Why a Palestinian state would be a disaster for Israel and the region.

Howard Kohr, AIPAC’s (American-Israel Public Affairs Committee) CEO created a bit of an uproar among certain Jewish organizations when he stated at the AIPAC conference earlier this month that, “We must work toward that future: two states for two people. One Jewish with secure and defensible borders, and one Palestinian with its own flag and its own future.”  It was a reiteration of last year’s call on the U.S. administration to undertake steps that “Could create a climate that encourages the Palestinians to negotiate in pursuit of the goal we desire: a Jewish state of Israel living side by side in peace and security with a demilitarized Palestinian state.”

There is no question that Howard Kohr’s motives are pure and honorable in seeking a secure Israel alongside a peaceful and demilitarized Palestinian state.  Unfortunately reality dictates otherwise.  At the moment we actually have a need to solve more than a two-state question.  We have a third state question and that is the Hamas ruled Gaza Strip.  Hamas has vowed to fight until the liberation of all of Palestine and the destruction of Israel.  The Los Angeles Times reported (March 1, 2017), “In a shift, the new document (as it relates to the Hamas Covenant-JP), formally endorses the goal of establishing a Palestinian state in Gaza and the West Bank, with Jerusalem as its capital, as part of a ‘national consensus’ among Palestinians (this was during the reconciliation process with Fatah and the Palestinian Authority-JP).  While that may be a tacit acknowledgment of Israel’s existence, the revision stops well short of recognizing Israel, and reasserts calls for armed resistance toward a ‘complete liberation of Palestine’ from the river to the sea.”

The attempted assassination of the Palestinian Authority (PA) Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah earlier this month in Gaza, put a stop to the reconciliation efforts between Hamas and the PA, which is dominated by Fatah.  Fatah spokesperson and Revolutionary Council member, Osama al-Qawasmi said, “Hamas is fully responsible for this cowardly operation that targeted the homeland, reconciliation, and unity. This cowardly act is outside of our values and national relations, and has repercussions.”  It is clear that even if PA President Mahmoud Abbas should return to the negotiating table, and that is doubtful, Hamas will continue its campaign of terror against Israel.  Hamas is unwilling to give up control of its arms, its rockets, or its mortars, to the PA.

In December, 1998, President Bill Clinton responded to Arafat’s letter.  He thanked Arafat for the move in January of the same year, which allegedly struck out and amended the call in the Palestinian Charter for the destruction of Israel, by the raised arms verbal vote of the Palestinian National Council (PNC).  The Palestinian Charter specifies in Clause 33 as amended in 1968, that the charter can only be changed if 2/3rds of its membership met to vote on the change.  This did not occur.  It is abundantly clear that the PA is still committed to the destruction of Israel, albeit, without openly using the extremist verbiage that Hamas is using.  The continued incitement to violence and terror by Mahmoud Abbas, and the entire educational and informational apparatus of the PA that advocates hatred for Jews and Israel, negates the idea of a peaceful Palestinian state living side by side with the Jewish state of Israel.

The idea that a future Palestinian state would adhere to being a “demilitarized state” is totally unrealistic, especially if we consider the history and nature of Arab regimes. Louis Rene Beres, Emeritus Professor of International Law, has pointed out that even “If the government of a fully sovereign Palestinian state were in fact willing to consider itself bound by some pre-state agreement to demilitarize, in these improbable circumstances, the new Palestinian Arab government could likely identify ample pretext and opportunity to invoke lawful ‘treaty’ termination.

Palestine could withdraw from any such agreement because of what it would regard as a ‘material breach,’ a purported violation by Israel, one that had allegedly undermined the object or purpose of the accord.  It could also point to what international law calls Rebus sic stantibus: permissible abrogation,’ known more popularly as a ‘fundamental change of circumstances.’  If Palestine should declare itself vulnerable to previously unseen dangers, perhaps even from interventionary forces, or the forces of other Arab armies or insurgencies that it could claim might be trying to occupy it, it could lawfully end its previously codified commitment to stay demilitarized.

There is another reason why any hopes for Palestinian demilitarization must remain unsupportable. After declaring independence, a Palestinian government — any Palestinian government – could point to particular pre-independence errors of fact, or to duress, as appropriate grounds for invoking selective agreement termination. In this regard, the grounds that may be invoked under domestic law to invalidate contracts could also apply under international law, whether to actual treaties, or, as in this particular case, to lesser treaty-like agreements.”

Professor Beres pointed out that according to the ‘Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties’ (1969), an authentic treaty must always be between states.”  Beres argues that “any treaty or treaty-like compact is void if, at the time of its entry into force it conflicts with a ‘peremptory’ rule of international law — that is, one from which ‘no derogation is permitted.’ As the right of sovereign states to maintain military forces for self-defense is always such a rule, Palestine would be within its lawful right to abrogate any pre-independence agreement that had (impermissibly) compelled its own demilitarization.

The “2005 Gaza experience,” of unilateral withdrawal from Gaza, has taught Israel a painful lesson.  Once it vacates land it will ultimately become a base for terror attacks against its cities and citizens.  With Israel’s major cities within rifle fire of a Palestinian state, not to mention rockets, life inside Israel would become impossible.  Palestinian terror attacks and Israel’s retaliation will serve as an excuse for the future state of Palestine to discard demilitarization.  International guarantees, even by its closest allies won’t have any meaning. Israel learned this lesson following the Sinai Campaign of 1956.  The Maritime powers guarantees (including the U.S.) didn’t prevent Egypt’s dictator, Abdul Nasser, from closing the Straits of Tiran and the Suez Canal to Israeli navigation. The International community did nothing.

