Tag: peres

“PEACE PROCESS” IMPEDED BY PALESTINIAN DISUNITY, TERRORISM, & DENIAL OF ISRAEL’S RIGHTS

 

Obama’s Israel Surprise?: Editorial, Wall Street Journal, Oct. 31, 2016 — The Middle East has few bright spots these days, but one is the budding rapprochement between Israel and its Sunni Arab neighbors, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, thanks to shared threats from Iran and Islamic State.

Obama and Palestinian Unity: Jonathan S. Tobin, Commentary, Oct. 31, 2016 — Last week there was some progress toward peace in the Middle East.

Oh Those Sands! Those Shifting Sands!: Dr. Mordechai Kedar, Arutz Sheva, Oct. 31, 2016 — A little over two years ago, in mid-August, I ended my weekly article with the following sentence…

The Funeral of the Oslo Accords: Guy Millière, Gatestone Institute, Oct. 25, 2016 — The death of former Israeli President Shimon Peres led to a wave of almost unanimous tributes.

 

On Topic Links

 

Congress Blasts Obama for Preparing Anti-Israel Offensive: Jenna Lifhits, Weekly Standard, Oct. 9, 2016

The Next President and the Middle East: Editorial, Washington Post, Oct. 29, 2016

Jordan’s Chilly Peace with Israel: Michael Freund, Jerusalem Post, Oct. 26, 2016

The Two Sides of Shimon Peres: Father Raymond J. de Souza, National Post, Oct. 3, 2016

 

OBAMA’S ISRAEL SURPRISE?

Editorial

Wall Street Journal, Oct. 31, 2016

 

The Middle East has few bright spots these days, but one is the budding rapprochement between Israel and its Sunni Arab neighbors, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, thanks to shared threats from Iran and Islamic State. Now the Obama Administration may have plans to wreck even that.

 

Israeli diplomats gird for the possibility that President Obama may try to force a diplomatic resolution for Israel and the Palestinians at the United Nations. The White House has been unusually tight-lipped about what, if anything, it might have in mind. But our sources say the White House has asked the State Department to develop an options menu for the President’s final weeks.

 

One possibility would be to sponsor, or at least allow, a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlement construction, perhaps alongside new IRS regulations revoking the tax-exempt status of people or entities involved in settlement building. The Administration vetoed such a resolution in 2011 on grounds that it “risks hardening the position of both sides,” which remains true. But condemning the settlements has always been a popular way of scoring points against the Jewish state, not least at the State Department, and an antisettlement resolution might burnish Mr. Obama’s progressive brand for his postpresidency.

 

Mr. Obama may also seek formal recognition of a Palestinian state at the Security Council. This would run afoul of Congress’s longstanding view that “Palestine” does not have the internationally recognized attributes of statehood, including a defined territory and effective government, though Mr. Obama could overcome the objection through his usual expedient of an executive action, thereby daring the next President to reverse him.

 

Both actions would be a boon to the bullies in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, while also subjecting Israeli citizens and supporters abroad to new and more aggressive forms of legal harassment. It could even criminalize the Israeli army—and every reservist who serves in it—on the theory that it is illegally occupying a foreign state. Does Mr. Obama want to be remembered as the President who criminalized Israeli citizenship?

 

The worst option would be an effort to introduce a resolution at the U.N. Security Council setting “parameters” for a final settlement between Israel and the Palestinians. The French have been eager to do this for some time, and one option for the Administration would be to let the resolution pass simply by refusing to veto it. Or the U.S. could introduce the resolution itself, all the better to take credit for it.

 

As the old line has it, this would be worse than a crime—it would be a blunder. U.S. policy has long and wisely been that only Israelis and Palestinians can work out a peace agreement between themselves, and that efforts to impose one would be counterproductive. Whatever parameters the U.N. established would be unacceptable to any Israeli government, left or right, thereby destroying whatever is left of a peace camp in Israel.

 

The Palestinians would seize on those parameters as their birthright, making it impossible for any future Palestinian leader to bargain part of them away in a serious negotiation. Arab states would find their diplomatic hands tied, making it impossible to serve as useful intermediaries between Jerusalem and Ramallah. It could refreeze relations with Israel even as they finally seem to have thawed.

 

President Obama may be the last man on earth to get the memo, but after decades of fruitless efforts to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict it might be wiser for the U.S. to step back until the Palestinians recognize that peace cannot be imposed from the outside. If Mr. Obama is still seeking a Middle East legacy at this late stage in his presidency, his best move is do nothing to make it worse.

 

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OBAMA AND PALESTINIAN UNITY                                                                               

Jonathan S. Tobin                                                                                                          

Commentary, Oct. 31, 2016

 

Last week there was some progress toward peace in the Middle East. Unfortunately, that progress wasn’t made between Israel and Palestinians seeking to create a two-state solution that would end the century-long conflict between the two peoples. Instead, the leaders of Fatah and Hamas took the first steps toward a breakthrough. Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas, who runs the West Bank and Hamas leaders Khaled Meshal and Ismail Haniyeh had what appears to have been a productive meeting in Qatar. But while the lack of Palestinian unity has long been decried as an obstacle to peace with Israel, the conclave is not good news for those who hope for progress. To the contrary, what this shows is not a desire for a Palestinian unity government that is strong enough to make peace but rather one that is brought together by a determination to avoid it.

 

The split between the two leading Palestinian groups is a detail that is usually ignored by peace process advocates. Those who hope to further empower Abbas by granting the Palestinians statehood tend to forget that Gaza is for an independent state in all but name run by Hamas. The nine years since Hamas toppled the Fatah administration of the Strip in a bloody coup have provided a sobering preview of what a two-state solution might actually mean. The Islamist group not only turned the strip into a theocracy but also into a heavily fortified terrorist base from which it launched thousands of rockets against Israel before the Jewish state’s 2014 counter-attack brought about an uneasy cease-fire.

 

The hope among peace process advocates has always been that Hamas would either collapse due to dissatisfaction with its despotic rule or eventually come to its senses and join with the supposed “moderates” of Fatah to end the conflict. But though Gazans are as sick of Hamas incompetence and dangerous belligerence as West Bank residents are of Fatah’s corruption, there is no sign of any weakening of its grasp on power. Nor has there been any shift in its ideology, which not only demands Israel’s elimination but also the slaughter of its Jewish population.

 

Far from acting as a moderating influence on Hamas, it ought to be clear that it is Abbas, the man that President Obama has claimed is a “champion of peace,” and his group that has begun sounding more like the Islamists. The so-called “stabbing intifada” of the last year was largely the product of a conscious decision by Abbas to ramp up religious hatred against Jews by promoting a canard that Israel planned to harm the Temple Mount mosques. The PA’s successful campaign to get UNESCO to designate both the Temple Mount and the Western Wall as exclusively Muslim holy sites is also significant. It is both a sign that Abbas believes the only to compete with Hamas for popularity in the Muslim street is by mimicking their hatred and an indication of its clear refusal to accept the legitimacy of a Jewish state no matter where its borders might be drawn.

 

This is not the first such try at Palestinian unity. A Fatah-Hamas accord helped destroy Secretary of State John Kerry’s attempt to broker peace in 2014. But the seriousness of this latest attempt was demonstrated by the presence in Qatar of the heads of the two Hamas factions — Haniyeh, who runs Gaza and Meshal, who runs the political operation outside of the strip.

 

It’s likely that Abbas is hoping to rope them into some kind of agreement that will present a united front to the world in advance of the PA’s next attempt to gain statehood or a condemnation of Israel at the UN this fall. Seen in that context, the unity efforts are not just more pointless Palestinian posturing but a clear strategy aimed at providing a false veneer that President Obama can use to justify a betrayal of the Jewish state. If Obama uses the period after the presidential election to launch a parting shot at Israel before his term expires he needs to be able to pretend that the Palestinians are ready for peace. But this unity effort is the opposite of peace.

 

Though the administration’s illusions about Abbas remain, the United States government still rightly labels Hamas as a terrorist group. If Washington were serious about peace it would be demanding that Abbas renounce any effort at unity with Hamas unless it changed its character and embraced peace. The unity meeting ought to ensure that the U.S. continues to oppose any effort by the PA to avoid direct peace talks with Israel. The fact that it may instead be used to help the president undermine Israel’s diplomatic position and further isolating it in a way that the next administration may not be able to reverse further demonstrates the bankruptcy of Obama’s approach to the Middle East.                                        

 

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OH THOSE SANDS! THOSE SHIFTING SANDS!                                                                                          

Dr. Mordechai Kedar                                                                                                    

Arutz Sheva, Oct. 31, 2016

 

A little over two years ago, in mid-August, I ended my weekly article with the following sentence: “The Middle Eastern see-saw is leaning heavily towards the Saudi-Egyptian axis, but it is not at all clear whether that coalition will continue to direct the Middle East in another year or two. Israel must not be tempted to align its security and future with a temporary constellation, no matter how good it appears to be. Israel must always base its policy on long term planning that gives priority to Israel and its territorial possessions and not to agreements resting on the shifting sands of the Middle East.”

 

Unfortunately, for the last two years Israelis and many others have been talking about the importance of a treaty between Israel and the so-called “coalition of moderate Sunni nations” – to wit, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, The United Arab Emirates, and the Palestinian Authority – all of them united against the Iranian threat and ISIS which threaten the stability and welfare of their regimes. There are even those who accuse Israel’s government of not being wise enough to make use of the present situation in the Middle East to forge a peace agreement with the Arab and Islamic world on the basis of the Saudi Peace Plan adopted by the Arab League.

 

The foundation of the “moderate Sunni coalition” was the close cooperation between Egypt and Saudi Arabia, that began when King Abdullah, all heart and outspread hands, supported General Sisi, who in July 2013  ousted elected president Mohammed Morsi, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, this in sharp contrast to the will of the US government and Europe. The Saudi billions saved Egypt from bankruptcy, and the cooperation between the two countries reached the point where Egyptian soldiers came to the aid of the Saudis in their struggle against the Iranian and Houthi forces in Yemen. Except that since then, the sand dunes on which the aforementioned “coalition” was built have shifted in the wake of the north winds coming from the battlegrounds of Syria, putting paid to the bets on what seemed like a winning hand just a short while ago. Today the relations between Egypt and the Saudis are a far cry from cooperation and Egypt is now in close cahoots with Saudi Arabia’s enemies, headed by Iran.

 

How did the turnabout happen? The answer is clearly to be found in the situation in Syria for the past two years, especially Russia’s involvement, the Aleppo campaign and the resolutions concerning Syria passed by the UN Security Council, of which Egypt is a member this year. The Assad issue polarizes all the countries involved in Syria: Russia, Iran, Iraq and Hezbollah support Assad actively, not only politically, and are taking part in the fighting. Assad would be long gone without this involvement. On the other side of the court, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and some of the Emirates are undermining Assad politically and financially, arming and training those rebelling against his regime.

 

The scales of war tipped towards Assad during the past year once Russian military involvement began to increase in strength. One can say with certainty that Russia has become the Syrian Army’s main source of power, mainly from the air, and that a good part of the Russian navy, armed with rockets and aircraft carriers, is concentrated opposite Syria’s shores. The air defense systems that Russia has spread along the Syrian coast threaten the activities of the US, Israeli and Turkish warplanes in the area. Russia acts without legal or moral constraints, and bombs civilian neighborhoods mercilessly, forcing their citizens to become human shields for the rebels – those that Saudi Arabia supports, mostly in the eastern quarters of Aleppo.

 

In the political arena, Russia managed to force Erdogan to stop helping the rebels and concentrate instead on preventing Syria’s Kurds from establishing an independent state that might threaten Turkish stability. Sisi has been faced with the dilemma of whom to support from the first day of his regime in July 2013 – wondering whether he should stand behind Assad or behind Assad’s Islamist enemies, the ideological brothers of Sisi’s own opponents in the Sinai and along the length of the Nile.

 

While Sisi was politically and financially dependent on the Saudis, he abstained from supporting Assad publicly, but the direct and massive Russian intervention in Syria made him rethink what policy it would be best to pursue. He realized that Assad might succeed in overcoming his opponents and that the Saudi regime might fail in its war against the Syrian dictator, so he decided to bet on the winning horse. He abandoned the Saudis, crossed the lines, and now feels that Assad can remain in power no matter what future agreement lies ahead. The US decision to stay out of the fray also helped convince Sisi that the power in the Middle East is in the hands of Russia and its Iranian allies, making it worth his while to join the winning team and abandon the losers.

