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Tuesday, June 27, 2017

From Ian:

The Fallacy of Israeli Intransigence
It is a fallacy that Israeli intransigence is the key stumbling block in Arab-Israeli relations, and that, therefore, Israeli concessions are the key factor that will create the conditions for a solution. The Israeli withdrawals from Lebanon in 2000 and Gaza in 2005 should have dispelled this idea forever. Rather than having a calming effect, however, those withdrawals only served to increase the bloodlust of Hizbullah and Hamas.
Any withdrawal from territory on the West Bank, therefore, must come with ironclad guarantees of Israeli security. Given the unsettled state of the region in general, the advances of the Iranian alliance in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Yemen, the persistence of al-Qaeda and ISIS, and the split among the Palestinians between Hamas and Fatah, no Israeli government could take severe risks with respect to Israeli security on the West Bank and still hope to remain in power.
Israelis are already intensely aware that in a very short period of time they might find themselves peering across the Golan Heights at Iranian soldiers ensconced in Syria. How can the world ask them to take steps that could potentially lead to the Iranian penetration of the West Bank as well?
The writer, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, was a senior director at the National Security Council in the George W. Bush administration. These remarks are from his address at the UN Security Council on June 20, 2017. (Hudson Institute)
Power of deterrence
Statements from Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah threatening Israel have become a monthly event, a sort of ritual that may differ in text but not in style. But we must not underestimate the organization's abilities. Hezbollah has 120,000 rockets and missiles directed at Israel. Hezbollah poses a threat to Israeli transportation in the air, water and land; our gas rigs could disappear; the fuel and ammonia tanks in the Haifa Bay could catch fire; and IAF planes and helicopters could be hit by advanced missiles supplied by Iran.
And yet despite all this, Nasrallah has broken a record -- under his leadership, Hezbollah and Israel have seen the longest period of calm: 11 years. Yes, he has been deterred for 11 years. But he continues to issue threats. Why? The answer is the Iranian pressure he faces from one direction and the Israeli-Lebanese pressure he faces from the other. In the absence of actual attacks, there are always threats.
Nasrallah is stuck between a rock and a hard place. Hezbollah deflects Iranian pressure to confront Israel with various pretexts, like Hezbollah's involvement in Syria, the internal situation in Lebanon, a need for strategic weaponry and fear of the international community. But Nasrallah is withholding the truth. Iran provides it with $100 million every year, while the monthly cost of its involvement in Syria stands at $10 million. Hezbollah has 5,000 fighters stationed there, and Nasrallah has paid $50,000 to the family of each fighter killed.
But the Israeli-Lebanese pressure has also had an impact. Israel has made it crystal clear to the Shiite leader that if Hezbollah makes a combatant move, Israel will hold the Lebanese government responsible, and this terrifies the Lebanese.
Caroline Glick: The PLO's IDF lobbyists
In contrast, and again against the wishes of the government, the Civil Administration has repeatedly acted to block Israeli construction in Area C. For instance, the IDF insists that no land deal between Israel and Palestinians is final until the IDF approves it. The policy harms Israeli construction in two ways.
First, it gives the Civil Administration the power – which it uses – to delay Israeli construction indefinitely.
Second, by forcing parties to land deals to come forward publicly, the Civil Administration intimidates Palestinian land sellers. They know that if their land deals with Israelis become public they will face execution by the PA.
Returning to Abbas for a moment, the PLO chief may have overplayed his hand by insulting Trump and his senior envoys. All the politicized retired and currently serving Israeli generals together cannot convince Trump to send US tax dollars to a terrorism supporting leader who trashes him and his senior officials. Consequently, there is every reason to believe that the Taylor Force Act will soon be signed into law and the US will end its financing of Palestinian terrorism.
But even if Washington cuts off funding to the PA, Israel is still left to deal with its radicalized generals who exploit their rank to undermine the government.
The best way to end this situation is for the government to shut down the Civil Administration and get the IDF out of the governing business in Judea and Samaria. So long as the government continues to empower unaccountable generals to administer civilian areas instead of its accountable, civilian bureaucracy, we will continue to be confronted with the surreal spectacle of Israeli generals lobbying for Palestinian terrorists.
If the government applies Israeli law to Area C, it can still negotiate with the PLO, just as it has negotiated about the Golan Heights and Jerusalem. But in the meantime, it will remove one of the most corrupting and corrosive forces preying on our generals and our democracy for the benefit of the Israeli and Palestinian residents of Area C alike and indeed for Israel as a whole.



