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The Offer that Turns the Gaza Strip into Singapore by Bassam Tawil

Last week, Hamas received an offer that no sane entity would turn down. The offer did not come from Hamas’s allies in Iran and the Islamic world. The offer, to turn the impoverished Gaza Strip into “the Singapore of the Middle East,” came from Israel.

“The Gazans must understand that Israel, which withdrew from the Gaza Strip to the last millimeter, is not the source of their suffering — it is the Hamas leadership, which doesn’t take their needs into consideration… The moment Hamas gives up its tunnels and rockets, we’ll be the first to invest.” — Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman.

Hamas does not want a new “Singapore” in the Middle East. Hamas wants Israel to disappear from the face of the earth. The welfare of the Palestinians living under its rule is the last thing on the mind of Hamas. The dispute is not about improving the living conditions of Palestinians, as far as Hamas is concerned. Instead, it is about the very existence of Israel.

Hamas deserves credit for one thing: its honesty concerning its intentions to destroy Israel and kill as many Jews as possible. Hamas does not want 40,000 new jobs for the unemployed poor Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. It would rather see these unemployed Palestinians join its ranks and become soldiers in the jihad to replace Israel with an Islamic empire.

The Palestinian Islamic movement Hamas has once again demonstrated its priorities: killing Jews. That clearly takes precedence over easing the plight of the two million Palestinians living under its rule in the Gaza Strip.

Since Hamas violently seized control of the Gaza Strip in the summer of 2007, the conditions of the Palestinians living there have gone from bad to worse. Crisis after crisis has hit those under the Hamas rule; electricity and water as well as lack of medicine and proper medical care are in dangerously short supply.

Disputes between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority have left the Gaza Strip dangerously short of fuel, resulting in massive power outages. Palestinians there consequently have had to resort to using wood for cooking and heating. Hamas, which has brought about three wars that wreaked havoc on its people, is unable to provide them with basic needs.

Last week, Hamas received an offer that no sane entity would turn down. It is to be noted that the offer did not come from Hamas’s friends and allies in Iran and the Arab and Islamic world. Rather, the offer, which promises to turn the Gaza Strip, where most residents live in the poverty of “refugee camps,” into “the Singapore of the Middle East,” came from Israel.

Specifically, the offer was made by Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who proposed building a seaport and an airport, as well as industrial zones that would help create 40,000 jobs in the Gaza Strip, if Hamas agreed to demilitarization and to dismantling the tunnels and rocket systems it has built up.

“The Gazans must understand that Israel, which withdrew from the Gaza Strip to the last millimeter, is not the source of their suffering — it is the Hamas leadership, which doesn’t take their needs into consideration,” Lieberman said in a televised message to the residents of the Gaza Strip. “The moment Hamas gives up its tunnels and rockets, we’ll be the first to invest.”

Only Israel has ever made such an offer to Hamas. Such a plan would vastly improve the living conditions of the Gaza Strip population. All Hamas is required to do is abandon its weapons and plans to kill Jews, and return the bodies of missing Israeli soldiers.

Settlement obsession loses focus by Richard Baehr

Most reporters for mainstream American news organizations were loathe to describe the obvious improvement in the atmosphere when Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Donald Trump held their joint press conference on Wednesday, compared to the frigid and tense poses when Netanyahu and former President Barack Obama held joint appearances in the preceding eight years.

It was not hard to understand why the Israeli prime minister was smiling during his interview with Sean Hannity on Fox News the next day. One reason is that both Trump and Netanyahu are aware they help their own political positions by strengthening the ties between the two countries.

But the reality is deeper: The two men get along because they actually see the world the same way. Obama had a very different world view. Although he saw a link between Israel and the United States, this was mainly as colonialist bullies. No American president before Obama, and hopefully none in the future, will ever be so equivocal about his own country’s history and values.

The improved special relationship between Israel and the United States is not entirely new. President George W. Bush had solid ties with Israel’s leaders and endorsed a 2004 letter ahead of Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza acknowledging that the 1949 borders were not permanent and that facts on the ground made it inevitable that many Jewish communities beyond the Green Line would not be uprooted in a future peace agreement. Obama ignored this letter, refused to give it any authority, and, along with others in the White House and State Department, attacked Israel after each and every bit of news of new Jewish housing in the West Bank, as if those were crimes against humanity. No supposed foe of the United States received such scorn and rebuke over eight years as Israel. And there was the coup de grace in Obama’s final months, the American abstention at the United Nations on Security Council Resolution 2334, which effectively resulted in awarding the entire territory to the Palestinians and treating any Israeli activity in the area as illegal.

