Posted tagged ‘Trump and Israel’

Special Counsel Mueller Probing Kushner’s Role in Blocking Obama’s Betrayal of Israel at UNSC

November 22, 2017

Special Counsel Mueller Probing Kushner’s Role in Blocking Obama’s Betrayal of Israel at UNSC, Jewish PressDavid Israel, November 22, 2017

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (right) and President Donald Trump (left) with Jared Kushner (center) at the start of their May 22 meeting in Jerusalem.

Robert Mueller’s investigation is now moving to Jared Kushner’s interactions with foreign leaders during the presidential transition (between the Nov. 8, 2016 election and the January 20, 2017 inauguration), with an emphasis on his attempt to prevent President Barak Obama’s parting shot at Israel at the United Nations Security Council in December, when the US abstained in a landmark resolution demanding a halt to all Israeli settlement in the “occupied territories,” the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.

Washington custom dictates that a president-elect is not expected to come to the nation’s capital until the inauguration other than for a few substantial policy or procedural discussions with the outgoing administration. Although this custom was violated by several incoming US president elects, it was rare for any of them to actually attempt to reverse the sitting president’s policies.

According to the WSJ, the Mueller team is now questioning witnesses about Kushner’s involvement in that controversial resolution, when Israeli officials asked the Trump team to help block the UNSC vote with a US veto, even though Trump was not yet in office.

The Obama administration held back its final and most stinging blow to its ally Israel until after the presidential vote so as not to cause Democratic Jewish voters to retaliate by abandoning presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, then signaled its approval for a vote condemning Israel as soon as the election results had been announced.

The UNSC then cast 14 votes with one US abstention for a resolution saying that Israeli settlements in the disputed territories liberated in 1967, including eastern Jerusalem, have “no legal validity” and demanding a halt to “all Israeli settlement activities,” saying this “is essential for salvaging the two-state solution.” The resolution reiterated that Israeli settlement was a “flagrant violation” of international law.

Among the Trump officials Israel contacted for help were Trump’s son-in-law Kushner and Trump’s former chief strategist Steve Bannon.

According to the WSJ, Mueller is also looking into Kushner’s outreach to other foreign leaders during the presidential transition, and his role in the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting with representatives of the Russian government, presumably to “collect dirt” on Clinton.

Lawmakers to Trump: Stop Stalling on Moving U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem

November 22, 2017

Lawmakers to Trump: Stop Stalling on Moving U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem,  Washinton Free Beacon , November 21, 2017

(Please see also, Holding the PLO Accountable. — DM)

Getty Images

A group of leading House lawmakers have petitioned President Donald Trump to immediately move the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem ahead of a deadline that could see the White House delaying the move for at least another six months, according to a letter sent to the president and obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

Rep. Ron DeSantis (R., Fla.), chair of the House Subcommittee on National Security, spearheaded the letter, which urges Trump to finally make good on a heavily scrutinized campaign promise to relocate the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the Jewish state’s capital city.

While Trump has promised to move the embassy—which Congress legally mandated in 1995—as one of his first moves in office, the White House sent shockwaves through the pro-Israel community earlier this year when it renewed a longstanding waiver that ignores the congressional mandate and requires the embassy to remain located in Tel Aviv.

Every president since the law was initiated has signed the waiver, claiming that moving the embassy would interfere with U.S. diplomatic efforts to restart Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. Many observers in Congress and elsewhere thought Trump would finally break that cycle.

Since deciding to renew the waiver preventing the embassy’s move, DeSantis and other lawmakers have been pressuring the administration publicly and privately to make good on its promise.

The latest letter, sent to the White House on Tuesday, is a sign that Congress is becoming increasingly frustrated with Trump’s decision to delay the embassy move.

White House officials told the Free Beacon earlier this month that there is no decision yet on whether it will begin moving the embassy, saying, there is “no news to share” on the matter.

DeSantis told the Free Beacon on Tuesday that the letter is meant to show the Trump administration there is widespread support both in Israel and America for the embassy move.

