2021-06-13 14:40:12 59480860 A momentous day for Israel's Arabs Opinion: Regardless of how long the new government remains in power, or even how successful Ra'am leader Mansour Abbas is in delivering on his promises to his voters, history is being made Sunday by virtue of his membership in the coalition Afif Abu Much https://www.ynetnews.com/article/rJxAq4Qj00 Sun, 13 Jun 2021 12:30:49 +03:00 Barring a last-minute surprise, Yamina leader Naftali Bennett will on Sunday afternoon, be sworn in as Israel's new prime minister. But the truly historical event of the day will be the participation of an Arab political party in the new coalition, and its place as part of the country's leadership. After long-years of delegitimizing the Arab citizens of the country and their exclusion from public discourse, Ra'am leader Mansour Abbas managed to change the rules of the game, with the help of outgoing prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu opened the door to Abbas, whom he hoped would support his right-wing and religious coalition – a move that backfired and paved the way for the opposing coalition. It is unfortunate that the so-called coalition for change needed Netanyahu to make the first overture towards the Arab politician before daring to consider such a partnership. The Joint List, the alliance of Arab parties, has yet to undergo a similar cleansing in the eyes of Jewish Israelis, and an offer to join the new government has not been extended to its members, raising questions as to the Bennett-Lapid union's backbone when it comes to truly historic changes needed in Israeli politics and society. But this should not diminish from the importance of Ra'am's inclusion in the new coalition, nor should it diminish the importance of an Arab being appointed to be minister – Meretz member Issawi Freij - the first in many years. Regardless of the wording in the recently signed coalition agreements and the odds of Ra'am's success in bringing the Arab sector the achievements promised by its leader, at the end of the day history is being made. Ra'am is a full member of the governing coalition. Its support of the government is not through political maneuvering, which Jewish politicians have used in the past when they asked their Arab colleagues for parliamentary votes but were not open to their participation in the political process, fearing their constituents' wra to be minister – Meretz member Issawi Freij - the first in many years.</p> <IMG id=captionImageElement19203996> <p>Regardless of the wording in the recently signed coalition agreements and the odds of Ra'am's success in bringing the Arab sector the achievements promised by its leader, at the end of the day history is being made.</p> <p>Ra'am is a full member of the governing coalition. Its support of the government is not through political maneuvering, which Jewish politicians have used in the past when they asked their Arab colleagues for parliamentary votes but were not open to their participation in the political process, fearing their constituents' wrath if they were seen joining hands with Arabs.</p> <IMG id=captionImageElement19203997> <p>The past two years of political stalemate have shown that if politics is a roller-coaster ride, Israeli politics is the scariest and most unexpected ride of all.</p> <p>Bennett, who failed to pass the Knesset threshold in 2019 and was headed into political oblivion, will now become the prime minister.&nbsp;</p> <p>Abbas and his Ra'am party have gone from being ostracized by Jewish politicians to the most courted members of Knesset and kingmakers in the formation of any government.</p> <p>It is too soon to know how successful the new coalition will be or even how long it will last.&nbsp;</p> <p>But by including an Arab party, it will have crushed the long-existing notion that Israeli Jews cannot partner with representatives of the Arab sector to govern the country together.</p> message 59466660 Mansour Abbas' big gamble Analysis: Coalition agreement signed by Islamist Ra’am party leader includes policy changes, vast investment in Arab and Bedouin sectors; if he pulls it off, it will be unprecedented feat, but if he fails, his political career could be over Uri Cohen/The Media Line https://www.ynetnews.com/article/H1BIjd1o00 Fri, 11 Jun 2021 23:44:8 +03:00 Members of Israel’s new government, slated to be sworn in and assume control of parliament on June 13, has continued to finalize the numerous and complex agreements and contracts behind the patchwork, intricate coalition. One of the most consequential and controversial deals remains the one reached between the Ra’am-United Arab List and the rest of the member parties. It was the final agreement struck last week, in general outlines, with just minutes remaining before the deadline to form a government expired. It means Israel’s 36th government will be the first to incorporate a fully independent, all-Arab party in its ranks. The coalition agreement, signed between Ra’am chair Mansour Abbas, Prime Minister-designate Naftali Bennett and Yair Lapid, the Yesh Atid leader who will become PM in two years’ time, stipulates a series of policy changes and vast budgetary investments in the Arab and Bedouin societies in Israel. Among the various government projects detailed in the pact, over $15 billion is pledged to infrastructure, education and initiatives to reduce crime. Israel will also immediately recognize three unauthorized Bedouin villages in the southern Negev desert, extend by three years the freeze already placed by the outgoing government on the demolition of illegal housing in the Arab community, and present within nine months a proposal to legalize all unlawful Bedouin villages. “Abbas promised his voters, who come mostly from the Negev, to make their problems his top priority, and he has. The question now is whether he’ll succeed in actually following through with it,” says Dr. Thabet Abu Rass, co-executive director of The Abraham Initiatives organization. “Recognizing these unauthorized villages is a long process, governments in the past have tried to deal with it. They’ve come and gone but this has remained an issue. It’s a very powerful apparatus that operates extremely slowly,” he says. “This time, symbolic declarations simply won’t do. Bedouins want a lages.</p> <IMG id=captionImageElement19176560> <p>“Abbas promised his voters, who come mostly from the Negev, to make their problems his top priority, and he has. The question now is whether he’ll succeed in actually following through with it,” says Dr. Thabet Abu Rass, co-executive director of The Abraham Initiatives organization.</p> <p>“Recognizing these unauthorized villages is a long process, governments in the past have tried to deal with it. They’ve come and gone but this has remained an issue. It’s a very powerful apparatus that operates extremely slowly,” he says.</p> <p>“This time, symbolic declarations simply won’t do. Bedouins want a legislative package that will transform their lives in the desert,” Abu Rass said.</p> <p>The historic agreement between the far-right Bennett and the United Arab List caught many by surprise, after the soon-to-be premier referred to Abbas and his colleagues as “terrorism sympathizers” and “supporters of murderers” only two months ago.</p> <p>“I’ve found a brave leader in Abbas,” Bennett admitted after securing the latter’s support last week.</p> <IMG id=captionImageElement19176561> <p>Following Bennett and Lapid’s announcement that they had succeeded in forming a government, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu blasted the reported deal, accusing his rivals of “selling out southern Israel to the highest bidder” and “endangering Israeli citizens and surrendering our sovereignty.”</p> <p>“Bennett has sold the Negev to Ra’am,” says a spokesperson for Netanyahu’s Likud party. &nbsp;“Any right-wing Knesset members, elected by right-wing votes, must oppose this dangerous leftist government.”&nbsp;</p> <p>Yet, it was Netanyahu himself who for weeks following the elections courted Abbas with identical proposals, desperately trying to piece together a coalition based on the Arab lawmaker and the far-right parties in his own base.</p> <IMG id=captionImageElement19176562> <p>Abu Rass says that Ra’am voters “wanted the party to help remove Netanyahu from power, of course, but not enter [Bennett’s] government themselves. There’s a big difference.”</p> <p>He claims Abbas’ cooperation with the intended prime minister should have resembled the 1992 Rabin-led model, when predominantly Arab parties voted with the government from the opposition benches to help pass the Oslo Accords.</p> <p>Another point of contention among the party’s voters is the fact that the landmark agreement fails to mention any resolutions regarding religious, national and Palestinian matters.</p> <p>Raa’m is also bound, according to the document’s text, to support any government resolution.</p> <p>“So, what happens during the next round of fighting in Gaza? They have to support it, despite their constituents’ obvious opposition to such things,” Abu Rass says.</p> <p>Still, if the promises laid out in the pact are indeed fulfilled, Abbas’ feat will be unprecedented.</p> <p>“And if he doesn’t have any achievements to show by the time this government is dispersed, which I believe will be in about a year, he won’t be reelected, and will have to step aside as party leader,” Abu Rass says.</p> <p>“The Islamic movement will survive regardless, and even thrive. This party has a strong base, it has tradition, infrastructure, voters,” he says.</p> <p>“Israel’s Arab society today refuses to accept just funds and budgets, it demands political participation and legitimization as well. It’s a win-win situation, for the Arab minority and the state. It’s an irreversible and positive trend.”&nbsp;</p> message 59465340 U.S. Jews should not shy away from supporting Israel Opinion: Older Jewish Americans may echo anti-Israeli views out of concern for their children and grandchildren's future in the country, but history has shown that siding with anti-Semitic movements does not make Jews less of a target Sever Plocker https://www.ynetnews.com/article/Hkb00k001ju Fri, 11 Jun 2021 19:14:47 +03:00 American Jewry should beware, for the outlawed Jewish Defense League, which was in 2001 classified by the FBI as a terrorist organization, may be making a comeback in a slightly more palatable version. The JDL, under the leadership of racist rabbi Meir Kahane, came into existence in 1967 to respond to a wave of anti-Semitism from the world's progressive left after the Six-Day War. This anti-Semitism reached its peak in the Polish Communist Party's attack on Jewish Holocaust survivors in Poland, using the pretext of anti-Zionist protests. The signs carried at the party's mass demonstrations branded Zionists as colonialists and capitalists, and were not too different to the signs used in anti-Israeli protests today by those who refuse to admit their anti-Jewish sentiments. Similar waves, though perhaps not as vicious, were seen in the Soviet Union, where Jews were barred from immigrating to Israel. The JDL began a campaign of terror, planting bombs and plotting revenge against Soviet institutions in the U.S. and against visiting Soviet dignitaries. Its activists claimed U.S. Jews were in as much danger within American borders as their Soviet brethren, given the anti-Semitism disguised as anti-Zionism that abounded in certain circles. The members of the JDL appointed themselves the saviors of Jews, planning to fight back against these threats by targeting the American Arab community. It was a criminal organization seeking to terrorize and promote violence and will not return in the same form. But American Jewish friends are wrong to believe that since Zionism is now being equated with apartheid, the younger members of their families will turn their backs on Israel entirely. Instead, we may actually see them turn the other way. The stronger the anti-Israeli public opinion, the more young Jews are likely to adopt an opposing view and stand up for Israel as the homeland of Jewish people. They will likely not support the government of Israel but will defend its eback against these threats by targeting the American Arab community.</p> <p>It was a criminal organization seeking to terrorize and promote violence and will not return in the same form.&nbsp;</p> <p>But American Jewish friends are wrong to believe that since Zionism is now being equated with apartheid, the younger members of their families will turn their backs on Israel entirely. Instead, we may actually see them turn the other way.&nbsp;</p> <p>The stronger the anti-Israeli public opinion, the more young Jews are likely to adopt an opposing view and stand up for Israel as the homeland of Jewish people.&nbsp;</p> <p>They will likely not support the government of Israel but will defend its existence, not by violence but as a proud minority that perceives itself under threat.</p> <IMG id=captionImageElement19180132> <p>According to a <a href="https://www.pewforum.org/2021/05/11/jewish-americans-in-2020/" class="bluelink" style="">Pew study published last year</a>, America's Jewish population grew by 12% in the previous seven years, to stand at 7.5 million.&nbsp;</p> <p>Their religious affiliation varies according to age with the older among them, some 70% who are over the age of 50, describing themselves as reform or conservative Jews. only 34% of those between the ages of 18 and 28 describe themselves in the same way.</p> <p>Nearly one in two Jews, the study found, feels a kinship to Israel and describes its importance as vital. This is less than the older generation, where 63% expressed similar views, but still an impressive number given the anti-Israel campaign of organizations such as the Boycott, Divest, Sanction (BDS) movement.&nbsp;</p> <p>Adult American Jews who echo anti-Israel sentiments do so in order out of the belief that by voicing anti-Zionist positions they are protecting their families and ensuring their children and grandchildren a brighter future in American society.</p> <IMG id=captionImageElement19180133> <p>It is not my place to dissuade them o message 59462490 A violation of the Jewish spirit Analysis: By attacking Naftali Bennett, Haredi political leaders have shown how disconnected they are from Israeli society, living up to the accusations that they claim to have sole authority over the Jewish faith and how it must be practiced Yuval Karni https://www.ynetnews.com/article/B1pmNqJiO Fri, 11 Jun 2021 9:5:9 +03:00 The ultra-Orthodox parties in the Knesset held an emergency meeting earlier this week. They proclaimed their loyalty to outgoing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, rejected the option to join the new coalition that will replace him after 12 years in power and called on their constituents not to cooperate with the new government. The Haredi opposition to the so-called "coalition for change" is legitimate and understandable. The ultra-Orthodox public has been supported financially by the outgoing government and their leadership feels it is being pushed aside. These feelings should not be underestimated, but the Haredi politicians have been taking their legitimate protests to baffling extremes by claiming the new government represents the end of Israel as a Jewish state and that their members are on the verge of persecution the likes of which were only seen in pre-state times. "Take off your yarmulke," they demanded of Prime Minister-designate Naftali Bennett, calling him evil and a Reform Jew. In their eyes, this was the worse epithet yet and a reference to the liberal stream of Judaism practiced by much of the American Jewish community but berated and hated by the ultra-Orthodox. Shas leader Aryeh Deri said the first religious prime minister in Israeli history would destroy any remnant of Judaism that he claimed the ultra-Orthodox have fought to protect in Israel's 73 years, including Shabbat, Orthodox conversions and kashrut. "It will tear Jewish society apart, sending it back to live as it did in the days of the Diaspora," Deri lamented. With their attacks on Bennett, the Haredi political leaders have shown how far they are disconnected from Israeli society, living up to the accusations against them that they claim to have sole authority over the Jewish faith and how it must be practiced. Telling a religious Jew to remove his yarmulke in a political dispute is a violation of the spirit of the Jewish faith. None of Deri's colleagues asked him to remove his oars, including Shabbat, Orthodox conversions and kashrut.&nbsp;</p> <p>"It will tear Jewish society apart, sending it back to live as it did in the days of the Diaspora," Deri lamented.&nbsp;</p> <IMG id=captionImageElement19147291> <p>With their attacks on Bennett, the Haredi political leaders have shown how far they are disconnected from Israeli society, living up to the accusations against them that they claim to have sole authority over the Jewish faith and how it must be practiced.</p> <p>Telling a religious Jew to remove his yarmulke in a political dispute is a violation of the spirit of the Jewish faith.</p> <p>None of Deri's colleagues asked him to remove his own kippa when he was convicted of corruption and sentenced to jail in 1999.&nbsp;</p> <p>None of them told Yigal Amir to remove his after the religious Jewish extremist assassinated prime minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995.</p> <p>And no one is suggesting that Yaakov Litzman, a leader of the United Torah Judaism party, remove his yarmulke after he was indicted for defending accused pedophile Malka Leifer as she fought her extradition to Australia for more than seven years. &nbsp;</p> <IMG id=captionImageElement19147292> <p>Bennett's crime is that his intended government does not include the ultra-Orthodox parties. His political conduct may be worthy of condemnation, but his yarmulke should remain where it is.</p> <p>The new government that will be sworn in on Sunday is made up of parties representing the right, the left and the center of Israel's political spectrum and includes a fair amount of religious members.</p> <p>It does not have a Haredi contingency, but nor does it intend to wage war against this sector of Israeli society.</p> <p>The wailing chest-beating of the Haredi party leaders is pure political theater and likely driven by their own interests and not those of their voters.</p> <p><br></p> message 59460740 Netanyahu goes where others will not tread Opinion: Even with the end of his tenure drawing near, the Likud leader is not relenting for a second, sending his messengers and sycophants to lash out at his opponents and continue nurturing the toxic discourse he has created Limor Livnat https://www.ynetnews.com/article/SkigfH1su Thu, 10 Jun 2021 23:55:32 +03:00 Despite all the obstacles, doubts, delegitimization, threats and insults, a new government will apparently be sworn in on Sunday, unseating Benjamin Netanyahu after 12 straight years in power. Heading towards the exit, Netanyahu is leaving behind a substantial number of sycophants who genuinely believe that Israel and the entire Zionist enterprise are in danger of collapse without him. During his term in office, Netanyahu used his tremendous political skill to achieve a great many accomplishments, but also to create a toxic atmosphere with an army of supporters who would blindly follow him regardless of "facts." It is pointless to try to debate these acolytes, for no one on the other side is listening. Either you are with them or you are a "leftist." Even now, as the new government put the final touches to its agreements, Netanyahu's minions keep attacking the legitimacy of the coalition built by Yair Lapid and Naftali Bennett. They claim Bennett - who will take the role of prime minister first in a power-sharing deal between the two - is unworthy because he leads a party with just six Knesset seats, conveniently ignoring the fact that their idol offered him a similar rotation deal. And Bennett was not the only one to get such a proposal from Netanyahu. He made a similar offer to New Hope chair Gideon Saar that would have meant a tripartite rotation deal. But what is permitted for Netanyahu is forbidden to his political opponents. This rule also applies to the negotiations with the Islamist Ra'am party and its leader Mansour Abbas. Again, where Netanyahu goes, others may not tread. And while he would never lower allow himself to actually join in the political muck raking, Netanyahu has enough lackeys to do it for him, easily allowing him plausible deniability as they tirelessly try to please him. Indeed, Netanyahu's worst crime is when he loses his composure and lashes out so viciously at his opponents that many members of the nascent coalition nowant a tripartite rotation deal.</p> <p>But what is permitted for Netanyahu is forbidden to his political opponents.&nbsp;</p> <IMG id=captionImageElement19173929> <p>This rule also applies to the negotiations with the Islamist Ra'am party and its leader Mansour Abbas. Again, where Netanyahu goes, others may not tread.&nbsp;</p> <p>And while he would never lower allow himself to actually join in the political muck raking, Netanyahu has enough lackeys to do it for him, easily allowing him plausible deniability as they tirelessly try to please him.&nbsp;</p> <p>Indeed, Netanyahu's worst crime is when he loses his composure and lashes out so viciously at his opponents that many members of the nascent coalition now require a personal security detail. And at no point does he try for even a moment to lower the flames.&nbsp;</p> <IMG id=captionImageElement19173930> <p>The man who in the past said no prime minister should serve for more than two terms wants to keep going and going and going, refusing to even consider someone from his own party as a replacement, even temporarily.&nbsp;</p> <p>Meanwhile, the silence from his fellow Likud lawmakers and ministers is deafening.&nbsp;</p> <p>Rumblings of discontent within the party have started to bubble to the surface. Those who are still doubtful of the possibility of replacing him should wake wake up, for now is the time to act.&nbsp;</p> <p>Israel existed before Benjamin Netanyahu's rise to power and will continue to exist once he depart the political stage.</p> <p><br></p> <p><em>Limor Livnat is a former MK and minister for Likud</em></p> message 59459720 With Hamas fanning the flames, PA may have to react to Jenin clash Analysis: While past clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinian officers never really affected security ties, volatile situation in West Bank and Hamas provocations may prompt PA to take unusual measures Elior Levy https://www.ynetnews.com/article/HJp11FhysO Thu, 10 Jun 2021 21:23:15 +03:00 In June 2019, an IDF force entered the Palestinian West Bank city of Nablus to perform a series of routine arrests. At some point, the Israeli force and members of the Palestinian Authority security service began exchanging fire after the Israeli side erroneously identified them as armed hostiles. While this incident ended with no casualties and only one Palestinian servicemember was wounded, the Palestinians were livid. Israeli security forces and IDF officers opened a continuous dialogue with their Palestinian counterparts, at all levels, to avoid hostilities and ensure the continued security coordination between the two sides. The 2019 incident in Nablus, as well as the most recent incident in the Palestinian city of Jenin — during which two Palestinian security officers and the suspect were killed by Israeli forces — are just two examples of flare-ups between Israeli and Palestinian security forces on the ground. It is a sensitive relationship that can overcome the tensions that such incidents bring in most cases. Normally, security coordination between the two sides allows freedom of action for IDF forces during arrests in areas under Palestinian security control. The IDF usually issues a warning from Israel to the coordination and liaison headquarters before making an incursion, sharing the time and location in which IDF forces plan to enter. Palestinian police and other members of the security apparatus in the area are then evacuated shortly before Israeli forces enter to prevent the sides from opening fire at one another as happened Wednesday night in Jenin. This safeguard protocol was not activated this time around as the IDF force that entered Jenin operated undercover. Israel does not alert the Palestinians when fielding undercover units — which are dressed in civilian clothes and ride vehicles with Palestinian license plates to blend in with the population. Clashes may erupt when the undercover force is stopped for routine inspection and is exposnd liaison headquarters before making an incursion, sharing the time and location in which IDF forces plan to enter.&nbsp;</p> <p>Palestinian police and other members of the security apparatus in the area are then evacuated shortly before Israeli forces enter to prevent the sides from opening fire at one another as happened Wednesday night in Jenin.</p> <p>This safeguard protocol was not activated this time around as the IDF force that entered Jenin operated undercover.</p> <p>Israel does not alert the Palestinians when fielding undercover units — which are dressed in civilian clothes and ride vehicles with Palestinian license plates to blend in with the population.</p> <IMG id=captionImageElement19129055> <p>Clashes may erupt when the undercover force is stopped for routine inspection and is exposed or when Israeli forces exchange fire with their targets and Palestinian security forces mistake them for criminal gangs.</p> <p>After such instances, the Israeli side launches an investigation into the incident and reports its results to the Palestinian side.</p> <p>And while security collaboration between the two sides often goes back to normal shortly after, timing is key — and this incident comes at a time when tensions are running high in the West Bank due to the recent round of fighting between Israel and Gaza and the volatile situation in Jerusalem.</p> <p>The terrorist group Hamas has already taken advantage of the incident by praising the two slain security officers for fighting against Israeli forces and standing by the wanted men they came to arrest.</p> <IMG id=captionImageElement19129056> <p>Hamas often uses such incidents to try and incite security officers to attack Israeli forces.</p> <p>The defense establishment now has to contend with both the Palestinian security forces themselves, and with the fire that Hamas is trying to stoke among the Palestinian population within Gaza and in the West Bank.