Gaza War Diary 9 Sun-Mon. Dec. 25-26, 2016 Day 1207-1208 Chag Chanukah Sama’ech 9 12
Obama just took a parting shot at Israel — and Trump — at the UN
President Barack Obama has decided to go out with a bang: In a stunning diplomatic rebuke of Israel, the United States on Friday abstained on a controversial U.N. Security Council resolution demanding an end to Israeli settlements on Palestinian territory, allowing it to pass easily.
By abstaining — instead of vetoing the resolution, as the United States has reliably done to similar measures for decades — the Obama administration allowed the highly symbolic measure to make it through the chamber.
Chag Chanukah Sama’ech 9 12 midnite
Dear Family & Friends,
The shock of Obama’s “shot of infamy” to NOT veto the anti-Israel, anti-Semitic UN resolution is dimming down a bit. Life goes on in our beautiful country…Sunny blue skies after 3 days of blessed heavy rain. Third Chanukah candle lit tonight. What a glow!
It seems as if the Obama UN Res. will not bring him any happiness or good will. IMHO, it seems as if it will boomerang mightily. The world will resent his sneaky, deceitful, hypocritical stupid, kindergarten bully trying to beat up America’s best ally in the Middle East.
The Leftists (especially the Jews who are the Left) will wake up to who they’ve voted into power – twice. The policies he’s leaving us with bring America down, bring Israel’s security down, bring the trust of all our other allies down. Nothing is good about it. His hostility will only further paint him as untrustworthy & will further tar his historical legacy as an 8 year president who hurt his country.
Whatever role he seeks to project ‘power’ will be doomed & defeated. Does he aspire to be head of the UN? That vaunted international ‘peace-keeper’ will lose support & money because of this nasty slur he leaves on the only democracy in the Middle East – the state of Israel.
The UN won’t have him. He’s unreliable – faithless, feckless & fate-less.
So, that’s the ‘good’ news that comes out of this slap in the face of democracy & Israel. We are now more alert to the dangers in our world here in Israel. We can rely only upon ourselves – as we always had. As my electrician said today, “We don’t need Obama’s gifts of planes, tanks, guns. We can make our own. America should keep her dollars. We’ll build our own.” He has more sense than most of the so-called Mid East experts in America & the UN.
Now, we’ll have a President who appreciates what Israel builds & won’t make America’s MOU for military funding contingent on our using that funding ONLY to buy from America. Our technology is superior & we’ve always shared our innovations with America & the world. Now, those who slander us will find there is a cost. They’ll have to pay for what we’ve given them freely til now.
To paraphrase & add to what Naftali Bennett said, “We’ve tried to make peace by giving away our Land. Now, we’ll keep our Land that G-d promised to the Jewish people & extend Israeli Sovereignty over ALL of our ancestral Home-Land – without harming anyone who wants to live here with us in peace. But, they have to give up their Terrorism. To protect our Sovereignty, we’ll extend full civil rights to our Arab residents but, let them vote in Jordanian elections.”
On that note, making peace in our Homeland, have a wonderful 5 more days & nights of Chanukah.
All the very best, Gail/Geula/Savta/Savta Raba x 2/Mom
1.PM: According to UN, the Maccabees ‘occupied territory’ 1A.Obama’s self-defeating settlements policy by Amb. Yoram Ettinger 1B.Obama just took a parting shot at Israel & Trump at the UN 2.The silver lining to the UN’s act of infamy. By Jack Engelhard
1.PM: According to UN, the Maccabees ‘occupied territory’
PM lights Hanukkah candle at Western Wall, says Jews cannot ‘occupy’ their own city and holy sites. Arutz Sheva Staff, 25/12/16 21:55
PM lights Hanukkah candle at Western Wall
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu lit the second Hanukkah candle at the Western Wall Sunday night, accompanied by Rabbi Shmuel Rabbinowitz, the Rabbi of the Western Wall.
“I was not planning on being here tonight.” Netanyahu said. “But in light of the UN resolution I do not believe there’s a better place to light a Hanukkah candle than here, at the Western Wall” The UN resolution states that all so-called Jewish ‘settlements’ over the 1949 Armistice line are illegal, including the Jewish Quarter of the old city of Jerusalem. Netanyahu said that according to the UN, the Maccabees did not liberate Jerusalem, but rather “occupied Palestinian territory.” “According to the UN resolution, the villages that they left in Modiin [to fight the Greeks] & the surrounding areas, the villages and their surroundings, were all ‘occupied Palestinian territories.'” he said. “Of course, we know that the Arabs came much later. We were in those places [when the Chanukkah story took place, a millennium before the Arabs arrived]. We returned to those places. I ask those nations wishing us a happy Hanukkah – how can they vote for a UN resolution which says that the places where we celebrate Hanukkah [and where the story took place] are ‘occupied territory?'” Netanyahu asked. “The Western Wall is not occupied. The Jewish Quarter is not occupied. The other places are also not occupied. Therefore, we do not accept, nor can we accept, this resolution. We are confident in our future because we know our past. I ask to go and light a Hanukkah candle here on behalf of eternal Israel. Happy Hanukkah.”
1B.Obama just took a parting shot at Israel & Trump – at the UN Updated by Dec 23, 2016, 5:37pm EST Volkan Furuncu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
President Barack Obama has decided to go out with a bang: In a stunning diplomatic rebuke of Israel, the United States on Friday abstained on a controversial United Nations Security Council resolution demanding an end to Israeli settlements on Palestinian territory, allowing it to pass easily.
By abstaining — instead of vetoing the resolution, as the United States has reliably done to similar measures for decades — the Obama administration allowed the highly symbolic measure to make it through the chamber.
It was the first time in nearly 40 years that the Security Council has passed a resolution critical of Israeli settlements. It was also a firm rebuke of both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who had strongly argued against it, and President-elect Donald Trump, who had taken the highly unprecedented move of weighing in Thursday and pressing for the measure to be vetoed.
The measure demands that Israel “immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem,” and declares that the establishment of settlements by Israel has “no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law.”
This is far stronger language than the United States has ever officially used to describe Israeli settlement activity before. Although the standard US position has for 3 decades been that such settlements, built on land intended to be part of a future Palestinian state, are “obstacles to peace,” the United States has always stopped short of describing them as “illegal” under international law.
JUDEA & SAMARIA=YEHUDA & SHOMRONJavier Zarracina/Vox [Gail sez: AMONA IS NEXT TO OFRA]
The Obama administration’s stunning vote was thus a dramatic shift in longstanding US policy. It was no accident.
