How Saudis Took the Lead in Yemen - Eli Lake and Josh Rogin (Bloomberg)
The tripwire for the Saudi Arabian-led intervention into Yemen's civil war Thursday was Iranian-backed Houthi rebels storming the Yemeni port city of Aden, where President Abdurabuh Mansur Hadi had taken refuge earlier this month.
On Thursday, Egyptian warships entered the Gulf of Aden, while Saudi jets pounded Houthi positions on the mainland.
America's traditional allies in the Middle East - Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the UAE, Turkey and Egypt - began stitching together the military coalition in the beginning of March.
At a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Thursday, General Lloyd Austin, head of the U.S. Central Command, said he did not learn the Saudis were actually going to attack Yemen until an hour before the operation was launched.
See also Officials: Saudi-Led Action Relied on U.S. Intelligence - Karen DeYoung (Washington Post)
Saudi Arabia told the Obama administration and Persian Gulf allies early this week that it was preparing a military operation in neighboring Yemen, and relied heavily on U.S. surveillance images and targeting information to carry it out, according to senior American and Persian Gulf officials.
FBI Disrupts Plot to Kill Scores at Military Base on Behalf of Islamic State - Adam Goldman (Washington Post)
Authorities arrested, Hasan Rasheed Edmonds, 22, and his cousin Jonas Marcel Edmonds, 29, both of Aurora, Ill., who were charged with conspiring to provide material support to a terrorist organization.
Hasan attempted to travel to Libya and fight with the Islamic State, while Jonas plotted to attack a U.S. military installation and kill scores, federal prosecutors announced Thursday.
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In Shocking Breach, U.S. Reveals Some of Israel's Nuclear Capabilities - Tom Gross (Weekly Standard)
On Feb. 12, the Pentagon declassified a top-secret document from 1987 detailing Israel's nuclear program, but kept sections on France, Germany, and Italy classified and blacked out.
The declassification is a serious breach of decades' old understandings concerning this issue. Israel has never admitted to having nuclear weapons.
Together with leaking incorrect allegations that Israel spies on the U.S., this "is part of a pattern of carefully controlled leaking of information which is very hard to attribute to a specific government agency or individual. Nevertheless it is clear what is happening," said an informed person connected to the government in Jerusalem.
"The failure to maintain the degree of mature and cooperative discretion that officials from several governments have exercised up to now marks a serious change in the code of conduct."
Court Rules Seattle Did Not Violate Free Speech in Rejecting Anti-Israel Ad - Maura Dolan (Los Angeles Times)
The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decided 2-1 Wednesday that the King County Metro system in Seattle did not violate free speech rights by refusing to accept an anti-Israel advertisement.
The Metro system first accepted and then rejected an advertisement that called on the U.S. to stop funding Israel after pro-Israel groups decided to submit their own ads.
The county decided that no advertising related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would be permitted.
Judge Paul J. Watford wrote:
"Municipalities faced with the prospect of having to accept virtually all political speech if they accept any - regardless of the level of disruption caused - will simply close the forum to political speech altogether."
The majority of judges concluded that no reasonable jury would find discrimination because the county rejected all ads related to the controversy.
Israel's Medical Diplomacy - Jeff Moskowitz (Tablet)
In the past year, Israeli physicians have treated the daughter of Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, the President of Zambia Michael Sata, Syrian rebel fighters and civilians, and Kurdish and Jordanian children.
Every Tuesday children from Gaza and the West Bank arrive at Wolfson Medical Center in Holon for surgery and check-ups.
Dr. Joseph Schenker, a fertility doctor at Hadassah Medical Center, noted: "I have patients from Egypt, Lebanon - all these countries." He said he helped the niece of Ayatollah Khomeini with reproductive issues, and she and her husband even traveled secretly to Israel for the procedure.
He has also dealt with the wife of a Muslim president who had trouble conceiving.
Schenker told a story about his father, who was chief surgeon and commander of the army hospital in Safed during the '48 war.
"The Druze were against us [at the time]....One of the Druze leaders was wounded and drove to the hospital in Safed. He was afraid that the Jews would kill him. But my father operated on him and he survived. That leader got better and he changed the Druze [under his command] from supporting the Arabs to supporting the Jews."
