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April 13, 2014

Israel-US-Palestinian Conundrum

 It is not only about saving the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, the nature of Israeli -U.S. relations may be at stake.  U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Israel's Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu are trying to forge a deal that will apparently see Israel freeing fourteen Israeli Arabs with 'Israeli blood on their hands'. In return, Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas will carry on the peace contacts after April 29, when the current round runs out. The highest hurdle is now inside Israel's coalition government. The Jewish Home Party, which is led by Naftali Bennett, has issued an ultimatum: its twelve members will bolt the coalition if the Netanyahu government agrees to free the Israeli Arab terrorists. Netanyahu would then lose his 68 majority in the 120 member parliament. But on the other hand, another coalition partner has taken the exact opposite position. Tzippi Livni's Movement party has also threatened to quit the cabinet, if peace contacts are not continued with the Palestinians. After consulting with Livni before a Channel 22 interview, Knesset Member Amir Peretz declared: "If there is no peace process, there will be no government!" Currently, there are six Movement members in the coalition. So how on the Palestinian question has Prime Minister Netanyahu managed to wind up with both a confrontation with the U.S. and a major crisis in his coalition government? It is not all his fault.

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April 06, 2014

EHUD OLMERT - ISRAEL'S NATIONAL TRAGEDY

 It is a sorry tale of high politics and low morality. In the same week, a former Israeli prime minister from the moderate camp is convicted of bribery while U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry warns he may suspend his peace mission if Israel and the Palestinians fail their 'reality check'. Analyst David Essing connects the dots between these two seemingly separate developments. 

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March 30, 2014

KERRY TACKLES ISRAELI - PALESTINIAN LOGJAM

 What happens if the Kerry mission is unable to break the Israeli-Palestinian logjam by the April 29th deadline? So far the Secretary of State's diplomatic marathon has barely made a dent in the impasse. Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas are sticking to their guns. It hasn't come as any big surprise, what was apparent at the outset has prevailed: the maximum that either side is ready to offer is less than the minimum that the other side will accept. So rather than cobble a peace treaty between Israel and the Palestinians, the US Secretary of State is now trying just to keep the ball rolling on an agreed framework of principles. Even that is an uphill struggle. 

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March 20, 2014

NETANYAHU’S POLITICAL HEADACHES

 

 It makes no difference if you are a supporter of Israel's Prime Minister or not, you just had to sympathize with Bibi Netanyahu when he saw the headlines this morning. Staring him in the face were two political nightmares, but not the Iranian nuclear threat, Syria, or Palestinian terrorism. They were far closer to home.

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March 15, 2014

GAZA, CAMERON, ISRAEL & CRIMEA

 Rain of rockets...

 “We will not let them launch rockets at our children!” the warning came from Sderot's Mayor Elon Davidi to the Palestinian terrorists in Gaza who were launching over 100 rockets and mortars at his town. Israeli aircrafts went into action, and despite the thick fog and heavy rain, they targeted over thirty terrorist targets on the other side of the border. But it was the greatest deluge of rockets from Gaza since Israel conducted the Pillar of Defense operation to suppress similar rocketing in November, 2012. Since being hit hard at that time, the Hamas regime has abided by the ‘tahadiya’ cease-fire, except for the occasional rocket.

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March 06, 2014

IRAN'S TREACHERY EXPOSED BY ISRAEL

 While Iranian President Hassan Rouhani smiles his way through the current nuclear negotiations, Tehran's campaign of terrorism also continues at full tilt. At the very same time that Israel's Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was warning of Iran's nuclear treachery and deception, an Iranian vessel flying under a Panamanian flag was sailing in the Red Sea with a cargo of deadly missiles bound for Palestinian terrorists in the Gaza Strip. Within hours of Netanyahu's keynote speech to AIPAC in Washington, Israeli naval commandos boarded the ship in a daring operation before dawn.


 

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February 26, 2014

ISRAELI AIR STRIKE & IRAN'S NUCLEAR TALKS

 10:04 - Monday morning in Israel: Air raid sirens suddenly wail across the country sending hundreds of thousands of Israeli school children and kindergarten toddlers to their bomb shelters. There is no panic but some of the smaller children cry as their teachers or day care minders lead them to their underground havens. This time it was the annual drill - a dry run for the real thing that has become part of daily life in Israel. How many countries in the world have to face such a mortal threat to their children? Six decades after the Holocaust, Jewish children are again under mortal threat. And after the horrors of the current bloodbath in Syria, would anyone doubt their fate, if there is a terrible miscalculation over Israel's security needs.

