by Michael Milstein
Gulf nations regard the Americans as weak following the Afghanistan withdrawal and feeble in response to Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, rendering strategic alliances with Washington unhelpful in future conflicts.
The United Arab Emirates is often seen as a barometer of strategic changes in the Middle East, because of its unique location between the Sunni Muslim world and Shi'ite Iran.
In its decision to renew ties with Assad, Abu Dhabi expressed the growing distrust of the administration of US President Joe Biden, who in the eyes of the Sunni Arab world is keen to embrace Iran.
This past year has been a reflection of America's diminishing standing in the eyes of many Arab nations after a series of disastrous policy moves, beginning with the hurried withdrawal from Afghanistan, removal of the Houthi rebels in Yemen from the list of terror organizations and the rushed efforts to renew a nuclear deal with Tehran, from which former US President Donald Trump pulled out in 2018.
There is a perceived indifference in Washington towards the simmering military conflict in the Gulf, in which Iran and its proxies have attacked targets in Sunni states.
And now, the administration is seeking to elevate Qatar's status as a key regional ally despite its animosity towards neighboring Gulf states and support of terror organizations in the region.
The Sunni Arabs know they have no alternative strategic power to rely on, but are unable to understand the logic behind the recent White House policies which make them wonder whether Washington would be willing to offer any assistance to them in times of trouble. The US has essentially removed itself from areas of conflict around the world in general, and in the Middle East in particular. (This is an opportunity for Israel and the Sunni Arab states to create their own security alliance, and neutralise the nuclear threat from Iran.)
The US State Secretary Blinken will affirm US commitment to two-state solution during his upcoming trip to Israel, Morocco, and Algeria. "While there, he’s going to engage with our partners on a range of regional and global priorities, including Ukraine, Iran, the Abraham Accords and normalization agreements with Israel, preserving the prospects for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict," said Acting Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs Yael Lempert.
Food for Thought. by Steven Shamrak
Secretary Blinken is trying to 'preserve' a dangerous and unrealistic two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Why is the creation of a terror state on Jewish land so important to the supposedly best friend of Israel? It would be prudent for Israel and Arab states, partners against Iran, to keep the current US administration away from the Abraham Accords and discussion about how to deal with the Iranian nuclear program and the elimination of the Ayatollahs’ regime.
Many Palestinian Authority (PA) Arabs prefer to work in Israel rather than in the PA, hoping to improve their income and living standards. The average salary of Palestinian workers in the construction sector in Israel is more than double the salary they are paid in the PA.
Following a number of terror attacks in the Jerusalem area and last week's deadly rampage in Be'er Sheva that left four dead and two others wounded, Minister of the Interior Ayelet Shaked is promoting legislature that would strip indicted terrorists of their Israeli citizenship. The law is intended to undermine the PA's "pay for slay" policy, whereby Israeli citizens who carry out terrorist attacks are provided monetary benefits for murdering Jews, as most of the stabbing attacks in recent weeks have been carried out by Arab Israelis. Under the law, Israeli citizens found guilty of participating in terrorist acts, and receiving financial assistance from the Palestinian Authority would be stripped of their citizenship rights. (In addition, offenders and their supporters, not just family members, must be deported from Israel.)
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan met Tuesday in Egypt in what appears to be an attempt to demonstrate a united front against the revival of the nuclear deal between Iran and world powers. All three have taken a stand against any US plan to de-list Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps as a terrorist organization for the sake of a revived nuclear deal with Tehran. Shared concerns over Iran prompted the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain to forge ties with Israel in 2020, creating a new regional axis at a time of uncertainty over the commitment of their key security ally, the United States, to the region.
Israel recently completed a year with no election. This would have been no big deal before Israel embarked on four elections in two years. But after all those races, this past year of relative political normalcy cannot be taken for granted. Most polls show nothing much has changed politically. If an election would be held now, the results would not be much different. (The change will come after Netanyahu steps out of politics. Only then will Likud be able to win an election.)