American officials argued they needed to make it clear to Israel they were unhappy about the “stepped-up” pace of settlement activity, which represents an obstacle to achieving the two-state solution. The Obama action, forcefully defended by Secretary of State John Kerry (who seems to be contemplating a run for president in 2020), ignored pretty much all the other reasons for the failure. The Palestinians themselves are divided into two political entities, one run by Hamas, the other by the Palestinian Authority. Elections for PA president and parliament have not been held in over a decade. No Palestinian leader has ever been willing to acknowledge that Israel is a Jewish state and that there will be no “right of return” for Palestinians who never lived in or who left Israel and are falsely classified as refugees — more than 98% of the so-called Palestinian refugees. Only among Palestinians is refugee status conferred to endless descendants of the original refugees. The refugee issue was one of five mentioned by Max Singer in a Wall Street Journal column calling for telling the truth about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

One State or Two States? By Ted Belman

President Trump told Prime Minister Netanyahu in their joint press conference on Wednesday, he “likes the one both parties like.” He also said on another occasion that he wasn’t going to pressure Israel to make a deal.

The importance of his remarks is that the object of the exercise for the US is to make a deal rather than to create a Palestinian state. The push back on this has been substantial, not only from the EU and the UN but also from some officials in the State Department.

To deflect some of the criticism, the Nikki Haley, the US Ambassador to the UN, framed it this way, “We absolutely support the two-state solution but we are thinking out of the box as well.”

“The solution to what will bring peace in the Middle East is going to come from the Israelis and the Palestinian Authority,” Haley said. “The United States is just there to support the process.”

Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Emirates have been working together with Israel to confront their common enemy, Iran. Both Netanyahu and Trump want to build on this and formalize it. They hope that as part of building this alliance, Saudi Arabia and the Emirates will soften their demands on Israel regarding the solution to the Arab/Israeli conflict or perhaps enter a peace agreement with Israel without reference to the conflict.

DEBKAfile reports: “…these sentiments reflected agreement in principle between Trump and Netanyahu to seek an Israeli peace accord with Saudi Arabia and the Gulf emirates as the lead-in to negotiations for an accord with the Palestinians. Egypt, Jordan and Turkey with whom Israel already has normal relations would jump in later. This deal fits in with the US plan reported more than once on these pages for a regional peace between the Sunni Arab nations and the Jewish State.”

At the press conference, Trump also said,

“This is one more reason why I reject unfair and one-sided actions against Israel at the United Nations — just treated Israel, in my opinion, very, very unfairly — or other international forums, as well as boycotts that target Israel.”


100 years after Balfour, why is there no State of Palestine?

100 years since Balfour, , 70 years since partition. Why is there no State of Palestine?

There is no State of Palestine because after the fall of the Ottoman Empire, when the League of Nations used the Mandate system to facilitate the creation of Nation States, the Arabs living in the British Mandate of Palestine didn’t want one.

There is no State of Palestine because in the 1920’s and 1930’s, when the Jewish people began to prepare for their own state, the Arabs chose to violently resist Jewish immigration rather than work towards the creation of their own state. There were massacres of ancient Jewish communities.

There is no State of Palestine because in 1937, when the British proposed one be created, the Arabs rejected it. This led to more violence, including a massacre of Jews in Tiberius

There is no State of Palestine because in 1947, when the United Nations suggested one be created, the Arabs rejected it. This led to civil war.

There is no State of Palestine because in 1948, when Israel declared independence, rather than doing the same, the Arabs chose to fight to destroy Israel. The Arabs lost. 6000+ Israelis lost their lives

There is no State of Palestine because between 1949 and 1967, when every inch of the West Bank and Gaza strip were in Arab hands, the Arabs chose not to create one. Choosing instead to focus on destroying Israel.

There is no State of Palestine because when peace was discussed directly between the Jews and Arabs, Islamic terrorists responded by murdering Israelis. Hundreds of Jews were murdered during the peace process.

There is no State of Palestine because the Arabs walked away from the negotiating table in 2000. Choosing instead to start the second intifada. Over 1000 Israelis were murdered

There is no State of Palestine because when Israel withdrew from Gaza and dismantled settlements, Hamas took control and launched rocket attacks. 1000’s of rockets have been fired at Israel.

There is no State of Palestine because in 2008, when Olmert, the Israeli PM, offered one to the Palestinian President, the Palestinians rejected it.

There is no State of Palestine because the Arabs are currently split into warring factions. The same type of divisions as we see exploding elsewhere in the Middle East.

There is no State of Palestine because too many Arabs (not all) simply do not accept, still will not accept, peaceful existence with Israel.

