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Israel: ‘No Choice’ but Military Option against Iran’s Nuclear Program?

Israel - Iran War Scenarios  12-14(2)In 1964, I sat in a darkened movie theater in Washington, D.C. with a fellow Army Intelligence officer watching Stanley Kubrick’s brilliant dark satire film on how to live with thermonuclear warfare, Dr Strangelove: or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. My colleague and I laughed nervously as we had just finished secret intelligence assignments. That memory was triggered by a recent American Thinker article by veteran nuclear war gaming and arms control expert, John Bosum, “Thinking About the Unthinkable: An Israel-Iran Nuclear War”.  That was a reference to books and articles by nuclear game theorist and Hudson Institute co-founder Herman Kahn and former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger on limited nuclear warfare.

Scary prospects then, scary prospects now with the world on the verge of concluding a nuclear agreement with the apocalyptic Islamic Republic of Iran virtually assuring it of an arsenal of nuclear weapons in a decade, if not sooner funding in part by the lifting of $150 billion in sanctions. The U.S. says it has the means of striking back at Iran if it is found cheating, a reference to possible military actions. The reality is that the Administration has hollowed out the nation’s military capabilities leaving Israel isolated. The Jewish nation would doubtlessly be reviled by world opinion, should it undertake a strike of its own on Iran’s nuclear facilities.

The Israeli Limited Nuclear Attack Scenario

There are daunting prospects facing Israel with the looming Congressional vote rejecting the Iran nuclear pact in the face of a likely veto threat by President Obama that may not be overridden. John Bosum, in his American Thinker article vets a possible limited nuclear attack by Israel against Iran’s nuclear facilities. His credibility stems from his considerable expertise and professional background in nuclear war gaming and arms control.  He posits an attack scenario using conventional air craft equipped with US supplied GBU 28 “bunker busters” followed by tactical nukes or nuclear tipped cruise missiles launched from Israeli Dolphin subs offshore in the Arabian Sea.  That scenario faces the realities of estimated losses by Israel Ministry of Defense planners. They have estimated that such a scenario might result in the loss of 40 percent of air crews-a heavy price to pay for young IAF pilots.  Then there is Bosum’s suggestion that Israel might use a low altitude EMP attack on Iran by a Jericho 2 missile.  Ex-CIA official Chet Nagle suggested that Israel might pursue that during a Capitol Hill EMPact program on the EMP Threat several years ago. There is also the non nuclear option using swarms of Drone- launched CHAMP cruise missiles that could take out specific targets. Examples are computer controllers and major power transformers for underground enrichment and centrifuge R& D facilities as well as command and control networks. Israeli encrypted software managing large swarms of drones may provide a stealth shield against the Russian supplied S300 batteries. In September 2008 the IAF flew simulated missions against Greek S300 systems involving swarms of IAF aircraft that rattled the IRGC military. From that exercise the IAF may have developed electronic means of spoofing these Russian systems version of S-300 air defense systems.

Bosum believes that Israel’s anti-missile umbrella including the Arrow anti-ICBM, David Sling, Iron Beam and Iron Dome systems, might not be able to withstand barrages of Iranian rockets and medium range ballistic missiles. There is evidence from the Tel Aviv University Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) November 2012 Iran attack simulations that a conventional attack might succeed in setting back the Iranian program by three years.  Moreover, the simulations suggest that the anti-missile umbrella may destroy significant numbers of incoming Iranian missiles sparing Israel’s major population centers. From reliable sources we understand that Israel may have successfully conducted tests against North Korean developed Shahab 3 missiles likely candidates for nuclear equipped MIRV warheads.

The real issues for Israel are priorities and staging of a limited nuclear attack scenario on Iran’s nuclear program.  From release of  interview audio tapes  this weekend on Israeli Channel 2  by the authors of a forthcoming memoir of  former Defense Minister Ehud Barak   there were allegations  that  Netanyahu was thwarted  from undertaking possible Iran nuclear attack missions  because of objections from  former IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, “cold feet” of Ministers Yuval Steinitz, Minister of Defense Moshe “Bogie” Ya’alon  and  looming joint Israel US military exercises in 2012. There were reports that President Obama threatened to invoke the Brzezinski Doctrine with orders to shoot down IAF aircraft attacking Iranian targets.  Problem is Barak’s representations may have been part of a promotional effort to enhance his reputation and legacy.  There were also rumors that current Minister of Defense, Moshe “Bogie” Ya’alon may have also revisited the limited Iran nuclear attack option this past year.  He broadly hinted  that “steps” might have to be taken during a May 5, 2015 conference in Tel Aviv hosted by the Israel Law Center, sufficient to bring a reaction from Iran’s UN Ambassador. Ya’alon was cited in a Times of Israel report saying:

“Certain steps” Israel might consider against tyrannical regimes threatening the nation’s security.

Cases in which we feel like we don’t have the answer by surgical operations we might take certain steps that we believe…should be taken in order to defend ourselves.

Of course, we should be sure that we can look at the mirror after the decision, or the operation. Of course, we should be sure that it is a military necessity. We should consider cost and benefit, of course. But, at the end, we might take certain steps.

He was reminded of US president Harry Truman who “was asked how you feel after deciding to launch the nuclear bombs, Nagasaki and Hiroshima, causing at the end the fatalities of 200,000, casualties? And he said, “When I heard from my officers the alternative is a long war with Japan, with potential fatalities of a couple of millions, I thought it is a moral decision.

We are not there yet, Ya’alon then added.

The Hezbollah Attack Scenario

The release in mid-August 2015 of a definitive national strategy document by IDF Chief of State (COS) Gen. Gadi Eizenkot,  criticized failures to combat both Hamas and Hezbollah, raised the risk from non-state fundamentalist Islamic State, but downplayed the Iran threat.   It is not without moment in late August that there was a stream of contradictory declarations from PM Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ya’alon that Iran is behind a series of low intensity and rocket attacks on Northern Israel and the Golan frontier since the beginning of this year. The attacks involved IRGC officers and Iranian proxies Hezbollah and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.  Israeli PM Netanyahu referencing acceptance of the Iran nuclear pact by world powers said, “You rush to embrace Iran, they fire rockets at us. We will harm those who harm us”

From the assessments of retired Maj. Gen. Yaakov Amidror, former National Security Adviser, the immediate objective is the elimination of the near enemy and proxy of Iran, Hezbollah.  Recently Iran unveiled a new solid fuel surface to surface missile, the Fateh 313, that President Rouhani threatened  ballistic missile exercises would demonstrate the ability of longer range missiles to strike both Israel and Saudi Arabia.  The limited range of 310 miles of the Fateh-113 makes the weapon suitable for possible launch from Syria and Lebanon against population centers in Israel. Further, this threat is bolstered by the turmoil in Lebanon behind the unresolved political crisis over the possibility of a power grab by Hezbollah.

An Israeli preemptive attack scenario is at the heart of Jon Schanzer’s article, “The Iran Nuclear Deal Means War between Israel and Hezbollah”.   Schanzer argues that the Iran nuclear deal may trigger a major war against Hezbollah to eliminate the Iranian- supplied rocket and missile inventories and the command and control echelons of Hezbollah.  Schanzer refers to discussions with senior Israeli defense officials who appear committed   to dislodge Hezbollah and destroy the huge inventory of 150,000 rockets and missiles in Lebanon. Israel has both air and naval combat capabilities to achieve this including interdiction of Iranian and Chinese supplied anti-ship missiles. Further, the IDF would not have to rely on those U.S.-supplied GBU-28’s bunker busters.  It has sophisticated weapons like the Rafael SPICE precision guided glide bombs used to foil weapons deliveries from Syria to Hezbollah in the Bekaa Valley. It also has its own variant of the Boeing CHAMP cruise missiles capable of non-nuclear EMP effects against command and control nets. Moreover, unlike the inconclusive Second Lebanon War of 2006, the IDF has learned its lessons about unit training, command and control and effective means of taking out anti-air,  anti-tank rockets and  launching precision battlefield missiles, using the Iron Beam, Trophy and Pereh systems.

This sequencing of threat priorities was reflected in a Wall Street Journal Weekend Edition Interview by Sohran Ahmari with former Saudi General and National Security Advisor Anwar Eshki, “The Saudis Reply to Iran’s Rising Danger.”  General Eshki held colloquies with Dr. Dore Gold   director general of the Israel Foreign Ministry. The most notable one was the public forum at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. General Eshki’s conclusion drawn from a Socratic dialogue on the near versus far enemy decision paradigm was: “Israel is thinking first of all to destroy Hezbollah, to solve the problem with Hezbollah. After that they can attack Iran.”

Walla News in Israel reported a senior defense official   saying that Israel may be capable of undertaking an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities and defending Israel against a retaliatory strike:

Every year that passes, the IDF improves. We never stand still. The professional level increases. In the coming year we will receive another submarine, F-35 fighter jets and other platforms. Intelligence is improving as well.

