Turkish, Israeli Top Soldiers Meet for First Time Since Rapprochement - Sevil Erkus (Hurriyet-Turkey)
Turkey's chief of general staff, Gen. Hulusi Akar, has met his Israeli counterpart for the first time since the two countries normalized their ties last year, on the sidelines of a NATO conference for defense heads on Jan. 17-18 in Brussels.
Turkey and Israel will conduct political consultations within a month and draft an agenda for cooperation that will also include military cooperation, a Turkish Foreign Ministry official said, adding that both countries needed to consult on regional security issues such as Syria.
Jerusalem: An Arab View - Abed L. Azab (Ha'aretz-Hebrew)
After the initial shock of the 1967 Six-Day War, the residents of eastern Jerusalem slowly began to integrate into the life of the State of Israel of their own free will.
I know that to say this is heretical, but there have been thousands of cases of residents who fought hard to gain an Israeli identity card. The direct contact with the Israeli economy greatly benefited the city's residents.
In the early 1980s, the Old City of Jerusalem experienced amazing economic growth. New businesses opened at a rapid pace and some residents became rich. Working in Israel also contributed to this prosperity.
I hate to say this, but if the government of Israel and the city improve the lives of the residents of eastern Jerusalem a bit more, I doubt very much if they will want the city to serve as the capital of Palestine.
Dr. Abed L. Azab is a chemist and teacher who lives in Israel.
3/4 of Israel's Arab Citizens Consider "Israeli" a Part of Their Identity - Robert Cherry (RealClearWorld)
In the past decade, the Israeli government has initiated efforts that have dramatically improved the occupational and educational attainment of its Arab citizens.
Today, Israeli Arabs comprise 21% of the Israeli population and 23% of Israeli doctors. Arabs now comprise 16% of first-year students in higher education, compared to 8% a decade earlier. Arabs now comprise 28% of students at the Technion.
Between 2005 and 2011, inflation-adjusted Arab net family income increased by 7.4%. As a result, the share of Arab families that were "very satisfied" with their economic conditions rose from 40% in 2004-2005 to 60% in 2010-2011.
Three-quarters of Israeli Arabs consider "Israeli" a part of their identity.
The writer is a professor of economics at Brooklyn College and CUNY Graduate Center.
Israel Raises Height of Barrier on Egypt Border (AFP-Al-Ahram-Egypt)
Israel said Tuesday it has finished raising the height of an electronic fence along a 17 km. stretch of its border with Egypt from 5 to 8 meters to help block illegal migration, drug and weapons trafficking and infiltration by terrorists.
The barrier, stretching from Gaza to Eilat on the Red Sea was completed in 2014, but 213 African migrants still managed to breach the fence in 2015. Only 11 did so in 2016.
See also Video: Raising the Israel-Egypt Border Fence (Israel Ministry of Defense)
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- U.S. UN Nominee Nikki Haley to Blast World Body over Israel
South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, President-elect Donald Trump's nominee to be U.S. ambassador to the UN, will blast the world body over its treatment of Israel at her Senate confirmation hearing, according to prepared testimony seen by Reuters on Tuesday. "Nowhere has the UN's failure been more consistent and more outrageous than in its bias against our close ally Israel," Haley said in opening remarks to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday.
"Any honest assessment also finds an institution that is often at odds with American national interests and American taxpayers....Are we getting what we pay for?" She promised to work with U.S. lawmakers to pursue "seriously needed change" at the UN.
- U.S. Forces Team with Turkey to Attack ISIS in Syria - Andrew deGrandpre
American warplanes and combat advisers are once again backing Turkish military units battling Islamic State fighters in northern Syria. Four airstrikes Tuesday near the town of al Bab hit Islamic State construction equipment and tactical vehicles, said Air Force Col. John Dorrian, a spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition. Dorrian indicated the mission most likely was enabled by American ground troops working nearby.
Turkish forces have suffered significant casualties while battling ISIS militants in al Bab, 20 miles south of Turkey's border with Syria. Russian military aircraft have also begun hitting Islamic State targets in the area. Turkish officials have indicted they had no choice but to seek Russia's help. Dorrian indicated that U.S. commanders are talking with their Russian counterparts about operations in and around al Bab.
See also U.S. Increasing Airdrops of Supplies to Forces Battling ISIS in Syria - Jim Michaels
The U.S. Air Force is increasing airdrops of weapons, ammunition and other equipment to opposition forces closing in on Raqqa, the Islamic State's de facto capital in Syria. The U.S.-led coalition is backing a force of 45,000 tribal and irregular forces in Syria with airstrikes and teams of U.S. Special Forces, who are providing advice and training. The supplies are guided onto landing zones using GPS technology and steerable parachutes. (USA Today)
See also Islamic State Surrounds Military Airport in Eastern Syria - Kareem Shaheen
Islamic State fighters from Iraq's Anbar province broke through government defense lines in the Syrian city of Deir ez-Zor in eastern Syria on Monday, surrounding a military airport and cutting off food supplies for a quarter of a million civilians.
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Ex-IDF Officer: Time to Stop PA Terror and Martyr Payments - Herb Keinon
Israel should ask the U.S. to help stop Palestinian Authority payments to terrorists and their families, Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs said on Tuesday. "One of the things that we should ask of the Americans is to lead an effort among donors to the Palestinian Authority - and set an example itself - not to pay money to terrorists." The U.S. and other donor states need to "prevent a situation where American money is being used for terrorism against Israel, and also against Americans who have been killed in attacks."
