Category Archives: Gaza

THE ELECTION, ISRAEL, AND IRAN

BLOG  495

NOVEMBER 23, 2020

WISE ON THE MIDDLE EAST

Each week Robert L. Wise, Ph.D., explores the Middle Eastern situation, ranging from Egypt through Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and the surrounding area. Wise first traveled to Israel and the neighboring countries in 1968. Two of his sons taught in Jordan and Lebanon universities. Wise presents an objective view of the behind the scenes situation in these countries.

THE ELECTION, ISRAEL, AND IRAN

Mr. Joe Biden, the American president-elect, has said he will ‘rejoin’ the 2015 nuclear deal. He has also stressed his ‘steadfast support for Israel’s security.’ From Israel’s point of view that’s a contradiction.

Before Biden is sitting  behind the Oval Office, he’s got an important issue to consider. US President Donald Trump declared three weeks ago that up to 10 more countries were preparing to warm their ties with Israel, with five of them firmly on course and the others also “right in the mix.” But that was before the November 3 presidential election.

Trump’s defeat to Joe Biden, and Biden’s explicitly stated intention to “rejoin” the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement  has at a stroke remade the region’s calculations on Iran. The question of which other countries, and when, might now decide to normalize their relations with Israel is only one aspect of the wider recalibration triggered immediately by Biden’s victory.

The Middle East doesn’t do vacuums, and Trump’s defeat is rippling across our neighborhood. The Palestinians have suddenly decided to resume security cooperation with Israel, and are indicating that they want to reestablish ties with the US, assuming that the Trump peace vision they so loathed is off the table. In Israel, with Trump deemed most unlikely to authorize annexation of settlements, since that plan was explicitly suspended under the terms of the Israel-UAE deal, Netanyahu is under pressure from his own right-wing camp to legalize dozens of West Bank outposts before Biden takes office.

And on Iran, the pieces are moving by the hour.

Anticipating a more empathetic approach to Tehran by a successor whose victory he has yet to concede, Trump reportedly mulled doing in his final weeks dismantling the ayatollahs’ rogue nuclear weapons program  by striking at one or more of the Islamist regime’s nuclear enrichment sites. That he was talked out of this by his worried aides, and that this has become public, has already emboldened Tehran, whose Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Tuesday magnanimously agreed to discuss how the US could reenter the 2015 deal, provided it first lifts all its sanctions on Tehran. This, even as Iran deepens its breaches of the deal by accelerating its uranium enrichment. Sorry. No deal there.

Israel remains the regional military heavyweight with no choice but to stand up to Tehran. After all, the regime avowedly seeks our destruction and works implacably to attain the tools to achieve that ambition. But Israel’s room for maneuver, and that of likeminded nations in the Middle East and beyond, is immensely widened if the United States fulfills its superpower role.

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COMING EVENTS!

BLOG  491

October 26,  2020

WISE ON THE MIDDLE EAST

Each week Robert L. Wise, Ph.D., explores the Middle Eastern situation, ranging from Egypt through Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and the surrounding area. Wise first traveled to Israel and the neighboring countries in 1968. Two of his sons taught in Jordan and Lebanon universities. Wise presents an objective view of the behind the scenes situation in these countries.

COMING EVENTS!

Here’s two stories you’re not likely to hear about locally … but worth knowing.

NUMBER ONE!  

The Tel Aviv university has just launched the only graduate program in the world to focus on Ethiopian Jewish scriptures. Called “Orit Guardians,” it entails an interdisciplinary study of the Ethiopian Jewish scripture and its ancient liturgical language, Ge’ez, combined with the scientific study of biblical translation and interpretation, with the goal of recording the biblical scriptures that have been orally transmitted to the Beta Israel community in their own common tongues, Amharic or Tigrinya, for the past several hundred years at least.  “Bible departments all over the world are working on ancient translations and there has not been any development of a study of the Ethiopian Jewish tradition. No one has recorded the translation and interpretations,” Prof. Dalit Rom-Shiloni  said. “The reason, she asserted, “is mostly because until now, no one has had both the scholarly know-how and the language and cultural proficiency to speak with the kes, or priestly class, who, until the community’s mass immigration to Israel, led communal worship. We are trying to do is focus on the biblical side of the text and the translations and interpretive tradition, and we’re suggesting we can do it by using a set of professional tools.”

