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February 17, 2017

In-Depth Issues:

Poll: Most Palestinians Don't Support a Two-State Solution (JTA)
    A majority of Palestinians do not support a two-state solution to the conflict with Israel, a survey released Wednesday found.
    The survey, conducted in December and released by the Tami Steinmetz Center for Peace Research at Tel Aviv University and the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research in Ramallah, with EU funding, found that 44% of Palestinians back a two-state solution.
    The survey found that 58% of Jewish Israelis and 57% of Palestinians supported a broader regional peace involving the Arab world and Israel.

Israeli Consulate Building in Miami Declared Safe after Bomb Threat - David J. Neal and David Smiley (Miami Herald)
    Miami police Thursday investigated a bomb threat at the New World Tower, which houses the Israeli consulate. After a sweep by the bomb squad dogs, workers were allowed to return to the building.

Israel Shifts Anti-Terror Strategy in Age of ISIS - Giordano Stabile (Worldcrunch-La Stampa-Italy)
    Through his binoculars, Israeli Army Major Elitsur Trabelsi looks down from Mount Gerizim at the West Bank city of Nablus and points out, "There aren't any checkpoints anymore."
    "When I see Berlin, Paris, and other European cities full of concrete barriers I'm taken aback, because it means the terrorists are winning," he says.
    "Experience has taught us in Israel that the fewer barriers you build and the more freedom of movement you give the local population, the more you empower those who want to live in peace and isolate the extremists.... The vast majority of Palestinians want to work and care for their families."
    "We've neutralized many ISIS terror cells," says another army official. "Aspiring ISIS fighters seek external contact with the group's leadership, and this helps us identify them. But this phenomenon shows how forcefully ISIS is trying to supplant Hamas and other extremist groups in the Palestinian territories."

Hizbullah Boosted by Battleground Successes in Syria Conflict - Erika Solomon and John Reed (Financial Times-UK)
    "Hizbullah are the number one [regime] fighters in Syria. We never captured a Hizbullah member in the final stages [of the battle for Aleppo]," said Omar Salakho, a rebel commander.
    Hizbullah "set off on military expeditions far outside their borders and were successful," says an Israeli security consultant. "They did a 180-degree shift from a guerrilla force to an invading force."
    Growing ties between Hizbullah and Iranian-backed paramilitaries in Iraq, known as the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), has in effect created a roving force that may seek to continue wielding power in the region.
    That could have ramifications for Sunni states and U.S. allies, such as Saudi Arabia and Jordan, seeking to curb Iran's influence.

Dershowitz: Trump's "One-State" Comment a Ploy to Pressure Palestinians - Yonah Jeremy Bob (Jerusalem Post)
    President Trump's bombshell mention of the possibility of a one-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was a tactic to pressure the Palestinians to accept a deal on two states, Alan Dershowitz told the Jerusalem Post on Thursday.
    He explained that Trump's message for the Palestinians was: "Don't count on the UN, the International Criminal Court, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign, the EU or the Russians - if you want a two-state solution...negotiate it in Ramallah or Jerusalem."
    This is a "shift from the Obama administration, which only pressured Israel and never pressured the Palestinians."

Israel's Economy Grew at 6.2 Percent in Q4 - Amiram Barkat (Globes)
    Israel's GDP grew by 6.2% in the fourth quarter of 2016, according to a Central Bureau of Statistics estimate published Thursday. Growth for 2016 as a whole was raised to 4%.
    See also Medical Equipment Leads Rise in Israel's Exports - Yuval Azulai (Globes)

Does Hamas' New Leader Portend War in Gaza? - Yoni Ben Menachem (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
    Yahya Sinwar has become the number-one leader of Hamas in Gaza. On Feb. 14, he boasted: "I will make Netanyahu cry."
    Avi Dichter, former head of the Israel Security Agency and current head of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, called Sinwar "Sheikh of the Murderers" and expressed regret that Israel had not assassinated him in the past, asserting that "even today he is not immune."
    Hamas fears that Israel will look for the right opportunity to do away with Sinwar.
    The new Gaza leadership is mostly made up of senior leaders of the military wing and pro-Iranian political figures. Sinwar's deputy Khalil al-Hayya is one of Iran's supporters. Dr. Mahmoud al-Zahar is Iran's strongest backer in the Hamas top echelon.

