+61 3 9272 5644

Latest News in Israel – 27th March

Updates from Israel and the Jewish World

Compiled by Dr Ron Wiseman

Israel resumes Gaza strikes, code red siren sounds in southern Israel

Israel has reportedly resumed its strikes on Gaza late Tuesday night, while Hamas operatives left their stations and went into hiding.

At around midnight, the IDF reported that a rocket was shot from Gaza and code red sirens were heard as far as Ashkelon. The IDF is reporting that a rocket on its way to the Ashkelon industrial zone was intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system.

A day after Israel and Hamas seemed to be on the brink of a major conflict, there was uncertainty whether the relative quiet Tuesday would remain overnight.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who landed back in Israel in the late afternoon from Washington after cutting his trip short, met with senior security officials at the Kirya military headquarters in Tel Aviv shortly after addressing the AIPAC policy conference via a satellite connection.

“We responded with great force,” he said. “In the last 24 hours, the IDF destroyed major Hamas terrorist installations on a scale not seen since the end of the military operation in Gaza four years ago.”

At the same time as diplomatic efforts were taking place with the UN and Egypt acting as mediators between Israel and Hamas, the IDF said it was sending more troops to the Gaza border and approved the call-up of additional reserve forces.

The decision to send additional infantry and artillery battalions to the South was made following a situation assessment led by Netanyahu and IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi.

According to a senior government official, Israel has not agreed to a ceasefire, and the fighting could erupt at any time.

“There is no agreement on a ceasefire,” he said. “The fighting is liable to be renewed at any moment, and it was decided to reinforce forces and prepare for a continuation.”

Kochavi also approved completing the summoning of additional reserve soldiers and canceled the exchange of IDF battalions in multiple regions that had been scheduled for later this week.

On Tuesday evening, incoming rocket sirens were activated in the South. A projectile landed in an open field, causing neither injury nor damage.

Earlier in the evening the IDF began lifting roadblocks, and trains resumed their service in the South following a day of relative quiet on the southern front.

According to UN Special Coordinator to the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov, his team has been “working intensely with Egypt and all concerned parties to ensure that the situation does not spiral out of control.”

Speaking during a briefing to the UN Security Council, he added, “Nobody has an interest in a full military confrontation in Gaza.”

Islamic Jihad official Khader Habib said Netanyahu was refusing to admit that a ceasefire had been reached in order to appear as a strongman to Israelis.

“Netanyahu is trying to portray himself as a hero to his people, therefore he publicly denies the understanding reached with the Egyptians,” Habib said. “Resistance factions are committed to calm as long as the enemy abides by it.”

On Tuesday night, armed with signs and flags, about 100 Sderot residents gathered at the entrance to the city to protest what they called the government’s “non-policy” on rocket fire from Gaza.

The latest escalation between Hamas and Israel began Monday morning when a long-range J-80 missile launched from Rafah in the southern part of the Strip destroyed a civilian home 120 km. away in the central community of Mishmeret, wounding seven members of one family and a neighbor.

Terrorists fired over 60 rockets into the South and the IDF carried out hundreds of strikes in Gaza overnight.

Fighter jets, combat helicopters, tanks and naval vehicles struck on Tuesday morning additional terrorist targets in a military compound belonging to Hamas in Deir el-Balah in the central Gaza Strip, as well as a military compound belonging to Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Beit Lahiya, the IDF said.

IDF tanks and attack helicopters and naval vessels also targeted several Hamas posts.

“The Hamas terrorist organization is responsible for all the goings on in and out of the Gaza Strip. The IDF is determined to carry out the task of protecting the citizens of Israel and is prepared for various scenarios and intensifying its operations as necessary,” the army said.

Incoming rocket sirens blasted throughout Sderot and the regional councils of Eshkol, Hof Ashkelon and Sha’ar Hanegev, as at least 30 rockets were fired toward Israel between 10 p.m. Monday and 3:15 a.m Tuesday, after Hamas said it had accepted the Egyptian-brokered ceasefire, which would have begun at 10 p.m.

NEW RIGHT leader Naftali Bennett called on Netanyahu to convene a meeting of the cabinet and take action to “neutralize Hamas.”

