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September 12, 2019

On tarmac before heading to Russia PM said the goal of trip is to maintain Israeli freedom of action in Syria


Netanyahu: We will have no choice but start military campaign in Gaza

IDF tanks gather near the Gaza border. (photo credit: KOBI RICHTER/TPS)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned on Thursday that Israel may have no choice but to embark on a military operation in Gaza to overthrow Hamas.

“It looks like there will be no other choice but to embark on a wide scale campaign in Gaza,” Netanyahu said in an interview with Kan Reshet Bet Radio shortly before he boarded a flight to Moscow where he is expected to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin.“There probably won’t be a choice but to topple the Hamas regime. Hamas doesn’t exert its sovereignty in the Strip and doesn’t prevent attacks,” he said. “We have a situation in which a terror group that launches rockets has taken over, and doesn’t rein in rogue factions even when it wants to.”

Netanyahu’s comments also came two days after a campaign rally in the southern city of Ashdod was interrupted by incoming rocket sirens after rockets were fired from the Hamas-run Gaza Strip.

The prime minister said he wasn’t fazed by the rocket alert sirens when he was taken to safety by his security guards and that it was “absurd” if he remained on stage.

“I was calm and collected, I spoke quietly to the people in the audience and told them to evacuate,” Netanyahu said. “I wouldn’t stand there like some kind of macho, telling everyone to stand still with me so we can all get hit by a missile. I acted in accordance with the Shin Bet protocol, that’s what you should do in these situations … anyone who tells you otherwise is being irresponsible,”

In the interview, Netanyahu criticized his own ministers who have been calling for the IDF to attack Hamas.

“Stop agitating for an operation in Gaza,” Netanyahu said. “There will be an operation but I will not embark on it a moment before we are ready. I don’t base my policy on tweets.”

Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigor Liberman tweeted in response to Netanyahu’s comments, saying that  “Bibi will go to an operation in Gaza after he annexes the Jordan Valley and Elkana, and he will do all of this only after his next meeting with Boris Yeltsin, of blessed memory.”

Liberman’s tweet referred to Netanyahu calling Britain’s prime minister Boris Yeltsin in Sunday’s cabinet meeting.

On the tarmac before boarding the plane to Moscow Netanyahu said that the goal of his trip to Russia is to maintain Israel freedom of action in Syria.

“This is a very important trip. We are currently operating in several arenas, at 360 degrees, to ensure Israel’s security, in the face of attempts by Iran and its proxies to attack us,” he said.

“This trip aims to continue this important coordination that prevents our collision with the Russian forces,” Netanyahu said, adding that the ultimate goal in Syria is to force Iran out of Syria, a goal that “is far from being achieved.”

Emphasizing the importance of the operations in Syria and highlighting how crucial the coordination with Russia is in this perspective, the prime minister said it “is important for us to continue to maintain the IDF and IAF’s freedom of action against Iranian, Hezbollah and other terrorist targets.”

Speaking to Russian media ahead of his visit, Netanyahu said that through talks between him and Putin “we were able to avert a near-unavoidable crash between the Russian Air Force and our own forces during an operation in Syria.”

When asked about the relationship between Tehran and Moscow, he claimed “I don’t think Russia and Iran are getting closer, quite the opposite in fact, I see many situations in which [Russians] and Iranians have different interests.”

On Wednesday, Moscow condemned Netanyahu’s intention to annex the Jordan Valley if he wins next week’s election, warning that this could lead to an “escalation” in the region.

The Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying that Moscow believes implementation of the plan “could lead to a sharp escalation of tension in the region and undermine hopes for the establishment of a long-awaited peace between Israel and the Arab neighbors.”

Trump Says He Has Fired John Bolton as National Security Advisor

September 10, 2019

JOSHUA CAPLAN10 Sep 20196,1722:45

President Donald Trump announced Tuesday that he has terminated National Security Advisor John Bolton from his position, citing strong disagreement on “many of his suggestions” regarding foreign policy.

