News 2017



19 December 2017


In Memory: Jack Hayward

The University of Hull lost one of its most loyal servants. The Department of Politics lost one of its pillars and the Middle East Study Group lost one of its founding members: Jack Hayward.


Jack taught in the department from 1973 until 1992. He then became a professor of French politics at St. Antony’s College, Oxford University. After his retirement, Jack returned to Hull as a research professor. Jack remained loyal and interested in the department until he died. His office is now empty and cold.


Jack was one of the reasons I came to Hull. Although French politics is hardly my field, Jack was a renowned scholar of whom I heard while in Israel. He had many notable contributions to the field, including his many books and articles and his many notable capacities in the British Academy, British Political Science Association, including serving as Editor of the Association’s flagship journal Political Studies. During those years the Department of Politics was ranked among the 3-4 most important departments in Britain.


When I arrived in Hull in February 2007, Jack took an immediate interest in me. He welcomed me with stretched arms and showed keen interest to help in whatever way he could. We used to have luncheons at Staff House, where he told me about his rich life.


Jack was born in China to a Jewish family. A classic story of the wandering Jews, his father was a British subject born in India and his mother was born in Iraq. When the Japanese invaded South-East Asia, they captured approximately 50,000 prisoners of war, as well as thousands of civilians, many of whom were British subjects. As a boy in 1943, Jack was interned with his parents near Shanghai. This was a difficult experience as the Japanese were not known as kind wardens. It is estimated that around 1,000 died in captivity. Many years later, the British government decided to compensate those who survived the ordeal but only those with close blood-links to the UK. Jack, who arrived to the United Kingdom after the War and who lived in the UK ever since, was denied. Jack was insulted when he was told he was ineligible.


“The Japanese did not inquire whether I had a blood-link to the United Kingdom. Had the British government at the time alerted them to the fact that I was a third-class British subject who didn’t deserve to be put in incarceration because they were not real Britons, it might have been of some interest to my family.” In his direct language, Jack complained to the Ministry of Defence that after some debate decided to send him a token check. Jack refused to receive it. In a letter to Veterans Agency, Ministry of Defence, Jack wrote:

I have now received the unsolicited cheque for £500 (returned herewith) forecast in your letter of 25 October.

No doubt badly advised by his officials, Mr Touhig (to whom I wrote about this matter) instead of belatedly discharging in full the debt of honour incurred by the errors made by his predecessors, has chosen to fob off people in my situation with a desirory “tangible” expression of regret for the maladministration identified by the Ombudsman.

Would you confirm receipt of this £500 cheque which I categorically reject. Money is not the measure of all things, least of all when matters of national and personal honour are at issue.

My rejection of this gesture is motivated by the fact that it is an evasion of the main and reiterated issue: an official apology for the insult to those who suffered internment as British subjects and have arbitrarily been denied this recognition. Persistence in this discreditable conduct is unworthy and unforgivable and I will not appear to countenance it by accepting the sum offered.

3 November 2005


Jack told me this story, among many others. He wrote his autobiography including an elaborated chapter about his life prior arrival to the United Kingdom. I hope that this book will be published. Jack unfolded his life journey: his Jewishness, his family that was divided because of religious sentiments, his rich career. Jack had a most fascinating life.


Jack built his life with his own hands, motivation and will power. He was a liberal individualist who believed in liberty, equality, fraternity, the values of the French Revolution as well in justice, knowledge and reason. Jack was a thoughtful and caring man. He was passionate, direct, conscientious, responsible and a wonderful colleague.


When I established the Middle East Study Group in 2008, Jack was among the founders. He joined as an interested individual, not as a scholar in Middle Eastern studies. Jack was genuinely interested in Israel and the Jewish people. He was very curious to understand Israeli politics. As a Zionist, he was deeply concerned about the destiny of the Home of the Jewish people, and deeply troubled by the Israeli government whose policies toward the Palestinian people he had hardly appreciated. As a just person, he was troubled by the occupation. As a Jew, he felt that Israeli leaders lead Israel in the wrong direction. Injustice is not sustainable in the long run.


Jack was a curious scholar, an intellectual and a humble towering figure who led by example. His heart and mouth were the same. If he said he would do something, he would do it. If he appreciated something, he would show it. Similarly, if he did not appreciate something, he would say it. When it came to academic matters, I never heard the word NO from Jack. He was supportive and attentive, a most wonderful colleague to have. A true blessing.


In 2008, when I returned from the United States and engaged in writing my book Confronting the Internet’s Dark Side I asked Jack whether he would be willing to read and comment on a draft of the manuscript. Jack humbly said that this was not his field but if I wish him to read it as a lay scholar, he would do it. Jack read the book cover to cover, making notes on the entire manuscript. Then he thanked me for providing him with an opportunity to learn about the Internet.


Jack loved classical music. We exchanged notes on music. He would sit at home, put one of his records or the radio and listen to music. He knew about music more than the radio broadcasters and would complain about their limited selection of music.


Jack cared mostly about three countries: Britain, where he lived; France, a country he studied, loved and criticised; and Israel, the land of the Jewish people. We could have discussed these three countries for hours.


Jack was not a believer. He was a cultural Jew. He could have been a great friend of the Reform Movement were he to find a welcoming community. The values of the Reform movement – tolerance, justice, pluralism and peace, were close to his heart.


Jack’s older brother became Hassidic and tried to coerce young Jack to accept this way of life. The stubborn and opinionated Jack would not have it. He rejected all forms of coercion and moved away from established religion. Jack married a non-Jew and together they raised two children, Alan and Claire, in a home that was free of any religious sentiments (they did have a Christmas tree). But I think this was a reaction more than a thoughtful decision. Jack was connected in many ways to the Jewish people and identified with them until the moment of his death.


A few days before he died, I visited Jack at his home. He told me about his funeral preparations. He instructed his children to play three pieces of music, two of them with clear Jewish connections. “I am a cultural Jew”, Jack explained. “Jewish culture is important to me”. At the same time, he was himself a bit puzzled by his selection, that at the end of the day, although he led un-Jewish life, two of the three musical pieces were Jewish.


I am glad that I had an opportunity to see and converse with Jack last week. When I departed, I knew this was the last time.


Jack died at his home on 8 December 2017. May your soul rest in peace, dear Jack. Shalom.


17 December 2017

War against IS in Syria will be won by February — France’s Macron


15 December 2017

White House signals Western Wall has to be part of Israel


13 December 2017

Hezbollah Leader Calls for Arab Countries to Stop Seeking New Ties With Israel


5 December 2017

Yemen’s Ex-President Killed as Mayhem Convulses Capital


11 November.2017

Case of Missing Lebanese Prime Minister Stirs Middle East Tensions,


7 November 2017

The Guardian view on Boris Johnson and Priti Patel: incompetent, insubordinate and still in office,

6 November 2017

Iran’s top diplomat says the U.S.-Saudi relationship is ‘hazardous to regional health’,

Egypt’s Sissi vows push to restart Israeli-Palestinian peace talks,

Mattis Backs Geneva Process on Syrian Conflict,


5 November 2017

Israeli army calls for Gaza ‘Marshall Plan’ to thwart takeover by forces more extreme than Hamas,

4 November 2017

Saad Hariri Quits as Lebanon Prime Minister, Blaming Iran,


31 October 2017

Former Trump Aides Charged as Prosecutors Reveal New Campaign Ties With  Russia,

26 October 2017

Tillerson: No future for Assad in Syria,


“Fifty Years of Israeli Occupation”, E-International Relations (14 October 2017),


Without naming Iran, Trump says threats to destroy Israel musn’t be ignored  via timesofisrael


UN Secretary General: Denial of Israel’s right to exist is modern form of anti-Semitism


Liz Truss makes fresh attempt to fast-track deportations,


NY Times Editorial

President Trump’s proposal to slash State Department and foreign aid funding is misguided.

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Thomas Friedman, three-time Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for The New York Times, talks with David Axelrod about the prospects for the Middle East peace process in the Trump era, the rapid changes transforming society which he chronicles in his latest book, and why he disagrees with President Obama’s decision to not pursue more direct American intervention in the Syrian civil war.


Donald Trump campaign spoke with Russian ambassador about closer cooperation five months before election,


Donald Trump blames military for botched Yemen raid that left one Navy Seal dead: ‘They lost Ryan’,


Inside the Black Box of Israeli-Palestinian Talks

Michael Herzog  The American Interest


State Department sidelined in first month of Trump presidency,


Trump, Meeting With Netanyahu, Backs Away From Palestinian State



Stop the hate. Speaking in a joint press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House Wednesday, President Donald Trump was crystal clear: Palestinians must end their indoctrination of anti-Semitism and incitement to violence in order for peace to be possible.

White House: Mideast peace may not be 2-state solution, AP


Feb. 15, 2017 12:00 AM EST


Trump’s Shift to ‘Outside-In’ Strategy for Mideast Peace Is a Long Shot


FEB. 14, 2017

NY Times


Trump says he really wants Israel-Palestinian peace deal, warns both sides to be ‘reasonable’, The Washington Post (February 10, 2017),

By William Booth


Call for papers:

2017 – 6th Annual Conference, ‘Israeli Identities: Past, Present and Future’


US Justice Department Urges Appeals Court to Reinstate Trump’s Travel Ban

Syrian regime secretly hanged 13,000 people at notorious Saydnaya Prison, says Amnesty International,


British Prime Minister Theresa May and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held their first in-person meeting together on Monday. Former Israeli Ambassador to the UK Daniel Taub commended the Israel-UK relationship in an exclusive interview with The Israel Project, saying the meeting is “a continuation of a relationship, which, over decades, has been strong and deepening…We can go back six British Prime Ministers to Margaret Thatcher, John Major, Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, David Cameron, and now Theresa May, each of whom has had a deep, I think an instinctive sympathy, I think for the challenges facing Israel, and an understanding for the potential synergies of benefits of cooperation.”

“Iran seeks to annihilate Israel. It says so openly. It seeks to conquer the Middle East. It threatens Europe; it threatens the West; it threatens the world,” declared Prime Minister Netanyahu. “I’d like to talk to you on how we can ensure that Iran’s aggression does not go unanswered,” he said to May. May’s spokeswoman said the countries “share concerns” about a recent Iranian missile test.


White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer doubled down today on comments National Security Advisor Michael Flynn made yesterday—namely “putting Iran on notice.”

“I think General Flynn was really clear yesterday, that Iran has violated the joint [UN Security Council] Resolution [2231, which codified the Iran nuclear deal]; that Iran’s additional hostile actions that it took against our Navy vessel are ones that we are very clear are not going to sit by and take,” Spicer said from the White House press room.

Spicer was referring to Iran’s recent ballistic missile test as well as the Iran-backed Houthi rebels’ attack on a Saudi naval vessel. (Fox News reported Monday that U.S. intelligence officials believe that the intended target of the attack was an American warship.) The missile test and naval incident “underscore what should have been clear to the international community all along about Iran’s destabilizing behavior across the Middle East,” Flynn said of the incident.

The United States is expected to impose sanctions on multiple Iranian entities as early as Friday following Tehran’s ballistic missile test, a Reuters article noted Thursday. The sanctions will not violate the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.


Israel and Turkey conducted their first strategic dialogue in six years in Ankara  Haaretz reported. Officials from both countries’ foreign ministries met and “the two countries agreed that two Turkish cabinet officials would visit Israel in the coming weeks – including the first visit by a Turkish minister in more than a decade, likely to take place next week.” According to a closing statement released by the parties after the talks, “Both sides viewed developments in the wide region, particularly in the Middle East and eastern Mediterranean, and reaffirmed the importance of better Turkish-Israeli relations for the stability and the security of the region.” They also discussed business, academic, and cultural exchanges.

Turkish-Israeli ties had been strained since the 2010 Mavi Marmara incident, when a flotilla under the control of the Turkish Humanitarian Relief Foundation—a group designated as a terror organization by the Netherlands and Germany—attempted to break Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip. IDF troops faced an “organized and violent” assault from a group of passengers after boarding the ship, according to a UN report. Ten crew members were killed in the ensuing fight, and several Israeli soldiers were injured.

After the reconciliation agreement was reached this past June, Israeli leaders noted the significant economic potential of closer ties. “Trade between Israel and Turkey has more than doubled from the Marmara event up until today,” said Maj. Gen. (ret.) Yaakov Amidror, adding that the deal will bolster that growth with “joint projects in government level. People are speaking about gas and there are other issues that might emerge.” Turkey also sent Israel assistance to fight wildfires that raged throughout the country in November.

30 November 2016

Thousands Flee Parts of Aleppo, Syria, as Assad’s Forces Gain Ground

Mr. Trump, Meet the Constitution

9 November 2016

Donald Trump was elected President of the USA

28 September 2016

Shimon Peres, former Israeli leader, dies at 93

Leading political figure served twice as prime minister, once as president and won Nobel peace prize.

The Guardian

Peter Beaumont in Jerusalem

Shimon Peres, former Israeli president, dies aged 93


The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release

September 28, 2016

Presidential Proclamation — Death of Shimon Peres


– – – – – – –



As a mark of respect for the memory of Shimon Peres, former President and Prime Minister of Israel, I hereby order, by the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States of America, that the flag of the United States shall be flown at half-staff at the White House and on all public buildings and grounds, at all military posts and naval stations, and on all naval vessels of the Federal Government in the District of Columbia and throughout the United States and its Territories and possessions until sunset, on September 30, 2016. I also direct that the flag shall be flown at half-staff for the same period at all United States embassies, legations, consular offices, and other facilities abroad, including all military facilities and naval vessels and stations.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-eighth day of September, in the year of our Lord two thousand sixteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-first.


Dennis Ross Reflects on Peres, the Strategic Thinker

In this tribute published by the Jerusalem Post, a veteran U.S. envoy remembers the late Israeli leader’s visionary but pragmatic approach to pursuing peace.

I first met Shimon Peres in 1986. He was prime minister in the national unity government at the time. I was part of vice president George H. W. Bush’s delegation. In our meetings, Peres conveyed a sense of mission, determined to change Israel’s circumstances and ready to explore new possibilities with the Arabs for peace. But at the time, it was less the formal meetings that impressed me; I was struck much more by the informal meeting we had at Sde Boker, the kibbutz David Ben-Gurion had retired to in the Negev.

Peres sat with the vice president in Ben-Gurion’s small library and spoke of his mentor. He spoke of Ben-Gurion’s attributes as a leader — he was a visionary; he placed a premium on education and science; he understood the need to think ambitiously; to make big, often unpopular decisions; he was never willing to settle; he was demanding of everyone but most of all of himself; he saw threats that Israel faced but also believed that not acting — sometimes militarily, sometimes diplomatically — could invite the greatest threats to Israeli security; his sheer force of will made it possible not just for Israel to emerge but to survive against all odds.

Peres’s tone was reverential in speaking of Ben-Gurion, and he emphasized the importance of Israeli leaders measuring up to the standard that Ben-Gurion had set. In the 30 years that I have known Peres, I have seen him model himself on Ben-Gurion — to think strategically, to imagine where Israel needed to be in the future, to embrace change, and to never fear making decisions. Many have described Peres as a dreamer, at times naive, speaking of a new Middle East in the 1990s when the region was far from being transformed and resistant to globalization and its implications.

I saw him differently. I saw a pragmatist who understood the danger of stagnation. I saw a leader steeped in the Zionist ethic that Israelis should shape their national destiny and not let others do so. I could see how as a man in his 20s, Ben-Gurion would rely on him to build Israel’s military establishment. One of the great ironies of Peres’s career is that he was often seen in Israel as not being credible on security because he had not served in the military. And yet it was Peres who built the Defense Ministry, was the key player in persuading the French in the 1950s to provide arms to Israel when Israel had no other source, and later during the Kennedy administration made two trips to Washington to convince the president and Bobby Kennedy that Israel needed American weaponry to offset what the Soviets were providing to Egypt, Syria and Iraq. In no small part, it was Peres who persuaded John Kennedy to break the US taboo on providing modern weapon systems to Israel.

And it was Peres again, acting on the direction of Ben-Gurion, who worked intensively to produce the French decision to help construct the nuclear reactor in Dimona. For Ben-Gurion, nuclear power was essential not just for the electricity it would generate but for the message it sent that Israel would develop the means, if necessary, to possess an ultimate deterrent in a region where all of Israel’s neighbors rejected its right to exist.

From my vantage point, Peres was a strategic thinker, not a dreamer. Nor did I ever find him naive or soft on Israeli security. True, I found him impatient with those whom he felt failed to see that Israel could never stand pat; that Israel must anticipate and try to shape the strategic environment of the region and not simply respond to its developments. He was always proactive.

Did he have high hopes for Oslo? Yes, but he always sought to build in hedges in case the Palestinians failed to fulfill their side of the bargain. He never took Arafat at face value but was prepared to test what was possible. The same with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas — whom he valued because of his commitment to nonviolence but who he also saw as being hesitant and risk averse.

Yes, Peres also criticized those Israelis he believed to be too hesitant and who failed, in his eyes, to see that their hesitancy threatened Israel’s future as a Jewish, democratic state. For him, Zionism was about Israel not becoming a binational state. For him, Zionism was about preserving its Jewish majority even as its democracy respected the rights of its Arab citizens, and integrated them fully into Israel’s political, economic and social life. For him, preserving Israel’s values and its standing as a moral example was an essential part of fulfilling its Zionist creed.

I have always admired Peres because he was always searching, always anticipating new trends and developments, always trying to promote Israel and its possibilities. As he grew older, his curiosity deepened, and so did his desire to be on the front lines of diplomacy, economy, development and scientific progress. While serving as the president, he held an annual conference that brought leaders in every field from around the globe for dialogue and discussion. He reminded the world that Israel was on the cutting edge of advances in health, in agriculture, including developing drought resistance crops, and in digital technologies and innovation.

In my most recent private lunch with Peres, he spent his time explaining to me the revolutionary breakthroughs that were being made in understanding the brain and its extraordinary implications for the future. He never stopped striving or learning or seeking to mend the world.

Ambassador Dennis Ross is The Washington Institute’s counsellor and William Davidson Distinguished Fellow, Irwin Levy Family Program on the U.S.-Israel Strategic Relationship.


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Shimon Peres of Israel Dies at 93; Built Up Defense and Sought Peace


SEPT. 27, 2016

  • NY Times

12 September 2016

Clinton ‘diagnosed with pneumonia’ after stumbling at 9/11 event

Russia is about to become a super power again

Sydney man charged with terrorism after ‘Isis inspired attack’ in park

July 2016

Lord Bhikhu Parekh received the Hull Freeman Award, the highest award Kingston-Upon-Hull confers on its citizens.

Orlando nightclub shooting: How the attack unfolded


13 June 2016

A gunman opened fire at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, killing at least 50 people and injuring dozens before being shot dead by police. What do we know about what happened?

Global Peace Index 2016

The new Index shows that the world is a less safer place (surprise surprise), more conflicts, wars and terror.

If you seek safety, Iceland is the place for you. Unless a volcano erupted….

On 19 May 2016, Prof. Cohen-Almagor was invited to take part in a debate organised by one of the world most distinguished debating societies – The Oxford Union. The debate revolved around the question whether the two-state solution for Israel and Palestine is still viable. The Motion was titled: This House Believes A Two-State Solution in the Middle East is Unattainable.

The Pre-Debate Poll showed: This House Believes A Two-State Solution in the Middle East is Unattainable

41% Aye

59% No

On Cohen-Almagor side supporting two-state solution were Sam Sussman, an MPhil International Relations student from Pembroke College who is also the founder of Extend, an NGO which facilitates conversations between American Jewish leaders and Palestinians; Yiftah Curiel, Head Spokesperson of the Israeli Embassy in London, and John Lyndon, Executive Director of OneVoice, an international grassroots movement which supports a two-state solution by amplifying the voices of mainstream Israelis and Palestinians.

On the endorsing side of the motion were Manal Cheema, a second-year PPE student also from Pembroke College; Gideon Levy, an Award-winning columnist for Haaretz whose writing focuses on the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza; Salma Karmi-Ayyoub, criminal barrister and external consultant for Al Haq, a Palestinian human rights organisation, and Prof. Padraig O’Malley, a specialist in divided societies and the author of “The Two-State Delusion: Israel and Palestine – A Tale of Two Narratives.”

The most effective speaker on their side was Gideon Levy who denounced Israel, the occupation and what he termed “the lie of two state solution”. He proposed social justice for all.

The pro two-state solution won by 2 to 1, vast majority endorsing two state solution. Indeed, any other solution would be far more costly, far more violent.

The official announcement was: Tonight’s Motion: This House Believes A Two-State Solution in the Middle East is Unattainable.


Aye: 37%

No: 63%

You can see more photos at

The Union posted the debate footage to YouTube:

Further details;

MESG endorses a two-state solution

The MESG endorses a two-state solution. We believe this is the only true option for both Israel and Palestine. We believe it is a just and necessary solution. Only a fair solution for both sides will be successful. A partial solution, or a solution that favours one side over another would leave the other side frustrated and angry. It won’t work.19.5.2016

Debate at the Oxford Union: This House Believes A Two-State Solution in the Middle East is Unattainable.;



On 19 May 2016, Professor Cohen-Almagor (Politics) is invited to take part in a debate organised by one of the world most distinguished debating societies – The Oxford Union. The debate will revolve around the question whether the two-state solution for Israel and Palestine is still viable. Further details


The Assad Files


Facebook Groups Act as Weapons Bazaars for Militias


Michael C Williams-  Farewell to Sykes-Picot?


The Fall of Palmyra


Russia and US to boost cooperation to implement Syria ceasefire deal, says Kremlin

Russia and the US have agreed to intensify diplomatic and other cooperation to implement an agreement on Syria, struck in Munich. That, from the Kremlin, after phone talks between Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin.

Major powers agreed on Friday to what is described as as a temporary “cessation of hostilities” in Syria, saying it would come into effect in a week. Several Western countries have said there is no hope for progress without a halt to Russia’s bombing campaign. “What we see is more crimes, for about two days, more air strikes, we see more barrel bombs on Syrian towns in al Ghouta, on Dharaya and the siege still there on Madaya,” Salem al-Meslet, Syrian High Negotiations Committee spokesman, told euronews. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told the Munich Security Conference on Saturday that the odds of a ceasefire being put in place in a week were less than 50 percent. US Secretary of State John Kerry has accused Moscow of hitting legitimate opposition groups and civilians in its bombing campaign. Russia says its principal targets are ISIL and the Nusra Front rebel group.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on Monday that Turkey will not allow the Syrian town of Azaz across from the Turkish border fall under the control of PYD which is considered as PKK terrorist group’s Syrian wing by Turkey.

Speaking on his plane en route to an official visit to Ukraine, Davutoglu said “We will not let Azaz fall. The YPG will not be able to cross to the west of the Euphrates (River) and east of Afrin.” “YPG elements were forced away from around Azaz. If they approach again they will see the harshest reaction” he added. YPG is the militant wing of PYD which Ankara considers as Syrian extension of PKK terrorist organisation and US considers an ally against the DAESH terrorist group. Turkey has long been confronted with armed attacks in its southeastern regions by the PKK, which is recognised as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the US, and EU.  Davutoglu continued his statement by warning the forces to withdraw from the Syrian Menagh Air Base. “They will withdraw from the air base. If not, Turkey would make the air base unusable,” he said. Davutoglu said that the government warned the group many times to withdraw from the area, which has recently been captured, however it chose to violate the Turkish territory, shelling military outposts near the Turkish border.  On Feb. 13, Turkish Armed Forces started to shell YPG targets near the town of Azaz in northern Syria. Speaking on the same day, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said that the shelling had taken place under “the rules of engagement against forces that represented a threat in Azaz and the surrounding area.”


Turkey responds to further cross-border artillery

A Turkish border post was hit by mortar fire from Syria on Sunday, Turkey’s Defense Minister Ismet Yilmaz said. The bombardment by Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) forces hit the post in Kilis province and the Turkish military responded with shellfire, Yilmaz told a parliamentary budget meeting. He did not say how many bombs landed. “When a strike hits our border within the rules of engagement it will be responded to in a dissuasive way,” he said. There were no casualties on the Turkish side of the frontier, the minister added. Turkish troops have shelled PYD positions around Azaz in northern Syria since Saturday in response to artillery strikes on Turkey. The PYD is the Syrian affiliate of the PKK, which is listed as a terror group by Turkey, the U.S. and EU and has waged war against the Turkish state since 1984. Azaz — six kilometers (four miles) from the Turkish border — has been the scene of recent heavy fighting as the PYD has advanced during a Russian-backed Syrian government offensive against opposition forces.

Seminar in Modern Israel Studies

Hilary Term 2016

Tuesdays, 5pm – 6:30pm (apart from Monday, 29 February)

School of Interdisciplinary Area Studies, (SIAS), 11 Bevington Road, Oxford

Ground Floor Seminar Room (unless stated otherwise)

Convenors:  Derek Penslar (DPIR & SIAS), Sara Hirschhorn (Oriental Studies & OCHJS), and Roman Vater (OCHJS)

January 26
Gershon Baskin
Israel-Hamas Negotiations: From Prisoner Swaps to Peace?

February 2
Eitan Bar Yosef (Ben-Gurion University)
The Nostalgic Return to the British Mandate in Israeli Culture

February 9         Venue:  Investcorp Lecture Theatre, St. Antony’s College
Seth Anziska (UCL)
(Co-sponsored with the Middle East Centre)
The Limits of Refusal: Israel, Lebanon, and the Shadow of 1982

February 16
Nachshon Perez (Tel Aviv University) and Yuval Jobani (Bar Ilan University)
Women of the Wall: Navigating Religion in the Public Sphere

February 23
Rona Yona (New York University)
Are We One Nation?  Socialist Zionism, East Europe, and Palestine, 1917-1939

February 29      Venue:  St Peter’s College
Naomi Chazan and Yossi Melman
(Co-sponsored with DPIR)
Israeli-African Relations Today

March 1               Venue:   Tsuzuki Lecture Theatre, St. Anne’s College
Benjamin Pogrund, Saul Dubow (QMUL) and Sasha Polakow-Suransky
Is Israel an Apartheid State?

25 November 2015

Tense relationships between Russia and Turkey after the latter shot down a Russian airplane that invaded Turkish skies without authorization.

16 November 2015

Paris attacks ‘planned from Syria’ – France PM Valls

Friday’s attacks by Islamist militants in Paris were planned and organised from Syria, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls has said.

He added that the authorities believed new terror attacks were being planned in France and other European countries. Mr Valls also said 150 raids on suspected militants had been carried out across France early on Monday. A total of 129 people died in the attacks on bars and restaurants, a concert hall and the Stade de France. France is to hold a nationwide minute of silence at midday local time (11:00 GMT) out of respect for the victims. A huge manhunt is under way for surviving members and accomplices of the Islamist group that carried out the attack. Police have named Brussels-born Salah Abdeslam, 26, as a key suspect. He was reportedly stopped by officers in the wake of the attacks – but then let go. Meanwhile, French aircraft have attacked Raqqa, the stronghold in Syria of the Islamic State group, which has said it carried out the attacks. Mr Valls said that France was dealing with a “terrorist army”, rather than a single terrorist group. “We know that operations were being prepared and are still being prepared, not only against France but other European countries too,” he said, quoted by AFP news agency. The prime minister said more than 150 raids on militant targets in different areas of France early on Monday.
“We are making use of the legal framework of the state of emergency to question people who are part of the radical jihadist movement… and all those who advocate hate of the republic,” he said. Police sources told news agencies that properties in the Paris suburb of Bobigny, as well as the cities of Grenoble, Toulouse and Lyon, had been targeted. Reports said large amounts of weapons were found and several people arrested. Seven attackers died in the assault on the French capital, most of them after detonating suicide belts.


13 November 2015

Iran’s participation in the Syria talks and its role in determining which groups can participate in a transition government signals US acceptance of Iran’s increasing influence in the region, according to a report by Bradley Klapper and Matt Lee of the Associated Press on Thursday. Iran has invested heavily in ensuring the survival of the Assad regime, sending Hezbollah forces and around 1,500 Iranian troops, as well as arms and financial aid to assist the Assad regime, which has indiscriminately bombed its own people in a civil war that has killed at least 220,000 people.

Although the US has previously blocked Iran’s presence at negotiations on Syria’s future, a couple weeks ago the US accepted Iran’s participation. The administration has also softened its demands that Assad step down immediately. Despite the administration’s designation of Iran as a state sponsor of terrorism, the Iranians will be given a say in deciding who is and who is not a terrorist and thus which groups from the Syrian opposition can participate in a political transition. When pressed by Lee on who will have the decisive voice in the matter, State Department spokesman John Kirby stated, “[T]hose decisions will be made through a consensus approach.”

The administration has repeatedly vowed that despite the nuclear deal with Iran, it will redouble its efforts to push back on Iran’s destabilizing influence and support for terror in the region. However, according to Lee and Klapper, Iran’s newfound role in Syria is a sign that “Washington has accepted that Tehran can continue wielding influence over Syria, which it has relied on for decades to project power throughout the Middle East. That includes arming anti-Israel and anti-U.S. forces Hamas and Hezbollah.” A similar analysis in Reuters by Marco Vicenzino asserts that if a deal on Syria is reached, Iran’s “diplomatic standing would improve and its interests would be secured.” The Assad regime is Iran’s principal Arab ally and Iran uses Syria as a conduit through which it transfers arms to its Lebanon-based proxy, Hezbollah. Several analysts such as Michael Doran, former senior director in the National Security Council, have argued that rather than block Iran’s influence, the administration’s policies appear to be part of a strategy to accommodate Iran and thereby turn the regime into a regional partner.

11 November 2015

Syria conflict: Russia ‘peace plan’ revealed ahead of key summit

A Russian document circulating at the United Nations has proposed a constitutional reform process in Syria, lasting 18 months, to be followed by presidential elections.

The document does not say whether Syrian President Bashar al-Assad should remain in power during that time. It says certain Syrian opposition groups should take part in key talks on the crisis in Vienna on Saturday. The Syrian army meanwhile is reported to have broken a siege in the north. Army units had made contact with troops defending Kuwairis airbase, east of Aleppo, and eliminated large numbers of Islamic State (IS) militants, the Sana news agency said. The facility had been under attack by IS jihadists for nearly two years. A Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman said that the priority ahead of next Saturday’s meeting should be to establish which Syrian opposition groups are to be regarded as partners in the process, and which are “terrorist” and unacceptable. The eight-point proposal drawn up by Russia is reported not to rule out President Bashar al-Assad’s participation in the elections – something his enemies say is impossible if there is to be peace. “[The] popularly elected president of Syria will have the functions of commander-in-chief of the armed forces, control of special services and foreign policy,” the document is quoted by Reuters as saying. It says that the reform process should not be chaired by President Assad, but by a candidate agreed upon by all sides. It also calls for UN Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura to launch a political process between the Syrian government and “a united delegation of opposition groups” on the basis of the June 2012 agreement between major powers in Geneva, which calls for the formation of a transitional government for Syria.

Russia is key to end ‘third world war,’ Jordan’s king tells euronews

Russia is best positioned to bring a resolution to the war in Syria, Jordan’s King Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein has told Euronews. In an exclusive interview in Amman, the King urged all sides to cooperate in the face of what he described as a “third world war.” “For a political solution in Syria, Moscow is key. They are the ones that can give the guarantees to the regime that they have a stake in the future,” he told Isabelle Kumar in an interview for Global Conversation. Jordan has taken in more than a million refugees fleeing fighting between forces loyal to Syria’s president Bashar al Assad, ISIS and other groups. Refugees now make up around a fifth of the population, putting a strain on heath and education systems and costing the country around $3 billion a year. The arrival of refugees in Europe has given impetus to address a crisis that has been felt by Syria’s neighbours for more than 4 years and King Abdullah urged European leaders and Moscow to take the opportunity to set aside their differences.

10 November 2015

The November 9, 2015, meeting between President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu is reported to be “good”. After Iran, Israel and the USA are back to normal business. Both leaders were careful not to raise controversial and contentious issues, concentrating attention on hat the two states have in common rather on what divides them.

Speaking following the Washington talks, Obama suggested a new US military aid agreement could be on the cards to bolster Israel’s security: “The military assistance that we provide, we consider it not only an important part of our obligation to the security of the State of Israel, but also an important part of US security infrastructure in the region as we make sure that one of our closest allies can not only protect itself but can also work with us in deterring terrorism and other security threats.” Obama condemned Palestinian violence in the region and said he was interested in hearing Netanyahu’s thoughts on lowering Israeli-Palestinian tensions.

Prime Minister Netanyah reaffirmed his government’s commitment to a two-state solution to the conflict, which has seen at least 73 Palestinians and 12 Israelis killed since October 1, 2015. Netanyahu told the press US-Israeli relations were strong and thanked Obama for his commitment to Israel’s security.

Sources: Haaretz, Euronews

9 November 2015

Yitzhak Navon (1921-2015)

I was saddened to hear about the death of former Israeli President Yitzhak Navon. Navon was one of the nicest people in Israeli politics, a person whom I appreciated and very much liked

Seminar in Modern Israel Studies Oxford University

Michaelmas Term 2015

Tuesdays, 5pm – 6:30pm

School of Interdisciplinary Area Studies, (SIAS), 11 Bevington Road, Ground Floor Room

Convenors: Derek Penslar (DPIR & SIAS), Sara Hirschhorn (Oriental Studies & OCHJS), and Roman Vater (OCHJS)

October 20

Rachel Fish (Brandeis)

A State for Whom?: The Transformation of the Bi-nationalist Idea in Palestine/Israel

November 3

Nancy Hawker (Oxford)

Politics in Two Languages: Palestinian Knesset Members in Hebrew and Arabic

November 17

Avner Offer (Oxford)

The Six-Day War Remembered: Photographic Images and Ethical Reflections

November 24

Keith Kahn-Harris, (Leo Baeck College and Institute for Jewish Policy ResearchUncivil War: The Israel Conflict in the Jewish Community

21 September 2015

Meir Pa’il (9 June 1926 – 15 September 2015)

I was saddened to hear of the death of Meir Pa’il, a beautiful human being, a man of peace who stood against evil when he saw it, a socialist, a mensch.

Pa’il was one of the most fascinating, colourful and enchanting personalities in Israeli politics. People either loved him or hated him. I loved him.

Pa’il was a man of ideas and a doer; a man of principle who was loyal to his truth and who was not afraid to voice his strong beliefs. Pa’il was charismatic and witty, a sea of knowledge regarding the history of Israel and the Land of Israel that he loved with all his big heart. Pa’il was a positive man and an eternal optimist. He was one of these rare people who lighten every room he entered.

Pa’il was born in Jerusalem during the British Mandate under the name Meir Pilevsky. Like many army officers he changed his surname to Hebrew and assumed to name Pa’il (“active” in Hebrew; most appropriate considering his ant-like personality). Between 1943 and 1948 Pa’il served in the Palmach. In April 1948 he witnessed the massacre at Deir Yassin. This tragedy made a tremendous impact on his life and thinking. Later Pa’il wrote:

I saw this horror, and I was shocked and angry, because I had never seen such a thing, murdering people after a place had been conquered. Afterwards in the War of Independence it happened in a few other places, but it was the first time in my life I had ever seen such a thing. So I started going around investigating. I didn’t say anything. I did not know their commanders, and I didn’t want to expose myself, because people were going around there, as I wrote in my report, with their eyes rolled about in their sockets. Today I would write that their eyes were glazed over, full of lust for murder. It seemed to be going on everywhere. Eventually it turned out that in the Lehi sector there were more murders, but I didn’t know that then. I didn’t know what to do.

In the Palmach, Pa’il was known as “The Red Zionist.” He never hid his political views and paid a price for being vocal, often taking unpopular views to the ears of his superiors. After the 1948 war, he remained in the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF), mostly in command, combat, training and education duties. Pa’il was commander of the central officer’s training school, commander of the 51st Golani battalion in the 1956 Sinai Campaign, and Deputy Commander of General Tal’s armored group in the 1967 war. Pa’il later headed the IDF Department of Military Theory in the General Staff and wrote the IDF Combat Handbook. In 1971, Pa’il retired from army service with rank of Colonel. Pa’il felt he could have reached higher echelons in the army but Moshe Dayan and Shimon Peres considered him persona non grata and blocked his way.

Pa’il studied history and Middle Eastern studies at Tel Aviv University where he completed a doctorate in military and general history. In 1973 he was among the founders of the Zionist-Socialist Blue-Red Movement, which merged with another small leftist organization called Maki to form the Moked Party,which Pa’il headed.

Pa’il was elected to the Knesset in the 1973 elections on the Moked list, and was the party’s only representative in the 8th Knesset (21.1.1974 – 13.6.1977). His main activity was in the Knesset’s Education and Culture Committee. Pa’il sought to increase his party’s influence via mergers with other like-minded small, leftist bodies. Moked merged with them to form the Left Camp of Israel prior to the 1977 elections.

The new party won two seats, which were rotated between five party members including Pa’il. In the 9thKnesset, Pa’il was active in the Knesset Immigration and Absorption Committee, Education and Culture Committee, and Labor and Welfare Committee. Pa’il’s party was excluded from the prestigious Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.

To speak in the early 1980s about the need for peace with the Palestinians, talking to the terrorist PLO organization, ending the occupation, evacuating the West Bank and a two-state solution was considered almost traitorous in Israel. The Left Camp of Israel failed to win any seats in the 1981 elections and Pa’il was forced to retire from the legislature. Pa’il loved the Knesset activity and was one of its most active members. He felt that while his views were correct, they were also more and more exceptional and eccentric in Israeli society.

Pa’il has published many books in Hebrew about Zionism, Israeli politics and military history. Among his publications: From the Hagana to the Israeli Defence Force (1979), Development of Jewish Defense Capabilities, 1907-1948 (1987), Independence 1948 (1990), Rift in 1948 (1991), The Palmach (1995) and The Commander: Military Leadership in Gentle Way(2003).

Pa’il was a military person, a military historian, a politician and a humanist. As can be expected from such a combination, Pa’il was a bitter cynic with a constant twinkle in his eyes. Listening to him was an experience I relished. I did not know whether to cry or laugh because he would speak about awful things with marvellous, shrewd language. Meirke, as he was known to people who loved him, spoke wonderful Hebrew and had a vast knowledge of Israeli history, politics and the military. During my political activity in Israel we crossed many paths. Years after he retired from politics I recall saying to him: Meirke, if you decide to return to politics and establish a new party, call me. I will be the first to join. Meirke laughed. I loved his laugh.

You can have a glimpse at Meirke, his zeal, his conviction, appreciate his love to Israel, the Bible, the Jewish people, the Land of Israel and to peace at

The Prophecy: Meir Pa’il Interview With Haim Yavin 1981,

Meirke Pa’il. Man of peace. May you rest in peace. You are not alone in your views. You are still a minority. One day, I hope, your views will become a reality. Yes, you were right.

Common sense does prevail. Sometimes it hesitates, sometimes it needs encouragement, but finally it comes about.

Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: Low Flames

The violence continues. The centre is Jerusalem. On September 18, 2015, twenty-one Palestinians and three Israeli Border Police officers were wounded during clashes throughout the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Clashes between Palestinian youths and Israel security forces are becoming an almost daily routine.

Force, of course, will not solve this. The solution is political, in negotiation between leaders.

Israeli and Palestinian leaders are reluctant to meet. The mutual feeling is that they have little to discuss. At present, the gaps between them are too wide and the trust is zero.

Later on Friday, September 18, the Palestinians showed once again that their actions are coordinated between the West Bank and Gaza. One rocket was launched on the city of Sderot. Another rocket was fired at the city of Ashkelon. The latter rocket was intercepted by an Iron Dome battery.

Loyal to its deterrence policy, Israeli retaliated immediately. IDF warplanes carried out three air strikes in the northern Gaza Strip late Friday night.

Violence begets violence. It will not beget solution. So far, the airstrikes fail to deter further launching of rockets. The Palestinians are willing to take on sacrifices. It is not in their interest to see another military campaign launched against them as then the toll of destruction is very high. But they are willing to continue showing their resistance and suffer the measured airstrikes.

The situation is becoming more complicated as there are different terror organizations that are now operating in the Gaza Strip. It is not all Hamas. A Salafist group calling itself the Omar Brigades, which identifies with ISIS, took responsibility for the rocket fire toward Ashkelon. The attack is believed to have been meant as an act of defiance against Hamas, which persecutes the group.

The Hezbollah remains preoccupied in Syria and refrains from involvement in this conflict. The Syrian mess works at present for Israel. But not for long.

Sadly, peace remains a distant dream. Common sense is absent. Both camps are firmly locked in their obstinate positions. The children of Israel and Palestine will continue to suffer.


Israel Reopens Embassy in Egypt

Some four years ago, Israel was forced to close down its embassy in Cairo. Then hundreds of thousands of protestors took the streets and brought about the end of the Mubarak reign. Some of them also protested against the Israeli presence in Egypt.  Riot police officers later clashed with the angry crowd in a street battle, resulting in the deaths of at least two people. Egyptian commandos rescued six Israeli staff members who had been trapped in the building for 13 hours.

In early September, the Israeli Embassy in Egypt was reopened this week, four years after the dramatic events that took place in Cairo forced Israeli diplomats to evacuate the embassy. Director General of the Foreign Ministry Dore Gold said, “Under the leadership of PM Benjamin Netanyahu and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, we succeeded in driving away the threats, and we’re working together for the sake of stability and prosperity in the Middle East.”

1 September 2015

Egypt announces October date for parliamentary election

The date of Egypt’s long-awaited parliamentary election has been announced by the country’s election commission. Voting will take place on October 18 and 19, with a second round on November 22 and 23. The election had been due to begin in March but was delayed after a court ruled part of the election law unconstitutional. The government says the election is proof of Egypt’s commitment to democracy. The country has been without a parliament since June 2012 when a court dissolved the democratically elected main chamber, dominated by the now-banned Muslim Brotherhood. President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who as military chief toppled Egypt’s first freely elected president, Mohamed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood, has wielded legislative authority to introduce economic reforms but critics have denounced widespread repression. The army announced a “roadmap” to democracy in Egypt, the most populous Arab state and ally of Western powers. However the period that followed has seen the toughest crackdown on Islamists in Egypt’s history. Hundreds have been killed at street protests and thousands arrested.

29 August 2015

Vol. 15, No. 27 Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, August 27, 2015
Vital Points on the Iran Deal: Major Flaws and Positive Elements
Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser and Amb. Alan Baker Points on the Iran Deal: Major Flaws and Positive Elements

 The nuclear agreement with the main world powers is set to enable Iran safely, legally, and without economic hardships or changes in its rogue policies, to overcome the main obstacles on its way to possessing a nuclear weapons arsenal and becoming a regional hegemonic power.
 The agreement will legally provide Iran with the capability to shorten the time required to produce such an arsenal within the next 10-15 years (including the production of fissile material, weaponization, acquiring delivery systems, and improved military capabilities to protect the military nuclear program), so that it would be practically impossible to stop it.
 This is in exchange for a questionable and barely verifiable Iranian commitment to avoid producing arms and some limited restrictions on its nuclear program for 10-15 years.
 Reliance on Iran’s open reaffirmation in the agreement that it will not seek, develop, or acquire nuclear weapons is untrustworthy and even naïve, given Iran’s past record of concealing its nuclear activities, its periodic declarations of hostility vis-à-vis the U.S. and Israel, and its regime’s messianic aspirations.
 In short, the agreement unilaterally and unconditionally grants Iran everything it has been seeking without any viable quid-pro-quo from Iran to the international community.
 Above all, it should be obvious that no possible sympathetic statement by the U.S. Administration, or even military or other compensation, could logically stand against paving the route to a nuclear arsenal by a state that repeatedly declares its commitment to obliterate Israel.

20 August 2015

Russia will complete a deal, as early as next week, to sell the sophisticated S-300 surface-to-air missile system to Iran despite longstanding American objections. Fox News

19 August 2015

I recommend the documentary Million Bullets in October, about the events leading to the Al Aqsa Intifada of 2000 and the subsequent months. In this documentary, very senior Israeli officials make two arguments:

  1. Arafat did not plan the 2000 Intifada. He was surprised by the eruption of popular violence. In the first instance, he tried to bring calm and reduce the flames.

    2. The IDF did not abide by government decisions. The IDF derailed the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. The IDF had its own agenda, led by Chief of Staff Shaul Mofaz, which saw the Palestinians as enemies, not partners, and consequently hardened the hand on the Palestinians. The result was more violence, increased tensions, end of cooperation between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, and scores of casualties on both sides.

You can see the movie, in Hebrew, at

Israel on verge of sending troops into Syria over increased threat of terrorist attack

The Israeli Defence Force (IDF) is believed to be preparing for a possible ground operation in Syria. Local news channel, Channel 2, reported a large scale drill by military forces along the border on Sunday which simulated a possible incursion into Syrian territory and the evacuation of Israeli citizens from nearby border towns. According to another channel, Channel 10, the drill also prepared for a sophisticated attack by Isis on Israeli troops. It comes after a senior officer said recent attempts by Hezbollah to carry out terror attacks against Israel from the Golan Heights were orchestrated by Iran. According to Haaretz, the Israeli Air Force carried out a bomb attack on suspected militants after an attempt to plant an IED along the border fence between Israel and Syria back in April was foiled. An official told reporters during a briefing on Sunday: “It’s clear that Iran is behind all of the terror attacks here (in the Golan) in the past two years. He said. “The Iranians are using the border – they establish units – whether it’s [Imad] Mughniyeh, [Samir] Kuntar, and more – to carry out the attacks.” The military released a video of the attack on Sunday.
The Independent

15 August 2015

Egypt’s al-Sisi imposes strict anti-terrorism laws

Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi has approved stringent new counter-terrorism laws to fight a growing Islamist insurgency.

The laws establish special courts and offer additional protection from legal consequences for military and police officers who have used force. They also impose the death penalty for anyone found guilty of setting up or leading a terrorist group. Rights groups say the legislation will be used by Mr Sisi to crush dissent. For the past two years, Egypt has been in the grip of an insurgency by Islamist groups that aim to topple Mr Sisi’s government. The Egyptian president vowed back in June to bring in tough new legislation, following the assassination by car bomb of a public prosecutor.
Under the new laws being introduced on Monday:

1.trials for suspected militants will be fast-tracked through special courts. Anyone found guilty of joining a militant group could face 10 years in prison
2.financing terrorist groups will also carry a penalty of life in prison (25-year term)
3.inciting violence or creating websites deemed to spread terrorist messages will carry sentences of five to seven years
4.journalists can be fined between 200,000 and 500,000 Egyptian pounds (£16,300-£41,000; $25,550-$64,000) for contradicting official accounts of militant attacks. The original draft of the law was amended following domestic and international outcry after it initially called for a two-year prison sentence

Rights groups have warned that the legislation could be used to crush dissent, lock up opponents and impose further restrictions on freedom of expression. Hundreds of members of Egypt’s security forces have been killed by militant attacks in the country’s Sinai region The insurgency has intensified since Mr Sisi, then chief of the army, ousted the Islamist former President Mohammed Morsi after mass protests against his rule in 2013. The most active insurgent group – known now as Sinai Province and before that as Ansar Bait al-Maqdis – has pledged allegiance to the so-called Islamic State militant group. Mr Sisi has overseen a crackdown on Islamists, jailing thousands of alleged supporters and sentencing scores to death, including Mr Morsi, who belongs to the Muslim Brotherhood. The government claims that the Muslim Brotherhood is a terrorist group, while it says it is committed to peaceful activism. In February, Mr Sisi signed off on another anti-terrorism law that gave authorities sweeping powers to ban groups on charges ranging from harming national unity to disrupting public order.