</p> <p>It is important to note that the most significant s message 59453230 The madness of Israel's ultra-Orthodox parties Opinion: What could have pushed Gafni, Litzman and Deri to launch a vicious attack on the likely next prime minister of the State Israel, himself an observant Jew? After all, thus is not the first time in recent history that they have found themselves cut off from the government teat Nahum Barnea https://www.ynetnews.com/article/rkiJKUR9d Wed, 09 Jun 2021 23:30:4 +03:00 United Torah Judaism leaders Moshe Gafni and Yaakov Litzman held a dramatic press conference on Tuesday. Joining them was the head of the Shas party Aryeh Deri, who declared with tear-filled eyes that the end of Israel as a Jewish state is nigh. It was quite the show and must have left the voters of both Shas and United Torah Judaism looking at their politicians in bewilderment. Whatever could cause these seasoned politicians to come down with such an acute anxiety attack? The answer is politics. The three most prominent Haredi politicians gathered to condemn the formation of the “government of change” that will next week unseat Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after 12 years. The Haredi parties will not be part of it. The statements and accusations they directed at Prime Minister-designate Naftali Bennett were especially harsh, even by Haredi standards. “He should take off his kippa,” Litzman said of Bennett. "This is not the separation of religion and state - this is the removal of religion from the state," Deri added. “The name of the wicked shall rot,'' Gafni continued, referring to Bennett. “This government will desecrate the holy Shabbat. No education, no Torah, no purity of lineage,” he continued. As for what the purity of lineage actually means, an extensive search of Jewish sources and authorities failed to yield a proper answer. Eventually it became clear that “purity of lineage” is a reference by ultra-Orthodox rabbis to the possibility that non-Haredi rabbis would carry out conversions or marry people who are not recognized as Jewish by Haredi law. In other words, those heading the ultra-Orthodox community are afraid that this new government will lead to a decrease in the number of Haredi Jews. It is important to note that the coalition agreements and guidelines of the new government have no clause that threatens the status quo in matters of religion in Israel. The concern of the leaders of the two ultra-Orthodox parties is understandable. Bes failed to yield a proper answer.</p> <p>Eventually it became clear that “purity of lineage” is a reference by ultra-Orthodox rabbis to the possibility that non-Haredi rabbis would carry out conversions or marry people who are not recognized as Jewish by Haredi law.</p> <p>In other words, those heading the ultra-Orthodox community are afraid that this new government will lead to a decrease in the number of Haredi Jews.</p> <IMG id=captionImageElement19129069> <p>It is important to note that the coalition agreements and guidelines of the new government have no clause that threatens the status quo in matters of religion in Israel.&nbsp;</p> <p>The concern of the leaders of the two ultra-Orthodox parties is understandable. Being in opposition purdah naturally keep them from the government teat.</p> <p>While the funds for the Haredi yeshivas will continue to flow as before, the parties’ control over the day-to-day functioning of the Finance Ministry, the Religious Affairs Ministry, the local authorities via the interior and housing ministries and the prime minister will all disappear or be greatly diminished.</p> <p>Yisrael Beytenu head Avigdor Lieberman, a fierce opponent of the Haredi parties, will be the next finance minister and will also control the Knesset Finance Committee.&nbsp;</p> <p>Needless to say, this is a source of great disconcertment for them. But while it may explain their anxiety, it doesn’t explain the madness.&nbsp;</p> <IMG id=captionImageElement19129070> <p>Twice the ultra-Orthodox found themselves outside the government. Once during Ariel Sharon’s government between 2001-2006, and again during Netanyahu's third government between 2013-2015.</p> <p>These coalitions did not send them into such a mad downward spiral, so why now?</p> <p>Perhaps because this time, the Haredi absence from the coalition is the fault of Deri, Gafni and Litzman themselves.&nbsp;</p> <p>Bennett, New Hope head Gideon Saar and New Hope MK Zeev Elkin begged them to join the government. But they vehemently refused, believing Netanyahu when he told them that had he defectors from the new coalition in his pocket, and that the new government would never happen.</p> <IMG id=captionImageElement19129071> <p>And thus, on the eve of the new government's inauguration, Gafni, Deri and Litzman owe their voters an explanation. Instead of admitting they were wrong to trust Netanyahu, they are accusing the new government of being anti-religious, anti-Jewish, and just plain evil.</p> <p>Another explanation is that they were afraid of Sharon and Netanyahu, while they see Bennett - with his paltry six seats - as easy pickings.</p> <p>Perhaps they fear the numerous looming investigations, including the probe into the tragedy at a Lag B'Omer event on Mount Meron that was approved by Deri and at which 45 people died. To say nothing of the detention of two of Litzman's closest aides for suspected corruption.</p> <IMG id=captionImageElement19129072> <p>“The impudence of the parties who serve to advance the hatred of Judaism knows no bounds," said Rabbi David Stav, the head of the Tzohar organization that aims to bridge the gaps between religious and secular Jews.&nbsp;</p> <p>"Those who do not trust the Chief Rabbinate on any matter suddenly think they are its defenders,” he said.</p> <p>“It is time for the representatives of the Jewish faith to promote a love of the Torah in Israeli society and not use it as a tool for their own political aspirations."&nbsp;</p> message 59447770 Religious Zionism is a house divided Opinion: The latest political turmoil has served to accentuate the difference in ideologies that threatens to tear this community apart, pitting traditional and more liberal members who believe in unity against Haredi conservatives who see a war on Jewish values Chen Artzi Sror https://www.ynetnews.com/article/HymKDAn5u Tue, 08 Jun 2021 23:43:8 +03:00 Every child in the religious Zionist community receives education based on the holy triangle of the land of Israel, the Torah of Israel and the people of Israel. This isosceles triangle contains a whole world of values, which have in recent years slowly begun to change. For years, the Land of Israel was the triangle’s central vertex. The biggest fear gripping religious Zionists was surrendering territory, something that was only exacerbated by the 2005 disengagement, when Israel evacuated all its settlements in Gaza. And although the Gaza evacuation was a searing wound that would not heal, it did push the settler community to expand inside Israel in the form of such groups as Torah Nucleus that move into needy Jewish communities. Thus began the young religious Zionists to embed themselves into policy making, communication and government. The components of the triangle have again changed. The land of Israel, while still undoubtedly an important subject, is no longer the main issue occupying religious Zionism. Most of the Israeli public holds right-wing positions when it comes to issues of security and politics, and the West Bank is positively brimming with settlements that will most likely never be evacuated. These once solitary localities even became somewhat bourgeoisie, a testament to the influence of the outside world. It is the tenets of “Torah of Israel” and “people of Israel” that now taken center stage. The schools of the ultra-Orthodox nationalists, who form part of the religious Zionist community but with a greater inclination toward Haredi ideology, have over the years created an entire worldview that strictly opposes what they call “post-modernism.” Anything that seeks to change the perception of family life and advance gender equality and equal treatment of non-Jews is perceived as an existential threat to the very foundations on which the Jewish state was built. This very narrow-minded new interpretation of the "Torah of Israel" dictates that thef Israel” and “people of Israel” that now taken center stage.</p> <IMG id=captionImageElement19153013> <p>The schools of the ultra-Orthodox nationalists, who form part of the religious Zionist community but with a greater inclination toward Haredi ideology, have over the years created an entire worldview that strictly opposes what they call “post-modernism.”</p> <p>Anything that seeks to change the perception of family life and advance gender equality and equal treatment of non-Jews is perceived as an existential threat to the very foundations on which the Jewish state was built.</p> <p>This very narrow-minded new interpretation of the "Torah of Israel" dictates that the "People of Israel" must be saved from foreign influence.</p> <p>It is a fight fought on countless front: in the battle to prevent the draft of religious girls into the military, the war on privatization of rabbinical services, and the ludicrous fight against the program to distribute free children's books in schools.</p> <p>These struggles serve to promote the conspiracy that the Education Ministry and the IDF are controlled by a shadowy and progressive deep state cabal, whose members use Christian money to control and alter people’s consciousness in order to undermine and erase Israel’s Jewish identity.</p> <p>And while it may sound somewhat apocalyptic, it is the actual belief of some of the most prominent rabbinical figures in the religious sector today.</p> <p>They believe that the main culprits are the left-wingers. Not those who want to evacuate settlements in order for a Palestinian state to arise, but those who march in the Gay Pride Parade and believe in equality for men and women.</p> <p>And while the Har Hamor Yeshiva in Jerusalem is the most extreme in its views on these issues, there are others who follow the same teachings and seek to introduce these ideas into the national education and political systems.</p> <p>The vast majority of religious Zionists are much more liberal than this and as such send their children to pre-military yeshivas and youth movements. But it is in these <br> very places that such extremely conservative worldviews are often introduced.</p> <IMG id=captionImageElement19153014> <p>Parents are promised academic excellence, even as conservative Torah ideology is stealthily pumped into their children's heads.</p> <p>The tipping point came during the recent political turmoil. On one side stood Yamina leader Naftali Bennett - a kippa wearer, staunch right-winger and now prime minister-designate.&nbsp;</p> <p>On the other side stood Bezalel Smotrich and Itamar Ben-Gvir, considered too extreme for religious Zionists but who today head a party that appropriated the religious Zionist name.</p> <p>Their vehement opposition to a unity government with those they deem left-wingers - even if they don’t seek to implement their political ideology - is part of a sharp ideological difference.</p> <p>These extremists believe in unity in the Bnei Akiva religious Zionist youth movement, but not when it comes to government.</p> <IMG id=captionImageElement19153015> <p>For these extremists, sitting in the same government as Labor leader Merav Michaeli, Meretz head Nitzan Horowitz or Ra’am chair Mansour Abbas is tantamount to issuing kosher certification to a feminist woman without children, a gay man who will fight for the rights of his community and to an Arab who wants to be treated as an equal citizen.</p> <p>For them, the fight is no longer about land. They believe that today they must fight for what they see as the very soul of the Jewish people.</p> message 59442330 Netanyahu is dragging the whole country into the fire Opinion: The prime minister's incitement against the members of the nascent government serves not only to radicalize the country's discourse, but proves that he has either lost his senses or that he simply doesn't mind leaving nothing but scorched earth in his wake Nadav Eyal https://www.ynetnews.com/article/HJCJlqocO Mon, 07 Jun 2021 23:54:25 +03:00 Less than 24 hours after Nadav Argaman, the head of the Shin Bet domestic security service, issued an unprecedented warning that the ongoing incitement from certain politicians could lead to violence, Benjamin Netanyahu made his opinions on the issue very clear. The recent statements by the prime minister as he looks set to leave office bring to mind Sara Netanyahu's infamous leak from 20 years ago, after it became clear that her husband was losing the Likud leadership race to Ariel Sharon. “We'll move abroad. Let this country burn," Mrs. Netanyahu said in remarks for which she apologized but which also offered a small glimpse into of what her family truly thinks of Israel and Israelis. And it seems that this attitude is still prevalent in the prime minister’s house. Netanyahu could not muster the 61 Knesset members he needed to form a government and lashing out publicly in the throes of his anguish, he branded his political rivals as liars and slaves to Iran and the Hamas terrorist organization. Behind Likud closed doors Netanyahu was more somehow more venomous, lambasting ally Yuval Steinitz for his opposition to holding protests directly outside the homes of elected right-wing officials in the coalition to unseat him. Netanyahu has proven he has no qualms about using inciting speech, whatever the Shin Bet says. Not long after Argaman's warning - which was directed at both right and left - Netanyahu told his followers not to be afraid to “stick it to them.” He was referring to his political opponents, including the Yamina MKs who are now being guarded around the clock. There are two explanations for this reckless behavior. The first is that Netanyahu has lost his senses and cannot understand the influence his words have in the public sphere. The second, far more horrifying and far more likely explanation given Netanyahu’s political savvy, is that the prime minister is knew exactly what he was saying and knew that his “stick it to them” remark would make nbsp;</p> <p>Not long after Argaman's warning - which was directed at both right and left - Netanyahu told his followers not to be afraid to “stick it to them.”&nbsp;</p> <p>He was referring to his political opponents, including the Yamina MKs who are now being guarded around the clock.</p> <p>There are two explanations for this reckless behavior. The first is that Netanyahu has lost his senses and cannot understand the influence his words have in the public sphere.</p> <p>The second, far more horrifying and far more likely explanation given Netanyahu’s political savvy, is that the prime minister is knew exactly what he was saying and knew that his “stick it to them” remark would make headlines.</p> <p>Unsurprisingly, extreme-right Likud MK May Golan soon after likened Yamina leader and Prime Minister-designate Naftali Bennett and New Hope chair Gideon Saar to suicide bombers during an interview with the Knesset Channel.</p> <p>Golan, a follower of the teachings of racist rabbi Meir Kahane, was brought into Likud by Netanyahu himself.</p> <p>Undoubtedly her words made Netanyahu proud, and the prime minister decided pour more oil on the fire by going on national TV himself to call Bennett a liar.</p> <IMG id=captionImageElement19044241> <p>This is the same Netanyahu who said he would not negotiate with Ra’am leader Mansour Abbas, but who then made generous offers gestures to woo him before sending his mouthpieces out to explain how moderate and worthy the Arab politician actually is.</p> <p>This is the same Netanyahu who vowed he would not participate in another rotation government, only to offer Bennett and Saar just that a few days later.</p> <p>This is the same Netanyahu who made pledges to Blue &amp; White leader Benny Gantz, only to violate them once their coalition government was inaugurated, plunging Israel into a fourth election round in less than two years, whh was also the second during the coronavirus pandemic.</p> <IMG id=captionImageElement19044242> <p>This is the same Netanyahu who has told a myriad of other lies, including that right-winger Moshe Kahlon would be the chairman of the Israel Lands Authority, that magnetometers would be placed on the Temple Mount, that Arab city Umm al-Fahm would be handed over to the Palestinians, that Bedouin village Khan al-Ahmar would be evacuated, that the Jordan Valley would be annexed, that asylum seekers from war-torn countries would leave Israel as part of an agreement with the UN, and that he would never give up any land before eventually evacuating all the settlers from Hebron.</p> <p>Netanyahu can level many claims against Bennett, such as that he preferred a government that he himself would head to a purely right-wing one.&nbsp;</p> <p>But Netanyahu is certainly in no position to try to blacken the designated-premier's integrity or personal life.</p> <p>The prime minister should strive to calm tensions, not to incite them further.&nbsp;</p> <p>There really is no need to drag the entire country into the fire with him.</p> <p><br></p> message 59442140 No to Jewish and Arab provocation in Jerusalem Opinion: The right's willingness to follow previously shunned extremists such as Itamar Ben-Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich, who are only looking to provoke and fuel hatred, gives legitimacy to those in the global arena who are opposed to Israel Ben-Dror Yemini https://www.ynetnews.com/article/ryiblui9O Mon, 07 Jun 2021 23:16:44 +03:00 Nearly all the right-wing pundits have recently found themselves indignantly demanding why we can’t wave Israeli flags in Jerusalem. Some of them have even taken it one step further, asking why can one wave the Palestinian flag in the heart of Tel Aviv but not the Israeli flag in Jerusalem? There were even those who pondered aloud if they would be forced to take down the Israeli flags adorning their vehicles upon entering the capital. But they all already knew the answer to their questions: There is no prohibition on carrying, holding or waving the Israeli flag in Jerusalem. They are also aware of the enormous difference between proudly displaying the national flag - including in Jerusalem - and the provocation that is “Flag Parade” sponsored by right-wing extremists Itamar Ben-Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich. The parade has little to do with strengthening Jerusalem and everything to do with causing chaos. And if some blood is shed along the way, then the provocation can be claimed as a success. If there is one city in Israel whose Jewish and Arab residents fail to intermingle and coexist, it's Jerusalem. This failure occurred during Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s 12-year rule. And yet, his advocates and die-hard followers are somehow blaming the recent unrest and violence in the capital on the leaders of the new coalition that has yet to be approved, let alone take charge. It is nigh on impossible to explain to the global community why the extreme-right can behave so provocatively, and indeed their actions only help those who hate Israel. Similarly, there is no decent legal explanation for why Jews are trying to displace Arab families from their homes in the middle of a traditionally Arab neighborhood or why Arab landowners in the city are prohibited from utilizing their rights. Doing things out of contrariness (a concept know in Hebrew as "davka") is the best way to strengthen the anti-Israel crowd and its claims. These apparent anti-Zionists on the righbe approved, let alone take charge. &nbsp;</p> <p>It is nigh on impossible to explain to the global community why the extreme-right can behave so provocatively, and indeed their actions only help those who hate Israel.</p> <p>Similarly, there is no decent legal explanation for why Jews are trying to displace Arab families from their homes in the middle of a traditionally Arab neighborhood or why Arab landowners in the city are prohibited from utilizing their rights.</p> <IMG id=captionImageElement19040192> <p>Doing things out of contrariness (a concept know in Hebrew as "davka") is the best way to strengthen the anti-Israel crowd and its claims. These apparent anti-Zionists on the right have become the greatest allies of the anti-Zionists on the left.</p> <p>The greater problem is that what happened to Israel’s left wing over the past decade is happening to the right wing today. The extreme left managed to drag the entire camp to down delusional avenues, and it is now more prominent, more determined, and more strident than before.</p> <p>Now the right, which claims to be the sane majority, is dancing to the tune of extremists such as Ben-Gvir, the racist, Arab-hating Lehava organization and those who follow the teachings of racist rabbi Meir Kahana, who infamously called to “murder all Arabs.”</p> <p>People who had not for years set foot in the Muslim Quarter of the Old City were suddenly insisting on marching there as part of the Flag Parade, in the hopes of embarrassing the right-wing party leaders who are members of the nascent coalition that aims to replace Netanyahu's government.</p> <IMG id=captionImageElement19040193> <p>When those supporting the Hamas terrorist organization insist on marching through the city’s streets, we all know it is nothing but blatant provocation.&nbsp;</p> <p>We also all know it is nothing but provocation when right-wing extremists insist on parading through the city’s streets, even if in the current insane reality they have the suppo message 59439000 Political earthquake in Israel could provide more solid footing in Washington Analysis: Formation of new government in Jerusalem has potential to put on pause, perhaps just temporarily, growing divide between Israel and Democratic Party, which was on full display last month during latest round of violence in Gaza Mike Wagenheim/The Media Line https://www.ynetnews.com/article/SyjeD8iqu Mon, 07 Jun 2021 11:51:13 +03:00 When it comes to the Israel-Washington relationship, everything is changing. And nothing is changing at all. A political bombshell has hit Israel, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s 12-year rule set to come to an end with the likely and imminent swearing-in of an ideologically broad but numerically narrow government. Instinctively, the end of Netanyahu’s exclusive right-wing rule would be cause for the increasingly vocal and antagonistic anti-Israel progressive flank of America’s Democratic Party to celebrate. Netanyahu’s public defiance of former Democratic president Barack Obama and his airtight embrace of his Republican successor Donald Trump has made him anathema to a segment of Democrats and problematic for others, even those who are generally considered supportive of Israel. “For decades, Israeli leadership cultivated relations across both aisles on Capitol Hill,” says Rep. Andy Levin, D-Mich., a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. “Netanyahu decided to go all-in with Republicans. He has undermined the trust of Democrats.” Domestically, the formation of the new government has the potential to put on pause, perhaps just temporarily, the growing divide between Israel and the Democratic Party, which was put on full display last month during the latest round of violence between Israel and Hamas. Even some centrist, staunchly pro-Israel Democrats joined the party’s progressive-wing members in issuing statements critical of the government’s conduct before and during the conflict. But, can Prime Minister-designate Naftali Bennett, a man to Netanyahu’s right politically, be expected to reset ties? “The fact that Bennett doesn’t have much political baggage in America, and that he was key in ousting Netanyahu, gives him some wiggle room with Democrats, despite his personal policy preferences,” says George Birnbaum, an American political consultant to Bennett. “It is also going to be much harder for those who instinctively criticize the Israeli govsome centrist, staunchly pro-Israel Democrats joined the party’s progressive-wing members in issuing statements critical of the government’s conduct before and during the conflict.</p> <p>But, can Prime Minister-designate Naftali Bennett, a man to Netanyahu’s right politically, be expected to reset ties?</p> <p>“The fact that Bennett doesn’t have much political baggage in America, and that he was key in ousting Netanyahu, gives him some wiggle room with Democrats, despite his personal policy preferences,” says George Birnbaum, an American political consultant to Bennett.</p> <p>“It is also going to be much harder for those who instinctively criticize the Israeli government for being right-wing to do so based on the broad coalition that is being presented and the mechanisms in place to balance out the range of views. The question will start being asked: Are you against Netanyahu, are you against right-wing Israeli policies or are you simply against Israel?” Birnbaum says.</p> <p>The White House and State Department will not comment on any change in the Israeli government unless and until it’s a done deal, but both Secretary of State Antony Blinken and White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in recent days that the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden will work with whatever government is in place.</p> <p>Maybe a more important question is whether Bennett really needs to reset ties.</p> <p>Biden showed outward and diplomatic support for Israel during last month’s escalation with Hamas, and already has displayed enthusiasm for approving additional, hefty security assistance to Israel to replenish its Iron Dome interceptor missiles that were used to shoot down a good deal of Hamas’ 4,000 incoming rockets.&nbsp;</p> <p>Biden’s sentiment comes despite the left flank of his party increasingly calling for a halt or review of weapons sales and security assistance to Israel.</p> <IMG id=captionImageElement19026394> <p>Democratic congressional leadership, including establishment figures like Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., have given no indication that they are willing to condition aid to Israel based on Israeli policy choices, and all three issued statements of support to Israel last month.</p> <p>Additionally, Israel will continue to enjoy bedrock support from the Republican Party, which controls half of the Senate’s membership and, based on historical patterns, is likely to take back the House of Representatives in next year’s midterm elections.</p> <p>The new government comes into play just as Democrats begin the process of drawing up an annual foreign aid bill that delivers billions of taxpayer dollars to Israel in the form of defense aid and hundreds of millions of dollars in development and humanitarian assistance to the Palestinians.</p> <p>Defense Minister Benny Gantz, who is to continue in that role in the possible new government, met with a range of Biden administration officials in a flash visit to Washington on Thursday on that matter and others.