Category Archives: Palestinians

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.

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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.

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82 DAYS ON OKINAWA
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Col. Art Shaw & Robert L. Wise

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WISE ON THE MIDDLE EAST

BLOG 485

September 7,  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.

A number of readers have made responses to the previous blog concerning the new Israeli-United Arab Emirates peace agreement. Certainly, it is a signal of changing times with practical implications for the future. Further analysis suggests some of these possibilities.

The agreement is the third peace treaty Israel has signed with an Arab state, but it is the first to contain the promise of a warm peace. This is in sharp contrast to Israel’s relations with prior accord partners Egypt and Jordan, which are limited to very narrow personal, diplomatic, and security relations. With Egypt, the peace treaty has rarely reached even that threshold. Hosni Mubarak, throughout his 30 years of ruling Egypt, never made an official visit to Israel, which is less than an hour’s flight away. In over a decade of rule, King Abdullah of Jordan. has abstained from visiting Israel despite meeting several times with PA head Mahmoud Abbas in nearby Ramallah.

The UAE peace treaty, unlike the treaties with Egypt and Jordan, was signed under quite different conditions. There is a wide expectation that it will be followed by one or more similar pacts with other states, especially other Gulf States and Saudi Arabia. No such expectations accompanied Israel’s peace agreements with Egypt and Jordan.

One major accomplishment has already been achieved by the UAE-Israel agreement. It has been largely overlooked, perhaps because it is a case of what did not happen rather than what did. Even as an El Al plane flew over Saudi Arabian territory carrying a bevy of Israeli officials, businessmen, and investors to the Emirates with the aim of promoting a warm piece, there were no demonstrations of consequence in the Arab world. Amman, Beirut, Tunis, Algiers, and Rabat, where demonstrations against the Israeli “occupation,” the “desecration” of al-Aqsa, and other charges against Israel are generally well-attended, were silent, at least on the street.

For Iran and the violent proxy organizations it supports, the lesson was vivid and painful. Not only was the Palestinian card they have played for decades visibly diminished in importance, but the lack of protest over the Palestinian issue contrasted sharply with the growing level of protest in Lebanon and Iraq regarding Iranian meddling in their internal affairs to the detriment of the native populations.

It is one more sign of long-term processes of political maturation in the Arabic-speaking public. The late senator and former Harvard professor Patrick Moynihan famously said that all politics are local. Indeed, mature democracies are usually characterized by populations that privilege local interests and welfare over universal concerns.

In today’s Middle East, populations are no longer clamoring for pan-Arab unity. They want better social welfare, greater economic opportunity, good education, innovation, the rule of law, and equality before the law at home. The Israel-UAF agreement fits those needs.

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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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
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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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
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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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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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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RESPONSE TO TRUMP PEACE PLAN

BLOG 461
February 24, 2020

free Gaza

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.

RESPONSE TO TRUMP PEACE PLAN

Last week I made an initial examination of the Peace Plan for the Middle East that Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law, submitted to the Palestinians and Israelis. Here’s some additional update insights.

Tovah Lazaroff writes for The International Jerusalem Post. His analysis offers us further details. The Trump Plan totally dismisses the l967 line and offers the Palestinians less territory than any previous plan. On the other hand, the plan does not offer what the right-wing elements in Israel want and the settlers what they feel they need.

Settlers remain concerned for the fate of 15 isolated Jewish settlements that they believe Trump’s plan would ultimately leave doomed. They view his guidelines as making it untenable for residents to continue to live there.

Israeli elements do not want the creation of any Palestinians state in the West Bank in any form. They had hoped the Trump Plan would recognize their concerns. While Trump has pontificated about what eventually might be offered, initially nothing is on the table.

The Trump Plan suggests that people of every faith should be able to pray on the Temple Mount. (Called Haram al-Sharif by Muslims). In the past, Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount has been a flash point for violence. Muslims claim allowing such could start a religious war.

Trump’s Plan would leave Israel in control of security from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. The IDF (Israeli Defense Force) would not leave the West Bank. At the same time, the plan does not include immediate recognition of a Palestinian state. Rather, it recognizes Israel’s willingness to accept a pathway to statehood based on specific territory that makes up about 70% of Judea and Samaria. A Palestinian state would come four-years after the Palestinians recognize the plan. They must also recognize Israel’s right to exist.

The bottom line? Dead on arrival. The Trump Plan is far too favorable to Israel. Makes sense to many in America, but not to Palestinians in the West Bank. It is hard not to believe this wasn’t clear when Kushner developed the plan. Many are concluding that the plan has more to do with politics than peace.

Will it finally be accepted? Not by the Palestinians.

You might find my collection of Holy Land experiences to be helpful.
BIBLE LANDS: An illustrated Guide to Scriptural Places
Barbpir books Publishers

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SEVEN THINGS TO KNOW AFTER FEBRUARY SEVEN

BLOG 459
February 10, 2020

conflict

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.

SEVEN THINGS TO KNOW AFTER FEBRUARY SEVEN

Keep your seat belt fashioned. Things may begin to heat up in Israel and the Palestinian area. Always an explosive situation, the Trump Peace Plan may have lit a fuse. Here’s Seven Key Points that the media in Israel is saying is immediately ahead.

1. Attack o’clock: A string of attacks in Jerusalem and the West Bank Thursday have pushed tensions simmering just below the surface into full view, raising fears of a fresh wave of violence.

