Can Any Lebanon-Israel Maritime Deal be Trusted?

Posted by INTERNATIONALIST 360° 

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Abdel Bari Atwan

While the demarcation agreement is yet to be signed, scepticism on both sides signals conflict ahead

There is a sense of optimism in Lebanon over the possibility of signing a maritime agreement with Israel that would enable the extraction of gas from Lebanese territorial waters, which could help lead the country out of its dire financial crisis.

After the 3 October meeting that brought together Lebanese President Michel Aoun, Speaker of Parliament Nabih Berri, and Prime Minister Najib Mikati at the Republican Palace, it was clear that everyone agreed with the “moderate” proposals presented by US envoy Amos Hochstein, head of the indirect negotiations between Lebanon and Israel over their common maritime border.

Deputy Speaker of Parliament Elias Abu Saab announced after the meeting that Lebanon’s “comments” on the proposals would be sent to Hochstein, and that the Lebanese government would not provide an official answer to the proposal – pending a response from the US envoy before the end of the week.

Israel for its part has reportedly given preliminary approval for the proposal which consists of a 10-page draft.

Abu Saab confirmed that Lebanon had obtained its full rights in the maritime “Qana gas field,” but he cautioned that the devils lie in the detail.

Mikati, who seems the most enthusiastic to sign the US-brokered agreement, said after leaving the presidential palace that “things are going in the right direction.” His smile was wider than ever – as though gas revenues in the billions of dollars were about to flow into the coffers of the Central Bank of Lebanon.

Gas deal ‘leaks’

So far, few details of the agreement have been revealed. Currently in circulation are ‘deliberate’ indirect leaks from the two negotiating parties to ‘beautify’ the agreement for their respective constituents. It reflects the desire of deal proponents to clinch an agreement as soon as possible, ostensibly to avoid a war on the Lebanese-Israeli border that could escalate into a regional war, and maybe more.

While the Lebanese side appears uncharacteristically united and more willing to sign, sharp divisions persist in the Israeli camp, especially between interim Prime Minister Yair Lapid and his ally Minister of Defense Benny Gantz, on the one hand, and the opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu, on the other.

Lapid claims, through his camp’s leaks, that Israel will retain full sovereignty over the contested Karish gas field and will receive financial compensation by relinquishing part of Lebanon’s Qana gas field – paid for by French corporation TotalEnergies, which is currently in talks of its own with Israel over potential profit sharing from exploration.

Lapid also promotes the notion that Israel made a “tactical concession in exchange for a strategic gain in stability on the northern borders.”

Netanyahu has stepped up his attacks on the prime minister and has criticized the draft agreement for making huge concessions on the ‘Land of Israel’ and for handing over its natural resources to Lebanon and Hezbollah.

This, he contends, is taking place without holding a public referendum or securing the approval of the Knesset (Parliament). He has also vowed to abolish the agreement if he comes to power following legislative elections scheduled for 1 November.

Meanwhile, everyone is awaiting the results of the mini-Israeli security cabinet meeting next Thursday, which is supposed to discuss and ratify the agreement.

The internal battle may then move to Israel’s Supreme Court to decide on the opposition’s demands to hold a referendum on the agreement, or to submit it to the Knesset for approval – or both. There are initial indications that the Supreme Court may support the opposition’s opinion.

Uri Adiri, the chief Israeli negotiator for demarcating the maritime border with Lebanon, announced his resignation in protest of Lapid’s management of the negotiations. It seems clear that the resignation came under opposition pressure, and it is not unlikely that similar resignations will take place in the coming days.

Negotiations leading to ‘normalization’

There are also criticisms on the Lebanese side in some circles, chiefly over the notion that such negotiations are a precursor to normalization with the occupation state. Abu Saab, however, has insisted that no agreement or treaty will be signed with the Israeli enemy, and that there will be no document that includes a Lebanese signature alongside an Israeli signature.

But there are several caveats worth noting:

  • Firstly: The final version of the US-brokered proposals has not yet been agreed upon, and therefore the possibilities of returning to square one, that is, before the ‘theoretical current agreement,’ are still present.
  • Secondly: The only guarantors of this agreement are the United States and France. Experiences with US guarantees are not encouraging. As we have seen with Washington’s unilateral withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – likewise, the US guarantee of the Oslo Accord, signed at the White House on 13 September, 1993 – an American guarantee no longer invokes much confidence.
  • Thirdly: Netanyahu cannot cancel the agreement as long as it is legally approved, but he can undermine it if he wins the next legislative elections. As with the Oslo Accords – which he strongly opposed – while he could not exit the agreement, he prevented its implementation and reduced it to empty words by settling 800,000 settlers in Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank.

Delaying the inevitable

Finally: We cannot rule out that these Israeli disputes between the government and the opposition are just political theater intended to stall, deceive the Lebanese, and plan ahead for the inevitable response by the Lebanese resistance movement, Hezbollah.

It should be noted that the US is Israel’s strongest global ally, that Lapid is one of Israel’s most ardent supporters of the US war against Russia in Ukraine, and that the American “mediator” Amos Hochstein is Israeli-born and served in the Israeli army.

The only reliable guarantee for Lebanon, for its oil and gas resources, for its security and stability, is the Islamic resistance represented by Hezbollah and its huge arsenal of precision missiles, advanced drones, and one hundred thousand-strong army of resistance fighters.

This is the first time in the history of Israel, since its establishment, that its government has offered concessions under the threat of arms and in fear of a war that threatens its existence. This is entirely due to Hezbollah’s refusal to allow Israel to extract gas before Lebanon has secured its own rights.

The next few days could be the most dangerous for Lebanon and the region. The utmost caution must be exercised, and every word or comma in any binding agreement must be carefully scrutinized before signing.

Remember that Netanyahu is a paper tiger, and he was subjected to humiliating defeats at the hands of the resistance in the Gaza Strip, especially in the battle of Sayf al-Quds.

The resistance is the biggest winner of this agreement so far in both in its implementation – because it is the one who imposed it with missiles and drones – and in the event of its collapse – because it is ready for all possibilities, foremost of which is war.

While the Lebanese people are peaceful, and have sought hard to secure a fair and equitable agreement over their maritime borders, they may yet be forced to militarily secure their national rights to Lebanon’s natural resources.

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Friends of ‘Israel’ Admit Its Defeat in Maritime Border Issue, Say War Still Possible

October 5, 2022

By Staff

As the dispute on the maritime border between Lebanon and the occupied Palestine edges its final phase, the American friends of ‘Israel’ started lamenting that the final proposal is in favor of Lebanon in general, Hezbollah resistance movement in particular, and claiming that it is depriving the occupying entity from all of the naval resources.

Those comments also echo former ‘Israeli’ premier and opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu, who started attacking his rival, Zionist PM Yair Lapid, whom he accused of giving away the ‘Israeli’-occupied Palestinian maritime territory to Hezbollah.

In the same respect, former US ambassador to the ‘Israeli’-occupied territories, David Friedman, commented on the final process in a tweet, in which he mourned that:

“We spent years trying to broker a deal between ‘Israel’ and Lebanon on the disputed maritime gas fields. Got very close with proposed splits of 55-60% for Lebanon and 45-40% for ‘Israel.’ No one then imagined 100% to Lebanon and 0% to ‘Israel.’ Would love to understand how we got here.”

For his part, Former US assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern Affairs David Schenker told i24NEWS that the chances of an ‘Israeli’-Hezbollah confrontation “still remain very high” despite the advancement of the US-brokered maritime border delimitation issue.

Schenker belittled the proposal, saying it “does nothing to lower or alleviate tensions along the blue line where Hezbollah is digging in.”

The New Jersey native served in the position during the administration of former US president Donald Trump from 2019 to 2021, during which he was assigned as the point man on the ‘Israeli’ occupied Palestine-Lebanon maritime border negotiations.

Seemingly admitting his failure to finish the issue, whose draft proposal was formed under the mediation of the State Department’s senior advisor for energy security, Amos Hochstein, Schenker also said that it appeared that ‘Israel’ agreed to give the Lebanese “100 percent” of what they wanted, while claiming that the Qana gas field that would be under control of Lebanon contains “very little reserves.”

He said that the administration of US President Joe Biden can claim a foreign policy win with the deal and a success in promoting regional stability, while cautioning that questions still remain about long-term calm.

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Israeli media: Maritime deal united Lebanese, divided Israelis

October 4, 2022

Source: Israeli media

Israeli media are highlighting a split in positions in “Israel” regarding the maritime agreement.

Israeli media: Lebanon is united regarding the maritime demarcation agreement

By Al Mayadeen English 

On Monday, Israeli media reported that “Lebanon is united over the maritime agreement, and “Israel” is divided.”

In the details, the Israeli channel KAN said that “a country suffering from conflict and is politically divided, such as Lebanon, appears more united than Israel with regard to everything related to the issue of the dispute on the maritime borders.”

The Israeli channel commented on the speech of the caretaker Prime Minister in Lebanon, Najib Mikati, in which he said that “the agreement is acceptable to us, but we will convey some observations to the American mediator,” noting that “there is a basic consensus that the settlement proposal on the part of the American mediator, Amos Hochstein, is accepted by the Lebanese side.”

The interviewer on KAN then asked, “Why is this important? Because “Israel” appears contrary to what it should be?”

The response was that “it is true that a senior (Israeli) political source said yesterday that Prime Minister Yair Lapid and Security Minister Benny Gantz agreed to Hochstein’s proposal, but there are a number of question marks, not only about the crystallized agreement and how it will be ratified but also within the government and inside the cabinet.”

Netanyahu: “Agreement is illegal, we won’t be obligated by it”

Earlier, former Israeli occupation Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told reporters that Lapid is shamefully surrendering to the threats of the Secretary-General of Hezbollah, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah.

According to Netanyahu, should the agreement with Lebanon be signed, Hezbollah would be “receiving Israel’s sovereign territory and a gas field worth billions of dollars” without any parliamentary debate and referendum.

“Lapid has no mandate to give sovereign territory and sovereign assets that belong to all of us to an enemy state,” Netanyahu said.

The former Israeli PM reiterated that the agreement with Lebanon “is illegal and we won’t be obligated by it,” in the event of returning to power after the November 1 election.

In response, Lapid tweeted that “I understand that it pains you that you didn’t succeed in achieving an agreement, but that is no reason to join Nasrallah’s propaganda campaign.”

Lapid said that Netanyahu “hasn’t seen the agreement,” claiming that it gives “Israel” “100% of its security needs, 100% of the Karish reserve, and even some of the profits from the Lebanon reserve.”

Two days ago, a Lebanese source concerned with the demarcation negotiations confirmed to Al Mayadeen that “Lebanon obtained, in the written proposal it received from the Americans, all its demands,” adding that “Lebanon has not and will not give Israel any security zone that it previously demanded.”

This comes after Lebanon received the written response from the American mediator, Amos Hochstein, regarding the demarcation of its southern maritime borders, through the American ambassador to Lebanon, Dorothy Shea.

On his part, Hezbollah Secretary-General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah also touched on the issue of the Lebanese maritime borders, saying that the importance of what is happening today is there is a written text from the mediating party that the President, Parliament Speaker, and the Prime Minister have received.

In turn, Israeli media said that the Secretary-General of Hezbollah, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, “succeeded in the battle of awareness in the negotiations to demarcate the maritime borders.”

Read more: Maritime demarcation negotiations very positive: Bou Saab

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The return of the two-state solution illusion

 SEPTEMBER 28, 2022 

JOE BIDEN AND ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER YAIR LAPID SIGN THE JERUSALEM US-ISRAEL STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIP JOINT DECLARATION, JULY 14, 2022 (PHOTO: KOBI GIDEON, GPO)

By Mitchell Plitnick

Source

For Democrats in the United States and the political “centrists” in Israel—represented by Joe Biden and Yair Lapid, respectively—the loss of credibility for the two-state solution has meant losing more and more support for Israeli policies. As the respected polling site 538.com noted recently, among many other sources, younger Democrats are increasingly supportive of Palestinians and less so of Israeli policies. 

These facts explain the theater we have witnessed in recent days at the United Nations General Assembly and in the American media scene, where the lone Palestinian woman ever elected to Congress has come under unrelenting attack from her own party as well as the opposition. 

At the annual meeting of the UN General Assembly, Biden devoted one brief mention to the question of Palestine, but what he did say was telling. “And we will continue to advocate for lasting negotiating peace between the Jewish and democratic state of Israel and the Palestinian people,” Biden told the Assembly. “The United States is committed to Israel’s security, full stop.  And a negotiated two-state solution remains, in our view, the best way to ensure Israel’s security and prosperity for the future and give the Palestinians the state which — to which they are entitled — both sides to fully respect the equal rights of their citizens; both people enjoying equal measure of freedom and dignity.”

While stumbling over his words, and certainly unintentionally, Biden said the quiet part out loud. The U.S. will advocate for lasting negotiations, the hallmark of the Oslo process; endless negotiations that lead nowhere while Israeli settlements spread farther across the West Bank, Gaza slowly dies of poverty, and the status quo in East Jerusalem gradually fades into Jewish dominance. And above all, Israeli “security” is guarded “full stop,” and if there is any room left for any Palestinian rights, those will be considered according to Israel’s wishes. 

Acting Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid spoke at more length about a two-state solution, but said little more. Spending most of his time urging the world to abandon diplomacy with Iran and instead launch a war, presumably to change the regime there, Lapid stated that “An agreement with the Palestinians, based on two states for two peoples, is the right thing for Israel’s security, for Israel’s economy and for the future of our children.”

Lapid’s speech was littered with falsehoods. He went on at length about how Israel is victimized by “fake news,” citing an incident in May 2021 where a photo of a toddler who was said to have been killed in an Israeli strike on Gaza circulated on social media. The post was a fake and was quickly debunked. But Lapid failed to mention that, while the toddler, referred to as Malak Al Tanani, was, indeed, made up, there was an entire family of Tananis–Ra’fat Tanani, 38, his pregnant wife Rawiye, 35, and their children Ismail, 6, Ameer, 5, Adham, 4, and Mohammad, 3—who were killed in an Israeli strike on May 13, 2021. A fact-check by the Agence France-Presse confirmed both the fake photo and the real family. B’Tselem also posted a video in May 2022 interviewing a relative of the Tanani family that was killed. 

Having established, through misleading statements and outright dissembling, Israel as a “victim,” Lapid then made sure to let the assembly know that, while he was coming out in support of more talks, and the idea of a two-state solution, Israel would do nothing to make that solution, or any other, a real possibility. 