</p> <p>“The new political situation [in Israel] creates new opportunities to work with the Americans,” Gantz said during a briefing which concluded his visit.</p> <IMG id=captionImageElement19026395> <p>Gantz, who has a long relationship with U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, is seen by the Biden administration as emblematic of the low-key balance that the potential new coalition will bring to the American-Israeli relationship.</p> <p>“We will continue important strategic dialogue on Iran in private discussion. We’re not going to provoke in the media,” Gantz said during his briefing, alluding to his recent public disagreement with Netanyahu after the premier stated he was willing to risk friction with Biden if it means neutralizing Iran’s nuclear capabilities.</p> <p>Bennett likely will be spending the bulk of his time as premier trying to keep his razor-thin coalition intact, leaving his would-be foreign minister and eventual successor, Yair Lapid, to serve as Israel’s face abroad.</p> <p>Lapid has been especially cognizant during his political career of building relationships with foreign political leaders across the spectrum and his chief strategist, American Mark Mellman, is a Democratic operative.&nbsp;</p> <p>It is notable that Blinken set time aside to meet with Lapid, as leader of the Israeli opposition, during the secretary of state’s recent whirlwind visit through the region.</p> <p>“Listen, there are going to be policy differences with this government. But, when you take Netanyahu out of the equation, they are easier to deal with,” says Mellman.</p> <p>“The new Israeli government, assuming it comes into being, will have a much more bipartisan dynamic to it,” he says.</p> <IMG id=captionImageElement19026396> <p>But, even a government inclusive of a pair of left-wing parties and an Islamic faction is not suddenly going to withdraw from the West Bank or divide Jerusalem, meaning that improved ties between Israel and progressive Democrats with specific policy prescriptions are not necessarily a given.</p> <p>“The key now is to try to get the US to be more aggressive in enabling dialogue that hasn’t happened for too long now,” Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Wis, a leading advocate of a harder US line against Israel, says in a statement.</p> <p>“We have been talking to a wall over there in Israel for years now. A new government with a new set of ears might at least be amenable to a fruitful dialogue," he says.&nbsp;</p> <p>"But, we need to press our own government to make it happen, rather than just be satisfied to be dealing with people who aren’t openly hostile to us. It’s never just been about Netanyahu. It’s about values, about policies, about occupation, about Palestinian independence.”&nbsp;</p> <p>Progressive Democrats may be able to open a new avenue for conversation. But with an Israeli government that is to include more progressive elem message 59436890 Israel's political system needs fixing, and fast Opinion: With endless election cycles, narrow and disjointed coalitions clinging to power by a thread and no government lasting for more than 2 years, any sane Israeli can see that change is urgently needed Sever Plocker https://www.ynetnews.com/article/H1HTXzqcd Sun, 06 Jun 2021 23:28:37 +03:00 What would you say about a company that files for bankruptcy every six months, asking its stockholders to replace the entire board so a new one can keep going on a "new and better path"? Anyone with a shred of logical thinking would say the system by which the board of directors is selected was erroneous, inefficient and in need of urgent replacement. This has been the political state of affairs in Israel for the past two and a half years: shaky governments, an election every few months, an overabundance of small parties and a plethora of hair-brained and nonsensical schemes like "alternative prime minister" and "three-way rotation agreement." While in countries like France, the United Kingdom, the U.S. and Germany, the difference between the political left, right and center is clear to voters, in multiple Israeli parties hold essentially the same agenda and beliefs. What is the real difference between left-wing Meretz and Labor, centrist Yesh Atid and Blue & White or right-wing Yamina, New Hope and Yisrael Beytenu? There is no reasonable explanation for a democratic system that encourages splits, peculiar and unbalanced coalitions that frequently rest on a single vote and are prone to political blackmail. It is time to change the system. While Israel's experimentation with a direct vote for prime minister is not remembered fondly, the period in which it existed was too short and the subsequent conclusions too hasty and not based on true research. The country must also review the system through which Knesset seats are allocated, the role of the prime minister and the authority of the president, possibly adopting a bicameral system and introducing an upper chamber in parliament. In Greece for example, the winning party gets a proportional amount of seats, with an automatic addition of another 50. In Italy, the president gets to choose not only who forms a government but also who the ministers are. I wish longevity for the eight-party coalition firect vote for prime minister is not remembered fondly, the period in which it existed was too short and the subsequent conclusions too hasty and not based on true research.&nbsp;</p> <p>The country must also review the system through which Knesset seats are allocated, the role of the prime minister and the authority of the president, possibly adopting a bicameral system and introducing an upper chamber in parliament.&nbsp;</p> <p>In Greece for example, the winning party gets a proportional amount of seats, with an automatic addition of another 50.&nbsp;</p> <p>In Italy, the president gets to choose not only who forms a government but also who the ministers are. &nbsp;</p> <IMG id=captionImageElement19026429> <p>I wish longevity for the eight-party coalition formed by Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid and Yamina head Naftali Bennett, even if history is working against it.&nbsp;</p> <p>Since 1948, Israel has had 35 governments, with each one ruling for an average of two years.&nbsp;</p> <p>This fact alone would make any sensible citizen realize that the system of government is not working as our founding fathers intended.&nbsp;</p> <p>Continuing with this system in the face of future challenges, with its numerous faults, will only lead to more failed governments and gravely misguided decisions.&nbsp;</p> message 59431570 A government to save Israeli society Opinion: This member of the religious Zionist 'settler' camp believes that forming this coalition was a life-saving move for the country - for after four elections, violent clashes, blatant lies and outpouring of hatred, how much more can we take? Dr. Yaffa Gisser https://www.ynetnews.com/article/HygfGTu900 Sat, 05 Jun 2021 23:54:59 +03:00 The monumental events of Wednesday night – the signing of the agreement to form a government and the pictures that accompanied it – stirred the souls of many members of Israeli society. I, as someone who belongs to the right-wing, religious, Zionist and "settler" camp, believe it was a life-saving move - for it will save the life of Israeli society. After two years that saw four election campaigns, crude and violent verbal confrontations, blatant incessant lies and an outpouring of hatred both on social media and in the streets, it is time to stop this destruction of the political system and restore governance and security to Israeli citizens. If Benjamin Netanyahu - one of Israel's greatest leaders - had vacated his position or at least kept the promises he made to Benny Gantz when he dramatically urged him at the start of the pandemic to come share the burden with him, we might have been in a different place. But he did not. And now, the formation of this government-in-waiting is not only a vital existential step, but also a profound expression of what many on the right are unwilling to openly identify with but "secretly" support. Many in the religious Zionism movement, on the right and across society in general understand that we now must step out of our "pure" ideological comfort zone (if such a thing exists) and give a functioning and stable government a chance. This is a government that will have to set aside about 20% of the issues at the heart of the right-left rift, and manage - responsibly, professionally and with real cooperation - the 80% of the burning issues that remain. In recent weeks we have experienced a chain of very trying events - from the disaster on Mount Meron through the war in the south to riots across the country. One of the disturbing and frightening things that accompanied these events was the realization that there is no law and no justice on the social or civic level. No one is taking responsibility for the tragedy at Meron and sp;</p> <p>This is a government that will have to set aside about 20% of the issues at the heart of the right-left rift, and manage - responsibly, professionally and with real cooperation - the 80% of the burning issues that remain.</p> <p>In recent weeks we have experienced a chain of very trying events - from the disaster on Mount Meron through the war in the south to riots across the country.</p> <p>One of the disturbing and frightening things that accompanied these events was the realization that there is no law and no justice on the social or civic level.</p> <IMG id=captionImageElement18982886> <p>No one is taking responsibility for the tragedy at Meron and the police never arrived at the scene on time – not in Lod nor in Bat Yam.</p> <p>We must put an end to this chaos.</p> <p>I wholeheartedly support the current government, seeing a small light at the end of the tunnel with Israel's Arab citizens joining the government.</p> <p>There is no point in denying the emotional and practical complexity, especially in the context of the events of recent weeks, but there is also no point in ignoring the budding brotherhood, even if it is a brotherhood of interests.</p> <p>Now all members of the new coalition are expected to act out of responsibility, being content with little when it comes to fulfilling their ideological dreams.</p> <p>We could witness here a miracle of connection between people of different and even opposing views, who can discover what they have in common and work together for the strength and existence of Israeli society and the State of Israel.</p> <IMG id=captionImageElement18982887> <p>Naftali Bennett, Ayelet Shaked and their friends on the right are not leftists (which is not a curse, by the way) and nor are they traitors or violators of Israel's values.</p> <p>They are leaders who are taking action in a difficult political situation and are trying to do what is best.</p> <p>Like me and like many others, they are the flesh and blood of the national camp who care and fear for Israel and its Jewish identity.&nbsp;</p> <p>The howls of rage and demonization of them in the religious Zionist camp are to me an expression of fear over losing power, which do not present an alternative.</p> <p>Israel cannot go to a fifth election. What we need now is the restoration of government and governance in the country, to which each of us has a responsibility. The poisonous culture of government and politics of recent years has be removed.</p> <IMG id=captionImageElement18982888> <p>We must prove that we can have a life of solidarity and responsibility and lead the country together.</p> <p>Studies show that Israeli society has a high level of resilience. The trials it has passed throughout the years are different from those faced by any other democratic society in the world.&nbsp;</p> <p>We can defeat this existential challenge too.</p> <p><br></p> <p><em>Dr. Yaffa Gisser is a lecturer, a member of the executive board of </em><a href="https://www.pnimaisrael.com/english" class="bluelink" style=""><em>Pnima</em></a><em> movement for social cohesion, and a resident of the West Bank settlement of Ofra &nbsp;</em></p> message 59429330 Israel and Palestinians need separation for peace Opinion: Recent racial violence in the heart of the country brought West Bank strife to the doorstep of the silent Israeli majority, showing the real cost of occupation; the Green Line border is vital to ending this terrible conflict for both sides Roee Kibrik https://www.ynetnews.com/article/ByYbkkNKu Sat, 05 Jun 2021 13:50:52 +03:00 The recent violent outbreak in the mixed Jewish and Arab cities is a wake-up call for those who chose not to think about the Palestinian issue or those who believed it existed only beyond the pre-1967 Green Line border. Israelis are divided between those who believe the settlements are separate from the State of Israel and those who believe they are an integral part of the country. If the West Bank settlements are an integral part of the state, then Israeli law must be applied to them and more Jewish Israelis must be encouraged to live there. Infrastructure must be developed to accommodate the increase in Jewish population and any international boycott of products emanating from them must be rejected. Supporters of this view believe Israelis who speak out against the occupation of the West Bank must be branded traitors and those abroad who oppose Israeli policies must be branded anti-Semitic. The Green Line, they say is to be erased and the territorial integrity – of Israel, as one country – enshrined in law. Proponents of the opposite view see the Green Line as the future international border between Israel and Palestine. These left-wing Zionists oppose the constructions of new settlements that are meant to prevent a future Palestinian state, reject land expropriation and the expulsion of Palestinians from their homes and land and fight the piecemeal annexation efforts of the Israeli government. The territories, the left-wing Zionists say, are not part of Israel, and the occupation - with all that it entails - is polluting the country. They see Israel and the West Bank as different territories separated by the Green Line. The settlers also want a separation. But theirs is not a political-territorial one, it is one based on an ethnic separation of Jews and Arabs. Between these opposing views is the silent Israeli majority. This group is made up of people who prefer to leave the Green Line as a partition. They seek a two-state solution but are unwilling to payxation efforts of the Israeli government.&nbsp;</p> <IMG id=captionImageElement18974968> <p>The territories, the left-wing Zionists say, are not part of Israel, and the occupation - with all that it entails - is polluting the country. They see Israel and the West Bank as different territories separated by the Green Line.</p> <p>The settlers also want a separation. But theirs is not a political-territorial one, it is one based on an ethnic separation of Jews and Arabs.</p> <p>Between these opposing views is the silent Israeli majority. This group is made up of people who prefer to leave the Green Line as a partition. They seek a two-state solution but are unwilling to pay the price for it.&nbsp;</p> <p>They don't want one state with equal rights for all of its citizens, but reject an "apartheid" state as well. In fact, they want the Green Line to be an insurmountable barrier that protects them from the sights and sounds of the land beyond it.&nbsp;</p> <IMG id=captionImageElement18974969> <p>This silent majority objects to groups like Breaking the Silence, an NGO made up of former members of the IDF who testify to the ills of the military rule over the Palestinian civilian population. Breaking the Silence bring the stories of the West Bank to Israelis who do not want to hear them.</p> <p>Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu banked on the extreme right-wing political parties to keep him in power, thereby empowering those who want the Green Line erased.&nbsp;</p> <p>Life on the West Bank for Jews and Palestinians is often violent.&nbsp;</p> <p>Attacks by Jewish settlers there are not a rare occurrence, as Palestinians farmers can attest. Many, especially those whose land borders the more extreme settlements, often suffer from the violence of Jewish neighbors empowered by the protection of the military.</p> <IMG id=captionImageElement18974970> <p>The recent violent events inside Israel show that the West Bank reality has now seeped into Israel. Settlers from Yitzhar went t message 59427260 Why are the rabbis silent against hate? Opinion: Religious Zionism places importance on ancient religious principle that tells Jews to obey the civil law of the land, but its spiritual leaders are refusing to defend a legitimately elected government against incitement due to political interests Moti Shklar https://www.ynetnews.com/article/Sk0ar4L900 Fri, 04 Jun 2021 23:33:34 +03:00 The hatred with which Israelis have been inundated recently amid the political battles to form the next government has prompted many to seek solace in the most mundane places. Many took comfort in the musical collaboration of Haredi singer Avraham Fried and devout secularist Aviv Geffen, others in the warm words of presidential hopeful Miriam Peretz when she said love and unity were the need of the hour. But the hatred and belligerence directed at the prospective ministers in the burgeoning government cannot be ignored. Public attention was drawn to threats made against the baby of Tamar Zandberg of the left-wing Meretz party and accusations of treason leveled at Naftali Bennett and others in his right-wing Yamina party. The severity of these incidents cannot be diminished. It is very clear that their targets are the members of the nascent coalition that would remove Benjamin Netanyahu from office, and part of efforts to delegitimize it and brand its the enemy. Initially the criticism was within the parameters of legitimate free speech. Bennett was accused of being motivated by ego and personal interests, of being ruled by his insatiable appetite for power, weakness of character and desperate need for approval from the secular hegemony. The next step, however, was to brand him as complicit in anti-Semitism no less, and to accuse him of cooperating with supporters of terrorism. When that did not yield the desired results, his detractors enlisted religious authorities who decreed that the Yamina leader and his associates were guilty of heresy. Bennett's former political partners are disappointed and hurt by his decision. This is understandable and their pain is authentic. By joining forces with centrist Yair Lapid and the left-wing parties, Bennett adopted a position far removed from the religious Zionist DNA. Still the deafening silence of the spiritual leaders of that camp - when the lines were crossed from legitimate criticism to incitement – is baffling, eoperating with supporters of terrorism.</p> <p>When that did not yield the desired results, his detractors enlisted religious authorities who decreed that the Yamina leader and his associates were guilty of heresy.</p> <IMG id=captionImageElement19064953> <p>Bennett's former political partners are disappointed and hurt by his decision. This is understandable and their pain is authentic.&nbsp;</p> <p>By joining forces with centrist Yair Lapid and the left-wing parties, Bennett adopted a position far removed from the religious Zionist DNA.</p> <p>Still the deafening silence of the spiritual leaders of that camp - when the lines were crossed from legitimate criticism to incitement – is baffling, especially when he is designated to serve as the next prime minister.&nbsp;</p> <p>The religious Zionist movement has always held the authority of the state in the highest regard. It was supportive of the Chief Rabbinate - even under the control of ultra-Orthodox rabbis who hold a far different approach to Judaism - simply because of its significance as a symbol of the state.</p> <p>But now, when Israel is on the cusp of a new legitimate government, the rabbis who profess to lead the movement are looking the other way.&nbsp;</p> <IMG id=captionImageElement19064954> <p>Despite ideological differences, a legally elected government has come under vicious and hateful attack. The ancient Jewish principle of <a href="https://www.halachipedia.com/index.php?title=Abiding_by_Civilian_Law" class="bluelink" style=""><em>Dina d'malkhuta dina</em></a><em> - </em>a religious ruling that binds Jews to the civil law of the country in which they live - has been forgotten, even though it is a cornerstone of civilized society.&nbsp;</p> <p>The same spiritual leaders have in the past supported and even promoted coalitions with parties that do not share many of their religious values. But now they have abandoned the new government simply because it does not share their right-wing views. &nbsp;</p> message 59426510 Egypt, Israel cooperate on Gaza but ‘normalization’ distant Analysis: Expert on Arab-Israeli relations says that only when Egyptians are convinced that peace with its neighbor is good not only for them but also also for the Palestinians can bilateral ties improve beyond the current cold peace Daniel Sonnenfeld/The Media Line https://www.ynetnews.com/article/SkQ7hD8c00 Fri, 04 Jun 2021 19:14:7 +03:00 Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi arrived in Cairo on Sunday to meet with Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry, the first such official visit of an Israeli foreign minister to Egypt in over a decade. The visit came after the ministers exchanged several phone calls during the recent round of fighting between Israel and Gaza. Egyptian officials worked closely with the two sides to facilitate a cease-fire that would return calm to the region and, indeed, a temporary cessation to the hostilities was reached through Egyptian mediation. Now, the countries are looking to achieve long-term quiet between Israel and Gaza’s rulers, Hamas. Ashkenazi tweeted before the start of the visit that “we will discuss establishing a permanent cease-fire with Hamas, a mechanism for providing humanitarian aid and the reconstruction of Gaza with a pivotal role played by the international community.” The minister also tweeted that the two “discussed enhancing economic and trade cooperation, including the renewal of direct flights between our countries.” Following the ministerial visit, Israel’s ambassador to Egypt Amira Oron told Ynet that there was a possibility of furthering the economic ties between the countries. “We want to be in a momentum of widening the scope of our relations with Egypt,” she said. Israel and Egypt do cooperate closely on matters of security. Dr. Haim Koren, former Israeli ambassador to Egypt and an expert on the Arab world who currently teaches at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya, says that the current cooperation on security issues arises from Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi’s identification of Iran and Islamist terror groups as his country’s greatest threats. Following this development in Egypt’s perspective on national security, “there arose, for the first time since the founding of the state [of Israel] a coalition which includes Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan – and Israel – that identifies the same actors as their m cooperate closely on matters of security.&nbsp;</p> <p>Dr. Haim Koren, former Israeli ambassador to Egypt and an expert on the Arab world who currently teaches at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya, says that the current cooperation on security issues arises from Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi’s identification of Iran and Islamist terror groups as his country’s greatest threats.&nbsp;</p> <IMG id=captionImageElement18965290> <p>Following this development in Egypt’s perspective on national security, “there arose, for the first time since the founding of the state [of Israel] a coalition which includes Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan – and Israel – that identifies the same actors as their most critical threats,” Koren says.&nbsp;</p> <p>According to Koren, this larger coalition is in itself a force pushing the neighboring countries closer.&nbsp;</p> <p>"The relationship between the countries since 2014 is excellent, they’re the best they’ve been since the Camp David Accords,” he says of the Egypt-Israel peace agreement signed in 1970.</p> <IMG id=captionImageElement18965291> <p>In addition to the security realm, Egypt and Israel have been drawing closer on energy matters.&nbsp;</p> <p>Together, they worked to launch the East Mediterranean Gas Forum, an international organization looking to ensure better dialogue and cooperation on the gas reserves discovered in the eastern Mediterranean.&nbsp;</p> <p>Notably, the Palestinian Authority also is a member. Israel is exporting natural gas to Egypt and hopes to increase its exports to the European market with the help of Egypt’s natural gas liquefying plants.</p> <IMG id=captionImageElement18965292> <p>Tourism is another area in which there has been talk recently that points to closer relations.&nbsp;</p> <p>Israel reportedly is considering lowering the travel warning level on the Sinai Peninsula, which attracts hundreds of thousands of Israelis annually. In addition, direct flights to the Egyptian vacation destination Sharm al-Sheikh also are on the table.</p> <p>Israel’s relations with Egypt are famously characterized as a cold peace. This long list of developments may be seen as an indication of a warming of ties which could bring the relationship of the two countries closer to that of the recently established relations between Israel and the UAE.</p> <IMG id=captionImageElement18965293> <p>Dr. Ofir Winter, an expert on Israel-Egypt relations at Tel Aviv University’s Institute for National Security Studies, suggests that economic issues are a major motivator for Egypt.&nbsp;</p> <p>“I think that the economy is a central issue in Egypt and has been so for several years. The main challenges faced by the country at present are economic challenges,” he says.&nbsp;</p> <p>COVID-19 and its limitations did nothing to help, of course. Tourism is an important industry in Egypt, and Winter estimates that it decreased by 75% during the pandemic. The increased cooperation with Israel, he says, may help its southern neighbor economically.</p> <p>Winter adds that Cairo’s relations with Israel recently helped it score points with Washington.&nbsp;</p> <p>“Egypt very much wants to get closer to Biden … and it’s using its role as mediator between Israel and Hamas in Gaza to show that it is an asset to the U.S., that it is a force for stability and peace in the region,” he says.</p> <IMG id=captionImageElement18965294> <p>Winter concludes that there has been progress in the ties between the countries, and there is greater cooperation; however, the steps forward have been taken within the traditional framework of the Egypt-Israel relationship: security and some economic and tourist activity.