“After 22 years, it is time to allow the Jerusalem Embassy Act to take effect,” DeSantis said. “I urge the president to decline to sign the impending waiver and announce the relocation of our embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.”

The move would help rally U.S. support for Israel at a critical time, DeSantis said.

“Doing so during this calendar year—the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem—would be of incredible significant to millions of people in both Israel and the United States.”

The congressional letter to Trump echoes these sentiments and urges Trump to follow through with his earlier promises on the matter.

“We applaud your administration for standing strong in defense of Israel, and we urge you to fulfill your promise of relocating the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to the capital of Jerusalem as we approach the second waiver deadline of your administration under the Jerusalem Embassy Act on December 1, 2017,” the lawmakers write, referring to the upcoming deadline by which Trump must either renew the waiver or begin the process to relocate the embassy.

This is at least the second congressional letter on the issue since January and it follows a recent hearing on Capitol Hill in which top experts argued the Trump administration has no significant rationale for delaying the move.

“The upcoming deadline is the right time to enforce the Jerusalem Embassy Act,” the lawmakers write. “We are encouraged by the promise you made after the first waiver deadline of your administration in June 2017—that it is a question of when, not if, you will choose to relocate the embassy—and we hope to see your promise fulfilled this December.”

Other signers of the letter include: Reps. Brian Mast (R. Fla.), James Comer (R., Ky.), Trent Franks (R., Ariz.), Virginia Foxx (R., N.C.), Glenn Grothman (R., Wis.), Jody Hice (R., Ga.), Jim Jordan (R., Ohio), Doug Lamborn (R., Colo.), Mark Meadows (R., N.C.), Dennis Ross (R., Fla.), and Lee Zeldin (R., N.Y.).

Former United Nations Ambassador John Bolton, testifying earlier this month before lawmakers on the issue, maintained that arguments the move would negatively impact U.S. peace efforts in the region are unsubstantiated.

“Such a move, would not adversely effect negotiations over Jerusalem’s final status or the broader Middle East peace process,” Bolton told lawmakers. “Nor would it impair our diplomatic relations among predominately Arab or Muslims nations. In fact, by its honest recognition of reality, shifting the embassy would have an overall positive impact for U.S. diplomatic efforts.”

Holding the PLO Accountable

November 21, 2017

Holding the PLO Accountable, FrontPage MagazineCaroline Glick, November 21, 2017

(I have mixed feelings about Secretary of State Tillerson: bad and terrible. He appears to believe that he, not Trump, is the American president. Forget the moribund “peace process,” move the American Embassy to Jerusalem and do it now. Please see also The terrorist had reason to smile as he rammed people. — DM)

Originally published by the Jerusalem Post.

DeSantis argued that until the embassy is moved the Trump administration should take “incremental steps” that move it toward the goal.

Among the steps he advocated, DeSantis said “the American consulates in Jerusalem should report to the American embassy in Israel, not directly to the State Department.”

Tillerson’s letter to Zomlot was shocking because it represented the first time since 1993 that the PLO has been held accountable for its actions. The time has come for the State Department, too, to be held accountable for its behavior. And the best way to start this process is to follow DeSantis’s advice, subordinate the US consulates in Jerusalem to the US ambassador and end their boycott of Jews – US citizens and non-citizens – who live in the Jerusalem area, in Judea and Samaria.

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Is the PLO’s long vacation from accountability coming to an end? How about the State Department’s? In 1987 the US State Department placed the PLO on its list of foreign terrorist organizations. The PLO was removed from the list in 1994, following the initiation of its peace process with Israel in 1993.

As part of the Clinton administration’s efforts to conclude a long-term peace deal between the PLO and Israel, in 1994 then president Bill Clinton signed an executive order waiving enforcement of laws that barred the PLO and its front groups from operating in the US. His move enabled the PLO to open a mission in Washington.

Whereas Obama’s PLO upgrade was legally dubious, the PLO’s campaign to get recognized as a state breached both of its agreements with Israel and the terms under which the US recognized it and permitted it to operate missions on US soil.

