Poll: 73 Percent of Israelis Want to Keep IDF Presence in Jordan Valley - Shalom Yerushalmi (Ma'ariv-Hebrew)
A poll by Magar Mohot for Ma'ariv reveals that 80% of the Israeli public does not believe that the current negotiations with the Palestinians will result in the signing of a peace agreement, compared to 9% who believe this.
73% are not prepared to give up the presence of the IDF in the Jordan Valley as part of an agreement, compared with 20% who are prepared to do so.
Palestinians Disrupt Peace Meeting in Ramallah - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
Scores of Palestinian activists on Thursday attacked a hotel in Ramallah where Israelis and Palestinians were holding a meeting to talk about peace.
Chanting slogans against "normalization" with Israel, the attackers smashed windows and tried to storm the conference hall before they were pushed back by dozens of Palestinian Authority policemen.
Palestinian activists hung a banner at the entrance to the hotel reading, "Normalization is Treason" and banged on the main gate, chanting, "Israelis out!" Others chanted, "Our people want RPG (rockets), not security coordination."
Syrian Extremists Try to Recruit U.S. Visitors for Attacks - Michael S. Schmidt and Eric Schmitt (New York Times)
Islamic extremist groups in Syria with ties to al-Qaeda are trying to identify, recruit and train Americans and other Westerners who have traveled there to get them to carry out attacks when they return home, according to senior American intelligence and counterterrorism officials.
The civil war has become a magnet for Westerners seeking to fight with the rebels. At least 70 Americans have either traveled to Syria, or tried to, since the civil war started three years ago.
The FBI is conducting costly round-the-clock surveillance on a small number of Americans who have returned to the U.S.
"We know al-Qaeda is using Syria to identify individuals they can recruit, provide them additional indoctrination so they're further radicalized, and leverage them into future soldiers, possibly in the U.S.," said a senior counterterrorism official.
Israel Sees Hizbullah Presence in Golan (Middle East Newsline)
Israel's intelligence community has assessed that Iranian-sponsored Hizbullah was establishing a presence in Syria's Golan
Officials said Hizbullah has sent scores of operatives to the
Syrian-ruled portion of the Golan Heights to attack Sunni rebels there as well as in southern Syria.
"They are already in the Golan, but they are not carrying out direct
attacks on us - yet," an official said.
Fatah Leader Jibril Rajoub Viciously Attacks Israel (Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center)
Jibril Rajoub, a prominent member of Fatah's Central Committee who also serves as the chairman of the Palestinian Olympic Committee and head of the Palestinian Football Association, viciously attacked Israel in a number of recent interviews.
In remarks broadcast on official Palestinian Authority TV, he praised the abduction of Israeli soldiers and compared Israel to the Nazis.
On December 31, 2013, he said about negotiations with Israel that there was not even a glimmer of hope that peace could be had with "the Fascist occupation...an ugly model of Nazism."
On another occasion, Rajoub called for the escalation of popular resistance. "Let them abduct [soldiers]....It is the language they [the Israelis] understand. We encouraged [Hamas] and when they abducted [Gilad] Shalit we blessed and praised them."
Jordan Seeks to Buy Israel's Excess Desalinated Water - Avi Bar-Eli (Ha'aretz)
Israel recently disclosed that its desalination capacity exceeds the country's water needs, and the Jordanian government contacted Israel in a bid to double the amount of water it buys from Israel, effective immediately.
The Palestinian Authority also sent out feelers about purchasing more water from Israel, but the PA's outstanding 1.15 billion shekel bill to the Israel Electric Corporation precluded talks on the matter.
Video: Israel Air Force Targets Gaza Terrorists Preparing to Launch Rockets (Israel Defense Forces)
On Thursday the Israel Air Force targeted terrorists in Gaza who were preparing to launch rockets at Israel.
Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, the IDF Spokesman, said, "It is the IDF's obligation to operate to the best of its abilities to prevent such malicious terroristic intentions from terrorizing Israeli civilians and assaulting IDF soldiers. We will continue in our activities to deter all threats originating in Gaza."
