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February 19, 2017

POLL: ISRAELIS PREFER TWO STATE SOLUTION BY NEARLY 3 TO 1

'One state, two states'! Whatever, it's up to you guys, the Israelis and Palestinians. Whatever they decided would be fine with US President Donald Trump - just make the deal already! Has the new US President just thrown out the window several decades of American support for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Over at the UN, American Ambassador Nikki Haley was quick to correct any mistaken impression - the US still backed the two-state scheme. Apparently, the boss sometimes gets carried away with his own rhetoric. Go figure.

That is just what Bibi's friends and foes are now trying to do back in Jerusalem. Channel 10 got the jump on everyone by conducting a snap opinion poll in the wake of Trump's bomb-shell. Where do Israeli voters stand today? The results were startling:

  • ISRAELIS FOR TWO-STATE SOLUTION: 43%
  • ISRAELIS FOR ONE-STATE SOLUTION: 15%
  • UNDECIDED: 30%
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February 11, 2017

WILL NETANYAHU AND TRUMP CLASH OR COOPERATE OVER SETTLEMENTS?

What's going on? Twice in the last week US President Donald Trump has opposed wide-scale Israeli settlement building on the West Bank. In Israel, Right-wingers have been shocked to the core - Trump and Bibi were supposed to be great pals. They had anticipated that Trump would give Israel the green light for constructing a brand new settlement and adding 5,500 new housing units to existing settlements. Moreover, there is the new controversial law that would enable Israel to legalize homes built on privately owned Palestinian land. But is this promising package is unraveling? In an exclusive interview with Yisrael Hayom, the pro-Netanyahu newspaper, Trump clarified his position:

  • 'The settlements don't help the process. I can say that. There is only so much land left (on the West bank). And every time you (Israel) take land for settlements, there is less land left (for a Palestinian state). But we are looking at that, and we are looking at some other options, we'll see. But no I am not somebody that believes that going forward with these settlements is a good thing for peace'.
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February 05, 2017

TRUMP SIGNALS NETANYAHU - HOLD YOUR HORSES ON SETTLEMENTS!

It was not long in coming – President Trump has signaled Prime Minister Netanyahu to back off on building new settlements or expanding any existing settlements 'beyond their current borders'. In fact, Israel's leader actually triggered the White House response. What did Bibi expect after he announced that Israel would build a brand-new settlement to compensate for the evacuation of the illegal settlement of Amona? For good measure Netanyahu also tacked on 5,500 new housing units to existing settlements on the West Bank! This was the official Trump statement:

  1. "While we don't believe the existence of settlements is an impediment to peace, the construction of new settlements or the expansion of existing settlements beyond their current borders may not be helpful in achieving that goal."
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January 21, 2017

ISRAEL AWAITS TWO SAVIORS

Israel's Right wing fervently hopes and believes US President Donald Trump will reverse America's former policy that opposed settlement building in the West Bank. From Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu on down, the Right wingers also trust the US will serve as a bulwark to anti-Israel moves at the UN and in other international forums. A first indicator will be if Trump keeps his campaign pledge to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in the face of bitter Palestinian and Muslim threats. But his credibility is at stake. Could this mean he will, as reported, suffice with some half-measure like moving the Ambassador's official residence to Jerusalem, while the embassy would remain in Tel Aviv?

Trump's Inauguration address focused on his 'America First' theme and bringing back home American jobs. If so, this might trigger a global trade war. Or then again, will Trump's bark prove to be worse than his bite?

On Friday evening, Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu rushed off his best wishes to Trump:

       'Congratulations to my friend President Trump. I look forward to working closely with you to make the alliance between Israel and America stronger than ever. Shabbat Shalom'.

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January 14, 2017

ISRAELI EARTHQUAKE IF ISRAEL'S ATTORNEY GENERAL PROSECUTES BIBI FOR FRAUD

The fate of Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu is now in the hands of Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit. A full blown police investigation of the PM is now underway on two counts:

  1. A tape recording, now in the hands of the police, reportedly proves Bibi and Yediot Ahronot newspaper owner Noni Moses discussed how to rig control over the sale and content of newspapers in Israel. This included the freebie Yisrael Hayom that totally backs Bibi and is financed by Sheldon Adelson, the American casino tycoon. (Get this: Bibi himself taped Moses. The PM now claims he did so to discredit the owner of the newspaper that hauled him over the coals day in and out. The only problem is that their secret powwows took place years ago and Bibi never handed over the recordings to the police after colluding with Moses on what was apparently a serious breech of trust, if not more).
  2. Bibi and his wife Sara (who has a habit of getting into hot water with the law) are suspected of having received some one hundred thousands dollars in super expensive cigars and champagne from Israeli film producer Arnon Milchan. The Netanyahus contend these were legitimate gifts between close buddies and not bribes.
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December 24, 2016

ISRAEL REELING FROM UN RESOLUTION OUTLAWING WEST BANK SETTLEMENTS

Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu should have known better - but he didn't. He has now presided over Israel's greatest diplomatic debacle in years. Bibi knew U.S. President Barack Obama was gunning for him yet he persisted in concocting a ludicrous settlement law to placate forty families at the Amona settlement. This even after Israel's own Supreme Court had ruled it had been built on private Arab land, in violation of both Israeli and international law. Instead, Bibi gave in to the die-hard settlers who have now, in their infinite wisdom, agreed to evacuate peacefully.

