Archive for the ‘Trump and Palestinians’ category

Abbas’ ultimatum to Trump: Choose between a Palestinian Jerusalem or war

January 17, 2018

Abbas’ ultimatum to Trump: Choose between a Palestinian Jerusalem or war, DEBKAfile, January 17, 2018

(Please see also, Did Abbas just give his valedictory speech, blaming everyone for his failures? — DM)

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) speaks during a meeting with members of the Central Committee in the West Bank city of Ramallah on January 14, 2018. Photo by Flash90

The Palestinian leader finds himself tied down by two handicaps: shortage of funds for buying supporters and his advanced age. At 82, he may choose a fourth option, to retire voluntarily and make way for a younger leader.

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Palestinian Mahmoud Abbas kicked back hard after grasping he was confronted with an orderly, Arab-backed US peace plan that left his strategy in ruins.

Abbas now sees he is cornered by his nemesis: Trump’s move to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, was not just a one-off whim, but a component of the “deal of the century,” which the US president and his advisers had crafted for months together with Egyptian President Abdel-Fatteh El-Sisi, Saudi Crown Prince Muhammed bin Salman and the UAE ruler Sheikh Muhammed Bin Ziyad.

The Palestinian leader’s first predicament was how to explain to the Palestinian and Arab public what happened to his master strategy of the past 25 years, for using world opinion to force a pro-Palestinian peace solution down Israel’s throat. Not too long ago, Abbas boasted he was about to pull it off. Now it is crashing before his eyes. It is not enough for him to yell that the “deal of the century” is the “slap of the century.”

Here and there, he may find international pro-Palestinian stalwarts, but the doors are slamming shut as funds for UN bodies and NGOs dry up. Even the Europeans, who dislike Trump and sympathize with the Palestinians, are beginning to think twice about sticking to a blunt line against the US and Israel. They are reluctant to buck the two allies’ partners, the oil-rich Saudi and Emirate rulers, a luxury they can ill afford in these times of profound economic decline.

Much of the criticism of the US-Arab peace plan is prompted by a misapprehension. The plan is based strongly on a two-state solution that offers the Palestinians their own state and negates binational Israeli-Palestinian statehood. But the contours are different from any former peace proposal. Gone for good are the pre-1967 war lines which were Abbas’ sine qua non. According to the fragments leaked about the new proposal, which is still on the work bench, this Palestinian state would rise on territory currently governed by the Palestinian Authority in Judea and Samaria. Its backbone would be formed by the chain of Palestinian towns running from Nablus in the north through Ramallah and Bethlehem and up to Hebron in the south. They would link up with the Gaza Strip and acquire parts of northern Sinai, presumably Egyptian Rafah and El Arish.

According to this plan, the governmental and population of the new Palestinian state would be oriented mainly in the south, so that Jerusalem would not be relevant as its capital. It would still have Ramallah and possibly Abu Dis, outside Jerusalem, where government and parliamentary compounds were installed long ago, after one of several stillborn peace initiatives.

This plan for Palestinian statehood bears little resemblance to the goal of the 50-year old Palestinian struggle. The Palestinian national movement has consistently aspired to a state that would swallow Israel and extinguish the Zionist vision. However, the contemporary Palestinian state as envisaged in the new plan would be dependent for its strength and survival on Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, all of which maintain good security and economic ties with Israel.

For Mahmoud Abbas this prospect is anathema. He is so beside himself that on Sunday, he cursed the house of US President Donald Trump before the PLO central committee. But, then on Monday, Jan. 16, Trump whipped out his ultimate weapon and slashed aid to the UN Works and Relief Agency for Palestinian refugees, from $165m to $60m.