The move was Obama’s parting shot at Netanyahu, with whom Obama repeatedly clashed throughout his tenure. As my colleague Zeeshan Aleem writes, although the Obama administration gave Israel a bigger military aid package than any US president in history, and has vetoed past UN condemnations of settlements, Obama had a “tense and at times outright hostile relationship with the right-wing Netanyahu.” Among other things, they clashed over Israeli settlement expansion and the terms of the controversial Iran nuclear deal.
But Obama’s parting shot was also aimed at Trump, who has indicated he wants to take a much stronger pro-Israel stance. For instance, he has said he wants to move the US embassy to Jerusalem: a step that, as my colleague Zack Beauchamp explains, “every US government has refrained from doing because the future of the disputed city is meant to be resolved as part of direct talks between the two sides for a final status peace deal.”
Indeed, it seems that an unprecedented intervention by Trump himself — in the form of a personal phone call to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi — is the primary reason why Egypt, which had initially sponsored the UN measure, decided on Thursday to delay the vote indefinitely.
Mere hours before the vote was scheduled to take place, Trump issued a statement on Facebook calling for the US to veto the measure. Shortly after, Egypt announced it would be delaying the vote. Trump spokesperson Sean Spicer later confirmed that Trump had indeed spoken directly with both Sisi and Netanyahu about the proposed Security Council action. Friday’s resolution was sponsored by New Zealand, Malaysia, Venezuela, and Senegal — not Egypt.
It may very well have been this stunning intervention by Trump, directly meddling in a major US foreign policy decision before he has even taken office, that ultimately pushed Obama to take the dramatic step of abstaining on Friday’s vote.
Shortly after the UN measure passed on Friday, Trump reacted on Twitter by suggesting he intends to take a stronger line on defending Israel at the UN when he takes office:
As to the U.N., things will be different after Jan. 20th.
Obama just took a parting shot at Israel & Trump – at the UN
2.The silver lining to the UN’s act of infamy. By Jack Engelhard, 25/12/16 00:18
Jack Engelhard’s classic international bestselling novel ‘Indecent Proposal’, which later became a worldwide hit movie, has been republished to meet readers’ demands. His other major works include ‘Compulsive: A Novel’, his award-winning post-Holocaust Montreal memoir ‘Escape from Mount Moriah’, plus ‘Slot Attendant: A Novel About A Novelist’. His website: www.jackengelhard.com
All bets are off now that the Security Council voted 14-0 to condemn Jewish settlement activity over Biblical Judea, Samaria & even Jerusalem.
Israel now has the green light to build, baby, build & Trump will have all the incentive he needs to move the United States Embassy to Jerusalem.
All because that Security Council measure is so preposterous.
Coming as it does from the United Nations, which is in the hands of terrorists, mobsters and tyrants whose only business is to condemn Israel.
Blast & damn the gluttonous Liberals, here, there & everywhere who delivered Israel into the claws & arms of those jackals.
Their names will be associated together with Haman.
As of that day, another date that will live in infamy, Friday, December 23, 2016, Israel owes nobody nothin’. Annex Judea & Samaria. Forget the Oslo Accord. Forget 800 trucks a day plying food & supplies into Gaza. Forget the illusion of Abbas as a partner in peace. Declare him & his PA (Palestinian Authority) persona non grata.
From Donald Trump & US Congress, cease $600 million a year in direct funding for the PA & millions more through UNRWA & other false-front agencies.
Dismantle the PLO’s office in Washington, D.C.
Forget the mirage of a two state solution. For Kerry, Obama & Samantha Power, the action was taken to “further peace.”
Nothing can be further from the truth. This was an act of infamy against the Jewish State.
They say it was meant to advance a 2-state solution whereby 2 peoples live side by side in peace & security.
Letting it go through by the trick of abstaining, is an everlasting blight on our reputation.
Where do Arabs live in peace and security even among themselves – Syria, Iraq, Yemen?
The two-state solution is a trap – a device to swarm Israel out of existence.
That’s been the plan all along…to uproot the Jewish people from their ancestral homeland, by hook or by crook.
That the United States, under Obama, took part in this abomination, by letting it go through by the trick of abstaining, is an everlasting blight on our reputation.
Senators Lindsay Graham & Ted Cruz say so. Here’s Cruz: “For those who acquiesced or facilitated the UN resolution–especially President Obama, Secretary Kerry & Ambassador Power–history will record your abiding & shameful legacy undermining our friend & ally Israel.”
How have the mighty fallen? President John F. Kennedy in 1961 at his inaugural address said: “Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival & the success of liberty.”
Instead, friends of liberty were blindsided by Obama’s farewell address of sorts, his parting shot to sock it to the Jews.
So now the table has been set for Donald Trump to do what’s right.
As the news came in, in anger we wrote (on Facebook): “Donald Trump will have to DRAIN THAT SWAMP.”
“Immediately end all financing for the UN, consider all resolutions against Israel flagrant, nonsensical, bigoted & non-binding…dissolve diplomatic status & immunity across the board…give all members 48 hours to pack up & leave town…then destroy the building to a heap of rubble.”
Now that we’ve had a chance to calm down, we say it again, exactly as is, but add –
Build, Baby, Build!!
New York-based bestselling American novelist Jack Engelhard writes a regular column for Arutz Sheva. New from the novelist: “News Anchor Sweetheart,” a novelist’s version of Fox News and Megyn Kelly. Engelhard is the author of the international bestseller “Indecent Proposal.” He is the recipient of the Ben Hecht Award for Literary Excellence. Website: www.jackengelhard.com
IsraPundit by Ted Belman December 21, 2016
There are times in a nation’s history when it seems swept inexorably towards the next stage in its development and its destiny, often amidst inner conflicts and sometimes violently. The American Civil War is an example of a society divided over the issue of slavery which led to a devastating conflict. The issue was complicated because the Supreme Court, under Chief Justice Roger Taney, had declared in the Dred Scott decision that slave-holding was a Constitutional right. Six years later, in 1863, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation which changed the course of American history. This was followed by Amendments to the Constitution which abolished slavery and guaranteed rights of all citizens.
But well before, a number of important governmental issues had emerged which defined the course of American democracy and are the bases of all democratic systems. The principle of Separation of Powers, first presented by Montesquieu (Spirit of the Laws) in 1748, defined the powers of the three branches of government: courts interpret law, the executive branch enforces the law, and the legislative branch makes the law.