NUMBER TWO!

In previous blogs, I’ve warned there is smoke on the horizon. Here’s a recent development. The Israel Defense Forces on Sunday morning launched a large-scale exercise simulating war against the Hezbollah terrorist group, aimed at improving the military’s offensive capability. The multi-day drill — dubbed “Deadly Arrow” — will predominantly focus on how various headquarters and command centers work together and communicate in wartime, the military said. It was also set to include physical maneuvers by ground forces, naval vessels and aircraft.

The military explained the exercise would simulate a “multi-front scenario focused on the northern arena.”

The IDF believes that any future war against the Lebanon-based Hezbollah terror group would not only be waged in southern Lebanon, but would also include attacks from Syria and potentially the Gaza Strip as well.

Israel knows it can not close it’s eyes for a moment to the fact that terrorists never quit until they are dead. From the point of view of the Israel military, the Hezbollah situation remains tense.

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by Frank Sisson (Author), Robert L. Wise (Author)

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82 Days on Okinawa: One American’s Unforgettable Firsthand Account of the Pacific War’s Greatest Battle!

You can find 82 DAYS ON OKINAWA on Amazon.

by Art Shaw (Author), Robert L. Wise (Author)

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TROUBLE BOILING IN THE MIDDLE EAST Part 2

BLOG 488

October 5, 2020

WISE ON THE MIDDLE EAST

Each week Robert L. Wise, Ph.D., explores the Middle Eastern situation, ranging from Egypt through Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and the surrounding area. Wise first traveled to Israel and the neighboring countries in 1968. Two of his sons taught in Jordan and Lebanon universities. Wise presents an objective view of the behind the scenes situation in these countries.

TROUBLE BOILING IN THE MIDDLE EAST

Part 2

In my last blog, I described some of the tension brewing in Lebanon and Gaza that could have a future impact on Israel and the Middle East. My suggestion was that we must always keep an eye open for what is happening behind the scenes. Sometimes it’s good; sometimes it’s not. This just released news story from Iran makes the point.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards on Sunday unveiled a new naval ballistic missile with a potential range of over 700 kilometers (430 miles), local media reported, following months of tensions with arch-enemy the United States. According to Tasnim news agency, the missile, dubbed “Zolfaghar Basir”, is the naval variant of the surface-to-surface Zolfaghar ballistic missile. Its range is more than twice that of the Islamic republic’s other naval missiles, including the “Hormuz-2”, with a range of 300 kilometers, which Tehran said it successfully tested in March 2017.  Images published by Tasnim showed the Zolfaghar Basir installed on a launcher truck during the Tasnim did not specify whether or not the new missile has been tested yet.

inauguration of Tehran’s National Aerospace Park on Sunday.

 “This exhibition shows the comprehensive plan of the deterrent power of the (Islamic republic’s) system,” Guards commander Major General Hossein Salami said at the inauguration, according to Tasnim.  Iran’s Guards used the Zolfaghar in 2017 and 2018 against the Islamic State group in Syria in retaliation for terrorist attacks carried out in the country. The missile was also used in January to target bases in Iraq housing US troops, according to IRNA news agency, days after the US killed Iran’s top general Qasem Soleimani in a drone strike in Baghdad.

The unveiling of the Zolfaghar Basir comes more than a week after an American aircraft carrier crossed the strategic Strait of Hormuz, and days after the Guards opened a new naval base near the waterway, through which a fifth of the world’s oil passes. The vital shipping lane and nearby Gulf waters were the scenes of heightened US-Iranian tensions late last year when ships were mysteriously attacked, drones downed and oil tankers seized.

