How Gantz Could Build A Government, Without A Majority

Israel’s second round of elections have been a complex but ultimately straightforward math problem: the ruling Likud party plus their allies equals less than a majority. The opposition Blue and White party plus their allies equals less than a majority. Neither side is willing to make the compromises needed to …

Arab Village Electrician Uncovers Ancient Artifacts, Helps Israel Preserve Them

Arabs can face opposition from their own people for helping Israel, but one Arab villager recently chose to do the right thing in spite of critique and in the process helped Israel preserve history. The resident of the village of Araba in northern Israel, Ahmed Nassar Yassin, is an electrician …

European Nation Wants Recognition of Palestinian State without Peace Deal

The Foreign Minister of Luxembourg has recently called for the rest of Europe to discuss unilaterally recognizing a Palestinian state outside of a Middle East peace accord, although the new foreign policy chief of the European Union on Monday called the topic a “very much dividing” issue for the EU. …

Netanyahu Pushes Israeli Sovereignty over Jordan Valley after US Democrats Push Back

In another disturbing sign the United States’ official approach to Israel is becoming a politically partisan issue, Democrats in the US House of Representatives led a resolution last week that called for the US to “discourage” the annexation of territory and highlighted historic opposition to Jewish communities in Judea and …

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European Nation Wants Recognition of Palestinian State without Peace Deal

December 9, 2019 Peace and Conflict

Will Europe recognize a Palestinian state? Illustrative photo of Palestinian event. By Joshua Spurlock

The Foreign Minister of Luxembourg has recently called for the rest of Europe to discuss unilaterally recognizing a Palestinian state outside of a Middle East peace accord, although the new foreign policy chief of the European Union on Monday called the topic a “very much dividing” issue for the EU. Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn sent a letter to the EU’s new top foreign policy official, Josep Borrell, in which he says it’s time to discuss the matter and claims such a move would not be a “blank check” to the Palestinians, according to The Times of Israel, citing a Channel 13 report. The report said the issue is expected to be brought up during the next meeting of the EU Foreign Affairs Council in January.

However, despite Luxembourg being inclined in that direction, Borrell noted it’s not a position Europe even talks about very often—much less agrees upon. “Among European Member States, the recognition of the Palestinian state or the situation in Middle East is something, which is very much dividing,” said Borrell to reporters in comments posted to the EU External Affairs website. “Maybe because of that [it] is not an issue which is often taken into consideration on the agenda of the Council.”

Borrell noted that recognizing a Palestinian state is not something the EU does as an entity, rather it would be up to individual member states to determine their own approach. He confirmed that Middle East peace would be on the Foreign Affairs Council’s agenda next month. … Continue Reading

Netanyahu Pushes Israeli Sovereignty over Jordan Valley after US Democrats Push Back

December 8, 2019 News

Home in Ma’ale Adummim Settlement in Judea and Samaria region. Illustrative. Photo by Joshua Spurlock.

In another disturbing sign the United States’ official approach to Israel is becoming a politically partisan issue, Democrats in the US House of Representatives led a resolution last week that called for the US to “discourage” the annexation of territory and highlighted historic opposition to Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, known as settlements. Just days later, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he doesn’t just want to annex the Biblically historic Jordan Valley that serves as Israel’s eastern border, he wants American support for it.

“Just as I wanted American recognition for our sovereignty over the Golan Heights, I want American recognition for our sovereignty over the Jordan Valley. This is important,” said Netanyahu on Sunday in comments released by his office.

Judea and Samaria—territory the Palestinians also claim and call the ‘West Bank’—are home to a number of Biblical sites, including the Jordan Valley, Bethlehem, Jericho, Hebron, and Shechem. Following his meeting last week with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Netanyahu confirmed that the Jordan Valley annexation plan has not been formally broached with the US. However, he also said that “the subject has been discussed.” … Continue Reading

Netanyahu Threatens to ‘Defeat’ Gaza Terrorists ‘Once and for All’

December 8, 2019 Peace and Conflict

PM Netanyahu with Israeli soldiers. Illustrative. Photo courtesy of Kobi Gideon (Israeli GPO).

More Gaza rockets were fired at Israel over the weekend, leading Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to issue a hypothetical but emphatic ultimatum. “We are dealing with the threat from Gaza, and if necessary we will carry out a major operation to defeat this terrorism once and for all,” said Netanyahu on Sunday in comments released by his office.