See also Videos: How Does the Israel Air Force Find Its Targets and Minimize Civilian Casualties? (Israel Defense Forces)
The IDF is putting tremendous effort into targeting terrorist sites while minimizing harm to civilians. Pilots are provided with real-time intelligence to make sure the target is clear of innocent civilians.
If there is any possibility for innocent casualties in an attack, the IAF will cancel it. To honor this principle, the IAF has developed the Delilah missile that, upon firing, can be redirected even after locking onto a target.
This illustrates the IDF's steadfast respect for human rights, even in the face of major terror threats to Israel's civilians.
The Challenge of Defending Israel's Gas Fields - Paul Alster and David Andrew Weinberg (Forbes)
Israel's gas platforms in the eastern Mediterranean are outside of Israeli territorial waters, but inside Israel's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
Inside this zone any foreign vessel is legally allowed to approach within half a kilometer of Israeli infrastructure before defensive action can officially be taken.
Rig owners, including Houston-based Noble Energy, are working intensively in conjunction with the IDF to ensure the security of their investment.
There are private armed security forces on each platform that have radar to monitor sea traffic in the area.
Turkey, Lebanon, and Hizbullah have all challenged Israel's access to its new natural gas fields.
First Female Combat Doctor in Elite IDF Counterterror Unit - Eran Navon (Israel Hayom)
Dr. Shani, 29, became the first female combat doctor to join the Israel Defense Forces elite Duvdevan counterterrorism unit on Sunday.
She beat out three other candidates, all of whom were male.
U.S. Named the Greatest Threat to World Peace - Meredith Bennett-Smith (Huffington Post)
The rest of the world believes that the U.S. poses the greatest threat to world peace, garnering 24% of the vote in a poll conducted by Win/Gallup International of 66,000 people across 65 countries.
Pakistan was a distant second with 8%, followed by China (6%) and North Korea, Iran and Israel (5%).
2013: Record Year for Israel Tourism - Ziv Reinstein (Ynet News)
Tourism Ministry figures point to a new record in tourist entries to Israel in 2013 with more than 3.5 million visitors, a 0.5% increase from 2012.
Tourists came from the U.S. - 623,000, Russia - 603,000, France - 315,000,
Germany - 254,000, UK - 217,000, Italy - 173,000, Ukraine - 134,000, Poland - 89,000, Canada - 71,000, Holland - 57,000, and Spain - 53,000.
75% toured Jerusalem. 53% were Christian, about half of them Catholics. 22% defined the goal of their visit as a pilgrimage.
28% were Jewish. 54% visited Israel for the first time, while 46% had been here before.
Israeli Sleep Apnea Detector Saves Lives - David Shamah (Times of Israel)
Sleep apnea is a condition where an individual has trouble breathing while asleep.
For many patients, detecting severe apnea episodes is expensive and complicated - unless they are using a small, sleek device by Israeli biotech company Itamar Medical, whose WatchPAT uses a novel technology to measure cardiovascular stress in patients who suffer from apnea episodes, and alert medical or rescue personnel in time to save them.
Filipino Singer Captures Israeli Hearts in TV Show - Isaac Scharf (AP)
Rose Fostanes, 47, a Filipino caregiver, has emerged as the newest star of Israeli reality television.
The diminutive woman with a booming voice has taken "X-Factor Israel" by storm, emerging as one of the final five contestants. Known simply as "Rose," she is mobbed by fans wherever she goes.
Fostanes arrived six years ago to work as a caregiver and spends her days caring and cleaning for an ailing woman.
Several months ago, a friend encouraged her to enter the "X-Factor" competition, where she captured the audiences' hearts with a surprisingly strong and soulful voice.
