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Latest News in Israel – 9th January

4 killed as terrorist plows truck into troops in Jerusalem

A truck rammed into a group of soldiers on a promenade in the Armon Hanatziv neighborhood of Jerusalem, killing at least four of them, in a vehicle-ramming attack on Sunday afternoon, police said.

Police chief Roni Alsheich called the incident a vehicular terror attack.

The soldiers were getting off a bus at the promenade, a popular tourist spot in southern Jerusalem, when a large flatbed truck ran into them.

At least 16 more people were injured, two of them very seriously, according to Jerusalem hospitals.

The four soldiers — three women and one man — who died were in their 20s, the Magen David Adom rescue service said.

Eyewitnesses said that after the driver hit the soldiers with his truck, he put the vehicle in reverse and ran over them a second time.

Footage of the incident taken from a security camera showed the truck run into the group of soldiers as they stood next to a bus. The driver then attempts to turn the truck around and run over the group again as people scramble for cover.

The driver of the vehicle was shot by both soldiers and by a civilian guide, police said. He died of his wounds.

“In a fraction of a second during which I was speaking with one of the officers, I saw the truck plowing into us. After a few rolls on the grass I saw the truck start to reverse and then I already understood that this was not an accident. I felt that my pistol was still on me, so I ran up to him and started emptying my clip. He went in reverse and again drove over the injured,” the guide, Eitan Rund, said.

Speaking to Israeli television, Rund questioned why soldiers hesitated, he said, before turning their own weapons on the driver. “I have to ask why it took a 30-year-old civilian to fire first,” he said, “when there were well-armed officers” present. He asserted that last week’s conviction for manslaughter of soldier Elor Azaria, who shot dead a disarmed, injured Palestinian assailant, was “definitely” a factor in the ostensible hesitation.

An initial IDF inquiry showed at least two to three soldiers opened fire from close range, and are thought to be the ones who killed the terrorist.

Moshe Aharon, the driver of the bus, told Army Radio that “a group of soldiers was standing with their bags near the bus. I had just let them off. The truck drove into the group of soldiers, ran over them and kept going. The soldiers shot at the driver. He reversed and ran over them again.”

Leah Schreiber, one of the guides for the group of soldiers, told reporters that the driver had reversed and run over the bodies again.

“I was explaining about the view of Jerusalem. I saw soldiers shouting and screaming. Some of the soldiers started shooting. It took some time to kill [the driver] so he was able to reverse. The whole thing took maybe a minute and a half,” Schreiber said.

At first, it was not clear if this was an accident or a deliberate attack, but Schreiber said she “understood it was a terror attack when they started shooting at him.”

A number of victims were trapped under the truck after the incident, according to a Magen David Adom paramedic on the scene.

The soldiers were visiting the capital as part of the army’s “Culture Sundays,” in which troops are taken to important historical and national sites at the beginning of the week.

According to the Ben Zvi Institute, which led the trip for the army, the soldiers were cadets from the IDF’s officer’s training course, but from non-combat units.

The driver of the truck was identified as Fadi al-Qanbar, a resident of the capital’s Jabel Mukaber neighborhood, according to Arab media. The truck, with Israeli license plates, came from the direction of that neighborhood, which is adjacent to the promenade.

He was in his late 20s, married with four children, and had served time in Israeli jail, Channel 2 said. He bought the truck last year.

One seriously injured soldier was sent to Shaare Zedek hospital. She was unconscious and doctors were attempting to stabilize her condition, a spokesperson for the hospital said.

Another four victims who were lightly injured were also sent to Shaare Zedek, the hospital said.

Nine victims were sent to Hadassah Hospital Ein Kerem, one in serious condition, two in moderate condition and six lightly wounded.

Two victims who were lightly injured were sent to Hadassah Hospital Mt. Scopus, the hospital said.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility but the Hamas terror group praised the attack as “heroic.”

Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem lauded the attack on his Facebook page, saying, “These operations demonstrate that all attempts to bypass the resistance or to thwart it will fail every time.”

Palestinian assailants have used vehicle rammings as a method for terror attacks for years, and the method seemed to have been adopted by European jihadists in recent months, including in an attack in Berlin last month that left 12 dead, including an Israeli woman.

Less than an hour after the attack, a Jerusalem court imposed a gag order on the investigation.