 

The October 8th vote in the Security Council saw the Egyptian delegate take a stand supporting Russia’s suggested resolution and not that of the Saudis. In response, Saudi Arabia’s UN delegate said that Egypt’s support of Russia is a “sad thing” and the Saudis promptly stopped an oil shipment headed for Egypt and placed restrictions on Egypt Airlines flights to Saudi Arabia.

 

Egypt’s police removed the concrete barriers that protected the Saudi Embassy in Cairo, claiming that a traffic tunnel is being constructed exactly at that spot, and the Saudi ambassador got the hint, leaving Cairo and returning to his homeland. Sisi, at a military ceremony, announced that “Egypt bows only to Allah,” meaning to no man or other country, alluding to the Saudi regime. The media received reports that a former senior Egyptian officer sold patrol boats to the Houthis in Yemen, the tribes that Iran supports and Saudi Arabia is trying to destroy. And all this deterioration in the relations between the two countries occurred over 5 days, from the 8th to the13th of October…

 

The Palestinian Authority (PA) had also joined the list of the “moderate Sunni coalition” with which Israel was supposed to reach a peace agreement, according to the pundits. Except that it turns out that this very same PA rests on shaky legs at best. For the past decade, we have been accustomed to a political and territorial split in the Palestinian Arab sector, with Gaza a Hamas state and Judea and Samaria’s Arabs in love with the PLO. All that was until last month, when the PLO dream was shown to be totally divorced from reality, as the organization itself split between Abbas supporters and those who support Mohammed Dahlan, corresponding to a growing schism between urban Arabs and refugee camp dwellers.

 

Throughout the past year, and particularly last month, there were violent outbursts between civilians and PA security forces in which the Palestinian police behavior towards these civilians was on a level of cruelty and violence equal to that which was prevalent in the Arab world for many years until the “Arab Spring” broke down the cruelty barrier. The reason is obvious: The security organizations are filled with personnel brought from Tunisia, not native Palestinian Arabs, and are therefore not considered legitimate by local residents.

 

What is going on today in the PA can be considered preparation by public and political institutions for the day after Abbas: Hamas is getting stronger, accruing arms and planning a takeover of Judea and Samaria. The fear of Hamas on the part of PLO supporters is behind their search for a young, energetic and proven rival to Hamas. Mohammed Dahlan suits the bill almost perfectly, but is strongly opposed by Abbas and his cohorts. Is the PLO going to remain a united organization in the future? It is hard to predict, but Middle Eastern dynamics perpetuate controversies and deepen them, so it is quite possible that this internecine war will destroy the PLO just as its struggle with Hamas destroyed the dream of one Palestinian State even before its birth…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]    

 

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                         THE FUNERAL OF THE OSLO ACCORDS                                                                      

                                                 Guy Millière                                                                  

 Gatestone Institute, Oct. 25, 2016

 

The death of former Israeli President Shimon Peres led to a wave of almost unanimous tributes. Representatives from 75 countries came to Jerusalem to attend the funeral. Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas even left Ramallah for a few hours to show up. Such a consensus could seem to be a sign of support for Israel, but it was something else entirely. Those who honored the memory of Shimon Peres put aside the years he dedicated to creating Israel's defense industry and to negotiating key arms deals with France, Germany and the United States. Those who honored the memory of Peres spoke only of the man who signed the Oslo Accords and who embodied the "peace process." They then used the occasion to accuse Israel.

 

Barack Obama delivered a speech that could have resembled a mark of heartwarming friendship, until he evoked the "the unfinished business of peace talks." A harsh and negative sentence followed, saying that "the Jewish people weren't born to rule another people." The next sentence implied that Israel is behaving like a slave-owner: "From the very first day we are against slaves and masters;" but it is clear to anyone in Israel that there is no such relationship even resembling that. His conclusion followed: "The Zionist idea will be best protected when Palestinians will have a state of their own." British Prime Minister Theresa May and French President François Hollande issued press releases in the same direction.

 

Despite the unceasing waves of murdering innocent Israeli civilians, Western politicians speak as if Israel were not under attack. They are not interested in seeing the spilled blood, the threats, the hatred constantly spread by Palestinian newspapers, and the incessant and ugly consequences of that hatred. European and American politicians are not interested in hearing what Palestinian leaders say when they call for the ethnic cleansing of Jews. These leaders seem happy to forget the chaos in the Middle East, the ruthless global violence of Islamic extremists, and the outspoken, genocidal intentions of the rulers of Iran. Instead, they speak abstractly of "peace" as if it is something that can be dropped down from sky on people who every day are threatening to kill the Jews.

 

These politicians practice willful blindness and seem obsessed by a desire illegally to impose the creation of a Palestinian state — whatever the consequences for Israel. These Western leaders can well imagine what those consequences would be if the Arabs had their way: genocide. One can only assume they are pleased with that. Israelis, however — Muslims, Christians and Jews — cannot practice willful blindness. The spilled blood is not an abstract headline; it is their red blood. The threats, the hatred and the consequences of that hatred are real. Israelis hear clearly what the Palestinian leaders say. They cannot forget what is happening in the Middle East: Jerusalem is 150 miles from Damascus and 1000 miles from Tehran; Hezbollah has more 120,000 missiles aimed at Israel from Lebanon. Hamas, a designated terrorist group openly dedicated to destroying Israel, rules Gaza just a few miles away. Israelis note the genocidal threats from Iran: Iran can obtain nuclear weapons at any time, along with long-range missiles to deliver them.

 

Even though many Israeli citizens were proud to see that so many Western leaders came to honor Shimon Peres, they were not fooled. A recent survey showed that only 28% of the Israeli population believe that a peace agreement is even conceivable; 64% think no agreement will ever be signed. Another survey from July 2016 showed that a clear majority of Israelis are opposed to any withdrawal from Judea and Samaria, and resolutely hostile to any foreign interference in Israeli affairs. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu politely received Western leaders when they came to Jerusalem. He paid tribute to Shimon Peres — without omitting the first decades of Peres' life. He also answered those who speak of "peace" as if no other factors mattered, and firmly stated his position: security comes first; there is no way that peace can exist without security…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

 

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On Topic Links

 

Congress Blasts Obama for Preparing Anti-Israel Offensive: Jenna Lifhits, Weekly Standard, Oct. 9, 2016—The Obama administration is manufacturing a crisis with Israel in anticipation of a post-election diplomatic push targeting the Jewish state, and this past week launched a series of broadsides criticizing the Israelis through the media and in press briefings, according to congressional sources and Jewish-American officials who spoke to the Weekly Standard.

The Next President and the Middle East: Editorial, Washington Post, Oct. 29, 2016— The self-defeating passivity of President Obama’s policies in the Middle East may have reached its apotheosis earlier this month at a National Security Council meeting that he chaired.

Jordan’s Chilly Peace with Israel: Michael Freund, Jerusalem Post, Oct. 26, 2016—Yesterday marked the 22nd anniversary of the signing of the Israel-Jordan peace treaty, an event heralded at the time as a historic breakthrough, one that would bring about a warm and lasting reconciliation between the two countries for generations to come. So much for the desert-driven delusions of the past.

The Two Sides of Shimon Peres: Father Raymond J. de Souza, National Post, Oct. 3, 2016— The world joined Israel to pay tribute to Shimon Peres in Jerusalem Friday, but it seemed as though the world and Israel were burying different men. This may simply reflect the fact that, after 70 years, the public life of the last of the founders of the modern state of Israel was simply too large to be fully addressed in one funeral.

 

 

 

 

 

 

PERES, A MAN OF SECURITY & PEACE, FATHERED ISRAEL’S “DELIBERATELY AMBIGUOUS” NUCLEAR PROGRAM; “NEWS IN REVIEW” ROUND-UP

On Topic Links

 

A Yom Kippur Guide for the Perplexed, 2016: Yoram Ettinger, Algemeiner, Oct. 10, 2016

A Peek Inside the IDF 8200's Combat Intelligence Unit: Israel Defense, Oct. 12, 2016

Meet the IDF’s ‘Beduin Battalion’: Seth J. Frantzman, Jerusalem Post, Oct. 13, 2016

Trump’s Moment of Truth: Editorial, Wall Street Journal, Oct. 12, 2016

 

 

 

PERES, A MAN OF PEACE, MADE ISRAEL A MILITARY POWERHOUSE

Judah Ari Gross

Times of Israel, Sept. 28, 2016

 

Before Shimon Peres became the man of peace extolled by world leaders for his dedication to coexistence, he was a man of defense and security, setting up some of Israel’s most important military victories and strategic assets. To many, Peres is synonymous with the 1993 Oslo Peace Accords, for which he was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize, and his eponymous Center for Peace, which promotes dialogue and opportunities for both Israelis and Palestinians. Yet few people in Israel have contributed more to the country’s military capabilities.

 

Following the War of Independence, Peres helped build the country’s air force into the world-renowned juggernaut that it is today and allegedly gave Israel the ability to manufacture nuclear weapons, which reportedly give the country second-strike capabilities in the case of an attack. “Shimon Peres designed the character and values of the Defense Ministry; he led the strengthening and build-up of the IDF’s power and its strategic capabilities,” the Defense Ministry said in a statement. “He developed security relationships with other nations in the world and took a central role in the creation of the Israel defense industries,” the ministry said in its statement.

 

After a brief stint in the Haganah and the fledgling Israel Defense Force, Peres led a Defense Ministry delegation to the United States in 1950 and soon after his return was named deputy director-general of the ministry in 1952. He became director-general a year later and in that capacity laid the groundwork for turning Israel’s immature, poorly supplied military into the technological powerhouse the IDF has become.

 

In the early 1950s, Peres started a relationship with the French government that allegedly resulted in the creation of Israel’s nuclear arsenal and in the purchase of the fighter jets and bombers to replace the IDF’s antiquated World War II-era planes, which would go on to be instrumental in Israel’s victory in the 1967 Six Day War. Entering the position at age 29, Peres remains the youngest director-general of the Defense Ministry in Israel’s history. But his young age and inexperience did not stop him from setting up Israel’s defense ties with France essentially singlehandedly, according to Guy Ziv, an associate professor at American University’s School of International Service. “What makes this case particularly compelling is not merely that one individual yielded disproportionate influence over the relations beween the two countries, but also that this individual was not a senior policy-maker,” Ziv wrote in a 2010 article in the Journal of Contemporary History.

 

During the early 1950s, the Foreign Ministry and other high-level Israeli officials were essentially banging their heads against the wall trying to convince the United States to sell artillery, aircraft, guns and tanks to the young Jewish state. Peres, who had tried desperately and failed to purchase weapons from the United States in 1950, turned instead to France, the “friendliest country today,” as he referred to it in a 1954 Defense Ministry meeting. The young Peres had to convince then-defense ministers Pinhas Lavon and David Ben-Gurion that the “French connection,” and not the American, was the way to go, according to Ziv.

 

“It was natural that the people of post-war France, who had themselves tasted the bitterness of Nazi horror, should feel a kinship with the victims of Nazism who had suffered greater losses,” Peres wrote in his book “David’s Sling.” Through Peres’s relationship with the French, Israel purchased huge quantities of weapons, including artillery cannons, tanks and radar equipment. But most notably, Israel also acquired the French Dassault Mystère IV and Dassault Ouragan fighter jets in 1955, the Dassault Super Mystère B2 in 1958 and the Dassault Mirage IIIC, one of the most advanced aircrafts of its time, in 1962.

 

All of these aircrafts were used in the 1967 Six Day War, taking out the air forces of Egypt, Syria, Iraq and Jordan, which helped pave the way to an unexpected Israeli victory. But the star of the 1967 war was the Mirage, known in Israel as the Shahak, which both carried out bombing runs and engaged in aerial dogfights, shooting down the lion’s share of enemy aircraft. The Mirage remained in use until 1986, and its design was used to create the Israeli Aerospace Industries’ Nesher and Kfir fighter jets, the latter of which was in use until 1996.

 

But while those aircraft played hugely important roles in the military’s victory in 1967, Peres’s relationship with the French government also fundamentally changed Israel’s security strategy and position, with the creation of Israel’s Negev Nuclear Research Center in Dimona.

