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March 12, 2017

ISRAEL RESETS RELATIONS WITH MOSCOW & WASHINGTON

The state's two top leaders have returned from similar missions - Prime Minister Netanyahu went to Moscow and Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman to Washington to determine how Israel can better 'coordinate' strategic policies with Russia and the U.S. There are several urgent reasons for doing so as a new strategic landscape is fast emerging in the region in the wake of the Iranian nuclear deal and the winding down of the Syrian Civil War; and in fact, there is a link between the two.

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February 05, 2017

TRUMP SIGNALS NETANYAHU - HOLD YOUR HORSES ON SETTLEMENTS!

It was not long in coming – President Trump has signaled Prime Minister Netanyahu to back off on building new settlements or expanding any existing settlements 'beyond their current borders'. In fact, Israel's leader actually triggered the White House response. What did Bibi expect after he announced that Israel would build a brand-new settlement to compensate for the evacuation of the illegal settlement of Amona? For good measure Netanyahu also tacked on 5,500 new housing units to existing settlements on the West Bank! This was the official Trump statement:

  1. "While we don't believe the existence of settlements is an impediment to peace, the construction of new settlements or the expansion of existing settlements beyond their current borders may not be helpful in achieving that goal."
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January 21, 2017

ISRAEL AWAITS TWO SAVIORS

Israel's Right wing fervently hopes and believes US President Donald Trump will reverse America's former policy that opposed settlement building in the West Bank. From Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu on down, the Right wingers also trust the US will serve as a bulwark to anti-Israel moves at the UN and in other international forums. A first indicator will be if Trump keeps his campaign pledge to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in the face of bitter Palestinian and Muslim threats. But his credibility is at stake. Could this mean he will, as reported, suffice with some half-measure like moving the Ambassador's official residence to Jerusalem, while the embassy would remain in Tel Aviv?

Trump's Inauguration address focused on his 'America First' theme and bringing back home American jobs. If so, this might trigger a global trade war. Or then again, will Trump's bark prove to be worse than his bite?

On Friday evening, Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu rushed off his best wishes to Trump:

       'Congratulations to my friend President Trump. I look forward to working closely with you to make the alliance between Israel and America stronger than ever. Shabbat Shalom'.

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December 31, 2016

OBAMA MAY HAVE SCREWED ISRAEL BUT BIBI ALSO SCREWED UP

US President Barack Obama screwed Israel on the UN Security Council Resolution that blamed Israeli settlements solely for the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Granted, Secretary John Kerry has tried to take out some of the sting, but the fact remains Professor Obama presented his damning thesis - 'if only the Israelis had halted the settlements we would have reached an historic peace accord and today the Palestinians and Israelis would be living happily ever after'. This is patently false and does not stand up to a fair and balanced examination of what has transpired since Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat signed the Oslo Agreement on the White House lawn in 1993.

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September 10, 2016

Implications Of Latest North Korean Nuclear Test For Israel

Jerusalem:

Iranian nuclear scientists have visited North Korea in the past, so they may have also been invited to the latest nuclear bomb test. So North Korea, one crazy state, has supplied nuclear weapons aid to another one, Iran. And note this troubling aspect about the North Korean statement:

      'The standardization of the nuclear warhead will enable (North Korea) To produce at will and as many as it wants a variety of smaller, lighter and diversified nuclear warheads of higher striking power... This has definitely put us (North Korea) on a higher level for mounting nuclear warheads on ballistic missiles'.

For Israel, does this raise the possibility of North Korea selling nuclear bombs to Iran in the future? A flush Iran will now have the cash. This is something that Israel must take into account although the International Atomic Energy Agency believes that Tehran is abiding by the nuclear deal forged in July 2015.

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July 31, 2016

Israelis Split Over Trump or Clinton

It is still hard to say whether most Israelis favor Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump. Going into the Democrats' convention, Trump had a slight lead. Coming out, Hillary got her expected 'bounce' and this will also be reflected in Israeli public opinion. Prime Minister Netanyahu and other Israeli politicians are wary about getting drawn into the U.S. presidential campaign for obvious reasons. A majority of Netanyahu's Likud party supporters hope Trump will make it to the White House, while the Centre and Left (Zionist Union-Labor) favor Clinton. Where does Bibi Stand? An indication is the clear-cut position taken by 'Yisrael Hayom' (Israel Today) the freebie newspaper that backs Netanyahu and is also in Trump's corner. Israel Today is financed by American casino tycoon, Sheldon Adelson. But the Clintons, both Hillary and Bill, have always been strong supporters of the Jewish state.

