Tag Archive | Donald Trump

A desperate Emmanuel Macron attacks Donald Trump

by Caroline Glick


French President Emmanuel Macron has apparently decided that with his approval ratings in the toilet, his best bet for a political resurgence is to attack the United States.

This isn’t a bad move, for a French president. Hatred for America has been a powerful mobilizing force in France since shortly after the American army liberated the French from Nazi German occupation in 1944.

In his speech at the official ceremony marking a hundred years since the U.S. saved France from Germany and ended World War I, Macron took a direct swipe at President Donald Trump and his voters. Macron said that the “ancient demons” that caused World War I and millions of deaths are growing stronger.

“Patriotism is the exact opposite of nationalism. Nationalism is the betrayal of patriotism,” Macron pronounced, as Trump and other world leaders looked on.

He added, “In saying ‘Our interests first, whatever happens to the others,’ you erase the most precious thing a nation can have, that which makes it live, that which causes it to be great and that which is most important: Its moral values.”

Macron’s speech on Sunday was his second rhetorical assault against America in under a week. In a radio interview last Tuesday, Macron called for Europe to raise “a true European army,” to defend against the U.S., Russia and China.

In Macron’s words, “We have to protect ourselves with respect to China, Russia and even the United States of America.”

Upon landing in France over the weekend, Trump called Macron’s remarks about defending against America “insulting.” The President tweeted that instead of figuring out a way to fight the U.S., the Europeans should pay their share of NATO’s budget, which the U.S. has been underwriting.

Macron’s anti-Americanism isn’t only fueled by domestic political concerns. He has two other – perhaps even more significant – causes for his hostility.

First, and most fundamentally, Macron rightly views Trump’s presidency and his nationalist vision of America as an existential threat to the European Union. As political philosopher Yoram Hazony explains in his vital book, The Virtue of Nationalism, (Basic Books 2018), globalism, the foundational rationale of the European Union, is in essence an imperialist project.

Like its ideological twin and sometimes competitor in the U.S. — namely, American internationalism or liberal internationalism — the EU is predicated on the idea that nations should be shorn of their power to determine and advance their national interests in accordance with the values and needs of their people.

In the neo-imperialist models advanced by the EU and by American internationalists, national powers should be transferred to international, transnational, or supranational bodies.

Hazony explains that with little to no discussion inside their own societies, and no consent from their respective publics, at the end of the Cold War, “Western leaders became preoccupied with two great imperialist projects: the European Union, which has progressively relieved member nations of many of the powers usually associated with political independence; and the project of establishing an American ‘world order,’ in which nations that do not abide by international law will be coerced into doing so, principally by means of American military might.”

As Hazony explained, the absence of discussion about the imperialist nature of these two projects owed in part to the absence of public support for them. In Europe, the EU’s demand for member nations to surrender their national independence to Brussels has never been popular. A decade ago, the French, the Dutch, and the Irish all voted down increased integration in the European Union. The French, Dutch and Irish all viewed increased integration as a blow to democratic norms.

Rather than respect their objections and forge a less coercive form of union, the leaders of the EU in Brussels drafted a new agreement among themselves that simply rewrote the rejected treaties while blocking member states from putting their actions before their people for approval.

In 2016, of course, the British people voted to abandon the EU altogether in favor of national sovereignty. In the intervening two years, we have seen repeated attempts by the EU on the one hand and by British opponents of Brexit on the other to water down the Brexit vote to meaninglessness.

In the U.S., Donald Trump’s “America First” message resonated in the national psyche after two decades of post-Cold War presidents preaching various forms of liberal internationalism. George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama all in their turn embraced the mantle of American global leadership predicated on various notions of post-nationalist international law, democracy, and liberal internationalism. Each, in turn, involved the U.S. in ideological wars and campaigns that brought few gains to the American people.

As in Europe, American rejection of “Pax Americana: is more visceral than intellectual. Intellectual analysis of the merits of a U.S.-led global world order has been blocked by the unsubstantiated assertion by globalists that nationalism is inherently malevolent. Hazony’s book provides the missing philosophical argument for Trump’s nationalism, and places it in the long tradition of American nationalism that stretched from the Pilgrims to the Second World War.

President Trump’s nationalist message has won the U.S. the appreciation, support and respect of many European nations as well as many nations worldwide. Following the lead of the American voters, the Hungarians and Austrians elected nationalist leaders. Hungarian President Viktor Orban and Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, along with Polish President Andez Duda and others, have embraced Trump’s nationalist model. They rightly view it as an alternative to the EU.

The EU leadership in Brussels, Paris, and Berlin in turn perceives the rise of nationalist governments and parties in Europe as a strategic threat to the European Union. As the leader of this resurgent nationalist wave, coming after four successive U.S. administrations led by presidents who saw the world very much as the European globalists see it, Trump threatens the EU more fundamentally than any single leader ever has.

The final reason that Macron believes his interests are served by picking a fight with Trump is because he is trying to position himself as the heir to outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s leadership of the EU.

Since taking office, Macron has repeatedly shown that his view of leadership has little to do with actual accomplishments. As France’s economy dribbles along with recession-like growth rates, and the French people express deep seated pessimism about their future, Macron entertains them with stunts and photo-ops. During his meeting with Trump at the NATO summit in Brussels in May 2017, for instance, Macron famously tried to assert his dominance over Trump by squeezing his hand during their handshake.

In his radio interview last week, Macron said the Trump administration’s decision last month to withdraw from the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) is what propelled him to declare that Europe needs to defend itself against the United States, just as it needs to defend itself from Russia and China.

In his words, “When I see President Trump announcing that he’s quitting a major disarmament treaty which was formed after the 1980s Euro-missile crisis that hit Europe, who is the main victim? Europe and its security.”

The ironic aspect of Macron’s statement is that the reason the U.S. pulled out of the INF treaty, which bars the U.S. and Russia from fielding and developing nuclear and conventional missiles and launchers with ranges of 500-1,000 kilometers, is that Russia was systematically breaching it. And Russia’s missile development activities directly threaten Europe.

By withdrawing from the INF, the Trump administration merely granted itself the ability to contend with the reality that the treaty is already dead.

It is impossible to see how Europe would be safer if the Trump administration had simply maintained the Obama administration’s abject refusal to acknowledge that the Russians have been actively developing and deploying intermediate range missiles for years.

This then brings us to the crux of Macron’s conceit – and indeed the conceit of the European Union more generally. The EU presents itself as a world power not by virtue of its actions, but by virtue of its virtue-signaling against America. Trump endangers Europe by rejecting the EU’s assertion of moral superiority in favor of the brick-and-mortar national interests of the American people.

Regional Players Maneuver To New Israeli-Palestinian Landscape



A possible ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, the Islamist group that controls the Gaza Strip, may be about more than ending the ongoing, escalating violence that threatens to spark yet another Gaza war.
It could also be an attempt to pave the way for the return of former Palestinian security chief Muhammad Dahlan as successor to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
United Arab Emirates-backed Egyptian and UN efforts to mediate an agreement between Israel and Hamas, with nemesis Qatar in the background, constitute yet another round in an Israeli-supported effort to politically, economically, and militarily weaken Hamas, and pave the way for the possible return of the Abu Dhabi-based Dahlan.

Ironically, Israeli discussions with representatives of Qatar, which has long supported Hamas, constitute recognition of the utility of Qatar’s longstanding relations with Islamists and militants — relations that the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Bahrain cited as the reason for their 15-month-old diplomatic and economic boycott of Qatar.