 

In late 1956, representatives from the United Kingdom, France and Israel, including Peres, met for three days in secret at a villa in Sèvres, France, to address Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser’s nationalization of the Suez canal. At the meeting, it was decided that Israel would spark a conflict with Egypt and the UK and France would send in forces ostensibly to break up the war, but in fact to occupy the area and ensuring shipping through the naval passage. The then-secret agreement became known as the Protocol of Sèvres. It lauched on October 29, 1956, when Israeli forces invaded the Sinai Peninsula. The operation lasted nine days.

 

Israeli, British and French troops succeeded initially in taking over the area, but considerable outcries against the campaign from the United States and the British and French public forced a withdrawal and turned the secret plan into a public embarrassment for the UK and France — though Israel escaped relatively unscathed. Though it was not a formal part of the Protocol of Sèvres, during the three-day conference planning the ill-fated war, the French agreed to help Israel develop a nuclear reactor, according to a 1997 Foreign Affairs article by Avi Shlaim, a British-Israeli historian.

 

“It was here that I finalized with these two leaders” — France’s then-prime minister Guy Mollet and then-defense minister Maurice Bourgès-Maunoury — “an agreement for the building of a nuclear reactor at Dimona, in southern Israel,” Peres wrote in his 1995 book “Battling for Peace.” That nuclear reactor in Dimona, along with a supply of uranium, allegedly went on to create Israel’s atomic weapons.

 

On Wednesday, following Peres’s death, Israel’s Atomic Energy Commission praised the former president, prime minister and defense minister for his role in its creation. “Peres provided a fundamental contribution to the creation of the Negev Nuclear Research Center and to the creation of Israel’s nuclear policies. This was a significant element in securing the national resilience of the State of Israel. Peres’s legacy will lead the IAEC in its actions even in the future,” the commission said in a statement.

 

Israel still maintains an official policy of so-called “nuclear ambiguity,” neither confirming or denying the possession of atomic weapons. However, in 1998, Peres told reporters in Jordan that Israel had “built a nuclear option, not in order to have a Hiroshima but an Oslo.” Israel’s alleged nuclear capabilities, though controversial, are seen as crucial to the country’s survival by many security analysts. “Israel needs its nuclear weapons. This bold statement is not even remotely controversial,” Purdue University professor Louis René Beres wrote in 2014. If deprived of its nuclear weapons, whether still-ambiguous or newly disclosed, Israel would irremediably lose its residual capacity to deter major enemy aggressions,” he wrote…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

 

 

THE "MIND OVER MIND" BATTLE IN THE NUCLEAR THEATER

Louis René Beres

Israel Defense, Sept. 25, 2016

 

More than likely, the first post-Hiroshima/Nagasaki use of nuclear weapons will be undertaken by North Korea or Pakistan. Should this actually turn out to be the case, the cumulative consequences would impact not only the responsible aggressor state and its multiple victims, but also still-developing strategic nuclear policies in certain other countries. The most obvious and concerning case of such a prospective secondary impact would be Israel.

 

For now, Israel's nuclear strategy remains "deliberately ambiguous," or in the "basement." Whether well-founded or foolishly conceived, this intentional opacity has endured as national policy because Jerusalem has not yet had to worry about confronting any enemy nuclear forces. This potentially fragile posture would almost certainly need to change, however, if Iran were sometime perceived to have become a near-nuclear adversary.

 

Significantly, while seldom discussed "out loud," Israel could also feel compelled to shift away from nuclear ambiguity once an actual nuclear attack had taken place elsewhere on earth. In other words, there would need to be no direct connection between such an attack and Israel for the Jewish State to acknowledge certain derivative obligations to alter or modify its own nuclear strategy.

 

To be sure, any such predictive analytic leap cannot readily be drawn from relevant historical examples. After all, such expectedly pertinent examples simply do not exist. Moreover, to be suitably scientific, any assessments of probability regarding an actual resort to nuclear weapons would have to be based upon the ascertainable frequency of past nuclear events. Fortunately, for human welfare, if not for the science of strategic prediction, there have been no nuclear wars.

 

What about Hiroshima and Nagasaki? Incontestably, the American atomic bombings of Japan in August 1945 were not proper examples of a nuclear war, but rather of a unique or one-time use of nuclear weapons designed to end an ongoing and worldwide conventional war. Further, there were no other nuclear weapons states in August 1945 (Washington was not even sure that its own Little Boy and Fat Man would work), so any corollary U.S. strategic calculations could bear no resemblance to what might actually confront Israel today.

 

For purposes of Israeli strategic thinking, Hiroshima and Nagasaki were utterly sui generis; hence, forever dissimilar to any present or future national security circumstances. Nonetheless, we needn't make any plausible or persuasive probability assessments about North Korea, Pakistan and Israel in order to reach the following conclusion: Once North Korea and/or Pakistan fires nuclear weapons against another state or states, a principal nuclear "taboo" will have been broken, and all existing nuclear powers – especially Israel – will then begin to take more seriously the actual operational use of their own nuclear weapons. The precise manner and extent to which Israel would be impacted in such circumstances would depend, among several more-or-less intersecting factors, on prevailing geopolitical alignments and cleavages, both regional and worldwide. For example, North Korea has already had tangible ties to both Syria and Iran, and all concerned parties could be forced to take into distinctly calculable account the presumed expectations of an already resurgent Cold War.

 

The "spillover" impact on Israel of any actual nuclear weapons use by North Korea or Pakistan would also depend upon the particular combatants involved, expected rationality or irrationality of these same combatants, yields and range of the nuclear weapons fired, and the prompt aggregate calculation of civilian and military harms actually suffered in the affected areas. If North Korea had fired its nuclear weapons against American targets, military or civilian, Israel could correctly anticipate an overwhelmingly destructive U.S. response. If, in another apt scenario, a government in Islamabad (possibly a post-coup Islamist regime) fired "only" its tactical or theater nuclear weapons, and "only" against exclusively military targets, the Indian response might then be substantially less overwhelming.

 

It also ought to be noted here, for further predictive clarification, that Pakistan recently shifted certain specific portions of its nuclear targeting doctrine to expressly lower yield, shorter range weapons, presumably to enhance the underlying credibility of its nuclear deterrence posture vis-à-vis India.

 

All of this would pose stunningly complex calculations for Israeli strategists. Indeed, these planners would have to account capably not only for singular nuclear weapons operations by North Korea or Pakistan, but also for any multiple interactions or synergies that might be involved. It is even conceivable, to offer still another meaningful example, that any North Korean resort to nuclear attack would be followed, more-or-less promptly, by a separate Pakistani use of nuclear weapons. This prospect could represent a chaotic or near-chaotic development, in which Israel would then be faced with a palpably unprecedented analytic challenge…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

 

 

WEEKLY QUOTES

 

“The Yom Kippur War showed our neighbors that they cannot defeat us with weapons…It paved the path to peace with Egypt and later with Jordan…Our hands will continue to reach out to peace to those of our neighbors who want peace…Until then, we will be prepared to defend ourselves with our own forces…Families have grown, have rejoiced at celebrations and marked festivals, but one pain remains engraved in our hearts, the agonizing pain of loss, the pain of longing, the longing that has not dulled from that Yom Kippur of the past until that of today…The loss has not subsided. Once again Yom Kippur comes and another time we gather on this mountain and try to remember” — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, at an official ceremony marking the anniversary of the Yom Kippur War. The event took place at the Mount Herzl military cemetery in Jerusalem, and commemorated 43 years since the beginning of the war. (Times of Israel, Oct. 13, 2016)

 

"We started off, we had no ISIS, and now, seven and a half years later, they're in, they think, 32 countries. And she's going to get rid of them?…They are hoping and praying that Hillary Clinton becomes president of the United States, because they'll take over not only that part of the world, they'll take over this country, they'll take over this part of the world. Believe me."— Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump. Trump offered a warning for voters considering backing Clinton: If she wins, he said, the terror group I.S. would take over the US. A day after proclaiming himself unshackled from GOP officials, Trump spent the majority of a campaign rally going full throttle against Clinton. Earlier this year, Trump asserted that Clinton and President Obama were the cofounders of I.S. — a claim from which he refused to back down and later clarified was intended as sarcasm. (Yahoo, Oct. 12, 2016)

 

“Obama’s radically reoriented foreign policy is in ruins. His vision was to move away from a world where stability and “the success of liberty” (JFK, inaugural address) were anchored by American power and move toward a world ruled by universal norms, mutual obligation, international law and multilateral institutions. No more cowboy adventures, no more unilateralism, no more Guantanamo. We would ascend to the higher moral plane of diplomacy. Clean hands, clear conscience, “smart power.” This blessed vision has just died a terrible death in Aleppo. Its unraveling was predicted and predictable, though it took fully two terms to unfold…“What is Aleppo?” famously asked Gary Johnson. Answer: the burial ground of the Obama fantasy of benign disengagement.” — Charles Krauthammer. (Washington Post, Oct. 6, 2016)

 

Contents

 

SHORT TAKES

 

YOM KIPPUR SOLEMNITY MARRED BY VIOLENCE AND RIOTS (Jerusalem) — As Jews prayed on Yom Kippur, Arabs rioted. The alert status was high, as 3,500 policemen reinforced security in and around Jerusalem after a terror attack on Sunday. On Tuesday, Arabs attacked Israeli police with rocks and Molotov cocktails in Silwan, East Jerusalem. Palestinian sources reported one Arab man, Ali Atef Shuyukhi, was killed in the confrontation. Arabs also attacked Israeli Security forces in East Jerusalem and Issawiya, throwing Molotov cocktails and fireworks. (Breaking Israel News, Oct. 13, 2016)
 

TWO MURDERED, SIX WOUNDED IN JERUSALEM TERROR ATTACK (Jerusalem) — A Palestinian who was due to begin a prison term in Israel next week went on a shooting spree on Sunday, killing a pedestrian and a police officer in Jerusalem before being shot dead by police. The assailant, who Hamas said was a member of its organization, was shot dead in an exchange of fire with police. Medical officials said six people were wounded in the attack, and that two of them, a woman and a police officer, died in hospital. Police identified the assailant as a 39-year-old Palestinian from East Jerusalem. A spokeswoman for the Israel Prisons Service said the attacker had been ordered by a court to start a four-month jail sentence next week after being convicted of assaulting a police officer. (Breitbart, Oct. 9, 2016)

 

SHIN BET FOILS HAMAS SUICIDE BUS BOMBING IN JERUSALEM (Jerusalem) — An East Jerusalem man was indicted Tuesday for planning to carry out a suicide bombing on a bus in the capital, officials said. On September 9, the Shin Bet security service arrested alleged Hamas operative Muhammad Fuaz Ibrahim Julani, a resident of the Shuafat refugee camp, a few days before he planned to carry out his attack. Over the past few months, Julani, 22, had been planning to carry out a terror attack on behalf of Hamas, the Shin Bet said. (Times of Israel, Oct. 11, 2016)

 

UNESCO PASSES RESOLUTION DENYING JEWISH TIES TO JERUSALEM HOLY SITES (Paris) — The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) passed a resolution denying Jewish connections to the Temple Mount and Western Wall. 24 UNESCO member states voted in favor of the resolution, 26 abstained, and six countries voted against. The proposal, put forth by the Palestinians, along with Egypt, Algeria, Morocco, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar and Sudan, condemns Israel on several issues related to Jerusalem and its holy sites. The resolution acknowledges that the city of Jerusalem is holy to Judaism, Islam, and Christianity but says the Temple Mount holy site is sacred only to Muslims and fails to mention its significance to Jews. (I24, Oct. 13, 2016)

 

U.S. LAUNCHES AIRSTRIKES IN YEMEN IN RESPONSE TO SHIP ATTACK (Sana’a) — The U.S. military launched cruise missile strikes on Thursday to knock out three coastal radar sites in areas of Yemen controlled by Iran-aligned Houthi forces, retaliating after failed missile attacks this week on a U.S. Navy destroyer. The strikes, authorized by President Obama, represent Washington's first direct military action against Houthi-controlled targets in Yemen. U.S. officials said U.S. Navy destroyer USS Nitze launched the Tomahawk cruise missiles. The missile attacks on the USS Mason — the latest of which took place on Wednesday — appeared to be the Houthis' response to a suspected Saudi-led strike on mourners gathered in Yemen's Houthi-held capital Sanaa. (CBC, Oct. 13, 2016)

 

BOB DYLAN AWARDED NOBEL PRIZE FOR LITERATURE (Stockholm)Bob Dylan was named the winner of the 2016 Nobel Prize in literature Thursday, in a stunning announcement that for the first time bestowed the prestigious award to someone primarily seen as a musician. The Swedish Academy cited the American musician for “having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.” Dylan, 75, had been mentioned in Nobel speculation for years, but few experts expected the academy to extend the prestigious award to a genre such as pop music. Robert Allen Zimmerman was born on May 24, 1941, to a Jewish family in small-town Minnesota. Both sets of his grandparents were immigrants from Eastern Europe. (Times of Israel, Oct. 13, 2016)

 

Contents

 

On Topic Links

 

A Yom Kippur Guide for the Perplexed, 2016: Yoram Ettinger, Algemeiner, Oct. 10, 2016—1. Yom Kippur is a day of hope and optimism, in addition to a solemn day of soul-searching. The Day of Atonement provides a unique awareness of one’s own character and track record, as well as the opportunity to upgrade relationships with relatives, friends, associates and the community at-large.