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- As Iran Nuclear Talks Resume, Supreme Leader Khamenei Criticizes U.S. - Rick Gladstone and Thomas Erdbrink
Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei harshly denounced the U.S. on Thursday as negotiations to conclude an interim agreement in the Iranian nuclear dispute resumed, saying those talks illustrated what he called the hostility of Americans toward Iran and the Muslim world. "The enemies think they imposed the embargo and forced Iran to negotiate," he said. "No! We have already said that if we see interest in particular topics, we will negotiate with this devil in order to eliminate trouble coming from it."
"Khamenei...is likely to support negotiations if they produce results, meaning sanctions relief, but he also has to prepare himself politically for the failure of the nuclear talks," said Alireza Nader, an Iran analyst at the RAND Corporation.
(New York Times)
- Foreign Policy Experts Urge Congressional Leaders to Enforce Iranian Compliance with Nuclear Deal - Michael Warren
More than 70 foreign policy experts have signed a letter addressed to the leaders in both parties in both houses of Congress urging them to enforce Iran's compliance with the nuclear deal agreed upon in Geneva. "We write in support of efforts to enforce Iranian compliance with the Joint Plan of Action that Iran agreed to on November 24, 2013, and in support of the ultimate goal of denying Iran nuclear weapons-making capability."
"We support the use of diplomacy and non-military pressure, backed up by the military option, to persuade Iran to comply with numerous UN Security Council Resolutions and verifiably abandon its efforts to attain nuclear weapons-making capability....As talks go forward, it is critical that Iran not use diplomatic talks as subterfuge for continued development of various aspects of its nuclear program." (Weekly Standard)
- Israeli Foreign Minister Lieberman: Important to Continue Talks with Palestinians - Alex Spillius
In an interview with the Telegraph, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said it was "crucial" for Israelis to maintain contact with Palestinians, no matter how limited the prospects of success.
"With or without a comprehensive solution we will continue to live together and continue to be neighbors. There are many problems on the ground, so this direct contact, this negotiation, these talks - it's very important to keep alive and maintain."
Lieberman said there is a question mark over whether or not Mahmoud Abbas, the chairman of the Palestinian Authority, "can deliver the goods" in the peace talks. "You must be ready for compromise, but I am not sure he is able. But we must check this possibility because we [Israelis] are ready to go far." (Telegraph-UK)
- U.S. and Israel Anticipate Framework Document on Peace Talks with Palestinians - John Reed
Israeli and U.S. officials say they expect a framework providing the basis for talks toward a final-status agreement on a Palestinian state to be agreed within weeks.
Gen. Michael Herzog, who is advising the Israeli side in the current talks, said on Wednesday, "For the U.S., the question is when to present the parties with the paper, how much room to allow them to bargain, to negotiate, and when to say, 'Let's make a decision.'"
Dan Shapiro, America's ambassador to Israel, said on Tuesday that the two sides had not decided on all the details that would go into the framework. If the parties agree to continue talks, the document would then provide the basis for negotiations on a comprehensive peace deal, which would take up to another year.
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- PA: Kerry Threatens to Cut All Aid If No Peace Deal Signed - Adiv Sterman
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has threatened to discontinue all American aid to the Palestinian Authority if the current round of negotiations does not result in a peace agreement, Taysir Khaled, a member of the PLO Executive Committee, claimed Thursday in a report in Ma'ariv.
"So far, the negotiations did not lead to a significant breakthrough on essential issues," Khaled said in Ramallah. "The Palestinian side cannot sign a framework agreement because it does not comply with our minimum requirements and with the rights of the Palestinians. We will not give up on the Palestinian cause for money." The two sides have reportedly been at odds over almost every aspect of the core issues involved in a two-state accord.
(Times of Israel)
See also Arab Side Expected Not to Accept Framework Agreement - Mati Tuchfeld and Shlomo Cesana
In the closed forums in Jerusalem where details of the peace negotiations with the Palestinians are discussed, senior Israeli diplomatic officials said, "There is no connection between what is said in public about the progress of the negotiations and what is actually happening."