U.S. and Israel Team Up to Fight "Bad Actors" in Cyberspace
Israel and the U.S. are starting a high-level partnership to create a bulwark against increasingly sophisticated cyber attackers who target critical national infrastructure.
The bilateral working group will be led by White House cyber security coordinator Rob Joyce and the head of Israel’s Cyber Bureau, Eviatar Matania, according to Tom Bossert, U.S. President Donald Trump’s homeland security and counterterrorism adviser. From the U.S. side, the group will include congressmen, FBI agents and members of the defense and homeland security departments; Israel will send representatives from the Shin Bet internal security service, the foreign affairs, justice and defense ministries, and the military.
The aim will be to find and stop cyber attackers “before they’re in networks, before they reach critical infrastructure, and identify ways to hold bad actors accountable,” Bossert said Monday at a cyber security conference in Tel Aviv.
The stronger cyber ties follow meetings between Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in February and May, and after the U.S. passed legislation in January expanding joint cyber research with Israel. State security in cyberspace is becoming a growing concern amid a flurry of attacks on government targets -- including, an attack last week on the email accounts of about 90 U.K. lawmakers -- and a ransomware attack last month that crippled computer systems around the world.
According to Bloomberg Intelligence, cyber attacks are a national security danger, causing billions of dollars in damage annually to the global economy.
“We must get serious about deterrent strategy. The stakes are too high not to,” Bossert said. The U.S. will seek bilateral partnerships to deal with the threat until an international coalition is created, he said.
Netanyahu told the conference about 20 percent of global private investment in cyber security last year came to Israel.
Shin Bet chief warns of 'real world surprises’ if cyber attackers go after Israel
Cyber attackers “can expect real world surprises” if they go after Israel, Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) chief Nadav Argaman told a Tel Aviv University cyber conference on Tuesday.
In his first cyber speech since taking over the elite Israeli security agency in May 2016, Argaman said “our defense does not recognize any borders."
"We follow threats everywhere," he said, adding "We connect the cyber and the physical world.”
The head of Israel's internal intelligence service said, “we do not just wait to get hacked. We go aggressively after hackers to get them before they attack.”
He added that the security agency had “used cyber intelligence to stop many real world attacks,” including identifying 2,000 potential lone wolf threats in 2016.
Responses to these potential threats could include a combination of Shin Bet arrests, arrests by the Palestinian Authority or other forms of warnings to persons with online indications viewed by the agency as flags for potential lone wolf attacker.
Eyeing new spy tech, Mossad says it will pump money into startups
Israel’s intelligence agency, the Mossad, said Tuesday it was setting up a technological innovation fund that will help the agency meet existing and future challenges by tapping into the knowledge generated by startup companies.
Technology is already one of the organization’s main growth engines, the Mossad said. The new fund, called Libertad, will be an additional arm of the Mossad’s technological force buildup.
The agency said it will not expect to receive a stake in the firms into which it will inject funds, and there will be no restrictions on the intellectual property (IP) of the technologies developed, which will belong to the startup. The Mossad will also not require royalty payments from the companies. In return for the investment, however, the Mossad will get a license to use the technology developed.
“It’s a new model we developed that enables the Mossad to pay for technology development and license intellectual property from technology companies,” explained Eli Groner, the director-general of the Prime Minister’s Office, who has worked together with the Mossad on the project for over a year.
Typically the Mossad will invest up to NIS 2 million, or some $500,000, per R&D project, and some larger projects may be approved as well, the agency said in a statement.


US top court takes up case of Jerusalem terror attack victims vs Iran
The US Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to decide whether people injured in a 1997 bombing attack in Jerusalem can seek to enforce a $71 million judgment against Iran over its alleged role by seizing ancient Persian artifacts held by two Chicago museums.
The justices will hear the plaintiffs' appeal of a ruling last year in favor of Iran by the Chicago-based 7th US Circuit Court of Appeals.
The court's ruling in the case is also likely to dictate the outcome of a similar dispute pending before the justices in which four different groups of plaintiffs representing those injured in other allegedly Iran-backed attacks are seeking to enforcement court judgments by seizing $17.6 million in assets held by Iranian government-owned Bank Melli.
At issue is how to determine what assets are immune from seizure under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, a federal law that restricts when foreign entities can be sued in US courts.