“Israel cannot surrender to Hamas again,” Bennett said. “This is the 10th round in the past year. Hamas directly hit a family in the center of the country, shot dozens of rockets at the towns by the Gaza border and held 200,000 students, teachers and parents hostage at home today. We, on the other hand, shot at some empty buildings and didn’t even kill one terrorist.”

Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avigdor Liberman said this wasn’t a ceasefire but a total collapse of Israeli deterrence, damaging to the security of Israel’s citizens and a total loss of the sense of security.

“I will never be a partner to defeatist policies, which is why I resigned from the government several months ago,” he said.

MK Bezalel Smotrich of the Union of Right-Wing Parties said he doesn’t understand how someone who is a resident of the South could think of voting for Netanyahu after this.

“Netanyahu’s failed behavior can lead to the end of right-wing rule,” he said. “So whoever doesn’t have an option to vote for the Left, strengthen the real Right.”

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan told Army Radio on Tuesday morning that “rumors of a ceasefire are incorrect” and that Israel “will continue to exact a very heavy price from Hamas for its attacks on Israeli citizens.”

A home in Sderot suffered a direct hit by a rocket on Monday night but there were no injuries.

The Home Front Command published updated guidelines for residents in the Gaza border region Tuesday morning, restricting gatherings of more than 300 people in closed spaces across the Gaza border communities. Schools in the region, as well as in Ashkelon, Ofakim, Netivot and the regional councils of Bnei Shimon, Merhavim and Hof Ashkelon had also been canceled.

Israel began its retaliatory strikes at around 5:20 p.m., striking Hamas targets in Shati, Beit Hanoun, Shejaia and other locations throughout the Gaza Strip. The targets included military compounds, tunnel shafts that were used to transport weapons, military positions and rocket-launching positions.

Another target struck by Israeli jets was the offices of Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh in Gaza City’s Rimal neighborhood, as well as a building that served as an office for military meetings and as the headquarters of Hamas’s internal security forces.

The IDF said another target was a three-story building that served as Hamas’s “secret headquarters,” where terrorists belonging to the security and intelligence divisions of the organization were located.

“We don’t want war, but if Israel wants it then what should we do? We ask our factions to respond,” said Gaza City resident Mohammad Sayed, 40. “But we hope Egypt reaches a deal to end this.”

The Palestinian news agency WAFA reported that three Palestinians were wounded in the Israeli strikes and had been transported to al-Shifa Hospital for medical treatment.  (Jerusalem Post) Anna Ahronheim, Tovah Lazaroff, Herb Keinon

Hamas: Iran Was Behind Rocket Attack on Central Israel

A senior Hamas official reportedly has implicated Iran as the force behind the rocket attack into central Israel on Monday morning.

In that rocket attack from the Gaza Strip on the Israeli community of Mishmeret, seven people were hurt.

The Israel Hayom daily cites the senior Hamas figure as saying that Iran wanted such an attack to take place in order to hurt Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in his campaign for the April 9 Knesset election.

Tehran allegedly “went over the heads” of the leadership of Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, and ordered an Islamic Jihad cell to carry out the attack. “In Gaza, it is believed that Israel won’t launch a major operation in Gaza two weeks before the elections,” the official said, according to the report.

Hamas was said to be surprised when Israel did, in fact, respond with a series of airstrikes on Gaza, even after the terror group had relayed a message to the mediating Egyptians that it was prepared to cease attacks in an arrangement of “quiet in exchange for quiet.”

While senior officials in both Egypt and Gaza reportedly confirmed that Iran had ordered the attack, they are said to have asserted that the Hamas leadership was aware of the plans to fire a rocket deep into Israeli territory.

The senior Hamas official cited by Israel Hayom said that his organization does hope that more rocket fire at Israel will hurt Netanyahu’s chances of remaining prime minister after the upcoming Knesset election.  (United with Israel) Staff

Video of woman and dog overnight in bomb shelter goes viral

Einav Carmi, 25, a resident of Kibbutz Nir-Am – just a few kilometers from the Gaza border – took a short video of herself lying in bed with her dog overnight between Monday and Tuesday. In the video, Carmi is visibly crying as a loud boom sounds overhead. She lies in bed inside her home’s reinforced room, clutching her dog.  (Jerusalem Post)

Gaza escalation holds both promise and perils for Netanyahu

Never eager for war, the prime minister will do his best to avoid it and the potentially costly political fallout it could bring

by Sam Sokol                The Times of Israel

https://www.timesofisrael.com/gaza-escalation-holds-both-promise-and-perils-for-netanyahu/

Benjamin Netanyahu’s week had been carefully scripted: Less than one month away from Israeli elections, the prime minister was traveling to Washington, DC, to meet with US President Donald Trump. A friendly photo op would become even friendlier when Trump announced that he wanted to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

From there Netanyahu was going to speak to the annual conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, reminding viewers back home that he is the essential man in shepherding the vital US-Israel relationship.