Further, Walla reported IDF COS Eizenkot instructing deputy, Maj. Gen. Yair Golan to revise military plans for a possible military strike. But it cautioned that the military option was off the table until there are ‘significant developments’.  That may be for public consumption. Israel has a tradition of saying nothing or opaquely very little when such events occur

Conclusion

The planners in the Ministry of Defense pits in Tel Aviv have multiple threats and must prioritize resources. By necessity Israel must plan for taking out the near enemy, Hezbollah, which would enable them to have a clear path to attack Iran.  Thus, it must be prepared to accomplish both threats.  At issue is whether Israel I PM Netanyahu and the security cabinet have the resolve to accomplish both despite adverse world opinion and likely intervention by the Obama Administration.

When Israeli PM Begin ordered the “raid against the sun’ in 1981 that took out Saddam Hussein’s  Osirak nuclear reactor , it took a decade for former Vice President Dick Cheney to thank Israel when the US led coalition unleashed the First Gulf War.  No such thanks came from the Bush Administration following the IAF’s successful obliteration of the Syrian al-Kibar nuclear bomb factory following the September 2007 raid.  . The Obama Administration has demonstrated its inability or unwillingness to exercise a possible military option should Iran be found cheating under the terms of the JCPOA. It has hollowed out the US military capability under the Congressional Sequester.  We have the smallest navy since WWI and the smallest Army since before WWII. We have less than 26,000 first line aircraft.  Israel has no choice, but to undertake its sovereign right to defend the Jewish nation against such existential threats.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review. The featured image is of Iranian President Rouhani and Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan with Fateh-313 Sold Fuel Missile, August 22, 2015. Source: Iranian Presidential office/AP.

Israel Approves Leviathan Off Shore Gas Deal

Reuters reported that Israel has reached a deal to develop the important Leviathan offshore gas field after difficult negotiations with development partners, Houston-based Noble Energy, Inc.and Israeli Partenr, Delek Group:

Aug 13 Israel’s government said on Thursday it reached a deal that will pave the way for the development of Leviathan and two other offshore natural gas wells.

“The outline will bring Israel hundreds of billions of shekels in the coming years,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told a news conference, saying he will present the agreement to the cabinet on Sunday for a vote.

The controversial deal initially revealed in June will allow Texas-based Noble Energy and Israel’s Delek Group to keep ownership of the largest offshore field, Leviathan. They are required to sell off other assets, including stakes in another large deposit called Tamar.

Critics say the agreement still leaves Noble and Delek with too much power since they would control most of Israel’s gas reserves.

Netanyahu, who has struggled to muster enough support for an agreement, earlier this week won crucial backing from the central bank.

What a difference a day makes. Noble Energy had threatened to walk after the narishkeit of Dr. Gilo and his Socialist minions reneged on a compromise deal last December. Now, as we have written, Israel and trilateral alliance of Cyprus and Greece can develop a major source of energy in their respective Exclusive Economic Zones in the Eastern Mediterranean and Levant Basins. good to see the spikes in trading for both Houston-based Noble Energy in early trading on the NYSE and Delek Group on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchanges.

Sometimes, as the expression goes, Ha Shem works in mysterious, yet positive ways. Kudos to patient Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, Energy Minister Steinitz and Bank of Israel Governor, Dr. Karnit Flug.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review.

J Street Launches Ad Campaign Promoting Obama’s Iran Nuclear Deal [+Video]

You probably have seen our panel discussion on the J street Challenge and comments about the pro-Iranian lobby group NIAC board members, “J Street Challenge documentary and Informed Panel Discussion in Pensacola.“ We noted:

Former deputy Chief of Mission at the Israeli Embassy in Washington, Lenny Ben David, revealed forensic analysis of the IRS tax filings of J Street. He noted the questionable funding by known enemies of Israeli both in the U.S. and the Middle East. Jeremy Ben Ami is exposed by Ben David apologizing for why he hid major funding for J Street from George Soros, who is fervently anti-Israel. A J Street board member, Genevieve Lynch, also sits on the board of Iran’s chief lobbying arm in Washington, the National Iranian American Council. Ben David also raised the question of why a Filipino woman living in Hong Kong underwrites almost a third of J Street’s budget.

In an earlier Iconoclast post we referenced a Breitbart News report on a former NIAC employee, Sahar Nowrouzzadeh, who was now an NSC staffer in the Obama White House:

Breitbart News in a March 31st, 2015 dossier article on Ms. Nowrouzzadeh reported:

Found that a person with the same name has previously written several publications on behalf of NIAC. According to what appears to be her LinkedIn account, Nowrouzzadeh became an analyst for the Department of Defense in 2005 before moving her way up to the National Security Council in 2014.

A NIAC profile from 2007 reveals that Sahar Nowrouzzadeh appears to be the same person as the one who is currently the NSC Director for Iran. The profiles indicate that she had the same double major and attended the same university (George Washington).

Critics have alleged that NIAC is a lobby for the current Iranian dictatorship under Ayatollah Khamenei. A dissident journalist revealed recently that NIAC’s president and founder, Trita Parsi, has maintained a years-long relationship with Iranian Foreign Minister, Javad Zarif.

NIAC was established in 1999, when founder Trita Parsi attended a conference in Cyprus that was held under the auspices of the Iranian regime. During the conference, Parsi reportedly laid out his plan to introduce a pro-regime lobbying group to allegedly counteract the influence of America’s pro-Israel and anti-Tehran regime advocacy groups.

NIAC has been investing heavily in attempts to influence the talks in favor of an agreement with the state sponsor of terror. In recent days, its director, Trita Parsi, has been spotted having amiable conversation with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s brother.

With the announcement of P5+1 nuclear agreement by President  Obama on Monday, July 14th, like night follows day, J Street is launching a multi-million dollar video campaign supporting the deal.  All while all  Israelis , many members of Congress and Americans support Prime Minister Netanyahu’s view that the pact is a dangerous  “historic mistake.” They have been joined by Saudi Arabia, the Gulf emirates castigating the deal with Iran posing an existential threat in the Middle East and some suggest here in the US, as well.

The Algemeiner reported on this latest example of J Street revealing its promotion of the President’s outreach to a nuclear Iran:

The left-wing Jewish lobby J Street said Wednesday that it is building support for the Iran nuclear deal through a “multimillion dollar national campaign.”

“J Street wants Congress to know that, despite some loud opposition to the deal coming from Jewish organizational leaders, our polling suggests that a clear majority of Jewish Americans agrees with us and backs the deal,” J Street said in its announcement of a campaign “to make the case to lawmakers that the agreement reached yesterday advances both US and Israeli security interests.”

The campaign, according to J Street, “will launch with a 30-second advertisement highlighting the unprecedented inspections and monitoring of Iran’s nuclear and military sites under the agreement.

Algemeiner noted the comments of Lori Lowenthal Marcus, national correspondent for The Jewish Press and  Jeffery Goldberg of The Atlantic, a frequent interviewer of President Obama.

Marcus said:

While every other Jewish group which praised the negotiators who reached the agreement “did so for their (the negotiators’) efforts,” only J Street praised the actual content of the deal. On Tuesday, J Street called the deal “a major step forward that will make the world appreciably safer.”

Goldberg tweeted:

“If Israel’s elected leader, and the head of the opposition, oppose the Iran deal, can J Street support it and still call itself pro-Israel?”

Maybe that’s why MK Isaac  Herzog Israeli opposition leader of the Leftist  Zionist Union (Labor) Party said he would work with Prime Minister  Netanyahu’s coalition  to stop the Iran deal.  We wonder which Iranian  conduit funneled the money to underwrite the launch of the J Street video ad with the Orwellian title: “Good for America/Good for Israel”.

Watch the J Street ad on this You Tube video:

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review.

