To date, the Republican presidential primary race has been the only place to have generated any useful contributions to America’s collective understanding of current events in the Middle East. Last month, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich became the first major political figure in more than a generation to pour cold water over the Palestinian myth of indigenous peoplehood by stating the truth, that the Palestinians are an “invented people.”
Washington – The White House estimated Monday that Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government is on the verge of collapse and called on the United Nations to adopt a resolution that would facilitate a political transition in Syria.
White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters that Assad’s fall in inevitable, noting that the Damascus regime has lost control over the country.
Opposition groups reported that some 100 people were killed at the hand of the security forces on Monday, primarily in Homs and on the outskirts of Damascus, where the Assad’s troops clashed with rebels’ army.
On Monday, the Prime Minister’s Bureau announced the members of the panel, which “will examine real estate issues in the West Bank”: former Supreme Court Justice Edmond Levy, chairman; retired Judge Tchia Shapira, the daughter of former Chief Rabbi Shlomo Goren; and attorney Alan Baker, who formerly served both as legal advisor to the Foreign Ministry and as Israeli ambassador to Canada. Today, Baker – himself a resident of the settlement of Har Adar – runs a small law firm specializing in international law.
The New York Times Magazine – Feature article- January 29, 2012
By RONEN BERGMAN
As the Sabbath evening approached on Jan. 13, Ehud Barak paced the wide living-room floor of his home high above a street in north Tel Aviv, its walls lined with thousands of books on subjects ranging from philosophy and poetry to military strategy. Barak, the Israeli defense minister, is the most decorated soldier in the country’s history and one of its most experienced and controversial politicians. He has served as chief of the general staff for the Israel Defense Forces, interior minister, foreign minister and prime minister. He now faces, along with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and 12 other members of Israel’s inner security cabinet, the most important decision of his life — whether to launch a pre-emptive attack against Iran. We met in the late afternoon, and our conversation — the first of several over the next week — lasted for two and a half hours, long past nightfall. “This is not about some abstract concept,” Barak said as he gazed out at the lights of Tel Aviv, “but a genuine concern. The Iranians are, after all, a nation whose leaders have set themselves a strategic goal of wiping Israel off the map.”
When all the wild, desperate, improbable solutions to a problem have been exhausted, there is nothing left to turn to but the obvious.
In respect to the Arab-Israel conflict, the “obvious” has been staring us in face for over 40 years. Encapsulated in the mantra “Two States for Two Peoples on Two Banks of the Jordan River,“ it has the distinction of being the most ignored testament to rationality and common sense in the history of international diplomacy.
An “invented ”nation the so-called Palestinians surely are, but given the world’s acceptance of their claim to sovereignty, it is on the shoulders of the world, not on Israel’s, that the realization of that aspiration rests.
Khaled Meshaal, the head of Hamas, visited King Abdullah of Jordan on Jan 29 and made a special point of saying publically:
- “Hamas stands firm against Israel’s schemes to turn Jordan into a substitute homeland. Jordan is Jordan and Palestine is Palestine. We insist on restoring Palestinian rights,”
King Abdullah added his two cents:
- “Jordan supports the Palestinian Authority as well as Palestinian reconciliation,”
“Uniting the Palestinian stand will strengthen the Palestinian people and help restore their rights,”
Around 70 West Bank settlements were on the list of communities eligible for housing and development grants that the cabinet approved on Sunday.
Most of them – 57 – are settlements located outside the boundary of the security barrier’s planned route.
Israel has promised the international community that it would not provide special incentives for settlement development and construction.
Do not speak of it in public. Do not expect any Israeli official to admit it. But Israel is facing an issue unlike anything it has had to deal with during the past 50 years: It cannot depend on the United States.
True, the relationship in terms of weapons’ supply remains good. Old programs continue to provide advanced arms to Israel. Nor is the problem the one most people think of first: on Israel-Palestinian, “peace process” issues.