A Peek Inside the IDF 8200's Combat Intelligence Unit: Israel Defense, Oct. 12, 2016 —They have been around for five years, operating without a name or insignia. They are the combat soldiers of the elite intelligence unit 8200. Although 8200 is better known for its glasses-wearing computer geniuses, this section of the unit helps to gather field intelligence for the elite combat units in the IDF – including Sayeret Matkal and Shayetet 13.

Meet the IDF’s ‘Beduin Battalion’: Seth J. Frantzman, Jerusalem Post, Oct. 13, 2016—The jeep stops on a chalk-like dusty road, at an embankment that overlooks a dry riverbed. In front of us, to the northwest and spanning the gully, are two rows of metal fences. To their left, on a small hillock, is a concrete watchtower, a “pillbox,” as it’s called, harking back to World War II British Army nomenclature. A U-shaped concrete wall protects its base so that men entering and leaving are not exposed to gunfire.

Trump’s Moment of Truth: Editorial, Wall Street Journal, Oct. 12, 2016 —Donald Trump has declared himself unshackled from the Republican Party and says he will now campaign as he’s wanted to all along. This raises the question of whose never-before-seen campaign he’s been running for 16 months, but so be it. The self-declared strategy has the virtue of putting the onus of victory or defeat squarely where it belongs: Mr. Trump and those who led him to the GOP nomination.

 

 

 

OBAMA’S FOREIGN POLICY IN “TATTERS” ENTERING FINAL MONTHS AS PRESIDENT

Latest Syria Setback Marks Five Years of Failure for Obama Administration: Kelly McParland, National Post, Oct. 4, 2016 — Sputnik International, a government-backed Russian “news” service, has soothing words for concerns about the ongoing carnage in Syria.

Obama's November Surprise: Gregg Roman, The Hill, Sept. 26, 2016 — There is growing speculation that President Obama will spring a diplomatic surprise on Israel during the interregnum between the U.S. presidential election on Nov. 8 and his departure from office in January.

Obama’s Hostile Eulogy: Caroline Glick, Breaking Israel News, Oct. 10, 2016 — US President Barack Obama’s eulogy to Shimon Peres last Friday at Mt. Herzl was a thinly disguised assault on Israel. And he barely bothered to hide it.

Yom Kippur – How It Changes Us: Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, Rabbi Sacks, Oct. 10, 2016— To those who fully open themselves to it, Yom Kippur is a life-transforming experience.

 

On Topic Links

 

Atoning for Sins on Yom Kippur: Dvora Waysman, Jerusalem Post, Oct. 11, 2016

White House Silent: Palestinians Attack Jews Praying at Joseph's Tomb: Editorial, Jerusalem Post, Oct. 10, 2016

Congress Blasts Obama for Preparing Anti-Israel Offensive: Jenna Lifhits, Weekly Standard, Oct. 9, 2016

Barack Obama’s Stillborn Legacy: At Home and Abroad, the President's Agenda is in Tatters: Charles Krauthammer, New York Daily News, Oct. 6, 2016

 

 

 

LATEST SYRIA SETBACK MARKS FIVE YEARS

OF FAILURE FOR OBAMA ADMINISTRATION

Kelly McParland

National Post, Oct. 4, 2016

 

Sputnik International, a government-backed Russian “news” service, has soothing words for concerns about the ongoing carnage in Syria. The Putin government’s “limited military engagement” on behalf of Syrian President Bashar Assad “has helped to bring stability to several regions” of the country “and boost morale of the Syrian Arab Army,” it says. Russian involvement, it continues, quoting an “analyst,” “was instrumental in helping government-led forces and their local allies break the tide of the years-long war.”

 

While that view doesn’t accord with Western opinion, it should be no surprise if Moscow feels justified in applauding itself a year after launching its intervention. In just 12 months, President Vladimir Putin has managed to comprehensively outmaneouvre the U.S., reverse the momentum to Assad’s favour, embarrass Washington and increase its own influence in a region that seems perpetually engulfed in conflict.

 

Washington, meanwhile, has been reduced to spluttering objections and threats of unspecified “actions” if Moscow fails to rein in its activities. Fat chance of that. If the Obama administration has demonstrated anything over the five years — and half a million deaths — of the Syrian tragedy, it is its inability, or perhaps unwillingness, to fabricate a policy capable of ending the misery imposed on millions of Syrians. It has been outflanked at every step by a Russian government intent on flexing its military muscle and oblivious to the polite ways of diplomacy and international opinion.

 

Putin demonstrated this yet again when he met the latest complaints from Washington by shipping an advanced anti-missile system to Syria, the first time it has deployed the system outside its own borders. That followed accusations by Secretary of State John Kerry that Moscow had responded to a so-called ceasefire by stepping up bombing attacks on Aleppo, the besieged city that is systematically being reduced to rubble by Russian and Syrian forces.

 

A State Department spokesman on Tuesday warned that diplomatic efforts to end the fighting were “on life support.” A day later Kerry gave up on diplomacy and suspended talks with Moscow, while administration officials threatened unspecified “actions…that would further underscore the consequences of not coming back to the negotiating table.” Russia in turn halted a program with the U.S. on the disposal of weapons grade plutonium while threatening that a U.S. attack on Syrian targets “will lead to terrible, tectonic shifts not only on the territory of this country but also in the region in general.”

 

Such is the state of affairs as Obama enters his final weeks in office. Whatever else historians conclude about his legacy, his record in Syria must go down as an utter failure. Assad now has a very real chance of clinging to power, and perhaps even regaining significant areas of the country that had been lost to him before Russia’s arrival. U.S. actions have been so ineffectual it now finds itself with few options. It cannot intervene militarily, even if it had the will, without the danger of a direct clash with Moscow. Where once it had the opportunity to impose a no-fly zone to limit Assad’s assaults, it cannot do so now for fear of starting a shooting war with Russian jets.

 

Obama’s clear reluctance to get caught in another Middle East war has hobbled U.S. goals from the beginning. He drew his famous “red line” against chemical weapons, and then decided not to enforce it. He not only refused to commit substantial troops, but hesitated even to arm Assad’s opponents. Diplomatic efforts have gone in circles, first with failed United Nations efforts and more recently with Kerry’s futile shuttling from capital to capital. Relations with Turkey and Saudi Arabia have soured as the Obama administration dithered and delayed.

 

Humanitarian actions have been similarly half-hearted. An estimated 4.8 million Syrian refugees continue to seek international assistance, almost entirely from countries other than the U.S. In August the administration announced it had admitted its 10,000th Syrian, reaching a cruelly unambitious resettlement goal for the year. Canada, with a tenth the U.S. population, has accepted 30,000 Syrians, while Germany has accepted almost 900,000 and paid a heavy political price for a war it did nothing to start.

 

No matter who wins the U.S. election in November, they will be left with a shambles of a situation in Syria. Putin may be turning Russia into an “outlaw nation”, as the New York Times recently charged, but it’s an outlaw the U.S. has failed utterly to bring to justice, and shows limited interest in challenging.                             

                                                           

 

Contents                                                                                                                       

                                                                         

OBAMA'S NOVEMBER SURPRISE                                                                                             

Gregg Roman                                                                                                        

The Hill, Sept. 26, 2016

 

There is growing speculation that President Obama will spring a diplomatic surprise on Israel during the interregnum between the U.S. presidential election on Nov. 8 and his departure from office in January. Some say the surprise will be a speech laying down parameters for a final settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute or some type of formal censure of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, but the scenario generating most discussion is a decision to support, or perhaps not to veto, a UN Security Council resolution recognizing a Palestinian state.

 

This would be a bombshell. Washington's long-stated policy is that a Palestinian state should be established only through an agreement negotiated directly between the two sides. In practice, this would require that Palestinian leaders agreed to recognize Israel as a Jewish state and concede the so-called "right of return" for refugees of the 1948 war and their descendants to areas within Israel's borders, a prospect which would mean the demographic destruction of Israel.

 

For decades, Palestinian leaders have made it clear they won't do this: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas doesn't mince words, telling a gathering of Arab foreign ministers in Cairo in November 2014, "We will never recognize the Jewishness of the state of Israel." Efforts to win recognition of Palestinian statehood by foreign governments and multilateral institutions are designed to skirt this precondition for statehood.

 

Any state that comes into existence without Palestinian leaders formally recognizing Israel will be a brutal, unstable train wreck, with areas under its jurisdiction likely to remain a hotbed of terrorism. On top of whatever existing factors are producing the endemic corruption and autocracy of the Abbas regime (not to mention the Hamas regime in Gaza), unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state will vindicate radicals who have been saying all along that there's no need to compromise.

 

On the other hand, official Palestinian acknowledgement once and for all that Israel is not just here to stay, but has a right to stay, would deprive Palestinian leaders of time-honored tools for manipulating their constituents – appealing to and inflaming their baser anti-Jewish prejudices, promising them salvation if they'll only shut up 'til the Zionists are defeated, and so forth. Instead, they will have to do things like govern well and create jobs to win public support.

 

Previous American administrations have understood that recognizing Palestinian statehood before Abbas and company allow Palestinian society to undergo this transformation would be the height of irresponsibility. This is why American veto power has consistently blocked efforts to unilaterally establish a Palestinian state by way of the UN Security Council. Notwithstanding his apparent pro-Palestinian sympathies and affiliations prior to running for the Senate and later the White House, President Obama initially maintained this policy. The expressed threat of an American veto foiled Abbas' 2011 bid to win UN member-state status for "Palestine." He settled for recognition of non-member-state status by the General Assembly in 2012.

 

As moves by the PA to bring the issue of statehood to the UN picked up steam last year, however, it appeared to walk back this commitment. While U.S officials privately maintained there was "no change," Obama and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power refused – despite the urging of Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid – to state publicly that the U.S. would use its veto to stop a resolution recognizing Palestinian statehood.

 

The conventional wisdom was that Obama's refusal to make such a public declaration was intended to exert pressure on Netanyahu to tone down his opposition to the Iran nuclear deal, and later to punish him for it or hold it out to secure concessions. As his presidency enters its final months, it's clear something even more nefarious is at work.

 

President Obama's failure to clarify his administration's position has greatly damaged prospects for Israeli-Palestinian peace. Even if it is Obama's intention to veto any resolution on Palestinian statehood that comes up at the UN, his refusal to publicly state this – or, put differently, his determination to go on the record for the history books not saying it – has fueled perceptions among Palestinians and European governments facing pressures of their own that American will is softening.

 

It is imperative that Congress use the tools at its disposal to make this unwise path as difficult as possible for the Obama administration. Ultimately, a one-sided UN declaration such as this serves only to postpone by a long shot the day when Palestinian leaders accept Israel as it is – the homeland of the Jewish people – and allow their subjects to enjoy the lasting peace and prosperity they and their neighbors deserve.                                                     

 

Contents                                                                                                                                                          

                                                     

OBAMA’S HOSTILE EULOGY                                                                                                     

Caroline Glick                                                                                                      

Breaking Israel News, Oct. 10, 2016

 

US President Barack Obama’s eulogy to Shimon Peres last Friday at Mt. Herzl was a thinly disguised assault on Israel. And he barely bothered to hide it. Throughout his remarks, Obama wielded Peres’s record like a baseball bat. He used it to club the Israeli public and its elected leaders over and over again. Peres, Obama intimated, was a prophet. But the suspicious, tribal people of Israel were too stiff necked to follow him.