The Haas-Sherover Promenade promenade is a southern location that offers a panoramic view over Jerusalem and the Old City. In May, two elderly women were stabbed and moderately injured in a park below the promenade in what police said was a terror attack.  (the Times of Israel)

IDF names victims of Jerusalem terror attack

All victims below the age of 22, three women, one man.


The victims of the Jerusalem terror attack

The IDF cleared for release the names of the four soldiers killed in Sunday’s deadly vehicular ramming attack in Jerusalem.

The soldiers were identified as 20 year-old Lt.Yael Yekutiel of Givatayim; 22 year-old cadet Shir Hajaj of Maale Adumim who was posthumously promoted to lieutenant; 20 year-old cadet Shira Tzur of Haifa, posthumously promoted to second lieutenant; and 20 year-old Erez Averbuch of the West Bank settlement of Alon Shvut, posthumously promoted to rank of second lieutenant. (Jerusalem Post)

Netanyahu thanks US Congress for opposition to UN resolution

Watch the video clip:

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu addressed members of the United States House of Representatives in a video statement Friday afternoon, thanking them for their support of Israel in the face of the anti-Israel resolution adopted by the United Nations Security Council in December.

“After the outrageous anti-Israel resolution at the UN, the US House of Representatives voted yesterday resoundingly to support Israel and reject this one-sided resolution.

“Democrats and Republicans alike know that the Western Wall isn’t occupied territory.

They voted to either repeal the resolution at the UN or change it—and that’s exactly what we intend to do.

“I want to thank the US House of Representatives which reflects the tremendous support Israel enjoys among the American people. Thank you, America. Thank you, Congress.”

On Thursday the Republican-controlled House voted 342-80 to rebuke the UN for Resolution 2334, calling upon the White House to veto future UN Security Council measures which seek to impose solutions to final status issues, or are one-sided and anti-Israel.” (Arutz Sheva)

Israeli satellite spots launchers for Russian nuclear-capable missiles in Syria


ImageSat photos show advanced ‘Iskander’ launchers, which can carry missiles up to 500 kms., at Latakia airbase

Russia has placed advanced surface-to-surface ballistic missiles in Syria, according to an Israelli satellite imaging company, which published satellite photos of the missile-launchers on Friday.

ImageSat International said its EROS B satellite captured photos of two vehicle-mounted SS-26 “Iskander” missile launchers in northern Syria. The launchers are located in the Syrian army’s Latakia airbase. Two other launchers had also been spotted at the base, it said.

The Iskander is a mid-range missile capable of carrying nuclear warheads, with a range of 400-500 kilometers.

According to the Ynet news website, Russia has previously considered providing Iskander missiles to the Syrian President Bashar Assad, but has refrained from doing so due to Israeli concerns. The weaponry seen in the newly released photos is apparently controlled by Russian forces operating in Syria, and has not been handed over to Assad’s forces.

“This revelation approves [sic] several unconfirmed reports of the Iskander presence in Syria and uncovers the system’s deployment site,” ImageSat said.

It added that according to its assessments, the launchers were “routinely deployed under camouflage nets at a nearby unpaved compound. Most probably, heavy rain and floods forced the redeployment of those two elements to the location in which they were revealed by iSi analysts.”

The Ynet report said Israel is worried that the weaponry could fall into the hands of Lebanese Shiite terrorist group Hezbollah, which is fighting alongside Russian and Syrian regime forces, and is committed to destroying Israel.

On Friday Russia’s military said it has begun scaling down its deployment to Syria, with Moscow’s sole aircraft carrier set to be the first to quit the conflict zone.

“In accordance with the decision of the supreme commander of the Russian armed forces Vladimir Putin, the Russian Defense Ministry is beginning the reduction of the armed deployment to Syria,” Russian news agencies quoted military chief Valery Gerasimov as saying.

Gerasimov said that a naval group headed by aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov would be the first to leave the area.

Russia’s main commander in Syria Andrei Kartapolov said that Russia still had sufficient air defense capabilities in Syria thanks to its S-300 and S-400 systems deployed in the war-torn country.

Since September 2015, Russia had boosted its firepower on land in Syria and off the coast in the Mediterranean in support of regime forces targeting the second city of Aleppo.

Troops loyal to Russia’s ally Bashar Assad finally ousted rebels from the city last month in their biggest victory in more than five years of fighting, paving the way for the Kremlin to launch a fresh push for a political solution to the conflict.