A one-state solution in which Israel would absorb about two-million Palestinians as its citizens is not an ideal solution either.  It isn’t so much the demographic threat that it once was, but rather a threat to peace within the country, where two cultures are in conflict.  Perhaps the ideal solution is for the Kingdom of Jordan to federate with the West Bank Palestinians.  Israel would annex area C under the Oslo Accords, where most of the 500,000 Jews live, and the Jordan River would serve as the international border between Israel and Jordan, which would insure Israel’s security.  The Palestinian-Arabs will have a flag (the Jordanian and Palestinian flags are almost identical), a representation in the federated government, possibly a Palestinian Prime Minister (Jordan’s population is already 70% Palestinians), an outlet to the sea (Aqaba if not Gaza) and total religious homogeneity (Sunni-Islam).

Under normal circumstances many Israelis, much like Howard Kohr, would prefer a two-state solution.  But the realities in the Middle East indicate that another authoritarian state (and most likely terrorist state) won’t contribute to stability or peace in the region.  On the contrary, it would serve as a focal point of conflict.  Perhaps in the next few generation things might change, but for now a Palestinian state would be a disaster for Israel and the region.

Originally Published in FrontPageMag.

[WATCH] Gaza: Let Their People Go

The above video features Martin Sherman speaking about the most realistic and humanitarian solution for the former Israeli enclave of Gaza now in the hands of a brutal Jihadist terror group, Hamas.

Notes on our next war

Originally Published in Abu Yehuda.

There is a feeling of calm before the storm here in Israel. Everyone thinks war is unavoidable, and most people understand, at least on an intellectual level, that this war is going to be one of the toughest in Israel’s history.

I’ll say at the outset that I’m convinced that we will survive this one too, and even achieve a measure of victory. But the cost will be very high in soldiers, civilians and property, and the price we will have to exact from our enemies will be even higher. As in the past, they have worked themselves into a frenzy, listening to their own propaganda. And as in the past, they will be sorry. But there’s no stopping them, particularly since the Iranian regime thinks it will be able to destroy us by proxy, without getting its own hands dirty.

Our government and military will do their best to deter the various actors. Don’t join in, and nothing will happen to you, they will say, as they said to King Hussein of Jordan in 1967. But our enemies’ lack of understanding of our capabilities, their misconceptions about the nature of the Jewish people in Israel, and their incandescent hatred for us will continue to dazzle them.

We are facing some 130,000 rockets in Lebanon which can hit almost all of Israel, and some of which can be accurately guided to their targets. There is also an unknown number of missiles in Syria, which can carry chemical weapons. And Iran herself has missiles that can strike Israel from her territory. There are battle-hardened Hezbollah fighters and Shiite militias in Lebanon and Syria, prepared to bring the war to our territory. And unlike the IDF, they will not spare civilians that they encounter.

Hamas has also built up its missile forces since the last war, and have hardened their launchers and buried them underground. There is a threat from ISIS in the northern Sinai. Once the war begins we can expect an upsurge in terrorism from Arabs in Judea and Samaria, and possibly even from terrorist cells based in the Triangle area. How many fronts does that make?

The IDF expects incursions in the North and has made plans for evacuation of areas threatened by fighting or heavy rocket barrages. Possibly there may also be evacuations in the area around Gaza.

The enemy’s first act will probably be massive rocket attacks from Lebanon, perhaps with precision-guided missiles aimed at military targets and sensitive infrastructure. Only some of the incoming rockets will be intercepted by our anti-missile systems, which can be overwhelmed by the sheer number of projectiles. I expect that there will be incursions by elite enemy forces at the same time, in order to create panic and jam the roads with people moving south. Thousands of rockets a day will be fired at first, until our forces can destroy the launchers and stockpiles.

The IAF and artillery will hit the launch areas in southern Lebanon, causing massive damage and probably great loss of life to civilians among whom the rocket launchers are placed. IDF ground troops will enter Lebanon to root out the launchers that can’t be destroyed from the air. Heavy fighting is expected in an area that is honeycombed with tunnels and bunkers. Casualties to both the home front and the IDF in this phase may be quite high.

I can’t estimate how long it will take for the rocket fire from Lebanon to be stopped, but in 2006 it continued for an entire month until a cease-fire was signed. The IDF says that it has learned its lessons from that war, but then so has Hezbollah. I think it is true that this time we have far better intelligence and will know how to hit more targets in less time. We may even succeed in decapitating Hezbollah by killing its top leadership early on. But it is impossible to predict what will happen in a four- or five- front war. There are credible estimates of thousands of civilian and military casualties on our side. The war will probably be the most painful of any of Israel’s previous wars (at least in the sheer number of casualties).

I think that the Israel of massive construction projects and burgeoning economy will suffer a severe setback from this war, because of the human and financial costs. The “golden age” that we are experiencing today will not continue, or at least will be suspended for some years. The worldwide hate machine will go into overdrive, holding us responsible for the deaths of thousands or even tens of thousands of human shields in Lebanon and Gaza. There will be demonstrations against Israel and Jews everywhere.