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Egypt, Hamas, and Islamic State in Sinai - Zvi Mazel (Jerusalem Post)
    Egypt has so far been unable to defeat Ansar Bait al-Maqdis - the Sinai Province of Islamic State - in spite of the large number of troops and superior armament sent to Sinai.
    Egypt is demanding that Hamas end its cooperation with Ansar Bait al-Maqdis. Hamas offers sanctuary in Gaza to its wounded fighters and enables it to experiment in Gaza with new weapons and explosives.
    Some 700 Ansar Bait al-Maqdis fighters are allegedly inside Gaza and Hamas will not hand them over to Egypt.
    Hamas is first and foremost an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, the movement that was forcibly ejected from power in Egypt by a popular uprising backed by the army, led by now-President Sisi.
    The writer is a former ambassador to Romania, Egypt and Sweden.

Israel's Eye on Gaza: The IDF Electronic Observation Unit - Anna Ahronheim (Jerusalem Post)
    The IDF electronic observation unit, made up solely of female soldiers, is on guard watching Gaza 24/7.
    Members of the unit have to watch and locate any terrorist infiltration, while at the same time alert troops to the infiltration and then communicate with them, once they are in the field. "It's hard for male soldiers to multi-task," say Capt. Tuval Tzadok and Capt. Naama Dill.
    Soldiers in the unit were awarded three medals by the IDF Southern Command for their actions during the 2014 Gaza war, when soldiers identified groups of Hamas terrorists trying to infiltrate Israel on several occasions.

UK Media Watch Prompts Times of London Correction on Settlement Law - Adam Levick (UK Media Watch)
    A Times of London article by Gregg Carlstrom published on Feb. 8 on Israel's recent settlement law claimed that the bill legalizes homes built on private Palestinian land without compensation for the owners.
    In fact, Palestinians who prove ownership of the land are entitled to financial compensation of 125% of the land value, or an alternative plot of land.
    The Times published a correction on Feb. 9 after we contacted the editors.