Israel’s Gas Pains Relieved

Great business news from Israel this week. Israel has become a veritable cyber ware super power.  According to Ha’aretz, sales of computer and network security technology reached more than $6 billion in 2014, accounting for 10% of the global $60 billion market place. The other great news was the resignation on Monday, May 25th of Dr. David Gilo, head of the independent Israel Antitrust Authority.  In his statement Gilo said:

My decision is a result of a number of considerations, most importantly the report that the cabinet, particularly the Prime Minister’s Office, the Ministry of Finance, and the Ministry of National Infrastructure, Energy, and Water Resources, will do everything they can to push forward the currently emerging structure in the natural gas sector. I am convinced that such a structure will not lead to competition in this important market, and could possibly detract from the independence of the Antitrust Authority, a matter of public importance, and harm its ability to carry out unilateral measures

 He had single handedly  brought to a halt the development of Israel’s important off shore gas fields by the Israel-US partnership, Delek Group Ltd. (TASE: DLEKG) and Houston based Noble Energy , Inc. (NBL-NYSE) . The partnership had put up $6 billion in risk capital to develop the country’s offshore gas fields, achieving energy security, creating a potential wealth producing export market.   Gilo stopped development of the giant Leviathan field in December 2014 when he reneged on a compromise deal reached earlier last year involving selling two existing smaller fields developed by the partners offshore in the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).      While he resigned on Monday, May 25th, he won’t be departing until the end of August, 2015.  Allegedly that would give him time to clean up his other consumerist initiatives.  However, many believe based on his statement his real agenda was to take pot shots at the compromise plan being floated by the Ministries of Finance, Energy and Infrastructure, backed by Prime Minister Netanyahu for good and sound national security reasons.   A legal opinion from the State’s attorney General provided authority for the government to develop and conclude the proposed agreement with the development partners.    According to Globes, Israel Business, the compromise plan:

Requires Delek Group, Ltd. to sell all of its holdings in the Tamar natural gas reservoir within six years. Noble Energy, Delek Group’s partner will be required to reduce its holdings in Tamar from 36% to 25%, and will be barred from marketing gas from the Leviathan reservoir to Israel. At the same time, the agreement leaves Noble Energy with control of both reservoirs as the company operating them.

As we have written in both NER articles and Iconoclast posts Gilo was seeking to do the impossible. To create competition by forcing the sale of one of the two major fields, the Tamar, hoping to induce foreign competitors to make investments for the completion of the giant Leviathan gas field and thereby lowering energy prices through competition. Problem with that misguided view was there were few if any takers. Further, it put into jeopardy signed agreements for delivery of gas from the existing Tamar field with the Palestinian Authority, Egypt and Jordan. Moreover the government killed a potential minority investment by Australian energy development firm, Woodside, PTY for development of LNG from the Leviathan field and delivery to the Asian market. As a result, Nobel is presently working with the Republic of Cyprus to develop an LNG processing and distribution complex to link up with the Republic’s Aphrodite offshore gas field adjacent to that of Israel’s Leviathan.

In the run up to the March 17th, Knesset elections, it was apparent that Gilo was grandstanding perhaps hoping that the Zionist Union opposition might win. If that occurred he could pursue his consent decree proposal accusing the partners of being a monopoly in violation of Israeli basic law. Instead, Gilo and entourage took off for a junket to Holland to see how the Netherlands handled their off shore gas fields development.

It quickly became apparent that the Netanyahu government was not going to abide by this high handed patently political move by Gilo.  At stake is more than $76 billion in potential tax revenues that might be used to offset burdensome national and other social program expenditures .

Prior to Gilo’s resignation, the Netanyahu government  reached out to Professor Eitan Sheshinski at Hebrew University who had developed the original tax plan in 2010 to produce revenues from oil and gas developments both onshore and offshore. Sheshinski was appointed as adviser to Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz, who he had worked with in the development of the original tax plan. He suggested in a Globes Israel Business interview that liquidation of the Tamar field ownership would not lower prices.  Additionally he said that Gilo’s original intent of controlling prices was unproductive.  Sheshinski was cited by Globes saying:

All in all, today’s price is reasonable by the standards of Europe, and certainly at the level of the Far East.  The price of gas in Europe is $8-10 per energy unit, and is about $15 in the Far East. Delek Drilling Limited Partnership (TASE: DEDR.L) and Avner Oil and Gas LP (TASE: AVNR.L) today reported that the average gas price in Israel in the first quarter of 2015 was $5.45 per energy unit.

Sheshinski also asserted that controls over natural gas prices might do more harm than good. “Controls give a lot of authority to a bureaucratic system, and experience does not justify optimism,” he said, adding, “I don’t see how the regulator in Israel can adapt himself to the many changes occurring worldwide in gas prices. You have to keep this as far as possible from the bureaucratic and political system.”

Globes noted the Finance Ministry’s compromise proposal for ‘soft pricing’:

The state proposed that the price of gas in future contracts be a weighted average of gas prices in the contracts that have already been signed in Israel.

Sheshinski’s assessment of the Gilo’s objective , liquidating the monopoly, that a duopoly would enhance price competition was wrongheaded:

Both global experience and economic theory explicitly state that anyone who thinks that a duopoly will cause perfect competition is wrong. In this matter, you also can rely on our experience in Israel. In a duopoly, the controlling shareholders have a common interest… some claim that a duopoly’s prices are even worse than those of a monopoly.

He went on to address the current international markets impacted by a spike in US oil and gas fracking production:

In my opinion, the goal is to ensure that gas prices in Israel are not different from those prevailing in similar countries around the world. A revolution is now taking place in global energy prices. The US is becoming the world’s biggest oil producer, and both oil and gas prices are on a downtrend. In my opinion, this trend will continue, and our goal should be not to pay more than the reasonable prices of countries in a similar situation with respect to gas reservoirs.

Another expert who happened to be in Eilat,  Israel  at an international conference  this week was a law partner from the Washington, DC firm of Greenberg Traurig, Global Energy & Infrastructure Practice co-chairman, Kenneth Minesinger,  “legal advisor of the Alaska state government in its negotiations with the oil and gas companies.”   Minesinger had these comments in a Globes interview:

I’ve been advising the Alaskan government how to negotiate with the gas companies for decades. Like in Israel, two major reservoirs were discovered in Alaska: Prudhoe Bay and Point Thomson. The population there is small, and the gas industry is controlled by three companies.

Both Alaska and Israel are now trying to find out how to negotiate with the gas companies in a way that will safeguard the interests of the state and its residents, together with the gas companies’ interests.

I think that it’s necessary to act quickly in order to ensure development of the Leviathan reservoir, but hasty action motivated by panic isn’t the right way. What’s involved is an agreement that will ensure Israel hundreds of billions of shekels in revenue over the years, and serious consideration and the necessary time must therefore be devoted to this matter. In contrast to Alaska, the development project for the Leviathan reservoir is simple, but it is still difficult for an inexperienced country like Israel.

Minesinger pointed out that long term contracts must include development of a network   of adequately sized pipelines connecting fields that are developed.  Further, he suggested that pricing in such agreements should be formulaic and not based on a fixed single point basis. To overcome suspicions that developing companies might earn excessive profits Minesinger suggested distribution of profit sharing checks to Israel’s citizens akin to what Alaska presently does. He has also proposed to Alaska possible consideration of a state owned gas company.

The final comment on this week’s developments in the wake of the resignation of IAA head, Gilo, came in a Globes op ed from Norman Bailey, former Reagan national security aide and Haifa University policy expert, citing lessons learned:

The resignation of Prof. Gilo as head of the Antitrust Authority is undoubtedly good news. His reneging last December on the agreement he had made with the natural gas companies Noble, Delek and Ratio the preceding March had thrown the whole development of Israel’s offshore natural gas resources into confusion. The matter had already been badly handled by the government, which had driven out the Australian company Woodside, and Gilo’s retraction had put at risk the economic, financial and geo-political benefits of the gas discoveries. The government, after an unacceptable earlier draft, finally crafted a new, acceptable proposal over Gilo’s objections, which prompted his resignation. The lessons to be learned here are twofold: regulation is necessary but should not dominate at the expense of other relevant considerations; and agreements made should be honored, unless circumstances change fundamentally, which was not the case. Israel as a magnet for investment has been preserved.

We await announcement of an acceptable compromise plan to the parties involved to end this episode once again illustrating that  rule of law must reflect economic market realities.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review.

Obama faces Veto Dilemmas at the United Nations and 114th Congress

As 2014 was closing a vote on a draft resolution introduced by the Jordanian UN Ambassador at the Security Council hit what may be a temporary speed bump for PA President Abbas. He is striving g to impose a draconian solution to the long simmering dispute on the Jewish nation of Israel. The draft resolution failed to achieve the requisite 9 votes, losing by one vote.  The US and Australia voted no.  Five others abstained including the UK, Lithuania, South Korea and Nigeria. France, Luxembourg, Russia, China, Jordan, Chile, Argentina, and Chad voted in favor of the draft resolution. The draft resolution sought to fix a one year deadline for negotiations on declaration of a Palestinian state with its capital in East Jerusalem based on the infamous War 1949 Armistice line. What fabled Israeli Foreign Minister Abba Eban deemed the “Auschwitz line”.  The draft resolution would require the end of the alleged ‘occupation’ of the West Bank by Israel losing its control over the Jordan Valley approaches and protection of over 350,000 Israelis in both Samaria and Judea.

Virtually on the announcement of the vote, PA President Abbas, now serving in the tenth year of an elected four year term, signed 20 UN covenants including the Rome Treaty making it eligible for observer status at the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague. That would enable it to bring a charge of war crimes against Israel. This will confront the ICC with a choice between recognition of anti-Israel issues versus international law matters. Further, the unilateral move by Abbas will likely cause the incoming GOP led Congress to consider retaliatory legislation further consternating Administration diplomacy in the region.  Israeli PM Netanyahu countered saying:

The one who should fear the International Criminal Court at The Hague is the Palestinian Authority, which is in a unity government with Hamas, a declared terrorist organization like ISIS that commits war crimes.

