Ya’alon rules out notion of West Bank withdrawal

In wake of Gaza war, defense minister says, land-for-peace formula is dangerous for Israel and likely deadly for Jordan

BY MITCH GINSBURG, TOI

Israeli soldiers seen on top of Merkava tanks near the Israeli border with Gaza on July 24, 2014, as Operation Protective Edge entered it's 17th day. (Photo credit: Miriam Alster/FLASH90)

The 50-day offensive against Hamas in Gaza over the summer proved that a withdrawal from the West Bank would be both irrational and outdated, mortally threatening the Hashemite Kingdom and the Palestinian Authority, and placing Israel in even greater danger, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said Tuesday.

“Immediately after Operation Protective Edge we heard: now is the time for a diplomatic process,” he said with evident cynicism at a security conference at the INSS think tank in Tel Aviv.

Ya’alon said that there were calls, from within the cabinet — an apparent allusion to comments by ministers Tzipi Livni and Yair Lapid — and elsewhere, for Israel to withdraw from the territory, despite the fact that from May to July the Shin Bet arrested over 90 Hamas operatives whose alleged plan was to both attack Israel and overthrow the Palestinian Authority.

September 30, 2014 | 1 Comments » | 6 views

US rejects Netanyahu’s remarks

By Moran Azulay, Yitzhak Benhorin, Elior Levy, YNET

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech at the United Nations General Assembly on Monday garnered mixed responses from US officials, Palestinian legislators and from Knesset members across the political spectrum, with right-wing MKs lauding Netanyahu for exposing what they called “Abbas’s true face,” while those on the left side of the map termed the speech “an official seal of Netanyahu’s failure”.

In his speech, the prime minister drew a link between the threat Israel faces from Hamas in Gaza, to the threat the international community at large faces from the Islamic State. “Hamas, like the Islamic State, wants a caliphate,” he said.

‘Islamic State different from Hamas’
The United States was reluctant to accept Netanyahu’s comparison between Hamas and Islamic State.

September 30, 2014 | 14 Comments » | 4 views

How Saudi Arabia is distancing itself from the Islamic State

AL MONITOR

Thirteen years after US President George W. Bush declared war on terrorism, the Middle East is no closer to victory. Instead, terrorism appears to have morphed into an even more dangerous beast in the form of the Islamic State (IS). Westerners, as expressed through the media, seem to be under the same impression as they were after Sept. 11, 2001 — namely, that the Sunni jihadist movement is linked to the Wahhabi brand of Islam emanating from Saudi Arabia. This has prompted renewed debate among Saudis about this supposed Wahhabist-jihadist connection.

After bombings in Riyadh by al-Qaeda in 2003, the relationship between terrorism and religious extremism was widely discussed in the kingdom, with the government establishing the King Abdulaziz Center for National Dialogue that same year. During the dialogue’s second meeting, Extremism and Moderation … A Comprehensive Methodological Vision, it was agreed that religious programs in Saudi Arabia were the primary force behind the spread of extremism in society. As a result of the dialogue, school curricula, the religious curriculum in particular, were modified by the Ministry of Education. Doubts remained, however, that religious education had been sufficiently modified given that radical Islamists were believed to dominate the education sector in the kingdom.

September 30, 2014 | 53 Comments » | 13 views

Holy Land: The Perils Facing Christians

by Pierre Rehov, GATESTONE INSTITUTE

If you ask anyone in the Middle East the meaning of the saying, ” First the Saturday people, then the Sunday people,” he will answer with a smile: “First, we will get rid of those who pray on Saturday, and then we will get rid of those who pray on Sunday.”

A recent survey conducted by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs shows that the Christian Population of Bethlehem dropped from 90% in the 19th century down to 60% in the 1990s. Today Christians make up less than 10%. What happened?

Of course, many Christians fled in the 1940s and 1960s, out of fear of the war, or as a result of intensive anti-Jewish propaganda. At that time, Christians already suffered discrimination from Muslims, and many also opposed the rebirth of the Jewish nation. Their views, apart from their faith, were more influence by the local, Arab culture, than by the European Enlightenment.