“They received a sample several weeks ago [in the last round of fighting]. I do not suggest that they wait for the next portion. It will come if they continue.”

The comments from Netanyahu come as Israel and Gaza have reportedly been discussing a long-term ceasefire with Egyptian mediation. The Jerusalem Post reported Egypt believes real progress to such a ceasefire has been made, while Hamas issued a statement demanding Israel take steps to improve the situation in Gaza, including lifting the Israeli blockade on the territory. Netanyahu has his own demands.

“There will be no arrangement if the firing does not stop for good,” said the Israeli leader. “If it does not stop for good, in the end there will be a decisive operation.” … Continue Reading

Iraqi Protestors Challenging Iranian Influence Have ‘Clearly Made Iran Nervous’

December 3, 2019 News

Protestors in the region are taking on Iran’s leaders and malign influence.
Illustrative official meeting in Iran. Photo Courtesy of UN Photo/Evan Schneider

Protests are making an impact in Iraq, and it’s not just the leaders in Baghdad that are feeling the pressure. Leaders in Iraq’s next-door neighbor and general bad influence Iran are taking notice too, as Iraqi protestors have opposed Tehran’s entanglement in their country. “Iraqis increasingly view Iran as having coopted and exploited Iraq’s political system, its economy, and its security at the expense of the Iraqi people, and this has clearly made Iran nervous,” said United States Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Schenker in comments to reporters on Monday.

Schenker, whose statement was published by the State Department, noted that Major General Qasem Soleimani—the commander of Iran’s international special operations unit the Qods Force—was back in Baghdad “interfering in Iraqi politics.”

Said Schenker, “As Iraqi leaders consider options over the coming days to address the current crisis, their foremost consideration should be meeting the needs of the Iraqi people and rejecting the distorting influence Iran has exerted on the political process.” … Continue Reading

Israel Holding Hamas Responsible as Gaza Attacks Continue

December 1, 2019 Peace and Conflict

Gaza rockets resumed. Spent Palestinian rocket. Illustrative. By Joshua Spurlock

Following more rocket attacks from Gaza against Israel, the IDF hit back at Hamas in a counterstrike last Friday. Based on comments from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday, expect that Israeli response to Gaza violence to continue as needed. “We are acting against Islamic Jihad, as it is our right to act against all terrorist elements; however, we have not absolved Hamas of responsibility for any offensive action against us originating from the Gaza Strip,” said Netanyahu in comments published by his office.

“This was and remains our policy. To this end, over the weekend the IDF acted in response to terrorist actions originating in Gaza. Thus it has been and thus we will continue—Hamas is responsible.”

On Friday, the IDF Twitter feed reported more Gaza rocket fire against Israel, noting there had been multiple attacks last week alone. The Twitter feed later also reported Israel’s response. “We just targeted a Hamas military post in the northern Gaza Strip in response to the rocket fired from Gaza at Israeli civilians earlier tonight,” tweeted the IDF. Earlier last week, the Twitter feed said Israel hit multiple Hamas targets in response to Gaza rockets. … Continue Reading

Netanyahu Slams Europe for Evading Iran Sanctions, ‘Supporting Murderous Regime’

December 1, 2019 Iran Nuclear Program, News

Netanyahu sternly critiqued Europe’s Iran policy. PM Netanyahu and EU Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini. Illustrative. Photo courtesy of: Avi Ohayon (GPO).

Against the backdrop of Iranian attacks in the region and the regime cracking down on protestors at home, six more European nations recently joined the economic tool intended to circumvent American sanctions on Iran. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was incensed at the “absurd” European move and voiced his concerns on Sunday.

“These European countries should be ashamed of themselves. Have they learned nothing from history? Well, apparently not,” said Netanyahu in a statement released by his office. “They are enabling a fanatic terrorist state to develop nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles, thereby bringing disaster to themselves and upon everyone else.”

The Israeli premier’s frustration came after the main three European nations—France, Germany and the United Kingdom—last Friday “warmly” welcomed a half dozen other European nations agreeing to join the Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges (INSTEX). The move “demonstrates European efforts to facilitate legitimate trade between Europe and Iran and is a clear expression of our continuing commitment to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA)” nuclear deal with Iran, said the statement published by Germany’s Federal Foreign Office Spokesperson. … Continue Reading

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