The operation of the PLO’s missions in the US was contingent on periodic certification by the secretary of state that the PLO was not engaged in terrorism, including incitement of terrorism, was not encouraging the boycott of Israel and was not seeking to bypass its bilateral negotiations with Israel in order to achieve either diplomatic recognition or statehood. Under Obama, the State Department refused to acknowledge the PLO’s breach of all the conditions of US recognition.

Angry at the administration’s facilitation of PLO breaches, in 2015 Congress mandated stricter and more precise conditions for continued operation of the PLO’s mission in Washington. Starting in 2016, the PLO was explicitly banned from advocating the prosecution of Israelis by the International Criminal Court. In 2015 the PLO joined the ICC with the explicit purpose of advocating the prosecution of Israelis. And in conformance with this purpose, in his speech before the UN General Assembly in September 2017, PLO/PA chief Mahmoud Abbas called for the ICC to prosecute Israelis for building communities in Judea and Samaria.

Given his experience with US administrations since Clinton, Abbas had every reason to believe that he would suffer no repercussions for his statement. No US administration had ever called the PLO/PA to account for its open breach of the terms of US recognition. So it isn’t surprising that Abbas and his advisers were utterly shocked when on Friday, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson sent a letter to the PLO mission in Washington informing PLO envoy Husam Zomlot that he could not renew certification of PLO compliance with US law in light of Abbas’s statement in September.

The only way for the mission to remain in place is if President Donald Trump certifies within 90 days that the PLO is engaged in “direct, meaningful negotiations with Israel.”

One of the primary functions of the PLO mission in Washington is to promote and fund the boycott movement against Israel – in contravention of the terms of its operation and the terms of its agreements with Israel.

In written testimony to the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa in February, Jonathan Schanzer of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies revealed that the mission is “said to be actively promoting campus BDS [boycott, divestment and sanctions] activity in the US.”

“PLO operatives in Washington, DC,” Schanzer said, “are reportedly involved in coordinating the activities of Palestinian students in the US who receive funds from the PLO to engage in BDS activism. This, of course, suggests that the BDS movement is not a grassroots activist movement, but rather one that is heavily influenced by PLO-sponsored persons.”

In April 2016, Schanzer informed Congress that the PLO consulate in Chicago is a major funder of the BDS campus group Students for Justice in Palestine. The chairman of the US Coalition to Boycott Israel, which among other things funds BDS, is Ghassan Barakat, an official at the PLO’s Chicago consulate. His colleague, Senan Shaqdeh, is a member of the coalition. Shaqdeh also claims to be the founder of Students for Justice in Palestine, the antisemitic BDS group that operates on campuses throughout the US.

As Schanzer noted, in 2014 Shaqdeh traveled to Ramallah to meet with Abbas and PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah.

Aside from the fact that the US has refused to hold the PLO accountable for its actions for a quarter century, the PLO has another good reason to be shocked by Tillerson’s letter: the US consulate in Jerusalem operates as almost a mirror to the PLO mission in Washington.

The US consulate in Jerusalem has the same status as an embassy. Like the US ambassador in Tel Aviv, the US consul general in Jerusalem reports directly to the State Department. He is not accredited to Israel. His area of operations includes Jerusalem and its environs within and beyond the 1949 armistice lines, including Beit Shemesh, Mevasseret Zion, Judea and Samaria.

Israeli citizens who live within the consulate’s area of operations are not permitted to receive consular and visa services from the embassy in Tel Aviv. Among the hundreds of thousands of Israeli Jews that are required to receive US consular services from the consulate rather than the embassy are tens of thousands of Jewish dual nationals.

And yet, as Yisrael Medad has exhaustively documented, the Jerusalem consulate maintains an effective boycott of both these dual nationals and Israeli nationals who live in its area of operation. All of the consulate’s activities for US citizens are directed specifically and openly toward “Palestinian residents of Jerusalem and the West Bank.”