 

In what was perhaps the low point of a low performance, Obama used Peres’s words to slander his domestic critics as racist oppressors. “Shimon,” he began harmlessly enough, “believed that Israel’s exceptionalism was rooted not only in fidelity to the Jewish people, but to the moral and ethical vision, the precepts of his Jewish faith.” Fair enough. You could say that about every Israeli leader since the dawn of modern Zionism.

 

But then Obama went for the jugular. In a startling non-sequitur he continued, “‘The Jewish people weren’t born to rule another people,’ he [Peres] would say, ‘From the very first day we were against slaves and masters.’” We don’t know the context in which Peres made that statement. But what is clear enough is that Obama used his words to accuse the majority of Israelis who do not share Peres’s vision for peace – including Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu who was sitting in the front row listening to him – of supporting slavery. This libelous assault on Israel was probably the most unhinged remark ever directed at the Jewish state by an American president. What does the fact that Obama said this at Peres’s funeral tell us about Obama? What does it tell us about Peres? Obama was not merely wrong when he accused Peres’s detractors of support for slavery, he was maliciously wrong.

 

Due to Peres’s Oslo accords, since 1995, all the Palestinian population centers in Judea and Samaria have been governed by the PLO. Israel hasn’t been in charge of any aspect of their daily civic existence. And they have only suffered as a result. Between 1967 and 1996, when the Palestinians of Judea and Samaria were governed by the military government, the Palestinians were free. They only became “enslaved,” when the PLO took over. Under Israeli rule, the Palestinians enjoyed far more expansive civil rights than they have since we left. The PLO transformed their lives into chaos by implementing the law of the jungle, enforced by mob-style militias. Their property rights were trampled. Their civil rights have been gutted.

 

The fact that PLO chief Mahmoud Abbas and his cronies delayed their municipal elections indefinitely the day after Peres’s funeral is yet another testament to the absence of freedom in the PLO – as opposed to Israeli – ruled areas. But really, Obama couldn’t care less. He didn’t come here to tell the truth about Peres. He came here to use Peres as a means to bludgeon the government the people elected. Obama began his attack as he often begins his political assaults on his opponents. He created a straw man. Peres’s critics on the Right, he said, “argued that he refused to see the true wickedness of the world, and called him naïve.” In other words, as far as Obama is concerned, Israelis are prisoners of their dark view of the world. Unlike Peres the optimist, his countrymen are tribal pessimists.

 

Peres, whose vision for peace rested on giving the outskirts of Tel Aviv and half of Jerusalem to terrorists wasn’t naïve. He “knew better than the cynic,” Obama continued. He was better than that. He was better than us. This brings us then to the paradox of Peres’s life’s work. Over last quarter century of his life, we, the people of Israel wanted to feel empowered by Peres’s superstar status. We wanted to get excited when Hollywood stars and A-list politicians came to his birthday bashes at the President’s House and the Peres Center. But every time we tried to see Peres’s success as our success, some visiting VIP would smile before the cameras and kick us in the shins.

 

The higher Peres’s star rose in the stratosphere of celebrity stardom, the worse Israel’s global position became. The international A-listers who showed up at all of Peres’s parties always seemed to view him as their guy, not our guy. He was one of them – and above the likes of us. How did this happen? How did the last surviving member of Israel’s founding generation become a prop for Israel’s chorus of international critics? The most extraordinary aspect of Peres’s long life is that he packed two full – and contradictory – careers into one lifespan.

 

Peres’s first career began with Israel’s founding. It ended with the Likud’s victory in the 1977 Knesset elections. Over the course of that career, Peres used his formidable diplomatic skills to build and strengthen Israel’s defenses. He cultivated and expanded complex strategic relationships with the French and British. Those ties led the two major powers to fight at Israel’s side in the 1956 Suez Campaign. They led to France’s decision to help Israel build its nuclear program and its arms industries.

 

In the 1970s as defense minister, Peres was able to rely on his warm ties to foreign leaders to shield the country as he established the Jewish communities in Samaria and Hebron. They empowered him to oversee the hostage rescue mission at Entebbe. But following the Likud’s rise to power, Peres changed gears. Ever since 1981 when he almost managed to scuttle the air force’s bombing of Iraq’s Osirak nuclear reactor, Peres used his diplomatic talents and ties to foreign leaders to advance his own agenda, regardless of whether that agenda was aligned or contradicted Israel’s national agenda, as set out by its elected leaders.

 

Time and time again, on the backs of the public that failed to elect him and the politicians the public elected instead of him, Peres cultivated and used the relationships he enjoyed with foreign leaders to press his own policies. Each attempt to derail the policies of the government expanded Peres’s chorus of supporters abroad. Peres’s second career reached its high water mark in 1994 when along with Rabin and Yassir Arafat he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for the Oslo process. The world embraced and celebrated Peres for his peace deal that brought neither peace nor security to his people…                                                 

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]          

 

Contents           

 

YOM KIPPUR – HOW IT CHANGES US

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks

Rabbi Sacks, Oct. 10, 2016

 

To those who fully open themselves to it, Yom Kippur is a life-transforming experience. It tells us that God, who created the universe in love and forgiveness, reaches out to us in love and forgiveness, asking us to love and forgive others. God never asked us not to make mistakes. All He asks is that we acknowledge our mistakes, learn from them, grow through them, and make amends where we can. No religion has held such a high view of human possibility. The God who created us in His image, gave us freedom. We are not tainted by original sin, destined to fail, caught in the grip of an evil only divine grace can defeat. To the contrary we have within us the power to choose life. Together we have the power to change the world.

 

Nor are we, as some scientific materialists claim, mere concatenations of chemicals, a bundle of selfish genes blindly replicating themselves into the future. Our souls are more than our minds, our minds are more than our brains, and our brains are more than mere chemical impulses responding to stimuli. Human freedom – the freedom to choose to be better than we were – remains a mystery but it is not a mere given. Freedom is like a muscle and the more we exercise it, the stronger and healthier it becomes.

 

Judaism constantly asks us to exercise our freedom. To be a Jew is not to go with the flow, to be like everyone else, to follow the path of least resistance, to worship the conventional wisdom of the age. To the contrary, to be a Jew is to have the courage to live in a way that is not the way of everyone. Each time we eat, drink, pray or go to work, we are conscious of the demands our faith makes on us, to live God’s will and be one of His ambassadors to the world. Judaism always has been, perhaps always will be, counter-cultural.

 

In ages of collectivism, Jews emphasised the value of the individual. In ages of individualism, Jews built strong communities. When most of humanity was consigned to ignorance, Jews were highly literate. When others were building monuments and amphitheatres, Jews were building schools. In materialistic times they kept faith with the spiritual. In ages of poverty they practised tzedakah so that none would lack the essentials of a dignified life. The sages said that Abraham was called ha-ivri, “the Hebrew,” because all the world was on one side (ever echad) and Abraham on the other. To be a Jew is to swim against the current, challenging the idols of the age whatever the idol, whatever the age.

 

So, as our ancestors used to say, “’Zis schver zu zein a Yid,” It is not easy to be a Jew. But if Jews have contributed to the human heritage out of all proportion to our numbers, the explanation lies here. Those of whom great things are asked, become great – not because they are inherently better or more gifted than others but because they feel themselves challenged, summoned, to greatness.

 

Few religions have asked more of their followers. There are 613 commandments in the Torah. Jewish law applies to every aspect of our being, from the highest aspirations to the most prosaic details of quotidian life. Our library of sacred texts – Tanakh, Mishnah, Gemarra, Midrash, codes and commentaries – is so vast that no lifetime is long enough to master it. Theophrastus, a pupil of Aristotle, sought for a description that would explain to his fellow Greeks what Jews are. The answer he came up with was, “a nation of philosophers.”

 

So high does Judaism set the bar that it is inevitable that we should fall short time and again. Which means that forgiveness was written into the script from the beginning. God, said the sages, sought to create the world under the attribute of strict justice but He saw that it could not stand. What did He do? He added mercy to justice, compassion to retribution, forbearance to the strict rule of law. God forgives. Judaism is a religion, the world’s first, of forgiveness…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

 

CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters an Easy Fast and May You be Inscribed in the

Book of Life! No Daily Briefing Will Be Published on Wednesday

 

Contents                       

           

On Topic Links

 

 

Atoning for Sins on Yom Kippur: Dvora Waysman, Jerusalem Post, Oct. 11, 2016—Freedom of choice is a basic Jewish doctrine from Genesis’s first story. “If you feel shame over having sinned, Heaven immediately forgives you.” These comforting words (Brachot 12B Hagiga 5A) are timely at Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, but we should also remember what Mark Twain wrote: “Man is the only animal that blushes. Or needs to.”

White House Silent: Palestinians Attack Jews Praying at Joseph's Tomb: Editorial, Jerusalem Post, Oct. 10, 2016—The US State Department’s recent condemnation of Israel’s proposed solution of the illegal Amona outpost issue unfortunately reiterates the erroneous view that “settlements are the core problem” of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Worse, it contributes to the prolongation of the conflict by incorrectly invoking international law under the pretext of “evenhandedness” toward the parties involved.

Congress Blasts Obama for Preparing Anti-Israel Offensive: Jenna Lifhits, Weekly Standard, Oct. 9, 2016—The Obama administration is manufacturing a crisis with Israel in anticipation of a post-election diplomatic push targeting the Jewish state, and this past week launched a series of broadsides criticizing the Israelis through the media and in press briefings, according to congressional sources and Jewish-American officials who spoke to the Weekly Standard.

Barack Obama’s Stillborn Legacy: At Home and Abroad, the President's Agenda is in Tatters: Charles Krauthammer, New York Daily News, Oct. 6, 2016—Only amid the most bizarre, most tawdry, most addictive election campaign in memory could the real story of 2016 be so effectively obliterated, namely, that with just four months left in the Obama presidency, its two central pillars are collapsing before our eyes: domestically, its radical reform of American health care, aka Obamacare; and abroad, its radical reorientation of American foreign policy — disengagement marked by diplomacy and multilateralism.

 

 

 

 

NETANYAHU GETS MORE LEGROOM TO CONTEND WITH MINISTERIAL DISSENT, “PEACE PRESSURE” & CONFUSED US POLICY IN REGION

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 Contents:         

Chaotic Government Undermines Our Global Standing: Isi Leibler, Jerusalem Post, Nov. 21, 2013 — The return of Avigdor Lieberman to head the Foreign Ministry will undoubtedly exacerbate the disastrous absence of cabinet responsibility and failure of the government to speak with one voice.

Peres Announcement Launches Race To Succeed Him As President: Gil Hoffman, Jerusalem Post, Oct 7, 2013 — President Shimon Peres’s announcement to reporters who accompanied him to Mexico over the weekend that he would not cooperate with efforts to extend his tenure informally began the election to replace him when his term ends July 15.

The Long, Hard Road Back to Political Relevance: Haviv Rettig Gur, Times of Israel, Nov. 22, 2013— Isaac Herzog’s upset win Thursday over incumbent Labor chair Shelly Yachimovich for the party’s top spot has upended the political calculations of many.

How U.S. Policy is Betraying Not Only Israel, But Also Sunni Arabs: Barry Rubin, Jerusalem Post, Dec. 1, 2013— In 1948, there were hopes that the Arab-Israeli conflict would be resolved in the long run. But it wasn’t.

 

On Topic Links

 

Arabs’ Home in Israel: Deroy Murdock, New York Post, Nov. 23, 2013 

Abbas: Willing to Speak in Knesset, But On Own Terms: Ynet, Nov. 23, 2013

Israel’s Foreign Minister Returns, But Abrasive Style Appears Absent: Jodi Rudoren, New York Times, Oct. 7th, 2013

Who Runs Israel?: Elise Cooper, American Thinker, Dec. 1, 2013

 

 

CHAOTIC GOVERNMENT UNDERMINES OUR GLOBAL STANDING

Isi Leibler

Jerusalem Post, Nov. 21, 2013

 

The return of Avigdor Lieberman to head the Foreign Ministry will undoubtedly exacerbate the disastrous absence of cabinet responsibility and failure of the government to speak with one voice. This will become especially sensitive now with Israel’s rapidly deteriorating relationship with the Obama Administration over Iran and the Palestinians. I feel a sense of shame when observing the detrimental behavior of cabinet ministers who are totally uninhibited about publicly attacking and undermining the policies of their own government.