This fundamental principle was incorporated into the Article 3 of the US Constitution. The meaning and application of this principle was worked out in landmark cases, like Marbury vs. Madison (1803), which established the right of judicial review. This process was, and is (it’s ongoing) the essence of a democratic system. The court’s power, however, was limited by the principle of judicial restraint.
In Israel, these complicated issues have now become focused over the question of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria (“settlements”) and specifically Amona.
First is the question of which laws apply to Area C of Judea and Samaria, defined by the Oslo Agreements as under full Israeli control: Ottoman, British Mandate, Jordanian, Israeli or international law. Since Israel did not annex this area, it is under the authority of the IDF military authority, COGAT and the Civil Administration (Minhal Ezrachi).
Second is the question of who should decide issues of land ownership and on what basis. The Edmund Levy Commission report – established by the government — laid out a coherent legal position and suggested specific ways to resolve questions of land ownership. Inexplicably, the government has not accepted this Report and it remains dormant.
Third, what are the rights of Israeli citizens living in Area C? Are they entitled to have their claims adjudicated in Israeli courts with due process? Do they have equal protection under the law?
Fourth, does the High Court (and the Attorney General) have the right to make laws and dictate to the other branches of government?
The decision by Israel’s government to protect Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria is being played out against international opposition and Arab incitement and terrorism. Ironically, this struggle is exacerbated by decisions of Israel’s High Court and its judicial establishment to destroy Jewish communities and parts of communities because of allegations that they were built on private Palestinian land.
Such claims of private ownership are false. As legal expert Yehuda Yifrah explained in an article published in Makor Rishon, of the nine Arabs who claim to own the land on which Amona was built, seven of the plots were not located in Amona. “…the two remaining petitioners … claim ownership of only a tiny sliver of a percentage of the settlement’s land …about two dunam out of the 500 dunam upon which the settlement sits… All the rest of the land is registered in the name of people who do not exist, either now or in 1967; there is no trace of them in the population records drawn up after the Six Day War.”
Yet, the State Prosecutor’s office decided that the entire area of Amona was “private Palestinian land;” the High Court accepted their decision and demanded that Amona be destroyed. The High Court also ignored Jordanian and Israeli law (as well as law used by all democratic countries) that someone who has built and planted on land belonging to another in good faith, and where the value of the construction exceeds the value of the land, the landowner is required to accept monetary compensation.
Under Jordanian occupation (1949-1967), large tracts of Judea and Samaria land were distributed freely and registered to Arab tribes and clans. Since no one paid for the land and most of this gifted land was never used and no taxes were paid, according to Ottoman and British Mandate law Arab claims of private ownership are not valid.
Nevertheless, the IDF military commander and legal advisors unilaterally decided to adopt Jordanian law, which registered the gifted land as if it had been purchased. Therefore, when Arabs claim to own land on which settlements were built, the IDF Civil Administration accepts their claims. The High Court approves decisions of the Civil Administration and State Prosecutor’s Office without examining any documents, or proof of ownership. And, since the High Court is the judicial body of last resort, there is no possibility of appeal.
The bewildering decision to recognize Jordan’s land give-away program is even more bizarre since Jordan had joined other Arab states in attacking the State of Israel in 1948 in a war of annihilation. With the exception of Britain and Pakistan, no country recognized Jordanian sovereignty in Judea and Samaria, because they believed that in doing so they would imply recognition of Israel based on the 1949 Armistice Lines. In 1967, Jordan again attacked Israel, and, in response, Israel acted in self-defense, liberating eastern Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria. Jordan renounced all claims to the area in the 1988 and included it officially in its peace treaty with Israel. Israeli sovereignty in Judea and Samaria is consistent with international law — the League of Nations Mandate, the UN Charter, and UNSC Resolutions 242 and 338.
The future of Amona and all Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria should be decided by the elected government. The High Court’s decision to destroy Amona, therefore, raises basic questions about its role in Israeli democracy and the meaning of government “of the people, by the people, and for the people.”
As we can find it…
Motzei Shabbat – Saturday night – we light the first candle of Chanukah. And so we begin today with mention of this celebration that marks the victory of the Maccabees over the destructive influences and power of the Syrian-Greeks in the Second Century BCE.
We light our candles in commemoration of the miracle of the oil – the curse of oil that was only sufficient for one day but lasted for eight days when the Temple was rededicated. For this reason, we call this holiday the Festival of Light. Badly needed right now. Miracles, that is. As well as light!
The other part of the celebration has to do with the historical victory (also a miracle of a more profound but less obvious sort). It should remind us of what we are capable of when we understand that the Almighty is with us – and we hold fast to who we are. Huge lessons for today (and I will get to this).
We are grateful that this Chanukah, in the end, is unlikely to be marred by the expulsion from their homes of the residents of Amona, an expulsion that had been set – coincidentally but horrendously – to take place on the first day of Chanukah.
The residents, as I wrote in my last posting, rejected the offer that had been proffered by the government. One factor in this rejection – which was at some point mentioned by the residents in their press conference, but which received scant media attention – was the fact that the offer involved relocating only 11 families to another place on the same mountain.
But now we have moved past this, for a new offer has been accepted. The government seemed genuinely eager to avoid the crisis of a forced expulsion from Amona and to find a resolution. Undoubtedly Netanyahu was also eager to avoid a coalition crisis as well. Meeting through the night, Saturday night, with Amona community residents were Prime Minister Netanyahu and Education Minister Naftali Bennett (Habayit Hayehudi). Agreement came at 3 AM Sunday morning. It’s my understanding that MK Bezalel Smotrich (Habayit Hayehudi) and former Bayit Yehudi MK Orit Strook encouraged the residents to take the offer.
Bennett hailed this as the end of the era of expulsions. We must fervently hope so, but this remains to be seen.
There were several reasons why this was considered by the residents to be a better offer. First, 24 resident families would remain on the mountain, rather than 11. They also felt that the government showed more commitment to the execution of this plan, with a clearer time frame, and a readiness to nominate someone responsible for overseeing the process.
The plan involves six dunams of land, called plot 38, near the residents’ current location. This is land that is considered abandoned property and is under the control of the Civil Administration (that is, State property); it has been leased to the Binyamin Regional Council.
The government committed to seeking from the Court an extension in the expulsion order of 45 days, and this was speedily done. In that appeal to the Court, it was noted that this would be for only one and a half months, and not the six months previously rejected, and that this would be the last appeal for an extension.
The approval of the Court is essential for this plan to move forward, for nothing is in place. The time would be utilized for setting up temporary housing for the 24 families on plot 38 (actually 12 temporary buildings divided into two). And temporary housing would, as well, be set in place for the remaining families (I believe 18 in number) in nearby Ofra.
