Category Archives: Trump

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.

Leave a comment

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.

Leave a comment

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THE LATEST ON ISRAELI POLITICS – Pt 4

BLOG 467
April 6, 2020

meflag

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 LATEST ON ISRAELI POLITICS
Part 4

When Americans heard that Benny Gantz had agreed to form a coalition government with Bibi Netanyahu, they were surprised as they knew almost nothing about Gantz. Netanyahu has made a special effort to cultivate American taste and influential political leaders, including the president. Consequentially, Americans are often surprised to learn how he is viewed in Israel. While considered a master politician, Netanyahu is seen as a manipulator, a flip-flopper, and is despised by many even though his rule has been positive for the country. As you probably know, he is currently under indictment and facing a trial in the immediate future.

But who is Benny Gantz? Besides being Israel’s top general, he is not well known politically. In order to bring him into perspective, I felt that reading the General’s words might be one of the best ways for you to make a judgement about him. The following is a statement he made this past week.

  • I chose the only path possible at this time, a national emergency government
  • I will never compromise on democracy or on the underlying principles of the more than one million Israelis who voted for Blue and White
  • We are facing one of the most serious challenges in the history of our country. It is a global challenge of exceptional magnitude, and it has hit Israel at a time of crippling political deadlock and unbearable divisions — a lethal combination. Leadership has never been more necessary. Leading has never been more difficult.
  • As a soldier who has dedicated my life to protecting the State of Israel, I have vowed to carry my commitment to the country forward and inform my decisions as a political leader. At this time of crisis, I had no choice but to put politics aside and choose the only path that allows us to avoid fourth elections. Because at a time like this, pulling people out to the polls again — many of whom have lost their livelihoods and are riddled with anxiety about the future — is inconceivable. I chose the only path which positions Israel to effectively fight this horrific pandemic: the path of a national emergency government.
  • More than ever, Israel needs unity. Israel needs strong and capable leadership, able to relentlessly fight the coronavirus, while protecting Israel’s democracy.
  • And let me state clearly: No matter how fierce the battle, I will never compromise on democracy. I will never compromise on the principles underpinning the votes of the more than one million Israelis who voted for Blue and White. … I embrace the people who feel angry. I have love for the people who feel disappointed. I respect everyone. And I personally pledge to the public: I will use every means to ensure that our attitude and our way prevail.

Perhaps, Gantz’s own perspective will paint a picture of why so many in Israel voted for him three times in a row, bringing the Netanyahu administration to a halt and forcing a compromise from both sides.

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.

Leave a comment

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THE LATEST ON THE VIRUS!

BLOG 464
March 16, 2020

coronavirus

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 LATEST ON THE VIRUS!

I hate to write anything about the coronavirus as information, news reports, speculation, and near hysteria is omnipresent. However, the subject is serious and clearly the “talk of the town.”

Here’s the latest on what is happening in the Middle East.

On February 26, Israel had become the first country in the world to advise its citizens against all non-essential overseas travel. The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Israel rose to 127 this past Friday afternoon March 13– an addition of 18 new patients — as much of the country shut down and public life was severely curbed by the spread of the dangerous pathogen. Two patients are in serious condition and five are defined as moderate, the ministry said. Among those who have tested positive for the virus is a six-month-old baby.

However, Iran appears to be the epicenter of the problem. Iran said this past Friday the security forces will clear the streets nationwide within 24 hours so all citizens can be checked for coronavirus — its toughest measure yet to combat the outbreak. The COVID-19 epidemic in Iran — a nation of more than 80 million people — has now claimed over 500 lives and infected more than 11,000. Since it announced the first deaths last month, Iran has closed schools, postponed events and discouraged travel ahead of Nowrouz, the country’s New Year holidays.

But despite those and other measures including the cancellation of the main weekly Friday prayers, the official number of deaths and infections has continued to grow exponentially. Officials said during the next 10 days, the entire Iranian nation will be monitored once through cyberspace, by phone and, if necessary, in person, and those suspected of being ill will be fully identified. Zarif also appealed to the United Nations for an end to US sanctions, which he said were “undermining our efforts to fight the COVID-19 epidemic in Iran”.

The United States is currently pursuing a policy of “maximum pressure” aimed at crippling the Iranian government’s finances.

Iran really has problems.

Now here’s something you really can sink your teeth into! I have a new book just out.

82 DAYS ON OKINAWA has been proclaimed as an unforgettable firsthand account of the Pacific’s war’s greatest Battle. The book has been released by Harper-Collins under the name of Col Art Shaw and Robert L. Wise. You’ll find it to be a great diversion during this virus crisis.

 

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

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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Filed under Iran, The Middle East, Trump

THE LATEST!

