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Thursday, January 26, 2017

Real change in US foreign policy?

Greetings from Boston, where I landed yesterday morning. A brief post and then back to work.

The Washington Post is reporting that the entire senior executive level at the State Department has resigned, apparently out of fear of what might happen in a Trump administration. Keeping in mind that most of the senior echelon in the State Department is Arabist, this may be good for Israel, notwithstanding reporter Josh Rogin's obvious discomfort with it.
[Secretary of State Rex] Tillerson was actually inside the State Department’s headquarters in Foggy Bottom on Wednesday, taking meetings and getting the lay of the land. I reported Wednesday morning that the Trump team was narrowing its search for his No. 2, and that it was looking to replace the State Department’s long-serving undersecretary for management, Patrick Kennedy. Kennedy, who has been in that job for nine years, was actively involved in the transition and was angling to keep that job under Tillerson, three State Department officials told me.
Then suddenly on Wednesday afternoon, Kennedy and three of his top officials resigned unexpectedly, four State Department officials confirmed. Assistant Secretary of State for Administration Joyce Anne Barr, Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs Michele Bond and Ambassador Gentry O. Smith, director of the Office of Foreign Missions, followed him out the door. All are career foreign service officers who have served under both Republican and Democratic administrations.
Kennedy will retire from the foreign service at the end of the month, officials said. The other officials could be given assignments elsewhere in the foreign service.
In addition, Assistant Secretary of State for Diplomatic Security Gregory Starr retired Jan. 20, and the director of the Bureau of Overseas Building Operations, Lydia Muniz, departed the same day. That amounts to a near-complete housecleaning of all the senior officials that deal with managing the State Department, its overseas posts and its people.
“It’s the single biggest simultaneous departure of institutional memory that anyone can remember, and that’s incredibly difficult to replicate,” said David Wade, who served as State Department chief of staff under Secretary of State John Kerry. “Department expertise in security, management, administrative and consular positions in particular are very difficult to replicate and particularly difficult to find in the private sector.”
All I can think of when I hear about the State Department securing diplomats is Benghazi, although that was clearly Hillary Clinton's and Barack Obama's fault, and not that of the State Department bureaucrats.

More encouraging is the fact that 'Palestinian' chief negotiator bottle washer Saeb Erekat is expressing  'shock' at President Trump's silence on Israeli 'settlement building.'
On Tuesday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman announced the approval of 2,500 housing units in Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, in order to accommodate the housing needs of the residents and to return their daily routine to normal.
The announcement followed the approval earlier this week of 566 new housing units in the Jerusalem neighborhoods of Ramat Shlomo, Ramot and Pisgat Ze'ev.
While the United Nations and the European Union were quick to condemn the new construction, White House spokesman Sean Spicer on Tuesday declined to express a position on Israeli construction when asked about it in his daily press briefing.
"Israel continues to be a huge ally of the United States," Spicer said, when asked about Trump's perspective on the Israeli plan to implement the construction plans.
"He wants to grow closer to Israel to make sure it gets the full respect in the Middle East," he continued. "We'll have a conversation with the prime minister."
Responding on Wednesday to the White House refusing to comments, Erekat told AFP, "We used to hear condemnations, we used to hear American positions saying '(Israel) should stop settlement activities, it's an obstacle to peace.'"
"Not commenting, does that mean that President Trump is encouraging... settlement activities? We need an answer from the American administration," he added.
Life has sure changed for the 'Palestinians,' hasn't it? If they don't get to the table and negotiate (for real) soon without preconditions, there's not likely to be much left to negotiate about. This whiny series of diagrams regarding future Israeli building plans in Jerusalem appeared in Israel's Hebrew 'Palestinian' daily (HaAretz). If all of these plans go through, Jerusalem will thankfully be surrounded with Jewish children.

All of this follows on the heels of yesterday's news that the first act of the Trump-Tillerson State Department was to place a hold on the $221 million parting gift that former President Hussein Obama attempted to give the 'Palestinians' and that one of President Trump's first executive orders would suspend aid to the United Nations or any of its agencies if they recognize a 'Palestinian state.'

Much of this is, of course, a reversal of Obama administration policy implemented during the last administration's first days in office. But if it lasts, the world will be a very different place four or eight years from now.

Messiah's times?

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Monday, January 23, 2017

Is Monday the day Trump announces he's moving the embassy?

