not seek to affiliate Judea and Samaria in their entirety, because this would effectively lead to the demise of a Jewish state and its substitution by a binational state which would be swallowed up by the Arab world.

The recent statements and settlement policies certainly provided Obama with additional ammunition to justify his perfidious initiative.

But it is almost certain that he would have acted no differently had the government not been engaged in any public discussion, because his prime intent, since the day of his inauguration, has been to impose such a settlement on Israel.

The reality is that all political parties – other than the Joint List and Meretz – are no less opposed to this resolution than the government.

This is surely a time for all political parties to set aside parochial squabbles and act in the national interest by displaying strength and unity.

This will not be the first time that we overcame major challenges and emerged stronger than ever.

Despite this despicable UN resolution, the Trump administration could lead to major changes in the global arena which may have dramatic positive repercussions for Israel and so gives us cause to be confident and optimistic.

UN, Obama Further Radicalize Palestinians

by Khaled Abu Toameh                 The Gatestone Institute

https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/9675/un-obama-palestinians

Last week’s UN Security Council resolution sent the following message to the Palestinians: Forget about negotiating. Just pressure the international community to force Israel to surrender up all that you demand.

Abbas and his cronies are more belligerent and defiant than ever. They have chosen the path of confrontation, and not direct negotiations — to force Israel to its knees.

One of Abbas’s close associates hinted that the resolution should be regarded as a green light not only to boycott Israel, but also to use violence against it, to “bolster the popular resistance” against Israel — code for throwing stones and firebombs, and carrying out stabbing and car-ramming attacks against Israelis.

The resolution has also encouraged the Palestinians to pursue their narrative that Jews have no historical, religious or emotional attachment to Jerusalem or any other part of Israel.

The Gaza-based Hamas and Islamic Jihad see the resolution as another step toward their goal of replacing Israel with an Islamic empire. When Hamas talks about “resistance,” it means suicide bombings and rockets against Israel — it does not believe in “light” terrorism such as stones and stabbings.

The UN’s highly touted “victory,” is a purely Pyrrhic one, in fact a true defeat to the peace process and to the few Arabs and Muslims who still believe in the possibility of coexistence with Israel.

Buoyed by the latest United Nations Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlements as illegal, Palestinian leaders are now threatening to step up their diplomatic warfare against Israel — a move that is sure to sabotage any future effort to revive the moribund peace process. Other Palestinians, meanwhile, view the resolution as license to escalate “resistance” attacks on Israel. By “resistance,” of course, they mean terror attacks against Israel.

The UNSC resolution sent the following message to the Palestinians: Forget about negotiating with Israel. Just pressure the international community to force Israel to comply with the resolution and surrender up all that you demand.

Meanwhile, the Palestinians are not wasting any time by waiting for the international community to act against Israel on their behalf. Rather, they are thinking of ways of taking advantage of the UNSC vote to promote their campaign to isolate and delegitimize Israel, especially in the international arena. One thing is certain: Abbas and his Palestinian Authority cronies are not planning to return to the negotiating table with Israel. In fact, they are more belligerent, confrontational and defiant than ever.

In the days following the UNSC vote, the voices emerging from Ramallah and the Gaza Strip clearly indicate that Palestinians have put themselves on a collision course with Israel. This bodes badly for any peace process.

Earlier this week, Abbas convened the PLO Executive Committee — a decision-making body dominated by his loyalists — to discuss the implications of the new resolution. The declared purpose of the meeting: to discuss the decisions and strategy that the Palestinian leadership needs to take in the aftermath of the resolution.

The decisions announced following the PLO meeting are a clear sign of the new approach that Abbas and the Palestinian leadership have endorsed. The Palestinian leaders have chosen the path of confrontation, and not direct negotiations, with Israel. They see the UNSC resolution, particularly the US abstention, as a charge sheet against Israel that is to be leveraged in their diplomatic effort to force Israel to its knees.

