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ISRAEL - ANGER TRUMP AT YOUR PERIL!

US President Trump, Israeli PM Netanyahu

Don't mess with US President Donald Trump. That's the lesson the shell-shocked Palestinians are digesting after his startling decisions recently. First, although the irascible leader of the Free World often seems to let his mouth run on ahead of his brain, there are times when he means what he says. First Trump sent his two negotiators, Greenblatt and Kushner, to start forging a peace proposal. However, they could not get past the total Palestinian rejection of any Israeli rights in Jerusalem (built by King David over three thousand years ago and whose very name is derived from the Hebrew language). So Trump simply 'took it off the table' by recognizing it as Israel's capital. But he also stressed that the White House was not setting any permanent lines - that would be up to Israel and the Palestinians in future negotiations. Nonetheless, Abbas hit the roof and hauled Trump and his negotiators over the coals. In an angry diatribe in Arabic, Abbas added fuel to the flames by referring directly to Trump with the saying: 'May your house be destroyed!' This went over big with his Palestinian audience but less so in the White House.

President Mahmoud Abbas is not interested in leaving the legacy of a permanent accord with Israel, as were Egypt's President Sadat and Jordan's King Hussein.

Then when Vice President Mike Pence came calling on his Mid-East tour, Abbas refused to even meet him although he was only fifteen minutes down the road from Jerusalem in Ramallah. Never one to turn the other cheek, Trump retaliated by slashing American foreign aid to the Palestinian refugees: 'We give them hundreds of millions of dollars, and they disrespect us!' The money would remain on the table and not be deposited with UNWRA, the special relief organization set up by the UN specifically for the Palestinian refugees seventy years ago.


Dec. 6th was the turning point

Why couldn't Abbas have replied to Trump's Jerusalem statement by demanding that Jerusalem also be designated as the future Palestinian capital as well? In fact, this was President Bill Clinton's idea back at Camp David 2000 with Yasser Arafat and Ehud Barak. Then also, Arafat rejected the idea by packing his bags and going home. Clinton had suggested that on the explosive question of Jerusalem, what was Arab would remain Arab and what was Jewish would remain Israeli. Sounds reasonable. It was to Barak but not to Arafat. And the 'why' was because it cuts straight to the core of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And that is a permanent solution for all time, no future 'ifs, ands, or buts'. It would spell out an agreed end to the conflict similar to Israel's peace accords with Egypt and Jordan that have withstood the test of time. In fact, with Daesh rebels attacking Egypt from Sinai and Iranian proxies in Iraq threatening Jordan - the strategic ties between the Jewish state and these two neighboring Arab countries are stronger than ever. Yet, 83-year-old Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is not interested in leaving the legacy of a permanent accord with Israel, as were Egypt's President Sadat and Jordan's King Hussein.

On the contrary, Abbas has even declared that he is not willing to finalize whether the four or five million refugees spread over the Middle East will one day return to Israel. This decision was theirs alone. What it boils down to is that Abbas is interested only in an interim deal that will force Israel to evacuate all the settlements on the West Bank (Judea & Samaria) lock, stock, and barrel, and withdraw to the old Green Line from where the Arab armies attacked Israel in 1967. Come to think of it, that's what Israel did in 2005 from the Gaza Strip - a full-scale pullout of IDF forces and civilian settlements. The result was that the Palestinians turned the entire Gaza Strip into one big launch pad for firing rockets into Israel until this very day. During this period the shower of rockets has triggered three mini-wars and counting.

The Palestinian leader was hopping mad declaring the US could no longer be a peace broker and jumped into his jet and flew off for Europe where he hoped to rally political support. But no one really believes European leaders can replace the US as a peace broker. The Palestinians hope that foreign countries will make up the American shortfall. Maybe Iran? Abbas, who opposes terrorism against Israel, has always ordered his security force on the West Bank to crack down on terrorists and co-operate with Israel in preventing attacks on Israelis. Conceivably he could retaliate by cutting back on funding his counter-terror policy, but that would open the door for Hamas to accelerate their attacks on Israel from the West Bank. In fact, Israeli defense officials have disclosed that Hamas in Gaza has been trying to do just that. This tactic would forestall the IDF from retaliating against Gaza. But here's a suggestion - how about Abbas halting his paying of pensions to the families of terrorists for killing and wounding Israelis?

