Netanyahu

Is Trump Visiting Israel to Praise Bibi — Or To Bury Him?

Israel's Prime Minister Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem

(photo: PBS)

Trump has much to gain and little to lose; the reverse is true of Netanyahu.

By J. J. Goldberg / Forward
May 2, 2017


Israelis with ties to the Trump administration are reporting, according to political correspondent Tal Shalev of the widely read Walla news site, that the president wants to convene a “regional summit” of Middle East leaders this summer in Washington. Participants would include Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, along with Israel and the Palestinian Authority. The agenda would be based on the Saudi-led Arab Peace Initiative.


When Donald Trump visits Israel later this month, as he reportedly will do, he faces much to potentially gain and little to lose. The reverse is true of his host, Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.

For Trump, it’s an opportunity to show some statesmanship and gravitas — qualities he’s not widely associated with — in a friendly environment. It’s an opportunity to solidify his shaky relationship with the ardently pro-Israel Republicans in Congress, who’ve been repeatedly undermined or plain flummoxed by Trump’s unpredictable antics. And — who knows? — he just might make some progress where so many have failed: getting the Israeli-Palestinian deadlock unstuck. Strange things happen when Trump’s around.

Besides, if he tries and fails, it will simply end up being another implausible promise he’s made and then airily dismissed. We’re used to it.

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German Foreign Minister Calls Netanyahu’s Bluff

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German foreign minister Sigmar Gabriel (left) with Israeli president, Reuven Rivlin, in Jerusalem on April 25, 2017. (photo: Sebastian Scheiner / AP)

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel will learn far more from his meetings with B’Tselem and Breaking the Silence than from meeting with Netanyahu.

By Dahlia Scheindlin / +972 Magazine
April 25, 2017


“You never get the full picture of any state in the world if you just meet with figures in government ministries.”


Given an ultimatum of meeting with Breaking the Silence and B’Tselem or meeting Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel very simply made the right choice to forego Netanyahu. And not in order to “defy” Netanyahu, as per a breathless Bloomberg headline, or to give any message at all.

He was right simply because what would he have actually learned from Netanyahu? Those organizations will give Gabriel concrete information: B’Tselem will update him on developments regarding the 50-year-old occupation and its most current manifestations, in the form of data, documentation and analysis. Breaking the Silence will give him human experiences of occupation, and tell the truth about growing attempts to intimidate and suppress the group for daring to oppose Israeli policies. (more…)

Obama Was the Most Pro-Israel President Since Truman

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“Netanyahu invariably repaid Obama’s generosity with ingratitude and abuse.” (photo: Stuxnet Documentary, LLC / BBC)

Believe it or not, Barack Obama had Israel’s best interest at heart. Trump, on the other hand, will drive a stake through hopes of peace.

By Avi Shlaim / The Guardian
January 17, 2017


That Obama detests Netanyahu is common knowledge. What is less well known is that Obama’s personal antipathy towards the prime minister co-exists with a genuine commitment to the welfare and security of the Jewish state.


America has not one but two special relationships: one with Britain and one with Israel. When the two clash, the alliance with Israel usually trumps the one with Britain, as Tony Blair discovered to his cost in 2003. For the sake of the special relationship Blair dragged Britain into a disastrous war in Iraq, but in the aftermath of the war his American allies reneged on their promise to push Israel into a settlement with the Palestinians. Blair was no match to the power of the Israel lobby in the US. With American complicity, Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories has now reached its 50th year and there is still no light at the end of the tunnel.

American politicians of both parties often use the mantra that the bond with Israel is unbreakable. But Israel’s continuing drift to the right has imposed serious strains on the relations with its principal ally and chief benefactor. In America, Israel is essentially an issue in domestic politics rather than foreign policy. And it is the subject of deep disagreement between the outgoing Obama administration and the incoming Trump administration.

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A Budding Symbiosis between Trump and Netanyahu

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photo: Stephen Crowley / The New York Times

Political lift as both Netanyahu and Trump face mounting challenges on home front.

By Mark Landler / The New York Times
March 7, 2017


“It appears that President Trump is prepared to go a long way to help Prime Minister Netanyahu with his domestic difficulties and that Netanyahu, in return, is willing to provide a kosher seal of approval for a president who was slow to condemn anti-Semitism.”
— Martin S. Indyk, former special envoy to the Middle East


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel was sitting in his residence in Jerusalem on Monday, being questioned by the police in a murky bribery and fraud investigation that could put an end to his political career, when the telephone rang.

On the line was President Trump, who wanted to talk to Mr. Netanyahu about Iran and a few other matters.