Alex Wong/Getty Images

“I informed John Bolton last night that his services are no longer needed at the White House. I disagreed strongly with many of his suggestions, as did others in the Administration, and therefore I asked John for his resignation, which was given to me this morning. I thank John very much for his service,” the president wrote in a pair of tweets.

President Trump revealed he will name Bolton’s successor “next week.”

Shortly after President Trump’s announcement, Bolton tweeted that he offered his resignation Monday evening, to which the outgoing White House official said the president replied: “Let’s talk about it tomorrow.”

Charles Kupperman, who serves as Deputy National Security Advisor, will take over as Bolton’s acting replacement, Bloomberg News reports, citing an unnamed White House official.

Libertarian-leaning Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) praised President Trump following the news of Bolton’s ouster, tweeting: “I commend @realDonaldTrump for this necessary action. The President has great instincts on foreign policy and ending our endless wars. He should be served by those who share those views.”

The president’s announcement came roughly two hours prior to a White House press briefing slated to feature Bolton, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

News of Bolton’s departure follows reports that he and Vice President Mike Pence opposed plans for the president to hold peace talks at Camp David with the Taliban regarding the U.S. withdrawing troops from Afghanistan. The president has denied there were disagreements between himself and others in the White House.

Bolton’s championed hawkish foreign policy views dating back to the Reagan administration and became a household name over his vociferous support for the Iraq War as the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. under George W. Bush.

Since joining the administration in the spring of last year, Bolton has espoused skepticism about the president’s whirlwind rapprochement with North Korea and has advocated against President Trump’s decision last year to pull U.S. troops out of Syria. He masterminded a quiet campaign inside the administration and with allies abroad to persuade President Trump to keep U.S. forces in Syria to counter the remnants of the Islamic State and Iranian influence in the region.

Bolton was appointed President Trump’s third national security advisor in April 2018. He succeeded Army Gen. H.R. McMaster.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

How Despots Interpret Deals with the West

September 6, 2019

by Bassam Tawil
September 6, 2019 at 5:00 am

  • The European Union wants the world to welcome Iran back into the international community because as far as the Europeans are concerned, it appears that the stronger Iran is, the better: a renewed Iran would further Europe’s hope of seeing Israel and the Jews wiped off the face of the earth. Heard just a few months ago were calls such as, “send Jews to the ovens,” “Hitler didn’t finish the job,” and “kill the Jews.”
  • The Trump administration has created the impression in the Arab and Muslim world that it is ready to beg the leaders of Iran to engage in direct negotiations with Washington. This approach is exceptionally harmful to US interests: it sends a message to many Arabs and Muslims that Americans are prepared to surrender again and humiliate themselves for the sake of any kind of deal with the Iranians. As Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said last month, America should “bow down” to Iran. Seems it is.
  • Advice to the Trump administration is: Stay strong. As Osama bin Laden correctly observed, “When people see a strong horse and a weak horse, by nature, they will like the strong horse.”
  • Strength and more strength is the only way to earn the respect of those running the show in Beijing, Kabul, Moscow, Pyongyang, and especially in Tehran, Gaza and Beirut.
US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper was quoted as saying on August 28 that the US is “not seeking conflict with Iran.” During the Pentagon press briefing, Esper repeated Trump’s calls for diplomatic efforts with Iran. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

The European Union says it will support talks between the US and Iran, but only if the current nuclear deal with Tehran is preserved.

The idea of direct talks between the US and Iran seems to have developed after President Donald Trump recently said he was ready to meet Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani.

“We are always in favor of talks, the more people talk, the more people understand each other better, on the basis of clarity and on the basis of respect,” EU diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini said last month.

The EU wants the world to welcome Iran back into the international community because — this might sound harsh, but it is increasingly hard not to believe it — they are hoping that the leaders of Tehran will focus their efforts on achieving their goal of annihilating Israel. As far as the Europeans are concerned, it appears that the stronger Iran is, the better: a renewed Iran would further Europe’s hope of seeing Israel and the Jews wiped off the face of the earth. Heard just a few months ago were calls such as, “send Jews to the ovens,” “Hitler didn’t finish the job,” and “kill the Jews.”