“The burden of proof is not on us. We have already proved our desire for peace. Our peace treaty with Egypt has been fully implemented for 43 years now. Our peace treaty with Jordan for 28 years. We are a country that keeps its word and fulfills agreements,” Lapid said

Aside from the fact that Lapid omits the crucial point that these peace agreements have been enforced by billions of dollars of U.S. aid to Israel, Egypt, and Jordan, Lapid elides the many times Israel has refused to agree to various conditions or interim deals, or has made demands on Palestinians it knew they could not accept

The absence of a single word about what Israel or the United States would do to achieve freedom for Palestinians or to advance any solution, two state or otherwise, to the ongoing conditions of apartheid and dispossession is unsurprising if one considers that the goal was not to appease the Palestinians, but to address domestic constituencies. 

Lapid surely knows he was lying when he said that “Despite all the obstacles, still today a large majority of Israelis support the vision of this two-state solution.” In fact, a recent poll by the Israel Democracy Institute found that only 31% of Israeli Jews and only 60% of Palestinian and other Arab citizens of Israel support the two-state solution. 

But his own constituency in the Yesh Atid party supports such negotiations. More importantly, he wants to make sure he has the loyalty of the small Labor and Meretz parties, both of which support the two-state solution, against his center-right rival, Benny Gantz. Right now, all the polls show that neither Lapid nor Gantz will come close to being able to assemble the coalition of 61 seats needed to win the upcoming election, while their far-right competitor, Benjamin Netanyahu, has better, although also far from certain, prospects of reaching that mark. 

Lapid also hopes to bolster his chances by demonstrating his compatibility with Biden and the Democrats, and they are more than willing to oblige. Targeting Rep. Rashida Tlaib plays a key role in both bolstering Lapid as a bulwark against Netanyahu—whom Democrats would not want to see back in office, given his very close ties to the Republican Party—and in trying to smother the growing support for Palestine within the party. 

According to a poll conducted by Pew Research back in March, 61% of Americans between 18 and 29 years of age have a favorable opinion of Palestinians. Among those aged 30-49 it is 55%, and even among older voters, 45-47% have a favorable opinion of Palestinians. While many of these people also hold positive views of Israel, American sympathy for Palestinians has grown immensely over the past two decades, when only 16% of voters viewed Palestinians positively. 

This sits poorly with mainstream Democrats and their corporate, and especially, pro-Israel funders. So, when Tlaib made a self-evident and fact-based statement, Democrats joined Republicans in piling on her and branding her an antisemite. 

Tlaib, of course, stated that you cannot be progressive and support Israel’s apartheid government. The response was as vicious as it was disingenuous, with the usual anti-Palestinian hatemongers like Jonathan Greenblatt of the ADLAIPAC, the American Jewish Committee, and a long list of Democratic members of Congress stumbling over each other to see who could come up with the most scurrilous and spurious accusations against Tlaib, who did no more than point out what so many international, Palestinian, and even Israeli human rights groups have proven.

It’s no coincidence that these attacks came at the same time as the UNGA speeches. Tlaib was very careful to point her finger only at the Israeli government and its policies; at no time did she ever hint at the question of Israel’s existence nor of the presence of Jews in the land. Indeed, even the avowedly Zionist group Americans for Peace Now rose to Tlaib’s defense, splitting with J Street, which shamefully supported the attacks on Tlaib.

The two-state solution and the myth that you can support apartheid and still be true to progressive values go hand in hand. Consider the words Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz used in her hateful rant against Tlaib. “The outrageous progressive litmus test on Israel by Rashida Tlaib is nothing short of antisemitic. Proud progressives do support Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish and democratic state.”

Rep. Jerry Nadler elaborated further. “I fundamentally reject the notion that one cannot support Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish and democratic state and be a progressive. I proudly embrace both of these political positions and identities, even as I have criticized some of the policies and actions of democratically-elected Israeli governments over time. I would happily put my progressive record and credentials up against anyone’s. It is both wrong and self-defeating for progressive leaders to abide such an offensive litmus tests.”

The legitimacy of many of the Congressmembers claiming the “progressive” label is clearly questionable, but Wasserman-Schultz, joined by other Democrats, calling Tlaib antisemitic for expressing support for a view that Amnesty InternationalHuman Rights Watchthe United Nationsal-Haq, and B’Tselem have all expressed and backed up with extensive research is cynically perverse, whether you think Tlaib is right or wrong. 

Both she and Nadler call Tlaib’s statement a “litmus test,” as if the question is not whether Israel practices apartheid, but whether supporting it anyway is acceptable within the bounds of anything that can be labeled “progressive politics.” 

Nadler also talks about his occasional criticism of “Israeli policies,” as did many of the Democrats who ganged up on Tlaib. How must those words look to a Palestinian in Gaza or Masafer Yatta, or to a Palestinian-American who might be a constituent of one of these Democrats who express such passionate solidarity with Israelis and such stony indifference, if not outright hostility, to Palestinians? 

For years, the idea of a two-state solution in Palestine and Israel has been exposed as a pipe dream. However viable it may once have been, more and more people have come to realize in recent years that it simply isn’t a realistic option anymore. 

Some years ago, a well-informed colleague observed to me that the two-state solution is never impossible, but the costs—fiscally, politically, diplomatically—just keep getting higher. He was right, of course. It is never physically impossible to dismantle Israel’s settlements, sever the existing infrastructure in the West Bank from Israel, work out realistic borders, open Gaza, and pour the many billions of dollars into Palestine that would be required after seven decades and counting of occupation to build a truly viable state. 

It’s all possible, but the cost would be enormous, and the price—allowing the option of refugees returning to their homes, allowing Palestine the means to defend itself like any other country, compensating Palestinians for their dispossession and suffering, all on top of reining in the most radical of the nationalist settlers, resettling the hundreds of thousands of Israelis in the West Bank, shifting borders to accommodate a connection between Gaza and West Bank, sharing water resources equitably, and a hundred other details—is far higher than anything Israel would consider in its wildest dreams. 

But that doesn’t mean the two-state solution isn’t seen as crucial for Israel and the United States. Its implementation may be undesirable for Israel, but the idea of it serves a crucial purpose: it is the very lifeblood of the myth that one can support a “Jewish and democratic” apartheid state and reconcile that with liberal or progressive values. That allows them to characterize their “disagreements” with Israel as being about specific policies, not an apartheid system at the very heart of Israel’s character. 

Apartheid is not a policy; it is an institution. It is a political and legal system. It is a crime under international law. It is not merely one decision to demolish a home, to detain a Palestinian without charge, to beat an elderly man at the al-Aqsa Compound, or to launch one missile at a Gaza apartment building. 

That system is not just incompatible with progressive values, it’s incompatible even with classical Liberalism. To maintain the self-deception many Democratic supporters of Israel, in and out of politics, need for their consciences, they need to believe that there is a genuine striving for a Palestinian state that can deliver rights to those living under Israeli rule right now. 

But it’s an illusion. Israel has been disrupting the possibility of it from the beginnings of Oslo through today, with massive settlement expansion, the isolation and starvation of Gaza, and the gradual erosion of the long-standing agreements on the holy sites in Jerusalem. 

Joe Biden and congressional Democrats are desperately trying to save this phony duality, this illusion that you can support an Israeli ethno-state that, by definition, cannot be a state of all its citizens and must, by its nature discriminate against Palestinians and still call yourself a progressive without irony. 

No one would suggest you can be progressive but be against a woman’s right to decide about what to do with her own body. Nor can you be progressive and oppose LGBTQIA* rights. Nor can you support racial discrimination, or autocracy. 

Similarly, no matter how loudly you insist otherwise, you cannot be progressive and be in support of an apartheid regime. The illusion of a two-state solution that hasn’t been a viable possibility for many years doesn’t change that. It only reinforces one discriminatory illusion with another. 

MARVEL HEADS REVEALED TO BE CLOSELY CONNECTED TO ISRAELI INTELLIGENCE

SEPTEMBER 23RD, 2022

Source

By Jessica Buxbaum

Earlier this month, activists and comic book fans alike were in uproar over Marvel Studios’ announcement that Israeli actress Shira Haas will play Zionist superhero Sabra in the upcoming Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) film Captain America: New World Order. Many Palestine advocates accused Marvel’s decision to add Sabra to the MCU as exalting Israeli abuse and war crimes.

“By glorifying the Israeli army & police, Marvel is promoting Israel’s violence against Palestinians & enabling the continued oppression of millions of Palestinians living under Israel’s authoritarian military rule,” the Institute for Middle East Understanding wrote in a tweet.

Following the backlash, Marvel said in a statement to Variety that it will take a “new approach” to the character, in a perceived attempt to placate criticisms.

Yet vows to reimagine the Sabra character, a former spy for the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad, may come across as disingenuous, especially when, upon closer examination, Marvel appears closely connected to the Israeli government and its main intelligence agency Mossad.

MARVEL AND ISRAEL’S DEEPENING RELATIONSHIP

Many individuals who have held or still maintain roles at Marvel are associated with the Israeli military, Israeli intelligence and Zionist institutions that uphold apartheid. For instance, Isaac Perlmutter, the current chairman of Marvel Entertainment who served on Marvel Comics’ board of directors until 1995, grew up in 1948-occupied Palestine (or modern-day Israel) and served in the Israeli military during the 1967 Six-Day War. Avi Arad, the CEO of Marvel Entertainment, also grew up in modern-day Israel and served in the Israeli army during the Six-Day War.

Along with his wife, Laura, Perlmutter oversees a foundation that contributes to several pro-Israel causes such as the Anti-Defamation LeagueFriends of the Israel Defense Forces, the America-Israel Friendship League, the Jewish Federation of Palm Beach County in Florida, and the Jewish Agency for Israel. The Laura and Isaac Perlmutter Foundation has also supported the Hebrew University and Israel’s Technion Institute of Technology.

The Perlmutters are also heavily linked to the Trump family. In 2016, their organization donated $25,000 to the Eric Trump Foundation. According to Open Secrets, a campaign finance tracker, in 2016, Laura Perlmutter donated $5,400 to former President Donald Trump’s campaign and nearly $450,000 to the Trump Victory Committee, a joint fundraising initiative by the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee. The couple then gave more than $1 million to the Trump Victory Committee in 2019 and 2020 and contributed another $11,200 to Trump’s reelection campaign in 2019.

President Trump shakes hand with Isaac “Ike” Perlmutter, an Israeli-American billionaire and the CEO of Marvel on April 27, 2017. Andrew Harnik | AP

Isaac Perlmutter donated $5 million in 2016 to the Great America PAC, a super political action committee (PAC) supporting Trump. The couple also contributed $10.5 million in 2020 to American First Action, a PAC supporting Trump. In addition, Both Perlmutters have backed several state and federal Republican entities and candidates over the years. The hefty donations did not go unnoticed, earning Isaac a spot in shaping policies at the Department of Veteran Affairs during Trump’s time in office, according to an investigation by ProPublica.

Early Marvel Comics’ investors Carl Icahn and Ronald Perelman are also tied to both Israel and Trump. Icahn donated $5,400 to Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and was subsequently named Trump’s special adviser

Both Perelman and Icahn were revealed as potential donors to former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s campaign ahead of the 2007 primary elections. Perelman’s foundation has also contributed to several pro-Israel organizations, including the Chabad Lubavitch’s social services agency, Machne Israel, and the Jewish National Fund, which is a leading organization in establishing illegal Israeli settlements and displacing Palestinians.

Perelman also donated $125,000 to Trump’s Victory Committee in 2017 and is reportedly friends with Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner. He was also listed in convicted sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein’s address book.

Film producer Amy Pascal, who plays a key role in coordinating the collaboration between Sony Pictures and Marvel Studios, a subsidiary of Marvel Entertainment, is a known Israel lobbyist. Leaked Sony emails reveal Pascal received email updates on the security situation in Israel from the now-defunct, right-wing advocacy group, The Israel Project.

She also received emails from Creative Community for Peace, an organization fighting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement in the entertainment industry. In 2014, Pascal and her husband also received an email invitation to attend a private event about the situation in Israel with the Israeli Consul General of Los Angeles, David Siegel, and president and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, Jay Sanderson.

Israeli propaganda has become deeply entrenched in Hollywood, in part because of many prominent entertainment oligarchs’ pro-Israel beliefs, as well as the global success of Israeli television series like “Shtisel” and “Fauda”. The latter television show glamorized the Israeli army, specifically the Mista’arvim unit, an undercover military wing designed to infiltrate Palestinian communities.

Israeli actress Gal Gadot’s casting as Wonder Woman also helped normalize Israel on the world stage, especially given her pride in serving in the Israeli military. Now Haas, who is set to play Sabra, is poised to be another example of Hollywood normalizing the apartheid state. Haas has been involved with pro-Israel organization, StandWithUs, participating in a StandWithUs Facebook live to talk about her success. StandWithUs presents itself as an educational resource on Israel, but the organization is responsible for silencing the Palestinian narrative in schools and blacklisting pro-Palestine voices on campuses. Haas also served in the Israeli military’s theater.

The Mossad works with the U.S. entertainment industry to promote an attractive image of Israel abroad. SPYLEGENDS – an agency made up of former Mossad spies and other ex-security officials – was established in 2021 to advise Hollywood on spy films. The Mossad has also openly welcomed the slew of thrillers showcasing the intelligence agency as sleek and prestigious in an effort to boost recruitment.

MARVEL’S LINKS TO US MILITARISM AND INTELLIGENCE

Marvel’s nationalist sentiment does not end with Israel. Cloaked in mesmerizing cinematography and flashy special effects, the American company has also been instrumental in promoting U.S. militarism with its comic book universe.

In “Captain America: The First Avenger”, the U.S. army allowed Marvel Studios to film at Camp Edward, a military training site. The 2003 “Hulk” film also benefited from access to military bases and loaned military equipment. “Iron Man” and its sequel created iconic scenes by borrowing the military’s weaponry as well. These Marvel movies — along with “Captain America: Winter Soldier” and “Captain Marvel” — received funding from the U.S. Department of Defense to help build their blockbuster enterprise.

The military’s support, however, came with a price. The Pentagon approved the scripts for “Hulk” and “Iron Man”, cutting out unfavorable references to the military, such as their experimentation on humans and dropping herbicides on South East Asia during the Vietnam War.