The PLO decisions include, among other things, an appeal to the International Criminal Court (ICC) to launch an “immediate judicial investigation into Israeli colonial settlements on the land of the independent State of Palestine.” Another decision envisages asking Switzerland to convene a meeting to look into ways of forcing Israel to apply the Fourth Geneva Convention to the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem. The Geneva Convention, adopted in 1949, defines “humanitarian protections for civilians in a war zone.”

The appeal to the ICC and Switzerland is part of Abbas’s strategy to “internationalize” the conflict with Israel, by involving as many parties as possible. In this context, Abbas is hoping that the UNSC resolution will ensure the “success” of the upcoming French-initiated Middle East peace conference, which is slated to convene in Paris next month. For Abbas, the conference is another tool to isolate Israel in the international community, and depict it as a country that rejects peace with its Arab neighbors.

In addition, Abbas and his lieutenants in Ramallah are now seeking to exploit the UNSC resolution to promote boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel:

“The PLO Executive Committee renews its call to the world countries for a comprehensive and full boycott of Israeli colonialist settlements in all fields, as well as all companies working in or dealing with these settlements.”

One of Abbas’s close associates, Mohamed Shtayyeh, hinted that the UNSC resolution should be regarded as a green light not only to boycott Israel, but also to use violence against it. He said that this is the time to “bolster the popular resistance” against Israel. “Popular resistance” is code for throwing stones and petrol bombs and carrying out stabbing and car-ramming attacks against Israelis.

The UNSC resolution has also encouraged the Palestinians to pursue their narrative that Jews have no historical, religious or emotional attachment to Jerusalem, or any other part of Israel. Sheikh Ekrimah Sabri, a leading Palestinian Islamic cleric and preacher at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, was quick to declare that the Western Wall, the holiest Jewish site in Jerusalem, belongs only to Muslims. Referring to the wall by its Islamic name, Sheikh Sabri announced: “The Al-Buraq Wall is the western wall of the Al-Aqsa Mosque and Muslims cannot give it up.”

While Abbas and his Palestinian Authority consider the UNSC resolution a license to proceed with their diplomatic warfare to delegitimize and isolate Israel, Hamas and Islamic Jihad, the two groups that seek the elimination of Israel, are also celebrating. The two Gaza-based groups see the resolution as another step toward achieving their goal of replacing Israel with an Islamic empire. Leaders and spokesmen of Hamas and Islamic Jihad were among the first Palestinians to heap praise on the UNSC members who voted in favor of the resolution. They are also openly stating that the resolution authorizes them to step up the “resistance” against Israel in order to “liberate all of Palestine.”

“Resistance is the only means to end the settlements,” said a Hamas spokesman in the Gaza Strip. “We appreciate the position of those countries that voted against settlements.” He also seized the opportunity to renew Hamas’s demand that the Palestinian Authority stop all forms of cooperation with Israel, first and foremost security coordination.

When Hamas talks about “resistance,” it means launching suicide bombings and rockets against Israel. The Islamist movement does not believe in “light” terrorism such as stones and knife stabbings against Jews.

Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal, who is based in Qatar, reacted to the UNSC vote by saying that the world should now support his movement’s terror campaign against Israel:

“We want the world to stand with the Palestinian resistance because it is just… The armed resistance is the path to liberate Palestine and Jerusalem. Hamas is continuing to manufacture and smuggle weapons in preparation for a confrontation with Israel.”

Mashaal did not forget to praise the US Administration’s abstention as a “correction of some American policies.”

Islamic Jihad, for its part, characterized the UNSC resolution as a “victory” for the Palestinians, because it enables them to “isolate and boycott Israel” and file charges against it with international institutions. Daoud Shehab, one of the leaders of Islamic Jihad, added that the resolution means that Arabs should stop any effort to “normalize” relations with Israel or conduct security cooperation with it. The Arabs and Muslims should now work toward confronting and deterring Israel, he said.