Russia's invasion of Ukraine has thrown the global energy market into a state of turmoil, forcing the US and Europe to look for substitutes for Russian oil and gas. The Biden administration has turned to Iran as a potential supplier - just two months after effectively killing an Israeli pipeline project that would have supplied natural gas to Europe.
Hundreds of policemen raided the Binyamin area on Monday morning and destroyed over 20 structures built by Israelis, including two synagogues. Eight Jewish families, including 20 children, lost their homes. Yisrael Gantz, head of the Binyamin Regional Council, accused Bennett and Defense Minister Benny Ganz of launching “a major and focused campaign of destruction against Jews only. They allow Arabs to run wild and take over the nation’s lands every day in the heart of the country. Our homeland is being conquered and they are turning a blind eye to Arab criminality, and now they are heroes over the weak and destroying only for the Jews.”
Singapore will open an embassy in Israel for the first time since diplomatic relations were established in 1965. The embassy will be in Tel Aviv. (Not good enough! A true friend would open embassy in Jerusalem. Any new embassy must be opened in Jerusalem. Israel, as an independent state, must have self-respect and insist on it.)
Official police data reveals that 82% of firearms offenses carried out in Israel in the 2021 calendar year were carried out by Arab Israelis. Arab citizens of Israel were involved in 2,966 deadly weapons offenses out of 3,630 over the span of 2020-2021. Despite the alarmingly high number of cases, only 119 of cases involving deadly weapons charges against Arab Israelis have resulted in indictments (4.1%). There is a marked difference when it comes to Jews committing crimes involving deadly weapons. Jewish citizens of the country have faced 58 indictments on weapons charges, accounting for just 9.7% of the overall cases over the same period of time. (The Israeli police 'soft' on Arab criminality, but ‘tough’ dealing with Jewish patriots.)
Quote of the Week:
"I have a special message for the Iranian people on the occasion of Nowruz. I wish you a happy new year - a year of health, prosperity and peace. Nowruz literally means new day. And that's my greatest wish to you, the Iranian people: That you will see a new day - a day of freedom from the cruel Iranian regime. A new day where you can drink clean water, speak freely, and live your lives with dignity. We know that the Iranian regime does not represent you and they continue to deny you the freedom that you deserve. We hope you rid yourselves of this cruel and ruthless regime and reach true freedom. Happy Nowruz!” - Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett wished Iranian citizens a happy New Year - Hopefully, Israel will deal with the Iranian nuclear program soon, and the Iranian people will use the opportunity to remove the regime of Ayatollahs.
Transfer of Enemies is Legal
by Steven Shamrak (written Aug 2003)
A while ago, after long and careful consideration, Israel has made a decision to transfer some members of suicide bombers’ families to Gaza. It did not come as a surprise when UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan immediately voiced his opposition to the decision. I have made an effort to find out details of an international agreement he has referred to. As usual, it is open to interpretations. And, as usual, “friends” are taking an anti-Israel point of view:
Geneva Convention Protection of Civilian Persons - Article 49 “Individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory to the territory of the Occupying Power or to that of any other country, occupied or not, are prohibited, regardless of their motive. Nevertheless, the Occupying Power may undertake total or partial evacuation of a given area if the security of the population or imperative military reasons does demand.”
The following is my interpretation of the document:
1. First of all, even according to UN legal definition Judea, Samaria and Gaza are disputed, not occupied territories.
2. Families of suicide bombers will be transferred from one “protected” territory to another.
3. By encouraging their sons and daughters to commit terror acts, accepting the admiration from their neighbours and ‘blood money’ from Arab’s terror network, families of suicide/homicide bombers have become an integrated part of the terror machinery.
More than 75% of the Arab population of the territories support terror acts against Israel. Therefore, they can hardly be classified as an innocent civilian population. Israel has enough military and security reasons to conduct a population transfer of enemy population from the Jewish land.