9 August 2015

Former head of the SHABAC warns: Zealots are taking over Israel,

6 August 2015

Barack Obama: I recognize that prime minister Netanyahu disagrees, disagrees strongly. I do not doubt his sincerity, but I believe he is wrong. I believe the facts support this deal. I believe they are in America’s interests and Israel’s interests, and as president of the United States it would be an abrogation of my constitutional duty to act against my best judgment simply because it causes temporary friction with a dear friend and ally.

Full text: Obama gives a speech about the Iran nuclear deal,

4 August 2015

US-Egypt relations return to ‘stronger base’ says John Kerry

US secretary of state John Kerry has said that the United States and Egypt are returning to a “stronger base” in bilateral ties. Speaking after talks with his Egyptian counterpart on Sunday (August 2), he said that was despite tensions and human rights concerns. His Egyptian counterpart told reporters that there were some differences in points of view, which he said is natural. “The dialogue contributed in reviewing bilateral relations, presenting new ideas that will define relations between the two countries in the future mostly in the fields of Military and Security cooperation,” said Sameh Shoukry. Cairo remains one of Washington’s closest allies in the Middle East. Sunday’s talks were the first between the two nations since 2009. “We talked in a very honest way about the challenges of fighting back against terrorism even as you are trying to build a political process that can be inclusive and provide citizens the opportunity to build their own future,” said John Kerry, US Secretary of State. “We agreed that we must explore opportunities to expand our security relationship.” Relations cooled after president Mohamed Mursi was overthrown in 2013 by the military amid mass protests against his rule. Euronews correspondent Mohammed Shaikhibnrahim reported: “The warming in Egypt-US relations comes in part due to the their common enemy: rampant terrorism in the Middle East. But that does not invalidate other outstanding issues between the two nations, such as concerns over human rights.”

Palestinians and Jews hold vigils for victims of extremism

Hundreds of members of the gay community and their supporters held a vigil in the Jerusalem’s main square for a sixteen year old girl who died after being stabbed at a gay pride march in the city on Thursday. Shira Banki was one of six people attacked at the parade by an ultra-orthodox Jew.“Shira was a brave girl”, said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a televised statement. “She was murdered by a vile person because she supported the simple notion that everyone has the right to live their lives respectfully and with security. The despicable murderer who stabbed Shira and five others tried to undermine this fundamental value, the basic values on which our society is built – social equality and individual rights that we sanctify.” The suspect was arrested at the scene on Thursday and appeared at a remand hearing in Jerusalem on Friday. Yishai Schlissel, had been released from prison only weeks earlier for stabbing three people at the same event in 2005. Police have come under criticism for not having him under surveillance. Meanwhile on the West Bank another vigil was held on Sunday. Jewish settlers and Palestinians gathered in response to the death of a toddler who burned to death when his Palestinian home was set alight by suspected Jewish extremists. The victim’s 4-year old brother and his parents were seriously wounded in the attack on Friday.

2 August 2015

Does the US need a third party to end the bipartisanship?,

1 August 2015

An Unwelcome Palestinian Reformer
A ‘third way’ approach to state-building gets a one-way ticket to trouble.
Wall Street Journal, July 29, 2015 6:54 p.m. ET

Hollande invites Iran’s Rouhani to visit France: ISNA

On the first visit to Iran for 12 years by a French foreign minister, Laurent Fabius conveyed an invitation from President Francois Hollande to Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani to visit France in November.

If Rouhani accepts, he will be the first Iranian president to make a state visit to France since 1999. Fabius is seeking to smooth over any strains in the relationship created by France’s hard line during negotiations that produced a historic nuclear agreement on July 14, and thereby create a climate conducive to stronger economic ties. France hopes to secure business in Iran once Western sanctions are lifted under the nuclear deal, and Fabius said last week that his tough stance in last month’s negotiations would not stand in the way of French commercial opportunities. “Things will, we hope, be able to change,” he told reporters in Tehran in comments broadcast on French television. “On both sides we want to develop our ties to set a new direction,” he said, confirming Hollande’s invitation to Rouhani.

28 July 2015

Global Peace Index – 2015

The Global Peace Index was published recently. Israel features in the 148 place of 162 independent states in the world. This suggests there is room for improvement…

The Report indicates that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was reignited in 2014 by the tragic deaths of several young people from both sides of the conflict. 2,414 conflict-related deaths were recorded in 2014, up from 79 in 2013. Although a ceasefire was in place at the start of the year, a border clash in March 2014 resulted in the most rocket launches into Israel since 2012. Several violent clashes between Israel and different Palestinian groups occurred through April, May and June of 2014, culminating in the July-August hostilities in Gaza. Events escalated after the kidnapping and eventual death of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank. Israeli forces searched thousands of homes in the area and arrested approximately 400 Palestinians. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blamed Hamas for the kidnapping and, citing rocket fire from Hamas-controlled Gaza, Israel commenced airstrikes over Gaza on 7 July 2014. Ground troops followed ten days later. In less than two months, 2,104 Palestinians were killed, including 1,462 civilians, almost 500 of whom were children. Israeli casualties numbered 66 soldiers and seven civilians.

At the start of 2014, Palestine and Israel were engaged in peace talks, but negotiations broke down before an agreement could be reached for the 29 April deadline. Hamas and the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) signed a reconciliation agreement on 24 April 2014, meant to unify the Palestinian national movement and the two governments in Gaza and the West Bank. The agreement, however, prompted Israel’s refusal to continue talks with an administration that included Hamas. A new Palestinian unity government was nonetheless sworn in in June, with varying degrees of recognition from the international community, including the US, the EU and the UN.

The Report concludes by saying that during the elections in Israel in early 2015 provocative statements by Prime Minister Netanyahu drew international condemnation, including from the US. His successful re-election campaign promised voters that a Palestinian state would not be realised. This declaration makes it unlikely that the Israeli government will support progress toward a two-state solution.

22 July 2015

Israeli government clashes with liberal Jewish streams
Jul. 22, 2015 8:52 AM EDT

July 19, 2015 marks the first round of young soldiers whose draft is shorter than the up-till-now usual service: 32 month IDF service instead of 36 month service. This is very good news, and puts in perspective the demand to see the Ultra-Orthodox recruited. The demand is more a matter of egalitarian principle than of real need.

16 July 2015

Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, U.S. State Department, 2015

Now in their 39th year, these annual Congressionally-mandated reports provide a picture of how the promise of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is being fulfilled. They help promote awareness regarding the reality of human rights in many of the dark corners of the world and the glimpses of light that brave and committed human rights defenders provide. They are used by the Department of State and other government agencies needs to guide American foreign policy, and by Congress in its determination and allocation of foreign aid and security sector assistance. They also signal to the human rights defenders and activists under siege that the U.S. government recognizes their struggle and stands with civil society in its unending effort to preserve human rights. (Israel and The Occupied Territories), and index to full report)

15 July 2015

According to a secret document accessed by The Wall Street Journal, Iran will not be required to disclose the possible military dimensions (PMDs) of its nuclear program, undermining the verification regime. The secret document stands in contrast to the administration’s previous positions. Last Thursday, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest stated that Iran will not receive sanctions relief “until they have complied with the IAEA’s request for access and information to determine the possible military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear program.” During an interview on PBS in April, when asked whether the US will accept Iran’s refusal to disclose its PMDs, Secretary of State John Kerry responded, “They have to do it… If there’s going to be a deal; it will be done.”
The US position began to shift in June when Kerry said “we’re not fixated on Iran specifically accounting for what they [Iran] did at one point in time or another… We have absolute knowledge with respect to the certain military activities they were engaged in.” Experts disputed Kerry’s claim. The former Director of the CIA, General Michael Hayden, argues, “We, of course, do not have total knowledge of how much progress the Iranians had made… I know of no American intelligence officer who would claim that we have ‘absolute knowledge’ of the Iranian weaponization program.” Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), chair of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence similarly stated, “We clearly don’t have the picture that we need of Iran’s capabilities.”
Lack of knowledge of Iran’s PMDs will undermine the IAEA’s ability to design an effective verification system, calculate Iran’s breakout time, and ensure that activities related to the development of nuclear weapons have ceased. The president of the Institute for Science and International Security, David Albright, has warned that “ambiguity over Iran’s nuclear weaponization accomplishments and residual capabilities risks rendering an agreement unverifiable by the IAEA.” He also noted that there is no explicit requirement in the deal that Iran cooperate with the IAEA and reveal its PMDs in order to receive sanctions relief.
Lawmakers are frustrated by the administration’s dismissal of the importance of PMDs and some have concluded that Iran will never have to reveal its past efforts to develop nuclear weapons. Last month, Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) said he was concerned about the Secretary’s remarks and believes that disclosure “has been a fundamental question to which we need — not just want — a full and verifiable answer.”

A central claim in support of the nuclear deal with Iran has been that the heavy sanctions that have been placed on Iran will, under the terms of the deal, “snap back” in the event of Iranian violations. The White House has been explicit on this point, declaring on multiple occasions that “if at any time Iran fails to fulfil its commitments, these sanctions will snap back into place.”
But does the text of the deal actually support this claim? Contrary to claims of the administration, the agreement reached at Vienna (known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA) does not include any agreed-upon reimposition of sanctions in the event that Iran fails to meet its commitments. Although such a mechanism is described in the one section of the text, additional sentences indicate that the entire concept is actually not accepted by the Iranians—and to the contrary, any reimposition of sanctions would be viewed by the Iranians as a material breach of the agreement and grounds for its cancellation. So Iran, at that point hundreds of billions richer and able to withstand external pressures it cannot today, would see itself able to engage in whatever nuclear activity it wants without any restriction. The relevant clauses appear twice: Once in section 26, at the very end of the discussion of the US commitment to refrain from re-imposing lifted sanctions or introducing new ones, and then again in section 37, at the very end of the discussion of how Iranian violations will be addressed by the UN. The appearance of these clauses in the text raises the following question: If one side states that if the other exercises a described redress in the event of noncompliance, they will see that as “grounds for” pulling out of the deal entirely, isn’t that tantamount to saying they view the reimposition of sanctions as a material breach—and that, in other words, they do not accept, in principle, any reimposition of sanctions under any circumstances? The suspicion that this is the case, and that the U.S. may even have willingly conceded this point, grows further with a careful reading of the sentences in section 26 that lead up to the clause quoted above. There we learn that the U.S. has made the following explicit commitment:
The U.S. Administration, acting consistent with the respective roles of the President and the Congress, will refrain from re-introducing or re-imposing the sanctions specified in Annex II that it has ceased applying under this JCPOA, without prejudice to the dispute resolution process provided for under this JCPOA.
After committing to lifting U.S. sanctions, section 26 makes no mention of the possibility of the U.S. re-imposing sanctions at all. Neither does the rest of the document include any such mention. In other words, it would appear the U.S. has agreed under the JCPOA to refrain from re-imposing sanctions even if the Iranians are found to have violated their commitments, so long as such violation is not sufficiently bad to require tearing up the whole agreement. This is noticeably different from section 37, in which it is clear that the P5+1 view the reimposition of UN sanctions as a possible outcome of the dispute resolution process—although there, too, it is made clear that the Iranians would view such reimposition as a material breach and grounds for pulling out of the deal.
Put simply: any reimposition of U.S. sanctions would appear to constitute a basic breach of the agreement, and this has been agreed to by both sides. Reimposition of UN sanctions, on the other hand, is only a violation of the agreement in the eyes of the Iranians—yet it is still not a possibility that can legitimately be seen as part of anything that can be called “the agreement.”
Thus, there is no “snap-back” provision in the agreement whatsoever. We may have been sold the JCPOA as an agreement, but in fact with regard to the whole discussion of reimposing sanctions—one of the most crucial selling points of the deal from the administration’s perspective—the document may be more accurately described as the record of a disagreement. (via

6 July 2015

NYT: Gaps Remain as Deadline Nears on Iran Deal

Secretary of State John Kerry in Vienna on Sunday. Pool photo by Carlos Barria


By Carl Hulse

Good Monday morning from Washington, where candidates are recovering from a working weekend of holiday parades and rope lines. Financial disclosures continue to trickle in amid a focus on outside fund-raising groups, but the trail gives way this week to Vienna, where negotiators report progress but also great distance over crucial elements of a deal to curtail Iran’s nuclear program.

Time is running short for the United States and Iran to reach a nuclear agreement as Republican lawmakers raise increasingly strong warnings about the deal.

Gathered in Vienna, negotiators were still at odds on multiple outstanding points two days before the countries’ self-imposed Tuesday deadline, and Secretary of State John Kerry said it was not a sure thing that a final agreement could be achieved despite indications from the Iranian side that a compromise over its nuclear abilities was within reach.

At the same time, Senator Bob Corker, the Tennessee Republican who is chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, reiterated his concern that Mr. Kerry and the Obama administration were more interested in coming to terms with Iran for the sake of a legacy-burnishing diplomatic success than in imposing the most stringent requirements possible on Iran.

Appearing on CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday, Mr. Corker also ticked off elements of an agreement that Republicans would be looking for if and when it reached Capitol Hill: Will the agreement allow “anytime, anywhere” inspections of Iranian facilities, and will there be an assessment and acknowledgment of the previous military aspects of Iran’s nuclear program?

He suggested that the administration was rushing to a meet the deadline and deliver a deal to Congress by Thursday to limit the House and Senate’s review time to 30 days rather than the 60 days lawmakers would be allowed if the negotiations ran longer.

Administration allies said they expected a deal given the significant White House investment. If Congress does review an agreement, Mr. Obama will find the Republicans a much tougher sell than he did during his recent trade victory.

30 June 2015

A report in The Wall Street Journal revealed that the US expedited the release of several Iranian convicts (including arms smugglers) in an effort to pave the way for negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program. In 2009, Iran reportedly passed “a wish list” to the US detailing actions the US should undertake to improve ties with Iran. The secret list included the names of Iranian prisoners it wanted the US to release. In 2010, Oman brokered the release of three American hikers who had accidentally crossed into Iran from Iraq and had been arrested by Iranian authorities. In the following years, the US assisted with the release of two Iranian convicted arms smugglers, a retired senior diplomat and a prominent scientist convicted of illegal exports to Iran. However, today, four American citizens remain imprisoned or unaccounted for in Iran.
The administration’s actions demonstrate a pattern of acceding to Iranian demands. While the US originally demanded a “full suspension of uranium enrichment as required by multiple U.N. Security Council resolutions,” the US is now permitting Iran to continue enriching uranium with 5,060 centrifuges. The US originally insisted that Iran shut down Fordow but now over 1,000 centrifuges will remain in this underground facility largely impenetrable to attack. Similarly, while restrictions on Iran’s development of ballistic missiles were once considered an important part of any deal with Iran, now they appear to be excluded from the deal. President Obama’s objective that Iran should not “have the capacity to develop a nuclear weapon” has been downgraded to limiting Iran’s breakout time to one year, a period of time analysts believe is too short to effectively detect and diplomatically respond to a breakout attempt. Finally, recent reports that the US may be caving on the essential issues of sanctions and the disclosure of Iran’s past atomic military research has compounded the sense that the emerging deal is deeply flawed. Former director for Middle East affairs at the National Security Council, Michael Singh, and former Senior Advisor on Iran at Hillary Clinton’s State Department, Ray Takeyh, have both argued that because US objectives have shifted, the emerging deal adheres closer to Iran’s red lines than to our own.

27 June 2015

Human Rights in Israel and in The Occupied Territories 2014

24 June 2015

David Sanger, “Ex-Advisers Warn Obama That Iran Nuclear Deal ‘May Fall Short’ of Standards”, NY Times JUNE 24, 2015

22 June 2015

Dear Raphael,

I hope this finds you well.

As you know Peace One Day works to raise awareness of and encourage action on Peace Day, 21 September. The activities you organise, however big or small, raise awareness of the day. It’s our collective effort that makes this day a success.

We are always looking for new ways to spread the message of Peace Day. A trip to the Google offices in New York seven years ago with Peace One Day Ambassador, Jude Law, gave me an idea that I have never forgotten: a Peace Day Google Doodle. With hundreds of millions of daily visitors, getting to create a Peace Day Google Doodle on 21 September is one of the greatest things we can all do to inform the world’s people.

Awareness of Peace Day creates action, and that action saves lives. So getting the world’s most powerful search engine behind Peace Day will be a key moment for institutionalising the day in our homes, schools, workplaces and communities.

But we need your help. We need you to email Google (details below) asking them to mark Peace Day with a Google Doodle. By telling them your stories and why the day is important to you, we can encourage Google to take action for the day.

Find out more about the Google Doodle campaign with this short film:

Here are three simple steps you can take to help:
Email to ask for a Peace Day Google Doodle on 21 September.

Tell others via social media that you have asked for a Peace Day Google Doodle and ask them to do the same.

Tweet @GoogleDoodles to tell them about Peace Day, 21 September.

By getting involved, you can be part of forging the next key milestone for the day – getting the world’s most powerful search engine behind Peace Day, 21 September.

Warm regards,

In peace

Jeremy Gilley
Founder, Peace One Day

21 June 2015

The videos of the 5th International Global Forum for Combating Anti-Semitism which took place in May 2015 in Jerusalem are on YouTube. They include the speeches of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Germany’s Minister of Justice Heiko Maas, Canadian Minister of State for Multiculturalism Tim Uppal, President of the Supreme Court of Israel Justice Miriam Naor, Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo, Mayor of Jerusalem Nir Barkat, and Professor Raphael Cohen-Almagor (Politics). Professor Cohen-Almagor was invited to present his new book Confronting the Internet’s Dark Side: Moral and Social Responsibility on the Free Highway (Washington DC.: Woodrow Wilson Center Press and Cambridge University Press, 2015). The videos are available at

19 June 2015

MA Bursaries – Reconciliation and Peacebuilding
University of Winchester UK

The University of Winchester through the ‘Centre of Religions for Reconciliation and Peace’ (CRRP) has available up to 4 full fee bursaries for study on its postgraduate programmes MA Reconciliation and MA Reconciliation and Peacebuilding for September 2015/16.

Three fee bursaries (up to £11,900) are available for overseas students currently living in conflict affected regions, or post-conflict countries, to study full or part-time on the distance learning MA Reconciliation and Peacebuilding. Applicants will be assessed based on academic suitability; supporting evidence of the need for financial support; and subject to passing the standard application process.

The University of Winchester also has one full-time, full fees and partial living allowance bursary for a UK resident to study the MA Reconciliation or MA Reconciliation and Peacebuilding – total amount £10,000; £5900 fee bursary, £4,100 cash contribution to help cover student living costs.

Both courses are delivered either predominantly (for the MA Reconciliation) or exclusively (MA R&P) via distance learning and therefore there is no need for the student to relocate to Winchester.

For more information please visit:
and contact Dr Mark Owen –

Please share this offer with your friends and colleagues.

In peace,

Professor Brian Walker MBE

18 June 2015

Palestinian unity government resigns Hamas blasts unilateral decision

The Palestinian national unity government, formed to heal the split between Fatah and Hamas has resigned. An inability to exert any influence in the Gaza Strip is cited as the reason. The decision to install a technocrat administration to dilute the tension that exists between Fatah and Hamas looks to have failed. Ihab Bseiso is a Palestinian government spokesman : “The Prime Minister Dr. Rami Hamdallah has been calling for a reshuffle of the government for the last few months, particularly after the war in Gaza, which really needed a reshuffle to expand the government to meet all the needs for the people, particularly our people in Gaza Strip after the Israeli war.” Hamas says that the Islamist movement had not been consulted and was opposed to any unilateral dissolution of the government. Fawzi Barhoum spoke for Hamas: “Any changes in the government, dissolving or accepting its resignation, or forming a new government, should come through a national deal according to the “Shatia” agreement of last June. All Palestinian factions should discuss this issue because it’s very important for all Palestinians, not only for President Abbas or Fatah.”

by Daniel L. Byman

by Soeren Kern

by Christoph Reuter

5 June 2015

Iran contin

Hamas, Gaza, and the Terrorist’s Code of Ethics
By Yitzhak Benbaji and Alexander Yakobsen

Should we send weapons or troops? The ethics of supplying arms vs. military intervention
By James Pattison,

2 June 2015

Iran’s Nuclear Stockpile Grows, Complicating Negotiations
JUNE 1, 2015
NY Times
WASHINGTON — With only one month left before a deadline to complete a nuclear deal with Iran, international inspectors have reported that Tehran’s stockpile of nuclear fuel increased about 20 percent over the last 18 months of negotiations, partially undercutting the Obama administration’s contention that the Iranian program had been “frozen” during that period.

27 May 2015

Tony Blair to step down as Middle East representative

Tony Blair, a former British prime minister, is to step down as a Quartet representative in the Middle East, the organisation has announced. It comes after eight years of struggling to broker peace between the Israelis and Palestinians. Blair is expected to continue in an informal capacity to push for a two-state solution to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Territories.

2016 Round of Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Travelling Fellowships Now Open
The Winston Churchill Memorial Trust, established in 1965, funds Travelling Fellowships that enable British citizens to acquire knowledge and experience abroad. The aim is to allow fellows to arrive at a better understanding of the lives and differing cultures of people overseas and, on their return, improve their effectiveness at work and contribution to the community
The categories under which fellowships are offered change annually. The categories for this round of fellowships are as follows:
Crafts & Makers
Early Years Prevention & Intervention
Environment, Sustainable Living & Horticulture
Medicine, Health & Patient Care
Mental Health
New Approaches to Housing
Science Technology & Innovation
Young People (18-25)
Open Category
Proposed fellowships must involve travel abroad for a period of between four and eight weeks, and applicants must be:
British citizens or Irish citizens resident in Northern Ireland.
Resident in the UK (exceptions for British Dependencies and Armed Forces/Diplomats if serving abroad).
Aged 18 or older on 31 December in the year of application.
The monetary value of a Travelling Fellowship varies from case to case based on the project, destination(s) to be visited and the duration of the Fellowship. Grants usually cover a stay overseas of between four to eight weeks. Eligible expenses include return airfare, daily living costs, insurance, travel within the countries being visited, and in exceptional circumstances assistance with home expenses.
The next deadline for applications is 22 September 2015.
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Now Recruiting: The Atkin ! Fellowship for Arab-Israeli Dialogue
The International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation (ICSR) at King’s College London is offering young leaders from Israel and the Arab world the opportunity to come to London for a period of four months in order to develop their ideas on how to further peace and mutual understanding in the Middle East through research, debate and constructive dialogue in a neutral political environment.
The Atkin Fellowship is aimed at promoting new thinking among young leaders — typically from government, business, academia, and the media — who are, or will be, in positions from which they can shape politics and public opinion in Israel and the Arab world. Applicants must be graduates; based in the Middle East at the time of their application; and fluent English speakers. Applications from women are encouraged.
Fellows will be based at the ICSR offices at King’s College London and receive a stipend to cover their accommodation, living costs and travel. They are expected to complete a paper dealing with one aspect of the current conflict. In addition, whilst in London they will promote information and education about issues in the region by making themselves available for debate and consultation, as well as jointly organise a series of seminars dealing with aspects of the current upheavals in the Middle East. New Atkin Fellows will be joining a network of like-minded young leaders from the region who meet periodically throughout the year.
We are currently recruiting two Atkin Fellows for the period from 1 October 2015 to 31 January 2016, as well as two Atkin Fellows for the period from 1 February 2016 to 31 May 2016.
For the forthcoming intake, we are looking for applicants from Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine and Syria only. Deadline for applications is 14 June 2015.
For more information on the Atkin fellowship and how to apply, please visit
Please direct any! questions or queries to:

23 May 2015

Obama nominee: U.N. lack of action on Syria ‘a disgrace’

Samantha Power says history will judge the U.N. Security Council harshly on Syria. President Obama’s nominee to be the next U.S. ambassador to the United Nations said during her confirmation hearing on Wednesday that the lack of action by the U.N. Security Council to stem the bloodshed in a long-running conflict in Syria was “a disgrace.”

Samantha Power, a former foreign policy adviser to Obama who was among those who persuaded the president to back NATO-led intervention in 2011, has until this point stayed publicly quiet about her views on the conflict in Syria. But in her testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Power– who during a long career as a journalist, human rights advocate and administration official has advocated acting aggressively to defend human rights blasted the international body for failing to act more forcefully to try to stem the two-year-old civil war that has left more than 90,000 dead. Power pointed specifically to the U.N. Security Council’s failure to pass any condemnatory resolutions against the Assad regime something that member nations China and Russia have opposed. “We see the failure of the U.N. Security Council to respond to the slaughter in Syria … a disgrace that history will judge harshly,” said Power, who made a name for herself in foreign policy circles and won a Pulitzer Prize for her 2002 book A Problem From Hell: America and the Age of Genocide.

Senate Overwhelmingly Passes Iran Nuclear Bill,

“Breaking the Israeli-Palestinian Deadlock”, Retos International, Vol. 5, No. 11 (2014),

14 April 2015

A meeting between Jordanian and Israeli environmentalists in Aqaba recently has the green sector in both countries cautiously optimistic. It was the first time in 10 years that Israeli and Jordanian groups working to improve and conserve the coastal and marine environment in the Gulf of Aqaba came to the table. “Participants were excited and enthusiastic about the meeting and about the possibility to further meet in the future,” says Mare Nostrum Project initiator and coordinator Prof. Rachelle Alterman of the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology. The Mare Nostrum Project is an EU-funded cross-border initiative that explores ways of protecting the Mediterranean coastline. Raanan Boral, academic program manager of the Mare Nostrum Project and a veteran environmentalist, tells ISRAEL21c that the Gulf of Aqaba is included in Mare Nostrum because “our project deals with the coast even though the shared coastline between Jordan and Israel is not on the Mediterranean.” Partners in the global initiative include universities, research institutes, municipalities, environmental NGOs and port operators from Malta, Greece, Israel, Jordan and Spain. The project’s main goal is to bridge the policy-implementation gap between the ideals of the Barcelona Convention’s Protocol on Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) and its effects on the ground in conservation and management in the Mediterranean Basin. “Environmental issues on one side of the border immediately affect the other,” says Eilat-Eilot region environmental department head Asaf Admon, referring to the Evrona oil spill in December 2014. Admon says the latest meeting signals a renewal in joint work on issues of importance to both sides. (via Israel21c)

13 April 2015

Terrorism Case Renews Debate Over Drone Hits
NY Times

8 April 2015

Iran’s foreign minister and chief nuclear negotiator Mohammad Javad Zarif told a closed parliamentary hearing that Iran would not allow cameras into any of its nuclear sites, the official Iranian news agency, IRNA, reported today.

Zarif told the parliament that Tehran is not going to permit online cameras for inspection purposes, said the lawmaker.

Imenabadi made the remarks while talking to IRNA Tuesday morning after the end of the in-camera session in which Zarif briefed the parliament members on the process of nuclear talks which led to Swiss Statement last week.
President Barack Obama has said that the emerging nuclear deal would allow international inspectors “unprecedented access … to Iranian nuclear facilities.” The understandings reached in last week’s Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (.pdf) included “continuous surveillance” of Iran’s known centrifuge manufacturing and storage facilities, as well as its uranium mills.

31 March 2015

Iran nuclear talks enter final day

Talks to reach a preliminary agreement on Iran’s nuclear programme are entering their final day.

Foreign ministers from six world powers and their Iranian counterpart have been negotiating in Switzerland ahead of a self-imposed deadline. US Secretary of State John Kerry said talks on Monday had produced “some light” but “tricky issues” remained. Ministers want to restrict Iran’s nuclear programme in exchange for relief from crippling sanctions. Iran insists its nuclear programme is for peaceful purposes, but world powers are worried about the country developing nuclear weapons. They want to keep Iran at least one year away from being able to produce enough fuel for a single weapon. The final hours of negotiation in Lausanne are taking place between foreign ministers from the so-called P5+1 – comprising the US, UK, France, China, Russia and Germany – and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini is also present. Mr Kerry said there had been “a little more light” on Monday, “but there are still some tricky issues. Everyone knows the meaning of tomorrow”. China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Monday that the “marathon-like” negotiations had entered the final stage and that he was “cautiously optimistic”. The differences between the parties were narrowing, he said.

Yemen: Air strike kills at least 40 people at camp, say aid workers

As Saudi Arabia continues its air campaign against Houthi rebels in Yemen, aid workers claim a strike has killed at least 40 people. Yemen’s state news agency, which is under control of the Houthis, said the northern Haradh camp for displaced people was hit by Saudi planes. But the country’s foreign minister denied that, saying the explosion was caused by rebel “artillery strikes.” He is also accused the Houthis of other tactics.“They are always trying to have what is called a human shield. Houthis are going to places where there is some population or residential houses and they are trying to put weapons there,” said Riyadh Yaseen. Saudi Arabia said it was seeking clarification of what happened at the camp. The Kingdom has launched its air campaign in conjunction with Sunni allies in support of president Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who is facing a sustained challenge from the Shiite rebels. He recently fled Yemen for Riyadh, as the Houthis set their sights on Aden, where he had taken refuge.

25 March 2015

Turkey set to reopen Europe’s third largest synagogue

Restored to its former glory, Europe’s third largest synagogue will be opened at a ceremony that will be attended by Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç, chief rabbi of Turkey’s Jewish community, İsak Haleva, and a set of dignitaries.

Israeli officials were also invited to the ceremony, according to Turkish media, but it is not known whether they will attend as Turkey and Israel downgraded their relations. A religious service will be held at the synagogue for the opening ceremony. The Foreign Ministry also sent invitations to dignitaries from more than 30 countries, including the U.S. The opening ceremony will feature the placement of a Torah, a recitation of the Ten Commandments and a concert by a Turkish Jewish school’s choir. Turkey spent over TL 4 million ($1.5 million) on the four-year restoration. Initially earmarked to serve as a museum, it was later decided to use it both as a museum and a synagogue. There is no Jewish community in Edirne, save for one family, although previously some 20,000 Jews lived there in the early 20th century. Most emigrated to Istanbul, other cities or abroad either for economic reasons or live in Israel after its creation. In 1934, a nationalist mob launched attacks on the Jewish quarters of Edirne, looting stores and beating up Jews. Similar incidents were reported in nearby towns where Jews lived, which led to a larger exodus of Jews from the north-western Turkey. The Great Edirne Synagogue was built in 1905 by the order of Sultan Abdülhamid II to replace 13 separate synagogues destroyed by a huge fire that devastated the city. The building was designed by French architect France Depre. The synagogue opened in 1907 and served as a house of worship until 1983 by which time the city’s Jewish community had dwindled to almost nothing. The building was later transferred to Edirne’s Trakya University for cultural use, but due to criticism, was handed over to the General Directorate of Foundations in 1995. The synagogue’s roof collapsed two years later. Featuring architectural characteristics of the Leopoldstadter Tempel, once the largest synagogue in Vienna, the temple which is also known as Kal Kadoş Agadol is believed to be the birthplace of maftirim, Jewish mystic music. The restoration of the synagogue is part of the government’s efforts as it seeks to restore the rights of minorities and return the properties once confiscated by the state or left in ruins. Turkey’s Jewish community is mainly concentrated in Istanbul, home to several synagogues that are in relatively good shape compared to the former state of the Edirne synagogue.

F.B.I. Lags in Countering Terrorism Threat, Report Finds
The F.B.I. urgently needs to improve its intelligence capabilities and hire more linguists to counter the rapidly evolving threats to the United States, according to a report released on Wednesday that examined the bureau’s progress since the Sept. 11 attacks.
The report by the F.B.I. 9/11 Review Commission said that the bureau had made great strides in its intelligence collection and sharing, but that its abilities to gain information from people and to analyse it “lag behind marked advances in law enforcement capabilities.”
“This imbalance needs urgently to be addressed to meet growing and increasingly complex national security threats, from adaptive and increasingly tech-savvy terrorists, more brazen computer hackers, and more technically capable, global cyber syndicates,” the report said.
The F.B.I. has enough linguists in its large offices, but they are in “short supply” throughout the rest of the country. Often, linguists use a virtual system to communicate remotely with agents and analysts working on cases.
“Hiring additional linguists and integrating them should be a high priority,” the report said.
Report Credits F.B.I. With Progress Since 9/11, but Says More Is Needed

Turkey’s first peace institution has been established: Peace Academy (Barış Akademisi)

The Middle East is in utter turmoil and in the midst of all the chaos stands Turkey leading a Peace Process to end the 40-year armed struggle that cost 35 thousand lives.

All the actors that have taken part of the negotiations has done their bit in efforts to push forward with the Peace Process but for a long time now there hasn’t been a real initiative from the civil organizations to support the process. Days before the Newroz, to support the Peace Process, the Peace Academy held a press conference and a launch event to showcase their projects and efforts in order to establish sustainable peace and develop an institution for peace studies within Turkey.

The founder Director of the Peace Academy Idris Kardaş stated, “the fundamental objective of the Peace Academy is to support the peace process and develop initiatives that will establish sustainable peace within Turkey.” To do this, the Peace Academy has developed projects in areas of conflict resolution & peace studies trainings throughout Turkey, trainings in negotiation & conflict resolution techniques for the youth, trainings in peace journalism. The Peace Academy will also will develop cooperation’s between NGOs, academic establishments & political institutions in order establish an institution for peace studies and also establish sustainable peace in Turkey.

24 March 2015


We hope this email finds you well. We are writing to request your assistance in publicizing the Initiative on Islam and Medicine’s (II&M) 2nd Annual Islamic Bioethics Workshop, titled “Dissecting the Ethics of Organ Donation,” to be held June 5-7, 2015, at the University of Chicago.

Registration is now underway. At this juncture, with about two months to go until the workshop, it is critical that we spread the word among our professional, academic and bioethics networks. We would be very grateful for your assistance in circulating this email and brochure (downloadable here) among your network of colleagues and friends.

Co-sponsored by the American Islamic College, the 3-day workshop will provide an in-depth conceptual introduction to the field of Islamic bioethics and examine the practical and theological ethics of organ donation in Muslim contexts and from an Islamic perspective. As we cover key concepts within Islamic theology, law and ethical frameworks as they relate to bioethics, participants will gain skills that enable them to read Islamic bioethics literature and engage in moral reasoning about clinical ethics cases.

More information about the workshop can be found on our event page. Please feel free to email us at with any questions.

Thank you in advance for your assistance and support.


Aasim I. Padela, MD, MSc, FACEP
Director, Initiative on Islam and Medicine
The University of Chicago
Tel: 773-702-6081 | Fax: 773-702-3135

23 March 2015

Watch now live 28th Regular Session of Human Rights Council, re Gaza.

21 March 2015

The U.S. State Department released its annual “International Narcotics Control Strategy Report,” which was presented to the U.S. Congress, on Wednesday.

The report’s section on Turkey warns that the country remains a significant transit country for illicit drug trafficking, but noted that law enforcement agencies in the country remain “strongly committed” to disrupting the trafficking. The country, situated at the intersection of the European and Asian continents, which acts as a main bridge between the regions surrounding it, is the final destination of drugs such as heroin, opium and cocaine smuggled from other countries, including Turkey. Those drugs are delivered to European countries. Chemical drugs such as emthamphetamines, on the other hand, are trafficked from Europe to Asian countries and Turkey’s eastern and southern neighbours. The report said the U.S. will continue to work with Turkey to strengthen its ability to combat drug trafficking and reduce the flow of Afghan heroin to international markets as well as support Turkey’s work as a regional leader in counternarcotics training and education. According to the report, Turkish traffickers control much of the distribution of heroin trafficked via Turkey and marketed in Western Europe, and Turkey also acts as a transit route for opiates smuggled from Afghanistan via Iran.

20 March 2015

Samantha Power says history will judge the U.N. Security Council harshly on Syria. President Obama’s nominee to be the next U.S. ambassador to the United Nations said during her confirmation hearing on Wednesday that the lack of action by the U.N. Security Council to stem the bloodshed in a long-running conflict in Syria was “a disgrace.”

Samantha Power, a former foreign policy adviser to Obama who was among those who persuaded the president to back NATO-led intervention in 2011, has until this point stayed publicly quiet about her views on the conflict in Syria. But in her testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Power– who during a long career as a journalist, human rights advocate and administration official has advocated acting aggressively to defend human rights blasted the international body for failing to act more forcefully to try to stem the two-year-old civil war that has left more than 90,000 dead. Power pointed specifically to the U.N. Security Council’s failure to pass any condemnatory resolutions against the Assad regime something that member nations China and Russia have opposed ” We see the failure of the U.N. Security Council to respond to the slaughter in Syria … a disgrace that history will judge harshly,” said Power, who made a name for herself in foreign policy circles and won a Pulitzer Prize for her 2002 book A Problem From Hell: America and the Age of Genocide.

16 March 2015

Palestinian Poll

A public opinion poll found that nearly half of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip believe that Hamas movement is the main party responsible for the endless split between Gaza and the West Bank. The poll was conducted by the Jerusalem Media and Communication Centre in the West Bank and Gaza Strip between February 25 and March 1, 2015.

According to the poll, a plurality of respondents, 34.3%, blamed Hamas for the continued division in the Palestinian territories. 23.1% put the responsibility on Fatah, 17.8% blamed both movements, and only 7.9% who blamed Israel. The largest proportion of those who blames Hamas (42.7%) are from the Gaza Strip while 29.2% are from the West Bank. That means that nearly half of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip believe that Hamas carries the main responsibility for the split.
Hamas seized control of Gaza in a bloody 2007 coup, ousting the Fatah government of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. After several failed attempts, the two parties reached an agreement last year on the establishment of a unity government, but since then the various rivalries and ideological differences between the organizations have prevented any progress.

The poll also showed a clear setback to those who consider Hamas as the winning side in the conflict with Israel last summer. Last October, 57.1% thought that Hamas was the victor in the fighting, but this has plummeted to 40.4% in the current poll. It is also noticeable that the largest proportion of those who considered Hamas as the winning side (46.1%) were from the West Bank. Only 30.9% of residents of the Gaza Strip think that Hamas won the war. After all, they have to live with the consequences of that war.

13 March 2015

Saudi Arabia signed a nuclear cooperation agreement with South Korea, fuelling fears of a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. The Wall Street Journal wrote on Thursday that the signing of the agreement increases “concerns on Capitol Hill and among U.S. allies that a deal with Iran, rather than stanching the spread of nuclear technologies, risks fuelling it.” Experts Simon Henderson and Olli Heinonen explain, “While the purpose of multilateral negotiations with Iran is to reduce proliferation concerns, successful talks may in fact accelerate nuclear plans in the Gulf states and Jordan.”
Rumors of a weak deal that allows Iran a glidepath to a bomb have heightened concerns; lawmakers on Capitol Hill and analysts have expressed fears that America’s Sunni allies will pursue their own nuclear programs. As Henderson writes, “[F]rom their perspective, if Iran is going to be allowed to enrich uranium and retain its nuclear-capable missiles — as they believe likely given Washington’s reported approach to the negotiations thus far — why shouldn’t they be permitted to acquire similar capabilities?” Henderson contextualized this observation by adding that containing proliferation will be very difficult if an agreement is signed and the Gulf states oppose it.
Gulf Arab states have raised their concerns with the United States over the impending nuclear deal with Iran. Former head of Israeli military intelligence, Amos Yadlin concluded, “[If Iran gets the bomb] the Saudis will not wait one month. They already paid for the bomb, they will go to Pakistan and bring what they need to bring.” The Journal also reports, “A number of senior Arab officials have warned the White House in recent months the Saudi government could seek Pakistan’s aid in developing nuclear technologies — or even buy an atomic bomb — if it sees an agreement with Iran as too weak.”
Referring to the implications of Middle East proliferation, Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic writes, “If Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Turkey respond to an Iran nuclear agreement by ramping up their own nuclear programs, we may be able to judge the deal a provisional failure.”

7 March 2015

Iraqi forces, consisting primarily of Iranian-backed Shiite militias, launched an offensive on Monday to capture the Iraqi city of Tikrit from ISIS. Tikrit is a predominantly Sunni city and the hometown of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. It is reported that 30,000 fighters are taking part in the offensive, of whom two-thirds are Shiite militiamen and approximately 700-1,000 are Sunni tribesmen. The New York Times reports that Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has advisers and troops on the ground and is providing artillery, rocket launchers, and surveillance drones.
The Iraqi government did not ask for American air support for the offensive, according to the Associated Press, which has created fear of more Iranian influence and sectarian tensions. “This is the most overt conduct of Iranian support… Frankly, it will only be a problem if it results in sectarianism,” said Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday. However, Ali Khedery, a special assistant to five U.S. ambassadors to Iraq between 2003 and 2009, said that the “fundamental identity” of the Shiite militias is “built around a sectarian narrative rather than loyalty to the state.” Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter said before a House Appropriations defense subcommittee on Wednesday that “sectarianism is one of the things that concerns me very much. And of course, it’s the root of the Iranian presence in Iraq.” Iran analyst Karim Sadjadpour of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace calls Iran “both the fire brigade and the arsonist.”
The Iranians and Iran-backed Shiite militias are led by Qassem Suleimani, the commander of the IRGC’s external arm, the Quds Force. Suleimani is a U.S.-designated terrorist who has been said to be responsible for up to 20 percent of American casualties during the Iraq War. Suleimani has been seen in and around Tikrit. Christopher Harmer, an analyst at the Institute for the Study of War, refers to Suleimani as “a more stately version of Osama bin Laden” and expresses concern about U.S. de facto cooperation with him.
It is feared that the Shiite militias will carry out revenge for ISIS’ massacre of over 1,000 predominantly Shiite fighters outside of Tikrit when they captured the city last June. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has said that “in this battle, there is no neutral party.” The Washington Post’s editorial board expresses alarm that the U.S. is “allowing Iran to take another step toward…malevolent hegemony.”

At least five people were injured today in Jerusalem when a car plowed into a group of pedestrians in an apparent terror attack. The Times of Israel reported:
A Palestinian man in a private vehicle hit the five, who included a bicycle rider and a pedestrian, as they stood on a sidewalk. According to initial reports, the man then emerged from the vehicle with a butcher’s knife and attempted to stab passers-by, but was swiftly shot and incapacitated by a Border Policeman and a Light Rail security guard at the scene.
The five victims suffered light-to-moderate injuries. They were treated at the scene by paramedics before being evacuated to the hospital.
The attacker was seriously injured. He, too, was taken to the hospital. Israel Radio reported that the man was a resident of the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Ras al-Amud.
The holiday of Purim is being celebrated today in Jerusalem. Following the attack, Jerusalem’s Mayor Nir Barkat issued a statement addressing the attack and the city’s response to it:
We will not let terror disrupt our daily lives and we will continue to fight it without compromise. I would like to commend the security personnel, the municipal guards, the police and alert citizens who quickly brought the event to an end and prevented further injuries.
Our response to terror is to continue on with our routine, and as such all Purim events in the capital will continue as planned and the security throughout the entire city will be increased, including the main event to be held at Safra Square in a closed and secure location. I invite all the residents of the country to celebrate Purim in Jerusalem and strengthen us.
The incident recalls a string of similar attacks late last year. In one case in the West Bank, a terrorist attempted to ram his car into a group of people, then exited his vehicle and stabbed a young woman to death. In another incident, a baby was killed and eight others were injured when a man plowed his car into them near a light rail station in northern Jerusalem. The attacks came amid an escalation in incendiary rhetoric and praise for violence by Palestinian officials, as well as campaigns on Palestinian social media encouraging a “car intifada.”

A new stem-cell technology with the potential to treat neurodegenerative diseases including amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is now in development by the Israel Prize laureate responsible for the blockbuster multiple sclerosis (MS) drug Rebif. Prof. Michel Revel’s company, Kadimastem, recently announced successful results ofa preclinical trial in which itslab-produced central nervous system support cells (astrocytes) demonstrated significant motor function and survivability improvement in a mouse model of ALS. Revel based his approach on scientific evidence that ALS is characterized by malfunctioning astrocytes. Producing and then injecting healthy, functioning astrocytes into a patient’s nervous system seems to provide support for damaged motor neurons, slowing the progression of the disease, improving quality of life and even extending survival. Globally, 90 percent of ALS patients die of respiratory failure within three to five years after the onset of symptoms. Kadimastem is now in touch with the US Food and Drug Administration as well as regulatory bodies in Israel and Europe, hoping to advance the technology to clinical trials. Using the same technology for differentiating pluripotent stem cells into a range of functional human cells, the company also is developing pancreatic cells that secrete insulin. In January, Kadimastem signed an agreement with Ramot, Tel Aviv University’s technology transfer company, to conduct joint research with Prof. Shimon Efrat in the field of cell therapy for diabetes. (via Israel21c)

5 March 2015

Netanyahu’s Speech in American Congress

This issue has dominated Israeli media during the past month, and received ample coverage on the American media.

Judge for yourself: Netanyahu’s Full Speech Before Congress.

Kenneth Waltz is one of the most respected scholars in international relations. Some time ago, he granted a lengthy interview to my colleague, Dr Conny Beyer. In the interview, Waltz said the following:

What are the preconditions of peace in the future?
Nuclear weapons. Because you can’t fight a war and hope to score significant gains against countries that have nuclear weapons. So, it removes any important incentives. You can have skirmishes, we know that. The Chinese and the Russians along that long Eastern border, they had skirmishes, some of that fairly sizeable. But there was never any possibility that a nuclear Russia and a nuclear China were going to fight a major war. The same thing is true with India and Pakistan. There certainly have been really major skirmishes along the line of control, but once each country had a nuclear military capability, it was clear that there was not going to be a fourth war between India and Pakistan although Scott Sagan calls the war the fourth war, because it fits the definition of more than a thousand battlefield deaths. As I say, well, there is something wrong with the definition. I don’t think most Indians and most Pakistanis consider that the fourth war since independence. But it would have been a real war, I think, in the absence of nuclear weapons on both sides.