Israel and Egypt have agreed that Qatar will pay the salaries of tens of thousands of Hamas government employees in Gaza. Abbas has refused to pay those salaries as part of an Israeli-UAE-Saudi-backed effort to undermine Hamas’ control of Gaza, and give the PA a key role in its administration. Moreover, in response to Abbas’ demand, Israel reduced electricity supplies, leaving Gazans with only three to four hours of power a day.
Abbas’ economic warfare is the latest tightening of the noose in a more than decade-long Israeli-Egyptian effort to strangle Gaza economically. Included in the moves to negotiate a long-term Israeli-Hamas ceasefire are proposals for significant steps to ease the blockade of Gaza. Qatar has also been negotiating the return of two captive Israeli nationals, as well as the remains of two Israeli soldiers killed in the 2014 Gaza war.
In a statement on Facebook, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Israel’s goal is to “remove the Hamas terror group from power, or force it to change its approach, i.e., recognize Israel’s right to exist and accept the principle of rebuilding in exchange for demilitarization.”
Lieberman said he wants to achieve this by “creating conditions in which the average resident of Gaza will take steps to replace the Hamas regime with a more pragmatic government” rather than through military force.

In another irony, involving Qatar in efforts to prevent Gaza from escalating out of control gives it a foot in the door as the UAE seeks to put a Palestinian leader in place who is more attuned to the Emirati and Saudi willingness to accommodate the Trump administration’s controversial efforts to negotiate an overall Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.
Speaking in a series of interviews, Qatari Ambassador to the Palestinian territories Muhammad Emadi insisted that “it is very difficult to fund the reconstruction of Gaza in an event of yet another destructive war.” He said that he has “discussed a maximum of a five- to 10-year ceasefire with Hamas.”
Abbas, like Hamas, rejected US mediation following President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital earlier this year.
The US president startled Israelis and Palestinians by saying that Israel would pay a “higher price” for his recognition of Jerusalem and that Palestinians would “get something very good” in return “because it’s their turn next.” Trump gave no indication of what he meant by this.
The effort to negotiate a lasting ceasefire is the latest round in a so far failed UAE-Egyptian effort to return Dahlan as part of a reconciliation between Hamas and Abbas’ Fatah movement. Dahlan frequently does UAE Crown Prince Muhammad bin Zayed’s bidding. President George W. Bush reportedly described Dahlan during an internecine Palestinian power struggle in 2007 as “our boy.” Dahlan is also believed to have close ties to Israeli Defense Minister Lieberman.
Since late March, Hamas has backed weekly mass protests by Gazans demanding the “right of return” to homes in Israel proper that they or their familial predecessors claim to have lost in the creation of the Jewish state in 1948 and the 1967 Middle East war. Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said recently that “thanks to these marches and resistance” an end to Israel’s decade-long blockade of Gaza is “around the corner.”
Abbas may prove to be the loser as Israel and Hamas inch towards a ceasefire arrangement that could ultimately give Dahlan a role in administering the Gaza Strip.


“Gaza has become a de facto state as it comprises a set area with a central body that governs the population, has an army, and conducts foreign policy,” said Giora Eiland, former head of Israel’s National Security Council. “So, in a way, countries have to be pragmatic and negotiate with Hamas. Israel’s main interest is security — a period of complete calm in Gaza — and it is willing to do what is necessary to achieve this.”
Eiland continued, “Until recently, Cairo insisted that Abbas reassume control over Gaza, which Hamas would not accept, specifically the call for it to disarm. Now, Egypt understands that this is not realistic and is only demanding that Hamas prevent [the Islamic State’s affiliate] in the Sinai from smuggling in weaponry. The only party that is unhappy with this arrangement is Abbas, who has been left behind. But this is his problem.”
A Hamas-Israel ceasefire and the possible return of Dahlan are likely to be but the first steps in a UAE-Egyptian-Israeli-backed strategy to engineer the emergence of a Palestinian leadership more amenable to negotiating an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Whether Trump’s remark that Israel would have to pay a price for his recognition of Jerusalem was a shot from the hip or part of a broader strategy is hard to discern. The White House has since sought to roll back his remarks.
With the jury still out, Israelis, Palestinians, and their regional allies have been put on alert as they maneuver to ensure their place in whatever emerges from efforts to reengineer the political landscape.


The Trump administration targets Hamas

by Caroline Glick


Last week, President Donald Trump’s Middle East team signaled a shift in the administration’s policy for contending with Hamas-controlled Gaza — one no prior administration had the courage to make.

On July 19, Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, his special representative for international negotiations Jason Greenblatt, and U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman published a joint op-ed in the Washington Post in which they made clear that they are walking away from their earlier efforts to rebuild Gaza’s economy as a means of advancing the prospects for a broader peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

(This columnist had argued for exactly that policy just two days before.)

Noting that the blame for Gaza’s humanitarian crisis rests squarely on the shoulders of the Hamas regime, the three wrote:

International donors are conflicted: Should they try to help the people directly, at the certain risk of enriching terrorists, or withhold funding to Hamas and watch the people it is supposed to govern suffer? In the past, investments in badly needed infrastructure have been diverted for weapons and other malign uses, and even the projects that are built are often destroyed as a consequence of Hamas’ aggression. Until governance changes or Hamas recognizes the state of Israel, abides by previous diplomatic agreements and renounces violence, there is no good option.

Kushner, Greenblatt and Friedman acknowledged as well that “the international community also bears some blame.”

“More countries want to simply talk and condemn than are willing to confront reality, propose realistic solutions and write meaningful checks,” they wrote.

The President’s Middle East policy team concluded by noting that the time has come for the international community to base its policy towards Gaza on reality rather than platitudes. In their words, Hamas is the root cause of the endless rounds of war with Israel and the suffering of the people in Gaza.

“Hamas leadership is holding the Palestinians of Gaza captive,” they explained.

“This problem must be recognized and resolved or we will witness yet another disastrous cycle [of war].”

The only inaccuracy in the Trump team’s analysis is their claim that so long as Hamas refuses to abandon its war against Israel, “there is no good option” for easing the suffering of the residents of Gaza and advancing the cause of peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

There is a very good option for achieving both objectives. And like the administration’s assessment of the true obstacle to peace, it is based on reality.

The way to accomplish both objectives is to advance along the trajectory of the work the Trump administration is already doing at the United Nations. That work was spelled out in a second op-ed that Kushner, Greenblatt and Friedman co-authored with UN Ambassador Nikki Haley on Sunday at CNN.com.

In the second article, the four senior administration officials argued that due to the spotlight the Trump administration has shone on the UN’s institutional anti-Israel bias, the ground is beginning to shift at Turtle Bay.

Specifically, the four applauded a UN General Assembly vote last month on an American amendment to an anti-Israel resolution put forward by Tunisia. The U.S. amendment specifically singled Hamas out for condemnation for its responsibility in fomenting the past three months of violence along Gaza’s border with Israel. It was the first time that Hamas was specifically condemned in a General Assembly resolution. And more member nations voted for the U.S. amendment than against it.

Although the amendment was dropped for technical reasons, in their words, “For the first time in the United Nations, more nations than not acknowledged that peace between Israel and the Palestinian people must be built on a foundation of truth regarding Hamas. … And part of that reality is recognizing the primary responsibility Hamas bears in perpetuating the suffering of the people of Gaza.”

The four presented the vote tally as a “paradigm shift” in the way the UN treats Israel.

They may have overstated the vote’s significance. But it is certainly worth checking if there can be practical benefits to the incipient willingness of a significant number of member nations to revisit their automatic opposition to Israel and support for the Palestinians in their 70-year war to destroy Israel.

