PA Backs Down on UNESCO

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Jonathan Tobin on why the PA’s blocking expansion of the Western Wall prayer area for Women of the Wall:

The PA and the Wakf don’t want to stop the expansion of the areas where people can pray at the Wall only because they wish to discomfit the Jews but because they envision administering it themselves in the future.

The dispute between the Women of the Wall and Orthodox authorities is a significant issue that can poison the relationship between Israel and the vast majority of American Jews who affiliate with non-Orthodox denominations. But the PA’s pronouncement is a reminder that the real fight in Jerusalem is not between Jews. So long as Palestinians are determined to reverse the verdict of history and return Jews to a subordinate status in their ancient capital, the spat between Jewish factions will have to wait.

Awesome headline at Israel HaYom:

Israel HaYom

• The Jerusalem Post reports that Israeli finance minister Yair Lapid is set to meet with his Palestinian counterpart, Shukri Bishara. How long till Palestinians denounce their finance minister for “normalizing” relations with the Zionists.

Really bad news for the BDS movement: The Los Angeles City Council unanimously passed a resolution that city contracts will be awarded without regard for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The LA Jewish Journal was on hand, and also printed the full text of the resolution.

More really bad news for the BDS movement: Ben Gurion U. Professor David Newman to receive an award from Queen Elizabeth for promoting Israeli-British academic partnership. More on the story at Haaretz.

Ahead of his 90th birthday, Shimon Peres discussed all the burning issue of today in a Q&A with the Washington Post‘s Lally Weymouth.

Matthew Kalman weighs in on the strike at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Catherine Ashton

Catherine Ashton

David Makovsky in a NY Times op-ed: If Europe wants to help the US broker a peace deal, the EU needs to clearly express tough love for the PA:

It’s time for a unified European speech, one that would serve as an analogue to the Obama speech. If the U.S. president told the Israelis things that they didn’t want to hear, the European Union, traditional patron of the Palestinians, needs to tell them what they need to hear. Such a speech would give Kerry a chance to succeed, albeit not a guarantee. It would tell the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, that he doesn’t have a free pass from Europe, that E.U. patience with the Palestinians has its limits. It would also tell the Israelis that the deck isn’t stacked against them in the international community.

It’s hard for Europeans to argue that the Palestinians have exhausted negotiations, given that Abbas has agreed to only three weeks of talks in the last four years, and that an offer in September 2008 by Israel’s then-prime minister, Ehud Olmert, never received a reply . . .

Perhaps it is time for the Europeans to stop complaining about the lack of American success in the Middle East. The point is not the identity of the messenger, but rather that there be a unified message.

For more commentary/analysis, see Matt Hill, and a Boston Globe staff-ed.

Arab Spring Winter

I certainly hope Israel and the US are on the same page here:

Behind the scenes, however, Israeli and U.S. military officials are coordinating how to target and destroy Assad’s arsenal of unconventional weapons under assorted scenarios, Israeli military and intelligence officials tell Time. One scenario would be the sudden removal of Assad from the scene, be it by flight, death or if he simply disappears. That would prompt the allies to launch operations on the estimated 18 depots and other sites where WMDs are stored, the officials said. Search and destroy operations would also be launched if the weapons appeared to be about to fall into the hands of the rebels, which include Islamist extremists aligned with al-Qaeda.

Chechen jihadis in Syria showed off anti-aircraft missiles believed to have been captured from an army base near Aleppo. The Observer raises the possibility that the rebels obtained “an alternative supply line from outside Syria.” These missiles — apparently shoulder-launched SA-16s — appear at 2:12 and are the kind of weapons that Israel and the US don’t want falling into the wrong hands. Here’s the Chechen video.

Iran’s sending forces to Syria:

The Independent on Sunday has learned that a military decision has been taken in Iran – even before last week’s presidential election – to send a first contingent of 4,000 Iranian Revolutionary Guards to Syria to support President Bashar al-Assad’s forces against the largely Sunni rebellion that has cost almost 100,000 lives in just over two years.  Iran is now fully committed to preserving Assad’s regime, according to pro-Iranian sources which have been deeply involved in the Islamic Republic’s security, even to the extent of proposing to open up a new ‘Syrian’ front on the Golan Heights against Israel.

Egypt cut all ties with Damascus, called on Hezbollah to leave Syria, and for West to impose a no-fly zone. The Egyptian street’s whipped up against Shiites.

Only in the Mideast: According to Reuters, Hezbollah banned firing guns in celebration — and gunmen celebrated the edict with gunfire.

Visiting Egypt, Tom Friedman shares his impressions of where the country’s headed.

The BBC suspended its association with a Turkish TV channel. The dust up began when NTV, a private Turkish station, refused to broadcast a segment of BBC’s World Agenda addressing press freedom and the Turkish protests. More at AFP.

For more Arab Spring commentary/analysis, see Mordechai Kedar, David Ignatius, Jeffrey Goldberg, AP, Patrick Cockburn, CNN, Toronto Star, plus staff-eds in The Guardian, Times of London, and Baltimore Sun.

Iranian Atomic Urgency

YNet: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the Iranian election results:

“The international community mustn’t be tempted into wishful thinking. We must remember that in any case, (Supreme Leader) Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is the one determining Iran’s nuclear policy.”

For commentary/analysis of Rohani’s election and what it means for the nuclear issue, see the Jerusalem Post, CNN, Barry Rubin, Boaz Bismuth, AP,

Rest O’ the Roundup

Brent Salsey (The Atlantic) takes a critical look at the decision-making process of Israel’s “kitchen cabinet.”

It’s always the people you least suspect. Can we call this Spoonraker?

‘Spoon-bender Uri Geller was Cold War CIA agent’

JTA: French appellate court disses Twitter, upholds ruling to divulge identities of people posting anti-Semitic tweets:

Twitter argued in court that since it is an American company it adheres to U.S. laws and is protected by the First Amendment and its broad free speech liberties. But the French judge in January said that comments by Internet users in France are subject to France’s stricter legislation against racist and hateful expression.

According to Egyptian media reports, authorities arrested an Egyptian national on charges of spying. Details are scant. Al-Ahram coverage suffices.

Don’t be a shlemiel and carelessly hit the Publish button when you’re just saving a draft. Your boss won’t enjoy writing a retraction like this.

(Image Ashton via Flickr/Mission of Norway to the EU)

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

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The above is how Haaretz chose to illustrate the tensions in U.S.-Israel relations. This cartoon by Amos Biderman is offensive ...