For many years, UNWRA has been a powerful political sponsor of any Palestinian group willing to join the “struggle” against Israel. Its personnel were flush with the funds paid in as dues by UN members, unlike the often cash-strapped Palestinian Authority in Ramallah. Trump therefore decided that the key to getting the US-Arab peace plan on its feet would be to cut off the flow of cash to its opponents. It is a little-known fact that he was joined in this endeavor by the Saudis, the Emiratis and even Qatar, all of whom started some weeks ago to staunch aid funds to the Palestinian Authority. The Palestinian Authority and its chairman Mahmoud Abbas therefore find they are being squeezed into an US-Arab blockade, which leaves Abbas with three options:

  1. To realize his back is to the wall and he has no option other than to accept the “deal of the century.”
  2. Face being ousted by the rest of the Palestinian leadership and replaced with a successor who is amenable to reaching an understanding with the Trump administration, Cairo, Riyadh and Abu Dhabi.
  3. Regress to Yasser Arafat’s doctrine of armed struggle – not just against Israel this time but against US targets as well. Abbas indicated that was on the warpath when he challenged President Trump in a ferocious speech he delivered in Cairo Wednesday, Jan 17. He shouted, “Jerusalem would be a gate for peace only when it was the capital of Palestine. But it is also a gate for war, insecurity and instability, if not. Trump must choose.”

His barefaced ultimatum to the US president was accompanied by a rumor his cronies began to circulate, charging that the Trump administration was plotting to forcibly depose Abbas as PA chairman. The Palestinian leader finds himself tied down by two handicaps: shortage of funds for buying supporters and his advanced age. At 82, he may choose a fourth option, to retire voluntarily and make way for a younger leader.

Trump Threatens to Deal Another Blow to the Palestinian Cause

January 11, 2018

Trump Threatens to Deal Another Blow to the Palestinian Cause, Town HallVictor Davis Hanson, January 10, 2018

Trump may be rash and unfamiliar with the stagnant Middle East peace process, but his political instincts are probably correct. Polls show that less than 20 percent of Americans support the Palestinian cause. Many U.S. citizens are tired of subsidizing those who claim that they do not like their benefactors in the United States.

It finally may be time for the Palestinian factions to fund their own causes and go their own ways.

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President Trump set off another Twitter firestorm last week when he hinted that he may be considering cutting off hundreds of millions of dollars in annual U.S. aid to the Palestinians. Trump was angered over Palestinian unwillingness to engage in peace talks with Israel after the Trump administration announced the move of the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

Given that the U.S. channels its Palestinian aid through third-party United Nations organizations, it’s unclear how much money Trump is talking about it. But in total it may exceed $700 million per year, according to reports.

A decade ago, the U.S. row with the Palestinian Authority would have been major news. But not now.

Why?

The entire Middle East has radically changed — and along with it the role and image of the Palestinians.

First, the U.S. is now one of the largest producers of fossil-fuel energy in the world. America is immune from the sort of Arab oil embargo that in 1973-74 paralyzed the U.S. economy as punishment for American support of Israel. Even Israel, thanks to new offshore oil and natural gas discoveries, is self-sufficient in energy and immune from Arab cutoffs.

Second, the Middle East is split into all sorts of factions. Iran seeks to spread radical Shiite theocracy throughout Iraq and Syria and into the Persian Gulf states — and is the greatest supporter of Palestinian armed resistance. The so-called “moderate” Sunni autocracies despise Iran. Understandably, most Arab countries fear the specter of a nuclear Iran far more than they do the reality of a democratic and nuclear Israel.

A third player — radical Islamic terrorism — has turned against the Arab status quo as well as the West. Because Palestinian organizations such as Hamas had flirted with Iran and its appendages (such as the terrorists of Hezbollah), they have become less useful to the Arab establishment. The terrorist bloodlettings perpetrated by groups such as the Islamic State and al-Qaida have discredited terror as a legitimate means to an end in the eyes of the Arab world, despite previous support for Palestinian terrorists.

Third, the world itself may have passed the Palestinian issue by.

Israel was founded in 1948. Palestinian rhetoric that they would push the Jews into the sea is by now stale. There have been seven decades of failed intifadas and suicide bombing campaigns, along with full-scale Arab-Israeli wars.

Equally futile were endless “peace processes,” “peace initiatives,” “road maps” and “multiparty talks,” plus Middle East “conferences,” “summits” and “memoranda” all over the world, from Madrid and Oslo to Camp David.

In the meantime, most other “refugees” the world over have long ago moved on. Around the time Israel was created, some 13 million German speakers were ethnically cleansed from East Prussia and Eastern Europe. The word “Prussia” no longer exists as a geographical or national label. Seven decades later, the grandchildren of refugees do not replay World War II. “Prussians” do not talk about reclaiming their ancestral homelands in present-day Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic. German-speaking youth do not demand a “right of return” to their grandparents’ homes to the east.