And then the script changed.

By Tuesday, troops were massed along the Gaza border following an unexpected escalation that saw dozens of Hamas rockets rain down on Israeli towns, including one that destroyed a home near Netanya and injured seven.

And while a tense calm has descended on the region, Israeli news outlets have cited a senior official close to Netanyahu as saying that “there was no agreement over a cease-fire” and that the conflict was “not over.”

Some political pundits mused that the prime minister may have welcomed a limited conflict with the Palestinians as a way of shoring up his security credentials in a tough re-election race. His main rivals, the centrist Blue and White alliance, include three former IDF chiefs of staff among its leaders: Benny Gantz, Moshe Ya’alon and Gabi Ashkenazi.

Netanyahu has long positioned himself as the only leader who can provide Israel with the security its citizens so desperately crave. A recent survey of more than 1,000 Hebrew and Arabic speakers found that security was the top concern among Israelis, over employment, education and corruption. (Former Netanyahu staffer Mitchell Barak conducted the poll on behalf of the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung.)

Netanyahu has largely succeeded in turning this fact to his political advantage. Even the recent announcement that the country’s attorney general plans on indicting Netanyahu for corruption has not had the effect many of his detractors have wished. A Channel 12 poll released Sunday showed that even though Blue and White leads his Likud party by several seats, it will likely be unable to muster enough partners to form a ruling coalition in the 120-seat Knesset.

The prime minister “has only always run on the security ticket and the danger and fear ticket, and has convinced Israelis he’s the best and only guy when it comes to Israel’s security,” Barak, the pollster, told JTA. The “drama” of Netanyahu’s abrupt exit from Washington, DC — he flew home after meeting with Trump — in order to supervise Israel’s response showed Israelis that “he’s the commander in chief and in control and [they] can feel safe.”

Barak said that Netanyahu is very unlikely to order a ground incursion into Gaza because “Israelis can tolerate civilian casualties but can’t accept military casualties. It’s one of the few countries in the world where civilians do more to protect the soldiers than the soldiers do to protect the civilians.”

Despite his security bona fides, however, risking an escalation would be an extreme political risk for Netanyahu, said Yohanan Plesner, president of the Israel Democracy Institute.

“Traditionally we would say that a security escalation before elections would be good for the incumbent because it portrays him as someone in charge, and it would be good for the right because it raises security fears,” Plesner said. “However, it is unclear if the latest escalation would have such an effect.”

Netanyahu, who has been prime minister for a decade, is widely considered responsible for the current security situation “and the public at large is not satisfied with the way this policy is going,” Plesner said. In other words, focusing on the audacity of Hamas may be the last thing he needs right now.

Figures released Monday by the Israel Democracy Institute show that while 60 percent of the Israeli public thinks the Israel Defense Forces is dealing very well with maintaining security along the Gaza border, only 22% thought as highly of the government’s handling of the conflict. (Israelis trust the military more than civilian decision-makers as a rule.) And while nearly 70% of Israelis approved of Netanyahu’s decision not to launch a large-scale operation in Gaza in late 2018 in response to similar provocations, a Midgam poll conducted in November showed that nearly three-quarters of Israelis initially expressed disapproval of the prime minister’s handling of that escalation.

In other words, no one can predict how public attitudes will shift in times of conflict.

“There are a lot of different scenarios of how things can play out, and it’s very difficult to know where this can go,” political analyst and Jerusalem Post senior contributing editor Lahav Harkov said. “There’s no winning with Hamas. Nobody is satisfied at the end of one of these rounds of violence. I keep seeing these foreign press analyses that Bibi wants a war because it will bolster him. There’s no evidence that this has ever happened. Bibi is a status-quo person who is very cautious. People get frustrated. People are still talking and annoyed about the last cease-fire a few months ago.

“It’s really a lose-lose situation for Bibi.”