&nbsp;</p> <p>At present, it is too early to talk of a thaw in relations that would bring Egypt and Israel closer to what was enabled by the Abraham Accords.&nbsp;</p> <p>Walid Kazziha, a professor of political science at The American University in Cairo and an expert on relations between the Arab world and Israel, notes that there have been moments in the past when the two countries have drawn closer.&nbsp;</p> <p>“However, these moments never lasted long enough to sustain a stable relationship. Very often, Israeli violent actions against the Palestinians under occupation intervened to jeopardize such efforts,” he says.</p> <IMG id=captionImageElement18965295> <p>Kazziha believes that the only path to warmer ties between Israel and Egypt is “when Egyptians, as a people, become more convinced that peace with Israel is not only good for them but also good for the Palestinians. If that happens Egyptians will be willing to receive Israelis with open arms, and they may even open their homes to them.”&nbsp;</p> <p>Without this, whatever progress is made in cooperation regarding security and financial matters is “by no means an indication of a warm peace materializing,” he said.</p> <p>Koren, however, says that Israel is a strategic partner that is greatly valued by the Egyptian government.</p> <p>An example, he says, is the fact that Israel repeatedly insists that Cairo act as mediator in the region, a position that entails great prestige, especially in the Middle East.&nbsp;</p> <IMG id=captionImageElement18965296> <p>This warm connection between governments is pushing forward changes outside the realm of security and energy, which may in time encourage a more significant change.</p> <p>The former ambassador notes that Sisi has included the peace accords between the countries in Egyptian schools’ curriculum.&nbsp;</p> <p>“Now, in a new museum, the national Egyptian museum, there is a section which revolves around Jewish life there,” he says.</p> <p>These are small changes and they have been made very carefully and slowly, but over time, they may have a large impact.</p> <p><br></p> <p><strong>Reprinted with permission from </strong><a href="https://themedialine.org/" class="bluelink" style=""><strong>The Media Line</strong></a><strong>&nbsp;</s message 59425950 Iranian Queen’s Gambit meets the Israeli Sicilian Defense Opinion: Chess theory offers an insight into Iran’s strategic moves, including the Islamic Republic's readiness to continue to sacrifice Hamas and Hezbollah when it suits it to achieve a strategic imbalance; for loyalty is to the king and not asked of him Zaq Harrison https://www.ynetnews.com/article/H1sRU885u Fri, 04 Jun 2021 14:36:31 +03:00 With its economy on the brink of collapse, the survival of the Islamic regime in Tehran might depend on a new deal with the United States and the West. Iran’s proxy war, making use of Hamas and Hezbollah against Israel, is a critical tool to pressure the West to acquiesce to the demands of the Islamic Republic. These include a complete opening of their economy to the world markets and the acceptance of their nuclear and ballistic missile programs. Using a live chess theory approach that studies chess strategies, openings, and historical games between grandmasters, we can identify Iran’s strategic moves in real time and examine what are its goals and whether it is a rational actor. Ultimately, the most important question is this: Will Tehran use nuclear weapons? Unlike Artificial Intelligence, which is an analytical process, chess is a systemic process. AI is built on mimicking human cognitive ability with the aid of supercomputing, extrapolating infinite scenario options. Chess relies on unique human choices for each move that may or may not involve intuition and self-awareness. A recent article said the 2021 Israel-Palestine crisis was the first war with supercomputing and AI. Israeli systems used AI to make highest-value target recommendations for military intelligence. Another system mapped the terrain in Gaza and was able to identify in real time changes that would indicate live launch sites. Yet another utilized field information to alert Israeli troops of possible imminent attacks. Brig. Gen. Yosef Kuperwasser, a former head of the Research Division of the Israel Defense Forces Military Intelligence Directorate, in a groundbreaking paper published by the Brookings Institution, supported the use of Systemic Thinking (of which chess analysis is an example) as a geopolitical and military intelligence analytical tool. “Systemic Thinking,” Kuperwasser wrote, “allowed analysts to offer more rounded intelligence estimates and produce a holistic intelligenceitary intelligence.&nbsp;</p> <p>Another system mapped the terrain in Gaza and was able to identify in real time changes that would indicate live launch sites. Yet another utilized field information to alert Israeli troops of possible imminent attacks.</p> <IMG id=captionImageElement18965347> <p>Brig. Gen. Yosef Kuperwasser, a former head of the Research Division of the Israel Defense Forces Military Intelligence Directorate, in a <a href="https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/10_intelligence_kuperwasser.pdf" class="bluelink" style="">groundbreaking paper</a> published by the Brookings Institution, supported the use of Systemic Thinking (of which chess analysis is an example) as a geopolitical and military intelligence analytical tool.&nbsp;</p> <p>“Systemic Thinking,” Kuperwasser wrote, “allowed analysts to offer more rounded intelligence estimates and produce a holistic intelligence product by better understanding the way arenas develop and increasing focus on the cultural surroundings of a subject (ideology, religion, public opinion, psychology, literature, and arts).”</p> <p>Chess is about controlling the center, gaining spatial advantage, and protecting the king – all concepts that can be applied to the Israel-Iran conflict. Nothing in chess is random; all pieces have only one objective: to serve the king (aka the regime).&nbsp;</p> <p>As the game progresses, pieces are sacrificed for the greater good. Unless the players agree to a draw, a tie, the game is over when the attacking player declares to the opponent “checkmate” - from the Persian <em>shah mat</em>, the king is dead.</p> <p>I spoke at length with former Iranian chess champions and asked them to analyze the Islamic Republic’s geopolitical moves through the lens of chess openings and strategies. All spoke freely on condition of anonymity out of concern for the safety of their families that still reside in Iran.</p> <p>In the geopolitical chess game between Iran and Israel, Iran is playing white and is on the offense. In chess parlance, Iran is playing a Queen’s Gambit.&nbsp;</p> <IMG id=captionImageElement18965348> <p>A gambit is a chess opening that dangles a piece, daring you to take it. The Queen’s Gambit temps the opponent into allocating important resources atop each other, restricting their movements. It is not unlike the Battle of Thermopylae, where the Spartans were trapped in a mountain pass.</p> <p>The Iranians will continue to sacrifice Hamas, as well as Hezbollah, when it suits them to achieve a strategic imbalance. Loyalty, after all, is to the king; it is not asked of the king.</p> <p>When the Queen’s Gambit is played, even the queen herself can be sacrificed.&nbsp;</p> <p>According to a former family member of Iran’s ruling elite who served under Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and then briefly under the Islamic regime, the Islamic regime did exactly this when it “sacrificed” Gen. Qasem Soleimani, commander of the Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force.&nbsp;</p> <IMG id=captionImageElement18965349> <p>Articles in Time and the Atlantic Council both point to the lack of a substantial Iranian retaliation for his “martyrdom” and the potential benefits of Soleimani’s death to the regime – providing a rallying point for the people and eliminating a potential internal threat for the clerics who wish to control the transfer of power when Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei dies.</p> <p>Israel is playing black, on defense, and has declined Iran’s gambit. The Jewish state is playing a version of the transposed Sicilian Defense, whose main goal is to pressure white’s center.&nbsp;</p> <p>It does this by sacrificing a position on the periphery while attacking and holding a critical space in the center. Israel, knowing Iran has a space advantage that cannot be overcome, is playing Sicilian to counter and execute deep attacks into enemy territory.&nbsp;</p> <p>This is strategic subterfuge in seeking to place an attacking piece deep into enemy territory where it can cause chaos. Black’s goal with the Sicilian Defense is to bring imbalanced and asymmetrical positions onto the chessboard and maintain this imbalance.</p> <p>Chess is about controlling space, attacking weak squares, and gaining control over other open squares. Iran can produce insane complications, create a lot of tactical possibilities to surprise Israel, and get into a long, drawn-out endgame if Israel does not finish the job in the middle game.&nbsp;</p> <p>If Israel would had been entrenched fighting in Gaza, Iran’s next move would have been for Hezbollah to fire its missiles into Israel, opening a third front and wreaking havoc.</p> <IMG id=captionImageElement18965350> <p>Chess purists reading this will revolt. Iran and Israel are playing parallel games. In an actual game of chess, the Sicilian Defense cannot be played against the Queen’s Gambit. Geopolitics is not limited by the 64 squares and the time clock of a standard game of chess.</p> <p>During the Cold War, chess theory demonstrated that the former Soviet Union was extremely unlikely to launch nuclear weapons. In Russian (Soviet) chess, the draw is a valued strategic tool. The same chess theory tells us quite a different story regarding the Islamic Republic in Tehran that will sacrifice anything and anyone to stay in power.</p> <p>In chess, a space advantage allows a player to take strategic risks; it makes affordable the consequences of the opponent’s counter.</p> <p>American constitutional and criminal law professor Alan Dershowitz frequently tells an anecdote about the late Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani that illustrates a classic implementation of the centrality of space in chess theory.&nbsp;</p> <p>Rafsanjani, considered a relative moderate, once told an American journalist that if Iran launched a strategic nuclear strike on Israel, it would “kill as many as 5 million Jews,” and that if Israel retaliated, it would kill 15 million Iranians.&nbsp;</p> <p>This, Rafsanjani says message 59423950 Historic coalition deal could help divided Israel heal Opinion: With the dark cloud of the sectarian violence of last month still hovering over the country, Mansour Abbas' decision to join 'coalition for change' marks an opportunity for genuine partnership and cooperation between Israeli Jews and Arabs Merav Batito https://www.ynetnews.com/article/BkexUbIcO Thu, 03 Jun 2021 23:30:56 +03:00 Few moments in Israel's political history could compete with what is set to occur in the coming days: After 12 years in power, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be removed from his seat. The meeting that took place late Wednesday between Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid, Yamina head Naftali Bennett and Ra'am chief Mansour Abbas - which ended with the three signing a coalition agreement - is a close second. Abbas' signature specifically transcends the usual formality of the event. It symbolizes the beginning of a return to normality for Israeli society and a hint that at the end of the day the country's leaders gathered the courage needed to free themselves of the shackles of prejudice and distorted perceptions. For years, Netanyahu used inciting and hurtful rhetoric against Israeli Arabs. Suddenly in a desperate move following the March 2021 elections, he made the Islamist Ra'am party kosher, a move that in the end only benefitted his opponents. Netanyahu pushed Arabs and Jews into a corner, forcing them for the first time in the country's history to see each other as genuine and equal partners. Though this change in reality might seem surprising, it truly is not: Public opinion polls showed again and again that Israeli Jews and Arabs wish to live in peaceful coexistence, with Ra'am's four Knesset seats a testament to this. In less than a year, the formerly unknown lawmaker became a central figure in Israeli politics, courted by the prime minister and a sought-after interviewee for the country's media outlets. But despite all the political breakthroughs, the dark cloud of the sectarian violence the country experienced last month still hovers above everything, refusing to disperse and casting a shadow over any blossoming relationships. Many residents of Israel's mixed cities are still picking up the pieces of their former lives, wondering if their communities can ever return to normal after neighbors ran through the streets, baying for blood. This "coament to this.&nbsp;</p> <p>In less than a year, the formerly unknown lawmaker became a central figure in Israeli politics, courted by the prime minister and a sought-after interviewee for the country's media outlets.&nbsp;</p> <p>But despite all the political breakthroughs, the dark cloud of the sectarian violence the country experienced last month still hovers above everything, refusing to disperse and casting a shadow over any blossoming relationships.&nbsp;</p> <IMG id=captionImageElement18974958> <p>Many residents of Israel's mixed cities are still picking up the pieces of their former lives, wondering if their communities can ever return to normal after neighbors ran through the streets, baying for blood.&nbsp;</p> <p>This "coalition for change" might just be the thing to restore the sense of security that Israel's current leaders have destroyed.</p> <p>Now, that this political barrier has been breached, it is the responsibility of the government-to-be to keep it open, expand it further and ensure that this wall of hate and disunity will never be rebuilt for political purposes.&nbsp;</p> message 59412380 Netanyahu's end was engineered by those he disdained Opinion: The Likud leader has always treated allies with contempt and with his removal from the national stage, those who were on the receiving end of his abuse will also likely demand his removal from the leadership of the party Ovad Yehezkel https://www.ynetnews.com/article/SJLe3tX900 Tue, 01 Jun 2021 23:53:26 +03:00 Benjamin Netanyahu's looming political downfall can be attributed to the actions of five former allies. Gideon Saar, who resigned from Likud to form the New Hope party, had previously served as cabinet secretary; Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman was director-general of the Prime Minister's Office; Yamina head Naftali Bennett and his deputy Ayelet Shaked both ran Netanyahu's office when he was leader of the opposition; and former Likud minister Zeev Elkin, now of New Hope, was coalition chairman for the prime minister and once among his closest associates. The past two years have seen four rounds of elections and continued political chaos after both Netanyahu and his political opponents repeatedly failed to cobble together a majority government. But the prime minister's assumption that if he were to be replaced, it would be by his political rivals, turned out to be wrong. And despite blanket support from his Likud party, whose loyal members never publicly questioned their leader's decisions (a position they may yet regret as it impinges on their own political futures) it was his opposition from the right that finally took a stand and declared that Netanyahu must go. Liberman was first to make the move. Netanyahu explained away his former ally's motives as personal and not ideological - and he was not entirely wrong in his assessment. When Gideon Saar, who failed to remove the prime minister from the leadership of Likud in a primary election, resigned from the party, Netanyahu ignored the warning signs and showered his former associate with contempt. Then it was Elkin who left. He was a dependable ally who facilitated many of Netanyahu's political maneuvering over the years, built seemingly impossible coalitions for the prime minister and ensured parliamentary discipline that allowed the leader to advance his agendas. But even he left after he was repeatedly humiliated as others in Likud were promoted over him into more senior ministerial positions. Th052> <p>When Gideon Saar, who failed to remove the prime minister from the leadership of Likud in a primary election, resigned from the party, Netanyahu ignored the warning signs and showered his former associate with contempt.&nbsp;</p> <p>Then it was Elkin who left. He was a dependable ally who facilitated many of Netanyahu's political maneuvering over the years, built seemingly impossible coalitions for the prime minister and ensured parliamentary discipline that allowed the leader to advance his agendas.&nbsp;</p> <p>But even he left after he was repeatedly humiliated as others in Likud were promoted over him into more senior ministerial positions.</p> <IMG id=captionImageElement18925053> <p>The last to defect were Bennett and Shaked. Who until the last minute said they preferred a right-wing government but ultimately went with a broad coalition from across the spectrum. &nbsp;</p> <p>All five know Netanyahu's secrets. They took part in formulating his strategies and understand his motivations on important national security matters as well as in petty political battles.&nbsp;</p> <p>By announcing their intention to remove him from the leadership of the country, they embarked on a battle without an army and with no guarantee of success.</p> <p>Netanyahu's mistreatment of members in his own camp was well known. Many who aspired one day to replace him accepted this behavior.&nbsp;</p> <p>They were oft,en excluded from meetings, barred from participating in election campaigns and sent forth to television studios to mouth statements prepared for them by others.&nbsp;</p> <p>Had the Likud leader allowed any of them to rise through the ranks of the party and even be rewarded with a leadership role, Likud would have likely been able to head a right-wing coalition after the March 23 elections.</p> <IMG id=captionImageElement18925054> <p>But Netanyahu made Israeli politics about him and not the country. And with his removal from power, many in his party can be expected to message 59411350 Hamas will not get the prisoner swap it wants Analysis: While Israel is not expected to accept Yahya Sinwar's demands to release 1,111 prisoners in exchange for the bodies of two Israeli soldiers and two Israeli captives, it is willing to ignore previous recommendations and free hundreds of terrorists Ron Ben-Yishai https://www.ynetnews.com/article/rk3iVoQ5d Tue, 01 Jun 2021 20:2:8 +03:00 The Hamas leader in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, said Monday that he was willing to reach a deal with Israel that would include the return of the bodies of two fallen IDF soldiers and two civilians held by the terror group in exchange for the release of Palestinians jailed in Israel. But this is old news. Hamas agreed to a prisoner swap after the 2014 Gaza war, but the demands made by the terror group at the time were unacceptable to the Israeli government. When Hamas was struggling with the outbreak of coronavirus in the Strip earlier this year, Sinwar was willing to modify his demands. Israel at the time saw an opportunity to make a deal and advised Egyptian mediators that they would be magnanimous in their offer to Hamas. Arab media reported at the time that the Israeli government was willing to release hundreds of Hamas prisoners. Sinwar insisted that the agreement with Israel be conducted in two phases. In the first phase, women and elderly or ill prisoners would be released and in the second phase hundreds of Hamas members who participated in murderous attacks against Israelis would go free. Because of this insistence by Sinwar, the deal fell through in December 2020. On Monday, speaking in front of cameras belonging to the international media, Sinwar said: "Remember the number 1,111." He is now demanding the release of 1,111 prisoners, more than were released in the deal to free IDF soldier Gilad Shalit in 2011, who had been held for five years in Hamas captivity. Sinwar himself was among the 1,027 prisoners freed in that exchange. Israeli defense officials indicated that there was no chance that the government would accept the Hamas demands and that Sinwar appears to have convinced himself that he was the victor in the 11-days of cross border fighting in May. Israel is adamant that it will not allow reconstruction in Gaza to begin before the matter of prisoners held by Hamas is resolved. And the current government and possibly the coalition that follows are of 1,111 prisoners, more than were released in the deal to free IDF soldier Gilad Shalit in 2011, who had been held for five years in Hamas captivity.&nbsp;</p> <p>Sinwar himself was among the 1,027 prisoners freed in that exchange.</p> <IMG id=captionImageElement18830691> <p>Israeli defense officials indicated that there was no chance that the government would accept the Hamas demands and that Sinwar appears to have convinced himself that he was the victor in the 11-days of cross border fighting in May.</p> <p>Israel is adamant that it will not allow reconstruction in Gaza to begin before the matter of prisoners held by Hamas is resolved. And the current government and possibly the coalition that follows are unlikely to agree to Sinwar's terms. &nbsp;</p> <IMG id=captionImageElement18830692> <p>Even so, the government appears willing to ignore the recommendations of the Shamgar Commission established after the Shalit deal - which state that Israel must exchange a body for a body and a prisoner for a prisoner – and is willing to consider the possibility of freeing hundreds of Hamas prisoners.</p> <p><br></p> message 59407190 Netanyahu's throne of lies Opinion: The veteran leader is only interested in a government in which he serves as prime minister and is spreading lies, incitement and division that pose a threat to the country, thereby proving that Israel needs new, responsible leadership Ben-Dror Yemini https://www.ynetnews.com/article/B1AoZEM5O Mon, 31 May 2021 23:46:51 +03:00 Swearing in a new coalition in Israel is not going to be easy and before that happens the country's political nerves will be tested to the limit. Temperatures are already rising and the incitement against it has already reached new heights. Israelis have been here before and know all too well where political violence can lead. But one thing is clear, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's mendacious propaganda machine has moved its focus from Religious Zionist leader Bezalel Smotrich to Yamina head Naftali Bennett. Smotrich was actually to blame for Netanyahu's failure to form a right-wing government by refusing to join a coalition that would rely on external support from the Islamist Ra'am party. But Yamina under Bennett was all set to join such a government and stated as much publicly. The claim that Bennett prevented a right-wing coalition from forming is a lie of monumental proportions. Israel is not currently divided politically along leftist and rightist lines, nor is it split on the issues of West Bank annexation or future Palestinian statehood. The rift is not even over the independence of the judiciary or inequality in the Israeli social structure. The only issue to dominate Israeli politics over the past two years is whether Netanyahu should lead the next government or whether he would be ejected from office. The people have spoken. Netanyahu failed to win majority support in the Knesset after the March 23 elections, for the fourth time in two years. But the prime minister refused to accept defeat and was prepared to drag Israel into yet another election, to the detriment of the entire country. He was willing to gamble with the future of the nation in a manner unbefitting the leader of a nationalist camp and was surely an affront to the national interests. Netanyahu has no qualms about spending billions of shekels on yet another in a string of failed election campaigns in the hopes that this one will finally yield the results he wants. In his statemears is whether Netanyahu should lead the next government or whether he would be ejected from office.</p> <p>The people have spoken. Netanyahu failed to win majority support in the Knesset after the March 23 elections, for the fourth time in two years.</p> <p>But the prime minister refused to accept defeat and was prepared to drag Israel into yet another election, to the detriment of the entire country.</p> <IMG id=captionImageElement19064964> <p>He was willing to gamble with the future of the nation in a manner unbefitting the leader of a nationalist camp and was surely an affront to the national interests.</p> <p>Netanyahu has no qualms about spending billions of shekels on yet another in a string of failed election campaigns in the hopes that this one will finally yield the results he wants.</p> <p>In his statement Sunday in response to Bennett's announcement that he would be joining the anti-Netanyahu bloc to form a new government, the prime minister accused his former ally of breaking an election promise never to serve in a coalition with centrist Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid.</p> <p>But no one has broken more promises than Netanyahu himself. Even before the latest election, he vowed he would never again agree to a rotation of prime ministers.&nbsp;</p> <IMG id=captionImageElement19064965> <p>But he then offered Bennett and New Hope leader Gideon Saar exactly that if only they agreed to join his government, going so far as to suggest that the three of them split the premiership three ways.&nbsp;</p> <p>Netanyahu has squandered the last of his political credit. After the March 2020 elections, he committed to a power-sharing coalition with Blue &amp; White leader Benny Gantz. But almost immediately Netanyahu began to violate the coalition agreement he had just signed, ultimately leading to the fall of the government and yet more elections.</p> <IMG id=captionImageElement19064966> <p>Now Netanyahu says Bennett is joining a left-wing government that he claims poses a danger to Israel, despite having offered many potential members of that government a seat at the table in his own coalition.</p> <p>The prime minister knows a right-wing government could be quickly established if only he were willing to step aside and let another member of his Likud party assume power.