With the “Captain America” franchise, the army supported the Marvel movie, seeing it as “building resiliency” and considering the Captain America character to hold values of a modern U.S. soldier. “Captain Marvel” was the Air Force public relations department’s dream. The film’s release coincided with an Air Force recruitment campaign, using feminism as a way to sugar coat “Captain Marvel’s” obvious militarism. The recruitment effort clearly worked with the Air Force seeing the highest number of female applicants to the Air Force Academy in five years.

With Marvel’s U.S. military propaganda in full swing, it seems the studio is now turning its focus to Israeli nationalism. Whether Sabra will don an Israeli-flag-inspired suit remains to be seen, but what is apparent is Marvel’s close relationship with Israel and the U.S. military is manufacturing a fantasy world dripping in real-world imperialism.

Netanyahu ‘blows a fuse’ over Lapid’s Karish concessions to Hezbollah

21 Sep 2022

Source: Al Mayadeen Net

By Al Mayadeen English 

Former Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu says Yair Lapid panicked and retreated following Sayyed Nasrallah’s threats, thus yielding to Lebanese demands.

Former Israeli occupation Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his political rival, Israeli PM Yair Lapid

    Former Israeli occupation Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu slammed Tuesday his political rival, Israeli PM Yair Lapid, saying that the latter retreated following Hezbollah Secretary-General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah’s threats.

    In a video message posted on his Twitter account, Netanyahu said Sayyed Nasrallah threatened Lapid that Hezbollah will attack “Israel” in the event of operating the Karish field before signing an indirect gas agreement with Lebanon.

    The former Israeli Prime Minister considered that Lapid panicked and failed to operate Karish, noting that now, he [Lapid] wants to give Lebanon – without any Israeli supervision – a gas field worth billions of dollars that would help Hezbollah possess thousands of missiles and shells that will be target “Israel”.

    Addressing Israelis, Netanyahu said that on November 1, the Likud party, under his presidency, will replace Lapid’s weak and dangerous Israeli government with a stable right-wing government for the next four years; a government, according to Netanyahu, that will restore security and the dignity of “Israel”.

    “Israel” made concessions to avoid escalation in Karish: IOF official

    Earlier, the Israeli Maariv newspaper quoted Amos Yadlin, former IOF Military Intelligence Directorate as saying that “Israel has made concessions in favor of Lebanon to demarcate the border to ward off the danger of escalation.”

    “Israel is showing leniency in the demarcation of the maritime borders,” Yadlin said, threatening Lebanon that the IOF does not want it to turn into Gaza.

    He highlighted the prominent role played by Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah in this case, “which is indicative of the fact that he controls what is happening in Lebanon politically and militarily, which may push the Lebanese and the Israelis to a place that the two do not want,” as he put it.

    The former IOF official claimed that “Israel today has accepted the Lebanese line, and therefore, there is no place for Nasrallah’s demands concerning the Ras Al-Naqoura area.”

    Read more: Lebanese-Israeli maritime talks to end in few days: official

    Referring to the area adjacent to an area the IOF usurped from the Palestinians and consequently occupied, Yadlin insolently demanded “compensation for ceding the maritime economic zone in Ras Al-Naqoura and all the region to the south Qana field.”

    “We insist on these points,” he said, claiming that Sayyed Nasrallah “here has been trying to cause distortion.”

    Furthermore, Yadlin claimed that Karish is “purely Israeli” and that “we have to pump gas from there,” continuing to say, “The moment you concede to Nasrallah just once, you have to follow it with setting limits, because if the situation deteriorates toward an inevitable war, we know that we have done everything we can to prevent it.”

    This comes as Israeli media reported Monday that the signing between “Israel” and Lebanon of the agreement “on the maritime borders” is very close, stressing that what remains are “some technical details.”

    Similarly, Lebanese President Michel Aoun confirmed that negotiations related to the demarcation of the maritime border with “Israel” are in their final stages.

    Read next: US mediator made new proposal to Lebanese-Israeli maritime issue

    Fearing escalation, IOF request clarification on Karish statement

    Last week, Israeli media said that “it was the Israeli army that requested that clarification be issued regarding [an Israeli statement regarding] the Karish field, in order not to provoke tensions against Hezbollah.”

    Israeli Channel 13 stated that “the fear of a confrontation with Hezbollah has increased in recent weeks regarding the Karish gas platform. Despite Israel’s announcement that the next stage regarding the activation of the platform will begin soon, it has indicated, exceptionally, that the talk is not about extracting gas from it.”

    Channel 13 political affairs correspondent, Moriah Wahlberg, pointed out that “this clarification was not made in vain, but is rather aimed primarily at the ears of Hezbollah, as they in Israel do not want to create, provoke, and increase tensions, especially since these tensions already exist on this issue.”

    Wahlberg pointed out that “there is a disagreement in the Israeli leadership regarding the text of this statement, which was issued by the Ministry of Energy,” stressing that “some parties believed that this clarification should not be given in the matter of natural gas extraction, but parties in the army requested that this clarification be issued in order to avoid tensions with Hezbollah.”

    Read more: “Israel” fears military escalation against the Karish platform

    It is noteworthy that a source familiar with the matter revealed to Al Mayadeen, on September 11, that the US envoy for the demarcation of the maritime border, Amos Hochstein, handed Lebanon the coordinates of the line of maritime buoys, explaining that these coordinates constitute the “last point that is being negotiated,” in preparation for sending his [Hochstein’s] “full offer” next week.

    Zionists Tell Tales of Ansariya: The Saddest and Most Painful Days

    Al-Ahed News Staff

    “It was one of the saddest and most painful days for “Israel” which is currently facing fierce and bitter fighting on two fronts.”

    With these words, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu acknowledged the disaster that befell the commandos in his army during the failed landing operation in Ansariya.

    Netanyahu admitted that the lessons learned from the recent events in southern Lebanon may affect the methods of military operations led by the occupation forces.

    Netanyahu’s remarks were made at a press conference following a meeting of his Kitchen Cabinet.

    If the results of this operation were so “tragic” for the Zionists, perhaps the failure to achieve the required objective led to more tragedy and frustration among the “Israeli” leaders.

    The political correspondent of “Israel’s” Channel One revealed this objective.

    “It was a very precise and very specific operation that would have accomplished very important achievements for the “Israeli” security forces against Hezbollah.”

    But what happened?

    “While a naval commandos unit headed to carry out a qualitative and localized operation, it fell into an ambush by Hezbollah fighters, and bombs were detonated by force,” the military correspondent said.

    The official military statement clarifies the details, explaining that “the commandos unit, which was comprised of 16 fighters, including the force’s commander with the rank of ‘Lieutenant colonel’, landed on the coast and was on its way to ambush the (saboteurs) in the village of Ansariya north of Tyre. On its way, it was struck by an explosive device and then a series of explosions and gunfire, which killed the majority of the force, including the force commander.”

    The force responded and informed the backup unit of the details of the incident. A rescue team was dispatched to the site in a Yasour transport [CH-53] helicopter.

    Navy boats attacked from the sea to assist in the rescue operation.

    The rescue operation was difficult and complicated. It continued for many hours due to intense gunfire on the helicopter at approximately 1:30 pm.

    Another helicopter arrived and continued to transport the injured soldiers.

    According to an “Israeli” radio station, Chief of Staff of the Zionist army Amnon Shahak, Minister of War Yitzhak Mordekhai and the Commander of the Navy followed the developments since the start of the clashes. At dawn, the chief of staff conducted a preliminary inquiry into the circumstances of what happened. He appointed Major General Gabi Ophir to head a special commission to investigate the circumstances of this engagement.

    The radio station’s military correspondent (Igal Almeh) revealed in a report that

    “the commandos unit is characterized by its high degree of combat capabilities and is doing similar activities in Lebanon and other areas.”

    The correspondent added that

    “the activities of this unit are usually kept secret. Unfortunately, in the wake of the clash, this operation was revealed.”

    As for the missing soldier, the radio station reported that he “was close to the site of the explosions and was killed as a result.”

    Meanwhile, Channel One reported that

    “the army succeeded in dispatching a Yasour helicopter carrying rescuers who rescued the wounded soldiers and evacuated the dead. It searched for several hours for the missing soldier but without success. After that, the troops were forced to return under heavy fire without the missing soldier.”

    The “Israeli” television showed pictures of the Yasour helicopter, which was trying to evacuate the wounded from the battlefield. It was hit by shrapnel from a mortar shell that landed near it.

    The enemy’s television channel stated that

    “during the landing of the rescue aircraft, it was hit by artillery shells and gunfire. As a result, the helicopter was hit by shrapnel. But the helicopter was able to transport the injured even though it was hit.”

    “Israel’s” Channel One said, “The ranks of the soldiers who fell are as follows:

    1-            Commander of the naval commando unit

    2-            Three captains

    3-            Three NCOs [Non-commissioned officer]

    4-            Five soldiers

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    Betar: The Fascist Group that Produced Three Israeli Prime Ministers

    Members of the Betar Zionist youth movement demonstrate against British policy in Palestine at the tomb of Theodor Herzl in the Jewish cemetery in Vienna.

    Posted by INTERNATIONALIST 360° 

    Hussam AbdelKareem

    Former Israeli PM and renowned war criminal Benjamin Netanyahu once stated that Betar founder Vladimir “Jabotinsky’s doctrine will continue to feed the flame of Zionism and guide our path”.

    By the beginning of the 20th century, Poland was home to the biggest Jewish population in the world, with 3.3 million Jews living in that country. In the period between the two world wars, Poland was an incubator for the development of extreme right-wing Zionism. Its leading proponent, the Russian-born Vladimir (Ze’ev) Jabotinsky, a poet, journalist and political activist, was the founder of Betar, one of the popular Zionist youth movements in Europe.

    Betar was built on a militaristic spirit, characterized by its staunch opposition to socialism, steeped in the exaltation of violence and loyal to Jabotinsky’s charismatic and authoritarian leadership. Although its core base was in Poland, Betar began to reach Jewish communities in other countries. By 1920s, its worldwide membership was about 60,000, of whom three-quarters lived in Poland.

    To left-wing and Labour Zionists, who would take command of the newly established “Israel” in 1948, Betarists were regarded “Jewish fascists”, as described by “Israel’s” first prime minister David Ben-Gurion. Two of its members, Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Shamir, would serve as “Israel’s” prime ministers, while a third, Benzion Netanyahu, would be the father of “Israel’s” longest serving prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.

    In 1915, Vladimir Jabotinsky immigrated to Palestine in order to fulfill his Zionist dream of a “Jewish state” in the “Promised Land”. But the then-Ottoman ruler of Palestine, Jamal Pasha, quickly discovered the Zionist plots and activities and suspected their loyalty to “the enemy” during wartime, so he decided to deport thousands of them, including Jabotinsky, to British-controlled Egypt. In Alexandria, Jabotinsky began organizing the Jews in a sort of para-military police force, and he soon offered his services to Great Britain proposing to the British commander in Egypt, General Maxwell, to establish a Jewish brigade to join the war effort under British command. But the British General wasn’t impressed and offered the Zionists a logistics role only. The Jews of Alexandria accepted General Maxwell’s offer and thus the “Zion Mule Corps” was formed. Jabotinsky felt humiliated and headed back to Europe.

    From the moment Jabotinsky set foot on Polish soil in 1927, he began working hard to transform Betar into a mass movement among the Jews. He founded the Union of Revisionist Zionists, challenging the mainstream Zionism that was already playing a significant role in the lives of Polish Jews in independent Poland which re-emerged after World War I. Jabotinsky also used Betar to enhance his own political status. He broke with mainstream Zionism, advocating a more aggressive, even violent, approach to dealing with the British colonial administration in mandate Palestine and with Palestinian Arabs, and calling for a “Jewish state” stretching from the Mediterranean Sea to the Arabian Peninsula and the Euphrates River in Iraq. Poland was a fertile recruiting ground and its Jewish youth were Jabotinsky’s most important disciples. Between 1919 and 1937, almost 250,000 Jews immigrated to Palestine, half of them from Poland, giving Jabotinsky’s organization significant influence there.

    In Poland, an environment of anti-semitism prevailed in the late 1930s. There was a feeling among the Poles that Jews were naturally predisposed to communism and were overrepresented in key sectors of the economy. Jews were being targeted by economic boycott, and anti-Jewish legislations were passed. These developments were advantageous to Jabotinsky’s cause. Poland extended diplomatic and military aid to Betar, lending public support to Revisionist positions at the League of Nations and providing military training and weapons to the Revisionists’ armed militia in Palestine, the “Irgun Tsvai Leumi”. Jabotinsky, in turn, presented the Polish government with a plan to send 1.5 million Jews to Palestine over a 10-year period. Polish officials responded warmly to it, regarding it as a practical solution to significantly reduce Poland’s Jewish population. Jabotinsky’s scheme was endorsed by senior Polish politicians, including the foreign minister, the Polish ambassador to Britain, and Poland’s consul general in occupied Al-Quds.

    However, Betar’s policies so alarmed Labour Zionists that they warned of exporting “Jewish fascism” to Palestine. Chaim Weizmann, the president of the mainstream World Zionist Organization, was particularly concerned. He even compared Jabotinsky’s Revisionism to Italian fascism. Weizmann’s criticism of Betar was natural, considering the widespread belief that the 1933 assassination of Haim Arlosoroff, the powerful Labour Zionist leader in Palestine, had been the work of Betar activists.

    With the eruption of World War II, Betarists, like Menachem Begin, fled the country. Having been imprisoned by the Soviets, he joined the British-controlled army of General Wladyslaw Anders and arrived in Palestine in 1942 where he defected and started his new life between his revisionist-Zionist fellows. During World War II, Avraham Stern, a Betar member, broke ranks with the Irgun and formed his own underground organization, Lehi. Scores of Polish Jewish immigrants flocked to Lehi, which attacked British assets in Palestine and reached out (unsuccessfully) to Italy and Nazi Germany. Yitzhak Shamir was a Lehi leader who personally supervised the brutal killing of the British State Minister, Lord Moyne, in Cairo. The British authorities in Palestine identified Shamir as the person who issued the order for the two assassins who shot Lord Moyne. His name was put on the “Most Wanted” list.