Tensions have soared between Washington and Tehran under US President Donald Trump, who pulled out of a landmark 2015 nuclear accord and unilaterally reimposed sanctions on Iran. The arch-enemies have twice come to the brink of direct confrontation since June 2019.

Washington suffered a setback in mid-August when it failed to win support from the United Nation’s Security Council to extend an arms embargo against Tehran that will progressively expire starting on October 18.

Saudi Arabia won’t be happy with this development. Other Middle Eastern countries will feel the same way. Israel will be watching with a a finger on the trigger.

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TROUBLE BOILING IN THE MIDDLE EAST

BLOG 487

September 28,  2020

WISE ON THE MIDDLE EAST

Each week Robert L. Wise, Ph.D., explores the Middle Eastern situation, ranging from Egypt through Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and the surrounding area. Wise first traveled to Israel and the neighboring countries in 1968. Two of his sons taught in Jordan and Lebanon universities. Wise presents an objective view of the behind the scenes situation in these countries.

TROUBLE BOILING IN THE MIDDLE EAST

This year in my recent trip to Israel, I observed the bitter feelings that exists between Israelis and Palestinians and vice versa. Hostilities are everywhere.  In recent blogs, I’ve celebrated the diplomatic breakthroughs achieved between Israel and Arab countries. Such is an important achievement. However, those accomplishments only mask a fierce reality waiting below the surface.

The Jerusalem Post suggested that Hezbollah had stored massive amounts of weaponry in Lebanon that were part of the terrible explosion in Beirut. Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi said,  “Iran has taken Lebanon hostage through Hezbollah.”   Moreover, in August Prime Minister Netanyahu warned Hamas (who controls the Gaza Strip) that Israel would respond forcefully if the terrorist group did not stop launching incendiary and explosive balloons into Israel.  

What is currently happening inside Gaza? Hamas military prosecutors on Thursday charged three Palestinian activists in the Gaza Strip with “weakening revolutionary spirit” — a charge that could lead to years in prison — for holding a video conference with Israelis.

Rami Aman, a 38-year-old peace activist and Gaza resident, was detained in early April after holding a public “Skype With Your Enemy” video call in which Israelis participated. He has said his organization seeks to empower young Palestinians and that many in Gaza share his view that speaking to Israelis should not be forbidden.

“If I were to go into the streets and tell people ‘let’s talk with an Israeli,’ thousands of people would be here,” Aman said during a videoconference, (Facebook)

Authorities in Gaza view “normalizing” with Israelis as a criminal offense. While Hamas does permit merchants and those seeking humanitarian assistance inside Israel to communicate with Israeli authorities, it has cracked down on those who have sought to establish person-to-person ties with Israelis. “Holding any activity or communication with the Israeli occupation, under any cover, is a crime punishable by law; it is a betrayal of our people and its sacrifices,” Interior Minister Iyad al-Bozm wrote in a Facebook post in April.

Hamas routinely arrests and tortures critics and dissidents within the coastal enclave. Aman himself had already faced harassment by security forces for his activism. In July 2019, Hamas detained him for two weeks after organizing a joint bike ride with Israelis: Gazans biked side by side with Israelis, with only the security fence dividing them. On another occasion, Aman was detained for three days after he publicly criticized the alleged beating of a young man by officers from the Hamas-run interior ministry, according to Human Rights Watch. Although both Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International immediately called for the activists’ release, Hamas authorities have held the detainees for five months without trial.

Get the picture? Hostilities could  explode at any time.

YOU MIGHT ENJOY MY NEWEST BOOK HOT OFF THE PRESS
82 DAYS ON OKINAWA
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Col. Art Shaw & Robert L. Wise

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RAPID CHANGE IN THE MIDDLE EAST

BLOG 486

September 14,  2020

RAPID CHANGE IN THE MIDDLE EAST

Each week Robert L. Wise, Ph.D., explores the Middle Eastern situation, ranging from Egypt through Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and the surrounding area. Wise first traveled to Israel and the neighboring countries in 1968. Two of his sons taught in Jordan and Lebanon universities. Wise presents an objective view of the behind the scenes situation in these countries.