There have been rumors all day on Sunday that President Trump will announce as soon as Monday that he is moving the United States Embassy to Israel to Jerusalem.

The White House has at last confirmed that such discussions are taking place.

And Israel's Channel 2 also says that Trump will announce the embassy move on Monday.

Interesting day ahead.

By the way, Channel 2 has also confirmed that Trump and Netanyahu had a phone call at 8:30 pm Sunday Israel time.


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Friday, January 20, 2017

Will Donald Trump usher in the Messiah? (Jewish textual and numerical proofs and a little personal stuff)

I know I haven't posted in quite a while - I have been crazy busy with work, and that's what puts food on the table (and pays the debts).

And I know that it's already been the Sabbath in Israel for several hours, but I am in Seattle (yes, really) where there are still several more hours to go.

And today is Donald Trump's inauguration as President of the United States.

For those of you who are ambivalent or worse, here are some grounds for optimism - a video I received from my son who became a groom (yup, he's engaged) a bit less than two weeks ago (in fact, on the same day as I last posted).

Let's go to the videotape.

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Sunday, January 08, 2017

Terror in Jerusalem

If you're seeing this post as a preview, it's worth clicking just to see the tweet I embedded in the top.

A 'Palestinian' terrorist slammed a truck into a crowd of soldiers near Jerusalem's Armon HaNetziv neighborhood today, killing at least 4 and wounding 16.
A truck rammed into a group of soldiers on a promenade in the Armon Hanatziv neighborhood of Jerusalem, killing at least four of them, in a vehicle-ramming attack on Sunday afternoon, police said.
Police chief Roni Alsheich called the incident a vehicular terror attack.
The soldiers were getting off a bus at the promenade, a popular tourist spot in southern Jerusalem, when a large flatbed truck ran into them.
At least 16 more people were injured, two of them very seriously, according to Jerusalem hospitals.
The four soldiers — three women and one man — who died were in their 20s, the Magen David Adom rescue service said.
According to police, the terrorist accelerated as he struck the group.
Eyewitnesses said that after the driver hit the soldiers with his truck, he put the vehicle in reverse and ran over them a second time.
Footage of the incident taken from a security camera showed the truck run into the group of soldiers as they stood next to a bus. The driver then attempts to turn the truck around and run over the group again as people scramble for cover.
The driver of the vehicle was shot by both soldiers and by a civilian guide, police said. He died of his wounds.
Senator Ted Cruz (R-Tx) issued the following statement
“Today we saw yet another horrific attack by a Palestinian terrorist in Jerusalem. The United States stands unshakably with our ally Israel, and with the Israeli Defense Forces soldiers who were the targets of this attack. IDF soldiers bravely defend the people of Israel, protect them and keep them safe. The terrorists targeting them are the enemies of peace, which can never be achieved while terror groups like Hamas incite violence and the destruction of Israel. Our prayers are with the IDF, and with the victims of this attack and their families.” 
Some of the newspapers in Europe are comparing this to an Islamic State attack. But we've had these kinds of attacks dating long before Islamic State. 

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On the Senate floor: Senator Ted Cruz (R-Tx) slams Obama's abandonment of Israel in the UN

This one is especially good - it's Senator Ted Cruz (R-Tx) slamming President Hussein Obama on the Senate floor for what Obama did to Israel in the UN two weeks ago.

Let's go to the videotape.

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Saturday, January 07, 2017

Netanyahu thanks Congress for slapping Obama in the face

Shavua tov everyone.

On Friday afternoon, just before the Sabbath started, Prime Minister Netanyahu released a video thanking Congress for slapping President Obama in the face. No, Obama's name isn't mentioned, but it's pretty obvious. He thanked Congress for reflecting the will of the American people.

Let's go to the videotape.

