WEDNESDAY’S “NEWS IN REVIEW” ROUND-UP

 

 

MEDIA-OCRITY OF THE WEEK: TRUDEAU CONTINUES HARPER’S POLICIES ON ISRAEL “Justin Trudeau promises a more “balanced” position after a decade of Pavlovian Conservative support for Israel in any and all circumstances. Yet the new government’s policy towards Israel and Palestine…just happens to be identical to the old government’s policy. Canada may be back, but in the Middle East it’s Stephen Harper’s Canada that is back…For the Palestinians in the West Bank, humiliation and violence at the hands of Israeli soldiers and settlers are literally the everyday preoccupation…This record of the brutality of both Israeli settlers and Israeli soldiers against mostly defenceless Palestinians shames Israel and shames Israel’s diaspora backers. But it is the reality. It is how many Israelis regularly treat Palestinian men, women and children, old and young…Ordinary Palestinians fight a virtually permanent battle against unsympathetic Israeli soldiers and zealous settlers, who openly lust for ever-more Palestinian land…It’s David versus Goliath, but, this time, the giant Goliath is an Israeli, and the victor…No one expects Mr. Trudeau to come up with a practical solution to this intractable situation, and in fact he deserves plaudits for renewing Canadian funding to (UNRWA), which the Harper government had cruelly terminated. But a few words from the Canadian government about Israeli brutality and Palestinian suffering would at least offer Palestinians what they so desperately crave and so rarely get – hope, respect, dignity and understanding.” — Gerald Caplan. (Globe & Mail, Dec. 13, 2016)

 

On Topic Links

 

Trump Was Right to Try to Stop Obama From Tying his Hands on Israel: Alan M. Dershowitz, Gatestone Institute, Dec. 23, 2016

The UN’s Land Grab in Israel: Barry Shaw, Algemeiner, Dec. 27, 2016

Reading the Tea Leaves of Trump’s Foreign Policy: Michael Barone, New York Post, Dec. 16, 2016 

Saving Europe From Itself—Again: Mark Helprin, Wall Street Journal, Dec. 14, 2016

 

 

 

WEEKLY QUOTES

 

“All American presidents since Carter upheld the American commitment not to try to dictate permanent settlement terms to Israel at the Security Council. And yesterday, in complete contradiction of this commitment, including an explicit commitment by President Obama himself in 2011, the Obama administration carried out a shameful anti-Israel ploy at the UN. I would like to tell you that the resolution that was adopted, not only doesn’t bring peace closer, it drives it further away. It hurts justice; it hurts the truth. Think about this absurdity, half a million human beings are being slaughtered in Syria. Tens of thousands are being butchered in Sudan. The entire Middle East is going up in flames and the Obama administration and the Security Council choose to gang up on the only democracy in the Middle East—the State of Israel. What a disgrace. — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. On Friday, UN Security Council Resolution 2334 was passed by a 14-0 vote enabling the adoption of the first UN resolution since 1979 to condemn Israel over its settlement policy. The resolution demands that "Israel immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem." It states that Israeli settlements have "no legal validity" and are "dangerously imperiling the viability of the two-state solution." Netanyahu vowed that Israel will not accept the resolution. (Wall Street Journal, Dec. 26, 2016)

 

"As to the U.N., things will be different after Jan. 20th." — U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, tweeting after The U.N. Security Council passed the resolution. The U.S. had the ability to veto the resolution but abstained from doing so despite pressure from Trump, Netanyahu and U.S. lawmakers. The Obama administration’s decision to let it pass represents a break from the longstanding U.S. policy of shielding Israel from the U.N. “As the United States has long maintained, peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians will only come through direct negotiations between the parties, and not through the imposition of terms by the United Nations,” the Trump said in a statement. "This puts Israel in a very poor negotiating position and is extremely unfair to all Israelis." (The Hill, Dec. 23, 2016)

 