We will take steps in response and we will defend the soldiers of the IDF, the most moral army in the world. We will repel this latest effort to force diktats on us, just as we have repelled the Palestinian turn to the UN Security Council.

 US UN Ambassador Power blasted the PA vote because it precluded consideration of security guarantees outlined in UNSC Res. 242 for Israel to have defensible borders.  She noted in her remarks, “The deadlines in the resolution take no account of Israel’s legitimate security concerns.” The State Department director of its press office, Jeff Rathke, criticized  the PA saying:

 We are deeply troubled by today’s Palestinian action regarding the ICC. Today’s action is entirely counterproductive and does nothing to further the aspirations of the Palestinian people for a sovereign and independent state.

Palestinian Resolution reprise Veto

Besides the ICC ploy, the PA was anything but supine. The change in the non-permanent membership of the UNSC might afford them another opportunity to re-submit the draft resolution, possibly obtaining the requisite 9 votes.   As former US UN Ambassador John Bolton in a Wall Street Journal op Ed published today, “The U.N. Vote on Palestine Was a Rehearsal,”   wrote, “An influx of new Security Council members means a likely ‘yes’ vote – and a veto dilemma for Obama.” Obama, as we have noted previously in Jeffrey Goldberg’s Atlantic interview gave a broad hint that the US might abstain.

Bolton notes in his WSJ op ed the elements of this dilemma that may shortly face the Administration:

A firmer U.S. strategy might have prevented the dilemma from arising. The White House’s opening diplomatic error was in sending strong signals to the media and U.S. allies that Mr. Obama, wary of offending Arab countries, was reluctant to veto any resolution favoring a Palestinian state. Secretary of State John Kerry took pains not to offer a view of the resolution before it was taken up. Such equivocation was a mistake because even this administration asserts that a permanent resolution of the Israeli-Arab conflict requires direct negotiations and agreements among the parties themselves.

No draft resolution contrary to these precepts should be acceptable to the U.S., or worth wasting time on in the diplomatic pursuit of a more moderate version. This American view, advocated for years and backed by resolute threats to veto anything that contradicted it, has previously dissuaded the Palestinians from blue-smoke-and-mirror projects in the Security Council.

Bolton addresses how the reprise could shortly occur:

Several factors support a swift Palestinian reprise. First, they obtained a majority of the Security Council’s votes, even if not the required supermajority of nine. In today’s U.N., the eight affirmative votes constitute a moral victory that virtually demand vindication, and sooner rather than later.

Second, the text of Jordan’s resolution was wildly unbalanced even by U.N. standards—for example, it demands a solution that “brings an end to the Israeli occupation since 1967,” and calls for “security arrangements, including through a third-party presence, that guarantee and respect the sovereignty of a State of Palestine.” A few meaningless tweaks here and there and several countries that abstained could switch to “yes.” Third, on Jan. 1 five of the Security Council’s 10 nonpermanent members stepped down (their two-year terms ended), replaced by five new members more likely to support the Palestinian effort.

Consider how Wednesday’s vote broke down, and what the future may hold. Three of the Security Council’s five permanent members (France, China and Russia) supported Jordan’s draft. France’s stance is particularly irksome, since it provides cover for other Europeans to vote “yes.” The U.K. timidly abstained, proving that David Cameron is no Margaret Thatcher; the abstention signals that a more “moderately” worded resolution might be enough to flip London to a “yes.”

Washington cast the only permanent member’s “no” vote, which is characterized as a veto only when nine or more Security Council members vote in a draft resolution’s favor. Will President Obama now have the stomach to cast a real veto against a U.N. Charter majority backing the Palestinians? Is this the point where the “liberated” Mr. Obama allows a harsh anti-Israel resolution to pass?

Happy New Year, Jerusalem.

He notes the lineup of new rotating non-permanent members in the UNSC that could tip the vote over the required 9 votes:

Three “yes” votes came from Jordan, Chad and Chile, which all remain Security Council members in 2015. Two additional supporters, Argentina and Luxembourg, have been replaced, respectively, by Venezuela (no suspense there) and Spain. Spain narrowly won election in October, defeating Turkey after three ballots. Madrid might be expected to support Washington, but not necessarily, given recent EU hostility to Israel and the appeasers’ argument to soothe wounded Muslim feelings about Turkey’s loss by backing the Palestinians.

Only Australia joined the U.S. in voting “no.” Its successor, New Zealand, would either have abstained or voted affirmatively, according to Foreign Minister Murray McCully.

South Korea abstained, but its replacement, Malaysia, is a certain affirmative vote. Angola, taking Rwanda’s seat, is an abstention at best. While abstainers Lithuania and Nigeria remain, Nigeria’s Boko Haram problem could easily move it to “yes” as an olive branch to the Muslim world. And Lithuania, as a new member of the euro currency union, could well succumb to arguments for EU solidarity, especially if Britain also surrenders.

Bolton notes in conclusion:

The Obama administration can only prevent what it dreads by openly embracing a veto strategy, hoping thereby to dissuade pro-Palestinian states from directly confronting the U.S.

And if that fails, the veto should be cast firmly and resolutely, as we normally advocate our principles, not apologetically. As so often before on Middle Eastern issues, a veto would neither surprise nor offend most Arab governments. If the Administration had courage enough to make clear that a veto was inevitable, it would minimize whatever collateral damage might ensue in Arab lands. But don’t hold your breath.

Iran Sanctions Veto

However, this is not the only veto dilemma facing the Administration in 2015.   On Tuesday, December 30, 2014, Reuters reported  that Undersecretary of The Treasury for Finance and Terrorism, David Cohen issued new financial sanctions “against nine targets who Washington says have helped Tehran avoid existing sanctions or commit human rights abuses.”    The IRNA news agency noted these comments by an Iranian foreign ministry spokeswoman, Marzieh Afkham saying: “At a time negotiations are underway with P5+1, such a move raises doubts about America’s intentions and violates the good will principles” “This action is for mere publicity and will have no bearing whatsoever on our commercial policies,”

Just prior to the onset of Republican control of the 114th Session of Congress on January 6, 2015, Illinois Senator Mark Kirk gave an interview on December 28, 2014  on Fox News Sunday following statements by South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham that new sanctions against Iran’s nuclear program may be brought up for an early vote.

That followed an NPR interview with President Obama that he might be prepared to use his veto authority on specific legislation passed by the new Congress.  Kirk in the Sunday Fox interview indicated that 17 Democrats, including New Jersey’s Bob Menendez and New York’s Charles Schumer may have the requisite votes to pass new stronger sanctions legislation against Iran’s nuclear program in view of the Islamic regime fobbing off failed P5+1 negotiations . Those 17 Democratic Senate votes would make such a measure veto proof. This puts President Obama in a difficult situation regarding his engagement of the Islamic Regime in Tehran. A regime that has successfully outmaneuvered the P5+1 and Administration and likely has already achieved nuclear breakout. Omri Ceren chronicled this in a Commentary article,“Enabling Iran’s Nukes” saying, “The lies began at the very beginning with American assurances had secured a ‘halt’ in Iranian nuclear program.”   This is a matter of great concern to Israel’s PM Netanyahu who would support such Congressional action on tougher Iran sanctions.  Watch the Fox News interview with Sen. Kirk.

Iran is feeling the ravaging of its economy due to the loss of revenue from oil and gas production.  Given the precipitous fall in world energy prices, due in part to the drop in demand and the vaulting of US energy production to first rank in 2015.  That has forced Iran to suggest that fellow OPEC member Saudi Arabia cooperates to cut production. This is an unlikely prospect since the Saudis are unwilling to relent given their $750 billion dollar hard currency reserve cushion.

We shall shortly see whether President Obama will issue vetoes at the UNSC against a reprise of the Palestinian draft resolution and another against tougher sanctions legislation passed on a bi-partisan basis in the new Republican controlled Congress against the Iranian nuclear program.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review.

Arkansas elects the youngest US Senator to enter the 214th Congress: Rep. Tom Cotton

Just prior to last night’s resounding GOP mid-term victories in the US Senate, the House and a host of gubernatorial contests, I had an opportunity to speak with Shoshana Bryen. She is the executive director of the Washington, DC – based Jewish Policy Center. We were preparing for last Sunday’s Lisa Benson Show, which had a midterm election theme of “Vote to Protect America and its Ally Israel”.  We talked about a wide range of issues.  In addition to Shoshana, we had as other guests on the show, Ken Timmerman, veteran Iran watcher and author of Dark Forces: The Truth About What Happened in Benghaziand Navy Seal veteran, Ben Smith.  Listen here to the discussion on the November 2, 2014 Lisa Benson Show.   