Fourth, the Palestinians have never been able to craft a successful, transparent, consensual government. After 30 years of waiting, the world has mostly given up on their rhetoric of self-government and reform on the West Bank.

Since the Palestinian proclamation of independence in 1988, there have been only two “presidents”: Yasser Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas. Neither has allowed open and transparent elections. A Palestinian president gets power by seizing it. He loses it only by dying in office. Over the same period, Israel has elected seven different prime ministers from a variety of political parties.

The Palestinian political party Fatah is engaged in a deadly rivalry with the terrorist-inspired Hamas organization that has run Gaza for over a decade. The beef is not over democracy, but over which faction will bury the other.

The Palestinians’ inability to rule the West Bank in constitutional fashion is why hundreds of thousands of expatriate Palestinians voice their solidarity from a safe distance while living in North America or Europe. More than a million Palestinians prefer to stay put in Israel. They are convinced that they will have more security, freedom and prosperity in a democratic state than under dictatorial Palestinian rule a few miles away.

Trump may be rash and unfamiliar with the stagnant Middle East peace process, but his political instincts are probably correct. Polls show that less than 20 percent of Americans support the Palestinian cause. Many U.S. citizens are tired of subsidizing those who claim that they do not like their benefactors in the United States.It finally may be time for the Palestinian factions to fund their own causes and go their own ways.

Raymond Ibrahim: Trump Scraps Cherished “Israel Grievance” Myth

December 28, 2017

Raymond Ibrahim: Trump Scraps Cherished “Israel Grievance” Myth, Jihad Watch

Yet, as with Trump’s return of words such as “jihadi” to formal discourse, one doubts that the Establishment will follow suit, as the polarization of America continues unabated.

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President Trump’s new National Security strategy is not only notable for what it brings back to the paradigm — words such as “jihadi” and “sharia” — but in what it gets rid of, namely, the long held, much entrenched notion that Israel is the root source of all the turmoil plaguing the Middle East. According to the new strategy document,

For generations the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians has been understood as the prime irritant preventing peace and prosperity in the region. Today, the threats from jihadist terrorist organizations and the threat from Iran are creating the realization that Israel is not the cause of the region’s problems. States have increasingly found common interests with Israel in confronting common threats.

That this is true cannot be overstated. For decades, the official establishment position championed by politicians, academics, and journalists of all stripes seeking to apologize for all the anger, violence, and jihad terror plaguing the region was the creation of Israel. Because the Jewish state is stronger than its Muslim neighbors, the latter were always presented as frustrated “underdogs” doing whatever they could to achieve “justice.” No matter how many rockets were shot into Tel Aviv by Hamas and Hezbollah, and no matter how anti-Israeli bloodlust was articulated in distinctly jihadi terms, that was always presented as ironclad proof that Palestinians under Israel are so oppressed that Muslims have no choice but to resort to terrorism.

Yet, as with all false narratives, the survival of this one relied on concealing the bigger, more complete picture, as captured by the following question: If Muslims get a free pass when their violence is directed against those stronger than them, how does one rationalize away their violence when it is directed against those weaker than them — for example, millions of indigenous Christians living in the Muslim world? According to reliable statistics published annually, some 40 of the 50 worst nations in which to be Christian are Muslim majority. Of the absolute worst 21 nations — 18 of which are Muslim — “100 percent of Christians experience persecution.”

The rationalizations used to minimize Muslim violence against Israel simply cannot work here, for now Muslims are the majority — and they are the ones violent and oppressive to their minorities, in ways that make Israeli treatment of Palestinians seem enviable. In other words, Christian persecution is perhaps the most obvious example of a phenomenon the mainstream media wants to ignore out of existence — Islamic supremacism, the true source of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Vastly outnumbered and politically marginalized Christians in the Islamic world simply wish to worship in peace, and yet they are still hounded and attacked; their churches are burned and destroyed; their women and children are kidnapped, raped, and enslaved. These Christians are often identical to their Muslim co-citizens in race, ethnicity, national identity, culture, and language; there is generally no political or property dispute on which the violence can be blamed. The only problem is that they are Christian — they are non-Muslims — the same category Israelis fall under.

