Israel, like the rest of the world, follows with bated breath the ongoing drama of the US Presidential race. Government officials from Prime Minister Netanyahu on down have been studiously neutral as the greatest show on earth runs its course and will, apparently, not end with the official count, but in the US Supreme Court.
In that august forum, Trump may have a majority of appointees; however, is it conceivable that the highest judges in the land would cast their moral and professional principles aside and rule in favor of Trump if the charges of “vote fixing” appear to be bogus? To his credit, Netanyahu sidestepped a tricky question from Trump about whether “Sleepy Joe” could have achieved Israel’s latest peace agreement with Sudan. Netanyahu deftly avoided the trap by responding, “Israel appreciates the aid of anyone who helps us achieve peace.”
Without question, Trump has lent remarkable support to the Jewish state, such as recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, and producing his “Deal of the Century” that grants 30% of West Bank territory to Israel and the remaining 70% to a Palestinian state. Trump has also canceled former President Barack Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran, that had granted enormous economic relief to Tehran in return for a temporary halt in producing nuclear weapons (all this while Tehran vows to annihilate the Jewish state and threatens its Sunni Arab neighbors, starting with Saudi Arabia).
In contrast, Trump’s point man, Jarred Kushner, has succeeded in startling peace accords between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Sudan. So without a doubt, whatever one may think of Trump’s idiosyncrasies, he has been a loyal ally of the Jewish state (I haven’t forgotten the sale of those F-35s, the world’s most advanced warplane, to the UAE). In IsraCast’s view, the sale of a limited quantity of the F-35s to Arab states that have made peace with Israel does not pose a future threat to the Jewish nation (this was explained in a previous IsraCast report).
Nevertheless, what can be expected if Joe Biden does become the next President? Biden has a solid record of backing Israel’s security and prosperity.
Also, bear this in mind – Trump’s “Deal of the Century” has already drafted a map resolving the “Palestinian-Israeli dispute” (with five Arab states now at peace with Israel, the term “Arab-Israeli dispute as become passe).
In other words, the fact that Trump has delineated 70% of the West Bank for a Palestinian state also draws the line of 30% of the remainder going to Israel in a final peace plan – one that will put paid to the archaic Sykes-Picot deal made in the wake of WWI. These two British and French diplomats sat down with pencils and erasers in front of a big map of the Middle East and then divvied up the Turkish Empire according to their British and French imperial interests.
So if Biden, now the odds-on favorite to enter the White House on January 20th, takes the presidency, what Middle East policy is he likely to adopt after he deals with COVID-19 and the US economy? And again, the nagging Israeli-Palestinian problem and the Iranian nuclear threat will eventually be dealt with, of course, after China.
As for the Palestinians, IsraCast has taken the view that the Oslo Accords, signed by former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat under the aegis of another democratic President, Bill Clinton, was deliberately sabotaged by the Palestinian leader. Yigal Carmon, the President and founder of the highly-recommended Memri website, has engaged in a debate with Prof. Mati Steinberg in the Haaretz newspaper. Carmon took issue with Steinberg on the question of who bore responsibility for the collapse of the Oslo process.
“Steinberg ignores the fact that there were numerous indications, from open sources that exposed the violent approach of Yasser Arafat, after he signed the Oslo Accords. Steinberg quoted one of our research papers to prove Arafat’s ignorance but ignores our other documents that proved the opposite. Also, at the time, IDF intelligence and Israel’s Shabak security service ignored the evidence we produced, including reports in 1995 about Arafat’s greenlight for perpetrating terror attacks against Israel. Only after the horrific Palestinian atrocities in 1996 did IDF intelligence conduct a precise examination of Arafat’s behavior. This made it possible to clearly identify his double role (ongoing terrorism plus negotiations) that guided his leadership since he entered the territories in 1994.
“As for Steinberg’s question of why President Abbas (Arafat’s successor), who differs from Arafat in many ways, is not a legitimate partner for an agreement with Israel, the answer is simple: Abbas also, like the PLO, demands the “right of return” for all Palestinians to within Israel. On this question, Steinberg can ask former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who in 2008 offered Abbas a Palestinian state equal in area to the West Bank and Gaza. In fact, Olmert wrote in the Washington Post, “Until this day, I cannot understand why the Palestinian Authority did not accept the wide-ranging and unprecedented offer that I made them!”
Israeli COVID-19 Tests Underway
The Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer Hospital in Tel Aviv has started vaccinating volunteers in Israel’s first trials. The vaccine was developed at the Institute of Biological Research in Nes Ziona. Eighty volunteers are involved, and if all goes well, another 960 will participate in phase II, followed by phase III that is to include 30k, hopefully by the end of 2021.