That brings us back to the Hamas terror regime and the humanitarian disaster it has caused in Gaza.

As Kushner, Greenblatt and Friedman noted in their Post article, “Despite the billions of dollars invested for the benefit of Palestinians in Gaza over the past 70 years, 53 percent of the people there live below the poverty level, and the unemployment rate is a crippling 49 percent.”

According to the UN, Gaza’s total population is 1.9 million. Of those, 1.3 million Gazans, or 68 percent of the population, are registered as refugees with the U.N. Relief and Works Agency  (UNRWA), the UN agency responsible for the Palestinians.

In other words, nearly 70 percent of Gazans are effectively wards of the UN — just as much, if not more, than they are captives of Hamas.

UNRWA was founded in the wake of the pan-Arab invasion of Israel in 1948-49. Although it is presented as a refugee aid agency, UNRWA was set up to prevent the Arab refugees who left Israel during the course of that invasion from being resettled by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the UN agency established to help refugees worldwide to be resettled in new lands.

UNRWA’s purpose, since its inception, has been to perpetuate the suffering of the Arabswho left Israel in 1948 and 1949 and their descendants. While the State Department is reportedly refusing to make public its determination that there are a mere 20,000 Arabs alive today who left Israel during that invasion, UNRWA today is responsible for supporting more than 5 million “Palestinian refugees.”

This is the case because for four generations, descendants of those that left Israel have been registered as UNRWA refugees. As such, they have been denied the rights granted to refugees under the 1951 Refugee Convention, which relates to all refugees registered with the UNHCR. Those rights include the right to be granted asylum in a third country.

The first step to solving the humanitarian crisis in Gaza – while weakening the Hamas terror regime – involves enabling UNRWA-registered refugees to receive the rights conferred on all refugees under the Refugee Convention. In other words, the Palestinians should be granted the right to be resettled and naturalized in third countries. According to the past decade of polling data, more than half of the population of Gaza wishes to emigrate. But due to UN discrimination against Palestinians, they are barred from doing so, and are doomed instead to hopeless lives as captives of Hamas.

While working to end the UN’s institutional discrimination against Palestinians, the administration should strongly encourage the Egyptian government to permit the UNRWA-registered refugees in Gaza to leave the region through the Gaza border with Egypt. The Egyptians and the administration should work with third countries to enable the Gazan emigrés to receive asylum, in accordance with the Refugee Convention.

By permitting the refugees of Gaza to resettle, the U.S. would advance the cause of peace and regional security in several ways.

First, it would right the historic wrong done to the people of Gaza, who have been denied the basic rights of all refugee groups.

Second, it would end the ongoing Palestinian delusion, propagated by Palestinian leaders and advanced by anti-Israel groups in the West, that these fifth-generation “refugees” will one day “return” to Israel and so destroy the Jewish state.

The centrality of the belief that Israel will be destroyed and overrun to Palestinian identity was demonstrated graphically at a rally in Gaza on July 12. At the event, which was televised on Qatar’s al Jazeera network, Fathi Hammad, a senior Hamas apparatchik, told the crowd that by 2022, “the cleansing of Palestine of the filth of the Jews, and their uprooting from it,” would take place.

He added that “after the nation has been healed of its cancer – the Jews – Allah willing,” the “Caliphate will be established.”

As Kushner, Greenblatt and Friedman noted, the largest obstacle to peace between Israel and the Palestinians is the Palestinian leadership’s refusal to come to terms with the fact that Israel is a permanent reality. This delusion stands at the base of the Palestinians’ conviction that it is reasonable to dedicate their lives to working towards Israel’s destruction.

By enabling the Gazans who are registered as refugees with UNRWA to emigrate to third countries, the U.S. and its partners will end this delusion by providing the people of Gaza with an option for a better life.

Finally, by facilitating the emigration of Hamas’s captive population, the U.S. would vastly diminish Hamas’s capacity to threaten Israel and to use terror and violence against it.

Hamas’s most dangerous weapon in its war against Israel is not its arsenal of missiles, mortar,  and rockets. It isn’t its infrastructure of subterranean attack tunnels that traverse Gaza’s border with Israel. It isn’t its inventory of arson kites and balloons, which it has used in recent months to burn large swathes of southern Israel.

Hamas’s most dangerous, lethal weapon is its captive civilian population. It uses them as human shields.

Hamas launches missile strikes against Israel from schoolyards. It orders civilians to participate in mass demonstrations along the Gaza border with Israel.

Hamas terrorists use the civilians, particularly children, as shields behind which they launch assaults on Israel.

Hamas’s military headquarters are even located in Shifa Hospital in Gaza.

The exploitation and deliberate imperilment of civilians forms the foundation of all of Hamas’s terror operations.

By enabling Hamas’s captives to emigrate, the U.S. would degrade, if not destroy outright, Hamas’s most formidable weapon in its never-ending war against Israel.

The administration is to be congratulated for its determination to base its policies on reality. This alone distinguishes it from the past three administrations who preferred wishful thinking to fact.

Reality demonstrates that long-held convictions regarding the shape of future peace between Israel and its Palestinian neighbors were utterly unhinged. But it also opens new options for moving forward.

The most important of those options is to end five generations of UN discrimination against the Palestinians, and to permit them to emigrate and be granted citizenship in new lands, instead of being doomed to eternity as pawns in an endless war to annihilate Israel.

Bolton’s appointment is a brilliant move

by Caroline Glick


President Donald Trump’s decision to appoint former UN Ambassador John Bolton to serve as his National Security Advisor is arguably the most significant single step he has taken to date toward implementing his America First foreign policy.

The news hit America’s enemies and competitors — from Pyongyang to Teheran to Moscow to Beijing — like a wall of bricks Thursday night.

Early criticisms on the political right of Bolton’s appointment have centered on two points. First, it is argued that Bolton, who has been involved in U.S. foreign policymaking since the Reagan administration, is a creature of the Washington foreign policy swamp.

While it is true that Bolton is from Washington – or Baltimore, to be precise – and although it is true that he held senior foreign policy positions in both Bush administrations, he has always been a thorn in the side of the establishment rather than a member of that establishment.

For the better part of three decades, Bolton has bravely held positions that fly in the face of the establishment’s innate preference for appeasement. He was a vocal critic, for example, of then-President Bill Clinton’s disastrous nuclear diplomacy with North Korea.

The 1994 “Agreed Framework” that Clinton concluded with Pyongyang was touted as a peaceful resolution of the nuclear crisis with North Korea. In exchange for shuttering – but not destroying — its nuclear installations, North Korea received light water reactors from the U.S. and massive economic relief. As Bolton warned it would, North Korea pocketed the concessions and gifts and continued to develop its nuclear weapons. In other words, far from preventing North Korea from developing nuclear weapons, the Agreed Framework preserved the North Korean nuclear program and enabled the regime to develop it effectively with U.S. assistance.

For his warnings, Bolton has been reviled as a “warmonger” and a “superhawk” by the foreign policy elite, which has gone out if its way to undercut him.

President George W. Bush appointed Bolton to serve as UN ambassador in 2005 in a recess appointment. Three moderate Republicans on the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, Lincoln Chafee (RI), Chuck Hagel (ND), and George Voinovich (OH), signaledthat they would oppose Bolton’s confirmation, blocking it.