What can we do to reduce the impact of the war? It seems to me that there are several possible strategies:

One is to wait for the enemy to attack and then hit them as hard as possible. This has one main advantage – at least, its proponents claim that it does – which is that world opinion and the diplomatic climate would be more favorable, since we would not be viewed as the aggressor. Our enemies would have violated international law by attacking us, and theoretically a  negotiated settlement would favor us.

The main disadvantage of this strategy is that a huge amount of damage can be done before we respond. Especially if critical infrastructure is destroyed, our response could be delayed, and the difference could be measured in thousands of deaths. Since ground troops would be required to deal with incursions and hardened rocket launchers, we would be in a difficult spot until the reserves could be called up, especially if we have been attacked on multiple fronts.

But the truth is that our diplomatic isolation stems from other nations’ perceptions of their national interest and by their prejudices, and not on the true moral or legal nature of our actions. World opinion is manipulated by governments and media and is also not reality-based. Therefore I doubt that any such abstract advantages would justify the price we would pay for it. And the price would be high.

The second strategy is to preempt and attack first. Martin Sherman has done a good job in arguing for preemption:

Given the assumption that, bolstered by its patron’s pervasive physical presence, Hezbollah will in all likelihood, eventually, use the vast arsenal at its disposal, the inevitable question is: Will Israel allow its deadly adversary to choose the time, place and circumstances for a major attack against it? Indeed, more to the point, can Israel afford to allow Hezbollah such a choice?

Sherman goes on to show that Israel cannot, particularly because the small size of the country and her technological sophistication make her especially vulnerable to destruction of critical infrastructure, such as power plants, desalination facilities, refineries, natural gas platforms, and similar facilities. A preemptive strike might not be quite as effective as it was in 1967, but it would certainly reduce the damage that Israel would need to absorb. If done properly it might result in a quick end to the war. I’ve argued the same thing hereand here.

Sherman argues correctly that the idea that Israel has been successful in deterring its enemies is wrong. Rather, our restraint has been exploited to allow our enemies to build up and harden their capabilities. The choice, says Sherman, is “between incapacitating the enemy while you can; or continuing to deter the enemy—until you can’t!”

A third strategy is to continue as we have been doing, preventing Iran from establishing bases in Syria and arming Hezbollah by means of limited strikes. But this is a delaying tactic that is only partially effective, and, Sherman notes, “it is liable to lead not only to the hardening of targets— for example by converting them from surface to underground sites—but to familiarizing the enemy with Israel’s methods and capabilities.”

There is always the question “what will the great powers do?” That means, of course, the US and Russia. The rest of the world will talk, but does not have the power to act (the Sunni Arabs will condemn us in public but smile in private). It is hard to predict what the Trump Administration will do, but it is certain that a Democratic administration would be worse, which argues for taking action sooner rather than later.

Will the Americans insist on prior knowledge of the operation? Can we take the risk of telling them? What will happen if we don’t?

As far as Russia is concerned, part of our plan will have to include guaranteeing Russia’s interests in the region. What this would mean in detail would have to be worked out, but I don’t think our interests and Russia’s have to contradict each other.

The problem is that time is not on our side. The longer we wait, the more expensive in lives and money the inevitable war becomes. The comforting argument that because of our strength our enemies will continue to be deterred falls apart with every new report that Iran has built this or that facility, or introduced this or that militia into Syria.

Sherman asks: do we want a triumph like 1967 or a trauma like 1973? I don’t know if we can achieve a victory as total as 1967, but only preemption will save us from an outcome that could be much worse than 1973.

Israel Captures Military Shipment Headed for Gaza

Israel caught ships bound for Gaza smuggling military grade uniforms and boots to Hamas in the Ashdod port.  The Government Press Office reported that “Ashdod port customs personel discovered the largest ever consignment – including thousands of items – of military clothing including vests for holding military equipment.”

As part of Israel’s Gaza blcokcade, the Ashdod port customs checks every Gaza bound vessel for military equipment.  In this case the workers struck big.

The Government Press Office reported that the Gazan importer of the consignment, originated in China.  The importer was meant to receive it via the Kerem Shalom crossing, but do to the type of shipment all items were handed over to the security establishment.


Image Source: Israel Tax Authority (Ashdod customs)


Israel Tax Authority (Ashdod customs)

ISRAEL ATTACKS?…Hamas Official Injured in Lebanon Car Bombing

Hamas official, Mohammad Hamdan was severely injured today when is BMW exploded in the Lebanese city of Sidon.

Although Hamas officials insisted Hamdan was lightly injured.  Social media pictures from the scene showed the effects from the bomb being far worse.

While it is not confirmed Israel was behind the attack, Hamas believes it was a targets strike by the Israeli security forces.

“We hold the Israeli occupation accountable for the car bombing that targeted Hamas figure Mohammed Hamdan in southern Lebanon port city of Sidon,” said Ayman Shana’a, Hamas political leader.

Palestinians live in 12 densely populated “camps” in Lebanon.


Support for the terrorists and sanctions on Israel.

Matt Duss had once compared Israel’s blockade of Hamas to “segregation in the American South.”

After the murder of the Henkin family in front of their children, the stabbing of a two-year-old and his mother in Jerusalem, Duss wrote, “it shouldn’t shock anyone that Israel’s harsh occupation and abuse provokes Palestinians.” He blamed the “rising violence” on Israel and not the PLO terrorists.

“Israel does need to start facing some costs and consequences for an occupation,” Matt Duss had told Al Jazeera. “The BDS movement has helped to elevate a debate that was long overdue.”