"The negotiations are currently being carried out without papers or documents passing between the sides. This is because the Arabs are refusing to present written documents. The Americans are coming with prepared proposals, they read them and do not leave documents with either side. It is all done verbally. The Netanyahu government is cooperating with Kerry's initiative with the clear knowledge that the Arab side will not accept the agreement and ultimately [Israel] will not be required to make concessions or evacuate settlements." (Israel Hayom)
See also Netanyahu Rejects Inclusion of Jerusalem in Kerry's Framework Deal - Barak Ravid
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would not accept any reference to Jerusalem in the framework agreement being drafted by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, senior Israeli officials told Ha'aretz.
One senior official said Netanyahu stressed that he would not agree to a document that mentions, even in a general way, the establishment of a Palestinian capital anywhere in Jerusalem.
A senior Palestinian source told AP that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas had demanded a clear and unequivocal reference to the Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem.
As a way of bridging the gaps, the Americans are considering various, relatively vague formulations in the framework agreement that both parties could accept.
The gaps are still wide and the Americans have not yet decided on how to continue towards an agreement.
- Hamas Ability to Maintain Truce Seen Declining - Yaakov Lappin
Senior security sources have noted an increase over the past two weeks in attacks on Israel from Gaza, leading them to question Hamas' motivation or ability to continue to enforce the truce that has been in effect since November 2012. Because of growing pressure from Egypt, which has sealed smuggling tunnels linking Gaza to Sinai, with its negative impact on Gaza's economy, the increase in attacks might be tied to Hamas' lesser ability to govern Gaza and impose its will on other terror groups.
The Israeli defense establishment feels strongly that any new threats have to be nipped in the bud and that Israel needs to broadcast its unwillingness to tolerate the resumption of large numbers of Gazan terror attacks.
See also Gaza Loses an Underground Lifeline - Khaled Alashqar
The border between Egypt and Gaza used to buzz with activity until a few months back as traders brought in an array of Egyptian goods through hundreds of tunnels. But these underground structures have fallen silent since the Egyptian army came to power in Cairo. Calling them a security threat, it launched a systematic military campaign against the tunnels, destroying them, along with the houses under which they were built, on its side of the border. The Egyptian army has established a buffer zone of 500 meters along the border and set up security checkpoints.
Thousands of tunnel operators, traders and workers have been hard hit. Abu Nabil, a Gaza resident who had operated a tunnel since 2007, said more than 90% of the passages have been destroyed by the Egyptian military. An estimated 20,000 tunnel workers are jobless.
Egyptian military spokesperson Col. Ahmed Mohammad said: "The tunnels are used to smuggle militants and radical groups that threaten Egyptian national security. They should be destroyed."
Prof. Sameer Abu-Mdalla of the economics faculty at Al-Azhar University in Gaza said that "the tunnels...led to the emergence of around 800 millionaires who used the income from operating tunnels for money laundering." The tunnels were also a conduit for Palestinian militant groups to smuggle weapons into Gaza for use against Israel.
(Inter Press Service)
- Recognize Israel to Achieve Peace - Steve Huntley
The Palestinians are refusing in peace negotiations to recognize Israel as the Jewish state, but they never seem to have an issue with the Jewish nature of Israel when denouncing it.
In an interview last year, Abbas referred to Israel as "the Zionist entity." The word "Zionist" is an expression of Jewish nationalism.
Nor do Palestinians have any trouble acknowledging the Jewish heart of Israel in their terrorism. Rockets are aimed at Jewish towns but not Arab ones. It's only when it comes to making peace that Abbas and the Palestinians have a problem admitting that Israel is the Jewish state.
The Palestinian-Israeli conflict will end only when the Arab and Muslim world truly wants it to end and recognizes the permanence of the Jewish homeland.
- Will There Be a Framework "Agreement" Without the Sides Agreeing? - Zalman Shoval
"We know what the issues and the parameters are," U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu before their meeting. He avoided mentioning, however, that all these issues - mutual recognition, Jerusalem, refugees, borders, security - have not been agreed upon by the sides. Moreover, the goal of "ending the conflict" grows further away every time a Palestinian leader comments on the negotiations.
