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July 29, 2017

IN ISRAEL, TEMPLE MOUNT DISASTER UNLIKELY TO TOPPLE NETANYAHU

Most Israelis believe Prime Minister Netanyahu screwed up in his handling of the Temple Mount crisis but are willing to forgive him. That is the conclusion of the latest opinion polls that show about 70% feel he handled the affair badly, but if an election were held today, as things stand, Bibi would still form a new coalition government. And that is the bottom line in the sorry story of what has transpired since three Israeli Arabs shot dead two Israeli policemen on Temple Mount on July 15th. So far, the Palestinian rioting has still not ceased although Bibi removed the new metal detectors installed to prevent more sub-machine guns from being smuggled into the religious site for killing more Israelis.

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July 09, 2017

ISRAEL'S LABOR PARTY AT FATEFUL CROSSROADS

By the time you read this article, Israel's Zionist Union (old Labor) will have elected its new party leader. Over fifty thousand Laborites will have determined whether newcomer Avi Gabay or old-timer Amir Peretz will take the helm from Yitzhak Herzog, who lost badly in the recent primary after leading the party into near oblivion.

Full disclosure: early on, Isracast took the position that only Gabay had the slightest chance of defeating Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu if he is the Likud candidate in the next general election slated for no later than Nov. 15th, 2019.

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June 18, 2017

Urgent Questions About Terror In Jerusalem & High-Rise Inferno In London

Friday evening 7:30 in Jerusalem: Most Israeli families were just finishing the traditional Sabbath Eve meal. A typical peaceful quiet had descended over the city. Suddenly on Saladin Street, the main thoroughfare in East Jerusalem, gunfire shattered the calm. Near Zedekiah's Cave, two Palestinians armed with knives and a modified Karl Gustav submachine gun attacked Israeli Border police who were patrolling in the area. The terrorists' submachine gun jammed quickly and the police officers shot dead the two attackers. Meanwhile, up the street near the Damascus Gate, a third terrorist surprised another team of Israeli Border Guards and stabbed twenty-three-year-old Sergeant Hadas Malka in the back. Although critically wounded, she tries to fight off her attacker before comrades shoot dead the terrorist.

Hadas was rushed by ambulance to Hadassah Hospital on nearby Mount Scopus. Doctors worked to try and save her life, but to no avail - she was fatally wounded in the neck and throat. Five hours later she was pronounced dead. A second Israeli Border Policeman was lightly wounded by ricochet fragments, as were two Palestinian bystanders who were not linked to the attack. 

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June 11, 2017

BIBI, ABBAS & ARAB STATES PLAY BALL WITH TRUMP

While the rest of the world was looking for the 'smoking gun' in James Comey's testimony against President Donald Trump in Washington, some intriguing developments were going on in the Middle East. After Trump's recent visit, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the Gulf States ganged up on Qatar for its support of Iran, the Muslim Brothers, and Hamas. It triggered a diplomatic and commercial earthquake throughout the region. It stands to reason that the Arab states would not have taken such drastic steps without the green light from the US President. Even though America maintains a big air base with 10,000 troops on Qatar, Trump has accused Qatar of backing Islamist terrorism.

The facts: unlike all the other Sunni Arab states, Qatar is on good terms with Shiite Iran. In addition, it supports the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt against President Al-Sisi while also backing Daesh, Al Qaida and Hamas in Gaza. (The IMF estimates that Qatar is the richest country in the world per capita with an average annual income of $127,000 compared to Israel with $35,000). As for the Jewish state, independent-minded Qatar maintains some informal ties, despite its support for Hamas. But Trump and the Shiite Arab states have concluded that Qatar has gotten too big for its britches, so to speak, and decided to take it down a peg or two. Its capital, Doha, is isolated in the Persian Gulf and will be forced to mend its ways.

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June 04, 2017

PRES. DONALD TRUMP = HOMO DEUS OR YERTLE THE TURTLE?