MESHAAL THROWS DOWN THE GUANTLET. He is clearly targetting the work of Mudar Zahran and me. Abdullah and he are running scared. His comments confirm what Mudar has been writing about, namely that they are both dedicated to prevent Jordan becoming Palestine. This is good news. Meshaal has now placed the issue front and center. Everyone will be talking about it.Ted Belman
Hamas chief Khaled Meshal on Sunday made his first official visit to Jordan since the kingdom expelled him more than a decade ago and after talks with King Abdullah insisted that Jordan will not be a substitute homeland for the Palestinians.
“We are happy with this new good start … We are keen on building strong ties with Jordan and on its security, stability and interests,” AFP quotes Meshal as saying in a statement after the meeting.
Times of Oman
AFP, Sun Jan 29 2012
Jordan: Jordan’s King Abdullah II, who celebrates his 50th birthday on Monday, begins the 14th year of his reign facing urgent popular calls to fight corruption and carry out genuine reforms.
It has not been easy for Abdullah since ascending the throne on February 7, 1999 after his father King Hussein died — due to the 9/11 attacks, the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq and the turbulent Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
But amid the difficulties, Jordan has long enjoyed a reputation for stability and security, as well as a relative openness compared to other Arab countries.
But now the Arab Spring poses a major challenge for the king.
I will be posting these report on a regular basis.
STRATEGIC RESEARCH AND COMMUNICATION CENTRE
The Arab League suspended the Observers Mission to Syria because the violence intensified and killings have escalated on the ground. The League is currently negotiating with Russia before the UNSC meeting on Syria to gain its support.
Assad forces killed at least 30 civilians today as it still believes it can stop the revolution. Dozens of tanks, armoured units, and thousands of soldiers and militiamen were brought into the cities of Ain Tarma, Kafarbatna, Saqba, Hamouriya, and Jesrain in the Eastern Ghouta area of the suburbs of Damascus. The regime tried to break into those cities but was met with fierce resistance and was pushed back in most of them by the revolutionaries assisted by defected soldiers who defected during the attack. This comes while heavy artillery continued to shell the city under the circling and monitoring of combat helicopters.
DEBKAfile Special Report January 26, 2012, 10:50 PM (GMT+02:00)
Military tensions in the Persian Gulf shot up again Thursday, Jan. 26, after Dubai police commander Gen. Dhahi Khalfan said on Al Arabiya television that an imminent Gulf war cannot be ruled out and first signs are already apparent. “The world will not let Iran block Hormuz but Tehran can narrow the strait to the maximum,” he said.
He echoed debkafile’s predictions that Iran will not shut down the Strait of Hormuz completely, but gradually cut down tanker traffic which carries 17 million barrels, or one-fifth of the world’s daily consumption, through the waterway. Our Iranian sources report that the rule of thumb Tehran has devised for confront sanctions is to respond to the tightening of an oil embargo by having the Revolutionary Guards gradually narrow the tankers’ shipping lanes through the strategic strait. This will progressively cut down the amount of oil reaching the markets.
By Matthew M. Hausman
Secular Jewish leaders have been wringing their hands lately over the perceived threat to democracy from public expressions of Christianity, even as they turn a blind eye to the very real dangers posed by militant Islam and advancing Sharia. The sight of a football player on bent knee after scoring a touchdown causes great consternation among those who claim that superfluous displays of faith will somehow lead to violence. Their obsession reflects a wider effort to undercut support for political candidates who have better records on Israel than many liberal Democrats, but whose constituents happen to include fundamentalist Christians.
The apparent strategy is to suggest that politicians endorsed by the Christian faithful will somehow erode democratic institutions, and to confuse classical conservatism with divergent right-wing ideologies. However, the progressive mainstream’s focus on a single faith of fluctuating electoral significance in national elections is ironic given its ambivalence regarding the documented connection between Islamism and violence against Jews, Israel and the West, and its naive enabling of the Islamist agenda.
After a series of meetings between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators in Jordan, Palestinian President Mahdoud Abbas has called a time out so he can consult with the Arab League on next steps. In the meantime, the Washington Post is quick to report that the talks have been “foundering” and that diplomacy has reached a crisis stage. It also, predictably, blames mainly Israel for lack of progress, while uncritically purveying a slew of Palestinian propaganda lies (“Efforts under way to try to save Mideast negotiations – Israel, Palestinians at standstill over borders and security” by Joel Greenberg, Jan. 27, page A12).