Israeli Firm Is FBI's Cybersecurity Go-To - Tim Johnson (Tribune News Service)
    Over the past five years, the FBI has paid $2.5 million to the Israeli company Cellebrite for services including cracking open and extracting data from locked Apple iPhones and mobile phones from all other major manufacturers.
    Cellebrite has signed more than 1,500 contracts since 2008 with a variety of U.S. agencies, including the Drug Enforcement Administration, Customs and Border Protection, the U.S. Marshals Service, the U.S. Forest Service, various branches of the military, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and U.S. embassies in Tegucigalpa, Jakarta and Brasilia.
    Cellebrite's website suggests that its universal forensic extraction device can unlock all but the most recent models of nearly every manufacturer.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • White House: Peace between Israel and the Palestinians Can Only Be Negotiated Directly
    President Donald Trump welcomed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the Oval Office on Wednesday and reaffirmed the special relationship and unbreakable bond between the U.S. and Israel. In their meeting, President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu agreed that there will be no daylight between the U.S. and Israel.
        They agreed on the need to counter the threats posed by Iran and its proxies, in addition to countering the so-called "Islamic State" and other radical Islamic terrorist groups. They agreed that the Iran nuclear deal is a terrible deal for the U.S., Israel, and the world. The President assured the Prime Minister that Iran must not, and will not, obtain nuclear weapons capability.
        President Trump reiterated his desire for peace throughout the Middle East, and for reaching a comprehensive agreement that would end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. They agreed that peace between Israel and the Palestinians can only be negotiated directly between the two parties, and that the U.S. will work closely with Israel and the Palestinians to make progress toward that goal. (White House)
        See also White House: U.S. and Israel to Work More Closely on Critical Issues
    Vice President Mike Pence hosted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Vice President's Residence on Thursday. The two leaders discussed ways that the U.S. and Israel can work more closely together on critical issues such as cyber security, intelligence cooperation, and energy. They also agreed to work together against one-sided actions against Israel at the UN and other international forums, as well as boycotts that target Israel. (White House)
  • UN Envoy Says U.S. Still Backs Palestinian State - Somini Sengupta
    "We absolutely support a two-state solution," American UN Ambassador, Nikki Haley said Thursday, "But we are thinking out of the box as well, which is - what does it take to bring these two sides to the table, what do we need to have them agree on?"
        Haley also suggested that it was unnecessary and counterproductive for the UN Security Council to hold monthly meetings on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict - or in her words, "obsess over Israel."  (New York Times)
        See also Ambassador to Israel-Designate David Friedman Declares U.S. Support for Two-State Solution - Michael Wilner
    Testifying before a Senate hearing on his nomination as ambassador to Israel, David Friedman said, "A two-state solution, if it could be achieved, would bring tremendous benefit to both Israel and the Palestinians," calling such a solution "ideal." Friedman added that "I don't think anyone would ever support [an outcome] where different classes of citizens would have different rights."
        However, Friedman still questions whether Palestinians are prepared to recognize Israel as a Jewish state and "denounce terror." And he wondered aloud whether leadership exists in the Palestinian community to shepherd them to peace. He also was unsure whether moderate forces would prevail in future elections in the West Bank. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Netanyahu Focuses on Countering Iran in Meetings with Congressional Leaders
    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu emphasized the threat of a rising Iran during a series of meetings with Congressional leadership on Wednesday. Netanyahu met one-on-one with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (D-Calif.), and House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.).
        Ryan said, "Prime Minister Netanyahu and I...discussed the need to hold Iran accountable for its actions, bolster Israel's qualitative military edge, and push back against international efforts to delegitimize the Jewish state."  (The Tower)
  • Israel Criticizes Russia for Blocking International Definition of Anti-Semitism