Lawmakers Ask to Boost Funding for U.S.-Israel Missile Defense Systems (San Diego Jewish World)
Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.) and Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY) urged House appropriators to increase funding for joint U.S.-Israel missile defense systems including Iron Dome, Arrow, Arrow 3, and David's Sling.
The lawmakers wrote: "The United States and Israel are ramping up serial co-production and procurement of the David's Sling Weapons System, which will defend against Large Caliber Artillery Rockets (LCAR), Tactical Ballistic Missiles (TBM), and the emerging cruise missile threat. With our support, we expect this system, along with the Arrow 3 exo-atmospheric interceptor, to be operational within the decade."
Last year, Roskam and Meng successfully secured increased funding for these programs.
U.S. Lawmakers Introduce Legislation to Prevent Israel Boycotts (JTA)
Reps. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.) and Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) on Wednesday introduced the "Boycott Our Enemies, Not Israel Act" to require prospective U.S. government contractors to certify that they are not participating in any boycotts against Israel.
"Our government business practices should not play any role in harming our greatest ally in the Middle East," Lamborn said, adding that the bill was introduced to "thwart efforts by Palestinian organizations to pressure different corporations, companies and educational institutions to boycott, divest, and sanction Israel."
Lawmakers Seek $2M for U.S.-Israel Energy Projects - Mark Hensch (The Hill)
A bipartisan House coalition of 106 lawmakers is seeking $2 million for the U.S.-Israel Energy Cooperation Program, which funds research and development in energy efficiency and technology.
Every dollar Congress appropriates is matched twice, once by Israel and again by the private sector.
"Collaboration between the American and Israeli private sector and academia will significantly enhance U.S. efforts to develop new technologies to the benefit of our economic and national security," said Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.).
Israel Helped Set Up Singapore's Army - Gili Cohen (Ha'aretz)
Former Singapore Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, who died Monday at age 91, revealed in his autobiography that Israel had helped set up his country's army.
Lee recalled that he had approached several nations asking for military advice, but it was Israel who responded.
Lee wrote that in November 1965, a group of Israeli soldiers arrived in Singapore under a veil of secrecy. "To disguise their presence, we called them 'Mexicans'."
The job of building Singapore's army was given to Maj. Gen. Rehavam Ze'evi.
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- Report: Iran Deal May Permit Centrifuges at Fortified Fordo Site - George Jahn and Matthew Lee
The U.S. is considering letting Tehran run hundreds of centrifuges at its Fordo facility, a once-secret, fortified underground bunker, in exchange for limits on centrifuge work and research and development at other sites, officials have told the Associated Press. The site would be subject to international inspections and any centrifuges permitted at Fordo would not be used to enrich uranium.
Experts say the compromise for Fordo could still be problematic. They note it would allow Iran to keep intact technology that could be quickly repurposed for uranium enrichment. The site at Fordo is a particular concern because it is hardened and dug deeply into a mountainside, making it resistant - possibly impervious - to air attack.
- U.S. Senate Votes Unanimously to Send Message on Iran
The U.S. Senate voted 100-0 on Thursday for a non-binding amendment to a budget bill intended to make it easier to reimpose sanctions if Iran violates a nuclear deal. The amendment, sponsored by Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), would establish a fund to cover the cost of imposing sanctions if Tehran violated terms of an interim nuclear agreement now in effect, or the final agreement negotiators hope to reach before July.
See also The Senate Sends a Signal to Iran - Burgess Everett
On Thursday, all 46 Senate Democrats voted for Kirk's amendment. Iran knows "it's not binding. But even it were binding, it should be no surprise to them that a great number of us...will move forcefully to strengthen and enhance sanctions," said Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.). "We have a responsibility to send a signal to Iran that sanctions will be strengthened and we're serious about that consequence."
- Egypt Says It May Send Troops to Yemen to Fight Houthis - David D. Kirkpatrick
Egypt said Thursday it was prepared to send troops into Yemen as part of a Saudi-led campaign against the Iranian-backed Houthis, a day after Saudi Arabia and a coalition of nine other states began hammering the Houthis with airstrikes and blockading the Yemeni coast. Saudi news media said Thursday that on the first night of the offensive, dozens of jets from the kingdom and its allies had hit key military bases around the country, fully disabling the Houthi-aligned Yemeni Air Force.
