Israel and the Palestinians
There is something rather idyllic about the border territories of Syria. In the west, a rolling landscape of apricot and orange orchards, divided by poplar-lined country roads, is overlooked by the hills and snow-capped mountains of the Bekaa in neighbouring Lebanon. To the east spreads the desert all the way to Iraq, and to the south, gently undulating farmland gives way to the Golan Heights where Syria, Jordan and Israel meet: from the top, a majestic vision unfolds, sweeping down towards Lake Galilee and the surrounding plain, beloved of the religious, of tourists and of its Israeli Arab occupants.
• Maan News/Reuters: Hamas denied Arab media reports it intends to declare the Gaza Strip independent from the West Bank.
• Mitt Romney’s upcoming visit to Israel brings out a sticky web of idiocy from The Independent’s Rupert Cornwall. The columnist thinks Romney’s Trapped by the Israel Lobby Spider. The picture Cornwall paints evokes Der Sturmer imagery:
And so to what many see as the spider at the centre of the web, the Lobby – in other words Aipac, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. Of the many Jewish groups, Aipac is the most influential. No fewer than 13,000 delegates attended its 2012 annual conference in Washington, addressed by President Obama and every Republican presidential candidate, outbidding each other in declarations of fealty to Israel. Its influence on US Middle East policy is legendary; if America’s inbuilt bias towards Israel is the biggest obstacle to a Palestinian settlement, as many contend, then Aipac is probably the biggest reason why.
• Fuel shortages in Gaza ain’t Israel’s fault. Maan News reports that Hamas is irritated with Egyptian restrictions on fuel deliveries to Gaza.
Iranian Atomic Urgency
• I was impressed by the Washington Post’s weekend coverage of the Israel-Iran “shadow war” because of its straightforwardness. We’re talking about a news report and a staff-ed demanding Iran held to account for terror attacks (successful and foiled) in Bulgaria, Kenya, Cyprus, Georgia, Thailand and India.
If Iran suffers no consequences from its acts of terrorism, they will continue. Israel has said that it will retaliate in a manner of its choosing. But more “shadow war” should not be the only response. The Security Council should review the abundant evidence of involvement by the Revolutionary Guard and Hezbollah in this year’s attacks and punish both those groups as well as the Iranian government with sanctions.
Rounding it all out, ombudsman Patrick Pexton addressed various aspects of the Post’s coverage of the Bulgaria bombing.
• Israeli travelers in Ben Gurion Airport shared their thoughts and fears about Bulgaria and their own travel safety with CNN.
The wonder is that the U.S. and its allies continue to look for ways to reach a diplomatic understanding with the perpetrators of these unending attacks, rather than calling the regime what it is and working to overthrow it. Iran’s killing of innocents will continue until the world decides to stop it.
• The Red Cross is trying to organize the evacuation of some 100 Israeli Druze students from Damascus. Writes YNet:
Their return is being delayed because of difficulties in securing a student convoy from Damascus to the Quneitra border crossing.
• Media reports (like the Daily Telegraph) say Bashar Assad fled to Latakia.
• The Christian Science Monitor raises a wishful domino theory. Dare we ask?
• Assad’s intelligence chief, Hisham Bekhtyar, died of wounds from last week’s suicide bombing. Reuters coverage.
• Once again, Sinai terrorists blew up the Israel-Egypt pipeline.
Rest O’ the Roundup
• With Kadima’s exit from the super-sized coalition, a NY Times staff-ed frets about the state of democracy in Israel.
• AFP looks at Israeli plans to secure its offshore gas finds, “which will involve hundreds more troops and eventually span some 44,000 square kilometres (17,000 sq miles) — more than double the area of the whole of Israel.”
• The UN Special Tribunal investigating the assassination of Rafik Hariri set a trial date of March 25, 2013. The four defendants remain under Hezbollah protection. More at the Jerusalem Post.
• More and more of the Palestinians released for Gilad Shalit are returning to terror. Was the prisoner swap worth it? You betcha, says Micah Stein:
When it comes to protecting its citizens and their interests, Israel is becoming increasingly unconcerned with international opinion. With the Shalit trade, even domestic interests were sacrificed for the sake of a single Israeli life.
And can you blame them? As BDS gains traction, the UN remains a persistent foe, and Iran continues to be Iran, Israelis are feeling a palpable sense of isolation. Heck, the Olympic Committee won’t even spare a minute of silence for murdered Israeli athletes. When it appears that the world is out to get you, a drastic turn inward seems only reasonable. In this sense, the lopsided trade for Shalit—no matter the costs—is very much in line with the broader Israeli experience and sentiment at this moment.
(Image of Shalit via Flickr/Israel Defense Forces)
For more, see yesterday’s Israel Daily News Stream.
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