    Israel's ambassador in Moscow, Gary Koren, criticized Russia for blocking the adoption of a definition of anti-Semitism by the 57-member Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. "The OSCE has attempted to determine a text, which ought to define what can be classified as anti-Semitism and what its working definition is. We are discussing this issue with the Russian Foreign Ministry and hope that Russia will adopt this definition in the future."
        The president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, Jonathan Arkush, confirmed that Russia was the only country blocking the adoption of the definition, which lists some forms of hate speech on Israel as an example of anti-Semitism. The definition resembles the one recently adopted by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance of 31 Western nations. (JTA)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Netanyahu: Iran Is Dangerous for America and the Arabs Too
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Fox News' Sean Hannity on Thursday that he is speaking up on behalf of the whole region that is threatened by a malevolent Iran. "Iran has become more aggressive, more deadly, sponsoring more terrorism with more money. And people are saying 'wait a minute, this roaring tiger, if it's not stopped, it will devour all of us.'"
        The Iranians "sponsor terrorism against Americans all over the place. Now they're going to build ICBMs? Intercontinental ballistic missiles that can reach the United States? And have the multiple warheads to do that? That's horrible. It's dangerous for America, dangerous for Israel, dangerous for the Arabs. Everybody now understands it. And there's an American president who understands it. And we're talking about what to do about this common threat."
        "Radical Islam has two fountainheads. One is the radical Sunnis led by ISIS and before that by al-Qaeda, and the radical Shiites led by Iran. The Arab countries are threatened by both. And when they look around they say, 'who's going to help us against these twin threats?' And they say, 'there's one country in the region that's powerful, that's determined, that's resolved to fight this common enemy, and that's Israel.'"
        "I believe that the great opportunity for peace comes from a regional approach, from involving our new-found Arab partners in the pursuit of a broader peace and peace with the Palestinians."  (Times of Israel)
  • Israeli Defense Minister Calls on Gazans in Arabic: "Let's Talk"
    Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Thursday called on Gaza residents to begin a direct dialogue with Israel as a path toward improving their lives, telling them, in Arabic, "Let's talk." Stressing that Israel was not to blame for the terrible conditions Gazans lived under, Lieberman said there was no reason for the situation to remain as it is.
        "The moment Hamas gives up on tunnels and rockets, we will be the first ones to invest and build [Gaza's residents] a seaport, an airport, and industrial zones by the Kerem Shalom and Erez crossings....We are able to immediately create about 40,000 jobs for the residents of Gaza." But Israel would only invest in Gaza once Hamas gives up on its goal to "destroy the State of Israel."  (Times of Israel)
  • Preventing the Next Gaza War - Giora Eiland
    In the past decade, Hamas policy in Gaza has been a sort of compromise between the relatively cautious civilian wing and the military wing. With the rise of a new Hamas leader, Yahya Sinwar, there is only a military leadership, and it is very militant.
        To prevent an expected conflict with Hamas, Israel should make a sharp change in the way we've acted in the past and clarify to Hamas that if it fails to maintain the calm, Gaza's residents will be prevented from receiving any economic aid, including the massive UN support it receives. In other words, Gaza will not be able to have the best of both worlds - attack Israel with rockets while knowing there is someone else feeding its residents.
        When the rocket fire begins, Israel will immediately close the Kerem Shalom crossing. A normal state does not keep providing supplies to a state it is at war with. If the Hamas government wants to end its civilians' suffering it must stop the rocket fire. On the carrot side, Israel should encourage infrastructure reconstruction in Gaza which will provide residents with electricity 24 hours a day and drinking water. All this will happen if the calm is maintained.
        When everyone - the government in Gaza, its residents, the UN and donor countries - knows that as soon as Gaza opens fires this infrastructure will be destroyed, even a government headed by Sinwar will not rush into a decision to stop playing by the rules. Maj.-Gen. (res.) Giora Eiland is a former head of Israel's National Security Council. (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