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February 13, 2014

LIEBERMAN'S LEAP TO ISRAEL'S CENTER

 Does Israel's Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman realize something about U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry that the rest of his far Right wing colleagues do not?  Lieberman, who has a well-earned reputation for his caustic comments, is no fool; so surely there is more than meets the eye about the Foreign Minister's recent praise for Kerry. By contrast, in the Knesset, Lieberman once declared that former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to 'go to hell!' for refusing to visit the Jewish state.

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February 02, 2014

U.S. PEACE PLAN & NETANYAHU'S DILEMMA

 'Most Israelis do not want a bi-national state, I do not want a bi-national state!' If Israel's Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu means what he says, it is an indicator of where he is headed now.  Coming into the home stretch of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's exhaustive peace mission, Bibi's timing was crucial. Netanyahu has taken a meaningful step forward beyond his vague declaration in support of a two-state solution- Jewish and Palestinian. Obviously a Palestinian state would have to be founded on some undefined territory in the West Bank and Gaza. However, by rejecting the concept of a bi-national state, the Israeli leader has indicated that he is willing to part with the densely populated Palestinian parts of the West Bank, and with good reason. The high Palestinian birth rate would eventually threaten the very essence of the Jewish state of Israel, which Netanyahu insists the Palestinians must recognize. Former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat once said that if Israel remained in all of the West Bank: 'The womb of the Palestinian woman would achieve the eventual victory for Palestine'.

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January 22, 2014

NETANYAHU AT THE RUBICON, AGAIN

 Above and beyond the egregious gaffe by Israel's Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon, this crucial question remains unanswered - what will Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu do when he next meets U.S. Secretary of State? Yaalon certainly highlighted some of the Right wing's exasperation over Kerry's 'messianic and obsessive' mission to hammer out an Israeli-Palestinian peace accord. However, Netanyahu has apparently been telling Kerry that he would be willing to cut a deal with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, under certain conditions. The Israeli leader is already on record as accepting the two-state solution.  Is he now prepared to go one step further and possibly risk the breakup of his cabinet and Likud party? Although Yaalon has adopted an 'in-your-face' rejection, he represents the far Right of the Likud and Jewish Home party. But in a dramatic shift, Avigdor Lieberman of the Israel Our Home party has pleaded for giving Kerry a chance. So what's going on and why?

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January 11, 2014

ARIEL SHARON (1928-2014)

 'I know best' this characterized Arik Sharon, both as a vaunted military commander and an unpredictable politician. He is destined to be remembered as the most controversial of all Israeli public figures. To friend and foe he became known as the 'bulldozer'- his driving determination could overcome most obstacles in his way whether his superiors or political supporters agreed or not. Some military commentators have rated him as the best field commander and strategist in the annals of the IDF, while in his subsequent career in politics he was a formidable opponent.

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December 26, 2013

PALESTINIAN BUS BOMBING & ISRAELI SECURITY REQUIREMENTS

 It was potentially the most dangerous Palestinian attack since U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry started his current mission to conclude a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. This was the scene:

 Early on the afternoon of December 21st, an Israeli bus is traveling in the Tel Aviv suburb of Bat Yam. A youngster notices an unattended black bag, which had been placed near the rear door of the bus. Israelis are understandably wary of such situations. So the teenager points it out to fellow passenger, David Papo, who immediately gets up and approaches the suspicious object. Moving gingerly, Papo opens the bag and the yells to the bus driver, "It’s a bomb!" Driver, Michael Yeager, hits the breaks, opens the bus doors, and yells to his passengers, "Get out!"

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December 12, 2013

ISRAELI-SAUDI ALLIANCE AGAINST IRAN?