In recent blogs, I’ve commented on the change occurring in the Middle East. Notably, the United States has little to do with most of this. movement However, these are signs that Israel’s position is shifting and receiving wider acceptance in the Arab world. These blogs were barely published when news arrived that Bahrain had established full diplomatic relations with Israel.

A day after the announcement that Bahrain is establishing full diplomatic relations with Israel, a senior Israeli Foreign Ministry official said Saturday that Jerusalem would work to establish an embassy in Manama in the near future. The two country’s foreign ministers, Israel’s Gabi Ashkenazi and Bahrain’s Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani, spoke on the phone Saturday, and exchanged congratulations on the deal and discussed the importance of pushing relations forward in various fields and in support of common interests

According to Kan news, in addition to the establishment of embassies and the appointment of ambassadors, the two countries have also agreed to the operation of direct flights as well as a number of unspecified joint ventures. Earlier this month, Bahrain announced that it was opening its airspace to Israeli flights.

Netanyahu hailed the agreement as part of a “new era of peace” and predicted more accords would follow. The Bahraini king’s senior adviser Khalid al-Khalifa said in a statement that the normalization deal “sends a positive and encouraging message to the people of Israel, that a just and comprehensive peace with the Palestinian people is the best path and the true interest for their future and the future of the peoples of the region.”

Regional power player Saudi Arabia remained noticeably silent following Friday’s announcement of a normalization agreement between Israel and Bahrain.  Bahrain is seen as a client state of its neighbor and close ally Saudi Arabia, and the tiny Gulf state is not likely to have moved forward with normalization without approval from Riyadh.

Predictable responses followed from the usual quarters. The Palestinian Authority and the Hamas terror group both condemned Friday’s Israeli-Bahraini normalization deal as another “stab in the back” by an Arab state and act of “aggression” against their people. Turkey and Iran also condemned the accord.

Israel is on a roll. Got to be a good sign for the Middle East.

YOU MIGHT ENJOY MY NEWEST BOOK HOT OFF THE PRESS
82 DAYS ON OKINAWA
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JUST OUT – IT’S A THRILLER!
Col. Art Shaw & Robert L. Wise

You can find 82 DAYS ON OKINAWA at your local book store or on Amazon.

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A SURPRISE AT SUNRISE!

BLOG 483
August 16, 2020

palestine flag

WISE ON THE MIDDLE EAST

Each week Robert L. Wise, Ph.D., explores the Middle Eastern situation, ranging from Egypt through Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and the surrounding area. Wise first traveled to Israel and the neighboring countries in 1968. Two of his sons taught in Jordan and Lebanon universities. Wise presents an objective view of the behind the scenes situation in these countries.

A SURPRISE AT SUNRISE!

Israel has agreed to suspend West Bank annexation plans in exchange for the normalization of ties with the United Arab Emirates, according to a joint statement from Israel, the UAE and the US released by US President Donald Trump. UAE Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Zayad confirms in a tweet that Israel has agreed to suspend annexation plans, but says that the countries have only agreed to work toward the normalization of relations. The UAE and Israel also agreed to cooperation and setting a roadmap towards establishing a bilateral relationship.

While this is big news this week, it not actually new. Israel and the UAF have been doing business under the table for a considerable amount of time. The driving force behind this mutual public recognition is animosity toward Iran. The Arabs are particularly hostile and the world knows Iran continues to seek nuclear weapons. In this agreement, Israelis is the big winner and Iran the loser.

Israel had already put annexation on hold because of Washington’s preoccupation with their own problems. Trump continues to lag in the polls and the White House struggles with those worries. Reactions across the region have been predicable.

The mayor of the Beit El settlement Shai Alon accused Netanyahu of selling out his movement. “They pulled a fast one on the settlers. Our future is in Judea and Samaria and in courageous decisions which our leaders will make. Notagreements that we sign today and are not worth the paper they are written on tomorrow.” But Oded Revivi, mayor of the Efrat settlement says suspending the annexation bid is a “proper price,” for normalizing ties, while predicting a change in how settlements are perceived.