Consul General Donald Blome similarly directs all of his efforts toward reaching out to the Palestinians, ignoring as a regular practice the millions of Jews who live in his area of responsibility.

The consulate also openly rejects the notion that Israel and Jews have ties to its area of operations. For instance, Blome went on a hike around Judea and Samaria in July where he effectively erased the Jewish heritage sites in the areas. The consulate echoed UNESCO’s Jew-free version of the history of the land of Israel in a press release that celebrated his walk along the “Masar Ibrahim Al-Khalil” trail in celebration of “the connection of the people with the land.” Jews were not mentioned in the press release. And the historical name of the route he took is “Abraham’s path.”

Scholarships to study in the US and jobs listed on the website are open to “Palestinian residents of Jerusalem and the West Bank.”

In other words, while the PLO missions are pushing the BDS agenda in the US, the US consulate in Jerusalem is implementing it on the ground in Israel.

Tillerson’s letter to the PLO mission on Friday came two weeks before Trump will have to decide whether or not to sign a related waiver. On December 1, Trump will either allow the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act to come into force or he will sign a waiver postponing the embassy move for yet another six months.

In a congressional hearing on the issue of moving the embassy to Jerusalem on November 8, Rep. Ron DeSantis said that transfer of the embassy may be delayed due to the Trump administration’s “efforts to pursue a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs.”

DeSantis argued that until the embassy is moved the Trump administration should take “incremental steps” that move it toward the goal.

Among the steps he advocated, DeSantis said “the American consulates in Jerusalem should report to the American embassy in Israel, not directly to the State Department.”

Tillerson’s letter to Zomlot was shocking because it represented the first time since 1993 that the PLO has been held accountable for its actions. The time has come for the State Department, too, to be held accountable for its behavior. And the best way to start this process is to follow DeSantis’s advice, subordinate the US consulates in Jerusalem to the US ambassador and end their boycott of Jews – US citizens and non-citizens – who live in the Jerusalem area, in Judea and Samaria.

Trump’s Unsung Success in the Middle East

November 15, 2017

Trump’s Unsung Success in the Middle East, PJ MediaDavid P. Goldman, November 14, 2017

Israel Trump

But overall, Trump’s Middle East policy has been a success, in striking contrast to his predecessors. The supposed Middle East mavens among the preening NeverTrumpers (Max Boot, Reuel Marc Gerecht, Bill Kristol et. al) made a mess of things, and Trump has gone a long way to cleaning it up. That’s not bad for one year in office.

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President Trump’s Middle East policy is simple: Back our friends and scare the hell out of our enemies, and negotiate where possible with our competitors like Russia and China. By and large it’s working, unlike the catastrophically failed polices of the previous two administrations. Trump did what he said he would do and succeeded. You wouldn’t know that from the #fakenews media.

Start with Israel: The Muslim strategy to destroy Israel hasn’t envisioned war–not at least since 1973–because Israel in all cases would win. Instead, the objective is to ring Israel with missiles and force Israel to retaliate against missile attacks in such a way that the “international community” would respond by imposing a “settlement” on Israel that would leave Israel vulnerable to further missiles attacks, and so forth. This is stated explicitly by Palestinian strategists cited by Haviv Rettig Gur in The Times of Israel.

George W. Bush and Obama gave aid and comfort to the encircle-and-strangle strategy by tying Israel’s hands. Then Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice wouldn’t let Olmert attack Hezbollah with full force in 2006. Rice thinks the Palestinian movement is a branch of the U.S. civil rights movement (if you don’t believe that characterization, read her book “Democracy,” which I will review for Claremont Review of Books).

Obama sandbagged Israel during the 2014 Gaza rocket attacks, suspending delivery of Hellfire missiles to the Jewish State. Israel is the only country in the world that embeds human rights lawyers in every infantry company to make sure that its soldiers keep collateral damage to a minimum.