From here one also understands why what has been described by some authorities as a “genocide” of Christians at the hands of Muslims in Iraq, Syria, Nigeria, Somalia, Pakistan, and Egypt — Muslims who couldn’t care less about Israel and Palestinians — is one of the most dramatic but also least known stories of our times. The media simply cannot portray Muslim persecution of Christians — which in essence and form amounts to unprovoked pogroms — as a “land dispute” or a product of “grievance” (if anything, it is the ostracized and persecuted indigenous Christian minorities who should have grievances). And because the media cannot articulate such Islamic attacks on Christians through the “grievance” paradigm that works so well in explaining the Arab-Israeli conflict, their main recourse is not to report on them at all.

Such is the way for all apologists of Islam: to ignore or whitewash Muslim aggression — and then, in that vacuum, distort and present non-Muslim responses as the origins of the conflict. This is especially prevalent in the portrayal of history. Thus Georgetown University’s John Esposito claims that “Five centuries of peaceful coexistence [between Islam and Europe] elapsed before political events and an imperial-papal power play led to [a] centuries-long series of so-called holy wars [the Crusades] that pitted Europe against Islam and left an enduring legacy of misunderstanding and distrust.” In reality, these “five centuries of peaceful coexistence” saw Muslims terrorize and conquer more than three-fourths of Christendom, but this inconvenient fact is seldom mentioned, for knowledge of it ruins the “Muslim-grievance” narrative, just as knowledge of modern-day Muslim persecution of Christians ruins it.

Either way, it is refreshing to see that the sun is breaking through the darkness of deceit that has for too long clouded Middle Eastern realities, including by presenting victims as aggressors and aggressors as victims. Yet, as with Trump’s return of words such as “jihadi” to formal discourse, one doubts that the Establishment will follow suit, as the polarization of America continues unabated.

Trump administration to snap ties with Palestinians, no peace plan, no more monetary aid

December 23, 2017

Trump administration to snap ties with Palestinians, no peace plan, no more monetary aid, DEBKAfile, December 23, 2017

According DEBKAfile’s sources, Palestinian officials in Ramallah were devastated by news of the sudden cutoff of the main sources of the PA’s revenue. Even the Qatar ruler, whom Abbas visited last week as a last resort to save the PA from economic meltdown, refused to release any more funding.

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The White House has decided to quietly withdraw from all its ties with the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority and Mahmoud Abbas.

DEBKAfile’s exclusive sources report that the Trump administration has resolved to scrap all ties with the Palestinian leadership in retaliation for its campaign against US President Donald Trump and his Jerusalem policy. Several warnings to Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) of what was in store if he did not desist from castigating the US president fell on death ears.

Last week, two Arab crown princes, Saudi Muhammed bin Salman and UAE Sheikh Muhammed bin Zayed, summoned Abbas to their capitals and urged him strongly to back away from his attacks on President Trump. He got the same advice from the ruler of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim Al Thani, who conferred with Washington on the subject – all to no avail. The Trump administration has therefore set out an eight-point program of sanctions, which is first revealed here:

  • The Israeli-Palestinian peace plan under preparation in Washington will not be submitted to Ramallah – only to Israel and the relevant Arab governments.
  • US-Palestinian interaction is to be suspended – not just at the senior levels but in day-to-day interchanges. The administration has notified Palestinian and other Arab parties to stop addressing queries on political and economic matters to the US consulate in Jerusalem, because they will not receive answers.
  • The status of the PLO office in Washington will be reevaluated with a view to shutting it down.
  • Palestinian officials will no longer be invited to Washington by the US government, including the State Department and Department of Treasury.
  • Above all, they will not be welcome at the White House or the National Security Council where US Middle East policy is designed. Senior US officials congratulated the senior Palestinian negotiator Saab Erekat, who also holds the PA’s American portfolio, on his recovery from illness, at the same time warning him that he would no longer be received at the White House.
  • The Trump administration will not make any public announcement of the cutoff of financial aid to the Palestinians. Since the funds are mostly earmarked for specific economic projects, each allocation will simply be held back on the pretext of the need for a “reappraisal.”
  • The US will halt its contributions to the UN Work and Relief Organization, an estimated one billion dollars per annum.
  • The US administration moreover intervened with the governments of Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi and Qatar with a request that they freeze or slow their economic aid to the Palestinian Authority.