At the time, rumors surfaced that then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had quietly undercut Bolton’s confirmation in private conversations with senators. Those rumors were denied, and Rice publicly supported Bolton’s confirmation. But in 2016, Rice, along with her mentor, former secretary of state James Baker, and her deputy and successor as National Security Advisor, Stephen Hadley, openly opposed President Trump’s intention to appoint Bolton Deputy Secretary of State. At the same time, all three lobbied Trump to appoint outgoing Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

Bolton was a vocal opponent of Rice’s nuclear diplomacy with North Korea, undertaken after Pyongyang conducted its first nuclear test in 2006. He also opposed Rice’s pursuit of diplomatic ties with Iran through negotiations in Iraq. In both cases, as events showed, Bolton’s criticisms were all in place.

Rice’s nuclear diplomacy with North Korea emboldened the regime, and enabled its continued testing of nuclear weapons and development of ballistic missiles.

In Iran’s case, Rice’s negotiations with the Iranians in 2007 and 2008 set the stage for president Barack Obama’s nuclear talks with Tehran, which led to the 2015 nuclear deal. That deal, like the 1994 Agreed Framework with North Korea, preserves, rather than dismantles, Iran’s nuclear program while providing Iran with the financial means to expand its regional power through its terrorist proxies.

On the other hand, Bolton’s actions while in office brought extraordinary benefit to US national security. For instance, as Bush’s undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, in 2003 Bolton conceptualized and launched the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI). The purpose of the PSI was to empower nations to interdict ships suspected of carrying weapons of mass destruction, delivery systems, and related materials from states and non-state actors of proliferation concern. Originally launched with 11 state members, today the PSI has 105 state members. Its members have interdicted multiple ships suspected of transferring illicit weapons systems to other states and to non-state actors.

Like Trump, Bolton is an opponent of international treaties that bind the U.S. in a manner that may be antithetical to its national interests, and prefers bilateral agreements that are tailor-made to defend America’s national interests. Bolton was a firm opponent of the Rome Treaty, which established the International Criminal Court. He worked avidly to vacate America’s signature from the treaty. Due largely to his cogent opposition, the Bush administration decided not to submit the treaty to the Senate for ratification. Bolton concluded 100 bilateral treaties with nations committing them never to present complaints against U.S. military personnel before the tribunal.

Bolton’s nationalist convictions, and his refusal to join the foreign policy elite in its adoration of diplomacy, whatever the substance, over a firm, fact-based pursuit of America’s national interests lies at the heart of the foreign policy establishment’s opposition to him.

Indeed, the level of hostility the foreign policy establishment has directed towards Bolton over the years has been so ferocious, it is a testament to his diplomatic skills, and success, that he has managed to persevere in Washington, in and out of office for forty years.

As to the second charge by conservative critics, that Bolton is a neoconservative interventionist, the fact is that he is neither a neoconservative nor is he a knee jerk interventionist. Rather, Bolton supports the judicious use of American power in the world to advance U.S. national security and economic interests when the use of force is the best way to achieve those interests.

It is true that Bolton supported the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. But it is also true that he opposed the nation-building strategy that stood at the root of America’s failure to achieve its aims there.

It is also true that like many of the neoconservatives, Bolton is a firm supporter of Israel. However, Bolton is actually far more supportive of Israel than the neoconservatives are. As a nationalist, he supports U.S. allies because he understands that the stronger America’s allies are, the better able they are to defend their interests. Since American allies – particularly Israel – share America’s interests, the more powerful they are, the more secure America’s interests are, and the less the U.S. needs to assert its power abroad. Bolton supported — indeed, urged — Israel to destroy Iran’s nuclear installations during the Obama presidency. Rather than treating Israel as what Rice referred to patronizingly as America’s “special friend,” Bolton views Israel as America’s most powerful ally in the Middle East. He opposes Palestinian statehood and an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank.

The neoconservative movement asserts that America’s values of liberal democracy are universal, and that as a consequence, when given the opportunity to choose their leaders in open elections, everyone everywhere will choose leaders that are liberal democrats.

This view, for instance, stood at the root of Rice’s demand that the Hamas terrorist group participate in the Palestinian elections in 2006. It was also the root of her decision to pressure then-Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak to permit the Muslim Brotherhood to participate in parliamentary elections in Egypt in 2005.

Since the neoconservatives asserted that all people believe in American values, they assessed that at the end of the day, even Hamas would govern responsibly. Bush famously raised what became known as the “pothole theory” of the moderating power of elected office.

Bush said, “I like the idea of people running for office. There’s a positive effect when you run for office. Maybe some will run for office and say, vote for me, I look forward to blowing up America. I don’t know, I don’t know if that will be their platform or not. But I don’t think so. I think people who generally run for office say, vote for me, I’m looking forward to fixing your potholes, or making sure you got bread on the table.”

Rice heartily concurred.

Bolton, in contrast, rejected the notion that American values are universally applicable, and argued that nation building and humanitarian intervention are both antithetical to American national security interests. In other words, while he agreed with certain policies that neoconservatives also supported, he opposed the basic assumptions of the neoconservative outlook.

Bolton’s opposition to nation-building and humanitarian interventionism was all borne out by events. As the so-called Arab Spring showed — and indeed, as Turkey’s democratic transformation into an Islamic theocracy also demonstrates — American values are not universal values at all. Supporting democratic processes with no concern about the values and culture those processes empower is unwise and irresponsible, and as the rise of Islamist regimes in Gaza, Egypt, Turkey, and beyond make clear, it is also antithetical to American national security interests.

Bolton’s healthy skepticism for international agreements; his support for a foreign policy that prioritizes the advancement of American national interests over multilateral diplomacy; and his belief that Obama’s signature diplomatic achievement, the nuclear deal with Iran, is a disaster, all make him the senior diplomat most aligned with President Trump’s America First agenda in Washington.

The combination of Trump and Bolton no doubt puts fear in the hearts of America’s enemies, and heartens America’s allies. Given the hatred Bolton inspires in the Washington swamp, it took great courage for Trump to appoint him. America and its allies will be the primary beneficiaries of this bold move.

Time for the US to walk away from the PLO

by Caroline Glick

On Tuesday in Bethlehem, the Palestinians demonstrated the choice the Americans now face in their dealings with Fatah – the supposedly moderate PLO faction that controls the Palestinian Authority and the PLO. President Donald Trump and his advisers can play by Fatah’s rules or they can walk away.

On Tuesday a delegation of diplomats from the US Consulate in Jerusalem came to Bethlehem to participate in a meeting of the local chamber of commerce. When they arrived in the city, Fatah members attacked them. Their vehicles with diplomatic license plates were pelted with tomatoes and eggs by a mob of protesters calling out anti-American slogans.

After the Americans entered the hall where the meeting was scheduled to take place, some of the rioters barged in. They held placards condemning America and they shouted, “Americans Out!”

Some of the demonstrators cursed the Palestinians present, accusing them of treason for participating in a meeting with Americans. According to the news reports, the scene became tense and violent. The American officials beat a speedy retreat. As they departed the city, the Fatah rioters continued attacking their cars, kicking them and throwing eggs at them, until they were gone.

The attack on Tuesday was a natural progression.

On Saturday, Fatah members in Bethlehem-area UN camps convened to carry out a very public “people’s tribunal.” Trump and Vice President Mike Pence were tried for “racism” and “bias” against the Palestinians.

The “tribunal” found them guilty and sentenced the president and vice president to death by hanging. Their bodies, the “judges” decided, were to be burned.

In the event, the crowd burned effigies of Trump and Pence.

The implication of the “trial” was clear. Americans like Israelis should be killed.

The burning effigies themselves were a natural consequence of PLO and Fatah chief and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas’s call last month for Trump’s “house to be destroyed.”