BLOG 463
March 9, 2020

82 DAYS ON OKINAWA

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 LATEST!

And why didn’t you hear the results of the Israeli elections on television?

Well, there’s a reason.

Here’s the latest. A full 68 hours after the polling stations closed and exit polls predicted a surge for Likud and its right-wing bloc, the Central Elections Committee on Thursday confirmed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s party as the largest after Monday’s general election, with final results giving it 36 seats to rival Blue and White’s 33.

Netanyahu had won 58 seats, three short of a majority needed to form a coalition.

Sorry, It’s not all over.

After three elections there’s a continuing effort to retire the Prime Minister. Because of indictment on corruption charges, Netanyahu couldn’t break through even with a nudge from President Trump. Sorry. Netanyahu had won 58 seats, three short of a majority needed to form a coalition. There’s no headlines because there’s no story.

Now here’s something you really can sink your teeth into! I have a new book just out.
82 DAYS ON OKINAWA has been proclaimed as an unforgettable firsthand account of the Pacific’s war’s greatest Battle. The book has been released by Harper-Collins under the name of Col Art Shaw and Robert L. Wise.

I met 96-year-old Col. Art Shaw in my wife’s congregation. Hardly looking his age, the Colonel is now 100-years-old. He confided that for the scope of his long life, he had never talked about the war. I kept asking questions and the story flooded out.

On Easter Sunday, April 1, 1945, the Allied Army fleet descended on the Japanese island began the most vicious struggle of World War II. The Army expected an 80% casualty rate. Then a Major, Art Shaw was the first American soldier to step ashore. Becoming legendary for its brutality, the struggle was a fight to the death for the Japanese. The U.S. Army’s 361st Artillery Battalion killed 37,763 of the enemy.

The confrontation was the last major battle of World War II as the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki brought the war to an unconditional surrender on the part of Japan. Art shared with me the details of what he saw and experienced. I have tried to write both the spirit and the facts of this horrendous struggle.

You can find 82 DAYS ON OKINAWA at your local book store or on Amazon. I believe reading this story will give you a new confidence in America and the values that have made this country the land of the free. You will recover new conviction about our country’s great democracy.

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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Filed under Israel, The Middle East, Trump, United States History, War, World

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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Filed under America, Gaza, Israel, Jordan, Muslims, Palestinians, The Middle East, Trump

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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Filed under America, Gaza, Israel, Palestinians, The Middle East, Trump

UPDATES ON ISRAEL: PART TWO

BLOG 456
January 20, 2020

peace

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.

UPDATES ON ISRAEL: PART TWO

With a March 2 election looming on the horizon, several questions are now circulating across Israel. While American media hadn’t addressed these issues, they remain pressing for Israeli citizens. What will happen if Netanyahu is defeated? Where will the Likud party go for leadership? In addition, a worry exists about what military action will follow the assassination of General Qassim Suleimani. Let’s take a look.

There is already a serious challenge to Bibi’s leadership of the Likud party afoot. Gideon Sa’ar has mounted the most serious attack on Netanyahu’s leadership since he became party chairman in 2005. A former education and interior minister, Sa’ar probably has only a slim chance of winning, but Netanyahu is taking him seriously. Sa’ar is strongly backed by a group called the New Likudniks who called for Netanyahu’s resignation after charges were brought against him. They and Sa’ar note that Netanyahu has twice failed to form a new government. Even though he brought victory four times, they believe that the handwriting is now on the wall.

The debate over future leadership continues to rage while the public is inundated with campaign promises. Whatever happens, after the election Gideon Sa’ar will remain the favorite to lead the Likud party in a post-Netanyahu era. Keep that name in mind. He’s one to watch and remember.

Regardless of who wins the March 2 election, the most pressing question remains as to whether President Donald Trump’s arbitrary strike on Suleimani will inhibit further attacks or accelerate them. Since Israel remains the main focal target for Iranian hatred, the issue is considerable.

American officials have justified the strike because the general was behind the killing of thousands of American soldiers and they claimed he was planning attacks on American embassies. (Although this has never been documented) The question is will killing a man who amounted to a combination of vice-president, head of the CIA, and the Joint Chief of Staff result in a similar attack on American and Israeli leaders? Speculation is that Pandora’s box has been opened. Because of the seemingly arbitrariness of the strike, will the killing mandate a military response from Iran sooner or later? The argument is that the American strike is not a deterrent but actually a provocation that Iran will respond to militarily. The answer? Only time will tell.

While these are questions in the background, they have an important bearing on what is ahead in the Middle East. Keep your ear to the ground. Rumblings are ahead.

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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Filed under Iran, Israel, The Middle East, Trump, World

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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Filed under Christians, Gaza, Israel, Palestinians, Trump