 In this day and age of the looming Iranian threat, what do Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Gulf States have to fear from Israel? Absolutely nothing. And what does Israel have to fear from them? Again, absolutely nothing. Bu what do the Gulf States and Israel have to fear from Iran? Possibly their very survival! This joint interest, against the backdrop of America’s disengagement from the Middle East could be “the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”

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November 29, 2013

NOVEMBER 29th - ISRAEL & PALESTINIANS: WHERE IT ALL BEGAN

 NOV. 29th is one of the most monumental dates in the history of the Jewish people. On this day in 1947, the UN General Assembly approved the Partition Plan for Palestine that was to be implemented after the termination of the British mandate. It called for the creation of independent Arab and Jewish states and heralded the rebirth of a Jewish state in its ancient homeland of over three thousand years. Similarly, it granted for the first time a Palestinian state. Designated Resolution 181, it was immediately accepted by the Jews but categorically rejected by the Arabs who later launched an all out war to literally drive the Jews into the Sea! If the Arab states had also accepted the partition there would have been no refugee problem - Palestinian or Jewish. An estimated 650,000 Palestinian refugees fled their homes while at least that number of Jewish refugees were driven out of the neighboring Arab countries. The resolution was carried by a vote of 33 in favor, 13 opposed, 10 abstentions and one member was absent. On the anniversary of that vote, you are invited to listen to this background report by David Essing that includes authentic recordings of the events as they unfolded: 

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October 17, 2013

REMEMBERING YITZHAK RABIN AMID ISRAEL'S CURRENT CRISES

 How would former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin have perceived the two crises facing Israel today, the Iranian nuclear threat and the peace process with the Palestinians? Two days before his assassination on Nov. 4, 1995, Rabin saw 'separation with the Palestinians as the only permanent solution' and he had no inkling that Right wing fanatic Yigal Amir was planning to shoot him. On the other hand, Israeli intelligence had ascertained that the Iranian regime had started out on a determined drive to acquire nuclear weapons. Today, eighteen years later, Iran is very close to reaching its goal, although nothing is known about what was achieved this week during the two days of nuclear talks in Geneva between Tehran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany. The Israeli public is also deep in the dark over what Justice Minister Tzipi Livni has negotiated with Palestinian official Saeb Erekat in their closed-door negotiations. 

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October 07, 2013

PM Netanyahu's speech at Bar Ilan University

 I recently read a hundred-page book by a wonderful American historian who passed away nearly 50 years ago. His name was Will Durant and he wrote many books. He wrote an eleven volume history of civilization, but at the end of his life, he wrote a hundred-page book, The Lessons of History. You should read it. Every line is carved from the stone of truth, and I will give you the bad news and the good news. 

 The bad news is that when you finish reading this book, you understand that in history, greater numbers rule. They matter. But here is the good news. On page 17, if I am not mistaken, he mentions that there may be exceptions to this rule and that through the unification of a cultural force, that's what he called it, the odds could be overcome. He gives the State of Israel as an example of such an exception. 

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August 25, 2013

WHY U.S. SHOULD BOMB SYRIA

 The signs are that U.S. President Barack Obama is taking the Syrian Army's latest chemical weapons attack very seriously. Obama has consulted with his top national security advisors, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has ordered several U.S. Navy destroyers, armed with Cruise missiles, to sail closer to the Syrian coast, and Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, is returning to the Middle East. Meanwhile, a senior Syrian official has warned that an attack on Syria will not be 'a walk in the park'.

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August 17, 2013

EGYPT - APPEARANCES & REALITY

When it comes to understanding Egypt today, U.S. President Barack Obama and other Western leaders really don't get it. They are confusing the outcome of an indecisive election with the reality of the anti-democratic Muslim Brotherhood hijacking the Egyptian Revolution in order to found an Islamist state like Iran. These are some of the key questions that America and the West should be addressing: 

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August 12, 2013

ISRAEL, EGYPT & U.S. - ALL IN SAME BOAT

Is there a link between the recent U.S. terror alert in the Middle East and North Africa and the reported Israeli air strike against terrorists in Sinai that was triggered by an Egyptian tip-off? Absolutely, when the global Islamist terror threat is considered. It reflects not only on how to cope tactically with imminent terror threats but also on America's global strategy.

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August 04, 2013

ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN PARLEY & ROUHANI'S NUCLEAR DECEPTION

 Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu has made the first move in the Israeli-Palestinian peace parley by agreeing to release 104 Palestinian terrorists starting on August 15th. In Tehran, the newly installed President Hassan Rouhani appeared to adopt some of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's rhetoric by describing Israel 'as a wound on the body of the Islamic world that must be removed'. 

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