Modi And Netanyahu Begin A Beautiful Friendship

When you hear the prime minister of one country tell his counterpart from another that their nations’ friendship is “a marriage made in heaven, but we are implementing it here on earth,” your first reaction is likely to be: Get this man a new speechwriter! Yet, had you been following Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Israel visit, which concludes Thursday, you’d understand that those words, spoken by Benjamin Netanyahu, were euphoric and not cloying.

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Palestinians Use Deception for Greater Acceptance

The two main political groups that claim to represent Palestinians – the Islamist terror group Hamas and the Palestinian Authority (PA) – have embarked on new campaigns of deception in order to gain greater international acceptance.

PA President Mahmoud Abbas met with President Donald Trump last week to discuss the peace process. He blatantly lied throughout his public remarks.

Speaking before Abbas, Trump said that “there cannot be lasting peace unless the Palestinian leaders speak in a unified voice against incitement to…violence and hate…All children of God must be taught to value and respect human life, and condemn all of those who target the innocent.”

Abbas then made statements that seemed intended to allay Trump’s fears: “I affirm to you that we are raising our youth, our children, our grandchildren on a culture of peace,” Abbas said. “And we are endeavoring to bring about security, freedom and peace for our children to live like the other children in the world, along with the Israeli children in peace, freedom and security.”

Apparently anticipating that Abbas would promote such falsehoods to Trump and the American public, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shared a video on his Facebook page exposing the extent of Abbas’ lies. The video montage shows several examples of Palestinian incitement to violence – including by Abbas himself – and the indoctrination of children to hate and attack Jews.

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Netanyahu’s bold move against Europe

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu adopted a new strategy for managing Israel’s diplomatic relations with the West. Long in the making and increasingly urgent, Israel’s new strategy is very simple. Foreign governments can either treat Israel in accordance with international diplomatic norms of behavior, or they can continue to discriminate against Israel.

If they act in accordance with international diplomatic norms, Israel will respond in a like fashion. If they choose instead to discriminate against Israel and treat it in a manner no other democratic state is treated, Israel will abandon diplomatic convention and treat foreign governments as domestic critics.

On Monday, after his repeated requests for Germany’s visiting Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel to cancel his plans to meet with Breaking the Silence and B’Tselem, Netanyahu gave Gabriel an ultimatum. Gabriel could meet with Netanyahu, or he could meet with them.

Gabriel refused to cancel his meeting with Breaking the Silence and B’Tselem. So Netanyahu canceled their meeting.

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Report: Netanyahu Lobbying for Syrian Buffer Zone as Russia Reinforces Support for Assad

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is reportedly lobbying for the creation of a secure buffer zone between Israel, Jordan and Syria as part of any future resolution to end the six-year Syrian Civil War.

According to Israeli daily HaaretzNetanyahu addressed the issue in recent talks with US administration officials and other international actors, as a means of maintaining regional stability by keeping Iran’s forces and the Iranian-sponsored terror group Hezbollah at a safe distance from Israeli territory. The prime minister insisted on the creation of a buffer zone on the Syrian side of the border, secured by forces other than those from the Jewish state, the report said.

In a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin last month, Netanyahu similarly expressed his strong opposition to Iranian forces and terror proxies—many equipped with Russian-made heavy artillery—operating in Syria close to Israel’s northern border.

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Israel’s silenced majority

During Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s meeting with US President Donald Trump at the White House in February, the premier was reportedly taken by surprise when Trump gently prodded – ahead of their meeting – for Israel to “hold back on settlements for a little bit.”

Since their meeting, Trump’s prod that Israel curtail the property rights of Jews in Judea and Samaria has been the central issue Trump’s chief negotiator Jason Greenblatt has discussed with Netanyahu and his representatives.

From the moment Netanyahu returned from Washington, his government ministers have been asking him to brief them on his discussions with Trump. He has refused. But on Thursday, Netanyahu finally agreed to update his security cabinet.

His agreement is long past due. It is vital for Netanyahu to tell his cabinet ministers what is happening in his conversations with the Americans about Judea and Samaria. It is imperative that the cabinet determine a clear response to Trump’s apparent demand for a full or partial freeze on Jewish property rights in Judea and Samaria.

