“The country is on the verge of bankruptcy,” Egyptian opposition leader and Nobel Laureate Mohamed ElBaradei told the newspaper al-ArabiyaDec. 23. Unable to reduce subsidies that account for most of a budget deficit that now exceeds 14 percent of GDP, and unwilling to raises taxes, it seems most likely that the Muslim Brotherhood government of Mohamed Morsi will instead take the path of least resistance and allow a steady devaluation of the Egyptian pound. During the past two weeks, central bank intervention to support the pound’s value on the foreign exchange market has stopped and the currency has fallen sharply.
By Ted Belman
Israel eases ban on building material for Gaza. and Israel, Egypt Ease Gaza Blockades. This gives me confidence that something important is happening involving Israel, Egypt and the US. I think the cease fire is holding like no other.
This week the Times of Israel reported:
- Bedouin tribes from northern Sinai are threatening civil disobedience along the border with Israel in reaction to new Egyptian government regulations that prevent them from working the land near the border, an Egyptian daily reported on Monday.
- Sayyid Harhour, the governor of northern Sinai, informed tribal leaders last week that they are no longer allowed to work land located within a five-kilometer (three-mile) strip along the border with Israel, due to the strategic importance of Egypt’s eastern border. Harhour assured the leaders that the decision would not affect them, and conveyed their outrage to Defense Minister Abdul Fattah Sisi, the daily reported.
- Likud opposes a Palestinian state, says party hardliner MK Tzipi Hotovely calls Netanyahu’s 2009 speech calling for a two-state solution a ‘tactical’ move.
A two-state solution is not part of the Likud platform, MK Tzipi Hotovely declared Monday at a panel discussion in Jerusalem, adding that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s 2009 speech calling for one was a tactical maneuver to placate the world and not an expression of support.
“We are opposed to a Palestinian state,” the Likud politician said.
I agreed with this when I wrote:
Keep in mind that Netanyahu was voted into office on a platform which denied the two-state solution. The Obama administration succeeded in forcing a dramatic change in that policy. Or did it? On June 14/09 Netanyahu delivered a speech at Bar Ilan University in which he appeared to accept a two state solution with these words,
- “In my vision of peace, two peoples live freely, side-by-side, in amity and mutual respect. Each will have its own flag, its own national anthem, its own government.”
Although the world spun it as an acceptance, of a Palestinian state, I submit that the same words would apply to an autonomous entity. Notice that the all important word “state” was not employed. [..]
On June 14/09 Netanyahu delivered a speech at Bar Ilan University in …Remember limited sovereignty or demilitarized state is autonomy only.
Abraham Center for Middle East Peace Poll
Dr. Aaron Lerner – IMRA: The Israeli media was filled today with the result of the two “If pigs could fly” polls commissioned by the Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace.
Why “if pigs could fly”?
Well, take a look at what the pollsters are asking.
There’s a trick to it.
This is very close to the Clinton parameters. According to the suggested deal we would also keep Ariel and Maaleh Adumin because both are settlement blocs. How does one reconcile this with the JCPA poll that found:
A new poll by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs shows that the vast majority of Israelis are opposed to an Israeli withdrawal from Judea and Samaria. The poll, taken in November, showed that 76% of all Israelis (83% of Israeli Jews) do not believe that a withdrawal to the 1948 armistice lines will bring Israelis a secure peace.
The large majority of all Israelis said they would change their vote if – 53% if a party proposed leaving the Jordan Valley, 69% for Jerusalem. Among Israeli Jews, the figures were 59% and 79% respectively.
Among those voters, 50% said that they would not vote for a party advocating withdrawal from the Jordan Valley, and 67% from Jerusalem.
According to this poll, A high percentage of left-to-center voters would vote right wing if their original party intended to make such significant land concessions.
2 polls find that 2/3 of Israelis would vote for peace agreement, including more than half of Likud Beytenu, Bayit Yehudi voters.
About two-thirds of Israelis would vote in favor of a peace agreement with the Palestinians if a deal which took Israel’s security concerns into account was brought to a referendum, two polls conducted on behalf of the S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace found.
By Jonathan Spyer, GLORIA
In Syria, the Assad regime’s retreat back to Damascus and the Alawi heartlands in the west of the country has made possible the emergence of a Kurdish autonomous area in the country’s northeast.