According DEBKAfile’s sources, Palestinian officials in Ramallah were devastated by news of the sudden cutoff of the main sources of the PA’s revenue. Even the Qatar ruler, whom Abbas visited last week as a last resort to save the PA from economic meltdown, refused to release any more funding.

Obtaining Peace by Pressuring the PLO, Not Israel

December 7, 2017

Obtaining Peace by Pressuring the PLO, Not Israel, The Point (FrontPage Magazine, Daniel Greenfield, December 7, 217

Let’s peel back the blatant double standard behind the media’s Jerusalem outrage. And the claims that this will somehow destroy any possibility for peace.

Whenever the problem of peace is discussed, the prescription is always pressuring Israel, not the PLO.

Jerusalem was one of the pressure points. 

Trump’s move applied pressure to the PLO’s Palestinian Authority in exactly the way that the left had wanted pressure to be applied to Israel. He did to the PLO, what Obama had been doing to Israel by covertly backing the PA’s statehood moves.

The double standard is that pressuring Israel in this way is deemed a very good thing because the Jews are somehow the obstacles to peace. While pressuring the PLO is a terrible thing because that will destroy the cause of peace.

Why is pressuring Israel a good thing and pressuring Islamic terrorists a bad thing?

That’s the bias that needs addressing.

It’s the PLO that has rejected every peace proposal. Despite the attacks on Prime Minister Netanyahu, it was Arafat and Abbas who made the decision to walk away from peace negotiations.

If anyone needs to be pressured to come to the table, it’s the PLO. And that is what President Trump did.

Trump to announce recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital

December 6, 2017

Trump to announce recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital | Anne’s Opinions, 6th December 2017

After holding our collective breath over the last couple of days, it emerged – without much fanfare from the American side – that Donald Trump has not quite refused to sign the waiver permitting the US to retain its embassy in Tel Aviv (the whole issue is terribly vague. Maybe the waters are being muddied on purpose) but he is going to make an announcement recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Plus, he will be instructing the State Department to examine the practicalities of moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem.

WASHINGTON — US President Donald Trump will announce in a speech on Wednesday that he is formally recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, while asking the State Department to formulate a plan for moving the US embassy there from Tel Aviv, White House officials confirmed Tuesday evening.

The recognition of Jerusalem, widely expected to anger the Arab world and cast a shadow over US-led peace efforts, will also be accompanied by Trump committing to support a two-state solution should both Israel and the Palestinians back it, the officials said, in a likely bid by the administration to balance the announcement seen as heavily favoring Israel.

The US Consulate in Jerusalem’s Talpiot neighborhood, adjoining a possible site for the US Embassy (Raphael Ahren/Times of Israel)

Trump’s administration is certainly a reality-based one, as opposed to the Obama administration which was based on wishful thinking at best, and on an anti-Israel bias at worst:

The White House repeatedly referred to the recognition and embassy move, which will likely take years, as “acknowledging a reality,” noting the city’s role as the seat of Israel’s government but disregarding Palestinian claims there.

“He views this as a recognition of reality, both historic reality and modern reality,” one official said.

“While President Trump recognizes that the status of Jerusalem is a highly sensitive issue, he does not think it will be resolved by ignoring the truth that Jerusalem is home to Israel’s legislature, it’s Supreme Court, the Prime Minister’s residence, and as such, it is the capital of Israel,” one of the officials said.

The US now officially recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s capital – and the world has gone into meltdown.

Reality-based diplomacy

US officials warned Trump not to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The reason is less ideological, more capitulation to threats of violence from the Arabs:

If Trump made such a move, it could spark demonstrations or violence by Palestinians or by Muslims around the world, in part because of the sensitivity of the Jerusalem site known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as Haram al-Sharif.

The site includes the al Aqsa Mosque, the third-holiest site in Islam, and the golden Dome of the Rock. It was also the site of an ancient Jewish temple, the holiest place in Judaism.

The Arab threats of mayhem and violence (as any good mafiosi would do) came thick and fast, with clashes expected in Judea and Samaria after Friday prayers – or incitement – in the mosques.