Naturally, Trump's pro-Israel policies have been welcomed across Israel's political spectrum. Even Bibi's political critics have tipped their hats to the Prime Minister for Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, and that it will start operating before the end of 2019. However, on the far Right and even in Bibi's own Likud party there has been putting persistent pressure on Netanyahu to step up settlement building across the Green line, in Jerusalem and Judea & Samaria. A Likud party gathering recently passed a resolution calling on the government to extend Israeli law over settlements on the West Bank. This would be tantamount to unilateral annexation. Noticeably, the Prime Minister did not attend the meeting and the recommendation is not binding. Even cabinet minister Yisrael Katz who has announced that he will run for the Likud leadership, whenever Netanyahu departs, has called for unlimited building in the settlement blocs and in East Jerusalem.

Certainly, after the President's unexpected decisions of late, any responsible Israeli politician should think twice about anything that could rile Donald.

Certainly, after the President's unexpected decisions of late, any responsible Israeli politician should think twice about anything that could rile Donald. This also applies to Education Minister Naftali Bennett who has also been leading the settlement drive. The fact is these politicians are simply playing to the Right-wing gallery. The same applies to Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman who is trading punches with the Ultra-orthodox parties that are hell-bent on a campaign of religious coercion. The fact that this issue could topple the coalition and the fact the PM is facing several police investigations has the politicians all doing their thing - preparing for a snap election if the government falls for one reason or another. But Bibi's foreign policy successes have been lauded by coalition and opposition alike - and rightly so when it comes to recognizing Jerusalem and calling out the Palestinians. After Bibi's recent nose-dive in polls, he will now gain in the opinion polls.

So far, Bibi has deigned not to take any provocative steps that could get Trump's dander up. Certainly after the President's unexpected decisions of late, any responsible Israeli politician should think twice about anything that could rile Donald. This also applies to Education Minister Naftali Bennett who has also been leading the settlement drive. The fact is these politicians are simply playing to the Right-wing gallery. The same applies to Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman who is trading punches with the Ultra-orthodox parties that are hell-bent on a campaign of religious coercion. The fact that this issue could topple the coalition and the fact the PM is facing several police investigations has the politicians all doing their thing - preparing for a snap election if the government falls for one reason or another. But Bibi's foreign policy successes have been lauded by coalition and opposition alike - and rightly so when it comes to recognizing Jerusalem and calling out the Palestinians. After Bibi's recent nose-dive in polls, he will now gain in the opinion polls.

Then there's Iran. Trump has clarified that he will not again waive his consent on the nuclear deal if changes are not made in what he and Vice President Mike Pence call a 'disaster'. For example, Iran's development of ICBMs, the necessary delivery system for nuclear warheads, is not included in the deal. And get this - Iranian military bases are also 'off limits' to the nuclear inspectors.

Question - where would be the best sites for Iranian scientists to conduct illegal research on nuclear weapons if not inside secure military bases? Moreover, independent nuclear experts have criticized the IAEA's periodic reports that attest to Iran's abiding by the agreement but stress the data is very limited and is not suitable for further examination. For example, in the past, Israel disclosed that the Iranians had conducted research on nuclear detonators inside the military base of Parchin. This was later verified despite the Iranians' initial denial. Then there's the 'sunset clause' that will allow Tehran to move full-steam ahead to building A-bombs when the agreement runs out in another eight years. In any case, Defense Minister Lieberman has just told Channel 1 TV that he has reason to believe that Britain, France, and Germany 'may be open' to revising the nuclear accord. He did not elaborate.

The entire world is now pondering how former American President Bill Clinton signed a faulty nuclear deal with North Korea and how his successors George Bush and Barack Obama were apparently asleep at the wheel for sixteen years, while maniacs Pyongyang acquired the where-with-all to threaten the planet. Whatever one may think about Donald Trump, he at least appears to be trying to prevent the North Korean example from being repeated in Iran, where Muslim fanatics are calling the shots.

 

Political Analyst David Essing

 

David Essing

 

 

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