Of course, Palestinian officials were not happy. Hanan Ashrawi said, “Israel got rewarded for not declaring openly what it’s been doing to Palestine illegally & persistently since the beginning of the occupation,” She also said the UAE has come forward with its “secret dealings/normalization with Israel.”

Arab countries are recognizing the reality of Israel’s endurance and economic wellbeing. Israel’s are the major military power in the Middle East. It makes more sense to play ball with them than to stand outside the stadium.

Undoubtedly more normalization will come.

YOU MIGHT ENJOY MY NEWEST BOOK HOT OFF THE PRESS
82 DAYS ON OKINAWA
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JUST OUT – IT’S A THRILLER!
Col. Art Shaw & Robert L. Wise

You can find 82 DAYS ON OKINAWA at your local book store or on Amazon.

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A NEW THREAT

BLOG 480
July 27 2020

war

WISE ON THE MIDDLE EAST

Each week Robert L. Wise, Ph.D., explores the Middle Eastern situation, ranging from Egypt through Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and the surrounding area. Wise first traveled to Israel and the neighboring countries in 1968. Two of his sons taught in Jordan and Lebanon universities. Wise presents an objective view of the behind the scenes situation in these countries.

A NEW THREAT

The American press apparently has not touched an important news story brewing in the Middle East because the covid virus has captured the attention of the public and press. However, a new and possible dangerous situation that continues to brew in the Middle East with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stoking the fire.

The Turkish Ottoman Empire was crushed in World War I. Before that defeat, Turkey had virtually ruled the region including what is today Israel. The Muslim Empire practiced genocide on a million and a half Armenians and were known for their brutality. World War I broke their hold on the Middle East and the British gained control of Palestine. Eventually the Arabs formed countries like Saudi Arabia and Jordan.

Now Erdogan appears to be attempting to revive the past. Questions are now being raised about whether Turkey and Egypt could be headed for a war in Libya. In recent months, Turkey has increased its military intervention in Libya. They are supporting the Tripoli government’s side of a civil war. The Libyan conflict is complex but has implications for which power will gain dominance in the region. Egypt, Turkey,Qatar and even Russia have their eye on the outcome.

Erdogan’s interest is also on increasing Turkey’s statues in the Arab Muslim world. The Turkish President has always tilted toward the Muslim Brotherhood. In recent years, Turkey has also played hardball with Israel probably to gain favor in the Arab world. In contrast, Egypt’s leader General Abdel Fatah al-Sisis kicked the Muslim Brotherhood out of the country back in 2013. Egypt is not likely to be tolerant of Erodgan’s aggressive actions.

One view held in America is that one day Turkey may turn to Iran or Russia. The idea is that the US must give concessions to Turkey to turn them away from Moscow and Tehran. The issue may end with Cairo’s influence. They currently have a military present in Libya. At this point the kettle is only starting to boil, but the water is hot.

Pay attention to what Turkey is up to. It may well have repercussions for the entire Middle East.

YOU MIGHT ENJOY MY NEWEST BOOK HOT OFF THE PRESS
82 DAYS ON OKINAWA
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JUST OUT – IT’S A THRILLER!
Col. Art Shaw & Robert L. Wise

You can find 82 DAYS ON OKINAWA at your local book store or on Amazon.

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Filed under Egypt, Gaza, Israel, Palestinians, Russia, Saudi Arabia, The Middle East, Turkey, War

ISRAEL; EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED

BLOG 479
July 20, 2020

question

WISE ON THE MIDDLE EAST

Each week Robert L. Wise, Ph.D., explores the Middle Eastern situation, ranging from Egypt through Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and the surrounding area. Wise first traveled to Israel and the neighboring countries in 1968. Two of his sons taught in Jordan and Lebanon universities. Wise presents an objective view of the behind the scenes situation in these countries.