The long-running Chicago lawsuit arose from a 1997 attack in which three members of the Islamic militant group Hamas blew themselves up in Jerusalem, killing five people. Eight US citizens were injured. They and some of their relatives, including lead plaintiff Jenny Rubin, sued Iran in a US court for its alleged role and obtained a $71.5 million judgment that they then sought to collect on.
Poll: Only Israel and Russia prefer Trump to Obama
Israel is one of just two countries that prefer US President Donald Trump to his predecessor, Barack Obama, according to new research by the Pew Research Center.
The poll — which looked at 37 countries — found that Trump is not only deeply unpopular in much of the world, but not trusted to manage America’s foreign policy.
According to the survey, a median of 22 percent of respondents expressed confidence that Trump will do the right thing when it comes to international affairs. That rating marks a steep drop from the closing years of Obama’s presidency, when a median of 64 expressed confidence in his ability to direct America’s role in the world.
“The sharp decline in how much global publics trust the US president on the world stage is especially pronounced among some of America’s closest allies in Europe and Asia, as well as neighboring Mexico and Canada,” Pew said. “Across the 37 nations polled, Trump gets higher marks than Obama in only two countries: Russia and Israel.”
Israel scrambles to quash UNESCO vote on holy sites
Israel is making efforts to quash or defeat a vote set to be held in the coming days by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) which will include a clause stating that Israel is not the sovereign power over Jerusalem.
The resolution was submitted by Arab countries and will be voted upon by 21 nation representatives during the UN body’s World Heritage Committee when it meets July 2–12 in Krakow, Poland, for its annual assembly. Israel needs seven votes against in order to block the motion.
The clause about Jerusalem was a last-minute addition inserted into the resolution which already included the notion that the Cave of the Patriarchs will be recognized as a world heritage site.
The declarations within the resolution establishes an international acceptance that the Cave of the Patriarchs is a Palestinian Muslim site, setting the ground for a broader question of sovereignty and the historical right over a place that the Palestinians claim for themselves.
In the context of the peace process, a declaration of the resolution’s adoption would impose limits on Israeli construction, the protection and development of the site and on specific areas in the vicinity.
If the Cave of the Patriarchs is indeed recognized as a world heritage site therefore, Israel will be condemned each time it erects a security checkpoint or conducts work in the area on the grounds that is is damaging a world heritage site.
The site is a major tourist attraction and has long been on the Palestinian Authority’s list of priorities for claiming it as its own.
The True Diplomatic Legacy of 1967
It's very common to say, "Israel must withdraw to the 1967 borders" - but there are no 1967 borders. The lines Israel inherited from the 1948 war are based on an armistice agreement that states that these are not final borders but cease-fire lines. In 1967 Israel engaged in a war of self-defense and could not be forced to withdraw to the pre-war lines from which had been attacked.
UN Security Council Resolution 242 of November 1967 did not call for an Israeli withdrawal to the pre-war lines. British Ambassador Lord Caradon said at the time: "I know the 1967 line, and it's a rotten line. You couldn't have a worse line for a permanent international boundary. It's where the troops happened to be on a certain night in 1948. It's got no relation to the needs of the situation." According to Lord Caradon, an Israeli withdrawal to the 1949 armistice line would not produce a stable diplomatic solution.
It is unfathomable today for most Israelis to put the country back in the position of being as vulnerable as it was 50 years ago.


UN’s worst despots take aim at Israel


Top Israeli Diplomatic Official: Palestinian Leaders Prioritize Denial of Jewish State Over Welfare of Own People
The blame for the lack of opportunities for everyday Palestinians should be placed on their own leaders, not Israel, the Jewish state’s deputy foreign minister said in a television interview that aired on Sunday in Australia.
“They choose again and again leadership that doesn’t put their positive future next to their eyes,” Tzipi Hotovely — a member of the ruling Likud Party — told Liam Bartlett of Nine Network’s “60 Minutes” program. “They put the denial of Israel as the first issue on the agenda.”
Palestinian leaders do not give their people “the ability to live under democratic values,” Hotovely went on to say. “I mean, you can’t deny that.”
“You can’t deny the fact that the Palestinian leadership, since the beginning of the Palestinian Authority, never spoke about democratic values as part of the future of Palestinian society,” she added.
South Australian Labor "recognises Palestine"
Labor has used its parliamentary majority in South Australia to call for the recognition of “the state of Palestine alongside the state of ­Israel”, making it the only Australian legislative body to formally back Palestine statehood.
