Israel Foiled 180 Shooting Attacks in West Bank in 2016 (Israel Hayom)
Israeli security forces foiled 180 shooting attacks across the West Bank in 2016, a senior defense official revealed Sunday.
The majority of terrorist cells uncovered were local, devoid of any direct affiliation with the major terrorist groups.
"Hamas is encouraging terrorist attacks, but these cells don't receive their orders from it. There's an atmosphere of violence, and much of it is inspired by the Islamic State group and the terrorist attacks in Europe," the official said.
Deaths in Syria Spur Unease in Turkey - Emre Peker (Wall Street Journal)
Turkey sustained its bloodiest week battling Islamic State in Syria with 16 Turkish soldiers killed by Islamic State suicide attacks, bringing to 35 the number of Turkish fatalities in its military campaign.
Turkish television stations broadcast live funerals on Friday, with crying mothers and fathers hugging the caskets of killed soldiers.
Former Middle East Negotiator: U.S. Abstention at UN "Ill-Advised" - Barney Breen-Portnoy (Algemeiner)
The Obama administration's decision to abstain from Friday's anti-Israel UN Security Council resolution was "ill-timed" and "ill-advised," former U.S. Middle East negotiator Aaron David Miller, a vice president at the Wilson Center, told Algemeiner on Sunday. "It will create all kinds of problems."
"The reality is the Israeli-Palestinian peace process is not ready for prime time. It's missing several key ingredients and unless those ingredients are restored, it's hard to imagine that this is going to go anywhere other than south."
Rejecting the False Notion that Israel Is an "Occupier" - Alan Clemmons (Jerusalem Post)
"Occupier" is nothing more than a polite way of calling Israel a thief, suggesting that Jewish invaders colonized territory belonging to the Arabs, which therefore must be restored to its rightful, victimized owners.
To suggest that the Jews are occupiers in a region that has been known as Judea for over 3,000 years is no less ridiculous than to suggest that Arabs are occupiers in Arabia.
The writer, a member of the South Carolina House of Representatives, was the originating sponsor of the first state anti-BDS legislation in the U.S. in 2015.
Obama's Parting Betrayal of Israel - John Bolton (Wall Street Journal)
UN Security Council Resolution 2334, a measure ostensibly about Israeli settlement policy, is clearly intended to tip the peace process toward the Palestinians.
President Obama argues that Resolution 2334 continues a bipartisan American policy toward the Middle East. It does precisely the opposite.
The White House has abandoned any pretense that the actual parties to the conflict must resolve their differences. Instead, the president has essentially endorsed the Palestinian politico-legal narrative.
Obama has rendered America complicit in assaulting Israel.
The writer, a former U.S. ambassador to the UN, is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.
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- Weakened Militarily, ISIS Still Has Power to Sow Deadly Mayhem - Robert F. Worth
In the past year, even while under near continuous bombardment, the Islamic State has claimed responsibility for more than three dozen attacks in 16 countries on four continents.
"ISIS' claim to represent the caliphate has clearly been a trump card," said Bernard Haykel, a professor of Near Eastern studies at Princeton University. "It stirs deep sentiments...about a utopian and powerful Muslim empire." Many young Islamic State converts are genuinely thrilled to be taking part in a venture that aims to redraw the map and reverse the moral polarities of what they see as a fallen world.
"Once it loses its territory, ISIS will become another lost jihadist cause," Haykel said. "Al-Qaeda has the advantage of being an ideology that is not tied to a territory or an institution like the caliphate."
(New York Times)
- Iran's Currency Hits Record Low as Trump Worries Deter Fund Inflows - Bozorgmehr Sharafedin
Iran's rial hit a record low against the U.S. dollar on Monday in a sign of concern about the country's ability to attract foreign money after U.S. president-elect Donald Trump takes office.