That is, both the assault on the consular officers Tuesday and the riot on Saturday were simply Abbas’s followers carrying out his orders. He put the Americans in his crosshairs. And they are pulling the trigger – for now, with effigies and eggs.

It isn’t hard for Abbas to set his people against the Americans. Palestinians hate Americans.

As a 2014 Pew Survey showed, Palestinians are more anti-American than any people on earth. Seventy-six percent of Palestinians consider the US their enemy. Pakistan came in second place with 64% of respondents saying that the US is their enemy.

Palestinian anti-Americanism is notable given that the US has given more assistance to the Palestinians than any country other than Israel. Americans have spent the last 25 years pressuring Israel to make more and more concessions to the Palestinians.

In large part, anti-Americanism among Palestinians redounds to two things. First, incitement. For 25 years, the US-financed PA has used all the tools at its disposal to indoctrinate the Palestinians to hate America almost as much as they hate Israel.

Second, like the Iranian regime, the Palestinians view the US and Israel as two sides of the same coin. And indeed, their hatred for the US is the mirror image of Israelis’ love for it.

While the Palestinians topped the list of people who view the US as their enemy, Israel topped the list of nations that view the US as their partner. Ninety percent of Israelis view the US as their partner.

All Abbas needed to do was call for Trump’s house to be destroyed and mobs of Fatah members were only too happy to go into the streets and burn the president in effigy.

Trump, for his part, seems more than willing to walk away from the whole business. Over the past week Trump threatened to cut off all US aid to the Palestinians three times. In his appearance with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at Davos last week, Trump made clear that he wouldn’t be overly upset if the peace process disappears.

“I can tell you that Israel does want to make peace,” Trump said.

The Palestinians, he continued, are “going to have to want to make peace too, or we’re going to have nothing to do with it any longer.”

When asked about the implications of his recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital for prospects for peace, Trump turned to Netanyahu and said, “You [Israel] won one point, and you’ll give up some points later on in the negotiation, if it ever takes place. I don’t know that it ever will take place.”

Jason Greenblatt, Trump’s chief peace negotiator, seems less sanguine at the concept that the peace process is over.

At a meeting in Ramat Gan this week with ambassadors from EU member states, one of the ambassadors asked Greenblatt whether Jerusalem is still a subject for negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, or whether, as Trump said in Davos, the issue is settled and is in Trump’s words, “off the table.”

Greenblatt reportedly answered that Trump mischaracterized the situation at Davos. Jerusalem is still a topic for negotiation between the sides, as Trump made clear in his December 6, 2017, declaration recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Greenblatt said.

Greenblatt’s statements over the past several days paint a picture of an administration unclear on what to make of the Palestinian response to Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem. On the one hand, they continue to maintain that peace can only be based on reality and therefore, recognizing Jerusalem was necessary for peace to ever be achieved.

Along these lines, at his meeting with the European ambassadors, Greenblatt also told them that their insistent condemnation of construction in Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria as an obstacle to peace is wrong. Construction of housing in the settlements has no impact on prospects for peace, he insisted, rightly.

The last time any US envoy said anything approaching Greenblatt’s reported remarks was 2003.

But then, Greenblatt wouldn’t let go of the hope that the Palestinians are interested in cutting a peace deal.

Speaking in Brussels at a donor conference for the Palestinian Authority, Greenblatt repeated over and over that the US is committed to the peace process.

Then there was his fawning message to PA “Prime Minister” Rami Hamdallah, who participated in the conference.

The sole reason the conference in Brussels was convened was to raise tens of millions of dollars for Hamdallah to shove into bank accounts controlled by Abbas and his kleptocrat underlings. It would have been rather odd if Hamdallah wasn’t there to beg in person.

And yet, Greenblatt didn’t treat Hamdallah’s presence in the meeting room as no big deal. He didn’t call him out publicly for the dangerous assault by Fatah activists against US diplomats in Bethlehem the day before.

Instead Greenblatt gushed, “I am particularly pleased to see you Prime Minister Hamdallah – I hope, as a sign of the Palestinian Authority’s continued commitment to the process which we have undertaken together. Despite our differences, we remain committed to continue working together to use our best efforts to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

Given the fact that the day before Fatah members attacked US diplomats in Bethlehem, and four days earlier they burned Trump and Pence in effigy, it would have been reasonable for Greenblatt to publicly excoriate Hamdallah and the PA for their actions.

The fact that Greenblatt failed to call him to account, but rather gushed at Hamdallah’s presence like a teenage girl over a rock star, shows that the Americans are still unclear why the Palestinians have taken a sword to their relations with Washington.

Greenblatt, like his colleagues at the consulate and the State Department, don’t understand what is happening because they think that the peace process is about negotiating. But that’s never been what the peace process has been about. If it were about negotiating then the Palestinians would have been held accountable for their breaches of every commitment they ever made to Israel. But they have never been held to account. Only Israel has been held to account.

Indeed, Israel has been attacked despite the fact that it has upheld all of its commitments.

Meantime, the Palestinians have never honored any of their commitments to Israel – or to the US. They never canceled or amended the PLO Charter that calls for Israel’s annihilation. They never ended their incitement to murder Israelis. They never ended their sponsorship or finance of terrorism. They never extradited terrorists who murdered Americans to the US to stand trial. They certainly never extradited terrorists to stand trial in Israel. Indeed, they have never recognized Israel’s right to exist.

As far as the Palestinians are concerned, the peace process is a process of unconditional Israeli surrender to all of their terms. The role of the US as the sponsor of the peace process is to coerce Israel to make concessions that together will lead to its unconditional surrender. And for the better part of the past quarter century successive US administrations have played by the Palestinians’ rules.

But then Trump showed up. When Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, he took something away from the Palestinians. That has never happened before. And now, reports that the administration is considering holding the UN’s Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA to the same definition of “refugee” as the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees means another Palestinian high card is in danger. If Trump carries out his threat, then the only Palestinians who will be eligible for refugee status will be the 20,000 Palestinians who left Israel between 1947 and 1949. In one fell swoop, Trump would wipe out the Palestinian demand to destroy Israel through mass immigration of five million foreign-born Arabs to its territory – in the framework of peace.

In an interview with Fox News, chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat was asked what the administration can do to placate the Palestinians’ anger and convince them to renew their contacts with Washington. Erekat said the only thing the US can do is cancel its recognition of Jerusalem. Meaning only unconditional American surrender to Palestinian demands will bring America back into the PLO’s good graces.

At the entrance to Jericho a sign is hanging saying that Americans and dogs are not welcome. Signs on shop windows in Ramallah and Jericho inform all US and British visitors thinking of coming inside that they are required to apologize for their governments’ policies.

It’s time for Greenblatt to understand that the peace process is over. And unless Trump intends to humiliate himself and America and sell Israel down the river like his predecessors did, the peace process will not be resuscitated. The longer he and his colleagues pretend away the truth, the more they imperil themselves and empower a people that will be more than happy to move beyond eggs and tomatoes and effigies and banners.

Pence and Pew, present and future

by Caroline Glick


Vice President Mike Pence gave an epic speech at the Knesset this week. His was the most powerful embrace of Zionism and the Jewish people any foreign leader has ever presented. Pence’s fluency in Jewish history, and his comprehension of the centrality of the both the Bible and the Land of Israel in the vast flow of that history in far-flung-exile communities across time and space was spellbinding. He touched the hearts of his audience, causing knots in the throats of most of the people sitting in the Knesset on Monday afternoon.