Russian President Putin ordered a reduction in his forces in Syria on December 29, as he announced a ceasefire between government and rebel forces that has since dampened down the fighting.

Russia, along with Turkey and Iran, are currently pushing for peace talks to be held later this month in the capital of Kazakhstan, Astana.

Moscow launched its bombing campaign in Syria in September 2015, helping to turn the tide in favor of Assad’s ailing forces.  (the Times of Israel)

Israel to cut 6 million dollars in UN funding after anti-settlement resolution

Israel will suspend a significant portion of its annual contributions to the United Nations for 2017 in the aftermath of Security Council resolution 2334 condemning Israeli settlement activity, the Israeli mission to the UN informed the international body on Friday.

The cut, amounting to some six million dollars, is described as “an act of protest” and symbolically represents the portion of the UN budget allocated to anti-Israel bodies including: The Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People; The Division for Palestinian Rights;  The Work of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices; and Special Information Programme on the Question of Palestine of the UN Department of Public Information.

“It is unreasonable for Israel to fund bodies that operate against us at the UN,” Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon said in a statement. “The UN must end the absurd reality in which it supports bodies whose sole intent is to spread incitement and anti-Israel propaganda.”

According to Danon, “now is the time to implement real change at the UN.” He added that Israel seeks to “stop the practice where the UN is used solely as a forum for unending attacks against Israel” by encouraging structural changes.

The Ambassador further explained that the suspension of Israel’s funding is “only the first in a series of steps under consideration by the Foreign Ministry and the Israeli Mission in reaction to the recent Security Council resolution.”

Such steps, he said, will be undertaken once the new US administration takes office on January 20th.

The Security Council anti-settlement resolution passed last month has sent Israel’s relations with the international community into a turmoil.

Since the resolution passed, Netanyahu has been criticized for his aggressive response to the vote, which included accusing Washington of organizing and advancing the resolution; recalling Israel’s ambassadors to Senegal and New Zealand; summoning the ambassadors of all the UN Security Council states; and calling on ministers to curtail visits to the 14 countries that voted for the measure. (Jerusalem Post)

Employment continues to be main struggle for immigrants, poll finds

Finding suitable employment in Israel continues to be a major struggle for olim (new immigrants), according to a poll released Thursday by the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, an organization which assists olim from various countries around the world, particularly from France and Ukraine.

Immigrants from France and the Former Soviet Union – both of which are major sources of aliya – were the subjects of the poll. The survey was conducted by research institute Geocartography, using a sample of 277 people above the age of 18, all of whom made aliya with the help of IFCJ in the past two years. The purpose of the survey was to examine the status of new olim and their satisfaction with the absorption process.

Across both groups of olim, few of them have found what they deem suitable employment in their new country.

In answer to the question “To what degree do you feel you have found suitable employment?” 47.3% of the respondents answered “not at all,” while 7.6% said “to a small degree” and 23.5% said “to a moderate degree.” Only 13.4% said they had, to a large extent, found fitting work.

The issue of employment is one that has been raised repeatedly with regard to olim, and has been flagged as a source of particular frustration for French immigrants, where certifications in some fields are not recognized in Israel. The issue has been addressed by the authorities and while some progress has been made for certain professions, the issue is not yet resolved for others.

Regarding their economic status, 68% of French-speaking olim surveyed reported their current situation as “average,” 11% as “bad” or “very bad” and 21% as “good” or “very good.” Meanwhile, 38% of Russian-speaking olim surveyed described their status as “pretty good” or “very good,” 49.8% as “average” and 11.9% as “bad.”

Overall, most olim appear to be satisfied with their lives in Israel. A large majority (89.9%) would not change their decision to make aliya, given the chance to go back in time. Moreover, with no difference with respect to the country of origin, over 80% of the olim characterize their absorption experience as “good.”

Language difficulties was listed as the most common problem for those who answered that they had a poor absorption experience (17.3%). Next was difficulty in receiving assistance from the healthcare system as well as housing problems, followed by economic difficulties and trouble finding work.

“In a globalized world where families can choose between making aliya to Israel or immigrating to other countries, Israel has to stand out among the alternatives to ensure that new olim will achieve successful lives for themselves and their families,” said Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, The founder and president of IFCJ, which offers specialized services tailored to immigrants’ countries of origin, such as financial aid to Ukrainian olim escaping civil conflict and housing assistance to French Jews who’ve identified that need.