When I asked Bryen about emerging figures in the mid-term elections, she pointed to Rep. Tom Cotton (R-4th CD AK)  running a competitive  campaign against incumbent two-term  US Democrat Senator Mark Pryor. Pryor was the scion of a long serving Arkansas political dynasty.  His father David before him had served as both Governor and US Senator.

Cotton, I knew from reading a profile of him by retired Harvard Professor Ruth Wisse in The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) had a career that resonated. He was a highly educated double Harvard graduate who voluntarily served as an Infantry officer in the US Army during the Iraq-Afghanistan conflict.  Wisse’s WSJ op-ed   was an unabashed endorsement, Vote for Tom Cotton—and Redeem Harvard”.   So, I asked Bryen on last Sunday’s broadcast to talk about Cotton and another Army veteran Lt. Col.Joni Ernst of Iowa both running for the US Senate in their respective states.

 Cotton and Ernst won their respective Senate races last night. A colleague called last night from a cheering Iowa GOP celebration to give me the news about Ernst’s victory. Cotton trounced Pryor by running against “Obama’s failed policies”. He won by 16 percent. His campaign played up his Army service. Cotton, 37 years old, will enter the 314th Congress in January 2015 as its youngest member.

 Cotton is a sixth generation Arkansan from a cattle raising ranching family in the small community of Dardanelle, Arkansas. A graduate of both Harvard College and Law School, motivated by the events of 9/11, he rejected a JAG Commission. Instead, he volunteered   to go through OCS at Fort Benning and trained at both the Infantry and Ranger Schools.  Cotton served from 2005 to 2009. He had two tours, one in Iraq and a second in Afghanistan with the famed Screaming Eagles, the 101st Airborne, rising to the rank of Captain and received a Bronze Star for his combat actions. At 6’5″, he was selected as Platoon Leader at the Old Guard that provides the honor guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington Cemetery.

Watch this mini-documentary on Senator-elect Cotton:

Like Louisiana’s Republican governor, Bobby Jindal, he also is a McKinsey & Co. alumnus. Most importantly as a first term Congressman from the (4thCD- AK) he was assigned to House Foreign Affairs. During his Senate campaign he consistently strove to educate Arkansans about the dangers of isolationism.  He has also proved to be a good friend of Israel in Congress during his initial term in the US House of Representatives. The Emergency Committee for Israel (ECFI head, Bill Kristol, editor of The Weekly Standard,  said this about Cotton in a Washington Free Beacon report on their purchase of a spot ad for him, “We’re for a strong Israel and a strong America. So is Tom Cotton. He’ll be a great senator.”

Just before his Senate electoral victory, Cotton weighed in on the West Wing campaign against Israel and PM Netanyahu with a statement released on October 29th:

I’m appalled at recent media reports suggesting the Obama administration is seeking ‘détente’ with Iran, while unnamed administration officials disparage Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with vulgar ad hominem attacks.  I call upon President Obama to renounce these reports and disclose the names of these officials and fire them.  Iran remains our worst enemy and Israel our closest ally.  The Obama administration’s weak behavior will only embolden Iran to continue its headlong rush to nuclear weapons and terror campaigns against America and our allies, while destabilizing the region and further eroding our interests.

Finally, for the record, I must note that Prime Minister Netanyahu in his youth was a member of Israel’s elite special-operations forces, where he displayed great courage.  He and his family have made grave sacrifices in the fight against our common enemies.  On behalf of all Arkansans, I want to thank Mr. Netanyahu for his bravery and service.

I asked Bryen during the preparation for last Sunday’s show where Cotton might be assigned in the newly organized US Senate under the leadership of Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell, the presumptive GOP Majority Leader in the 214th Congress in January 2015.  She thought that Cotton might end up on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.  I told her that would be an historic antidote to the legendary Arkansas Democratic Senator William Fulbright who opposed the Viet Nam War during the era of President Johnson after voting for the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution in August 1964.  Cotton’s Arkansas constituents realize the importance of US leadership on national security interests and support for Israel. That will stand him in good stead.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on the New English Review. The featured image of Senator elect Tom Cotton is courtesy of the New English Review.

Hamas Murderers of Israeli Yeshiva Students Killed in Shootout near Hebron

hamasmurderers

Marwan Kawasmeh and Amer Abu Eisha killers of three Israel Yeshiva students.

Marwan Kawasmeh and Amir Abu Eisha, the two alleged perpetrators  of the June 2014 kidnap/murders of  three Israeli Yeshiva Students, were killed early Tuesday morning in a shootout at an armed compound near Hebron by a special operations unit of Israeli Border Police aided by Shin Bet. Hamas, which took responsibility for the murders, praised the two slain perpetrators  as so-called ‘martyrs’ during a funeral today. See our NER interview with Dan Diker,”Exposing Hamas’ Kidnapping Strategy.

According to a report in Arutz Sheva, Israel National News, “Murderers of the Three Teens Eliminated”, the kidnapping and murder of the three Yeshiva students was preplanned. A relative of the family obtained a car with Israeli license tags and the perpetrators were dressed as orthodox Jews  to mislead  and entrap the three hitchhiking victims, Eyal Yifrah, Gilad Sha’ar, and Naftali Frenkel.   Hamas used the manhunt that ensnared hundreds of its members on the West Bank as a pretext for the launch of 50 day rocket and terror tunnel campaign and IDF Operation Protective Edge in July and August 2014.  67 IDF soldiers and 6 Israel civilians were killed, while 2,100 Palestinians were killed, nearly half of whom may have been Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad fighters.

Here are excerpts from the Arutz Sheva report. On the raid that killed the two murderers:

The operation was carried out by the Yamam, a special unit of the Border Police, and the IDF, in Hevron. An attempt was made to arrest the suspects but an exchange of fire developed in which they were killed.

The operation was made possible by the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), which located the murderers’ hideout. In the last few days, several Hamas suspects were arrested and questioned on the assumption that they were assisting the fugitives.

“We have been pursuing these two since the abduction,” said Judea and Samaria Division Commander Brig. Gen. Tamir Yadai. “Last night the investigation ripened as regards their location and we have been surrounding the place where they were hiding since 1:00 a.m. We killed them and there are arrests of several other collaborators.”

“We began arresting suspects and at the same time we applied [IDF] ‘pressure cooker’ protocol on the house. It is a big house and they hid out in a secret arms store on the basement floor. The floor is not visible from the outside. At one stage they went outside and opened fire. One was shot and the other fell inside, into a hole.”

“There was use of weapons, like hand grenades and the deployment of explosives that were prepared ahead of time,” he added. “We know that they have been staying in this location quite a lot in the last few days. We know for certain that they were not here the whole time. They had weapons like M-16s, a Kalashnikov and handguns, too.”

3 isreali students murdered

Naftali Frenkel, Gilad Sha’ar,  Eyal Yifrah Two Israelis and an Israel American kidnapped and murdered by slain Hamas operatives.

The accomplices and planning for the kidnapping:

Kawasmeh’s close relative Hussam was arrested in Jerusalem in August for planning the attack, which was carried out physically by Marwan, along with Amer Abu-Eisha.

The abduction and murder reportedly was planned by a third Kawasmeh, Mahmoud, along with Hussam, under the support of Hamas’s military branch, the Al-Qassam Brigades, through their branches both in Gaza and abroad.

The Brigades transferred funds via Mahmoud to purchase a car with an Israeli license plate, weapons and hideouts which were arranged in advance, according to security sources. They added that the three Israeli teens were buried on land purchased by the Kawasmeh family long before the attack. Hussam admitted in investigation to having shaven his beard off and obtained a forged passport in an attempt to flee the country to Jordan.

[…]

The source claimed the kidnappers used a silenced weapon, indicating their attempt to actually use the gun, and dressed up as religious Jews to lure the victims into their car.

The Jerusalem Post reported Israeli PM Netanyahu saying that Israel “had fulfilled its pledge”:

“I said from the very first that Hamas was responsible for the kidnapping and murder, and as the evidence that we brought mounted, Hamas admitted that it was also behind that attack.”

Netanyahu, who thanked the security services for their efforts, said he spoke to the families of the murdered teens in the morning, and said that nothing could balm their pain or bring the boys back. “But I said there was justice, and that we carried out the mission that we pledged before them and the entire nation that we would carry out”.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review.

Israel’s “Long War”

Tom Jocelyn, the American counter terrorism expert and Senior Fellow at the Washington, DC-based Foundation for Defense of Democracies is the editor of The Long War Journal. It is a chronicle of the global Islamic jihad in the 21st Century, now in its 13th year. The global jihad was sparked by what the US State Department has taken to calling “core Al Qaeda”, most dramatically with 9/11. Subsequently it has metatisized driven by the Salafist doctrine seeking to replicate the great barbarism of the first jihad that burst out of the Arabian peninsula 14 Centuries ago. In many instances it has been a long war against indigenous populations, both Muslim and not. In the later case, it has witnessed the self-declared Caliphate of the Islamic State, formerly ISIS, confronting non-Muslims with the choice to convert, be subjugated, leave or be killed. It is sacralized barbarity emboldened with arms and advanced military technology abandoned by fleeing armies. It is financed by extortion and billions in booty, money seized in conquered territories and oil resources.