&nbsp;</p> <p>But Netanyahu is not interested in seeing a right-wing government, he is only interested in a government that he leads.</p> <p>Netanyahu will devote every minute until a new coalition can be announced to ramp up incitement and division. With every passing hour he becomes more desperate and more dangerous.&nbsp;</p> <IMG id=captionImageElement19064967> <p>It is sad to see one of Israel's most talented politicians become a danger to his own country.</p> <p>His speech Sunday was manipulative incitement laden with lies. It is proof that he must be replaced with new leaders who are more responsible and determined to unite the country.&nbsp;</p> <p>Sadly, these are attributes that Netanyahu has lost somewhere along the way.</p> message 59404700 Disputes and demands: Hurdles on path to new government Analysis: While officials in the so-called 'coalition for change' say negotiations are at an advanced stage, there are still gaps to be bridged as right-wing parties want portfolios bound for other parties and majority in the Judicial Selection Committee Moran Azulay https://www.ynetnews.com/article/HyGaJVfqd Mon, 31 May 2021 14:45:31 +03:00 As soon as Yamina leader Naftali Bennett announced that he would be joining centrist Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid in his effort to form a government, the so-called 'coalition for change' rushed to finalize the agreement that could see Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ousted from the premiership after 12 years. "I announce that I intend to do my utmost to establish a national unity government with my friend Yair Lapid, so that together, God willing, we will save the country from its turmoil and get Israel back on track,” said Bennett in his official announcement on Sunday evening. And while Lapid hopes to finalize all the details of the coalition agreement by the time his mandate ends on June 2, it is likely the Yesh Atid chair would tell President Reuven Rivlin that he managed to form a government even before the deadline ends. Because everybody in the coalition for change knows that any delay could threaten to topple the already shaky foundations of this political partnership. The negotiation teams of Lapid’s Yesh Atid, Bennett’s Yamina, Gideon Saar’s New Hope and Benny Gantz’s Blue & White apparently were hashing out the terms of the agreement until 3am on Monday. And the talks are set to resume later in the day in order to table the agreement before the Knesset at the earliest possible date. In addition, a team headed by Oded Forer from Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu party, met with professionals from the Finance Ministry to discuss budget issues. This only adds to the rumors that Liberman will most likely become the next finance minister. All in all, negotiations are at an advanced stage and are proceeding as planned according to those familiar with the details. But, there are still some gaps left to bridge. The first of which is New Hope’s demand to give MK Yoaz Hendel the tourism or communications portfolios - which are both supposed to remain in the hands of Yesh Atid. As per the current agreement, four of the six New Hope MKs are supposed to serveinu party, met with professionals from the Finance Ministry to discuss budget issues. This only adds to the rumors that Liberman will most likely become the next finance minister.</p> <IMG id=captionImageElement18790805> <p>All in all, negotiations are at an advanced stage and are proceeding as planned according to those familiar with the details. But, there are still some gaps left to bridge.</p> <p>The first of which is New Hope’s demand to give MK Yoaz Hendel the tourism or communications portfolios - which are both supposed to remain in the hands of Yesh Atid.&nbsp;</p> <p>As per the current agreement, four of the six New Hope MKs are supposed to serve as ministers: Gideon Saar as justice minister, Yifat Shasha-Bitton as education minister, Zeev Elkin as housing minister, and Hendel, who currently remains without a portfolio.</p> <p>Another hurdle is the agriculture portfolio, which Blue &amp; White are demanding be handed over to them even though it was promised to Yisrael Beiteinu.</p> <IMG id=captionImageElement18790806> <p>In addition, the right-wing parties are demanding a majority representation in the Judicial Selection Committee.&nbsp;</p> <p>The issue appears to be another friction point since one chair in the committee was already promised to Labor leader Merav Michaeli, while another two representatives are set to be elected via a secret process. The right-wing bloc wants to ensure that if another left-wing representative is elected, Michaeli would forgo her spot on the committee.</p> <p>Another issue lies in the question of who will receive the diaspora and the Negev and the Galilee portfolios. The latter was promised to Yisrael Beiteinu but Yamina's deputy leader Ayelet Shaked wants the portfolio to be integrated into the Interior Ministry, which she is supposed to head under the emerging agreement.</p> <p>In the meantime, Bennett - who is supposed to serve as prime minister for the first two years under the rotation agreement with Lapid - continues to claim that members of his party are united in the move despite Netanyahu’s enormous efforts to divide them.</p> <IMG id=captionImageElement18790807> <p>Most members of Bennett's faction expressed support for his decision. The exceptions are MK Amichai Chikli, who has vocalized his opposition to joining the coalition for change, and MK Nir Orbach, who still appears to be on the fence.&nbsp;</p> <p>Meanwhile, the Arab Balad party which makes up the Joint List alliance, announced their opposition to joining the Lapid-Bennett government.</p> <p>"The 'coalition for change' does not herald any real change, and it will be headed by a man, whose positions are more right-wing, radical and racist than Netanyahu's," Balad said in a statement.</p> <IMG id=captionImageElement18790808> <p>"We strongly oppose Netanyahu and see him as a dangerous man for the entire region, but a fundamental change in policy is needed and not just a change in personnel," said Shahadeh.&nbsp;</p> <p>"We heard Bennett, who is known for his far-right positions and his past statements about being proud to have murdered many Arabs. [Bennett] even made it clear that he is passionate about engaging in more military operations and wars."</p> <p><br></p> message 59398190 Gaza truce shifts focus to Egypt's regional role Analysis: Diplomats say Cairo efforts to end May fighting more visible than during previous rounds of violence swaying U.S. in favor of Egyptian president after he was criticized for human rights violations Associated Press https://www.ynetnews.com/article/H1xut2lcd Sun, 30 May 2021 11:5:32 +03:00 Egypt's work to broker and secure the truce in the Gaza Strip has thrust it into the diplomatic spotlight, prompting top-level reengagement from Washington and overshadowing moves by several Arab states to normalize ties with Israel. The efforts have earned Cairo recognition at a time when it was struggling to strike a rapport with U.S. President Joe Biden's administration amid differences on human rights, and to make progress on its top foreign policy goal - a deal to regulate an Ethiopian dam that Egypt sees as a major threat to its supplies of Nile water. Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi was due in Cairo on Sunday for meetings on the ceasefire. While Cairo has mediated during previous rounds of violence between Israel and the Palestinians through its ties with both sides, analysts and diplomats say its efforts have been more visible than in recent years. As the week-old ceasefire took hold between Israel and Hamas, the militant Islamist faction that controls Gaza, Egyptian security delegations shuttled between Tel Aviv and the Palestinian territories. Next week, Palestinian figures including Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh are due to start visits to Cairo to further shore up the truce, Egyptian security sources said. "There is a more active effort by Egypt and President (Abdel Fattah al-) Sisi. It was clear throughout the 11 days of war," a Hamas official told Reuters. Though Hamas has roots in the Muslim Brotherhood, which is outlawed and subject to a severe crackdown in Egypt, Cairo has well-established intelligence ties with the group. Because of the importance Egypt attaches to security on the border between its Sinai Peninsula and Gaza, it is "super pragmatic" about its dealings with the Palestinian faction, said one diplomat. Other Arab states have played a more limited role. These include Jordan, which like Egypt has a decades-old peace treaty with Israel and shares a border with the Palestinian territories, and Qatar, which has provided financial suppor11 days of war," a Hamas official told Reuters.</p> <p>Though Hamas has roots in the Muslim Brotherhood, which is outlawed and subject to a severe crackdown in Egypt, Cairo has well-established intelligence ties with the group.</p> <p>Because of the importance Egypt attaches to security on the border between its Sinai Peninsula and Gaza, it is "super pragmatic" about its dealings with the Palestinian faction, said one diplomat.</p> <p>Other Arab states have played a more limited role. These include Jordan, which like Egypt has a decades-old peace treaty with Israel and shares a border with the Palestinian territories, and Qatar, which has provided financial support to Gaza.</p> <p>They also include the United Arab Emirates, which called for de-escalation and was the most prominent of four Arab states to announce it was normalizing ties with Israel last year as part of the Abraham Accords promoted by former U.S. President Donald Trump's administration.</p> <p>The agreements triggered speculation that Egypt's regional sway could be diluted, but analysts say this month's violence put the signatories - who include Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco - in a sensitive spot as Arab sympathy with Palestinians surged.</p> <IMG id=captionImageElement18749169> <p>"The recent descent into open conflict, in Jerusalem and Gaza, has underlined how little control the Gulf signatories have over Israel's behavior," wrote Kristin Smith Diwan of The Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington.</p> <p>The UAE Foreign Ministry declined to comment on whether Emirati officials had been in contact with Israel to try to calm the recent violence.</p> <p>The UAE's ambassador to Washington, Yousef al-Otaiba, said last month that it was possible to "do business with Israel and have a tough conversation about the Palestinian issue at the same time".</p> <p>Asked if Israel saw the UAE as a partner in cooling tensions with the Palestinians, Israel's envoy to the UAE, Eitan Na'eh, told reporters on Wednesday that it was too early to say, adding that the UAE could encourage moderation in the region.</p> <IMG id=captionImageElement18749170> <p>For Egypt and Sisi, who enjoyed good relations with Trump, one achievement of the ceasefire push has been the sudden resumption of contact with the White House.</p> <p>After an awkward silence that had lasted since Biden's inauguration in January, the U.S. leader spoke twice with Sisi in five days.</p> <p>However, U.S. and Egyptian reengagement around the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will be limited by the current lack of prospects for a peace process, analysts say.</p> <IMG id=captionImageElement18749171> <p>"This is mostly conflict management rather than conflict resolution," said Nabil Fahmy, a former Egyptian foreign minister.</p> <p>In the past, "our engagement was on peace process issues as well as on the security issues in Gaza when things broke out. Presently there are no serious peace process issues."</p> <p>Egypt, which receives some $1.3 billion of U.S. military aid annually, has also faced strong criticism from U.S. Democrats over its human rights record. After a visit to Cairo this week, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said human rights remained "very much on the agenda".</p> <IMG id=captionImageElement18749172> <p>But Egypt has learned to wait out bumps in its relationship with Washington and after proving itself over Gaza had won some breathing space on rights, said Hafsa Halawa, a non-resident scholar at the Middle East Institute.</p> <p>"Egypt has become a patient foreign policy actor, and that really comes from the core institutional belief that Egypt is too big to fail," - a concept Egypt sees the United States and other allies as sharing, she said.</p> <p><br></p> message 59392980 Israelis and Palestinians need reconciliation Opinion: The conflict that has lasted for more than 70 years requires a path not taken before, one that leads to justice, coexistence and forgiveness; reconciliation could heal the hatred in this protracted battle and ease the burden of history Iyad Muhsen AlDajani https://www.ynetnews.com/article/H1D9gb6Ku Fri, 28 May 2021 23:25:14 +03:00 “Reconciliation is a promising alternative to so-called intractable conflicts such as the Israeli-Palestinian situation, where conflict resolution through peace agreements has failed because of the opposition of large segments of society” (Leiner, M. and AlDajani, I.M.S., 2019, ‘Reconciliation in the Middle of Conflict: An Approach to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict,’ Israel Palestine Journal, Vol. 24, No. 3) A story of King Solomon, a prophet in Islamic theology: Two women came into his palace arguing over a child that they both claimed as their own. King Solomon ordered that the child be cut in half and divided between the women. One of the women expressed willingness to go ahead with the proposal; the other gave up her claim so that at least the child would live, if not with her. Solomon awarded the child to the second woman, seeing that only she put the child’s interest, and life, ahead of her own desire to win the dispute. Such a mother was sure to nurture the baby with love and empathy. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been an intractable conflict for over 70 years, and we’re still trying to cut the baby in half. The conflict demands innovative ideas and practices that go beyond social, financial, and political interests. Reconciliation could heal the hatred in this protracted conflict. Reconciliation is more a process than the result of an ideal goal – a process for healing the burden of history. The reconciliation process happens between enemies and not friends. The relationship between enemies is defined as a reconciliation process in the midst of conflict, which evolves to restore broken ties and build a better perspective for the future. It could serve as the basis for our children’s best common future. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict needs a path not taken, which leads toward justice, coexistence, forgiveness, empathy, truth, and inclusiveness. Two cultures have invested much in denying the existence of the other; attempted agreements havesocial, financial, and political interests.</p> <p>Reconciliation could heal the hatred in this protracted conflict. Reconciliation is more a process than the result of an ideal goal – a process for healing the burden of history.&nbsp;</p> <p>The reconciliation process happens between enemies and not friends. The relationship between enemies is defined as a reconciliation process in the midst of conflict, which evolves to restore broken ties and build a better perspective for the future. It could serve as the basis for our children’s best common future.</p> <IMG id=captionImageElement18749205> <p>The Israeli-Palestinian conflict needs a path not taken, which leads toward justice, coexistence, forgiveness, empathy, truth, and inclusiveness.&nbsp;</p> <p>Two cultures have invested much in denying the existence of the other; attempted agreements have failed for a variety of reasons.&nbsp;</p> <p>The reconciliation process starts by recognizing the suffering and accepting the narrative of the other. It will connect the three important actors in the conflict: top-level leadership, middle-range leadership, and grassroots leadership, which can develop transformative action toward the reconciliation process in the midst of the conflict.&nbsp;</p> <p>Reconciliation undermines the egos and political ambitions of our current leaders.</p> <p>Matthew 5:9 in the New Testament says: “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.”</p> <p>The Quran (5:16) says: “By which Allah guides those who pursue His pleasure to the ways of peace and brings them out from darknesses into the light, by His permission, and guides them to a straight path.”</p> <p>The Torah (Ecclesiastes 3:8) refers to “a time to love and a time to hate; a time for war and a time for peace.”</p> <IMG id=captionImageElement18749206> <p>Lately, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has transformed into one that ignites hatred and animosity from one side of the conflict to the other. It has reached a crossroads between conflict and reconciliation.</p> <p>Taking action for one side while denying the rights of the other, as when former U.S. president Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, has ignited the conflict.&nbsp;</p> <p>Assigning occupied or disputed lands to one side while denying the other; jeopardizing past agreements by threatening to remove one side’s existence, such as in Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood; incidents such as those at Damascus Gate and in al-Aqsa Mosque during the holy month of Ramadan; denying peaceful worship for all religions in the holy city of Jerusalem – these are the results of implementing Trump’s declarations on the ground.</p> <IMG id=captionImageElement18749207> <p>Hamas and Israel have been in protracted conflict, and the siege has been almost 14 years long. It did not weaken Hamas or other parties but made them stronger politically and on the ground. It did not contribute to the security of Israelis. Hamas and other factions are part of Palestinian society and must be part of the solution, not the problem.</p> <p>Rockets, violence, and animosity will not end and will not bring prosperity; only resilience toward the reconciliation process in the midst of conflict has a chance of developing into a common future for both nations.&nbsp;</p> <p>The reconciliation process in the midst of conflict is a path not taken; it requires courage and resilience in the face of agony and oppression. The reconciliation process can guide a new generation away from the path of darkness, toward the light. The alternative is to allow the seeds of hatred to flourish within both Israelis and Palestinians for generations to come.</p> <IMG id=captionImageElement18749208> <p>Nelson Mandela once said: “No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to th message 59392590 The true motives of the ultra-Orthodox parties Analysis: Historically the Haredi parties have sided with left-wing policies on the peace process, including concessions to the Palestinians, so what is keeping them loyal to Netanyahu as he considers them a solid element of his political camp? Asher Maoz https://www.ynetnews.com/article/S1ZduypKd Fri, 28 May 2021 18:49:54 +03:00 While the so-called "coalition for change" continues with its apparently futile efforts to forge a majority government, the possibility remains that Israel will see another right-wing, religious coalition. The heads of the parties in this latter bloc, which is led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, have been made to sign a document committing to a "real right-wing government" and to thwarting the ongoing attempts by Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid to put together what Netanyahu has branded a coalition of left-wing and Arab parties. Yet there is just one party in Netanyahu's camp - the Religious Zionist party - that represents a true right-wing worldview, opposing any territorial concessions to the Palestinians and promoting annexation of the West Bank. The ultra-Orthodox parties have historically supported moderate Israeli positions on land and security. The Shas party, on the orders of its late founder and spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, abstained during the 1993 Knesset vote to accept the Oslo Accords, thereby ensuring their ratification. In 1979, when Israel was on the cusp of signing its peace deal with Egypt, Yosef went so far as to state that Jewish law did not prohibit a withdrawal from parts of the Land of Israel in the interests of peace. "...it seems that according to all opinions it is permitted to return areas of Israel in order to achieve this aim, since nothing is more important than the saving of life," Yosef said at the time. And in another rulings he asked: "So I will sacrifice the life of a people for a piece of land? For a mountain or a hill?" The Ashkenazi ultra-Orthodox parties were also previously seen to be supportive of peace moves such as territorial compromise. In fact one of their most revered spiritual leaders, Rabbi Elazar Menachem Shach, said that it was Torah and not Zionism that would ensure the continued existence of the Jewish people. Shach's opposition to the Israeli left was at the time based on its secularism. He slamel in order to achieve this aim, since nothing is more important than the saving of life," Yosef said at the time. &nbsp;</p> <p>And in another rulings he asked: "So I will sacrifice the life of a people for a piece of land? For a mountain or a hill?"</p> <p>The Ashkenazi ultra-Orthodox parties were also previously seen to be supportive of peace moves such as territorial compromise. In fact one of their most revered spiritual leaders, Rabbi Elazar Menachem Shach, said that it was Torah and not Zionism that would ensure the continued existence of the Jewish people.</p> <p>Shach's opposition to the Israeli left was at the time based on its secularism. He slammed the Kibbutz Movement and non-religious Israelis who did not observe Shabbat or Yom Kippur, or see the importance of ritual bathing.</p> <p>Only the Chabad Hassidic sect took a right-wing position and campaigned vigorously for Netanyahu's election in 1996. But they withdrew that support after he implemented the Oslo Accords, <a href="https://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-57830680,00.html" class="bluelink" style="">signed the Wye River Memorandum</a> to hand Hebron over to the Palestinian Authority and <a href="https://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/sharon-netanyahu-disengagement-and-likud-leadership" class="bluelink" style="">voted in favor</a> of the withdrawal from Gaza.</p> <IMG id=captionImageElement18710126> <p>Even Chabad rabbi and Australian millionaire Joseph Gutnick, who bankrolled the Netanyahu campaign for the 1996 elections, said at the time that the prime minister made decisions based on his political and personal interests. &nbsp;</p> <p>Netanyahu was also criticized by the ultra-Orthodox for marrying a non-Jewish woman (his second wife Fleur Cates converted to Judaism through the Conservative Movement).&nbsp;</p> <p>When his son Yair dated a non-Jewish Norwegian woman and Netanyahu boasted about it to the visiting prime minister of Norway, Shas leader Aryeh Deri said the matter message 59392000 Israel must rethink its Gaza policy Analysis: A new strategy must not be based on eroding deterrence or lax mechanism allowing materials for civilian reconstruction to flow to terror groups' to rebuild their military might, for the next war might spread to other fronts Michael Herzog https://www.ynetnews.com/article/SJ67AAnt00 Fri, 28 May 2021 14:7:57 +03:00 Now that the fighting between Israel and the Hamas terror group has subsided, the time has come for Israel to carefully examine the wisdom of its strategy on the Gaza Strip. Given that it is unrealistic to believe that the Palestinian Authority will take control of the Gaza Strip, and assuming Israel continues its policy of containment based on military deterrence, the challenge will be to boost the prospects of lasting stability on the border. Israel's past policies of containment have proven untenable. After the 51-day war in 2014, Israel and the international community agreed on a mechanism to rebuild Gaza while preventing the terror factions from doing the same with their military capabilities. Reconstruction efforts were slow paced and often suffered from lack of funding. And while Israel relied on international inspections and surveillance to ensure the terror factions would not be able to rebuild their military might, Hamas and Islamic Jihad managed to locally produce an arsenal of rockets in numbers and with the capability to target areas as far away as the center of Israel. After 2014, the flow of materials earmarked for reconstruction of civilian areas continued even after it became clear that Hamas was seizing them for their own military purposes. Materials also flowed in through the Salah-a-Din border crossing between Gaza and Egypt's Sinai Desert, which opened three years ago with very little inspection and where Hamas collects duty on every shipment in order to finance their operations. Israel hoped that allowing Qatari cash deliveries into Gaza, ostensibly for civilian infrastructure projects and financial aid for poor families, would ensure calm. But that too turned out to be an illusion because Qatar is a supporter of Hamas and home to some of its senior leadership. Even the efforts to negotiate long-term calm with the terror groups in Gaza failed, and the gulf between Israeli and Palestinian positions remained. Israel's deterrence erodedorder crossing between Gaza and Egypt's Sinai Desert, which opened three years ago with very little inspection and where Hamas collects duty on every shipment in order to finance their operations.&nbsp;</p> <p>Israel hoped that allowing Qatari cash deliveries into Gaza, ostensibly for civilian infrastructure projects and financial aid for poor families, would ensure calm. But that too turned out to be an illusion because Qatar is a supporter of Hamas and home to some of its senior leadership.</p> <p>Even the efforts to negotiate long-term calm with the terror groups in Gaza failed, and the gulf between Israeli and Palestinian positions remained.</p> <IMG id=captionImageElement18705454> <p>Israel's deterrence eroded after 2014 and it must now be rebuilt and form the basis upon which its policy is structured from now on.</p> <p>Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Benny Gantz both assured Israelis that the IDF would respond in force to any act of aggression from Gaza.&nbsp;</p> <p>But will Israel live up to that commitment, or will it prefer to look the other way when a rogue rocket or incendiary device is launched, in order to avoid another round of fighting.&nbsp;</p> <p>How Israel choses to act will determine the effectiveness of its deterrence.