The prime minister excused himself for several minutes to take the call, and later issued a statement in which he thanked Mr. Trump “for his warm hospitality during his recent visit to Washington and expressed his appreciation for the president’s strong statement against anti-Semitism during the president’s speech before Congress.”

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A Significant Resolution on Israel

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused the Obama Administration of carrying out an “underhanded, anti-Israel maneuver” in its failure to veto a U.N. resolution targeting Israeli settlements. (photo: Dan Balilty / AFP / Getty)

By Bernard Avishai / The New Yorker
December 27, 2016


“Secretary Kerry averaged roughly one phone call a week to the Israeli Prime Minister over the last four years — almost four hundred — to plead, to warn, against the path his government was on. Not only did settlement-construction activities continue apace, they were accelerated.”
— Robert Malley, the special assistant to the President on the National Security Council, the senior adviser for the campaign against isis, and the White House coördinator for the Middle East, North Africa, and the Gulf


Last Friday, the United Nations Security Council unanimously passed Resolution 2334, with a dramatic abstention by the Obama Administration. The resolution called on Palestinian leaders to take “immediate steps to prevent all acts of violence against civilians, including acts of terror,” and refrain from “incitement and inflammatory rhetoric.” Its real target, though, was Israel’s settlement project, which, the resolution sharply claimed, has “no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law and a major obstacle to the achievement of the two-State solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace.”

Later in the day on Friday, I spoke to Robert Malley, the special assistant to the President on the National Security Council, the senior adviser for the campaign against isis, and the White House coördinator for the Middle East, North Africa, and the Gulf. In February, 2011, the Obama Administration vetoed a similar U.N. condemnation of settlements—opposing fourteen other members of the Security Council and a hundred and twenty co-sponsors from the General Assembly. Why abstain now, I asked Malley, and not then? “A real difference is that efforts to advance negotiations were ongoing in 2011,” Malley told me. “We were concerned not to interfere with a process that had some prospect of progressing. That’s not the case since Secretary Kerry’s efforts in 2014. We are at an impasse. There is no prospect of resumption of serious meaningful talks between the sides, so the argument that a U.N. resolution would interfere with negotiations doesn’t hold much water.”

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Netanyahu Makes Trump His Chump

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President Obama, left, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel in September 2016. (photo: Menahem Kahana)

Friends don’t let friends drive drunk, and right now Obama and Kerry rightly believe that Israel is driving drunk.

By Thomas Friedman / The New York Times
December 28, 2016


Israel is driving drunk toward annexing the West Bank and becoming either a bi-national Arab-Jewish state or some Middle Eastern version of 1960’s South Africa, where Israel has to systematically deprive large elements of its population of democratic rights to preserve the state’s Jewish character.


For those of you confused over the latest fight between President Obama and Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu of Israel, let me make it simple: Barack Obama and John Kerry admire and want to preserve Israel as a Jewish and democratic state in the Land of Israel. I have covered this issue my entire adult life and have never met two U.S. leaders more committed to Israel as a Jewish democracy.

But they are convinced — rightly — that Netanyahu is a leader who is forever dog paddling in the middle of the Rubicon, never ready to cross it. He is unwilling to make any big, hard decision to advance or preserve a two-state solution if that decision in any way risks his leadership of Israel’s right-wing coalition or forces him to confront the Jewish settlers, who relentlessly push Israel deeper and deeper into the West Bank.

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The Annexation of Palestine Could Be Closer Than you Think

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Members of Knesset from the Likud and Jewish Home parties, including Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely (R), take part in an event demanding the annexation of West Bank settlement Ma’ale Adumim, Jerusalem, October 31, 2016. (photo: Yonatan Sindel / Flash90)

A perfect storm of domestic Israeli politics combined with the changing of the guard in Washington could create an opportunity for those advocating annexation to finally make their move.

By Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man / +972 Magazine
January 1, 2017


Since his election, President-elect Trump has been sending clear signals that his administration’s policy toward Israel, and especially the settlements, will be markedly different from that of Barack Obama, John Kerry, and, one would conclude, the previous eight American presidents since Israel occupied the Palestinian territories in 1967. The president-elect has not minced words, tweeting in response to John Kerry’s 75-minute admonition of Israel’s settlement policy: “Stay strong Israel, January 20th is fast approaching!”


Senior Israeli government minister Naftali Bennett announced on Sunday that he will introduce legislation to effectively annex Israel’s third-largest settlement in the West Bank, Ma’ale Adumim, by the end of January. It is safe to assume, that when Bennett says “by the end of January,” he means after the January 20 inauguration of Donald Trump.