Pence’s speech was rendered poignant and the friendship he bore became tinged with urgency with the publication, the very next day, of the latest Pew Center survey on American views of Israel.

Speaking in the name of the American people he represents, Pence said on Monday: “The friendship between our people has never been deeper.”

And when it comes to the Republican voters who elected President Donald Trump and Vice President Pence a year and two months ago, Pence is certainly correct. But the Pew data showed that on Israel, as on so many other issues, the cleavage between Republicans and Democrats is vast and unbridgeable.

Most of the coverage of the Pew survey focused reasonably on its main finding. The good news is that overall American support for Israel over the Palestinians remains more or less constant, and overwhelming. Forty-six percent of Americans support Israel over the Palestinians while a mere 16% of Americans support the Palestinians against Israel. The numbers haven’t changed much since polling began in 1978.

But then the news becomes more fraught. The disparity between Republican support for Israel and Democratic support for Israel has never been greater. Whereas 79% of Republicans support Israel over the Palestinians, only 27% of Democrats do. Moreover, the further one goes to the Left among Democratic voters, the more anti-Israel the respondents become. Liberal Democrats are now nearly twice as likely to support the Palestinians over Israel as they are to support Israel over the Palestinians. Thirty-five percent of liberal Democrats support the Palestinians against Israel. A mere 19% support Israel more than the Palestinians.

Conservative and moderate Democrats still support Israel far more than they support the Palestinians with 35% of moderate and conservative Democrats supporting Israel over the Palestinians, and 17% supporting the Palestinians more than Israel. But the level of support for Israel among this demographic has dropped precipitously in the last year and a half. In the previous survey, which took place in April 2016, support for Israel was 53%, or 19 points higher.

In other words, the last year and a half has seen a precipitous drop in Democratic support for Israel even as Republican support for Israel has grown ever higher.

For Israel’s leaders, as distressing as these numbers are, they don’t give an indication of how Israel should relate to the vast disparities in US support for Israel as they plot policies for the future.

The survey does provide that answer though. The last question in the survey asked respondents about the viability of the so-called two-state solution.

They were asked, “Can a way be found for Israel and an independent Palestinian state to coexist peacefully or not?”

The answers were notable. While among the general population, faith in the two-state solution runs 49% to 39%, that support is indirectly proportionate to respondents’ support for Israel. The more they support Israel, the less they believe in the two-state solution.

Americans who support the Palestinians more than they support Israel, believe in the viability of the two-state solution runs 64% to 28%. Americans who support Israel more than the Palestinians view the two-state solution as nonviable by a margin of 40% to 51%.

On the face of things, this seems like an anomaly. For a generation, three successive administrations have insisted not only that the two-state solution is the only path to peace and security for Israel and the Palestinians. Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama all insisted that Israel’s very survival as a Jewish state is contingent on it surrendering land it has held for 50 years to the PLO. Americans have been told that the only way to truly care about Israel is to support the establishment of a Palestinian state in Gaza, Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem.

And here we see that the US public has reached the opposite conclusions. Americans who oppose Israel support the establishment of a Palestinian state along the lines set out by Clinton, Bush and Obama. Americans who support Israel view such a prospect as impossible.

What explains this disparity? Two data points in the survey point to a reasonable explanation.

According to the survey, the greatest leap in Republican support for Israel occurred since 2001. In the past 17 years, Republican support for Israel leaped from 50% to 79%.

On the Democratic side, an opposite trend occurred. Since 2001, Democratic support for Israel has dropped from 38% to 27%.

Two events occurred in 2001 that set the parties on disparate paths: the September 11 attacks and the disputed results of the 2000 presidential race between Al Gore and Bush.

The September 11 attacks caused Republican voters to study the Middle East, including Israel, more closely than they ever had before. And the more familiar they became with Islamism, jihad and the other pathologies of the Arab world, the more supportive of Israel they became. The fact that the Palestinians rejected peace at the Camp David summit in July 2000 and that by the time the September 11 attacks occurred they were engaged in the largest terrorist onslaught against Israel in history, reinforced the sense among Republicans that Israel is the US’s closest ally in the war on Islamic terrorism.

On the other hand, the Democrats’ rejection of the legitimacy of the 2000 election results set the party on a course of radicalization. The best indication of the Democrats’ radicalization on Israel came with the precipitous downfall of senator Joseph Lieberman.

Lieberman was a liberal hawk, an ardent supporter of Israel and a proud Jew. In 2000 his positions had sufficient traction among Democratic voters to cause Gore to select him as his running mate in the presidential election.

Just six years later, a transformed Democratic party rejected Lieberman when he ran for reelection to his senate seat in the Democratic primary in Connecticut. His challenger, Ned Lamont, defeated Lieberman after running a campaign laced with antisemitism and anti-Zionism. Lieberman’s longtime ally, then-senator from New York Hillary Clinton, who was looking forward to the 2008 presidential race, refused to support him.

Today Democratic presidential hopefuls like New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker have discarded their previous support for Israel to satisfy their party’s increasingly radical, anti-Israel base.

The Democrats’ move to the Left has caused them to ascribe increasingly to identity politics as the basis for policy-making. Identity politics dictate a pecking order of victims. The greater a group’s status as victim, the more the Democrats support it. In this taxonomy, Israel has been determined to be an oppressor, and the Palestinians are defined as the victims.

The problem with identity politics, at least insofar as Israel is concerned, is that there is no basis in fact for the determination that Israel is the bad guy and the Palestinians are the good guys. To the contrary. As the steep rise in Republican support over the past 17 years demonstrates, the more you know, the greater the likelihood that you will support Israel.

Rather than being a fact-based conclusion, the determination that Israel is bad and the Palestinians are good is an ideological dictate. And this presents Israel with an intractable problem as far as Democrats are concerned.

Israel cannot reason Democrats out of an anti-Israel position that they weren’t reasoned into. Israel has no ability whatsoever to convince the Democrats to rethink their animosity, when they never thought about it to begin with. They simply accepted the dictates of their political and ideological camp.

This brings us back to Pence, and the Trump administration’s extraordinary, voter-supported friendship for Israel and what it means for Israel today, as the prospect of an impossibly hostile Democratic administration in as little as three years lurks in the corner.

The most significant “news” that Pence announced in his address was Trump’s determination to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem by the end of 2019. This is important because, given the hostility of the Democrats, there is every reason to believe that if a Democratic administration takes power in 2021, Trump’s decision to move the embassy will be canceled if it hasn’t already happened.

Just as this is the time for the US to move its embassy to Israel’s capital, now is also the time for Israel to ditch the failed two-state model before it is too late.

Israel will never have a better opportunity than it has today to convince an American administration to abandon the anti-Israel narrative at the foundation of the two-state formula. That narrative, which asserts that there is no peace because there is no Palestinian state, places the blame for the absence of peace between the Palestinians and Israel on Israel alone.

Today there is an administration that is open to hearing an alternative narrative that portrays Israel properly as the good guy, and the Palestinians as the hopelessly intransigent foe that they have always been.

Now is the time for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his colleagues in the government to be speaking this plain truth in one voice. And now is the time for them to decide on, explain and implement a policy based on Israel’s rights and interests that will secure Israel’s strategic viability and position vis-à-vis the Palestinians for years to come. Such a policy, which will involve applying Israeli law over large swaths of Judea and Samaria, is clear, easy to explain and will successfully ensure the civil rights of Jews and Arabs alike for generations.

No, Israel’s efforts to explain itself will not crack through the closed intellectual circle of identity politics and partisanship. But that is why Israel needs to act now so that the new policy is explained and implemented along the same timetable as the US Embassy moves to Jerusalem.