“It’s an old story that the United Nations gangs up against Israel. What is new is that the United States did not stand up and oppose that gang-up. And what is outrageous is that the United States was actually behind that gang-up.” — Ron Dermer, Israel’s ambassador to the U.S. Dermer said that Israel is angry with the US because it is “the only country where we have any expectation to actually stand with us at the United Nations.” Dermer said Israel has proof the White House drove the resolution, and will “present this evidence to the new administration through the appropriate channels.” Dermer also said “the Palestinians are waging a diplomatic and legal war against Israel. That’s the strategy…Their strategy is not to negotiate an agreement with Israel because a deal is give and take. They want take and take.” (Times of Israel, Dec. 26, 2016 & New York Times, Dec. 26)

 

“Now we can talk about the boycott of all settlements, the companies that work with them, et cetera, and actually take legal action against them if they continue to work with them…We are looking to devise a comprehensive vision, and hopefully 2017 will be the year when the Israeli occupation ends.” — Riad Malki, the Palestinian foreign minister. Palestinian leaders made clear that they would use the resolution in international bodies to press their case against Israel. With the imprimatur of a United Nations finding of illegality, they said, they will campaign to require that other countries not just label products made in the settlements, but ban them. (New York Times, Dec. 26, 2016)

 

“What happened today is that the United States joined the jackals at the U.N…To give you an idea of how appalling this resolution is, it declares that any Jew who lives in the Jewish quarter of Jerusalem, the Jewish quarter, inhabited for 1,000 years, is illegal, breaking international law, essentially an outlaw, can be hauled into the international criminal court and international courts in Europe, which is one of the consequences. The Jewish quarter has been populated by Jews for 1,000 years…Now it’s declared that this is not Jewish territory…And any Jew who lives there is an outlaw. That’s exactly what we supported…In 2012, running for re-election, Obama spoke at the meeting of AIPAC, the big Jewish lobby. He said, “Is there any doubt that I have Israel’s back?” That’s why he didn’t want do it while he was in office. That’s why he didn’t want to do it in 2016 so it would injure Hillary and show to particularly American Jews, who tend to be Democratic, that it was all a farce. He does it on the way out, and that’s part of why it’s so disgraceful…Now he is out the door and the damage is done for years. That resolution cannot be undone.” — Charles Krauthammer (National Review, Dec. 24, 2016)

 

“It’s the most undemocratic thing a president can do — to tie the hands of his successor during the lame-duck period…He pulled a bait-and-switch. He said to the American public, ‘Oh, this is all about the settlements deep in the West Bank,’ and yet he allowed his representative to the UN to abstain, which is really [a vote] for a resolution which says that Jews can’t pray at the Western Wall. Jews can’t live in the Jewish Quarter where they’ve lived for thousands of years and he’s going to say, ‘Whoops, I didn’t mean that.’ Well, read the resolution. You’re a lawyer, you went to Harvard Law School.” — Alan Dershowitz. Obama will be remembered in history as “one of the worst foreign policy presidents ever,” Dershowitz added. (Algemeiner, Dec. 26, 2016)

 

"We abandoned Israel…I am a huge supporter of foreign aid and the U.N. … but I can't support funding a body that singles out the only democracy in the Middle East who shares our values…If the United Nations moves forward with the ill-conceived resolution, I will work to form a bipartisan coalition to suspend or significantly reduce United States assistance to the United Nations…In addition, any nation which backs this resolution and receives assistance from the United States will put that assistance in jeopardy." — South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham. Republicans on Capitol Hill are vowing a change when they obtain full control in January. The United Nations could afford to lose some funding from Israel, but if a new American government decides to cut funding, it would be a serious problem for the international body. (Town Hall, Dec. 24, 216)

 

“I can’t divine a single positive element of consequence of this resolution…I don’t think it’s going to lead to anything of real value and it will create all kinds of problems… It’s missing several key ingredients and unless those ingredients are restored, it’s hard to imagine that this is going to go anywhere other than south…The reality is the Israeli-Palestinian peace process is not ready for prime time.” — Aaron David Miller, former US Middle East negotiator. (Algemeiner, Dec. 26, 2016)

 