Why are more nukes better?
Oh, well, it depends. I don’t know why people keep using the word proliferation. There is nothing you can do about it. I should think that everybody would know that proliferation means: spread like fire. Boom. You got one you are going to have thousands. One nuclear country, you are going to have hundreds of nuclear countries. Doesn’t happen. We’ve had nuclear knowledge now for more than sixty years. We have nine nuclear countries. That is proliferation? No! It is not proliferation, it is the opposite. I’d say nuclear weapons spread at a glacial pace. Horizontally. Vertically, you could make an argument. After all, the United States had about 13.000 strategic nuclear weapons, and the Soviet Union had about 10.000 at their respective peaks. You could call that proliferation. But when most people use the term proliferation they mean spreading from country to country. That has never happened. And I expect it never will. But every now and then another country will get nuclear capability and that is not bad. Because every country that has acquired nuclear military capability has behaved in the same way. And one of the things about nuclear weapons is very striking: is it doesn’t matter who has them. See, the difference between nuclear weapons and conventional weapons, their different implications are very clear. Most people ignore them. It makes a great deal of difference with conventional weapons who has them. Right? If you get a country like Hitler’s Germany, it is very difficult to contain that country, so long as there are no nuclear weapons in the world. As I wrote long ago, if Hitler had appeared in a nuclear world, it would have gone to much different results. You know, if you are going to undertake a major war, and it looks as though you are going to score major gains, you can be obliterated. And there is no ruler that comes to power in order to see his country obliterated. And one of the characteristics of dictators, authoritarian rules, fascists, whatever you want to call them, they have one characteristic in common. When we talk about rogue states, by which we don’t mean the great rogue state, namely the United States, which is clearly the great rogue state in the world. We mean countries ruled by people like Gaddhafi in the old days, or Saddam Hussein, or Kim Yong Il, or before him Kim Il Sung. They have one characteristic in common: they are survivors. That means they are easy to deter. I mean, if you have a madman who would run any risk, remind as Less Aspen (n.u.) said, shortly before he became Secretary of Defence, very briefly: these countries, these rogues states are hard to deter, they maybe undeterrable. That was completely wrong. A country that is undeterrable, its rulers are not going to last long. But one of the things these guys proved to be very good of doing was discerning that line beyond which, if you go beyond that line you are going to risk your own destruction. They always had felt short of that. Until you got the worst calculator in the bunch: Saddam Hussein. And even he lasted about 25 years. Much better than even Bush the first who could not even win a second term. And Saddam Hussein pointed that out. He said: I´m here, where is George Bush? They were survivors. Now, if you are going to survive that means you have to be able to react to extreme threats to your regime. I mean, it’s worth repeating: These guys are survivors, which means they are deterrable.

Are you in agreement with the non-proliferation regime?
Oh, yeah, I am for it. I don’t think it is very important. You see, if a country is really determined, they get nuclear weapons. Another way of saying that is if a country believes that its very survival depends on nuclear weapons it is almost impossible to prevent that country from getting nuclear weapons. I think it is much more important to get George Bush under control than it is to strengthen the nuclear regime. Well, you know, he said: three countries constitute an axis of evil, and he named them, Iraq, Iran and North Korea. And then he invades, he orders the invasion of one of them! And you’re a decision maker from Iran or from North Korea, what are you going to think? There is only one way to deter the United States, and conventional weapons won’t do it. That one way is by having your own nuclear weapons. Boy, I mean, I don’t see how! You have a country as strong as the States and that says: I am invading your neighbour, but don’t you get nuclear weapons. Oh, come on!

That is an explanation for Iran?
And North Korea.

I thank Conny for bringing the interview to my attention.

My colleague, Professor Richard Collin, shared with me his thoughts on this affair. Richard is a retired American professor who now lives in Beverley. Here is what he has to say:

The Prime Minister started by thanking the United States for its assistance to Israel. He should; the US has given Israel about $121 billion dollars (since 1948). Some of this aid has been economic and some military and is currently running at about three billion dollars a year. Give me three billion dollars, and I’ll politely bring flowers and a bottle of good wine when I come a-calling.

It is hard to estimate how much American technical assistance is worth to Israel. The United States maintains communications intelligence sites around the world on land and at sea, as well as satellite-borne reconnaissance collection technologies, and a significant portion of this expensive ‘product’ is dutifully handed over to the Israeli intelligence services. You could argue that this doesn’t costs us anything because we are spending the money anyway, for our own protection. On the other hand, if the Israelis had to fork out this dough on their own, it would be rather more than they could afford.

Netanyahu clearly wanted to convince Americans why the Islamic Republic of Iran was our eternal enemy, suggesting that there was no hope of an improvement in the Iran-USA relationship. He dismissed the fact that American and Iranian interests in Iraq are surprisingly similar at the moment, with Iranian-sponsored militias fighting with the terrorist units of ISIS, but concluded that “the enemy of your enemy is your enemy.”

While Mr. Netanyahu clearly wished convince the United States that Iran is our eternal foe, I hope this does not turn out to be the case. Whatever the politicians say to and about one another, the average Iranian actually likes the average American. I say this as somebody who has wandered all over Iran and talked to people. The Iranians have had lousy political leaders; upon occasion, so have we.

Lastly, Jeffrey Goldberg published an article in The Atlantic titled “The Netanyahu Disaster” (January 27, 2015).

This article is the closest to my own thoughts on this most unnecessary controversy.

4 March 2015

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed a joint session of Congress Tuesday to warn the world about the consequences of the expected deal with Iran. “[This is] a very bad deal. We’re better off without it.” Netanyahu criticized the Obama administration for making two major concessions to Iran: 1) allowing it to maintain a “vast nuclear infrastructure,” leading to a short break-out time; and 2) a sunset clause providing for the expiration of restrictions after a decade or so.
The administration has suggested that the Joint Plan of Action (JPOA) and any permanent deal would have an “unprecedented” verification mechanism allowing insight into the progress of Iran’s nuclear program; Netanyahu, on the other hand, declared: “[I]nspectors document violations; they don’t stop them. Inspectors knew when North Korea broke to the bomb, but that didn’t stop them.” American officials, such as Senator Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), have expressed similar reservations about the potential deal with Iran. Sen. Menendez has said that he is “very concerned about the news that’s leaking from the negotiations and that this entire deal will hinge on inspection and verification regimes while leaving Iran with the vast majority of its nuclear infrastructure.” The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reported Monday that it “is not in a position to provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran, and therefore to conclude that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities.” Iran has only partially addressed one of 12 areas of concern raised by the IAEA.
The other major concession that Netanyahu criticized is the sunset clause, the provision that any potential agreement with Iran would expire, according to the latest reports, in 10-15 years. Netanyahu warned that Iran “would then be free to build a huge nuclear capacity that could produce many, many nuclear bombs…and this with full international legitimacy.” Netanyahu addressed the argument that Iran’s regime would change for the better in a decade countering that, “Iran’s neighbours know that Iran will become even more aggressive and sponsor even more terrorism when its economy is unshackled and it’s been given a clear path to the bomb.”
Rather than agreeing to a misguided sunset clause, Netanyahu called for “a better deal that keeps the restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program in place until Iran’s aggression ends… at the very least they should insist that Iran change its behaviour before a deal expires.” Senior Fellow at the Washington Institute Michael Eisenstadt has also urged that restrictions “should be lifted based on Iran’s performance.”
Finally, Netanyahu rebutted those who say that the only alternative to the current potential agreement is war, stating that the “alternative to this bad deal is a much better deal.” Moreover, he stressed that the Iranians need the deal a lot more than we do and said, “If Iran threatens to walk away from the table — and this often happens in a Persian bazaar — call their bluff.”

Judge for yourself: Netanyahu’s Full Speech Before Congress.

26 February 2015

On February 26, 2015, James R. Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, submitted his Worldwide Threat Assessment to the Senate Armed Services Committee. Here is what he had to say about Iran:

The Islamic Republic of Iran is an ongoing threat to US national interests because of its support to the Asad regime in Syria, promulgation of anti-Israeli policies, development of advanced military capabilities, and pursuit of its nuclear program. President Ruhani—a longstanding member of the regime establishment—will not depart from Iran’s national security objectives of protecting the regime and enhancing Iranian influence abroad, even while attempting different approaches to achieve these goals. He requires Supreme Leader Khamenei’s support to continue engagement with the West, moderate foreign policy, and ease social restrictions within Iran.

Iran possesses a substantial inventory of theatre ballistic missiles capable of reaching as far as some areas of south-eastern Europe. Tehran is developing increasingly sophisticated missiles and improving the range and accuracy of its other missile systems. Iran is also acquiring advanced naval and aerospace capabilities, including naval mines, small but capable submarines, coastal defense cruise missile batteries, attack craft, anti-ship missiles, and armed unmanned aerial vehicles.

In Iraq and Syria, Iran seeks to preserve friendly governments, protect Shia interests, defeat Sunni extremists, and marginalize US influence. The rise of ISIL has prompted Iran to devote more resources to blunting Sunni extremist advances that threaten Iran’s regional allies and interests. Iran’s security services have provided robust military support to Baghdad and Damascus, including arms, advisers, funding, and direct combat support. Both conflicts have allowed Iran to gain valuable on-the-ground experience in counterinsurgency operations. Iranian assistance has been instrumental in expanding the capabilities of Shia militants in Iraq. The ISIL threat has also reduced Iraqi resistance to integrating those militants, with Iranian help, into the Iraqi Security Forces, but Iran has uneven control over these groups.

Despite Iran’s intentions to dampen sectarianism, build responsive partners, and deescalate tensions with Saudi Arabia, Iranian leaders—particularly within the security services—are pursuing policies with negative secondary consequences for regional stability and potentially for Iran. Iran’s actions to protect and empower Shia communities are fuelling growing fears and sectarian responses.

24 February 2015

Jury Awards $218.5 Million in Terrorism Case Against Palestinian Groups
The Palestinian Authority and the Palestine Liberation Organization were found liable on Monday by a jury in Manhattan for their role in knowingly supporting six terrorist attacks in Israel between 2002 and 2004 in which Americans were killed and injured.
The jury in Federal District Court in Manhattan awarded $218.5 million in damages, a number that is automatically tripled to $655.5 million under the special terrorism law under which the case was brought.
The verdict ended a decade-long legal battle to hold the Palestinian organizations responsible for the terrorist acts. And while the decision was a huge victory for the dozens of plaintiffs, it also could serve to strengthen the Israeli claim that the supposedly more moderate Palestinian forces are directly tied to terrorism.
The financial implications of the verdict for the defendants were not immediately clear. The Palestinian Authority, led by Mahmoud Abbas, had serious financial troubles even before Israel, as punishment for the Palestinians’ move in December to join the International Criminal Court, began withholding more than $100 million a month in tax revenue it collects on the Palestinians’ behalf.
The verdict came in the seventh week of a civil trial in which the jury had heard emotional testimony from survivors of suicide bombings and other attacks in Jerusalem, in which a total of 33 people were killed and more than 450 were injured.

23 February 2015

Yemen and the Saudi–Iranian ‘Cold War’.

Egypt became the first Arab country to designate Hamas faction Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades as a terrorist group. An Egyptian court that made the designation accused the Hamas faction of launching terrorist attacks to support the Muslim Brotherhood and of killing 33 security personnel in Sinai in October 2014. The court ruling further isolates Hamas politically.

21 February 2015

President Obama: Our fight against violent extremism, LA Times, February 17, 2015
President Obama on the next step in our fight against violent extremism.

Israel, India ‘open’ to joint production of military hardware | i24news – See beyond.

Meet Iran’s first woman vice president via @YahooNews

12 February 2015

United States, France, and the United Kingdom closed their embassies in Yemen’s capital Sanaa on Wednesday, citing security concerns in light of the Iranian-backed Houthis’ aggressive actions

Cairo and Moscow have agreed on plans to jointly build Egypt’s first nuclear power plant.

10 February 2015

In another indication that talks have yet to produce significant Iranian concessions, State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki asserted Monday that the March 24th deadline to reach a political framework with Iran over its nuclear program was merely a “goal” and not a deadline. In November of last year, State Department Press Office Director Jeff Rathke explicitly called March 24th a deadline. P5+1 red lines have been disappearing one by one as Iranian intransigence meets western desires for a diplomatic solution in a worrying trend. A Washington Post editorial piece last week stated that “a process that began with the goal of eliminating Iran’s potential to produce nuclear weapons has evolved into a plan to tolerate and temporarily restrict that capability.” Although President Obama has stated that the international community must not “have the capacity to develop a nuclear weapon” and has called for “preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear capability,” now, the P5+1 are hoping to extend Iran’s breakout time to a year. In an exchange with Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Senator Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), asked, “[I]sn’t it true that even the deal that you are striving towards is not to eliminate any Iranian breakout capacity, but to constrain the time in which you’ll get the notice of such breakout capacity? Is that a fair statement, yes or no?” Blinken replied, “Yes it is.” Many analysts have argued that one year is not enough time to discover an attempt to break out and coordinate a response. At the start of the negotiations, the P5+1 demanded that Iran’s Arak heavy water reactor be transformed into a light water reactor, to eliminate a plutonium pathway to a nuclear weapon. A senior administration official stated, “We believe that Arak should not be a heavy water reactor as it is.” However, according to Ambassador Dennis Ross, in the last negotiations with Iran, the P5+1 dropped that demand. Additionally, in 2012, the U.S. and Europe insisted that Iran’s underground enrichment facility at Fordow be shut down, but they have since retreated from that demand, suggesting that it remain a “research facility.” The Washington Post editorial board continued, “Where it once aimed to eliminate Iran’s ability to enrich uranium, the administration now appears ready to accept an infrastructure of thousands of Iranian centrifuges.” At the start of negotiations, the United States sought to leave Iran with “no more than 1,500 centrifuges left operating…” Throughout the negotiation period, from November 2013 until the present day, the number of centrifuges the negotiating partners are prepared to accept has gradually increased to up to 6,500.

7 February 2015

Obituary: Sir Martin Gilbert

by Sarah Imhoff
H-Judaic is deeply saddened by the death, from sepsis following a brain injury, of Sir Martin Gilbert (1936-2015), one of the foremost historians of our time. Best known for his magisterial biography of Sir Winston Churchill, Gilbert also produced numerous works of Jewish history, and was a central historical figure in the Soviet Jewry movement, supporting numerous “refuseniks”. He will be buried in Israel.
Prof. David Cesarani published the following short biography of Gilbert in the Second Edition of the Encyclopedia Judaica:
GILBERT, SIR MARTIN (1936– ), British historian. Born in London, the son of a jeweller, Gilbert was educated at High-gate School and Magdalen College, Oxford. His earliest work concerned British foreign policy in the 1930s, which in 1962 brought him into contact with Randolph Churchill. Between 1962 and 1968 he worked as research assistant to Randolph Churchill on the official biography of Sir Winston Churchill. From 1968 Gilbert was the sole author of what became the most voluminous biography ever written, totalling over nine million words and running to six volumes plus an as yet unfinished set of companion volumes containing documents. Appointed a fellow of Merton College, Oxford, in 1962, Gilbert remained on an extended sabbatical while engaged in the biography; during this time he also produced a series of major studies on the creation of the State of Israel, the Holocaust, and World War II. A tireless worker on behalf of Soviet Jewry, he was at one time writing over a dozen letters a day to “refuseniks” and became personally known to many Russian Jews during his frequent visits to the U.S.S.R. He has written on the situation of Soviet Jewry and authored a biography of Anatoly Shcharansky. In 1987 he was a non-governmental representative on the U.N. Commission on Human Rights (43rd session) in Geneva. He is a highly popular author, although some historians have criticized his preference for pure narrative history. He has defended his choice to abstain from judgments and has said that “by what you select you make plain your views.” Volume 6 of the Churchill biography, Finest Hour, 1939–41, won the 1983 Wolfson Award. In 1988 he was awarded the Ka-Zetnik Prize for Literature by Yad Vashem and the Holocaust Memorial Foundation. Since 1978 Gilbert has been a governor of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He has homes in London and Jerusalem.
In addition to the Churchill biography, completed in 1988, Gilbert’s publications include The Appeasers (with Richard Gott; 1963);The European Powers 1900–45 (1965);The Roots of Appeasement (1966);Exile and Return: A Study of the Emergence of Jewish Statehood (1978); Churchill: A Photographic Portrait (1974);Churchill’s Political Philosophy (1981); Auschwitz and the Allies (1981);The Jews of Hope: The Plight of Soviet Jewry Today (1984); Jerusalem, Rebirth of a City (1985);Shcharansky: Hero of Our Time (1986);The Holocaust: The Jewish Tragedy (1986);Second World War (1989); three edited collections of documents; and 12 historical atlases including Atlas of Jewish History and Atlas of the Holocaust. More recently, he completed a three-volume history of the 20th century and The Righteous (2003). Gilbert received a knighthood in 1995.

​We extend deepest condolences to the Gilbert family.

6 February 2015

Eighty-nine members of the U.S. House of Representatives sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday, expressing that they are “deeply concerned” about Turkish restrictions on the freedom of the press.

5 February 2015

Jordan vows to defeat evil after horrific death of captured pilot

King Abdullah has vowed to step up his country’s fight against ISIL, waging a relentless war he said in order to protect Jordan’s values and human principles. His meeting with military leaders to coordinate Jordan’s response comes after the horrific murder of a captured Jordanian pilot. In the dead officer’s home town of Karak mourners gathered. Among them the head of Jordan’s Muslim Brotherhood, Hammam Said, who is against Jordan being in the US-led coalition fighting ISIL, but condemned the killing.“We have said that we do not agree with the ISIL approach which is not related to Sharia Law, nor with the morals which God has ordered us to follow. ”ISIL certainly has its critics in the Islamic world – at Cairo’s prestigious Al-Azhar Sunni centre its director expressed outrage over the burning alive of the Jordanian pilot saying Islam forbids such actions and the perpetrators should be punished. But while plans to take the war to ISIL are likely to involve more firepower, many in both the East and West be be asking how any of that will ensure the safe return of other hostages being held by ISIL.

3 February 2015

Egypt became the first Arab country to designate Hamas faction Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades a terrorist group.

1 February 2015

Israeli Foreign Ministry document paints grim picture of State’s isolation

Israel faces sanctions and increasing isolation on the world stage in 2015, according to a classified Israeli Foreign Ministry report.

The document, sent by the ministry to Israeli missions worldwide, warns of possible diplomatic damage to Israel due to expected steps to label products made in the West Bank settlements, possible economic and cultural sanctions, compensation demands for damage caused by Israel to European projects in the Palestinian territories and more.

The document by the Foreign Ministry’s deputy director-general for coordination, Gilad Cohen, is a summary of a situation assessment conducted by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.

The document lists a series of economic sanctions and boycotts – some potential, some already imposed – as a result of the freeze in peace talks with the Palestinians, which are expected to seriously hurt Israel.

“The Europeans are creating a clear connection between diplomatic relations and economic ones (and) in this context, it is important to note that Europe is Israel’s main trading partner”.

This deterioration is reflected, among other things, “in independent French activity, including at the UN Security Council, and in the heightening of negative signals sent to Israel.”

Also at stake is a decline in security imports and supply of replacement parts to Israel – something that would primarily affect Israeli defence. In recent years, Britain, Belgium and Spain have halted shipments of weapons to Israel, citing concerns that the arms would be used in violation of international law. Leading banks and investment and pension funds in Denmark, Norway, Ireland and the Netherlands have decided to halt cooperation with financial institutions in Israel that operate in the territories, and to stop investing in Israel.

The classified document warns that “American influence is successful, at present, in delaying practical decisions until after the elections in Israel. But in the wake of the systematic Palestinian policy to move the conflict to the UN arena, there’s no guarantee the US will continue using its veto rights after elections.”

Jihadists simultaneously attacked over a dozen army and police targets in northern Sinai on Thursday night, killing at least 25 people, including civilians, according to reports. Several checkpoints, a police club, a hotel, and a military base were targeted in the cities of el-Arish, Sheikh Zuwayid, and Rafah. The attackers reportedly fired mortars and set off at least one car bomb. Egyptian officials indicated that the death toll was expected to rise. Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula has long been a haven for jihadists and militants including Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, which pledged loyalty to the Islamic State last November. Analysts at the Brookings Institution have called the region “a fertile environment for Islamist militants to thrive, effectively rendering the Sinai Peninsula a new front in a region rife with conflict.” The Egyptian military has been fighting a growing insurgency in northern Sinai since the fall of Mohamed Morsi in July 2013, announcing a full-scale assault in September 2013. Militants launched major attacks against security checkpoints last October. Ansar Beit al-Maqdis reportedly planted nearly two dozen bombs in northern Sinai throughout November 2014, killing four men. In recent months, the Egyptian government has begun a policy of systematically demolishing houses in Rafah, which straddles the border with the Gaza Strip, to crack down on the flow of weapons and terrorists across the border. The intention is to create a buffer zone, which has widened from 500 yards to more than a half mile, and Rafah’s governor hinted that the entire city might be torn down. In an interview with France24, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi said that Egypt will not allow Sinai to “become a base for attacks against Israel.” Under Sisi’s leadership, security coordination and collaboration between Israel and Egypt has greatly increased as the two countries share the common interest of defeating Islamist terror. Israel has allowed Egypt to keep a far larger force in Sinai than what is allowed under the Camp David Accords in order to facilitate Egypt’s efforts to fight terrorism in the often lawless territory.

29 January 2015

Why Tolerate Terrorist Publications?
NY Times

27 January 2015

The deputy head of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Lt. Gen. Hossein Salami, threatened a new West Bank front against Israel, stating that “this is part of a new reality that will gradually emerge.” The threat is the latest in a series of statements by senior Iranian officers in the aftermath of a reported Israeli strike on members of Hezbollah and the IRGC along the Israel-Syria border, including senior personnel. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari, the head of the IRGC, stated last Tuesday that “the Zionists should prepare themselves for our shattering thunderbolt. They have experienced our rage in the past.” Maj. Gen. Mostafa Izadi, the Iranian Armed Forces’ deputy chief of staff for logistics, declared last Wednesday that “they [Israel] will receive a crushing response” and that “Muslim fighters will take a firm and powerful revenge for the blood of these martyrs.” The strike occurred on January 18 and killed six Hezbollah members and several Iranians, including Mohammad Ali Allahdadi, an IRGC commander who was reportedly a close confidant of Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and an expert in ballistic missiles. This is not the first time Iran has threatened Israel via the West Bank. Supreme Leader Khamenei tweeted last November: “#WestBank should be armed just like #Gaza. Friends of Palestine should do their best to arm People in West Bank. #HandsOffAlAqsa.” The chief of the paramilitary Basij, Mohammad Reza Naqdi, said last August, “Arming the West Bank has started and weapons will be supplied to the people of this region.” Another senior official, Gen. Amir-Ali Hajizadeh, commander of the IRGC’s air force, was quoted as saying, also last August, that Iran “will accelerate the arming of the West Bank and we reserve the right to give any response.” In a speech to university students last July, Khamenei said, “[O]ur belief is that the West Bank should be armed like Gaza.”

23 January 2015

UNITED NATIONS — Israel scored a win at the United Nations. Sort of.

Forty years after diplomats here equated Zionism with racism, the United Nations General Assembly on Thursday agreed to a bid by Israel to host a first-ever meeting devoted to the rise of anti-Semitism worldwide. Israel rallied 36 other nations to press for the meeting, which included not only its trusted allies, like the United States, but every member of the European Union.

But why now? And to what end?

The answer lies in part in who wanted this meeting and what they said. Of all those who joined Israel in calling for the special session, three-fourths were from Europe. For European lawmakers, it became an occasion to speak out against anti-Semitism at a time when relations with Israel have soured and attacks against Jews have risen sharply across the continent, including most recently against a kosher supermarket in Paris.

Continue reading the main story

The mosque where Hamza Matrouk prayed, across from his mother’s West Bank clothing store. Opening His Mother’s Clothing Shop, and Then Heading to Tel Aviv for a RampageJAN. 22, 2015
A man who was stabbed by a Palestinian man on a bus in Tel Aviv was treated by paramedics on Wednesday. Stabbing on Tel Aviv Bus Breaks a Fragile Calm JAN. 21, 2015
Front pages of German newspapers showed Lutz Bachmann, leader of the anti-immigrant group Pegida, posing as Adolf Hitler in an image found on his Facebook page. German Anti-Immigrant Figure Quits Post After Posing as HitlerJAN. 21, 2015
A soldier Monday outside a school in the Marais, a traditionally Jewish neighbourhood of Paris. The display of muscle recalled the United States response after the Sept. 11 attacks. Fear on Rise, Jews in France Weigh an ExitJAN. 12, 2015
“Whenever you attack a Jew for being a Jew, it’s all of us, the community of nations, who are under attack for the founding principles of the United Nations,” Harlem Désir, the French minister of state for European affairs, told the General Assembly on Thursday morning.

France seized on the occasion to call for new measures against hate speech, including one that directly affects American businesses: holding Internet companies like Facebook and Twitter liable for words and pictures posted on their platforms.

Israel in turn used the occasion to scold European governments, with whom its relations have grown increasingly testy since last summer’s Gaza war. The Israeli envoy to the United Nations, Ron Prosor, warned of “violent anti-Semitism casting a shadow over Europe” and cited a number of recent attacks, including on the Jewish Museum in Belgium last May.

“Europe is being tested,” Mr. Prosor said. “We don’t need any more monuments commemorating the Jews who were murdered in Europe, we need a strong and enduring commitment to safeguard the Jews living in Europe.”

The General Assembly has never before held a meeting devoted to anti-Semitism. An Israeli diplomat said Thursday that Israel was prompted to push for one in October after a spate of attacks in Europe, and that it was particularly troubled when the United Nations made no mention of anti-Semitism in condemning the attack on the Jewish Museum.

The United States pushed for the session too, which the American ambassador, Samantha Power, called an important step in an organization that she said had often been “a venue for the de-legitimization of Israel.”

She said the United States would continue to advocate other sessions on the subject in the future.

In 1975, the General Assembly adopted a resolution equating Zionism with racism. In 1991, it adopted another resolution revoking it.

“When the human rights of Jews are repressed, the rights of other religious and ethnic groups are often not far behind,” Ms. Power told the General Assembly. “The group that calls itself the Islamic State aims to kill Jews, but it also hunts down Yazidis, Christians, and Muslims of different sects.”

(Her remarks were met with loud applause, though not notably from Israel’s Mr. Prosor.)

Delegate after delegate came to the podium throughout the day, mostly to denounce attacks against Jews, but also to advance their countries’ priorities.

Speaking on behalf of the Organization for Islamic Cooperation, the Saudi ambassador, Abdallah Y. al-Mouallimi called “occupation” an anti-Semitic act and condemned what he called the words that cause both Islamophobia and anti-Semitism.

Ms. Power, asked about his statements, later said the United States rejected “anything that would suggest there is justification for anti-Semitism.”

A Russian envoy, Evgeny Zagaynov, denounced what he called the “glorification of Nazism and neo-Nazism,” which was a barely disguised swipe at Ukrainian nationalists.

The session came just weeks after France voted for a failed Security Council resolution on Palestinian statehood. The French move signalled mounting frustration between European leaders and the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a point that the Israeli leader sharply made in expressing his condolences over the terror attacks in Paris. “Israel stands with Europe; Europe must stand with Israel,” is how he put it.

Richard Gowan, of the Center on International Cooperation at New York University, called the meeting a tactical opportunity for European leaders who have taken a tough stance against Israel on the Palestinian cause.

“It’s easy for Israel to equate European support for the Palestinian cause at the U.N. with anti-Semitism,” Mr. Gowan said. “By backing this debate, the Europeans can fend off that criticism, showing that they can be tough on Israeli policies at the U.N., but tough on anti-Semitism at the same time.”

Michael Roth, the German state minister for European affairs, said he was deeply alarmed at the attacks and slogans against Jews in Europe, including in Germany.

“Scenes we thought we would never see again have become reality,” he said. “Anti-Semitism is gaining ground in a loud and aggressive manner.”

He and his counterpart from France, Mr. Désir, dangled the prospect of new laws that would hold Internet companies responsible for hate speech. Companies like Twitter take down content when served with a valid government request — in 2012, for instance, Twitter blocked Germans’ access to a banned neo-Nazi group’s Twitter handle — but maintain that they are not responsible for content their users create and post.

“Those networks, those Internet international networks, are used to promote violence, to promote discrimination, to promote hatred and there, there is a responsibility,” Mr. Désir told reporters, taking pains to add that his government would respect free speech concerns.

Mr. Désir said France was weighing a new national law and would bring it up for discussion at a European Union meeting in February.

No resolution came out of Thursday’s meeting, but the Israeli Mission to the United Nations distributed a statement, signed by 40 countries, including those that recognize the state of Palestine, such as Sweden.

“The determination to eradicate the conditions that gave rise to the Holocaust was a guiding principle among the founders of this organization over six decades ago,” the statement read. “Let us rededicate ourselves to that principle and endeavour to eliminate Antisemitism in all its forms.”

Mr. Prosor also reprimanded diplomats who he said had accused Israelis of “behaving like Nazis” during the last Gaza war. “This is not legitimate criticism of Israel,” he said. “It doesn’t matter how much you are angered or frustrated by our conflict, there is no excuse for anti-Semitism — not on the streets, not in the media, not in your governments and not in this institution.”

19 January 2015

Libyan government army declares ceasefire

Libya’s internationally recognised government has declared a ceasefire, with UN-brokered peace talks set to resume in Geneva next week. Sunday’s announcement by the Tobruk-based government, operating out of the east of the country, came two days after rival factions agreed to a truce. “We declare a ceasefire from midnight (22:00 GMT) on Sunday,” the army said on Sunday, adding that it would continue to pursue “terrorists”. Operating out of the north west of the country, in Tripoli, the rival self-declared parliament known as the General National Congress (GNC), which was reinstalled by faction Fajr Libya (Fajr Dawn), added a clause to their truce saying on Sunday they would not attend the talks unless they are held in Libya. The GNC said, however, that they were willing to negotiate. Omar Hmeidan, spokesperson for the GNC, said: “Talks must be in Ghat, not in Geneva.” Abduqader Hawaili, another GNC member, said 100 of the 110 members attending Sunday’s session of the GNC had voted in favour of the proposal. The opposing factions have been meeting in Switzerland in what has been touted as a last chance for peace in the country.

18 January 2015

Israeli Foreign Ministry document paints grim picture of State’s isolation.

10 January 2015

A bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers is preparing to reintroduce legislation in the coming weeks that would impose further sanctions on Tehran and call for a greater congressional voice in Washington’s negotiations with the Islamic Republic. The legislation, first introduced in December 2013, was not at the time brought to the floor for a vote. Lawmakers were vocal following the November 2014 elections that the upcoming Congress would make Iran a top priority on Capitol Hill — Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) told reporters that “there will be a desire very quickly after the first of the year for Congress to weigh in on the topic in some form or fashion.” Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) on Thursday told reporters that the Senate Banking Committee was expected to vote on the bill, which he cosponsored with Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and which, per CNN, would “reimpose sanctions on Iran if [the President] couldn’t certify that Iran doesn’t finance terror groups that have attacked Americans and would keep Iran from maintaining low-level nuclear enrichment in a final deal.” The Washington Post’s David Ignatius on Thursday outlined how the presence of U.S. troops in the region provides the Iranians with additional leverage in the context of nuclear talks aimed at putting Iran’s nuclear program beyond use for weaponization. He added that Washington also retains leverage in the form of potential cyber warfare capabilities. Experts expressed scepticism regarding the latter argument. Mark Dubowitz, executive director of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, asked regarding the claim, “If Obama really has will to use cyber as a weapon if no deal, why does he keep bending to Khamenei’s nuke demands?” Meanwhile, State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki on Friday announced that Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif are expected to meet next week in Geneva ahead of the next round of nuclear talks between Iran and the P5+1.

8 January 2015

BREAKING NEWS Wednesday, January 7, 2015 6:55 AM EST

At Least 11 Killed in Shooting Attack on Paris Newspaper
Masked gunmen opened fire in the offices of a French satirical newspaper on Wednesday, the police said, with initial reports saying that as many as 11 people had been killed and 10 wounded.
Xavier Castaing, the head of communications for the Paris police prefecture, confirmed the 11 deaths, The Associated Press reported.
The news channel France Info quoted a witness as saying he saw the episode from a building nearby in the heart of the French capital.
“About a half an hour ago, two black-hooded men entered the building with Kalashnikovs,” the witness, Benoît Bringer, told the station.
“A few minutes later, we heard lots of shots,” he said, adding that the men were then seen fleeing the building.

6 January 2015

Palestinians Seen Gaining Momentum in Quest for Statehood

5 January 2015

Israel freezes funds and considers lawsuits against Palestinians

Israel has announced it will freeze tax funds and attempt to bring war crime prosecutions against Palestinian leaders in retaliation to Palestinian moves to join the International Criminal Court. Palestinian officials delivered the documents to the UN with the aim of prosecuting Israelis for what they consider war crimes. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, that they will not allow army officials to be dragged before the court, continuing that the Palestinian leaders should face trial for entering an alliance with Hamas. Israel will withhold more than 100 million Euros worth of tax revenues, money crucial to running the Palestinian Authority. “The Palestinian leadership and the Palestinian people won’t give up on our Palestinian core issues- the right to be free and independent, the right of return as well as a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as it’s capital – in exchange for this money,” explained Wassel Abu Yousseff from the Palestine Liberation Organisation. Momentum to recognise a Palestinian state has been building since the President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas succeeded in de facto recognition at the UN in 2012, which made Palestinians eligible to join the International Criminal Court.

3 January 2015

End-of-year reports show 52 Israeli companies were acquired for some $15 billion, nearly double 2013′s exits worth $7.6 billion. Israeli high-tech and biotech start-ups witnessed a record year of acquisitions and initial public offerings (IPOs), according to end-of-year reports by accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and Ethosia Human Resources. The reports show that 52 Israeli start-ups exited to the tune of some $15 billion this year, while 18 IPOs racked up $9.8 billion. Kontera ($150 million), Cyvera ($200 million), SuperDerivatives ($350 million), Simbionix ($120 million), Green Smoke ($110 million) and Wilocity ($300 million) were among the top blue-and-white acquisitions of 2014. Jonathan Medved, CEO of OurCrowd equity crowdfunding, tells ISRAEL21c that the pace of investment in Israel is surprisingly swift. “2013 was already a good year by Israeli standards. The fact that 2014 is up 30 to 40 percent is shocking,” he says. “This year, 2014, will be known as a revolutionary year,” writes Eyal Solomon, CEO of Ethosia, in the introduction to his firm’s annual report on Israeli high-tech and biotech. “It is revolutionary in raising funds, in the rate start-ups were launched, in the speed of raising funds and the pace of exits, which broke every record possible.” But whereas years past were all about Israeli companies scoring big exits, 2014 showed a transition to successful IPOs and globalization. “Companies that in the past were able to sell themselves and earn big returns for investors are going to the end with a share offering and building big companies,” Rubi Suliman, head of PriceWaterhouseCoopers Israel’s high-tech practice, told Ha’aretz. (via Israel21c)

2 January 2015

Creating a New Road Map for Resolving the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict”, E-International Relations (December 26, 2014).

1 January 2015

On December 31, 2014, Abu Mazen signed nearly two dozen international agreements, including the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. In the near future, you may hear of war crimes allegations against Israel. At the same time, similar allegations will be raised against Hamas, part of Abu Mazen’s unity government. You can also expect American and Israeli financial sanctions” again the PA. It is time to test whether the Arab world is sincerely committed to the Palestinian cause. They have a lot of money that they can afford to spend in helping the Palestinians. It is time to show more than just lip service. Lip service won’t help the PA survival against greater odds. It will assist Hamas in dictating moves to yet another violent showdown.

News archive

MA scholarships in the School of Politics, Philosophy & International Studies

To celebrate the University’s research successes, the University of Hull is offering 3 MA scholarships of £10,000 each in the School of Politics, Philosophy & International Studies.

The scholarships are for students applying for an MA in International Politics, with an emphasis on Middle Eastern Studies.

Closing date for applications: 11 January 2014. Interviews will be held in February 2014. Successful applicants will be informed of the award by 29th March 2013. Scholarships will start in September 2014.

For inquiries contact:

Professor Raphael Cohen-Almagor
Chair in Politics
School of Politics, Philosophy and International Studies
The University of Hull
Cottingham Road
Hull, HU6 7RX
United Kingdom

T: +0044 (0)1482 465024
F: +0044 (0)1482 466208

News Archive 2014

18 December 2014

Cohen-Almagor, Raphael, “BBC World without Terror”, The Jerusalem Post (December 17, 2014).


15 December 2014

Netanyahu and Kerry meet to discuss Palestinian U.N. bid,



12 December 2014

The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday unanimously passed a resolution condemning Hamas’s use of human shields, following the passage earlier in the week of the Senate version of the resolution, co-authored by Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.). Reps. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), who cosponsored the House’s version of the resolution, jointly released a statement praising Israel for going “to extraordinary lengths this summer in Gaza to protect innocent civilian lives” and blasted Hamas for “plac[ing] the Palestinian people directly in harm’s way by using them as human shields and placing its rockets near densely populated areas and near schools, hospitals and mosques.” The Palestinian terror group, which admitted to the tactic, was criticized by, among others, the United States and the European Union for using Palestinian civilians as human shields as Hamas fired thousands of rockets into Israeli population centres during the summer conflict. The House vote comes a day after members of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East and the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Non-proliferation and Trade authored a letter to the Treasury Department underscoring lawmakers’ concerns over the funding and support provided to Hamas by regional players Qatar and Turkey. Qatar in particular was slammed for allowing Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal “to operate out of its territory knowingly and with impunity.” The letter cited press reports that “Qatar threatened to deport [Meshaal] if Hamas had accepted an Egypt-backed ceasefire agreement to end this summer’s conflict in Gaza,” potentially stretching out the summer’s conflict.



10 December 2014

Cameron says UK and Turkey working hand in glove to stop Isis fighters

David Cameron faced an awkward diplomatic encounter with Turkey’s prime minister Ahmet Davutoğlu last night as he promised to share high-level intelligence on Islamic State fighters but his counterpart hit out at foreign “propaganda” about them passing through Turkish territory. On his first trip to Turkey for four years, Cameron said the UK was working “hand in glove” with the country to address the scourge of Isis fighters. During a press conference, the prime minister said some UK citizens are crossing the Turkish border or trying to return home via the same route, and claimed the two countries were working “as closely as we possibly can” to tackle the threat. Cameron said: “On the question of what more Turkey and indeed Britain can do to stop this scourge of foreign fighters and defeat this ideology of violence, I believe we are, all of us, taking the steps that we should. “We’ve passed legislation through our parliament, we are taking people’s passports, we are confronting and prosecuting people who have travelled to Turkey. “We’re working as closely as we possibly can and the prime minister and I have agreed that we should exchange even more information, we should cooperate more in terms of intelligence, we should work hand in glove because the people who are travelling, whether from Britain or elsewhere, sometimes through Turkey, sometimes in other ways to Syria and Iraq, these are people that threaten us back at home so we should do everything that we can and we’ve had very productive discussions today”.
The Guardian


Knesset dissolves itself ahead of March elections

Israel’s parliament voted to dissolve itself on Monday ahead of an early general election on March 17. The move was brought on by a political crisis instigated by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s dismissal of two ministers. Almost immediately campaigning began with Tzipi Livini, justice minister before her sacking from Netanyahu’s coalition, urging others to take the opportunity to change the leadership. “The decision … [to call the election] was the prime minister’s alone and came as a result of his fearing other ministers. But it’s a decision which should be viewed as an opportunity to replace him.” Election’s were not due for another two years but the government had been deeply split over a number of issues such as a law declaring Israel a purely Jewish nation. However opinion polls indicate that Likud and Netanyahu with his tough stance towards the Palestinians, will be re-elected, although they will have to align with another party to form a government.



9 December 2014

CIA torture report: US raises security ahead of release

Security has been stepped up at US facilities around the world ahead of the release of a report expected to reveal details of harsh CIA interrogations, the White House says.

Embassies and other sites were taking precautions amid “some indications” of “greater risk”, a spokesman said. A 480-page summary of the Senate report is due to be released on Tuesday. It is expected to detail the CIA’s campaign against al-Qaeda in the aftermath of 9/11. What more can we learn about the CIA’s interrogation programme from this heavily redacted report? Based on leaks, Tuesday’s release seems to answer three major questions: First. Were the interrogation methods – torture if you like – more extensive and more brutal than previously admitted? It looks like the conclusion is “Yes”. Second. Did these interrogation techniques deliver life-saving intelligence to the US? That answer appears to be “No”. Third. Were CIA officials at the time honest with the White House on what the programme was getting up to? Again, “No”. We can also expect the beginning of a counterblast of speeches, editorials and comments from those in charge of the CIA at the time attacking the Congressional report. But White House officials – while supportive of the release in principle – nervously dispatched John Kerry to encourage the committee to think twice about releasing this report into a volatile world. That didn’t work.


CIA torture report: US raises security ahead of release,



A report published by Foreign Policy on Monday indicating that Tehran was caught breaching sanctions in order to advance its plutonium work is likely to deepen concerns in Washington at a time when the administration’s handling of the negotiations has been called into question by lawmakers on Capitol Hill. The Foreign Policy story specifically reported that the Iranians had been found to be “increasing their efforts to illicitly obtain equipment for the IR-40 research reactor at the Arak nuclear complex.” House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) released a statement Monday afternoon in response to the Foreign Policy scoop, citing “multiple reports that Iran has violated its commitment to freeze its nuclear program” and noting that “[t]he wheels seem to be coming off of the Administration’s Iran strategy.” Tehran has on multiple occasions been found to have cheated on its obligations since the Joint Plan of Action (JPA) was signed last year, and the Foreign Policy report was met with something short of incredulity – The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg tweeted that the idea that “Iran might be engaged in nuclear cheating” was “[i]ncredibly not surprising.” Veteran Associated Press reporter Matt Lee told State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki on Monday that the Iranians “seem to be doing everything they can to destroy any trust that there might be, and it seems a bit disingenuous to claim that they’re doing everything, that they’re complying with everything if in fact you suspect that they’re not with the JPOA or with the original UN sanctions.” Administration officials had in the months after the interim agreement was inked in November 2013 issued a series statements voicing support for sanctions legislation in the event that Tehran was found to be cheating – Secretary of State John Kerry told members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee in December 2013 that if Iran cheated “we will be the first ones to come to [Congress] if this fails to ask you for additional sanctions.”







31 November 2014

Rocket Terror

Hezbollah head Hassan Nasrallah warned that his rockets were capable of hitting any place in Israel – specifically that Jerusalem “will not find a single piece of land” that rockets could not hit – and that Israel would be forced to close its ports in the event of a military conflict with Hezbollah.

Hezbollah is believed to have up to 100,000 rockets in its arsenal, and its leaders have for months been threatening confrontation with Israel. The fear is also that the Hezbollah has constructed an underground tunnel network leading into Israel’s north, which its operatives would use to conduct a spectacular terror attack against residents along the Israel-Lebanon border.


30 November 2014

Egyptian Court Dismisses All Charges Against Mubarak
An Egyptian court on Saturday dismissed all remaining criminal charges against former President Hosni Mubarak, raising the possibility that Mr. Mubarak could go free for the first time since he was removed from office in the 2011 uprising that defined the Arab Spring.
During earlier hearings in the various proceedings against Mr. Mubarak human rights lawyers demanded harsh punishment for his three decades of brutal autocracy, but Saturday’s court session was packed with Mubarak supporters who erupted in cheers at the verdict.
The 86-year-old former leader, who has been held at a military hospital and appeared in court on a stretcher, remained stone-faced as the chief judge, Mahmoud Kamel al-Rashidi, read the verdict. Only then did he allow himself a smile, and his two sons, Alaa and Gamal, hugged and kissed him in celebration. Both were acquitted of corruption charges along with their father.


29 November 2014

Operation Protective Edge has increased support for Hamas and armed struggle among Palestinians

A poll conducted by the Jerusalem Media & Communications Center and published in late October 2014 shows that the majority of respondents (53%) said the war achieved the Palestinians people’s interests, while 21% said it harmed their interests.

The poll found that the percentage of those who support military operations against Israel increased from 31% before the war to 42% after the confrontation.

According to the study, the war seems to have increased Hamas’s popularity at the expense of Fatah. Trust in Hamas increased from 16% in April 2014 to 25% in October. Moreover, a majority of 61% of respondents said that Hamas’s rockets help achieve Palestinian goals.

The poll also indicated a drop in the percentage of Palestinians who support negotiations with Israel – from 54% in April this year to 52% in October.

Trust in Fatah dropped from 41% before the military confrontation to 35% after the war.

While Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas retained his status as the most trusted Palestinian personality, still the poll found that support for Abbas dropped from 25% in April this year to 23% in October.

Trust in Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh rose from 13% before the war to 17% after the confrontation.

The poll also showed that a majority of respondents (57%) considered Hamas to be the winning side in the war as opposed to 8% who believed Israel emerged triumphant.

Source: “Support rose for Hamas and armed struggle after war, poll says”, The Jerusalem Post, 29 October 2014


25 November 2014

P5+1 powers on Monday failed to reach an agreement with Iran over its nuclear program following a year of negotiations, and announced instead that talks would be extended through June 2015. Buzzfeed Politics noted that the parties had “not even produced a framework agreement,” which Iranian officials had floated as likely the day before. Iran will reportedly receive approximately $700 million per month in frozen assets per the terms of the extension, a concession likely to deepen fears that Iran may be seeking to indefinitely trade reversible nuclear concessions for irreversible financial relief. The scenario had been raised as a concern by sceptics of the interim Joint Plan of Action (JPA) almost immediately after it was announced last winter in Geneva. Criticism that the extension would be more of the same emerged over the weekend and into Monday. The Wall Street Journal had reported on Sunday that U.S. officials are increasingly concerned that Tehran is indeed looking to negotiate indefinitely, after the interim deal provided Iran with financial windfalls valued in the billions of dollars, helping to partially restore Iran’s economy. Mark Dubowitz, the executive director of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), tweeted that Western economic leverage “continues to diminish.” There are also fears that Iranian leverage has increased as the West’s has eroded, with Tehran continuing to enrich and stockpile uranium, an asset that Iran can potentially trade away for other concessions. Other analysts suggested that the dynamic may not be one of leverage at all, but instead one in which Iranian political realities make cutting a robust deal impossible. The Wilson Center’s Aaron David Miller and Jason Brodsky emphasized on Monday that Iranian negotiators are not empowered to make the necessary concessions on their own, but that instead they have to answer to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Analysis by FDD fellow Michael Ledeen noted that that the political reality may put a deal out of reach, inasmuch as almost a decade of Iranian behaviour indicates that Khamenei simply “does not want a deal with the United States” for ideological reasons.



