Iran Deploys Advanced Missiles in Iraq - Eric Schmitt (New York Times)
Iran has deployed advanced missiles in Iraq to help fight the Islamic State in Tikrit, a significant escalation of firepower and another sign of Iran's growing influence in Iraq.
One senior American military official said Iran had deployed Fajr-5 artillery rockets and Fateh-110 missiles and their launchers.
Report: Iraqi Forces Turned on Nearby Villages after Military Victory - Missy Ryan (Washington Post)
Shiite militias and Iraqi government forces burned and looted dozens of villages, abducting at least 11 local residents, in the wake of a U.S.-supported operation against the Islamic State last year, Human Rights Watch has charged in a new report.
It said that after U.S. airstrikes helped pro-government fighters break the siege of Amerli late last summer, they left a wake of destruction across at least 30 nearby Sunni villages in a manner that was "methodical and driven by revenge."
U.S. officials have cited the operation to break the siege of Amerli, where thousands of Shiite Turkmens were stranded without food or water, as one of the most important victories thus far in the international campaign against the Islamic State.
Israeli Surveillance Balloon Approved for Purchase by U.S. Army - Yaakov Lappin (Jerusalem Post)
The Skystar 180 surveillance balloon made by Israeli defense firm RT has been approved for purchase by the U.S. army, the company announced on Wednesday.
The Skystar 180 was frequently used by the IDF over Gaza during last summer's war.
It can carry day and night electro-optical payloads and a communication relay, suspended from a helium-filled balloon tethered to the ground.
British Colonel Buried in Israel near Soldiers He Led - Hillel Kuttler (JTA)
During World War I, British Lt.-Col. John Henry Patterson commanded the Zion Mule Corps and the Jewish Legion - the first Jewish military units in two millennia.
In December, Patterson's ashes were buried in Avichail, a moshav in Israel founded by many of his soldiers.
Although he was Christian, Patterson had expressed an interest in being buried in Israel alongside the men he had commanded.
Patterson had been reared on the Bible and a love for the Jewish people and their land.
Photos: Israeli Bomb Shelters - Nicole Crowder (Washington Post)
In 1951, Israel instituted a civil defense law requiring all homes, residential buildings and offices to be equipped with shelters or "safe rooms."
Documentary photographer Adam Reynolds has been photographing the myriad bomb shelters. Many have been re-purposed for broader uses like dance studios, community centers, pubs, mosques, and synagogues.
See also King Solomon's Quarries Beneath Jerusalem's Old City Used as Bomb Shelter in World War II - Lenny Ben-David (Israel Daily Picture)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
- U.S. to "Re-Evaluate" Mideast Peace Strategy - Carol E. Lee and Joshua Mitnick
In the wake of Prime Minister Netanyahu's reelection, the White House upended decades of U.S. policy on Wednesday when it left open the possibility that it might not use its veto in the UN Security Council to shield Israel from unfavorable resolutions, such as the creation of a Palestinian state, as aides to the president said he is rethinking U.S. strategy on the Middle East peace process.
At the same time, some said Israel's relations with the White House could be repaired.
"The coals will cool off," said Dore Gold, a longtime Netanyahu adviser. "The U.S. and Israel are fundamentally allies in the same war and will have to find a way to re-establish that kind of cooperative relationship." (Wall Street Journal)
- Lawmakers Urge Obama to Mend Fences with Netanyahu
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle in Congress are urging President Obama to mend fences with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. "Now that he has been elected by the people in a free and fair election, the president should reach out to him. The president should say, 'OK, there are too many issues that are important to us,'" said Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).
"Now that the election is over, continuing to mend tensions in the U.S.-Israel relationship needs to be a priority for everyone, regardless of political affiliation," said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the top Democrat on the Intelligence Committee.
See also State Department Seeks to Lower the Temperature on Israel-U.S. Differences - Matt Spetalnick and Patricia Zengerle
After a better-than-expected showing by the Israeli prime minister in Tuesday's election, efforts already were under way in Washington to lower the temperature.
State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf told CNN, "What we're focused on is the Israelis moving forward, forming a government, and we will work with whoever is prime minister to see if we can make progress in what is a very tough and difficult area to do so." (Reuters)
- Israel Responds to UN Call for Peace Deal with Palestinians
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon responded to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's election victory with a call Wednesday for the new government to negotiate a final peace agreement that will create "a viable Palestinian state."
Israel's UN Ambassador Ron Prosor responded:
"The United Nations may disagree with the policies of the Israeli government, but there is one fact that can't be disputed - that Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East....If the UN is so concerned about the future of the Palestinian people, it should be asking why President Abbas is in the tenth year of a five-year presidential term or why Hamas uses the Palestinian people as human shields." (AP)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Netanyahu's Victory Proves Security Is the Issue on Election Day - Amos Harel
Despite the extensive media attention to Israel's economic woes and social gaps, the security situation remains the major consideration on Election Day. After four years of turmoil in the Arab world, with collapsing states and deranged terror groups at spitting distance from Israel's borders, voters are concerned. The Palestinians are no longer the most burning issue in the Middle East.
- International Pressure to Grow after Election, But Sky Won't Fall - Raphael Ahren
While increased pressure on Israel is a given, Israel is not about to become a pariah state, or even be subject to severe punitive measures, several Israeli officials and analysts have indicated. Officials in Jerusalem identify the EU as the main potential source of diplomatic trouble in the years ahead. However, "right now, Europe's governments are bothered by the situation in Ukraine, so it is doubtful that they will take the time to create another active front, this one against Israel," a senior European diplomat serving in Israel told Al-Monitor. Indeed, senior officials in Brussels cynically mocked the prospect of the EU actually trying to punish Israel for lack of progress on the peace process.