Hezbollah, Iran’s Lebanese militia, has 150,000 rockets aimed at Israel, and many of them can hit any target in the country. In the case of a major rocket attack from Hezbollah against Israel, military logic dictates the preemptive neutralization of rocket launchers embedded in civilian populations–what an Israeli strategist close to the PM described to me as “Dresden.” There would be tens of thousands of civilian casualties. Trump will not tie Israel’s hands in the case of attack, and will not interfere with Israel’s ability to defend herself. That makes Israel’s deterrent against Iran credible.

Hillary Clinton insisted that the “technology of war,” in particular the rockets ringing Israel, would force Israel to accept a phony peace agreement whose main effect would be to bring the rocket launchers closer to Israel. The photograph below shows the runways and main terminal building of Israel’s international airport from an Arab village in Judea: Hand this over to the Palestinians and primitive short-range missiles can shut down the Israel economy. There’s an easy way to stop the rockets, which is to kill the people who shoot them. That might mean killing the human shields whom the cowardly terrorists put in front of the rockets, but under international law, a country acting in self-defense has every right to kill civilians.

For that reason alone, anyone who claims to be a friend of Israel must support Trump against the alternative. One can criticize Trump all day with justification, but the existential issue of Israel’s survival requires Jews to support him. Jewish never-Trumpers are infected with what our rabbis of antiquity called “baseless hatred.”

The second big issue is Saudi Arabia, which competed with Iran for decades as the biggest funder of terrorists and religious extremists. After Trump’s March 2017 trip to Saudi Arabia, where he read the riot act to assembled Arab leaders, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince has centralized control of the government and seized hundreds of billions of dollars of royal family assets. The $800 billion of royal family wealth targeted is larger than the national reserves of the kingdom. As I wrote in Asia Times last week, Saudi Arabia has gotten its first real government, as opposed to the family regime that allowed every crazy cousin to write checks to terrorists. Of course, the kingdom well might get its second, third and fourth real government in short order if Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman fails. But the de facto coup is a huge blow to Sunni jihadism and a victory for American policy.

Prince Mohammed and his father King Salman had visited Moscow in late September, and the Russian and Chinese press express guarded optimism about the regime change (see the cited Asia Times article). Russia and China have a great deal to fear from Sunni jihadists (virtually all their Muslim citizens are Sunni) and a Saudi ruler willing to close the tap is good for them. As I wrote, its win-win-win-win for the U.S., Russia, China and Israel.

That ought to scare the Persians plenty. The Saudis get very bad press for chopping up the Houthi-led tribes in Yemen, Iran’s allies. They are making a horrible example of the Houthi for the edification of Iran. That is disgusting, to be sure, but that’s the way things are done in that part of the world. The Assad government in Syria did much worse, deliberately bombing civilians to drive out the Sunni majority in order to replace it with Shi’ite colonists.

The Saudis don’t have much of an army, and their air force depends on Pakistani mercenaries, but they do have nearly 300 fourth-generation aircraft (F-15’s, Eurofighters, and Tornadoes) as well as a huge stock of Chinese-made medium range missiles. They can hire Pakistanis or Egyptians to fly them if necessary. Iran has tough soldiers but no air force to speak of. If it comes to war (which it shouldn’t) between Iran and Saudi Arabia, Iran will suffer badly. A dozen power plants provide more than half the country’s electricity, for example, and could not be defended in case of war.

There isn’t much to do about Iran now that its economic ties point eastwards to China, except to terrify the Tehran mullahs. That’s old-fashioned balance of terror–not my favorite way of doing things, but a policy that worked reasonably well during the Cold War. It’s easy to talk about tearing up the Iran nuclear agreement–but now there are two rail lines linking Iran to China, and the West’s influence in the region has vastly diminished. Unfortunately, grand gestures may not bring grand results, and the U.S. has to play tought and sometimes dirty.

Ultimately any regional issue depends on the strategic position of the United States with respect to China and Russia. We continue to lose ground, and Trump hasn’t yet offered an initiative to reverse it (I would begin by a crash program for missile defense, including space-based systems).