</p> <p>Egypt and the U.S. must now be tasked with rebuilding the Gaza Strip in the wake of Israel's effective air strikes during the 11 days of fighting. The job must not again be handed to the UN.</p> <IMG id=captionImageElement18705455> <p>Regional countries such as the Gulf states should also be conscripted to join the efforts, and funding should be sourced from international organizations in order to reduce the importance of the Qatari aid.</p> <p>Building materials have to be kept out of Hamas hands while the humanitarian aid, which must flow freely to the civilian population, must be carefully inspected and protected.&nbsp;</p> <p>Any agreement that facilitates the rebuilding of Gaza must also include the return of the Israelis held by Hamas in the Strip.</p> <p>Israel must also determine whether it can stop arms reaching Gaza with the kind of military operations it uses in Syria to thwart Iranian intrenchment and to prevent the flow of weapons for the Iran-based Hezbollah terror group in Lebanon.</p> <p>The country must shore up its defenses by accelerating efforts to develop defensive weapons such as a laser-based missile defense system. Equally important, it must complete the construction of bomb shelters for all civilians living within the range of Gaza rocket fire.</p> <IMG id=captionImageElement18705456> <p>In the long-term, Israel must cut itself off from Gaza entirely by providing the Strip with the infrastructure needed to operate independently, including a port that would still be subject to Israeli security but would accommodate the needs of the local population.&nbsp;</p> <p>Israel must actively strengthen the Palestinian Authority under the leadership of President Mahmoud Abbas and weaken the PA's rival rulers of the Strip. Abbas may be a problematic ally for Israel but security coordination with him has proven effective.&nbsp;</p> <p>As long as Hamas remains in control of the Gaza Strip, and with no political solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in sight, the enclave will remain a threat.</p> <p>But the risks could be minimized, especially if the weakest of Israel's enemies does not distract the IDF from its actions against stronger foes to the north.</p> <p>For if Israel fails to handle the Gaza issue, the next conflict may not be limited to the southern front alone.</p> <p><br></p> <p><em>Michael Herzog is a retired brigadier general in the Israel Defense Forces and an Israel-based International Fellow of The Washington Institute&nbsp;</em></p> <p><br></p> <p><br></p> message 59390070 Changing the rules of the Gaza game Opinion: Hamas was caught off guard following Israel's harsh response to its provocations and now it is up to Jerusalem to demonstrate the terror outfit its vanity may also carry dire consequences after the fighting subsides Michael Milshtein https://www.ynetnews.com/article/BJFq1gTKO Thu, 27 May 2021 23:30:10 +03:00 The rocket volley that was launched on Jerusalem and opened "Operation Guardian of the Walls" was much more than just a premeditated military maneuver — this was a blunt and conscious violation of the status quo in the Gaza Strip for the past year and a half which stood in the heart of what could be called "the Israel strategy" on the issue. This escalation in violence did not come amid a deteriorating security situation or some sort of civilian hardships as happened leading up to the 2014 Gaza war. Quite the opposite. The recent fighting came as quality of life in the Gaza Strip was continually improving and after Israel promoted many nods designed to ensure civilian stability in the Palestinian enclave — from issuing traders exit permits, through promoting exports from the seaside territory, to expanding its fishing zone and providing broad assistance to help eradicate COVID-19. Hamas' opening shot and its use of Israel's conduct in Jerusalem as an excuse attest to how the terror outfit perceives the status quo: a bind of nebulous understandings from which it can opt in and out according to its whims. The Israeli side, however, worked its fingers to the bone to preserve the arrangement that was seen as a guarantee to long-lasting peace in the Strip. The launch of the campaign was a testament to Hamas' erroneous assessment of how Israel would respond. The group prepared for several days of fighting but had ultimately found itself paying a much heavier toll than it had originally expected. Hamas was under the impression that Israel was too afraid to undercut the status quo and that it could circle back to square one or even secure further concessions after a short and symbolic punishment. Now, as the dust has settled on the conflict, Israel faces a crucial dilemma — reverting to the status quo ante or changing the rules of the game. The former, and its civilian benefits, is seen by Hamas as a strategic asset that helps it fulfill the needs of the public in Gaould respond. The group prepared for several days of fighting but had ultimately found itself paying a much heavier toll than it had originally expected.</p> <p>Hamas was under the impression that Israel was too afraid to undercut the status quo and that it could circle back to square one or even secure further concessions after a short and symbolic punishment.</p> <p>Now, as the dust has settled on the conflict, Israel faces a crucial dilemma — reverting to the status quo ante or changing the rules of the game.</p> <IMG id=captionImageElement18687869> <p>The former, and its civilian benefits, is seen by Hamas as a strategic asset that helps it fulfill the needs of the public in Gaza and preserve its rule.&nbsp;</p> <p>A swift reversion to the conditions that existed before the operation would signal to Hamas its aggression does not entail any dire consequences, whereas freezing or eliminating such benefits may be too great of a blow for Hamas' ego.</p> <p>Alongside the drubbing Israel delivered to the organization, this is a critical component in the Jewish state's efforts to restore its deterrence and to demonstrate the heavy toll it will exact for trying to dictate it the rules of engagement.</p> <IMG id=captionImageElement18687870> <p>Israel would be better not reverting to the previous state of affairs and examine two possible alternatives instead.</p> <p>First, devising a new set of rules and dictating conditions that have hitherto been flexible, especially as it pertains to the issue of prisoners and missing persons. Israel is required to make it clear that it does not intend to be flexible anymore, and that it is not impressed by Hamas' threats that such a move could destabilize the Gaza Strip.</p> <p>The second alternative is not reaching any understandings with Hamas at all but allowing the group to stay mum and not bind it by any restrictions which will reserve Israel the right to target its military infrastructure and higher-ups at any given chance.</p> message 59384990 Israel must understand it has a friend in the White House Opinion: Biden's conduct during the latest round of fighting in Gaza reassured Jerusalem that it will have Washington's support no matter what, but in return will have to align with U.S. efforts to rewrite the reality in the region Alex Fishman https://www.ynetnews.com/article/ByDWDtoF00 Wed, 26 May 2021 23:31:36 +03:00 As of May 21, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors were no longer permitted to enter Iran's nuclear facilities. Excluding a "symbolic" gesture of leaving the locations' security cameras on for just one more month, Tehran has essentially opted out of all its commitments regarding inspections of its nuclear program. And yet the sky did not fall in on us. The IAEA did not panic and the Israel Air Force was not put on attack alert for one simple reason: Everybody involved is sure that the nuclear deal the U.S. left in 2018 will be resumed by mid-June and the inspectors will be allowed back in. The Americans would not admit this out loud, but all the main sanctions against Iran are being lifted. Nor would they agree that Israel's concerns regarding Iran's ballistic missile program and regional meddling would be taken into account. Furthermore, not only will Tehran and Washington return to the same deal that President Donald Trump walked away from, but Iran will gain some extra benefits it did not have before, such as the possibility of operating its advanced IR-4 centrifuges that were previously banned. Israel will have criticism when the nuclear accord is revived, but it will be much more polite and measured than what we witnessed in 2015. And this is for one simple reason. The latest fighting in the Gaza Strip helped wily old fox Joe Biden reassure Israel that it has a true friend in the White House. The president's flurry of phone calls to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have won him the nickname of "mensch" among Israel's security top brass. Everybody talks about the president's gracious and tolerant conduct. With a man like that, how can anyone be mad at the nuclear deal? Biden had several good reasons to drop Israel. He never believed he would have to deal with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict so soon in his term, but he still got down to business over the past two weeks. Biden allowed Israel to gain as much as it could militarily, fighting in the Gaza Strip helped wily old fox Joe Biden reassure Israel that it has a true friend in the White House.&nbsp;</p> <p>The president's flurry of phone calls to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have won him the nickname of "mensch" among Israel's security top brass.&nbsp;</p> <p>Everybody talks about the president's gracious and tolerant conduct. With a man like that, how can anyone be mad at the nuclear deal?&nbsp;</p> <p>Biden had several good reasons to drop Israel. He never believed he would have to deal with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict so soon in his term, but he still got down to business over the past two weeks.&nbsp;</p> <p>Biden allowed Israel to gain as much as it could militarily, all the while moving to reach a truce as quickly as possible before the situation spiraled out of control. &nbsp;</p> <IMG id=captionImageElement18700555> <p>The president also took several other unplanned steps, such as speaking with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Egyptian leader Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.&nbsp;</p> <p>The Egyptian government is seen by the U.S. administration as a serious violator of human rights and calling Sisi was surely not on Biden's urgent list until the fighting in Gaza began.</p> <p>Regardless of the tone of Biden and Sisi's conversation, the Egyptian president quickly announced an unprecedented half billion dollars in aid to rehabilitate the Gaza Strip.&nbsp;</p> <p>The Egyptians, who had hitherto not cared a jot about Gaza and merely played at being regional mediators, are now in lockstep with Biden and ready to take responsibility for all communication between Hamas, Israel and the Palestinian Authority.&nbsp;</p> <IMG id=captionImageElement18700556> <p>U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken's visit to Israel on Tuesday, though friendly, was another sign that Washington is changing its approach to the region.&nbsp;</p> <p>The American administration has reached the conclusion that the U.S. and Israel must bolster the Palestinian Authority. For it was Israel's rotten policy of strengthening Hamas in order to divide the West Bank from Gaza that nearly led to disaster and the terror group's rise to power in Ramallah.&nbsp;</p> <p>Now, with no vocal objections by Israel, the Americans are delicately and carefully changing the reality on the ground.&nbsp;</p> <IMG id=captionImageElement18700557> <p>Even so, the administration will not withdraw from Iraq or Syria, it will continue to allow Israel to attack Iranian targets in Syria and keep supporting the warming ties between Israel and moderate Arab nations.&nbsp;</p> <p>The White House is also not going to change its policy of accepting Moroccan sovereignty over Western Saharan so as to not jeopardize the newly restored diplomatic ties between Jerusalem and Rabat.&nbsp;</p> <p>The U.S. will also aid Israel in resupplying the weapons stocks depleted during the fighting in Gaza, including the crucial Iron Dome missile defense system.&nbsp;</p> <p>Israel in return will have to align itself with global American interests and learn to trust Biden.&nbsp;</p> <p>In his first baptism of fire, the Democratic president proved that he is a loyal friend to Israel, regardless of what he thinks of the person in the prime minister's office.&nbsp;</p> <p><br></p> message 59373760 Israel's weak policies brought about recent violence Opinion: Israel's attempts to contain constant acts of aggression, from incendiary balloons and sporadic rocket fire to crime in the country's north and south, have eroded its sovereignty over the past decade; now it must show that what has happened won’t happen again Uri Heitner https://www.ynetnews.com/article/By3pv11tFd Tue, 25 May 2021 0:3:19 +03:00 The massive rocket fire directed at Israel during the fighting in Gaza in May and the rioting across Jerusalem and mixed Jewish and Arab cities did not bolt from the blue. They were all the result of a weak policy that invited such attacks. Over the past decade, Israeli sovereignty over the southern Negev region and the northern Galilee region was eroded. The government failed to protect the farmers who were terrorized by Bedouin criminals and end the rampant use of illegal arms often stolen from military bases by Arab crime gangs. It ignored repeated violations of building codes in Arab communities and neglected the fight against criminal extortion and violence on the streets of Arab cities and villages. All those decisions resulted in the rioting that broke out across various mixed cities earlier this month when Jews and Arabs clashed in an eruption of racism and hate. But the most outrageous blunder of all is the government's failure to act as the Gaza ruling terror group Hamas built up its military capabilities, and its refusal to retort to repeated acts of aggression across the border. This has led to Israel losing its deterrence, igniting the recent fighting that kept Israelis under fire for 11 days. Gaza factions felt so empowered by the government's weakness that they even set an ultimatum for Israel as tensions ran high at the al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem — either you withdraw your forces from al-Aqsa, or we start firing rockets at the capital. And they kept their word. Over 4,000 rockets were launched from Gaza, first at Jerusalem and later at the country's entire south and center, even targeting Tel Aviv. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu alone is responsible for the failed policies and their outcome. The 2014 Gaza war brought three and a half years of quiet to the Gaza border region and Israel's deterrence was restored. This period of calm allowed southern communities to thrive and grow. But in 2018, Hamas launched its "March of Return"nd in Jerusalem — either you withdraw your forces from al-Aqsa, or we start firing rockets at the capital.&nbsp;</p> <IMG id=captionImageElement18598059> <p>And they kept their word. Over 4,000 rockets were launched from Gaza, first at Jerusalem and later at the country's entire south and center, even targeting Tel Aviv.</p> <p>Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu alone is responsible for the failed policies and their outcome.</p> <p>The 2014 Gaza war brought three and a half years of quiet to the Gaza border region and Israel's deterrence was restored. This period of calm allowed southern communities to thrive and grow.</p> <p>But in 2018, Hamas launched its "March of Return", sending civilians to the border fence to riot and wreak havoc on Israeli border communities using balloon-borne incendiary devices.</p> <IMG id=captionImageElement18598060> <p>The response to Hamas' renewed violence was weak. The government, with its decision to contain the aggression, indicated to the terrorists that its sovereignty could be compromised, its fields could be set ablaze and the safety of its population, as well as their property, were open to abuse. From there on, the inevitable escalation to massive rocket fire was only a matter of time.&nbsp;</p> <p>Over the past few years, Israelis convinced themselves that rogue groups inside Gaza were responsible for the cross-border violence, or that rockets that were fired at communities along the border were a result of technical glitches caused by bad weather.</p> <p>Israel insisted that the 2014 ceasefire agreement would hold and responded with miniature strikes on Hamas targets. The message that Hamas got from it was that it was free to continue with its attacks with impunity while Israel's hands were tied.</p> <IMG id=captionImageElement18598061> <p>We don't learn.</p> <p>After a temporary lull due to the coronavirus pandemic, the incendiary devices resumed, consuming hundreds of acres of Israeli farmland, and so did the sporadic rocket fire.&nbsp;</p> <p>Israel's policy of containing the violence was a national disgrace. A country that has no respect for its own sovereignty is sure to see rocket fire directed at its capital.</p> <p>After the 11 days of fighting that ended last week, the government was right to agree to a ceasefire. Hamas had prepared itself for a fight but suffered a massive blow from Israeli strikes.</p> <IMG id=captionImageElement18598062> <p>Israel managed to muster the support of the United States and many European nations for its military operations but was wrong in ending the fighting while coming at loggerheads with the Biden administration after the U.S. president called for a ceasefire.</p> <p>American support is more crucial than any military achievement that could have been reached in a few more days of fighting.&nbsp;</p> <p>But the government must now convince its allies that the new Israeli policy in the south is a strong response to any act of aggression from Hamas in the future, be it setting fire to fields or firing rockets at Tel Aviv.</p> <p>Israel must protect its sovereignty at all costs and the Gaza factions must understand that the IDF will react with full force to any act of aggression committed against the cand its people.</p> message 59367700 Israel bungles the PR war, again Opinion: Once again, the country's military achievements are dwarfed by its inadequacies on the global stage, lacking any coherent strategy to successfully carry out this crucial task at a time it is so urgently needed Prof. Gabriel Weimann https://www.ynetnews.com/article/rJoLWyOYu Sun, 23 May 2021 23:25:6 +03:00 As with all of Israel's recent military operations, it miserably failed on the public relations front. As always, the country's military achievements are dwarfed by its inadequacies on the global stage. Israel was bombarded by thousands of rockets — some of which even reaching its capital, forcing its elected representatives to run for cover within its own parliament — killing and wounding citizens and children. But nevertheless, we keep losing the media war. On the surface level, it seemed like we were prepared for this, establishing an official governmental PR arm just for this sort of occasion. "The center was established in accordance with a government decision as follows: "The National Information Headquarters will coordinate all information bodies in the State of Israel in order to present a reliable, uniform and consistent information policy," the department's website reads. Although that does sound promising, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu opted to leave it leaderless, effectively paralyzing the entire effort. Maybe the premier thought he could outperform the department by himself. Maybe he thought that he will place authority within the hands of a worthy competitor, G-d forbid. Either way, there is no one directing Israel's PR efforts at a time it is most crucial. Instead of a unified and coherent front — the task befell a long list of different elements: The Prime Minister's Office, the IDF, the foreign and defense ministries, the police, the Shin Bet domestic security agency and local authorities. Numerous informants, but no information. No coordination, no authority, no objective or a unified media front. And before us stood the Palestinian propaganda machine — a focused, well-oiled, sophisticated and world-encompassing enterprise with clear and dramatic press releases, as well as a thorough understanding of news and social media. Take for example current IDF Chief Spokesperson Brig. Gen. Hidai Zilberman. Many people said he was an increding list of different elements: The Prime Minister's Office, the IDF, the foreign and defense ministries, the police, the Shin Bet domestic security agency and local authorities.</p> <p>Numerous informants, but no information. No coordination, no authority, no objective or a unified media front.&nbsp;</p> <p>And before us stood the Palestinian propaganda machine — a focused, well-oiled, sophisticated and world-encompassing enterprise with clear and dramatic press releases, as well as a thorough understanding of news and social media.&nbsp;</p> <IMG id=captionImageElement18616775> <p>Take for example current IDF Chief Spokesperson Brig. Gen. Hidai Zilberman. Many people said he was an incredible artillery officer, but there is a stark difference between knowing how to fire a cannon and being a good spokesperson.&nbsp;</p> <p>In the past, the position of the top military spokesperson was given to seasoned media personnel or those who at least boast pertinent academic credentials.&nbsp;</p> <p>In my time as a lecturer at Haifa University, I had the pleasure of teaching four people who ended up taking the post. A spokesperson who is alien to the media world and has no experience in the field — will botch every interview and statement.</p> <p>When asked to justify the IDF's strike on a Gaza high-rise that housed international media outlets, such as Al Jazeera and The Associated Press, over what the military claimed was terroristic activity in the building's premises, Zilberman responded that the evidence "will come to light soon."&nbsp;</p> <p>Soon? In today's media, there is no such thing as soon, not a few days or even a few hours.</p> <p>You have several minutes at best to present your case and you better have good enough evidence to back it up. Those who do not understand this, do not understand how media works.&nbsp;</p> <p>Israel's PR efforts also failed to see the full picture. The IDF might have struck launching platforms, terror tunnels, ammunition depots and bunkers — but that is not what the media said.&nbsp;</p> <IMG id=captionImageElement18616776> <p>Hamas' propagandists, with the potential help of over 1.5 billion Muslims around the world, stormed social media. Within hours, they uploaded thousands of videos, songs and messages of support from international celebrities.&nbsp;</p> <p>Not only were the Israelis late to react on social media, but completely ignored the fact that platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and Instagram have all been superseded by Tik Tok, where the terror group was nearly uncontested.</p> <p>For two years, we have been calling out the fact that Tik Tok was being used to spread messages of violence and hate. Our study listed the evidence we gathered of anti-Semitic and terroristic content on the platform.&nbsp;</p> <p>Nobody in Israel cared to even the report a look, leaving foreign security services and institutions.</p> <p>Using PR during a crisis is a cynical and calculated affair. Both sides throw dismembered bodies, demolished houses, bleeding children and burning buses onto the center of the stage to get attention.&nbsp;</p> <p>It requires a comprehensive understanding of what is the best platform to use in order to convey messages in the most effective way and a unified and coherent strategy to accomplish this.</p> <p>But most of all, it requires savvy professionals who are wholly dedicated to the task, equipped with all the tools needed at their disposal. Not tomorrow, but now.</p> <p><br></p> <p><em><strong>Prof. Gabriel Weimann is a Professor of Communications at the University of Haifa and IDC Herzliya.</strong></em></p> message 59362580 How anti-Israel celebs became mouthpieces for terror and poster children for anti-Semites Opinion: Celebrities and influencers who stay silent on international issues without trendy hashtags chimed in on decades-long conflict, with posts full of buzzwords that were light on context, and walked away as anti-Semitic attacks shot up Yulia Karra https://www.ynetnews.com/article/Skc2WuLFu Sat, 22 May 2021 23:32:15 +03:00 Since the start of the latest Gaza war nearly two weeks ago, the hashtag #FreePalestine became the new #BlackLivesMatter. Thousands, if not millions, of users on Twitter, Instagram and Tik Tok were sharing images from the fighting in the Hamas-controlled enclave, accompanied by zero context and of course no mention of terrorism or unprecedented barrages of rockets on Israeli civilians. The mob mentality is thriving on social media, but we all knew that. What we didn't know is that hundreds of celebrities and influencers with millions of followers would be cluelessly jumping on the bandwagon of misinformation in the so-called fight for justice. Celebrities on the other side of the world with no knowledge of the ins and outs of the complicated geopolitical situation and influencers whose main claim to fame is modelling underwear all jumped at the chance to virtue signal. Among the main culprits are models Bella and Gigi Hadid, who headline campaigns for Dior, Maybeline, Michael Kors and Marc Jacobs, among many others. If you're not well versed in Gen-Z world, the pair are daughters of Palestinian-American real estate multimillionaire Mohamed Hadid. Oh, and they also have 42 and 66 million followers on Instagram, respectively. They have done nothing of value besides be born to a wealthy father who taught them to hate Jews, sorry Zionists. At the start of the violence in Gaza, Bella Hadid published a host of posts on her Instagram account, full of slogans such as "Free Palestine!" and "End the Occupation!" These posts were very light on specifics as to how one could "Free Palestine" if it is ruled by a terror group hell-bent on destroying "the Zionist entity". She even posted a video of herself at a Palestinian rally, shouting "from the river to the sea," which is a widely understood call to annihilate the Jewish state. One of her posts, however, was particularly disturbing. It was a multi-slide infographic, which labeled Israelis as "colonizers" and "setsorry Zionists.&nbsp;</p> <p>At the start of the violence in Gaza, Bella Hadid published a host of posts on her Instagram account, full of slogans such as "Free Palestine!" and "End the Occupation!"