US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper was quoted as saying on August 28 that the US is “not seeking conflict with Iran.” During the Pentagon press briefing, Esper repeated Trump’s calls for diplomatic efforts with Iran. “You saw over the weekend some reporting. The president once again said that he’s more than willing to meet with Iran’s leaders to resolve this… diplomatically.”

The Trump administration’s gestures towards Iran, however, do not appear to have impressed the leaders of the Islamic Republic. In fact, Arabs and Muslims have a habit of misinterpreting gestures from Westerners as a sign of weakness and retreat. In addition, such gestures have historically whetted the appetite of Arabs and Muslims, leading to demands for yet more concessions.

The Trump administration has created the impression in the Arab and Muslim world that it is ready to beg the leaders of Iran to engage in direct negotiations with Washington. This approach is exceptionally harmful to US interests: it sends a message to many Arabs and Muslims that Americans are prepared to surrender again and humiliate themselves for the sake of any kind of deal with the Iranians. As Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said last month, America should “bow down” to Iran. Seems it is.

In the eyes of many Arabs and Muslims, the US now appears to be courting the Iranian regime despite Tehran’s increased support for terrorism, particularly in the Middle East. These Arabs and Muslims are even convinced that it is only a matter of time before the Trump administration comes knocking on Iran’s door, begging for a meeting between Trump and Rouhani.

The Iranians are already making it appear as if they are the ones who need to consider whether or not to meet with the Trump administration. This policy is designed to send the following message to Arabs and Muslims: “See how these pathetic Westerners have come to us, begging? See how they have zero self-respect?”

Echoing this approach, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said last month:

“It won’t be possible for us to engage with US unless they stop imposing a war, engaging in economic terrorism… If they want to come back to the [negotiating] room, there is a ticket, and that ticket is to observe the agreement.”

Zarif was referring to the 2015 nuclear deal, also known as the JCPOA, but never signed by Iran and never submitted to the US Senate to make it a binding treaty.

Zarif is saying, in other words, that Iran has its own pre-conditions for talking with the Trump administration. Statements like these are aimed at making Iran appear to Arabs and Muslims as a country that can afford openly to challenge — and even degrade — the US.

For now, the Iranians appear as if they have the upper hand and final say in the crisis with the US. This bearing further emboldens Tehran’s leaders and proxies throughout the Middle East, especially Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas and Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip and the Houthi Shia militias in Yemen.

The Trump administration, rather than avoiding the telephone calls of Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, would do well to learn from Israel’s experience when it comes to offering gestures and making territorial and political concessions: that striking deals with Arab and Islamic regimes and organizations, such as Iran and the Palestinian Authority — as well as the Taliban, China, North Korea and Russia, which all seem to think that honoring agreements is for other people — tends to come with a heavy price.

In 1993, Israel signed the Oslo Accord with the PLO — a move that allowed then PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat and thousands of his “fighters” to move from Tunis to the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The Israelis were hoping back then that the Oslo Accords would lead to real peace and coexistence, with the Palestinians living under PLO rule. The Oslo Accords, nonetheless, have since proven to be a disaster for both Israelis and Palestinians. Why? As it later transpired, Arafat and the PLO never had any intention of implementing the agreements. Arafat, in fact, spoke of the Oslo Accord as a modern version of Mohammad’s Treaty of Hudaibiyyah, in which the prophet had promised not to attack a Jewish tribe for ten years, but instead came back in two years and wiped it out.

PLO official Faisal Husseini on two separate occasions in 2001 described Oslo as a “Trojan Horse” – presumably first to open Israel to Palestinian demands and then to destroy it.

In 2006, Palestinian journalist Abdel Al-Bari Atwan revealed in a television interview that Arafat had told him that he was planning to turn the Oslo Accords into a curse for Israel.

“When the Oslo Accords were signed, I went to visit [Arafat] in Tunis. It was around July, before he went to Gaza. I said to him: We disagree. I do not support this agreement. It will harm us, the Palestinians, distort our image, and uproot us from our Arab origins. This agreement will not get us what we want, because these Israelis are deceitful.