The rial was quoted in the free market at 41,500 to the dollar, weakening from 41,250 on Sunday and 35,570 in mid-September. Inflows of foreign funds since January have been smaller than the government expected, partly because big international banks fear running into U.S. legal trouble if they deal with Iran.
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Netanyahu after UN Vote: "Israel Will Not Turn the Other Cheek"
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday:
"I read in several newspapers this morning that they are complaining about my vigorous stand against the countries that voted against us at the UN. Israel is a country with national pride and we do not turn the other cheek. This is a responsible, measured and vigorous response, the natural response of a healthy people that is making it clear to the nations of the world that what was done at the UN is unacceptable to us."
"There is no diplomatic wisdom in being ingratiating. Not only will our relations with the nations of the world not be harmed, over time they will only improve because the nations of the world respect strong countries that stand up for themselves and do not respect weak, ingratiating countries that bow their heads." (Prime Minister's Office)
- Israeli Envoy: Obama Gave Palestinians Ammunition for Diplomatic War on Israel
The Israeli ambassador to the U.S., Ron Dermer, said Monday that President Obama has given the Palestinians ammunition for waging a multi-pronged war on Israel by refusing to wield a U.S. veto at the UN Security Council. Dermer defended the Israeli government's response to the resolution on CNN, saying, "Israel is not going to be kicked in the teeth and just not respond to this....We can't just meet with visiting dignitaries as if nothing has happened; this a serious effort against Israel." He pointed to Hamas' praising of the resolution as proof. "Israel's enemies are celebrating this resolution; that tells you all you need to know."
"Obama gave the Palestinians exactly what they wanted, he gave them the ammunition for a political, diplomatic and legal war against Israel," Dermer said, adding that the decision "basically encourages boycotts and sanctions against Israel." (Times of Israel)
- New Zealand Says Kerry Held Closed-Door Discussion on Anti-Israel UN Resolution - Bret Stephens
The Obama administration claims it did not promote, craft or orchestrate a resolution that treats the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem's Old City as a settlement in illegally occupied territory. Yet in November, John Kerry had a long talk on the subject with the foreign minister of New Zealand, one of the resolution's sponsors.
"One of the closed-door discussions between United States Secretary of State John Kerry and the New Zealand government today was a potential resolution by the United Nations Security Council on a two-state solution for the Israel-Palestine conflict," the New Zealand Herald reported last month. "It is a conversation we are engaged in deeply and we've spent some time talking to Secretary Kerry about where the U.S. might go on this," Foreign Minister Murray McCully said.
We have the spectacle of the U.S. government hiding behind the skirts of the foreign minister of New Zealand - along with eminent co-sponsors, Venezuela, Malaysia and Senegal - in order to embarrass and endanger a democratic ally in a forum where that ally is already isolated and bullied. In the catalog of low points in American diplomacy, this one ranks high.
(Wall Street Journal)
- Do the Palestinians Really Want a State? - David Harris
While Israeli settlement-building is unquestionably a highly contentious matter, the core issue in the conflict has always been the refusal by the Palestinians and their supporters to recognize Israel's legitimacy and negotiate in good faith a lasting peace deal. That was true in 1947-8, when a two-state solution was proposed by the UN; in 1967; in 2000-1; in 2008; during the ten-month (2009-10) settlement freeze that Israel adopted under Prime Minister Netanyahu in response to an American request; and in 2013-14, the most recent attempt at direct, bilateral talks facilitated by the U.S. Why aren't UN Security Council members asking the Palestinians to explain seven decades of avoiding a settlement of the conflict?
The Palestinians' seeking to internationalize the conflict has only convinced many Israelis that the Palestinian leadership has no real interest in finding a solution, only in waging a struggle. By now, it should be abundantly clear, though, that Israel is strong, and getting stronger, and that any notion Israel will fall to its knees and succumb to the pressure is just a fanciful illusion.
Israel has enduring treaties with Egypt and Jordan. In both cases, they were reached not through the UN, but rather via face-to-face talks. Israel made unprecedented territorial concessions, but did so confident that Egyptian President Sadat and Jordanian King Hussein had made sincere decisions to abandon war with the Jewish state.