&nbsp;</p> <p>These posts were very light on specifics as to how one could "Free Palestine" if it is ruled by a terror group hell-bent on destroying "the Zionist entity".&nbsp;</p> <p>She even posted a video of herself at a Palestinian rally, shouting "from the river to the sea," which is a widely understood call to annihilate the Jewish state.&nbsp;</p> <IMG id=captionImageElement18537688> <p>One of her posts, however, was particularly disturbing. It was a multi-slide infographic, which labeled Israelis as "colonizers" and "settlers" and was heavy on woke buzzwords such as "ethnic cleansing", "genocide" and "apartheid," all of which are easily debunked with a quick Google search.&nbsp;</p> <p>But providing context and fact-checking is not for rich influencers who make millions showing off their bodies, something that - ironically - they could be killed for if they lived in either Gaza or the West Bank.&nbsp;</p> <p>That infographic spread like wildfire. And more clueless celebs followed suit.&nbsp;</p> <IMG id=captionImageElement18537689> <p>UK singer Dua Lipa, who is dating the Hadids' brother Anwar, posted a host of stories condemning Israel for her 60 million plus Instagram followers.&nbsp;</p> <p>The singer has in the past accused Israelis of being “fake Jews" and claimed Hamas was created by Israeli government to justify "occupation, oppression, ethnic cleansing, and murder".&nbsp;</p> <p>Canadian singer The Weeknd also accused Israelis of ethnic cleansing by sharing an anti-Israel post in his story. Again, very heavy on buzzwords, very light on specifics or context.</p> <p>The actors Susan Sarandon and Mark Ruffalo filled their Twitter feeds with out-of- context reposts from Al Jazeera and pro-Palestinian activists.&nbsp;</p> <IMG id=captionImageElement18537690> <p>Ruffalo even posted a short video from riots in the city of Lod showing Jewish extremists throwing stones at a group of Arabs. The problem is that Ruffalo failed to include the part of the video in which Israeli Jew <a href="https://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-59332200,00.html" class="bluelink" style="">Yigal Yehoshua</a> was beaten so badly by that same group of Arabs that he died a few days later.&nbsp;</p> <p>And when someone pointed out to the actor in the comments that Hamas is using children as human shields, Ruffalo replied that "fellow human beings" (in this case Hamas) would never do such a thing.</p> <p>Even late-night talk show hosts Trevor Noah and John Oliver chimed in with their uninformed takes, both suggesting Israel should not retaliate for rocket attacks because they "don't do anything."&nbsp;</p> <IMG id=captionImageElement18537691> <p>Oliver further claimed the IDF taking down multi-story buildings in Gaza used by Hamas was a "war crime" (which it isn't), ignoring the fact that firing thousands rockets at civilian population IS an actual war crime. Instead he called the endless waves of strikes on civilians "reprehensible" and moved on. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>Noah, meanwhile, clearly harbors anti-Semitic sentiments, based on the host of tweets he deleted from his account years ago when he was named as the host of the Daily Show. In one of the tweets, dating back to 2009, Noah "joked" he almost hit a Jewish kid with his "German car." In another, he made a crude reference to Jewish women that was misogynistic and racist. &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <IMG id=captionImageElement18537692> <p>Why did all of them decide to share their uneducated opinion with the world? Because they just "couldn't stay silent," which is interesting because they have managed to stay silent about almost every other international conflict.&nbsp;</p> <p>Children and innocent people are being killed every day in Syria, Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Ukraine, Sudan, Haiti and Colombia, just to name a few. But their lives are apparently less important because they don't come with a trendy hashtag.&nbsp;</p> <p>The countless bombardment of misinformation about Israel preceded outbursts of physical violence against Jewish communities all over the world.&nbsp;</p> <DIV id=tvElement5666564></DIV><p>According to the Community Security Trust, which monitors the security of the Jewish community in the UK, between May 8-18, the number of officially reported anti-Semitic incidents has increased by a staggering 500%.&nbsp;</p> <p>Did any of these celebrities and influencers who published, shared and reposted the misinformation about an issue that has no effect on their lives take responsibility for contributing to these attacks? Of course not!&nbsp;</p> <p>They went back to their comfortable lifestyles in LA, New York, London and wherever, removed from reality and any fallout from their actions.&nbsp;</p> <IMG id=captionImageElement18537693> <p>One could dismiss such people as bandwagon jumpers who revel in the herd mentality, but politics is heavily influenced by culture. And this should sound alarm bells. &nbsp;</p> <p>Meanwhile, the high-profile Jewish celebrities who do speak out, such as actors Michael Rapaport and Debra Messing, get an endless amount of abuse from the pro-Palestinian brigade.&nbsp;</p> <IMG id=captionImageElement18537694> <p>Even Israeli movie star Gal Gadot, who posted the most harmless message calling for peace for both nations, received a disproportionate amount of hateful comments, again often anti-Semitic and sexist too.&nbsp;</p> <p>The warriors for social justice appear to be willing to stand up for any cause except for when a crowd of anti-Semites is chasing down Jews in the middle of Times Square.&nbsp;</p> <p>"Never Again" is now, and the history will judge them.&nbsp;</p> message 59344910 Israel's 3-step program for Gaza stability Analysis: The Israeli leadership must end Operation Guardian of the Walls in a way that deters Palestinian terror groups and Iran and Hezbollah, erases Hamas' achievements during the campaign and stops the never-ending circle of violence Ron Ben-Yishai https://www.ynetnews.com/article/BkqMJwGtO Wed, 19 May 2021 15:42:0 +03:00 For several days now, Hamas has been signaling its willingness to reach a ceasefire. Monday overnight saw militant groups in the Gaza Strip almost refraining completely from firing rockets. While a salvo late Tuesday was specifically aimed at six Israel Air Forces bases in the south, most launches in the past few days have not targeted Israeli population centers. The IDF has also been attacking less and less important targets in the Strip. All of this points to the fact that Operation Guardian of the Walls has essentially achieved its goals: restoring Israel's deterrence and weakening Hamas – at least as much as possible. It is safe to assume that the IDF is less than a day away from achieving all it can with only an aerial campaign and without a ground operation. Even so, the operation's three key strategic objectives have yet to be achieved: stable long-term deterrence against Palestinian terror groups, preventing Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hamas from further rearming and removing Hamas from its newly gained political, national and religious leadership position not only for the Palestinians, but for Israel's Arabs as well. Israel can still accomplish these goals, but only if it conducts the diplomatic battle to come wisely. It must do this not only to discourage Palestinian terror groups from attacking Israel for years to come, but to also deter Lebanon's Hezbollah and its Iranian sponsors and to improve Israel's position on the regional and global stages. Therefore, this operation should end through negotiations with Hamas in which the Islamist group can make demands and bargain for them. Israel's past experience in bargaining with Hamas show that the longer the talks go on, the longer the military operation lasts, risking any gains. Besides, the terror group ultimately always refuses to abide by its commitments anyway. With that in mind, the end of this campaign should be as gradual and as one-sided as Israel can make it and follow three cleaor groups from attacking Israel for years to come, but to also deter Lebanon's Hezbollah and its Iranian sponsors and to improve Israel's position on the regional and global stages. &nbsp;</p> <p>Therefore, this operation should end through negotiations with Hamas in which the Islamist group can make demands and bargain for them.&nbsp;</p> <p>Israel's past experience in bargaining with Hamas show that the longer the talks go on, the longer the military operation lasts, risking any gains. Besides, the terror group ultimately always refuses to abide by its commitments anyway.&nbsp;</p> <p>With that in mind, the end of this campaign should be as gradual and as one-sided as Israel can make it and follow three clear steps: &nbsp;</p> <h3 class = "pHeader">1. Impose conditions on Hamas</h3> <p>First, Israel must declare a unilateral ceasefire. Israel will inform the U.S., UN, EU and other friendly Western nations that it has decided to stop its attacks in Gaza in order to facilitate a ceasefire.&nbsp;</p> <p>Israel can include a timetable for scaling down operations to show that it is willing to abide by this step, and that it is receptive to allied nations and international institutions.&nbsp;</p> <p>Any announcement of a ceasefire on the part of Israel must include a clear message that if Hamas, PIJ or any other terror group continues firing after the truce begins, the IDF will retaliate with full force. This includes the launching of incendiary balloons or exchanges of fire along the Gaza border fence.&nbsp;</p> <p>Even if they do not adhere to the ceasefire, the Gaza terror groups will surely be brought in line if they are attacked. It is important to make sure that Hamas and PIJ are not allowed - via mediators or any other means - to deliver terms to Israel before they cease firing rockets.&nbsp;</p> <p>Most importantly, they must not be allowed to make demands regarding Jerusalem, the West Bank or Israeli Arabs.&nbsp;</p> <IMG id=captionImageElement18500780> <p>It is crucial to remember that Hamas' main achievement from this round of fighting is its ability to align itself with the Palestinians in the West Bank and Jerusalem, as well as Israeli Arabs. It will try to use these gains to make demands for a ceasefire.&nbsp;</p> <p>This should be prevented with no compromise and Hamas cannot be allowed to fire the last shot. The IDF must pummel them until they cease fire and understand the price Israel will make them pay is far greater than any ideological or psychological benefits from continuing the rocket fire.&nbsp;</p> <h3 class = "pHeader">2: Humanitarian aid and returning Israeli captives </h3> <p>When Israel is assured beyond all shadow of a doubt that a ceasefire really is in effect, it will need to implement a carefully thought out plan to minimize the humanitarian damage in the Gaza Strip, in cooperation with international elements.&nbsp;</p> <p>It must simultaneously state that the renewal of socioeconomic activity in the enclave is conditioned on preventing Hamas and PIJ from further rearmament and the return of the Israelis held captive by them, under reasonable terms.&nbsp;</p> <p>If Hamas refuses to this agreement and if it is unable to get the other terror groups to agree, the Strip will remain under blockade, receiving only basic aid from international bodies.</p> <p>This means no Qatari money and no infrastructure projects.&nbsp;</p> <IMG id=captionImageElement18500781> <p>At the same time, the IDF must continue to thwart any attempts to rebuild the terror groups' tunnel network and military R&amp;D apparatus.&nbsp;</p> <p>From the first day after the fighting, Israel will have to operate in Gaza the same way it does along its northern frontiers with Syria, Hezbollah and Iran.&nbsp;</p> <p>The country will not longer wait for Hamas and PIJ to stock up on armaments, but actively thwart any such attempt, including fierce retaliation for any other transgression of Israel's sovereignty such as arson balloons, drones or rockets.&nbsp;</p> <IMG id=captionImageElement18500782> <p>A reasonable deal to return the bodies of fallen IDF soldiers Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul and captive civilians Avera Mengistu and Hisham Al-Sayed would include the exchange of Hamas activists arrested during the latest round of fighting and also some who were arrested during the 2014 Gaza war.&nbsp;</p> <p>Israel will also release women and sick or disabled prisoners, but never convicted terrorists such as Hamas leader in Gaza Yahya Sinwar, who was freed in the 2011 swap for Gilad Shalit.&nbsp;</p> <p>If Hamas does not agree to this, Israel will not permit full economic and social rehabilitation of the Strip.&nbsp;</p> <h3 class = "pHeader">3: Negotiating with Abbas to block Hamas </h3> <p>If step 2 is achieved to a reasonable degree, Israel must tell Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas that from now on it will only talk with him on all future infrastructure and civilian plans for the Gaza Strip, thereby ensuring that any money allocated to them will not be used by the terror groups.&nbsp;</p> <p>Also, when the time is right, Israel will need to enter talks with the Palestinian Authority in order to reach some intermediary settlement.</p> <p>This agreement would be designed to prevent Hamas from capitalizing on what it has achieved since the start of the events that led to the fighting and block it from gaining a leadership role for the Palestinian people.&nbsp;</p> <IMG id=captionImageElement18500783> <p>Israel must also harness Egypt and Jordan to regulate the status quo in Jerusalem and the Temple Mount in a way that will prevent radical Islamic elements from using it to fuel further religious and nationalistic confrontations. &nbsp;</p> <p>But in order to accomplish all of this and escape this never-ending cycle of fighting, Israel needs a functioning and pragmatic government.&nbsp;</p> <p>It needs a government interested in achieving deterrence and finding viable solution to the Gaza problem, which message 59343920 Biden sticks to Israel-Gaza playbook, irking progressives and allies Analysis: The president's effort to cautiously navigate the crisis to be tested if the civilian death toll rises further, especially at a time when the administration seeks to alleviate Israeli concerns over possible U.S. return to 2015 Iran nuclear deal Reuters https://www.ynetnews.com/article/B1btK7zKd Wed, 19 May 2021 13:7:26 +03:00 With his muted response to the Gaza conflict, President Joe Biden is largely sticking to a time-worn U.S. playbook despite pressure from progressive Democrats for a tougher line toward Israel and from America’s allies for a more active role to end the violence. By citing Israel’s right to defend itself against a rocket barrage from the Hamas-ruled enclave and only nudging Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu toward a ceasefire, Biden has effectively given Israeli forces more time to press their offensive against Palestinian militants there. U.S. officials hope both sides will reach a point when they will be ready to wind down their attacks in coming days and that quiet, behind-the-scenes diplomacy involving regional players such as Egypt will help achieve an end to the hostilities, people familiar with the matter say. However, Biden’s effort to cautiously navigate the crisis in the Gaza Strip will be put to the test if in the meantime the fighting increases and the civilian death toll rises sharply. “There’s a playbook that’s being followed,” said Aaron David Miller, a former U.S. Middle East peace negotiator for Democratic and Republican administrations. “But there’s always room for the unpredictable.” When Biden took office in January, he made it clear that he wanted to focus on the coronavirus pandemic and economic downturn at home and challenges such as China, Russia and Iran abroad. Tackling the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, something that has bedeviled U.S. presidents for decades, was not a top priority, though he had promised to revise some policies of his predecessor, Donald Trump, that were widely considered heavily biased in favor of Israel and which alienated Palestinians. It was weeks before the new president talked to Netanyahu, a right-wing leader who cultivated strong ties with Trump. The latest eruption of Gaza violence caught the new administration off guard, and it has responded so far in accordance with a familiar pattern. Biden, a longtime sund challenges such as China, Russia and Iran abroad.</p> <p>Tackling the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, something that has bedeviled U.S. presidents for decades, was not a top priority, though he had promised to revise some policies of his predecessor, Donald Trump, that were widely considered heavily biased in favor of Israel and which alienated Palestinians.</p> <p>It was weeks before the new president talked to Netanyahu, a right-wing leader who cultivated strong ties with Trump.&nbsp;</p> <p>The latest eruption of Gaza violence caught the new administration off guard, and it has responded so far in accordance with a familiar pattern. Biden, a longtime supporter of Israel from his decades in the Senate and the vice presidency, began by backing Israel’s right to self-defense against the cross-border rocket attacks, something successive presidents have always said of Washington’s chief Middle Eastern ally.</p> <IMG id=captionImageElement18363636> <p>This comes at a time when the Biden administration has sought, to little avail, to assuage Israeli concerns as it negotiates over a possible return to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.</p> <p>It took Biden until Monday, after Israel’s destruction of a Gaza high-rise that housed offices of the Associated Press and Al Jazeera news organizations but which Israeli officials said also sheltered militants, to voice support for a ceasefire.</p> <p>But the White House, apparently reluctant to antagonize, made clear he was not demanding that Israel agree to one.&nbsp;</p> <p>The current hostilities are the most serious between the militant group and Israel in years, and in a departure from previous Gaza conflicts have helped to fuel violence in Israeli cities between Jews and Arabs.&nbsp;</p> <p><br></p> message 59340190 The truth about the Hamas terrorist organization Analysis: Despite the rampant criticism of Israel, history and facts prove that the Palestinian group is not interested in prosperity just terrorism and the total destruction of Israel; this is why Israel is not only right to attack Hamas, it is actually bound to do so Ben-Dror Yemini https://www.ynetnews.com/article/ryFgHO11Yu Tue, 18 May 2021 23:33:22 +03:00 One can and should understand the reaction of television viewers around the world who are moved by the images of destruction and devastation coming from both the Gaza Strip and cities in Israel. Many good people claim that the blame for the current conflict lies with Israel, since it is clearly stronger than Hamas. A quick flick through the various channels also reveal a wave of unfounded allegations against Israel. Needless to say, this is an unequivocal show of anti-Semitism. But it is also necessary to add that it is simply born of ignorance. And so, here are the basic facts everyone should know. In 2007, Hamas violently seized control of the Gaza Strip, eliminating in the process hundreds of members of the rival Fatah movement that is headed by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Some were even murdered by being thrown off the roofs of tower blocks. The Hamas - an organization affiliated with the radical Muslim Brotherhood - has a senior spokesman who calls not only for the destruction of Israel and the Jewish people as a whole, but also seeks to conquer Rome, and "the two Americas." Hamas also publicly and officially calls for the “extermination of Jews and Christians to the last." Hamas teaches these destructive worldviews as early as kindergarten. At the political spectrum of Islamic organizations, Hamas holds an extreme ideology not to that of al-Qaeda and the Islamic State. Despite this, the international community offered Hamas an outline that would allow it to receive large-scale aid. In 2006, the Middle East Quartet (Russia, the United States, the European Union and the United Nations) presented to Hamas the three preconditions for continued Western aid: The recognition of Israel, cessation of terrorism and recognition of previous agreements. These prerequisites were later made public in three separate statements made by then-UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, then U.S. Secretary of state Condoleezza Rice, and former EU foreign policy czar Javier ."&nbsp;</p> <p>Hamas also publicly and officially calls for the “extermination of Jews and Christians to the last." Hamas teaches these destructive worldviews as early as kindergarten.</p> <IMG id=captionImageElement18818554> <p>At the political spectrum of Islamic organizations, Hamas holds an extreme ideology not to that of al-Qaeda and the Islamic State.</p> <p>Despite this, the international community offered Hamas <a href="https://edition.cnn.com/2006/WORLD/meast/01/30/hamas.funding/" class="bluelink" style="">an outline</a> that would allow it to receive large-scale aid.</p> <p>In 2006, the Middle East Quartet (Russia, the United States, the European Union and the United Nations) presented to Hamas the three preconditions for continued Western aid: The recognition of Israel, cessation of terrorism and recognition of previous agreements.</p> <p>These prerequisites were later made public in <a href="https://edition.cnn.com/2006/WORLD/meast/01/30/hamas.funding/" class="bluelink" style="">three separate statements</a> made by then-UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, then U.S. Secretary of state Condoleezza Rice, and former EU foreign policy czar Javier Solana.</p> <p>The offer for Western aid, which included $600 million in assistance from the European Union and another $400 million from the United States, was quickly and summarily <a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/4664152.stm" class="bluelink" style="">rejected by Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal</a>, who claimed that “Hamas was impervious to bribery, intimidation and blackmail.”</p> <p>The international community refused to throw in the towel, and in 2007 the offer to provide aid to the Palestinian people came up again.</p> <p>This time it was Ismail Haniyeh, who was the Palestinian prime minister on behalf of Hamas at the time, who <a href="https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2007/03/22/palestinians-reject-quartet-demands/" class="bluelink" style="">rejected the offer</a>, arguing that “it is the right of the Palestinians to continue their resistance by all means."</p> <p>Consequently, <a href="https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2007/03/22/palestinians-reject-quartet-demands/" class="bluelink" style="">the headline</a> in the international Arabic news outlet Al-Jazeera read: “Palestinians reject Quartet demands.”</p> <IMG id=captionImageElement18818555> <p>Hamas chose, and continues to choose to this day, terrorisms over prosperity. In 2014, when the Israel-Gaza conflict began, the ministers of the EU <a href="http://www.thetower.org/0757-eu-foreign-ministers-hamas-must-disarm/" class="bluelink" style="">offered the Palestinians aid</a> in exchange for "the demilitarization of all terrorist organizations."</p> <p>France, the United Kingdom and Germany <a href="https://foreignpolicy.com/2014/08/08/exclusive-europe-proposes-u-n-mission-for-gaza/" class="bluelink" style="">presented a detailed plan</a>. The EU made one more attempt to end the fighting in the Strip, and again made an <a href="https://www.europarl.europa.eu/cmsdata/122777/FA-Council-Conclusions-15-August-2014.pdf" class="bluelink" style="">official offer</a> for rehabilitating Gaza in return for demilitarization.&nbsp;</p> <p>And while Israel approved of the offer that would see the conflict promptly end, Hamas again refused.&nbsp;</p> <p>In 2017, Yahya Sinwar, Hamas’ new leader in Gaza, reiterated once again that "<a href="https://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-5031078,00.html" class="bluelink" style="">Hamas will never recognize Israel</a>."</p> <p>In February 2018, when tensions between Israel and Hamas rose once again, the EU once <a href="https://eeas.europa.eu/headquarters/headquarters-homepage/39987/statement-spokesperson-recent-escalation-events-and-around-gaza_en" class="bluelink" style="">again presented its aid offer</a> to no avail.</p> <p>In other words: Hamas does not want prosperity, it wants terrorism. Even so, again and again for humanitarian reasons, Israel allows the flow of hundreds of millions of dollars into the Strip along with <a href="https://www.idf.il/en/minisites/hamas/hamas/hamas-exploitation-of-humanitarian-aid/" class="bluelink" style="">hundreds of trucks</a> carrying supplies into the Gaza Strip on a daily basis. It did not help.&nbsp;</p> <p>Hamas used the money to fund the terrorist tunnels that go beneath Gaza into Israeli territory.</p> <IMG id=captionImageElement18818556> <p>One more thing to keep in mind: wherever the branches of political Islam rule, destruction, bloodshed and destruction prevail.</p> <p>After all, the large majority of Hamas’ victims are Muslims. Even Hamas rockets, which fall within the Gaza Strip itself once every six or seven times, have killed more Palestinians than Israelis.&nbsp;</p> <p>Does this bother them? Without the blockade, Iran would not be supplying medicine, it would be supplying rockets. Without the blockade, the Hamas regime would expand its industry of death.</p> <p>Without the blockade, the would not be building schools or industry that led to prosperity, Hamas would be building more tools of destruction meant for mass murder. This is not an opinion. This is what is they are doing today. These are the facts.</p> <IMG id=captionImageElement18818557> <p>According to one claim, even if Israel has the right to strike at Hamas, its response is disproportionate. This is a strange claim. No country has ever taken so many measures meant to prevent civilian casualties.</p> <p>The IDF, more than any other military in the world in similar operations, is making a supreme effort to reduce innocent casualties. This has been affirmed by world-renowned experts in military law.</p> <p>One such expert is <a href="https://www.ismllw.org/about-us/" class="bluelink" style="">Prof. Wolff Heintschel</a>, who said that, "The IDF takes many more precautions than are required, setting an unreasonable precedent.”