    After “Israel” was declared, the Lehi and Irgun members, along with the whole revisionist Zionists were forced to lay down their arms and join the Israeli occupation forces, together with the Haganah of the mainstream Zionism under Ben-Gurion and Weizmann. They formed a political party, Hirut, advocating their extreme-right and expansionist ideology. They remained in opposition for 29 years until 1977, when they won the general elections under the “Likud” coalition and seized power. The old Betarists, Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Shamir successively served as prime ministers for a total of 14 years before handing over the leadership to the new generation of revisionist Zionism represented by Benjamin Netanyahu, the son of their old pal Benzion Netanyahu, who served as prime minister for 15 years.

    Under Benjamin Netanyahu, whose ideas hail from Jabotinsky’s Revisionism, Betar’s philosophy of living by the sword has become the mainstream in “Israel”, while the old Labour Zionism faded away. In his book “A Place Among the Nations” Netanyahu wrote that “Israel” must display the maximum power towards the Arabs and that Palestinians can only live as “foreigners” under Israeli rule. On July 15, 2015, Benjamin Netanyahu stood at the memorial place of Vladimir Jabotinsky in occupied Al-Quds and very passionately said about his fascist idol: “Jabotinsky was the one who forged the foundations for the combat tradition of our youth over the last hundred years. It was one of his significant innovations. He was a pillar of fire lighting the way for our people”. Netanyahu went on and quoted Jabotinsky’s slogan “It is time to show the world a Jewish rifle with a Jewish bayonet”. He concluded his speech by saying “Jabotinsky’s doctrine will continue to feed the flame of Zionism and guide our path”.

    Israel looking to delay border deal with Lebanon until after November elections

    Tel Aviv is also reportedly looking to push back the extraction of gas from Karish

    August 08 2022

    An Israeli Sa’ar Class 4.5 missile boat guards the Energean floating production, storage and offloading vessel at the disputed Karish gas field, 2 July, 2022. (Photo credit: Israeli army)

    ByNews Desk

    Arabic media reports revealed on 8 August that the US sent a message to Lebanon via Kuwaiti diplomatic channels, saying that a deal to demarcate their maritime border with Israel will not be possible until after Knesset elections in November.

    In their communication, Kuwait also told Lebanon that the US is willing to “provide guarantees” that they will receive “all of their demands” in the maritime dispute.

    Tel Aviv has reportedly also held discussions to delay the extraction of gas from the disputed Karish gas field, likely due to officials shifting their focus to bombing the Gaza Strip.

    However, the report by Al Akhbar highlights that Hezbollah did not welcome the proposal, and that they would not wait longer than announced, reiterating that the resistance is ready to take military action.

    The US mediator in the negotiations, Amos Hochstein, returned to Israel on Monday to receive a response to Lebanon’s latest maritime proposal, a week after leaving the region.

    Hochstein arrived in Israel on 8 August according to Al-Ahed, to complete his meetings with Israeli officials after failing to reach a conclusion during his visit on 3 August.

    Hochstein left last week, as the Israeli premiership was midway through planning for the offensive on Gaza.

    According to Al Jazeera TV, the Israeli proposal delivered by Hochstein on 31 July would grant Lebanon the area north of Line 23, including the unproven Qana gas field, while giving Israel full control of the Karish field.

    Additionally, the Israeli proposal demanded that Lebanon accept to alter the dimensions of several maritime blocs, giving Israel parts of the southwest blocks near Cyprus.

    The demand, however, was rejected by Lebanon, as they refuse to compromise further after forfeiting Karish.

    In light of these developments, Lebanon is waiting for the written Israeli response in order to be able to resume the US-mediated negotiations at the UN headquarters in Naqoura, South Lebanon.

    On 7 August, Lapid welcomed opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu to his office, marking the end of Netanyahu’s year-long boycott of meeting with the coalition government that unseated him last June.

    However, Lapid and Netanyahu will face off again in the November elections. Polls indicate that the elections might unseat Lapid in favor of the Netanyahu’s Likud party, leading to a shift in policy, according to local Israeli media.

    With eye on the CIA, Moscow cracks the whip at Israel 

    The Jewish Agency is Israel’s life source and the Kremlin shut it down this month. The fallout may be a measurable schism between Moscow and Tel Aviv, in which the latter has a lot to lose.

    July 25 2022

    Photo Credit: The Cradle

    By MK Bhadrakumar

    A row has erupted in Russian-Israeli relations over the functioning of the Jewish Agency in Moscow. The Jerusalem Post first reported on 5 July that Moscow had ordered the Jewish Agency to cease all operations in Russia, in a formal letter from the Russian Justice Ministry “earlier this week.”

    The Jewish Agency initially played down the development in a statement which said, “As part of the work of the Jewish Agency’s delegation in Russia, we are occasionally required to make certain adjustments, as required by authorities. Discussions with the authorities are ongoing with the aim of continuing our activities in accordance with the rules. Even now, there is a dialogue.”

    An unnamed senior Israeli diplomat told the Jerusalem Post, “Russia is saying the Jewish Agency illegally collected info about Russian citizens… We will bring up the Jewish Agency [with Russian authorities] and address it in an organized way. It will be taken care of at the embassy level. We don’t totally understand the reasoning [of the request to stop Jewish Agency’s activities in Russia].”

    The problem runs deep

    However, on 11 July, the Russian news agency RIA Novosti disclosed that a four-week long audit of the Sohnut (as the Jewish Agency is known in Russia) by the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation had been underway since 30 May, within the purview of the federal law on “Non-Commercial Organizations.”

    The Ministry of Justice conveyed to RIA Novosti that on the basis of the results of the audit, “an act was prepared, which has been sent to the address of the location of the organization (Sohnut).”

    Since then, to borrow the metaphor from the Old Testament, the cloud “as small as a man’s hand rising from the sea” when Elijah first saw it, has swiftly turned into a storm. On July 21, Russia’s TASS news agency reported that the Basmanny District Court of Moscow received on that day a lawsuit from the Russian Ministry of Justice requesting that the Russian branch of the Jewish Agency for Israel be liquidated. The grounds for the suit were not provided.

    The Jewish Agency has a larger-than-life stature and is closely connected to, albeit not funded by, the Israeli government. It is an international organization that fosters links between Jews across the world and Israel and promotes the immigration of Jews to Israel, a process known as “Aliyah.”

    Entangled US roots

    The Jewish Agency is closely connected with American Jewish organizations. Billionaire Mark Wilf, who was elected as the new chairman of the board of the Jewish Agency for Israel on 10 July, was previously the chair of The Jewish Federations of North America’s board of trustees and closely associated with a variety of educational and philanthropic boards in both the United States and Israel.

    Make no mistake, the Kremlin would have weighed the pros and cons carefully before deciding to shut down the Sohnut’s operations in Russia, which launched in 1989 when under heavy US pressure, then Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev agreed to open the doors for the emigration of Jews to Israel as quid pro quo for western economic aid.

    There would have been compelling reasons, for sure, for the Kremlin to take such a decision. It appears that the justice ministry in Moscow is in possession of incriminatory documents. The Jewish Agency would have been under the scanner for some time before the decision to crack the whip.

    The emigration of Jews is of course a highly sensitive issue for the state of Israel (and the powerful Jewish lobby in America). On Sunday, the Israeli paper Algemeiner underscored that Tel Aviv is very much seized of the matter. Indeed, the country is also heading for a crucial legislative election on 1 November.

    Israel reacts

    Prime Minister Yair Lapid said after a meeting of ministers on Sunday, “Closing the Jewish Agency offices would be a serious event that would affect relations.”

    Lapid added, “The Jewish community in Russia is deeply connected to Israel and its importance increases in any political conversation with the Russian leadership. We will continue to operate through the diplomatic channels, so that the important activities of the Jewish Agency will not be stopped.”

    A delegation of Israeli officials is leaving for Moscow this week. Lapid does not have the wherewithal to operate skillfully in the Kremlin, as did his predecessor Benjamin Netanyahu. Lapid’s focus is on the Biden administration, but in such tricky situations, it does not add to Israel’s aura in Moscow that it wields influence in Washington.

    Russia is cracking the whip at a very sensitive time. An Israeli prime minister who cannot serve the interests of the Jewish diaspora is not exactly glorifying himself in domestic politics.

    Indeed, this development has nothing to do with bigotry against Jews. During Netanyahu’s regime, Putin use to associate himself personally with Jewish events in Israel. Putin was conscious of the influential ethnic Jewish community who migrated to Israel and considered them to be part of the motherland and an asset for Russia.

    Conceivably, Russia’s national security interests are involved here. According to the World Jewish Congress, Ukraine is home to between 56,000 and 140,000 Jews. Ukrainian Jews are prevalent throughout Ukrainian society, including high offices of the state, President Volodymyr Zelensky himself being one of them.

    As for Russia, the Jewish population is estimated at around 165,000, making them the sixth-largest Jewish community outside of Israel. The Jewish communities in Ukraine and Russia have kinship historically. Possibly, the hostile anti-Russian stance of the Israelis and Ukrainians touched raw nerves in Moscow. The Israeli press has reported about “volunteers” leaving for Ukraine to fight Russian forces.

    The US-Israel intelligence nexus

    The Israel government pretends to be “neutral” but then, it is a member of US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s “coalition of the willing” fighting Russian forces in Ukraine.

    Call it a trapeze or balancing or double-crossing act, but Moscow cannot afford to ignore the ground realities, given the nexus between the US and Israeli intelligence. Succinctly put, the possibility exists that the Jewish Agency operatives in Russia  have had covert liaison with the US intelligence.

    From February-March, Moscow began uprooting all vestiges of US intelligence from Russian soil, including Carnegie’s Moscow Centre. It is entirely conceivable that the CIA had a “back-up” plan and “sleeper cells” in Russia handled through associates. The fact remains that the Jewish Agency also has an office in Kiev and Israeli military runs a hospital for treating wounded Ukrainian soldiers. Of course, Ukraine’s spy agency is also very active. All things taken together, the Russian intelligence possibly caught up with the nexus.

    The deterioration of Russian-Israeli relations is happening at a time when regional security in West Asia is in transition. On a broader plane, this is also a transformative period in the geopolitics of the region. The fact that Biden was roundly snubbed in Jeddah when he tried to sell the idea of an anti-Russia, anti-China regional alliance speaks for itself.

    Therefore, in this spat, Israel will be the loser. As for Russia, one potential irritant in its ties with Iran — Russian-Israeli equations in Syria — is getting removed. This could measurably impact the situation in Syria, which Israel has been bombing, unprovoked, since 2017. Russia has cast its net wide in West Asia and its diplomatic successes are not going to be affected because of this falling out with Israel.

    Israel should have acted early enough when Elijah’s small cloud, “as small as a man’s hand” was spotted in May when the Russian inspectors arrived at the doorstep of the Jewish Agency in Moscow. Tel Aviv probably didn’t expect things to snowball.

    Clearly, the Israeli reflex was to hush up. That shows nervousness that Russian intelligence has caught up with something highly unsavoury.

    The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of The Cradle.

    Analytical | The International Agency .. a role in establishing the continued survival of “Israel”!

    ماذا يريد جو بايدن من الشرق الأوسط؟

    تموز 15 2022

    حسن لافي 

    يتمثّل الهدف الأميركي للزيارة في إعادة صياغة خارطة موازين القوى لدول المحور الأميركي في المنطقة.

    يمكن قراءة زيارة الرئيس الأميركي جو بايدن للشرق الأوسط من خلال عدة مستويات تمثل بكليتها الأهداف الرئيسية لتلك الزيارة. على المستوى الاستراتيجي، تأتي زيارته في خضم صراع الولايات المتحدة الأميركية الشرس والمعلن مع كلٍّ من الصين وروسيا على معركة تشكيل المنظومة الدولية وصياغتها بعد انتهاء عصر القطب الأميركي الواحد الذي شارف على الانتهاء.

    تسعى أميركا لقطع الطريق أمام الصين وروسيا، للحؤول دون نسجهما علاقات مع حلفاء أميركا في الشرق الأوسط.

    لذلك، تسعى الولايات المتحدة الأميركية لاستعادة سيطرتها على موارد الطاقة في الشرق الأوسط بعدما أجبرتها الحرب الأوكرانية الروسية على البحث عن مصادر تمويل للطاقة لحلفائها الأوروبيين، ما أعاد للنفط الخليجي وغاز البحر المتوسط أهميته، إضافة إلى العمل على زيادة إنتاج النفط الخليجي مع خفض أسعاره، من أجل خلق استقرار في سوق الطاقة، حتى لا يتأثر الاقتصاد الأميركي الذي يعاني حالة غير مسبوقة من التضخم المالي.

    على المستوى الجيو-استراتيجي، تسعى أميركا لقطع الطريق أمام الصين، ومن ثم روسيا، للحؤول دون نسجهما علاقات مع حلفاء أميركا في الشرق الأوسط، وخصوصاً دول الخليج، الذين شعروا بالخوف من تراجع اهتمام أميركا في الشرق الأوسط بعد انسحابها من العراق وأفغانستان وذهابها للتفاوض مع الإيرانيين على اتفاق نووي جديد، ما أنتج حالة من الانفتاح على كلٍّ من الصين وروسيا، ولو على سبيل تحسين شروط تحالفهم مع الأميركيين، وليس تغيير اتجاهاتهم التحالفية، ناهيك بأن تداعيات الأزمة الأوكرانية باتت تهدد الهيمنة الأميركية على المنظومة الدولية كدولة عظمى.

    وبالتالي، رجعت أميركا إلى سياسة الأحلاف التي انتهجتها في ستينيات القرن الماضي، واستمرت طوال فترة الحرب الباردة. لذلك، تعيد ترميم علاقتها مع حلفائها، وخصوصاً السعودية، تحت شعار “المصالح الأميركية فوق المبادئ الإنسانية”.

    يتمثّل الهدف الأميركي للزيارة على مستوى إقليم الشرق الأوسط بإعادة صياغة خارطة موازين القوى لدول المحور الأميركي في المنطقة، لتكون “إسرائيل” هي مركز الثقل الأساس الذي يثق الأميركي بأنه قادر على تنفيذ متطلبات مصلحته بأقل الأثمان، وبإخلاص كبير، لكون ذلك يتطابق مع مصلحتها كدولة وظيفية احتلالية يرتبط وجودها بالرعاية الأميركية؛ قائدة المشروع الغربي في العالم.

    والأهم أنّ الدول الأخرى الحليفة للولايات المتحدة الأميركية، سواء العربية أو الإسلامية، لا تثق أميركا بها وبقدرتها على أداء ذلك الدور، ناهيك بالإشكاليات الداخلية التي يعانيها قادة تلك الدول على المستوى الداخلي.