UN chief: Palestinian recognition gains momentum

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Monday the international community’s failure to advance a political solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is spurring governments and parliaments to take action to recognize the state of Palestine — and “that momentum will grow.” The U.N. chief said at the U.N. commemoration of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People that the international community must assume “a collective failure” for not being able to get a peace deal. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, in a statement read at the commemoration, welcomed changes in popular sentiment in the West that have reached “official political levels,” starting with Sweden’s recognition of the state of Palestine and the overwhelming motions supporting recognition by parliaments in Britain, Ireland and Spain. He said these actions, and upcoming votes in France and other European countries, are “positive developments which enhance the opportunities for peace and security and stability in the region.” “Does Israel, the occupying power, understand all of the messages in this regard?,” Abbas asked. Israel’s U.N. Ambassador Ron Prosor told the General Assembly later Monday that Sweden and European parliaments supporting recognition of a Palestinians are taking away any incentive for the Palestinians to negotiate, compromise or renounce violence and are giving them exactly what they want — “statehood without peace.”
Washington Post



21 November 2014

Rep. Ed Royce (R-Ca.): “Committee will continue its efforts to stop Iran’s march toward nuclear weapons, which threatens to undermine fundamentally the security of us and our critical allies.”


19 November 2014

The Middle East Study Group (MESG)
Is Proud to Host
Lord David Trimble
Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and the First Minister of Northern Ireland (1998-2002)
Who will deliver
The First MESG Annual Lecture:
Peace Negotiations and Mediation

27 November 2014, 17:00
Wilberforce LR8
RSVP Helen Duncan: by 23 November

William David Trimble, Baron Trimble, PC (born 15 October 1944), was the Leader of the Ulster Unionist Party from 1995 to 2005. He was also the Member of Parliament for Upper Bann from 1990 to 2005 and Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) for Upper Bann from 1998 to 2007. In 2006, he was made a life peer in the House of Lords and a year later left the UUP to join the Conservative Party. Lord Trimble was instrumental in the negotiations that led to the Good Friday Agreement in 1998, and (along with John Hume) won the Nobel Peace Prize that year for his efforts.



Spanish government urged to recognise Palestine as a state

Spanish lawmakers on Tuesday urged their government to recognise Palestine as a state, albeit only when the Palestinians and Israel negotiate a solution to their long-standing conflict.

The symbolic motion, which echoes similar votes last month in Britain and Ireland, was backed by all the political groupings in the lower house after the ruling People’s party watered down the wording hours after a deadly attack on a synagogue in Jerusalem in which five Israelis and two Palestinian assailants were killed. The non-binding text, brought by the opposition Socialists, was initially an outright call to recognise a Palestinian state and had angered the Israeli government. But Beatriz Rodríguez-Salmones of the People’s party, which holds an absolute majority in the lower house, told the debate her party would not back a unilateral recognition of the Palestinian state “at a time of intense pain for Israel”. “It is not the right time to seek a unilateral recognition. Peace and a peaceful cohabitation between two states are the objective … The method is a negotiation between the two,” she said. The text that was adopted said: “The parliament urges the government to recognise Palestine as a state … This recognition should be the consequence of a process negotiated between the parties that guarantees peace and security for both, the respect of the rights of the citizens and regional stability. “Foreign minister José Manuel García-Margallo, the only member of the Spanish government to attend the debate, said the government was now committed to working in favour of a dialogue between the two parties that brought “peace, stability and progress to a region that has been suffering for a long time”.
The Guardian


18 November 2014

Washington’s representative to the IAEA on Monday told reporters that the administration was “disappointed” in Iran’s failure to cooperate with nuclear investigators from the UN watchdog. Amb. Laura Kennedy is one of several U.S. diplomats in Vienna this week — Secretary of State John Kerry is expected to join a team that includes Acting Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman and former Deputy Secretary of State Williams Burns — as Western negotiators meet with Iranian officials ahead of the November 24 deadline for the P5+1 global powers to reach a deal with the Islamic republic over its nuclear program. The New York Times this weekend conveyed assessments from presidential national security advisers, who put “the chance of reaching an agreement this month at 40 to 50 percent.” The outlet noted that the parties standing against a final deal between Iran and the West include “not just Mr. Khamenei and the country’s hard-liners, but newly empowered Republicans, some of [President Obama’s] fellow Democrats, and many of the United States’ closest allies.” Newsweek bluntly assessed the situation in Washington: “Any Iran deal is DOA on Capitol Hill” and noted that Republicans and Democrats in Congress “might as well be sitting on the same side of the aisle.” Roll Call had last week reported that lawmakers were in the process of preparing a series of steps aimed at reasserting Congressional oversight over the final contours of a nuclear deal between the P5+1 global powers and Iran, with Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) telling reporters that “there will be a desire very quickly after the first of the year for Congress to weigh in on the topic in some form or fashion.” The Roll Call report came weeks after leaked audio revealed that the Obama administration has been planning for almost a year to circumvent the House and Senate in structuring the agreement.



17 November 2014

China to double Iran energy investment

China will double its investment in Iran’s energy projects, an Iranian official has said, ahead of a deadline for a deal with world powers over Tehran’s nuclear program.

“China has agreed to changes proposed by Iran’s central bank, raising its share in Iranian projects to more than $US52 billion ($A56.26 billion),” deputy energy minister Esmail Mahsouli was quoted as saying by the Mehr news agency on Sunday. The decision follows a visit by central bank president Valiollah Seif to Beijing in September .Iranian media cited officials as saying the investment will be guaranteed by Iranian deposits worth $US20 billion held in Chinese banks due to international sanctions imposed for Iran’s nuclear program. Faced with tough international financial penalties, Iran has turned in recent years to China, Russia and Turkey to finance major projects.” Government projects in the energy sector — including water, electricity, oil, gas and petrochemical — and others in the construction and industrial sectors, will receive Chinese financing,” Mahsouli said. He added that $US1.5-$US2 billion will be allocated to water and electric projects. In previous statements, former deputy oil minister Ali Majedi said that China would finance industrial petrochemical projects to the tune of up to $US4.5 billion. Tehran and the P5+1 group of nations, which includes China, have until November 24 to reach a permanent deal on Iran’s nuclear program.


14 November 2014

Ibish-New Palestinian poll offers hope-Poll-Nov. 2014
A new Palestinian survey suggests most want peace with Israel, not another uprising.



12 November 2014

A range of stories published over the weekend and into Tuesday indicate that Iran is preparing to expand its declared plutonium program and has not yet accounted for a potentially vast clandestine uranium enrichment program, with new analysis suggesting that the latter may exceed the entirety of Iran’s previously known capacity. The Sunday Times this weekend quoted International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) veteran and a former deputy director of the UN watchdog Olli Heinonen as saying it was possible that Tehran is in possession of five times the advanced IR-2M centrifuges than previously disclosed. Algemeiner reported on remarks made by Heinonen on a conference call with The Israel Project on Tuesday to the effect that the additional next-generation centrifuges would among other things shorten the amount of time it would take Iran to achieve breakout. The allegations are likely to deepen calls for a final deal between Iran and the P5+1 powers to include a robust verification system, and for the Islamic republic to come clean about its past weapons work. An IAEA report leaked on Friday declared that Iran was still denying the agency access to sites where military-related atomic work is thought to have taken place, threatening any post-deal verification regime: The IAEA needs to benchmark the full scope of Iran’s program now, so that all components of the program can be built into an agreement which the IAEA will monitor following an agreement. Meanwhile, Russia announced on Tuesday – less than two weeks before the deadline for the West to reach an agreement with Iran – that Moscow and Tehran had signed a deal to build up to eight new nuclear reactors in the Islamic republic, in what Iranian nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi called a “turning point in relations” between the two countries. Russia and Iran had in September announced major trade initiatives that were at the time described as a way for Tehran to dodge Western sanctions pressure.





7 November 2014

On 12 Nov., 18:00, Wilberforce LT2, R. Cohen-Almagor will speak at Amnesty International Student Branch on the Hull campus on the Roots of the #Israeli-Palestinian conflict. All welcome.


International prosecutors decide against charges over deadly Israeli raid on aid ship

International prosecutors have decided not to lay charges over a deadly Israeli raid on a ship carrying aid to Gaza in 2010. Nine Turkish activists were killed in the storming of the vessel the Mavi Marmara. The International Criminal Court says it believes war crimes may have been committed, but the case is not grave enough for it to bring charges.



6 November 2014

Reports began to trickle in Wednesday evening of a Palestinian terror attack against Israeli soldiers in which a car ran into a group of IDF troops, injuring three, less than 12 hours after a similar incident in Jerusalem that saw a Palestinian man drive into a throng of people at a bus stop, killing an Israeli Druze soldier and injuring more than a dozen others. The attacks are the second and third of their kind in two weeks – last month an infant was killed and at least eight people were injured when a Palestinian terrorist plowed into a crowd of people waiting at a Jerusalem light rail station. Last week in Jerusalem prominent activist Yehuda Glick was shot in the chest by a Palestinian terrorist, days after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned that Palestinian incitement would lead to disaster. Recent months have seen Israeli-Arab friction steadily increasing in and around Jerusalem, as top Palestinian leaders – up to and including PA President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah – claimed Israel was seeking to desecrate and destroy Muslim holy sites on the city’s Temple Mount. Following Glick’s shooting, Abbas sent a letter to the family of the would-be assassin, calling the terrorist a “martyr” and Israeli troops “terrorist gangs.” Abbas has for weeks been criticized by American and Israeli leaders for inflammatory remarks – State Department Spokeswoman Jen Psaki on Tuesday told reporters at the daily briefing that the standard “to exercise restraint, refrain from provocative actions and rhetoric, and make clear that violence is unacceptable” was “was not met at all” by Abbas’s letter. Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman had already last month accused Abbas of “ramp[ing] up incitement against Israel and the Jews” and of “call[ing] for a religious war.” Hours after Wednesday morning’s attack in Jerusalem, Netanyahu blasted Abbas for continued incitement, which Netanyahu, speaking at a memorial ceremony for assassinated Prime Minister Yitzak Rabin, said was “directly responsible” for the most recent wave of violence in Jerusalem.


President Barack Obama wrote a secret letter to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei two weeks ago expressing a mutual interest in battling ISIS, according to a recent report.


5 November 2014

Amnesty International Says Israel Showed ‘Callous Indifference’ in Gaza
NY Times, NOV. 4, 2014


Hezbollah head Hassan Nasrallah on Tuesday warned that rockets in the Iran-backed terror group’s arsenal were capable of hitting any place in the Jewish state – specifically that Jerusalem “will not find a single piece of land” that rockets could not hit – and that Israel would be forced to close its ports in the event of a military conflict with Hezbollah.


3 November 2014

Breaking the Israeli-Palestinian Deadlock – Two State Solution
Global Education Magazine: International Day of Peace, 21 September 2014, pp. 58-63


1 November 2014

The Fatah faction of Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas has called on Palestinians to stage a “day of rage” in Jerusalem on Friday, a move that observers fear may trigger mass unrest in the Jewish state’s capital, after a Wednesday assassination attempt on prominent Jewish activist Yehuda Glick caused a spike in tensions



30 October 2014

Egypt demolishes Sinai homes for Gaza border buffer

Egypt has begun demolishing homes along its border with the Gaza Strip as part of a planned 500m buffer zone that is intended to prevent weapons smuggling. Residents living along the border with the Palestinian territory have been given 48 hours – and promised compensation – to leave their homes. The buffer will include water-filled trenches to prevent tunnelling. Egyptian media accuses Gaza’s Hamas administration of aiding militants in Sinai. Hamas denies the charge. Last week, more than 30 Egyptian soldiers were killed in a militant bomb attack on an army post in Sinai. After the bombing, Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi passed a law authorising the military to protect state facilities – including power plants, main roads and bridges. He also declared a three-month state of emergency in Sinai. Critics of the move said it allows the army to return to the streets and brings back military trials for civilians.



29 October 2014

Support rose for Hamas and armed struggle after war, poll says
The Jerusalem Post, 29 October 2014


8th European Commission-Israel Seminar on combating racism, xenophobia and anti-Semitism was held in Jerusalem
The eighth seminar on the fight against racism, xenophobia and anti-Semitism was held in Jerusalem on 27-28 October, bringing together officials, diplomats and experts from Israel, the European Commission, the EU’s Fundamental Rights Agency, the European External Action Service and several EU Member States.
The EU representatives welcomed the discussions. Lars Faaborg-Andersen, Head of the EU Delegation to Israel said: “Racism, xenophobia and anti-Semitism are incompatible with the values of respect for human dignity and human rights, freedom, equality and non-discrimination upon which the EU is founded. The European Union is committed to combating these phenomena by making use of all powers available under the European Treaties, in particular through legislation, financial support for projects and dialogue.” He added: “This dialogue is essential for our joint efforts to continuously foster our common values.”
Over the two days, the participants discussed policies and tools aimed at combating racism and xenophobia, with a particular focus on anti-Semitism. In this context, data, trends and EU measures to combat racism and anti-Semitism figured prominently on the agenda. A specific session was devoted to cyber-hate – a growing and worrying phenomenon for both the EU and Israel.
In the context of the attack on the Jewish Museum in the centre of Brussels earlier this year, the debate addressed the threat of radicalization in Europe and the preventive actions that are being taken.
Education and training, including Holocaust remembrance were discussed. The EU representatives also highlighted the EU’s official dialogue with religious organisations, including representatives of European Jewish communities, as well as with non-confessional organisations.
The seminar, held annually, reflects the importance attributed by both the EU and Israel to the fight against anti-Semitism and serves as an important opportunity for dialogue.


The UN Security Council will hold an “emergency meeting” on Wednesday to discuss Israeli plans to build more Jewish homes in Jerusalem, diplomats said. The “urgent” talks were requested by Jordan following a letter from Palestinian Authority envoy Riyad Mansour who called on the 15-member council to “address this crisis situation in occupied east Jerusalem.”


28 October 2014

USA unveiled what it called an information coalition with Muslim and Western nations to combat efforts by Islamic State to recruit online and stoke sectarian hatred through a “cult of violence”.


Rafael Ltd. is developing ship-based versions of Iron Dome, the system credited with intercepting nearly 90 percent of the thousands of Gaza-launched rockets designated as direct threats to the Israeli home front in last summer’s 50-day war.


27 October 2014

Secularists claim lead in Tunisia’s historic poll

A secular alliance appears to be leading the race for seats in Tunisia’s first parliamentary election under a new constitution. As soon as polling stations closed on Sunday the count began but official results aren’t expected until late Monday at the earliest. A large number of parties took part in the election from conservative Islamist Salafist movements to Socialists, meaning a coalition is on the cards. However the leader of the secular Nidda Tounes alliance, Beji Caid Essebsi is confident:“Actually we have positive indicators showing that Nidaa Tounes, will be in first position. We cannot talk about the outcome until official results are announced. However, there are positive indicators that we note with pride. We will wait for the final results to give our reactions.”The vote is part of a series of democratic changes to have taken place since a revolt in the country triggered the Arab Spring uprisings. Nidaa Tounes politicians see themselves as modern technocrats in contrast to the rival moderate Islamist Ennahda party. After the 2011 revolt Ennahda won most seats in Tunisia’s first free election and formed a coalition before a political crisis over their rule and the murder of two secular leaders forced them into a deal to step aside for a caretaker premier. Despite being criticised for inexperience Ennahda has strong support among Tunisia’s poor and are expected to do well in Sunday’s election. The turnout was put as high as 65% .


Prime Minister Netanyahu approved 1000 housing units in East Jerusalem.


Netanyahu Obama


26 October 2014

President Sisi says jihadists threaten Egypt’s existence

Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi says the country is facing a threat to its existence from jihadists after the military suffered the biggest loss of life in decades in attacks in Sinai. At least 31 soldiers were killed in two attacks on Friday, the deadliest a bomb blast near the town of El-Arish. A three-month state of emergency has been declared in parts of the Sinai Peninsula and Egypt’s Rafah crossing into the Gaza Strip was closed. There will be three days of mourning. In a live TV address, Mr Sisi said a huge plot was being waged against Egypt “by external forces”. “This is meant to break up Egypt and the Egyptians …. Egypt is fighting a war of existence.” No group has said it carried out the attacks, which came as the army continued an offensive against jihadists in northern Sinai. The area has become increasingly lawless since President Hosni Mubarak was overthrown in 2011.Militants have stepped up attacks since Islamist President Mohammed Morsi was ousted by the army last year amid massive opposition protests.


24 October 2014

Irish Senate Votes for Recognition of Palestine

Just, a few weeks after British lawmakers also voted to recognise Palestine, Ireland’s upper house of parliament passed the motion that the “Seanad Éireann calls on the Government to formally recognise the State of Palestine and do everything it can at the international level to help secure a viable two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

As in the U.K., the motion is non-binding and symbolic. The motion was proposed by Irish conservative party Fianna Fáil’s Averil Power and was signed by 31 of the upper house’s 60 members. Power proposed the motion and criticised Israel, saying it was operating an “apartheid regime.” She said it was important that the international community “send out a clear message of support for the Palestinian people and their right to self-determination.”


22 October 2014

22 October 2014, 16:20, WI-SR294, Professor Lester L. Grabbe, MESG
KING DAVID AND EL CID: Two ‘APIRU in myth and history.



15 October 2014

15 October 2014, 4-8 pm, While the World Was at War: The Birth of the Middle East, Staff house, conference room 2, with Professor James Connelly, MESG, Dr Jenny Macleod, Department of History and Professor John Friend, MESG.


U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on Israel to scrap plans to expand settlements in East Jerusalem, which Palestinians want as the capital of a future state, and urged both sides to return rapidly to peace talks.



14 October 2014

UK parliament backs motion to recognise Palestine
British lawmakers voted on Monday to recognise Palestine as a state, a move that will not alter government policy, but carries symbolic value as Palestinians pursue international recognition.
Britain does not classify Palestine as a state, but says it could do so at any time if it believed it would help promote peace between the Palestinians and Israel. Prime Minister David Cameron abstained from the vote, which was called by an opposition lawmaker, and Cameron’s spokesman earlier said foreign policy would not be affected whatever the outcome. The vote was closely watched by Palestinians and Israelis seeking to gauge the readiness of European countries to act on Palestinian hopes for unilateral recognition by U.N. member states. The final motion, which passed by 274 votes to 12 stated: “That this House believes that the Government should recognise the state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel as a contribution to securing a negotiated two-state solution.” The vote comes just as Sweden’s new centre-left government prepares to officially recognise Palestine, a move condemned by Israel, which says an independent Palestine can only be achieved through negotiations. Lawmakers who backed the motion said it would increase pressure on Israeli and Palestinian authorities to revive the stalled peace process. “Its purpose is very simple, based upon the belief that the recognition of a state of Palestine, alongside a state of Israel will add to the pressure for a negotiated two-state solution and may bring that prospect a little closer to fruition,” said Jack Straw, who served as foreign minister between 2001 and 2006. Only 286 of 650 lawmakers voted, with many outside the government choosing to abstain. The ballot is non-binding and will not force Britain, once the colonial ruler of Palestine, to change its foreign policy. The government said progress towards a two-state solution was urgent, and recognition of Palestine as a state should be carefully timed to help that outcome. “The UK will bilaterally recognise a Palestinian state when we judge that it can best help bring about the peace,” said Tobias Ellwood, the government minister with responsibility for the Middle East.


U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon lamented the vast destruction in Gaza as he visited the area on Tuesday for the first time since the war, calling the situation “beyond description” and urging a speedy reconstruction effort.




13 October 2014

22 October 2014, 16:20, room WI-SR294, Professor Lester Grabbe, “KING DAVID AND EL CID: Two ‘APIRU in myth and history”,


5.4 billion dollar for Gaza, hope for good, peaceful purposes, in service of the Gazans who truly need to rebuild their lives and future



12 October 2014

15 October 2014, 4-8 pm, While the World Was at War: The Birth of the Middle East, Staff house, conference room 2, with Professor James Connelly, MESG, Dr Jenny Macleod, Department of History and Professor John Friend, MESG.


11 October 2014

British parliament to hold vote on Palestine state

British lawmakers will next week hold a symbolic parliamentary vote on whether the government should recognize Palestine as a state.

Palestinians believe Britain bears a unique role in their plight, as it ran a colonial mandate over what is now Israel and occupied Palestinian lands. A senior Palestinian official said on Thursday that European moves toward recognising an independent Palestine would bring them in line with global public opinion, ahead of a symbolic British parliament debate on the issue set for Monday. The UK vote comes as Sweden’s new centre-left government is set to officially recognise Palestine and a spokesman for the French foreign ministry said this week that recognition would be a positive step at some point but still advised peace talks. Israel says such recognition would undermine now stalled negotiations between the two sides, but Palestinians believe it is the best way to achieve a state.



10 October 2014

Israel’s arms sales to Africa more than doubled from 2012 to 2013, continuing a multi-year upward trend



Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani teenage education campaigner shot on school bus in 2012 by a Taliban gunman, has won the 2014 Nobel peace prize.

Malala won along with Kailash Satyarthi, an Indian children’s rights activist.

The two were named winner of the £690,000 (8m kronor or $1.11m) prize by the chairman of the Nobel committee – Norway’s former prime minister Thorbjoern Jagland – on Friday morning.

Kailash Satyarthi


9 October 2014

A new poll conducted by the Geneva Initiative in mid-September showed that a majority of Israelis (58%), including a majority of Likud voters (53%) believe that Prime Minister Netanyahu should initiate a peace plan that would lead to a two-state solution. A majority (56%) support negotiations with Palestinian President Abu Mazen on a permanent status agreement. Most Israelis (and especially younger ones- 85%) also believe that the diplomatic freeze conflict in the negotiations is bad for Israel, and that the absence of a peace agreement will result in another violent conflict. A Palestinian public opinion poll conducted in the last week of September showed that most Palestinians (53%) support a two-state solution.


Argentine police arrested a man suspected of planning to attack a Jewish community centre in Buenos Aires.
Argentina’s national security secretary, Sergio Berni, said Wednesday that police received an alert a week ago from Interpol of a possible plot to attack the Sociedad Hebraica.
The suspect, 57, was arrested Tuesday at an Internet cafe in Buenos Aires by the Anti-Terrorist Division of the Federal Police.
Berni declined to provide additional details other than to say that 1,500 security personnel had been deployed to 99 sites in the last week, which coincided with the Jewish High Holidays season. After a threat posted on Facebook last week, the Sociedad Hebraica was evacuated on the night of Oct. 2 and was closed the following day for security reasons.
“We are very satisfied by the actions of the police and the Justice Ministry in this case,” Julio Schlosser, the president of Argentina’s political umbrella group, DAIA, told Argentine media.
Buenos Aires was the site of two major attacks on Jewish sites in the 1990s. A 1992 attack on the Israeli Embassy killed 29. The 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish centre left 85 dead.



7 October 2014


Leket Israel, Israel’s National Food Bank and leading food rescue network, actively works to alleviate nutritional insecurity through its many food rescue and redistribution projects, rescuing food from destruction for  1,000 of Israel’s food producers, wholesalers  and retailers.  They provide food and nutritional support to over 140,000 people weekly with an annual distribution of 21 million pounds of produce and perishable goods, close to 1,000,000 hot meals collected each year and 1.5 million volunteer prepared sandwiches for underprivileged school children.  Leket receives the support of 50,000 volunteers a year and is working hard to improve the food handling and professional standards of  its 180 non-profit partner agencies.


5 October 2014

How should the American army fight against terrorists who mix themselves and hide among civilian population?

Terrorists are well aware of the sensitivities of western armies and the reluctance to harm civilians. They exploit this sensitivity and hide among innocent civilians. Questions rise about the conduct of a just war in such circumstances. A balance need to be struck between conflicting considerations: the safety of soldiers who are fighting in populated areas which they do not know, the safety of innocent civilians, and the elimination of terrorists. I welcome thoughts and reflections on this intricate problem.


2 October 2014

A 27-year-old Israeli social entrepreneur has been named a ‘Next Generation Leader‘ by TIME Magazine for her role in building communities of kindness. Adi Altschuler, the Israel manager of Google for Education, is one of six young people from around the world to be honoured by the magazine. “It is not enough, or even necessary, for a leader to be exceptionally good at his or her chosen discipline. What a leader must be exceptionally good at, however, is inspiring others to believe in a shared vision. That’s hard to do, especially when a young scientist, entrepreneur or activist has had only a short time to form a plan and build a team,” TIME magazine writes in its introduction to how it chose “these leaders of tomorrow who are working hard to change their worlds today.” Altschuler’s write up in the magazine talks about her role in founding Krembo Wings youth movement for children with special needs (which today has 35 branches across Israel with over 3,000 volunteers), her role as mentor for other social entrepreneurs, a new organization she recently founded that encourages Israelis to think differently about the impact of the Holocaust, and about her day job as the Israel manager of Google for Education, a Google department that trains tens of thousands of Israeli teachers in new ways of teaching and integrating technology in classrooms “to make learning magical again.” TIME’s other inspirational young persons in its first class of ‘next generation leaders’ include Indian architect Alok Shetty (28) for his pioneering work in designing affordable flood-proof homes for the poor; Chinese scientist Zhao Bowen (22) who is working on improving medical testing; Tunisian women’s rights activist Ikram Ben Said (34); British self-made online music video mogul Jamal Edwards (24); and Nigerian Ola Orekunrin (28), the founder and managing director of Flying Doctors Nigeria, the first emergency air ambulance service in the country. (via Israel21c)


1 October 2014

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday spoke at the opening of the United Nations General Assembly, giving a speech that the Jerusalem Post described as “vintage Netanyahu,” and one that leaned heavily on what has become the consensus understanding of the Middle East as divided into three regional blocs.Video, audio, and a text transcript of the speech can be found here,here,and here respectively. The Israeli leader described a Middle East torn between Sunni extremism on one side, Shiite extremism on another, and the U.S.’s traditional Arab and Israeli allies on a third. Describing the camp of Sunni extremists – conventionally taken to include Turkey, Qatar, the Muslim Brotherhood, and various jihadist groups including Al Qaeda –Netanyahu described the Islamic State and the Palestinian terror group Hamas as being “branches of the same poisonous tree” and declared more specifically that the two groups “share a fanatical creed, which they both seek to impose well beyond the territory under their control.” Turning toward the Shiite extremist camp – made up of Iran and its various regional proxies, including Hezbollah, Syria, and Iraq – Netanyahu pushed further, declaring that Tehran’s drive toward nuclear weapons posed a strategic threat to the region of qualitatively greater magnitude than that posed by Sunni extremists such as ISIS. The Israeli leader also emphasized that while the two groups compete in particular theatres, they have been known to cooperate just as often: “for 50 days this past summer Hamas fired thousands of rockets at Israel, many of them supplied by Iran.” The emphasis gestured toward a turn of phrase that has been circulating in Washington D.C. policy circles, under which Sunni and Shiite radicals are not so much enemies as competitors. Analysts have in recent months separately documented how Iranian proxies in Syria – up to and including the Assad regime – have cooperated with Sunni extremist groups to squeeze out moderates who would oppose both Sunni and Shiite radicals. Netanyahu sought to align Israel and the bloc of so-called Arab pragmatists – Egypt, Saudi Arabia, much of the rest of the Gulf, Jordan, and allied elements – opposite the extremist camps. The position is not a new one for Netanyahu – he flagged it in a major foreign policy address given earlier in September – but the Israeli leader has become increasingly explicit in attempting to consolidate potential alliances with Arab states threatened by Iranian proxies and by Sunni jihadist groups. During his Monday speech he doubled down on the vision, calling on Israel’s neighbours to embrace a “fresh approach” to normalization and regional peace based on shared interests, one that would “take into account new realities and new roles and responsibilities for our Arab neighbours.”


30 September 2014

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday spoke at the opening of the United Nations General Assembly, giving a speech that the Jerusalem Post described as “vintage Netanyahu,” and one that leaned heavily on what has become the consensus understanding of the Middle East as divided into three regional blocs. Video, audio, and a text transcript of the speech can be found here,here, and here respectively. The Israeli leader described a Middle East torn between Sunni extremism on one side, Shiite extremism on another, and the U.S.’s traditional Arab and Israeli allies on a third. Describing the camp of Sunni extremists – conventionally taken to include Turkey, Qatar, the Muslim Brotherhood, and various jihadist groups including Al Qaeda –Netanyahu described the Islamic State and the Palestinian terror group Hamas as being “branches of the same poisonous tree” and declared more specifically that the two groups “share a fanatical creed, which they both seek to impose well beyond the territory under their control.” Turning toward the Shiite extremist camp – made up of Iran and its various regional proxies, including Hezbollah, Syria, and Iraq – Netanyahu pushed further, declaring that Tehran’s drive toward nuclear weapons posed a strategic threat to the region of qualitatively greater magnitude than that posed by Sunni extremists such as ISIS. The Israeli leader also emphasized that while the two groups compete in particular theatres, they have been known to cooperate just as often: “for 50 days this past summer Hamas fired thousands of rockets at Israel, many of them supplied by Iran.” The emphasis gestured toward a turn of phrase that has been circulating in Washington D.C. policy circles, under which Sunni and Shiite radicals are not so much enemies as competitors. Analysts have in recent months separately documented how Iranian proxies in Syria – up to and including the Assad regime – have cooperated with Sunni extremist groups to squeeze out moderates who would oppose both Sunni and Shiite radicals. Netanyahu sought to align Israel and the bloc of so-called Arab pragmatists – Egypt, Saudi Arabia, much of the rest of the Gulf, Jordan, and allied elements – opposite the extremist camps. The position is not a new one for Netanyahu – he flagged it in a major foreign policy address given earlier in September – but the Israeli leader has become increasingly explicit in attempting to consolidate potential alliances with Arab states threatened by Iranian proxies and by Sunni jihadist groups. During his Monday speech he doubled down on the vision, calling on Israel’s neighbours to embrace a “fresh approach” to normalization and regional peace based on shared interests, one that would “take into account new realities and new roles and responsibilities for our Arab


27 September 2014

The State Department on Friday harshly condemned a speech given earlier that day by Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas, during which Abbas told the United Nations General Assembly that Israel’s summer Operation Protective Edge against Hamas constituted a “genocidal crime,” that the Israelis had committed a “series of absolute war crimes,” that those who expressed “support for Israel’s right to self-defence” were wrong to do so, and that Israel had “specifically targeted the City of Jerusalem…attempting to artificially alter the spirit, identity and character of the Holy City, focusing on Al-Aqsa Mosque.” The final allegation was a gesture toward Abbas’s repeatedly levelled accusation that Israeli Jews are attempting to “Judaize” Jerusalem, a charge that Israeli leaders have harshly criticised as a particularly virulent and dangerous form of incitement. Other portions of Abbas’s speech included lines lashing out over “the third war waged by the racist occupying State in five years against Gaza” and insisting that “the colonial occupying Power [Israel] was preparing a new Nakba [disaster] against the Palestinian people.” Substantively the speech appeared to commit the PA to giving up negotiations and instead pursuing a strategy of international legal warfare against the Jewish state. Abbas seemed emphatic on the point: “it is impossible, and I repeat – it is impossible – to return to the cycle of negotiations.” The full version of the speech as written was posted to the U.N.’s webpage, and  New York Times United Nations journalist Somini Sengupta reported that Abbas received “sustained applause from the General Assembly hall.” Johnathan Schanzer, vice president for research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), noted that “the PLO has been heading in this direction for several years now – using the international system as its chief negotiation leverage” and suggested that attention would now shift to whether the Obama administration would “help the PLO pursue its goals through the international system.” A statement sent to reporters by State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki Friday night blasted Abbas’s speech for having “included offensive characterizations that were deeply disappointing and which we reject,” and described his remarks as ones that “[were] counterproductive and undermine[d] efforts to create a positive atmosphere and restore trust between the two parties.” Veteran Associated Press (AP) diplomatic correspondent Matt Lee posted the statement to Twitter after specifically emphasizing both the former and latter aspects of State’s position. The subsequent AP story conveying Psaki’s statement specifically emphasized Abbas’s war crimes accusation.


The population of Israel now stands at 8,904,373 people, according to the annual report by the Central Bureau of Statistics released ahead of the Jewish New Year. “Israel’s population has passed eight million,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the weekly Cabinet meeting. “No less important, for the first time in the history of the State of Israel, more than six million Jews live here. This number has great significance in light of our people’s history in the previous century as well as in the current one.” The census showed that since Rosh Hashana last year, 24,801 people immigrated to Israel. The country welcomed 176,230 babies — 90,646 boys and 85,584 girls. The report listed the most popular Jewish names given the babies as Yosef, Daniel, Uri, Itay and Omer (for boys) and Tamar, Noa, Shira, Adelle and Talia (for girls). Other figures included 140,591 people registering their marriages, while 32,457 divorced. (viaIsrael21c)


25 September 2014

David Cameron holds talks with Iran’s Hassan Rouhani

The UK’s prime minister has held talks with the Iranian president for the first time since Iran’s 1979 revolution. 
David Cameron and Hassan Rouhani’s meeting in New York is being taken as a sign of a thawing of relations. It came after the US and five Gulf and Middle East countries began bombing Islamic State (IS) militants in Syria.
The UK parliament is expected to be recalled on Friday to discuss taking part in military action in Iraq. US Secretary of State John Kerry has said Iran, which supports Bashar al-Assad’s government in Syria, has a role to play in the fight against IS. But Iran’s leaders have questioned the US’s intentions and have argued that air strikes will not eliminate the threat from IS. Relations between the UK and Iran have improved in recent months, with the UK government announcing in June that it was to re-open its embassy in Tehran. It closed after it was stormed in 2011. Tensions also remain over Iran’s uranium-enrichment programme, which it insists is for energy purposes, but the UK and other countries say could be used to build weapons.




24 September 2014

Qatar is unquestionably engaged in international terrorist financing. According to the U.S. Treasury’s division for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, “Qatar, a long-time U.S. ally, has for many years openly financed Hamas.” – See more at:


A poll conducted for the Geneva Initiative by the New Wave Research Institute in mid-September, showed that 53% of Likud voters and 58% of the general public believe that in light of the reality after the Gaza conflict, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu should embark on a peace initiative that would lead to a two-state solution. Only 33% percent of respondents opposed such an initiative.

The poll was featured at a public conference organized by Geneva Initiative this week in Tel Aviv and was covered by the Israeli media. For an article about the poll in the Jerusalem Post, click here. The full results can be viewed here.

The poll was conducted amongst a representative group of 600 Israelis, aged 18 and above, with a margin of error of 4%.

The poll also showed that two-thirds of the Israeli public (66%) believes that if a peace agreement is not reached in the next few years, a violent conflict will erupt between Israel and the Palestinians. This view is especially predominant amongst young Israelis: 85% of Israelis aged 18-24 believe that violent conflict is the most likely scenario. 11% of Israelis believe that the most probable scenario in the absence of a peace agreement is a major step towards a one-state reality; only 8% believe that the Palestinians would waive their demand for an independent state and accept the status quo.

In addition, over two-thirds of the public (67%) believe that the lack of progress in negotiations with the Palestinians is bad for Israel, compared to only a fifth of the public (22%) who believe that the status-quo is good for Israel.

When asked for their opinion regarding investment by the government in the settlements as compared to other areas in Israel, 41% of Israelis responded that they believe the investment is too big, compared to only 16% who believe that it is too small. 26% said that they find the investment appropriate.

The participants in the poll were asked about the Geneva Initiative package deal: an Israeli withdrawal to the 1967 borders with land swaps and the settlement blocks remaining in Israel, the partition of eastern Jerusalem (including the relinquishing of sovereignty over the Temple Mount), a symbolic number of Palestinian refugees to be admitted to Israel and the demilitarization of Palestine under strict security arrangements. While a majority of respondents opposed most of the individual principles, a plurality supported the package as a whole (46% supporting, 33% opposing and 20% without a clear opinion).

The poll was funded by the European Union.



23 September 2014

U.S. and Allies Hit ISIS Targets in SyriaThe United States and allies launched airstrikes against Sunni militants in Syria early Tuesday, unleashing a torrent of cruise missiles and precision-guided bombs from the air and sea on the militants’ de facto capital of Raqqa, Syria, and along the porous Iraq border. American fighter jets and armed Predator and Reaper drones, flying alongside warplanes from several Arab allies, struck a broad array of targets in territory controlled by the militants known as the Islamic State. American military officials said the targets included weapons supplies, depots, barracks and buildings the militants use for command and control. Tomahawk cruise missiles were fired from United States Navy ships in the region. The strikes represent a major turning point in President Obama’s war against the Islamic State and open up a risky new stage of the American military campaign. Until now, the administration has bombed Islamic State targets only in Iraq, and had suggested it would be weeks if not months before the start of a bombing campaign against Islamic State targets in Syria. The strikes come 13 days after Mr. Obama announced in an address to the nation that he was authorizing an expansion of the military campaign against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS.


Dr. Kamal Al-Labwani, considered one of the most prominent members of the Syrian opposition movement, was in Israel recently to visit the Syrian casualties hospitalized in the Ziv Medical Center near Safed (Tsfat). A Syrian doctor and artist, sometimes called “the Syrian Nelson Mandela,” Al-Labwani came to Israel to thank the medical teams. “I am filled with appreciation for the devoted medical care that the Ziv Medical Center is providing for the Syrian casualties, people from my nation, who have been injured in the war. This is a touching humanitarian gesture and an opportunity to bridge between the nations and a hope for peace in more quiet times,” he said. “I came to the Ziv Medical Center to thank the hospital for treating hundreds of men, women and children, who have received the highest quality treatment, and emotional support following the difficult events they have experienced during the war in Syria. This treatment is not only for the wounded children and women, it is for the entire Syrian people, this is how we feel and everyone knows this and is talking about it. In Syria, Bashar Al- Assad claims that the Israelis are the enemies, and, here, at the hospital we see who the real Israel is. I ask: who is really the enemy?’” Al-Labwani also met leading figures in the Israeli government during his visit. He was joined on his visit by Moti Kahana, an Israeli-American businessman, who has been involved in humanitarian activities for the victims of the civil war in Syria and in the efforts to assist the Jews still remaining in Syria to leave the country. Hospitals throughout Israel have treated hundreds of Syrians wounded in their civil war. (via Israel21c)


You can read my new article “Avoiding the Destruction of the Third Temple: Separating State and Religion” at


22 September 2014

Yemen rivals sign peace agreement

Houthi leaders and Yemen president agree UN-brokered deal as rebels take over government buildings in Sanaa. 

A UN-brokered peace deal between Houthi rebels and Yemen’s government has been signed while the Houthis have taken control of government buildings and a state radio and TV station in the capital, Sanaa. Sunday’s agreement calls for the current government to rule in a caretaker role until a new administration is formed next month after consultations with all political parties. Yemen’s President Abdrabuh Mansour Hadi urged all sides to abide by the deal. Journalist Peter Salisbury said the agreement aimed to get the Houthis to leave the capital. However a section which was not signed by the Houthis stipulated that they were to withdraw from Sanaa, Jawf and Amran within 45 days. “The fighting didn’t stop because of the deal, but because the Houthis had achieved their military aims in Sanaa.” He said clashes were ongoing in other parts of the country, including Maarib to east of the capital. On Sunday the rebels took over government buildings in the capital including the defence ministry, the army headquarters, the parliament building, the central bank and the national radio station. Al Jazeera’s Mohamed Vall, reporting from Sanaa, said that most were taken over without fighting, which he referred to as a “capitulation of sorts” by the army. He added that soldiers from the army had been seen changing into civilian clothes to avoid being “arrested by the Houthis”.


Ghani named Afghan president-elect after deal -UPDATED

Afghanistan’s rival presidential candidates signed a deal to share power after months of turmoil over a disputed election.
 Former finance minister Ashraf Ghani was named Afghanistan’s president-elect on Sunday after he signed a deal to share power with his opponent, ending months of turmoil over a disputed election that destabilised the country as most foreign troops prepare to leave. The announcement withheld the final election numbers, apparently as part of the political deal between Ghani and rival Abdullah Abdullah, a former foreign minister who claimed the process was rigged against him. “The Independent Election Commission of Afghanistan declares Dr. Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai as the president of Afghanistan,” commission chief Ahmad Yousuf Nuristani said. Under the terms of the unity deal, Ghani will share power with a chief executive proposed by Abdullah. The two will share control over who leads key institutions such as the Afghan army and other executive decisions.


China and Iran to Conduct Joint Naval Exercises in the Persian Gulf




20 September 2014

The Senate late Thursday unanimously passed bipartisan legislation establishing Israel as a “major strategic partner” of the United States, establishing a basis for expanded cooperation across areas as diverse as security, energy, and trade. The bill had been authored by Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Roy Blunt (R-MO) and had gained 81 co-sponsors before it went to the floor. The House had already passed parallel legislation in March, and the pro-Israel lobby AIPAC called on Congress “to move quickly to reconcile the two versions of the legislation and send it to the President for his signature.” Broad aspects of the bill will see Israel’s trade status upgraded and new mechanisms created to facilitate technological cooperation in corporate and academic contexts. The Times of Israel specifically focused on aspects of the legislation that will – per the outlet’s description – increase “the frequency and detail of US government reporting on Israel’s qualitative military edge” and “expand the authority for forward-deployed US weapons stockpiles in Israel.” The value of those stockpiles, which the Israelis have tapped into during their recent wars with Hamas, will now be increased by $200 million to a total of $1.8 billion. The Times of Israel also picked out provisions of the bill requiring the president to “study the feasibility of expanding US-Israel cooperation on cyber security.” A recently leaked top-secret memo detailed previously unknown dimensions of US-Israeli intelligence cooperation, revealing that Washington and Jerusalem coordinate on cyber issues to an unprecedented degree. There are also provisions in the legislation to broaden energy cooperation, just a few weeks after the Houston Chronicle reported on broad efforts being made to establish links between Israel and Texas-based energy companies on issues ranging from regulatory advice to resource co-production. The vote itself came less than a month after a bipartisan Congressional delegation visited Israel to among other things push back against swirling reports of strain between Washington and Jerusalem. American support for Israel and sympathy for Israel remain near all time highs, and Congressional legislation expressing Washington’s backing for the Jewish state routinely cruises through the Senate without dissent. Scholar and journalist Walter Russell Mead, the James Clarke Chace Professor of Foreign Affairs and Humanities at Bard College, has described public American support for Israel as “one of the most potent political forces in U.S. foreign policy.”



19 September 2014

Funding ISIS,


LA Times-President Obama would be open to a repeat of last year’s historic conversation with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at next week’s United Nations General Assembly session


Western powers on Thursday criticized Iran for its ongoing refusal to provide the UN’s nuclear watchdog (IAEA) with the cooperation that the agency requires to fully investigate the so-called “possible military dimensions” (PMDs) of Tehran’s atomic program, statements that the BBC conveyed alongside an assessment from officials that ‘a breakthrough in the negotiations is unlikely.’ The European Union expressed itself disappointed that “very limited progress” had been made by the IAEA, two weeks after the organization released a report concluding that the Iranians were not merely stonewalling on PMD-related issues but were in fact destroying facilities in a way that “likely… further undermined the Agency’s ability to conduct effective verification.” IAEA chief Yukiya Amano this week had already blasted the Iranians over their foot dragging, declaring at a news conference that “Iran needs to be as transparent as possible to clarify these [PMD] issues” and help move toward a robust verification scheme. The two issues – the full disclosure of PMD-related activities and verification – are intertwined, with disclosure considered to be a vital prerequisite to establishing the scope of Iran’s program and therefore the nature of any future verification regime. Without establishing what nuclear-related activities the Iranian military has been engaged in – activities that are thought to range from uranium processing to nuclear warhead development – investigators and diplomats would have little ability to ensure that such activities had ceased. Emily Landau, a senior research fellow at Israel’s Institute for National Security Studies, wrote on Thursday that Iran must also be forced to admit its past military-related work so as “to dispense with Iran’s narrative that it has ‘done no wrong’ in the nuclear realm.” Iranian negotiators have over the years been unequivocal that Tehran has never engaged in prohibited military-related nuclear work, a conceit that per Landau has “created enormous difficulties for negotiators over the years [and] effectively undercut the alternative P5+1 narrative, and has considerably weakened the hand of the international negotiators facing Iran.”



18 September 2014

Islamic State crisis: US House approves Obama Syria plan

Congressional leaders gathered at the White House for talks on IS. The US House of Representatives has approved President Barack Obama’s plan to train and arm the moderate Syrian opposition taking on Islamic State. The vote passed by a large majority in the Republican-controlled House and is expected to be adopted in the Senate. The endorsement came after President Obama repeated that he would not be committing American combat troops to ground operations in Iraq. The US has undertaken 174 air strikes against IS in Iraq since mid-August. The jihadist group controls large areas of Syria and northern Iraq. In the most recent air strikes on Tuesday and Wednesday, US forces destroyed two IS armed vehicles north-west of Irbil and several units south-west of Baghdad, according to US Central Command (Centcom). Mr Obama’s new strategy plans similar attacks in Syria and calls on a coalition of 40 countries to confront the militant group.



US aerospace company Lockheed Martin has formed a technology-focused Israeli subsidiary, Lockheed Martin Israel, that will focus on cybersecurity, enterprise information technology, data centres, mobile, analytics and cloud, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal. Earlier this year, Lockheed Martin signed an agreement with EMC Corporation to jointly invest in advanced technology projects in cloud computing, data analytics and cyber technology. “Lockheed Martin has been operating in Israel for the past 20 years,” Haden Land, vice president of research and technology for Lockheed Martin, told the WSJ. “In April, we planted our flag by opening a tech centre in Beersheba, and now we’re showing our commitment by incorporating Lockheed Martin Israel.” According to the report, the defence contractor hopes to win deals with the IDF. “We’re going to methodically grow our footprint,” Land, who is taking part in a a cybersecurity conference at Tel Aviv University, told The Wall Street Journal. (via Israel21c)


Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday that Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani used the occasion of a state visit to Berlin to assure German Chancellor Angela Merkel that Doha “has never and will never support terror organizations,” after months of growing international consternation regarding Doha’s alleged role in diplomatically and militarily supporting a range of Sunni extremist groups including the Islamic State (IS) and Hamas. The outlet noted that German Development Minister Gerd Muller had just last month accused Qatar of being the country that “arms [and] finances IS troops,” triggering a not insignificant diplomatic incident that ended with Germany’s foreign ministry apologizing for “misunderstandings.” The apology triggered a wave of scepticism and criticism from German media outlets and politicians. Al-Thani’s Wednesday remarks prompted Jonathan Schanzer – vice president of research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies – to sarcastically tweet “case closed,” a gesture toward piles of evidence indicating that Qatar is a significant backer of regional extremist groups and by some measures Hamas’s top global supporter. The issue long ago began drawing congressional attention, and hearings have been held in recent weeks to probe Qatari support for terror entities. Washington’s traditional Arab allies have aligned themselves opposite the Qataris – to the point of pulling ambassadors – and a recent high-level Saudi delegation to Doha reportedly had the Saudis “read[ing] the riot act” to the Qataris, according to Washington Institute fellow Simon Henderson. Controversy over Qatar’s outsized influence has even in recent weeks engulfed the U.S.-based Brookings Institute, which has a branch in the country and receives tens of millions of dollars from Doha. An article published Wednesday by Hudson Institute Senior Fellow Lee Smith blasted Martin Indyk – vice president and director of the Foreign Policy Program at Brookings, and until recently a top figure in the State Department’s push for an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement – for having “cashed a $14.8 million check from Qatar.”