“He [Arafat] took me outside and told me: By Allah, I will drive them [the Jews] crazy. By Allah, I will turn this agreement into a curse for them. By Allah, perhaps not in my lifetime, but you will live to see the Israelis flee from Palestine. Have a little patience. I entrust this with you. Don’t mention this to anyone.”

When Arafat and the PLO realized at the 2000 Camp David summit that their plan had been uncovered, they launched a massive wave of terrorism, called “the Second Intifada,” against Israel. At that meeting, Arafat received the most generous offer to date from Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak — but the Palestinian leader still said “no.”

Barak’s proposal, according to various sources, included the establishment of a demilitarized Palestinian state on approximately 92% of the West Bank and 100% of the Gaza Strip, with some territorial compensation for the Palestinians from land inside Israel; the dismantling of most of the settlements; and the establishment of the future Palestinian capital in large parts of east Jerusalem. (An offer in 2008 from then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, even more far-reaching, was rejected by the Palestinians without even a counter-offer.)

Israel had believed what the PLO and Yasser Arafat said, and ended up facing an unprecedented campaign of suicide bombings and different forms of terrorism that have claimed the lives of thousands of Israelis in the past 27 years.

In 2005, Israel again paid a heavy price for a move that was supposed to promote peace and stability in the Middle East: the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. Then, Israel withdrew to the 1949 armistice line bordering the Gaza Strip after evacuating more than 8,000 Jews from their homes in the Gaza Strip settlements. Israel’s gesture, however, was misinterpreted by many Palestinians as a sign of weakness and retreat. The way most Palestinians saw it was: “Wow, we have killed 1,000 Jews in four and a half years — and now the Jews run! What we need to do is step up our terrorism: today they are evacuating the Gaza Strip, tomorrow they will evacuate the cities of Ashkelon, then Ashdod, then Tel Aviv … and from there to the sea.”

So, the Palestinians continued to fire rockets from the Gaza Strip at Israel even after the Israeli pullout. They had evidently concluded that spilling more Jewish blood would force the Jews to make even greater concessions and lead eventually lead to the elimination of Israel.

Similarly, Israel has repeatedly paid a heavy price for other gestures, such as releasing convicted terrorists from prison or removing checkpoints. Virtually each time, the Palestinian response was mounting more terrorism and killing more Jews. Many Palestinians who were released by Israel in the past few decades have returned to terrorist activity. They clearly saw their release from prison as a sign of weakness, and not as a gesture of goodwill on the part of Israel. Their conclusion was: to get Israel to release more prisoners, kill more Jews.

Most of all, the Trump administration would be wise to learn from Israel’s bitter experience in dealing with Iran’s Palestinian proxies: Hamas and Islamic Jihad. How many ceasefire agreements has Israel reached with the Gaza-based terrorist groups in the past 15 years? Probably at least ten. What has happened since then? Most of the agreements were violated by Hamas and Islamic Jihad, sometimes within hours, days or weeks.

Israel has learned the hard way that agreements with terrorists and dictators (such as Yasser Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas) are not worth the paper they are written on — and usually simply serve to invite further violence.

The Trump administration, in its overtures towards the Iranian regime — and China, North Korea, Russia and the Taliban — could well be facing the same scenario. Advice to the Trump administration is: Stay strong. As Osama bin Laden correctly observed, “When people see a strong horse and a weak horse, by nature, they will like the strong horse.”

Strength and more strength is the only way to earn the respect of those running the show in Beijing, Kabul, Moscow, Pyongyang, and especially Tehran, Gaza and Beirut.

Bassam Tawil is a Muslim Arab based in the Middle East.

