News Digest — 1/27/20

Netanyahu, Gantz Land In DC Ahead Of Meeting With Trump On Peace Plan

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Blue and White leader Benny Gantz landed in Washington, DC on Sunday (26th), ahead of a meeting with US President Donald Trump to discuss the release of the administration’s peace plan, known as ‘Deal of the Century.’  The two traveled separately and will meet with Trump in two distinct meetings.

Netanyahu landed around 8 pm local time.  Among others, US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman flew with him on the plane.

Gantz arrived in the US earlier in the day and gave a short statement to reporters at his hotel.

“I am looking forward to meeting the president, the friendliest president to Israel, and to discuss these crucial issues to the future of Israel, issues with strategic consequences,” he said.



Former Ambassador Nikki Haley: ‘I Feel A Kinship With The Jewish People’

Former Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley on Sunday (26th) gave an interview on Channel 12  news in which she commented on the Trump administration’s ‘Deal of the Century,’ which is expected to be unveiled this week.

“It takes two hands to make a clap, so if the Palestinians – or the Israelis – are not there, it’s not going to happen,” she explained.  “I saw the earlier version of the peace plan and it is well-planned, it’s well thought out.”

“It does not compromise on national security for Israel, it improves the quality of life for Palestinians – but overall it allows the opportunity for peace.  And that’s what both sides deserve.”

Haley stressed that the United States will not impose the plan on either side, saying, “I hope both parties give this agreement the opportunity it needs.  The one thing I know is that President Trump will not do anything that the Israelis and the Palestinians don’t want. The US is coming in as a broker, they’re not coming in to mandate anything.  I have a lot of hope that this can really mean longer peace going forward, but we will have to see.”

The former ambassador also commented on the criticism which claims that the timing of the publication of the plan is intended to serve Netanyahu politically.  “They have worked on this plan for so long. They were thoughtful in their approach. They took their time. They made sure they talked to everyone to make sure all their bases were covered.  So it doesn’t matter when the plan would roll out, there would always be some saying it is too soon or too late. And so you can’t win in that situation. Their thought process wasn’t ‘lets wait till after the elections’ because Israel is now going on their third election, so it’s not like we could sit there and wait for those elections to stop.  We had to get the plan out while we had time to do it.”

Haley said she didn’t know a lot about Israel when she came to the UN.  “I always say I stumbled upon my love for Israel. But the more I learned, the more I loved, and I think it is because I feel a kinship with the Jewish people.”

“The Jews think very similarly to the Indian community,” she explained.  “The education and the family, and just the way of life is similar. They raise their children the same way – we are stubborn and we don’t take no for an answer.  So there is so much there, but I just appreciate the values. I appreciate the love of freedom. I appreciate Israel’s desire to just want to be treated fairly,” she added.



Palestinian Factions Call For ‘Day Of Rage’ On Day Of Trump Peace Plan – Khaled Abu Toameh

Palestinian factions on Sunday (26th) called for a ‘Day of Rage’ for the day US President Trump releases his long-awaited plan for Mideast peace.

Parts of the plan are expected to be publicized during separate meetings in Washington this week between Trump, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and Blue and White chairman Benny Gantz.

Palestinians often mark ‘Days of Rage’ by initiating clashes with IDF soldiers in the West Bank and Israeli policemen in east Jerusalem.

The latest call for such a day, came as the Palestinian Authority continued to threaten that Trump’s upcoming plan known as “Deal of the Century” would ignite mass protests in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

PA officials have also hinted that the Palestinian leadership may renounce all signed agreements with Israel and halt security coordination between the Palestinians and Israel in the West Bank.

Meanwhile, PA presidential spokesman Nabil Abu Rudainah said the Palestinians would not allow Trump’s plan to pass.

“The Palestinian leadership, with the support of our people, will fail attempts to liquidate the Palestinian cause,” he said.  “The Palestinian leadership will hold a series of meetings to announce its categoric rejection of any concessions, especially regarding Jerusalem,” he added.

“The issue will be discussed at the first meeting of the Palestinian leadership in the coming days,” Rudaineh said.  Another issue that will be discussed by the leaders in Ramallah, he said, is the possibility of dismantling the PA and inviting Israel and the international community to assume their responsibilities toward the Palestinian population.