The agreement of the residents was contingent on all of this taking place.
According to the plan, there would then, subsequently, be an interval of time in which the area for a new Amona would be expanded beyond plot 38, utilizing adjacent abandoned property. Over the period of a couple of years, 52 permanent buildings would be constructed – homes for everyone now in Amona plus public buildings.
As I write, the final word from the Court on the 45 day extension has not come through. The Court came back to the residents and asked them to pledge that if the extension is granted, then they will leave quietly at the end of that time. Late this morning, the residents filed their positive response to the Court. That the Court made this request certainly seems to indicate that the extension will be granted, although until we know it is not a certainty.
But there is another fly in the ointment: For the subversive Yesh Din has been hard at work. Again. I have been advised by a spokesperson from Amona that they went to Jordan this time, and sought Jordanian citizens who, they maintain, have a claim on plot 38 from the time of the (illegal) Jordanian occupation.
Illegal is my word, of course, not theirs. Very much to the point, the actions of the Yesh Din should be rendered illegal. Their meddling – which, transparently now, has nothing to do with securing rights for local Arab residents and everything to do with their agenda of driving Jews out of Judea and Samaria – should be forbidden. There are several issues underlying this situation.
Paramount is the entire question of how land allocated by a Jordanian sovereign during an illegal occupation of the area, acquired in an offensive war, should carry sway in our courts now. This is what I meant by knowing who we are. It’s time we held up our heads, collectively, and declared our rights.
My information is that Yesh Din did not go to the High Court, but to the Civil Administration, with their new claim on plot 38. They are saying that the Civil Administration has no right to lease the land to the Binyamin Regional Council. There is particular unease over this, because as soon as the agreement was reached, the Binyamin Regional Council brought heavy equipment onto plot 38 to start preparing the land for the temporary houses – there is no time to be lost. But after Yesh Din made its latest claim, the machinery disappeared.
Even if the Yesh Din claim is accepted, which would be a travesty of justice, this would not kill the agreement nor require the residents to leave on Sunday. Rather, this is something that would play out over time: it would then fall to the Civil Administration to determine which other plot on the mountain might be utilized for relocating the residents. There is considerable land there and arrangements would have to be made to accommodate them legally. An onerous task in a tight time frame, but we must hope that the government would move with all due speed on this.
This is an issue not only of rights for the citizens of Amona, but for government policy on expulsions. It should be a turning point.
To be continued…
The promise of president-elect Trump to relocate the American Embassy to Jerusalem has the PLO alarmed.
A couple of days ago, Saeb Erekat, PLO Secretary-General and a key PLO purveyor of empty words, made a number of threats: If the embassy is moved, the PLO will “revoke all its previously signed agreements with Israel” as well as its 1993 “recognition of Israel.”
I do not wish to belabor this here, but the fact is that some of the “signed” agreements between Israel and the PLO were never appropriately ratified by the PLO in the first place, while many have been consistently ignored by the PLO. What is more, surely, Erekat recognizes that this threat is a double-edged sword. If all agreements were off, the Palestinian Authority, which was founded as part of Oslo, would cease to exist.
But the real kicker is this statement by Erekat, made at a Washington DC conference, that: “such a move would indicate the U.S.’s acceptance of ‘Israel’s illegal annexation of eastern Jerusalem.’” http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/222041
Got him here! Because the American Embassy will be located in western Jerusalem. And that’s the whole point: the PLO claims that it wants eastern Jerusalem for its capital. Ostensibly, within the “two-state solution” Israel would retain western Jerusalem. But what becomes transparent here, which most of us knew already anyway, is that the PLO wants all of Jerusalem.
It is regrettable that State Department chose to refer to Israeli “settlements” as “illegal” following the announcement by president-elect Trump that David Friedman – who supports Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria – would be the next US Ambassador to Israel. Until now, the term of choice for Obama has been “illegitimate,” which skirts the issue of legality.
See comment by State spokesman John Kirby here: http://www.timesofisrael.com/after-friedman-nod-state-dept-reaffirms-support-for-two-states-calls-settlements-illegal/
The Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria are most certainly not illegal. At most, Judea and Samaria might be referred to as “contested,” but I would not say even this: According to international law – via the Mandate for Palestine – the land belongs to Israel.
I understand that in a subsequent tweet, Kirby walked back his statement.
Potentially far more serious than the empty words of Erekat regarding repercussions for moving the Embassy is the action of the Palestinian Authority in bringing a draft resolution to the UN Security Council that calls for for an immediate and full halt to the “settlement building in the occupied territories.”
It states that “Israeli settlements built on Palestinian lands occupied in 1967 are illegal.” and that “settlements are a major obstacle to the realization of the two-state solution.”
It also demands that Israel, as an “occupying power” immediately cease all “settlement activity”, including in eastern Jerusalem, and to respect its legal obligations in this regard.
The draft was circulated last night by Egypt (a disappointment for us). Vote is due shortly, but will come after this post has gone out.
THE question here is whether Obama will maintain the long-standing US position that the Israeli-Palestinian Arab conflict must be resolved via direct negotiations, and veto this. There has been concern that this lame duck president, who has express antipathy to Israel, will have his revenge with this vote.
Earlier this week, a bi-partisan group of 88 Senators signed a letter, initiated by Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Mike Rounds (R-SD), to President Obama. It urged him to veto such resolutions, citing his 2011 General Assembly address in which he said, “Peace will not come through statements and resolutions at the United Nations.” http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/218048
A PA delegation has visited the president, and urged just the reverse.
I have checked with one of the Legal Grounds legal advisors, who tells me that the resolution would not be under Chapter 7 (which would render it enforceable), and thus not “not binding in the strict sense.”
Unfortunately, Palestinian Arabs of the PLO/PA are not the only ones who give Israel a headache. As I’ve indicated several times over the years, we’ve got our problems with some Israeli Arabs who sit in our Knesset. There are at least a couple who, in my opinion, not only do not belong in the Knesset, but who should be branded as traitors – supporters of Hamas. To date, I would have said Haneen Zoabi is the most prominent and offensive of these, but now I would say Basel Ghattas rivals her for this dubious distinction.
Last week, MK Ghattas (of the Balad faction of the Joint List) was questioned by police because there was solid evidence that he had smuggled cell phones to security prisoners (read terrorists) in Israeli prison.
He readily admitted to having done so, claiming that this was “humanitarian activism,” because the lives of the prisoners is difficult. This guy is a piece of work. The phones were used to plan terror attacks.