This area shares a border with Kurdish- controlled northern Iraq. As a result, a contiguous area of Kurdish control, stretching along the southern border of Turkey, has come into being.
by Barry Rubin
The expression, “With friends like you who needs enemies?” is an apt summary of a major problem for U.S. foreign policy during Obama’s second term.
Here’s the issue: a number of supposed allies of the United States don’t act as friends. In fact, they are major headaches, often subverting U.S. goals and interests. But to avoid conflict and, for Obama, to look successful to the domestic audience, Washington pretends that everything is fine.
By Ted Belman
In his latest article on Bayit Hayehudi, Isi Leibler begins by writing:
As a lifelong religious Zionist, I was saddened observing the ongoing collapse of the movement which had made a unique and valuable contribution to the welfare of the nation, upholding enlightened Jewish values, striving for unity and promoting tolerance.
So when the national religious Habait Hayehudi was resurrected and polls predicted it may become the third-largest party in the Knesset, should I not enthusiastically greet such a phenomenon?
The answer is yes, but…
The view that Israel and the Palestinian Arabs equally share blame for the continuation of a decades old conflict is part and parcel of Kerry’s troubling perspective.
Moshe Phillips, AFSI
President Obama’s decision to nominate Senator John Kerry as his next Secretary of State will prove to be a disaster for Israel.
The choice of the American Jewish establishment to vehemently protest the expected nomination of former Senator Chuck Hagel while granting Kerry a free pass for his anti-Israel behavior follows their longtime pattern.
Hagel is a Republican who has a history of marking foolish remarks regarding Israel and has long been seen as an independent thinker on Middle East policy with a non-interventionist outlook.
Today Israel Hayom published two articles undercutting Bennett.
By Mati Tuchfeld
As much as one can judge over the course of two weeks, in these elections the stars are certainly aligned in favor of Habayit Hayehudi Chairman Naftali Bennett. Much like Yisrael Beytenu Chairman Avigdor Lieberman in the last election, who managed to rise from a handful of seats in the polls to winning 15 seats in the election within a matter of weeks, Bennett too has climbed in the polls and appears to have turned the veteran National Religious Party (the predecessor of the current incarnation) into a hot, trendy commodity. [..]
The long-time Berlin correspondent for Al Jazeera, Aktham Suliman, recently resigned from his post. The journalist tells DW that the Qatari government is exercising undue influence on Al Jazeera’s reporting.
DW: You’ve criticized Al Jazeera as lacking in professionalism, and you’ve quit your post as the broadcaster’s Berlin correspondent. Is Al Jazeera following a specific agenda?
Aktham Suliman: I have to say that professionalism is now lacking at Al Jazeera. When I started in 2002, I didn’t have that impression – quite the contrary. Of course there were fundamental, long-term problems, but in the last two years Al Jazeera has really let itself go in terms of professionalism.
“You’ve been with the professors
And they’ve all liked your looks
With great lawyers you have
Discussed lepers and crooks….
You’re very well read
It’s well known
Yet something is happening here
But you don’t know what it is
Do you, Mister Jones?
–Bob Dylan, “Ballad of a Thin Man”
The entertainment director on the ship of fools that constitutes so much mainstream analysis of the Middle East—I refer, of course, to Thomas Friedman—has produced a wonderful paragraph that beautifully characterizes the problem, exquisitely expressing a Western mentality that not only makes it impossible to understand the Middle East but even to set up the question in a way people that could help people even begin to confront the truth. So perhaps it is worth disassembling. Sound like fun? Let’s go!
Laura: I’ve had it with scumbags like Waters and their lies and hatred of Israel. Israel is NOT an apartheid state and I am sick of that scurilous and false charge. Arabs are full citizens of Israel with the right to vote, run for office. Arabs and Jews go to schools together and work and are patients at hospitals together etc. Waters ought to get his facts straight before repeating propaganda. On the other hand every other country in the Middle East IS an apartheid state which persecutes its non-muslim and non-Arab populations.
When will roger waters demand that muslim countries memberships in the UN should depend on their ending persecution of non-muslims and women? When will Waters demand these countries end their apartheid and oppression? Waters is a filthy liar, hypocrite and antisemite. He should be boycotted. Let him focus on his own mess of a nation, England. This degenerate is beneath contempt. The UN is an orwellian organization controlled by the block of despotic and terrorist states of the Arab League and the OIC who stand in judgement of free nations.