The principle of cabinet government is collective ministerial responsibility. In some governments, cabinets are decision making bodies; in others they are purely advisory. No matter what the extent of their function, cabinets serve to promote the policies accepted by majority rule. Whether coalition partners or individual ministers, those who agree to join the cabinet are obliged to support the government or at the very least remain silent. Should a minister feel so strongly against the policy adopted that he is impelled to agitate against its implementation, he must formally resign and operate from the ranks of the opposition. The lack of accountability by senior ministers who publicly condemn their own government policies and continue to retain office, effectively marginalizes the role of the opposition and confuses the electorate. It is the role of the opposition not ministers, to lead campaigns against government policies.

 

It is hard to visualize any other responsible administration in the world that would tolerate senior government officials who repeatedly contradict and castigate policies which had already been debated internally and adopted by majority vote. In the US, France, the UK or any other democratic nation, a minister or deputy minister publicly criticizing his government would immediately be removed from office. That is the way Israeli cabinets operated under the early Labor governments and the government of Menahem Begin. It was only after the two-party system began eroding under Prime Ministers Netanyahu and Barak that cabinet responsibility collapsed and ministers began criticizing their government without being obliged to resign.

 

In recent years, the situation has degenerated dramatically and utter chaos has ensued. Other than a handful of loyal members, ministers, whether from the right or the left, display contempt for the concept of cabinet responsibility and seem primarily concerned with pursuing their own personal agendas. When Prime Minister Netanyahu delivered one of the most effective speeches presenting the case for Israel at the United Nations two years ago, Foreign Minister and head of Israel Beiteinu, Avigdor Lieberman issued public statements contradicting him. During a recent visit to Japan, Finance Minister and head of Yesh Atid, Yair Lapid, announced that he disagreed with his Prime Minister’s demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state. Minister of Justice and head of Hatnuah, Tzipi Livni, never  hesitates to contradict government policy in relation to the Palestinians. Most recently, despite his participation in the actual cabinet decision to release the convicted terrorists with blood on their hands, Naftali Bennet, Minister for Economy and Commerce and head of Bayit Yehudi, orchestrated a campaign of incitement against his government prior to the release of the second batch. Uri Ariel, Minister for Housing and Construction also from Bayit Yehudi, personally participated in a demonstration at the prison against the release.

 

Some ministers speak out against the government on a regular basis. Deputy Foreign Minister Zev Belkin and Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon – both members of the ruling Likud party – regularly publicly condemn the Prime Minister’s two-state policy. Danon even contributed an op-ed in the New York Times to this effect. What makes this environment even more bewildering is that our President Shimon Peres, whose role is essentially ceremonial and is expected to boost unity within the nation, is himself one of the worst offenders and unhesitatingly promotes his personal views, frequently contradicting fundamental central foreign policies. Obviously the validity of criticisms is not the point. Many Israelis, myself included, frequently harbor critical views not dissimilar to those expressed by ministers against the government. But once adopted as government policy, ministers cannot pick and choose the policies they will support. Those who justify the system suggest, pathetically, that such behavior reflects the exuberant freedom of expression which infuses Israeli politics. Nothing could be further from the truth. Cabinet disarray is causing us immense harm on the world stage, presenting our leaders as an irresponsible and squabbling rabble, creating confusion amongst our friends and allies and playing into the hands of our enemies. We are being perceived as a banana republic, and create our own diplomatic crisis each time a minister contradicts official policy.

 

In the coming months, we will be entering into an extraordinarily complex and difficult diplomatic era. The United States has distanced itself from the Middle East but continues to cling to the flawed concept that the Israeli -Palestinian conflict is the central factor responsible for tension and turbulence in the region. The Obama Administration seems determined to pressure us into making additional concessions to appease the Palestinians, irrespective of the consequences to our long term security. It will require a delicate diplomatic tightrope balancing act to resist such pressures whilst retaining the vital support of Congress and the American public.

 

There is a need to recognize that in the course of balancing these countervailing pressures confronting us and in order to protect our long-term security interests, our government will, from time to time, invariably be obliged to make a number of unpopular decisions that may antagonize many Israelis. That is the leadership role which a responsible government is obliged to take. In such an environment, more than ever, it is imperative that a united government speaks on behalf of the majority of the nation.

 

Prime Minister Netanyahu must enforce government discipline. He must insist that any minister who feels morally obligated to publicly oppose government policies must first resign and only then is free to campaign against the policy – from the ranks of the opposition. For their part, ministers must assume a sense of responsibility, set aside their short-term interests to regain public trust and make international diplomacy possible. Israel cannot function as a respectable, democratic nation state unless its leaders subordinate their domestic ambitions to the national interest.

 

Contents

                 PERES ANNOUNCEMENT LAUNCHES RACE                                 TO SUCCEED HIM AS PRESIDENT

Gil Hoffman

Jerusalem Post, Dec. 2, 2013

 

President Shimon Peres’s announcement to reporters who accompanied him to Mexico over the weekend that he would not cooperate with efforts to extend his tenure informally began the election to replace him when his term ends July 15. Peres said in the interviews that he intended to honor the law limiting him to one seven-year term. He said that politicians need to know the right time to leave. Nevertheless, sources in the Knesset said they had been approached in recent months by Peres’s associates who actively sought to change the law and lengthen a president’s term to the 10-year term of the chief rabbis. They said that only when it became clear that such an effort would fail did Peres accept that he would leave office in seven and a half months.

The president is elected in a secret-ballot vote by the Knesset’s 120 members. A date for the election has not been set yet, but it is expected to take place in the month following the Knesset’s return from its spring recess on May 12. While no candidate has formally announced his candidacy, Likud MK Reuven Rivlin, who lost to Peres in 2007, has never stopped campaigning for the post. Rivlin said he appreciated Peres’s decision to announce that he is not seeking to extend his tenure. “Peres was right to say he will obey the law,” Rivlin said. “He will be remembered as one of the best, more powerful and more influential presidents we have had. I am looking forward to continuing his tradition.”

Rivlin claims the respect of all MKs and support of the majority of Likud legislators, even though he does not have the backing of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. The prime minister has yet to find a candidate to support, and his decision could carry weight in the race. “People should vote for me as a veteran democrat who respects democracy and can represent the democracy of Israel better than anyone else,” Rivlin said.

The only other candidate willing to admit at this stage that he intends to run is Meir Sheetrit of Hatnua. He said he has been meeting with MKs to sound out his chances of victory. First elected to the Knesset in 1981, Sheetrit would bring to the presidency 40 years of public service as a mayor, minister with several portfolios, MK and Jewish Agency treasurer. He said he was proud that he passed the law that limited a president to one term. “The law prevents a president from having to play politics,” he said.

Another likely candidate is former Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik, who served as interim president for seven months when former president Moshe Katsav suspended himself to fight his legal battles. Itzik has not yet decided whether to run. But MKs are saying that she would make a good president because she is not seen as right-wing or left-wing, has friends in all the parties, and is the only potential candidate with presidential experience. There are also MKs saying that the time has come for Israel to have its first female president, especially when polls show that the top candidate for president of the United States is former secretary of state Hillary Clinton.

Labor MK Binyamin Ben- Eliezer is said to be considering running. But the spokesman he hired to handle his presidential run, Nadav Gal-On, said Ben- Eliezer “listens to the public and hears the the many requests made for him to run, but it is too soon to deal with the issue of the presidency, and when we have something to update we will. Ha’aretz raised the prospect of Negev and Galilee Development Minister Silvan Shalom seeking the post over the weekend. His associates denied the report. “It is not true that he is considering running,” a source close to Shalom said. “He has received many requests from people to run, but it is not happening.”

 

 

Contents

 

THE LONG, HARD ROAD BACK TO POLITICAL RELEVANCE

Haviv Rettig Gur

Times of Israel, Nov. 22, 2013

 

Isaac Herzog’s upset win Thursday over incumbent Labor chair Shelly Yachimovich for the party’s top spot has upended the political calculations of many. With 15 members in Israel’s 120-seat Knesset, Herzog controls the third-largest faction in parliament, too small to lead the country but just large enough, at least on paper, to replace the entire right wing of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government should they threaten to topple it in order to forestall any impending peace agreement. That simple mathematical fact — a government with Likud, Labor and the two liberal centrist parties Yesh Atid and Hatnua would have the slimmest possible majority, with 61 seats — has set the political system a-flurry with speculation over Herzog’s future steps. Will he seek to join Netanyahu’s coalition? Even if he doesn’t take a seat in the cabinet alongside Netanyahu, the widespread assumption that such a move is now a possibility – his predecessor Yachimovich rejected the idea out of hand – means Netanyahu’s political maneuvering room has just expanded considerably, especially when it comes to the US-brokered peace talks with the Palestinians.

 

As they awoke to this new reality on Friday morning, many political actors who see their future tied up with Labor’s wasted no time in making their opinion known. Israel’s perennial left-wing oppositionist, Meretz leader MK Zehava Galon, called on Herzog “to remain with Meretz in the opposition and not join Netanyahu’s coalition.” Justice Minister and chief Israeli peace negotiator Tzipi Livni (Hatnua), who occupies, often uncomfortably, the left-wing edge of the coalition, urged the opposite. After initially calling on Labor to leave “the stands” and join the coalition, later on Friday Livni issued a softer but nevertheless eager call for Labor’s direct involvement in advancing the peace talks. Herzog’s election “has an added, special significance,” she wrote. “I believe Bougie [Herzog's widely-used nickname] truly believes and is committed to a diplomatic solution, and I hope he will mobilize to help change our collective future here. The peace process demands real support, not conditional support,” Livni said in a jab at Yachimovich’s lukewarm statements that she would support Netanyahu’s peace efforts only if such a deal was imminent. Livni concluded with an emphatic statement that bluntly suggested she’d prefer Herzog to several of her current coalition partners: “In short, Bougie, congratulations, and together we can stop the extremists.”

 

For his part, Herzog refused to satiate the speculation with any commitments. “We just got elected. This isn’t the time” to discuss joining the coalition, Herzog’s spokeswoman Linda Sason told The Times of Israel Friday. At his celebratory Friday morning press conference, when asked directly by an Israel Radio reporter if he would join the coalition, Herzog’s response suggested it was not off the table, though it would require a “clear, daring” act by Netanyahu: “I will serve as opposition leader. And I will meet with the prime minister when relevant… I have said before that if he makes a clear, daring step toward peace, I would be there. I stand by what I said.” Herzog’s aloofness is understandable. One does not begin the delicate dance of coalition negotiations by appearing overeager for membership. And despite Livni’s plea that he not wait for a peace deal, but rather join the coalition to help construct it — the obstacle to that scenario is not Herzog, but Netanyahu. The prime minister has little to gain from abandoning his current right-wing coalition in favor of a narrower one with Labor as long as, in his view, the Palestinians remain implacably intransigent.

And finally, Herzog’s victory celebration is tempered with a grim sense of the deteriorated state of his new fiefdom. He leads a former ruling party that once reliably attracted over 40 Knesset seats, but has failed in two consecutive elections to get into the upper teens. He may be leader of the opposition, but only because the second-largest party, Yesh Atid, sits comfortably ensconced in the coalition. He also feels the pressure of leading a party in which a huge majority of MKs sided with his opponent in the primaries, and which has a long history of undermining and quickly felling anyone who has the misfortune to stand at its head. Herzog’s defeat of Yachimovich marks the tenth ouster of a party leader in 21 years. No Labor leader has won reelection since Shimon Peres’s win in 1988. Of course, it was this very sense of decline that led to Herzog’s dramatic victory with a 16 percent margin. His entire campaign was a vague appeal to the need to return to that past grandeur.