Mideast Israel Palestinians

Israeli Merkava tank leaving Gaza staging area August 5, 2014. Source: The Guardian.

Virtually alone and surrounded by these Jihadist forces is the Jewish nation of Israel. Israel has conducted a long war of its own over the 21 years since the conclusion of the 1993 Oslo Accords with the Palestinian Authority. An agreement orchestrated by former President Clinton between Israeli Prime Minister, the late Yitzhak Rabin and the late Yassir Arafat, first President of the Palestinian Authority. Arafat went on to ignite the Second Intifada in September 2000 using the excuse that the late Israeli PM Ariel Sharon had made an unauthorized visit to the Temple Mount. That intifada saw thousands of Israeli causalities, both dead and wounded,  that morphed into a seemingly unending series of military Operations. It began with Operation Defensive Shield following the bloody Park Hotel Passover suicide bombing in March 2002 that killed many Holocaust survivors. It culminated in the siege of Arafat in the Mukata in 2004 in Ramallah. A brief hiatus following the demise of Arafat saw Israel build a security barrier in the disputed territories that virtually brought to a close the Second Intifada. The late PM Sharon left Likud to found a new coalition party, Kadima, on the strength of a letter in 2004 with former President Bush giving Israel permission to defend itself with US assurances.

That led Sharon in 2005 to order the unilateral withdrawal from Gaza of 9000 settlers and 10,000 IDF personnel under the misguided pretext that it would make Israel more secure. The Bush Administration was preoccupied in the Long War in both Iraq and Afghanistan. It sought to foist the myopic view that the Islamist world could be transformed into budding western style democracies. This despite the rise of anti-democratic Muslim Brotherhood elements in Gaza, Egypt and other adjacent Muslim countries. They had been kept in check by autocracies supplied with both US and Russian military assistance and aid. Thus, the Bush Administration thought it had a willing peace partner in Arafat’s successor, the long serving PA President, Mahmoud Abbas. The Bush Administration prevailed upon Israel to relinquish its control over the strategic Philadelphi corridor along the Egyptian Gaza frontier installing Fatah bureaucrats. 2006 saw the one vote, one time election in Gaza of a Hamas dominated Palestinian Legislative Council. That  lead to the June 2007 ejection and literal defenestration of Fatah from Gaza, leaving Hamas virtually in control. Israel was forced to engage in a series of air assaults that resulted in assassinations of Hamas leaders, co-founder Sheik Yassin and Dr. Rantisi. Hamas took over the Rafah border with Egypt through which arms, rockets and missiles were infiltrated along with huge infusions of cash from foreign Muslim charities and backers, Iran and Qatar.

In 2006 Israel was embroiled in the Second Lebanon War with Iran proxy Hezbollah supplied by the former with thousands of rockets. That conflict was triggered by a kidnapping of two IDF soldiers followed by massive  Hezbollah artillery rocket barrages. The 34 day War with Hezbollah saw more than 4,000 rockets rain on Israel setting a pattern that was copied by Hamas in Gaza in 2009, 2012 and 2014. In that first clash with Hezbollah saw Israel’s population in the north sweltered in crude shelters or displaced to the central Mediterranean shore. It also sparked the development of technical countermeasures to protect the both Israel’s population and IDF defense. Those developments included the now recognized Iron Dome system of batteries equipped with Tamir anti-rocket missiles, and the less well known, Trophy system, used effectively in the most recent 2014 Operation protecting armored vehicles against anti-tank rockets and missiles. Just prior to the Second Lebanon War, a cross border raid by Hamas operatives kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Schalit, holding him hostage until released in an October 2011 exchange for 1,027 Palestinian terrorist prisoners held by Israel.

In June 2009, President Obama made a dramatic speech at Cairo University extending outreach, many believed that emboldened Islamist elements in the Muslim ummah. In December,2011 the self-immolation of a fruit vendor in Tunisia sparked the so-called Arab Spring that erupted in North Africa and the Middle East. Autocracies in Tunisia, Libya and Egypt were overturned. The latter witnessed the ousting of strongman Mubarak with rise of the Muslim Brotherhood that saw the election of one if its prominent leaders, Mohammed Morsi as its President in June 2012. Morsi was backed by a National Assembly  composed of dominate Muslim Brotherhood and Salafist parties. They sought to impose Sharia law on women, secular elements and the country’s ancient minority Coptic Christian community. Virtually, a year later, Morsi and thousands of Muslim Brotherhood leaders were ousted, jailed and killed during a coup by his Defense Minister Gen.Abdel- Fattah El-Sisi. He was engaged in a counter terrorism campaign against Hamas linked Salafist terror groups in the Sinai.

The overthrow of the Libyan strongman Qadaffi, with aid from the US and NATO, spawned chaos with warring tribal and jihadist militias. That culminating in the Benghazi attack that killed the US Ambassador and three other Americans, a communications aide, and two CIA-contractors on 9/11/2012.

Meanwhile, Israel was concerned about security on its southern border with Egypt in the Sinai. Following cross border attacks near the Red Sea resort of Eilat it constructed a 200 mile security barrier seeking to prevent intrusion, only to be left exposed to rocket attacks. On Israel’s north eastern Golan frontier a raging civil war in Syria, now well into its third year, saw the Assad regime forces ranging across the Golan frontier fighting opposition rebel groups. These included al Qaeda affiliates the Al Nusrah front and the extremist Salafist spinoff, the Islamic State, formerly ISIS.

The latest IDF Operation Protective Edge that began on July 8th with barrages from Gaza from both homemade and Iranian supplied long range rockets covered fourth fifths of Israel. It was triggered by a botched kidnapping by Hamas operatives and that resulted in the murder of three Jewish yeshiva students, whose remains were discovered on June 30th. The Palestinian Authority in late April had announced a unity government with Hamas that scuppered any chances of a possible final stage agreement sought by US Secretary of State Kerry. Hamas is a foreign terrorist group so designated by the US, Canada and the EU. Its 1988 Charter, had sought not only the destruction of Israel but the killing of Jews globally. Israeli PM Netanyahu and his coalition cabinet had no choice but to call up what ultimately would be a massed IDF force of 80,000 elite brigades and reservists to conduct the ground phase of Operation Protective Edge. That culminated in the launch of ground operations in Gaza that ended with the seventh truce on August 5th that is holding for the moment. That truce occurred ironically on the Jewish Fast Day of Tish B’Av commemorating historic catastrophes that have befallen the Jewish people over the millennia.

Jocelyn’s FDD Long War Journal had this entry:

Israel

Israel accepted a Gaza ceasefire plan that will start with a preliminary 72-hour truce beginning tomorrow morning. Israeli officials will work out further details of the ceasefire over the next few days in Egypt. As of Aug. 1, at least 2,909 rockets had been fired at Israel from Gaza and 66 Israelis had been killed. In the first fatal attack in Jerusalem in three years, a Palestinian construction worker drove an earthmover into a bus, flipping it over and killing one Israeli and wounding five more. PM Netanyahu’s spokesman said Israel’s military campaign to destroy the Gaza tunnels is coming to a close, but that the overall operation will not cease until Israel experiences an extended period of quiet and security.

Jonathan Spyer, of the GLORIA Centre in Herzliya, published an assessment of Israel’s Long War in a PJ Media article, “Netanyahu’s Long War Doctrine.”  In it he paid tribute to Netanyahu’s cautious, but resolute position, overwhelmingly supported by Israelis, to bring to a conclusion the Hamas genocidal threat to the Jewish nation. A threat backed and financed by Qatar, a wealthy gas-rich emirate, a supporter of Muslim Brotherhood and extremist Salafist al Qaeda spinoffs. Qatar and the terrorist Salafist groups it funded and gave sanctuary to, including Hamas leaders, are viewed by Egypt, the UAE and Saudi Arabia as a dire threat to their regimes. That created a coalition of interest with Israel tacitly condoning the latter’s war against Hamas. The Administration in Washington and the UN were desperate to end hostilities seeking to engage MB supporting regimes in Turkey and Qatar to convince Hamas to stand down. Newly elected Egyptian President El-Sisi, who had ousted MB President Morsi and closed Gazan smuggling tunnels, had endeavored to broker several cease fires during the 28 day Operation Protective Edge. It became evident that Hamas had been seriously degraded, nearly three dozen terror tunnels neutralized, sustaining an estimated $5 billion in destruction of buildings and infrastructure in the 25 mile square area of Gaza. All while the world media falsely portrayed Israel as perpetrating mounting civilian casualties most graphically at UNWRA- run schools and refuge centers where over 180,000 Gaza residents had sought shelter. These schools were reported to have held rocket caches, that enabled Hamas rocketeers to launch barrages some of which misfired resulting  in civilian casualties. This barbaric strategy was confirmed in a captured combat manual of Hamas uncovered by the IDF in Gaza City.

