Enlisting Moderate Arab States for Israel-Palestinian Peace Will Soon Be Put to the Test - Arye Mekel (Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies-Bar-Ilan University)
The current American "peace team" will find it hard to make progress for a number of reasons. The Arab world is preoccupied with Iran and terrorism, and they are less concerned with the Palestinian issue.
Syria continues to bleed, the Palestinians themselves are divided between Hamas in Gaza and the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, and tensions between the two are on the rise.
Moreover, even if Israel were to offer the most generous possible settlement, there is no chance that PA President Mahmoud Abbas would sign the agreement. He would simply go on about the demand for "the Palestinian right of return."
The Palestinians are also skeptical of Kushner and Greenblatt because of their Jewishness.
The American administration hopes an outside-in approach that sees the leaders of the Arab world join the initiative would be harder for the Palestinians to reject. That will soon be put to the test.
Amb. Arye Mekel is a veteran Israeli diplomat and former spokesman for the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Egypt Becomes Surprise New Player in Syria, to Israel's Delight - Zvi Bar'el (Ha'aretz)
Egypt has recently contributed to establishing local cease-fires in the Syrian arena after receiving Saudi and Russian permission to conduct negotiations between the rebel militias and the regime, both in Ghouta al-Sharqiya (east of Damascus) and the northern neighborhoods in the city of Homs.
From Israel's standpoint, Egypt's involvement is important. Any country engaged in blocking Iran's influence in Syria serves Israel's interests.
That's especially true when the country is Egypt, which is Israel's partner in the war on terror in Sinai and an ally (together with Saudi Arabia and Jordan) against the Iranian threat.
Europe's Challenges Open the Market for Israel's Arms Industry - Elai Rettig and Yotam Rosner (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)
In 2015, Europe became the second largest destination for Israeli arms exports as the scope of European defense deals more than doubled from 2014.
The surge in Israeli arms procurement is linked to a general growth in the defense budgets of European countries and comes in the wake of the rise in terrorist incidents and the problems created by the flood of refugees.
A significant increase in defense expenditures has also occurred in Eastern Europe, against a backdrop of fears of Russian aggression.
Broad-scale armament is currently underway in Poland, Romania, Estonia, Finland, and Hungary.
Still, Israel must follow a cautious policy in authorizing defense exports, since they could have an impact on Israel's relations with Moscow.
The writers are research associates at INSS.
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- ISIS Terrorists Planned to Blow Up Barcelona's Sagrada Familia Basilica - Nick Craven
A 12-member Islamic State cell intended to target hundreds of innocent victims with truck bombings at the Sagrada Familia basilica - Barcelona's most famous landmark - and the city docks, as well as the Las Ramblas pedestrian boulevard. But an accidental blast on Wednesday destroyed their bomb factory in Alcanar, 120 miles south of Barcelona.
Investigators sifting through the rubble in Alcanar found traces of TATP, which was used in the Tube bombings in London in July 2005 and the May attack this year in Manchester. It was also used in the November 2015 Paris atrocity and the March 2016 Brussels bombings.
(Mail on Sunday-UK)
- Arab Foreign Ministers Welcome U.S. Mideast Mediation
The Palestinian, Egyptian and Jordanian foreign ministers expressed support Saturday for U.S. Middle East peace efforts at a Cairo meeting ahead of a White House delegation visit to the region. The ministers said they "appreciated the American role to achieve peace" between the Israelis and Palestinians and "look forward to the U.S. administration intensifying its efforts in the coming period." (AFP)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Israel Foils Palestinian Stabbing Attack in West Bank - Jacob Magid
After a Palestinian man approached Israeli Border Police officers with a knife and tried to attack them at Tapuah Junction in the northern West Bank on Saturday, he was shot and killed. One officer was wounded by shrapnel. Channel 2 reported that Qutaiba Zahran, 17, had left a note for his parents saying that he had gone out to carry out a "revenge attack" and not to mourn him because he was now a "martyr." (Times of Israel)
- In the Darkest Basement of the Palestinian Authority - Yishai Friedman
Last month, in a case originally filed 15 years ago, the Jerusalem District Court ruled that immediately after the Oslo Accords, the Palestinian Authority established a cruel mechanism which kidnapped, beat and tortured Palestinians and Israeli citizens who were suspected of aiding Israel. The 2,000-page ruling documented the testimonies of tens of Palestinians who described the tortures they suffered at the hands of Arafat's PA from its establishment until 2002.
Many of the plaintiffs were Palestinians who had escaped from the PA after Israel retook control of the West Bank in 2002. Some had been held prisoner in Arafat's Mukata'a headquarters in Ramallah. "One of the plaintiffs claimed that there was less torture under ISIS," said a lawyer who worked on the case. "They would decapitate a person and that would be the end of it, while those imprisoned by the PA would be tortured for years." Some of the plaintiffs testified that senior PA officials would accuse innocent people of aiding Israel in order to take over their money and property.