17 September 2014

IMF calls for Gaza blockade to be eased

‘Sustainable recovery’ will depend on robust international support and coordination, as well as an easing of Israeli blockade, said the IMF. Israel’s blockade to Gaza Strip should be eased alongside increasing support from the international community for a sustainable recovery in the region, the IMF has said in a report. The report released on Tuesday said that Israel’s last offensive harmed the Gaza’s economy to a great extent and its future was dependent on a permanent cease-fire agreement between the two sides. It stated: “If the current ceasefire holds, a small but immediate economic recovery is likely, based on a quick revival of retail trade, the service sector, and small scale industry surrounding reconstruction activities. “A sustainable recovery will depend on robust international support and coordination, as well as an easing of the blockade.” The economy would deteriorate in the case of a breakdown of the cease-fire, it warned, stressing a sustainable recovery could be achieved only through a synergy of financial support from international institutes and an easing of Israel’s blockade. Gaza’s economy has contracted 20 percent so far this year while unemployment has risen to 45 percent, the IMF said. Claiming the cost of rebuilding Gaza goes well beyond the Palestinian Authority’s resources and international support would be critical for the recovery, the report stated, the administration of the city needed to maintain fiscal discipline and, together with its International partners, urgently develop a robust fiscal mechanism to harness effectively donor aid to Gaza. WORLD BULLETIN



16 September 2014


The Governor of North Kivu province, DRC, recently announced his support for our concert on Peace Day. It was a pivotal moment for me and our 3-year campaign for Peace Day in the DRC and GLR. Showcasing global activation on Peace Day, this celebration will be headlined by five-time Grammy Award-nominated recording artist Akon, with performances from regional artists Lexxus Legal, Dety Darba, traditional drummers Sango’a, and comedian Mzee Mbukuli.

You can watch the celebration LIVE and FREE via the Peace One Day YouTube channel at the following link:



13 September 2014

Qatar and ISIS Funding: The U.S. Approach,


U.S. condemns Israeli expropriation of West Bank land,



12 September 2014

The Jerusalem District Court approved our claim against the ultra-Orthodox Kol BaRama radio station for excluding women from the station’s broadcasts. The court also ruled that our client, Kolech, can claim damages, as can all women who have been discriminated by this practice. The court made it very clear that the station’s policy was blatantly discriminatory and that regardless of the station’s target audience, the exclusion of women cannot be justified.

Kol BaRama, an Israeli public radio station, has exercised discriminatory practices against women’s freedom of expression for years, refusing to employ women, feature women as anchors, or allow women to be interviewed or to call in to shows.

As IRAC celebrates this monumental accomplishment, we prepare for the possibility of an appeal and for the upcoming negotiations about the exact amount of compensation that will be paid. Meanwhile, the court has ordered the station the broadcast an ad in two newspapers, one of them ultra-Orthodox, inviting women who have been discriminated against by Kol BaRama’s practices to lodge a complaint.

This huge victory wouldn’t have been possible without your support. Thank you for taking part in our struggle against segregation and the exclusion of women from Israel’s public sphere.

Anat Hoffman


11 September 2014

The Three Types of People Who Fight for ISIS,


Islamic State crisis: Obama threatens action in Syria

US President Barack Obama has said he will not hesitate to take action against Islamic State (IS) militants in Syria as well as Iraq.

In a nationally televised speech outlining his strategy against IS, he said that any group that threatened America would “find no safe haven”. He also announced that 475 US military personnel would be sent to Iraq but said they would not have a combat role. IS controls large parts of Syria and Iraq after a rapid military advance. Its fighters have become notorious for their brutality, beheading enemy soldiers and Western journalists on video.


Israeli army opens probe into Gaza war

Decision to probe two incidents involving civilian Palestinian deaths seen as bid to fend off international scrutiny. The Israeli military says it has opened criminal investigations into two high-profile cases involving Palestinian civilia casualties in this year’s Gaza war. The two cases cited on Wednesday are the first to result in criminal investigations. Seven other cases were closed, and three more are awaiting a decision. By investigating the killing of Palestinian children on a Gaza beach and the shelling of a United Nations school, the decision seems to be an attempt to try and fend off international investigations into its conduct. More than 2,100 Palestinians, three-quarters of whom were civilians, were killed during the July-August conflict, according to Palestinian and UN estimates. On the Israeli side, 66 soldiers and six civilians died. Israel said it went to great lengths to avoid civilian casualties, but the high death toll has sparked international condemnation. Several incidents in the war, including the two that Israel is now investigating, have attracted special attention. But international observers are not convinced that the probe will lead to justice.



10 September 2014

Defeat ISIS Without Abetting Evildoers,


Athens, 10/09/2014 – Lawmakers in Greece passed a law that bans Holocaust denial and imposes stricter penalties for hate speech.

The government had been trying to enact the bill for more than a year in an effort to confront the rise of the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party and a surge in anti-immigrant violence.

Passed late Tuesday with 55 of the 99 lawmakers present in the 300-member Parliament voting in favour, the measure criminalizes the denial or trivialization of the Holocaust or other recognized genocides.

It also increases jail time for instigating racist violence from two years to three years and imposes fines on individuals and groups. Groups found inciting racism can be barred from receiving state funds.

The Greek Jewish community and international Jewish groups have long pressed the Greek government to take a tougher legislative stance on hate speech.

Many of Golden Dawn’s leaders are awaiting trial on charges of running a criminal organization. The party, which has 18 seats in Parliament, frequently uses Nazi imagery. Its leaders have denied the existence of Nazi death camps and gas chambers.



8 September 2013

Qatar and ISIS Funding: The U.S. Approach,


2 September 2014

U.S. condemns Israeli expropriation of West Bank land,


30 August 2014

Non-violent resistance is Palestine’s most powerful weapon


20 August 2014

Hamas says the wife and child of its military commander, Mohammed Deif, have been killed in an Israeli air strike on the Gaza Strip.

At least 19 Palestinians have died since hostilities resumed on Tuesday, with both sides blaming each other for the collapse of the Cairo peace talks. The Israeli military said it had carried out 92 air strikes in response to 137 rockets fired at its territory. Six weeks of fierce fighting have left at least 2,103 people dead. Egypt has expressed “profound regret” at the end of the 10-day period of calm and said it will continue trying to secure a lasting truce. It is believed the air strike on a house in Gaza City late on Tuesday that killed Mohammed Deif’s wife and their young son was intended to kill the militant himself, reports the BBC’s Kevin Connolly in Jerusalem. The commander of Hamas’ armed wing, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, has survived a number of previous Israeli assassination attempts believed to have left him with severe disabilities. Israeli Interior Minister Gideon Saar said the attack was justified because Mohammed Deif was “personally responsible” for dozens of deaths. Yaakov Perry, Israel’s science minister and former security service chief, said he was “convinced that if there was intelligence that Mohammed Deif was not inside the home, then we would not have bombed it”. Rescue workers later pulled out of the remains of the house the bodies of three members of the family that lived there, medics said.



Germany prepared to send weapons to Iraq’s Kurds

Germany is prepared to send arms to Kurdish security forces in northern Iraq fighting Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) militants, Germany’s foreign and defence ministers said Wednesday. Military equipment such as helmets and security vests would be sent immediately, Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said, adding that Berlin had agreed also to send weapons. “We can imagine providing further equipment, including weapons. Great Britain, Italy and France have decided to send such goods and we are prepared to do so too,” he told reporters. “All these goods serve the purpose of helping put Kurdish security forces in a position where they can withstand ISIS attacks,” he added. Daily Star



19 August 2014

Gaza-based Islamist group
put on US terrorist list

WASHINGTON – An Islamist Palestinian group based in Gaza has been placed on the US terrorist black list, the State Department announced Tuesday.


Since its founding in 2012, the “Mujahidin Shura Council in the Environs of Jerusalem” has claimed responsibility for a number of rocket attacks on Israel and a cross-border attack with explosives that killed a civilian at an Israeli construction site, according to the State Department.


It said the group was composed of several jihadist sub-groups, and had declared its support for the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, a militant group that has declared a caliphate in areas of Iraq and Syria that it controls.


The US action bars Americans from engaging in transactions with the group and orders a freeze any assets it may have in the United States.


15 August 2014


Maliki resigns

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki’s resignation on Thursday evening was welcomed by the UN and US.

The resignation brought an end to eight years of often divisive rule, when Mr Maliki’s government was accused of favouring the Shia majority. Prime-minister designate Haider al-Abadi is one of Iraq’s most senior politicians, having held several high-profile posts since returning from exile in 2003.He is regarded by some as a moderate within Mr Maliki’s Dawa party, and has shown more of a willingness to compromise than his predecessor. The change in government comes as the Iraqi army proved unable to stop Islamist fighters from seizing vast areas in northern Iraq. The offensive by the self-styled Islamic State, a Sunni Muslim jihadist group formerly known as Isis, has triggered a security and humanitarian crisis, driving an estimated 1.2 million Iraqis from their homes.



Libya crisis: Parliament votes for foreign intervention

Libya’s parliament has called for foreign intervention to protect civilians from deadly clashes between rival militia groups.
 MPs were meeting in Tobruk in the east because of violence in the capital Tripoli and the second city Benghazi, and 111 out of 124 voted for the call. Neither the UN nor any foreign power has any current plans to intervene. Libya has been gripped by violence involving militias that spearheaded the 2011 uprising against Muammar Gaddafi. More than three years after the uprising, Libya’s police and army remain weak in comparison to the militias who control large parts of the country. Shortly after the decree on intervention, the parliament also voted to disband all militias, but the state has no means to enforce this measure. The BBC’s Rana Jawad, in Tripoli, says the first decree appears to be a bold move by the parliament but is ultimately symbolic. “The international community must intervene immediately to ensure that civilians are protected,” said MP Abu Bakr Biira, quoting from the decree. It is not clear whether the parliament is seeking a peacekeeping mission or some other form of help. But the international community has so far stopped short of any intervention, instead demanding an end to violence and encouraging dialogue.




14 August 2014

The White House did not authorise shipment of Hellfire Missiles to Israel. Hellfire missiles are fired fromApache helicopters to take out heavily armoured ground targets. The US administration does not trust Israeli discretion in its war conduct and now distinguishes between defensive weapons and offensive ones. At the same time it denied the Hellfire shipment it also authorized enlarged support for the Iron Dome batteries.


13 August 2014

The battle of the Gaza tunnels, Ynet,,7340,L-4555677,00.html



12 August 2014

John B. Judis, “Ending the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict is no longer a vital American interest”, The New Republic (August 10, 2014),


Gaza conflict: Fresh talks begin in Egypt

Indirect talks between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators aimed at finding a long-term solution to the conflict in Gaza have begun in Cairo, according to Egyptian state media.
 The fresh discussions come amid a new three-day ceasefire agreed between Israel and the Islamist group Hamas. A BBC reporter in Gaza says the truce is holding so far, with signs of normal life returning to the streets. About 2,000 people have died since the fighting in Gaza began on 8 July. Those killed include more than 1,900 Palestinians, mostly civilians, according to the UN. Sixty-four Israeli soldiers have been killed in the fighting and three civilians in Israel have also died. On Friday, Israeli negotiators had left Cairo after failing to agree a deal with their Palestinian counterparts. But the Israeli delegation arrived back in Egypt’s capital on Monday after agreeing to resume talks as long as the 72-hour ceasefire, which began at midnight (21:00 GMT Sunday) held. Militants in Gaza said they had fired several rockets towards Israel shortly before the truce got under way and Israeli air strikes had continued on Sunday evening, but the ceasefire has been respected since.



U.S. sending weapons directly to Kurdish forces, officials say

The U.S. government has begun to funnel weapons directly to Kurdish forces fighting Islamist militants in northern Iraq, U.S. officials said Monday, deepening American involvement in a conflict that the Obama administration had long sought to avoid.
 The decision to arm the Kurds, via a covert channel established by the CIA, was made even as Pentagon officials acknowledged that recent U.S. airstrikes against the militants were acting only as a temporary deterrent and were unlikely to sap their will to fight. “I in no way want to suggest that we have effectively contained, or that we are somehow breaking, the momentum of the threat,” said Army Lt. Gen. William C. Mayville Jr., the director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In a reflection of the administration’s reluctance to fight another full-fledged war in Iraq, Mayville said there are no plans to expand the limited air campaign, which President Obama ordered last week to prevent the massacre of Iraqi minorities and to protect U.S. military and diplomatic personnel in the northern city of Irbil. U.S. military officials said they have conducted 17 airstrikes — including four on Monday — against fighters from the Islamic State, a jihadist group that has swept across northern Iraq in recent months and controls large parts of Syria. Mayville added, however, that the militants have responded by melting into populated areas, making it harder to target them.

Washington Post



The Lancet, Volume 384, Issue 9942, Page 469, 9 August 2014


Published Online: 04 August 2014

Copyright © 2014 Elsevier Ltd All rights reserved.

Lancet- Gaza – an urgent call to protect civilian life and health

The Lancet

The Lancet is a general medical journal that publishes research, news, and opinion about all aspects of human health and wellbeing. In situations of war and conflict—such as in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, and elsewhere—our perspective has always been to put the interests of civilian lives ahead of the politics of military engagement. In the conflict taking place in Gaza, our position is very clear. We do not support any side whose actions lead to civilian casualties. The role of the doctor is to protect, serve, and speak up for life. That, too, is the role of a medical journal.

Our view of the conflict in Gaza comes from first-hand experience of Gaza itself. When one enters Gaza, it is as if one is entering a prison. At the Erez crossing point in north Gaza, one first passes through an armed passport check, followed by a first set of gates. One walks on through another gate, with a further 150 yards to still another gate. A final 150 yards follow to a last exit. Then one is confronted by a landscape of destroyed roads, buildings, and bridges. Debris lies everywhere. When one reaches a nearby town or Gaza City itself, the first impression one will have is not only the crowded nature of life in Gaza, but also the children, children everywhere. 45% of Gaza’s population is younger than 14 years of age.

On July 7, 2014, the Government of Israel launched “Operation Protective Edge”. Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs states on its website that, “Operation Protective Edge will continue until its goals are reached—restoring sustained peace and quiet to the citizens of Israel, while striking hard at the terrorist infrastructure of Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist groups in Gaza”. Israel, as any country, has the right to defend its citizens. International Humanitarian Law requires three principles to be upheld during such a defence. The Principle of Distinction states that, “parties to the conflict shall at all times distinguish between the civilian population and combatants”. The Principle of Precautions in Attack states that, “parties to the conflict must take all feasible precautions to protect the civilian population and civilian objects under their control against the effects of attacks”. The Principle of Proportionality states that, “Launching an attack which may be expected to cause incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians, damage to civilian objects, or a combination thereof, which would be excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated, is prohibited”.

Now return to life in Gaza. A land that no-one can escape from. A crowded land in which children are the largest single group of the population. These are the conditions in which attacks on Gaza combatants are taking place. One does not have to be a military expert or a scholar of International Humanitarian Law to realise the extreme risk to civilians in Gaza if conflict does not follow very strictly the Principles of Distinction, Precaution, and Proportionality. Palestinian civilian populations have no Iron Dome, the Israeli air defence system designed to intercept and destroy Hamas rockets. The children, women, and men of Gaza have had no protection from shelling that has so far claimed 852 civilian lives. The UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reports that 252 Palestinian children and 181 Palestinian women have been killed since July 7. 1949 children and 1160 women have been injured. 23 Gazan hospitals or clinics have been damaged. 250 000 Gazans have been displaced from their homes. 1·8 million people have reduced or no access to safe water. Epidemics of lice and scabies have broken out in shelters.

On July 22, we published a letter from Paola Manduca, Sir Iain Chalmers, Derek Summerfield, Mads Gilbert, Swee Ang, and colleagues drawing attention to the terrifying events taking place in Gaza these past weeks. Their letter has led to a debate about the appropriateness of a medical journal giving space to opinions about an issue that lies at the intersection between health and politics. But here is a war that is having far-reaching effects on the survival, health, and wellbeing of Gaza’s and Israel’s civilian residents. It is surely the duty of doctors to have informed views, even strong views, about these matters; to give a voice to those who have no voice; and to invite society to address the actions and injustices that have led to this conflict. Our responsibility is to promote an open and diverse discussion about the effects of this war on civilian health.

An opportunity for peace and justice surely beckons. For the health and wellbeing of civilians in both Gaza and Israel, we encourage both parties to have the courage to seize this moment.



10 August 2014

Thousands of people opposed to Israel’s bombardment of Gaza have taken to the streets in London in a mass demonstration to try and intensify pressure on the British government. Arranged by a compendium of anti-war campaigners and religious organisations, the march, from the BBC’s headquarters near Oxford Circus to Hyde Park, was claimed by organisers to have had as many as 150,000 in attendance.



9 August 2014

August 9: Rocket fire continued. The IDF launched 60 air strikes on targets in Gaza. At least two people died in Rafah. Citizens in kibbutzim around Gaza said they believe Hamas more than believe the Israeli government and refuse to return home.


Obama Talks to Thomas L. Friedman About Iraq, Putin and Israel

AUG. 8, 2014



President Obama is considering airstrikes or airdrops of food and medicine to address a humanitarian crisis among some 40,000 religious minorities in Iraq who have been dying of heat and thirst on a mountaintop after death threats from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. NYT



7 August 2014

OCHA situation overview,



5 August 2014

Israel and Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip late Monday, 4 August, officially accepted a three-day Egypt-sponsored truce, effective 8 a.m. local time Tuesday and designed as a first step in ending roughly a month’s worth of fighting in the Gaza Strip.


More than 130 civilians were killedover the weekend by Syrian regime forces across the country, according to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights watchdog group.


Civilian or Not? New Fight in Tallying the Dead From the Gaza Conflict, New York Times, how many civilians died?


August 5, 2014



3 August 2014

Gaza conflict: Israeli partial ceasefire comes into effect

A seven-hour “humanitarian window” announced by Israel has come into effect in parts of Gaza.

A senior Israeli military official said the truce would not apply to the town of Rafah and that Israeli troops would respond if they were attacked. Earlier, United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon described an Israeli strike near a UN-run school in Gaza as “a moral outrage and a criminal act”. Palestinian officials said at least 10 people died in the attack on Sunday. The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) confirmed on Sunday that they had begun withdrawing some troops from Gaza, saying it was “extremely close” to completing its mission to destroy a network of tunnels. Health officials in Gaza say 1,800 Palestinians, most of them civilians, have been killed and more than 9,000 injured since the conflict began nearly four weeks ago. Sixty-six Israelis have died, all but two of them soldiers. A Thai national working in Israel was also killed. In the outrage that followed Sunday’s attack on the UN school, Israel announced it would hold a “humanitarian window” in its Gaza offensive to allow hundreds of thousands of displaced Palestinians to return to their homes. The ceasefire would not include Rafah because there was an “Israeli military presence” there and “clashes were still on-going”, an IDF statement said. It said the truce would last from 10:00 local time (07:00 GMT) until 17:00 (14:00 GMT).The Israeli army warned that it would “respond to any attempt to exploit this window” by Islamist militants in Gaza. Hamas responded to the truce with suspicion and its spokesman, Sami Abu Zuhri, accused the IDF of attempting to “divert the attention from Israeli massacres”.



Until now, 4,000 targets in Gaza were struck by Israel, resulting in 1,730 Palestinian deaths, 9,130 injured, mostly civilians. More than 3,000 rockets launched at Israel from Gaza. 67 Israeli deaths, most of them soldiers.


2 August 2014

American and United Nations officials blasted Hamas throughout Friday for shattering a 72-hour ceasefire after the terror organization attacked Israeli soldiers – killing at least two and kidnapping one – 90 minutes into the truce. White House Spokesman Josh Earnest condemned the seemingly pre-planned abduction plot, which involved the use of civilians and suicide bombers for diversions, as a “barbaric violation of the ceasefire agreement.” Secretary of State John Kerry subsequently issued an official statement “condemn[ing] in the strongest possible terms… [the] outrageous violation of the cease-fire.” U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon issued similarly worded remarks, “condemn[ing] in the strongest terms the reported violation by Hamas.” The kidnapping will trigger a cascade of diplomatic and geopolitical consequences. Qatar was reportedly central to crafting the ceasefire, and – per an assessment in Israel’s left-wing Ha’aretz – “now finds itself in the embarrassing situation of explaining why it can’t control its client and deliver the goods.” Doha’s regional standing and posture may suffer accordingly. The Egyptians meanwhile were the official brokers of the ceasefire and observers believe they are considering diplomatic retribution. Cairo has kept its border with the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip closed throughout the day. The most immediate consequence of the attack has been a renewal of Israeli action against Hamas infrastructure throughout Gaza and especially around southern Gaza, as Israeli forces attempted to prevent the kidnappers “from finding a safe haven from which they can start the process of making demands” for the return of the kidnapped soldier, Hadar Goldin. Broader Israeli moves in the coming days and weeks are nearly certain. Gershon Baskin, who is broadly considered one of Israel’s top negotiators on Hamas matters and was a key figure in the talks over previously kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit, tweeted almost immediately that the Hamas fighters behind the attack had “just signed the death sentenced of many Hamas leaders. There will not be another Schalit deal.”



1 August 2014

A cease-fire reached early Friday morning disintegrated after less than two hours. It ended after the Israeli military said two Israeli soldiers were killed and one was kidnapped by Palestinian militants. Hamas’s military wing denied violating the cease-fire, and the group said that Israel’s announcement about the capture of an Israeli soldier was intended “to cover up the barbaric massacres.”  NYT


Two Israeli soldiers were killed today. The Israeli death toll is 66. 61 rockets launched at Israel from Gaza. All in all, 2,909 rockets launched at Israel from Gaza. The death toll in Gaza reached 1,592 Palestinians (NYT) (Haaretz, 1,624), mostly civilians including 315 children. 8,750 Palestinians were injured.


31 July 2014

Israel and Hamas agreed to a 72-hour humanitarian cease-fire to begin Friday morning, Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary General Ban Ki-moon of the United Nations announced. Mr. Kerry said that Palestinian and Israeli delegations would travel to Cairo to discuss a more permanent cease-fire. Nine people died in attacks early Thursday as the Palestinian death toll surpassed that of the Israel-Gaza conflict in 2008, and Israel called up an additional 16,000 reserve troops for a total of 86,000. NYT


The Palestinian death toll surpassed that of the Israel-Gaza conflict in 2008. The death toll in Gaza is now said to be 1,410 and 8,000 people injured, mostly civilians, since 8 July. Five soldiers were killed today. The Israeli death toll is now 64. 95 rockets were fired today. All in all, 2,848 rockets launched at Israel from Gaza during the fighting.


The UN estimated that a quarter of the Gaza population became refugees, some 440,000 people.



30 July 2014

What appeared to be Israeli artillery shells hit a United Nations school at a Jabaliya refugee camp where 3,300 Palestinians had taken refuge from fighting. United Nations officials said the attack at the school, above, was the latest in a series of strikes on United Nations facilities that are supposed to be safe zones. Israeli military officials said Palestinian militants had “opened fire at Israeli soldiers from the vicinity” and denied targeting the school. In southern Gaza, three Israeli soldiers were killed while uncovering a tunnel shaft under a house. NYT


29 July 2014

Israel’s aerial assaults on targets in Gaza broadened, with barrages that destroyed Hamas’s media offices, the home of a top leader and what Palestinians said was a devastating hit on the only electricity plant, plunging the enclave of 1.7 million into deeper deprivation with no power, running water or sewage treatment. NYT


28 July 2014

Israel and Hamas accused each other of responsibility for the explosions at the Shati refugee camp and Shifa Hospital. Hamas and its affiliates said Israeli aerial attacks were responsible. The Israelis said errant Palestinian rockets that had been aimed at Israel but misfired were the cause. Above, Palestinian men cry after funerals for 10 children who were killed as they played in a park in the Shati refugee camp. NYT

The death toll in Gaza is said to be 1,100. More than 6,500 Palestinians were injured, mostly civilians. The IDF death toll is now 53. 3 Israeli civilians were killed in the rocket fire.


27 July 2014

Israel and Hamas went back and forth over proposals for a new cease-fire, and Israel sought to bolster its claim that Israeli forces were not responsible for the deaths of 16 Palestinians reportedly killed in an attack on a United Nations school. Israel said an errant mortar round fired by Israeli troops had exploded in the school’s courtyard, but that the yard had been empty at the time. NYT


The IDF death toll is now 43. 3 Israeli civilians were killed in the rocket fire. 2,255 rockets launched at Israel from Gaza.


The death toll in Gaza is said to be at least 1,023 (NYTHaaretz says 1065). More than 6,200 Palestinians were injured, mostly civilians. 160,000 Palestinians became refugees as many hundreds of houses were destroyed.



26 July 2014

With the Palestinian death toll topping 1,000 after 117 bodies were recovered from the rubble during Saturday’s 12-hour lull in fighting — and with 42 Israeli soldiers killed in combat — calls for calm continued to grow more urgent. NYT


The IDF death toll is now 43. 3 Israeli civilians were killed in the rocket fire since the start of hostilities 19 days ago. 2,233 rockets were fired at Israel from Gaza.


The death toll in Gaza is said to be more than 1,000. 5,730 Palestinians were injured, mostly civilians. In the past few days we receive reports about death of large families. The IDF targeted the Beit Hanoun hospital. According to the Gazan Ministry of Health, six out of Gaza’s 13 hospitals have already been severely damaged. One, el-Wafa rehabilitation hospital, has been completely destroyed. Israel argues that Hamas is using these hospitals for its terror operations.



25 July 2014

An intensive effort by Secretary of State John Kerry to arrange a seven-day humanitarian cease-fire fell short. Violence spread to the West Bank as enraged Palestinians protested Israel’s military offensive in Gaza. The Palestinian death toll in Gaza topped 850. In Israel, the military announced the deaths of two more Israeli soldiers, and said a soldier who had been missing in Gaza since July 20 had been killed in battle.  NYT


24 July 2014

Since the ground invasion began eight days ago, Israeli forces have struck targets up and down the Gaza Strip. Shejaiya, a neighbourhood of Gaza City, and the towns of Beit Lahiya and Khuza have seen some of the most intense fighting. Here are some of the major attacks on Thursday: 1 A school run by the United Nations that was being used as a shelter was hit by explosions, killing at least 16 people. Israeli officials denied intentionally targeting the school and suggested that an errant Palestinian munitions might have been the cause.2 At least 25 people were killed here, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry. Two-thirds of the town’s homes have been destroyed and 60 percent of its population has fled.3 A mosque and a residential building were destroyed. Residents said that seven people were killed.4 The Palestinian Health Ministry said 17 people were killed in the two villages. NYT


23 July 2014

The death toll in Gaza is said to be 650. More than 4,000 Palestinians were injured, mostly civilians. 3 soldiers were killed today in fighting. The rocket terror continues at a rate of around 10 rockets per day.


Secretary of State John Kerry conducted a whirlwind tour of diplomacy, holding intensive talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel after having met in the occupied West Bank with the Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas. But for the moment, the prospects for a cease-fire seemed remote. The intensified diplomacy came as Israel reported three more Israeli soldiers were killed in Gaza, bringing the total to 32; a foreign labourer was also felled by a rocket that hit farmland near the city of Ashkelon in the afternoon, the third civilian casualty on the Israeli side. The Gaza-based Health Ministry put the Palestinian death toll at 661 and 4,120 wounded. The deaths included more than 132 children, 66 women, and 36 elderly men.  NYT


22 July 2014

On Tuesday, Israeli officials confirmed that one of their soldiers, Sgt. Oron Shaul, 21, has been missing in Gaza since Sunday and said they were trying to determine whether he had been captured or had died in combat. Israel’s bombardment of Gaza persisted from the air and sea, and artillery shelling could be heard into the night. Rocket fire from Gaza into Israel continued and major American airlines halted flights to Israel after a rocket fell near Ben-Gurion International Airport outside Tel Aviv.  NYT


Difficult fighting in Shejaiya. Hamas’ tactics is to launch surprise attacks: they appear from nowhere, shoot, and disappear into houses, dense streets, tunnels.  The death toll in Gaza is said to be 604. More than 3,700 Palestinians were injured, mostly civilians. 123 soldiers are in hospitals. One soldier is reported missing. Two soldiers killed today. The IDF death toll is now 29.


21 July 2014

Diplomatic pressure for a cease-fire mounted as the Palestinian death toll topped 500 and the number of Israeli soldiers killed hit 25. Four Israeli soldiers and 10 Palestinian militants were killed inside Israeli territory after armed gunmen from the Gaza Strip infiltrated through two tunnels.  NYT


20 July 2014

The Israeli offensive spread through Gaza in what was for both sides the deadliest day so far in the war. Most of the Palestinians were killed in Shejaiya, a Gaza City neighbourhood that Israeli military officials called a fortified town of tunnels and rocket launchers. The Palestinian government called the killings of Palestinian civilians there a “heinous massacre.”  NYT


19 July 2014

The United Nations said the fighting in the last 24 hours resulted in the highest death toll in one day since the conflict began. Tens of thousands of Palestinians have been forced to flee their homes. Above, displaced Palestinians take refuge at a school run by the United Nations. Two Israeli soldiers were killedwhen Hamas militants slipped into Israel through a tunnel and attacked a border patrol. A rocket fired from Gaza killed an Israeli in a Bedouin village near Dimona. The United Nations said the fighting in the last 24 hours resulted in the highest death toll in one day since the conflict began. Tens of thousands of Palestinians have been forced to flee their homes. Above, displaced Palestinians take refuge at a school run by the United Nations. Two Israeli soldiers were killed when Hamas militants slipped into Israel through a tunnel and attacked a border patrol. A rocket fired from Gaza killed an Israeli in a Bedouin village near Dimona. NYT


18 July 2014

U.S. cautions Israel on civilian casualties,



17 July 2014

A new report confirms Israel’s role as one of the topcyber defenceexporting countries in the world. According to the Israel National Cyber Bureau (INCB), Israel exported an astonishing $3 billion worth of cyber related products so far in 2014. This places Israel second only after the US in cyber export. The number of Israeli cyber-defence companies stands at over 220. In early 2014, multinational players IBM, Cisco, EMC, Lockheed Martin RSA and Deutsche Telekom all announced plans to set up cyber-research facilities in CyberSpark, Israel’s new cyber-security technology park in Beersheva. According to the INCB report, blue-and-white cyber firms raised $165 million in investment money, equivalent to 14.5% of worldwide investment within the cyber field. (via Israel21c)


Syrian President Bashar al-Assad wassworn infor a third seven-year term yesterday, andused his inauguration speechto blast Arab and Western nations for supporting opposition elements in the war-torn country, threatening that “countries who backed terrorism will pay the price.”


Diplomatic efforts to stop the killing enter a serious phase. President Obama announced an American effort to reach truce. Both Israel and Hamas agreed to five-hour “humanitarian relief”. The Israeli military said it would stop firing from 10:00 to 15:00 to allow residents in Gaza to stock up on supplies. Hamas confirmed that they would also stop rocket attacks in that time. Officials in Gaza say Israeli raids have left 220 Palestinians dead.

After a few hours of relief, the violence resumed with gusto so as “to compensate” for the quiet hours. My computer rings when the siren goes off in Israel. My computer rang constantly.

The defiant Hamas launched more than 100 rockets in a few hours. Prime Minister Netanyahu order to start the ground offence. One soldier died and five others were injured. The IDF targets offensive tunnels and rocket launchers. The death toll in Gaza is said to be 264 Palestinians.


Missing in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: Courageous political leaders on both sides


President Barack Obama on Wednesdayreemphasizedwhat has in the last week become acentral administration positionon the unfolding Israel-Gaza crisis, insisting that the Israelis had a right to engage in self-defence – the President’s exact language was “there’s no country on Earth that can be expected to live under a daily barrage of rockets” – and also noting that Jerusalem has made repeated efforts to deescalate the conflict.


16 July 2014

Death toll in Gaza is said to be 214. 113 rockets were fired on Israel. The IDF fires heavy artillery on north Gaza. Negotiations are carried out in Egypt. Israel demands to demilitarize Gaza.


The Senate Appropriations defence subcommittee approved a defence spending bill on Tuesday that would provide $621.6 million for Israeli missile defence, including $351 million for the Iron Dome system that intercepts short-range rockets and mortars. In the latest hostilities between Israel and Hamas, Iron Dome has been successful in shooting down rockets and preventing Israeli deaths.


July 15: The Israeli Cabinet accepted Egypt’s proposal for a cessation of hostilities with the Gaza Strip.
The cease-fire called for border crossings to Gaza to “be opened,” with the movement of people and goods to be “facilitated once the security situation becomes stable on the ground.” Within 48 hours of the initial cease-fire taking hold, talks are to be held in Cairo with the Israelis and the Palestinian militant factions on conditions for a longer-term truce.
While Israel accepted the Egyptian proposal, Hamas did not. One of Hamas’s demands has been the opening of the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt, but the Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman said the proposal refers only to crossings “between Israel and Gaza.” Hamas continued to launch rockets on Israeli civilians, killing one. Israel resumed the air raids on Gaza. 202 Palestinians are reported dead. The IDF warned some 100,000 residents in Gaza that they better evacuate their homes. Most of them decided to stay.

Iraqi Parliament elected a new speaker Salim al-Jubouri, achieving a political breakthrough that could lead to formation of a new government


Life in the Gaza Strip,


July 14: The fire continues. Air strikes on one side. Constant barrages of rockets on the other. 130 rockets were fired from Gaza. The death toll continues to rise, especially on the Palestinian side. Palestinian officials say at least 192 people have been killed by Israeli air strikes launched eight days ago to stop militants firing rockets into Israel. The UN estimates that over three-quarters of these were civilians. An estimated 1,400 Palestinians have been injured. There have been 27 Israeli civilians injured since the start of operation Protective Edge, including 2 severely injured. There have also been 12 IDF Soldiers injured, including one severely injured.


Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday officially requested international protection for the Palestinians and their territories. Abbas made the request in a letter to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. The letter was handed to U.N. envoy Robert Serry during a meeting in Abbas’s office in Ramallah


July 13: Rockets on Israel from Lebanon. Israel has no interest to open a second front in the north. On the other hand, no response is an invitation for more aggression. Israel decided to open artillery fire against targets inside Lebanese territory. 100 rockets were fired today on Israel.








Israel escalated its operations against Gaza. 17,000 are reported to leave their homes in the battle zone and became refugees. The death toll in Gaza is said to be 168. Demonstrations around the world against Israel to stop the airstrikes on Gaza.


July 12: Hamas fired 90 rockets from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory on Saturday. Israel has carried out overnight air strikes against Gaza’s security headquarters and police stations, in the heaviest bombardment since operations began on 8 July. An IDF elite platoon, The Shayetet, carried out a brief raid against a rocket-launching site inside the Strip. At least 159 Palestinians have died in the air strikes, Gaza officials say.


11 July 2014:

Fire exchanges continue. The death toll in Gaza is reported to be 121. Both sides post testimonials of citizens that “Israel does not frighten us” and “Israel withstands Hamas rockets”. Israel continues preparations for ground invasion.


The US is prepared to broker a ceasefire between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza, President Barack Obama has said.

His comments came in a phone call with Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu. Mr Netanyahu earlier said Israel’s operation was progressing as planned with “more stages expected”. The air strikes on Gaza, and militant rocket fire into Israel, continued overnight. More than 90 Gazans have died since Tuesday, Palestinian officials say. About half of those killed are civilians, the health ministry has said, with some 600 people – mainly civilians – injured. Israel says “dozens of terrorists” are among the dead. Israel says militants have fired close to 500 rockets from Gaza since it launched its Operation Protective Edge early on Tuesday. It says many of the rockets have been intercepted by its Iron Dome anti-missile system – and that it has attacked about 780 targets over the same period. There have been no reports of fatalities in Israel. One person was seriously injured when a rocket hit a petrol station in the southern town of Ashdod on Friday morning, reports say. BBC NEWS


10 July 2014

Special Report: The Deadly Rocket Arsenal of Hamas,


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursdaypredicted that“more stages were expected” in the country’s three-day-old Operation Protective Edge, as analysts converged on the assessment that Israel may have to initiate a ground incursion into the Gaza Strip in the wake of a series of moves by the Palestinian Hamas faction, which controls the territory and has over the last few weeks steadily increased rocket attacks against the Jewish state. Netanyahu is widely acknowledged as having sought to deescalate tensions before the operation began – Palestinian sources confirmed as much earlier this week, and even domestic critics of Netanyahu’s diplomacy have bluntly stated that he “did not want to escalate this war” – but observers on Thursday identified a range of Hamas actions that risked precipitating a wider conflict. Uzi Rubin, the former director of Israel’s Missile defence Organization, had explained to reporters on Wednesday conference that Hamas was apparently “preparing for a long campaign.” Speaking on a conference call hosted by The Israel Project, Rubin specifically cited the pace at which Hamas was depleting its rocket inventory as evidence that the terror group was digging in for a long operation. Hamas on the same day launched three rockets at Israel’s nuclear reactor in the city of Dimona, a blackletter act of nuclear terrorism per binding United Nations conventions. Rockets fired by the group on Thursday were intercepted within a few miles of Israel’s main airport. Meanwhile Amos Yadlin – the former head of the IDF’s military intelligence shop (Aman) and currently the director of Tel Aviv University’s Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) – published a broad overview of the strategic situation surrounding the conflict. He specifically noted that Hamas had created “a network of underground tunnels and shelters, which are used not only by the Hamas leadership but also by a large number of military operatives,” and that “a ground operation is necessary and almost essential” if Israeli forces were to get at Hamas’s high-value targets. The various factors appear to create a scenario in which Hamas has ensured that its long-range missiles – which it is preparing to deploy over the course of months against Israeli civilian centres and nuclear installations – are functionally invulnerable except from the ground.


Despite the IDF air attacks, Hamas continues to fire rockets in the same intensity. 200 rockets fired on Israeli towns, covering the majority of Israel, from Beer Sheva to Hadera. One elderly woman died. Few others were injured. Palestinian losses estimated to be 90. The escalation continues.


Deaths rise in Israeli air strikes on Gaza

More than 20 people have been killed in the latest air raids on Gaza, Palestinian officials say, as Israel continues its current offensive.

The Palestinian health ministry said most died in attacks on a house and a cafe in Khan Younis in the south, bringing the overall death toll to 80.Militants in Gaza continued firing rockets into Israel on Thursday, with sirens sounding over southern towns. Israel says its targets in Operation Protective Edge have been militant fighters and facilities including rocket launchers, weapons stores, tunnels and command centres. The Palestinian health ministry said 17 people including five children and three women were killed in the strikes on the house and cafe in Khan Younis. Israel has not commented on the incidents. Elsewhere on Thursday, three people also died in an Israeli strike on a car in western Gaza City, Palestinian reports say. Reuters said the victims were militants from Islamic Jihad.



9 July 2014

Reports surfaced on Wednesday that pressure was building on Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to apply for membership in the International Criminal Court (ICC), a move that would further jeopardize relations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) amid an on-going Israeli campaign to halt rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip into the Jewish state. Abbas reportedly convened a meeting of Palestinian leadership on Wednesday afternoon to sign paperwork to join among other institutions the ICC, which would allow the PA to take legal action against Jerusalem for alleged war crimes. The Palestinian push to join international institutions – which remerged in earnest at the beginning of April, though Abbas at the time had not attempted to join the ICC – had been quickly criticized for violating core commitments to avoid unilateralism stretching back to the Oslo Accords. An ICC bid would constitute a kind of “scorched earth” campaign by the Palestinians, what observers increasingly worry is a diplomatic attempt to ascend to and then politicize international institutions. Speaking on a conference call with The Israel Project Wednesday, former Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren called an attempt by the PA to seek ICC membership a “strategic threat” to be taken “very, very seriously.”


More than 200 rockets were launched from Gaza, covering the majority of Israel. 26 Palestinians were reported dead as a result of the IDF air attacks.


Israel vows ‘lengthy’ offensive in Gaza

Israeli air force launches 50 airstrikes, after at least 20 rockets were fired from Gaza.

The Israeli army has promised a “lengthy” offensive against Hamas, after a fresh wave of airstrikes against Gaza and a salvo of dozens of rockets fired from the strip into southern Israel. Palestinians told Al Jazeera that eight people were injured in the Israeli strikes on Tuesday morning, one of which reportedly targeted the house of a senior member of the Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas. The bombings came after at least 20 rockets were fired from Gaza. No injuries or damage were reported. Overnight, the air force carried out some 50 airstrikes in the besieged territory, and on Tuesday Moshe Ya’alon, the defence minister, said the current campaign in Gaza would be lengthy. “We are preparing a campaign against Hamas that will not be completed within a few days,” Ya’alon said. “We are prepared to expand the campaign using every means at our disposal, to continue to strike the terrorist organisation. “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has so far resisted pressure from within his government to launch a major offensive. But on Tuesday he said Israel would “take the gloves off” in dealing with Hamas.”[They] chose escalation, and will pay a heavy price. “The army announced on Tuesday that it will also mobilise “several thousand” more reservists, on top of 1,500 called up the previous day. An army spokesman said that “all options are on the table,” provoking speculation that a ground invasion is being considered, but so far there is limited support for that within the government.



8 July 2014

Israeli Cabinet authorised mobilization of 40,000 reserve troops. War on Gaza imminent.


1 July 2014

Israeli PM Netanyahu endorses Kurdish independence citing chaos in Iraq

Citing the “collapse” of Iraq amid the ISIS insurgency and sectarian violence, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has endorsed the de-facto independence of Iraqi Kurds. Netanyahu has also called to support the “Kurdish aspiration for independence. ”The hawkish Israeli leader said on Sunday that Kurds are “fighting people that has proved its political commitment, political moderation, and deserves political independence,” Reuters reported. Speaking to Tel Aviv University’s INSS think-tank, Netanyahu described the situation in Iraq and the Middle East in general as a “collapse,” due to strife between Sunni and Shiite Muslims. Amid the recent insurgency of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS/ISIL) militants, Kurds have seized the opportunity to bring a long-sought independent state of Kurdistan closer to reality. Kurdish Peshmerga armed forces have been guarding their provincial borders from ISIS, but also seized the contested Iraqi city of Kirkuk, proclaiming it part of their territory. Now, in an apparent clash against the international community’s support of a united Iraq, the Israeli leader has called to back the de-facto independence of Kurds. “We should…support the Kurdish aspiration for independence,” Netanyahu was quoted as saying. Netanyahu’s words followed similar statements by senior Israeli officials. Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Thursday told US Secretary of State John Kerry that he believes “the creation of an independent Kurdish state is a foregone conclusion,” citing Iraq’s “breaking up.” Meanwhile, Israeli President Shimon Peres told US President Barack Obama that “the Kurds have, de facto, created their own state, which is democratic.”


29 June 2014 Abbas congratulates Al-Assad for re-election as Syrian president

Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas has said the re-election of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad started “a countdown to the end of Syria’s crisis”
. Agency France Press quotes Abbas as saying in a hand written message to Al-Assad: “Your election to the presidency of the Syrian Arab Republic guarantees Syria’s unity and sovereignty, and starts of a countdown to the end of Syria’s crisis and its war against terrorism. “This is the clearest support that Al-Assad has received from the PA since the beginning of the Syrian uprising in mid-2011. Abbas expressed his hopes for stability in Syria and “success” for Al-Assad. The PA’s relations with the Syria regime deteriorated when a verbal clash about the reliability of talks with the Israeli occupation erupted between Abbas and Al-Assad during an Arab League meeting held in Libya in 2010.As Syria’s relations with Hamas were good at the time, Fatah demanded that the reconciliation file with Hamas be moved away from Damascus. But then Al-Assad’s regime got angry with Hamas when it decided to support the popular Syrian uprising. This development made Fatah repair its relations with Al-Assad and the PA sent missions to talk with the Syrian regime about the Yarmouk refugee camp, which has been under siege for about a year.AFP






16 June 2014

As Americans debate assisting Iraq, including the possibility of military intervention, read about 10 things to keep in mind here.

Brian Jenkins


11 June 2014

On 10 June the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, expressed concern over rising racism and xenophobia in Europe. In her remarks opening the 26th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Pillay referenced the results of May’s elections to the European Parliament, in which ultra-right parties scored gains.

Pillay warned that even in established democracies there is a risk that extremist political rhetoric will weaken the fight against discrimination. She pointed out the successes enjoyed by xenophobic parties in the European elections, giving as an example the Front National of France, whose head, Marine Le Pen, compared Muslims praying outdoors there to the Nazi occupation.

The High Commissioner says the number of Western European states in which political statements are “rooted in racist and xenophobic feelings and in religious intolerance” is disturbing. The South African, who is ending her six-year term, provided an overview of her time in office to the session.

In some areas, such as in the fight against the death penalty or in strengthening the Human Rights Council as an institution, Pillay said success has been achieved. However, at the same time she said it has been shown that “Regrettably, the international community remains unable to consistently react strongly and quickly to crises, including situations of grave human rights violations…”

Pillay sharply criticized the inability of the politically-blocked UN Security Council to suppress the civil war in Syria. She pointed out that China and Russia recently vetoed a resolution calling for the prosecution of war crimes in Syria at the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

“It is shocking that war crimes and crimes against humanity have become commonplace and occur with complete impunity,” emphasized Pillay, whose successor as of 1 September will be Prince Zeid Ra’ad Zeid Al-Hussein, currently the Jordanian ambassador to the United Nations. The three-day session of the Human Rights Council was scheduled to review the situations in Belarus, the Central African Republic, Eritrea, North Korea, and Syria, as well as broader topics such as violence against women, extreme poverty, migration, judicial independence, and the security of journalists.


2 June 2014

Cohen-Almagor’s new article: “Suggestions for Israeli-Palestinian Agreement”, New Directions (Kivunim Hadashim), No.30 (June 2014), pp. 144-159 (Hebrew).


31 May 2014

Secretary of State John Kerry told PBS that Israel’s stance toward an expected unity government between the rival Palestinian Hamas and Fatah factions – which Kerry described as one in which Jerusalem is “waiting to see what happens” – was “an appropriate thing [for the Israelis] to be doing,” as reports emerged that American lawmakers from both parties were preparing to suspend assistance to the Palestinian Authority (PA) should such a consensus cabinet take power. A”number of [Congressional] committee heads” expressed readiness to enforce blackletter law stretching back to the 2006 Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act, under which American assistance to the PA is to be cut to any government “that results from an agreement with Hamas and over which Hamas exercises undue influence.” State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki had spent her first press briefing after the Palestinian unity announcement took shape repeatedly declaring that Israel could not be expected to negotiate with a government involving parties committed to its destruction.


English-language Arabic media outlets conveyed reports that Saudi Arabia had officially implemented the Kingdom’s first financial sanctions against Hezbollah, months after the Saudis – along with allies inside the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) – had designated the Iran-backed terror group and committed to moving against its financial assets.