The fundamental variable remains the Palestinians' determination to avoid measures that commit them to concessions and compromises, especially with regard to recognition of Israel as the national Jewish homeland - recognition of its very right to exist.
When the deadline for the current talks comes to an end, the Palestinians will return to the various international bodies to advance their goals unilaterally and without the need for compromise.
- Secretary of Unreality - Bret Stephens
The secretary of state has been busy with Israeli-Palestinian peace, just concluding his 10th peacemaking trip in a year.
But it's hard to avoid the unreality of Kerry's undertakings. The Palestinian Authority has had two masters since Hamas took control of Gaza in 2007. Mahmoud Abbas, 78, nominally the Palestinian president, no longer bothers with elections. There hasn't been a prime minister of Palestine since June. Israel demands that Palestinians recognize it as a Jewish state. Abbas explicitly rejects it as one.
The Israeli cabinet was presented Sunday with a long report on Palestinian incitement since the resumption of peace negotiations. "Official Palestinian media outlets relay that Israel has no right to exist, and that the Jewish people have no claim to the Holy Land," the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz reported. "In addition, other messages prevalent in Palestinian media include that Israel's disappearance is inevitable and expected to happen soon, as Jews are sub-human creatures that must be dealt with accordingly." (Wall Street Journal)
- Four States for Two Peoples - Three without Jews - Moshe Arens
If John Kerry's suggested agreement is implemented, there will be three Palestinian states without a single Jew in them: East Palestine (Jordan), West Palestine (Judea and Samaria), and South Palestine (Gaza). It's "four states for two peoples" - three without Jews and one whose population is 20% Arab.
Kerry may not be aware that the territory of all three Palestinian states, together with that of today's Israel, was intended to constitute the territory of the Jewish state, in accordance with the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine. It was Winston Churchill, as Britain's colonial secretary, who arbitrarily decided to turn over the area east of the Jordan River to King Abdullah and to close it to Jewish immigration and settlement. The writer served as Israel's Minister of Defense three times and once as Minister of Foreign Affairs.
- Palestinians Granted "Limited Liability" for Terror - Lenny Ben-David
Today, a convicted Palestinian terrorist - even guilty of the most heinous crimes - can be assured that he will never face an Israeli death sentence (it doesn't exist); will receive five-star prison care, including an academic degree if he wishes; is comforted knowing that his family will receive monthly stipends from the PA , often funded by European governments; and will have his sentence abruptly canceled when he and his colleagues are traded for an Israeli hostage or released due to extortionary PA demands in return for showing up at peace talks.
Palestinian terror, therefore, is a crime against humanity that bears limited or no liability. This tolerance of Arab aggression smacks of a patronizing racism. Arabs are held to a lower moral standard.
The writer served as a senior Israeli diplomat in Washington. (Jerusalem Post)
- Political Talks and Terror - Lior Akerman
Since the beginning of the current round of negotiations with the Palestinians, there has been a slight, but steady, increase in the amount of violent incidents in Israel. In November, 20 bombs exploded and even more Molotov cocktails were thrown at innocent people in the West Bank.
The majority of the Palestinian community does not support Abbas and the Palestinian leadership, so the PA will never be able to make any significant decisions. The Americans know this, but their main goal is to be seen as an active, leading world power. Their second goal was for the negotiations to have a calming effect in the region, to lower the flames and keep the conflict from escalating.
This means that meetings are being held between the two sides without any real progress whatsoever.
Nothing concrete has or will come of these meetings, since nothing has been agreed upon. The only significant result of the talks has been an increase in terrorist attacks and violent incidents. The writer is a former brigadier-general who served as a division head in the Israel Security Agency.
- How to Fight Academic Bigotry - Charles Krauthammer
Given that Israel has a profoundly democratic political system, the freest press in the Middle East, a fiercely independent judiciary and astonishing religious and racial diversity within its universities, including affirmative action for Arab students, the charge that Israel is denying academic and human rights to Palestinians is rather strange.
