Would Israel Distance Itself From US?

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Today’s Top Stories

1. After one year, the Palestinians have little to show for their upgraded UN observer status. The Globe & Mail looks at why (in order to give John Kerry’s peace talks a chance) and how the Palestinians feel about it.

A recent survey by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research found that 60 per cent of Palestinians surveyed in the West Bank and Gaza believe it was the right decision to suspend, for nine months, Palestinian applications to join more international organizations in return for the prisoner release.

However, when it came to one international organization, the International Criminal Court, a big majority agreed with Dr. Barghouti. Fully 67 per cent said they support the idea of submitting a complaint against Israeli settlements to the ICC . . .

2. While President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu met (CBS News nailed the nuance), Bret Stephens (Wall St. Journal via Google News) argues that Israel needs to strategically distance itself from Uncle Sam and not rely on American diplomacy or promises of military action to deal with Iran:

That isn’t to say that Israel doesn’t benefit from good relations with the U.S. But the U.S., like Britain after World War II, is in retreat from the world, and Israelis need to adapt to a global reality in which the Americans are willing to do less, and consequently count for less. What Mr. Netanyahu has been doing instead is granting Mr. Obama a degree of leverage and a presumption of authority over the Jewish state to which he is not entitled and has done little to deserve. That needs to stop.

3. Four months after John Kerry unveiled a $4 billion plan to boost the Palestinian economy in both the West Bank and Gaza, Tony Blair released the details (pdf format). The Media Line reports that the Quartet (US, EU, UN and Russia) won’t deal directly with Hamas — but it’s hard to see how that will be pulled off.

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Iranian Atomic Urgency

Iranian Spy Was a Quds Force Professional

Your daily dose of snark, courtesy Sky News reporter Sam Kiley, who blogged this:

Mr Netanyahu faces an awkward task. To try to say to Barack Obama, the man who might, just might, be able to bring Iran in from the cold, not to be a sucker.

The implication is that the Most-Powerful-Man-In-The-World could be naive.

Not a welcome message from the prime minister of a country entirely dependent on American military aid for its survival, with a population of about only seven million that also happens to be in military occupation over 2.5 million Palestinians living on the West Bank and to running a siege on 1.5 million others in Gaza.

CNN visited the Jewish community of Tehran. I have to wonder if the people reporter Reza Sayah talked to were holding back their real feelings. After all, Iranian authorities aren’t known for tolerating dissent. Contrast that with the Daily Telegraph, which talked to Iranian ex-pats in Israel who openly shared their mixed-feelings.

According to the NY Times, international sanctions are crippling the Iranian economy more than we realize:

Mr. Rouhani and Mr. Zarif did not publicly specify the severity of the cash squeeze. But Western economists believe the crisis point may be much closer than previously thought, perhaps a matter of months. Iran news outlets have reported that the government owes billions of dollars to private contractors, banks and municipalities.

Because of the sanctions, oil sales, which account for 80 percent of the government’s revenue, have been cut in half. While Mr. Ahmadinejad had asserted that Iran had $100 billion in foreign exchange reserves, the total had shrunk to $80 billion by mid-2013


Rouhani unwittingly told an Israeli agent how to deal with Iran

For more commentary/analysis, see the Times of London, David Frum, and Gideon Rachman (Financial Times via Google News).

Israel and the Palestinians

Neve Gordon

Neve Gordon

Ben Gurion U. Professor Neve Gordon calls out J. Street to support the one-state solution. This LA Times op-ed ties in the Irish peace model and two political science concepts that no ordinary person has ever heard of: consociationalism and parity of esteem.

Sounds great in theory, but sectarian tensions in multi-ethnic states like Syria, Lebanon and Iraq lay bare the difficulties of power sharing, broad consent, and respect in the Mideast. Besides, Hamas and Fatah are moving towards a 3-state solution.

The Hamas gives new meaning to media outreach:

Hamas offers to hire Ma’an staff after Gaza office closure

Israeli journalist Ben-Dror Yemini weighs in on the EU’s double standards towards Israel.

Rest O’ the Roundup

Syrian shelling of the Yarmouk refugee camp near Damascus killed a Palestinian man. According to Maan News, “The Syrian army has imposed a blockade on the camp for 77 days in a row, and there has been no electricity or fuel in the camp for months.”

Israeli-Turkish economic ties may overcome the poor political relationship, reports the Financial Times (click via Google News).

According to the Manufacturers’ Association of Israel, Israeli exports to Turkey grew from $1bn in 2009 – the year before the flotilla incident – to $1.5bn now. Turkey’s exports to Israel rose over the same period, from $1.4bn to nearly $2bn. . .

The war in Syria, by disrupting the passage of Turkish goods trucks to Jordan and the Gulf, opened a new trade route through Israel. The trucks, which are brought by sea to Haifa with Turkish drivers on board, roll off the ships and head to the Jordanian border, then further afield. Israel’s government is torn between keeping a low profile around the new trade route, because of lingering political sensitivities, and championing it. More than 2,000 trucks have made the journey since November 2012.

(Image of Obama and Netanyahu via Flickr/Prime Minister of Israel)

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

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