Netanyahu’s political opponents have certainly taken the opportunity to criticize his handling of the latest escalation. Gantz accused him of being weak on security and “paying protection to Hamas.” Labor leader Avi Gabbay said the prime minister, who doubles as the defense minister, wasn’t hitting Gaza hard enough to stop the attacks. Kulanu party head Moshe Kahlon called for a return to targeted killings of Hamas leaders.

“Some people are tweeting a lot of tripe about Netanyahu wanting to fight an ‘election war’ in Gaza,” Haaretz journalist Anshel Pfeffer tweeted.

“Bibi is totally aware once he cries havoc in Gaza the dogs can’t be leashed easily again. War on April 9 won’t bring him voters. Netanyahu doesn’t trust the IDF, certainly not its ground forces, to deliver the result he needs — a fast operation with minimal Israeli casualties. He only used large-scale ground forces once in 10 years, in 2014, and that was after being dragged in despite his wishes.”

And that is not the Netanyahu brand.

“Netanyahu’s biggest asset in this election is having kept the calm for a decade without giving the Palestinians concessions,” Pfeffer said. “Soldiers coming back in coffins will lose that asset. He’s in a lose-lose situation now after being shown up so many times recently by Hamas rockets.”

Meanwhile, the current escalation appears to have overshadowed the proclamation Trump signed Monday recognizing Israel’s authority over the Golan Heights, which was expected to burnish Netanyahu’s diplomatic credentials with voters.

Netanyahu expressed anger at the media for what he perceived to be their failure to headline an important event.

“That you haven’t covered this more than a minute is something you will be held to account for, but in the reckoning of history,” he told Israeli reporters in Washington, Globes reported.

On the other hand, the conflict has also pushed the latest developments in the corruption cases against the prime minister off the front page.

In sum, the timing of this week’s violence isn’t the political boon some pundits are making it out to be.

“We’re 2 1/2 weeks before an election and it’s hard to see any possible outcome that will be good for him,” Harkov said. “No matter what comes out of this, it will be very easy for opponents to criticize him and people won’t be happy.”

Considering the national interest in the forthcoming elections

Netanyahu was forced to promote an unholy union as a result of a dysfunctional political system

by Isi Leibler     The Jerusalem Post

https://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Candidly-Speaking-Considering-national-interest-in-the-elections-584788

Despite the high-pitched abuse being exchanged between principal contenders Likud and Blue and White, paradoxically, this election highlights the unity of the nation. There is barely a sentence in the political manifesto of Blue and White that differs materially from the policies of the current government. In fact, this election reflects the unprecedented consensus. The vast majority are in favor of separation from the Palestinians – if it could be achieved while retaining security – an option that is currently virtually impossible. In addition, most Israelis oppose the creation of an adjoining terrorist state, which could be a springboard for Iran to threaten Israel’s existence.

So what is this election about? The bottom line: Are we willing to accept Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for another term?

Netanyahu’s principal asset is that his opponents, Blue and White co-heads Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid, aside from their inexperience, are largely perceived as “nice” guys, but political lightweights lacking the ability to step into his shoes. Many Israelis who currently support Gantz are not enamored at the prospect of a rotating leadership that would put Lapid in the driver’s seat.

The small parties upon which Netanyahu will be relying to form a majority are also problematic. The biggest obstacle to Netanyahu’s reelection appears to be right-wing parties not passing the electoral threshold (3.25% of valid votes). Netanyahu’s role in convincing Bayit Yehudi to merge with the extremist Otzma Yehudit Party, headed by followers of the late Rabbi Meir Kahane, in order to avoid both parties falling below the minimum threshold, disgusted most Israelis, including many traditional Bayit Yehudi voters.

That Netanyahu was forced to promote such an unholy union is the result of a dysfunctional political system. The solution would be to adopt a second-party preference system whereby voters could elect a second party in the event their first choice does not pass the threshold. At the same time, also raise the threshold to 5% or even 10%, thus limiting the power of small sectarian parties to hold the balance of power and exert undue influence on government policies.

It is noteworthy that the High Court overturned the decision of the Central Elections Committee to disqualify the Arab parties that openly justified Palestinian terrorism and opposed a Jewish state. At the same time, the court intervened and barred Otzma Yehudit head Michael Ben-Ari from running for the Knesset, even though his candidacy was approved by the committee.