Does U.S. President Donald Trump perceive himself to be a first and only master of humankind; a Homo Deus, to pinch the title of Prof. Yuval Harari's intriguing book? Never mind that the preponderance of serious scientists in the world agree that there is an urgent need to also 'repeal and replace' the Paris accord on the emission of dangerous gases into the atmosphere - our very future is at stake. But Trump has signaled that America's coal miners come first. However, just as Trump struck out on rejecting Obamacare, he probably will also fail again. Even Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who opposed withdrawing from the Paris accord, was quick to play down the impact:

       “I think it's important everyone recognizes the U.S. has a terrific record of reducing our own greenhouse gas emissions. I don't think we are going to change our ongoing efforts to reduce these emissions in the future either. So, hopefully people can keep it in perspective.”

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June 02, 2017

The truth about the occupation

I doubt there is a more common phrase than “the occupation corrupts.” A large number of organizations, activists and writers go to the trouble of filling this slogan with content. Nobel Prize laureate José Saramago argued in the past that “what is happening in Palestine is a crime we can put on the same plane as what happened at Auschwitz.” Auschwitz of all places?

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May 22, 2017

PRESIDENT TRUMP WILL HIGHTLIGHT HISTORIC OPPORTUNITY FOR ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN PEACE

After his 'tremendous talks' in Riyadh with Arab leaders, the U.S. President is convinced that he can help Netanyahu and Abbas close the deal. Fresh from his diplomatic success in Saudi Arabia, Trump will offer to act as a facilitator and instruct his administration to work overtime to aid Bibi and Abbas in forging peace. In Riyadh, he had heard that Muslim leaders world-wide would make peace with Israel the day after Bibi and Abbas hammered out an agreement. They already have signed on to the Saudi peace initiative for Israel. The first step was to return to the table with both sides making some good-will gestures to get the ball rolling.

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May 14, 2017

ISRAEL SUCCEEDS IN BLOCKING CYBER ATTACKS

So far so good. As of this moment Israel's cyber defenses have prevented any major cyber break-in. After some one hundred countries have reported a major cyber offensive around the globe, Prime Minister Netanyahu told the regular cabinet session today that Israel's cyber wall had stood the test. The country was waiting for Sunday when Israel goes back to work after the Sabbath when everything shuts down. The PM reported only 'very minor' cyber attempts were detected and there had been no penetration of vital strategic networks. He also disclosed that several years ago Israel had established a 'Governmental Authority' to protect Israel's vital institutions. This obviously referred to the IDF and a vast array of other potential military and civilian targets. Netanyahu did not reveal details, but it's a safe bet that Iran poses the greatest cyber threat to Israel.

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April 30, 2017

PRESIDENT TRUMP TO PERSONALLY PROD ISRAEL & PALESTINIANS TOWARD PEACE

It's not official yet, but President Donald Trump is expected to arrive in Israel next month. It's a safe bet that he will prod Israel and the Palestinians to show progress on the peace track that has hit a dead end. Make no mistake, Trump can use something to show in the international arena now that he has those famous 'one hundred days' under his belt. In fact, he's showing signs of some 'wear and tear'.

'I loved my previous life - I had so many things going. This is more work than in my previous life. I thought it would be easier.'

Previously, the tycoon Trump did not have to cope with such pesky problems as the U.S. Constitution, political rivals and the 'checks and balances' of American politics. If some of the hired help failed to deliver, he could just shout at him or her 'You're fired!' Now it is far more complicated with many more hurdles to overcome on the path from setting a goal and actually reaching it.

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April 09, 2017

AFTER SYRIA, ISRAEL & PALESTINIANS WILL NOT BE FAR BEHIND

The aftershock of the US military strike has shaken the globe far beyond Syria. President Trump showed the world that if necessary, he will 'put his money where his mouth is'. Russia's own Machiavellian Vladimir Putin probably admires Trump for it. But those 59 Tomahawk missiles served not only as a cynical super-power ploy, they were also blow dealt in the name of international morality against the Syrian war criminal Bashar Assad.

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April 02, 2017

NETANYAHU IMPOSES PARTIAL FREEZE ON SETTLEMENTS

Remember Henry's Kissinger's 'constructive ambiguity'? We are now seeing President Trump's version of it, possibly on the advice of his special emissary Jason Greenblatt, who recently visited the region to meet separately with Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. But how can Bibi's decision to establish a new settlement, the first new one in 25 years, aid in a resumption of peace negotiations? (All the other construction of housing units was within the boundaries of existing settlements on the West Bank).