Dr. Esther Lopatin, director of the Center for European Studies at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, noted that political and societal trends within Europe will lead Brussels to take an increasingly benign attitude toward Jerusalem. The European Parliament, for instance, is increasingly dominated by center-right parties sympathetic toward Israel. Furthermore, the arrival on the scene of the Islamic State causes many Europeans to identify with Israel's plight. Indeed, she argued, threats of homegrown Islamist fundamentalism slowly breed understanding for Jerusalem's position on the peace process.
(Times of Israel)
- Context Is Crucial in Netanyahu's Remarks on a Palestinian State - Eli Lake
Asked in a pre-election interview if there was any chance for a Palestinian state under another Netanyahu government, the prime minister declared there was none.
Many journalists saw this as a reversal of Netanyahu's speech in 2009 at Bar-Ilan University, in which he laid out his vision for a demilitarized Palestinian state. But the context here is important. Netanyahu prefaced his answer by stating something very obvious: "I think that anyone who is going to establish a Palestinian state today and evacuate lands is giving attack grounds to radical Islam against the State of Israel."
There have been three Gaza wars since Israel's 2005 pullout, and most Israelis fear that a similar withdrawal from the West Bank would yield the same results. This concern has increased over the last year as PA President Mahmoud Abbas - Israel's peace partner - has been trying to form a unity government with Hamas, a jihadist organization committed to Israel's destruction. (Bloomberg)
See also Text: What Exactly Did Netanyahu Say about a Palestinian State? - Ariel Cahana
In an interview on Sunday with the Hebrew website NRG, Prime Minister Netanyahu was asked if his Bar-Ilan speech was still relevant.
Netanyahu responded: "I think that anyone who is going to establish a Palestinian state today, and to withdraw from territory, is giving territory that enables attacks by radical Islam against the State of Israel. This is the true reality that has developed here in recent years. Whoever ignores this is sticking his head in the sand....We are realists and understand."
- Netanyahu Is Back: The Consequences for U.S.-Israeli Relations - Walter Russell Mead
Rethinking and re-imagining the road to Palestinian statehood: yes. Taking a more sober approach to a problem that is much thornier than many outside the region have grasped: yes. Proceeding with caution when the whole Middle East is in flames: definitely. Thinking comprehensively about the problems of the Palestinian people as a whole rather than just those in the West Bank and Gaza: absolutely, especially now that so many Palestinians in Syria have been made refugees once again. Insisting that the vagaries of American political cycles and presidential legacy hunts no longer drive the pace and timing of Middle East negotiations: please.
Israelis will have to decide for themselves where their interests lie in these critical times. Let's hope they find a way forward that keeps the doors of peace open and safeguards the foundations of the U.S.-Israel alliance.
The writer is professor of foreign affairs and humanities at Bard College and professor of American foreign policy at Yale University.
- Netanyahu's Victory - Editorial
While the election results may dismay Netanyahu's detractors abroad, they surely reflect Israel's security consensus. Israelis have seen Gaza become a launching pad for missile attacks on innocent civilians after Israel left. They have seen the Palestinian Authority reject reasonable land-for-peace offers and the terror group Hamas join the PA's governing coalition. Israelis have shown they will take risks for peace - recall Oslo in 1993 and Ehud Barak's sweeping concessions in 2000 that Yasser Arafat rejected - but they are not suicidal.
Israelis surrounded by hostile nations sworn to their destruction are most likely to take risks for peace when they feel secure in America's support. But Obama's looming concessions to Iran's nuclear program have united Israelis and Arabs in opposition. (Wall Street Journal)
The Role of the Palestinian Authority in Israel's Election Results - Alan M. Dershowitz (Gatestone Institute)
- Those who are upset with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's electoral victory should put much of the responsibility on the Palestinian Authority (PA).
- At least twice over the last 15 years, Israel has offered the Palestinians extraordinarily generous two-state solutions. The first time was in 2000-2001 when Ehud Barak and Bill Clinton offered the Palestinians more than 90% of the West Bank and all of Gaza, with a capital in Jerusalem. Yassir Arafat turned down the offer and started an intifada, in which 4,000 people were killed.
- In 2007, Ehud Olmert offered the Palestinians an even more generous resolution, to which Mahmoud Abbas failed to respond positively. The hopes of Israelis for a peaceful resolution of the Palestinian conflict were dashed by Arafat's rejection and Abbas' refusal to accept generous peace offers.
- The Obama administration also contributed to the election results in Israel by refusing to listen to Israeli concerns - shared by Israelis of every political stripe - about the impending deal with Iran. The current deal contains a sunset provision which all but guarantees that Iran will have nuclear weapons within a decade.
- While the international community, academics and the media tend to have short memories, many Israeli voters have long memories. They remember the lethal responses to earlier peace offers. So let's look at a videotape of the last 15 years in order to understand how Israel's democracy produced the current election results.
- Already, the spokespersons for the PA have predicted that the reelection of Netanyahu marks the end of any realistic peace process, without reminding their listeners of how Palestinian intransigence marked the end of earlier peace processes.
Unsubscribe from Daily Alert.