The motion ...calls on the Australian government to
"recognise the state of Palestine (as we have recognised the state of ­Israel) and announce the conditions and time lines to achieve such recognition".
The resolution, put forward by dumped Labor frontbencher Tony Piccolo, also seeks confirmation that unless measures are taken, a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict will “vanish”. The non-binding motion also opposes continuation of Israeli settlement building. A similar motion will be raised in the upper house by the Greens.
Mr Piccolo...said Palestinians “have been the victims of dispossession for 70 years” and have “suffered under what could effectively be described as a military occupation for 50 years”.
Mr Piccolo was elected alongside Deputy Opposition Leader Vickie Chapman as co-convener of the Parliamentary Friends of Palestine, less than two years after the SA Parliamentary Friends of Israel was launched. Ms Chapman, a member of both groups, joined Liberal MPs in unsuccessfully moving to adjourn the motion, and later spoke against it.
Israel Strikes Hamas Targets in Gaza in Response to Rocket Attack
The Israeli Air Force (IAF) launched retaliatory airstrikes on two Hamas terror targets in Gaza early Tuesday, in response to the first rocket fired into Israeli territory since March.
Palestinian sources said the Israeli strikes hit at least three locations, including Rafah, Gaza City and an open area southeast of Gaza City. A rocket had landed in an open area Monday in Israel’s northwestern Negev, causing no injuries or damage. A jihadist group affiliated with Islamic State claimed responsibility for the rocket fire, but Israel holds Gaza-ruling Hamas responsible for all rockets launched from the coastal territory.
“Since the terror organization Hamas is the ruler of the Gaza Strip, it is responsible for any attempt to harm the state of Israel,” the IDF said Tuesday.
In March, the IAF struck targets in northern Gaza in response to a rocket that hit an open area in southern Israel.
Restive border area in Golan Heights closed off to civilians
The Israeli military on Monday declared a border-adjacent area in the Golan Heights temporarily off-limits to civilians, following a series of incidents in which errant Syrian fire hit Israeli territory.
The army said several “crowd gathering points” in the Quneitra area would be closed off until further notice. Farmers will be allowed in to work in their fields, though they will also be barred from coming near the border fence itself.
In the past three days there have been three incidents of errant fire hitting Israel. The IDF has responded with force, targeting Syrian army installations, which Israel holds responsible for all incidents originating from Syrian soil.
Defense Minister Avidgor Liberman said Monday that Israel has “no intention of launching a military operation” against Syria or rebel groups operating within it even as tensions have spiraled in recent days.
Speaking at the Knesset Defense and Foreign Affairs committee, Liberman rejected predictions made by some in Israel’s political echelon that the next conflict with either Hezbollah in the north or Hamas in the south is just around the corner.
Israel, Hamas in advanced talks over prisoner swap — report
Israel and Hamas have reportedly been engaged in intensive indirect talks recently over the release of a number of Israeli nationals held captive by the terror group in Gaza.
The talks, which are being mediated by an unnamed third party, have gathered momentum over the past two weeks, following the return of Hamas’s leader in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, from a visit to Egypt earlier this month, Channel 1 reported Monday.
While in Egypt, Sinwar met with a number of officials, as well as former senior Fatah official Mohammad Dahlan, who was involved in the 2011 deal that led to the release of captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in exchange for some 1,000 Palestinian prisoners.
Egypt has previously been named in reports as the country mediating between the two sides.
Why Partition Is the Best Possible Outcome for Syria
In 1936, five leaders of Syria’s Alawite religious minority—including Suleiman al-Assad, the grandfather of the country’s current ruler—sent a petition to French politicians asking that the territory in which they and their co-religionists lived not be included in a future Syrian state. Such an outcome, they feared, would lead to the endless persecution of Alawites at the hands of the Sunni Muslim majority. Instead, Syria was unified and the Alawite minority came to constitute the political elite. The consequences, writes Robert Nicholson, were disastrous:
A direct line can be drawn from Alawites’ concerns in 1936 to the violence that grips Syria today. For decades the Alawites repressed one Islamist insurgency after another, working hard to maintain their grip on power and preempt what they believed to be certain destruction. In 2011, against the tidal wave of the Arab Spring, their dam finally broke. Syria’s embittered and repressed Sunni population rose up against the regime, and the regime, understanding that the fight was to the death, responded with brutal force. The result has been vicious and expanding . . . violence that continues until today. . . .