A blanket ban has now been placed on visitations by MK to security prisoners. Ghattas is being faced with a host of charges: complicity in committing a felony, deceptive practices, breach of trust and violation of the Prison Service code. His parliamentary immunity will be lifted and it is unlikely that he will ever show his face in the Knesset again. There are those who suspect he will flee, rather than face possible prison time. http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/222024
And imagine, there are those who accuse us of “apartheid.”
IDF forces from the Judea and Samaria Brigade, working with Shin Bet and Border Police, mounted a raid on a home in south Hevron Sunday night that uncovered the “largest weapons factory ever discovered” in Judea and Samaria. Hundreds of soldiers were involved.
Discovered in a large underground space beneath the house were “more than 100 Carl Gustav m/45 barrels, Russian 7.62 sniper rifles and for the first time, M16 rifle parts with assembly instructions,” A cache of ammunition was discovered inside a wall.
We’ve had an intensified search for weapons manufactured & stored in Judea & Samaria because it’s believed those committing recent terror attacks were supplied by local sources.
IDF Spokesperson http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4895156,00.html
The humanitarian crises in Aleppo has been beyond horrendous, with pathetically little action. Prime Minister Netanyahu has announced Israeli intentions to intensify medical assistance to the people of Aleppo: “We are prepared to take in wounded woman and children, and also men if they are not combatants. Bring them to Israel [we will] take care of them in our hospitals as we have done with thousands of Syrian civilians.
“We are looking into ways of doing this…” http://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Benjamin-Netanyahu/Netanyahu-Israel-is-looking-to-absorb-injured-Syrians-from-Aleppo-476006
The problem, as I understand it, is that Aleppo is in the north of Syria, not near our Golan Heights border with Syria. The question is how to get to them and bring them here.
If you have never done so, I ask you to consider a donation now to the Legal Grounds Campaign. We are facing a critical year with regard to promoting Israel’s legal rights in Judea, Samaria and all of Jerusalem, and so are eager for maximum funds to allow us to proceed full steam. Clearly, larger donations are greatly appreciated. But $50 or $100 also helps. Please be in touch with me if you wish to make a donation and I’ll provide full information.
Chanukah Sameach to all who are celebrating!
This year, Chanukah, which begins on 25 Kislev, falls on December 25th, Christmas. An unusual occurrence. To all my Christian friends, I extend wishes for a joyous and light-filled holiday, as well.
After we have said the blessing, and have lit the Chanukah candles, we sing “Al Hanissim.” I found this version pleasing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Bma6VubKH0
And I offer, as well, a less traditional presentation from Kippalive: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m7MXDlPg_LI
”We thank you for the miracles, for the redemption, for the mighty deeds and saving acts, wrought by you, as well as for the wars which you waged for our fathers in days of old, at this season.”
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution. If it is reproduced and emphasis is added, the fact that it has been added must be noted. See my website at www.arlenefromisrael.info Contact Arlene at email@example.com
[AFTER: US abstains from UN vote to end Israeli settlement building]
PM urges ministers from his Likud party to stop criticizing the US president.
US President Barack Obama speaks at the Righteous Among the Nations Award Ceremony, organised by Yad Vashem, at Israel’s Embassy in Washington January 27, 2016. (photo credit:Reuters)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged Likud ministers Sunday to stop Barack Obama & calling for annexing territories and building in settlements as a response to United Nations Security Council resolution 2334 that passed Friday.
In a meeting with Likud ministers, he warned them that Obama could follow up on his decision to abstain on the anti-Israel resolution by taking further steps against Israel before he leaves office on January 20.
Several ministers chose not to listen to Netanyahu & do exactly what he pleaded with them to refrain from doing. Culture Minister Miri Regev told Army Radio that Obama allowed the resolution to pass because “his ego overcame his brains” & Israel should respond by annexing all of Judea & Samaria immediately.
“I wasn’t surprised by the actions of the Americans or the UN, because they were never our friends,” Regev said. “I knew Obama was looking to take sweet revenge against Israel and Netanyahu. Since he was elected in 2009, he was hostile to settlements and Netanyahu. He revealed his true face with an anti-Israel decision but Netanyahu and Israel will defeat him.”
Regional Cooperation Minister Tzachi Hanegbi, who is the most moderate Likud minister, told reporters at the Prime Minister’s Office that Israel felt betrayed by Obama.
“Thankfully, in 25 more days, the administration responsible for this horrible decision will be forced off the stage,” Hanegbi said. “I believe the next administration will clean this decision that stained the Obama administration. Obama surrendered to the Iranians, abandoned the Syrians & stuck a knife in the backs of the Israelis.” Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz told reporters outside the cabinet meeting that he “does not blame President Obama for anti-Semitism, but rather an unfair & harsh act.”
“This is not how friends act,” Steinitz said. “The United States never abandoned us to the automatic majority against us in the Security Council. I think Obama & [US Secretary of State John] Kerry will regret this unethical decision & be ashamed of it.”
Tourism Minister Yariv Levin told Israel Radio that the Obama “administration’s policies were against us for eight years.” He called the abstention at the UN “an act of revenge against American voters who chose Trump.”
Environmental Protection Minister Ze’ev Elkin revealed that US Vice President Joe Biden pressured Ukraine to vote for the resolution.
Outside the Likud, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Bayit Yehudi) told reporters Sunday that Obama had abandoned Israel twice – at the UN on Friday and last year with his deal with Iran.
Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett appeared to criticize Netanyahu in a press conference at the Western Wall. He said Netanyahu should not have endorsed a Palestinian state in his 2009 Bar-Ilan University speech because Obama’s views on Israel were already clear following his speech in Cairo.
“It’s time for Israel to reevaluate its approach over the past 25 years, the approach where we adopted the Oslo Accords, the approach were we gave up territory in Gaza, the approach where we declared the need for a Palestinian state,” Bennett said. “We thought this approach would gain us sympathy from the world, but instead we got tens of thousands of missiles from Gaza, thousands of Israelis murdered on the streets and one condemnation after another. It’s time to decide between two alternatives: surrendering our land, or sovereignty. We’ve tried surrendering our land, it didn’t work; it is time for sovereignty.”
7.Obama flunks Israeli politics 101 By 12/25/2016 US abstains from UN vote to end Israeli settlement building By declining to veto the anti-Israeli resolution of the UN, it seems that US President Barack Obama has played into the hands of the Israeli Right once more. Just as Education Minister Naftali Bennett was declaring at the Western Wall Sunday that U. N. Security Council Resolution 2334 will be “thrown into the dustbin of history,” he was interrupted.