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Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Congress to freeze State Department funding until embassy moves to Jerusalem

In yet another slap in the face to President Hussein Obama, the Washington Free Beacon reports that the Republican-controlled Congress is freezing State Department funding until the US Embassy to Israel moves to Jerusalem.
A delegation of Republican senators is moving forward with an effort to freeze some funding to the State Department until the U.S. embassy in Israel is formally moved to Jerusalem, according to new legislation.
The effort is being spearheaded by Sens. Ted Cruz (R., Texas), Marco Rubio (R., Fla.), and Dean Heller (R., Nev.), all of whom support efforts by the incoming Trump administration to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem after years of debate.
“Jerusalem is the eternal and undivided capital of Israel,” Cruz said in a statement. “Unfortunately, the Obama administration’s vendetta against the Jewish state has been so vicious that to even utter this simple truth—let alone the reality that Jerusalem is the appropriate venue for the American embassy in Israel—is shocking in some circles.”
“But it is finally time to cut through the double-speak and broken promises and do what Congress said we should do in 1995: formally move our embassy to the capital of our great ally Israel,” Cruz said.
The legislation orders the White House to identify Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, which the Obama administration has refused to do. The bill will freeze a significant portion of the State Department’s funding until it completes the relocation.
In the past, the Obama White House has been caught scrubbing captions on official photographs that labeled Jerusalem as part of Israel. The administration also was entangled in a Supreme Court case when it refused to permit an American family to list its child’s birthplace as “Jerusalem, Israel.”
Heller said the legislation could help repair America’s relationship with Israel, which has become strained under the Obama administration.
Mark January 20 on your calendars. That's the date US-Israel relations make a significant change for the better.

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Christmas spirit: UN quietly appropriated money on Christmas eve to create a blacklist of Israeli companies to target for BDS

Thanks to Barack Obama and John Kerry, the United Nations quietly appropriated $138,000 on Christmas eve to create a blacklist of Israeli companies for boycotting, divestiture and sanctions (BDS).
Lost amid the angry words that followed the Dec. 23 UN Security Council vote that critics called an American betrayal of Israel was a Christmas Eve appropriation of $138,700 to fund a database of companies doing business in the West Bank. The measure puts UN prestige behind the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, say critics.
“The types of data they are talking about acquiring would be to form the basis for future sanctions against companies that did business on the West Bank,” Fox News contributor and former U.S. Ambassador to the UN John Bolton told FoxNews.com. “That’s the only purpose of it that I can see.”
The request for funding, first adopted last April, would “investigate the implications of the Israeli settlements on the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of the Palestinian people throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory,” which extends to East Jerusalem, and would “produce a database of all business enterprises” working in territories disputed between Israel and the Palestinians.
Bolton said the database is an “effort to lay the groundwork” for the UN Security Council to follow up on its anti-settlement declaration by imposing costly economic sanctions.
The US opposed the appropriation, but in the General Assembly, it does not have a veto. This appropriation is yet another consequence of Obama-Kerry stabbing Israel in the back on the Security Council vote. The only thing Congress can do in response is to stop funding the UN.

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It starts: Cruz, Heller and Rubio introduce bill to move embassy to Jerusalem

The 115th Congress started business today, and here was the first item on the table: Republican Sens. Ted Cruz (Texas), Dean Heller (Nev.) and Marco Rubio (Fla.) introduced the Jerusalem Embassy and Recognition Act.
“Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the Jewish state of Israel, and that's where America's embassy belongs,” Rubio said in a statement. “It's time for Congress and the President-Elect to eliminate the loophole that has allowed presidents in both parties to ignore U.S. law and delay our embassy's rightful relocation to Jerusalem for over two decades.”
A statement from Heller said that some State Department funds would be withheld until the embassy was relocated.
The GOP measure is in line with President-elect Donald Trump's support for moving the embassy. His pick for ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, also supports that pledge.
“Jerusalem is the eternal and undivided capital of Israel,” Ted Cruz said in a statement. “Unfortunately, the Obama administration's vendetta against the Jewish state has been so vicious that to even utter this simple truth – let alone the reality that Jerusalem is the appropriate venue for the American embassy in Israel — is shocking in some circles.
And that's the best part: Once this bill makes its way through Congress and lands on the President's desk, the President will be Donald Trump, and not the Jew-hating mamzer who currently occupies the White House.

It's a new morning, America.

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Tuesday, January 03, 2017

How badly did Obama and Kerry lie?

At least Israel and Iran can agree on something. Obama and Kerry are unreliable liars.

For the last two weeks, the lame duck Obama administration has been trying to depict itself as totally passive in allowing UN Security Council Resolution 2334, condemning Israeli 'settlements' in Jerusalem (among other things), to pass.