"This is a moment when those who have been in denial about the harm the president has done to the U.S.-Israel alliance should admit their mistake. But for the pro-Israel community as a whole, a bipartisan coalition of Republicans and Democrats, conservatives and liberals, this is a moment of anger that will hopefully be followed by a determination to work with the next president to repair the grave damage Obama has caused." — Jonathan S. Tobin. (Commentary, Dec. 23, 2016)

 

“Israel is a country with national pride, and we do not turn the other cheek…This is a responsible, measured and vigorous response, the natural response of a healthy people that is making it clear to the nations of the world that what was done at the U.N. is unacceptable to us.” — Benjamin Netanyahu. (New York Times, Dec. 26, 2016)

 

“Aleppo was liberated thanks to a coalition between Iran, Syria, Russia, and Lebanon’s Hezbollah…Iran is on one side of this coalition which is approaching victory and this has shown our strength. The new American president should take heed of the powers of Iran.” — Iran’s defense minister, Seyed Yahya Rahim-Safavi. The Syrian army as a fighting force is largely spent. Without Russian air support and some 6,000 to 8,000 Iranian-run paramilitaries Bashar al-Assad now relies on to wage war for him, Aleppo would never have been recaptured. (Daily Beast, Dec. 15, 2016)    

 

“I’m confident that if I — if I had run again and articulated it, I think I could’ve mobilized a majority of the American people to rally behind it… I know that in conversations that I’ve had with people around the country, even some people who disagreed with me, they would say the vision, the direction that you point towards is the right one.” — U.S. President Obama. Obama expressed confidence that, if he had run for a third term, he would have defeated Trump, according to an interview with David Axelrod, his friend and former adviser. Hours after the interview, Trump responded on Twitter. “President Obama said that he thinks he would have won against me,” he said. “He should say that but I say NO WAY! — jobs leaving, ISIS, OCare, etc.” (New York Times, Dec. 26, 2016)

 

“Thoroughly beaten, the Dems are at their lowest point in nearly a century. From the White House to Congress to statehouses, they are on the outside looking in. Their punishment was well-deserved, as demonstrated by Obama and Clinton. Full of excuses and blaming everyone except themselves, their closing acts proved it is time for them to go. They have nothing new to offer, with their vision of the future limited to larger doses of the same failing medicine and their intolerance for disagreement showing they would never learn from their mistakes. Their bad ideas had run their disastrous course…Because they are doomed to fail, we could be witnessing the death throes of the Democratic Party as we know it.” — Michael Goodwin. (New York Post, Dec. 18, 2016)

 

Contents

 

 

SHORT TAKES

 

KERRY DEFENDS OBAMA DECISION TO ABSTAIN AT UNSC VOTE (Washington) — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry pushed back on Wednesday against the fury in Jerusalem that has followed the decision by Obama to order the abstention that allowed the UN Security Council to unanimously pass anti-Israel resolution 2334(2016). “The two-state solution is the only way to achieve a just and lasting peace for Israelis and Palestinians,” he began, saying that only with two states can Israel remain Jewish and democratic. “Let’s be clear. Settlement activity has nothing to do with Israeli security,” he said. Kerry also called for “both sides” to show willingness to work towards peace by making “meaningful” gestures. On the part of Israel, he recommended “transition the administration of Area C to the Palestinians” in accordance with the long-term-goals of the Oslo Accords. (Jewish Press, Dec. 28, 2016)

 

REPORT: KERRY & EREKAT ORCHESTRATED UN RESOLUTION (Jerusalem) —Egyptian media published a supposed protocol of a meeting that was held in Washington on December 12 between Kerry, National Security Advisor Susan Rice and a Palestinian delegation headed by PLO member Saeb Erekat. The protocol states that Kerry and Rice told the Palestinians that the US administration would cooperate with them in the UN Security Council. Kerry and Rice were reportedly both critical of Netanyahu, accusing him of wanting to destroy a two-state solution. The U.S. also offered advice on how to deal with Trump, telling Erekat that they had advised Abbas against taking steps that would be perceived by Trump as provocative, such as dismantling the PA. (Ynet, Dec. 28, 2016)

 