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March 27, 2000

We don't need another failure

 Two days after the Israeli elections, Islamic State carried out suicide attacks at two mosques in Sana'a, the capital of Yemen, murdering around 150 individuals. The day before, an Islamic State offshoot perpetrated a terror attack in Tunisia that killed 23 people, mostly tourists. During the same two-day period, seven people were murdered in an attack in Kathua, India, and 70 bodies were discovered in Damasak, Nigeria. Who heard? During the course of February, 1,977 people were murdered by Jihadists around the globe – all in acts of terror only. And as I write these words, reports are coming in about massacres being carried out by Iraqi-Iranian forces in the city of Tikrit, Iraq.

 

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March 27, 2017

LONDON & JERUSALEM IN 'CLASH OF CIVILIZATIONS'

What motivated a 52-year-old citizen, born and bred in Britain, to attack the sacred 'Mother of Parliaments' while running over, stabbing and shooting scores of his fellow countrymen? It was yet another road mark in the 'Clash of Civilizations' that radical Islam is waging world-wide. Even Canada, with no imperial past to atone for, was targeted in October 2014. The British terrorist, Adrian Elms, was apparently converted to Islam in prison when he served a term for stabbing, and adopted his new name of Khalid Masood. Daesh has confirmed he acted in its name. What may have sent him around the bend may have been the heavy bombing now being inflicted by the US-led coalition on the Daesh force in the Iraqi city of Mosul. The Daesh 'capital city' of Raqqa in Syria is next in line. In response, Daesh Internet has adopted the old Marxist battle-cry with its version, 'Muslims of the world unite - come and join our forces in the Middle East, but if you cannot, kill the infidels wherever you can!'

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March 26, 1979

Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty

Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat sign on the peace agreement between the two states.

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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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March 04, 2017

WHO DOES BIBI FEAR MOST, ISRAELI SETTLERS OR TRUMP?

It was not Israel's finest hour. State Comptroller Yosef Shapira has lambasted both Israel's political and military echelons for their conduct before and during the 'Protective Edge' military campaign against Hamas in Gaza in the summer of 2014. Sixty-eight Israelis and five civilians were killed in the war that was triggered by the Hamas kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank. Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu, Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon and IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz barely received a passing mark. They were all found to be at fault for their failure to prepare to deal with the tunnels dug by Hamas under the border into Israel that cost many Israeli lives.

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February 19, 2017

POLL: ISRAELIS PREFER TWO STATE SOLUTION BY NEARLY 3 TO 1

'One state, two states'! Whatever, it's up to you guys, the Israelis and Palestinians. Whatever they decided would be fine with US President Donald Trump - just make the deal already! Has the new US President just thrown out the window several decades of American support for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Over at the UN, American Ambassador Nikki Haley was quick to correct any mistaken impression - the US still backed the two-state scheme. Apparently, the boss sometimes gets carried away with his own rhetoric. Go figure.

That is just what Bibi's friends and foes are now trying to do back in Jerusalem. Channel 10 got the jump on everyone by conducting a snap opinion poll in the wake of Trump's bomb-shell. Where do Israeli voters stand today? The results were startling:

  • ISRAELIS FOR TWO-STATE SOLUTION: 43%
  • ISRAELIS FOR ONE-STATE SOLUTION: 15%
  • UNDECIDED: 30%
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February 11, 2017

WILL NETANYAHU AND TRUMP CLASH OR COOPERATE OVER SETTLEMENTS?

What's going on? Twice in the last week US President Donald Trump has opposed wide-scale Israeli settlement building on the West Bank. In Israel, Right-wingers have been shocked to the core - Trump and Bibi were supposed to be great pals. They had anticipated that Trump would give Israel the green light for constructing a brand new settlement and adding 5,500 new housing units to existing settlements. Moreover, there is the new controversial law that would enable Israel to legalize homes built on privately owned Palestinian land. But is this promising package is unraveling? In an exclusive interview with Yisrael Hayom, the pro-Netanyahu newspaper, Trump clarified his position:

  • 'The settlements don't help the process. I can say that. There is only so much land left (on the West bank). And every time you (Israel) take land for settlements, there is less land left (for a Palestinian state). But we are looking at that, and we are looking at some other options, we'll see. But no I am not somebody that believes that going forward with these settlements is a good thing for peace'.
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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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