Last week, Israel Radio reported on an Egyptian newspaper report that put out a transcript of what was said to be a White House meeting with 'Palestinian negotiators.' Now, MEMRI has translated that report into English. It's devastating. Among other things not previously reported, the 'Palestinians' asked that Obama cancel the designation of the PLO as a terrorist organization, and insisted that the 'Palestinian leadership' be allowed to move freely in the United States. Look for Obama to issue executive orders on these issues in the next two weeks.
On December 27, the Egyptian daily Al-Youm Al-Sabi', which is close to Egyptian intelligence services, published an exposé of the minutes of the secret talks. According to the report, by Ahmed Gomaa, the Palestinian delegation included PLO Executive Committee secretary and negotiating team leader Saeb Erekat; Palestinian general intelligence chief Majid Faraj; Husam Zomlot, strategic affairs advisor to Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud 'Abbas; Palestinian Foreign Ministry official Dr. Majed Bamya; Palestinian negotiations department official Azem Bishara; Palestinian intelligence international relations department chief Nasser 'Adwa; and head of the PLO delegation to Washington Ma'an Erekat.
The report gave the details of the Palestinian delegation's schedule during the visit, noting that "the Palestinian side began its meetings on December 12, when Saeb Erekat and Majid Faraj met with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. The next day, the two met with National Security Advisor Susan Rice. The entire delegation met with an American team that included four representatives of the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security, for a six-hour political-strategic meeting. Majid Faraj concluded his visit with a lengthy meeting with the CIA chief."
According to the report, the minutes of the "top secret" meeting of Kerry, Rice, Erekat, and Faraj reveals U.S.-Palestinian coordination leading up to the UN Security Council vote on Resolution 2334 regarding Israel's settlements, which was adopted December 23. It states that the sides "agreed to cooperate in drafting a resolution on the settlements" and that the U.S. representative in the Security Council was "empowered" to coordinate with the Palestinian UN representative on the resolution.
The meeting also, according to the report, was aimed at coordinating Kerry's attendance at the upcoming international Paris Conference set for January 15, 2017, in order to promote a further international move regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Kerry, it said, offered to propose his ideas for a permanent arrangement "provided that they are supported by the Palestinian side."
At the meeting, Rice pointed out the "danger" of the incoming Trump administration's policies, the report stated, adding that both she and Kerry had advised President 'Abbas to make no preliminary moves that might provoke the new administration. Rice even offered to help arrange a meeting between the Palestinian delegation and a representative from the Trump team, by enlisting the help of World Jewish Congress president Ronald Lauder.
Also at the meeting, Erekat warned that if the U.S. Embassy was moved to Jerusalem, the Palestinians would call to expel U.S. Embassies from Arab and Muslim capitals, the report said.
The report added that Kerry and Rice had fulsomely praised 'Abbas's policies and how he handled matters, and harshly criticized Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, saying that he "aims to destroy the two-state solution."
U.S. Representative To The Security Council Coordinated With Palestinian UN Representative On The Issue Of The Resolution Condemning The Settlements
According to the Al-Youm Al-Sabi' report, "the minutes of the meeting – which was attended by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and National Security Advisor Susan Rice, and on the Palestinian side by PLO Executive Committee Secretary and negotiations team leader Saeb Erekat, and head of Palestinian general intelligence Maj,-Gen. Majid Faraj – reveals that the sides agreed to collaborate regarding a resolution on the settlements." According to the report, "during the meeting, the American side focused on coordination of positions between Washington and Ramallah regarding the resolution on the settlements, which was brought to a vote in the Security Council and adopted several days ago..."
The report stated that "the minutes of the meeting reveal American-Palestinian coordination regarding the resolution on the settlements" and that Kerry and Rice stressed that "they were willing to cooperate with a balanced resolution, and that Washington's UN mission was authorized to discuss this matter with the Palestinian representative to the UN, Ambassador Riyad Mansour." It continued: "The U.S.'s representative to the Security Council coordinated with the Palestinian ambassador on the issue of the resolution condemning the settlements."