By a dustbin.
A garbage can on wheels was being transported on the stone floor of the Western Wall Plaza behind Bennett & made it hard for him to be heard. But he decided to go with the flow & use the dustbin to prove his point – the resolution would be forgotten but it should be used as an opportunity to start annexing land & end concessions for which the world would never reward Israel anyway.
Just as that dustbin came to Bennett at an opportune time, so did UN Resolution 2334 & US President Barack Obama’s decision to refrain from vetoing it and allow it to pass.
It wasn’t the first time Obama played into the hands of the Israeli Right. As Jerusalem Post polls proved at the beginning of his first term, Spring 2009, his obsession with settlements that he revealed in his Cairo speech & his first White House meeting with Benjamin Netanyahu lost him support among the Israeli Center & much of the Left, leaving him with the backing of just 6% of Israeli Jews.
The Israeli Right wants to keep all of Judea & Samaria, so true right-wingers would have never liked Obama anyway. Had Obama decided to divide & conquer Israelis by isolating the Right & reaching out to the Center & Left, it might have worked.
One could argue that he did exactly that with American Jews by advancing ties with Left-wing Jewish organizations while trying to marginalize groups on the Right.
But that is not what Obama did. Perhaps uninformed that the Israeli Center champions settlement blocs & most of the Israeli Left supports building in Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem, Obama went against them from the beginning of his presidency until the end, culminating with Friday’s resolution at the UN.
During those 8 years, there were a total of 9 months of negotiations between Israel & the Palestinians. It is no coincidence that those were the only 9 months when the Obama administration did not tell Israel not to build in settlement blocs & Jewish neighborhoods of Jerusalem.
It is also no coincidence that those talks were not extended beyond 9 months because Obama interfered & returned the focus to settlements again. The following day, Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas called a press conference in Ramallah with Meretz leader Zehava Gal-On in which he said he would condition extending the talks on a complete settlement freeze.
Following 8 years of Obama, the Israeli Center-Left is in shambles. The peace camp that he left orphaned 8 years ago has no leader on the horizon & only unpalatable figures from the past such as Ehud Barak & Amir Peretz to choose from.
But the Right is stronger than ever, thanks to Obama policies & statements that boomeranged against him & accomplished the exact opposite of his goal of seeking Israeli-Palestinian peace.
Netanyahu, whose popularity rose every time Obama spoke, should send him flowers as a parting gift, especially after the UN resolution on Friday. Bennett, who is now advancing ideas of annexation that could not even have been dreamed of 8 years ago, owes Obama the kind of present only an education minister could give him.
He should present him a report card, saying: Israeli Politics 101, with a big red F.
9.When War Doesn’t End, Peace Doesn’t Begin By: Moshe Feiglin Published: December 25th, 2016 Latest update: December 22nd, 2016 Photo Credit: Moshe Feiglin Israel suffers from a basic inferiority complex. Leaving its Jewish identity behind, it has invented an “Israeli” identity, which is contingent upon the recognition of our Arab neighbors. This foundational flaw channels us into a zero-sum game, precisely expressed by the “Land for Peace” slogan.
Throughout history, the side that wins the war proposes peace in exchange for the opponent’s assets. But Israel has deposited its most important asset – the keys to Israeli identity – into the hands of an enemy weaker than it both militarily and economically. This asset is not at all dependent upon the results of the war. On the contrary, if in theory the enemy would be totally destroyed, we would once again find ourselves alone in the world. Alone with our Jewish identity.
For this reason, Israel never strives to truly triumph in war. And in truth, we have never really triumphed. Not one of Israel’s wars ever ended with the written, unconditional surrender of the enemy, as is accepted practice when an existential war between nations ends with the total defeat of one side.
Israel’s internal identity crisis has brought us to the place where “victory” is no longer in our lexicon. Even when the IDF destroys enemy armies with courage and great skill, we do not ever think of taking the final step and forcing the enemy into explicit diplomatic surrender – because then we would have nobody with whom to make peace and receive recognition.
This is why Israel’s wars never finish. Our enemies can always produce new weapons and fresh soldiers and when the concept of triumph is nowhere to be found, the war never really ends and peace cannot ever really begin.
Israel is not truly involved in a peace process. The “peace process” is nothing more than a continuation of the war, simply being fought with different methods. The result is success for the enemy. We experience loss of land and legitimacy, economic damage and internal demoralization.
Israel’s Oslo-process recognition of “Palestinian” justice and right to the Land of Israel and the territorial surrender that came on its heels did not generate more acceptance of Israel’s existence. Just the opposite: Israel’s surrender generated serious loss of its legitimacy in the West. We have manifold more fatalities than before the “peace process,” the economic price tag is huge – but worst of all is the lack of legitimacy in the mentality of Israel’s young generation.
A young Israeli who came of age after the start of the diplomatic process (30-40 year olds today) no longer sees himself as indigenous to this Land. Instead, he feels like a guest here. In his eyes, the salt of the earth and bedrock of the Land’s existence is the Arab. It has become legitimate to expel Jews from their homes, but nobody would ever dream of doing so to Arabs.
We can explicitly say, then, that the enemy defeats us with “peace,” slowly achieving what he wanted and what he failed to gain during war. The Israeli, who understands that he will not be getting peace, hopes that at least by offering “bribes” of territory that he “stole” from the Arab in 1967, the Arab will be so kind as to ignore the “robbery” of 1948.
The loss of legitimacy, however, crossed the 1948 line a long time ago. The “original sin” in reputable Western universities is no longer the Occupation of 1967, and not even the partition of 1948. The “original sin” is the Balfour Declaration of 1917. That declaration was the very beginning of the renewal of Jewish sovereignty in the Land of Israel.
“We established a state for you… we dreamed of a place in which the new Book of Books would be written, to redeem the world. For you, after all, are a treasured nation,” a group of British intellectuals said in explaining their anger at Israel to Professor Ze’ev Tzachor. “The world had expectations of you, and look what you have done.”
All the diplomatic plans proposed to the Israeli public by the entire gamut of politicians stem from the Israeli – not Jewish – mentality. Their horizon is not to actualize their Jewish identity in the national dimension, but rather, the opposite. All the plans assume that the conflict is territorial and thus, surrendering territory will bring peace that will allow us to be accepted as a normal nation among its neighbors.
But it is actually the attempted escape from our identity that blocks any hope for peace. If we need peace in order to receive recognition for the new “Israeli-ness” that we invented for ourselves, and if, as a result, the enemy receives an insurance policy and we are incapable of extracting a price from him that he cannot sustain – why should he give us peace? Why not just remain perpetually in a “peace process”?
