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February 23, 2013

ISRAEL'S WEEK – COALITION, IRAN, TURKEY, PALESTINIANS

BIBI DOESN'T GET IT, YET!

Israel's coalition crisis drags on with Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu still unable to cobble together a new government that can command a solid majority in the 120 member Knesset. In fact, King Bibi is now facing a determined bid by two apparent heirs to his throne: Yair Lapid of 'There's A Future' and Naftali Bennett of 'Jewish Home' parties.

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January 31, 2013

WHY ISRAEL ATTACKED SYRIA

Actually the policy is not new - whenever Israel's vital interests are at stake, Israel will pre-empt and not wait until it is too late. This is the key to understanding the strategy behind the air raids that knocked out the truck convoy transporting sophisticated Russian SA-17 anti-aircraft missiles to Hezbollah and destroyed a chemical weapons facility not far from Damascus. The Syrian army is known already to be equipped with mustard, VX (nerve), and Sarin gas weaponry, as well as SCUD missiles that can deliver them to Israeli population centers.

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January 21, 2013

Israel at the Ballot Box

 With Israeli society more polarized than ever, a staunchly right-wing government is only more likely to exacerbate these divisions. Gilead Sher and Olivia Holt-Ivry discuss the elections in Israel.

 Projecting elections is a risky task, even more so in Israel. At the end of the dramatic 1996 Election Day, the public went to bed with expectations of Shimon Peres as the next prime minister, only to awaken the following morning to Binyamin Netanyahu having won by a slim 30,000 votes. Beating all political commentators, politicians and analysts, the outcome of those elections — held after the traumatic assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin — should be a lesson in humility when predicting developments in the Israeli political arena. Consequently, the following is a guide for perplexed observers, rather than a projection of the general elections’ results.

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December 17, 2012

Palestinians & Israeli Elections

 What is the most dominant factor that determines the winner of an Israeli election campaign? Without fail it is how Israeli voters perceive Palestinian intentions and without fail the Palestinian leadership takes a hostile stance smack in the middle of the campaign. Analyst David Essing is of the view it is happening once again.

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December 08, 2012

George Orwell in Israeli-Palestinian Confrontation

 George Orwell can best cast light on the persistent claims of Hamas and by Israeli officials in the current confrontation between Israel and the Palestinians. Hamas leaders Khaled Mashal and Ismail Haniya claim an historic Palestinian victory over Israel in the recent eight day battle with Israel – nothing could be further from the truth. Hamas rocket teams and their weapons arsenals were clobbered in Gaza and they know it. On the other hand, after 138 nations in the UN General Assembly voted in favor of recognizing Palestine as a non- member observer state, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu adopted the old Arab adage of 'cutting off your nose to spite your face' by announcing plans to build 3,000 housing units linking Jerusalem with the Israeli town of Maale Adumim in Judea & Samaria (West Bank). This construction plan was condemned instantly by nearly one and all including Israel's closest allies, even Canada. Yet Netanyahu and his Likud cabinet ministers stand by the settlement decision as a fitting response to the flagrant violation of the Oslo Accord by West Bank Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

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December 01, 2012

Isracast Weekend Report

 It is a diplomatic debacle for Israel - that is an accurate description of the massive support by the UN General Assembly for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Back in Jerusalem, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu downplayed the impact charging that nothing had changed on the ground - only direct negotiations with Israel could ever lead to a Palestinian state. Moreover, by taking a unilateral step to bypass talks with Israel, Abbas had violated the Oslo Accord and two could play that game. Israel would also react with its own one-sided measures. Later Israeli officials announced government approval for the construction of 3,000 new housing units that will link the West Bank settlement town of Maale Adumin with Jerusalem. There is no question that Israel will insist on the area remaining part of Israel in any future peace agreement with the Palestinians.

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November 27, 2012

Likud Swings Right –Livni Enters & Barak Exits

While Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu portrayed the new Likud list as 'a strong young national team', Labor's Shelly Yachimovich has blasted it as 'an extreme Right wing party with no social agenda'.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak probably left political life after his successful contribution to the recent Gaza operation before his party's poor showing in upcoming election. But he has also left his options open for a possible Netanyahu offer to return as defense minister if he forms the next government.

Tzipi Livni has entered the campaign claiming only she can attract moderate Likud supporters who are turned off by the new Likud ticket.