Coordinating Kerry's Attendance At International Conference In France
The delegation also attempted to coordinate Kerry's attendance at the Paris Conference, which will take place January 15, 2017, to promote a further international move for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, according to the report. "As for the French initiative, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said that he could not attend [the conference if it were to be held] December 21-22, but stressed that he could [attend it if it were to be held] after January 9. The Palestinian delegation stressed that 'Abbas had contacted the French side, and that it had expressed its willingness to postpone the international conference [in Paris] so that the American secretary of state could attend."
Possibility Of Kerry Presenting His Ideas For Permanent Solution
According to the report, "Kerry raised the possibility of presenting ideas for a permanent solution, provided that they are supported by the Palestinian side... and this refers to principles that have already been raised as part of the Framework Agreement.[3] He also proposed that the Palestinian delegation travel to Saudi Arabia to discuss these points, but according to the minutes, he did not contact the Saudis on this matter. [Additionally,] according to the minutes of the meeting, National Security Advisor Susan Rice rejected, and ridiculed, the offer to propose ideas, arguing that the [incoming] administration of Republican President Donald Trump will completely oppose them."
Rice "Stressed The Danger Posed By The Trump Administration"
Rice, the report stated, "stressed the danger posed by the Trump administration, which could take a position different from that of all American administrations since 1967 on the issue of Palestine and Israel. She emphasized that she took seriously statements about moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem and the Trump administration's view of the settlements."
Kerry and Rice "advised Palestinian President Mahmoud 'Abbas to not take any preliminary steps that could provoke the Trump administration, such as dismantling the PA, turning to the International Criminal Court, or ending security coordination with Israel," said the report, adding: "They [also] stressed the need to avoid military action or martyrdom [attacks], as these would greatly jeopardize the Palestinian position.
"They praised the substantial efforts of the Palestinian security apparatuses, specifically Palestinian [general] intelligence, led by Majid Faraj, as part of what they called 'the struggle against terrorism.' [The two] maintained that Palestinian-American collaboration in this area is among the closest of all the coordination between American apparatuses and security forces in the region."
Rice Offered To Organize Meeting Between Ronald Lauder And Palestinian Delegation
"According to the minutes of the meeting, Susan Rice asked whether the Palestinian delegation could meet with a representative from Donald Trump's team. She clarified that she could request intervention and could organize this by means of World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder. Saeb Erekat responded that he had already asked but that Lauder could not. He added: 'We were told that they were still organizing the new administration, and that once they were done, they would officially meet with the Palestinian side.'"
Erekat: If U.S. Embassy Is Moved To Jerusalem, We Will Call To Expel U.S. Embassies From Arab And Muslim Countries
"When Susan Rice asked what the Palestinian response would be if the U.S. Embassy was moved to Jerusalem, or if a new settlement bloc was annexed, Erekat responded: 'We will directly and immediately join 16 international organizations, withdraw the PLO's recognition of Israel, and cut back our security, political, and economic ties with the Israeli occupation regime, and we will hold it fully responsible for the PA's collapse. Furthermore, we will [call] on the Arab and Islamic peoples to expel U.S. Embassies from their capitals.' Rice answered Erekat by saying: 'It seems that future matters could be very complicated, and we are all apprehensive about sitting down with Erekat because of his absolute knowledge of these matters, and because of his memory and his sincerity.' She expressed the American side's respect and friendship for Erekat, and apologized for yelling at him in March 2014."
"The Palestinian Delegation Officially Demanded That The Law... Designating The PLO A Terrorist Organization Be Rescinded"
According to the report, "the Palestinian side officially demanded that the 1987 U.S. law designating the PLO a terrorist organization be rescinded.[4] Furthermore, both sides agreed to establish a bilateral commission to examine visa requests from Palestinians and entry and movement visas for Palestinian leadership in the U.S."