Such an agreed response is urgent because Trump’s position is antithetical to the position of the vast majority of Israelis. If the government caters to Trump’s demands it will breach the trust of the public that elected it.

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The Arab-Israel Conflict: Back to the Future

The optics, certainly, were fine. It was good to see an American president and an Israeli prime minister standing together on the podium with what appeared to be genuine good will. Most important, and promising for the future, perhaps, was how they dealt with the “two state solution” mantra. There was, for the first time in years, nuance in both the American and the Israeli position toward what has become a slogan without meaning.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reiterated the possibility of two states with caveats he noted:

  • Palestinian acceptance of the legitimacy of Jewish sovereignty, echoing the words of the UN Partition Plan for Palestine for “a Jewish state.”
  • Israeli security control from the Mediterranean to the Jordan River. “Israel must retain the overriding security control over the entire area west of the Jordan River. Because… otherwise we’ll get another radical Islamic terrorist state in the Palestinian areas exploding the peace, exploding the Middle East.”

President Donald Trump deferred, as befits someone who won’t live with the consequences of actions taken 6,000 miles away:

“I like the (solution) that both parties like… I can live with either one. I thought for a while that two states looked like it may be the easier of the two. To be honest, if Bibi and the Palestinians, if Israel and the Palestinians are happy, I’m happy with the one they like the best.”

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Trump Welcomes Netanyahu

I know them both — Netanyahu better than Trump — and I believe they will get along well. They are both no-nonsense pragmatists who understand the relationship between economic development and political progress. We all know of Trump’s business background and focus on jobs and trade. Less well-known is Netanyahu’s business background. Like Trump, Netanyahu went to business school and began his career as a businessman, working for Boston Consulting Group. When he entered politics, he helped transform Israel from an agrarian-based economy into “start-up nation,” which has become a technological superpower with a strong economy. He is the Alexander Hamilton of Israel, to David Ben Gurion’s Jefferson. Trump has to admire that.

Trump will also admire Netanyahu’s strong nationalism and love of country. He has made Israel great, militarily, technologically and economically. He may soon become Israel’s longest serving Prime Minister, surpassing the legendary Ben Gurion.

Each leader would like to be the one who succeeds in bringing a peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. So many others — people of good will and considerable effort — have been unable to achieve this goal. There is no certainty that Trump and Netanyahu can succeed when so many others have come close but have never been able to close the deal. Both are respected for their deal-making capabilities — Trump in business, Netanyahu in domestic politics.

But there are considerable barriers to achieving a peaceful resolution. Netanyahu and his Palestinian counterpart, Mahmoud Abbas, each have domestic constituencies that would oppose the compromise necessary to achieve a two-state solution. Some of Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition partners oppose a two-state solution in which Israel would turn over most of the West Bank to establish a Palestinian state. And many West Bank Palestinians — not to mention Hamas in Gaza — oppose recognizing the legitimacy of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people. They also demand the “return” of millions of Palestinian refugees to Israel, despite the reality that there are probably only a hundred thousand or so actual refugees who themselves left Israel in 1948-1949, many voluntarily.

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Hunger striking settlers: Benjamin Netanyahu must keep pledge to build new settlement

The new campaign by the Amona families is part of a number of right-wing initiatives designed to pressure Netanyahu to stand against the cautionary warnings by the Trump Administration to restrain settlement activity.

Among the diplomatic red lines they want Netanyahu to cross, is the creation of a new settlement.

It’s a move that goes against past Israeli obligations to the United States.

Boaron said the Prime Minister’s Office promised two weeks ago that Netanyahu planned to keep his promise, but they have heard nothing since his return from Australia earlier this week, in spite of repeated efforts to make contact.

“We are completely disconnected. If the Prime Minister and his people want to contact us, they know where to find us. We are not far away,” he said.

To move forward, he said, the government must formally vote to approve the new community, without that nothing can happen, Boaron said.

The PMO said in response that Netanyahu intended to fulfill his promise to the Amona residents. But Netanyahu has also indicated to reporters that this is not something that can happen now.

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