Made more so when you consider the state of human rights in Israel's neighborhood, where Syria's government is dropping "barrel bombs" filled with nails, shrapnel and other instruments of terror on its own cities, where Iran hangs political, religious and even sexual dissidents and has no academic freedom at all, and where Christians in Egypt are being openly persecuted.
And don't tell me this is merely about Zionism. Israel is the world's only Jewish state. To apply to the state of the Jews a double standard that you apply to none other, to judge one people in a way you judge no other, to single out that one people for condemnation and isolation - is to engage in a gross act of discrimination. And discrimination against Jews has a name. It's called anti-Semitism.
Anti-Semitism is back. Alas, a new generation must learn to confront it.
- Reject Boycott of Israel - Walter Reich
Many academics in the humanities and social sciences are partial to theories and ideologies, such as postcolonialism, that incline them to see the world as having been ravaged by Western imperialist powers. In their eyes, the worst current offender is the U.S. and, the BDS activists insist, another is Israel.
This isn't a harmless, quixotic enterprise. Academics have immense influence through their public actions and pronouncements and on the students who ultimately become the politicians, journalists, writers, and other artists who will define their country's political and cultural agendas.
The writer is the Yitzhak Rabin Memorial Professor of International Affairs at George Washington University and former director of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.
- Another Anti-Israel Vote Comes to Academia - Cary Nelson
The Modern Language Association (MLA) is poised to condemn Israel at its annual meeting in Chicago. Academic freedom certainly isn't the priority for supporters of the boycott Israel movement. If it were, they would not be so keen on breaking relations with the very Israeli institutions - its universities - that provide a home to many of the sharpest internal critics of Israeli government policy.
Despite the claims of boycott advocates that they are all about promoting freedom, an academic boycott will inevitably inhibit interaction between American and Israeli professors. As more than 100 university presidents have argued in rejecting the American Studies Association boycott resolution, academic freedom can only survive if international exchanges are promoted, not curtailed.
The fundamental goal of the boycott movement is not the peaceful coexistence of two states, one Jewish and one Palestinian, but rather the elimination of Israel.
If Israel and the Palestinians ever negotiate an agreement, it will not be because American faculty members have indulged their hatred of the Israeli state. (Wall Street Journal)
- The Muslim Brotherhood, Back in a Fight to Survive - Kareem Fahim
The leaders of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, now outlawed, have adjusted to life underground. Rather than crack and disintegrate under pressure, members say, the group has fallen back on the organizational structure that sustained it for decades as a banned and secretive movement. It is becoming more cohesive as its members shift their attention to resistance to the military-backed government.
The Brotherhood's endurance raises further doubts about the government's attempts to extinguish a movement that has resisted such efforts for more than 80 years and that draws support from hundreds of thousands of members and millions of affiliates and sympathizers. At least 13 people were killed last Friday during Brotherhood marches throughout the country in some of the deadliest clashes in months.
With the group's narrow focus on survival, there was little talk about the long-term direction of the movement, or the mistakes during Morsi's time in power, a tenure that ended with millions of angry Egyptians on the streets demanding his ouster.
(New York Times)
See also The Rapid Fall of the Muslim Brotherhood - Dina Khayat
The drastic drop in affection for the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt speaks volumes about their singular ineptitude during President Morsi's year in office.
Even Egypt's more religiously conservative Salafis have distanced themselves from the Brotherhood.
The Brotherhood claims to preach nonviolence, but its ties to Hamas in Gaza, along with its thinly veiled threats of violence in the Egyptian media, undermine its avowals.
These days, the Brotherhood's quarrel is with the average Egyptian citizen and the very people who once rooted for them.
It will be reintegrated into politics and society only when it decides to operate within the context of a stable state. The writer heads the economic committee of the Free Egyptians Party, a political party founded after the 2011 revolution.