The actions of Netanyahu to support the two state solution, to bury the Levy Report and to resist attempts to legislate against the power of the Supreme Court, the NGO’s and the Attorney General, have left a huge vacuum. Bennett is successful because he is filling that vacuum. Not only that, he has created a new coalition of constituencies which includes Jews who are traditional, religious or nationalist. A third of his supporters are secular nationalists. His vision finds great support among the under 40 crowd. He is the heir apparent to PM Netanyahu. Ted Belman
I am a despairing Israeli voter, I tell Habayit Hayehudi chairman Naftali Bennett. I am not lunatic left, but I believe in the kind of enlightened Zionism that is now going down the drain. I believe in the Jewish and democratic state that is evaporating. And I believe in the partition of the land, which you are trying to put a stop to. Plus, when I see the limpness and the wretchedness in my own camp and the energy and momentum in yours, I am horrified.
[I couldn’t agree more. And it was a smart move by Bennett.]
Bayit Yehudi head says it is no coincidence that Liberman indictment, “Bibi-Tours” report come out just before elections.
Bayit Yehudi chairman Naftali Bennett on Friday came to the defense of his political competitors, Likud-Beytenu leaders Binyamin Netanyahu and Avigdor Liberman, slamming recent legal moves against each as politically motivated, Army Radio reported.
Whatever your view of religion, the Bible is a terrific source for history and political analysis, often in the passages least quoted today. Here are two examples.
When the Israelites asked to have a king, the prophet Samuel (Chapter 8) told them, at divine direction, that a king would make their sons:
“Plow his fields, reap his harvest, and make his weapons and equipment for his chariots. He will take your daughters as perfumers, cooks, and bakers. He will seize your choice fields, vineyards, and olive groves, and give them to his courtiers [crony capitalism!]. He will take a tenth part of your grain and vintage [far lower taxes than today!] and give it to his eunuchs and courtiers [entitlements? Crony capitalism?].”
Confederation is definitely on the front burner though it isn’t talked about. When I recently posted the Atlantic Monthly article quoted herein, Is Westbank- Jordan confederation in the works I wrote:
This idea could have legs. But Jordan isn’t a democracy and the Westbank is, if they would only hold elections. I can’t see such a confederation without enfranchising all Palestinians (including in Jordan). The king would have to give up his dictatorial powers. The Bedouin would resist it. But if all this could be agreed upon, it would be no loss to the confederation if Israel kept Area C to the west of Ramallah. Jordan would thus be on both sides of the Jordan but Jordan has faithfully maintained the peace and could be counted on continuing to do so if a new border was agreed upon. Jordan has lots of land and could easily accommodate all Palestinian refugees. The biggest drawback to this deal is that it is too rational and Israel gets more than the world community wants her to get.
According to this report Netanyahu is focusing on security issues rather than land issues. Confederation apparently has the backing of the Sunni Bloc and the US. Perhaps it is linked to Abbas recently saying that he would disband the PA. You will recall the visit of Prince Nassam a few months back.
But the question remains, how much land do we keep? Ted Belman
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report December 27, 2012,
Aspects of a possible confederation between a Palestinian West Bank state and the Hashemite Kingdom – not Syria – were the subject of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s recent conversation with Jordan’s King Abdullah in Amman, DEBKAfile’s sources reveal. Nothing was decided and the two leaders agreed to hold further discussions in the coming days.
This idea has become a focal talking point in Amman, Washington and Palestinian centers.
Netanyahu brought some pointed questions to the highly confidential one-on-one at the Hashemite palace: He asked the king how much responsibility would Jordan undertake in controlling West Bank security and intelligence activity? What were his plans for extending such control from the West Bank to the Gaza Strip? And how would Jordan’s intentions fit into the security arrangements demanded by Israel in both territories as part of any accord with the Palestinians?
Many Kurds have come to believe that the present prolonged turmoil in the Middle East — in Syria and Iraq and, to a lesser extent, in Iran and Turkey — is giving them their best chance of self-determination in modern times. They are determined to seize it. It could be that the map of the region is being redrawn before our eyes.
During the four hundred years of the Ottoman Empire, the Kurds enjoyed considerable autonomy and even political unity. Since they lived in largely inaccessible mountains, the Ottomans allowed them to run their own affairs. When the Ottoman Empire was defeated in the First World War, it signed the Treaty of Sèvres in 1920 with the victorious allies — a treaty which among its many provisions, seemed to promise the Kurds a state of their own. But the Turks would have none of it. They were determined to create a strong Turkish state out of the ruins of Empire.