Clearly, Hamas and Islamic Jihad see the UNSC resolution as a warning to all Arabs and Muslims against seeking any form of “normalization” with Israel. The two groups are referring to the Palestinian Authority, whose security forces continue to conduct security coordination with Israel in the West Bank, and to those Arab countries that have been rumored to be moving toward some form of rapprochement with Israel. The UN’s highly touted “victory” is a purely Pyrrhic one, in fact a true defeat to the peace process and to the few Arabs and Muslims who still believe in the possibility of coexistence with Israel.

Thus, the UNSC resolution already has had several consequences, none of which will enhance peace between Israelis and Palestinians. Apart from giving a green light to Palestinian groups that wish to destroy Israel, the resolution has prompted Abbas and the Palestinian Authority to toughen their stance, and appear to be more radical than the radicals.

Far from moving the region toward peace, the resolution has encouraged the Palestinians to move forward in two parallel paths — one toward a diplomatic confrontation with Israel in the international arena, and the other in increased terror attacks against its people. The coming weeks and months will witness mounting violence on the part of Palestinians toward Israelis — a harmful legacy of the Obama Administration.

Throwing Israel to the U.N.’s wolves

Obama encourages Israel’s enemies, including caliphate-builders, in a parting shot

by Clifford D May    The Washington Times

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2016/dec/27/obama-throwing-israel-to-the-uns-wolves/

Palestinian Islamic Jihad is, as its name suggests, an organization committed to jihad — against Israel most urgently, though not exclusively. So when the U.N. Security Council on Friday passed a resolution condemning Israel, PIJ spokesman Dawood Shihab was pleased. He called it a “victory.” He wasn’t wrong.

Nor was Fawzy Barhoum, a spokesman for Hamas, another organization openly committed to Israel’s extermination, as well as to “a jihadi revolution” that will be a “prelude to the establishment of the future Islamic caliphate.” He called the resolution an “important evolution in international positions.” He expressed Hamas‘ “appreciation.”

Most deserving of their gratitude is Barack Obama who decided to spend his last days in office playing golf in Hawaii and throwing America’s most reliable ally to the wolves at the U.N., an organization that exhibits passivity when it comes to the ongoing carnage in Syria, the genocide of Christians, Yazidis and other minorities in the broader Middle East, the conflict in Yemen, failing states — the list goes on and on.

The U.N. does, however, expend considerable energy railing against the world’s only Jewish state, a tiny democratic nation on the front lines of the war against radical Islam, a war the West is fighting in only the most desultory fashion. This year alone, the U.N. General Assembly passed 20 resolutions censuring Israel, compared to one against Iran and none against Saudi Arabia, Cuba, Venezuela and China. With assistance from President Obama, who instructed his ambassador not to veto Resolution 2334, the Security Council has now piled on as well.

For decades, Democrats and Republicans have agreed that it would be “unwise” to give the Security Council the responsibility “to attempt to resolve the core issues that divide Israelis and Palestinians.” Those words were spoken by Susan Rice, Mr. Obama’s first ambassador to the U.N., when, following his instructions in 2011, she blocked a similar resolution. But back then Mr. Obama still had one more presidential election to win so antagonizing Israel’s supporters may have seemed ill-advised.

Perhaps that’s unfair. Perhaps Mr. Obama sincerely believes that a two-state solution could be achieved if only Israel would withdraw from the “occupied territories.” If so, he’s ignoring both history and experience. Start with the fact that Arab, Muslim and Palestinian leaders first rejected a two-state solution back in 1948 — almost a generation before Israelis took possession of the West Bank and Gaza.

Obama’s Betrayal of Israel at the UN Must Not Stand

Editorial from the Bloomberg View

https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2016-12-27/obama-s-betrayal-of-israel-at-the-un-must-not-stand

President Barack Obama’s ill-advised decision to order the U.S. to abstain on a United Nations resolution condemning Israeli settlements breaks with past U.S. policy, undermines a vital ally and sets back the cause of Middle East peace. Yet it also offers Democrats and Republicans a chance to unite around a more realistic approach to resolving one of the world’s most intractable conflicts.