There is no State of Palestine because too many people, are invested in the conflict. This is especially true of the thousands of NGO’s who in a perverse symbiosis report on a conflict that would probably not exist without them.

100 years after Balfour, the UN are still kicking Israel as if somehow the Jewish State holds the key to the end of the conflict. You will not solve this conflict until you are honest about the cause.

The Palestinians Don’t Deserve a State By Dan Calic

For decades the two-state solution has been repeatedly floated as the preferred goal of peace between Israel and the Arabs (‘Palestinians’). Yet it has never been realized. Accusations have been tossed around by various voices laying blame on both sides for the failure of the two-state solution to be implemented.

In light of the recent summit between Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Trump, it would appear the longstanding positon of the U.S. supporting the two-state solution is fizzling out. In my opinion, this is long overdue.

Simply put, the so-called ‘Palestinians’ don’t deserve a state.

The concept of a two-state solution has already been attempted with the 1947 UN partition of two states, one Arab, one Jewish. It failed. Why? The Arab nations rejected and ignored the resolution, attacking the fledgling Jewish state one day after it declared independence in 1948. Six decades and seven wars later (three with Hamas) what has changed?

A dramatic shift took place in 1967, when Yasser Arafat decided the Arabs who were displaced from the 1948 and 1967 wars deserved to have their own unique identity. So he renamed them “Palestinians.” For the record, before 1967 the term “Palestinians” referred to Jews. Walid Shoebat, an Arab who was living in Jericho during the ’67 war, said “On June 4 I went to sleep as an Arab. The next day, without moving anywhere I am suddenly called a “Palestinian.”

Arafat’s campaign included more than just an identity change for these newly renamed Palestinians. He demanded an independent state, and laid claim to the entire area west of the Jordan River which Israel captured during the 1967 war. As far as Arafat was concerned all this land was ‘Palestinian land.’ In 1964 he founded the PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization) with a specific goal of liberating “Palestine,” which included every inch of land of Israel.

International law affirms any land captured during a defensive war belongs to the victor, which was Israel.


The strong reactions elicited by Wednesday’s joint press conference held by U.S. President Donald ‎Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are warranted, but mostly for the wrong ‎reason.‎

One commentator after another has been highlighting and debating about the supposedly major ‎about-face in American foreign policy vis-a-vis the Palestinian-Israeli conflict that was being announced ‎from the podium.‎

‎”So I’m looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like,” Trump said, ‎alongside a beaming Netanyahu. “I’m very happy with the one that both parties like. I can live with ‎either one. I thought for a while the two-state looked like it may be the easier of the two. But ‎honestly, if Bibi [Prime Minister Netanyahu] and if the Palestinians — if Israel and the Palestinians are ‎happy, I’m happy with the one they like the best.”‎

As soon as the two leaders left the stage, pundits and politicians in America, Israel and the Palestinian ‎Authority began weighing in frantically on the significance of that statement, reporting on it as though ‎Trump had declared the United States was no longer supporting a key pillar of its Mideast policy.‎

Well, everyone can and should relax, because nothing whatsoever has changed on the ground. ‎Whichever way one slices it, the reality remains the same: The Palestinian leadership is not seeking ‎statehood alongside Israel, but resistance against Jewish statehood. PA President Mahmoud Abbas ‎and his henchmen in Ramallah, as well as the Hamas rulers in Gaza – with a particularly bloodthirsty ‎new chief there who has said his organization should emulate the Iran-backed Lebanese terrorist ‎group Hezbollah – make no bones about demanding that any territory they claim to be their own be ‎void of all Jews.‎

Nor did Trump disavow the two-state solution; he simply said that it is up to the Israelis and ‎Palestinians to decide how to proceed. In other words, he was completely repudiating former ‎President Barack Obama’s strong-arm approach. More importantly, he was doing so while proudly ‎showing appreciation — and even affection — for Netanyahu.‎

And herein lies the seismic shift that is causing such a stir. ‎

For the past eight years, the White House and State Department have operated on the basis of an ‎ideologically dim view of Western greatness and power. Obama made no secret of this in Europe, prior ‎to his inauguration, where he stated outright that no countries are better than others. Shortly after ‎taking the reins, he began to court the radical elements of the Muslim-Arab world, abandoning the ‎moderates in order to appease their jailers. And his very first phone call was to Abbas.‎

Standing With Israel on the Golan Heights Recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over the territory would send a strong message to U.S. friends and foes alike. By Jonathan Schanzer and Mark Dubowitz

Benjamin Netanyahu has achieved his primary objective of resetting ties with the U.S. after eight years of tensions. True, the Israeli prime minister and Donald Trump still need to bridge the gap on issues such as Palestinian-Israeli diplomacy and West Bank settlements. But they seem to be on the same page on a broad range of regional matters.