“At this stage, this option seems unrealistic,” another PA official told The Jerusalem Post.  “Frankly, I don’t believe we have too many options.  We’re concerned that we might lose control of the situation on the ground if the people rise against the US and Israeli measures.”



Rocket From Gaza Lands In Israel, IDF Hits Hamas Post

“In response to the rocket and explosive balloons launched from Gaza at Israel, we just struck a Hamas military post,” tweeted the IDF on Sunday evening (26th).

The rocket attack arrived just one day after the Israeli Air Force (IAF) bombed Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip in response to a series of balloons with explosives attached being launched into Israel.

The targets of IAF strikes on Saturday (25th) included a weapons production site and a military compound used for collecting intelligence. 

There were no reports of casualties.

“We will continue operating against attempts to harm Israeli civilians,” the IDF stated.

Balloons attached to explosive charges launched by terrorists from Gaza on Saturday (25th) landed at several spots in Israel’s south, and at other locations, the ninth consecutive day that Israel has contended with this threat.

Police sappers were alerted to the landing sites and dismantled the explosive charges. 

The explosive and flammable balloon attacks which have returned to haunt Israel’s residents in the south in the past week, have been upgraded and are equipped with new elements to increase casualties among the civilian population. 



Jordanian Vote Shows Why Defensible Borders Still Matter – Evelyn Gordon

→ To understand the true obstacle to Mideast peace, look no further than the Jordanian parliament’s unanimous approval last week of a bill to ban natural-gas imports from Israel, just days after the gas began arriving.  Energy-poor Jordan needs a stable, affordable fuel supply, which the Israeli deal provides. When it was signed in 2016, the Jordanian government said it could save the country $500 million a year and let the kingdom redirect significant amounts of money to some of its crying needs.

→ But that doesn’t interest Jordanian lawmakers.  What they care about is that this is “the gas of the enemy,” despite the fact that Jordan and Israel signed a peace treaty 25 years ago.  As last week’s vote made clear, every single Jordanian lawmaker still views Israel as an enemy. That stance is wildly popular: Almost all Jordanians have an unfavorable view of Jews.

→ Western peacemaking efforts have consistently underestimated the depth of Arab hatred for Israel, and therefore failed to grasp that this is the principal obstacle to peace.  The Jordanian vote shows that neither peace nor prosperity is a prime motivator for many people in this part of the world, whereas hatred is a very powerful motivator.

→ Another Western fallacy is that peace obviates the need for defensible borders.  Granted, the Jordanian and Egyptian borders are both currently peaceful and will likely remain so as long as the current rulers hold power.  But as the Arab Spring made clear, no Mideast autocrat’s reign comes with a long-term guarantee. And given the enormous public hostility to Israel in both Jordan and Egypt, there’s also no guarantee that a new government wouldn’t scrap their treaties.

→ Israel can’t afford to assume any treaty is permanent.  It must be prepared to defend itself if a new Arab government scraps the treaty.  Indeed, even Israel’s main center-left party insists on retaining the Jordan Valley in any deal with the Palestinians.  The Jordanian vote is a reminder that hatred is strong and peace is fragile. Any treaty will have to include defensible borders.



Germany Warns Of ‘Mass Exit’ Of Jews If Hatred Persists

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas warned Sunday (25th) that Jews could leave Germany on a “massive” scale if urgent action wasn’t taken to stem rising anti-Semitism.

Writing in Der Spiegel weekly on the eve of the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp, Maas said anti-Jewish insults and attacks, in real life and online had become “a daily occurrence.”

Almost one in two Jews has considered leaving Germany, he said, a country that has long taken pains to confront its Nazi past.

“We need to take urgent counter-measures to make sure that such thoughts do not turn into a bitter reality and lead to a massive departure of Jews from Germany,” he wrote.

“The fight against anti-Semitism will be a priority when Germany takes over the rotating EU presidency in July and the chairmanship of the Council of Europe, the bloc’s leading human rights body, in November,” Maas vowed.

Germany will push for tougher legal consequences for anti-Semitic acts, he said, and for more EU nations to make Holocaust denial a crime – currently illegal in over a dozen member states including Germany, Belgium and Italy.

The diplomat stressed the importance of educating young people about the horrors of World War II, when six million Jews were murdered by the Nazis.

More than 1.1 million people, mainly Jews were murdered at Auschwitz-Birkenau.  Most died in the gas chambers, but many succumbed to starvation, disease and overwork.