“Israel must do everything in its power to ensure that olim attain proper employment and find a tolerant, supportive and accessible environment,” Eckstein added. “For this reason, The Fellowship is working hard to contribute to this important goal and we are happy to see Israel’s absorption minister, Sofa Landver, doing the same. We expect Israel’s other ministers will join us in supporting olim in all aspects of life.”

The survey was conducted during the second week of December 2016, via phone interviews, using a computerized survey system. The margin of error is +-5.8%.  (Jerusalem Post)

Israel and the Trump administration

by Isi Leibler    The Jerusalem Post


In just two weeks, a new U.S. administration will enter the White House. It may well prove to be a turning point for Israel, reversing the tide of global hostility of the last eight years in which the outgoing administration regarded us diplomatically as a rogue state rather than as an ally.

President-elect Donald Trump is regarded by many observers as a volatile personality, unpredictable and capable of reversing his opinions.

Aside from one comment made early in his campaign about Israel having to pay its own way, Trump and his spokesmen — both during and after the election — have sent extraordinarily positive signals to Israel. He personally intervened, albeit unsuccessfully, to prevent President Barack Obama’s betrayal of Israel at the U.N. Security Council. While he cannot rescind the iniquitous Resolution 2334, he did undertake to ensure that under his administration, Israel would be treated as a genuine ally of the U.S.

He has conveyed other unequivocally positive messages. His designated ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, is an outspoken proud Zionist Jew, as is his point man for Middle East negotiations, Jason Greenblatt. Trump has made it clear that he does not believe that settlements represent the cause for the breakdown in peace negotiations, and he seems determined to transfer the U.S. embassy to Israel’s capital, Jerusalem.

It should also be noted that Trump has more positive contacts with Jews than any former American president. Moreover, his daughter converted and married Jared Kushner, an Orthodox Jew who maintains a religiously observant lifestyle and is one of his key advisers.

What gives us grounds for optimism is the fact that, whatever divisions may emerge between the Trump administration and the Republicans who dominate both the Senate and the House of Representatives, they are all in accord in their desire to commence a new chapter in U.S.-Israel relations wherein the Jewish state will be treated as a genuine partner.

In this context, Trump’s personal invitation to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to attend his inauguration ceremony reflects yet another expression of endearment.

If Trump moves in this direction, it is likely to have a major influence on the manner in which other governments behave toward Israel and may, to some extent, mitigate the damage of the Security Council resolution.

The remarkable reversal of the U.K., first endorsing and according to some reports, drafting the U.N. Resolution at the behest of the Obama administration, and then berating Secretary of State John Kerry’s speech, already reflects this trend. The Australians, to their credit, condemned the U.N. Security Council Resolution from the outset.

There may even be similar movements from a number of European governments, some of which were undoubtedly embarrassed when the bias and double standards in their efforts at political correctness were revealed.

The Trump administration will undoubtedly also strengthen conservative forces which are almost all more pro-Israel than the incumbents.

Under such circumstances, the Palestinians are likely to discover that Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states — other than paying lip service to mollify domestic pressures — are unlikely to confront a Trump administration to defend their irrational and inflexible demands.

The real enigma is Russia’s President Vladimir Putin. It is ironic that the Russian foreign minister attempted to defer the Security Council vote and then actually vetoed efforts to incorporate Kerry’s speech as Quartet policy. He also made it clear that Russia believed negotiations for peace could only be achieved through direct negotiations between the parties without preconditions – a direct repudiation of the Security Council resolution. Meanwhile, despite the delicate nature of the issues, Netanyahu has been engaged in numerous intimate discussions with Putin concerning Syria, border security and Middle East affairs.

Whether Netanyahu will be enabled to maintain this relationship will clearly depend on whether Trump succeeds in his current objective of developing a good relationship with Russia.

If he succeeds, a joint US-Russian initiative could deter Iran and Hezbollah from aggression against Israel. But likewise, they could also be tempted to collude to impose a settlement that may not be in Israel’s interests.