Similar cautionary and petitionary statements [like Suleiman al-Assad’s] were penned around the same time by the Jews of Palestine, the Maronites of Lebanon, and the Assyrian [Christians] and Yazidis of Iraq. These minorities all saw something Western powers did not: Muslims of the Middle East wanted a kind of society that would endanger their freedom and security. Forcing them to live together would only end in bloodshed. . . .
The choices in Syria are only two: (1) keep Syria unified, depose Assad, and let the people draft a new constitution and elect a new government; or (2) move Syria toward federalism or full partition, keep Assad in place as the head of an Alawite province or state along the coast, and empower the other demographic regions of Syria to become self-governing provinces or states of their own.
US Intel Detects Assad Preparations For Chemical Attack, Trump Warns Of 'Heavy Price'
The White House warned Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad not to use chemical weapons after U.S. intelligence indicated another attack could be imminent, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer announced Monday.
“The United States has identified potential preparations for another chemical weapons attack by the Assad regime that would likely result in the mass murder of civilians, including innocent children. The activities are similar to preparations the regime made before its April 4, 2017 chemical weapons attack,” the statement said.
“As we have previously stated, the United States is in Syria to eliminate the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria,” Spicer declared. “If, however, Mr. Assad conducts another mass murder attack using chemical weapons, he and his military will pay a heavy price.”
President Donald Trump authorized an April 7 cruise missile strike on the Syrian regime after sarin gas was used on civilian populations, with a warning of another strike if the regime continued. The strike destroyed nearly a third of Assad’s air force and inhibited the regime’s operational capacity, Secretary of Defense James Mattis indicated afterwards.
Senior Iranian lawmaker says US travel ban breaks nuke deal
A prominent Iranian lawmaker denounced on Tuesday the US Supreme Court’s partial reinstatement of President Donald Trump’s travel ban, claiming that it was an “obvious breach” of the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers, including the United States.
Hossein Naghavi Hosseini, spokesman of the parliament’s committee on national security and foreign policy, says the ban’s reinstatement is “a new restriction in the post-nuclear-deal era that is considered an obvious breach of the deal.”
Hosseini claimed that under the nuclear deal, countries that signed it are prohibited from imposing new restrictions or sanctions on Iranians. But he did not explain how that is connected or relevant to the travel ban.
His remarks were carried by the official IRNA news agency on Tuesday. Iran is one of the six mostly Muslim countries that are included in the travel ban.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif also condemned the decision on Tuesday. “It’s regrettable that the citizens of the countries on the list have never participated in any act of terrorism against the US and yet they are being punished for acts of terrorism by citizens of other countries which are not on the list,” he said.
Iran to Publish "Evidence" of U.S. Support for ISIS


PreOccupiedTerritory: Mideast States Photoshopping Rivals’ Airplanes Into Ben Gurion (satire)
Tensions between competing alliances of Arab and Muslim countries intensified again today as each side produced doctored photos purporting to show aircraft of the other side’s state carriers sitting at Israel’s Ben Gurion International Airport, in violation of a decades-old boycott of the Jewish State in solidarity with the Palestinian cause.
After images emerged of a Saudi jumbo jet docked at a terminal at the airport outside Tel Aviv, authorities in Riyadh disputed that the plane had traveled there under its own flag, and asserted that the aircraft had been leased to a Portuguese carrier. Within twenty minutes, they also published altered photographs of a jet from Iran Air landing with the Ben Gurion control tower in the background.
Soon Qatari, Iranian, Turkish, and Syrian press offices were sending around clumsy Photoshops of Saudi, Bahraini, Egyptian, and Emirati jets parked next to El Al craft, while officials in Riyadh, Cairo, Dubai, and elsewhere went as far as to alter photos of aerial military exercises to show their rivals’ fighters collaborating with the Israel Air Force.
F15 photoshopThe Photoshop slanderfest represents a dangerous new escalation in regional tensions, warned an Omani diplomat aiming to ease the situation. “Photoshopping images involving Israel has seldom been aimed at entities other than Israel until now,” observed Nojouss Nonouss. “We are used to seeing Israeli jets superimposed on images of destruction, as part of the propaganda effort on behalf of our suffering brethren in Palestine. But now, that pan-Arab and and pan-Muslim solidarity has broken down, and the visual libel tactic is now being wielded by and against nations that are supposed to be united in opposition to Zionism. Instead they accuse one another of secretly or openly normalizing with the Zionists. It almost seems like a Zionist plot.”



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