Read the whole thing.

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'Palestinians' threaten violence if US moves embassy to Jerusalem

One of the first things Donald Trump did after he was elected President was to promise to move the US Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. Now that they realize that Trump is serious (and has named my college classmate Dave Friedman his ambassador to prove it), the 'Palestinians' are responding in the only way they know how. They are threatening violence.

Let's go to the videotape.

JPost reports that Trump is not backing down.
The Trump team has said that the US president-elect considers moving the embassy a "very big priority."

Throughout his campaign for the presidency, Trump repeatedly said he would move the US Embassy if elected – a political promise past US presidents have frequently made, yet has never been held.

Longstanding US policy is to treat the status of Jerusalem as an issue to be settled in final-status negotiations with the Palestinians.
Longstanding US policy has also been to veto all anti-Israel resolutions in the Security Council, and not to let them pass, let alone orchestrate their passage.  This is the best response of all to Obama's and Kerry's betrayal of Israel.

And if the 'Palestinians' kill each other in response, מה טוב.

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Israeli Government Minister: 'Thank God Obama is leaving office'

Israel's Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev (Likud), who by the way is a former IDF spokesperson, told Army Radio on Sunday "Thank God Obama is leaving office."
In an interview with Army Radio on Sunday, Regev said "thank God that Obama is finishing his term."

"In Obama's world view we have moved closer to peace, but during his term we have just gotten further from it," she said, adding that "there have been more and more terror attacks in Berlin, Orlando and yesterday in Turkey, what does any of this have to do with the [Israeli] settlements?"

"It just cannot be the case that this is the way the President of the United States, who thank God is finishing his term, treats the State of Israel, as the weak link in the Middle East," she stated.
All I can say is... Amen.

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Sunday, January 01, 2017

Krauthammer incinerates Obama's 'shameful legacy'

In the Washington Post, Charles Krauthammer explains what was different about that UN Security Council resolution, and how the Obama administration stabbed Israel in the back by allowing its passage.
An ordinary Israeli who lives or works in the Old City of Jerusalem becomes an international pariah, a potential outlaw. To say nothing of the soldiers of Israel’s citizen army. “Every pilot and every officer and every soldier,” said a confidant of Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, “we are waiting for him at The Hague,” i.e. the International Criminal Court.
Moreover, the resolution undermines the very foundation of a half-century of American Middle East policy. What becomes of “land for peace” if the territories that Israel was to have traded for peace are, in advance, declared to be Palestinian land to which Israel has no claim?
The peace parameters enunciated so ostentatiously by Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday are nearly identical to the Clinton parameters that Yasser Arafat was offered and rejected in 2000 and that Abbas was offered by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in 2008. Abbas, too, walked away.
Kerry mentioned none of this because it undermines his blame-Israel narrative. Yet Palestinian rejectionism works. The Security Council just declared the territories legally Palestinian — without the Palestinians having to concede anything, let alone peace. What incentive do the Palestinians have to negotiate when they can get the terms — and territory — they seek handed to them for free if they hold out long enough?
Indeed. The Post can look back at this column from 2009 and realize that the 'Palestinians' were correct. 
Yet on Wednesday afternoon, as he prepared for the White House meeting in a suite at the Ritz-Carlton in Pentagon City, Abbas insisted that his only role was to wait. He will wait for Hamas to capitulate to his demand that any Palestinian unity government recognize Israel and swear off violence. And he will wait for the Obama administration to force a recalcitrant Netanyahu to freeze Israeli settlement construction and publicly accept the two-state formula.

Until Israel meets his demands, the Palestinian president says, he will refuse to begin negotiations. He won't even agree to help Obama's envoy, George J. Mitchell, persuade Arab states to take small confidence-building measures. "We can't talk to the Arabs until Israel agrees to freeze settlements and recognize the two-state solution," he insisted in an interview. "Until then we can't talk to anyone."
And what the Post doesn't mention is that Netanyahu is reported to have offered even more in 2013.

If Hillary Clinton had won November's election, Israel would now have its back to the wall. Fortunately, Donald Trump won the election, and if he is willing to go to the wall in Israel's defense, perhaps this disgraceful resolution can be mitigated.

Read the whole thing.

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Indyk under fire for anti-Semitic tropes