Israeli Hi-Tech Jobs Reach 8.7% of Entire Workforce

August 28, 2019

By David Israel – 27 Av 5779 – August 28, 20190Share on FacebookTweet on Twitter

Photo Credit: Raphael Perez Israeli Artist via Flickr

Tel Aviv Skyline Tel-Aviv Beach

Israel has experienced a steep rise in employment of close to 19,000 salaried employees during 2018 in the hi-tech sector, despite a decline of 3,000 employees in the pharmaceutical sector following the crisis at pharmaceutical company Teva. The software sector is responsible for a significant part of this increase – some 14,000 employees joined this field at startups, larger companies, and R&D centers.

Growth hi tech employees 2017-2019

Employment in the hi-tech sector is characterized by high productivity and high wages, making it critical for Israel to increase the percentage of those employed in the hi-tech sector out of the total number of employees throughout the economy.

The growth in hi-tech employment reflects the sector’s growing demand for employees in recent years and has been facilitated by a variety of government initiatives to increase the number of highly skilled workers in the field. This includes efforts by the Council for Higher Education to increase the number of students in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) studies, and initiatives by the Israel Innovation Authority to diversify the paths of entry into the hi-tech industry, including: Coding Boot Camp, which promotes advanced training in software and data science in non-academic settings; and entrepreneurship tracks in the Arab sector, the ultra-Orthodox, and women.

Israeli Minister of Economy and Industry Eli Cohen said: “Increasing the number of employees in the hi-tech market is an important accomplishment, considering the industry’s contribution to Israel’s economy and exports. This is even more significant given that the rise in the number of hi-tech employees comes after years when there was no growth in the number of new workers in this sector.”

CEO of the Israel Innovation Authority, Aharon Aharon said: “The rate of workers employed in the hi-tech sector has stood at 8% for about a decade, and for the first time we’ve seen a real positive trend in this figure.”

We are here we stay here !

August 28, 2019

Hard times are coming up but we will prevail !

Hava Nagila – Jednego Serca Jednego Ducha 2010

Palestine – The Invention of a Nation

August 27, 2019

Even Some of Israel’s Greatest Supporters Don’t Get the Middle East Conflict

August 27, 2019

The president should be wary of a one-sided peace deal.

Getty Images

David Isaac – AUGUST 26, 2019 10:45 AM

Never has a U.S. administration been so favorable to Israel. And Israeli Jews are full of gratitude—anything good earns a Trump comparison: “It’s No. 1, like Trump,” an Israeli grocer told me the other day, pointing to an especially well-regarded mango.

Yet the Trump administration, like those before it, either doesn’t grasp, or won’t face, the truth about the Arab-Israeli conflict. Today, perhaps, the individual most voluble in telling the truth about the conflict is Prof. Mordechai Kedar, a lecturer on Arabic and Middle East studies at Bar-Ilan University.

His message is straightforward: Islam cannot accept a Jewish state in the Middle East, “not even a tiny one on the Tel Aviv coast.” It’s a theological threat. Jews and Christians do have a protected status under Muslim rule “by becoming subservient to Islam in what is known as dhimmi status, which means they are legally deprived of many rights including the right to own land and bear arms,” he writes.

Although this has been said many times, many ways, over the years, it fails to find an ear in America’s halls of power, partly because it’s foreign to modern Western ideas, partly because of well-oiled Arab propaganda and partly because it’s resisted by the conflict resolution industry (intractable religious problems leave it no part to play). And, partly, because Israel can’t face it either.

The iconoclastic Trump administration held out the greatest hope of seeing the conflict for what it was.  Instead, only a few days after his election, Trump called Mideast peace the “ultimate deal” in a Wall Street Journal interview. (Apparently, Trump never said “deal of the century.” That came later, a likely mistranslation of comments made by Egyptian president Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi during a meeting with Trump.)

The president put his son-in-law Jared Kushner in charge of the Mideast peace team, which began working in earnest in November 2017. The economic part of the deal, unveiled in Bahrain in June, shows that Trump is serious. The plan is highly detailed—two pamphlets of 40 and 96 pages each—offering a $50 billion investment fund for 179 business and infrastructure projects.

Kushner later held a conference call with Arab media, in which he said, “I have a lot of respect for President Abbas, he’s devoted his life to making peace, he’s suffered some setbacks along the way. I believe in his heart he wants to make peace, and that we can give him an opportunity to try to achieve that.”