The front page headline in Yedioth Ahronoth reads “Non-stop terror,” which like other tabloids and TV news, is a mix of jingoism, fear and blame casting.

Just don’t mess up: “Don’t try us,” threatens Israel Hayom on its front page. The media focus is on troops being beefed up in the West Bank, Jerusalem and near Gaza. “The string of attacks in the West Bank have an especially flammable potential,” writes Israel Hayom columnist Yoav Limor. “It requires Israel to act with determination, but also smartly, in order to avoid turning this into a mass, deadly wave.”

3. Mistakes were made: The need for not messing up seems obvious, but it apparently was not heeded a day earlier, in Jenin, where Israel went in to demolish a home, leading to intense clashes and a Palestinian police cadet being killed, apparently by accident, after he was misidentified as a terrorist. Such sparks lit forest fires.

4. Mistakes were claimed: Meanwhile, the media reports on car-rammer Sanad al-Turman Friday, focusing on his claim that it was an accident and he lost control of his car, careening into a group of soldiers before fleeing the scene.

• Television news reports that Israeli authorities didn’t believe him for a second. “Firstly, the sources say, the car-rammer blew through a checkpoint while trying to escape [toward the West Bank] — even though soldiers there did not have guns drawn.”

The meaning? “I’m ready for war,” the channel reports.

5. Intifadeal: But the real blame is not pointed at the attackers but rather Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and US President Donald Trump. There seems to be no doubt that the failing deal is to blame for the attacks.

• “The writing was on the wall from the moment Abbas spoke out publicly against the ‘deal of the century’,’” writes Amir Buhbut in Walla! news. “Abbas is sending double messages to the Palestinian public, not calling for violence … but not hurrying to put out the fires in flashpoint spots.”

• Television news reports that among those blaming Abbas is the architect of the plan, Jared Kushner, calling his comments a “harsh attack.”

6. Ehud-sucker proxy: Most other Israeli outlets focus on Kushner’s comments calling out a planned meeting and press conference between former prime minister Ehud Olmert and Abbas.

• “Olmert is voluntarily volunteering to give credence to the claim pushed by Abbas that only Netanyahu is to blame for the lack of a peace deal,” he writes. “While Abbas is backing ‘days of rage’ Olmert is enlisting to shield him, and hurting not just Netanyahu, but all of us.”

7. If you annex it, it is no dream: Israel Hayom’s Nadav Shragai looks on the bright side of things. Abbas’s rejection means it’s time to rock out with your annexation unfreezing pens out.

• Shragai adds that if Netanyahu cannot start annexing because the US wants him to wait until after elections, he can at least unfreeze building in parts of Jerusalem and the West Bank known as E-1 and Givat Hamatos, stopped because of bitter international opposition.

• “Diplomatic sources say that Netanyahu is devoting hours every day, either directly with the Trump administration or through pressure from Trump’s Evangelical supporters trying to extract something before the Israeli election, some kind of mini-annexation, anything to appease his disappointed base.

Sound ominous? It is.

You might find my collection of Holy Land experiences to be helpful.
BIBLE LANDS: An illustrated Guide to Scriptural Places
Barbpir books Publishers

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THE SETTLEMENT SITUATION

BLOG 453
December 16, 2019

israel

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 SETTLEMENT SITUATION

One of the major headlines in Israel has been the American declaration that the Israeli settlements in the area claimed by the Palestinians are now not considered illegal. In a historic reversal of US policy, the Trump administration announced that settlements in the West Bank area are now considered acceptable. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo referenced a position once taken by former President Ronald Reagan that they were not considered inherently illegal.

The Trump administration felt it was ambushed in the waning days of the Obama Presidency when Obama went against Trump’s expressed wishes and allowed the passage of UN Security Council Resolution 2334 that claimed such settlements were a “flagrant violation under international law.” The position stated by Pompeo rejects that previous perspective.

Of course, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu immediately praised the decision as correct and rejected the idea that under international law the settlements in Judea and Samaria were illegal. In turn, the Palestinians completely rejected the new US position and saw the statement as further evidence of the American basis against the Palestinians. Their denunciation was scathing.

A letter from 106 Democratic representatives to Pompeo called on him to reverse his declaration that the settlements were currently considered legal. They stated that Pompeo’s declaration blatantly disregarded international legal standards. The letter written by Dore Gold claims that this decision casts doubt on Israel’s moral position.

What’s going on here?

Fundamentally, it’s politics. Netanyahu is in serious legal trouble and could wind up in jail. Trump has stuck his nose in Israel’s business to affect how Netanyahu is viewed. Nothing new here. Trump had sided with Israel previously with such moves as bringing the American Embassy to Jerusalem. Trump is now facing impeachment and his own legal troubles.

How one feels about these divisive issues rejects the position one took before the turmoil ever began.

Enthusiastic supporters of Israel view these actions as affirming their position. Individuals concerned with the rights of the Palestinians consider the matter as further evidence that America has lost all credibility in the Middle East and no longer can act to bring peace.

Fundamentally, the issue reflects the deep divide in American politics. Republicans do not seem to care what is the evidence against Trump. Democrats don’t want to just impeach Trump. They want to launch him.

Once more. a deep divide exists around the world. With Christmas shortly upon us, perhaps this is a good time to reconsider the meaning of the coming Prince of Peace. The world needs a new perspective.

You might find my collection of Holy Land experiences to be helpful.
BIBLE LANDS: An illustrated Guide to Scriptural Places
Barbpir books Publishers

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