As to Israeli PM Netanyahu’s conduct of Operation Protective Edge Spyer observed:

Netanyahu, in stark contrast to his image in Europe and to a lesser extent in North America, is deeply cautious when it comes to the use of military force.

Indeed, the record shows that Israel elected to begin a ground campaign on July 18th only when it became clear from its actions and its statements that Hamas was not interested in a return to the status quo.

Netanyahu’s caution derives, rather, from his perception that what Israel calls “wars” or “operations” are really only episodes in a long war in which the country is engaged against those who seek its destruction. In the present phase, these forces are gathered largely under the banner of radical Islam.

Spyer concludes his assessment of Netanyahu:

Netanyahu’s vision is a chilly one, though it is not ultimately pessimistic. It aims to provide firm, durable walls for the house that the Jews of Israel have constructed. Within those walls the energies of Israeli Jews will ensure success — provided that the walls can be kept secure, thus believes the Israeli prime minister. It is from the point of view of this broader strategic picture that the current actions of Israel need to be understood. Operation Protective Edge — like Cast Lead and Orchard and Lebanon 2006 and the others — is intended as a single action in a long and unfinished war.

The Tish B’Av truce concluding Operation Protective Edge saw IDF forces leave Gaza, remaining ready if the truce is broken to return, if recalled. The current truce may still hold, but, will not last, unless and until Gaza is demilitarized and its leadership dispatched.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on the New English Review.

Paris Synagogues Attacked by pro-Palestinian Protesters

Sunday in France witnessed protests by thousands of Palestinian supporters  with  small groups attacking  the police and two synagogues in Paris.  The marchers were protesting Israeli Operation Protective Edge against the Hamas blitz of hundreds of rockets launched from Gaza against Israeli populated areas including major cities like Ashkelon, Haifa, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

paris synagogue

Paris synagogue. Photo courtesy of the Jerusalem Post.

Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad have launched more than 715 rockets, while Israel’s Iron Dome system has intercepted and destroyed 160 rockets. The Palestinian death toll has reached 168 and over 1,000 injuries. Two elderly Israelis died of heart failure responding to Code Red alarms, while several IDF troops were slightly injured with shrapnel from fallen rockets and a raid  early Sunday morning against a launching site in northern Gaza.  Prime Minister Netanyahu on FoxNews Sunday said: “We face a very brutal enemy. We use our missiles to protect our people, they use their people to protect missiles”.

Here are excerpts from the AFP report on the large protests and synagogue attack in Paris and Lile, “Clashes in Paris as thousands march against Israel offensive”:

Clashes erupted in Paris on Sunday as thousands of people protested against Israel and in support of residents in the Gaza Strip, where a six-day conflict has left 168 Palestinians dead.

Several thousand demonstrators walked calmly through the streets of Paris behind a large banner that read “Total Support for the Struggle of the Palestinian People”.

But clashes erupted at the end of the march on Bastille Square, with people throwing projectiles onto a cordon of police who responded with tear gas.

The unrest continued early Sunday evening as police announced six arrests had been made.

A small group tired to break into two synagogues in central Paris, a police source told AFP.

Riot police dispersed the group, with two members of the Jewish community and six officers slightly injured in the ensuing scuffle, the source said.

Prime Minister Manuel Valls condemned the attempted synagogue stormings “in the strongest possible terms”.

“Such acts targeting places of worship are unacceptable,” he said in a statement.

– ‘Profoundly shocked’ –

“I am profoundly shocked and revolted. This aggression towards the Jewish community has taken an absolutely unacceptable turn,” Joel Mergei, president of the Israelite Central Consistory of France, told AFP.

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo called for “calm in the face of tensions” in the Middle East.

In the northern city of Lille, meanwhile, between 2,300 and 6,000 people protested peacefully, according to differing figures provided by the police and organizers.

[…]

“I came to say no to this massacre,” Amid Hamadouch, 30, told AFP at the Paris protest while it was still peaceful, with a sticker reading “Boycott Israel, Racist State” on his jacket.

“They are bombing innocent people. There are missiles being launched by Hamas, but the Israeli response is disproportionate. They are attacking the civilian population and not Hamas officials.”

The crowd, very young, shouted slogans such as: “We Are All Palestinians!” and “Only One Solution, End the Occupation!”.

Earlier today, former Israeli Ambassador Michel Oren on CNN promoting a proposal for a cease fire modeling on the Chemical Weapons destruction in Syria that would entail having international force to secure and destroy the current rocket and missile inventories of both Hamas and the PIJ.  That proposal was floated yesterday in Israel by a number of experts including former Israeli Chief of Staff, Gen. (ret.) Shaul Mofaz and others.  Amb. Oren in an Israel Seen, op-ed,  “A Smart Way out of the Gaza Confrontation, ” said:

The next stage would apply the formula with which the United States and Russia successfully removed chemical weapons from Syria. American inspectors can locate Hamas’ rocket stockpiles and ship them abroad for destruction.

Cessation of the Gaza rocket war against Israel would be only the first step in an orchestrated program to permanently end the threats from Gaza  to the Jewish nation. Ultimately those rockets have to be destroyed and the Hamas PIJ leaders brought to justice.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on the New English Review. The featured photo is of demonstrators protesting in Paris to denounce the Israeli military offensive in the Gaza Strip, July 11, 2014. Photo by AFP.

The Two-State Solution is Dead. Long live what?

Ted Belman, editor and publisher of the blog Israpundit writes: The Two-State Solution is dead.  All that remains is for the US to declare it so. Palestinians leaders and Israeli leaders have made it clear.

In a speech on Jan 10/14, Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud  Abbas made it crystal clear that he would never abandon the “right of return”, would never recognize Israel as a Jewish state and would never make a deal unless East Jerusalem was given to the Palestinians as their capital, all of which cross Israel’s red lines.

When the latest “peace process was getting started, Israeli leaders kept referring to Abbas as a moderate, contrary to the truth, and even referred to him as a partner in peace, also not the truth. No more.

Upon Israel’s release of the third batch of murderers in December and in response to the leaders of the PA celebrating them as heroes, PM Netanyahu said:

“Murderers are not heroes. [..] This is no way to educate toward peace. This is no way to make peace. Peace can be achieved only when the education toward incitement and toward the destruction of Israel is stopped. There will be peace only if our security and settlement interests are ensured. Peace will be established only if we could defend ourselves, by ourselves, against any threat.”

In the past week, Netanyahu, Yaalon and Bennett all criticized Abbas.

Netanyahu told VP Biden that recent comments by Abbas were proof that he does not want peace.

Min of Defense Boogie Yaalon said, Mahmoud Abbas “lives on our sword,” “Once we leave Judea and Samaria, he is finished. In fact, throughout the recent months, there is no negotiation between us and the Palestinians – but rather, between us and the Americans. The only thing that can ‘save’ us is that John Kerry will get a Nobel peace prize and leave us alone.” and “I live and breathe the conflict with the Palestinians, I know what they think, what they want and what they really mean,” he went on. “The American security plan that was presented to us is not worth the paper it was written on.”

Economy Minister Naftali Bennett denounced Abbas as “no different than Yasser Arafat,”

The fact that Yaalon was forced to apologize does not invalidate the truth of his remarks.

No doubt that Kerry is now looking for an exit strategy from his doomed efforts to force Israel to make concessions.

If not the Two-State Solution, then what?

Wm Galston writing in The New Republic on June 2011, said: “Benjamin Netanyahu offers no viable alternative to the status quo, and the opposition offers no viable alternative to Netanyahu. [..] The majority of Israelis actually seem comfortable to the point of complacency with today’s de facto truce and limited Palestinian autonomy.”

He was right. Netanyahu, Yaalon and many Israelis, though they prefer the Two State Solution on their terms, in its absence, are quite comfortable with maintaining the status quo.

But not everyone embraces the status quo. They fear Israel’s further isolation and deligitimation. They are clamouring to be pro-active rather than passive or defensive.

They all want to annex Judea and Samaria (West Bank) but differ on what to do with the Arabs that live there.

Deputy Minister of Transportation, MK Tzipi Hotovely recently said:

“The goal is for Judea and Samaria to be under Israeli sovereignty. It is ours and it was acquired legally in a bloody, defensive war. We must now implement the vision of the Greater Land of Israel and begin to apply sovereignty in all of the territory. This is the vision reflecting belief in the holy precept that the Land of Israel is ours and we have no right to revoke this precept. It is fidelity to the ideology of the Right and the religious public, which believes that this is our land.”

“We must begin a gradual process of 25 years under the heading of ‘annexation-naturalization’.”

‎” We must bear in mind that this is a hostile entity and it is impossible to ‎turn them into citizens overnight.”

