Nikki Haley at AIPAC

Today’s Top Stories

1. Nikki Haley at AIPAC: the new American Ambassador to the UN was interviewed before the conference by conservative foreign policy staple Dan Senor. She plowed no new policy ground, nor conveyed much detail but what she said was a spectacular hit: endearing herself to the crowd and raising expectations of a new, more positive working relationship between Israel and the US at the United Nations.

2. Hamas searches for assassins: Hamas launched a manhunt in Gaza for what they termed ‘Israeli assassins’ who gunned down one of its leaders. It is not clear who actually carried out the killing, though it was apparently highly professional and Israel has not confirmed or denied involvement. In any case, Hamas has Gaza on lock down as it hunts for the killers of Mazen Faqha, the Hamas leader who was shot dead on Friday. There’s a certain irony in all this: if it was in fact an Israeli operation, it is unlikely the assassins are still in Gaza at all.

3. Israel has warned its citizens to immediately leave Sharm el-Sheikh and Egypt’s other Red Sea resorts, saying there is an imminent threat of an Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) attack against tourists. Despite the recent violence in the region, the Sinai Peninsula remains a popular destination for Israeli travelers, especially during the Passover holidays. Israelis consider Passover a convenient time to travel because of the national days off from work and school, yet I wonder if they ever notice the irony of traveling to Egypt on the holiday when we celebrate the exodus…from Egypt. While Israeli tourists are always a prime target for jihadist attacks, the government believes they may be especially in the cross hairs because of reports that Israel has carried out drone strikes against Islamic State in the Sinai.

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Mideast Matters

• Arab leaders are set to meet in Jordan on Wednesday for their annual summit with no expected breakthrough on resolving conflicts or terrorism in the region. With plenty else on their plate this year, they will also be discussing the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and his special envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, are also expected to be present.

• Though many Latin American countries have been siding with Palestinians and Arab states in recent years, Israel and Nicaragua have finally renewed ties after a seven-year freeze. Does this signal a change in the overall approach between Latin America and the Middle East? Time will tell.

• Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s planned visit to Israel this summer, the first by an Indian head of state, has not led to any protest from the Arab world, according to Bobby Ghosh, editor-in-chief of the mass circulation Hindustan Times. This is clearly a sign of growing ties between Israel and India, but is it also a sign of shifting relationships between and among India, Israel and the Arab world?

Around the World

• Is the UK warming up to Israel at the UN? Boris Johnson, the UK foreign secretary, has condemned the UN human rights council criticism of Israeli bombing of Hezbollah positions in the Golan Heights as “absolutely preposterous” and “a profound absurdity.” This, along with the encouraging words from American Ambassador Nikki Haley seems to be a marked change from the UN atmosphere of prior years. Hezbollah is considered a terror organization by most of the Western world, and its activities on the Golan and Syria are often understood as preparations to militarily threaten Israel.

• Ontario-based relief group linked to Hamas heads to court to get off Canada’s terrorist list. Is the International Relief Fund for the Afflicted and Needy truly a charity or really a front for terror activity? Canadian auditors call the group an “integral” part of the Hamas, organization, saying it had transferred some $14.6 Million to the terror group.

Commentary/Analysis

• Lawrence Solomon believes that with an Arab NATO and a contained Iran, Trump is changing the Middle East. But can it work?

• It’s not recent news that Big Bang Theory star Mayim Bialik penned an eloquent response to Linda Sarsour’s assertion that one cannot be a feminist and also a Zionist. Yet the Jerusalem Post’s Gil Troy sees something more: the makings of a truly heroic figure, and even a possible reconciliation between Zionism and American liberalism.

• Here’s what else I’m reading today . . .

–  Gershom Gromberg: How an Israeli historian led me to do the best things I’ve ever done
–  Michael Wilner: U.S. Weighing Israeli-Palestinian-Gulf Peace Summit
–  Yoni Ben Menachem: Israeli-Palestinian Coordination Against Hamas

 

Featured image: CC BY liz west;

 

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