But best of all was Turkey’s threat to cut ties with Jerusalem (or was that a promise?):

ANKARA – President Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday Turkey could go as far as breaking off diplomatic ties with Israel if the United States formally recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, a move he said would be a “red line” for Muslims.

Erdogan is the latest in a string of regional leaders, including Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Jordan’s King Hussein to warn of negative implications of the move.

Israel’s Education Minister Naftali Bennett was quick to respond.

“Unfortunately, Erdogan does not miss an opportunity to attack Israel. Israel must advance its goals, including the recognition of United Jerusalem as the Capital of the State of Israel,” Bennett said in a statement. “There will always be those who criticize, but at the end of the day it is better to have a united Jerusalem than Erdogan’s sympathy.”

Transportation and Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz said that Israel “does not take directives or threats from Turkey.”

Israel is a “sovereign state, and Jerusalem is its capital,” Katz said. “There is nothing more historically just or right than to recognize Jerusalem, which has been the capital of the Jewish people for 3,000 years, as the capital of the State of Israel. The days of the Sultan and the Ottoman Empire are over.”

Caroline Glick cheekily tweeted:

The Europeans, in their own weaselly way, also warned against American recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital:

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union’s top diplomat, Federica Mogherini, said on Tuesday that “any action that would undermine” peace efforts to create two separate states for the Israelis and the Palestinians “must absolutely be avoided”.

Palestinian President-for-life Mahmoud Abbas is leading the Arab charge against recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital:

Trump is expected on Wednesday to declare US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and to order the start of work to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, White House officials confirmed Tuesday. US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is legitimate, almost banal; the same goes for moving the embassy there. But the warnings coming from even moderate Arab states show how sensitive the Jerusalem issue is and how problematic it can be to deal with even for them.

While the embassy move is expected to take months if not years, merely the prospect of it, as well as the recognition of Jerusalem, have inspired a blizzard of warnings of possible violence in the West Bank and elsewhere.

In a series of phone calls Tuesday, Trump made clear to Arab leaders his plans to move the embassy and recognize the city as Israel’s capital. He spoke about it with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Jordan’s King Abdullah, Egypt’s Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi and Saudi King Salman. The leaders of all of the Sunni Arab states considered to be “moderate,” even those that have covert security ties with Israel, warned of the grave consequences of the move and of an escalation in violence because of the disregard for Muslim sensitivities around the world.

King Mohammed VI of Morocco, the Arab League, and the top Islamic body al-Azhar also all emphasized that moving the embassy could have serious consequences.

Leading the chorus, rather than being led this time, is Abbas. He has spoken in recent days with every Arab and European leader he could and warned them that an action like this could lead to violence on the ground.

Should there be an actual increase in violence, it won’t stem from attacks by “lone wolves” or smaller Palestinian factions; rather, the descent into chaos will have been orchestrated from above, by the chairman himself, just like in the bad old days of Yasser Arafat.

Last July, amid the crisis over metal detectors at the Temple Mount, he made the unprecedented move of freezing security coordination with Israel, and now he is practically ordering his men to escalate violence. His Fatah faction published on Tuesday an official announcement calling for “days of rage” on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, and for mass protests.

But in the end, does any of this matter in the end? Will anything change on the ground for Israel and Jerusalem? (Besides the expected Palestinian violence of course).

Kay Wilson wrote an excellent post on Facebook, succinctly summarising the issue. I wish I wrote this myself:

Times of Israel reporter Haviv Rettig Gur also sums up the issue in an eloquent nutshell:

Here is a series of tweets demonstrating the absurdity of the situation until now, and the implications of American recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital:

Here is a witty but true observation about the Muslims’ attitude towards Jerusalem:

Let’s finish off on a positive note:

Thank you President Trump

 

New US military moves in the Mid-East & Israel’s Syria air raid were coordinated

December 3, 2017

New US military moves in the Mid-East & Israel’s Syria air raid were coordinated, DEBKAfile, December 3, 2017

(Please see also, Trump’s strategic vision. — DM)

By mid-week, the Trump administration should have reached a decision that indicates whether or not it has caved in under Palestinian threats. The next few days will also show whether the new US Middle East momentum is a flash in the pan or a fresh start to be continued.