So what did the PM do? He let himself be railroaded by cabinet ministers both in the Likud and the Jewish Home parties into approving a new law that would prevent the evacuation of other settlements that were also built on private Palestinian land. It is called the 'Regulation' law. The only hitch is that it opened the door for the UN Security Council to pass a resolution of its own - one that outlaws all Israeli housing built on the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. Since the Six Day War in 1967, this territory was considered to be a subject for negotiation in eventual Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. Now the UN Security Council has weighed in saying in effect that all the West Bank belongs to the Palestinians for their future state. Bibi believed that US President Barack Obama, despite the bad blood between them, would again cast a US veto. But for Obama, soaking up the sun in Hawaii, it was too good to miss; he told Ambassador Samantha Power to simply abstain. The result was a landslide of 14-0 for the pro-Palestinian resolution. Bibi blew it big time and Palestinian President Mahmoud won by a knockout.

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November 27, 2016

ISRAEL ENGULFED IN DISASTROUS FOREST FIRES & GERMAN SUBS

So far, no people have been killed, but over one thousand homes have been destroyed or damaged while tens of thousands of people were evacuated as the flames raced towards their communities. Some Israelis had to race for their lives carrying their small children and pets. Thousands of animals perished in the flames while tens of thousands of trees have been incinerated in over two hundred separate fires. Forestland that was planted and developed over the decades has been left a wasteland. It is a national disaster.

Visiting the Hatzor Air Base from where special firefighting aircraft have been 'bombing' the fires around the clock, Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu said experts have concluded there is no doubt that arsonists are involved, although the dry weather and strong winds may have started the inferno. Thirty-three Palestinian suspects have been arrested as the investigation continues. Netanyahu believes the arson campaign is a 'derivative' of the wave of 'lone wolf' terrorism that started over a year ago. Now it is a case of terrorists deliberately igniting forest fires rather than wielding knives or hatchets. In other words: 'If you can't stab them, let's burn them!'

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November 19, 2016

ISRAELI MESSAGE TO TRUMP FOREIGN POLICY TEAM

Gone are the days when Time magazine crowned Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu 'King of Israel! Today Bibi has to share his top job with Education Minister Naftali Bennett who has just taught Netanyahu a painful lesson. It focused on a key Knesset vote to circumvent a Supreme Court ruling that ordered an Israeli evacuation of some forty Israeli homes that were built illegally on private Arab-owned land at the Jewish settlement of Amona on the West Bank. The pro-settlement camp went on the warpath, with Bennett leading the charge. 

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November 11, 2016

President Elect Trump Tells Israel He rejects Imposed Settlement With Palestinians

Jerusalem:

Israel is split - The Right is jubilant whereas the Center-Left worries that the election of President Trump will spur the Netanyahu government to build new settlements on the West Bank. There is no question that Netanyahu will be under immense pressure from the far Right to do so. In heralding the Trump victory, Cabinet Minister Naftali Bennett leader of the Far Right 'Jewish Home' party declared 'The two-state solution is finished! It is now in our hands to change the course of Israel - to take Israel out of the Oslo perception of a Palestinian state, which has only brought us conflict and bloodshed!'

In Jerusalem, the chairman of the local planning committee at City Hall has announced he will present plans to build 7,000 housing units in territory across the old 1967 line. The fire-brand called Meir Turgeman told Israel Radio that Prime Minister Netanyahu himself froze the plans for one reason or another due to pressure from the Obama administration. However Turgeman added now that Trump has been elected, Netanyahu will have no excuse to intervene. Though, the building plans must first be approved by the Israeli cabinet before the bulldozers start rolling.

Netanyahu who steered clear of expressing support for either Trump or Clinton issued a statement congratulating the President Elect and thanking Clinton for her support in the past. He is obviously delighted that Trump won. It's a safe bet that Bibi will want to cement ties with Trump as soon as possible. Therefore he will not want to arouse Trump's ire with hasty decisions. Bibi has also apparently instructed his Likud cabinet ministers not to go overboard by giving the impression that Trump is now in Israel's pocket. Netanyahu and his colleagues including Naftali Bennett would do well to remember that Trump has risen to power on his 'America First' platform and this will continue to be his prism for all his foreign policy decisions. If anything, policy-makers in Jerusalem must have realized Trump is impulsive and at times totally unpredictable.