That could lead to a breakthrough on an issue of strategic importance to Israel. According to reports of the two leaders’ meeting on Wednesday, Mr. Netanyahu asked for U.S. recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

The move makes sense for both sides. It would provide the Israeli government with a diplomatic win while helping the Trump administration signal to Russia and Iran that the U.S. is charting a new course in Syria.

Israel captured the bulk of the Golan from Syria in the 1967 war and annexed the territory in 1981. The move was met with international condemnation.

For two successive Assad regimes, first Hafiz and now his son Bashar, restoring full Syrian sovereignty over the Golan has been an axiomatic demand. Israel floated partial Golan withdrawals during several rounds of peace talks with Syria over the past two decades, but the Syrians were never satisfied with the deals on offer.

With the outbreak of the Syrian civil war in 2011, the facts on the ground have changed. Had Israel ceded the Golan to Syria, Islamic State, al Qaeda or Iran would be sitting on the shores of the Galilee across from the Israeli city of Tiberias.

Mr. Netanyahu and other senior Israeli government officials argue that Syria is destined for partition along sectarian, ethnic and regional lines. And while the retaking of Aleppo shifted the tide of war in favor of the Assad government, some Israelis believe it might be time to acknowledge Israel’s hold on the Golan as permanent.

This position has so far found no traction among the major powers, which still say they want to preserve a unitary Syria. Russia, which intervened militarily to shore up Bashar Assad in the name of Syrian territorial integrity, is chief among them.

A disagreement with Russia over Syria is a long time coming. By recognizing Israel’s sovereignty in the Golan, the Trump administration would signal to Russia that, while Washington may now coordinate with Moscow on activities such as fighting Islamic State, it doesn’t share Russia’s goals for Syria.

Moreover, it would show that the U.S. will take a tougher line on the provision of arms and intelligence to Iran and Hezbollah.

Recognition of Israel’s Golan claims would acknowledge that it needs these highlands to hold off a multitude of asymmetric and conventional military threats from Syria—and whatever comes after the war there. Israel continues to target Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards and Hezbollah to prevent them from establishing a base of operations on the Syrian Golan.

Recognizing Israel’s sovereignty in the Golan would also soften the Palestinians’ core demand for a state within the 1967 borders. If an international border can be revised along the Syrian border, the Palestinians will have a harder time presenting the 1949 armistice line along the West Bank as inviolable. This might pave the way for compromise when Mr. Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, begins to make his push for Palestinian-Israeli peace.

The move will anger the Europeans and the United Nations, but that storm will pass. Syrian opposition groups will also protest. While some might be tempted to break their tenuous ties with Israel, they understand that the real enemy is Mr. Assad. CONTINUE AT SITE

Proposed US Amb to Israel Grilled by Senate Foreign Relations Comm Friedman: As Ambassador I will represent this administration’s policies not my own; and I will welcome all Americans, of every political view, when they visit Israel. By: Lori Lowenthal Marcus

A US senate confirmation hearing on Thursday for the nominee for ambassador to Israel was unusual both in terms of length and scope, but given the numbers, the nomination appears poised to advance to the full Senate. http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/proposed-us-amb-to-israel-grilled-by-senate-foreign-relations-comm/2017/02/17/

David M. Friedman, President Donald J. Trump’s longtime friend and a Jewish bankruptcy lawyer hailing from Long Island, was on the hot seat before the US Senate Foreign Relations committee. During the nearly three hours long hearing Friedman was interrupted four times by protesters screaming out – some unfurling Palestinian flags – slogans such as “war criminal” and “Palestinian rights.” Senators themselves repeatedly reprimanded Friedman for his use of “intemperate language” in articles written while he was a private citizen.

Friedman comported himself with dignity, rarely getting flustered; he responded to each question fully, if occasionally surprisingly. He made clear that, as U.S. Ambassador to Israel, he will represent President Trump’s policies and positions on the issues and not his own; and that he will proudly welcome all Americans, of every political view, when they visit Israel.

There is one more Republican on the committee than there are Democrats, and the vote is likely to be correspondingly close.

Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD), the ranking Democrat, is Jewish and considered a strong pro-Israel Democrat. Cardin was welcoming, but quickly launched into a rough upbraiding of the nominee on three grounds: his harsh verbal attacks on Democrats, including Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY), President Barack Obama and former secretary of state and Senator Hillary Clinton; his perceived lack of support for the Two State Solution; and his apparent support for “settlements.”