There are any number of things to criticize in the administration’s handling of the Middle East. I would have preferred a tougher approach to Iran’s presence in Syria in our negotiations with Russia over a cease-fire, and a more supportive stance towards the Iraqi Kurds’ aspirations for independence (although as Daniel Pipes observes, the fact that the independence referendum backfired was the Kurds’ own fault). And I would like the president to keep his campaign promise to move our embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

But overall, Trump’s Middle East policy has been a success, in striking contrast to his predecessors. The supposed Middle East mavens among the preening NeverTrumpers (Max Boot, Reuel Marc Gerecht, Bill Kristol et. al) made a mess of things, and Trump has gone a long way to cleaning it up. That’s not bad for one year in office.

Jared Kushner, Mohammed bin Salman, and Benjamin Netanyahu Are Up to Something

November 8, 2017

Jared Kushner, Mohammed bin Salman, and Benjamin Netanyahu Are Up to Something, Foreign Policy, November 7, 2017

JERUSALEM, ISRAEL – JUNE 21: (ISRAEL OUT) In this handout photo provided by the Israel Government Press Office (GPO), Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Jared Kushner on June 21, 2017 in Jerusalem, Israel. (Photo by Amos Ben Gershom/GPO via Getty Images)

Mohammed bin Salman may or may not have recently visited Tel Aviv, where Israel’s Defense Ministry is located. But even if he never set foot in the HaKirya complex, there is little doubt that he has authorized ever closer relations with the Israelis, who view the Iranian threat exactly as he does. And the crown prince is not the only one Jared Kushner has been speaking to: Trump has given his son-in-law overall leadership on the peace process between Israel and the Arabs, and he is reportedly a welcome guest in Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office.

Given Kushner’s role, did Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman signal his plans when Kushner last met with him — and did Kushner then inform his father-in-law? And if so, how far will Washington, or more precisely, the White House, go to back up the Saudis if their confrontation with Iran gets hot? Or will Israel serve as Trump’s proxy? With this president, this crown prince, and the current prime minister of Israel, anything is possible.

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There seems to be a general consensus in Washington that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s ongoing purge of princes and businessmen — including the wealthiest of them all, the business mogul and Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal — is motivated by his determination to consolidate his power, well before his father, King Salman, passes from the scene. He is in this regard a latter-day Adonijah, who had himself crowned king while his father King David was alive. And, like Adonijah, Mohammed bin Salman has made some very powerful enemies in the process. Unlike that Biblical figure, however, he has his father’s support and has taken care to arrest anyone who might threaten his drive to preeminence.

Jared Kushner, U.S. President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior advisor, was in Riyadh again only recently. It was his third trip to Saudi Arabia since Trump took office. He again met with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, with whom he appears to have established a close personal relationship. It should therefore come as no surprise that Trump, who shares the young crown prince’s antipathy toward Iran, has commented favorably on the recent developments in Riyadh.

It is said of Donald Trump that he has undermined America’s credibility with its allies. That may be the case in Europe, and perhaps in parts of Asia, though not in Japan or India. But it is certainly not the case in the Middle East. Tensions with Turkey and Egypt emanate primarily from the U.S. Congress, not from the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue. Relations with Israel are better than they have been since the day former President Barack Obama took office. The same can be said of U.S. relations with both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates or, for that matter, Bahrain and Morocco. The force that unites them all is Iran, whose support for instability throughout the region received a financial fillip from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action — that is, the Iran nuclear deal.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman may or may not be a true reformer. His record on that score is not unequivocal. But he is determined to halt the expansion of Iranian influence, which now really does manifest itself as the Shiite crescent about which Jordan’s King Abdullah II forewarned over a decade ago. The crown prince recognizes that his country’s worst nightmare is slowly materializing: Iran is supplying the Houthi rebels to its south and dominates neighboring Iraq to its north. 

It foments instability in Bahrain and could well do the same in Saudi Arabia’s Shiite-majority Eastern Province. And if that were not enough, Iran’s influence is entrenched in Damascus and Beirut. It is particularly for that reason the Saudis forced their ally Saad Hariri, the Lebanese prime minister, to resign his office while on a visit to the Kingdom.

