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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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December 31, 2016

OBAMA MAY HAVE SCREWED ISRAEL BUT BIBI ALSO SCREWED UP

US President Barack Obama screwed Israel on the UN Security Council Resolution that blamed Israeli settlements solely for the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Granted, Secretary John Kerry has tried to take out some of the sting, but the fact remains Professor Obama presented his damning thesis - 'if only the Israelis had halted the settlements we would have reached an historic peace accord and today the Palestinians and Israelis would be living happily ever after'. This is patently false and does not stand up to a fair and balanced examination of what has transpired since Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat signed the Oslo Agreement on the White House lawn in 1993.

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November 29, 1947

The Partition Plan כ"ט בנובמבר

On November 29, 1947, the UN General Assembly voted in favor of a resolution, which adopted the plan for the partition of Palestine, recommended by the majority of the UN Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP). 33 states voted in favor of the resolution and 13 against. 10 states abstained.

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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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November 01, 2000

HAS ANYTHING CHANGED SINCE THE SUEZ WAR?

 On October 29, 1956 Britain, France and Israel launched a military operation against Egypt. In a swift, sweeping operation of 100 hours, under the leadership of then Chief of the General Staff, Moshe Dayan, the entire Sinai peninsula fell into Israeli hands, at a cost of 231 soldiers killed. This operation was held in response to the closing of the Suez Canal by the Egyptians and terrorist attacks on Israel that violated the armistice agreement between the two countries.

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October 29, 1956

The Suez War (1956)

On October 29, 1956 Britain, France and Israel launched a military operation against Egypt. In a swift, sweeping operation of 100 hours, under the leadership of then Chief of the General Staff, Moshe Dayan, the entire Sinai peninsula fell into Israeli hands, at a cost of 231 soldiers killed. This operation was held in response to the closing of the Suez Canal by the Egyptians and terrorist attacks on Israel that violated the armistice agreement between the two countries.

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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 16, 1981

Moshe Dayan (1915-1981)

Moshe Dayan was an Israeli military warrior who became a crusader for peace. He was skilled in both battle and diplomacy, and played a key role in four wars, but also helped negotiate the historic Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty.

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October 11, 2001

Rechavam Zeevi (Gandi, 1926-2001)

Tourism Minister Rechavam Ze'evy was assassinated by two shots to the head outside his room at the Jerusalem Hyatt Hotel on October 17, 2001. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine claimed responsibility for the attack.

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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 19, 2016

Israel's Ehud Barak Blasts Bibi Again!

Jerusalem:

This time it was over the record US military aid package to Israel. No less than $38 billion dollars will go to the Jewish state over a ten year period starting in 2018. Even if every penny will go back into the American economy for the purchase of American weapons, why did former Prime Minister Ehud Barak again smack Bibi in the kisser for bungling the matter? Recently Barak hauled Netanyahu over the coals for jeopardizing Israel's national security but he refused to elaborate and left the country guessing. Now after the disclosure of the details, Barak has weighed in. Writing first in the Washington Post, Barak accused Bibi of playing fast and loose by continuing to oppose US President Barack Obama even after it should have been clear the US and Iran had closed the nuclear deal. Bibi should have backed off, even if it was a ' very bad deal' and tried to salvage what he could with the US leader. But on the contrary - Bibi tried to go over Obama's head and accepted a Republican invitation to address the US Congress on this very contentious issue. Barak contends it was an act of folly that only antagonized Obama. This was a crucial period when the US leader would have been ready to listen favorably to some of Israel's legitimate concerns. After all is said and done Obama had agreed to leave almost all of Iran's nuclear weapons facilities in place which could mean a possible breakout in the future.

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August 28, 2016

Israel's New Rules For Palestinian Rocketing From Gaza

Did Hamas get the message? On August 22nd, Palestinian terrorists in Gaza deliberately fired a rocket into the Israeli town of Sderot. Sirens sounded - children, women and men rushed for the nearest bomb shelter. Fortunately no one was injured, aside from the possible trauma of having a rocket explode nearby in your home-town. But it could have killed and wounded many people if it had hit a crowded shopping area or summer camp for children.

As usual, the Hamas government in Gaza was quick to deny any responsibility for the attack-

       'It was probably a rogue band, not us!

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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 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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