(New York Times)
See also Turkey's Erdogan: Iran Is Trying to Dominate the Middle East - Humeyra Pamuk
Turkish President Erdogan said Thursday, "Iran is trying to dominate the region....This is really not tolerable and Iran has to see this....Iran has to change its view. It has to withdraw any forces, whatever it has in Yemen, as well as Syria and Iraq, and respect their territorial integrity." (Reuters)
See also PA's Abbas Backs Saudi-Led Military Intervention in Yemen (Ma'an News-PA)
See also Iran Demands Immediate Halt to Military Actions in Yemen - Parisa Hafezi (Reuters)
See also Yemen Conflict Devolves into Proxy War - Hakim Almasmari, Rory Jones and Asa Fitch
The conflict in Yemen is quickly devolving into a wider regional conflagration, pitting Shiite Iran and the allied militant Houthis against Saudi Arabia and other Sunni Arab states. Saudi Arabia said its campaign in Yemen was being conducted in tandem with Egypt and Gulf neighbors Qatar, the UAE, Bahrain and Kuwait. Morocco, Jordan, Pakistan, Sudan and Turkey indicated they would support operations against the Houthis.
(Wall Street Journal)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Israeli Ambassador Addresses UN on Children and Armed Conflict -
Amb. Ron Prosor addressed the UN Security Council on "Children and Armed Conflict" on Wednesday:
In Israel our children go to schools with security guards stationed at the door, we walk through metal detectors to enter a mall, and our homes are built with a reinforced concrete room to protect our families from rockets.
Last June, we learned that Palestinian terrorists kidnapped and brutally murdered three Israeli teenagers. Last August, 4-year-old Daniel Tregerman was playing with his younger siblings when a mortar fired by Palestinian terrorists from Gaza struck his home and killed him. In December, Palestinian terrorists threw a firebomb at a car carrying 11-year-old Ayala Shapira. Flames engulfed the car.
In New York, the underground system is called the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. In Gaza, Hamas built a Metropolitan Terror Authority - miles of terror tunnels that extended like tentacles into Israel. These tunnels were built using Palestinian child laborers, many of whom were killed in the process. Hamas' terror tunnels opened at the doorsteps of Israeli communities - outside homes, kindergartens, and playgrounds - all with the deliberate intention of targeting and murdering Israeli children.
Palestinian children are born in hospitals named after violent Palestinian groups and attend schools named after terrorists. In their free time, Palestinian children play on sports teams named after murderers, watch television programs that teach that Jews should be killed, and read cartoons urging them to commit attacks against Israelis.
(Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
- IDF: Escalation of Violence in West Bank Seen Unlikely - Amos Harel and Gili Cohen
While the Israel Defense Forces are preparing for the possibility of an escalation in violence in the West Bank, such a scenario is not considered likely.
There is a large gap between the tense atmosphere in diplomatic relations between Israel and the PA and the situation on the ground. Security coordination between Israel and the Palestinian security services continues as usual, despite Palestinian threats to discontinue it. Moreover, Israel sees little willingness on the part of the Palestinian public to take part in large popular anti-Israel demonstrations.
However, in the West Bank there has been a significant rise in recent months in Hamas attempts to activate terror squads under instructions from Hamas headquarters in Turkey and Gaza.
Both the PA and Israel have arrested dozens of Hamas men suspected of planning terror attacks.
See also Islamic Jihad, Fatah Tanzim Gaining Strength in West Bank - Yaakov Lappin
Islamic Jihad, a loyal Iranian proxy, is gaining strength in the West Bank, said senior IDF officials. Also emerging is the Fatah Tanzim, which was once a dominant terrorist group during the years of the second intifada. Israel had removed the group from its wanted list in the previous decade in exchange for a cessation of terrorist activities.
- Bomb Diffused at Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron
Israeli Border Police discovered a pipe bomb near their guard station at the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron on Wednesday.