Friedman responded, as he did repeatedly to the queries of the other senators who raised the same issues, explaining that he was previously speaking and writing initially as a private citizen and later in the heat of an election campaign, where strong rhetoric is customary.

But Friedman was forced, on several occasions, to not only apologize for his comments but to recant them. He attempted to balance between rejecting views he does hold, and explaining his language in a way the powerful senators were willing to accept. Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Tom Udall (D-NM) were particularly pointed on this issue, and “no” votes are likely assured from each of them.

Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) appeared satisfied with Friedman’s credentials and contrition – though some in the media falsely criticized Menendez for appearing to accuse Friedman of dual loyalty.

Trump, Netanyahu Seek Common Ground Iran emerges as a central uniting issue. P. David Hornik

At Wednesday’s White House press conference for President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, both leaders clearly had a lot on their minds—in addition to the matters at hand.

For Trump it was, of course, the Flynn imbroglio. For Netanyahu there were two things. One involves unfortunate, inane investigations to which he’s being subjected in Israel, which could lead to an indictment. One investigation concerns alleged illicit receipt of gifts—cigars and champagne; the other concerns talks he held with a newspaper publisher—which mentioned possible shady deals that were never, however, acted upon.

In addition, Netanyahu is under heavy pressure from the right wing of his coalition—to renounce the two-state solution, to build settlements. At the press conference Netanyahu, in particular, sounded flustered and awkward at times, glancing for succor at his script, speaking without his usual assurance and aplomb.

On substance the two leaders’ words, too, raised problems at times.

The Palestinian issue appears, unfortunately, to have returned to center stage. It’s unfortunate because it remains an issue no more amenable to a solution that at any time in the past.

“The United States,” Trump told the reporters, “will encourage a peace, and really a great peace deal.” He also said, “I think the Palestinians have to get rid of some of that hate they’re taught from a very young age. They have to acknowledge Israel. They have to do that.”

The problem is that the Palestinians have “had to” do those things—stop hating; acknowledge the legitimacy of a Jewish political entity—since the Palestinian issue first arose almost a century ago.

They have “had to,” but are no closer to doing so today than they were in the 1920s; meanwhile the remedy for an entire generation raised in hate—a reality that Netanyahu, in his flustered way, tried to emphasize—is no closer to being found by any of the putative wizards in the West.

Indeed, neither the president nor the prime minister mentioned Gaza—where a leader who is radical even by Hamas standards has taken the helm; as usual, it was not explained how a solution could be found when the Palestinians west of the Jordan are themselves divided into two mutually antagonistic entities. Trump and Netanyahu’s words about a “regional deal” on the Palestinian issue, involving Arab states along with Israel, likewise fail to take into account intractable Palestinian reality.

Israel has the opportunity to reclaim its nation. Daniel Greenfield

Palestine is many things. A Roman name and a Cold War lie. Mostly it’s a justification for killing Jews.

Palestine was an old Saudi-Soviet scam which invented a fake nationality for the Arab clans who had invaded and colonized Israel. This big lie transformed the leftist and Islamist terrorists run by them into the liberators of an imaginary nation. Suddenly the efforts of the Muslim bloc and the Soviet bloc to destroy the Jewish State became an undertaking of sympathetically murderous underdogs.

But the Palestine lie is past its sell by date.

What we think of as “Palestinian” terrorism was a low-level conflict pursued by the Arab Socialist states in between their invasions of Israel. After several lost wars, the terrorism was all that remained. Egypt, Syria and the USSR threw in the towel on actually destroying Israel with tanks and jets, but funding terrorism was cheap and low-risk. And the rewards were disproportionate to the cost.

For less than the price of a single jet fighter, Islamic terrorists could strike deep inside Israel while isolating the Jewish State internationally with demands for “negotiations” and “statehood.”

After the Cold War ended, Russia was low on cash and the PLO’s Muslim sugar daddies were tired of paying for Arafat’s wife’s shoe collection and his keffiyah dry cleaning bills.

The terror group was on its last legs. “Palestine” was a dying delusion that didn’t have much of a future.

That’s when Bill Clinton and the flailing left-wing Israeli Labor Party which, unlike its British counterpart, had failed to adapt to the new economic boom, decided to rescue Arafat and create ”Palestine”.

The resulting terrorist disaster killed thousands, scarred two generations of Israelis, isolated the country and allowed Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and other major cities to come under fire for the first time since the major wars. No matter how often Israeli concessions were met with Islamic terrorism, nothing seemed able to shake loose the two-state solution monkey on Israel’s back. Destroying Israel, instantaneously or incrementally, had always been a small price to pay for maintaining the international order.