ISRAEL SUMMONS AMBASSADORS OVER UNSC VOTE (Jerusalem) —Netanyahu is planning to cancel a meeting with British PM Theresa May in the wake of the landmark anti-settlement resolution at the UN Security Council. The Israeli Prime Minister also recalled 10 ambassadors to members of the UNSC on Sunday, including the UK, and, in a highly unusual move, the US ambassador. Netanyahu said Israel was also considering a "plan of action" against the UN, without elaborating. He also vowed punitive action against New Zealand and Senegal, two of the resolution’s four co-sponsors. Israel does not have diplomatic relations with Malaysia and Venezuela, the other co-sponsors. (Telegraph, Dec. 25, 2016)

 

FAKE NEWS STORY IGNITES PAKISTAN-ISRAEL FEUD (Islamabad) — A fake news story touched off a tense Twitter confrontation between nuclear power Pakistan and Israel, widely believed to have a nuclear arsenal of its own, in an episode that underlines the potentially harmful impact of such stories on sensitive global affairs. In an apparent response to a fake story claiming Israel's former defence minister threatened a nuclear attack against Pakistan if it sends troops to Syria, Pakistani Defence Minister Khawaja Mohammad Asif reminded Israel that "Pakistan is a nuclear state too." Israel's Defence Ministry tweeted back, saying the original story on the site AWD News was "totally fictitious." AWD has been identified by fact-checking organizations as a site that often propagates fake news. (CBC, Dec. 26, 2016)

 

ISRAELI GROUP ASKS US COURT TO BLOCK BOEING DEAL WITH IRAN (Jerusalem) — Shurat HaDin-Israel Law Center, an Israeli advocacy group, asked a US federal court to block Boeing’s planned $16.6 billion deal with Iran Air, saying the Tehran government must first pay off billions of dollars in damages to families of people killed or wounded by Iranian-backed terror groups. “We are going to seize all 100 airplanes,” said Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, the group’s director. Darshan-Leitner has represented attack victims in dozens of lawsuits in American courts. Her organization represents families who are relatives of U.S. victims of attacks perpetrated by Iran-backed groups like Hezbollah and Hamas. (Times of Israel, Dec. 16, 2016)

 

IRANIAN OFFICIAL: IRAN AND RUSSIA SHARE SYRIAN ARMY BASE (Tehran) — Iran and Russia share a military base in Syria in order to coordinate their defense of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, a top Iranian security official revealed. Ali Shamkhani, the secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, was quoted as claiming that there is “a shared base in Syria where Iran, with Russia’s help, does advisory work to help the Syrian army and the [pro-Assad] resistance forces.” Shamkhani, who is responsible for coordinating Tehran’s political, military, and security concerns with Syria and Russia, also stated that the two nations were cooperating “to design the military aspect of the fight against terrorism.” (The Tower, Dec. 22, 2016)

 

RUSSIA SIGNS AGREEMENT WITH ANTI-IMMIGRANT PARTY IN AUSTRIA (Vienna) — Russia’s ruling party signed a five-year “cooperation agreement” with the anti-immigrant Freedom Party of Austria. The two-page agreement, reached in Moscow after Freedom Party leaders met with officials from Russian President Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party, spells out a common commitment to holding regular joint meetings and public events while working to strengthen social and economic ties between Russia and Austria. The accord is the latest example of Russian efforts to forge ties with antiestablishment, euroskeptic parties in Europe. (Wall Street Journal, Dec. 19, 2016)

 

REPORT: HAMAS DRONE ENGINEER ALLEGEDLY ASSASSINATED BY MOSSAD (Tunis) — The assassination of Hamas drone engineer Mohammed Alzoari in Tunisia earlier this month — widely attributed to Mossad agents — was spurred by his work to develop deadly unmanned seacraft with which the terrorist organization planned to blow up Israel’s offshore gas rigs, Yediot Aharonot reported. Tunisian media outlets are reporting that for the past two years — particularly in the last six months — Alzoari was focusing his know-how on developing underwater “suicide” drones, which were going to sneak up to the Israeli rigs from beneath the surface of the Mediterranean and wreak massive havoc. Alzoari was shot multiple times on Dec. 15 in front of his house in the town of El Ain. (Algemeiner, Dec. 27, 2016)