Matt Duss had traveled to Gaza to meet with Hamas members. He then whitewashed the Islamic terror group as a moderate organization willing to accept a two-state solution and stop killing Jews.

When Hamas kidnapped and murdered three Jewish teens, one of them American, Duss whined that Israel had “turned a police matter into a war” and launched a “crackdown on Hamas infrastructure in the West Bank under the pretext of searching for the missing boys”.

He described the Hamas terrorists as “Palestinian activists” and claimed that despite the brutal murders, “Hamas had largely held to the terms of the cease-fire.”

“A better option for dealing with stone-throwing Palestinian protesters might be to stop stealing their land,” Duss had once tweeted.

“One can recognize that anti-Semitism is a particularly pernicious bigotry among bigotries, however, while still questioning whether holding such views makes any leader ‘irrational'”, Duss wrote when defending the Iran nuke sellout.

Now he’s formulating foreign policy for Senator Bernie Sanders.

Bernie Sanders had previously invited Duss to testify before the Democratic Platform Committee in a push for an anti-Israel platform. Duss had urged the Dems to call for an end to the Hamas blockade.

Before becoming a foreign policy advisor to Senator Sanders, Duss headed up the Foundation for Middle East Peace. Despite its misleading name, FMEP is a fixture of the anti-Israel lobby. It was founded by Merle Thorpe: Jr, a wealthy Washington D.C. lawyer who was the sugar daddy for anti-Israel causes.

The Foundation for Middle East Peace funds anti-Israel groups that directly or indirectly promote BDS.

Before that, Duss was at the center of a major anti-Semitic scandal when he headed up Middle East Progress for the Center for American Progress. CAP bloggers had escalated their attacks on the Jewish State by accusing Jews of “dual loyalty” and of being “Israel Firsters”.

Faiz Shakir, the editor-in-chief at ThinkProgress, had admitted that the hateful attacks by at least one CAP blogger used “terrible anti-Semitic language.”

The Simon Wiesenthal Center, the ADL and even the White House’s Jewish liaison, during the Obama era, all criticized the hatred at the Center for American Progress. The Wiesenthal Center had reportedly described CAP as “infected with Jew-hatred and discriminatory policy positions toward Israel.” And CAP tried to smear the Wiesenthal Center, an organization founded by a Nazi-hunter, as “the far-right Simon Wiesenthal Center.”

The White House’s liaison called the CAP situation “troubling” and emphasized that this attitude did not represent the administration.

But apparently it does represent a prospective Bernie Sanders administration. That’s not surprising.

Senator Bernie Sanders has used his ethnic origins to mask the ugly anti-Semitism of his political allies, including Keith Ellison, the former Nation of Islam member whose virulent bigotry was, according to the Minnesota Daily opinion editor, “a genuine threat to the long-term safety and well-being of the Jewish people.”

When a bigot demanded to know Bernie Sanders’s relationship with the “Jewish community” while claiming that the “Zionist Jews” were “running the Federal Reserve”, “running Wall Street” and “running everything”, the Senator from Vermont responded by disavowing and bashing Israel.

“I may be Jewish, but you’re not going to find any candidate running for president, for example, to talk about Zionism and the Middle East,” Bernie groveled.

Like Ellison, Jesse Jackson and the Sandinistas, whom Sanders had defended despite their ugly anti-Semitism, Duss benefits from the Bernie protection racket for bigots. If you work for a man whose parents were Jewish, then you can’t possibly be accused of anti-Semitism.

What sort of foreign policy could Matt Duss be drawing up for Bernie Sanders?

Two years ago, Duss had called for using “sticks” on Israel and compared Jewish families living in Jerusalem to Iran’s nuclear weapons program. He suggested that political pressure could prevent “Israeli voters” from voting in the pro-Israel and anti-terrorist candidates whom he disapproves of.

“Voters currently see no costs or consequences to the occupation,” Matt Duss had complained. “By beginning to make those costs clear, as floating the possibility of sanctions does, the EU could play an important role in sharpening the choice before Israeli voters.”

Duss suggested that pressuring “millions of voters” in Israel was “worth a try.”

And who better to roll out sanctions on Israel than President Bernie Sanders?

When Bernie brought on Cornel West and James Zogby to push for an anti-Israel platform, a message was sent. When you bring in a 9/11 Truther and BDS activist who calls Israel an “apartheid state” and describes efforts to fight Hamas as “Jewish racism”, that says it all.

So does bringing in Matt Duss to work on “foreign policy”.

Bernie’s foreign policy has been very consistent. He supported the anti-Semitic Sandinistas who ethnically cleansed Jews from Nicaragua. He honeymooned in the USSR which persecuted Jews.

“No guns for Israel,” Sanders declared before the Yom Kippur War, which nearly destroyed the Jewish State. In 1990, he said that he “would like to see the US put more pressure on Israel.”

When Bernie Sanders reached out for perspective on the Middle East during his campaign, he contacted James Zogby, who had defended Hamas and Hezbollah, and Lawrence Wilkerson, who had accused Jewish officials of dual loyalty and suggested that Israel was behind Assad’s chemical weapons attacks.

Matt Duss fits perfectly with the rest of the sad, twisted freaks in the anti-Israel lobby.

And he’s valuable because he’s smoother than lunatics like Cornel West, a 9/11 Truther, or Lawrence Wilkerson, who accused Israel of “false flag” WMD attacks in Syria.

Extremists always need someone like Matt Duss to make their ugly views seem palatable.