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June 17, 2016

Netanyahu Faces Political Rebellion in Israel

Ongoing genocide of Yazidis in Syria...

Yazidis are neither Muslim nor Arab, and follow a distinct faith that is abhorred by Daesh. At this very moment, Daesh is perpetrating genocide of 400,000 Yazidi women, children and men, mostly in Syria. Everyone has known it's been going on and now the UN has verified it. Chairman Paul Pinheiro has issued a report by the UN commission of Inquiry in Geneva disclosing:

       'Genocide has occurred and is ongoing. ISIS (Daesh) has subjected every Yazidi woman, child and man that it has captured to the most horrific of atrocities. Girls as young as nine are being raped, as are pregnant women. More than 3,200 Yazidi women and children are being held mostly in Syria'.

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May 08, 2015

NETANYAHU'S NIGHTMARE - 'EVERY BASTARD A KING!'

 'By hook and by crook', Israel's Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has apparently cobbled together a majority of one in the 120-member Knesset. Even as I write, Likud Knesset Member Ayub Kara has threatened not to show up for the required Knesset vote of approval on May 13th, unless Bibi first promises to make him a cabinet minister. This illustrates the nightmare now facing Netanyahu: every one of his miniscule majority will have the power to topple his new shaky coalition comprised of the Right Wing Likud, the Far Right Jewish home and the Centrist Kahlon party. There is a literal Hebrew expression that describes it perfectly: 'Every bastard will be a king!'

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March 13, 2015

ISRAEL'S NEW PRIME MINISTER - ISAAC HERZOG?

 What's been happening? It's the economy, stupid! For the first time, domestic politics has come home to roost for Netanyahu, who has focused his campaign on the Iranian nuclear threat, while housing prices and the cost of living have been going through the roof during Bibi's last six years in office. In his home stretch interviews Bibi has admitted that 'mistakes' have been made and he pledges to rectify them. But it may be too late. The far Right 'Jewish Home' party has also dealt Bibi a body blow by siphoning off voters from the Likud. (Paradoxically, a majority of Israelis think Bibi is better qualified than 'Buji' to be PM but they say they will still cast their ballots for Jewish Home or the religious parties).

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December 19, 2014

ISRAELI ELECTION CAMPAIGN FOR DUMMIES

 They are fed up with both his foreign and domestic policies. Israel has been suffering one diplomatic defeat after another in the international arena and the cost of living, mainly housing prices, has been skyrocketing during his tenure. And that is why the March 17th election is now up for grabs and why the ruling Likud party is now in trouble. While the polls show that no other candidate comes close to Netanyahu for being the most experienced 'in taking the telephone call at three AM in the morning', Israelis do not select the prime minister but vote for the list of candidates presented by the various parties running in the election. This is the crux of the current campaign. 

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December 03, 2014

ISRAEL'S EARLY ELECTION SET FOR MARCH 17

 The process has been set in motion for the Knesset to dissolve parliament after just 18 months in office. There are no snap elections in Israel - the law stipulates some three months for an intensive election campaign that is funded by public money. Each party selects lists of candidates that are presented to the voters. After ballots are tallied, it will then be up to State President Reuven Rivlin to meet with the various elected parties with the aim of selecting the party leader with the best prospect for forming a new coalition government; in other words, one that can command a parliamentary majority in the 120-member House. 

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September 05, 2014

ISRAEL - LAND GRAB & ISIS & BAN KI-MOON'S SILENCE

  Why in Jerusalem, did Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu annex another 1,000 acres of West Bank land, if he knew that in Washington, U.S. President Barack Obama would hit the roof? Indeed the annexation has thrown a monkey wrench into the already strained relations between the two allies after Obama, in effect, ordered Netanyahu to call a unilateral ceasefire, although Hamas was still launching rockets and mortars at Israel. The answer is that Netanyahu has been hauled over the coals in his own Likud party and the far Right for reigning in the IDF before it finished off the Hamas leadership and its forces, and therefore, he used the annexation to placate his Right wing supporters. But surely the national interest should trump domestic politics. On this score, Henry Kissinger's observation that 'Israel has no foreign policy, only domestic politics' does apply. However this generalization, like most others, is only partially correct. 