It's been just five days since I reported that Martin Indyk attacked the Washington Free Beacon's Adam Kredo for using anonymous sources after having been one so often himself. Now, there's a much more serious and well-substantiated charge against Indyk: He's a Jewish anti-Semite.
Martin Indyk — who served as President Bill Clinton’s ambassador to Israel and assistant secretary of state for Near East affairs, followed by a stint as the Obama administration’s envoy for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations — is being urged to clarify comments he made in a tape-recorded private conversation from 1989, in which he reportedly said Israelis are “paranoid,” “arrogant” and “think the rules of society do not apply [to them]” because “they are the goy’s rules.”
Indyk, who is Jewish himself, also reportedly applied this assessment to the character of Jews generally, saying that Jewish people “would do whatever they can to avoid paying taxes,” and believe it is justified to “find a way to ignore the law or get around it.” He added, “In my own family, my grandfather used to stay up nights to figure out how to avoid paying taxes.”
Professor Eunice G. Pollack, an historian of antisemitism and co-editor of the Encyclopedia of American Jewish History, told JNS.org that Indyk’s reported statements “echo three of the most infamous centuries-old tropes of antisemites.”
“You have an updated version of the classic ‘Jewish swindler,’ combined with the ‘disloyal Jew’ who evades his patriotic duty to pay taxes, and the millennia-old ‘arrogant Jew’ who, in a more religious era, was accused of deriving his arrogance from his partner, Satan,” said Pollack.
Indyk’s alleged comments were made while he was executive director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, and were brought to light in 1995 by Amcha-the Coalition for Jewish Concerns, after Indyk was nominated as ambassador to Israel. At that time, neither the news media nor senators involved in his confirmation hearing gave the allegations any attention.
Indyk has not responded to multiple requests for comment by JNS.org.
This is not the first time Indyk’s remarks about Israel have drawn criticism.
Adam Kredo, a senior foreign policy writer for the Washington Free Beacon, told JNS.org that Indyk “is known among reporters for anonymously criticizing Israel in the press, for planting stories meant to pressure the Jewish state into making concessions [and for] leading the Obama administration’s efforts over the years to discredit Israel and blame it for the failure in peace talks.”
I'm sure that Indyk would say much worse about Israel and Jews today (I once watched him have a shouting match with several participants at the President's Conference in 2011). And I'm sure that $14 million donation from Qatar to the Brookings Institute, which Indyk heads, would have nothing to do with that. Of course not. It's why Qatar gave him the money in the first place.

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#CHANGE Time for an Israeli victory

It's the last day of Chanuka, so I couldn't resist the graphic.

Some 2,300 years after the Hasmonean's Chanuka military victory (caused by some miracles from God), Daniel Pipes argues it's time for another Jewish victory.
I propose an Israeli victory and a Palestinian defeat. That is to say, Washington should encourage Israelis to take steps that cause Mahmoud Abbas, Khaled Mashal, Saed Erekat, Hanan Ashrawi, and the rest of that crew to realize that the gig is up, that no matter how many U.N. resolutions are passed, their foul dream of eliminating the Jewish state is defunct, that Israel is permanent, strong, and tough. After the leadership recognizes this reality, the Palestinian population at large will follow, as will eventually other Arab and Muslim states, leading to a resolution of the conflict. Palestinians will gain by finally being released from a cult of death to focus instead on building their own policy, society, economy, and culture. 
While the incoming Trump administration’s Middle East policies remain obscure, President-elect Trump himself vociferously opposed Resolution 2334 and has signaled (for example, by his choice of David M. Friedman as ambassador to Israel) that he is open to a dramatically new approach to the conflict, one far more favorable to Israel than Barack Obama’s. With his lifelong pursuit of winning (“We will have so much winning if I get elected that you may get bored with winning”), Trump would probably be drawn to an approach that has our side win and the other side lose. 
Victory also suits the current mood of Israel’s prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu. He’s not just furious at being abandoned in the United Nations, he has an ambitious vision of Israel’s global importance. Further, his being photographed recently carrying a copy of historian John David Lewis’s Nothing Less than Victory: Decisive Wars and the Lessons of History signals that he is explicitly thinking in terms of victory in war: Lewis in his book looks at six case studies, concluding that in each of them “the tide of war turned when one side tasted defeat and its will to continue, rather than stiffening, collapsed.”
Finally, the moment is right in terms of the larger trends of regional politics. That the Obama administration effectively became an ally of the Islamic Republic of Iran scared Sunni Arab states, Saudi Arabia at the fore, into being far more realistic than ever before; needing Israel for the first time, the “Palestine” issue has lost some of its salience, and Arab conceits about Israel as the arch enemy have been to some extent abandoned, creating an unprecedented potential flexibility.
Sounds like a plan.

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#CHANGE Moderate Arab states ignore Obama-Kerry initiative

If the moderate Arab states were supposed to latch onto Secretary of State Kerry's 'peace proposal' and use it, along with United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334 to pressure Israel, someone forgot to tell them that. Or, as is more likely, they have read the handwriting on the walls, and have realized that they will have to work with Donald Trump for the next 4-8 years.
But the official responses in Cairo, Riyadh and Amman seemed calculated to make an impression on the incoming Trump administration rather than to impel any immediate or urgent follow up on the Kerry proposals. That was not expected, given that Kerry and President Barack Obama have only three weeks left in office and Donald Trump has signaled there will be a friendlier approach towards the policies of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

"Now, with the imminent change in the White House, Kerry's noble views may very well remain a small footnote in the history books," the Jordan Times wrote in an editorial Thursday.

Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia are, to some extent, groping in the dark, uncertain about what Trump policies that will strongly impact their futures will look like. By giving essentially positive responses to Kerry's proposals, "they are trying to show they are pro-peace, useful and very relevant as mediators and mainstays of the process and trying also to anticipate what the new administration in Washington wishes to do," said Gabriel Ben-Dor, a Middle East specialist at Haifa University. The countries also have their sights set on being relevant in advance of the January 15 conference bringing together some 70 foreign ministers in Paris whose goal is to reaffirm the necessity of a two-state solution.


As Tel Aviv University Middle East scholar Bruce Maddy-Weitzman has noted, close scrutiny of Cairo and Riyadh's reactions to Kerry indicate that neither Arab country has the sense of urgency that Kerry conveyed in his speech. Egypt's Foreign Ministry said that Kerry's principles were "mostly consistent with the international consensus and Egypt's vision but in the end what is important is the will to implement those principles eventually."

Saudi Arabia welcomed the proposals, according to an official at the Saudi foreign ministry, who said Riyadh views them as being in accord with the majority of the resolutions of international legality. Riyadh said that Kerry's proposals have elements of the Arab Peace Initiative proposed by Saudi Arabia and adopted by an Arab summit at Beirut in 2002. It added that the proposals represent an "appropriate basis" for achieving a final settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

But, Maddy-Weitzman noted "there is no operative clause in the Saudi response to move forward fast and do this or that."

"This suggests the Saudis understand there won't be significant movement any time soon as a result of the speech," he said. "They recognize there is a new administration coming in that is expressing itself differently on Middle East issues. Saudi strategic priorities are elsewhere. There are more acute issues occupying their thinking. The Palestinian-Israeli issue is lower down. That doesn't mean they don't care and would go along with anything the Israeli government would do."

"At this point, the Saudis won't take the lead on Palestinian-Israeli diplomacy unless the Trump administration takes the initiative or something forces them to, like a new intifada." But Riyadh will try to persuade the US not to move its Israel embassy to Jerusalem, Maddy-Weitzman predicted.

In its reaction to Kerry, Egypt was mindful of Trump's intervention a week earlier against its sponsorship of the security council resolution specifying that settlements have "no legal validity." Egypt withdrew its sponsorship in deference to Trump and it formulated its response to Kerry with Trump in mind, not wanting to appear to be confrontational towards Israel.

Cairo, which viewed the Obama administration as selling out Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak during the Arab spring revolt in 2011 and of subsequently backing the Muslim Brotherhood, has high hopes for closer ties with Trump. Egypt is relieved to have an administration coming in that will not make an issue out of its human rights abuses in crushing the brotherhood and other opposition. "The leaders of this 'terrorist' organization and those regional and Arab powers that lend them support should realize that the election of Donald Trump will usher in new directions for US foreign policy, which will discontinue the 'interventionist' policies of the two previous US administrations," wrote Hussein Haridy, a former foreign ministry official, in al-Ahram weekly. "If this happens, there will be much more effective cooperation between the American and Egyptian governments in dealing constructively and successfully with existing challenges and threats across the Middle East."
I haven't felt this optimistic since 2008, despite Obama-Kerry's attempts to incinerate Israel over the past two weeks. They're called 'lame ducks' for a reason. 

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#CHANGE Trump transition team wants Netanyahu at inauguration

Recall that in 2009, President Hussein Obama's first phone call was to  'moderate' 'Palestinian' President Mahmoud Abbas Abu Mazen. Israel's Prime Minister at the time was Ehud K. Olmert. The times... they are a changin'. The Trump campaign is pushing for Israel's current Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, to be in Washington at President Elect Trump's inauguration in two weeks.
President-elect Donald Trump’s advisers want to invite Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu to the inauguration or arrange a meeting of the two leaders before then, a source close to the transition said.
Transition leaders led by Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner have been aggressively courting Netanyahu and want him to attend the Jan. 20 festivities, the source said.
“There’s a plan for Trump to meet with Netanyahu,” the source said. “They’re talking all the time. And Netanyahu is talking about possibly going to the inauguration.”
This time, there is real hope for change. And not a moment too soon.

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