    لذلك، كل ما يحدث في المنطقة من إنشاء تحالفات عسكرية واقتصادية وسياسية تحت الرعاية الأميركية هدفه ضمان أمن “إسرائيل” والحفاظ على قوتها كدولة مركزية في الشرق الأوسط، ما دفع الولايات المتحدة الأميركية مجدداً إلى إعادة اكتشاف أهمية وجود “إسرائيل” ككيان استعماري متقدّم في خدمة مشروعها كدولة عظمى في العالم، في ظل منافسة كلٍّ من الصين وروسيا، وفي منطقة لم تنتهِ مصالحها الاقتصادية فيها بعد.

    ينبع خطورة إطلاق بايدن – لابيد “إعلان القدس” من كونه وثيقة أعادت الولايات المتحدة الأميركية مجدداً فيها تأكيداتها والتزاماتها السابقة على مدار أكثر من 70 عاماً تجاه “إسرائيل والشعب اليهودي” في ورقة واحدة لا تتضمن الجديد، ولكنها بمنزلة تأكيد من جو بايدن، الرئيس الديمقراطي، على “صفقة القرن” التي طرحها الرئيس السابق دونالد ترامب الجمهوري، ما يعيد التزام الحزبين الأميركيين تجاه “إسرائيل”، بعدما عصفت الكثير من الرياح السيئة بالعلاقة بينهم منذ عهد الرئيس الأميركي السابق باراك أوباما، وليس انتهاء بأزمة رفض التيار اليساري في الحزب الديمقراطي الأميركي التصويت على تضمين الموازنة العامة في الكونغرس بند تمويل إعادة مخزون صواريخ القبة الحديدية الإسرائيلية.

    من الواضح أن “إسرائيل”، للأسف الشديد، استطاعت أن تستفيد جيداً من التطورات والتغيرات في الساحة الدولية، والتي هددت الهيمنة الأميركية، في إعادة تسويق نفسها بحلة جديدة للمشروع الغربي الاستعماري، ولكن هذه المرة كـ”دولة اليهود”، وبدعم دول التطبيع العربي غير المسبوق وغير المتوقع، حتى من الأميركيين أنفسهم، بل أدت “إسرائيل” دور الوسيط بين دول الخليج، وخصوصاً السعودية، وإدارة جو بايدن، وبالتالي برهنت للأميركيين قدرتها على قيادة حلف الناتو الصهيو-تطبيعي الجديد.

    أوضحت الزيارة أنَّ بايدن لم يغير موقفه تجاه إيران، فما زال يفرق بين المشروع النووي الإيراني من جهة، والمشروع العسكري لمحور المقاومة بقيادة إيران من جهة أخرى. 

    في المشروع النووي، أكد بايدن التزامه الحل الدبلوماسي من خلال اتفاق جديد مع إيران. وبالنسبة إلى التهديد العسكري، منح بايدن “إسرائيل” الكثير من الأدوات العسكرية والسياسية والاقتصادية لمواجهته، مثل منظومة الاعتراض بالليزر الجديدة ومنظومة الدفاع الجوي الإقليمي المشترك، لكن تبقى رؤية بايدن متعارضة مع الموقف الإسرائيلي الذي يرى في التهديد الإيراني رزمة واحدة متكاملة.

    لذلك، تضغط “إسرائيل” تجاه وضع الحل العسكري تجاه المشروع النووي الإيراني على طاولة خيارات إدارة بايدن، رغم التزام الأخير عدم السماح لإيران بالحصول على القنبلة النووية. وفي هذا السياق، تحاول “إسرائيل” انتهاج سياسة التدرج الاستراتيجي في سبيل تغيير موقف إدارة بايدن من دون الوصول إلى صدام معه، رغم أن الوقت لا يسعفها كثيراً بحسب تقديراتها الاستخبارية.

    أظهرت أجندة الزيارة أنَّ القضية الفلسطينية بالنسبة إلى جو بايدن مجرد هوامش، ويكفي إبداء قناعته الشخصية بحل الدولتين، لكن من دون أي خطوة حقيقية تجاه هذا الحل، بل إنّ الذريعة الأميركية حاضرة بعدم وجود حكومة مستقرة في “إسرائيل”.

    ويخشى بايدن أن يستغلّ بنيامين نتنياهو أي ضغط أميركي على حكومة يائير لابيد قبل الانتخابات للعودة إلى الحكم، الأمر الذي سيجعل تأجيل تنفيذ أي خطوة أميركية لمصلحة الفلسطينيين إلى ما بعد الانتخابات الإسرائيلية وتأليف حكومة مستقرة في “إسرائيل” أمراً مبرراً لدى السلطة الفلسطينية.

    إن الآراء المذكورة في هذه المقالة لا تعبّر بالضرورة عن رأي الميادين وإنما تعبّر عن رأي صاحبها حصراً

    فيديوات ذات صلة

    مقالات ذات صلة

    WORSENING CHAOS: ISRAEL’S POLITICAL INSTABILITY IS NOW THE NORM

    JULY 15TH, 2022

    FILE – Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett makes a call before voting on a law on the legal status of Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank, during a session of the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, in Jerusalem, June 6, 2022. Nir Orbach, a member of Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s party, said Monday, June 13, 2022, he would cease voting with the governing coalition, dealing yet another blow to the teetering government as it marks one year in office. (AP Photo/ Maya Alleruzzo, File)

    Source

    Even if a purportedly centrist or even leftist prime minister finds himself at the helm of the government, outcomes will not change when the Knesset – in fact, most of the country – is governed by a militaristic, chauvinistic, and colonial mindset.

    By Dr. Ramzy Baroud

    The collapse of the short-lived Israeli government of Naftali Bennett and Yair Lapid validates the argument that the political crisis in Israel was not entirely instigated and sustained by former Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.

    Bennett’s coalition government consisted of eight parties, welding together arguably one of the oddest coalitions in the tumultuous history of Israeli politics. The mishmash cabinet included far-right and right groups like Yamina, Yisrael Beiteinu, and New Hope, along with centrist Yesh Atid and Blue and White, leftist Meretz, and even an Arab party, the United Arab List (Ra’am). The coalition also had representatives from the Labor Party, once the dominant Israeli political camp, now almost completely irrelevant.

    When the coalition was formed in June 2021, Bennett was celebrated as some kind of a political messiah, who was ready to deliver Israel from the grip of the obstinate, self-serving and corrupt Netanyahu.

    Confidence in Bennett’s government, however, was misplaced. The millionaire politician was a protégé of Netanyahu and, on many occasions, appeared to stand to the right of the Likud party leader on various issues. In 2013, Bennett proudly declared “I have killed lots of Arabs in my life – and there is no problem with that.” In 2014, he was very critical of Netanyahu for failing to achieve Israel’s objectives in one of the deadliest wars on besieged Gaza. Moreover, Bennett’s core support comes from Israel’s most extreme and far-right constituency.

    Many wished to ignore all of this, in the hope that Bennett would succeed in ousting his former boss. That possibility became very real when Netanyahu was officially indicted in November 2019 on various serious corruption charges.

    When Bennett and Lapid’s government was officially sworn in, on June 13, 2021, it seemed as if a new era of Israeli politics had begun. It was understood that Israel’s political camps had finally found their common denominator. Netanyahu, meanwhile, was exiled to the ranks of the opposition. His news began to peter out, especially as he sank deeper into his ongoing corruption trial.

    Though some analysts continue to blame Netanyahu for the various crises suffered by Bennett’s coalition – for example, when Idit Silman resigned her post on April 6, leaving the coalition government with only 60 seats in the Knesset. But there is little proof of that. The short-lived Israeli government has collapsed under the weight of its own contradictions.

    Would the actions of the government that ruled over Israel between June 2021 and June 2022 have been any different if Netanyahu was still the Israeli prime minister? Not in the least. Illegal Jewish settlements continue to grow unhindered; home demolitions, the dispossession of Palestinian communities in the West Bank and occupied Jerusalem and various routine acts of Israeli aggression against its Arab state neighbors remained unchanged.

    According to United Nations data, 79 Palestinians were killed in the West Bank by the Israeli army between June 2021 and May 2022. The region of Masafer Yatta, a 36-square km area located in the Southern Hebron Hills, has been designated for total annexation by the Israeli army. The expulsion of the area’s 1,200 Palestinian residents has already begun.

    Regarding occupied Jerusalem, specifically in the case of the so-called Flag March, Bennett has proved to be even more extreme than Netanyahu. Bernard Avishai writes in The New Yorker that, in 2021, “Netanyahu’s government changed the march’s route away from the Damascus Gate to minimize the chance of violence”, while the ‘change government’ – a reference to Bennett’s coalition – “had reinstated the route, and even permitted more than two thousand national-Orthodox activists, including the extremist national-camp Knesset member Itamar Ben-Gvir,” to conduct their provocative ‘visits’ to Haram Al-Sharif,  one of Islam’s holiest sites.

    This is not to suggest that a return of Netanyahu, following the now scheduled November elections – Israel’s fifth general elections in less than four years – would be a welcome change. Instead, experience has shown that, regardless of who rules Israel, the political attitude of the country, especially towards Palestinians, would most likely remain unchanged.

    True, Israeli politics are known to be unstable. This instability, however, worsened in recent decades. Since 1996, the average Israeli government has not served more than 2.6 years. But since April 2019, the average dramatically shrank to less than a year per government. The long-standing argument was that Netanyahu’s domineering and polarizing attitude was to blame. The last year, however, has demonstrated that Netanyahu was a mere symptom of Israel’s pre-existing political malaise.

    Some Israeli analysts suggest that Israel’s political crisis can only end when the country institutes electoral and constitutional reforms. That, however, would be a superficial fix; after all, much of Israel’s parliamentary and electoral laws have been in effect for many years, when governments were relatively stable.

    For Israel to change, a language of peace and reconciliation would have to replace the current atmosphere of incitement and war. Israeli politicians, who are currently fanning the flames, jockeying for positions and feeding on the violent chants of their supporters, would have to be transformed into something else entirely, a near impossibility in the current hate-filled atmosphere throughout the country.

    Chances are Israel’s political crises will continue to loom large; coalitions will be assembled, only to collapse soon after; politicians will continue to move to the right even if they allege to be members of other ideological camps. Israel’s political instability is now the norm, not the exception.

    In an interview with CNN, Yohanan Plesner, a former Member of the Knesset (MK), said that the problem is Israel’s need for “electoral and constitutional reforms, such as making any attempt to initiate early elections dependent on a two-thirds majority in parliament and amending the current law that demands new elections when a budget fails to pass.”

    What Israelis refuse to face is the fact that governments which are predicated on right-wing, far-right, extremist constituencies are inherently unstable. Even if a purportedly centrist or even leftist prime minister finds himself at the helm of the government, outcomes will not change when the Knesset – in fact, most of the country – is governed by a militaristic, chauvinistic, and colonial mindset.

    Biden in Jeddah: mending fences, not building bridges

    President Biden’s trip to Saudi Arabia will likely end in face saving gestures, but no major geopolitical concessions

    July 12 2022

    Photo Credit: The Cradle

    By Kristian Alexander and Giorgio Cafiero

    Before 2019, never had a US president referred to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as a ‘pariah’ on his campaign trail. Joe Biden’s Saudi-bashing as a presidential candidate, plus a host of other delicate issues, have fueled significant friction between the White House and Riyadh.

    Today, relations between the US and Saudi Arabia are probably at their worst since the events of September 11, 2001, stymied by a major trust deficit in the relationship between Biden’s White House and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS).

    By the same token, the Biden administration views Saudi Arabia as a critical partner in the Persian Gulf and continues to sign massive arms deals with the kingdom.

    For all the rhetoric on Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, whose brutal murder MbS is said to have sanctioned, team Biden never imposed state-level sanctions against Saudi Arabia, nor on the crown prince himself.

    Meanwhile, the administration praises the role of Riyadh in the Arab world’s trend toward normalization with Israel.

    Within this context, Biden’s first presidential trip to West Asia – in which he will go to Israel, the occupied West Bank, and Saudi Arabia this week – will be important to White House efforts to mend fences with Riyadh and salvage this decades-old partnership.

    In a US mid-term election year that will likely lead to significant gains for his Republican opposition, Biden seeks to score major foreign policy points in Jeddah that can be used for domestic consumption back in Washington this summer.

    Incentivizing Biden to convince the Saudis to increase their oil production are the millions of US motorists struggling with high gas prices and the many average American voters grappling with generational high inflation.

    Energy prices are therefore extremely important to Biden’s controversial trip to the kingdom. Yet, this month’s summit in Saudi Arabia is unlikely to give Americans much relief at the gas pump between now and the elections in November.

    Shifting the narrative from oil to peace

    Determined to ensure that the US public does not tie this tour’s success specifically to a Saudi oil production hike – which could easily result in the Biden administration’s humiliation – the White House message is that this visit to Jeddah largely concerns peace in the region.

    As Biden wrote in the Washington Post, avoiding a future in which the region is “coming apart through conflict” is of “paramount importance” to the White House, and he will “pursue diplomacy intensely – including through face-to-face meetings – to achieve our goals.”

    According to Biden, if the region comes together through “diplomacy and cooperation” there is a lower chance of “violent extremism” threatening US national security or “new wars that could place new burdens on US military forces and their families.”

    This trip comes at a time in which there is a fragile truce in Yemen, where the Saudis and Emiratis have waged a devastating seven-year war. Although the conflict remains unresolved, the drastic reduction in violence and increased humanitarian assistance to the war-torn country have given millions of Yemenis desperately needed relief.

    The truce in Yemen has been possible in part because of Saudi and other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member support, which makes it easier for Biden to justify his visit to Jeddah. After all, it was the Khashoggi affair and the conflict in Yemen that ‘Biden-the-candidate’ cited as reasons for his ‘pariah’ treatment of Riyadh.

    Thus, moving toward a settlement to this conflict, in which the last two US presidents were heavily involved in escalating, helps Biden save face as he makes this trip. If the president leaves the kingdom with some guarantees from the Saudis about their commitment to future truce extensions, that could be interpreted as a win for Biden.

    “The US administration is beginning to realize that President Biden can’t just ignore Saudi Arabia and that it’s in the best interest of the two countries to start working together, not just to reduce oil prices and pressure on US consumers, but also to further the stability of the Middle East and contain [the Iranian] threat whether in Lebanon or Yemen,” Najah Al-Otaibi, an associate fellow at the Riyadh-based King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies, said in an interview with The Cradle.