- Palestinian Terrorist Murderer Sentenced to Two Life Prison Terms - Yonah Jeremy Bob
The Judea Military Court on Thursday sentenced Maher al-Hashlamoun to two life prison terms for murdering Dalia Lemkus on Nov. 10, 2014.
Hashlamoun, a member of Islamic Jihad from Hebron, stabbed Lemkus, 26, to death after hitting her with his car at a bus stop outside Alon Shvut in the West Bank. After attacking other passersby, Hashlamoun was shot by a security guard. (Jerusalem Post)
- Obama Struggles with a Messy Middle East - Jay Solomon and Gerald F. Seib
The Obama administration now is lined up against Iran in Yemen. Meanwhile, it is trying to negotiate a nuclear deal with Tehran and is working on the same side as the Iranians to defeat Islamic State fighters in Iraq. Moreover, at this moment of high regional anxiety, Obama finds his ties to Israel and Egypt, two traditional bulwarks of pro-American sentiment, under great strain.
(Wall Street Journal)
- Yemen a Testing Ground for Arab Coalition Against Iran - Zvi Bar'el
The Saudi assault on Yemen is part of a comprehensive strategy to halt the spread of Iranian influence in the Middle East. The core of the
new, more aggressive policy consists of building a Sunni axis comprised of most of the Arab states plus the moderate and less-moderate Sunni organizations, the establishment of a 40,000-strong Arab intervention force that draws from the militaries of the Gulf States and Egypt, and an aggressive persuasion campaign to get countries with close ties to Iran to switch sides and join the Sunni axis.
The U.S. supports these moves and also gave its blessing to the military action in Yemen. The military preparations included direct coordination with Egypt, ensuring support from Pakistan, and the addition of Sudan to the military force. Qatar also joined the coalition despite being considered an Iranian ally.
The speed with which this Arab coalition has formed shows how fearful Saudi Arabia and its allies are that Yemen has now become part of the Iranian sphere of influence and control. This concern is particularly acute now that Syria and Iraq, and Lebanon to a large degree, have essentially become Iranian protectorates. (Ha'aretz)
- Yemen Intervention Highlights a New Generation of Saudi Leaders and a New Foreign Policy - Nawaf Obaid
Just two months after the passing of King Abdullah, Saudi Arabia's extensive intervention in Yemen on Thursday should serve notice that a major generational shift is underway in the kingdom that is sure to have far-reaching ramifications. With almost 90% of Muslims identifying as Sunni, and the Saudis at the epicenter of the Sunni world, the Saudis believe they can meet an urgent need for a united Sunni front against Shiite Iran, as well as the terrorist movements tearing the Arab world apart.
The Saudis are watching the Iranian nuclear negotiations closely. Saudi Arabia simply cannot allow Iran under any scenario to use its "near status" as a nuclear power to expand its influence and prestige around the region. Settling for a so-called U.S. "nuclear umbrella" is unfathomable to Riyadh. Whatever deal the Iranians get, the Saudis will pursue an equivalent program to reach nuclear parity. The writer is a visiting fellow at Harvard University's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.
- Iran Keeps Its Nuclear Secrets - Editorial
With less than a week to go until the deadline for the Iran nuclear talks, the list of skeptical governments and experts is growing. "Progress has been very limited" on Iran's promise to come clean about its earlier efforts to develop a nuclear weapon, International Atomic Energy Agency head Yukiya Amano said this week.
Western intelligence agencies believe the regime tried to develop a nuclear explosive device beginning in the 1980s. Tehran consolidated its weaponization work in the "AMAD Plan," led by Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, a Ph.D. nuclear scientist and senior member of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. The AMAD Plan's latest iteration is the Organization of Defensive Innovation and Research.
Without a baseline to understand what Iran was doing, it's hard to see how the Obama administration can honor its core pledge to strike a deal that would give the West a one-year warning if Iran decides to build a bomb. Moreover, any verification program that doesn't give inspectors unfettered and immediate access to any place they want to see does little more than create the illusion of inspections while giving Iran the opportunity to cheat.