And so there is a very real hope that if the Trump administration marches in this direction, the year 2017 will witness dramatic, almost revolutionary changes as new political leaders will emerge who are no longer willing to appease Islamic extremists and have tired of political correctness and the chaos largely inflicted because of Obama’s distorted world vision. Many may gravitate toward Trump in the hope that he will initiate a new world order. This could have significant positive repercussions for Israel.

That is why it is important for Israel to demonstrate unity and restraint. The tone of our relationship with the new administration will be determined over the next few months and thus it is imperative to obtain consensus on the critical issues confronting us over the next few years because we now have a unique opportunity of persuading the new administration and the pro-Israeli Congress to institutionalize our core requirements. If we do not achieve this, we could be facing a Democratic regime in four years’ time, headed by anti-Israeli elements such as Bernie Sanders and Keith Ellison.

At such a crucial time, cabinet responsibility should be implemented as in any democratic country. Ministers behaving like shadow prime ministers and making imperious policy statements on settlements and annexation in order to curry votes should shut up or go into opposition. The time to debate the merits of annexations and building settlements outside the major settlement blocs is only after the critical issues have been resolved.

Yair Lapid has emerged as a credible centrist leader and shares similar views to the prime minister. Ideally, he should join Netanyahu and act as his foreign minister. However, that is unlikely to happen. But he should at least offer Netanyahu a safety net if extreme right-wing elements seek to undermine his efforts by reverting to demands for Greater Israel.

Netanyahu must consult Trump privately and seek to obtain his support on the following core issues:

A reaffirmed commitment to President George W. Bush’s April 2004 letter in which he agreed that the 1949 armistice lines could not serve as the new borders and that the U.S. would recognize the demographic changes justifying Israel retention of the settlement blocs. Bush made this commitment in recognition of Sharon’s Gaza disengagement. It was unilaterally rescinded by Obama.

Formal U.S. endorsement to annex the major settlement blocs, which, prior to Resolution 2334, all parties acknowledged would always remain part of Israel in a final settlement.

Recognition of the annexation of the Golan Heights.

Assurance that the U.S. exerts pressure on Iran. If Trump achieves détente with the Russians, Netanyahu’s excellent relationship with Putin could also be leveraged to deter Iran and Hezbollah from stoking the fire against Israel.

Promotion of America’s global position in an effort to neutralize the double standards and bias against Israel at the U.N.

Finally, he should emphasize that while the majority of Israelis remain adamant that they do not want to annex another 3 million Arabs and wish to separate from the Palestinians, a two-state policy, as originally conceived, is now not even on the horizon. The U.N. Security Council resolution that Obama facilitated has empowered the radical Palestinian leaders, reinforcing their delusion that Israel is doomed to destruction in stages and that the Jews will follow in the footpath of the Crusaders.

Netanyahu would be well advised to consult with his experts. In lieu of repeating the empty mantra of supporting a two-state policy or the status quo, he needs to develop an alternative policy for separation which may involve ceding control over areas to the Jordanians and Egyptians.

Trump’s attitude toward Israel still remains an issue of considerable conjecture. Besides, initially he will be concentrating on domestic affairs. However, if Netanyahu succeeds in establishing a productive relationship with him, 2017 may be a positive turning point for Israel and our prime minister will emerge as one of Israel’s greatest leaders.

Block to Israeli-Palestinian peace remains the same as in 1967

by Gerard Henderson                The Australian


The year 2017, like its predecessor, seems destined to be one of memorable anniversaries.

There are centenaries such as the Third Battle of Ypres on the Western Front, along with the Russian Revolution of November 1917 in which Vladimir Lenin and the Bolsheviks came to power.

But first there is the 50th anniversary of the Six-Day War.

The UN Security Council’s Resolution 2334, carried on Dec­ember 23 with the US abstaining, is related to the Arab-Israeli War that ran between June 5 and June 10, 1967.

The resolution condemns “all measures aimed at altering the demographic composi­tion, char­acter and status of the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem”.

Australia appears to be the only Western democracy to indicate that it does not agree with the passing of the resolution. New Zealand was one of the sponsors of the motion.

In fact, there was no such entity as a “Palestinian Territory” in 1967. Following the creation of the State of Israel by the UN in 1948, the land between Israel and the Jordan River was controlled by Jordan. Jordan did not give independence to Palestinians before the Six-Day War. Large parts of the West Bank are administered by the Palestinian Authority.

Like many monumental events, the history of the Six-Day War is contested.