    Expanding on her point, Al-Otaibi said that “Saudi Arabia has recently agreed to extend the United Nations-mediated ceasefire with Yemen, and Prince Mohammed [bin Salman] played a critical role in this move, according to Biden’s officials who thought it is a step forward to solving the conflict.”

    Last month, Biden clarified that, for him, bolstering Israel’s security was a major motivation for the trip to Saudi Arabia. Despite some speculation among pundits that Saudi Arabia will soon join the Abraham Accords, this is highly doubtful, especially with King Salman still on the throne. However, with MbS “the reformer” as future king, normalization between “the Land of the Two Holy Mosques” and Israel is all the more likely.

    Insecurity and an ‘Arab NATO’

    Even if Riyadh remains outside the Abraham Accords, there is much that Saudi Arabia can do to make it easier for other Arab-Muslim countries to normalize with Tel Aviv, and for the kingdom’s allies, already signatories to the Abraham Accords, to build on their overt relations with the Israelis.

    While in Jeddah, Biden will likely push the Saudis to take some more baby steps toward a de facto normalization with Israel, even if it remains unofficial. One way for the kingdom to do so would be by granting permission for Israeli planes to transit Saudi airspace on their way to the UAE, Bahrain, and other countries.

    Other avenues could include bolstering involvement by Israeli technology firms in Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, Saudi–Israeli military cooperation, and more visits by high-ranking Israeli officials to the kingdom that could build on former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s November 2020 visit to Neom.

    Shoring up US–Arab partnerships in preparation for the increasingly likely scenario that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) talks with Iran will collapse in acrimony is a high priority for Biden.

    Against the backdrop of Iran’s nuclear advancements as negotiations further stall, Saudi Arabia and the other Arab states attending the GCC+3 summit are preparing for a post-JCPOA future in which friction between the US and Israel, on one side, and the Islamic Republic, on the other, appears set to intensify in the coming weeks and months.

    “I think Iran, not oil, is the main issue as Iran moves closer and closer to having all the parts it needs to put together a nuclear bomb,” David Ottaway, a Middle East fellow at the Wilson Center, told The Cradle. “Only a revival of the Iranian nuclear deal can stop that trend, and nobody is optimistic about that happening now.”

    Although Riyadh and Tehran have been in direct talks via Baghdad since April 2021, the Saudi leadership wants assurances from team Biden that Washington remains committed to the kingdom’s security regardless of the fate of the 2015 nuclear accord, and that the US will work with its Arab allies to counter Iran in regional hotspots, such as Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen.

    Yet, mindful of the little trust Saudi officials have in the Biden administration, it is difficult to imagine the US president gaining enough confidence from Riyadh during this upcoming trip vis-à-vis Iran-related issues. As Ottaway told The Cradle:

    “I suspect [Biden] will declare another US commitment to defending the kingdom from its foreign enemies, but after Trump’s failure to take any action after Iranian attacks on Saudi oil facilities in 2019, he needs to say or do something to back up [what are] just words.”

    In recent weeks, there has been much discussion about an Arab NATO that includes Israel, Saudi Arabia, and other US-friendly Arab states. Biden will seek to advance this initiative as the west and its allies and partners in West Asia remain worried about Iran’s regional foreign policy agenda.

    “[Biden] wishes to reaffirm the historical strength and enduring reciprocity of the alliance, but also to press Riyadh on cooperating more on the energy side – particularly as the US moves as well to create a region-wide defense platform, the so-called Middle East NATO,” Sean Yom, an associate professor at Temple University, pointed out in an interview with The Cradle.

    “There is, however, one sticking point that will probably cause a difference: the Saudis continue to desire a strong US presence in the Gulf, one that can police Iran and intervene in a potential militarized conflict, whereas Biden clearly is continuing his predecessors’ anti-interventionist stance,” added Yom.

    Nonetheless, many experts have doubts about an Arab NATO ever manifesting into a real alliance, and expect the initiative to remain merely conceptual. This assessment accounts for the opposition of some Arab states to an open military coordination with Israel, as some GCC states, like the Sultanate of Oman, do not want to join an alliance aimed at weakening or intimidating Tehran.

    There are also logistical hurdles which would make it difficult for these state militaries to integrate in a NATO-like manner.

    “Biden’s plan for a US-backed ‘Arab NATO’ of GCC states plus Egypt, Iraq, and Jordan seems as unlikely to succeed as Trump’s Middle East Strategic Alliance, which never got off the ground,” Ottaway says.

    Virtue-signalling human rights

    Although Biden’s administration has determined that the moral costs of this presidential trip do not outweigh the perceived benefits, the Khashoggi affair remains a delicate issue – though significantly less so now than in the immediate aftermath of the grisly murder in October 2018.

    MbS wants the US government to drop the Khashoggi issue, but elements within Biden’s party maintain that any interaction between him and the crown prince would be “profoundly disturbing.” To placate more progressive politicians, high-profile media pundits, and human rights activists who criticize Biden for “legitimizing” MbS on this trip, the president will seek some human rights concessions, like those which his administration secured at the start of his presidency.

    If Biden is successful on this front, he could return to the US claiming that his visit to the kingdom helped advance, rather than hinder, the cause of human rights. Such an achievement would help Biden save face and tell his base that he did not abandon certain principles or so-called ‘American values’ by meeting MbS in the Saudi kingdom.

    “His campaign trail rhetoric, like all political campaign rhetoric, was never going to bear much resemblance to executive policy and official diplomacy,” cautioned Yom. “But I do think Biden will exit the meetings by claiming that he squarely put human rights concerns, and potentially even democratic awareness, onto the agenda for Riyadh.”

    Yet, whether the Saudi leadership feels it is under sufficient pressure to release any political prisoners, or provide liberties to some recently released Saudis who are banned from traveling, remains to be seen.

    From the perspective of the Saudi government, the US and other western governments are inappropriately virtue signaling when raising human rights concerns in the kingdom. The view from Riyadh is that these issues are internal issues that do not concern Washington or European capitals.

    Saudi and other Arab officials will often point to US sins in Iraq or police brutality against African-Americans to highlight elements of hypocrisy on the part of US politicians lecturing the Saudi government on the human rights front.

    MbS reportedly “shouting” at US national security adviser Jake Sullivan after the high-ranking official brought up the Khashoggi case underscores the effect of these discussions on the leaders of Saudi Arabia.

    The grander geopolitical picture 

    Biden will visit Saudi Arabia amid a period of increasing east–west bifurcation and intensifying great power competition. Although neither China nor Russia is on the verge of replacing the US as security guarantor of Saudi Arabia or any GCC states, US influence in the Gulf has declined with Beijing and Moscow gaining greater clout at Washington’s expense.

    Biden’s trip to Jeddah aims to reassert US influence in the Persian Gulf and attempt to prevent Riyadh and other Arab capitals from moving closer to the Chinese and Russians. An objective of Biden’s is to bring GCC states back into the geopolitical orbit of the west, while slowing down the growth of their partnerships with Beijing and Moscow.

    “There were undeniable hiccups in the relationship last year, relating to halting support to the Yemen war, aggressive rhetoric against MbS, and more scrutiny on arms sales,” Yom explained.

    “Fundamentally, none of these factors perturbed the great structural core of the US–Saudi alliance, built upon mutual perceptions of energy security, sovereign protections, and regional hegemony. But those hiccups were enough to make the decision-making circles in Riyadh a bit uncomfortable, enough at least to entertain Russian and Chinese overtures for military and energy cooperation.”

    The White House and the entire US foreign policy establishment have grave concerns about Sino–Saudi ballistic missile cooperation and the extent to which the Chinese and Emiratis are making their defense and security relations more robust.

    It is safe to say that while in Jeddah, team Biden will make it clear that the US will withhold future military assistance if GCC states move militarily closer to China. The extent to which such pressure has any impact on Riyadh and Abu Dhabi’s relationships with Beijing remains an open question.

    Nonetheless, team Biden must understand that this visit will occur against the backdrop of serious tensions between the US and Saudi Arabia. Riyadh has grown frustrated with many aspects of Washington’s agenda in the Biden era.

    The Saudi government’s view is that Biden is an ’Obama 2.0’ – a perspective that is not unreasonable when mindful of how many Obama administration veterans, including Biden himself, are serving in the White House.

    By moving closer to China and Russia, the Saudis are sending a message, loud and clear, to Washington that Riyadh has other options on the international stage as the world moves towards multipolarity with more Arab statesmen perceiving the US as a power that is withdrawing from West Asia.

    Riyadh can exaggerate the extent to which the kingdom has grown closer to Beijing and Moscow to gain leverage over the US and secure more concessions from Washington. That is likely to continue, and Biden would be making a mistake in placating the Saudis in every instance to merely try to stop Riyadh from tilting closer to China and Russia.

    Simultaneously, Saudi Arabia is showing itself to be increasingly confident and Biden’s visit to the kingdom will add to Riyadh’s sense of being emboldened, giving the Saudi leadership more reason to pursue its own interests in ways that sometimes align more closely with Beijing and Moscow’s foreign policy objectives than those of western powers.

    Despite these geopolitical tensions, the Biden administration and Al-Saud rulers both value Washington and Riyadh’s decades-old partnership, and neither side wants to abandon it. Much anger and a significant trust deficit, however, have built up between these two countries.

    Biden will not be leaving Saudi Arabia later this month with all these issues resolved. But the dialogue in Jeddah has the potential to begin a process of mending fences.

    The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of The Cradle.

    Netanyahu highly values MBS role in signing ‘Abraham Accords’

    11 Jul 2022

    Source: Israeli media

    By Al Mayadeen English 

    Former Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu expresses openly for the first time MBS’ clear contribution to the signing of several normalization agreements with “Israel”.

    Former Israeli occupation PM Benjamin Netanyahu (Archive)

    Israeli media relayed the appreciation of the leader of the Israeli opposition, Benjamin Netanyahu, to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, for his contribution to the completion of the four so-called “Abraham Accords”.

    Netanyahu said that in case he assumes leadership once again, then he intends to achieve full “peace agreements” with Saudi Arabia, as well as with other Arab states.

    The former Israeli Prime Minister’s statement comes ahead of an upcoming visit by US President Joe Biden to the Middle East, during which he will meet with Palestinian and Israeli occupation officials.

    According to Israeli media, Biden plans to meet with Netanyahu during his upcoming visit to “Israel”.

    This is the first time in which an Israeli official openly highlights bin Salman’s clear contribution to the signing of the normalization agreements with the Israeli occupation.

    The UAE, Bahrain, Morocco, and Sudan were part of the so-called “Abraham Accords” brokered by former US President Donald Trump’s administration in 2020 to normalize relations with “Israel”.

    Mossad plane lands in Riyadh ahead of Biden’s visit

    On Monday, the political affairs commentator for the Israeli Makan channel, Shimon Aran, revealed that a private Israeli plane “that the Israeli Mossad used in the past landed this afternoon in Riyadh.”  

    The Israeli commentator confirmed, through his account on Twitter, that the plane landed this afternoon in Riyadh, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, apparently in preparation for US President Joe Biden’s upcoming visit.

    Netanyahu visited Saudi Arabia

    It is noteworthy that “Israel” Hayom newspaper had previously revealed that Israeli envoys visited Riyadh several times throughout a period of time that extends for over a decade now. However, these visits have always been kept secret.

    There has been one exception to the secret visits and that is Netanyahu’s visit in November of 2020 to the Red Sea city of Neom, which was widely yet carefully publicized, where he met with bin Salman.

    Previously, Israeli Security Minister Benny Gantz had visited Saudi Arabia as chief of staff, while Aluf Meir Dagan, Tamir Pardo, and Yossi Cohen arrived as heads of Mossad and Ben Shabbat as head of the “National Security Council.” The purpose of the visit was to develop security coordination, especially against Iran.

    Netanyahu, as did most Israeli officials, had flown to Saudi Arabia in a private plane especially leased for this occasion. At the time, it was business contacts that have matured into political, military, and security deals.

     A “road map for normalization”

    In the same context, four informed US sources told Axios that the White House has been working on a “road map for normalization” between Saudi Arabia and the Israeli occupation ahead of US President Joe Biden’s visit to West Asia in July.

    Earlier this year, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman said, “We do not view Israel as an enemy, but rather as a potential ally in the many interests that we can pursue together, but some issues must be resolved before we can reach that.”

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    انتخابات الكيان المبكّرة وعلم الاحتمالات

    June 20, 2022

    ناصر قنديل

    في ظاهر الأمور جاء قرار الائتلاف الحاكم في الكيان بحل الكنيست والذهاب إلى انتخابات مبكرة يرجّح أن تجري في شهر تشرين الأول المقبل، تعبيراً عن تطوّرات المشهد السياسي الداخلي في الكيان، مع وجود حكومة تمزقها تناقضات مركبة بين مكوّناتها الآتية من أصناف اليمين واليسار، والتي تشكلت بأغلبية هزيلة، بعدما دنا موعد انتقال الرئاسة بين شركائها من ضفة اليمين الى ضفة يسار الوسط، من نفتالي بينيت إلى يائير لبيد، وفي ظل هشاشة الدعم النيابي الذي تلقاه بعدما بدأت الأغلبية بالتداعي، ووجود التحدي الدائم الذي يلوح به الخصم القوي بنيامين نتنياهو والذي يعرض على التصويت يوم غد الأربعاء لإجراء انتخابات مبكرة ويمكن لن يحصد أغلبية الكنيست، إذا صحت التقديرات بانتقال أكثر من نائب من ضفة الائتلاف الى ضفة نتنياهو، لكن هل هذا يكفي لتفسير قرار بحجم إدخال الكيان في حالة فراغ على مستوى القرار السياسي الأول في لحظات تبدو شديدة الدقة في تاريخه، حيث المواجهة مع قطاع غزة في تنامٍ، والمشهد في الضفة الغربية يتصاعد، والتوتر جمر تحت الرماد مع لبنان في ظل أزمة النفط والغاز وترسيم الحدود والبدء باستثمار حقل بحر عكا، بعد اتفاق أوروبي إسرائيلي على صفقة دسمة، بينما التحدي بين الكيان وإيران في ذروته، وكلها تحديات دفعت بالأحزاب للتفكير بحكومة وحدة وطنية في ظروف مشابهة؟

    يمنح تزامن قرار الائتلاف الحاكم في الكيان مع التحضيرات الجارية لزيارة الرئيس الأميركي جو بايدن الى المنطقة، بعداً خاصاً، حيث كشفت التقارير الصحافية الأميركية والإسرائيلية عن ضغوط أميركية على الائتلاف الحاكم والمعارضة معاً لاستبعاد اندلاع أزمة حكومية، والذهاب لحل الكنيست، بهدف تمرير زيارة بايدن بعد أقل من شهر، بوجود حكومة كاملة المواصفات في الكيان، يمكن أن تتم الزيارة بوجودها وتكون ذات جدوى، خصوصاً أن ما كشف عن مضمون الزيارة يقول إن التعاون الخليجي الإسرائيلي في بناء شبكات موحّدة للرادارات تحت قيادة أميركية، يشكل أحد أهداف الزيارة، بينما رفعت بعض الصحف الإسرائيلية سقوف توقعاتها للقول إن زيارة بايدن تهدف للحصول على موافقة سعودية على التطبيع مع «إسرائيل» كثمن للاعتراف الأميركي بشرعية تولي ولي العهد السعودي للعرش في بلاده، ويجري الترويج لزيارة الرئيس الأميركي بصفتها تعبيراً عن انسداد الخيار التفاوضي بين واشنطن وطهران، وترجيح كلفة خيار المواجهة بينهما.