(Wall Street Journal)
- Iran Takes Over Iraq and Threatens Jordan - Dore Gold
The recent changes in the Middle East have not only melted the borders between Syria and Iraq, but also between Iraq and Iran. In the past, Iraq served as a buffer state separating Iran from the rest of the Arab world.
With the Iraqi buffer removed, there will be a territorially contiguous line from Tehran to Jordan's eastern border. General Qassam Suleimani, the commander of the Qods Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, was quoted as saying that Iran could control events in Jordan, the same way it operated in Iraq and Lebanon. Days later the Revolutionary Guards denied that Suleimani made such a statement. Yet Al Jazeera reported on March 16 that Iran was already at Jordan's doorstep, deploying its Revolutionary Guards, as well as Hizbullah forces (and those of other Shiite militias from Iraq and Afghanistan) in southern Syria adjacent to the Jordanian border.
Iran is clearly exploiting its nuclear talks with the West in order to establish its hegemonial position and erect a new regional order from Yemen to Kurdistan. The writer, a former Israeli ambassador to the UN, is president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.
- What Motivates Iranian Diplomacy? - Michael Rubin
American leaders' habit of projecting Western motivations and sincerity onto partners often opens the door for adversaries to outplay the State Department at the bargaining table.
Within days of the original Iran hostage crisis, for example, Iranian intermediaries accepted offers to negotiate with the Americans. There was absolutely no progress, however, nor did Tehran mean there to be.
The strategy continued under George W. Bush. Despite building a covert enrichment plant and experimenting with nuclear triggers that only had military applications, Iran defused any serious repercussions by offering to negotiate with the EU. Hassan Rouhani, at the time Iran's National Security Council chairman, later bragged about how he had played the Europeans.
Never before has a country repeatedly declared its goal was "death to America," taken clear actions to achieve that aim, and suffered no serious consequences for its actions. The Iranians hint at diplomacy, and get a free pass. They realize that by feigning sincerity, they can achieve their nuclear aims.
The writer is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.
- How to Stop Iran's Bomb - John R. Bolton
In theory, comprehensive international sanctions, rigorously enforced and universally adhered to, might have broken the back of Iran's nuclear program. But the sanctions imposed have not met those criteria.
The president's own director of National Intelligence testified in 2014 that they had not stopped Iran's progressing its nuclear program.
Successive administrations, Democratic and Republican, worked hard, with varying success, to forestall or terminate efforts to acquire nuclear weapons by states as diverse as South Korea, Taiwan, Argentina, Brazil and South Africa. This gold standard is now everywhere in jeopardy because the president's policy is empowering Iran.
Whether diplomacy and sanctions would ever have worked against the hard-liners running Iran is unlikely. But abandoning the red line on weapons-grade fuel drawn originally by the Europeans in 2003, and by the UN Security Council in several resolutions, has alarmed the Middle East and effectively handed a permit to Iran's nuclear weapons establishment.
The inescapable conclusion is that Iran will not negotiate away its nuclear program. Nor will sanctions block its building a broad and deep weapons infrastructure. The inconvenient truth is that only military action like Israel's 1981 attack on Saddam Hussein's Osirak reactor in Iraq or its 2007 destruction of a Syrian reactor, designed and built by North Korea, can accomplish what is required.
An attack need not destroy all of Iran's nuclear infrastructure, but it could set back its program by three to five years. The U.S. could do a thorough job of destruction, but Israel alone can do what's necessary. Such action should be combined with vigorous American support for Iran's opposition, aimed at regime change in Tehran. The writer, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, was a former U.S. ambassador to the UN.
(New York Times)
- Syrian Opposition Leaders Oppose a Nuclear Iran - Pinhas Inbari
Sheikh Moaz al-Khatib, one of the heads of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, was in Washington recently where he strongly opposed a nuclear agreement between the U.S. and Iran. Khatib stated that a nuclear agreement would put Syria at the mercy of Iran, which already occupies it.
At the same time, opposition organizations that oppose the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood praised Prime Minister Netanyahu for his electoral victory, including Sherko Abbas, president of the umbrella organization of the Kurdish parties of Syria, and Sunni opposition leaders including Abu Adnan, commander of the Federation of the Syrian Revolution of Tomorrow, and Moussa Nabhan, who is responsible for foreign relations for the "Sons of Syria" federation. In their statements they thanked Israel for the humanitarian assistance it has been providing them in their hour of need.
(Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
- How to Fight Anti-Semitism - David Brooks
In the Middle East, Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, doesn't just oppose Israel. He has said its leaders "look like beasts and cannot be called human." President Hassan Rouhani of Iran reinstated a conference of Holocaust deniers and anti-Semitic conspiracy theorists.
Two of Iran's prominent former nuclear negotiators attended.
This form of anti-Semitism cannot be reasoned away because it doesn't exist on the level of reason. It can only be confronted with deterrence and force. Anti-Semitism and bigotry are different evils. Most bigotry is an assertion of inferiority. Anti-Semitism is an assertion of impurity and speaks the language of extermination. Anti-Semitism's logical endpoint is violence.
(New York Times)
A Two-State Solution for Israelis and Palestinians
- Hopes for a Two-State Solution - Jonathan S. Tobin
The reason why a clear majority of Israelis supported Netanyahu and parties likely to back him was that few of them believe there is any reasonable hope for a two-state solution in the foreseeable future. They were convinced of the danger of further territorial concessions by the actions of the Palestinians and the culture of hatred for Israel and Jews that pervades their society.
The president treats the repeated rejections of Israeli offers of statehood by the Palestinians and the support for terrorism even by the supposedly moderate leaders of the PA as irrelevant. Israelis do not. Nor are they interested in replicating what happened in Gaza after Israel's 2005 withdrawal in the more strategic West Bank. That's an opinion shared even by many of those who supported Netanyahu's opponents.
Until a sea change in Palestinian politics occurs that will allow its leaders to recognize the legitimacy of a Jewish state no matter where its borders are drawn, Israelis will reject two states in practice rather than in principle and no amount of White House bullying will change that.
- The Arab/Muslim Side Was Never Serious about a Two-State Solution - George Jonas
The Palestinians could have had their state all along if their aim had been coexistence with the Jewish state and not its elimination. They could have had a Palestinian state before a Jewish state ever came into being, by accepting the Peel Commission's recommendations for partition in 1936. But Israel's opponents had zero interest in the peace process except as a ruse and a propaganda tool.
The Arab and Muslim world is guided by ideas and emotions, religious as well as secular, that never got past the Middle Ages. For Israel to trade land for peace in such a climate is, if anything, detrimental to peace. Expecting Palestinians to stop attacking Israel by distributing land to them is like expecting sharks to stop attacking swimmers by pouring blood into the water. The question was never whether Israel would give land for peace, but whether it could get peace for land. The answer is possibly yes, one day, but not yet.
- Is a Two-State Solution Possible Right Now? - Aaron David Miller
The commitment Netanyahu made in his Bar-Ilan speech in 2009 to a Palestinian state was always conditional: "If we get a guarantee of demilitarization, and if the Palestinians recognize Israel as the Jewish state, we are ready to agree to a real peace agreement, a demilitarized Palestinian state side by side with the Jewish state."
With the way the White House reacted, you would have thought that Israelis and Palestinians were on the verge of a peace treaty and that Netanyahu had just pulled the plug. Yet there is nobody in the administration whom I know, with the possible exception of Kerry, who thinks a two-state outcome is possible right now or by the time Obama leaves office. The writer is vice president and a distinguished scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.
- Netanyahu's "Rejection" of a Two-State Solution Was a Deliberate Media Distortion - Clifford D. May
What is it about Israel in general and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in particular that leads to so much careless reporting and tendentious commentary? Can there be any benign explanation for transmogrifying Netanyahu's suggestion that Palestinian statehood is not achievable "today" into the charge that he rejects a Palestinian state "outright," and has vowed that a two-state solution will "never" be permitted?