28 May 2014

Egypt’s Sisi sweeps to victory in presidential vote

Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the general who toppled Egypt’s first freely elected leader, swept to victory in a presidential election, provisional results showed on Thursday, joining a long line of leaders drawn from the military. But a lower than expected turnout figure raised questions about Sisi’s credibility after his supporters had idolised him as a hero who can deliver political and economic stability. Sisi captured 93.3 percent of votes cast as counting nearly came to a close, judicial sources said. His only rival, leftist politician Hamdeen Sabahi, gained 3.0 percent while 3.7 percent of votes were declared void. Fireworks erupted in Cairo when Sisi’s results began to emerge. His supporters waved Egyptian flags and sounded car horns on the crowded streets of the capital. Celebrations lasted through the early hours of the morning. About 1,000 people gathered in Tahrir Square, the symbolic heart of the popular uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak in 2011 and raised hopes of a democracy free of influence from the military. Sisi supporters honked car horns and waved flags. Dancing dolls dressed in army fatigues quickly went on sale in Tahrir, a reminder of the army’s wide influence in Egypt. Sisi is the latest in a line of Egyptian rulers from the military that was only briefly broken during Islamist President Mohamed Mursi’s year in office.



Obama Fights Foreign Policy Critics, Pledges Aid to Syria Groups

President Barack Obama fought back against critics of his foreign policy on Wednesday by insisting U.S. reliance on diplomacy over military intervention was working to resolve global crises like Ukraine and Iran, and he pledged to ramp up support for Syria’s opposition. In a commencement address at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, New York, Obama laid out a broad approach to foreign affairs for the remainder of his presidency that shifts the fight against terrorism from Afghanistan to more diffuse threats elsewhere in the world. Obama’s tendency to rely on diplomacy and steer clear of foreign entanglements has drawn fire from opposition Republicans in Congress and various foreign policy pundits, who would prefer a more robust approach. One of those areas is Syria. In his speech, Obama defended his decision not to intervene militarily there and expressed a willingness to expand assistance to Syrian opposition groups who are trying to oust President Bashar al-Assad.” As president, I made a decision that we should not put American troops into the middle of this increasingly sectarian war, and I believe that is the right decision,” he said. “But that does not mean we shouldn’t help the Syrian people stand up against a dictator who bombs and starves his own people. “Obama said the administration would work with Congress to “ramp up” support for groups who “offer the best alternative to terrorists and brutal dictators.” More resources would be given to Syrian neighbours Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq as well.



27 May 2014

Hamas and Fatah: Unity government talks continue

Fatah and Hamas officials will meet on Monday to continue negotiations about forming a unity government, which is expected to be announced this week. Fatah officials Azzam Al Ahmad and Faisal Abu Shahla will travel to Gaza for the talks, which will focus on selecting candidates for ministerial positions in the government. Al Ahmad told Ma’an last week that the new government should be ready by May 28 or 29.Senior Hamas official Mousa Abu Marzouq said the new government will be neither Hamas nor Fatah dominated but be tasked with preparing legislative and presidential elections, community reconciliation, and rebuilding Gaza. Last week, President Mahmoud Abbas informed current premier Rami Hamdallah that he had been chosen to head the consensus government. Hamas had no objection to the appointment. Several Palestinian political factions, such as the PFLP and DFLP, have said that they have been excluded from unity discussions. The expected national consensus government could become “a government for managing the Hamas-Fatah disagreement,” officials told Ma’an last week. On April 23, Hamas and the PLO, dominated by Abbas’ Fatah party, signed a surprise reconciliation deal aimed at forging a unified administration. Under the deal, the two sides were to form an “independent government” of technocrats, headed by Abbas, paving the way for long-delayed elections.



Egyptians vote on final day of presidential elections

Egyptians are going to the polls on the final day of voting in the country’s presidential election. Former army chief Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, who deposed Islamist President Mohammed Morsi last year, is standing against left-wing candidate Hamdeen Sabahi. Mr Sisi is forecast to win the presidential election – the second in two years – by a comfortable margin. Unofficial results are expected hours after polls close at 22:00 (19:00 GMT).Voting was extended by an hour after authorities declared Tuesday a bank holiday to try to boost turnout. The scale of turnout will be seen as an indication of the strength of endorsement of the winning candidate. The election is being held amid tight security, with more than 250,000 troops and police deployed across the country, according to the interior ministry, amid fear of attacks by militants seeking to disrupt the polls. Voting on Monday passed off without an major incidents. Shortly after polls opened on the first day, Mr Sisi cast his vote at a polling station in Heliopolis, Cairo, amid a throng of reporters and spectators.



26 May 2014

Pope Francis says at Yad Vashem quoting from Gen 3:9:

“In this place, this memorial of the Shoah, we hear God’s question echo once more: ‘Adam, where are you?'”

“Here, before the boundless tragedy of the Holocaust, That cry – ‘Where are you?’ – echoes like a faint voice in an unfathomable abyss.”
“A great evil has befallen us, such as never happened under the heavens. Now, Lord, hear our prayer, hear our plea, save us in your mercy. Save us from this horror.”

“Grant us the grace to be ashamed of what men have done, to be ashamed of this massive idolatry, of having despised and destroyed our own flesh which you formed from the earth, to which you gave life with you own breath of life. Never again, Lord, never again!”

Pope Francis leaves an inscription in the guest book at Yad Vashem: “With shame for what man, who was created in the image of God, was able to do. With shame for the fact that man made himself the owner of evil. With shame that man made himself into God and sacrified his brothers. Never again, never again.” The inscription is signed simply “Francisco” and the date.


World Jewish Congress leader condemns “heinous act of terror” against Jews, urges Europe to act

BRUSSELS – World Jewish Congress (WJC) President Ronald S. Lauder reacted with shock and horror to the deadly shooting at the Jewish Museum of Belgium in Brussels on Saturday. Three people were killed and one gravely wounded by a gunman who arrived in a car, ran into the museum and fired at various people. While the identity of the victims has not been revealed yet, Lauder condemned the attack and called it “a heinous act of terror clearly was targeted at Jews.”

“Two years after Toulouse, and on the eve of the European elections, this despicable attack is yet another terrible reminder of the kind of threats Europe’s Jews are currently facing. It is therefore of critical importance that the authorities in Belgium do everything to bring the perpetrators to justice as fast as possible, and that they ensure that in the future adequate protection is given to sensitive sites,” Lauder declared.

The international Jewish community expected that everything will be done in Belgium and Europe to prevent further such attacks from happening, he added, urging European leaders to deal with this issue as a matter of priority in the coming weeks.

“Today, the entire Jewish world mourns the innocent victims who lost their lives in this horrible attack. Tomorrow, we must all work together to ensure that this doesn’t happen again. If that means to improve security at Jewish sites in Europe, we have no choice. It must be done. If not, more people may be able to carry out such terrible crimes,” the WJC president stated.


28 April 2014

Diversity Calendar


A few years ago, to my dismay a very important lecture was organized on Yom Kippur. I could not attend. I knew there was nothing malicious in the organizers’ minds. They were simply unaware of the significance of that particular day to people like me.


I decided to push for a change and increase awareness on campus to religious holidays and festivals. At the University of Hull, we have students from some 80 different nations. Pluralism, diversity and multiculturalism should be acknowledged.


Early this month, the university announced the introduction of a new Diversity Calendar. The online diversity calendar is an important resource as it provides helpful daily information on different cultural / religious festivals and holidays.  This enhances our awareness and understanding of cultural / religious differences and traditions, and assists inclusiveness when organizing departmental events.


Josh Rogin reports that Secretary of State John Kerry warned government officials from around the world that Israel is at risk of becoming “an apartheid state” if it does not proceed with a two-state solution. Senior American leaders rarely, if ever, use the term “apartheid” to describe Israel, but Kerry did just that on Friday. Kerry also said he may offer his own peace plan and then tell both sides to “take it or leave it.”

The Daily Beast


Egypt court sentences 683 people to death

Defendants, including Brotherhood leader, found guilty of murder and attempted murder of policemen in Minya last year. An Egyptian court has sentenced 683 people, including Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Badie to death. In a separate case, the same court also upheld the death penalty for 37 defendants, reversing 492 death sentences out of 529 it passed in March, the AFP news agency reported. Most of the death sentences were commuted to life in prison. Monday’s hearing in the southern province of Minya comes amid a brutal crackdown on Morsi supporters and the Brotherhood since the military overthrew him last July. The court has come under the spotlight after the same judge in March sentenced the 529 defendants to death in just two sessions. The second batch, including Badie, had faced charges of the murder and attempted murder of several policemen during rioting by Morsi supporters in Minya on August 14.




Abbas: Holocaust was a ‘heinous crime’

Statement by Palestinian Authority president dismissed as a publicity stunt by Israel’s Netanyahu. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has issued a statement calling the Holocaust “the ugliest crime known to man in the modern era,” a declaration which was promptly dismissed by the Israeli prime minister as pandering. Abbas’ words seemed more significant for their timing than their substance, published as they were on Sunday, just hours ahead of Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Day, which will run from Sunday evening into Monday. The statement was published in English, Arabic and Hebrew by the official WAFA news agency and also comes as the latest US-led attempt at negotiations appears to be lurching to an end. The presidency says Abbas discussed the Holocaust with Marc Schneier, an American rabbi who heads a Jewish-Muslim interfaith group. Schneier met with Abbas in Ramallah last week. “What happened to the Jews in the Holocaust is the most heinous crime to have occurred against humanity in the modern era,” Abbas said, according to the statement. “The Palestinian people, who suffer from injustice, oppression and denied freedom and peace, are the first to demand to lift the injustice and racism that befell other peoples subjected to such crimes,” Abbas added.




23 April 23 2014

Rival Palestinian Factions Agree to Form Unity GovernmentThe two main Palestinian factions announced an agreement on Wednesday to heal a seven-year schism and form a unity government within five weeks that would prepare for Palestinian elections six months later. The two groups — the Palestine Liberation Organization, which runs the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, and Hamas, the militant Islamist group that dominates the Gaza Strip — have reached similar accords before that were never carried out. But the latest deal comes as the fragile American-brokered peace efforts between the Palestinians and Israel are approaching an April 29 deadline without a resolution in sight. People familiar with the discussions have said the two sides are far apart even on how to extend the talks. Before the announcement on Wednesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel warned Mahmoud Abbas, the leader of the P.L.O. and president of the Palestinian Authority, against taking practical steps toward reconciliation with Hamas.



20 April 2014

Health of Palestinians , water and coastal aquifer in Gaza Stephen Halpern ; Anna L . Reisman Lancet Page: 1207   Vol/Issue: 2014 ; VOL 383 ; PART 9924 Date: 2014


Health of Palestinians and chronic humiliation Janice Halpern LEXIS – NEXIS ( Academic ) – US    Lancet Page: 1206   Vol/Issue: 2014 ; VOL 383 ; PART 9924 Date: 2014



17 April 2014

Cut off from the world, Gazans consumed by poverty Reuters • Noah Browning and Nidal al-Mughrabi

Seven years into an Israeli blockade and ten months into a crippling Egyptian one, Gaza’s economic growth has evaporated and unemployment soared to almost 40 percent by the end of 2013. Opposition to the Hamas militant group which runs the Gaza Strip has led its neighbours to quarantine the enclave, shutting residents out of the struggling Mideast peace process and leaving them with plenty of parties to blame.


15 April 2014

NYT Editorial – In the Middle East, Time to Move On: An Israeli-Palestinian peace deal is morally just and essential for the security of both peoples. To achieve one will require determined and courageous leaders and populations on both sides that demand an end to the occupation. Despite the commitment of the United States, there’s very little hope of that now.


Stand Firm, John Kerry


April 08, 2014

We commend Secretary of State John Kerry’s extraordinary efforts to renew Israeli-Palestinian talks and negotiations for a framework for a peace accord, and the strong support his initiative has received from President Barack Obama.

We believe these efforts, and the priority Kerry has assigned to them, have been fully justified. However, we also believe that the necessary confidentiality that Secretary Kerry imposed on the resumed negotiations should not preclude a far more forceful and public expression of certain fundamental U.S. positions:

Settlements: U.S. disapproval of continued settlement enlargement in the Occupied Territories by Israel’s government as “illegitimate” and “unhelpful” does not begin to define the destructiveness of this activity. Nor does it dispel the impression that we have come to accept it despite our rhetorical objections. Halting the diplomatic process on a date certain until Israel complies with international law and previous agreements would help to stop this activity and clearly place the onus for the interruption where it belongs.

Palestinian incitement: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s charge that various Palestinian claims to all of historic Palestine constitute incitement that stands in the way of Israel’s acceptance of Palestinian statehood reflects a double standard. The Likud and many of Israel’s other political parties and their leaders make similar declarations about the legitimacy of Israel’s claims to all of Palestine, designating the West Bank “disputed” rather than occupied territory. Moreover, Israeli governments have acted on those claims by establishing Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem and throughout the West Bank. Surely the “incitement” of Palestinian rhetoric hardly compares to the incitement of Israel’s actual confiscations of Palestinian territory. If the United States is not prepared to say so openly, there is little hope for the success of these talks, which depends far more on the strength of America’s political leverage and its determination to use it than on the good will of the parties.

The Jewishness of the state of Israel: Israel is a Jewish state because its population is overwhelmingly Jewish, Jewish religious and historical holidays are its national holidays, and Hebrew is its national language. But Israeli demands that Palestinians recognize that Israel has been and remains the national homeland of the Jewish people is intended to require the Palestinians to affirm the legitimacy of Israel’s replacement of Palestine’s Arab population with its own. It also raises Arab fears of continuing differential treatment of Israel’s Arab citizens.

Israelis are right to demand that Palestinians recognize the fact of the state of Israel and its legitimacy, which Palestinians in fact did in 1988 and again in 1993. They do not have the right to demand that Palestinians abandon their own national narrative, and the United States should not be party to such a demand. That said, Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, provided it grants full and equal rights to its non-Jewish citizens, would not negate the Palestinian national narrative.

Israeli security: The United States has allowed the impression that it supports a version of Israel’s security that entails Israeli control of all of Palestine’s borders and part of its territory, including the Jordan Valley. Many former heads of Israel’s top intelligence agencies, surely among the best informed in the country about the country’s security needs, have rejected this version of Israel’s security. Meir Dagan, a former head of the Mossad, dismissed it as “nothing more than manipulation.”

Israel’s confiscation of what international law has clearly established as others’ territory diminishes its security. Illegal West Bank land grabs only add to the Palestinian and the larger Arab sense of injustice that Israel’s half-century-long occupation has already generated, and fuels a revanchist that sooner or later will trigger renewed violence. No Palestinian leader could or would ever agree to a peace accord that entails turning over the Jordan Valley to Israeli control, either permanently or for an extended period of time, thus precluding a peace accord that would end Israel’s occupation. The marginal improvement in Israel’s security provided by these expansive Israeli demands can hardly justify the permanent subjugation and disenfranchisement of a people to which Israel refuses to grant citizenship in the Jewish state.


The terms for a peace accord advanced by Netanyahu’s government, whether regarding territory, borders, security, resources, refugees or the location of the Palestinian state’s capital, require compromises of Palestinian territory and sovereignty on the Palestinian side of the June 6, 1967, line. They do not reflect any Israeli compromises, much less the “painful compromises” Netanyahu promised in his May 2011 speech before a joint meeting of Congress. Every one of them is on the Palestinian side of that line. Although Palestinians have conceded fully half of the territory assigned to them in the U.N.’s Partition Plan of 1947, a move Israel’s president, Shimon Peres, has hailed as unprecedented, they are not demanding a single square foot of Israeli territory beyond the June 6, 1967, line.

Netanyahu’s unrelenting efforts to establish equivalence between Israeli and Palestinian demands, insisting that the parties split the difference and that Israel be granted much of its expansive territorial agenda beyond the 78 percent of Palestine it already possesses, are politically and morally unacceptable. The United States should not be party to such efforts, not in Crimea nor in the Palestinian territories.

We do not know what progress the parties made in the current talks prior to their latest interruption, this time over the issue of the release of Palestinian prisoners. We are nevertheless convinced that no matter how far apart the parties may still be, clarity on America’s part regarding the critical moral and political issues in dispute will have a far better chance of bringing the peace talks to a successful conclusion than continued ambiguity or silence.

The co-authors, senior advisers to the U.S./Middle East Project, are, respectively, former national security adviser, former U.S. secretary of defence; former chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee; former U.S. trade representative; former under secretary of state for political affairs, and president, U.S./Middle East Project.

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Top Iranian cleric Ayatollah Imami Kashani declared in a nationally televised sermon on Friday that Tehran would continue pushing forward with its nuclear program despite the intentions of the country’s “enemies,” prompting the Wall Street Journal – which read the boast against the backdrop of similar remarks recently aired by other senior figures – to assess that Iranian leaders “show no signs of preparing [the] public for concessions to [the] West.” Top officials from the government of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, up to and including Rouahni himself, have repeatedly and explicitly ruled out concessions on uranium enrichment, plutonium production, and ballistic missile development which U.S. analysts consider to be absolute minimums for putting a nuclear bomb beyond Tehran’s reach. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei last week barred Iranian negotiators from trading away what he described as the country’s “nuclear achievements.” This weekend Iran’s atomic energy chief Ali Akbar Salehi went further, insisting, first, that Tehran has a right to enrich uranium to weapons-grade levels of purity and, second, that Iran will need 30,000 additional centrifuges to meet its energy needs. U.S. experts – including prominent supporters of the Obama administration’s diplomacy with the Islamic republic – have calculated that any deal putting Iran’s atomic program beyond use for weaponization would have to include prohibitions on the creation of highly enriched uranium and require Iranian scientists to dismantle thousands of already-existing centrifuges. Evaluating red lines set by Iranian officials, CNN host Fareed Zakaria had already last January worried that the P5+1 global powers and the Islamic Republic were headed towards a “diplomatic train wreck” and that he was not “even quite sure what they’re going to talk about if these are the opening positions.” Zakaria noted at the time that “it’s very hard to walk back” the absolutist positions taken by Iranian leaders. Obama administration officials have sought to answer skeptics by suggesting that hardline Iranian declarations are just bargaining positions, while skeptics have countered by pointing out that – even as bargaining positions – the widely broadcast statements may raise Iranian public expectations and close off necessary compromises.


13 April 2014

Palestinians and Israelis must be taught the truth

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11 April 2014

The status of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks remained unclear through much of Thursday, amid the publication of conflicting reports describing not just on-going meetings but also regarding proposals to extend negotiations beyond the original April 29 deadline of a U.S.-backed peace push. Substantive final status negotiations have been offline since last Tuesday, when Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas announced at arushed press conference that the Palestinians would seek to join 15 international treaties. The move violated the specific terms of an agreement secured by Secretary of State John Kerry, under which the Palestinians would refrain from turning to the United Nations for the duration of a nine-month negotiation window, and very likely abrogated a core Oslo Accord commitment to avoid unilateral moves that would upgrade the status of disputed territories. Israel subsequently responded by cutting off high-level discussions, except those related to security issues and the peace process. Jerusalem also raised the possibility of cutting off aid to the Abbas-led Palestinian government, a possibility that sent the Palestinian leader scrambling for Arab League assistance. Some reports today had the Palestinians closer to agreeing to renewing talks, while others had them as far away as ever. One widely broadcast report – under which the Israelis had agreed to free 26 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for concessions from the U.S. and further talks with the Palestinians – was flatly denied as “premature” by the State Department. The Palestinian decision to accede to the various treaties, however, has established a timeline that may irreversibly – and perhaps terminally – undermine talks. United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon confirmed today that Palestinian requests to join 10 U.N.-specific treaties will be granted on May 2nd, one month after they were officially submitted. It is not clear how such a move could be reversed once it’s locked in, and it is difficult to see how Jerusalem could accept a Palestinian gambit that, first, pocketed decades of Israeli territorial and security concessions and, second, reversed central Palestinian commitments.

The New York Timesreported late Tuesday that Iran and the global P5+1 powers had concluded two days of talks with – per a statement issued by the parties – “a lot of intensive work” left to be done, a characterization the Times assessed as evidence that ‘both sides were still struggling with extensive disagreements.’ Brookings Institute Senior Fellow Michael Doran was more blunt, describing the wording as “diplo speak for, ‘the talks are going nowhere fast.'” The negotiations have wound down amid a statement from Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei – broadcast, for emphasis, across multiple digital platforms – forbidding Iranian negotiators from making concessions on any of Iran’s “nuclear achievements.” The stance echoed a red line against minimal uranium and plutonium concessions repeatedly underlined by top Iranian officials. Meanwhile Iranian media conveyed statements from the country’s foreign minister, Mohammed Javad Zarif, also ruling out any concessions on Iran’s “defence program,” a euphemism used by Iranian diplomats to describe Tehran’s ballistic missile program. Iran is obligated by binding United Nations Security Council resolutions to roll back – and in the case of its atomic program, to dismantle – infrastructure across all of those programs. Continued Iranian intransigence is likely to fuel concerns that Western negotiators lack sufficient leverage to extract meaningful and robust concessions. Mark Dubowitz and Rachel Ziemba – respectively the executive director of the Foundation for defence of Democracies and the director of emerging markets at Roubini Global Economics – on Thursday published analysis concluding that “a variety of key macroeconomic indicators” all converged on the conclusion that Iran is experiencing an economic recovery, in part due to American and Iranian officials having undervalued the sanctions relief provided by the interim Joint Plan of Action (JPA). In light of the analysis, Dubowitz suggested that the White House should stop agreeing with Iran’s lowball estimations of the relief.


9 April 2014

Palestinian urges boycott of Israeli settlements

The Palestinian U.N. envoy urged the world Tuesday to boycott products from “illegal” Israeli settlements as part of a stepped up campaign to help Palestine become independent. Riyad Mansour told a U.N. meeting Tuesday that the Palestinians are ready and willing to resume U.S.-mediated peace talks with Israel, which appeared in recent days to be headed for collapse, before they are scheduled to end on April 29.But he warned that if the Israelis aren’t prepared to negotiate “in good faith,” the Palestinians will be forced “to move into the next stage of holding them accountable for all of their illegal behaviour in all fronts, politically, diplomatically and legally. “Israel has accused the Palestinians of not being serious about reaching a peace deal and says they are responsible for breaking off negotiations. Under the terms of the talks, which were renewed in July under heavy U.S. pressure, Israel had promised to release 104 long-held Palestinian prisoners in four groups. The Palestinians said they would suspend a campaign to join as many as 63 U.N. agencies, treaties and conventions, which they gained the right to do when the U.N. General Assembly overwhelmingly recognized a non-member observer state of Palestine in the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem on Nov. 29, 2012. Israel and the United States were among nine countries that rejected the assembly resolution and do not recognize the Palestinian lands as a state. AP


Iran delivered 30,000 tons of food supplies to Syria to help the government deal with shortages due to the civil war, state media said.


8 April 2014

Iran’s reluctance to discuss limits to its missile programme in nuclear negotiations with world powers highlights the weapons’ strategic importance for a country facing U.S.-backed regional rivals boasting more modern arsenals.


UN Security Council open briefing on peace-building

Ambassador Jeffrey DeLaurentis, U.S. Alternate Representative to the United Nations, March 19, 2014


Even as Sierra Leone enjoys stability and the UN peace-building mission draws down, we are reminded that long-term development efforts and continued economic growth are at the foundation of any sustainable peace. We appreciate the strengthened UN-World Bank partnership and urge greater dialogue between the World Bank and the Security Council to facilitate post-conflict development strategies.


We have seen too often the recurrent issues that make countries vulnerable to relapse: erosion of inclusive political settlements; lack of government capacity, especially in public finance and the rule of law; and insufficient economic growth and job-creation. South Sudan is an example of what happens when political inclusivity is lost – and a reminder that we can’t let other countries slip down that path.


7 April 2014

Next week, President Shimon Peres will leave for China on the first state visit by an Israeli president since 2003.


4 April 2014

UN announced that more than one million refugees have flooded into Lebanon from Syria, creating what NYT described as “the highest concentration of refugees as a percentage of population in the world, with about one Syrian for every three Lebanese.” 3/4/2014


2 April 2014

Palestinian issue 24-hour ultimatum to resolve peace talks dispute

Palestinians issued a 24-hour ultimatum Monday to US Secretary of State John Kerry: Resolve the dispute with Israel on release of prisoners or the Palestinian Authority will resume its campaign for international recognition. “If we don’t get an answer from John Kerry on the prisoners tonight, we’ll begin to ask for membership in all UN agencies tomorrow,” Palestinian parliamentarian Mustafa Barghouti told AFP after a top-level leadership meeting in Ramallah, which took place as Kerry arrived in Israel. The latest round of US-led negotiations between the long-time adversaries are teetering on the brink of collapse after Israel refused to free a group of 26 Palestinian prisoners under the agreement reached by Kerry, which brought the sides back to the negotiating table in July of last year. Furious Palestinian officials have warned that if Israel did not change its stance on the prisoner releases, it could signal the end of the talks. Another Palestinian official who attended the meeting in Ramallah told AFP that “the Israeli government violated the agreements and must bear the consequences of its decisions”. The two Palestinian officials also said that the leadership had confirmed there was “no link between the release of Palestinian prisoners and the extension of negotiations”.


1 April 2014



Egypt’s presidential election, expected to formalise the de facto rule of former army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi , is to be held on May 26 and 27.


27 March 2014

Capital punishment worldwide – USA is in excellent company with China, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Somalia; must be very proud. See


26 March 2014

Field Marshal Abdul Fattah al-Sisi stands down as Egypt’s military chief, paving way for him to stand for presidency.


Bin Laden’s Son-in-Law Convicted in Terrorism ConspiracySulaiman Abu Ghaith, the most senior adviser to Osama bin Laden to be tried in a civilian United States court since the Sept. 11 attacks, was convicted on Wednesday of conspiring to kill Americans and providing material support to terrorists. Mr. Abu Ghaith, a 48-year-old Kuwaiti-born cleric known for his fiery oratory, had recorded impassioned speeches for Bin Laden after Sept. 11, in which he praised the attacks and promised that future attacks would be carried out. The defendant unexpectedly took the witness stand last week, offering a vivid account of being summoned by Bin Laden on the night of the attacks to meet with him in his cave in the Afghan mountains.


25 March 2014

Call for Nominations – 2014 UNESCO-Madanjeet Singh Prize for the Promotion of Tolerance and Non-Violence


UNESCO launches appeal to governmental and non-governmental entities, civil society actors and individuals active in strengthening foundations for peace and tolerance and to all who are committed to respect for diversity of our world’s cultures, our forms of expression and ways of being human, to propose candidates for the 2014 UNESCO-Madanjeet Singh Prize for the Promotion of Tolerance and Non-Violence. The Prize is awarded every two years to individuals, institutions and other entities or non-governmental organizations that have made exceptional contributions and demonstrated leadership in the promotion of tolerance and non-violence. The closing date for submissions is 2 June 2014 at midnight.


The Prize was established in 1995 on the occasion of the United Nations Year for Tolerance and the 125th anniversary of the birth of Mahatma Gandhi. In recognition of a lifelong devotion to the cause of communal harmony and peace, the Prize bears the name of its generous benefactor Madanjeet Singh, who was a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador, Indian artist, writer and diplomat.


The Prize carries a monetary award of USD 100,000. Winners also receive a certificate highlighting the major contributions for which it is awarded. The awardees are officially recognized at a ceremony that is held at UNESCO Headquarters on the International Day for Tolerance, celebrated every year on 16 November, at which they are invited to deliver an acceptance speech.


Member States or Associate Members of UNESCO, non-governmental organizations and foundations that maintain official relations with UNESCO, especially those whose activities fall within the scope of the Prize, as well as former laureates of the Prize, qualified eminent personalities and any suitable person or civil society organization working for the advancement of a culture of peace, human rights, non-violence and tolerance in the world are invited to nominate candidates.


According to its Statutes& candidates should be men, women, institutions or non-governmental organizations that have distinguished themselves through particularly remarkable initiatives extending over several years to promote the understanding and solution of international or national problems in a spirit of tolerance and non-violence. The nomination form must be completed in either English or French on the basis of the provisions contained in its “Note for the Nominators. You are kindly requested to return it, duly signed and stamped, and no later than 2 June 2014.


Download the Nomination Form






Ms Ângela Melo

Secretary of the Prize

Director of the Division

Social and Human Sciences Sector


1 rue Miollis 75732 Paris Cedex 15 France

Tél. : +33 (0)1 45 68 38 17 / ext. 38 31 / ext. 38 22

Fax : +33(0)1 45 68 57 26




Arab League foreign ministers said they agreed on the draft resolutions Sunday for a summit in Kuwait this week. Arab League assistant secretary-general for political affairs Fadhel Jawad has said the Arab leaders will hold a special session during the summit. Morocco’s minister of state for foreign affairs, Salahuddin Mezwar, said the ministers discussed efforts to combat international terrorism and ways to limit its impact on Arab countries. Iraq’s Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said all draft resolutions were unanimously approved by Arab foreign ministers. A draft resolution on the Syrian conflict, which entered its fourth year last week, urges the UN Security Council to shoulder its responsibility after the failure of Geneva peace talks between the regime and the opposition. The leader of Syria’s opposition National Coalition, Ahmad Al Jarba, has been invited to address the Arab summit. But Syria’s seat in the Arab League remains vacant although the last annual summit, held in Doha, granted the seat to the opposition. The Arab League said the opposition still needs to meet some legal procedures to take up the seat. On the Palestinian issue, the ministers called on Arab states to provide $100 million in financial aid to the Palestinian Authority every month and rejected recognition of Israel as a state. The ministers approved the basic charter of a Bahrain-based Arab human rights tribunal and recommended that the next summit be held in Egypt.


A court in Egypt sentences to death 529 members of Muslim Brotherhood on charges including murder.


24 March 2014

Graduate Workshop at the AIS Annual Conference

This year the Association for Israel Studies (AIS) will convene a workshop for graduate students of the AIS. The workshop will be held on June 22nd, 2014 from 10:30 am to 5:30 pm at the Ben-Gurion Research Institute for the Study of Israel and Zionism, Sede-Boqer Campus, Ben-Gurion University.


The workshop will focus on two themes: archival and non-archival resources in the field of Israel Studies; and the multidisciplinary research approach within the field. Leading scholars will guide the workshop and will utilize the Ben-Gurion Archives as a research laboratory.


This is a unique opportunity for students of the AIS to learn more about resources in Israel Studies, get better informed about multidisciplinary approaches in the field, and to have the opportunity to meet their peers in a friendly and informal environment.


To register for the workshop, please send your CV or résumé and a short memo of research interests to Dr. Nahum Karlinsky at:


The submission deadline is April 15.


Participation in the workshop is free for AIS members.  Subsidies for some accommodation expenses for the night of the workshop (Sunday) will be available for a limited number of participants.


Refreshments and lunch will be provided.


We ask AIS members to encourage their students to participate in this workshop.




Dr. Nahum Karlinsky



21 March 2014

Turkey: We Will Eradicate Twitter

Just hours after Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan threatened to shut down Twitter, the government appears to have indeed restricted access to the social media site in most of the country. Earlier on Thursday, the prime minister told a rally in Bursa that “we will eradicate Twitter.” He added “I don’t care what the international community says. Everyone will witness the power of the Turkish Republic.” It appears Erdoğan utilized a recently passed and controversial law that allows the government to shut down sites due to “privacy violations.” Last month, he said Twitter bots, what he calls the “robot lobby,” targeted the government, and he has also threatened to block Facebook and YouTube. Twitter is currently investigating the claims that it has been banned and told users alternative ways to tweet via SMS.


The Associated Press conveyed threats from top Palestinian official Nabil Shaath to suspend peace talks with Israel, and to “immediately” resume diplomatic warfare against the Jewish state, should Jerusalem decline to go through with a mass release of jailed Palestinian murderers scheduled for March 29. Israel has already conducted three such releases in order to keep Palestinian diplomats at the table for U.S.-backed negotiations, but domestic opinion regarding the gestures has steadily soured in the wake of jubilant public celebrations for freed terrorists, including rallies attended by Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas. Recent signals by Palestinian negotiators hinting that they are ready to pocket the concessions and walk away from talks have generated even more opposition, including inside the Israeli government. Fatah advisor Tayeb Abdel Rahim had revealed [Arabic] last February that Abbas had sent a letter to President Obama reiterating his opposition to U.S. calls for the Palestinians to recognize Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people. Rahim also outlined Palestinians readiness to wage diplomatic warfare against Israel in 63 different international institutions. President Obama subsequently gave an interview to Bloomberg admonishing Netanyahu and issuing what interviewer Jeffrey Goldberg described as a “veiled threat” against the Israelis, before holding a meeting with Abbas that analysts described as friendlier in both tone and substance. The collapse of U.S.-backed peace talks and the resumption of Palestinian hostility against Israel will likely bolster the case of administration critics who have expressed scepticism toward such approaches.


20 March 2014

Israeli officials are urging the United States to release ten Apache helicopters for sale to the Egyptian army, assets that according to Haaretz the Israelis believe are “crucial to Egypt’s fight against jihadist organizations in the Sinai [Peninsula].”



19 March 2014

On March 17, 2014, Sari Revkin was awarded the “Women Change-Maker” prize by The Rappaport Family Trust and La’Isha Magazine who decided to award a substantial, unique prize to a woman whose actions have created change in the public, social, or economic sphere in Israel.

After much debate, the panel of judges decided to award the 120 thousand NIS prize to Ms. Revkin for her dedicated activities and the changes she generated as the founder and executive director of YEDID. Under her leadership, YEDID has assisted thousands of families from low-income and other  vulnerable populations to break free from the cycle of poverty, access their rights, and secure their futures in Israel. For the past thirty years Sari Revkin has been developing ways to help women and men from disadvantaged and impoverished societies understand and access their rights.


The head of the international organization set up to outlaw nuclear weapons testing Lassina Zerbo urged Israel to be the next country to ratify the global nuclear test ban treaty, and told The Times of Israel he thought Israel would “probably” do so.


18 March 2014

Obama urges Abbas to ‘take risks’ for peace

After talks with PA leader, Obama says he remains hopeful as 29 April deadline for US-brokered negotiations approaches. US President Barack Obama has urged his Palestinian counterpart Mahmoud Abbas to make tough decisions and take risks for peace with Israel, ahead of a 29 April deadline for US-brokered negotiations. “We remain convinced there is an opportunity,” Obama told reporters as Abbas sat beside him in the Oval Office. Obama met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu two weeks ago in Washington and is trying to narrow gaps between the two sides on a framework for a peace deal that would extend negotiations beyond the April deadline. During the talks on Monday, overshadowed by the Ukraine crisis, Abbas pressed for Netanyahu to go ahead with the scheduled release of a final group of Palestinian prisoners by the end of March, in order to aid the process. Abbas agreed that a solution should entail a Palestinian state built on borders that existed before the 1967 Middle East war, though Netanyahu has declared that Israel would never completely return to earlier lines it considered indefensible.




14 March 2014

Gaza militants and Israel exchange strikes despite ‘truce’

Rocket and air strikes have continued between Gaza militants and Israel despite Palestinian claims a truce had been restored. Several rockets hit Israeli soil on Thursday and Israel’s military said it had launched retaliatory air strikes. Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad earlier said a deal had been made to resume a 2012 ceasefire agreement. Israel did not confirm this. The day before saw the heaviest barrage of rockets since the 2012 conflict. The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) said about 60 rockets hit Israel on Wednesday. It said eight more rockets struck Israel on Thursday, after which Israel attacked seven “terror sites” in Gaza.



PM Cameron issued a passionate call for peace and for a two-state solution:

“Imagine what this land would be like if a two state solution was actually achieved.

“Think of all the aspects of life that would change.

“Israel’s relationships with the world. Its security its long-term prosperity and the quality of life for all its people.

“On Israel’s relationships, imagine, as John Kerry put it: “mutual recognition of the nation state of the Palestinian people and the nation state of the Jewish people”

“Let’s be clear what that means.

“An end to the outrageous lectures on human rights that Israel receives at the United Nations from the likes of Iran and North Korea.

“An end to the ridiculous situation where last year the United Nations General Assembly passed three times as many resolutions on Israel as on Syria, Iran and North Korea put

“No more excuses for the 32 countries in the United Nations who refuse to recognise Israel.

“And for the Arab League, how many of those States today yearn for a different relationship with Israel –which the peace agreement would enable them to deliver?

“Think of the capitals in the Arab world where Israelis could travel, do business, and build a future.

“Imagine Israel – like any other democratic nation – finally treated fairly and normally by all.

“On security, imagine a peace deal that would leave Israel more secure, not less secure.

“Not a temporary deal, broken by Hamas firing rockets at you or Iranian proxies smuggling weapons through the Jordan Valley.

“But a proper lasting peace that allows a strong moderate Palestinian government to end the fears of a failed state on Israel’s border.

“A deal that means an end of all claims – and an end of all conflict.

“Israelis and Palestinians no longer each other’s enemy, but actually working together to maintain security against those who would seek to harm us all.

“On prosperity, the possibilities of peace are extraordinary.


11 March 2014

The number of children affected by the civil war in Syria has more than doubled over the past year, with hundreds of thousands of young Syrians trapped in besieged parts of the country, the United Nations Children’s Fund said


Amr Moussa, an Egyptian politician, confirmed that Egyptian army chief Field Marshal Abdel Fattah Sisi will soon announce his candidacy for president and said that relations with Russia “cannot replace” those with the U.S.


Arab foreign ministers rejected Israel’s demands that the Palestinians recognize it as a Jewish state, saying such a move would undermine the rights of Palestinian refugees.


10 March 2014

United States and Israel signed an agreement to “continue support of the production of the Iron Dome weapon system,” according to the Missile defence Agency of the U.S. Department of defence.


9 March 2014

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is saying “no way” to recognizing Israel as a Jewish state in comments issued Friday by the official WAFA news agency. He also said he would not accept only a portion of east Jerusalem for the capital of Palestine. Abbas said he was standing up to pressure from the U.S., as he did when seeking UN recognition for Palestine as a state. Secretary of State John Kerry has recently been pursuing a restart of negotiations between the two sides in the long and bitter dispute. He has set a deadline of April 29 for a framework


8 March 2014

President Obama said:

“I have not yet heard, however, a persuasive vision of how Israel survives as a democracy and a Jewish state at peace with its neighbours in the absence of a peace deal with the Palestinians and a two-state solution. Nobody has presented me a credible scenario.


The only thing that I’ve heard is, “We’ll just keep on doing what we’re doing, and deal with problems as they arise. And we’ll build settlements where we can. And where there are problems in the West Bank, we will deal with them forcefully. We’ll cooperate or co-opt the Palestinian Authority.” And yet, at no point do you ever see an actual resolution to the problem”.

Jeffrey Goldberg, “Obama to Israel — Time Is Running Out”, BloombergView (March 2, 2014),


7 March 2014

Iran’s Support for Terrorism Worldwide,


5 March 2014

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke on Tuesday to the AIPAC Policy Conference in Washington, calling on Palestinian leaders to “stand with Israel and the United States on the right side of the moral divide, the side of peace, reconciliation and hope.” Israel’s left-leaning Ha’aretz headlined its coverage of the speech “Netanyahu: Israel prepared to make peace, but Abbas must recognize Jewish state,” sub-headlined the story with “millions in the Arab world could benefit from Israeli technology and innovation, prime minister tells AIPAC conference,” and quoted the prime minister declaring he was “prepared to make historic peace with our Palestinian neighbours.” The outlet’s evaluation was echoed by the Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin, who noted that Netanyahu “dwelled at length on the peace process” and “gave a new rationale for Israel’s desire for a peace deal – the promise of improved and robust relations with Arab states.” For their part top Palestinian officials declared that Netanyahu’s speech was unacceptable to the point that it amounted to “an official announcement of a unilateral end to negotiations.”



4 March 2014

The Wall Street Journal assessed on Monday that a series of initiatives designed to bolster the Palestinian economy had – per the outlet’s archly written headline – been “slow to show” any benefits, with half a year having passed since “Secretary of State John Kerry announced an ambitious economic plan to channel $4 billion into Palestinian business sectors.” The Journal described “promised investments” as having remained “as hazy as the sandstorm that enveloped… Jericho’s Intercontinental Hotel” during a recent investment conference. February had seen a wave of analysis linking halting economic progress to endemic Palestinian corruption stretching back literally decades, and Palestinian journalist and activist Daoud Kuttab wrote on Monday that efforts have recently renewed in the Palestinian Legislative Council to pass transparency laws. Palestinian economic dysfunction has traditionally been identified as one of at least four structural barriers hampering the emergence of anything that might pass for a viable Palestinian state. Analysts and scholars have also focused on Ramallah’s lack of political legitimacy – Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas is in the ninth year of a four-year term – as well as on the persistence of rival Palestinian governments and the existence of multiple armed Palestinian factions. A territorial split between rival governments, with Fatah ruling the West Bank and Hamas ruling the Gaza Strip, or the absence of a monopoly on violence would by definition render a Palestinian state a failed one.



2 March 2014

US removes Israel from intellectual property watch list

As result of patent laws, mostly having to do with pharmaceuticals, Israel was on list that subjects countries to increased scrutiny on trade.


1 March 2014

Israel and The Occupied Territories

Israel is a multiparty parliamentary democracy. Although it has no constitution, the parliament, the unicameral 120-member Knesset, has enacted a series of “Basic Laws” that enumerate fundamental rights. Certain fundamental laws, orders, and regulations legally depend on the existence of a “State of Emergency,” which has been in effect since 1948. Under the Basic Laws, the Knesset has the power to dissolve the government and mandate elections. The nationwide Knesset elections on January 22, considered free and fair, resulted in a coalition government led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Security forces reported to civilian authorities. There were allegations of human rights abuses committed by Israeli security forces within the State of Israel. (An annex to this report covers human rights in the occupied territories. This report deals with human rights in Israel and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.)

The most significant human rights problems during the year were terrorist attacks against civilians; institutional and societal discrimination against Arab citizens, including the Bedouin, in particular in access to equal education and employment opportunities; societal discrimination against women; and the treatment of refugees, asylum seekers, and irregular migrants.

Other human rights problems included institutional and societal discrimination against non-Orthodox Jews and some minority religious groups, societal discrimination against persons with disabilities and Ethiopian Jews, and labour rights abuses against foreign workers.

Impunity was not a problem. The government took steps to prosecute and punish officials who committed abuses in the country regardless of rank or seniority.



See more at:


Poll: Three quarters of Israeli Jews would accept peace deal

More than 50% define themselves as right wing and don’t trust the Palestinians, yet would vote for a new Netanyahu-led centrist party

BY RAPHAEL AHREN February 27, 2014, 9:59 pm 16



Egyptian security officials told Hamas that Cairo will not tolerate any use of tunnels to smuggle goods and weapons between the Sinai Peninsula and the Gaza Strip


Fuelled by millions in Gulf aid dollars that are his to distribute, an exiled Palestinian operative [Mohammed Dahlan] seems to be orchestrating a comeback that could position him as a potential successor to aging Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas.


28 February 2014

On his upcoming Monday visit to the White House, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu can expect pressure from President Obama to accept the framework drafted by Secretary John Kerry for Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations. Since the 2010 negotiations failed, and the relationship between Obama and Netanyahu soured, the president has largely avoided the peace process during his time in office. While many of the details of the framework have been kept secret, some have been made public, including the creation of a security zone along the Jordan River featuring fences, sensors, and drones to protect Israel. The president is also expected to meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to court him later in March.


27 February 2014

Hezbollah will respond to an Israeli air strike that hit one of its bases on the border with Syria on Monday night, the Lebanese militant group said on Wednesday.


26 February 2014

Egypt minister Mahlab asked to form new government

Egypt’s president has asked outgoing housing minister Ibrahim Mahlab to form a new government, a day after the interim cabinet resigned unexpectedly.
Interim Prime Minister Hazem Beblawi did not give a clear reason for his government’s resignation on Monday. The surprise announcement came amid a series of public sector strikes and an acute shortage of cooking gas. Mr Beblawi was appointed in July after the military overthrew President Mohammed Morsi following mass protests. Since then, more than 1,000 people have been killed and thousands of others detained in a crackdown by the security forces on the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist movement to which Mr Morsi belongs. Militants based in the Sinai peninsula have meanwhile stepped up attacks on government, police and the armed forces, killing hundreds.

BBC News


US planning full Afghan pullout, Obama tells Karzai

President Barack Obama has warned his Afghan counterpart Hamid Karzai that the US may pull all of its troops out of his country by the year’s end.

Mr Obama conveyed the message in a phone call to Mr Karzai, who has refused to sign a security agreement. The US insists this agreement must be in place before it commits to leaving some troops behind for counter-insurgent operations and training. The US has had troops in Afghanistan since 2001 when it toppled the Taliban. Its forces went into the country following the 9/11 attacks on the US. With Afghan and Western allies, they quickly overthrew the Taliban authorities, but have faced insurgent attacks since then. Correspondents say the disagreement over the bilateral security agreement (BSA) is the latest step in the long and deteriorating relationship between Washington and Mr Karzai, who was once seen as a key US ally. The BSA, which offers legal protection for US troops and defines a post-2014 Nato training and anti-insurgent mission, was agreed by the two countries last year after months of negotiation. It was endorsed at a national gathering (Loya Jirga) of Afghan elders in Kabul in November.

BBC News


In Israel, German chancellor awarded highest civilian honour for her commitment to fighting anti-Semitism, ensuring Israel’s security.


25 February 2014

A boycott against Israel is not an option but it is acceptable to label products produced in West Bank settlements, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Tuesday in Jerusalem.


The New York Times • David E. Sanger

Not long after the uprising in Syria turned bloody, late in the spring of 2011, the Pentagon and the National Security Agency developed a battle plan that featured a sophisticated cyberattack on the Syrian military and President Bashar al-Assad’s command structure…The Obama administration has been engaged in a largely secret debate about whether cyberarms should be used like ordinary weapons, whether they should be rarely used covert tools or whether they ought to be reserved for extraordinarily rare use against the most sophisticated, hard-to-reach targets.


24 February 2014

The settlements are not the biggest obstacle to peace, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said in an interview with German TV network ZDF ahead of the German chancellor’s visit.