By the time the 2020 US election campaign begin, Israel should have already determined and implemented its new policy. As Pence demonstrated so eloquently at the Knesset this week, Israel has a friend the likes of which it has never seen in the White House today. And if President Trump is not president in January 2021, Israel will face an administration that will make us miss Obama.

Pence and Pew showed us what we have and what awaits us. Now is the time for Israel to act.

Trump Kicks The Palestinian Habit

by Caroline Glick

It was probably a coincidence that US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley hailed the Iranian anti-regime protesters and threatened to end US financial support for UNRWA – the UN Palestinian refugee agency – and the Palestinian Authority more generally in the same briefing. But they are integrally linked.

It is no coincidence that Hamas is escalating its rocket attacks on Israel as the Iranian regime confronts the most significant domestic challenge it has ever faced.

As IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot said this week, Iranian assistance to Hamas is steadily rising. Last August, Hamas acknowledged that Iran is its greatest military and financial backer. In 2017, Iran transferred $70 million to the terrorist group.

Eisenkot said that in 2018, Iran intends to transfer $100m. to Hamas.

If Iran is Hamas’s greatest state sponsor, UNRWA is its partner. UNRWA is headquartered in Gaza. It is the UN’s single largest agency. It has more than 11,500 employees in Gaza alone. UNRWA’s annual budget is in excess of $1.2 billion. Several hundred million each year is spent in Gaza.

The US is UNRWA’s largest funder. In 2016, it transferred more than $368m. to UNRWA.

For the past decade, the Center for Near East Policy Research has copiously documented how UNRWA in Gaza is not an independent actor. Rather it is an integral part of Hamas’s regime in Gaza.

UNRWA underwrites the jihadist regime by paying for its school system and its healthcare system, among other things. Since 1999, UNRWA employees have repeatedly and overwhelmingly elected Hamas members to lead their unions.

In every major missile campaign Hamas has carried out against Israel since the group seized control of the Gaza Strip in 2007, UNRWA facilities have played key roles in its terrorist offensives. Missiles, rockets and mortars have been stored in and fired from UNRWA schools and clinics.

UNRWA teachers and students have served as human shields for Hamas missile launches against Israel.

UNRWA ambulances have been used to ferry weapons, including mortars, and terrorists.

UNRWA officials have served as Hamas mouthpieces in their propaganda war against Israel.

In the UNRWA school curriculum, the overwhelming message in nearly every class, and nearly every textbook, is that students should seek martyrdom in jihad against Israel. They should strive to destroy the Jewish state.

Hamas’s youth group, which provides children’s military training and jihadist indoctrination, gathers at UNRWA schools.

Despite repeated demands by the US Congress, and the passage of US laws requiring UNRWA to bar Hamas members from working for the agency, UNRWA administrators have insisted for more than a decade that they have no way to conduct such screening. Yet rather than cut off US funding for the agency, successive US administrations have increased funding for UNRWA every year.

Given all of this, Hamas is comfortable using Iran’s $100m. to build attack tunnels and missile launchers, because it trusts that the US and other UNRWA donor countries will continue to underwrite its regime through UNRWA.

If the US cuts off its assistance, then at least some of Iran’s money will have to be diverted to teachers’ salaries.

Hamas’s recently escalating rocket attacks on Israel may be happening because Iran wishes to deflect international attention away from its plan to brutally suppress the anti-regime protesters at home.

So the more Hamas is financially squeezed by the US and other UNRWA funders, the more likely any Hamas-Iran war plans being advanced now will be placed on the back burner.

So whether or not Haley realized it, her statement on cutting off US funding to Hamas strengthened the anti-regime protesters against the regime.

Those protesters, of course are demanding that Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and his henchmen stop raiding Iran’s treasury to finance Hezbollah, Hamas and Bashar Assad’s regime in Syria.

Haley’s comments, as well as President Donald Trump’s follow-on threat to end US funding of the PA, were more than a blow to Hamas. They marked end of the past 25 years of US-Palestinian relations.

For the past generation, the bipartisan position of all US administrations has been that the US must support the Palestinians unconditionally. The Obama administration did not differ from George W. Bush’s administration on that score. The main difference between the Obama and Bush administrations was Obama’s hostility toward Israel, not his knee-jerk support for the Palestinians.

The Clinton, Bush and Obama administrations provided the Palestinians unstinting and unconditional support, despite the fact that the Palestinians never abided by any of their expectations. They never embraced the cause of peace. Indeed, the supposedly moderate ruling Fatah faction that controls the PLO and the Palestinian Authority, and has accepted billions of dollars in US aid since 1994, doesn’t even recognize Israel’s right to exist. Fatah remains deeply involved in committing terrorism.

And the Fatah-controlled PA has sponsored, incited, financed and rewarded terrorists and terrorism since it was established under US sponsorship in 1994.

When the Palestinians last voted for their governmental representatives in 2006, they flummoxed Bush and his secretary of state Condoleezza Rice by electing Hamas to run their affairs. Rather than accept that the Palestinians were uninterested in peace and cut them off, Rice and Bush chose to pretend their vote just meant they didn’t like Fatah corruption.

A year later, after US-trained and -armed Fatah security forces cut and ran when Hamas gunmen opened fire on them in Gaza, the US didn’t cut off its support for Fatah’s security forces. The US massively expanded that support.

As for Hamas-controlled Gaza, Rice responded to Gaza’s transformation into the Palestinian equivalent of Taliban-controlled Afghanistan by immediately raising US financial support for UNRWA by $40m. and pretending that the money would not benefit Hamas.

After that, both the Bush and Obama administrations touted UNRWA as an independent counterforce to Hamas, despite the fact that their protestations were demonstrably false and indeed, entirely absurd.

In this context, Abbas and his deputies had every reason to believe they could initiate anti-American resolutions at the UN in response to Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and face no consequences. It made sense as well for them to boycott administration officials in retaliation for Trump’s Jerusalem policy and assume that the US would continue to finance them.

The Trump administration’s threat to cut off funding to UNRWA and the PA does not point to a new US policy toward the Palestinians. It simply makes clear that unlike all of its predecessors, Trump’s support for the Palestinians is not unconditional.

As Trump, Haley and other senior officials have made clear, they are still trying to put together their policy for the Palestinians. And this is where Israel needs to come into the picture.

IT IS important to recall that the US’s unconditional support for the Palestinians across three administrations was the result not of a US decision, but an Israeli one. It was Israel under the Rabin-Peres government, not the US under then-president Bill Clinton, that decided to recognize the PA in 1993 and give Yasser Arafat and his deputies control of Gaza and the Palestinian towns and cities in Judea and Samaria. If Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres hadn’t decided to abandon the then-ongoing US peace talks that excluded the PLO in favor of Norwegian talks with the PLO, the US would probably not have embraced the PLO.

Now that the Trump administration is abandoning its predecessors’ policy, the time has come for Israel to offer it an alternative. This week, the government and the governing Likud party took two steps toward doing just that.

On Sunday, the Likud central committee passed a resolution unanimously that called for Israel to apply its law to the Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria. Although the resolution was declarative, and does not obligate Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, it points toward the policy that either this government or its successor will likely adopt.

In both the 2013 and 2015 elections, facing the hostile Obama administration, Netanyahu refused to run on any platform other than his personal credibility. With the Likud resolution, and with a Trump administration interested in considering alternatives to the failed policies of its predecessors, Netanyahu can be expected (and should be urged) to pledge to implement his party’s policy if reelected.