</p> <p>Another is <a href="https://www.reading.ac.uk/law/Staff/m-schmitt.aspx" class="bluelink" style="">Pr message 59336930 After Trump, U.S. intent on resuming role of honest Mideast broker Analysis: Although the veteran Democratic leadership is voicing firm support of Israel, progressive members of the party are more critical, and a desire to strike a balance could make for uncomfortable moments to come for Israel Itamar Eichner https://www.ynetnews.com/article/Hy11fQg11t00 Tue, 18 May 2021 12:46:48 +03:00 It is becoming clear that tone of diplomatic relations between Washington and Jerusalem is a very different today than it was in the Trump years. If Israel expects the new administration to continue the blanket support it enjoyed during the term of the last GOP president, it will likely be disappointed. U.S. President Joe Biden told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday night that he supports a ceasefire to end the eight days of fighting between Israel and the Palestinian terror groups in Gaza. But even before the two leaders spoke, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, said both Israel and the Palestinians should seek an end to the violence and "avoid actions that undermine a peaceful future." This was a very different message to the ones voiced by her Republican predecessor Nikki Haley, who was far more supportive of Israel in previous escalations. Thomas-Greenfield's statements at a UN Security Council meeting on the fighting on Sunday is a clear signal that Washington is seeking to resume its role as an honest broker in the Middle East. "The human toll of this past week has been devastating," the ambassador said. "Sadly, these numbers are likely to grow by the end of today's session." And Thomas-Greenfield did not stop there. "We also are deeply concerned about the ongoing intercommunal violence within mixed communities in Israel," she said as she urged both sides to observe international humanitarian law. "This includes avoiding incitement, violent attacks, and terrorist acts, as well as evictions – including in East Jerusalem – demolitions, and settlement construction east of the 1967 lines. And critically, all parties need to uphold and respect the historic status quo at the holy sites." While the U.S. strategy to regain the trust of Palestinians and Arab nations is understandable, it is undeniable that this position is also motivated by a shift in the Democratic party itself. Independent Vermont Senator Bernlso are deeply concerned about the ongoing intercommunal violence within mixed communities in Israel," she said as she urged both sides to observe international humanitarian law.&nbsp;</p> <p>"This includes avoiding incitement, violent attacks, and terrorist acts, as well as evictions – including in East Jerusalem – demolitions, and settlement construction east of the 1967 lines. And critically, all parties need to uphold and respect the historic status quo at the holy sites."&nbsp;</p> <p>While the U.S. strategy to regain the trust of Palestinians and Arab nations is understandable, it is undeniable that this position is also motivated by a shift in the Democratic party itself.&nbsp;</p> <IMG id=captionImageElement18456520> <p>Independent Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who caucuses with the Democrats and is very popular with young voters, ended a <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/14/opinion/bernie-sanders-israel-palestine-gaza.html" class="bluelink" style="">recent editorial in the New York Times</a> with the words "Palestinians lives matter."</p> <p>Sanders also called on the administration to stop acting as an apologist for the Netanyahu government,</p> <p>He highlighted "the rise of a new generation of activists who want to build societies based on human needs and political equality" in Israel, the Palestinian territories and on the streets of the U.S. following the murder of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis in May 2020.</p> <p>In the U.S. Senate, 28 of the 50 Democratic senators published a letter in which they called for a ceasefire in Israel. The initiative was headed by Jewish Georgia Senator Jon Ossoff and co-signed by the party's deputy leader Dick Durbin of Illinois.</p> <p>On the far-left of the party, new lawmakers including &nbsp;Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib and lhan Omar, have not hesitated to lash out at Israel for what they said was its policy of "apartheid."</p> <DIV id=tvElement5643441></DIV><BR><p>The old guard - Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi - have reiterated Biden's position that Israel has the right to defend itself.&nbsp;</p> <p>But Biden was clear on Monday night that the fighting must stop and has dispatched a diplomat from the State Department to the region to push for a ceasefire. Again, a departure from the Trump administration in 2018, which placed sole blame for the fighting at the time on Hamas and its Iranian sponsors. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>Sunday's meeting of the Security Council was already a diplomatic win for Hamas. China, Tunisia and Norway proposed a draft joint statement on Monday that did not condemn the terror group for targeting Israeli civilians and criticized Israel for its policies in East Jerusalem.&nbsp;</p> <IMG id=captionImageElement18456521> <p>The U.S. opposed the wording of the draft, calling it one sided and prevented its publication. But the UN General Assembly, where Palestinians enjoy majority support, is set to convene on Thursday and a resolution to that effect may be forthcoming.</p> <p>A U.S. abstention on such a resolution, along the lines of then-president Barack Obama's decision to abstain on a 2016 Security Council condemnation of Israel for its settlement policy, could be a bellwether for the future of American policy in the region. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> message 59325570 IDF achievements will motivate Israel to seek a ceasefire Analysis: Hamas can claim a win with its repeated rocket strikes on center of country and its rebranding as defender of al-Aqsa but has no military success to tout, while IDF must show it achieved its objectives in destroying Hamas capabilities, severely damaged motivation to launch future attacks Alex Fishman https://www.ynetnews.com/article/HJPoHSC00u Sun, 16 May 2021 11:36:48 +03:00 Failing some mass casualty event either in Gaza or in Israel in the coming days, the fighting in the Strip will wind down by the middle of the week. Israeli officials are already discussing the day after the battle, including the question of whether to assist the residents of the Strip - at least with gas supplies – to begin rebuilding after the fighting. Israel's leadership is eyeing the UN Security Council which was due to meet Sunday. If the international body reaches a "balanced" resolution that recognizes the country's right to defend itself, Jerusalem will find it easier to stop it firing. If however the UN issues only condemnations, Israel will view such moves as one-sided and the fighting will continue for a while. Hamas has for the past four days attempted to advance a ceasefire with the mediation of Egypt. Israel's military commanders are evaluating whether the damage to the Gaza factions and their infrastructure is sufficient to prevent them from future aggression. Some have said that though that objective is near, two or three additional days of fighting would seal the deal. Hamas can already laud its main achievement: The group succeeded in firing massive numbers of rockets at Israel despite the military's actions. Hamas has also rebranded itself the defender of the al-Aqsa Mosque and the champion of the Palestinian cause. But in terms of military gains, the group has had no major successes, not in attacks by drones and not in infiltration of Israeli territory through attack tunnels or from the sea, despite two attempts since the fighting broke out. Dozens of Hamas operatives lost their lives when the Gaza attack tunnels were bombed and now the so-called "Metro," the miles-long underground system of burrows that allows the movement of fighters and weapons across the Strip, has been targeted again. The Hamas naval force also came under Israeli attack and its commander was killed along with several of his fighters. Israeli military officials beageElement18375512> <p>But in terms of military gains, the group has had no major successes, not in attacks by drones and not in infiltration of Israeli territory through attack tunnels or from the sea, despite two attempts since the fighting broke out.&nbsp;</p> <p>Dozens of Hamas operatives lost their lives when the Gaza attack tunnels were bombed and now the so-called "Metro," the miles-long underground system of burrows that allows the movement of fighters and weapons across the Strip, has been targeted again.&nbsp;</p> <p>The Hamas naval force also came under Israeli attack and its commander was killed along with several of his fighters. &nbsp;</p> <p>Israeli military officials believe the group will aim to achieve a significant win in the coming days, but this would be a perceived failure on Israel's part and delay any ceasefire.</p> <p>The Israeli offensive was a long-time in the planning and was made up of many objectives.</p> <p>One objective was to destroy the Metro, a move originally planned as a precursor to a ground offensive.&nbsp;</p> <p>But once Hamas saw the IDF's ability to destroy the tunnels from the air, their strategic value decreased despite the hefty financial investment in their construction. Militants feared the tunnels would become a death trap and avoided them.</p> <IMG id=captionImageElement18375513> <p>The military weighed the advantage of revealing its tunnel-busting weaponry even if the intent to kill hundreds of militants inside them was no longer feasible, but decided to go ahead with the plan because the tunnels were also being used to transport rockets to their launchers in various spots in the Strip. &nbsp;</p> <p>Israel's security cabinet, which convened Sunday morning, could decide when to advance a ceasefire. The humanitarian crisis in the Strip after destruction of the enclave's infrastructure, with electricity and water in even shorter supply, could send Palestinian civilians to the Israeli border fence.</p> <p>Military succ message 59318190 Israel, Hamas race to claim victory before Gaza truce Analysis: Ynet's commentator Ron-Ben Yishai says IDF unlikely to send in ground forces unless terror group ruling Strip carries out a 'catastrophic' attack while veteran military pundit believes 'both sides would like to end this and go home' Associated Press https://www.ynetnews.com/article/ByhdqL3uu Fri, 14 May 2021 23:43:56 +03:00 Israel and Hamas know that a fourth Gaza war, like the three before, would be as inconclusive as it is devastating for the impoverished territory's 2 million Palestinians. But in the days or weeks before an inevitable truce, each will aim for something it can call a victory. For Israel, that might mean assassinating a top Hamas commander, or destroying enough tunnels, rocket launchers and other infrastructure to say it "mowed the lawn" -- a phrase widely used by Israelis to describe the temporary suppression of terrorist groups before the next confrontation. The senior defense officials reportedly said Friday that the previous night's massive assault on the attack tunnels under Gaza mean Israel is close to ending its operation in Gaza, dubbed Guardian of the Walls. For Hamas, the biggest prize would be capturing Israeli soldiers it could later trade for imprisoned Palestinians. A close second would be scoring a few more long-range rocket hits on Israeli cities to display the Palestinian organization's military prowess in confronting a much stronger enemy. Of course, the assassination of a Hamas kingpin or the capture of an Israeli soldier would trigger a major escalation, likely resulting in the deaths of large numbers of Gaza civilians. But neither side assumes it can use military means to secure its larger goals. Both expect the same eventual resolution - an internationally brokered informal truce like the ones that ended Hamas-Israeli wars in 2009, 2012 and 2014. To overthrow Hamas, Israel would need to reoccupy Gaza in a prolonged and bloody operation that would provoke international condemnation. Not even the most hawkish Israelis are suggesting that course. By the same token, Hamas has no expectation of lifting the Israeli-Egyptian blockade imposed on Gaza when it seized power from rival Palestinian forces in 2007. The rockets Hamas has fired into Israel have brought waves of Israeli airstrikes, and about a fourth of the Palestinian projectiles have falcan use military means to secure its larger goals. Both expect the same eventual resolution - an internationally brokered informal truce like the ones that ended Hamas-Israeli wars in 2009, 2012 and 2014.</p> <IMG id=captionImageElement18366009> <p>To overthrow Hamas, Israel would need to reoccupy Gaza in a prolonged and bloody operation that would provoke international condemnation. Not even the most hawkish Israelis are suggesting that course. By the same token, Hamas has no expectation of lifting the Israeli-Egyptian blockade imposed on Gaza when it seized power from rival Palestinian forces in 2007.</p> <p>The rockets Hamas has fired into Israel have brought waves of Israeli airstrikes, and about a fourth of the Palestinian projectiles have fallen short, landing in Gaza.&nbsp;</p> <p>At least 126 Gazans have been killed, including 31 children, while at least 900 people have been injured and homes and businesses left in ruins, deepening the misery in the isolated territory.&nbsp;</p> <IMG id=captionImageElement18366010> <p>The rockets have killed seven people in Israel, including a 5-year-old boy and a Indian woman working in the country, and sown panic as far away from Gaza as Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.</p> <p>But in the cruel calculations governing so much of the Middle East conflict, the ability to fire or not fire rockets gives Hamas leverage it can use to attain more limited goals. The terror group has in recent years observed a shaky, informal cease-fire with Israel, trading calm for an easing of the blockade and hundreds of millions of dollars in aid from Qatar that was delivered regularly through Israel's Erez crossing.</p> <p>"The death and destruction from the air raids are horrific," says Tareq Baconi, an analyst with the Crisis Group, an international think tank. But for Hamas, "that kind of suffering is inevitable when Palestinians are resisting Israeli occupation."</p> <IMG id=captionImageElement18366011> <p>The rockets also allow Hamas to rally support by portraying itself as a liberation movement fighting for Palestinian rights and defending claims to Jerusalem, the emotional center of the decades-old conflict.</p> <p>Hamas banners now hang outside Jerusalem's al-Aqsa Mosque, where heavy clashes between Israeli police and Palestinian protesters earlier this month -- along with a long-running effort by Jewish settlers to evict Palestinian families in East Jerusalem -- triggered the latest violence.</p> <p>Hamas can also revel in the outbreak of Arab-Jewish violence inside Israel, which in some ways resembles the kind of Palestinian uprising the militant group has long called for.</p> <p>"My sense is that both sides would like to end this and go home," says Amos Harel, the longtime military correspondent for Haaretz newspaper.</p> <p>"Hamas achieved more than it dreamed" by launching long-range rockets at Jerusalem and Tel Aviv and helping to ignite violence in Israeli cities, Harel says. "If they continue, then they will risk more casualties, more damage and hardship to Gaza."</p> <IMG id=captionImageElement18366012> <p>Ron Ben-Yishai, Ynet's veteran war correspondent, also thinks Israel is unlikely to send in ground forces unless Hamas carries out a "catastrophic" attack.</p> <p>"If, for example, they send a big missile and this missile hits a kindergarten in Israel, there would be a ground attack," Yishai said.</p> <p>Hamas has also scored a major win against its rivals in the increasingly unpopular and autocratic Palestinian Authority, whose authority is confined to parts of the West Bank, and which has little to show for years of close security ties with Israel and billions of dollars in international aid.</p> <p>Last month, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called off the first Palestinian elections in 15 years amid signs his splintering Fatah party would suffer an embarrassing defeat to Hamas.&nbsp;</p> <p>The terror group's stature has only grown since then, with Abbas largely sidelined by the conflict.</p> <IMG id=captionImageElement18366013> <p>Israel, meanwhile, derives certain advantages from maintaining the status quo that prevailed in Gaza before the latest fighting.</p> <p>It routinely blames the failure of the peace process on Hamas, which does not recognize the country's right to exist and is considered a terrorist group by Israel and Western nations.</p> <p>But Harel says that for many Israelis, Hamas is the "preferred enemy" because it rejects a two-state solution. That allows Israel to isolate Gaza from the larger conflict while consolidating its control over East Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank -- with little if any resistance from the docile Palestinian Authority.</p> <p>Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has never said it publicly, "but one would suspect he is actually quite comfortable with Hamas," Harel says.</p> <IMG id=captionImageElement18366014> <p>Israel captured East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza in the 1967 Six-Day War, territories the Palestinians want for their future state. It withdrew all its soldiers and settlers from Gaza in 2005.</p> <p>But the Palestinians and much of the international community still view Gaza as occupied territory that should be part of an eventual Palestinian state. More than half of Gaza's population are the descendants of refugees from what is now Israel, which controls the territory's airspace, territorial waters, population registry and commercial crossings.</p> <p>Any larger resolution to the conflict appears further out of reach than ever.</p> <p>There have been no substantive peace talks in more than a decade, and Israel's expansion of settlements and its plans to eventually annex parts of the West Bank has recently led two well-known human rights groups to accuse it of practicing apartheid. Israel rejects those allegations.</p> <IMG id=captionImageElement18366015> <p>Either way, there seems no end in sight to Hamas' rule in Gaza or the blockade Israel says is needed to contain it.</p> <p>"Ground o message 59316250 The land incursion that never came Opinion: As part of the IDF's new and deadly multi-faceted combat doctrine, the Israeli military cunningly convinced Gaza terrorists and the world it had launched a ground attack on the Palestinian enclave, making its adversaries expose their positions and dealing them a severe blow Ron Ben Yishai https://www.ynetnews.com/article/rkDkf12du Fri, 14 May 2021 16:10:23 +03:00 The IDF acted overnight Friday as expected of it: with creativity, cunningly and showing the best combination of its air and ground force. In an operation the like of which we have not seen in a long time, the IDF inflicted a concentrated blow on Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad's (PIJ) underground combat infrastructure and their militants on the ground. The operation started on Thursday's late evening hours, around 9pm, when two tank brigades and two Golani infantry brigades started moving towards the border around the northern Gaza Strip. The roar of the tanks and armored vehicles was heard well within the strip. In addition, the tanks traveled near Israeli border communities, with lights from the communities shining on them as they made their way to the border fence. All this probably made Hamas and PIJ commanders think this was the beginning of an Israeli land incursion into Gaza. This estimate was reinforced when an IDF spokesperson announced that "IDF air and ground forces are now attacking the Gaza Strip", fooling some foreign media into reporting that the IDF had entered the Palestinian enclave. In response, the Palestinian terrorist organizations deployed to the frontline lookouts and fighters armed with anti-tank missiles and mortars to stop or, at least stall, an invasion of IDF forces. As IDF tanks and armored vehicles advanced toward the outer border fence and beyond Israel's anti-tunnel underground barrier system, about 160 Air Force fighter jets and drones launched a massive attack on the outskirts of Gaza City, aiming to destroy what the IDF calls "The Metro" — a massive chain of combat tunnels constructed by Hamas and PIJ within Gaza City and neighboring town to allow their militants to move covertly without being spotted from the air. Hamas constructed these tunnels following the 2014 fighting round with Israel, also known as "Operation Protective Edge", preparing for a possibility the Israeli military enters the seaside territory again. Hehicles advanced toward the outer border fence and beyond Israel's anti-tunnel underground barrier system, about 160 Air Force fighter jets and drones launched a massive attack on the outskirts of Gaza City, aiming to destroy what the IDF calls "The Metro" — a massive chain of combat tunnels constructed by Hamas and PIJ within Gaza City and neighboring town to allow their militants to move covertly without being spotted from the air.</p> <p>Hamas constructed these tunnels following the 2014 fighting round with Israel, also known as "Operation Protective Edge", preparing for a possibility the Israeli military enters the seaside territory again. However, the IDF, on the other hand, has significantly developed the capabilities of its air force in recent years.</p> <p>In fact, the Air Force is the only one operating against Palestinian underground activities in Gaza using highly accurate and destructive anti-tunnel bombs.</p> <p>The Air Force had hit over 150 targets overnight. It is still unclear how many Hamas militants were hurt or trapped inside the tunnels, but those who surfaced on the ground also were hit by aerial and ground fire.</p> <IMG id=captionImageElement18111960> <p>IDF's tanks cannons were lying in wait for them and drones equipped with night vision spotted their every move and directed the fire at them. Sniper and missile units were also waiting for them on the ground.</p> <p>Almost no Israeli soldier on the ground had to cross the border. Behind and near this borderline are a massive underground barrier system, a wall, and a pre-prepared set of tank positions and dirt embankments from which forces can fire and hit their targets with great precision and with minimal risk from Palestinian anti-tank missiles or mortar fire. The IDF dubs this ground formation "The Safari".</p> <p>The exact scope of damage that the IDF managed to inflict upon the Palestinian terrorist groups' ground forces will only become clear down the road, but it seems to be colossal.</p> <p>This operation also dealt a huge psychological blow and a fundamental disruption to Hamas and PIJ field commanders' ability to properly assess the IDF's intentions and act accordingly.</p> <IMG id=captionImageElement18111961> <p>The tank fire into the northern and eastern outskirts of Gaza City and the southern Gaza Strip was probably particularly powerful, and it occurred simultaneously with the deadly airstrikes. It is important to note that the attack was carried out with the utmost care so as not to harm uninvolved civilians.</p> <p>It is still early to call what will be the long-term effects of this round of fighting, but it is abundantly clear that the IDF had executed for the first time its new and deadly multi-faceted combat doctrine.&nbsp;</p> <p>At first glance, it seems Hamas was caught unprepared and as a result, the number of rocket launches has dropped in comparison to previous nights of fighting, although heavy rocket volleys were fired at the southern city of Ashkelon.</p> <p>It is still too early to pat ourselves on our backs, however, as Hamas and PIJ still have thousands of rockets and missiles in possession, some of which can cover a really long distance and deal a lot of damage. The IDF's job is far from over.</p> <IMG id=captionImageElement18111962> <p>For example, the Ayash 250 missile that Hamas presented on Thursday can cover much ground but is terribly inaccurate, that is why the one Hamas had fired towards Eilat's Ramon International Airport crashed in an open field dozens of miles away from there.</p> <p>This operation has four main goals:</p> <p>Bring back Israeli deterrence; hit and destroy as much as possible anything that allows Hamas and PIJ to fight, from infrastructure to fighters and commanders, including senior Hamas commanders; dealing a severe blow to Hamas and PIJ's rocket production capabilities and preventing them from posing a threat for years to come; and maintaining the IDF's legitimacy to act in self-defense and creating support of Israel, especially among democratic Western countries.</p> <p>Israel has been making encouraging gains in the international arena. It seems that the Jewish state managed to convince the Biden administration to support the military operation for several more days, that is why the UN Security Council meeting was postponed until Sunday.</p> <p>Israel's ability to convince the Biden administration and other European Union member states to support its right to attack in the Gaza Strip largely stems from Hamas' blatant provocation when it fired rockets at Jerusalem and large population centers in central Israel and from the careful and selective way in which the Air Force exerts its force.</p> <IMG id=captionImageElement18111963> <p>Israel manages to pull off the latter in several ways:</p> <p>The Shin Bet domestic security agency warns Gazan civilians by phone and tells them to evacuate before airstrikes; the Air Force uses drones to drop low-yield tactical bombs on rooftops and streets to warn civilians before a larger strike; and the Air Force uses high-accuracy ammunition to destroy Hamas buildings and tunnels with minimal collateral damage.</p> <p>Many of the civilian casualties inside the Gaza Strip, including women and children, are caused by Hamas misfires. About a third of all rocket launches don't even cross the border into Israel, which the international community knows well.</p> <p>The massive damage to the quality of life in the Gaza Strip stems largely from these same misfires hitting electrical wires and other critical civilian infrastructure across the Hamas-controlled territory. It safe to assume that Hamas will have a large-scale civilian crisis on its hands once the fighting subsides, maybe even greater than the one after "Operation Protective Edge."</p> <p>That is why Hamas is currently signaling through Egyptian mediators it wants a ceasefire, but Israel has no interest in stopping and the United States supports it, so it is safe to message