Israeli-Palestinian Security Cooperation Increasing - Avi Issacharoff (Times of Israel)
The past two months have seen a significant drop in the number of arrests and raids by Israeli forces in Palestinian Authority territory, as the Palestinian security services have been carrying out many arrests of Palestinians who were planning stabbing and shooting attacks and bombings.
In general, the level of operations by PA security forces has significantly risen in recent months, and Palestinian officers are also active in the villages surrounding Jerusalem.
Jewish Fertility Surpasses Arab Fertility in Jerusalem - Nadav Shragai and Efrat Forsher (Israel Hayom)
The fertility rate for Jewish women in Jerusalem is now 4.3 children, compared with a fertility rate among the city's Arab women of 3.3 children, according to the Statistical Yearbook of Jerusalem, published by the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies.
At the same time, the city's overall Arab population has continued to grow while the Jewish majority has shrunk.
This is due to Jewish migration from the city stemming from a lack of available housing, as construction has fallen off due to international political pressure.
Israel Is Not the Cause of the Middle East's Problems - Steven A. Cook (Council on Foreign Relations)
The debates that occupy us in the West about Israel, its conflict with the Palestinians, and the country's role in the world seem divorced from reality when confronted with the actual experience of contemporary Israel.
For as long as anyone can remember, Israelis have been arguing that the conflict with the Palestinians is not the cause of the Middle East's various problems. But the world insisted on "linkage" - after Operation Desert Storm in 1991, there was a big push to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Now, with Syria consumed by violence, Iraq struggling with the political forces that have been pulling it apart since the U.S. invasion in 2003, Yemen failing, Libya fragmenting, and Egypt lurching from crisis to crisis, the Israelis say, "You see, none of this has anything to do with us or the Palestinians." They are correct.
The writer is a Senior Fellow for Middle East and Africa Studies at CFR.
Israel-Arab Economic Cooperation in Jordan - Sever Plocker (Ynet News)
A project was founded in Jordan by a group of Israeli farmers who had been evacuated from the Gush Katif settlements as part of the 2005 Gaza disengagement.
They cultivate organic vegetables, relying on hundreds of Muslim workers - many of them refugees from Syria - and then export the produce to the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community in Israel, and to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
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- Key Info Missing from UN Report on Iran's Nuclear Program - Russ Read
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN nuclear watchdog, furnished its second report on Iran's nuclear program Friday. The Institute for Science and International Security found that "the IAEA report continues to lack technical details about critical implementation issues....Without this information, an independent determination of whether Iran is complying with the JCPOA is not possible."
The amount of low-enriched uranium (LEU) in Iran's possession is missing from the report, as well as how much has been sent out of Iran, diluted and produced. The report also provides no information as to how many centrifuges are operating in Iran's Natanz nuclear facility. (Daily Caller)
See also IAEA's Second JCPOA Report: Key Information Still Missing - David Albright, Serena Kelleher-Vergantini, and Andrea Stricker (Institute for Science and International Security)
- Ignoring Turkey, U.S. Backs Kurds in Drive Against ISIS in Syria - Liz Sly and Karen DeYoung
U.S. commandos are accompanying the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) as they push toward Manbij in Aleppo province, backed by intense U.S. airstrikes, Col. Chris Garver, a U.S. military spokesman, said Wednesday. Capturing Manbij would sever a vital supply route, cut off militant fighters and further squeeze the Islamic State in the Syrian city of Raqqa, Garver said.
However, Turkey this week reiterated its opposition to using the SDF, which is dominated by the Kurdish People's Protection Units, or YPG, which has ties to the militant Turkish Kurdish PKK, designated as a terrorist organization by both the U.S. and Turkey.
Turkey fears that Kurdish advances will encourage Kurdish separatist sentiments inside Turkey.
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Netanyahu: Path to Peace Doesn't Pass through International Conferences
Prime Ministry Netanyahu said Wednesday: "The way to peace does not go through international conferences that seek to impose agreements, make the Palestinians' demands more extreme and thereby make peace more remote. The way to peace is via direct negotiations without preconditions between the sides. This is how peace was achieved in the past with Egypt and Jordan and this is what needs to be with the Palestinians. If the nations meeting in Paris this week really want to advance peace they should join me in calling on Abbas to come to direct negotiations of this kind. This is the way to peace - there is no other." (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
See also Israel Discussing Paris Middle East Summit with U.S. - Herb Keinon
Israel is holding intensive talks with Washington regarding how the French-led Middle East summit meeting in Paris on Friday will proceed, and what conclusions will emerge.