On Monday, the Knesset passed an amendment to the Basic Law: Jerusalem. The amended law protects Israel’s sovereignty over the territory now within Jerusalem’s municipal boundaries while permitting the government to take some of that territory out of the municipal boundaries. The idea is that some Arab villages now within the city limits will be given their own local councils.

Today, for political reasons, Arab residents of Jerusalem refuse to vote in municipal elections. Consequently, they have effectively disenfranchised themselves. By providing them with separate local councils while ensuring that they will remain governed by Israel’s liberal legal code, the Knesset provided a model for future governance of the Palestinian population centers in Judea and Samaria.

In response to Haley’s and Trump’s threats to cut off funding to the PA and UNRWA, Rice’s Israeli counterpart, former foreign minister Tzipi Livni, wrote on Twitter that the government should lobby Trump to maintain funding. In her words, “A responsible and serious government would sit quietly and discretely with the US president and explain the Israeli interest.”

Livni maintained that interest remains what it was when she backed Rice’s decision to expand US funding to Hamas-controlled UNRWA and the feckless US-trained Fatah security forces.

Luckily, like the Trump administration, Israel’s government today recognizes that repeating the failures of its predecessors makes no sense.

The Likud’s resolution on Judea and Samaria and the Knesset’s amendment to the Basic Law: Jerusalem represent the beginning of a new Israeli policy toward the Palestinians.

If the Trump administration follows Israel’s lead, as the Clinton administration followed its lead in 1993, then the new era in US policy toward the Palestinians won’t be limited to ending US unconditional support for the PLO and through UNRWA, Hamas.

A new US policy will involve providing the Palestinians the means to govern themselves while enjoying the protections of Israeli law. It will involve ending US support for Palestinian sponsorship and finance of terrorism. It will involve securing Israel’s borders, security and national rights. And of course it will involve kicking Iran out of Gaza and out of the Levant more generally.

Will Donald Trump Fire The Iran Nuclear Deal?

By Sean Savage/JNS.org


The election victory by Donald Trump, a billionaire businessman who has never held political office and is a neophyte on foreign policy, has left many observers wondering about the future direction of U.S. policy abroad.
Against that backdrop, supporters of Israel are immediately focusing attention on Trump’s approach to the much-discussed Iran nuclear deal, which was approved by the Obama administration and five other Western governments in July 2015.
As a presidential candidate, Trump made a variety of comments regarding his opposition to the Iran nuclear deal, ranging from calls for stronger inspections to entirely nixing the Obama administration’s signing of the pact.
“You’d have to have onsite inspections anytime, anywhere, to start off with, which we don’t have at all. The whole deal is a terrible deal. There’s no way the Iranians are going to adhere to any deal we make,” Trump said in an interview with JNS.org in June 2015, shortly after he had announced his presidential candidacy and before the Iran deal was signed.


Trump went further in his opposition to the deal during a speech at last March’s American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference, saying he would “dismantle” the nuclear deal.
“My number one priority is to dismantle the disastrous deal with Iran. I have been in business a long time…this deal is catastrophic for Israel, for America, for the whole of the Middle East…We have rewarded the world’s leading state sponsor of terror with $150 billion [in sanctions relief], and we received absolutely nothing in return,” he said.
President-elect Trump “has cultivated a fair amount of ambiguity towards how he would approach the Iranian nuclear deal,” said Behnam Ben Taleblu, a senior Iran analyst at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) think tank.
“Whether this was intentional or not cannot be deduced at this point,” Ben Taleblu told JNS.org. “This ambiguity is best exemplified by Trump’s claims of both renegotiating and tearing up the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the Iran deal’s formal name).”
Shortly after Trump’s victory, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani made it clear that Trump would not be able to unilaterally destroy the deal.
“Iran’s understanding in the nuclear deal was that the accord was not concluded with one country or government but was approved by a resolution of the U.N. Security Council and there is no possibility that it can be changed by a single government,” Rouhani told his cabinet, Iranian state TV reported.
While Trump has not commented on the deal following the election, one of his top foreign political advisers, Walid Phares, offered some insight into how the president-elect might handle the nuclear agreement, saying it will likely be renegotiated by Trump rather than ripped up.
“Ripping up is maybe a too strong of word….He will take the agreement, review it, send it to Congress, demand from the Iranians to restore a few issues or change a few issues, and there will be a discussion,” Phares told BBC Radio.
“It could be a tense discussion but the agreement as is right now–$150 billion to the Iranian regime without receiving much in return and increasing intervention in four countries–that is not going to be accepted by the Trump administration.”
FDD’s Ben Taleblu believes that Trump will likely resolve to keep the accord intact and instead prioritize cracking down on Iran’s other troubling behavior in the Middle East, such as the Islamic Republic’s sponsorship of terrorism, something for which the Obama administration has often been criticized for not addressing.
“I would say [Trump] will keep the accord but feel less restricted about using coercive financial measures to target the rest of Iran’s bad behavior. Whether this is rolled into a larger attempt to renegotiate the accord remains to be seen, as that would involve coordination with the other P5+1 members,” Ben Taleblu told JNS.org.
At the same time, Trump may seek a tougher line on Iran’s compliance with the current deal.
A recent report compiled by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog, found that while Iran has largely struck to its commitments under the deal to not enrich uranium above low purities and to keep its stockpile of uranium below agreed levels, the Islamic Republic has still violated the nuclear agreement.
According to the IAEA, Iran surpassed the 130 metric-tonne threshold for the production of heavy water, a material that is used as a moderator in nuclear reactors. Iran has 130.1 tonnes of heavy water, the IAEA report said.
“On 2 November 2016, the [IAEA] director general expressed concerns related to Iran’s stock of heavy water to the vice president of Iran and president of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran…Ali Akbar Salehi,” the IAEA said in a confidential report, Reuters reported.
This was the second time since the nuclear deal was signed that Iran was found to have exceeded the heavy water limit–in February, Iran had 130.9 tonnes of the material.
Unlike the hard limit on uranium imposed by the deal, any excess heavy water is available for export on the international market. As such, the Obama administration did not find any issue with Iran’s heavy water production.
“It’s important to note that Iran made no effort to hide this, hide what it was doing from the IAEA,” U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner said.
As far as the Iran deal is concerned, there are inherent challenges with inspections and enforcement that may pose problems for a Trump administration, Ben Taleblu explained.
“The JCPOA set quite a low bar for Iranian compliance,” he told JNS.org.
For instance, said Ben Taleblu, “a violation of the deal requires something called ‘significant non-performance’ to occur, which is a vague term. But while the IAEA has offered less data about the Iranian program in the aftermath of the deal, it has routinely attested that Iran was fulfilling its deal related obligations.”
As such, Ben Taleblu believes that Iran has been “flouting the spirit of the deal,” and the issue of the Islamic Republic’s heavy water production indicates it is “engaging in incremental cheating.”
“This reflects poorly on the deal, as it has no mechanism to formerly punish this,” he said.
Regardless of what President-elect Trump will choose to do vis-à-vis the nuclear deal, Iran will also pose a threat to U.S. interests in the Middle East through its direct involvement in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and elsewhere, as well as through its threats to Israel, America’s closest ally in the region.
“Given the broad range of issues that separate the U.S. and Iran, I think it is fair to say that Tehran will continue to pose a national security challenge to the next American administration,” Ben Taleblu said.
“It too soon to speculate how a different U.S. policy in Syria or other theaters of the Middle East would affect relations with Tehran,” he added, “but Iranian hardliners have so far been trying to recast this entire election to their advantage.”
Originally published at JNS.org – reposted with permission