Hezbollah Cutting Costs as Iranian Aid Fades

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Today’s Top Stories 

*** BREAKING NEWS *** Shortly before this roundup was published, two Palestinians were reported killed during Nakba Day clashes with the IDF near Ramallah.

1. A deal to end four years of Israeli-Turkish rancor has been reached, and awaits Prime Minister Benjamin’s approval, reports the Times of Israel. Relations will be gradually restored to their pre-Mavi Marmara status, and Israel will pay $20 million to compensate the families of Turks who died during the flotilla intercept. Most notably, Ankara blinked on blockade, as the agreement reportedly contains no references to Gaza:

The Turks are seeking to sign the deal with greater urgency than the Israelis,” the source said, adding that the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan would be ready to send an ambassador to Tel Aviv “the day after the agreement is signed.” After every prolonged conflict, “some suspicions” are sure to remain on both sides, but by and large Turkey is interested in restoring ties with Israel – “and they want it fast,” the source said.

2. Hezbollah cutting costs as Iranian aid dries up.

Although Iran’s economy is expected to improve in the coming months if it reaches an agreement with the West over its nuclear program by a July 20 deadline, the Islamic Republic is also helping the Syrian government cover its fiscal deficit, a strain that is less likely to end soon.

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A Palestinian in a Syrian refugee camp, 1948.

3. Not your typical “Nakba Day” reading. Saudi columnist Abdulateef al-Mulhim raises uncomfortable truths and tells the Palestinians to get real:

Palestinians’ agony became a moneymaking machine for some of the Palestinian elite. Many Arab and non-Arab countries extended financial aid but the average Palestinian received nothing from the aid. Many of the Palestinian leaders will not go to a nearby refugee camp in Syria or Lebanon to see the living standard but they travel thousands of miles to stay in the best hotels in foreign capitals.

Nowadays, the peace negotiations are at a standstill with no light at the end of the tunnel. And if the Palestinian refugee situation is not resolved then there will be no solution to this conflict. Let us get real and think straight. How can the Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank accommodate the millions of Palestinians from the refugee camps? And even if full peace is achieved and the two-state solution is accepted, how are we going to relocate millions of refugees back to theirs’ or their grandfathers’ towns and villages? The Palestinian-Israeli conflict could have been resolved on May 15, 1948 by either accepting the United Nations mandate or by absorbing the thousands of Palestinian refugees into the Arab world.

Tomorrow, it is May 15, 2014 and we are not only back to square one but we are far away from it. And finally, I tell the Palestinians, don’t fool yourself. No one has ever felt your pain. Just look at what some regimes in the Arab world are doing to their own people. If they don’t care about their own people’s pain, then what will make them care about your pain? In the past, the Palestinians had better chances for peace but they never read the fine prints or between the lines.

4. Culture War and Danny Glover’s Celebrity: Danny Glover exploits his fame to launch a cultural attack on Israel.

Blankfeld Award

Israel and the Palestinians

Sign of the times: Hamas evacuated its forces from a Gaza villa belonging to Mahmoud Abbas. But don’t think for a moment the Islamists occupied the mansion in Gaza’s exclusive Tel Al-Hawa area:

“Our presence there during the past seven years was to protect the place,” he said.

• Ayatollah Ali Khamenei marked Nakba Day by ranting against Israel on Twitter, which the regime’s internet censors filter because it’s “depraved and immoral.” Here’s one tweet the mullahs don’t want Iranians to see.

Khamenei tweet

 Lebanon’s Maronite Patriarch is weathering a storm of criticism for his plans to greet Pope Francis in Israel.

 John Kerry met with Mahmoud Abbas in London. Big yawn.

• Today’s US lead screed goes to Professor George Smith in Missouri’s Columbia Tribune, blaming Israel for just about everything wrong in the world. UK lead screed goes to The Guardian‘s Chris McGreal, who weighs in on John Kerry’s apartheid comment. Sheesh:

After years of traveling through the West Bank and South Africa, it’s blindingly clear to me: the ever-expanding settlements are, indeed, carving out the geography of West Bank apartheid. And if Kerry was wrong, it was only in casting his warning as a prediction rather than about a present reality.

Menachem Begin Dror Even-Sapir takes exception to Larousse, an online French encyclopedia, which used a photo of Menachem Begin to illustrate its entry on terrorism.

The Larousse defines terrorism as “acts of violence perpetrated in order to create a climate of insecurity, blackmail a government, or acts motivated by hatred of a community, country or belief system.” The list of 20th and 21st century organizations that engage in just those kinds of acts is very long indeed. But the designers of the site of the online encyclopedia felt that Menachem Begin, posing in front of the flag of Israel, is better suited to illustrate the entry for “terrorism.”

Rest O’ the Roundup

Wow. An ex-Obama advisor bashes the interim nuclear deal (also known as the Joint Plan of Action). Is Dennis Ross channeling his inner Bibi?

Evidence suggests the JPA has set back Iran’s breakout timing by nearly one month. However, that benefit is more than offset by provisions which: allow Iran to enrich uranium more rapidly than before the deal; steadily reduce the pressure on Tehran from sanctions; and fail to resolve international concerns about Iran’s weaponization activities. As a result, in our judgment the JPA is not making a comprehensive agreement on Iran’s nuclear program more likely to be achieved.

For more commentary/analysis, see Michael Singh (US shouldn’t soften its demands on Iran), the Wall St. Journal (via Google News, on enforcing Iranian compliance).

FSA A commander in the Free Syrian Army told the Times of Israel the FSA could quietly cooperate with Israel. Intriguing, yes, but if it’s supposed to be secret, what’s the wisdom of telling a reporter?

Like the US, Israel is capable of neutralizing regime aircraft through its advanced radio jamming systems, he said.

“As a first step, this could be done in the Golan region, gradually expanding to Daraa and the Damascus region. At first, Israel’s role could be secret but nevertheless effective in helping the FSA. Later, a no-fly zone could be imposed, allowing refugee camps to be established within Syria’s territory administered by the FSA.

I must warn however that at this stage, any exposure of collaboration will be counterproductive. The regime will seem patriotic and we will be [portrayed as] the traitors. We may also lose some of the Arab states that currently support us.”

 The only solution to the Syrian crisis is a military one, argues former Asharq al-Awsat editor, Tariq Alhomayed.

Times of London reporter Anthony Loyd, photographer Jack Hill, and their unidentified “fixer” are recovering in a Turkish hospital after they were “double-crossed, kidnapped, beaten and shot by a rebel gang in the north of the country.” Reuters suffices if you can’t get past the Times paywall.

• Israel, Cyprus, and Greece agreed to protect the eastern Mediterranean Sea  by cooperating on various offshore environmental issues. More at the Cyprus Mail. Meanwhile, some Israeli sea dogs are calling for security cooperation for offshore rigs too.

(Image of refugee via Wikimedia Commons)

For more, see yesterday’s Israel Daily News Stream.

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