Although the High Court endorsed the position adopted by Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit, the clear bias of this ruling only serves to provide greater ammunition to those seeking to undermine the High Court’s standing. Amazingly, Gantz and Lapid foolishly praised the High Court decision, seemingly oblivious to the obvious double standards applied in the rulings.

Netanyahu sparked an upheaval when he warned that if the Right bloc does not obtain a clear majority, a Blue and White government could only be formed with the tacit support of the Arab parties. He described such a scenario as a catastrophe.

He was accused of racism, which under the current circumstances, is absurd. All the Arab parties support the elimination of Zionism. Some wish for the transformation of Israel into a state of all its citizens – a binational state that is a repudiation of Israel as a Jewish state. Others are even more radical, excusing terrorism and identifying with our adversaries in what could be considered treason.

It is therefore totally legitimate for Netanyahu to highlight the fact that voters face the alternative of a Netanyahu government or a Gantz government that necessitates the tacit support of at least one of these extremist Arab parties. It is the proliferation of small parties, which may well be disenfranchised by not reaching the electoral threshold that may lead to this outcome.

There is also the phenomenon of Moshe Feiglin’s insane Zehut Party, which in addition to promoting the legalization of marijuana, calls for a myriad of nutty policies. It is difficult to envision how he will join any coalition.

BLUE AND WHITE’S initial surge in the polls, subsequent to its highly publicized launch and the announcement of the state attorney’s intention to indict Netanyahu, came as no surprise. Over the last week, after the initial euphoria, Likud and its right-wing allies seemed to be ascendant.

So long as there are confused messages, Blue and White will likely continue to slip in the polls. And given the contradictory and irreconcilable positions of many of its personalities, it is difficult to see how the party will be able to retain any coherent policy. The hysterical response to the embarrassing exposure of Iran’s hacking of Gantz’s phone certainly did not improve his party’s public standing.

The latest effort to cast aspersions on Netanyahu in relation to the submarine issue may have found favorable short-term coverage in the media desperately seeking to demonize him at any cost. But it is doubtful this can be sustained. If anything, it points to the lack of any real substance in the Blue and White campaign. Despite facing a very confrontational interviewer, Netanyahu’s performance at a surprise visit to the Channel 12 TV studio on Saturday night was calm and measured, and he successfully presented a strong case. His mistake, however, was in the failure to realize that no matter how effective he was, the subsequent media reports would grossly distort the interview.

Many are demanding that Netanyahu should step down if he is indicted. Yet, no matter how unpalatable the prime minister’s hedonistic private behavior may be, noted civil liberties lawyer Alan Dershowitz, who could not be regarded as a right-winger, insists there is every likelihood that none of the charges will be upheld in court. Surely our legal system recognizes that a person charged with offenses is deemed innocent until he has been tried and found guilty. There is no suggestion that a prime minister be denied this right.

That these indictments were released on the eve of the election, following years of endless leaks from the investigations scandalizing him and his family, may have the reverse effect of rallying his base. Whether substantiated or not, it is hard to refute the strong perception of bias.

Ultimately the election will be a referendum on whether the public will support Netanyahu despite the massive “just not Bibi” campaign.

There are many reasons to reject him. There is a widespread feeling that after 10 years it is time for change. And how can a prime minister with the responsibilities of a state under siege apply himself to his task, when his focus is constantly diverted to defend himself from accusations of criminal corruption?

I have never written a column suggesting how my readers should vote. Today is an exception. While there appears to be a consensus on the basic direction for this country, the selection of our leader today is nevertheless crucial. Accordingly, I have no hesitation in stating that as of now, not one of the candidates for leadership can even remotely match the qualifications of Netanyahu.

In a country not facing existential threats, voters should display their disdain of a candidate if they are offended by his behavior. And yes, nobody is irreplaceable, and there is a time to retire.

But when one reviews Israel’s amazing position on the world stage today, this is clearly the achievement of a diplomatically skilled leader of international standing and tremendous intellect. Just as Netanyahu adeptly confronted the pressures of US president Barack Obama, so he has interfaced effectively and successfully with President Donald Trump. Nothing highlights this more than Trump’s recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan. In addition, Netanyahu has created an unprecedented diplomatic relationship with President Vladimir Putin of Russia, and has succeeded in initiating and developing Israel’s strategic ties with India, China, Latin America, Africa and even some Gulf Arab states.