September 30, 2014 | 0 Comments » | 3 views

Jews enter 6 more buildings in Silwan secretly bought from Arabs

JEWISH PRESS

Israeli soldiers and security personnel protect Jews in Silwan Valley.
Israeli soldiers and security personnel protect Jews in Silwan Valley.
Photo Credit: Flash 90

More than two dozen Jews under heavy police escort moved into six more homes purchased by a Jewish investment company in Silwan Valley, including the City of David complex, in eastern Jerusalem Monday night.

A group of Arabs hurled firecrackers and stones at police in a failed attempt to enter one of the buildings, and one policeman was treated at the scene for head wounds.

Three of the homes are located in the City of David complex, located on the road opposite the Dung Gate that is the entrance to the Western Wall Plaza. At least one of the other homes is situated near the ancient Silwan Pool.

September 30, 2014 | 9 Comments » | 11 views

Israel’s strategy

By Ted Belman

Ted 4I attended a half day conference at Bar Ilan University dealing with Protective Edge.

Min Steinitz who was the key speaker essentially laid out the policy of the government. He said that Israel had no illusions about Abbas or the prospects of peace negotiations, or the state of antisemitism, the BDS movement etc, nonetheless Israel has managed through out her 67 years or so to grow, develop and prosper. Therefor Israel will continue to endure but will not change course with some dramatic action.

As it happens the same thing was told to me before Rosh Hashanah by an insider friend of mine.

Vic Rosenthal in his article, What’s the Alternative? wrote,

September 29, 2014 | 35 Comments » | 4 views

The left needs to accept how democracy works

First I posted The peace camp still doesn’t get it by Ari Shavit in Haaretz. Then I posted Israel really hasn’t silenced dissent  from Haaretz just earlier tonight. And now this.  Haaretz is trying to tell the left something. Talk about taking ownership of your own failure. Good for them.

It’s ironic: those who claim to be the biggest advocates of democratic government seem to have the most difficulty accepting the verdict of the electorate.

By Moshe Arens, HAARETZ

Judging by a recent exchange of op-ed pieces and letters to the editor in this paper, despair seems to have gripped some of the Israelis who identify with the left. There are those who declare their intent to leave Israel, while others urge them to stay and keep up the good fight against the right.

They have yet to explain why it is those claiming to be the advocates of democratic government that have most difficulty in accepting the verdict of the electorate that has brought to power a government not to their liking. After all, changes of government are the essence of democratic rule. It is true that for many years the left was in control in Israel, and even before that for many years in the pre-state days. But it was the “upset” that brought the right to power in 1977 which demonstrated that Israel was a real democracy. And the changes of governments we have had since then have confirmed it, over and over.

September 29, 2014 | 2 Comments » | 3 views

Israel really hasn’t silenced dissent

A New York Times op-ed suggests that a right-wing cabal has shut us Israeli leftists up, and we can do little do about it. But we haven’t been silenced. We’ve just failed to make our case.

By Noah Efron, HAARETZ

A protest held in Haifa against the Israeli operation in Gaza, July 19, 2014.

A protest held in Haifa against the Israeli operation in Gaza, July 19, 2014. Photo by Rami Shllush

As I write this, the most-emailed post on the New York Times website is a short piece called “How Israel Silences Dissent,” by Mairav Zonszein who, like me, moved to Israel from America where she was born. And like me, she is a leftist and a political activist. Zonszein describes a small group of thugs who mixed it up with Tel Aviv peace demonstrators at the start of the Gaza war, a death threat phoned into a theater against a renowned 75 year old stage actress, Gila Almagor, after a newspaper reported that the grotesque murder and immolation of a Palestinian teen in Jerusalem left her embarrassed to be an Israeli, the cancelling of an endorsement deal for a gifted comedian, Orna Banai, after she expressed sympathy for Gazan kids, and threats against a Haaretz journalist, Gideon Levy, who described Israeli pilots as war criminals. All these, Zonszein wrote, demonstrate “the aggressive silencing of anyone who voices disapproval of Israeli policies or expresses empathy with Palestinians.”

The thing is, they don’t.

September 29, 2014 | 2 Comments » | 7 views

Full text of Netanyahu’s speech at UN

Thank you, Mr. President.

Distinguished delegates, I come here from Jerusalem to speak on behalf of my people, the people of Israel. I’ve come here to speak about the dangers we face and about the opportunities we see. I’ve come here to expose the brazen lies spoken from this very podium against my country and against the brave soldiers who defend it.