Caroline Glick recently published her latest book, ‘The Israeli solution: A One State Plan for Peace in the Middle East’ arguing that whereas in Israel, the conversation has begun about alternatives to the ‘Two-State’ model, no such conversation is taking place in America. Instead American policy beginning with Nixon was and is to appease the PLO, now PA, at Israel’s expense.

“The only thing that should interest us is that Judea and Samaria is Israel,” she says and notes that even though providing the Palestinians with permanent residency and the right to apply for citizenship is not a perfect solution and will damage Israel on certain levels, “it is absolutely clear that it is better than establishing a Palestinian state. Such a state would be the ruin of Israel.”

Prof Martin Sherman, while totally supporting the annexation of Judea and Samaria, warns Glick and Hotovely, to “look before you leap” for reasons he makes clear.  He is adamantly against offering citizenship.

“Topping the list of bad ideas is the notion that, given the proven infeasibility of the two-state paradigm, Israel should extend its sovereignty over the entire area of Judea-Samaria and offer “immediate permanent residency to all its [Arab] Palestinian residents, as well as the right to apply for citizenship.” This is an approach so fraught with manifest disaster that it pains me that someone of the caliber of Caroline B. Glick, for whom I have the utmost regard and with whom I am seldom in disagreement, has chosen to advocate it.

“An almost childlike naiveté is required to entertain the belief that Israel could sustain itself as a Jewish nation-state with a massive Muslim minority of almost 40% – as the societal havoc that far smaller proportions have wrought in Europe indicate.”

Instead, he argues for a  “humanitarian solution” which envisages voluntary Arab emigration induced by generous compensation.

Glick rejects this and the Jordan Option as “irrelevant ideas that no one will accept, especially the Palestinians themselves.”

But were Sherman’s idea be adopted by the US and the EU, the conflict would be fully and finally solved in a decade.

Kerry for his part has resorted to threatening Israel with dire consequences should she not capitulate. In a November interview in Israel he said: “If we do not resolve the issues between Palestinians and Israelis, if we do not find a way to find peace, there will be an increasing isolation of Israel, there will be an increasing campaign of delegitimization of Israel that’s been taking place on an international basis,” In fact Governmental sources report that US Secretary of State John Kerry is behind the European boycott threats on Israeli products and companies operating in Judea, Samaria, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.

At the Saban Conference in November, he said “Force cannot defeat or defuse the demographic time bomb.”

What Demographic Bomb

While the left, the EU and the USA continue to threaten Israel with claims that Israel is losing the demographic war, the opposite is the truth.  Amb (ret) Yoram Ettinger has been studying the demographics in Israel for a decade and has often written that the demographic trend supports Israel now in the foreseeable future. According to him, Jews outnumber Arabs from the river to the sea, excluding Gaza, by a 2:1 majority and the numbers will only get better.

But the Two-State Solution carries with it a real demographic bomb. If a  Palestinian state was created, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan would demand that the descendants of the original refugees now living in their countries, numbering now over 4 million, be returned to Palestine. If the PA gives up the “right of return”, and most of these “refugees” were to return to Palestine, both Palestine and Israel would be greatly destabilized. So much so, as to require no return to Palestine either.

Glick advises:

“I brief the members of the House of Representatives and the Senate several times every year. Each time I present this plan on Capitol Hill, the response borders on euphoria. In the United States, just as in Israel, there are millions of people who understand that the ‘Two-State’ solution is a disaster. They are just waiting for someone to tell them that they can abandon it. My book gives them, and the Israeli public as well, the alternative that they are waiting for.”

Let’s hope they adopt it.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on The New English Review.

Documentation on Palestinian Incitement of Hatred

The late Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin had two instructive quotes on peacemaking with the Palestinians:

You don’t make peace with friends. You make it with very unsavory enemies.

I believe that in the long run, separation between Israel and the Palestinians is the best solution for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Israel has plenty of unsavory enemies in the roiling Middle East and elsewhere, these days. However, when your enemies disavow your existence, let alone your legitimacy as a sovereign power, you cannot make peace even the one defined by Rabin. This is why Israeli PM Netanyahu has pushed the importance of recognition of Israel as a Jewish nation.  The current diplomatic shuttle campaign for a final status agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA)  by US Secretary of State  Kerry is grappling with this issue.

Today’s release  by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s office of documented evidence of PA leader Mahmoud Abbas orchestrating a propaganda campaign  to incite hatred towards Israel and Jews.  There is evidence of Abbas” duplicity of saying comforting things about peace at the UN versus anti-Semitic blood libel to his fellow Palestinians at home.

However, the evidence of Palestinian promotion of Jew hatred is just one of a number of issues that ultimately could bring the current round of final status negotiations crashing down.   An example  is  the issue of UN Res. 242 of November 1967 ensuring Israel is entitled to secure and defensible borders. Instead,  Kerry  offered  up a hoary proposal of the current US Ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power  placing a detachment of US and international troops in the strategic Judean hills overlooking the Jordan Valley approaches to enforce  a final status agreement between the PA and Israel. Then there is questionable matter of ‘sharing’ Israel’s eternal capital of Jerusalem, a fact recognized by the US Congress in a law passed in 1995 requiring a move of the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.     That move has  been avoided by a succession of US Presidents; Clinton, Bush and now Obama on the grounds that a final status agreement hasn’t been reached between the PA and Israel.  Then there is the matter of so-called land swaps to establish borders based on the pre- 1967 June War, the 1949 Armistice Line.  No other sovereign nation has entered into such negotiations that threaten its existence.

The evidence of Palestinian incitement to hate is reflected in documentation released by Israel’s PM Netanyahu,  a reflection of Islamic Qur’anic doctrine. A doctrine  that states  Allah has endowed the world as a Waqf or trust for Muslims  in perpetuity for all conquered lands. Hence the argument that the Jewish nation of Israel is illegally occupying the space between “the river and the sea”.  That is evident in the propaganda imagery  of the late Yassir Arafat wearing his checkered kaffiyeh allegedly  draped in the shape of Palestine. It is also reflected in monuments of the Palestinian Authority, one of which was cloaked to hide it from the view of President Obama during a visit to Ramallah in  March 2013, while police restrained hundreds of protesters.  There is also evidence of hatred reflected in PA  videos of preschool children being indoctrinated in hatred, spouting classic Qur’anic suras depicting Jews as pigs and sons of apes or an EU-sponsored PA youth TV program  saying that Israelis in Jerusalem are ‘crows and rats”.   Palestine Media Watch (PMW) has documented much of this over the past decade.  PMW published a  a video, today,  of a Syrian TV interview  with Zaki Abbas, a close associate of PA President Abbas,   discussing a plan for the destruction of Israel saying:

Even the most extreme among us, Hamas, or the fighting forces, want a state within the ’67 borders. Afterward, we [will] have something to say, because the inspiring idea cannot be achieved all at once. [Rather] in stages.

Prime Minister Netanyahu drew attention  to this defining  issue on Sunday in his remarks following a two hour cabinet meeting on Palestinian incitement towards Israel in a Jerusalem Post report, “Netanyahu: Palestinian incitement spurs Mideast conflict”:

This is a very grave phenomenon. True peace cannot exist without stopping the incitement against Israel and educating for peace. The refusal of the Palestinians to recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish People and declare the end of national demands – this is the root of the conflict. This is also the reason why we are insisting on significant security measures, so that we will be able to defend ourselves by ourselves in any situation.

Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz, whose agency is responsible for maintaining an “incitement index”, drew attention to the role of PA leader Mahmoud Abbas:

We must not ignore the fact that the Palestinian educational system and media, under the patronage of Abu Mazen [PA President Mahmoud Abbas] and during the negotiations, are educating and inciting – on a daily basis – for the destruction of the State of Israel.

Watch this IMRA Youtube video containing the Israeli Government report  on Palestinian leadership and schools inciting hatred of the Jewish nation of Israel:

Notice the hateful Qur’anic catechism from Palestinian pre-school children, the adulation and quotations from  Hitler, and the Nazi-style salute by members of the PLO Al Aqsa Brigade . Then there was  a similar event at Al Quds University in November 2013.  The last event  caused Brandeis University President Frederick Lawrence to suspend its  partnership with  Al Quds University and its Harvard educated Chancellor, Sari Nusseibeh. Nusseibeh allegedly during the First Gulf War in 1991 was caught passing target information to the regime of the late Saddam Hussein for launch of SCUD missiles against Tel Aviv.

Why would any rational person persist in trying to reach a peace agreement  in the face of the duplicitous taqiyyah by the PA leadership and its educational system perpetuating hate against Israel. With not the merest scintilla of likelihood that a final status agreement between Israel and the PA could be achieved in the remaining four months, why is the Administration persisting in this effort when the Middle East is aflame with fundamentalist Jihad warfare on all of Israel’s borders.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on The New English Review.