(Wall Street Journal)
- Obama Accepts the Decisions of Determined Middle East Governments - Mordachai Kedar
Will the Americans totally cut off the connection with Egypt and allow this country to switch over to the Russian camp? In my opinion Obama and Kerry will continue to capitulate to Egypt's army chief, General Sisi, and will accept his policy - under protest.
The U.S. cannot enter into a confrontation with governments that are determined and firm in their positions. That's how it is with Iran, Iraq and Syria as well. Ultimately, Obama accepts the decisions of Middle East regimes, even if he does not agree with them.
Obama and Kerry cannot assure Israel that a Palestinian state would not at some point become another Hamas state like that which arose in Gaza. Therefore, Israel must relate to their demands exactly as Sisi relates to them.
The writer is director of the Center for the Study of the Middle East and Islam at Bar-Ilan University.
See also Egypt's Gen. Sisi Eyes Presidency (Israel Hayom)
- U.S. Tilt to Iran Is Upsetting Allies and Disrupting the Middle East - Fouad Ajami
The ground burns in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. Militant Islamists have all but overwhelmed secular authorities. Yet America's chief diplomat, Secretary of State John Kerry, was this week on an expedition to Israel and the Palestinian territories for the 10th time. There was no sudden urgency to the impasse between Israel and the Palestinians, nor had an opening presented itself for serious negotiations. Israel's attention was focused, as it had to be, on the large menace of Iran and its nuclear drive, and the Palestinians remained mired in their own squabbles.
It is the struggle for Syria, and the Iranian bid for primacy in the Fertile Crescent, that engage the Arabs. This "shuttle diplomacy" of our secretary of state, if anything, is evidence of the retreat of American power.
Washington is keen to conciliate Iran. Secretary Kerry has proposed a role for the Iranians in negotiations over Syria - even as Iranian forces and proxies are busy battering what is left of that country.
A cautionary note: The weight of Islam is in the Sunni states. If we opt for an alliance with Iran and its satraps, we should do so in the full knowledge that our choice places us at odds with the vast majority of the Islamic world. The writer is a senior fellow at Stanford's Hoover Institution.
(Wall Street Journal)
- As America Leaves the Middle East, Israel Must Stand Strong - Freddy Eytan
The Middle East, representing 8% of the world's population, supplies 70% of global terrorism. In the face of this reality, it is difficult to believe that the violence on our region will ever subside.
The American doctrine that dictatorships should be swept away and replaced by democratic regimes is not feasible in the Arab-Muslim world dominated by Shia and Sunni Islamist currents and archaic tribes.
In the current turmoil, as Obama's America refuses the role of "world policeman" and leaves the field open to the extremists, this weakening of America in the region works against the interests of the State of Israel. In this context of uncertainty, Israel must strengthen its military deterrence, while continuing along the path of peace.
It is dangerous to try to reach a historic compromise only with Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank without considering the reactions of Hamas and its intentions to sabotage any agreement. Thus, Israel cannot yield on such existential issues as defensible borders and no return to the armistice lines of 1949. After the bitter experience of the Oslo Accords, we find that the Palestinian Authority is not able to guarantee the application of a peace agreement, even after obtaining U.S. and European funding.
Looking toward 2014, we in Israel rely on our faith in our just cause and our military power, as well as the unwavering solidarity of free nations.
Amb. Freddy Eytan, a former Israel Foreign Ministry senior advisor who served in Paris and in Brussels, was Israel's first Ambassador to the Islamic Republic of Mauritania. (The Metropolitain-Canada [French])
- Sharansky: The Free World Has Betrayed Democratic Dissidents - Elhanan Miller
Natan Sharansky still believes that every nation on the globe is potentially capable of achieving democracy.
He says that in the West's "obsession" to support the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, it neglected the democratic forces that began emerging in the country.
"Democracy is free elections and a free society. We should not be blinded by the fact that elections happened in some countries and automatically call those countries democracies," Sharansky said, adding that the creation of civil society institutions must precede the ballot box.