Mohammed bin Salman may or may not have recently visited Tel Aviv, where Israel’s Defense Ministry is located. But even if he never set foot in the HaKirya complex, there is little doubt that he has authorized ever closer relations with the Israelis, who view the Iranian threat exactly as he does. And the crown prince is not the only one Jared Kushner has been speaking to: Trump has given his son-in-law overall leadership on the peace process between Israel and the Arabs, and he is reportedly a welcome guest in Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office.

Given Kushner’s role, did Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman signal his plans when Kushner last met with him — and did Kushner then inform his father-in-law? And if so, how far will Washington, or more precisely, the White House, go to back up the Saudis if their confrontation with Iran gets hot? Or will Israel serve as Trump’s proxy? With this president, this crown prince, and the current prime minister of Israel, anything is possible.

‘The United States betrayed Israel at the UN’

November 5, 2017

‘The United States betrayed Israel at the UN’, Israel National News, Yoni Kempinski, November 5, 2017

(Please see also, Nikki Haley Uses A Blowtorch On Barack Obama At The United Nations. — DM)

“All in all, I have to say that I am cautiously optimistic about the changes occurring in the culture at the UN. The Israel bashing hasn’t disappeared by any means. But it is less and less. And where it persists, the United States has used its leverage to force change,” she concluded.

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Nikki Haley, the U.S. Ambassador to the UN, on Saturday night spoke at the opening plenary session of the Israeli American Council (IAC) National Conference in Washington, DC and vowed to continue to work to stop the Israel bashing at the international organization.

She noted that Israel is “the country the United Nations spends half its time on. Unfortunately, I’m not kidding. It seems the breakdown at the UN is to spend half the time on Israel, and half the time on the other member nations.”

While the UN is a hostile place for Israel, said Haley, before she became ambassador she witnessed “a shameful period the United States became a part of that hostility”. She was referring to the passing of UN Resolution 2334, passed by the UN Security Council last December and which “branded Israel as a violator of international law.”

The United States allowing this motion to pass by not vetoing it “was a cowardly act; and a real low point for America at the UN. What happened with 2334 was a betrayal of our friend in the very forum that has been one of its cruelest and most hostile foes. America was far from being a friend to Israel on that day,” said Haley.

“I was still governor of South Carolina, but I came away from the passage of Resolution 2334 certain of one thing: As long as I was U.S. Ambassador, such an act of betrayal would never happen again,” she stressed.

Haley recalled that in the first meeting she attended as ambassador, the UN discussed Israel rather than the fighting in Syria or other pressing issues, adding “it was then that I vowed that the days of Israel bashing at the UN were over.”

She addressed the nuclear deal with Iran, which President Donald Trump did not recertify, describing it as “very very flawed…Iran is engaged in all kinds of bad behavior prohibited by UN Security Council resolutions, including building up Hezbollah in Lebanon.”

“The president’s action has put the Iran deal back in play. We are now pushing the world to confront the totality of the threat by the Iranian regime” not just in its nuclear program, but in the way it backs terror groups and continues to test ballistic missiles, she continued.

“It’s a new day at the UN. Slowly but surely, we’re chipping away at the anti-Israel culture. Three weeks ago, the U.S. withdrew from UNESCO. For the U.S. it was a good call and after we considered UNESCO’s pattern of one-sided resolutions, it was an easy call,” said Haley, who also stressed that Washington is against the UN Human Rights Council’s (UNHRC) blacklist of companies that do business in Judea and Samaria.

“We need to be clear: This is a BDS blacklist, plain and simple. The United States has been opposed to this list from the start. We have not and will not contribute any information to its creation,” she stressed.