    The Trump-Netanyahu Meeting at the White House

  • Netanyahu Lays Out How to Get to Two States - Editorial
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivered a bracing articulation of the true obstacles to a lasting agreement with the Palestinians at the White House Wednesday. "First, the Palestinians must recognize the Jewish state. They have to stop calling for Israel's destruction. They have to stop educating their people for Israel's destruction. Second, in any peace agreement, Israel must retain the overriding security control over the entire area west of the Jordan River. Because if we don't, we know what will happen - because otherwise we'll get another radical Islamic terrorist state in the Palestinian areas exploding the peace, exploding the Middle East."
        "Now, unfortunately, the Palestinians vehemently reject both prerequisites for peace. First, they continue to call for Israel's destruction - inside their schools, inside their mosques, inside the textbooks....They even deny our historical connection to our homeland....Jews are called Jews because they come from Judea. This is our ancestral homeland. Jews are not foreign colonialists in Judea."
        "So, unfortunately, the Palestinians not only deny the past, they also poison the present. They name public squares in honor of mass murderers who murdered Israelis, and I have to say also murdered Americans. They pay monthly salaries to the families of murderers, like the family of the terrorist who killed Taylor Force, a wonderful young American, a West Point graduate, who was stabbed to death while visiting Israel. So this is the source of the conflict - the persistent Palestinian refusal to recognize the Jewish state in any boundary; this persistent rejection. That's the reason we don't have peace."  (New York Daily News)
  • The Road to Peace - Dennis Ross
    At the joint press conference that President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held on Wednesday, Trump made it clear that he is committed to pursuing peace and that it is an important objective for him.
        It makes sense to see if the shared threat perceptions that have produced real, if low-visibility, cooperation on security between Israel and many of the Sunni Arab states can be translated into taking steps toward peace. Surely, there is value in testing what is possible, particularly with the weakness and division of the Palestinians making it hard for them to negotiate with Israel, much less concede anything.
        What is unclear is how important peace-making is to the Arabs. Do they see the gains from being actively involved in peace-making and pushing the Palestinians to be worth the risks? And, if they involve themselves in such peace-making, what will they want from the Israelis in terms of concessions toward the Palestinians?
        If Arab states decide that engaging on the peace issue with Israel makes sense, they will want to show that they delivered for the Palestinians what they could not produce for themselves. They won't drop Palestinian demands, they will come to represent them. The writer is counselor at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy and served in senior positions in the Reagan, Bush, Clinton and Obama administrations. (U.S. News)
  • Netanyahu Presents Israel's Case at the White House - Daniel Gordis
    At the White House on Wednesday, President Trump afforded Prime Minister Netanyahu an opportunity to do what he does best, what he did when he first took the world stage as Israel's ambassador to the UN in 1984. The president gave the prime minister a chance to make the case for the legitimacy of the Jewish people's return to their ancestral homeland.
        That was more than a rhetorical opportunity. For Mr. Netanyahu and many Israelis, Palestinian denial of that legitimacy is the real reason for the failure of the peace process. From the White House and in the presence of a sympathetic president, the prime minister was finally able to assert that the Palestinian commitment to a two-state solution has long been a hoax, that the Palestinians have employed two narratives, one for international consumption and another for Palestinians at home.
        Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority (like Yasir Arafat before him), has consistently denied that the Jews have a historic connection to the Temple Mount. The Arafat-Abbas tradition of denying a longstanding Jewish link to Jerusalem is the Palestinians' inimitable way of saying that the Jews are simply the latest wave of Crusaders, that Israel is nothing but a colonialist presence in the Middle East.
        The belief that President Abbas sees the two-state solution as a steppingstone to a one - Arab - state solution leaves many Israelis cynical about the peace process and tiring of the rhetoric about two states. If the Palestinians want political sovereignty, the Palestinian Authority will have to lay the groundwork by forging an entirely different narrative about Israel and Jews. Dr. Daniel Gordis is Senior Vice President and the Koret Distinguished Fellow at Shalem College in Jerusalem. (New York Times)
  • Changing the Conversation - Herb Keinon
    In his press conference with Prime Minister Netanyahu on Wednesday, President Trump essentially said, "I'm not married to any formula; whatever works for you guys, works for me. Go figure it out." His subtext: Negotiate. Maybe there are solutions out there other than the "two-state solution," perhaps interim, perhaps even far from perfect but better than what exists now. These could range from limited statehood to some kind of federation with Jordan.
        All these ideas were always summarily dismissed by the Obama administration, saying: "The Palestinians will never accept it." They are certainly not going to accept it if the leaders of the world say, "the Palestinians will never accept it." It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
        But if - in light of the fact that the two-state option hasn't worked - the leaders of the world would begin to open up a bit to other ideas, the Palestinians might realize they will not succeed in their current aim of trying to get the world to foist this so-far unworkable solution on Israel. Trump, in his comments, was not advocating one state, but, rather, was saying to both sides: "Do what you want, just find something that works."
        As former ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren put it, for the last eight years there was a president in the White House for whom the two- state solution was the only solution. Nevertheless, the Palestinians refused to negotiate with Israel over the terms. According to Oren, what Trump and Netanyahu said was that the two-state solution is not possible now, and as a result there is a need to search for other, more workable solutions.
        "They may not be ideal solutions, but they are solutions that would involve interim measures and recognition of the fact that there might be a two-state reality on the ground that might not conform to what we know as a two state-solution, but would enable the Palestinians to lead their lives in prosperity and security and also redound to Israel's benefit."  (Jerusalem Post)