The West's "betrayal" of democratic dissidents in Iran's 2009 Green Revolution has sent an extremely negative message to democratic Arab oppositionists in the Middle East today, Sharansky argued. (Times of Israel)
- It's Not about Arabs Hating Jews, But Arabs Hating Arabs - Jack Engelhard
How can there be peace between Arabs and Jews when there is no peace between Arabs and Arabs? In Syria some 200,000 men, women and children have been slain, all within the family. The same rivalries, the same clashes, brother against brother, are being waged in Egypt, Jordan, Libya, Tunisia, and Lebanon.
In some of those places we have given our blood and our fortunes, only to find ourselves back to square one.
Not a single American soldier has ever been asked to fight and die for Israel, but it is upon Israel that we place demands.
Some time ago, in Bethlehem, when Arafat and his thugs were on the run, the Christian Arab mayor of Bethlehem, Elias Freij, implored me to take a message first to Israel and then back to America: let Arafat and his PLO remain cast out. "Please do not give them shelter. They will ruin everything."
The message was not heeded...and they did ruin everything.
- Anti-Israel Lessons in American Classrooms - Charles Jacobs
Students in Newton, Mass., were taught that Jews in Israel murder Palestinian women in jails. That "lesson" comes from the Arab World Studies Notebook, a work funded by the Saudis and condemned as propaganda by the American Jewish Committee. When concerned parents asked Newton's school committee to remove the text, they resisted for more than a year, defending the text as providing the "Arab point of view."
Newton students are given PLO-produced maps to learn about the history of Israeli "occupation" of "Palestine." One of the maps labeled the Jewish Quarter in the Old City of Jerusalem as an "illegal Israeli settlement." The Newton school superintendent claimed the point of the map exercise was to demonstrate different perspectives, yet not one single map could be found representing the mainstream Jewish perspective.
In New York, preparatory materials for the Regents exam falsely claim that Israel prevailed militarily in 1948 only due to strong support from the U.S.
This is Arab propaganda, utilized to demonize America and explain the failure of the six Arab armies which attacked the tiny Jewish state.
New York's Riverdale Fieldstone prep school held an Israel-Palestine day and, under the pretense of "evenhandedness," invited Rashid Khalidi and Tony Judt as speakers to represent "both sides" of the conflict. Both Khalidi and Judt believe the State of Israel should not exist.
The writer is president of Americans for Peace and Tolerance in Boston.
A Diplomatic Insurance Policy Against Iran - Robert Menendez (Washington Post)
- A diplomatic breakthrough resulting in a peaceful and verifiable termination of Iran's nuclear weapons program is the preferred outcome of the Obama administration's negotiations with Iran. Backing up this achievement by taking out a diplomatic insurance policy is an act of reasonable pragmatism.
- Since an agreement was reached in Geneva in November:
- Iran has continued elements of construction in Arak, a heavy-water nuclear reactor site that, if completed, would provide an alternate plutonium track to a nuclear weapon.
- Iran announced that it is building a new generation of centrifuges for uranium enrichment and conceded that it has 19,000 centrifuges, a thousand more than previously disclosed.
- The Iranians fired a rocket into space, expanding their space technology program and improving their ability to develop a long-range ballistic missile.
- Iranian lawmakers have proposed legislation to enrich uranium up to 60%, well beyond any potential use for peaceful purposes.
- And when the Treasury Department blacklisted 19 companies for sanctions evasion last month, the Iranians, demonstrating their customary bluff-and-bluster techniques, walked out of negotiations.
- The Nuclear Weapons Free Iran Act, a bill with bipartisan support in the Senate, endorses the Obama administration's efforts and the Joint Plan of Action achieved in November. It supports continued negotiations, gives the administration a year of flexibility to secure a comprehensive agreement, respects the sanctions relief Iran is set to receive and prevents any new sanctions from taking effect while good-faith negotiations are underway.
- The American public supports diplomacy. So do I. The American public doesn't trust the Iranian regime. Neither do I.
The writer is Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
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