 

It is not at all clear that rushing to join the right-wing ruling government is the best way to return Labor to its once-storied role as leader of a popular, agenda-setting left. The pressure is great, the stakes even greater. But those fateful decisions lie in the future. For now, Herzog can take comfort in knowing that the mere speculation about his future moves has already caused consternation on the right, where some MKs are sufficiently worried that they have already begun the campaign against Herzog’s entry into the coalition. As the Likud’s Ofir Akunis said Friday morning in a Facebook comment dripping with sarcasm, and directed as much at Netanyahu as at Herzog: “Congratulations to the new chairman of the Labor party. I wish him many long years as leader of the opposition…”

Contents

 

HOW U.S. POLICY IS BETRAYING NOT ONLY ISRAEL,

BUT ALSO SUNNI ARABS

Barry Rubin

Jerusalem Post, Dec. 1, 2013

 

In 1948, there were hopes that the Arab-Israeli conflict would be resolved in the long run. But it wasn’t. In 1967, there was hope that the magnitude of Israeli victory meant that the Arabs would eventually come to terms (Egypt and Jordan did in a way, although the final word has not been written). In 1982, people believed that the conflict could still be solved, but it wasn’t. And finally, during the negotiations from 1993- 2000, there were renewed hopes that the conflict would be resolved. It wasn’t. Today, the conflict is even further from being resolved, especially with the entry of Iran, Islamism, and the radical government in Turkey. Maybe it is time to conclude that the Arab-Israeli conflict will never be resolved.

 

There have since been at least three more examples following the same pattern. The first is obviously Iran, its nuclear intentions, its trickery and its desire to dominate the region. But that’s not all; consider what the US has done to Syria, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. It is probable that Iran is going to give Syria a victory in the civil war. The fact is that Iran, Hezbollah and the Syrian government are on one side, and Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey have been on the other side. But now, in essence, the US has objectively sided with Iran, and that is one of the reasons the Saudis are angry. Here is what the Saudi ambassador to England, Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf bin Abdulaziz, had to say on the matter: “Appeasement hasn’t worked in the past, and I don’t think it will work in the 21st century. That is why the frustration really is toward the main players within the United Nations Security Council, that’s their responsibility. And they will share also the blame, whatever deal comes out, they are responsible for it.”

 

The statement from the Saudi ambassador to London also expressed in his Times of London interview, an unusually abrasive criticism of the West for what he said was a too-soft approach toward Iran, calling Washington’s “rush” to engage with Tehran “incomprehensible.” A senior Saudi diplomat issued a rare direct threat to Iran, warning that “all options are available” should the international community fail to rein in Iran’s alleged drive to acquire nuclear weapons. This statement could easily come out of the mouth of an Israeli politician. It is amusing that with this parallelism to Israel’s viewpoint, the senior diplomat had to deny that he saw something in common with Israel. In other words, Saudi Arabia feels that it has been betrayed by the United States, and will respond to that betrayal.

 

Then there is Egypt. Let’s review American behavior. Two years ago, the United States basically helped and celebrated a Muslim Brotherhood electoral victory. Every anti-Islamist knows this. When the Egyptian military coup happened a year later, the US opposed it. In other words, if the Muslim Brotherhood had won and crushed freedom by staying in office, it would be have been backed by the US, but since there was a coup, the election was stolen. Doesn’t everyone in Egypt know that if the coup had not taken place, the US would have supported the Muslim Brotherhood government? Don’t the Egyptians know that the US was willing to sell Egypt into Islamic fundamentalist slavery? Would anyone believe the US would protect any of its other allies? But suddenly, the US turned around and Kerry actually said that the Muslim Brotherhood had “stolen” the revolution. And that is why the Egyptians are turning toward Russia today and do not trust the US. Frankly, one would think the Obama administration wants to sabotage US Middle East policy. By the way, the Egyptians were so angered by their perception of Turkey cuddling up to Iran and the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood that they threw out the Turkish ambassador.

 

 

On Topic

 

 

Arabs’ Home in Israel: Deroy Murdock, New York Post, Nov. 23, 2013 — “I am Israeli,” says Issawi Frej, an Arab member of the Knesset. “I am a citizen here. I want to be here.” The Meretz Party representative also tells me: “The American people don’t understand that there are 1.5 million Palestinian Arabs who live inside Israel, and who are Israelis with rights. Americans think about the Palestinian Authority only, and no one thinks about us.”

Abbas: Willing to Speak in Knesset, But On Own Terms: Ynet, Nov. 23, 2013 — In interview to Voice of Russia, PA President Abbas turns East to Putin to ask for support in statehood bid, peace talks, internal reconciliation. Regarding PM Netanyahu's standing invitation to visit the Knesset – Abbas says willing to come, but on own terms

Israel’s Foreign Minister Returns, But Abrasive Style Appears Absent: Jodi Rudoren, New York Times, Oct. 7th, 2013 — Israel’s new-old foreign minister is a bit hard to recognize these days. Gone, it appears, is the Avigdor Lieberman who accused the Palestinian president of “diplomatic terrorism,” dismissed the prospect of peace as “decades away” and called for Arab citizens of Israel to take a loyalty oath.

Who Runs Israel?: Elise Cooper, American Thinker, Dec. 1, 2013 —Now in the midst of Hanukkah, and having just seen the relationship between the U.S. and Israel fall to an all-time low, there is a need to understand how the American president and the Israeli prime minister can impact the survival of the Jewish state.  This is powerfully emphasized with the newly released film, The Prime Ministers: The Pioneers.

 

On Topic Links

 

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COMING JAN. 22 ELECTION: AS ISRAEL, REFLECTING STATUS QUO, SHIFTS TO RIGHT,  OUTLINE OF EMERGENT “TWO-PARTY SYSTEM” DISCERNABLE

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Contents:                          

 

 

(Please Note: some articles may have been shortened in the interest of space. Please click on the article  link for the complete text – Ed.)

 

 

Why Israel Has Shifted to the Right: Jonathan S. Tobin, Commentary, Dec. 20, 2012—If liberal American Jews weren’t already dismayed about the fact that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu is a shoe-in to be re-elected in next month’s election, the latest political news out of Israel may give them conniption fits. The results of new polls show that Netanyahu’s Likud and its coalition partners are set to exceed the strong governing majority they had in the current Knesset.

 

Israelis: No More ‘Big Ideas to Alter Status Quo’: Evelyn Gordon, Jerusalem Post Magazine, Jan. 3, 2013—Yet if you look at what Netanyahu hasn’t done, his popularity becomes instantly understandable. He didn’t sign a breakthrough “peace” agreement that created a terrorist quasi-state in the West Bank, from which Palestinian suicide bombers and gunmen proceeded to slaughter over 1,300 Israelis in a little over a decade.

 

Israel’s New Two-Party System: A Force For Extremism: Donniel Hartman, Jerusalem Post, Jan. 3, 2013—A new feature has emerged in Israeli politics this election season: the evolution of our political culture into a de facto two-party system similar to the Republican and Democrat divide in the US, referred to here as the Right and the Center-Left.

 

 

On Topic Links

 

 

 

A Dose Of Nuance: Not Just France With Humous: Daniel Gordis, Jerusalem Post, Dec. 13, 2012

Say No To Hallucination Dealers: Dan Margalit, Israel Hayom, Jan. 4, 2013

Shamir: If  Convicted, My Leader [Liberman] Must Leave Politics: Ron Friedman, Times of Israel, Jan. 4, 2013

Likud Rises as Leftists Vow No Coalition: Maayana Miskin, Israel National News, Jan. 4, 2013

A Labor-Habayit Hayehudi Alliance?: Mati Tuchfeld, Israel Hayom, Jan. 4, 2013

 

 

 

 

WHY ISRAEL HAS SHIFTED TO THE RIGHT

Jonathan S. Tobin

Commentary, Dec. 20, 2012

 

If liberal American Jews weren’t already dismayed about the fact that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu is a shoe-in to be re-elected in next month’s election, the latest political news out of Israel may give them conniption fits. The results of new polls show that Netanyahu’s Likud and its coalition partners are set to exceed the strong governing majority they had in the current Knesset. But the really interesting numbers are those that show that the main party to the right of the Likud—the Habeyit Hayehudi or Jewish Home Party–is on track to be the third largest in the next parliament with only Likud and Labor (set to finish a distant second) ahead of it.

 

This will give residents and supporters of the settlement movement an even louder voice in the next Knesset than their already healthy contingent in the current one. This will be interpreted by some on the left as a sign of Israel’s depravity or indifference to peace. But the reason for it is clear.

 

Whereas in Israel’s past it could be asserted that the Likud represented Israel’s right-wing constituency, it has, to the shock and dismay of many in the left-wing Israeli media, become the center. That is not because more Israelis are supporters of increasing settlement throughout the West Bank. They are not. Rather it is due to the fact that the Israeli center as well as even many on what we used to call the Israeli left, have given up on the Palestinians. They know that neither Fatah in the West Bank nor Hamas in Gaza will ever recognize Israel’s legitimacy no matter where its borders are drawn. So they have abandoned those parties that hold onto the illusion of peace in favor of those with a more realistic vision while those on the right are now embracing parties like Habeyit Hayehudi in order to hold Netanyahu’s feet to the fire and prevent him from making concessions that will neither entice the Palestinians to the negotiating table nor increase its popularity abroad.

 

Habeyit Hayehudi is the beneficiary in part of the merger of the Likud with Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beitenu. Rather than polls showing Likud getting as many seats as the two parties got in the last election, it is registering a loss of several places as some nationalist voters abandon the new conglomerate for its more ideological rival to the right. Though the enlarged Likud will still gain several seats from the mark it won in the 2009 vote that brought Netanyahu back into power and make it by far the largest in the Knesset with 35, Habeyit Hayehudi is set to get 12 with another pro-settlement party getting another two. That will double the number of seats those smaller parties won four years ago. Combined with the Orthodox religious parties, that will give Netanyahu nearly 70 seats out of 120 next year even before any of the centrist members join him as some undoubtedly will do.

 

Habeyit Hayehudi also has the advantage of a new leader in the 40-year-old Naftali Bennett. He is the son of American immigrants who is a former chief of staff to Netanyahu and who earned great wealth through the sale of his Internet security firm. In him, Israel’s nationalist camp now has an articulate and savvy figure who can say things about the Palestinians that Netanyahu, who, as David Horovitz of the Times of Israel pointed out in an insightful analysis, cannot utter for fear of worsening relations with the United States.

 

Bennett’s powerful position, which will be enhanced by a Cabinet portfolio that he will demand and get, will make the next Knesset harder for Netanyahu to manage. The absence of several Likud moderates who have been replaced by more nationalist and younger figures on the party’s Knesset list will also ensure that the prime minister will not be straying far from the wishes of his voters the way some of his predecessors have done.

 

This won’t necessarily mean that Netanyahu will move to build throughout the West Bank the way Bennett would like. But it will strengthen his resolve to continue to do so in Jerusalem and its suburbs as well as the major settlement blocs that Israel will hold onto even in the theoretical scenario where the Palestinians finally give in and accept a two-state solution.  That will lead to much gnashing of the teeth on the part of liberal Jews who are uncomfortable with Netanyahu, let alone those to his right. But those who lament this development should understand that the Israeli people are making this choice with their eyes wide open.

 

Even Labor, the party that is historically associated with the peace process, has more or less abandoned the issue of reconciliation with the Palestinians in this election and instead is concentrating on economic and social justice issues. Those lists that are still devoted to the peace process, including the new party led by former foreign minister Tzipi Livni, have been thoroughly marginalized.

 

Unlike most Israelis, many if not most American Jews and many non-Jewish friends of Israel haven’t drawn conclusions from the last 20 years of failed peace processing. They cling instead to the fables about the Palestinians that once fueled the post-Oslo euphoria in Israel but which have now been discarded there.

 

 

 

Top of Page

 

 

 

ISRAELIS: NO MORE ‘BIG IDEAS TO ALTER STATUS QUO’

Evelyn Gordon

Jerusalem Post Magazine, Jan. 3, 2013

 

Writing in The Jerusalem Post on Friday [Dec. 28], Donniel Hartman lamented the lack of “new ideas” in this election campaign. Campaigns, he proclaimed, should be a time for politicians to put forth “noble and naïve ideas,” to compete over “new ways to change the status quo;” a campaign that doesn’t do this is “dangerous for Israel and its future.”

 

Hartman’s plaint is a perfect snapshot of the thinking that has made Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu the unchallenged king of Israeli politics. Because for 20 years, Israelis have suffered through a succession of prime ministers who not only produced, but implemented, “noble and naïve ideas” to “change the status quo.” And what Israelis discovered is that such ideas are frequently far more “dangerous for Israel and its future” than the cautious conservatism Netanyahu epitomizes.