  • The Golan Heights

  • Standing with Israel on the Golan Heights - Jonathan Schanzer and Mark Dubowitz
    Benjamin Netanyahu and Donald Trump seem to be on the same page on a broad range of regional matters. According to reports of the two leaders' meeting on Wednesday, Netanyahu asked for U.S. recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights. The move makes sense for both sides. It would provide the Israeli government with a diplomatic win while helping the Trump administration signal to Russia and Iran that the U.S. is charting a new course in Syria.
        With the outbreak of the Syrian civil war in 2011, the facts on the ground have changed. Had Israel ceded the Golan to Syria, Islamic State, al-Qaeda or Iran would be sitting on the shores of the Sea of Galilee across from the Israeli city of Tiberias. Netanyahu and other senior Israeli government officials argue that Syria is destined for partition along sectarian, ethnic and regional lines, and it might be time to acknowledge Israel's hold on the Golan as permanent.
        Recognition of Israel's Golan claims would acknowledge that it needs these highlands to hold off a multitude of asymmetric and conventional military threats from Syria - and whatever comes after the war there. The Druze Arabs of the Golan, who number 20,000, are unlikely to respond with unrest. While they profess loyalty to Assad, the carnage inside Syria has made the stability and prosperity of Israel increasingly attractive. Mr. Schanzer is senior vice president and Mr. Dubowitz is chief executive officer at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. (Wall Street Journal)
  • The Golan Heights Provides a Buffer Zone Against Tehran - Zvi Hauser
    Netanyahu's request that the U.S. recognize Israel's sovereignty in the Golan Heights is the appropriate strategic compensation for the nuclear agreement with Iran - to set a permanent buffer zone that cuts off Tehran on the outskirts of Quneitra, and not on the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee) shores. This is the only way to restrain Iran's conventional aggression potential on the other side of the Golan border. The Golan makes up only 1% of what was until recently Syria. The moderate Sunni axis states won't fight a move that means exacting a territorial price from the Shi'ite axis of evil.
        Above all, reality on the ground is stronger than past fixations. There is no horizon on the Golan Heights but the Israeli one for stability. The writer was Israel's cabinet secretary in 2009-2013. (Ha'aretz)

  • Iran

  • Reinforcing the Role of Sanctions in Restraining Iran - Katherine Bauer, Patrick Clawson, and Matthew Levitt
    Sanctions remain a viable and powerful tool to confront Iran over human rights abuses, terror support and ballistic missile tests. This study looks at the role of sanctions in restraining Iran's regional aggression and disrupting its global-terrorism, money-laundering, and procurement networks.
        Options are presented for emphasizing the sanctions that remain, fully implementing those sanctions, imposing additional sanctions for nonnuclear transgressions, and applying proportional sanctions when Iran fails to comply with parts of the nuclear deal. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • How Trump Can Take on Iran (Without Sparking War) - Aaron David Miller and Richard Sokolsky
    The U.S. should sanction Iran for testing ballistic missiles in violation of UN Security Council resolutions, and hold Tehran accountable for strict compliance with its obligations under the nuclear agreement. It should also impose sanctions against Hizbullah to deter and punish its acts of terrorism.
        An effective U.S. approach toward Iran will mean defending allies and partners against Iranian attacks, using force to protect freedom of navigation in the Persian Gulf, preventing and responding to Iranian or Iranian-sponsored terrorist attacks against U.S. facilities and personnel, and using force to prevent Tehran from breaking out of the nuclear agreement in violation of its commitments.
        Aaron David Miller is a vice president and distinguished scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. Richard Sokolsky is a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and a former member of the secretary of state's policy planning staff. (National Interest)

  • Other Issues

  • Change Has Not Come to the Middle East - Michael Singh
    The real story in the Middle East is not how much things have changed, but how little. The economic and political stagnation that birthed the 2011 uprisings has, if anything, worsened. The biggest change in the region has been the strategic disengagement of the U.S., which has reconfigured the region's geopolitical landscape and spurred other external powers to increase their involvement in the region.
        The clearest case is Russia, whose intervention in Syria saved the Assad regime from elimination. But China, European states, and others have more quietly increased their own involvement in the Middle East, heralding the end of the decades-long era of unchallenged American primacy in the region. Yet America retains an interest in combating terrorism, preventing the spread of weapons of mass destruction, and ensuring the free flow of commerce and energy.
        There are three changes to U.S. policy in the region that President Trump could make that would serve our interests well over time. First, he should act firmly to counter Iran. Doing so would not only help to sustainably end the conflicts in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and elsewhere, but would put the U.S. back on the same page strategically with our allies, who consider Tehran's regional ambitions their top threat.
        Second, he should seek to rebuild U.S. alliances in the region, focusing on forging a more capable and useful multilateral grouping of likeminded regional partners. Finally, he should help our allies, where they are willing, to take actions that will make them more resilient to regional threats and responsive to their own populations. The writer, former senior director for Middle East Affairs at the White House, is managing director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. (Cipher Brief)
  • What Would a Wise Middle East Policy Look Like? - Thomas Cromwell
    The beginning of foreign-policy wisdom towards the Middle East is to recognize and align with real allies, and then work with them to build strong ties through which we can together overcome the evil forces that plague the region and prevent peace.
        First on the list is Israel. There are bonds between America and Israel forged out of guilt over the Holocaust, but much more important than these are the shared values. The Jewish state has deep religious, cultural and intellectual roots that are inextricably entwined with those of the U.S.  Second, there are stable and friendly countries in the Middle East that are critical to forging peace. These include Turkey, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco and all the Gulf states.
        We must be unequivocal in our opposition to all forms of terror, and determined to drive it from the Middle East. There are no excuses for religious or political motivation for terrorism. The writer was an editor for the Jordan Times and established the Middle East Times in Cyprus. (National Interest)