Ladies and Gentlemen, The people of Israel pray for peace.

But our hopes and the world’s hope for peace are in danger. Because everywhere we look, militant Islam is on the march.

September 29, 2014 | 6 Comments » | 4 views

Abbas bashes Israel to boost self

JPOST

Lieberman1UNITED NATIONS – Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has lost his legitimacy to speak on behalf of the Palestinian people, and his strident rhetoric at the United Nations is an effort to improve his domestic status, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman said Monday.

Liberman, at a brief press conference in the halls of the UN an hour before Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was to address the General Assembly, characterized Abbas’s UN speech last week as a “message of hate and incitement.”

“It is clear that he has no intention to make peace with Israel,” Liberman said.

Questioning Abbas’ ability to speak on behalf of the Palestinians, Liberman said that not only does he have no control over the Gaza Strip, but that he has also postponed Palestinian parliamentary and presidential elections for more than four years.

September 29, 2014 | 0 Comments » | 3 views

Yaalon sums up Protective Edge

Defense minister says IDF killed 40 senior Hamas officials, responds to criticism of government’s decision-making during Protective Edge. Ya’alon: Gaza artillery inventory down to 20 percent

Yoav Zitun, YNET

Yaalon1Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said on Monday that only 20 percent of Gaza’s artillery arsenal remained intact after Operation Protective Edge.

The defense minister recounted the military’s military achievements, saying the IDF killed “40 senior Hamas officials and 10 from Islamic Jihad. As of today, only 20 percent of the rocket and mortar inventory remains from before the operation, when there were some 10,000 rockets and mortars.”

At a Bar Ilan University conference, Ya’alon claimed that “Hamas felt it was prepared for a conflict before the operation, and when it was desperate it tried a kidnap and kill mission in the southern Strip; we tracked the preparations for this attack and we thwarted it using airstrikes, and that is how we entered the operation.”

September 29, 2014 | 0 Comments » | 3 views

Bedouins: Polygamy is Natural, Don’t Interfere

Bedouin leaders fire back at the minister who dared to challenge their right to marry several women.

By Shimon Cohen and Gil Ronen, INN

Young Bedouin women.

Young Bedouin women.
Flash 90

Leaders of the Negev Bedouin fired back immediately Sunday at Agriculture Minister Yair Shamir (Yisrael Beytenu), who called Sunday for an end to polygamy in the Bedouin sector. Shamir, who heads the Committee onRegulation of Bedouin Settlement, told a Bedouin group that he is considering reviving a plan proposed in the past to place limits on Bedouin marriage.

MK Taleb Abu Arar (Raam-Taal) responded by saying that he is not surprised by Shamir’s words. He referred to them as “extremist statements that exposed the true face of minister Shamir, who has been charged withimproving the life of the Bedouin.”

September 29, 2014 | 4 Comments » | 6 views

What is the alternative?

By Vic Rosenthal

All courses of action are risky, so prudence is not in avoiding danger (it’s impossible), but calculating risk and acting decisively. Make mistakes of ambition and not mistakes of sloth. Develop the strength to do bold things, not the strength to suffer. – Machiavelli

Recently, in response to my saying that the Palestinian Authority was more trouble than it is worth, a reader asked “what exactly is the alternative?”

To broaden his question a bit, we might ask “what is the alternative to what Israel is doing now,” which is essentially as little as possible — reacting to threats, but taking no initiatives.

September 29, 2014 | 110 Comments » | 13 views

Criticisms of the U.S.-led Air Campaign against ISIS

by Daniel Pipes,
Sep 28, 2014

The brief version:

Keep an eye on the ball: the Iranian nuclear build-up is 1,000 times a greater threat than ISIS.

Tehran should be left to deal with this problem, which threatens its allies in Damascus and Baghdad, and potentially even Iran itself.

Pipes’ iron rule of war: Never initiate fighting unless prepared to do what is needed to win. (I.e., don’t in advance rule out ground troops.)

The search for moderate opponents to the Assad regime is chimerical.

Destroying oil production facilities is almost always a mistake.

American efforts should be limited to (1) providing assistance to the Kurds and (2) humanitarian missions.

 

September 28, 2014 | 0 Comments » | 3 views

Peace talks are officially off the table

Analysis: Israelis and Palestinians are left with a battlefield between a government which will forever stick to status quo and a desperate PA which is fighting it, with world’s growing support. 