IMRA Review Analysis

Peace Index Poll: 80.5% of Israeli Jews oppose return of any Palestinian refugees to Israel



22 February 2014

Turkey has become a key global hub of illicit and terrorist financing – undermining U.S. counter-terrorism efforts against Sunni jihadists and playing a key role in busting Washington’s sanctions against Iran – according to a new report [PDF] published on Friday by Jonathan Schanzer, vice president for research at the Foundation for defence of Democracies (FDD). The report cites at least eight distinct schemes involving Iran, Al Qaeda, jihadists in Syria, Hamas, the recently raided Turkish Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH), China, and huge swaths of the international banking world. The National Journal had already reported earlier in February that Turkey ignored U.S. calls made from “the highest levels” to assist in tracking terrorists availing themselves of Turkish soil and resources. ABC News covered the new FDD report, conveying a call from Schanzer urging the Obama administration to exert pressure on Ankara regarding illicit finance, opposite what the outlet described as “a clear hands-off message” sent last month by Secretary of State John Kerry in a press conference with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu. The Washington Free Beacon also highlighted portions of the report evaluating the White House’s position, specifically citing a passage that worried that the White House “has remained on the sidelines… electing not to mention terrorism finance issues publicly.” Schanzer’s report comes a day after over 80 top foreign policy figures from across the political spectrum dispatched a letter to President Barack Obama calling for elevated pressure on Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) to halt an ongoing assault on democratic liberties.


20 February 2014

The U.N. Security Council will vote on Saturday on a resolution to boost humanitarian aid access in Syria, where the United Nations says 9.3 million people need help, although it is unclear if Russia and China will support or veto the draft.

Australian U.N. Ambassador Gary Quinlan, who co-authored the text with envoys from Jordan and Luxembourg, told reporters the vote would be held at 11 a.m. (1600 GMT) on Saturday. The text includes demands for cross-border aid access and an end to shelling and aerial bombardment, including barrel bombs, and threatens “further steps” in the event of non-compliance. These were among the main sticking points during almost two weeks of negotiations on the draft, said diplomats. Russia, supported by China, has shielded its ally Syria on the U.N. Security Council during the three-year-long civil war. They have vetoed three resolutions condemning Syria’s government and threatening it with possible sanctions.




19 February 2014

U.S. President Barack Obama urged Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to complete the reconciliation negotiations with Israel during a phone call on Wednesday.



18 February 2014

Kerry praises Tunisian progress, promises help against militants

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Tuesday praised democratic progress in Tunisia, where the “Arab Spring” began, and offered to help the North African country’s fight against Islamist militants.

During a brief visit to Tunis, Kerry said Tunisia and the United States would start a strategic dialogue, usually meaning regular high-level meetings, beginning with a trip to Washington by Tunisia’s premier. After a crisis last year brought on by the killing of two opposition leaders, Tunisia adopted a new constitution and the ruling Islamists stepped aside for a caretaker administration to govern until elections. Kerry’s visit was to highlight progress since the 2011 uprising that brought down autocrat Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali as well as the compromises new Tunisian leaders have made, unlike their Egyptian and Libyan counterparts, said U.S. officials. “I wanted to come here today to confirm on behalf of the American people and President Obama our commitment to stand with Tunisia and the people of Tunisia and to help move down this road to democracy,” Kerry said after meeting Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki and Prime Minister Mehdi Jomaa. Tunisia’s new constitution and steps to full democracy have been praised as a model in a region still widely unstable since popular revolts in 2011 that ousted long-standing rulers in Egypt, Yemen and Libya.




16 February 2014

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said he had no desire to flood Israel with refugees, signalling a possible compromise on a long-standing Palestinian demand for a “right of return” to lands left during the 1948 war of Israeli independence.



15 February 2014

Libya claims to foil military coup

Libya has foiled an attempt by a group of former army officers and politicians to stage a military coup, defence Minister Abduallah al-Theni said Wednesday. “The Supreme Leader of the Armed Forces [NouriAbusahmain] has ordered the arrest of the officers and politicians who tried to stage a coup against legitimacy,” al-Theni told the private Ahrar Libya TV.He added that the Libyan army and revolutionaries were currently hunting down the leaders of the failed coup attempt. Libyan lawmaker Abdel Rahman al-Dibani told Anadolu Agency earlier that the General National Congress (the country’s interim parliament) had received information from Libyan military intelligence regarding attempts by a group of army officers and politicians to form a military council and overthrow the country’s interim parliament and government. According to informed sources, parliament cancelled its scheduled Tuesday morning session due to the alleged coup attempt. An earlier decision by parliament to extend its mandate by one year ended up triggering a political crisis in the already-tense country. The current parliament’s tenure should have come to an end on February 7, but some observers – both inside and outside parliament –say the assembly has not yet achieved its mission. Libya’s parliament was formed in July 2012 with the aim of implementing a transitional roadmap that includes the appointment of a prime minister and the election of a constitution-drafting committee.




11 February 2014


Cyprus peace talks to resume seeking end to bitter conflict

Peace talks resume in divided Cyprus on Tuesday in a fresh attempt to end one of Europe’s most enduring conflicts and a decades-old obstacle to Turkey’s hopes of joining the European Union.
Leaders of the island’s rival Greeks and Turks are due to meet in no-mans-land, at an airport compound in the capital Nicosia that was abandoned in past fighting and is now used as a base for the United Nations peacekeeping force. It will be their first formal encounter for almost 18 months. Nicos Anastasiades, president of the internationally recognized Cypriot government, and Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu will mandate a U.N. envoy to read out a joint statement outlining the basic principles that should govern a settlement. They will then leave their aides to negotiate the minutiae of any deal in a process which could take months, aimed at healing the split between the two sides caused by war in 1974. “I do not only wish (Tuesday) will be the start of a process which yields results, but I am also vowing that I will work towards this,” Kudret Ozersay, the Turkish Cypriot chief negotiator, said on Twitter.


10 February 2014

Hamdeen Sabahi, a leading Egyptian left-wing politician, has announced he will run for president in what is likely to prove a tough race pitting him against Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the defence minister who is now the country’s de facto ruler.


Syria crisis: New round of peace talks to begin in Geneva

The second round of peace talks between the Syrian government and opposition representatives is due to begin in Geneva on Monday.

The first round of talks ended last month with no firm agreements and with both sides trading insults. However, UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi said then that some “common ground” had been reached. The talks come after hundreds of people were evacuated from the besieged city of Homs under a three-day truce. The evacuations were completed despite mortar fire and shooting, which both sides blamed on each other and that activists say killed several people and wounded several others. On Monday, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said France and other countries would present a resolution at the UN calling for greater access for humanitarian aid. “We are asking for stronger action as far as the humanitarian side is concerned, that medicines and food supplies are handed out in cities,” he told French radio. “It is absolutely scandalous that there have been discussions for quite a while and that people are still being starved every day, and so along with a number of other countries, we will present a resolution at the UN along those lines.” The civil conflict has claimed well over 100,000 lives since it began in 2011.The violence has also driven 9.5 million people from their homes, creating a major humanitarian crisis within Syria and for its neighbours. At the end of the last talks on 31 January, the two warring sides appeared to be a long way away from reaching any compromise. The government insists the talks focus on fighting “terrorism” – its description of the uprising – but the opposition says that the priority should be the removal of President Bashar al-Assad. It has insisted that the government commit in writing to the 2012 Geneva Communique, which called for the formation of a transitional administration with full executive authority. President Assad’s government has emphatically ruled out any transfer of power. Correspondents say that his position has been strengthened on the ground since the last round of talks because pro-Assad forces have made territorial gains while rival rebel forces have been fighting each other in the north and east of the country. The BBC’s Bridget Kendall, in Geneva, says that as they prepare to meet again the gap between the warring sides seems as wide as ever.



8 February 2014

A new bipartisan bill introduced Thursday in the House would strip all federal funds from any U.S. academic institution that decides to boycott Israel, according to a copy of the newly filed legislation obtained by the Free Beacon.


7 February 2014

EU voices ‘deep concern’ over Israel decision

European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton has expressed “deep concern” over Israel’s decision to build 558 settler units in the occupied East al-Quds (Jerusalem).

“I am deeply concerned at the announcement by the Jerusalem municipal authorities of their approval of building permits for 558 new units in East Jerusalem, in Har Homa, Neve Yaakov and Pisgat Zeev,” Ashton said in a statement issued on Thursday. Earlier this week, the city council said Tel Aviv had pushed forward with plans to build the houses in settlement neighbourhoods. In a statement listing “building permits that were approved” during a session of the local planning committee, it said permits had been granted to private contractors to build 386 units in Har Homa, 136 units in Neve Yaakov and 36 units in Pisgat Zeev. Currently, 200,000 Israeli settlers live in settlements across East al-Quds. Israel occupied the Palestinian territories of East al-Quds, the Gaza Strip, and the West Bank during the Six-Day War of 1967. The United Nations regards the Israeli settlements as illegal because the territories were captured in the war and are hence subject to the Geneva Conventions, which forbid construction on occupied lands.

Press TV


5 February 2014

Syria crisis: US condemns Aleppo barrel bomb raids

US Secretary of State John Kerry has condemned the use of barrel bombs in the Syrian city of Aleppo by forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad.

Mr Kerry said it was the “latest barbaric act of the Syrian regime”. Aleppo has been divided since rebels captured large swathes in 2012. Much of the Old City has been levelled by fighting. Talks between the Syrian opposition and the government took place last week in Geneva but ended without result. A further round is planned for next week. Meanwhile, Syria has missed an international deadline to remove chemical weapons from its territory. The Russian government has said Syria should complete the shipment of its chemical weapons by 1 March. The US has reiterated its concern that Damascus has given up only a fraction of its stockpile. Mr Kerry said that “each and every day that the barrel-bombing of Aleppo continues, the Assad regime reminds the world of its true colours”. “It is the latest barbaric act of a regime that has committed organised, wholesale torture, used chemical weapons, and is starving whole communities by blocking delivery of food to Syrian civilians in urgent need,” he said. “Given this horrific legacy, the Syrian people would never accept as legitimate a government including Assad.”


Iran’s Zarif: Holocaust ‘should not happen again’

Washington, 04/02/2014 – Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said the Holocaust was “tragically cruel and should not happen again.”

Zarif, addressing the Munich Security Conference, again distanced his government led by President Hassan Rouhani, who was elected last summer, from its predecessor led by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a Holocaust denier.

“We have nothing against the Jews,” he said.

Zarif in September acknowledged the Holocaust in a Twitter exchange with Christine Pelosi, the daughter of Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), the minority leader in the U.S. House of Representatives, and in an interview on ABC.

Zarif in his Munich speech said talks between Iran and major powers aimed at keeping Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon could result in a deal in six months.

Notably, Moshe Yaalon, the Israeli defence minister, did not leave the hall during Zarif’s speech, although Israeli officials usually walk out when Iranian officials speak.

In another break with the rhetoric of the previous regime, Zarif cast the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a matter of addressing the “elemental rights” of Palestinians and not as one of Israel’s very existence.



4 February 2014

Abbas suggests NATO troops be stationed in future Palestinian state

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has suggested that a US-led NATO force remain in the West Bank and east Jerusalem in a future Palestinian state in order to ensure Israel’s security.

Speaking to New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman and Jerusalem bureau chief, Jodi Rudoren, in an interview published on Monday, Abbas said that following an agreement on territory, Israeli troops should be able to remain in the Palestinian state for a transition period of five years. Following the withdrawal of Israeli forces, Abbas said that they should be replaced indefinitely by the NATO troops, who would secure the area along with Palestinian security forces and police. The PA president said that the NATO force can stay “for a long time, and wherever they want, not only on the eastern borders but also on the western borders, everywhere … For a long time, for the time they wish. NATO can be everywhere, why not?” The foreign troops, he added “can stay to reassure the Israelis, and to protect us. We will be demilitarized. … Do you think we have any illusion that we can have any security if the Israelis do not feel they have security?” Abbas was adamant that Israeli troops not remain in the Palestinian state beyond the five-year transition period, saying that a situation in which the Palestinians were judged on their ability to maintain security would be “a humiliation for us…They will make a test for us and of course we will fail.” The Palestinian leader said that, while former prime minister Ehud Olmert welcomed the idea of foreign troops replacing Israeli soldiers in the West Bank, Netanyahu told Abbas personally that he rejects the idea.

Jerusalem Post


US suggests engaging Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Iran in Syria talks

During the Munich meeting between Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and US Secretary of State John Kerry, the American side suggested creating an additional mechanism to promote the Syrian settlement, the Moscow-based Kommersant newspaper writes in its Tuesday edition. The newspaper quotes a Russian diplomatic source as saying that the case in point is a regional format that should expand the number of participants in the Geneva-2 peace conference on Syria.” The Americans have proposed to include five participants into a parallel track: Russia, the United States, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Iran,” the report says. Russia and the US play a leading role in the Syrian settlement. Saudi Arabia and Turkey are the main sponsors of opponents of the regime, while Iran is its key ally. “The Russian side has on the whole welcomed the proposal. Last year, Moscow itself initiated a regional negotiation format in addition to inter-Syrian dialogue, but back then the United States deemed it inexpedient. Now the US side has come up with the same idea,” Kommersant reports. The newspaper links a change in Washington’s position to the results of the first round of Geneva-2.Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov described those results as “modest but encouraging.” Moscow has hailed as positive the fact that the Syrian conflicting parties sat down at the negotiating table within the Geneva-2 framework and that none has “slammed the door” so far. UN and Arab League special envoy for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi sounded more pessimistic. “Unfortunately, we have achieved nothing,” Brahimi told reporters in Munic. He voiced hope that the next round of Geneva-2, scheduled for February 10, would take place in a more constructive atmosphere. Voice of RussiaUS suggests engaging Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Iran in Syria talks

During the Munich meeting between Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and US Secretary of State John Kerry, the American side suggested creating an additional mechanism to promote the Syrian settlement, the Moscow-based Kommersant newspaper writes in its Tuesday edition. The newspaper quotes a Russian diplomatic source as saying that the case in point is a regional format that should expand the number of participants in the Geneva-2 peace conference on Syria.” The Americans have proposed to include five participants into a parallel track: Russia, the United States, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Iran,” the report says. Russia and the US play a leading role in the Syrian settlement. Saudi Arabia and Turkey are the main sponsors of opponents of the regime, while Iran is its key ally.” The Russian side has on the whole welcomed the proposal. Last year, Moscow itself initiated a regional negotiation format in addition to inter-Syrian dialogue, but back then the United States deemed it inexpedient. Now the US side has come up with the same idea,” Kommersant reports. The newspaper links a change in Washington’s position to the results of the first round of Geneva-2.Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov described those results as “modest but encouraging.” Moscow has hailed as positive the fact that the Syrian conflicting parties sat down at the negotiating table within the Geneva-2 framework and that none has “slammed the door” so far. UN and Arab League special envoy for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi sounded more pessimistic. “Unfortunately, we have achieved nothing,” Brahimi told reporters in Munic. He voiced hope that the next round of Geneva-2, scheduled for February 10, would take place in a more constructive atmosphere. Voice of Russia


2 February 2014

Netanyahu reveals no intention of settler withdrawal[English]&utm_campaign=32d3bc2c8c-January_9_20141_8_2014&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_28264b27a0-32d3bc2c8c-93068689


Saudi Prince praises Livni at Munich Security conference


1 February 2014

Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) Secretary-General Yasser Abed Rabbo declared on Thursday that U.S. proposals for a final status arrangement that would end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict were unacceptable due to their “general and vague” formulas about Jerusalem and their partial concessions to Israel regarding its security needs in the West Bank. The plan being proposed by Secretary of State John Kerry would reportedly have Israel cede parts of east Jerusalem to Palestinians for a capital and would further fall short of meeting Israeli demands for a long-term physical presence in the Jordan Valley along the border with Jordan. Palestinian negotiators also publicly rejected Kerry’s bridging proposals almost exactly a month ago, that time emphasizing dissatisfaction with security arrangements. The most recent statements appear to convey Palestinian rejection of both the security arrangements and of Kerry’s proposal for the final disposition of Jerusalem. Rabbo also gestured toward Palestinian dissatisfaction with being asked to give up on the so-called “right of return,” a call to allow millions of Palestinians to flow across Israel’s borders from refugee camps scattered across neighbouring countries. The demand, which would see the Jewish state physically overwhelmed, has long been treated as a diplomatic non-starter by successive Israeli governments.


Russia says Iran nuclear talks set for February 18 in New York

Talks between Iran and six world powers on a long-term deal for Tehran to rein in its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief will be held in New York on February 18, a Russian diplomat said on Friday, according to the Interfax news agency. Six world powers, including the United States and Russia, have led years of negotiations aimed at persuading Iran to curb parts of its nuclear program, which Western powers fear is aimed at creating atomic weapons capabilities. Iran denies this.” Agreement has been reached that the next meeting at the level of political directors will take place on February 18 in New York,” Interfax quoted Mikhail Ulyanov, head of the Foreign Ministry’s security and disarmament department, as saying.A November 24 interim deal between Iran and the five permanent U.N. Security Council members plus Germany took nearly two months to hammer out in three rounds of talks in Geneva late last year. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said last week that Iran is determined to negotiate a comprehensive deal so it can develop its battered economy, inviting Western companies to seize opportunities now.



US accuses Syria of stalling on chemical plan

Pace of removal has “languished”, ambassador says, with only four percent of chemical stockpile handed over.

The United States has called on Syria to take immediate action to comply with a UN resolution to remove its chemical weapons materials, noting just four percent of Syria’s declared chemical stock has been eliminated. Efforts to remove these materials from Syria have “seriously languished and stalled”, said ambassador Robert Mikulak in a statement to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) on Thursday. “Syria must immediately take the necessary actions to comply with its obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention, Executive Council decisions, and UN Security Council Resolution 2118,” said Mikulak, the US permanent representative to the OPCW. Timelines adopted last year required that 100 percent of “priority one” chemicals be eliminated by December 31, 2013, while the deadline for removing “priority two” chemicals is February 5. That deadline will also not be met. The Syrian government has attributed the delays to “security concerns”, saying it needs additional equipment to ensure their safe transportation – a claim Mikulak rejected.” Syria’s requests for equipment and open-ended delaying of the removal operation could ultimately jeopardise the carefully timed and coordinated multi-state removal and destruction effort,” he said. During a visit to Poland on Thursday, US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel also criticised Syrian efforts, saying he has asked his Russian counterpart to put pressure on Damascus to comply with the deal. “I do not know what the Syrian government’s motives are – if this is incompetence – or why they are behind in delivering these materials,” Hagel told reporters in Warsaw, the capital. “They need to fix this.



31 January 2014

Since the beginning of 2014, over 28 rockets were launched from Gaza at Israel by Gaza terrorists.

Fourteen of which landed in southern Israel, and five were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defence system, as they were approaching Ashkelon built up areas.

In retaliation to these rocket attacks, IAF aircraft targeted numerous terror sites across the Gaza strip. In addition, at the beginning of January 2014, IAF aircrafts targeted a terror squad during final preparations to launch rockets at southern Israel.

In most recent successful operations, the IDF targeted two known Gaza terrorists: Ahmed Sa’ad(Palestinian Islamic Jihad), and Ahmed Za’anin (Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine). Both were extensively involved in launching rockets into Israel as well as other attacks against IDF forces.

Over the past month three improvised explosive devices (IED) were concealed adjacent to the Gaza security fence and detonated against IDF soldiers in order to prevent activities necessary to safeguard nearby Israeli communities. Despite the IEDs potential hazardousness, their detonation caused no injuries.


30 January 2014

Iraqis divided over new national anthem[English]&utm_campaign=32d3bc2c8c-January_9_20141_8_2014&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_28264b27a0-32d3bc2c8c-93068689


29 January 2014

170,000 rockets are aimed at Israel’s cities, says IDF intel head


28 January 2014

American diplomacy is supporting Israelis and Palestinians as they engage in difficult but necessary talks to end the conflict there; to achieve dignity and an independent state for Palestinians, and lasting peace and security for the State of Israel – a Jewish state that knows America will always be at their side.

~ President Barack Obama’s State of the Union Address


27 January 2014

Tunisia assembly approves new constitution

Under new charter adopted by overwhelming majority, executive power is divided between prime minister and president. Tunisia’s national assembly has approved the country’s new constitution, three years after the overthrow of the North African country’s long-time ruler Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali. Sunday’s vote by an overwhelming majority of assembly members marks another crucial step to getting the democratic transition back on track in the birthplace of the Arab Spring. The vote came close on the heels of an announcement by Mehdi Jomaa, the prime minister, of a new caretaker cabinet to govern the country until elections. The new constitution, seen as one of the most progressive in the region, guarantees equal rights for men and women. It also demands that the state protect the environment and tackle corruption. Executive power is also divided between the prime minister, who will have the dominant role, and the president, who retains important prerogatives, notably in defence and foreign affairs. Islam is not mentioned as a source of legislation, although it is recognised as the nation’s religion and the state is committed to “prohibiting any attacks on the sacred”, while freedom of conscience is guaranteed. Earlier, members of parliament amended three articles in the draft text, before ratifying changes to the rules of the assembly’s confidence vote, to facilitate the appointment of the caretaker cabinet which must win parliamentary backing. But there has been criticism that the constitution has not banned the death penalty. There are also restrictions on freedom of speech, and attacking religion and accusing people of being nonbelievers is illegal.



Joe Biden Expresses U.S. Support For Iraq’s Fight Against Al Qaeda

Vice President Joe Biden says the United States continues to support Iraq in its fight against al-Qaida-linked militants. The White House says Biden spoke by telephone Sunday with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Car bombings and shootings killed 13 people across Iraq on Sunday, and clashes between security forces and al-Qaida-linked militants continued in the contested western province of Anbar. Iraq’s al-Qaida branch, known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, has taken over parts of the Anbar capital Ramadi and controls the centre of the nearby city of Fallujah. Biden commended al-Maliki’s government for its efforts to integrate tribal forces fighting al-Qaida into Iraqi security forces, and to provide compensation for those injured and killed fighting the militants.



26 January 2014

Despite some flaws, Tunisia’s constitution shows promise,


24 January 2014

The latest issue of Middle East Critique, Volume 22, Issue 3, 2013 is devoted to analyses of the Arab Uprisings of 2011.


23 January 2014

Israel this week advanced plans for 642 new settler homes in the West Bank as an Israeli delegation was in Washington to discuss the peace process with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.


Multiple outlets and analysts are assessing that the West’s reduction of sanctions on Iran, implemented on Monday per the Joint Plan of Action (JPA) agreed to by the P5+1 global powers and Tehran, has triggered a “gold rush” into the Islamic republic as companies and nations scramble not to be left behind as the country’s markets are reopened to the world. The phrase is an explicit echo of statements made by Vienna-based Iranian business consultant Bijan Khajehpour and conveyed by Reuters, in which Khajehpour described a “gold rush” mood in Tehran that has Russia and China rushing to lock in oil-based barter deals before Western companies penetrate the Iranian energy sector. The Wall Street Journal contrasted assurances from the Obama administration emphasizing that sanctions relief was limited with evidence that a “growing number of European governments and businesses [are] moving to cash in on the opening created by the interim agreement.” Specifically, the Journal piled on examples indicating that “Tehran’s trading partners have lifted sanctions, sent delegations, agreed to export deals and signalled their readiness to expand ties across nearly every major industry.” Mark Dubowitz and Emanuele Ottolenghi – respectively the executive director of the Foundation for defence of Democracies (FDD) and a senior fellow at the foundation – noted in Politico today that the “gold rush” is partly a function of a psychological change that has seen “greed… overcome fear,” with the improved economic climate already generating “some illegitimate deals as companies test the waters.” Reuters reported today that Iranian oil sales rose in January for the third consecutive month, and tomorrow Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is to address global business leaders and urge them to pursue further energy co-development deals. The Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency meanwhile announced yesterday that it will resume trade with Iran, cracking open a market that had in the past seen robust trade in auto exports and energy. The degree to which Iran benefited economically from the JPA has both diplomatic and policy stakes. Diplomatically, the loss of U.S. leverage will make it difficult to pressure Iran into verifiably putting its nuclear program beyond use for nuclearization. Politically, evidence of such a loss is likely to deepen calls for Congress to pass legislation imposing new sanctions on Iran should negotiations over Tehran’s nuclear program fail, a move that proponents insist would boost the bargaining position of U.S. negotiators.


22 January 2014

Bahraini Ambassador To France Visits Holocaust Memorial: It Is Our Duty To Combat Intolerance And Hatred

The Bahraini daily Akhbar Al-Khalij, citing the French news agency AFP, reported that on December 10, 2013, Bahraini ambassador to France Nasser Al-Balushi visited the Holocaust memorial centre in Drancy near Paris. This was the first visit by a Muslim diplomat to the site, which was established in September 2012. The visit was conceived by Jewish French author Marek Halter and the Imam of Drancy, Hassan Al-Chalghoumi. The Bahraini ambassador laid a wreath on the monument and said: “It is our duty to act together to combat any expression of intolerance and hatred. Bahrain is a Muslim country, but its laws enable coexistence with other religious groups. Alongside mosques, [Bahrain] has synagogues, churches, and [other] houses of worship.”


Holocaust Conference In Tunisia: We Must Remember The Holocaust And Make Sure Such Depraved Deeds Never Happen Again

On December 14, 2013, Tunisia held the Arab world’s first official Holocaust conference. The two-day conference, attended by historians, clerics, authors, and journalists, dealt with the Tunisian Jewish Holocaust, and its purpose was to commemorate the 5,000 Tunisian Jews who were sent to labour camps or European death camps during the Nazi rule of the country. During the conference, speakers praised Tunisian Muslims who helped Jews during the Holocaust, including Khaled ‘Abd Al-Wahhab, who hid 20 Jews in his factory.

The event was held under the auspices of the Tunisian Association to Support Minorities, as well as the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, which works to bring religions, specifically Muslims and Jews, closer together. The president of the Association to Support Minorities, Yasmina Thabet, said that “the conference aims to preserve the issue of the Holocaust in public consciousness… and ensure that a depraved act such as the Nazi Holocaust will never happen again in any form…”


20 January 2014

Iran nuclear: Curbs on uranium enrichment begin, state TV says

Iran has begun curbing uranium enrichment, state TV says, under an agreement which will also trigger an easing of international sanctions.

Centrifuges used for enrichment were disconnected at the Nantaz plant, according to TV. The move is part of a deal reached with the US, Russia, China and European powers last November. The UN nuclear watchdog, the IAEA, will now confirm whether Tehran is implementing its side of the agreement. This should pave the way for partial suspension of EU and US sanctions, allowing Iran to restart petrochemical exports and trade in gold, worth billions of dollars. On Sunday, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said he hoped for “positive results for the country, as well as regional and global peace and security”. Under the terms of the agreement, reached with the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany, Iran has agreed to halt enrichment of uranium above 5% purity. It will “neutralise” its stockpile of near-20%-enriched uranium. In return, the world powers agreed to suspend certain sanctions on trade in gold and precious metals, Iran’s automotive sector, and its petrochemical exports.



UN invites Iran to Syria peace talks

UN chief Ban Ki-moon has invited Iran to take part in preliminary Syrian peace talks this week in Switzerland, an offer Tehran has accepted. Mr Ban said he had received assurances that Iran would play a positive role in securing a transitional government. But Syria’s main opposition group said it would withdraw from the talks unless Mr Ban retracted the offer to Iran. And the US said the offer must be conditional on Iran’s support for the 2012 deal on Syria’s transition. The Syria peace conference has been more than a year in the making and now it is in disarray before it has even started, reports the BBC’s Kim Ghattas. The UN move appeared to take American officials by surprise, she adds. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said the absence of Iran from the talks on the Syria crisis would be an “unforgivable mistake”, adding that he fully supported Mr Ban’s “responsible and principled” decision to invite Iran. Preliminary talks are due to open in Montreux on Wednesday and then continue in Geneva two days later. Syria’s government earlier agreed to attend the meeting. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has said there was a “good chance” he would run in a presidential election set for June and ruled out Syria’s main political opposition group, the National Coalition, obtaining any ministerial positions in a new government, calling this “totally unrealistic”. BBC NEWS


Russia, China agree on joint tactical exercises in Mediterranean

The command of the Russian permanent naval force in the Mediterranean stationed aboard the Pyotr Veliky heavy nuclear-powered missile carrying cruiser has visited the Chinese frigate Yancheng, which is providing the safe transportation of Syrian chemical weapons jointly with the Russian sailors. The sides discussed the possible holding of a joint tactical drill in the Mediterranean, the defence Ministry said. The drill may be held shortly for upgrading compatibility of Russian and Chinese warships in joint operations in the eastern Mediterranean. “Key elements of the Russian-Chinese maritime exercises will be the practice of elements of operative interaction, deterrence of contemporary terrorist threats and joint maritime rescue operations,” the defence Ministry said. The Pyotr Veliky and the Yancheng escorted the Danish ship Ark Futura carrying the first batch of Syrian chemical weapons on January 7.”Continuous communication was maintained with the Chinese ship on the escorting mission. The mission, which saw the first-ever practical interaction between ships of the Russian Navy and the Chinese Navy in the escorting of special-purpose transport vessels, was accomplished successfully,” the defence Ministry stressed. Voice of Russia



18 January 2014

US releases summary of Iran nuclear plan

The White House on Thursday released a summary of the deal reached between six major world powers and Iran to curb its nuclear program, responding to calls from the US Congress and other groups for more transparency about what the agreement entails.
Iran has denied it wants to use the program to eventually build nuclear weapons but agreed to scale it back after the international community applied strict financial and oil sanctions. The six-month preliminary deal includes some relief from the sanctions as talks continue toward a broader, long-term deal. The White House gave Congress access to the full text of technical instructions for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) but released a detailed four-page summary of the deal to the public. “It is the preference of the IAEA that certain technical aspects of the technical understandings remain confidential,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said. Wendy Sherman, the State Department’s lead Iran negotiator, briefed lawmakers on the agreement on Thursday. Some walked out of the meeting saying it had heightened, rather than eased, their concerns about negotiations between Iran and the United States and five other world powers. “I’m more disturbed more than ever after the briefing,” Republican South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham told reporters. Graham, a frequent critic of Obama administration foreign policy initiatives, is a co-sponsor of a bill opposed by the Obama administration to slap new sanctions on Iran if it walks away from the negotiations.

China Daily


Destruction of most dangerous Syrian chemicals may be delayed

The removal and destruction of the most dangerous agents in Syria’s chemical arsenal will likely be delayed because of security and logistical problems, but the final deadline of the end of June for eliminating all chemicals remains, the head of the world’s chemical weapons watchdog said on Thursday.

The goal for eradicating mustard gas and principal chemical components for making Sarin and VX – known as “priority A” chemicals – was originally the end of March. Syria has already missed a December 31 goal to transport the most toxic substances to a port and so far has loaded only a relatively small amount of chemicals – around 5 percent, according to a senior Western diplomat in New York – onto the Danish cargo ship Ark Futura. Ahmet Uzumcu, head of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), said he was “confident” that all the chemicals could be destroyed by the end of June – the original deadline for the complete elimination of Syria’s chemical weapons programme and associated agents. When asked whether the March 31 destruction deadline for the priority chemicals would be met, Uzumcu said: “As we were not able to meet the timeline for the 31st of December … from my point of view what is important is really the end of June 2014, so we will do our best to meet it.”



Israel admitted as full member of CERN

At a ceremony held on 15 January in Geneva, Israel was officially admitted as full member to CERN, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman represented Israel at the ceremony held at the CERN Globe of Science and Innovation, at the end of which the Israeli flag was added to the line of flags representing the member states of the organisation. FM Liberman said that it was a source of great pride for him to see the Israeli flag raised, symbolising Israel’s participation in the forefront of world science and progress. He added that the admission of Israel as a full member of the organisation is a recognition of the high level and quality of scientific research in Israel and its contribution to the welfare of the human race.

FM Liberman noted also that Israel’s admission to CERN is the outcome of years of diplomatic efforts spearheaded by the Israel Foreign Ministry. Israel is the 21th member state of CERN, and the only country outside Europe to have achieved full membership.

FM Liberman expressed thanks to the leadership of CERN, headed by Director-General Rolf Heuer, and to Prof. Ruth Arnon, President of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, Prof. Manuel Trajtenberg, chair of the Planning and Budgeting Committee of the Council for Higher Education, and the dozens of Israeli scientists and doctoral students present at the ceremony.


Iran has gone on an execution binge in the past two weeks, hanging some 40 people, including 19 in one day, according to international human rights groups inside and outside of Iran.


16 January 2014

Western intelligence agencies have visited Damascus for talks on combating radical Islamist groups, Syria’s deputy foreign minister has told the BBC.

Faisal Mekdad said there was a schism between Western security officials and politicians who are pressing President Bashar al-Assad to step down. The growth of jihadist groups among rebels fighting President Assad has caused international concern. Syrian government officials are due to attend peace talks in Geneva next week. However, the main opposition alliance, the National Coalition, has still not decided whether or not to take part. Correspondents say the growing disarray of the opposition is frustrating the West and bolstering the confidence of the Syrian government. In a recent interview, Mr Mekdad told the BBC that many Western governments had finally understood that there was no alternative to the leadership of President Assad. Asked if Western intelligence agencies – including British intelligence – had recently visited Damascus, he said: “I will not specify but many of them have visited Damascus, yes.”



Israel: Defence minister says sorry over Kerry comments amid US friction

Israel’s defence minister has said sorry after remarks he allegedly made about John Kerry sparked diplomatic friction with the United States. Moshe Yaalon’s apology followed a rebuke from the US, incensed over the comments in the Israeli press. He reportedly called the US secretary of state’s quest for Middle East peace obsessive and “messianic”, that he “cannot teach me a single thing about the conflict with the Palestinians” and “the only thing that can save us is if Kerry wins the Nobel prize and leaves us alone”. “If these comments are accurate, we find the remarks of the defence minister to be offensive and inappropriate, especially given all that the United States has done to support Israel’s security needs and will continue to do,” said US State Department spokeswoman, Jen Psaki. In parliament, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appeared to take Yaalon to task, extolling Israel’s shared interests with what he called “our great ally” in Washington. Kerry has been on a diplomatic blitz, pushing peace efforts between Israel and the Palestinians. But so far there have been few signs of progress.


15 January 2014

A recent speech by Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas – in which the Palestinian leader declared that “there will be no peace” unless several contentious Palestinian demands were fully met, and several Israeli red lines were definitively crossed – has triggered concerns that the current Palestinian leadership may be either unable or unwilling to make peace. Abbas’s speech, delivered last Friday, included declarations that Israel will have to cede the entirety of East Jerusalem and that the Jewish state will have to accept the so-called “right of return,” a policy that would have Israel permitting millions of Palestinian refugees and their descendants to flood into Israel. The result would be an all-but-certain eradication of Israel as a Jewish homeland. Abbas implicitly brushed off exactly that concern, declaring that in any case the Palestinians would not accept Israel as a Jewish state. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly voiced concerns over Abbas’s speech, worrying that the Palestinian leader’s rhetoric might mean he “wasn’t ready to make tough decisions.” Abbas’s rhetoric is bound to draw comparisons to moves made by former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, who for decades claimed that he was ready to make peace until – when presented with functionally maximal Israeli concessions – he declined. The incident is likely to heighten concerns, already engendered by recent Palestinian incitement and expressions of anti-Israel conspiracy theories, that Palestinian civil and political society is not yet sufficiently robust for sustaining an emerging state alongside Israel.


Israeli Minister: Kerry ‘Obsessed’

Israeli defence Minister Moshe Yaalon is reportedly no fan of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who has recently been doggedly pursuing a deal in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Israel’s largest newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth, reports that behind closed doors Yaalon said, “Secretary of State John Kerry—who has come to us determined and is acting out of an incomprehensible obsession and a messianic feeling—cannot teach me a single thing about the conflict with the Palestinians. ”Yaalon, who is part of the right-wing Likud party, is viewed as sceptical of a possible deal with the Palestinians. In continuing his biting take of the presidential runner-up, Yaalon declared, “The only thing that can save us is if Kerry wins the Nobel Prize and leaves us alone.” Yaalon’s office declined to comment on the story.



13 January 2014

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met on Sunday with Arab foreign ministers tasked with managing the Arab Peace Initiative to discuss ongoing peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.


Israel honours Sharon at state funeral
Israel paid homage to former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon at the first of two funeral services to be held on Monday for a man hailed as a war hero at home but seen by many in the Arab world as a war criminal. U.S. Vice President Joe Biden joined the somber ceremony in front of the Israeli parliament, Sharon’s coffin draped in the Israel’s blue and white flag, bathed in winter sunshine. “We are accompanying to his final resting place today, a soldier, an exceptional soldier, a commander who knew how to win,” said Israeli President Shimon Peres. Sharon died at the age of 85 on Saturday after spending the last eight years in a coma caused by a massive stroke. His death has reopened debate into his legacy, with foes denouncing his ruthless conduct in military operations while friends praised him as a strategic genius who had stunned the world in 2005 by pulling Israeli troops and settlers out of the Gaza Strip — a Palestinian territory in the south. “The security of his people was always Arik’s unwavering mission – a non-breakable commitment to the future of Jews, whether 30 years or 300 years from now,” Biden said, using Sharon’s nickname. After the memorial service at parliament, Sharon’s body will be driven from Jerusalem to his family farm some 10 km (6 miles) from Gaza, where he will be buried later in the day.








12 January 2014

Iran nuclear deal to enter into force on 20 January

An interim agreement to freeze Iran’s nuclear programme will enter into force on 20 January, it has been announced.

The deal, agreed in talks with world powers in November, envisages easing of some international sanctions on Tehran. US President Barack Obama welcomed the news but said more work was needed to strike a long-term deal. He threatened new sanctions if there was a breach. The West accuses Iran of seeking nuclear weapons, but Tehran has consistently denied that. The EU’s foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said the world powers would now ask the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog (IAEA) to verify the deal’s implementation. Baroness Ashton represents the five permanent members of the UN Security Council – US, Russia, China, France and Britain – plus Germany in the talks with Iran. “The foundations for a coherent, robust and smooth implementation of the joint plan of action over the six-month period have been laid,” she said. Under the terms of the deal, Iran has agreed to halt enrichment of uranium above 5% purity, and “neutralise” its stockpile of near-20%-enriched uranium. In return, the world powers agreed to suspend certain sanctions on trade in gold and precious metals, Iran’s automotive sector, and its petrochemical exports.



Iran and six world powers have agreed on how to put in place an accord that would temporarily freeze much of Iran’s nuclear program, American and Iranian officials said on Sunday. That accord would go into effect on Jan. 20.International negotiators worked out an agreement in November to constrain much of Iran’s program for six months so that diplomats would have time to pursue a more comprehensive follow-up accord. But before the temporary agreement could take effect, negotiators had to work out the technical procedures for carrying it out and resolve some of its ambiguities in concert with the International Atomic Energy Agency.


The Sharon Doctrine: The Mixed Legacy of an Israeli Unilateralist,


10 January 2014

Egyptian courts convicted 113 Muslim Brotherhood supporters on charges including attacking police, rioting and weapons possession in three separate cases brought after protests against the army-backed government.


Israel published tenders for 1,400 new homes in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, days after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry visited the region to push peace efforts with the Palestinians.


IceCure is an Israeli company that developed a minimally invasive procedure that uses extreme cold to kill tumours inside the body. The company’s technology, proven effective on benign and some malignant breast tumours, is now being tested on lung cancer, which claims more lives annually than any other cancer.


Professor Moti Herskowitz develops a crude-oil substitute from water and CO2. He predicts that this breakthrough technology should be commercially viable within 10 years.


Israeli company Real View has developed holographic technology that can project a real-time image of a patient’s heart floating in mid-air in front of the surgeon. The hologram can serve as an effective tool for doctors to get a better image of their patient’s condition while in the operating room.



8 January 2014

Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions faction cannot speak for U.S. universities | Jacob Baime | Ops & Blogs | The Times of Israel

Turkey’s 2014 Political Transition,


7 January 2014

In Egypt, it no longer appears to be a question of if, but when army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi will declare his candidacy for president. For the second time in three days, local media reported that Sisi had finally made up his mind.


U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is working on a document spelling out America’s basic principles for a peace agreement that both sides — with reservations — are to agree to follow as a framework for continuing Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.


Will John Kerry’s Mideast peace framework bring results?,


Ambassador Shapiro: Kerry heard things from Netanyahu , Abbas ‘no one ever heard before’,



6 January 2014

Israeli Arabs: We Do Not Want to Live in Palestinian State,


Tunisia’s promising new constitution,


Kerry Says Iran Might Play Role in Syria Peace Talks

Secretary of State John Kerry said on Sunday that Iran might play a role at the peace talks on Syria in Switzerland this month.


It was the first time that a senior American official has indicated that Iran might be involved in the session, which is scheduled to begin Jan. 22, even if it was not a formal participant. Mr. Kerry said there would be limits on Iran’s involvement unless it accepted that the purpose of the conference should be to work out transitional arrangements for governing Syria if opponents of President Bashar al-Assad could persuade him to relinquish power. Iran has provided military and political support to Mr. Assad.“Now, could they contribute from the sidelines?” Mr. Kerry said, referring to a situation in which Iran sticks by the Assad government and does not accept that goal. “Are there ways for them conceivably to weigh in? Can their mission that is already in Geneva be there in order to help the process?” “It may be that there are ways that could happen,” Mr. Kerry added, but he said the question would have to be decided by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon of the United Nations, “and it has to be determined by Iranian intentions themselves. ”Mr. Kerry made the remarks at a news conference in Jerusalem on Sunday morning, before he flew to Jordan and then Saudi Arabia to confer on his efforts to forge a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians and other regional issues. Capping a day of whirlwind travel, Mr. Kerry returned to Israel in the evening.

New York Times


Hezbollah’s Ideological Crisis,


The Jordan Valley: Israel’s security belt,


5 January 2014

Saudi King backs Israeli-Palestinian push, Kerry says,


4 January 2014

Strategic Corridor in West Bank Remains a Stumbling Block in Mideast Talks,


3 January 2014

We’ll ignore a ‘worthless’ framework deal, says PLO,


The continuing evolution of al-Qaeda 3.0,

Israeli legislature battles over Jordan Valley.


Kerry in Middle East to lay ‘framework’ for peace

US Secretary of State John Kerry has arrived in Israel in his latest bid to re-energise the Middle East peace process.

The visit, Kerry’s tenth to the region in less than a year, seeks to secure a so called ‘framework agreement’ aimed, eventually, at finding a two state solution and an independent Palestinian state. Speaking at a joint news conference with Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, Kerry called for common ground from both sides. “The time is soon arriving where leaders are going to have to make difficult decisions. We are close to that time, if not at it, and I think we understand the circumstances within which we are working,” Kerry said. After meeting with Netanyahu, Kerry is due to travel to the West Bank for talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Earlier on Thursday, around 100 Palestinian protesters demonstrated against Kerry’s visit calling for an end to talks with Israel. Saleh Zedan, Leader of Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine said: “We are marching to ask the Palestinian negotiator to withdraw immediately from these talks, to stop being exploited by the Israeli enemy which is covering up the increase in Jewish settlements. “Last month, Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat said a deal on a framework agreement could allow talks to continue for another year. But, earlier this week, he said the US’ peace efforts were ‘failing’ and threatened to haul Israel before the International Criminal Court.



Israel official: Jordan Valley must remain border,;_ylt=A2KJ3CYtucZSfDcAWF3QtDMD


Between 6,000 and 7,000 foreign fighters have arrived in Syria to take up arms with rebels against the Assad regime, with a large majority of them joining jihadi organizations, the Nusra Front being foremost among them.


1 January 2014

CIA: Syria War Could Last a Decade

Remember when President Obama said it wasn’t if Bashar al-Assad would go, but when? A new CIA analysis based on a historical look at other insurgencies expects the civil war could actually last another decade or more, a much longer time frame than originally suggested by the White House. Intelligence officials say that light American efforts to steer the outcome are ineffective next to Assad’s powerful allies of Iran and Hezbollah. The war in Syria has killed over 100,000 people and forced millions from their homes.


US increases financial aid to Palestinians, links it to progress in peace talks,


Sticking Point in Peace Talks: Recognition of a Jewish State,


Syria’s Raging Health Crisis,

News Archive 2013

Last updated on 11/7/2016 Print this page

31 December 2013

Iran says nuclear deal to be implemented in late January,

Jordan assumes U.N. Security Council chair as conflicts persist,

3,520 Killed By U.S. Drones

U.S. drone strikes killed 3,520 people since 2002, including 457 civilians, according to a report released Tuesday by the Council of Foreign Relations. Eleven percent of those killed were civilians. The drone strikes were deadliest in Pakistan, where 3,091 people were killed since 2004, with a whopping 22 percent of deaths being civilians. The deadlines year in Pakistan was 2010, but 2012 was the bloodiest year in Yemen.

30 December 2013

Kerry to Present Mideast Peace Framework,

Erekat: Peace talks have failed, PA should seek statehood recognition,

27 December 2013

Abbas appeals to US to block new settlements | The Times of Israel

An energy deal between Moscow and Damascus could influence strategic calculations for both the civil war in Syria and the drive by regional powers to exploit offshore oil and gas deposits off the east Mediterranean coast.

Syria’s civil war tests whether borders drawn less than a century ago will last,

Islamophobia: Surge revealed in anti-Muslim hate crimes,

26 December 2013

Egypt designates Muslim Brotherhood as terrorist group,

Egypt Broadens New Crackdown on Brotherhood,

25 December 2013

Turkey: Government reshuffle after ministers quit,;_ylt=A2KJ3CdaK7xSORUAzhvQtDMD

24 December 2013

Report: Kerry’s security proposals accept most Israeli positions,

23 December 2013

Should the United States End Assistance to Syria’s Rebels?,

16 December 2013

The financial centre of greater Tel Aviv entered, for the first time, into the most respected ranking of global financial centres, doing it in an impressive way. Global Financial Centres Index (GFCI), published in London by the Z/Yen Group , positioned Tel Aviv at the 32nd place out of 80 global locations. London, New York, Hong Kong and Singapore remain the leaders on the index. The financial centre of greater Tel Aviv entered, for the first time, into the most respected ranking of global financial centres, doing it in an impressive way. Global Financial centres Index (GFCI), published in London by the Z/Yen Group , positioned Tel Aviv at the 32nd place out of 80 global locations. London, New York, Hong Kong and Singapore remain the leaders on the index.

The World Bank and Israel have reached an agreement to produce their first joint technology fund, which they will use to promote Israeli agriculture, water, and renewable technologies in developing markets.

15 December 2013

The United States has suspended all non-lethal aid to Syria after the hard-line Islamic Front seized control of the headquarters of the U.S.-friendly Supreme Military Council.

The United Nations overwhelmingly voted to declare 2014 the “International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People” during an unprecedented vote that human rights observers say was marred by anti-Israel fervor.

14 December 2013

New Book: Strategy: A History by Lawrence Freedman

12 December 2013

U.S. lawmakers have approved boosting funding for Israel’s missile defence program by $173 million in fiscal 2014.

Under pressure from the United Nations amid a mounting economic and humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip, Israel has agreed to restart the transfer of construction materials to Gaza after an eight-week hiatus.

Israeli defence Minister Moshe Yaalon: Iran has built up a terror infrastructure in Central and South America from which to attack Jewish and Israeli targets in the region and as a base for attacking inside the United States.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has reportedly shot down a proposal by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to maintain Israeli presence in the Jordan Valley for ten years following the signing of an Israeli-Palestinian peace accord, a Palestinian official told Al-Ayyam.