 

I.S. VIDEO SHOWS TURKISH SOLDIERS BURNED ALIVE (Aleppo) — I.S. has released a ghastly video that appears to show two captured Turkish soldiers being burned alive. The video, showing two uniformed men being hauled from a cage before being bound and torched, was posted on jihadist websites and on Facebook. I.S. said the 19-minute footage was shot in its declared “Aleppo Province” in northern Syria. Its authenticity could not be independently verified. In Turkey, the government shut down social media to keep its citizens from viewing the video. Speaking in Turkish, the executioner denounces Turkish President Erdogan and calls for “destruction to be sowed” in Turkey. (Fox News, Dec. 23, 2016)

 

GUNMEN IN AFGHANISTAN KILL FEMALE AIRPORT EMPLOYEES (Kabul) — Gunmen in the city of Kandahar opened fire on a van carrying female airport employees, killing five women and their male driver. The Afghan government has been struggling to expand opportunities for women in the work force, but that effort has been hampered by conservative customs about the role of women in society and security threats posed by the conflict with the Taliban. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack. The Taliban have denied that it was carried out by their fighters. (New York Times, Dec. 17, 2016)   

IAF & HELLENIC AIR FORCE CONDUCT JOINT EXERCISE (Jerusalem) — After two intensive weeks of training in Ramat-David AFB, a joint training exercise between the Israeli and Hellenic Air Force has ended. Two Greek F-16 Squadrons and the IAF's "First Jet" Squadron that operates the "Barak" (F-16C/D) united for a unique joint training exercise – "Viper Valley 2016". For two weeks Israelis and Greeks trained together in Israeli skies. "The Greeks are longtime partners of ours and the current exercise is another step forward in our cooperation", said Col. Amnon, Ramat-David AFB Commander. "The fact that this was a relatively small deployment allowed us to create an intimate training exercise and develop tighter relationships," he said. (IAF, Dec. 20, 2016)

 

JAPAN’S PM VISITS PEARL HARBOR WITH OBAMA (Honolulu) — President Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made a historic visit to Pearl Harbor to pay homage to the victims of Japan’s 1941 bombing here, which killed more than 2,400 Americans and drew the U.S. into World War II. The leaders each laid a wreath of peace lilies at the wall of the USS Arizona memorial. It marked the first appearance of a sitting Japanese prime minister at the memorial and was the companion visit to one Obama made in May to Hiroshima. Abe acknowledged the suffering from Japan’s surprise attack, but stopped short of an apology. (Wall Street Journal, Dec. 27, 2016)

 

Contents

 

On Topic Links

 

Trump Was Right to Try to Stop Obama From Tying his Hands on Israel: Alan M. Dershowitz, Gatestone Institute, Dec. 23, 2016—The Egyptian decision to withdraw the one-sided anti-Israel Security Council resolution should not mask the sad reality that it is the Obama administration that has been pushing for the resolution to be enacted.

The UN’s Land Grab in Israel: Barry Shaw, Algemeiner, Dec. 27, 2016—The UN Security Council’s recent vote on Israel was not about “settlements.” It was a ruse to steal parts of Israel by calling these areas “illegally occupied Palestinian territory.”

Reading the Tea Leaves of Trump’s Foreign Policy: Michael Barone, New York Post, Dec. 16, 2016 —What is President-elect Donald Trump up to on foreign policy? It’s a question with no clear answer. Some will dismiss his appointments and tweets as expressing no more than the impulses of an ignorant and undisciplined temperament. Others may recall that similar things were said (by me, as well as many others) about his campaign strategy.

Saving Europe From Itself—Again: Mark Helprin, Wall Street Journal, Dec. 14, 2016—Though Europeans bridle when confronted with the possibility that Americans have something to offer, the Champs Élysées is not called Unter den Linden, and the Thousand-Year Reich and Warsaw Pact are no more…