Were Israelis to withdraw today from the West Bank, PA President Mahmoud Abbas would likely be overthrown by Hamas, the Islamic State or Iranian-backed militias. I am not saying - nor was Netanyahu - that Palestinians and Israelis will "never" be able to live as neighbors, in independent states. Israelis will support a Palestinian state - if Palestinians will reciprocate by accepting the Jewish state and agreeing to end the conflict. The writer is president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
- Assessing the Prospects for Israeli-Palestinian Peace - Editorial
President Obama's assessment this week of the prospects for Middle East peace was sobering but realistic. For now, he said, "there still does not appear to be a prospect of a meaningful framework...that would lead to a Palestinian state." "We can't continue to premise our public diplomacy based on something that everybody knows is not going to happen." For those who have criticized the administration for its unwarranted conviction that a peace deal was within reach, that is a welcome change.
The curious thing about Obama's statement is that he attributed this state of affairs to an election-eve statement made by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The prime minister said pretty much what the president did: For now, the conditions don't exist for creating a Palestinian state. The attempt to portray the Israeli leader as a single-handed spoiler makes no sense. In fact, the "framework" for a Palestinian state painstakingly assembled by Secretary of State John F. Kerry was spurned by Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, and the "peace process" has been dormant since that happened nearly a year ago.
Obama appears to be considering breaking with long-standing U.S. policy by supporting a UN Security Council resolution on the terms for Palestinian statehood. That wouldn't improve the regrettable status quo he described. (Washington Post)
- Lawmakers Propose U.S.-Israel Anti-Tunnel Defense Cooperation
Reps. Gwen Graham (D-Fla.) and Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.) introduced legislation Tuesday to authorize joint U.S.-Israel research and development of an anti-tunneling defense system to protect Israel from terrorist attacks. "Every day, our closest ally in the Middle East - Israel - lives under the constant threat of terrorist attacks launched from underground tunnels," Graham said. The initiative is seen as similar to the 2011 legislative authorization for the highly successful Iron Dome Anti-Missile Defense System, which has stopped more than 1,200 rockets from hitting Israel.
Lamborn added, "This past summer Iron Dome, the joint U.S.-Israel-developed technology, saved thousands of Israeli citizens' lives. Now, Hamas and other terrorist groups are taking to the underground tunnels....I hope that this cooperation with Israel will emulate the success of Iron Dome."
The anti-tunneling defense technology discovered in this joint project could also be used to protect American military bases and its borders with Mexico and Canada. The bipartisan legislation is endorsed by AIPAC.
(Rep. Gwen Graham)
- Israelis Say Obama Support for Palestinians May Hinder Peace - Calev Ben-David
Israeli Minister of Energy and Water Resources Silvan Shalom said Obama administration support for unilateral diplomatic moves by the Palestinians would violate the U.S.-backed Oslo peace accords of the 1990s. "An imposed settlement between Israel and the Palestinians is doomed to failure," Shalom told Israel Radio on Wednesday. During more than two decades, the U.S. has consistently opposed Palestinian moves to sidestep talks by appealing to the UN for statehood recognition.
Interior Minister Gilad Erdan told Channel 2 TV that the administration is making a mistake by focusing on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at a time when radical Islamic forces are destabilizing the region.
"Obama has declared war on Netanyahu and his criticism is starting to look like overkill," said Eytan Gilboa, professor of political science at Bar-Ilan University. "His suggesting that the U.S. will abstain on, or even support, the Palestinian statehood initiative at the UN will generate more backlash." (Bloomberg)
The Rising Tide of Anti-Semitism - Ronald S. Lauder (Jerusalem Post)
- Seventy years after World War II, the age-old virus of anti-Semitism has returned to the streets of Paris and Toulouse, Brussels and Copenhagen, and even Berlin.
- Jews make up less than 1% of the population of France, but they were victims of more than half of all the racist attacks in that country last year. In Great Britain and in Austria, anti-Semitic attacks doubled from the year before.
- How could this happen in 2015? There are huge populations of Muslim immigrants throughout Europe. Most are peaceful, but far too many have adopted radical Islam.
- At the same time, we have seen the rise of smaller right-wing neo-Nazi groups that have become political forces in Hungary and Greece and have been seen on the streets in Germany and France.
- And there is a third force, an educated, elitist class - from universities to the media - that has a pathological hatred of Israel.
The writer is president of the World Jewish Congress. This is based on his testimony this week to the U.S. House Subcommittee on Global Human Rights.
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