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The US hands-off to Iran’s top general in Iraq, Ali Abdullah Saleh’s changeover of sides in the Yemen war and Trump’s’ thinking on Jerusalem – all signal a new, proactive US strategy for the region.

Central Intelligence Agency chief Mike Pompeo was uncharacteristically frank when he addressed high-ranking US military and security officials on Saturday, Dec. 2, at the Reagan Presidential Foundation. He revealed that he had sent a note to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Al Qods chief, Gen. Qassem Soleimani, and explained: “I sent it because he had indicated that forces under his control might in fact threaten US interests n Iraq.”

Soleimani replied that he had refused to open the letter, commenting: “It didn’t break my heart to be honest with you.” Pompeo went on to elaborate: “What we were communicating to him in that letter was that we will hold him and Iran accountable… and we wanted to make sure that he and the leadership of Iran understood that in a way that was crystal clear.”

Since words clearly don’t mean much without deeds, the United States, after being frozen in place for months in the Middle East, suddenly sprang into action in the past 48 hours, along with its senior Middle East allies, Israel and Saudi Arabia, on four fronts: Iraq, Syria, Yemen and the Palestinians.

IRAQ:  Large-scale US forces arrived at the Kaywan base-K1 west of the oil city of Kirkuk and then split into two contingents: several hundred troops stayed on base while the second contingent headed east on Friday, Dec. 1 towards Tuz Khumatu in eastern Iraq (See attached map)  and took control of the Siddiq military airport 35km to the west. Tuz Khumatu lies 100km west of the Iraqi-Iranian border and 163km north of Baghdad. DEBKAfile’s military sources report that American troops have never been deployed so close to the Iranian border since the 2003 US invasion of Iraq. This movement was meant to strongly advise Iraqi Prime Minister Haydar al-Abadi to stop playing ball with Iran to the extent that he did in mid-October, when he allowed pro-Iranian forces to grab Kirkurk and its oilfields from the Kurds. Washington was chiefly drawing a large X on Soleimani’s plan for bringing  Northern Iraq’s oil under Iranian control.

SYRIA: Early Saturday, Dec. 2, Israeli warplanes dropped missiles on a secret meeting of pro-Iranian Shiite militia chiefs taking place at the Syrian army’s 91st Brigade HQ, outside al-Kiswah – 14km southwest of Damascus and 50km from the Golan. These militias, which have been fighting for Bashar Assad under Gen. Soleimani’s command, were being briefed by Iranian and Hizballah officers on their next offensive. This was Israel’s first attack on any of his forces.

YEMEN: On Saturday, Ali Abdullah Saleh, former president of Yemen, the mainstay of the Iranian-backed Houthi insurgency, announced he was “turning the page.” He was ready to ditch the Houthis and their backer, Iran – provided that the coalition (Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates) lifted the blockade they had imposed on Yemen to cut off incoming Iranian weapons and halted its attacks. Saleh’s announcement sparked violent clashes between his followers and the Houthis.

DEBKAfile’s military sources recall that Yemen’s ex-president had long maintained ties with the CIA. His change of sides was timed to coincide with a fresh US-Saudi intelligence push to restore Saleh to the pro-Western Arab camp and topple pro-Iranian positions in Yemen and the Arabian Peninsula.

ISRAEL AND THE PALESTINIANS: The Trump administration is fed up with dodgy Palestinian tactics on peace negotiations. Egyptian President Abdel-Fatteh El-Sisi and Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin-Salman are likewise ready to wash their hands of the Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen). US officials tried threatening to shut down the PLO office in Washington unless the Palestinians finally came to the table for peace talks and are now holding over Palestinian heads a possible decision – either to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem or recognize the city as Israel’s capital.

To ward off these actions, all Abu Mazen needs to do is to pick up the phone to the White House, the royal palace in Riyadh and the presidential residence in Cairo and declare his willingness to cooperate with their initiatives to restart the peace process. But so far, Abbas is holding out, resorting instead to his outdated tactics: threatening that the entire Middle East will go up in flames and Palestinian terrorism will again raise its head if the Trump administration goes through with new decisions on Jerusalem.

By mid-week, the Trump administration should have reached a decision that indicates whether or not it has caved in under Palestinian threats. The next few days will also show whether the new US Middle East momentum is a flash in the pan or a fresh start to be continued.