The resolution, passed last week, says Israeli settlements built on land occupied since the 1967 war have “no legal validity.” It thus brands the one-tenth of Israel’s Jews who live in East Jerusalem and the West Bank as residential outlaws, and could thereby strengthen the effort to sanction or boycott Israel, or even sue it in international bodies.

Previous U.S. administrations have vetoed such resolutions for just that reason, and for undermining the course of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. As Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer correctly noted in condemning the administration’s decision, the “fervently anti-Israel” UN is “the wrong forum” for Israel and the Palestinians to settle their differences.

By abandoning past U.S. practice, Obama is encouraging the Palestinians in their belief that they can leverage the UN in their effort to achieve statehood. If anything, his decision is a failure of diplomacy and is likely to backfire. It runs the risk of increasing domestic pressure on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, thereby fortifying his resolve to move ahead with settlements. Indeed, the wind is already blowing in this direction, with the Israeli government signaling Tuesday that it may escalate construction projects.

If the Palestinians want a lasting peace based on a two-state solution, they must accept that Israel, not the UN or the “international community,” is their negotiating partner. That means negotiating in good faith, not embracing empty resolutions that ignore agreements they have already reached to redraw Israel’s borders. It also means ending the “stabbing intifada,” condemning and fighting terrorism, and upholding their security obligations. Netanyahu, in turn, must be willing to uproot settlements that even Israeli law deems illegal, to trade land for peace, as Israel has done in the past, and to meet its security and economic obligations to Palestinians if they meet theirs.

The U.S., as the world’s only superpower, has already walked away from its responsibility to save hundreds of thousands of Syrian lives, and it permitted a refugee exodus that is destabilizing Europe and may lead to the end of the European Union. To walk away from an ally critical both to U.S. security and to that of Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates is ill-advised. To abandon a friend — a lawful, stable democracy with a dynamic, innovative, outward-looking economy — is inconceivable.

Fortunately, the bipartisan uproar sparked by Obama’s UN decision provides an opportunity for Democrats and Republicans to rally around a more constructive policy. They should start by agreeing to President-elect Donald Trump’s plans to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem — a step envisioned but never taken by presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. That would provide a powerful reaffirmation to Israel –- a nation born after the slaughter of six million Jews, and under siege since its birth — of the U.S.’s enduring commitment, and to the world of Israel’s right to exist. That reaffirmation, in turn, is essential in providing Israel with the confidence to move ahead with a two-state solution.

The U.S. will continue to play a crucial role in helping both sides choose the best way forward. In the choice between terror and peace, and democracy and repression, there can be no room for impartiality, let alone abstention.

Kerry’s Rage Against Israel – Editorial

John Kerry delivered a marathon speech Wednesday excoriating Israel. It’s not for lack of U.S. diplomacy that there is no peace. In 2000 then-President Bill Clinton brought Israeli and Palestinian leaders to Camp David to negotiate a final peace agreement, only to watch Palestinians walk away from an offer that would have granted them a state on nearly all of Gaza and the West Bank. That failure was followed by another Palestinian terror campaign.

Israelis remember that they elected leaders – Yitzhak Rabin in 1992, Ehud Barak in 1999, Ehud Olmert in 2006 – who made repeated peace overtures to the Palestinians, only to be met with violence and rejection. Israelis also remember that Netanyahu ordered a settlement freeze, and that also brought peace no closer.

The lesson is that Jewish settlements are not the main obstacle to peace. If they were, Gaza would be on its way to becoming the Costa Rica of the Mediterranean. The obstacle is Palestinian rejection of Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state in any borders. A Secretary of State who wishes to resolve the conflict could have started from that premise, while admonishing the Palestinians that they will never get a state so long as its primary purpose is the destruction of its neighbor. (Wall Street Journal)