 

This isn’t to imply that Netanyahu has no ideas. He actually has quite a few, and many are even good ones. But none are of the big, radical, “noble and naïve” type. What he has consistently proposed, over two terms of office, is cautious, incremental change that will hopefully leave the country a bit better than he found it, but probably won’t affect a major revolution. And Israelis confidently expect the same from a third term.

 

Ironically, Netanyahu’s discomfort with big, radical ideas led him to a landslide loss in 1999, when Israelis opted for a rival who promised a host of them: unilateral withdrawal from Lebanon, a final-status agreement with the Palestinians, a socioeconomic revolution that would finally “get the old woman out of the hospital corridor,” and more.

 

Yet that very same aversion to big, radical ideas is why he enjoys massive margins of support today. A Haaretz poll last week, for instance, asked respondents which party leader they trusted most on security, economics and diplomatic negotiations. On all three issues, Netanyahu outpolled his nearest rival by more than 2:1; on security, the margin was more than 4:1.

 

If you look merely at what Netanyahu has done, these numbers seem almost incomprehensible. After all, he hasn’t won any wars or thwarted any major security threat; the high cost of living and other economic problems sparked the biggest socioeconomic protests in decades last year; and not only has he failed to negotiate any major diplomatic agreements, but much of the world holds him responsible for this failure.

 

Yet if you look at what Netanyahu hasn’t done, his popularity becomes instantly understandable. He didn’t sign a breakthrough “peace” agreement that created a terrorist quasi-state in the West Bank, from which Palestinian suicide bombers and gunmen proceeded to slaughter over 1,300 Israelis in a little over a decade. He didn’t unilaterally withdraw from Lebanon or Gaza, thereby abandoning them to the rule of terrorist organizations that have subsequently fired more than 16,000 rockets at Israel. He didn’t launch a grand diplomatic summit that ended up sparking a terrorist war. He didn’t conduct any failed wars, in either the military or the public-relations sense. He didn’t propose any sweeping territorial concessions that, had they been accepted, would have proven as detrimental to Israel’s security as every previous such concession has.

 

In short, unlike his predecessors, he produced no big ideas for changing the status quo – no “peace agreements,” no unilateral withdrawals, no sweeping final-status proposals, no failed wars “to destroy Hezbollah or Hamas once and for all” (a wildly inappropriate aim if you’re unwilling to do what’s necessary to achieve it). And Israelis, battered and shell-shocked by the disastrous consequences of all these previous big ideas, are grateful for the quiet his cautious, risk-averse policies have produced. But it’s not just that his aversion to grandiose ideas has prevented any major new disasters. It’s that by eschewing such big ideas, he has managed to implement modest but significant improvements.

 

On the security front, he has a laudable track record on counterterrorism. During his first term, he reduced terrorist deaths by 70 percent, from 211 in 1993-96 to 63 in 1996-99. During his current term, he kept terror at the relatively low level inherited from his predecessor.

 

Economically, for all the real problems that sparked last year’s socioeconomic protests, Israel is doing well compared to the rest of the West. Its 7% unemployment rate is vastly better than the Eurozone average of 11.7%; in some Eurozone countries, like Spain and Greece, unemployment has soared to over 25%. The Eurozone has also experienced zero or negative growth for the last four quarters; Israel, by contrast, posted growth of about 3.3% this year.

 

And diplomatically, Netanyahu succeeded in getting the world to impose much tougher sanctions on Iran, something all his predecessors signally failed to do. Indeed, even his most bitter opponents find themselves forced to acknowledge his achievements. Here, for instance, is what columnist Ari Shavit of the far-left Haaretz wrote in October: “Netanyahu's government … correctly focused on the Iranian nuclear challenge and acted against it with skill and ingenuity, most of the time. It led a necessary reform of higher education and an important reform of preschool education, paved roads and built railway lines.”

 

And here’s Haaretz editor-in-chief Aluf Benn, writing two weeks ago: “[Netanyahu] said he'd mobilize international public opinion to escalate the sanctions against Iran and prepare the Israel Defense Forces for attack, and he did. He said he'd act to raise the Palestinians' standard of living, and it rose. He spoke out against unilateral withdrawals, and he didn't withdraw. He promised that Israel's students would reach the top 10 in international exams, and their performance has improved. He wrote he would take care of the crime families, and they've dropped out of the public agenda.”

 

Like many Israelis, I think Netanyahu could and should have done far more to address Israel’s numerous domestic problems, and I’m disappointed that he didn’t. Nevertheless, one could do far worse than making some modest improvements while avoiding any major disasters. And after two decades of “noble and naïve” ideas that left the country battered and bloody, Israelis understand this quite well. That’s why most are breathing a quiet sigh of relief at the prospect of four more years without them.

 

 

 

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ISRAEL’S NEW TWO-PARTY SYSTEM: A FORCE FOR EXTREMISM

Donniel Hartman

Jerusalem Post, Jan. 3, 2013

 

A new feature has emerged in Israeli politics this election season: the evolution of our political culture into a de facto two-party system similar to the Republican and Democrat divide in the US, referred to here as the Right and the Center-Left. There are indeed two sectorial groups outside this divide – haredim and Arabs. The former, however, will join either of the two “parties,” depending on which is willing to greater serve the interests of its sector, while the latter always remains in the opposition.

 

It is true that these two parties are divided into multiple mini-parties. However, the fact that the two major parties (the Likud and Yisrael Beytenu) on the Right have amalgamated, and the third (Bayit Yehudi) is running on the platform of being their coalition partner, while on the Left, politicians are jumping from sub-party to sub-party, avoiding a formal unification primarily because of ego, are all evidence of the fact that the old multiple party system is dead.

 

Voters and politicians are no longer loyal or bound to a sub-party but to the larger party bloc, and shift their affiliations freely within this bloc without feeling any remorse or nostalgia. The sub-party is but a means and a platform to serve them without any ability to generate sustained loyalty. Thus, for example, Amir Peretz can wake up in the morning as one of the leaders of the Labor Party and go to sleep at night as one of the leaders of The Tzipi Livni Party (Hatnuah), itself formed by Livni, the former leader of the Kadima Party. Those who see all of this as opportunism fail to realize the profound shift within Israeli political culture from the multiparty to the two party system.

 

Similarly, the dramatic growth in popularity of the heretofore religious-Zionist sectorial party, the Bayit Yehudi, with the support of secular former Likud loyalists, the significant infiltration into the Likud Knesset candidates list of individuals and ideologues who are using the Likud base to mainstream positions which in the past were the domain of the extreme Right, and on the Left, with the disintegration of the popular base of Kadima, the largest party in the last Knesset, and its redistribution within the Center-Left “party,” are again evidence of the fact that the electorate is thinking within the context of a two-party model, with the sub-parties being merely the vehicle du jour to best represent their core commitments.

 

While this emergence of a two-party system generates greater clarity for the electorate and promises stability for the government, the fact that, as distinct from the United States, it is based on sub-party components, creates a foundation for a particularly toxic and destructive phenomenon. Because most voters are already clearly aligned within one of the two blocs, the main campaigns of the sub-parties are not against those within the other bloc but within their own. This reality generates a move to unnecessary radicalism, as each sub-party attempts to brand itself as unique.

 

In the current election season, the right-wing “party,” which will win the next election, is plagued by a competition amongst its sub-parties as to who is more “pro-settlement,” more “anti-Mahmoud Abbas” and more vociferous in protecting and caring for the “Jewish Israel.”

 

In the past, the conventional wisdom was that you could only win an election in Israel from the Center. While Binyamin Netanyahu, from the perspective of those on the Left, is clearly on the Right, the cornerstone of his political success was his laying hold to the position of the Center- Right. His embrace of Bennie Begin, with his steadfast commitment to democracy and liberalism, and Dan Meridor, a longstanding supporter of both of these values, as well as moderation in foreign policy, together with his 2009 Bar-Ilan University speech and ongoing vetoes of most of the anti-democratic legislation put forward by the Knesset, all served to make Netanyahu both electable and acceptable to a broad spectrum of Israelis on both sides of the political divide.

 

In this campaign, however, not only is Netanyahu going into the electoral battle without the above allies, but more and more of his party members believe that the most effective way to combat the Bayit Yehudi is to outflank it on the Right. In this context, the Bar-Ilan speech accepting a two-state solution in theory is now a liability, and spokespeople for the heretofore center-right Likud allow themselves to vocalize a nationalistic, xenophobic and at times even anti-democratic rhetoric that in the past never would even have been considered.

 

One of the lessons of the recent US election is that you cannot win the country from either extreme, and the Republican Party, if it wants to return to power, will have to look carefully at the consequences of a platform that represents the radical Right within the party. The advantage that the Republican Party has is that it lost the election. There is nothing like the harsh reality of failure to generate reevaluation and refocus.

 

In the Israeli dual-party, sub-party system, however, such a corrective does not exist. The right-wing party will win on the basis of a center-right majority within Israel. However, this center-right will be governed by individuals and platforms which represent extreme sub-party ideologies. There are some who find comfort in the belief that election rhetoric does not represent day-after Election Day policies. This is the case only when there are moderating forces at the table. In our frenzy to win the sub-party battles, however, we have stacked the deck against moderation, and I am fearful that we lack the internal forces to heal ourselves.

 

As we move toward the end of the election season it is critical that Center-Right voices emerge with moral and ideological clarity, compelled by a vision of what will be good for the country, regardless of its significance in the sub-party conflict. It will be a mistake if these voices remain silent, waiting to emerge in the safety of the day after the elections. A culture, rhetoric and public discourse about policy are taking root in these elections which will not be easily uprooted. As our rabbis teach us, if not now, when? Every day that this discourse is allowed to rule dramatically changes not the outcome of this election but the future of Israeli society.

 

Finally, sub-parties on the Center-Left must enter into the fray, not as voices in the opposition but as unabashed coalition partner aspirants. The cynics will say that in doing so they are expressing a void of values and a commitment to power over ideology. Nothing could be further from the truth. Politics is about using power to actualize ideology. In the new Israeli two-party system, we don’t need a national unity government. We need sub-parties from both “parties” to join together to save us from ourselves.

 

Rabbi Dr. Donniel Hartman is president of the Shalom Hartman Institute.

 

 

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A Dose Of Nuance: Not Just France With Humous: Daniel Gordis, Jerusalem Post, Dec. 13, 2012— What Jewish vision animates your social goals for Israel? If you’ve got nothing to say about that, why should any of us vote for you? Are you saying anything about your vision for this country that you couldn’t say if you were running for office in France, or Sweden or Denmark? Anything at all about the Jewish nature of this country? If you did, I might just vote for you.

 

Say No To Hallucination Dealers: Dan Margalit, Israel Hayom, Jan. 4, 2013—A voice is needed that combines bravery, prudence, strength and cool-headedness. A voice is needed that warns the young, engaged in their own personal problems, against false prophets. A voice against those who promise everything for free. A voice against those who prattle on in the language of charlatans about how, if we just let them, they can bring peace now or redeem the entire land.

 

Shamir: If  Convicted, My Party Leader [Liberman] Must Leave Politics: Ron Friedman, Times of Israel, Jan. 4, 2013—Rookie politician says public servants who’ve faltered should make way for those who haven’t; accuses Netanyahu of flip-flopping on Palestinian state

 

Friday Polls Show Jewish Home Surge May Have Been An Outlier: Joshua Davidovich, Times of Israel, Jan. 4, 2013—Right-wing party seen getting 13-14 seats, and not 18 predicted by Israel Radio poll a day earlier. Both polls show the joint Likud-Yisrael Beytenu joint list leading the pack, with 36 seats according to Maariv, and 34 according to Israel Hayom. The ruling party had been predicted to get over 40 seats in early preelection polling, but recent polls have shown it bleeding voters on the right to Jewish Home.

 

Likud Rises as Leftists Vow No Coalition: Maayana Miskin, Israel National News, Jan. 4, 2013—Likud Beytenu regains losses in the polls, ending with enough support to win 36 Knesset seats, according to a new poll released Friday by Maariv/nrg. Left-wing parties say they will try to thwart a coalition.

 

A Labor-Habayit Hayehudi Alliance?: Mati Tuchfeld, Israel Hayom, Jan. 4, 2013—Habayit Hayehudi Chairman Naftali Bennett isn't ruling out the possibility of joining forces with Labor Chairwoman Shelly Yachimovich • In the meantime, he is trying to keep Eli Ben-Dahan and Orit Struck, fellow party members that he views as too extreme, under wraps.

 

 

 

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