It would thus be an awesome gamble at this time to replace Netanyahu with an inexperienced political leader.

Israelis should set aside their negative personal feelings about Netanyahu. Even those who despise him should recognize that his reelection at this time is in the national interest.

US recognition of Israel’s sovereignty over Golan ‘sends direct message to Arab world’

“U.S. President Donald] Trump’s move is important in that it teaches a lesson to Arab leaders: The longer you wait to make peace with Israel, the less you’re going to get,” said David Weinberg, vice president of the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security.

by Israel Kasnett           JNS

https://www.jns.org/us-recognition-of-israels-sovereignty-in-golan-sends-a-direct-message-to-the-arab-world/

The formal recognition of Israel’s sovereignty in the Golan Heights by the United States could not have come on a more sobering day for Israelis. As rockets were being launched deep into the central Israel by the terror group Hamas in Gaza, the importance of the Golan Heights for Israel’s security was on full display.

In his remarks at the formal signing of the presidential proclamation at the White House, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told U.S. President Donald Trump that the region was “invaluable” to Israel’s defense.

“Your proclamation comes at a time when the Golan is more important than ever for our security, when Iran is trying to establish bases in Syria to strike at Israel,” said Netanyahu.

At the same time, he highlighted Israel’s historic and legal right to the region.

“Your decision to recognize sovereignty is a two-fold act of historic justice: Israel won the Golan Heights in a just war of self-defense, and the Jewish people’s connection to that land goes back generations.”

Despite the strategic and historical importance of the Golan Heights for Israel, the United States remains alone in recognizing Israel’s claim of sovereignty. Many other countries view Israel’s control over the region, which Israel gained in the 1967 Six-Day War, as illegal under international law.

Eugene Kontorovich, director of International Law at the Jerusalem-based Kohelet Policy Forum and professor of International Law at George Mason University in Washington, D.C., told JNS that Trump’s formal recognition of the Golan Heights as Israeli sovereign territory “will doubtless be met by responses that it violates, or condones violation, of international law and will encourage forcible annexation of territory.”

But according to Kontorovich, “these international legal arguments lack merit.”

He pointed out that the relevant international law “only prohibits taking territory in a war of aggression.”

He noted that war in June of 1967, during which Israel captured the Golan Heights from hostile Syria, “was at the time generally regarded as a lawful, defensive war, in response to constant Syrian and Egyptian attempts to destroy Israel.”

Kontorovich warned that “if international law does not allow attacked countries to make border changes in some circumstances, it would actually invite aggression because the attacking country would be ensured against losses to the defender.”

A main argument among Israel’s detractors is that such recognition sets a bad precedent and will encourage other countries to capture and annex territory that is not theirs.

Kontorovich denounced this argument as empty, saying the notion that this move will invite aggression is absurd for another reason: “Israel’s sovereignty has only been recognized after it made multiple good-faith peace efforts to return the territory; after Syria lost all legitimacy by committing mass atrocities; and, of course, after a 52-year waiting period. That is a demanding formula that will certainly not invite adventurism.”

The move away from an unsuccessful paradigm

Another point is that U.S. recognition sends a clear and direct message to the Arab world.

David Weinberg, vice president of the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security, told JNS that “Trump’s move is important in that it teaches a lesson to Arab leaders: The longer you wait to make peace with Israel, the less you’re going to get. Assad, the father [Hafez] and son [Bashar], blew their opportunities to make peace with Israel and regain control of the Golan. Now, Syria pays the price.”

And it offers an important lesson to the Palestinians. According to Weinberg, “Trump is saying: You can reject my about-to-be-presented peace plan, but know that if you do, you’ll lose.”

Trump’s actions demonstrate a clear and definite move away from the unsuccessful paradigm that existed for many years with regard to the Arab-Israeli conflict.

If the Palestinians continue to reject Israeli offers for peace, “the U.S. could yet recognize Israeli annexation of parts of Judea and Samaria, or step back from support for Palestinian statehood,” said Weinberg.

“In short,” he concluded, “Trump’s move changes the deleterious dynamic long in place, in which the Palestinians could safely assume that their rejectionism of plan after peace plan only intensified the pressure for greater Israeli concessions.”

As Trump noted when he sat down to sign the proclamation, “This was a long time in the making. It should have taken place many decades ago.”