See also Israeli Courts to Let Palestinians Sue PA for Torture - Yonah Jeremy Bob (Jerusalem Post)
- The Temple Mount Affair: What Has Changed? - Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser
The events at the Temple Mount revealed not only how much Palestinians believe in the "Al-Aqsa is in danger" libel, but also how this belief affects young Palestinians' preparedness to commit terror attacks amid incessant incitement on the Al-Aqsa issue across the Palestinian political spectrum.
At the same time, from the moment an attack is carried out, its perpetrators become part of the fighters of Palestinian society, and if they are killed during the attack they merit to be called "martyrs" - those who die on behalf of Allah, Islam, and the Palestinian national goals - with their families entitled to monthly payments from the PA.
While Israel's own status on the Temple Mount sustained no evident damage, a new reality has emerged in which Israel has acknowledged the limits of its ability to stipulate the rules of the game. It has also recognized the status of the PA and Jordan as actors capable of deploying popular demonstrations in the streets in a controlled, competent fashion, meaning Israel must consult with them in advance before making any move that affects the Mount.
The Temple Mount affair indicates some important lessons regarding American efforts to jumpstart the diplomatic process. The hope that the pragmatic Arab states will take part in an effort and prepare the groundwork to moderate the Palestinian position does not stand any significant chance of being realized. The Palestinians are caught up in a sense of achievement, which inspires them to harden their positions.
The writer, , former chief of the research division in IDF Military Intelligence and director general of the Israel Ministry of Strategic Affairs, is director of the Project on Regional Middle East Developments at the Jerusalem Center.
(Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
- Removal of the Temple Mount Metal Detectors Was a Sign of Israel's Maturity - Maj. Gen. (ret.) Yaakov Amidror
From a narrow, local perspective, there was solid logic behind the decision to place metal detectors at the gates leading to the Temple Mount following the July 14 murder of two policemen at the site. However, the Temple Mount is bigger than that, as it is very significant not only to Israelis, but also to Palestinians and to Jordan, which controls the Waqf, the Islamic trust that acts as custodian of the site.
The decision to reconsider the metal detectors indicated maturity and self-confidence on the part of the Jewish state. Once it became clear that this was neither the time nor the place to prove Israel's might, there was no point in insisting on them. Israel did well to grant the Jordanian request and ease pressure off its ally in the war on terror.
In hindsight, the events on the Temple Mount, serious as they were, had little effect on Israel's relations with the Jordanians or the Palestinians. Israel demonstrated responsibility and managed to maintain its strategic relations with Jordan.
The writer is former National Security Advisor to the Prime Minister of Israel and former Head of Israel's National Security Council.
- The Wrong Address to Apply Pressure - Gal Levertov
Two states for two peoples is an Israeli interest and should be a Palestinian interest as well.
Yitzhak Rabin did his best to reach a peace agreement with the Palestinians and brought the Oslo Agreement. Shimon Peres worked to create a "new Middle East." Ariel Sharon uprooted settlements in Gaza and the West Bank. And Ehud Barak offered Arafat everything he could at Camp David in 2000.
The reality is that the Palestinian leadership today is not willing to compromise and divide the land, and continues to seek to establish its state not alongside Israel but in place of it.
While many states continue to insist on pressuring Israel, the reality is that there will never be a peace agreement as long as they continue to pressure the side that wants an agreement, instead of the side that opposes it. The writer heads the international affairs department of the Israel State Attorney's Office.
North Korea and Iran: Different Rationales for a Nuclear Program - Moshe Arens (Ha'aretz)
- Both North Korea and Iran have no compunctions about exporting their deadly know-how to other countries and terrorist organizations. Through them, ballistic missiles have proliferated in the Arab Middle East.
- The Syrian nuclear reactor, destroyed in 2007, was built by the North Koreans. It is also rumored that North Korea is helping Iran circumvent the restrictions of the nuclear agreement they signed.
- In determining a policy that will curb the two countries' nuclear ambitions, it is important to take account of the differences in the rationale that underlies each program.
- For North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, the possession of ballistic missiles and nuclear warheads is an insurance policy to achieve immunity for himself and his regime from attacks by countries hostile to him. There is no reason to assume that Kim would use his nuclear weapons to take offensive action, as he surely knows that would be a suicidal move that spells the end of him and his regime.
- With the Iranians it is an entirely different story. For the ayatollahs in Tehran, the ability to deliver nuclear warheads over long distances is also an insurance policy, but it is not their end goal. It is a lever to becoming the dominant power in the Middle East.
- Even now they are promoting terrorism against those they consider their enemies. Today Iran effectively rules Iraq and parts of Syria, Lebanon and Yemen, while threatening Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States and Israel.
The writer served as Israel's Minister of Defense three times and once as Minister of Foreign Affairs.
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