The PA pays around $300 million every year "as salaries to Palestinian terrorists in Israeli jails, continuing after they are released, and to the families of dead terrorists and other Palestinians who died fighting against Zionism."
This amounts to more than 20% of the annual foreign aid to the PA.
"The salaries are guaranteed in advance to the terrorists and their families, thus making the Palestinian Authority solicitors of terrorism activities and directly responsible for them." Israel must clarify to the international community that in spite of its interest in the existence of the PA and in promoting peace with the Palestinians, "it is not going to tolerate the ongoing Palestinian support and solicitation of terrorism." Kuperwasser is former director-general of Israel's Strategic Affairs Ministry and former head of the Research Division of IDF Military Intelligence. (Jerusalem Post)
See also Incentivizing Terrorism: Palestinian Authority Allocations to Terrorists and their Families - Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
- Palestinian Tries to Stab Soldiers at West Bank Checkpoint
On Tuesday, "an assailant armed with a knife attempted to stab an IDF soldier at a crossing adjacent to Tulkarem. Responding to the imminent threat, forces fired towards the attacker, resulting in his death," the Israel Defense Forces said.
In another incident, Israel Police revealed they thwarted a planned stabbing attack in Jerusalem on Monday. A Palestinian who did not have a permit to be in Israel was arrested on a bus in east Jerusalem. He admitted that he intended to reach the Damascus Gate entrance to the Old City of Jerusalem where he planned to stab security forces. (Times of Israel)
- France Does Not Understand the Middle East - Avi Dichter
The Paris conference was not a peace conference. Never before have so many senior international officials been so removed from the horrible crimes that are happening today between Arabs and Muslims across the region.
The ongoing wars in a collapsed Libya, the occupation of Yemen by the Iran-backed Houthis, the chaos in Iraq, Iranian operations in the strategic Bab el Mandeb Red Sea shipping lane, the wave of terrorism in Egypt, the six years of violence perpetrated on the Syrian people by Bashar al-Assad, and the terror attacks in Nice, Paris, Berlin, Istanbul and elsewhere in Europe have no connection to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.
The gaps in French understanding of what is really happening in the Middle East are a serious cause for concern. We are the ones who will decide about our future here in Israel. The French have the right to state their opinion, but not the right to make decisions on our behalf. The writer, chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, is a former head of the Israel Security Agency.
- U.S. Vote at UN Paves the Way to Terror - Evelyn Gordon
A few weeks ago, the security threat Israel faced from Palestinian terror looked relatively low. But Israeli defense officials reported a sharp upsurge in attempted Palestinian attacks in the two weeks since the UN Security Council passed a resolution condemning Israeli settlements on December 23.
After the UN resolution, followed by Kerry's speech on the peace process, the PA felt free to ramp its incitement back up to full force. And it did, to deadly effect.
Shortly before the resolution passed, a Jerusalem Post reporter who asked more than two dozen east Jerusalem Palestinians what they thought of reported plans to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem couldn't find a single one who cared. But then the PA, bolstered by the resolution and Kerry's speech, ordered all imams under its control to devote their sermons on Friday, January 6 to why the embassy move was unacceptable and would lead to violence. Kerry himself had said exactly the same thing. And on January 8, an east Jerusalem Palestinian carried out the car-ramming that killed four soldiers. His relatives said he did so after hearing a local imam assail the proposed embassy move in his Friday sermon.
The Obama Administration and U.S.-Israel Relations - Maj.-Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror (Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies-Bar-Ilan University)
- Over the past eight years, Israel had a sympathetic ear in Washington with regard to its security needs. The $38 billion defense aid package and the fact that Israel was the first to receive the state-of-the-art F-35 fighter jet speak to the American commitment to the Jewish state's security for decades to come.
- The relationship between the Israeli and American intelligence agencies continues to be excellent, which would not be possible without direction from the White House. Israel has also received vital U.S. backing in the international arena more than once.
- Still, Washington and Jerusalem were at odds under Obama on important issues. The outgoing administration turned settlement construction in Judea and Samaria into nothing short of an obsession. Washington refrained from pressuring PA President Mahmoud Abbas in any way, even when he failed to agree to the 2014 U.S. framework to reignite the talks.
- With regard to the Iranian nuclear program, the White House made a conscious choice to deceive Israel and conceal the fact that it was holding intensive nuclear negotiations with Iran - an issue that has direct bearing on Israel's very existence.
- Some top officials within the administration thought it was wrong to hide the talks from Israel. Choosing this path cost the U.S. Israel's trust, good will, and, to an extent, professional assistance, which could have reduced the scope of error inherent in the agreement.
- As for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's speech to Congress in March 2015, perceived as an affront to Obama on his own turf,
the new reality presented by the administration required Netanyahu to outline Israel's position in the clearest possible way, especially before the American public, which is Israel's most important friend.
- Issues pertaining directly to the fate of the Jewish people must be addressed out loud, and it is right to do so in the highest seats of power. As Kerry himself said, friends must tell each other the truth. Netanyahu had to consider that the bad deal inked between world powers and Iran might one day require Israel to use force to stop the Islamic Republic's nuclear program from developing military dimensions. He had to lay the moral groundwork that would justify such extreme measures.
The writer is former National Security Advisor to the Prime Minister of Israel and former Head of Israel's National Security Council.
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