An alternative plan can succeed only if it serves the absolute opposite strategic goal: not making the state more Israeli, but making it more Jewish.
Moshe Feiglin, is the former Deputy Speaker of the Knesset. He heads the Zehut Party. He is the founder of Manhigut Yehudit and Zo Artzeinu and the author of two books: “Where There Are No Men” and “War of Dreams.” Feiglin served in the IDF as an officer in Combat Engineering and is a veteran of the Lebanon War. He lives in Ginot Shomron with his family.
10.An Existential Battle for the Demographic Future of Syria by Harold Rhode – Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs – 21 Dec 2016 http://jcpa.org/russia-iran-abetting-syrian-government/
The Syrian government, Russia & Iran (SRI) are trying to change the demographic makeup of Syria. They aim to depopulate Syria of the Arab Sunnis, which, before the Arab Spring was the largest religio-ethnic group in Syria. They mostly inhabited a very fertile strip of land between Aleppo in the north, down to Damascus, and then southward to the Jordanian border.
Arab Sunnis who didn’t leave are being forced to move to Idlib & Raqqa, near the Turkish border.1
Examining SRI’s military campaign and its policy towards the refugees they have created suggests this SRI strategy. The groups and places which the Russians have been attacking are the traditional strongholds of the Sunni Arab population – as of late Aleppo – the largest city in Syria.
What is SRI’s goal and why are they doing this?
Bashar Assad’s regime is Alawite, a sect that was recognized by the Lebanese Shiite religious establishment as a branch of Shi’ism. But Syria’s Arab Sunnis never recognized the Alawite rulers as Muslims. By Islamic law, only a Muslim can rule a Muslim country. The Sunnis acquiesced to Alawite rule because of their inability to forcefully remove the Assad family from power. Nevertheless, until today, the upper class Arab Sunnis families who employed Alawites as servants in their households refer disparagingly to their Alawite servants as ‘abid’ (“slaves” in Arabic).
Prior to the Arab Spring, the Alawites constituted roughly 12% of Syria’s population. Alawite rule over Syria was always tenuous at best – because Syria’s Alawite military leadership kept order in the country through coercion, not consent.
When the Arab Spring took hold in Syria, it was the Arab Sunnis, first and foremost, who revolted against the Alawite regime. They were aided in their efforts by fellow Sunnis in Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and other Sunni powers, which provided arms and funding.
From the perspective of the Alawites and other non-Sunni Arabs, the Sunni revolt constituted a clear and present danger to the non-Sunni regime. After all, the Middle East is a rough neighborhood, and people nurse grudges and perceived insults to their honor until they have the opportunity to avenge perceived “wrongs.” Nothing is ever forgotten; nothing is ever forgiven. For these Sunnis, it is an offense against Allah that these non-Muslim Alawites were ruling Syria.
The Iranians, Russians, and Syrian governments joined together to fight against the Sunni fundamentalists because all three see themselves in an existential battle against the radical Sunnis. They joined together to “rectify” this problem by ridding Syria of its Sunni Arabs and thereby
change the demographic make-up of Syria forever.
They are forcing the Arab Sunnis to leave the country through bombing, terror, and other methods. It is therefore not surprising that the overwhelming numbers of Syrian refugees are Arab Sunnis from the Damascus-Aleppo corridor which has been the traditional heartland of the Arab Sunni community. Indeed, the majority of migrants currently living in refugee camps in Jordan and Turkey are largely Arab Sunni, as are the refugees who made it to Europe.
The Iranians are Shiites, and they harbor a huge fear that the Sunnis will destroy them, as the Sunnis have done over the centuries since the death of the Muslim prophet Muhammad.
Ditto Russia: The Russians too have an existential problem with the Sunnis, as about 98% of the former Soviet Muslims are Sunni. Today, Moscow’s Muslim population is estimated at over 1/4 (higher), including legal residents and illegal workers, according to some analysts. Almost all – except most Moscow-resident Azeris – are Sunni. Russia too feels an existential threat from these Sunnis like their Iranian and Syrian Alawite allies. Therefore, the Russian government has undertaken a program – with some success – to entice Russian Sunnis to convert to Shiism.2
The Syrian Sunnis abandoned their town and villages in droves, even leaving behind unplowed fields. That is why last summer, the topsoil of this very fertile corridor between Damascus and Aleppo blew away, mostly southward towards Jordan and Israel.
After dislocating Syria’s Arab Sunnis, the Russians, Iranians, and Syrian government moved on to phase two: re-populating this now relatively empty Arab Sunni areas with Shiites – mostly from Iraq.
That is why Russia, Syria government, and Iran refrained from attacking the Christians, Sunni Kurds, and Druze throughout the country. And that is why the fundamentalist Sunni Turkish government opposes SRI. Turkey is clearly on the side of the Sunnis and opposes the Iranians, Russians, and Syrian Alawite government.
In contrast, the United States failed to understand what was happening in Syria. Though America naively spent large sums trying to train and even arm some of these Sunnis, many of America’s “friends” in Syria turned around and joined or turned over their weaponry to the myriad of Sunni fundamentalist groups fighting in Syria. For example, American-supplied TOW missiles to
these Sunnis later ended up in the hands of al-Qa’ida.3
Sadly, the U.S. Government failed to understand that this is not a battle between good & bad, or moderates & extremists. It is an existential battle for the demographic future of that country & whether or not the non-Arab Sunnis finally have the chance to rid themselves of the Arab Sunni yoke that has plagued them since Syria was conquered by the Sunni Muslims in the mid-seventh century.
How and when this battle will end is anybody’s guess. The Russians understand the game, which explains why they have chosen to support the Syrian government at all costs. They have common interests. Now is their chance to change the demographic situation forever and deal a serious blow to the Sunnis.
Assuming things remain as they are, Syria will not have many Arab Sunni Muslims living there in the future.
As long as the present Shiite fundamentalist government remains in power in Iran, what is happening in Syria is an existential threat to the Arab Sunni regimes, Israel, and others. But if there is a change in regime in Iran, all bets are off. Under the Shah, Iran was a respected member of the
international community and concerned first and foremost about internal Iranian affairs. If a new leadership with similar concerns like those of pre-Islamic revolutionary Iran took over, the Shiite-Sunni eternal battle would most likely become less of an issue in inter-Muslim and international affairs.
Even so, we would still expect Russia to remain allied with a non-Islamic Republican Iran, Syria with its new demographic reality, and others such as China and India who also fear Sunni fundamentalism.