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October 26, 2016

Israel Offers Massive Aid To Gaza While Battle of Mosul Could Turn Into 'Free-For All'

Jerusalem:

Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman has offered a major aid package for Gaza, if Hamas suspends its military build-up against the Jewish State. Lieberman sent the surprising message in an interview with the Palestinian newspaper El Kuds. It is not clear at this time if Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu and the Israeli government have approved Lieberman’s proposal. If so it would be a major step, otherwise Lieberman was just blowing hot air.

So to the nuts and bolts of his proposal, in his words:

      'Israel will be the first to rebuild the Gaza Strip by investing in a seaport, an airport and two industrial zones at Karni and Erez. But there were several conditions: Hamas must stop digging attack tunnels from Gaza into Israel, launching rockets into Israel and smuggling in weapons'.

For its part, Israel had no intention of occupying Gaza or starting another war. But he warned:

      'If war is forced on Israel again, it will be the last war for Hamas, we will totally destroy Hamas!'

The Israeli Defense Minister disclosed that Hamas, rather than improving the lot of the nearly two million Palestinians in Gaza, has spent more than $500 million dollars in a military build-up recently. Lieberman appeared to be offering a big carrot and a big stick to Hamas after the bitter summer war of 2014 that left Gaza in a shambles.

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October 09, 2016

ISRAEL - WHAT WENT WRONG? YOM KIPPUR 2016

Jerusalem:

On Yom Kippur - the Day of Atonement in 1973, the new-born state of Israel was nearly wiped off the map. Egypt and Syria launched a massive surprise attack along the entire lengths of the Golan Heights and the Suez Canal. The IDF was caught napping - when it finally awakened just several hours before the onslaught, Prime Minister Golda Meir and Defense Minister Moshe Dayan rejected a plea by Chief of Staff David Elezar to launch a preventative air strike against the massed Arab forces, about to surge forward. The Israeli leaders feared the US would blame Israel for starting the war because both President Richard Nixon and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger did not believe the Arabs would dare attack Israel. In the opening weeks of the Yom Kippur War, it was touch-and-go whether the Jewish state would survive. The IDF forces along the Suez Canal and the Golan were outnumbered ten-to-one in tanks and artillery, and by far more in infantry. Moreover the Russians had just supplied sophisticated anti-aircraft missiles to both their Arab allies that shot down an alarming number of Israeli aircraft. In one of the war’s darkest hours, a desolate Dayan was heard to say:

      'The Third House of Israel may be about to fall!'

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October 03, 2016

SHIMON PERES - (1923- 2016) DREAMER & VISIONARY

Jerusalem:

Why did world leaders and ninety delegations from seventy countries attend the funeral of Shimon Peres in Jerusalem? An amazing number for a tiny country that is more often than not the butt of unbridled criticism in the corridors of the UN. They did so, as stated by US President Barack Obama, because Peres achieved the international stature of a Nelson Mandella during his incredible career that never ended until his final stroke.

First Peres bolstered the capability of the fledgling Jewish state to survive the repeated attempts by its Arab enemies to annihilate it. His contribution to Israel's defense was possibly more, and certainly no less, than many of the state's vaunted military commanders. To this very day, Israelis stand strong against threats unparalleled by any other democratic country. Although survival had to come first in the reborn homeland of the Jews, it was to be followed by a ceaseless quest for peace with her Arab neighbors.

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September 25, 2016

Netanyahu & Abbas Talk Past Each Other At the UN

Jerusalem:

At this week's UN General Assembly session, Israel's Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, poured on the rhetoric but ignored the two key elements at the core of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. They both stuck to two straight lines in the war of words and we all know that straight lines almost never meet, except in outer space. And until the two leaders start talking in the same plane there will be no peace. Leading off the debate, Abbas actually refused to come to terms with the idea of a Jewish state while Bibi glossed over the Israeli occupation of the West Bank (Judea & Samaria).

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September 10, 2016

Implications Of Latest North Korean Nuclear Test For Israel

Jerusalem:

Iranian nuclear scientists have visited North Korea in the past, so they may have also been invited to the latest nuclear bomb test. So North Korea, one crazy state, has supplied nuclear weapons aid to another one, Iran. And note this troubling aspect about the North Korean statement:

      'The standardization of the nuclear warhead will enable (North Korea) To produce at will and as many as it wants a variety of smaller, lighter and diversified nuclear warheads of higher striking power... This has definitely put us (North Korea) on a higher level for mounting nuclear warheads on ballistic missiles'.

For Israel, does this raise the possibility of North Korea selling nuclear bombs to Iran in the future? A flush Iran will now have the cash. This is something that Israel must take into account although the International Atomic Energy Agency believes that Tehran is abiding by the nuclear deal forged in July 2015.