    ثمة مؤشرات معاكسة يأخذها بعض المحللين ضمن دائرة الاحتمالات والفرضيّات، فالكلام الأميركي عن قرب امتلاك إيران لما يكفي لامتلاك قنبلة نووية وإرفاقه بالإعلان عن الاستعداد للعودة الى الاتفاق النووي، رغم إلقاء اللوم على إيران لتعثر التفاوض، بقي غير مفهوم الوظيفة في ظل التصعيد الأميركي بوجه إيران، وساء بحجز ناقلة النفط في اليونان وطائرة الركاب في الأرجنتين، أو التصعيد في مجلس حكام الوكالة الدولية للطاقة الذرية، ومثله الجواب الإيراني بتأكيد الجهوزية للعودة الى الاتفاق، وإلقاء اللوم على واشنطن في التعثر، في مناخ عالي السقف في الحديث عن الجهوزية لمواجهة أية اعتداءات إسرائيلية، واللغة القاسية في الرد على الوكالة الدولية، ما فتح الباب للحديث عن فرضية تقول بأن واشنطن وطهران تتجهان للتوقيع على الاتفاق. وهذا معنى تصريحات المستشار الإعلامي للوفد الإيراني في فيينا عن عدم وجود بند رفع العقوبات عن الحرس الثوري في الطلبات الإيرانية التفاوضية من جهة، وعدم استعداد إيران لتقديم أي تعهد بعدم ملاحقة المسؤولين الأميركيين عن اغتيال القائد قاسم سليماني، ووفقاً لهذه الفرضية فإن زيارة بايدن تهدف لتقديم ضمانات لـ«إسرائيل» بأنها لن تكون وحدها في حال تعرّضها للاستهداف من إيران، وأن واشنطن ستكون مسؤولة عن منظومة رادارات وتعمل في الخليج وترتبط بشبكة الباتريوت من القبة الحديدية التي تقودها واشنطن أصلاً داخل الكيان، وان الرئيس الأميركي بعد إنهاء هذه المهمة سيعتبر أنه بات طليق اليدين في العودة للتفاوض وصولاً لتوقيع الاتفاق مع إيران.

    إذا صحت هذه الفرضية تكون الإطاحة الذاتية بالحكومة الائتلافية في الكيان، استباقاً وقائياً من مثل هذا الخيار، واعتماد الفراغ الحكومي في الكيان لتحقيق الفراغ التفاوضيّ بين واشنطن وطهران.

    PALESTINIANS “ARE BOUND TO WIN”: WHY ISRAELIS ARE PROPHESYING THE END OF THEIR STATE

    JUNE 16TH, 2022

    RAMZY BAROUD

    While it is true that Zionism is a modern political ideology that has exploited religion to achieve specific colonial objectives in Palestine, prophecies continue to be a critical component of Israel’s perception of itself, and of the state’s relationship to other groups, especially Christian messianic groups in the United States and worldwide.

    The subject of religious prophecies and their centrality to Israel’s political thought was once more highlighted following remarks by former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, in a recent interview with the Hebrew-language newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth. Barak, perceived to be a ‘progressive’ politician, who was once the leader of Israel’s Labor Party, expressed fears that Israel will “disintegrate” before the 80th anniversary of its 1948 establishment.

    “Throughout the Jewish history, the Jews did not rule for more than eighty years, except in the two kingdoms of David and the Hasmonean dynasty and, in both periods, their disintegration began in the eighth decade,” Barak said.

    Based on pseudo-historical analysis, Barak’s prophecy seemed to conflate historical facts with typical messianic Israeli thinking, reminiscent of statements made by Israel’s former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in 2017.

    Like Barak, Netanyahu’s comments were expressed in the form of fear over the future of Israel, and the looming ‘existential threat’, the cornerstone of Israeli hasbara throughout the years. At a Bible study session in his house in Jerusalem, Netanyahu had then warned that the Hasmonean kingdom – also known as the Maccabees – had merely survived for 80 years before it was conquered by the Romans in 63 B.C.E.

    The “Hasmonean state lasted only 80 years, and we needed to exceed this,” Netanyahu was quoted by one of the attendees as saying, the Israeli Haaretz newspaper reported.

    But, even according to Netanyahu’s purported determination to exceed that number, he had reportedly vowed to ensure Israel will surpass the Maccabees’ 80 years, and survive for 100 years. That is merely 20 years more.

    The difference between Barak and Netanyahu’s statements is quite negligible: the former’s views are supposedly ‘historical’ and the latter’s are biblical. Worth noting, however, is that both leaders, though they subscribe to two different political schools, have converged on similar meeting points: Israel’s survival is at stake; the existential threat is real and the end of Israel is only a matter of time.

    But the pessimism in Israel is hardly confined to political leaders, who are known to exaggerate and manipulate facts to instill fear and to rile up their political camps, especially Israel’s powerful messianic constituencies. Although this is true, predictions regarding Israel’s grim future are not confined to the country’s political elites.

    In an interview with Haaretz in 2019, one of Israel’s most respected mainstream historians, Benny Morris, had much to say about the future of his country. Unlike Barak and Netanyahu, Morris was not sending warning signals but stating what, to him, seemed an unavoidable outcome of the country’s political and demographic evolution.

    “I don’t see how we get out of it,” Morris said, adding: “Already, today there are more Arabs than Jews between the (Mediterranean) Sea and the Jordan (River). The whole territory is unavoidably becoming one state with an Arab majority. Israel still calls itself a Jewish state, but a situation in which we rule an occupied people that has no rights cannot persist in the 21st century.”

    Morris’ predictions, while remaining committed to the racial fantasy of a Jewish majority, were far more articulate and also realistic if compared to those of Barak, Netanyahu and others. The man who once regretted that Israel’s founder, David Ben Gurion, did not expel all of Palestine’s native population in 1947-48, spoke with resignation that, in a matter of a generation, Israel will cease to exist in its current form.

    Particularly notable about his comments is the accurate perception that “the Palestinians look at everything from a broad, long-term perspective,” and that the Palestinians will continue to “demand the return of the refugees.” But who were the “Palestinians” Morris was referring to? Certainly not the Palestinian Authority, whose leaders have already marginalized the Right of Return for Palestinian refugees, and most certainly have no “broad, long-term perspective”. Morris’ ‘Palestinians’ are, of course, the Palestinian people themselves, generations of whom have served, and continue to serve, as the vanguards of Palestinian rights despite all of the setbacks, defeats and political ‘compromises’.

    Actually, prophecies regarding Palestine and Israel are not a new phenomenon. Palestine was colonized by Zionists with the help of Britain, also based on biblical frames of reference. It was populated by Zionist settlers based on biblical references dedicated to the restoration of ancient kingdoms and the ‘return’ of ancient peoples to their supposedly rightful ‘promised land’. Though Israel took on many different meanings throughout the years – perceived to be a ‘socialist’ utopia at times, a liberal, democratic haven at others – it was always preoccupied with religious meanings, spiritual visions and inundated with prophecies. The most sinister expression of this truth is the fact that the current support of Israel by millions of Christian fundamentalists in the West is largely driven by messianic, end-of-the-world prophecies.

    The latest predictions about Israel’s uncertain future are based on a different logic. Since Israel has always defined itself as a Jewish State, its future is mostly linked to its ability to maintain a Jewish majority in historic Palestine. By the admission of Morris and others, this pipedream is now crumbling as the ‘demographic war’ is clearly and quickly being lost.

    Of course, co-existence in a single democratic state will always be a possibility. Alas, for Israel’s Zionist ideologues, such a state will hardly meet the minimum expectations of the country’s founders, since it would no longer exist in the form of a Jewish, Zionist state. For co-existence to take place, the Zionist ideology would have to be scrapped altogether.

    Barak, Netanyahu and Morris are all right: Israel will not exist as a ‘Jewish state’ for much longer. Speaking strictly in terms of demographics, Israel is no longer a Jewish-majority state. History has taught us that Muslims, Christians and Jews can peacefully coexist and collectively thrive, as they have done throughout the Middle East and the Iberian Peninsula for millennia. Indeed, this is a prediction, even a prophecy, that is worth striving for.

    Feature photo | A Palestinian boy faces an Israeli tank on the outskirts of Gaza City, Oct. 29, 2000. Laurent Rebours | AP

    Dr. Ramzy Baroud is a journalist and the Editor of The Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of six books. His latest book, co-edited with Ilan Pappé, is “Our Vision for Liberation: Engaged Palestinian Leaders and Intellectuals Speak out”. Baroud is a Non-resident Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA). His website is www.ramzybaroud.net

    The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect MintPress News editorial policy.

    حكومة بينيت تربح على نتنياهو والمقاومة تثبت خطوطها الحمراء

    الإثنين 30 أيار 2022

    ناصر قنديل

    اليوم المقدسيّ والفلسطينيّ الفاصل كان نقطة تحول هامة في تاريخ الصراع المصيري والوجودي مع كيان الاحتلال، فهذا اليوم كان لتسجيل النقاط وتفادي الاحتكام للضربة القاضية، فمن جهة شهدنا حشداً للمستوطنين نحو باحات المسجد الأقصى بالأعلام والطقوس التلمودية خلال فترات الصباح، خارج توقيت مسيرة الأعلام، وشهدنا في مسيرة الأعلام حشداً مضاعفاً لما كانت عليه المسيرة تقليدياً كل عام، وترافق ذلك مع اعتداءات على الشبان الفلسطينيين من عناصر الشرطة والمستوطنين، ومواكبة من آلاف عناصر الشرطة للحدث بكل وحشية الأداء وعنصريته، لكننا بالمقابل شهدنا حضوراً فلسطينياً غير مسبوق في أحياء القدس وشوارعها يرفع الأعلام الفلسطينية ويشتبك ببسالة مع المستوطنين والشرطة، ويدفعهم مراراً إلى خارج المدينة المقدسة، وشهدنا خروجا لمئات الشبان في مدن الضفة يشعلون الحرائق قرب حواجز جيش الاحتلال، وفي باحات الأقصى كان المرابطون يصرخون بملء الصوت بوجه المستوطنين والشرطة.

    على الخط الدولي الإقليمي ثبت أن واشنطن والعواصم الإقليمية المنتدبة للوساطة مع قوى المقاومة، خصوصاً القاهرة والدوحة، حاضرة على خط المتابعة رغم انشغالاتها الكبرى على جبهة التصعيد مع موسكو وبكين، انطلاقاً من إدراكها مدى خطورة خروج الأمور عن السيطرة في منطقة شديدة الحساسية في سوق الطاقة والممرات التجارية، في عالم يشهد أزمات متصاعدة في المجالين الحيويين، ومعرفتها بأن حجم التوتر على محاور عديدة بين دول وقوى محور المقاومة وكيان الاحتلال، سيفرض تحول أي شرارة مواجهة بين جيش الاحتلال وقوى المقاومة في غزة، الى مشروع حرب إقليمية، خصوصاً عندما يكون عنوان الشرارة المسجد الأقصى والمقدسات.

    في الشأن الصهيوني الداخلي، نجح رئيس حكومة الاحتلال نفتالي بينيت في الربح بالنقاط على منافسه اليميني بنيامين نتنياهو، الذي رعى مسيرة الأعلام الصهيونية العام الماضي، وصولاً لاندلاع معركة سيف القدس ونهايتها لغير صالحه، ومحاولة نتنياهو ابتزاز حكومة بينيت لدفعها للتراجع عن المسيرة لتفادي المواجهة مع المقاومة، ما يسهل إسقاطها وجعلها تدفع ثمن الضعف أمام المقاومة، في ظل تحكم المستوطنين واليمين المتطرف في الشارع الصهيوني الناخب، وتحدر بينيت من رحم هذا الشارع، فنجح بينيت بمقايضة التزامه بضوابط الخطوط الحمراء للمقاومة، التي رسمتها الوساطة المصرية القطرية عشية انطلاق المسيرة، وعنوانها عدم دخول المشاركين في المسيرة المسائية الى باحات المسجد الأقصى أو اقترابهم منها، والسيطرة على تحركاتهم داخل الأحياء العربية في القدس، وبالمقابل رفع بينيت سقف المشاركين في المسيرة عدداً، وسمح لهم بالمرور من باب العامود، الذي تهرب نتنياهو من إتاحة عبوره أمام مسيرة العام الماضي، وترك بعضهم يدخل الباحات صباحاً مقابل التشدد الكامل بإبعاد مسيرة المساء عن المسجد وباحاته.

    قوى المقاومة رسمت خطوطها الحمراء تحت عنوانين، الأول حرمة المسجد الأقصى على مسيرة الأعلام، والثاني حدود انضباط المسيرة في أحياء القدس لجهة عدم الإقدام على اقتحام البيوت والمتاجر والاعتداء على السكان. وفي تقييم اليوم المفصلي، كان المردوع هم المستوطنين وليس المقدسيين، فقد نقلت الكاميرات صورهم وهم يهربون مذعورين أمام المقدسيين داخل أحياء القدس ويغادرونها الى باب العامود، وكان المردوع هو حكومة بينيت وجيش الاحتلال بإنهاء المسيرة عند حائط البراق، دون أي تورط بالاقتراب من باحات المسجد الأقصى أو محاولة دخولها، وكانت الأعلام الفلسطينية ترفرف في سماء القدس ومسيرة أعلام فلسطينية تجوب شوارعها، في توازن يعكس حقيقة توازن الردع.