By Nachum Barnea, YNET

United Nations General Assembly hall is greenish – an unusual color in halls of this kind. It’s quite possible that it is green with shame. The amount of lies said in front of this wall by heads of state, each in their own language, is beyond chutzpa, is stranger than fiction.

The speakers have lied, and so have the members of the delegations in the hall, who welcomed every lie with a round of applause.

Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas’ speech was no exception. Among other things, he accused Israel of waging a genocide war in Gaza. He knew it was a lie, and yet he said it, hoping that the lie would hold. Genocide is a term which must not be uttered recklessly. On the diplomatic and legal level, it’s similar to a declaration of war.

September 28, 2014 | 0 Comments » | 3 views

Is Obama Striking an Alliance with Iran?

By Ron Radosh, PJ MEDIA

Obama RouhaniTwo new issues have emerged regarding the Obama administration’s policy towards ISIS, which was announced last week in President Obama’s speech to the nation. Both are connected to Iran: (a) the positions the administration will take regarding cooperation with it in fighting ISIS and (b) in negotiations regarding Iran’s nuclear centrifuges.

Should the United States accept Iran as a partner in its fight to “degrade and destroy” ISIS? Already, many self-proclaimed “realists” have argued for its necessity.

In today’s Washington Post, Fareed Zakaria states:

If President Obama truly wants to degrade and destroy the Islamic State, he must find a way to collaborate with Iran — the one great power in the Middle East with which the United States is still at odds. Engagement with Iran – while hard and complicated — would be a strategic game-changer, with benefits spreading from Iraq to Syria to Afghanistan.

September 28, 2014 | 2 Comments » | 5 views

Abbas’ harsh speech at the UN is a new year’s gift for the Israeli right

Abbas ratcheted up his rhetoric against Israel after Islamic State and other jihadists stole his thunder and took center stage.

By Chemi Shalev, HAARETZ

Abbas addresses the 69th Session of the UN General Assembly, September 26, 2014, NYC.

Taken at face value, Mahmoud Abbas’ speech before the United Nations General Assembly on Friday might legitimately be labelled “historic.” Abbas more or less buried the “peace process” that the United States has been leading for the past two decades and charted a brand new diplomatic course for the Palestinians, one of confrontation rather than conciliation, in international forums instead of U.S.-mediated bilateral negotiations. The Israeli government and its right wing adherents may be huffing and puffing in public over Abbas’ change of direction, but privately they are filled with joy: Abbas just gave them an invaluable political gift, just in time for the Jewish new year.

Contrary to the positive speech that he delivered earlier this week to American students at New York’s Cooper Union College, Abbas’ target audience now wasn’t in New York or Washington but in Gaza and Ramallah. Abbas was not appealing to supporters of the peace process in Western public opinion, as he has in the past, but to the Palestinians’ “base” of core supporters in the Arab, Muslim and Third worlds, as well as Europe. He tried to shed his popular image as a Obama and Kerry’s poodle and to recast himself as bulldog who can be just as fierce as Ismail Haniyeh or Khaled Mashaal.

September 27, 2014 | 16 Comments » | 3 views

Abbas woos his home crowd, alienates Israel, ‘fires’ the US

Employing incendiary rhetoric, the PA president’s ‘genocide’ speech to the UN makes plain he’s done with negotiating via the Washington model

BY REBECCA SHIMONI STOIL, TOI September 27, 2014, 8:11 pm

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas delivers a speech at Cooper Union, Monday, Sept. 22, 2014, in New York. (photo credit: AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas delivers a speech at Cooper Union, Monday, Sept. 22, 2014, in New York. (photo credit: AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas delivers a speech at Cooper Union, Monday, Sept. 22, 2014, in New York. (photo credit: AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)

Abbas, striding through the UN’s corridors Wednesday, reached the doors to the plenary together with his sizable security detail to attend the General Assembly’s opening speeches. The guards at the doors to the room told him that he could go in — but that those guys he came with needed to go around to the other door.

Abbas entered. Behind him, a brief scuffle broke out between his entourage and the UN guards. Safely inside the room, such minor unpleasantnesses literally behind him, Abbas was somehow above the fray, an elder statesman representing his people to a largely sympathetic audience.

September 27, 2014 | 41 Comments » | 5 views