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August 20, 2016

An Israeli Reply to George Soros

Jerusalem:

This is the appalling reality of the Middle East that faces Israel today: next door in Syria, over five-hundred thousand people, mostly civilians, have already been killed in a six year blood-bath. Several times more have been wounded while millions of refugees flee to Western Europe. Marking time until he soon retires, US Secretary of State John Kerry will jaw-jaw some more with the Russian's Sergey Lavrov. Meanwhile the Russians are now flying air strikes from an Iranian air base to make it easier to hit their civilian, rebel and Da'esh targets. Human rights groups estimate that 17,000 people have been tortured to death in Assad prisons. At this moment, Da'esh sadists are carrying out their genocide of the Yazidi people. The rebel held town of Aleppo was just attacked with chlorine gas in barrel bombs. From the town, a group of doctors has sent out a frantic plea to US President Barack Obama, leader of the Free world:

      'We do not need tears or sympathy or even prayers. We desperately need a zone free from bombing .. and international action.'

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August 14, 2016

Rio Olympics and New Middle East Politics

Jerusalem:

So what if an Egyptian judoka refused to shake hands after an Israeli defeated him? It was not the first time. In Rio, even Lebanese Olympians refused to travel in the same bus with Israelis. However it came in stark contrast to the under-current of relations that are slowly gaining momentum between Israel and the Sunni Arab states. Egypt's President Al-Sisi has forged a military understanding with Prime Minister Netanyahu on coping with the mounting mutual threat from Islamic State fighters in Sinai. (The Egyptian Sinai was demilitarized in the peace treaty with Israel). But much of the 'Arab street' in Egypt still views the Jewish state as an enemy. Most certainly, members of the powerful Muslim Brotherhood. It was not clear whether the Egyptian Judoka was a fanatical Muslim, probably not. Otherwise he would have refused to compete with a Jew. More likely the Egyptian was worried about the hot reception he would get back home, if he were filmed shaking the hand of an Israeli.

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August 06, 2016

Israel's Top Leaders Clash Over Reaction To President Obama's Statement On Iran Nuclear Deal

Israel's Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu and his new Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman have crossed swords for the first time. U.S. President Barack Obama actually started those fireworks. A year after the great powers reached the nuclear deal with Iran. Obama stated categorically, that the Israeli defense community now acknowledged, that Iran was abiding by the agreement which had turned out to be a 'game-changer'. Defense Minister Lieberman took umbrage and issued a strongly worded statement denying that he and his minions had backed the Iran accord. On the contrary - Lieberman compared it to the notorious Munich accord signed by Britain's Neville Chamberlain and Adolph Hitler of Nazi Germany. Lieberman's statement went on to say that Munich did not prevent either World War II or the Holocaust. He stated that today Iran was following in Hitler's footsteps.

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July 31, 2016

Israelis Split Over Trump or Clinton

It is still hard to say whether most Israelis favor Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump. Going into the Democrats' convention, Trump had a slight lead. Coming out, Hillary got her expected 'bounce' and this will also be reflected in Israeli public opinion. Prime Minister Netanyahu and other Israeli politicians are wary about getting drawn into the U.S. presidential campaign for obvious reasons. A majority of Netanyahu's Likud party supporters hope Trump will make it to the White House, while the Centre and Left (Zionist Union-Labor) favor Clinton. Where does Bibi Stand? An indication is the clear-cut position taken by 'Yisrael Hayom' (Israel Today) the freebie newspaper that backs Netanyahu and is also in Trump's corner. Israel Today is financed by American casino tycoon, Sheldon Adelson. But the Clintons, both Hillary and Bill, have always been strong supporters of the Jewish state.

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July 24, 2016

Did Israel Deliberately Miss Unidentified Drone that Entered Israeli Air Space From Syria?

Golan Heights July 17th: 5:00 PM:

An unidentified pilotless drone flies into Israeli air space from Syria. Israeli Air Force controllers launch a Patriot (American made) surface-to-air missile. It misses the target. A second Patriot goes streaking skyward. It also goes wide. An Israeli jet then fires an air-to-air rocket - again no bull's eye. After penetrating Israeli airspace by some four kilometers (over two miles) the drone turns around and then flies back unharmed into Syria. A small part of a Patriot missile falls on the head of an Israeli girl far below. She is not seriously hurt.

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July 10, 2000

Israel must use UN as an offensive tool

On the fifth year of the Middle Eastern destruction, which is going to last for decades, it's time to determine that the United Nations has become irrelevant here, except in regards to one country, which is the last remnant of the old regional order – Israel. Can the UN do anything in Syria? In Iraq? In Yemen? In Saudi Arabia? In Egypt? In Libya? That's why it focuses on Israel.

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