“All in all, I have to say that I am cautiously optimistic about the changes occurring in the culture at the UN. The Israel bashing hasn’t disappeared by any means. But it is less and less. And where it persists, the United States has used its leverage to force change,” she concluded

Israel tries to balance Iran strategy between Trump and Putin

October 17, 2017

Israel tries to balance Iran strategy between Trump and Putin, DEBKAfile, October 17, 2017

(Please see also, Iran Plays Chess, We Play Checkers. — DM)

Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman with Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu, at the Yad Vashem holocaust memorial museum in Jerusalem, on October 17, 2017. Photo by Hadas Parush/FLASH90 *** Local Caption *** יד ושם
רוסיה
שר ההגנה הרוסי
סרגיי שויגו
שר הביטחון
אביגדור ליברמן
ראש הממשלה

The Israeli defense minister is due to fly to Washington Wednesday, Oct. 18, for talks with US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. Netanyahu’s National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabat goes on ahead to meet his US counterpart Gen. H.R. McMaster.

However, as seen from Moscow – and possibly Jerusalem too – the Trump administration is more to blame than any other actor operating in the Middle East for Iran’s deepening grip on Syria, US actions starkly contradicting the president’s fiery rhetoric against the Islamic Republic and all its actions.

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Israel’s leaders stressed to Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu the importance of thwarting Iran’s military entrenchment in Syria. But can’t expect much from Moscow – any more than Washington.  

Visiting Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu heard Tuesday, Oct. 17, from Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his counterpart, Avigdor Lieberman that Israel would not stand for Iran and Hizballah making Syria their forward operational base against Israel, and would act to prevent their military entrenchment along the Syrian-Israeli border.

This was not news to the Russian minister, on his first visit to Israel since his appointment five years ago. The Kremlin has heard this mantra time and time and again and the visitor must have wondered what his Israeli hosts expected him to do. Both Shoigu and his boss, President Vladimir Putin, would also prefer not to see Iran dug deep militarily in Syria. So oddly enough, Moscow and Jerusalem could find a sliver of common ground for cooperating in both Syria and Iraq, but for their different viewpoints. While the Russians are practical enough to live with a strong Iranian military presence in Syria so long as it serves their interests, Israel is flatly against Iran or its proxies’ proximity to its borders as a grave peril to its national security.

The Israeli defense minister is due to fly to Washington Wednesday, Oct. 18, for talks with US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. Netanyahu’s National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabat goes on ahead to meet his US counterpart Gen. H.R. McMaster.

However, as seen from Moscow – and possibly Jerusalem too – the Trump administration is more to blame than any other actor operating in the Middle East for Iran’s deepening grip on Syria, US actions starkly contradicting the president’s fiery rhetoric against the Islamic Republic and all its actions.

Since late September, the US has been drawing down most of its positions in eastern Syria, opening the door for Hizballah to walk in and for pro-Iranian Iraqi militias to take control of the Syrian-Iraqi border. This has made Tehran the strategic gift of its coveted land bridge to the Mediterranean.

Shoigu arrived in Tel Aviv on the day, Monday, Oct. 16, on which pro-Iranian militias under the command of a Revolutionary Guards general, Qassem Soleimani, swept the Iraqi oil center of Kirkuk out of the hands of America’s allies, the Kurdish Peshmerga, a leading light in the US-led coalition for fighting the Islamic State.

If Trump meant what he said about beating down the Revolutionary Guards, why did he not stop them from taking Kirkuk?

In contrast to the Kirkuk debacle, the US-backed SDF Syrian Kurdish-Arab force said Tuesday that the Islamic State’s Syrian capital of Raqqa had fallen after a bitter four-month battle. The Kurdish YPG militia raised its flag over the municipal stadium and chanted victory slogans from vehicles driving through the streets.

DEBKAfile’s sources report that when word of the victory reached the White House, Brett McGurk, President Trump’s special envoy for the global coalition versus ISIS, set out from Washington to Raqqa

But that operation was the exception – not the rule. In Iraq, Washington stood by as the Revolutionary Guards called the shots against the Kurds.

For weeks, Moscow has been asking Washington to explain what it is up to on the Syrian and Iraqi warfronts and has come up empty. Israeli visitors are unlikely to fare much better when they put the same question to top Trump administration officials, even taking into account the profound difference in the relationship between Jerusalem and Washington compared with Moscow and Jerusalem.