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November 26, 2012

Israel & Gaza - 'Quiet for Quiet'

 After the intense eight-day conflict both sides claim victory with Israel pledging that 'quiet will be met with quiet'. However Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his government have been facing criticism for 'not finishing the job' and ordering a ground operation into Gaza to stop the repeated rocketing of Israeli civilians. Not only the Israeli residents in the south who have been terrorized for years from Gaza but also many of the IDF reserve soldiers mobilized for a ground attack, blamed Netanyahu for not going all the way. However analyst David Essing is of the view that Netanyahu along with Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman succeeded in blending military force with diplomacy in furthering Israel's national interest at this time.   

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November 22, 2012

Statecraft of Obama, Netanyahu and Morsi

 As of 21:00 hours local time, the Palestinian rockets from Gaza ceased flying through the air bound for Israeli towns and villages while Israeli aircraft stopped raiding Hamas targets in Gaza. The latest round in the latest slugfest between Gaza and Israel was over. Egypt's President Muhamed Morsi, the surprising Muslim Brotherhood leader, is now charged with overseeing that both sides honor the new truce. The silent and final arbitrator in this unlikely scenario is U.S. President Barack Obama who has skillfully pulled his substantial levers with both sides, possibly for the benefit of one and all, including the Palestinians in Gaza. Analyst David Essing is of the view that the process of achieving the latest ceasefire could be of paramount importance.

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November 21, 2012

No Recycling of Hamas Ceasefires

 Isracast Assessment: Israel insisting the new ceasefire must include solid guarantees that will bar the renewal of Palestinian rocketing from Gaza for a long term. Will Hamas agree to such a demand that would pull the rug out from their vow to wipe Israel off the map? Analyst David Essing is of the view that behind the flurry of diplomatic activity to halt the violence, U.S. President Barack Obama and Egyptian leader Mohamed Morsi have been cooperating on a deal to resolve the crisis and possibly restart negotiations between Israel & Palestinians. In return, the U.S. would again view Egypt as a close ally with all that entails. As President, will Morsi put Egypt's crucial economic interests before his role as leader of the radical Muslim Brotherhood and lean on Hamas to halt its rocketing of Israel? In Jerusalem, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is weighing the pros and cons: whether the ceasefire deal offers a reasonable prospect of peace and quiet for Israeli residents in the south and the subsequent improvement in relations with Egypt and the U.S. or to launch an IDF ground operation into Gaza. He will hold off at least until U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton joins the bevy of diplomats visiting the region. Meanwhile, while the diplomatic deliberations continue, both Israel and the Palestinians are continuing to slug it out with civilians on both sides caught in the middle. So far the IDF has hit over 1400 terror targets in Gaza while signaling that there must be quiet on both sides of the border.

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November 15, 2012

Gaza-Israel and the Bigger Middle East Picture

 Regional implications: First, Israel will not allow Egypt's President Mohammed Morsi to hold Israeli peace treaty as ransom for Gaza rocketing of Israel. Second, after rise of Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Hamas felt it could cross Israel's red line with impunity. Analyst David Essing is of the view that Israel will also react with the necessary force, if Iran crosses Israel's nuclear red line this spring.

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November 12, 2012

Israel on Verge of Major Ground Operation Into Gaza

 Within twenty-four hours over one hundred rockets and missiles launched from Gaza sent some one and a half million Israeli men, women and children racing for their bomb shelters. Only 'Color Red!', the wail of sirens, that give children and adults fifteen seconds warning to reach safety the 'Iron Dome' missile defense, have prevented many Israelis being killed. As it is, a number have been injured as the missiles landed as far away as the city of Beersheba. In some cases, parents caught in the open were seen huddling over their children to protect them with their own bodies. Life in southern has been paralyzed for days. Analyst David Essing is of the view that Tzachi Hanegbi, a confidant of Netanyahu was obviously speaking on instructions from the Prime Minister.

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November 05, 2012

Kahlon's Cold Feet and Abbas's Hot Tip

 What is the impact of Likud Cabinet Minister's Moshe Kahlon's final decision not to form a new party to run against the Likud in the upcoming election? Kahlon's shooting star has now burned out and the campaign will now turn to whether former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will again throw his hat into the ring to lead a new Center bloc or whether he will succumb to his numerous legal problems. From another quarter, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has also got into the action by trying to stir up interest in the moribund Palestinian issue. Analyst David Essing has this election update.