We already know what Bernie’s real foreign policy on Israel will be.

He wants to end military aid and divert money from Israel to Hamas. He’ll attempt to end the non-profit status of Jewish schools in areas claimed by Islamic terrorists. He’ll demand the ethnic cleansing of parts of Israel. And those demands will be backed by economic and political pressure.

That’s what Bernie wants. It’s what the radical extremists he panders to want him to do.

Duss is on board to make this ugliness presentable. And to help Bernie avoid tactical blunders like his lie that Israel had killed “10,000 innocent people” in Gaza.

When Bernie Sanders starts delivering his incoherent speeches attacking Israel, it will be based on the work of bigots and haters who have found a human shield with a Brooklyn accent for their agenda.

Originally Published in FrontPageMag.

But for the grace of God- Iran in Syria & the lessons for Israel

Only by resisting territorial concessions on the Golan, Israel prevented deployment of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards on the fringes of the Galilee; only by resisting territorial concessions in the “West Bank” can Israel prevent them from deploying on the fringes of Greater Tel Aviv.

Israel has a strategic interest in disassociating Syria from the extremist axis that Iran is leading. Syria is not lost, Assad is western educated and is not a religious man. He can still join a moderate grouping. –  Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, Chief of Staff of IDF, Nov 13, 2009.

…we should not belittle the signals of peace coming from Syria. – Ehud Barak, Israeli Defense Minister, Nov 13, 2009.

Syria is the key to regional change for us. If I was prime minister, I would pin all my hopes on Syria.” – The late Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, former Israeli Defense Minister (2001-2002), May 23, 2010.

Just how appallingly wrong these assessments by the most senior echelons of the Israeli security establishment proved to be was driven home by a recent BBC report, indicating that the Iranian military is engaged in the construction of what appears to be a permanent military base in Syria. But more on these—and other—disturbing lapses in judgment a little later.

Permanent Iranian presence in Syria?

Based on satellite images commissioned by the BBC, the report suggests extensive ongoing construction between January and October this year, just outside a site used by the Syrian army near the town of El-Kiswah, 14 km (8 miles) south of Damascus.

It comes on the heels of evermore disturbing accounts of the increasingly pervasive presence of Iranian forces throughout Syria – with Russian endorsement and US acquiescence – together with growing concern that Tehran will soon attempt to deploy both air and naval forces, including submarines and set up weapons production plants to supply its Lebanese proxy, Hezbollah.

In the discussion of the ramifications of these revelations, attention appeared to focus mainly on two cardinal issues: (a) The significance for the completion of the “Shi’ite arc of influence”, stretching from east of the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean and the creation of a land-based logistical supply line from Iran to Hezbollah in Lebanon; and (b) the stern warnings issued by Israel that it would not permit an Iranian takeover of Syria, hinting that it would be prepared to use military force to prevent this.

However, there is another vital element germane to the expanding Iranian military presence in Syria—and one that has received remarkably little media attention. It is, however, one whose relevance Israel will ignore at its peril.

Inconvenient but incontrovertible fact

After all, as ominous as the current Iranian military deployment in Syria is, it might well have been far more menacing. Indeed, the fact that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard is not perched on the Golan Heights, overlooking the Sea of Galilee, is solely because Israel did not fall prey to the seductive temptation of the land-for-peace formula, as urged by many, in both the international community and in its own security establishment (see introductory excerpts)—and did not cede the strategic plateau that commands the approaches to the entire north of the country.

One can only shudder with dread at the thought of the perilous predicament the country would be in, had it heeded the call from the allegedly “enlightened and progressive”  voices, who – up until the gory events of the Syrian civil war that erupted in 2011—hailed the British trained doctor, Bashar al-Assad, as a moderate reformer, with whom a durable peace deal could be cut – f only an intransigent Israel would yield the Golan to his regime.

Indeed, it is an inconvenient—albeit incontrovertible—fact that every time Israel has relinquished/abandoned territory, to Arab control, that territory has – usually sooner rather than later – become a platform from which to launch lethal attacks against Israel – almost immediately in Gaza; within months in Judea-Samaria; within years in south Lebanon and after several decades in Sinai, now descending into the depravity and brutality of a Jihadi-controlled no-man’s land—with no good options on the horizon.

This is something Israeli policy makers dare not disregard. For as dangerous and detrimental as the outcomes of previous withdrawals proved to be, they are likely to pale into insignificance compared to consequences of territorial concession in Judea-Samara (a.k.a. the “West Bank”).  

Compounding the gravity

Indeed, even the Golan, with all its vital strategic significance, cannot match the importance of the highlands of Judea-Samaria, commanding Israel’s urban megalopolis in the coastal plain. As I have pointed out elsewhere, any forces deployed on these highlands command all of the following: major airfields (civilian and military) including the country’s only international airport; major sea ports and naval bases; vital infrastructure installations (power transmission, water systems, and communication networks); main land transport routes (road and rail); principal power plants; the national parliament and most government ministries; crucial centers of civilian administration and military command; and 80% of the civilian population and the commercial activity in the country.   

Significantly, all of these strategic objectives will be within easy range of weapons being used today against Israel from territories previously relinquished to Arab control.

Compounding the gravity of any threat entailed in Israel yielding sizeable portions of Judea-Samaria to the Palestinian-Arabs are reports of renewed ties between Iran and Hamas, purported to be stronger than ever.”  