Instead of infantilizing and coddling the Palestinians, succumbing to their every misguided whim, and endorsing their counter-productive behavior, isn't it high time to see the situation as it is for both parties (and not only for the Palestinians), learn from the past, and help create conditions for tangible progress? The writer is the executive director of the American Jewish Committee (AJC).
- From an International Law Perspective, This Is Not an Occupation - Mark Goldfeder
The president's decision to support the UN resolution was wrong as a matter of law.
Article 6 of the 1922 League of Nations Mandate for Palestine explicitly encouraged "close settlement by Jews on the land." Legal scholars such as Eugene Kontorovich and Abraham Bell have noted that international law clearly dictates that Israel inherited the boundaries of the Mandate of Palestine as they existed in May 1948. Israel thus has title to the land.
If there was ever an occupation of territory, it happened in 1948 when two invading Arab armies, Jordan (in the West Bank) and Egypt (in Gaza), occupied territory that they had taken through aggressive action that is forbidden under international law. Thus to give meaning to the "pre-67 lines" is to retroactively ratify aggression and support occupation.
In short, Israel was given land under a Mandate that was never repealed, two other countries attacked Israel and squatted on the land for a while, and then, when they attacked Israel again and lost, Israel regained the land it had originally been given. Israel has exclusive title and sovereignty; from an international law perspective, this is not an occupation.
So long as institutions like the UN continue to issue one-sided statements that ignore foundational concepts in international law - pressuring the Israeli leadership to concede more and more while ignoring their previous concessions and failing to hold the Palestinian leadership accountable for their actions - real peace cannot happen. The writer is a senior lecturer at Emory Law School and a senior fellow at the Center for the Study of Law and Religion.
The Dangers of UN Security Council Resolution 2334 (2016) - Alan Baker (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
- The Palestinian leadership, having initiated the UN Security Council resolution regarding Israel's settlement policy, is celebrating its adoption on Dec. 23, 2016, as an affirmation of its claims against Israel.
- Israel sees this resolution as a major impediment to continued peace negotiations in light of the fact that it bypasses the negotiation process in an attempt to prejudge central issues that are on the negotiating table.
- The resolution (as all previous resolutions regarding Israel) was adopted under the sixth chapter of the UN Charter (Pacific Settlement of Disputes) and as such is not mandatory. Its determinations as to the lack of legal validity of Israel's settlements are no more than declaratory.
- Expressions not previously included in major Security Council resolutions regarding the peace process, such as a "two-state solution based on the 1967 lines," as well as references to the "Arab Peace Initiative" and the "principle of land for peace" as additional bases for peace, clearly are intended to instill concepts that have never been agreed-upon elements in the negotiating process.
- The reference to the "4 June 1967 lines" as a basis for negotiations would appear to be a new element, running counter to the 1967 Security Council Resolution 242, which is the basis for the entire Arab-Israeli peace process, which calls for negotiation of "secure and recognized boundaries." The Israeli-Palestinian Oslo Accords make no specific reference to the 1967 lines. As such, this reference would appear to be an attempt to prejudge or unduly influence the negotiating issue of borders.
- The outrage voiced by Israel stems from five basic components:
- The text of the resolution, which is unprecedented in the extent of the condemnatory language used.
- Israel's frustration at the irresponsible behavior by the Obama administration.
- The evident irreversibility of the resolution and the potential for future damage.
- The imbalance between accusations of Israeli violations of the Oslo Accords and the Palestinians' blatant violations of international law in their incitement and payment to terrorists.
- The issue of settlements is not the core of the conflict. It remains the Palestinians' refusal to recognize the Jewish State and its right to any part of the land west of the Jordan River.
Amb. Alan Baker, former legal adviser and deputy director-general of Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, participated in the negotiation and drafting of the Oslo Accords with the Palestinians.
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