    يمكن القول إن بينيت ربح على نتنياهو، وإن المقاومة أثبتت خطوطها الحمراء، لكن بينيت سيستطيع تمويه تراجعه أمام المقاومة بتقدمه على نتنياهو، لكن مقولة القدس عاصمة موحدة للكيان سقطت بقوة الحضور الفلسطيني فيها، الذي قال إن أية عاصمة يحتاج حملة الأعلام فيها الى حشد آلاف الجنود للعبور في شوارعها؟

    الجولة لم تنته بعد، فالمفاجآت تبقى واردة!

    فيديوات متعلقة

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    Iron vs paper: How Seif Al-Quds made ‘Deal of the Century’ obsolete

    May 22, 2022

    Source: Al Mayadeen

    By Mohammad Al-Jaber 

    The Palestinian people, through resisting Israeli tyranny and unlawful occupation, sent a message to the United States that it could not divide Palestine how it wished from the comfort of all accross the globe.

    The occupation and Trump’s dreams of a “Deal of the Century” were dissipated by a united Palestinian people and a valiant resistance

    Former US President Donald Trump followed in the colonial footsteps that saw the West, namely the United Kingdom and France, divided West Asia – and other colonies around East Asia and the entirety of Africa – among themselves from their distant lands of London and Paris. In early 2020, Trump announced a neo-colonial plan for occupied Palestine that gave his Israeli allies authority over more Palestinian land and further recognized Israeli “sovereignty” over Palestine. He dubbed this self-proclaimed “peace” plan “the Deal of the Century.”

    The deal itself was designed to further strip Palestinians of their right to their land usurped from them by an occupation that has been ongoing for nearly a century now with support from the United States and the majority of the West. It was a mere extension of the neo-colonial practices that have done nothing but harmed the nations they created, with the overwhelming majority still heavily suffering until this day.

    The alienation from the cultures and ethnicities whose lives will be affected by mere lines drawn on a piece of paper was a common practice among colonialists, and apparently, despite the West trying to depict it as something from the past, the same colonial powers – or the ones that inherited their influence – are still acting as they did, not even trying to hide their meddling, and even going as far as putting a bow on their interference and labeling it “a gift of peace.”

    Split Palestine among you

    Trump, from the comfort of his White House nearly 11,000 km away from Palestine, deemed it fit for him to decide what happens to the occupied land. The Israeli occupation would “retain” 20% of the West Bank, a land that is righteously Palestinian, while “giving up” part of Al-Naqab to Palestine.

    The map chalked up by Trump not only gave the Israeli occupation a false sense of sovereignty over Palestinian land, but it sought to divide the Palestinian capital of Al-Quds, only granting part of the city to the Palestinians while declaring that it would “remain undivided as Israel’s capital.”

    When it comes to the illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, “Tel Aviv” would also maintain its occupation of the Palestinian land in the Jordan Valley. However, the settlements in the West Bank would not only be defined by their “municipal borders”, but their “security parameters”, meaning the scope of Israeli occupation would encroach further on Palestinian land.

    Going far and beyond, the United States would not the Palestinian state its rightful recognition, though the Americans failed to see that the Palestinians are not awaiting their recognition, for Palestine is more than a state in their mind and that of the Arab and Islamic worlds.

    Trump, through his idea of “peace”, handed the Palestinians an ultimatum: they had to accept their new borders, drawn up in the United States, for the West to recognize their statehood four years after signing the malignant accord. They also had to drop their weapons and give up resisting the occupation’s tyranny.

    That same resistance whose arms Trump wanted on the ground came right back and bit the United States and the Israeli occupation when, through Seif Al-Quds, it shattered any prospect of such a deal for “Tel Aviv” and Washington. If things were to go how the neocolonialists wanted them to happen, Palestine would not have only lost the land it was giving up through the deal. It would have lost more to the Israeli expansionism they could not curb without their arms.

    Get your hands off Palestine

    The Palestinian people have long been suffering from “Israel’s” arbitrary occupation and tyrannical expansionism, and they were not going to accept to be dealt another round of the poison forced down their throat by their colonizers for decades. 

    A year later, a new equation was established: Palestine is indivisible, and it would not kneel before the world powers trying to further rob it of its rights.

    That equation was written using Seif Al-Quds Battle, which saw Palestinians setting out to break the Israeli hegemony over their land. Relentlessly, and in defense of their brethren in the occupied West Bank and occupied Al-Quds, whom the Israeli occupation abused and committed numerous violations and crimes against, the Palestinian resistance in Gaza crushed “Tel Aviv’s” arrogance and forced “Israel” into giving up its ambitions and dreams of undermining Palestinian unity.

    The battle was launched in response to Israeli brutality against the Palestinian people of Al-Quds and the West Bank, who the occupation regime sought to rob their land and homes, displacing them once more on the country they stole from them four scores ago.

    The Palestinian resistance could not stand idle and retaliated against the occupation’s aggression in an 11-day-long battle that shifted the regional balance of power and put “Israel” before a new reality: hands off Al-Quds and the West Bank, otherwise they will bear the brunt of their own doings.

    In 11 long days for “Israel”, the resistance exposed the occupation’s weaknesses and curbed its expansionism so much so that any settlement expansion plans would have to be thought of thoroughly in fear of retaliation from Hamas or the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. The battle taught “Tel Aviv” many lessons, among them was Palestinian unity.

    Normalizers at bay 

    Seif Al-Quds not only forced the Israeli occupation to tread carefully on Palestinian soil – it caused those who sought to normalize ties with it following the first wave of normalization in 2020 to stay away from the table with the Israeli occupation. Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Sudan, and Morocco all shook hands with the Israeli occupation in a very short period of time and recognized the sovereignty of their regime over occupied Palestine.

    The table of normalization has been empty since late 2020, with Khartoum being the last one to sit with the Americans and the Israelis. A year and a half later, the Israeli occupation is still unable to have another country recognize its false “statehood” that exists on tens of thousands of Palestinian graves murdered at the hands of “Tel Aviv’s” settlers terrorizing Palestinians for a land that is not theirs.

    The Palestinian resistance curbed the occupation and its main backer, the United States, from being able to establish the “two-state solution” they have been dreaming of since the signing of the Oslo Accords. The “two states” in question consist of “Israel” and a state controlled by the occupation directly and labeled as “Palestine”, though it is a terraformed version of the righteous Palestine the Palestinian people are putting their blood, sweat, and tears towards liberating.

    This “Palestine” drawn up by Trump and former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would not be autonomous whatsoever, and its people would not be able to fend off any aggression the Israeli occupation is known to arbitrarily perpetrate no matter the gravity. It would not be the Palestine whose freedom people all over the world champion and advocate when they chant “Free Palestine”.

    The mirage of a “Deal of the Century” is gone, and it was dissipated by the united Palestinian people and the valiant resistance that showed no restrain in defending the sovereignty of occupied Palestine.

    Constantly on the Verge of Collapse: How Palestinians Became a Factor in Israeli Politics

    May 18, 2022

    Israeli politicians Naftali Bennett (L) and Ayelet Shaked. (Photo: via Wikimedia commons)

    By Ramzy Baroud

    Israel’s coalition government of right-wing Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is on the verge of collapse, which is unsurprising. Israeli politics, after all, is among the most fractious in the world, and this particular coalition was born out of the obsessive desire to dethrone Israel’s former leader, Benjamin Netanyahu.

    While Netanyahu was successfully ousted in June 2021, Bennett’s coalition has been left to contend with the painful reality that its odd political components have very little in common.

    On April 6, Israeli lawmaker Ildit Salman defected from the coalition, leaving Bennett and his temporary allies wrangling with the fact that their Knesset (Israel’s Parliament) coalition no longer has a majority. Now that the Knesset count stands at 60-60, a single defection could potentially send Israelis back to the voting booth, which has been quite habitual recently.

    Two current Bennett allies, Abir Kara and Bir Orbach, are possible defectors. Even Bennett’s old Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home) partner, Ayelet Shaked, could ultimately betray him, once his coalition ship begins sinking. And it is.

    Both Bennett and Shaked left the Jewish Home in 2018 to form Yamina. Although the latter won only seven seats in the March 2021 elections, the far-right party proved to be the kingmaker, which allowed the anti-Netanyahu coalition to be formed. The only alternative to this current coalition would have been a government in which Netanyahu and Bennett would alternate the prime minister post. Though Bennett is a protegé of Netanyahu, the current prime minister knew too well that his former boss cannot be trusted.

    So, instead, Bennett opted to join a hotchpotch coalition of political desperados, each joining an unlikely government for simply having no other option. For example, Yesh Atid (17 seats), and Kahol Lavan (8 seats), once part of the Blue and White center-right coalition, betrayed their political base by joining far-right Yamina and, consequently, leaving behind Telem of Moshe Yalon, which now has no Knesset representation.

    The same can be said of Labor (7 seats) and Meretz (6 seats) who, earlier, were the backbone of the Israeli political establishment – in 1992 they had 56 seats combined. Losing faith in their own political base, they opted to join their supposed ideological nemesis, instead of enduring the painstaking process of breathing life into a dying camp.

    The captivating part of the story is the United Arab List of Mansour Abbas, which is rightly perceived to have betrayed its Arab base in Israel and its own Palestinian people everywhere else. As the Israeli army is cracking down on Palestinian communities throughout historic Palestine, including Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Naqab – Mansour Abbas’ own base – this strange political creature remains committed to Bennett, though nervous about future possibilities, especially that the nature of the Israeli attacks on Palestinians are increasingly shifting towards a religious war.

    Consequently, it is hard to imagine that Bennett’s government could realistically survive till 2025. In fact, it is quite rare in Israeli politics that any government coalition has served its full four-year term. Still, Israel’s historic political instability is worsening. In fact, Bennett’s government is the outcome of an agonizing political process that saw Israeli voters cast their votes in four different general elections in only two years.

    Perhaps, what is keeping Bennett’s coalition together, though precariously, is the menacing image of Netanyahu, the current opposition leader, sinisterly watching from across the Knesset aisles while waiting for the right opportunity to pounce. Some Israeli analysts even argue that the defection of MK Salman was largely instigated by the abuse and intimidation she received from Netanyahu’s Likud party, which saw her as a traitor to their right-wing agenda.

    Regardless of the fate of Bennett’s government, Israel’s political crisis will continue indefinitely, and there are reasons for this.

    Though the Israeli right has dominated the country’s politics for many years, especially since 1996, it remains fractious and opportunistic. The constant need to feed the insatiable appetite of the country’s powerful right-wing constituency keeps pushing Israel’s right-wing parties further to the right. They are merely united around such values as the racial and religious supremacy of Israeli Jews, their hate for Palestinians and Arabs, the desire to expand the illegal Jewish settlements and the rejection of any mediated solution that would provide Palestinians with their basic human rights.

    The left in Israel is, frankly, not a left at all. It is recognized as such, largely because of its ‘peace-process’ legacy, which died with the assassination of Labor Minister Yitzhak Rabi, in 1995. Tellingly, Rabin was not a peacenik but one of Israel’s most militant and violent leaders. However, the erroneous association, linking any Israeli leader with the ‘peace process’, automatically classified that individual as a ‘leftist’. According to Israeli analyst Oz Aruch, this also applied to Ariel Sharon. The name of the late notorious Israeli prime minister and Army General is associated with the Sabra and Shatila massacre, along with other horrific episodes.

    Without a real ideology and without a ‘peace process’, or even the desire to engage in one, the Israeli left has become irrelevant.

    The same applies to the center which, by definition, is the political camp that occupies the space between the right and the left. With the right being in constant redefinition and the left having no strong ideological base, the Israeli center has proven equally hopeless. The outcome of the April 2019 elections, when the center coalition Blue and White obtained 35 seats, should have been a watershed moment for Israel’s political center. This ultimately culminated to nil, and eventually led to the collapse of Blue and White itself.

    While this is taking place in Israel, the Palestinian body politic has been slowly reanimating. Though Palestinian Arab parties in Israel remain divided, and Palestinian groups in the occupied territories are yet to find their common ground, Palestinian communities, especially the younger generations, have been articulating a new political discourse. With grassroots leaderships, they are coordinating their actions from occupied Jerusalem to Gaza, to the Naqab to the West Bank and to Palestinian communities in Israel itself.

    For the first time in many years, Israel finds itself in a position where it is no longer the only party that is shaping events or determining outcomes in the country. Therefore, Israeli political instability will worsen. Contrastingly, Palestinians are finally becoming a factor in Israeli politics and, through their popular resistance, can mobilize to put pressure on Israel as has been the case in recent years.

    Israel is now facing the dilemma of either ignoring this new Palestinian factor, at its own peril, or accepting the inescapable fact that Israel can never enjoy stability while Palestinians remain occupied, confined and oppressed.

    – Ramzy Baroud is a journalist and the Editor of The Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of six books. His latest book, co-edited with Ilan Pappé, is “Our Vision for Liberation: Engaged Palestinian Leaders and Intellectuals Speak out”. Dr. Baroud is a Non-resident Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA). His website is www.ramzybaroud.net

    Normalization Mode On: ‘Israeli’ Aircraft Lands in Riyadh

     May 3, 2022 

    By Staff

    After taking off from Tel Aviv, ‘Israeli’ media reported that a private ‘Israeli’ jet of type 9H-JPC landed in Riyadh on Monday.

    According to ‘Israeli’ Channel 11 correspondent Itay Blumental, a private executive jet, 9H-JPC, took off from the ‘Israeli’-occupied Palestinian territories and headed to Riyadh, making a diplomatic stop in Amman.

    The ‘Israeli’ journalist said normalization is underway between Saudi Arabia and the ‘Israeli’ entity.

    This is not the first time an ‘Israeli’ aircraft lands in Saudi Arabia, or ‘Israeli’ planes are allowed to pass in the kingdom’s airspace, especially amid the ongoing normalization between the two sides, though it hasn’t been officially announced yet.

    Most recently, visits by Zionist figures to Saudi Arabia intensified, as it has been unveiled that many Saudi figures inside the kingdom are in contacts with ‘Israeli’ individuals.

    In 2020, ‘Israeli’ media outlets confirmed that a bilateral meeting was held between former Zionist PM Benjamin Natanyahu and Saudi crown prince Mohammad Bin Salman.

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