An Iranian proxy over-looking Tel Aviv?

Addressing journalists in Gaza last August, Hamas leader, Yehiyeh Sinwar declared that the terror group had restored relations with Iran after a five-year rift, due to Hamas’s refusal to support Assad, and is using its newfound financial and military aid to gear up for new hostilities against Israel. According to Sinwar, “Today, the relationship with Iran is excellent, or very excellent”, adding that Iran is “the largest backer financially and militarily” of the organization’s military wing.

Clearly, were Israel to withdraw from Judea-Samaria, there is little that it could do to curtail the spread of Iranian influence. Indeed, without the IDF to prop up the corrupt kleptocracy of Fatah, it is more than likely that Hamas, increasingly an Iranian proxy in the mold of Hezbollah—despite being on opposite sides of the Sunni-Shia divide—could mount an effective challenge for power. This could be done either via the ballot (a recent Palestinian poll shows that Hamas’s Ismail Haniyeh would trounce Fatah’s Mahmoud Abbas) or by the bullet—as it did in in Gaza in 2007, and could well do again in Judea-Samaria, especially if bolstered by Iranian backing

Accordingly, just as it was only Israel’s resistance to territorial concession on the Golan that prevented the deployment of Iranian Revolutionary Guards on the fringes of the Galilee, so only by resisting territorial concessions in the “West Bank” can Israel prevent Iranian Revolutionary Guards (or any other Jihadi elements) from deploying on the fringes of Greater Tel Aviv.

Assessing new “peace initiatives”: Rank is no recommendation

These are the grim realities that any future “peace initiative” must take into consideration.

This caveat takes on special significance in light of rumors that a new “peace” initiative is currently brewing within the Trump administration, seemingly enamored with the allure of cutting “the ultimate deal”.

In this regard, Israel must internalize the lessons of the past and robustly resist pressures to relinquish further territory to Arab control. In particular, it must be wary of counsel from individuals and organizations, who have demonstrated, consistently and conclusively that—no matter what their past experience and seniority—their judgement cannot be trusted (see introductory excerpts). After all, as the past clearly indicates, when assessing such initiatives, rank is rarely any recommendation.

Indeed, not only have the “top brass” of Israel’s security establishment been hopelessly and hazardously wrong in appraising Assad’s role as a peace partner, they have been equally wrong in predicting his imminent fall – see for example here,  here, here, here, here and here.

Israel can ill-afford such lapses in judgement when it comes to making fateful decisions regarding concessions in Judea-Samaria that would critically imperil the vast majority of the nation’s population.  

With this in mind, it cannot for a moment forget what–but for the grace of God—our fate in the Golan would have been.

The Fatah-Hamas Unification

What it means for Israel.

Earlier this month, a new Palestinian unification agreement was signed in Cairo through Egyptian mediation.  It is unlikely to differ much from the previous 2011 agreement between Fatah and Hamas that fizzled away.  In control of Gaza since 2007, Hamas is committed to the destruction of Israel without much pretense.  Fatah, the party of President Mahmoud Abbas, would like the Jewish state to disappear in stages, albeit, with internationally sanctioned agreements, and good doses of terror inspired by the Ramallah regime.  Just like a leopard cannot change its spots, the Palestinians cannot discard their deep enmity toward the Jewish state.

Al-Jazeera reported on October 12, 2017 that “Palestinian political parties Hamas and Fatah signed a reconciliation deal in the Egyptian capital, Cairo, on Thursday, as part of an effort to end the decade-long rift. The announcement comes after representatives from Hamas and the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority (PA) convened in Cairo on Tuesday to implement a unity agreement that was signed in 2011 but not put into action.”

In recent months, Hamas has been under increased pressure to give up its sole control over the Gaza Strip.  The PA has cut the salaries of PA employees living in Gaza, and at the same time electricity to Gaza has been reduced.  On top of that, Israel’s blockade has furthered the power shortages in Gaza.  One of the elements in the agreement signed would allow Palestinian Authority Security forces to control the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt, as of December 1, 2017.  This is believed to be a way to end Egyptian closure of the border crossing, and thus allow goods and people to cross into and out of the Gaza Strip.

Western powers, hoping that the reconciliation agreement would signal momentum toward an eventual Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement would have to be skeptical given the existing precedence of Palestinian factions inability to come to terms.  Moreover, in order for a genuine Israeli-Palestinian peace process to materialize into a peace agreement, the agreement has to fulfill two vital conditions.

The first being that the unification of the two factions (Fatah and Hamas) must produce a unified leadership that can speak with one voice, and be empowered to proceed with peace negotiations with Israel.  This objective must be publicly announced by all Palestinian factions.  If, on the other hand, the objective of the unification is to solidify Palestinian opposition to a peaceful coexistence with Israel by allowing Hamas to keep its military arm, and continue its acts of terror by firing rockets at Israel, building tunnels, and commit murderous acts against Israeli civilians, then this unification will lead nowhere but to continued bloodshed.  It will also make it impossible for the international community to seek continued Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

The second condition is for the unified Palestinian administration to openly reaffirm all Palestinian commitments regarding Israel and the international community signed at the Oslo Accords and witnessed by the international community.

In the meantime however, none of these condition have been met.  While PA officials seek to “sell” Western powers on the efficacy of Palestinian unification on the peace process, other top PA officials are revealing Palestinian true intentions.  The Times of Israel reported (October 20, 2017) that an official at the Palestinian Mission to Columbia tweeted a quote from former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat calling for the destruction of Israel.  The tweed read, “Our goal is the end of Israel, and there can be no compromises or mediations… We do not want peace. We want war and victory.”

Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip Yahya Sinwar, declared on October 19, 2017, during a speech in Gaza that his terror organization will never disarm, adding that, “Gone is the time in which Hamas discussed recognition of Israel. The discussion now is about when we will wipe out Israel.”

Ynet-News reported that “U.S. President Donald Trump’s special Mideast envoy, Jason Greenblatt, said that if Hamas wants to play a role in any Palestinian government, it must renounce violence and commit to peaceful negotiations with Israel, adding that they must meet the international demands to recognize Israel and accept previous agreements with it.” Greenblatt added that Hamas must accept these basic requirements, which are also the Middle East Quartet’s (UN, EU, U.S. and Russia) requirements.

It is downright naïve to believe that Hamas would renounce violence, or that the PA is truly interested in real peace with Israel.  It is worth remembering that in Geneva, Switzerland, on a cold December day in 1988, Arafat “renounced” violence and pledged to recognize Israel, only to authorize six months later a terrorist attack on Israel at Palmachim beach in central Israel.  This reporter was a witness to Arafat’s coached Geneva pledge in order to initiate a dialogue with the U.S. administration.

The PA has allegedly accepted the key principles outlined by the quartet.  Hamas though, views the Quartet’s demands as conflicting with its position of using armed resistance against Israel (i.e. terrorism), supposedly to end the occupation.  Yet Israel handed over control of the Gaza Strip to the Palestinians in 2005, exposing Hamas’ uncompromising stance.

In a Facebook statement (October 12, 2017), Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wrote that “Israel opposes any reconciliation in which the terrorist organization Hamas does not disarm and end its war to destroy Israel. There is nothing Israel wants more than peace with all our neighbors.  Reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas makes peace much harder to achieve.  What does it say when you reconcile with a terrorist organization that: seeks to annihilate Israel, advocates genocide, launched thousands of rockets at civilians and digs terror tunnels, murders children, represses minorities, bans LGBT, rejects international obligations, refuses to free Israeli civilians it holds hostage, refuses to return the bodies of Israeli soldiers to grieving mothers and fathers, tortures opposition, and mourns Ben Laden’s death.  Reconciling with mass-murderers is part of the problem, not part of the solution. Say yes to peace and no to joining hands with Hamas.”

It seems that Fatah has capitulated to Hamas rather than the reverse.  Fatah will not seek to force Hamas to give up its “resistance,” a euphemism for terrorism.  According to Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) Jibril Rajoub, a member of Fatah Central Committee and former head of the Preventive Security Force in the West Bank, told Al-Mayadeen TV (Lebanon), October 6, 2017, “the Fatah-Hamas unity government will not give up resistance.” Another Fatah Central Committee member, Azzam Al-Ahmad, elaborated on Rajoub’s statements by explaining that Fatah has not changed its principles, which remain “popular resistance, armed struggle, and negotiations.”

The new unification agreement between Fatah and Hamas, which includes admission of Hamas into the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), does not much differ from the previous agreement in its attitudes toward Israel.  The agreement enshrines “resistance,” (terror), and resistance cannot go together with peace.  What makes this agreement somewhat different is Egypt’s role in it.  Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, Egypt’s president, has put his prestige on the line, and both Hamas and the PA know the consequences of failure.  Hamas has been branded a terrorist organization by the U.S., the European Union and Israel.  It has also been an enemy of Egypt’s President el-Sisi by virtue of its ties to the Muslim Brotherhood.

For Israel, a key question is, in a Palestinian unity government, will PA security forces be able to thwart terrorist attacks against Israel as they have done in the past? Israel’s response to the reconciliation agreement this time has been more measured and cautious, but few Israelis expect the agreement to bring the Palestinians closer to making peace.

Originally Published in FrontPageMag.

BREAKING: Hamas-Fatah Fire Rockets From Sinai Into Israel

Hamas-Fatah fired two rockets from Southern Sinai into the Eshkol Regional Council in southern Israel Sunday evening.

The two rockets landed in open areas.

The IDF believes that the rocket attack and increasing tensions on the border near Gaza are a direct result from the Hamas-Fatah unity pact signed last week.  This pact sees the PA take control of the Rafah crossing while Hamas remains in charge of its own militias in the strip.  They will essentially remain an Iranian proxy.

This set up has been described as very similar to the way Iran and the Shiite Hashd al-Shaabi work with one another.

Israel’s security assessment sees a possible uptick in direct hostilities both in and around Gaza and from Lebanon as the crisis between Kurdistan and Iran escalates.

Hamas Has Lost A Big Battle, But Not The War

While everyone in Israel and the Arab world was shocked with the sudden reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah, we have been aware of this being worked on since February. It was very expected by all insiders.  Nonetheless, journalists may sometimes build their analysis on what they see on the outside, and some second hand inside information they get, and therefore may end up with faulty conclusions.

In fact, we have seen some writers concluding that Hamas had “won”. Some went as far as suggesting that Hamas now has a freehand to fight Israel while Abbas gets the blame as Gaza’s ruler.  While these concerns may be justified when taking matters by their face value, realities on the ground maybe very different.

The first question everyone should ask is: why did Hamas hand Gaza to Abbas without him firing a shot? Didn’t Hamas take Gaza over by a bloody coup against the man in 2006?