Belgian police arrested a Muslim preacher in Brussels who is suspected of having recruited Muslims to go and fight in Syria.

10 December 2013

Nelson Mandela’s struggle against South African apartheid inspired millions. Mandela became a role model for many who fight oppression in different corners of the world. Mandela led life of perseverance, of suffering, of struggle; life of humility and humanity; life of peace, of forgiveness, of reconciliation; life of a wise man, a leader who showed his people that hope and vision can create new opportunities, that fighting for liberty does not have to be violent, that South Africa better embrace and unite than self-destruct itself.  Nelson Mandela became a legend in his life time because he personified a nation that went out of darkness to create new horizons of freedom and multiculturalism, of tolerance and unity.

Nelson Mandela’s great vision for justice and equality and against bigotry and violence continues to resonate around the world, as new generations of young people pursue the ideals he embraced.

President Obama is a great orator. On December 10, 2013, in Johannesburg, he paid tribute to a person who he clearly admired in his usual eloquence, clarity and power. These are the words of the world leader in memory of his role model:

3 December 2013

Time for honesty about dialogue with Israel,

The death toll in Syria’s civil war has risen to at least 125,835, more than a third of them civilians, but the real figure is probably much higher, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

2 December 2013

A growing body of evidence collected by U.N. investigators points to the involvement of senior Syrian officials, including President Bashar Assad, in crimes against humanity and war crimes, the U.N.’s top human rights official said .

A chronicle of Egypt’s uprising comes to grips with political reality,

1 December 2013

With Morsi ousted and imprisoned, investigators are looking into possibly putting him on trial for links to jihadis, accusing him and his Muslim Brotherhood of being behind a wave of violence by Sinai-based militants in retaliation for the July 3 military coup that removed the Islamists from power.

27 November 2013

Iran will press on with construction at a nuclear reactor site at Arak, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif said despite an agreement with Western powers to halt activity.

Iran’s oil ministry has opened contacts with western majors as the government of Hassan Rouhani tries to capitalise on progress in nuclear talks and encourage companies to prepare for an eventual lifting of sanctions.

Poll: Americans back a newly brokered nuclear deal with Iran by a 2-to-1 margin and are very wary of the United States resorting to military action against Tehran even if the historic diplomatic effort falls through.

26 November 2013

Iran Looks Beyond the Nuclear Talks,

25 November 2013

Making the Iran Nuclear Deal Work,

Iran’s Leaders Emphasize Limitations of the Nuclear Agreement,

23 November 2013

World Powers Reach Accord to Freeze Iran’s Nuclear Program

The foreign policy chief of the European Union announced a landmark accord Sunday morning that would temporarily freeze Tehran’s nuclear program and lay the foundation for a more sweeping accord.
After marathon talks that finally ended early Sunday morning, the United States and five other world powers reached an agreement with Iran to halt much of Iran’s nuclear program, and some elements would even be rolled back. It was the first time in years of talks that an international agreement had been reached to slow Iran’s nuclear program.
The freeze would last six months, with the aim of giving international negotiators time to pursue the far more challenging task of drafting a comprehensive accord that would ratchet back much of Iran’s nuclear program and ensure that it could only be used for peaceful purposes.

21 November 2013

The Israeli Labour Party holds today elections for leadership. Two candidates: Shelly Yechimovitz and Itzhak Herzog. Hope for a new horizon for Labour and Israeli politics at large.

19 November 2013

MESG – ‘The Peace Process — where to?’

The Middle East Study Group (MESG) will host Ambassador Professor Manuel Hassasian, Palestinian Authority Ambassador to the UK, who will speak on “The Peace Process — where to?”.

Born in Jerusalem, Ambassador Hassassian pursued his higher education in the USA, lectured at Bethlehem University and became the University Executive Vice President. He also served as the President of the Rectors’ Conference of the Palestinian Ministry of Higher Education, and President of the Palestinian-European-American Cooperation in Education (PEACE) program.

Wednesday 20 November, 16:00
Wilberforce LT12

RSVP: Marianne Lewsley-Stier,

President Francois Hollande assured Israel that France would continue to oppose an easing of economic sanctions against Iran until it was convinced Tehran had given up any pursuit of nuclear weapons

Is it legitimate to ban hate speech?

Professor Eric Barendt

The legitimacy of hate speech bans is one of the hardest questions for liberal democracies to resolve. Can extreme hate speech be restricted without interfering with free political discourse?

Eric Barendt, Emeritus Professor of Law, UCL, is an internationally renowned expert on media law. He was Goodman Professor of Media Law at UCL from 1990 until 2010. Before coming to UCL, he lectured law at St. Catherine’s College, Oxford. Professor Barendt is the author of many important books and articles on media law, the laws of libel and privacy, and freedom of expression, most notably Freedom of Speech (2ndedition: Oxford University Press, 2005). His most recent book is Academic Freedom and the Law (Hart, 2010). Professor Barendt is also the editor of the Journal of Media Law.

Thursday 21 November, 16:00-18:00
Wilberforce LT12

Please RSVP whether you would like to attend.

18 November 2013

America and Israel are in uncharted waters. Just eight months since President Barack Obama visited Israel on the first foreign trip of his second term in an attempt to patch things up with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the two close allies are at odds once again — this time over a proposed “first step” nuclear agreement with Iran. Washington and Jerusalem eventually will find a way to move beyond this titanic clash, but no kiss-and-make-up effort can erase the scars that will be left behind. The current crisis is already one of the biggest U.S.-Israel blowups, ever — and it could get worse before it gets better.

French President Francois Hollande called for a complete halt to Israel’s settlement activities, saying it was harmful to peace efforts.

President Obama deserves more time to work out a negotiated settlement with Iran and the other major powers. If the deals falls through, or if inspections by the United Nations unearth cheating, Congress can always impose more sanctions then. But if talks fail now, Mr. Netanyahu and the hard-line interest groups will own the failure, and the rest of us will pay the price.


16 November 2013

Palestinian youths lack a true role model or inspirational figure, unlike what Shlomi Eldar wrote in Al-Monitor about Mustafa Barghouti. Read more:

Obama national security aide chides Israel over settlements,

PLO vows to continue peace talks with Israel despite resignations ,

Senate bill toughens sanctions against Syria,

Insight: As powers push for talks, Syria balance tilts towards Assad,

15 November 2013

Saudi and French forces carry out joint military drill ,

Turkey Moves to Silence Dissenters, but With One Eye on Its Image Abroad,

Netanyahu government ‘Israelizes’ east Jerusalem,

Former Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor will speak on “The Arab Spring and Its Impact on the Middle East and World Order” on Wednesday 18 December 2013, 16:00-18:00 at the University of Hull, Wilberforce Building, Room LT29. Inquiries and RSVP: Marianne Lewsley-Stier,

13 November 2013

Russia is negotiating its biggest weapons deals with Egypt since the Cold War as it seeks to capitalize on U.S. President Barack Obama’s decision to cut defence aid to the military-backed government.

9 November 2013

Jordan will replace Saudi Arabia on the Security Council for a two-year term starting in January after the Saudis’ unprecedented rejection of the seat hours after they were elected

More than 20 million children are to be vaccinated in Syria and neighbouring countries against polio to try to stop the spread of the crippling infectious disease following its re-emergence there after 14 years

7 November 2013

Pakistan Taliban name Mullah Fazlullah as leader after death of Hakimullah Mehsud in drone attack

6 November 2013

Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas reiterated his refusal to accept Israel as a Jewish state even in the context of a final peace agreement, complicating the efforts of negotiators engaged in U.S.-backed Israeli-Palestinian peace talks to reach a formula acceptable to both sides.

5 November 2013

Hamas is digging attack tunnels as part of its efforts to create a terrorism infrastructure against Israel for future attacks, defence Minister #Moshe_Ya’alon said, adding that #Israel is concerned by the threat and is acting to counter it.

2 November 2013

Pakistan Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud killed in drone strike, Taliban official confirms to BBC

1 November 2013

Syria has become al Qaeda’s largest safe haven, with more than 10,000 fighters who outnumber the terrorist network’s core organization in Pakistan and its affiliates in North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula.

24 October 2013

In Internet’s way: Terrorism on the Free Highway


The Jerusalem Post 10/23/2013

21 October 2013

Has Israel become the lesser of the two evils?

16 October 2013

Egyptians try to draft Gen. Sissi for president,



7 October 2013

Israeli Society Corrupted by Occupation,

2 October 2013

Remembering the 1973 war,

1 October 2013

Full text of Netanyahu’s 2013 speech to the UN General Assembly,



25 September 2013

Who Is Hassan Rouhani?



23 September 2013

Flawed decision-making processes in Pennsylvania Avenue and Downing Street

Published by The Jerusalem Post, September 23, 2013 | Israel News —

19 September 2013

More Reasons for Optimism About Iran’s New President,

Stalemate’s End?,



18 September 2013

Beyond regime change politics: Spare Syria more violence, 

17 September 2013

Obama’s Foreign Policy: Theatre of the Absurd,

Time to aid, not stigmatize, the Syrian rebels,

Times’ Op-Ed on One-State Solution Unwittingly Bolsters Two-State Case,

King Abdullah Says No To Hamas,

16 September 2013

The Duality of Syria: Civil War and The War on Terror

15 September 2013

Israel and PA to resume agricultural cooperation after 13-year hiatus,

U.S. and Russia Reach Deal to Destroy Syria’s Chemical Arms,

11 September 2013

Good evening —

I just addressed the nation about the use of chemical weapons in Syria.

Over the past two years, what began as a series of peaceful protests against the repressive regime of Bashar al-Assad has turned into a brutal civil war in Syria. Over 100,000 people have been killed.

In that time, we have worked with friends and allies to provide humanitarian support for the Syrian people, to help the moderate opposition within Syria, and to shape a political settlement. But we have resisted calls for military action because we cannot resolve someone else’s civil war through force.

The situation profoundly changed in the early hours of August 21, when more than 1,000 Syrians — including hundreds of children — were killed by chemical weapons launched by the Assad government.

What happened to those people — to those children — is not only a violation of international law — it’s also a danger to our security. Here’s why:

If we fail to act, the Assad regime will see no reason to stop using chemical weapons. As the ban against these deadly weapons erodes, other tyrants and authoritarian regimes will have no reason to think twice about acquiring poison gases and using them. Over time, our troops could face the prospect of chemical warfare on the battlefield. It could be easier for terrorist organizations to obtain these weapons and use them to attack civilians. If fighting spills beyond Syria’s borders, these weapons could threaten our allies in the region.

So after careful deliberation, I determined that it is in the national security interests of the United States to respond to the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons through a targeted military strike. The purpose of this strike would be to deter Assad from using chemical weapons, to degrade his regime’s ability to use them, and make clear to the world that we will not tolerate their use.

Though I possess the authority to order these strikes, in the absence of a direct threat to our security I believe that Congress should consider my decision to act. Our democracy is stronger when the President acts with the support of Congress — and when Americans stand together as one people.

Over the last few days, as this debate unfolds, we’ve already begun to see signs that the credible threat of U.S. military action may produce a diplomatic breakthrough. The Russian government has indicated a willingness to join with the international community in pushing Assad to give up his chemical weapons and the Assad regime has now admitted that it has these weapons, and even said they’d join the Chemical Weapons Convention, which prohibits their use.

It’s too early to tell whether this offer will succeed, and any agreement must verify that the Assad regime keeps its commitments. But this initiative has the potential to remove the threat of chemical weapons without the use of force.

That’s why I’ve asked the leaders of Congress to postpone a vote to authorize the use of force while we pursue this diplomatic path. I’m sending Secretary of State John Kerry to meet his Russian counterpart on Thursday, and I will continue my own discussions with President Putin. At the same time, we’ll work with two of our closest allies — France and the United Kingdom — to put forward a resolution at the U.N. Security Council requiring Assad to give up his chemical weapons, and to ultimately destroy them under international control.

Meanwhile, I’ve ordered our military to maintain their current posture to keep the pressure on Assad, and to be in a position to respond if diplomacy fails. And tonight, I give thanks again to our military and their families for their incredible strength and sacrifices.

As we continue this debate — in Washington, and across the country — I need your help to make sure that everyone understands the factors at play.

Please share this message with others to make sure they know where I stand, and how they can stay up to date on this situation. Anyone can find the latest information about the situation in Syria, including video of tonight’s address, here:

Thank you,

President Barack Obama

10 September 2013

Talking diplomacy in Syria, Obama goes to Congress,–politics.html;_ylt=A2KJ3CV0CC9S0xgA1WnQtDMD

Obama asks Congress to hold off voting on Syria strike request,

The Syria Solution: Obama Got Played by Putin and Assad,

Buying time, but for what?,

9 September 2013

Survey Reveals Scant Backing for Syria Strike,

8 September 2013

Syria’s Military Opposition,

6 September 2013

Limited U.S. Military Strikes Do Not Unseat Dug-in Dictators,

31 August 2013

On Syria

Published by The Jerusalem Post, August 31, 2013 | Israel News —

30 August 2013

Al Qaeda, Hezbollah on the Verge of Sectarian War in Lebanon,

28 August 2013

On the Syrian crisis,

Syria crisis: UK to put forward UN resolution 

The Pros and Cons of Attacking Syria,

26 August 2013

Warm congratulations to our friend and colleague Alan Craig on the publication of his book International Legitimacy and the Politics of Security (Lanham, Maryland: Lexington Books, 2013).

I have browsed the book which looks both comprehensive and interesting.

Mazal Tov! Alan. Go from strength to strength.

What’s Next for the Muslim Brotherhood?,

25 August 2013

Institute for Counter-Terrorism (ICT) 13th World Summit on Counter-Terrorism,

ICT confirmed speakers,

23 August 2013

What Would al Qaeda’s PowerPoints Say?,

19 August 2013

Syria’s Alawites Torn Between Regime, Opposition,

Palestinian-Israeli Talks Remaining Low Profile,

Al-Qaeda’s Internal Divide Grows in Syria,

18 August 2013

The Inevitable Has Happened In Egypt,

Khamenei’s Controversial Fatwas,

An uphill battle for Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani,

17 August 2013

For a Union of Arab Democracies,

16 August 2013

Egypt’s identity crisis,

Iran Faces Environmental Crisis,

15 August 2013

Israelis, Palestinians kick off peace talks,;_ylt=A2KJ2Uh2xgxSP2kAL1zQtDMD

Egypt’s day of shame: Scores killed and hundreds more injured as government declares war on Islamists,

14 August 2013

Thy Hand, Great Anarch!,

Israel’s Cynical Concern For Palestinian Workers,

13 August 2013

Peace talks resume under cloud of Israeli construction,

7 August 2013

Al-Qaeda’s Resiliency in Yemen,

23 July 2013

The Western-backed Syrian National Coalition (SNC), the umbrella group fighting to overthrow the Bashar al-Assad regime, issued a statement today describing this week’s European Union decision to blacklist Hezbollah’s military wing as “a step in the right direction.” The SNC urged more action against the Iran-backed Shiite group and called on the international community to try Hezbollah leaders for providing critical assistance to the Assad regime. Hezbollah’s aid has allowed the Syrian army to steadily erode two years of rebel gains. The SNC’s stance, which rejects the E.U.’s distinction between political and military Hezbollah officials, echoes statements made by Hezbollah leaders and assessments issued by the American intelligence community. Iran and Hezbollah both blasted the partial designation, with Hezbollah going so far as to threaten European interests. Reluctance within the E.U. to blacklisting the group was reportedly overcome after E.U. officials were presented with evidence that the bomb used in the July 2012 Burgas, Bulgaria bus bombing – in which five Israelis and a Bulgarian were killed – matched the signature of Hezbollah bombs discovered in locations as distant as Nazareth and Bangkok.

·         Israel has agreed to release “hardcore” Palestinian prisoners as part of Jerusalem’s efforts to boost a peace initiative being pushed by Secretary of State John Kerry, though the concession may prove insufficient to overcome Palestinian opposition to renewing negotiations between the parties. Palestinian factions have resisted exhortations by President Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas to agree to talks, with some describing a return to negotiations as “political suicide.” Abbas was one of several Palestinian officials yesterday and today who downplayed the prospects for Kerry’s peace initiative. Palestinian officials are demanding that Israel agree in advance to a number of stipulations, and are demanding pre-emptive Israeli concessions on broad issues such as borders. Israeli officials for their part have called on Palestinian counterparts to return to negotiations without preconditions.

What a Hamas!,

22 July 2013

·         The European Union on Monday officially designated the military wing of Hezbollah as a terrorist organization. The blacklisting comes just over a year after the July 2012 bus bombing in Burgas, Bulgaria that killed five Israelis and a Bulgarian, and which Bulgarian investigators linked to the Iran-backed terror group. A Cypriot court subsequently convicted a confessed Hezbollah operative on terror-related charges, and the combination of the Bulgarian investigation and the Cypriot conviction brought significant pressure on the E.U. to formally acknowledge that a group that conducts terrorism on E.U. soil is indeed a terrorist organization for E.U. purposes. The bloc distinguished between Hezbollah’s military wing and political wing, and only blacklisted the military wing. Focus and analysis will now shift toward the degree to which that separation is sustainable or accurate. Hezbollah does not recognize the distinction. Hezbollah’s Deputy Secretary-General Naim Qassem gave a speech in 2012 in which he declared that “we don’t have a military wing and a political one,” echoing comments he made in 2009 to the effect that the “same leadership that directs the parliamentary and government work also leads jihad actions.” U.S. counterterrorism specialists have concluded that Hezbollah simply isn’t structured that way, and the U.S. intelligence community has determined [PDF] that the group’s organizational structure “combines political, social, paramilitary, and terrorist elements.”

17 July 2013

Tomorrow There Will Be No More Two-State Solution—and Then What?,

16 July 2013

The Muslim Brotherhood does not exist,

15 July 2013

Iranian Economy ‘Worse Than Thought’ Says Rouhani Advisor

13 July 2013

Rouhani Stresses Regionalism In Iranian Foreign Policy,

12 July 2013

Israeli Military Invests in Cyber Warfare,

8 July 2013

Iran’s Nuclear Plans

7 July 2013

Abu Qatada deported from UK to stand trial in Jordan

Libya Struggles with Security,

4 July 2013

Al-Qaeda’s Jihad on Anti-Morsi Egyptians

Egypt crisis: Army ousts President Mohammed Morsi

A new Islamist-jihadist umbrella organization is established in Syria: Jaysh Al-Mujahideen wal-Ansar. The new group amalgamates local and foreign jihadists who had been fighting under the command of Chechen Abu ‘Umar al-Shishani.

A second issue appears of the jihadist periodical Al-Balagh.

3 July 2013

‘Branding Terror’ and the Art of Propaganda

Branding Terror – The Logotypes and Iconography of Insurgent Groups and Terrorist Organizations

1 July 2013

Morsi-less: Are Egyptians Done with the Muslim Brothers?

The tenth issue of Inspire, an English-language jihadist magazine published by Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), appears, along with a pocket book of advice for the lone wolf attacker on choice targets of attack in the West.

28 June 2013

What To Do In Syria

20 June 2013

Deadlocked Yemen

18 June 2013

Syria is not Iraq

10 June 2013

ICT Database Report: April 2013

7 June 2013

Humanitarian Intervention and Sovereignty Under the Umbrella of Geo-Politics

5 June 2013

Syrian army captures strategic border town of Qusair

4 June 2013

The worst Islamophobes

3 June 2013

Middle East Studies Collection

30 May 2013

In Jordan, informal militias form to guard against potential Syrian attacks

29 May 2013

U.S. calls on Hezbollah to pull fighters out of Syria

Russia sends arms to Syria as it tries to reassert its role in region

23 May 2013

Iran’s Nuclear Advance

Biggest battlefield in terror war is on the Internet

15 May 2013

The Islamist purge splurge

24 April 2013

An Irish union’s boycott fallacy


April 19, 2013


Raphael Cohen-Almagor

Dr Ilan Saban is a lecturer at the University of Haifa who devotes much of his time defending and promoting the rights of Palestinians. But if he were to post one of his articles on the subject to a journal in Ireland, his envelope might not be opened, simply because it had come from Israel. This is the result of the Teachers Union of Ireland’s recent unjust, unfair, and counterproductive decision to boycott all academic collaboration with Israel.

The decision is unjust because any sweeping decision, by its nature, cannot do justice. It is one thing to offer a rationale to boycott a certain institution or individual. It is quite another thing simply to boycott everyone.

It is unfair because it is based on a small, committed and vocal group of members who have made boycotting Israel their mission. They exploit the silence, indifference and inactivity of the majority of TUI members to pass their unjust resolution. And it is counterproductive because it weakens the peace camp in Israel and strengthens the right-wing position that prefers land over peace and promoting human rights. It hardens the hardliners.

Israeli academia tends to be liberal. Many academics are human-rights activists. Many oppose the settlements. Many are for a two-state solution, the splitting of Jerusalem, a return to 1967 borders, and wish to see a just solution to the Palestinian refugee problem.

I have intimate knowledge of Israeli academia, having served as a professor at two Israeli universities and established the Centre for Democratic Studies at the University of Haifa. Since 1985, I have been promoting human rights in Israel and for the Palestinians inside and outside of Israel. I received the support of academics in all Israeli institutions.

We have been trying to influence government decisions for years, with some success, notably between 1990 and 1993, when Israeli academics, including myself, pushed for negotiations with the PLO. Boycotting academia will work against the peaceful, constructive and liberal elements in Israeli society and play into the current government’s hands.

Those who wish to boycott Israel say that Israeli academia is sponsored by the government. This is true. Thus, they deduce, academics are implicit collaborators of discriminatory policies. This claim is as true as the claim that British academics are implicit collaborators in British governments’ decisions to wage war in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya.

Those who boycott Israel blame academics for not being able to influence government decisions for the better. Yes, Israeli academics do not have the power they would like. But the TUI decision will render them weaker. Israeli academics tend to be involved in peace-seeking politics more than academics are in Britain, Canada and the US, but the Israeli government pays attention to its academics to a similar degree that the British government does.

The boycotters undercut academic freedom and betray values we all hold dear: freedom of expression, tolerance, equality and justice. Personally, I object to this decision. But if the TUI insists on boycotting countries, I fail to understand why it singles out Israel. Unfortunately, we live in a world where there is no shortage of injustices and severe human-rights violations. How is it that, of all countries, it is only Israel that preoccupies the minds of these vocal teachers?

The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Index of Democracy ranks Israel 37th out of 167 countries. The index takes into account civil liberties, among other things. Granted, Israel has room for improvement, but 130 countries are ranked below it. Why does not the TUI focus its attention on any of these for a change?

9 April 2013

Hamas: The Palestinian Fashion Police

8 April 2013

Shifting regional alliances put Hamas ‘up for grabs’

7 April 2013

Targeted Killing Comes to Define War on Terror

6 April 2013

A Secret Deal on Drones, Sealed in Blood

4 April 2013

John Kerry’s Mission Impossible?

2 April 2013

Hamas again avoids change

1 April 2013

Gaza Cancer Rates on Rise

Mideast Region Must Address
Water Concerns

6000 died in Syria in March, deadliest month yet

The best red line for a nuclear Iran

Khaled Mashaal re-elected as Hamas leader

Sanctions push Iran inflation above 30 percent

31 March 2013

Syrian Rebel PM Is Ex-CAIR Official

Jordan, Palestinians sign agreement to protect J’lem holy sites,7340,L-4362531,00.html

At the U.N., Iran Is a Powerhouse, Not a Pariah

PA: Settlements ‘threatening to blow up region’

28 March 2013

New Bulgaria Bombing Evidence, Cyprus Terror Verdict “Change Equation” on E.U. Hezbollah Blacklisting

23 March 2013

Initial Outcomes of Obama’s Middle East Trip

20 March 2013

The Implications of Obama’s Foreign Policy Team for the Middle East

Ministers in Israel’s 33rd Government

17 March 2013

Rabbi Lau w/Obama @ Yad Vashem,

President Obama visit to Jerusalem

Raphael Cohen-Almagor

6 March 2013

“In Memory – Professor Ronald Dworkin (11 December 1931-14 February 2013)”, I-CONnect (5 March 2013),

5 March 2013

IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano: IAEA “cannot conclude that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities”.Iran has blocked progress on issues “relating to possible military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear programme.”

Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations Ron Prosor is stressing the need to enhance security along the Israeli-Syrian border, after three mortars launched from Syria landed deep inside Israeli territory.

Vice President Joe Biden: U.S. commitment to the security of Israel, which includes assistance to ensure that Israel remains able to defend its citizens from a wide and growing array of security threats, was in America’s “naked self-interest.”



In a new op-ed published on the legal news site Jurist, Amos Guiora, Professor of Law at the University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law, argues that the U.S. policy of targeting suspected terrorists with drones should be subject to a strict scrutiny standard similar to a legal proceeding.

“Rather than relying on the executive branch to make decisions in a ‘closed world’ devoid of oversight and review, the intelligence information justifying the proposed action must be submitted to a court that would ascertain the information’s admissibility,” Guiora writes.

Guiora concludes that this approach would yield “A drone policy predicated on the rule of law and morality rather than the deeply troubling paradigm established by the Obama administration in the DOJ white paper.”

16 February 2013

elections in israel 2013

elections in israel 2013

Israel Election Results, held on 22 January 2013

Likud Beitenu – 31

Yesh Atid – 19

Labour – 15

Jewish Home – 12

Shas – 11

Yahadut Hatorah – 7

Meretz – 6

Hatnuah – 6

Raam – 4

Chadash – 4

Balad – 3

Kadima – 2

In Memoriam: Max M. Kampelman 1920-2013

It is with deep sadness that we mourn the passing of Dr. Max Kampelman, a scholar-statesman who devoted endless energies to make the world safer and more humane. During negotiations with Soviet leaders in the 1980s, he secured the release of religious and political dissidents from the USSR and reduced the two nations’ inventory of nuclear weapons.

In recognition, Dr. Max Kampelman received the Presidential Citizens Medal from President Reagan in 1989 and the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Bill Clinton in 1999.

News Archive 2012

Last updated on 5/31/2016 Print this page

MESG endorses a two-state solution

1 February 2012

The MESG endorses a two-state solution. We believe this is the only true option for both Israel and Palestine. We believe it is a just and necessary solution. Only a fair solution for both sides will be successful. A partial solution, or a solution that favours one side over another would leave the other side frustrated and angry. It won’t work.

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Understanding Mohamed Morsi,


Peace Index-November 2012,

Survey dates: 28/11/2012 – 02/12/2012

The goals of Operation Pillar of defence – A majority (61%) of the Jewish public thinks the government had clear goals when it decided to launch the operation (only 49% of the Arab public shares this view). In retrospect, though, the prevailing assessment (51%) is that the government did not achieve its goals at all (15%) or achieved only some of them (36%). The Arab public takes an almost identical view. It should be noted that even among the members of the Jewish public who defined themselves as politically right-wing, the rate of those who think the operation did not achieve its goals (50%) is higher than the number who think it did, although the rate among respondents defining themselves as left-wing is higher (60%). Among Jewish respondents, the rate who think the government did not sufficiently explain the operation’s goals to the public (52%) is higher, than the rate who hold the opposite view that it did explain the goals adequately (44%), although not dramatically so. The rates for the Arab public were similar with regard to this question.

The success of the operation – Some two weeks after Pillar of defence came to an end, it appears there is broad agreement (84%) in the Jewish public that the operation was justified. Even among those who define themselves as left-wing, the majority (74%) thinks the operation was justified, although that rate is somewhat lower than the rate among those who define themselves as right-wing (89%) or centrist (85.5%). The dissatisfaction about the government’s achievement of its goals is apparently connected to the public’s divided opinions regarding the point at which the operation was brought to a halt: whereas a small majority (53%) believes the decision to end the operation at that point was correct, a considerable minority (44%) thinks the decision was mistaken. A cross-check of the two questions—achievement of the operation’s goals and the point at which the operation was stopped—shows that while the majority (53%) of those who think the operation was stopped at the right time think that the goals of the operation were achieved, a large majority (69%) of those who opposed ending the operation at the point at which it was stopped believes that the goals were not achieved. A clear distinction between right and left emerges from an analysis of support for the ending of the operation: whereas among respondents who identify themselves as being on the political right only a minority—although considerable (47%)—supports the timing of the decision to end the operation, a majority (57%) of respondents on the left supports the timing of this decision. As for the Arab public, opinions are evenly split between those who think the operation was justified and those who think it was not. A large majority (75%), however, supports the decision to end the operation when it was ended.

The functioning of different actors involved in the operation – The disagreement among large parts of the Jewish public about the desirability of stopping the operation at the point at which it was ended and about the adequacy of the government’s explanation of its goals to the public could explain why the functioning of the national political leaders during Pillar of defence got lower grades than the functioning of other actors involved. Indeed, a majority of Jewish respondents (62%, compared to 47% of the Arab public) thinks the functioning of the national political leaders was good or very good. This assessment, however, was low compared to the assessment of the functioning of the IDF (94% in the Jewish public and 50% in the Arab public), of the local leadership in the south and the centre of the country (87% in the Jewish public and 51% in the Arab), and of the population of the south (91% in the Jewish public and 55% in the Arab public). Regarding the functioning of the political echelon, we found gaps—though not huge—between those defining themselves as right-wing and left-wing. In both camps, however, the overall grade was on the positive side: on the right, 63% characterized the political echelon’s functioning as good or very good, while on the left, 56% saw it as such.

Operation Pillar of defence and Israel’s deterrence – The Jewish public appears divided in its views on this matter: 39% think Israel’s deterrence has not changed, 38% say it has increased, and 16% believe it has weakened. However, we should add to this the fact that a majority of the public expects the ceasefire to last for only a short period of time (only a small minority—18%—thinks that it will last a year or longer, while 25% think it will last for six months to a year, and the rest think that Hamas will start firing again within a few months, weeks, or days). Hence the prevailing response, which sees Israel’s deterrence as unchanged, should be seen in light of the fact that the deterrence was not considered strong in the first place. On this question we found large gaps between the political right and left: a clear majority of respondents who identify themselves as left (59%) thinks that Israel’s deterrence was not changed by the operation (compared to only 26% who think it increased), while on the right, a higher rate (34%) thinks that Israel’s deterrence was strengthened and 32% believe it has remained unchanged. In both camps, only a small minority thinks Israeli deterrence was weakened by the operation. A different picture emerges in the Arab public: the highest rate (33%) think deterrence was weakened, 29% think that it increased, and 24% think that it has remained as it was.

The involvement of foreign players in the operation and its cessation – In light of the role played by Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi and U.S. President Barack Obama during the operation and in reaching the ceasefire, we explored how the public assesses the performance of these two leaders, who generally are not viewed favourably by the Israeli Jewish public. The findings show that in this specific case, the opinions regarding both of these leaders are extremely positive. About two-thirds of the Jewish respondents saw Morsi’s role as positive; in the Arab public, this rate reached as high as three-quarters. Likewise, 60% of the Jewish public was favourably surprised by the position toward Israel that Obama took during the operation. Only 48% of the Arab public was favourably surprised by his treatment of Israel, perhaps because the view that Obama supports Israel is more common in the Arab public in the first place.

With elections on the way: security or socioeconomic? We were interested in whether Operation Pillar of defence and its results tipped the voters’ scales in favour of the security agenda at the expense of the socioeconomic agenda. It turns out this did not happen, and the tie score between these two aspects of the public agenda that has been found regularly since mid-2011 (compared to the clear dominance of security issues that was found in the past) remains as it was. In response to the question: “Which of the following issues will influence you most when you decide in the near future which party to vote for in the elections?” 20% responded that the socioeconomic issue will hold sway, 15% responded that the security issue will guide them in their vote, and a clear majority of 53% said that the two issues would be equally important to them. The picture in the Arab public is obscured by the fact that over one-quarter of the Arab respondents did not give a definite answer to this question. However, similar to previous Peace Index findings, the rate of Arab respondents who indicate that the security issue is more important to them (30%) is higher than the rate of those who respond that economic issues will determine which party they will vote for (24%).

The Negotiations Index for November, 2012
The Peace Index project includes ongoing monitoring of the Israeli public’s attitudes towards peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. The monthly
Negotiation Index is comprised of two questions, one focusing on public support for peace negotiations and the other on the degree to which the public believes that such talks will actually lead to peace. The aggregated replies to these two questions are calculated, combined, and standardized on a scale of 0-100, in which 0 represents total lack of support for negotiations and lack of belief in their potential to bear fruit, and 100 represents total support for the process and belief in its potential. Each month, the Negotiations Index presents two distinct findings, one for the general Israeli population and the other for Jewish Israelis.

Negotiations Index: General sample: 43.6; Jewish sample: 40.2

Graph of the month: Which of the following issues will influence you most when you decide which party to vote for in the upcoming elections?

The Peace Index is a project of theEvens Program in Mediation and Conflict Resolution at Tel Aviv University and theIsrael Democracy Institute. This month’s survey was conducted by telephone from November 28 to December 2, 2012 by the Midgam Institute. The survey included 598 respondents, who constitute a representative sample of the adult Jewish population of Israel. The measurement error for a sample of this size is 4.5%; statistical processing was done by Ms. Yasmin Alkalay.

Implications of the Palestinian ‘non-member state’ bid at the UN

Hamas-Israel War

The IDF operation had three major aims: (1) to degrade Hamas’s military leadership; (2) to deter Hamas; (3) to force Hamas to take better control of its territory so that other terrorist groups cease their attacks on Israeli civilians. Aim (1) was met. It is too early to say whether aims (2) and (3) were met. Defence Minister Ehud Barak declared all aims were met. I wish I could share his confidence.

I am very happy and relieved to see the end of violence, for now, and that the IDF did not enter Gaza on the ground. At the same time, now as in the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah War it is clear that Israel does not have bullet-proof mechanisms to protect its population from rocket attacks. Israel should strive to develop further mechanisms, defensive and offensive and/or (preferably or) develop diplomatic mechanisms to engage with its neighbours and reach a settlement that would satisfy all sides, not only Israel. Such a settlement is pricey. It demands sacrifices.

Israel should either isolate Hamas from most of all the other players: PA, Egypt, Qatar, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, The Arab League, leaving only Iran on its side; or Israel should devise ways to reach out to Hamas.

President Morsi showed, once again, wise leadership. I now hope President Obama will meet with him. He needs to strike personal relationships with Morsi.

November 21, 2012

Bus explodes in the heart of Tel Aviv. The bus explosion took place near my old parents’ home. Familiar place, photos, memories. All boiling. I am emotional. I walked that street a thousand times. This is my home. Scary. Terrible and so familiar. Hope no one is dead or seriously injured.

Later, it is reported 28 people were injured, one seriously.

It is unclear who is responsible for the attack. Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, a group linked to the Palestinian Fatah party, claimed responsibility. Clearly, this was not a carefully-planned terror attack. It was not a suicide attack, and the bomb was relatively small. Maybe a competitor of Hamas wished to do something to show that Hamas is not the only voice of Free Palestine.

I reiterate my hope that Israeli generals are well protected.

The rocket fire continues, causing damage to property and injury to Israelis. Luckily no one is reported dead. From November 14, 2012, some 1,500 rockets were fired. Of them, 420 were intercepted by the Iron Dome system.

The IDF continues to attack its target bank in Gaza.

Clashes broke out between Palestinians and the Israeli Army in the West Bank. Palestinian youths were hurling stones at soldiers in all three major cities in the West Bank—Ramallah, Hebron, and Nablus. In Nablus crowds chanted, “Strike, strike, Tel Aviv.” Soldiers retaliated with tear-gas canisters, stun grenades, and live ammunition in some cases. We certainly do not wish expansion of violence to the West Bank.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is clearly well-coordinated with the US. He also met with Abbas in Ramallah this Wednesday morning.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon have arrived in Cairo for talks on Gaza conflict. They met with President Morsi. Talks were long and effective. In the evening, Egypt announces cease-fire agreement between Israel and Hamas effective later in the evening at 21:00. Meanwhile, the fire continued. At 21:00, the two tired boxers are said to return to their corners injured, yet each with energies for more violent rounds later on. Many politicians, reporters, bloggers and Israelis on social-networking sites voiced dissatisfaction that the IDF did not inflict enough damage on Hamas, so as to teach it an unforgettable lesson and to deter its fighters from launching more rockets on Israeli civilians. The prevailing feeling is of unfinished business.

I suspect that many of Israel’s demands for ceasefire, voiced on November 19, 2012 (see supra) were not met. Both sides agreed in principle to a truce, but there was no agreement on the key demands. Neither Israel nor Hamas was represented in the ceasefire announcement. Israeli insists it would not lift the blockade on Gaza.

Secretary of State Clinton declared: “There is no substitute for a just and lasting peace”. Indeed.

In the eight days of fighting, more than 140 Palestinians and six Israelis have died. For what? Sad.

Daily Distribution of Rocket Hits in Israel’s South since the Beginning of Operation Pillar of defence


November 20, 2012

The death toll rises. More than 110 people are reported dead in Gaza. Some 900 people are reported wounded. Hamas tries to bypass the Iron Dome by firing many short-range rockets at the same time. The south of Israel is paralyzed. Beer Sheva was hit hard. Until 11 a.m., 37 rockets were fired.

The White House decided it is time to do something: Clinton is said to arrive in Jerusalem tonight. She will hold talks with Israeli PM and Palestinian authorities but will not meet Hamas officials.

The popularity of Hamas is said to grow in the West Bank. It is the same story. Violence always benefits the extremists. I presume PM Netanyahu also politically benefits from this crisis. The Palestinian Authority in Ramallah stood by watching the conflict with its usual impotence.

November 19, 2012

According to reports in Cairo, Israel has demanded a lull for a period of more than 15 years; an immediate cessation of arms smuggling and the transfer of weapons to Gaza; cessation of rocket fire on the part of all armed Palestinian factions; and an end to attacks on soldiers near the Gaza border. Any ceasefire agreement would be guaranteed by Egypt’s politicians, headed by President Mohammed Morsi, and backed by Egypt’s political echelon as opposed to its security establishment. It’s not clear whether or not talks are on-going or have already collapsed, but according to reports, Israel has threatened a ground excursion if there is no response within 48 to 72 hours.

November 18, 2012

The violence continues. Hamas tries to reach out to terrorise the lives of as many people as possible. As they attempt to launch longer-range rockets, the Iron Dome has been more effective in targeting them in mid-air.

As Israel widens its air attacks, more civilians are hurt. Ten civilians are reported dead in Gaza as a result of Israeli air attacks. The total number of casualties in Gaza is said to be 70. Some 600 people are reported wounded.

Hamas received from Iran long-range Fajr 5 missiles that could reach Tel Aviv. Their destruction capabilities are far more advanced than the Kassam’s. Luckily, the Iron Dome was successful in intercepting them. The Tel Aviv area is very dense in population and one Fajr can inflict significant death and destruction.

Israel continues its preparation to launch a massive ground attack. Reports say that Prime Minister Netanyahu pledged President Obama last Friday (November 16 2012) that there won’t be ground operation.

First positive movement towards ceasefire: An Israeli senior official is said to arrive in Cairo for negotiations. Hope for a ceasefire soon. This round of violence yields nothing but more violence.

The UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon also called for a ceasefire. Calling is not enough. He should come to the region and show personal involvement to make things move in this direction.

President Obama said that his administration is “fully supportive of Israel’s right to defend itself”. He also did not categorically come out in favour or against a ground incursion, noting only that it would be “preferable” for Israel to meet its goals “without ramping up military activity in Gaza.” The president also made it clear that any solution to the conflict must begin with “no missiles being fired into Israel’s territory.”

November 17, 2012

Israeli air force attacked the Hamas government building in Gaza. The IDF is targeting specific military commanders and buildings identified with the Hamas regime. It refrains from inflicting en mass destruction.

Massive forces are gathering at the Strip borders, awaiting entry command.

The Tunisian foreign minister is in Gaza for a visit to express sympathy and support.

The lack of urgency on part of the US and Europe suggests that they wish to give Israel time to “complete the job”.

November 16, 2012

More than 550 rockets were fired from Gaza during the past two days. Luckily, most are inaccurate. Of them, 26 landed in populated areas. Iron Dome destroyed 109 of them. One rocket was fired on Jerusalem.

Hamas transmits messages of defiance, saying that they will revenge the blood of the martyrs and won’t be deterred by Israel. Israel mobilizes 16,000 reserves in preparation for ground offence.

The American Congress passed a resolution Friday afternoon that supports Israel’s right to self-defence, in the wake of attacks on Israel by Hamas and Israel’s counter-attacks this week.

Members approved H.Res. 813 by a voice vote, and with no debate. The resolution expresses “vigorous support and unwavering commitment to the welfare, security and survival of the state of Israel, as a Jewish and Democratic state with secure borders, and recognizing and strongly supporting its right to act in self-defence to protect its citizens against acts of terrorism.”

The Senate approved a similar resolution.

After the quick vote, two members spoke on the floor to reiterate that Congress sees Israel as being in the right by attacking Hamas.

The only country that shows active involvement in the crisis, beyond rhetoric, is Egypt that sent its prime minister to Gaza to express support of Hamas. It does nothing to stop the violence.

Up until now, the IDF seems surgical in its operation, trying to avoid killing civilians.

The Israeli media reported in the evening that the government considers calling 75,000 reserves. This number suggests a massive operation, far greater than Cast Lead.

Hamas-Israel War

For the past month, the exchange of fire has intensifies along the Gaza border. Hamas was responsible for the majority of violence; part of it originates by jihadi elements in Gaza (further details below) which Hamas did not attempt to stop. After repeated warnings that Israel will respond if the rocket fire is not halted yielded no results, the Israeli decided to restore deterrence by climbing a step.

November 15, 2012

On November 14, 2012, Israel targeted Ahmed Jabari, the Hamas’s chief military operations who masterminded hundreds of terror operations over the span of decades. There is no doubt in my mind that the Israeli government knew that the response will be hard and violent but they decided that to assassin Jabari anyway.

Jabari was Hamas’s “chief of staff,” and was second-in-command of the Iranian proxy’s al-Qassam Brigades. His history of terrorism stretches back to the early 1980s. In 1982 he was arrested and spent 13 years in jail for terror activities, and after his release he rose through the ranks of Hamas. He was in charge of Hamas’s military operations during the Second Intifada, the widespread suicide bombing campaign targeting Israeli civilians in the early 2000s, and oversaw the kidnapping of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in 2006.

Jabari had survived several previous assassination attempts by Israel in the past and was wounded in one of them in 2004. Accurate intelligence brought his luck to an end on November 14.

Also reportedly killed by early Israeli attacks was Raed Al Attar, Jabari’s second-in-command. Hamas commanders routinely go underground during major hostilities with Israel, and the targeting of Jabari and Al Attar was done at the beginning of IDF widespread campaign called Pillar of Defence to stop rocket terrorism.

The IDF operation had three major aims: (1) to degrade Hamas’s military leadership; (2) to deter Hamas; (3) to mobilize Hamas to take better control of its territory so that other terrorist groups cease their attacks on Israeli civilians. Hundreds of rockets and mortars have been fired at Israeli civilians since the beginning of November.

In addition to escalating the amount of rocket and mortar fire into Israel, Gaza-based Palestinian groups have recently begun deploying advanced weaponry against Israelis. In recent weeks Palestinian groups have used guided anti-tank missiles against an Israeli jeep, injuring four Israeli soldiers including two critically, and an anti-aircraft against an Israeli helicopter in October. Israeli air raids aimed to destroy Hamas’s stockpiles of these and other advanced weapons.

Hamas has responded with massive rocket attacks. Three Israelis were killed in Kiryat Malachi on November 15, 2012 as a rocket directly hit their home. 19 Palestinians were reported dead in Gaza.

The decision to kill Jabari will have implications not only on the south of Israel. I suspect that Hamas will seek to respond also by the same token. Israel should do its best to secure its top generals and government ministers.

A word on Iron Dome: When the hostilities escalated on November 14 and rain of rockets came down in a radius of 40 miles from the border with Gaza, the Iron Dome defence mechanism was not very effective. More than 20 rockets were fired at Ashkelon, further 13 miles north, of which some 17 were destroyed in mid-air. The longer the rocket range, the more effective is Iron Dome but the system is unable to provide complete defence.

Book Review of Timothy D. Sisk (ed.), “Between Terror and Tolerance” (Washington DC: Georgetown University Press, 2011), The Journal of the Middle East and Africa (2012),

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Shimon Peres

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Insider’s Account of Iran’s Nuclear Negotiations

The Emerging Order in the Middle East

Must Civilizations Clash?

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How Tehran Is Outflanking Washington

Dennis Ross: Political Solution Still Possible with Iran

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Fifth Annual ASMEA Conference: History and the “New” Middle East and Africa
October 11-13, 2012 * Key Bridge Marriott Hotel * Washington, D.C.

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Combating Transnational Organized Crime

Russia’s Position on Iran’s Nuclear Program

Egypt: Muslim Brotherhood MP Seeks to Abolish Female Rights and Enforce Female Genital Mutilation

The Jihadist Roots of the Norway Massacre,

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Muslim Brotherhood

  • Human Rights Watch seeks nominees for Hellman/Hammett grants
Human Rights Watch is seeking nominees for its Hellman/Hammett grants, which provide support to dozens of writers and activists who are victims of political persecution and are in financial need.

The identity of winners who fear the grant may open them up to further persecution will be protected, according to Human Rights Watch. In addition to using the award to cover costs such as legal and living costs, grant winners often use the money to draw attention to the lack of free expression and other human rights abuses in their countries. More than 700 writers have received financial aid under the grant in the last 22 years, according to Human Rights Watch.

Nominators should provide biographical information about the writer, the circumstances of political persecution and writing or other samples showcasing the individuals work.

The maximum grant awarded to any given writer or advocate is $10,000 and nominations must be submitted by 10 December 2011. More information on the award and nomination forms can be foundhere and you may contact hhgrants (@)


  • UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize 2012 seeks nominations
Do you know an individual, organisation or institution that is defending press freedom? If so, send in your nomination for the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize 2012 by 15 February 2012.

Named after Guillermo Cano Isaza, a Colombian journalist who was assassinated in 1986 after calling for drug traffickers to be brought to justice, the award especially recognises those who defend press freedom at great personal risk.

The winner will receive US $25,000 at a ceremony on World Press Freedom Day on 3 May 2012.

Further information:

  • Tunisia’s Lessons for the Arab World


  • Gaddafi’s death


  • Islamists claim win in Tunisia’s Arab Spring vote
  • Moderate Islamist Party Heads Toward Victory in Tunisia
  • Tunisia and Libya – two faces of the Arab Spring


  • U.S. Ambassador to Syria Leaves Damascus amid Threats to Safety

Gilad Shalit

  • Israel and Hamas Agree to Swap Prisoners for Gilad Shalit