ISRAEL; EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED

For the last month, I’ve been exploring the implications of the impending annexation of 30% of the West Bank by Israel. Prime Minister Netanyahu grabbed President Trump’s coattails and announced on July 1, he would begin seizure of the land in the area of Judea and Samaria. The world reacted negatively, both inside and outside of Israel.

Guess what? Suddenly the grab is gone. What’s happening?

Knesset Speaker Yariv Levin has acknowledged in private conversations that no attention is currently being given in Washington to the Israeli plans to annex, according to a Tuesday Army Radio report. As a result, Levin reportedly said, the controversial move will likely have to be placed on the back burner as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will not move forward without coordinating with the Trump administration. The US administration’s attention is elsewhere, the report claimed Levin had said, and “it is not listening” when it comes to annexation.

While similar comments have been made in recent weeks by Likud officials who have acknowledged that the spiraling pandemic has forced the attention of world leaders to turn to other issues, Levin is one of only a handful of Israeli officials who have been deeply involved in talks with American officials regarding the Trump plan’s implementation and ramifications.

Levin also sits on the seven-member joint US-Israeli mapping committee that has been tasked with drawing up the exact parameters for annexation that Washington would be willing to accept. The committee’s progress has been slowed by the pandemic, with Netanyahu telling settler leaders that the maps have yet to be finalized. Settler leaders responded angrily to Tuesday’s Army Radio report, asserting that US approval is not needed for Israel to move forward with annexation. “There is no need to wait for anyone. This move depends solely on us. It is time to keep the promises made and apply [Israeli] sovereignty [to the West Bank] regardless of any factor.”

There you have the latest. All of Netanyahu’s huff and puff about annexation went up in political smoke. Israel really depends on American politics to that extent? You bet.

YOU MIGHT ENJOY MY NEWEST BOOK HOT OFF THE PRESS
82 DAYS ON OKINAWA
Harper-Collins Publishers
JUST OUT – IT’S A THRILLER!
Col. Art Shaw & Robert L. Wise

You can find 82 DAYS ON OKINAWA at your local book store or on Amazon.

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Filed under COVID-19, Gaza, Israel, The Middle East, Trump

ANNEXATION HEATS UP!

BLOG 475
June 15, 2020

palestine-gaza-strip

WISE ON THE MIDDLE EAST

Each week Robert L. Wise, Ph.D., explores the Middle Eastern situation, ranging from Egypt through Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and the surrounding area. Wise first traveled to Israel and the neighboring countries in 1968. Two of his sons taught in Jordan and Lebanon universities. Wise presents an objective view of the behind the scenes situation in these countries.

ANNEXATION HEATS UP!

The idea of annexing part of Palestinian land has been pushed off the front page by concerns about the virus and the protests over the death of George Floyd. Not so in Israel! Taking advantage of urging by President Donald Trump, Netanyahu continues to pursue the idea. However, the response in Israel has been tense.

Thousands of Israelis gathered in Tel Aviv Saturday evening to protest Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s pledge to begin annexing parts of the West Bank next month. Some called his idea a war crime. Police initially sought to block the rally but backtracked Friday after meeting with organizers, who urged participants to wear masks and adhere to social distancing guidelines. Dozens of officers were securing the demonstration after police said attendance would be capped at 2,000, though the Haaretz Daily put the turnout at 6,000 people in what appeared to be the largest protest in the country since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

Of course, the Palestinians are not happy. Announced at the end of January in Washington, US President Donald Trump’s peace plan provides for the annexation by Israel of 30 percent of the West Bank — covering all the settlements and the Jordan Valley — with conditional provisions for a Palestinian state in the rest of the territory, including some areas on the outskirts of East Jerusalem. The Palestinians have rejected the US plan in its entirety.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to annex the 132 settlements, home to some 450,000 Israelis, next month, and the rest of the territory allocated to Israel soon after, subject to American approval.