The answer to that begins at the White House.  Our Arab sources confirmed to us that the Trump Administration made it clear, at the very beginning, that it was not going to tolerate any “nonsense” or “attacks on Israel” from either Hamas, Abbas or the Arab regimes supporting them, be those Qatar’s or Jordan’s. The presidential message was clear and reportedly conveyed by the head of the CIA himself: Any more provocation on Israel, a third Intifada for example, would bring severe punishment from the US to all of those involved.

The White House’s warnings were concurrent with direct cooperation with one of the very moderate regimes in our region, President Sisi’s. The Egyptian intelligence began communicating with Hamas early this year. Egypt convinced Hamas leaders that if they continue their pathway of doom, the US will not restrain Israel from destroying Hamas to fullest. In reality, and since 2008, each time Israel came close to annihilating Hamas, Obama openly stepped in to stop it and save Hamas at the last moment.  Operation Protective Edge was a good example of that; when an inside source in Gaza told me “most of Hamas tunnels have been destroyed”, and “Hamas won’t take one more month of this”, Obama’s administration suddenly stepped in and enforced a ceasefire.  Well, this will not happen under President Trump.

Also, this so-called reconciliation could have never happened was it not for pressure exerted on Hamas’ Arab supporters. Before neutralizing Hamas, the US administration made sure to cut its lifelines first. Qatar was put under political and economic siege by Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and a few other Arab countries. Qatar has been financing Hamas for more than a decade and has harbored its leaders.  

Neutralizing Qatar was the first step in castrating Hamas. This did not stop with Qatar though, Hamas leadership and control is actually in Jordan, not in either Gaza or Qatar; Hamas is  officially “The Muslim Brotherhood Palestine Chapter”, all of Hamas leaders fall under Jordan’s Muslim Brotherhood.  

But who controls Jordan’s Muslim Brotherhood?

The answer will shock many readers, but Jordan’s Muslim Brotherhood is under the full control of Jordan’s king. By his own words, the words of his former Minister of Political Reform, and his former Deputy Prime Minister, “The Muslim Brotherhood is a part of the Hashemite regime”. This is a matter we have lavishly documented with evidence and our work o that is available for anyone to read and verify.

It is a fact that Jordan’s king has been using his influence over Hamas as a bargaining chip with both, the Israelis, and the Americans.  After Trump walked into the Oval Office, the king knew the administration would not tolerate nor forgive such extortion.  Our sources in Jordan, Cairo, DC and elsewhere confirm that both Abbas and Abdullah of Jordan have been warned that any stunts will result in them being personally held accountable.

With Jordan’s king and Qatar’s lines of support cut from Hamas, the US pressure was shifted to Abbas himself.  First, both Saudi Arabia and UAE had an alternative plan to save Gaza’s people and avoid any conflict, this was to introduce Abbas’ rival and archenemy, Mohammad Dahalan, as a leader of Gaza. Egypt was very supportive of this step and proposed it to Hamas as its only available bailout. Hamas agreed and its very own media began promoting the idea.  This is where Abbas felt he could end up losing the entire game.  A senior PLO member, whose late father was one of its founders, summed it up for us: “Abbas knew he was going to lose everything and be totally out of the game, therefore he approached the Israeli, the Egyptians, and Hamas, telling them: Why do you need Dahlan, I will do everything you want in Gaza”.

Nonetheless, according to the senior PLO source: “Abbas knew Hamas was not going to take him in easily, so he began pressuring it by blocking its public funds, pay for public servants in Gaza was frozen”, “He also refused to pay Gaza’s power bill, which has been causing painful outages to Gazans and a huge public backlash against Hamas”.  

All of this has resulted in Hamas giving in to Egypt and hand its entire executive powers in Gaza to Abbas. This by itself is not only a tactical defeat for Hamas, but also an ideological disaster. Hamas has always demonized Sisi, insulted him on its media, described him as the devil himself, and now, Hamas allows his photos to be displayed in public in Gaza, a sign of loyalty and even submission in Arabic political culture. Hamas has always portrayed Abbas as evil and “Anti-God”, labelled war against him and the PLO as “Godly Jihad”, how do you think the average Hamas member feels about their leader giving in to Abbas before the whole world?

It is safe to say this reconciliation has a been a publicly-humiliating, torturous and politically-devastating move for Hamas, which it would have never done was it not for the extreme pressure coming from all directions.  Whoever says Hamas has won, is wrong. Nonetheless, this story is not over yet.

Hamas has kept its guns and military ranks. Abbas’ military presence in Gaza is zilch. A PLO source inside Gaza told me: “Hamas did this because it had no other choice, Hamas has given in to Egypt’s patronage, and this shall hold for a while”, he adds: “Nonetheless, Hamas will go back to war and even kick Abbas out of Gaza again at the first minute they get a chance, but with Trump, Sisi, Saudi and UAE, this is not going to happen any time soon”.

With this reconciliation, it is safe to conclude Hamas has lost a major battle, and has been humiliated to the fullest. Sisi’s controls Hamas now, Qatar and Jordan’s regimes cannot do anything for Hamas, all sounds sababa, right? In fact not really; Hamas has lost a major battle, but not the war. Hamas could still make a very nasty comeback in the future.

The US administration would do us all good by keeping the pressure on Hamas and initiating a process by which Hamas would give up some of its firepower gradually, possibly under Egyptian management and with a generous “cash for guns”, Saudi and UAE’s patronage.