Bennett’s desire to incrementally annex parts of the West Bank are neither new nor secret. The chairman of the Jewish Home party has run on a platform of annexation since he first ran for office in 2013 and in every election since. Through short videos and aggressive sound bites, the Israeli education minister has attempted shift the public discourse, in Israel and around the world, toward his annexationist aims. . . .

Ayelet Shaked, also of Bennett’s Jewish Home party and now Israel’s justice minister, in the past advocated annexing the Gush Etzion settlement bloc. More recently she announced plans to apply Israeli civil law to the occupied territories, which is considered de facto annexation (the West Bank is currently subject to Israeli military law). A few months ago Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely made a direct demand of her government. Similar pleas and plans can be heard on an almost daily basis throughout the Israeli government and ruling coalition, not to mention in right-wing circles and media outside the government. And while demands from within the government to advance annexation have become the new normal in recent years, for a variety of reasons they are often dismissed as fringe or unrealistic.

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How Netanyahu’s Dangerously Twisted Words Hide the Truth

Israel's Prime Minister Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem

(photo: PBS)

By Peter Beinart / The Forward
January 4, 2017


In the West Bank, Israel is not the “one true democracy in the Middle East.” It is not a democracy at all. It is not a democracy because Palestinians — who comprise the vast majority of the West Bank’s inhabitants — cannot vote for the government that controls their lives: the government of Israel. . . . If Israel really were a democracy in the West Bank, and millions of West Bank Palestinians could vote in Israeli elections, Netanyahu wouldn’t be Israel’s prime minister.


Last month, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued two public statements. When the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution criticizing settlements, Netanyahu attacked it for not condemning Syria. When Secretary of State John Kerry defended the Obama administration’s decision to let the resolution pass, Netanyahu attacked him for not sufficiently condemning the Palestinians.

In both responses, the Israeli leader illustrated George Orwell’s famous insight: The abuse of human beings starts with the abuse of language.

“At a time when the Security Council does nothing to stop the slaughter of half a million people in Syria,” Netanyahu declared after the UN vote, “it disgracefully gangs up on the one true democracy in the Middle East, Israel.”

The first clause is a non-sequitur. Yes, Syrians in Aleppo and elsewhere are suffering more than Palestinians in the West Bank. Yes, the UN should be doing more to relieve their plight. But the test of whether Israeli settlement policy deserves international condemnation is whether Israeli settlement policy is morally wrong, not whether other governments deserve condemnation more.

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Encountering Peace: Encountering Peace?

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Demonstrators hold Palestinian flags during a rally in Nabi Saleh. (photo: Reuters)

Most of the world, including the Arab world does not really care about the Palestinian people and their cause.

By Gershon Baskin / The Jerusalem Post
December 7, 2016


And while everyone is busy talking about BDS, Israel is continuing to build settlements and confiscating more land from the Palestinians. But to what cause? That is what troubles me. There will be no imposed solution to the Israeli Palestinian conflict. No one can force the Israelis and the Palestinians to act against their own interests, nor will any world power apply effective pressure on Israel and the Palestinians to do what they are not prepared to do.


I don’t know what Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu thinks, what his plans are, his grand strategy for the future of Israel. I know that he is an intelligent man. I know that he does think strategically. I know that he sees himself and his position in historical terms. I believes that he believes that he is the savior of the Jewish people and the State of Israel. He has told us that he is here to prevent the next Holocaust and that he will never compromise on Israel’s security.

But what’s beyond that? What does he really want to do with Judea and Samaria? Does he really imagine that the creeping annexation, now being advanced by a new law that gives the right to the government to confiscate private Palestinian land and turn it over to Israelis, will continue to go by unnoticed and be unchallenged?

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Trump has “every intention” of recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital

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Photo: Kobi Gideon / GPO / EPA

Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli leaders hail election of Donald Trump, whose campaign promises would overturn decades of US foreign policy

By Peter Beaumont / The Guardian
November 9, 2016


“Trump’s victory is an opportunity for Israel to immediately retract the notion of a Palestinian state in the center of the country. This is the position of the president-elect: the era of a Palestinian state is over.”
— Naftali Bennett, Israeli Education Minister


Israeli government ministers and political figures are pushing the U.S. president-elect, Donald Trump, to quickly fulfill his campaign promise to overturn decades of US foreign policy and recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv.

Their calls came as one of Trump’s advisers on Israel and the Middle East, David Friedman, told the Jerusalem Post that Trump would follow through on his promise.

“It was a campaign promise and there is every intention to keep it,” Friedman said. “We are going to see a very different relationship between America and Israel in a positive way.”

Other political figures — including Israel’s controversial far-right education minister, Naftali Bennett — went further, suggesting that Trump’s election should signal the end of the two-state solution and aspirations for a Palestinian state.

[Continue reading here . . . ]