But as things stand now in Syria, without a convincing show of American force or even the force of will in Syria or elsewhere in the region, it is reasonable to assume that Russia and Iran will continue to carry out their campaign in Syria, culminating with a nearly complete population exchange, from Sunni to Shiite. In such a scenario, a future government in Syria can be expected to deepen its alliance with Russia & Iran & act increasingly to oppose the United States & its Western democratic allies.
Whatever the case, if the war in Syria continues – and there are no signs to suggest the contrary – we can expect that in the future, Syria will most likely look demographically completely different from what it did before the Arab Spring
11.How Did Israeli Settlements Become a Legally Contentious Issue at the UN? By Dore Gold 22 Dec 2016 http://jcpa.org/israeli-settlements-become-legally-contentious-issue-un/
Right after World War II, the US and its allies wanted to prevent a repetition of the practice of the Axis powers who evicted the populations from the areas that came under their control and forcibly transferred their own populations into those very same territories. For this reason, the Allies drafted the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention in the way that they did. But this is not what is occurring with Israeli settlement activity, as Israel has argued for decades.
There is one place, however, where this scenario is taking place right now – & it is not in the West Bank. It is occurring in Syria, where Sunni Arabs are being systematically replaced by Shiites from Iraq & other countries in order to alter the demographic makeup of Syria, in accordance
with the interests of Iran. Tehran wants a Shiite belt from its western border to the Mediterranean in order to establish its hegemony in the Middle East.
What is the UN doing about this? It is deliberating over a new draft resolution condemning Israeli settlement activity, while ignoring the mass transfer of populations transpiring across the entire Levant. As usual, it is obsessed with Israel while ignoring the dangerous actions of Iran.
The Palestinians themselves agreed in the 1995 Interim Agreement that the issue of Israeli settlements in the West Bank should be addressed as an item for negotiation between the parties. It is not tenable for the Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas, to repeatedly refuse to negotiate with Israel & then expect the UN Security Council to take up his concerns in his place. The US, which signed the Interim Agreement as a witness, should veto the proposed draft resolution on settlements.
The UN, for its part, should take measures to halt the ethnic cleansing of Sunni populations across the Middle East that is occurring today. But that would require standing up to Iran and its allies, which many states sitting in the Security Council are plainly reluctant to do.
Ambassador Dore Gold has served as President of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs since 2000. From June 2015 until October 2016 he served as Director-General of the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Previously he served as Foreign Policy Advisor to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s Ambassador to the UN (1997-1999), and as an advisor to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.
WASHINGTON—Although Israelis were distressed by the tension in their relationship with the outgoing Obama administration, that state of affairs has compelled Jerusalem to forge ties elsewhere that have greatly benefited the Jewish state, according to a leading expert on the Middle East, Russia & international security.
Dr. Ariel Cohen, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council and director of the Center for Energy, Natural Resources and Geopolitics, analyzed Israel’s growing relationship with Russia & other countries in a Dec. 20 conference call sponsored by the Endowment for Middle East Truth & in a subsequent interview with JNS.org.
“With President [Barack] Obama & the Left wing of the Democratic Party turning against Israel, Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu has made a great effort to build better relationships with Russia, India, African countries & others,” Cohen said. “Netanyahu’s recent visits to Azerbaijan & Kazakhstan illustrate Israel’s ability to find allies in unexpected corners of the globe, including some majority-Muslim countries.
“Israel’s growing relationship with Russia is “complicated, but clearly a tremendous improvement over relations between the Jewish state & the old Soviet Union,” Cohen noted.
“One the one hand, Russia has allied itself with enemies of Israel such as Iran & the Syrian regime of [Bashar] Assad & the Russians consistently vote against Israel at the U.N. & other international forums,” he said. But at the same time, Cohen pointed out, “Russia & Israel have significant trade relations, tourism & medical ties, with thousands of Russians going to Israel every year for medical treatment & teams of Israeli doctors visiting Russia to share their expertise & advice.”
“One important practical benefit of Israel’s relationship with Russia”, Cohen told JNS.org, is that “the Russians have refrained from activating their anti-aircraft batteries in Syria when Israel has bombed weapons convoys traveling from Syria to Hezbollah bases in Lebanon. The Russians have not interfered even though the casualties of the Israeli strikes included an Iranian general,” Cohen said.
Russia continues to support the Palestinian cause, “but at nowhere near the levels of backing that were provided by the old Soviet regime,” Cohen said. “In those days, the USSR was the main supporter and funder of Palestinian terrorism, as well as providing diplomatic and political support.”
By contrast, he said Russia today “does not actively support Hamas or other Palestinian terrorist groups,” & most of Russia’s sympathy for the Palestinian cause is expressed through votes at the U.N. “This is a very significant change,” Cohen told JNS.org. “[Russian President Vladimir] Putin is not going out of his way to push Israel toward accepting a Palestinian state. He has much bigger fish to fry in the Middle East.”
While cautioning that the Russians are somewhat unpredictable and changing circumstances could alter Moscow’s strategy, Cohen emphasized that Russia’s main interest in the Middle East is to expand its regional influence. In pursuit of that goal, Putin is not limiting himself to the avenues his Soviet predecessors utilized and is constructing temporary alliances of convenience. Russia’s attitude toward Iran, for example, “is not based on any shared values—the Iranians are Muslims & the Russians are mostly Orthodox Christians—but on their mutual hostility toward the U.S.,” according to Cohen.
Humanitarian considerations are completely irrelevant to Putin in his effort to expand Russian influence in the region. “In Syria, he will not hesitate to fight to the last Syrian,” Cohen said. “Russian foreign policy is deeply cynical.”
It was the Obama administration’s coldness toward Israel & retreat from the region in general that forced Israel to look for ways to fill the vacuum by developing new relationships, Cohen believes. “Israel became just one in a long line of traditional American allies in the Middle East whom the Obama administration distanced itself from, including the [Abdel Fattah El] Sisi regime in Egypt, Saudi Arabia & other Gulf states. So naturally Israel had to look elsewhere for allies, even temporary ones,” he said.
As for U.S. policy under President-elect Donald Trump, Cohen said that in the short run, “the Trump administration will undoubtedly focus on the threat from ISIS (Islamic State) rather than have a confrontation with Russia.” Once Islamic State is defeated, Trump will need to address larger strategic issues in the Middle East, and he is likely to find that Putin “is a really tough customer,” Cohen said.
For Israel, based on Cohen’s assessment, the year ahead will be a period of carefully watching, waiting and being prepared to adapt to new regional circumstances.
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