T. Belman. This was a comment made to the post on borders from yesterday. It was worth posting.
By Leila Paul
Borders? Very simple issue. What was initially promised to Israel by the Allied Powers – all of what is called historical Palestine.
By negotiating borders Israel is showing weakness and half acknowledging the terrorists have rights. They do not. It’s the weakness of soft, leftist Jews who have allowed this to go on so long that people no longer understand Israel’s legal rights and that successive Israeli governments have been weak in enforcing Israel’s rights to Judea, Samaria and – in my opinion – even into the ancient Abrahamic homeland of Mesopotamia. So at minimum, there must be zero – no compromise – discussions about Judea and Samaria.
I was born at a time when Palestine was a legitimate legal entity only from 1922 to 1948 under the British mandate. My ancestry goes back at least five generation of Bethlehem Palestinian Christians but I openly acknowledge the deceit and treachery of what happened in Judea and Samaria.
by Jerry Gordon, The Iconoclast
Florida citizen lobbyists attended a prayer breakfast yesterday at the University Club on the campus of Florida State University in Tallahassee. The prayer breakfast was sponsored by Christian Family Coalition (CFC) . Present were representatives of the Southeastern region of the Zionist Organizations of America (ZOA), Christians and Jews United for Israel, Americans for a Safe Israel.
Among the speakers at the kickoff of a day of citizen lobbying with Florida legislators were GOP Presidential hopeful former US Senate Majority leader from Pennsylvania, Rick Santorum, Florida Senate President Mike Haridopolos and House Speaker Dean Cannon. Haridopolos had just come back from a trip to Israel. Santorum is an unabashed friend of Israel from his Congressional Days.
By MARTIN SHERMAN, JPOST
Israel’s diplomatic reaction to recent charges that its water policy is racist exposes a preference for passivity over preemption.
- Water reveals a new apartheid in the Middle East. The 450,000 Israeli settlers in the West Bank use as much or more water than some 2.3 million Palestinians… even if only a few dare to use the word, all indications are that the Middle East is the scene of a new apartheid…. And in this situation, water is a particular element of conflict between Palestinians and Israelis. – Excerpt from the French parliamentary report on “The Geopolitics of Water”
My most recent columns have been devoted to analyzing Israel’s public diplomacy, the reasons for its manifest ineptitude, and the mechanisms that produce this abysmal performance.
By Ted Belman
Israel orally presented its ideas on borders at the last meeting in Jordan,
- The borders presented by Molcho are similar to the route of the separation fence, which was constructed in such a way that most of the major ‘settlement blocs’ remained on the western side of the fence. This includes Gush Etzion, Ma’aleh Adumim, Beitar Illit, Kiryat Sefer and Alfei Menashe. Israel insists that Ariel also be included as part of Israeli territory in a permanent status agreement with the PA.
In the past the PA has consistently rejected having the border be determined based the separation fence.
When Kadima was negotiating borders, it started out by demanding these borders and experienced great resistance to Israel retaining Ariel and Maaleh Adumin. As I recall if Israel agreed to give up these settlements, about 125,000 Jews would have to be transferred. But if these towns were included then 50,000 would have to be removed. These numbers are rough numbers.
by Dore Gold, ISRAEL HAYOM
The 45 kilometer-wide Strait of Hormuz is the most important waterway for the movement of oil to Western markets and the Far East: Roughly 17 million barrels per day are moved through the Strait of Hormuz, or 20 percent of the oil traded worldwide. Yet on Dec. 28, 2011, the commander of the Iranian Navy, Admiral Habibolah Sayyari, declared that closing the Strait of Hormuz would be easier “than drinking a glass of water.” Iran wanted to intimidate the West, showing that it had options to respond to new sanctions against the Iranian oil industry that were being considered by the EU, and that had been signed into law by U.S. President Barack Obama.
Just the rumor that Iran was considering such a move could shoot up the price of oil, which in fact rose by 4% within days of Sayyari’s threat. Given the weakness of the European economies at present, Tehran was hoping that it had real leverage that it could employ against the West.