The conflict is well summarised, in a balanced way, by Eugene Rogan in The Arabs: A History. The Arab nations at the time did not recognise Israel’s right to exist, referring to the nation merely as the “Zionist entity”.

In 1967, Egypt’s leader Gamal Abdel Nasser decided to amass forces in the Sinai near the Israeli border. Subsequently Egypt closed the Strait of Tiran to oil tankers, plus all Israeli shipping, bound for Eilat. This was interpreted by Israel as an act of war and it moved against Egypt and its allies in a pre-emptive strike.

In a stunning military victory, Israel took the Sinai Peninsula and the Gaza Strip from Egypt plus the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) from Jordan along with the Golan Heights from Syria. In the early 1980s, Israel completely withdrew from the Sinai and in 2005 unilaterally moved out of the Gaza Strip.

Resolution 2334 effectively calls for the restoration of Israel’s boundaries as they were on June 4, 1967. This would require Israel to relinquish all of East Jerusalem, including the historic Jewish quarter of the Old City and the Western Wall, which is regarded by Jews as Judaism’s holiest place.

Moreover, as anyone familiar with the topology of the area well understands, it is far from clear that Israel is defendable on its 1967 borders. The Security Council Resolution 242, passed in 1967, envisaged that any peace settlement that led to a two-state solution, namely the State of Israel and a Palestinian state, would involve land swaps between the established nation and any newly established nation.

For years, the left-wing academics who dominate the social science departments in Australian universities have called for Australia to adopt an independent foreign policy. By this they mean that Australia should be independent of our traditional allies the US and Britain.

Right now, Australia has never been more independent in so far as foreign policy is concerned.

Malcolm Turnbull and Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop have indicated that Australia would not have supported Resolution 2334 if it had been on the Security Council. As Bishop put it, “In voting at the UN, the Coalition government has consistently not supported one-sided resolutions targeting Israel.”

Fair enough. But this puts Australia at odds not only with Britain (which supported the motion) but also the US.

Needless to say, such a stance has not won the Turnbull government much appreciation among the left intelligentsia. For example, on ABC’s News Breakfast program on Tuesday, Deakin University senior lecturer Scott Burchill criticised Australia for defying what he termed “the international consensus” on this issue.

Certainly the US’s Middle East policy will change when Donald Trump succeeds Barack Obama as president on January 20. However, it is likely that the Turnbull government’s approach would have been the same if Hillary Clinton had prevailed last November.

Australia’s position that Israelis have a right to live within secure borders goes all the way back to Ben Chifley’s Labor government, which was in office in 1948 when Israel came into existence. It has been the policy of prime ministers such as Robert Menzies, Malcolm Fraser, Bob Hawke, Kevin Rudd, Julia Gillard and John Howard.

Former prime minister Tony Abbott created some attention when, in an article in The Spectator Australia, he was seen by some as supporting Trump’s commitment that the US will move its embassy from Tel Aviv (inside Israel’s 1967 borders) to Jerusalem.

Presumably the president-elect meant West Jerusalem (which is also within Israel’s 1967 borders).

In fact, Abbott’s position is more nuanced than has been reported. He wrote that a way “for Australia to demonstrate its unswerving support for Israel, as the Middle East’s only liberal, pluralist democracy, might be to join any move by the Trump administration to move its embassy to Jerusalem”. That’s all.

It’s possible, in this instance, Trump will do as he says. However, there is a long list of contemporary American leaders who have made such a commitment at various stages of their car­eers, including Bill Clinton, ­George W. Bush, Hillary Clinton, and John McCain. Even Barack Obama acknowledged in 2008 that Jerusalem was the capital of Israel.

As Muslim commentator Maajid Nawaz, who opposes Israeli settlements in the West Bank, wrote recently: “Israel is not the biggest problem in the Middle East by a long shot.” There is Iran, Syria and Libya along with the religious civil war between Sunni and Shia Muslims and more besides.

Resolution 2334 is likely to prove counter-productive in so far as the creation of a two-state solution is concerned since it will inflame Palestinian hopes and Israeli resistance. The essential block to peace between Israel and the relatively new entity the Palestinian Authority remains as it was a half-century ago: namely, the reluctance of many Arabs to acknowledge Israel’s right to exist.

Gerard Henderson is executive director of the Sydney Institute.