To say that the Palestinian Authority’s Mahmoud Abbas has been working for peace is a stunning upending of reality. It was only two months earlier, in April, that Abbas admitted the Palestinian Authority was behind all the terrorism coming out of its midst.

“Israel needs to understand this. It is impossible to send a soldier to war and then not take care of his family. We are talking about someone who acts on our behalf and receives orders from us,” Abbas said, explaining why the PA must pay terrorists and their families.

These are terrorists who stab civilians and run teenagers down with cars. The terrorists who threw an explosive, killing a 17-year-old Jewish girl on Friday and badly injuring her father and brother, will be well remunerated. When faced with Israel’s withholding of a portion of its taxes as a result of its terror payments, the PA reacted by increasing such payments in the first five months of 2019. At the same time, it cut payments to civil servants. The PA had to cut somewhere, but funding terror comes first.

Yet, we are to believe that Abbas is a man who’s “devoted his life to making peace.”

Magnifying the problem is Trump’s apparent faith in his own personal diplomacy. It manifests itself in his dealings with North Korea’s Kim Jong-un. Trump probably hoped to work his charms on Putin, as well, and he’s certainly trying with Abbas, of whom, according to Kushner, he is “very fond.”

As Clifford May wrote in the Washington Times in March, “The comforting notion that skilled diplomats bearing gifts and not baring their teeth can seduce and reform those who threaten us may be the most important thing we know that simply isn’t so.”

The Trump administration has even less excuse than prior administrations for its Mideast peace pursuits as it has the benefit of their experience. Peace efforts by Presidents Clinton, Bush I and II, and Obama all ended in failure. The Trump team can also look on the fate of several generous Israeli offers, which ended in disaster, including under Prime Ministers Ehud Barak (92 percent of West Bank) and Ehud Olmert (93 percent of West Bank).

The Trump administration argues that the United States should at least try to make peace. “We’ll see what happens,” Trump said of the process. “We’re doing our best to help the Middle East.”

The trouble is that in this case helping hurts. The deal’s political aspects haven’t been revealed, but Israel is rightly nervous. With the plan expected to be dropped shortly after Israel’s elections, the Netanyahu government released its “red lines” last week—no more uprooted settlements and an undivided Jerusalem among them.

In July, Israeli media reported that the Trump plan calls for a land corridor linking the Gaza Strip with the Palestinian Authority. It would be better called a terror corridor. Israel’s internal security services revealed recently that Hamas, more or less confined to the Gaza Strip, is pushing to create terror cells in the West Bank. An unrestricted land corridor, effectively cutting Israel in two, would make the job that much easier.

If Israel is nervous, Jordan is even more so. King Abdullah fears that the peace deal will make changes to Jordan’s status on the Temple Mount. Its control of the Muslim holy sites there is what gives the kingdom its religious legitimacy. Abdullah also fears the deal will propose some sort of confederation between the kingdom and the West Bank, which would undermine Hashemite rule and turn Jordan into a “de facto” Palestinian state.

In fact, when it comes to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, the only thing worse than trying for an agreement is succeeding in making one. The Oslo Accords were a catastrophe for Israel. Land was handed over to a terrorist entity that proceeded to kill nearly 2,000 Jews in attacks the likes of which Israel had never seen. The Oslo process eventually led to Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, which has exposed the country’s south to incessant rocket attack and the torching of thousands of acres of fields. With one such “peace agreement,” can Israel survive two?

Trump could end this madness with a tweet. He isn’t overly invested.

Confronted with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s remarks that a deal may be “unexecutable,” Trump responded quite simply that he “may be right.” Just last week, on August 18, Trump said, “It is tough to make a deal when there is that much hate.”

Such comments could swiftly lead to the exits. “Hey folks, we got it wrong. One side isn’t interested in peace.” It would mean an end to the painful tradition of one administration after another jousting at the same peace windmills.

Lies can sow enormous suffering. But they’re also like balloons. Sometimes it just takes a pinprick.