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June 12, 2014

CRACKS IN NETANYAHU'S COALITION

 Israel now faces international isolation - that is what Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu's diplomacy has achieved on the Palestinian track. Make no mistake, this has all the components of weakening Israel's international position and could eventually topple his coalition government. First the PM lost the 'blame game' to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas by letting Housing Minister Uri Ariel announce plans for building new housing units on the disputed West Bank.  U.S. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry pointed the finger at Netanyahu. Adding insult to injury, Abbas then gambled that he could join forces with terrorist Hamas and this would not upset the U.S. and the rest of the international community. He proved to be right...

 

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June 01, 2014

U.S. - No Longer Policeman of the World?

 It was highly significant that U.S. President Barack Obama selected West Point as the venue to articulate his foreign and military policy. Without saying it in so many words Obama sent a message loud and clear - America has abdicated its role of 'policeman of the world'. Obama has jettisoned the projection of American military power that characterized his predecessor George W. Bush. Addressing the graduating cadets, their commander-in-chief told them: “The U.S. will use military force, unilaterally if necessary, when our core interests demand it - when our people are threatened, when our livelihoods are at stake; when the security of our allies is in danger.” But his punch line related to global issues that do not directly threaten the U.S.: "Then the threshold of military action must be much higher. In such circumstances, we should not go it alone. Instead, we must mobilize allies and partners to take collective action." The truth is this has been a cornerstone of Obama's policy of 'leading from behind' in the Middle East, as exemplified by the crises in Libya and currently in Syria. Clearly, Obama's refusal to make good on his warning that Assad would face the consequences if he repeated his use of chemical weapons has actually tipped the scales in favor of the regime against the rebels. 

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May 25, 2014

NETANYAHU MUST CHOOSE ISRAEL'S NATIONAL INTEREST

 Israel in diplomatic doghouse...

 Is Israel's Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu getting the message? His interview with the Bloomberg News may indicate that Netanyahu realizes that he has lost the 'blame game' in the wake of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's failed peace mission. Not only Kerry and diplomat Martin Indyk pointed the finger at Bibi, but also President Barack Obama. Even Bibi's own negotiator, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, has blasted Housing Minister Uri Ariel for torpedoing the talks by announcing plans for new settlement building. At the time, the PM could have stepped in but chose not to do so in order not to rile the Right-wingers in his coalition. Israel finds itself in the diplomatic doghouse, although Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas did nothing to advance Kerry's peace mission and has even teamed up with terrorist Hamas. 

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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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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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March 15, 2013

INSIDE ISRAEL'S NEW COALITION GOVERNMENT

 After a protracted round of coalition haggling, Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu finally wrapped up his new government. On the way, Yair Lapid and Naftali Bennett taught him a trick or too.

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March 10, 2013

THIS WEEK IN ISRAEL - COALITION CRISIS APPARENTLY OVER

 Isracast: Yair Lapid Has Guts In Accepting Problematic Finance Portfolio - Israel Will Be Watching If He Also Has Brains & Political Savvy To Cope With Huge Deficit Left By Outgoing Netanyahu Administration

 Yair Lapid has apparently resolved the current coalition crisis in Israel by agreeing to accept the Finance Portfolio in the new Netanyahu cabinet. It's still not official, but reliable sources on both sides are signaling the two leaders have now overcome this hurdle. When they meet again, they are also expected to agree on the numbers of ultra-orthodox men who will start serving in the IDF. Lapid, leader of 'There's a Future' party may be on his way to becoming Israel's next political hero or a washed-up politician, it will all depend on how he fares as new Finance Minister.



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March 02, 2013

IRAN & NETANYAHU'S COALITION CAPERS

Almaty, Khazakhstan has now joined the list of exotic venues for the Great Power negotiations with Iran - aside from that nothing else has changed. The Iranians continued to string along the P5 +1, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany, as they did so skillfully in Geneva, Istanbul, Moscow and Baghdad. The scene may shift but the Iranian nuclear negotiators always stick to their two-step routine - one step forward and one step back.

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