  • Weekend Feature

  • How a Pro-Palestinian American Reporter Changed His Views on Israel - Hunter Stuart
    In the summer of 2015 I moved to Israel for a year-and-a-half stint freelance reporting in the region. I was very pro-Palestinian. Almost everyone I knew was, viewing Israel as an aggressor, oppressing the poor noble Arabs who are being so brutally denied their freedom.
        It wasn't until the violence became personal that I began to see the Israeli side with greater clarity. When I traveled to the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan for a story, a Palestinian kid pointed at me and shouted "Yehud!" which means "Jew" in Arabic. Immediately, a large group of his friends were running toward me with a terrifying sparkle in their eyes. I shouted at them in Arabic "I'm not Jewish," over and over. I told them in Arabic that I was an American journalist who "loved Palestine." They calmed down after that, but the look in their eyes when they first saw me is something I'll never forget.
        Even the kindest, most educated, upper-class Palestinians reject 100% of Israel - not just the occupation of east Jerusalem and the West Bank. They simply will not be content with a two-state solution and they want the Israelis who live there now to leave. They almost never speak of coexistence; they speak of expulsion, of taking back "their" land. The ongoing desire of Palestinians to wipe Israel off the map is unproductive and backward-looking and the West must be very careful not to encourage it.
        I know a lot of Jewish-Israelis who are willing to share the land with Muslim Palestinians, but for some reason finding a Palestinian who feels the same way was near impossible. If the Palestinians are given their own state in the West Bank, who's to say they wouldn't elect Hamas, an Islamist group committed to Israel's destruction? That's exactly what happened in Gaza in democratic elections in 2006. Having Hamas in control of the West Bank and half of Jerusalem would be suicide for Israel. And no country can be expected to consent to its own destruction. (Jerusalem Post)

NATO Needs to Reform into a Global Alliance Against Islamic Terrorism - Rafael Bardaji and Richard Kemp (Telegraph-UK)

  • The Atlantic Alliance was indeed instrumental in deterring the USSR and keeping the European continent in peace, with America providing leadership, taking a big portion of the economic burden, and being willing to station hundreds of thousands of GIs in Europe.
  • In the early '90s, with the civil war in the former Yugoslavia, NATO acted as a multinational body to enforce peace among rivals and contenders. Thus, in 1995, allied forces bombed Serbian forces to force the Dayton agreement and put an end to the war over Bosnia-Herzegovina. In 1999 they mounted a bombing campaign to guarantee the independence of Kosovo.
  • After the dramatic attacks of 9/11, NATO activated, for the first time in its history, Article 5, the clause that determines an attack against one member is an attack against all. Unfortunately, there were no capabilities to really help the U.S. in such a far place from Europe as Afghanistan.
  • NATO should accept that we are all under attack by Islamist extremist forces of all kinds and make the fight against Islamic terrorism its core mission.
  • In order to reinforce our Western world, NATO must invite to become members, countries that are alike in the defense of our values and with the willingness to share the burden in this struggle. NATO should invite without delay Israel, Japan, Singapore and India to become members.

    Mr. Bardaji is the Executive Director of the Friends of Israel Initiative and the former National Security Adviser to the Spanish government. Colonel Kemp is a board member of the Friends of Israel Initiative and the former Commander of British Forces in Afghanistan.
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