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October 25, 2012

Iran, Sudan, Gaza and Israel

 The Israeli-Gaza border: Hundreds of thousands of Israeli civilians have come out of their bomb shelters this morning after being bombarded by some eighty rockets and mortars. Kids went back to school and their parents left for work. But for how long? During the flare-up, Israeli aircraft and tanks targeted the Palestinian rocket teams. Amid the cross border fireworks, a mysterious explosion demolished a munitions plant in Sudan that was supplying weapons to the Palestinians. Khartoum pointed the finger at Israel - four Israeli jets had bombed the site. Jerusalem did not confirm or deny. Analyst David Essing concludes there are more questions than answers after the latest conflagration.

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August 29, 2012

Israel's Landscape of Strategic Threats

 With Iran closing in on nuclear weapons and the 'Arab Spring' in high gear, the stark IDF intelligence estimate comes as no surprise. The outlook for 2013 is for a more unstable and Islamist Middle East and a higher security threat to Israel. IDF Intelligence Commander, Maj.Gen. Aviv Kochavi has briefed the IDF high command and will also present it to the full cabinet. The Yisrael Hayom newspaper has disclosed some details of the classified document that will serve as as Israel's security assessment for 2013.

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August 14, 2012

Morsi Inaugerates New Egypt

The shock waves are still reverberating and will for some time to come in Egypt, Israel and the entire Middle East. In a stunning coup, Egypt's newly elected President Mohamed Morsi has purged the all-powerful top brass of the Egyptian Army that has ruled the country since 1952. After his election, most pundits jumped the gun - take TIME magazine's cover story of July 9: 'The Revolution That Wasn't, Why The Generals Remain Egypt's Real Rulers'. Analyst David Essing has this assessment from Jerusalem of what is being viewed as an historic development in the country along the Nile.

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July 31, 2012

Israel, Turkey & Syria's Chemical Weapons

The menace of President Bashar Assad's arsenal of chemical weapons overshadows the current chaos in Syria. In a briefing to the Knesset Foreign Affairs & Defense Committee, IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz addressed the volatile situation that has pitted the Syrian Army and the rebels exchanging fire near the Israeli border on the Golan Heights. Analyst David Essing says there are differing accounts on whether the Chief of Staff warned that an Israeli strike against Syria's chemical weapons could start a regional flareup.

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July 19, 2012

Syria - Beginning of the End?

 Does the deadly bomb blast in Damascus that killed three of President Bashar Assad's three top officials spell the beginning of the end? That is the question that is now being asked in Israel. Just twenty-four hours earlier, IDF Maj.Gen. Aviv Kochavi gave a closed-door briefing on the situation in Syria. Kochavi, the commander of the IDF Intelligence Branch stated: 'Syria is going the way of Iraq: the demise of the central government and the breakup of the state into various tribal regions'. In the Knesset Foreign Affairs & Defense Committee, Gen. Kochavi reviewed the latest developments on Israel's various fronts. Analyst David Essing is of the view that not only Iranian A-Bombs pose a future threat, Syria's massive chemical weapons may now be a 'clear and present danger!'

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July 16, 2012

MI6 Backs Barak on Nuclear Iran

 MI6 is Britain's equivalent of Israel's Mossad and America's CIA, therefore its director Sir John Sawers should have a pretty clear picture of the Iranian nuclear crisis. According to Britain's Daily Telegraph, Sawers took the wraps off the current situation in a rare briefing to 100 British civil servants. Analyst David Essing finds points of agreement between the MI6 and that of Israel's Defense Minister Ehud Barak. (See IsraCast - 'Barak's Time Line on Iran').

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June 17, 2012

Israel is Not Czechoslovakia

 'Israel is not Czechoslovakia' - that statement came from Israel's Minister of Strategic Affairs Moshe Yaalon amid the current nuclear talks with Iran. Interviewed by the Israeli daily Haaretz, Yaalon disclosed that despite the international effort to rein in Iran's nuclear weapons program, Tehran has actually been accelerating its uranium enrichment. At the same time, Yaalon said Israel has not yet reached the point that it has to decide whether to bomb and the international community could still act 'forcefully and with determination' against Iran. But if the question arose about whether Israel should accept an Iranian A-bomb or to bomb - the answer would be to bomb. Analyst David Essing is of the view that Yaalon has revealed some key intelligence to dispel some of the diplomatic fog surrounding the nuclear talks being conducted with Iran by the P5+1 and the International Atomic Energy Agency.

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