- Gold: Improved Ties with Arab World Could Lead to Peace with Palestinians - Raphael Ahren
"The conventional wisdom for the last few decades has been that a solution to the Palestinian issue will result in improved ties between Israel and the Arab world," Israel Foreign Ministry Director-General Dore Gold said on Wednesday. "But there is a serious basis for thinking that, actually, the sequence is exactly the opposite - that by improving ties with the Arab states, we set the stage for a future breakthrough with the Palestinians."
Gold has recently met with officials from Arab countries, including those with which Israel has no formal ties.
(Times of Israel)
See also Kahlon: Chance of Major Diplomatic Breakthrough on Regional Level - Jonathan Lis
Israeli Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon suggested Wednesday that the chance of a major diplomatic breakthrough for Israel on a regional level is more than just rumor, referring to a "historic window of opportunity that has been created." "The rumors and talk of a substantial diplomatic process in our region are based on a lot more than just hints in the newspapers. There is the possibility of a significant change in direction on a regional level," he said.
- Don't Expect Much from the French Summit on Middle East Peace - Aaron David Miller
After 20-plus years of planning mostly failed Middle East peace conferences, I know a fatally flawed one when I see it.
The French peace initiative that opens Friday in Paris can't deliver a serious and sustained negotiating process, let alone a breakthrough. Motivation for real breakthroughs does not exist, given the gaps between Israel and the Palestinians on the big issues.
Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu is unwilling to accept Palestinian terms for a settlement and sees little reason to participate in an international forum that might pressure him to do so. Moreover, the French approach has no chance of sustained survival without U.S. endorsement, but President Obama is not looking for an open fight with the Israelis before Election Day. The writer is a vice president at the Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars.
(Wall Street Journal)
- The Centrality of Islam in Muslim Political Identity - Martin Kramer
In 1976, Bernard Lewis, the eminent British historian of the Middle East, warned the West in an essay titled: "The Return of Islam" that a new era was beginning in the region - one that would produce a tide of revolution, assassination, and terrorism, conceived and executed explicitly in the name of Islam.
Lewis, the author of some 30 books and 200 articles, who just celebrated his 100th birthday, was not only the first to alert the world to the possibility of Islamic upheavals; he demonstrated that they were not deviations at all, but a resumption of Islam's ancient feud with the West.
"The Return of Islam" began with a full-scale critique of the way Westerners had failed, time and again, to account for Islam as a political factor. From medieval times to the present day, he wrote, the West had shown a "recurring unwillingness to recognize the nature of Islam or even the fact of Islam as an independent, different, and autonomous religious phenomenon." He noted in a follow-up article, "If, then, we are to understand anything at all about what is happening in the Muslim world at the present time and what has happened in the past, there are two essential points which need to be grasped. One is the universality of religion as a factor in the lives of the Muslim peoples, and the other is its centrality."
Islam manifested this universality and centrality not just in daily life, but in identity and loyalty, the fundamental building blocks of political community. In this light, the future trend was absolutely clear. The imported ideas of nationhood, taken for granted as destined to prevail over time, were beating a retreat. The writer is president of Shalem College in Jerusalem. (Mosaic)
See also Video: The Sunni-Shiite Split and the Iranian Threat - Prof. Bernard Lewis interviewed by Dan Diker (2009) (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
Netanyahu: Our Roots in Jerusalem Are Deeper than Any Other People (Prime Minister's Office)
Prime Minister Netanyahu addressed the Knesset on Wednesday in honor of Jerusalem Day.
- On the 49th anniversary of the reunification of Israel's capital, Jerusalem - the beating heart of our nation - is advancing by leaps and bounds. We remember the Jerusalem that was divided until the Six-Day War. We remember the barbed wire fences, the minefields, the no-man's land. We remember them firing from east to west.
- Since our very beginning as a people, our existence was tied to Jerusalem. The vast majority of the public understands that only democratic Israel can safeguard Jerusalem's existence as an open city, one that has freedom for all religions.
- UNESCO, the organization charged by the UN to preserve the world's heritage, recently determined that the Temple Mount has no connection to the Jewish people.
Our forefathers visited the Temple Mount 3,800 years ago. The two temples of the Jewish people stood on the Temple Mount for one thousand years. King David made Jerusalem our capital 3,000 years ago, and ever since, the Jewish people have prayed in the direction of the Temple Mount.
- Does anyone claim that the pyramids in Giza have no connection to the Egyptians? That the Acropolis in Athens has no connection to the Greeks? That the Coliseum in Rome has no connection to the Italians?
- We, the people of Israel, have a primal claim on Jerusalem. Our roots here are deeper than any other people, and the same is true about the Temple Mount.
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