Palestinian Authority (PA) Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh said the Palestinians were hoping that Netanyahu would not go ahead with his annexation plan. He called annexation an “existential threat” that would mark the “total erosion of our national aspirations.” The PA’ has submitted a counter plan that calls for the creation of a “sovereign Palestinian state, independent and demilitarized” with “minor modifications of borders where necessary.” The Palestinian text foresaw possible land swaps between the two future states on a like-for-like basis, he said at a press conference. Shtayyeh declined to provide further details about the the 4 1/2-page proposal but said the Palestinian position on major issues is well-known.

What’s next? Sounds like Netanyahu is plowing ahead. Regardless.

YOU MIGHT ENJOY MY NEWEST BOOK HOT OFF THE PRESS
82 DAYS ON OKINAWA
Harper-Collins Publishers
JUST OUT – IT’S A THRILLER!
Col. Art Shaw & Robert L. Wise

You can find 82 DAYS ON OKINAWA at your local book store or on Amazon.

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Filed under America, COVID-19, Gaza, Israel, Palestinians, The Middle East, Trump

PLAYING WITH MATCHES!

BLOG 472
May 18, 2020

playing wmatches

WISE ON THE MIDDLE EAST

Each week Robert L. Wise, Ph.D., explores the Middle Eastern situation, ranging from Egypt through Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and the surrounding area. Wise first traveled to Israel and the neighboring countries in 1968. Two of his sons taught in Jordan and Lebanon universities. Wise presents an objective view of the behind the scenes situation in these countries.

PLAYING WITH MATCHES!

My mother use to say that playing with fire was a good way to get burned. This past week Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was warned that he’s fiddlin’ with fire. Standing in the shadows is President Donald Trump who is carrying a can of gasoline, waiting to serve his own purposes. Here’s the situation.

Jordan’s king warned of ‘massive conflict’ if Israel annexed land in West Bank.
Abdullah did not rule out suspending any peace deal with the Jewish state and insisted the two-state solution was ‘the only way forward.’ King Abdullah has warned that should Israel move forward with plans to annex parts of the West Bank, it would lead to a “massive conflict” with his country, and did not rule out pulling out of Amman’s peace deal with the Jewish state. In an interview published Friday by the German daily Der Spiegel, Abdullah insisted that a two-state solution was “the only way forward” in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Because of the on-going conflict with the Palestinians, many Israelis considered a two-state solution dead. Netanyahu is in that camp. The question becomes whether the Israeli public would support a move that could wreck their country and profoundly unsettle their lives.

The question that follows is what would happen if the Palestinian National Authority collapsed. The Times of Israel reports Abdullah’s answer is, “There would be more chaos and extremism in the region. If Israel really annexed the West Bank in July, it would lead to a massive conflict with the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. When asked by his interviewer about Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s intention to take advantage of the opportunity that US President Donald Trump has created to seize large parts of Palestine, he said, “I don’t want to make threats and create an atmosphere of loggerheads, but we are considering all options. We agree with many countries in Europe and the international community that the law of strength should not apply in the Middle East.

Dangerous indeed!

During the Arafat era, huge numbers of Palestinians fled to Jordan. Today a large portion of Jordan’s population comes from that migration. Abdullah knows that leaders who advocate a one state solution have no idea what that would mean for the entire Middle East.

Several European nations led by France, and including Ireland, Sweden, Belgium, Spain and Luxembourg, have reportedly expressed support for threats of punitive action in a bid to deter the new Israeli government (set to be sworn in on Sunday) from carrying out the move with a green light from Washington.

Alone among most governments, the Trump administration has said it will support the annexation of West Bank territory as long as Israel agrees to enter peace talks. US Ambassador David Friedman said last week that Washington is ready to recognize Israeli sovereignty over parts of the West Bank should it be declared in the coming weeks.

YOU MIGHT ENJOY MY NEWEST BOOK HOT OFF THE PRESS
82 DAYS ON OKINAWA
Harper-Collins Publishers
JUST OUT – IT’S A THRILLER!
Col. Art Shaw & Robert L. Wise

You can find 82 DAYS ON OKINAWA at your local book store or on Amazon.

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