Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council

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The Trump-Netanyahu meeting

The Trump-Netanyahu meeting Categories: Israel, United States, Updates    

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu travelled to Washington on Wednesday for his first summit with new US President Donald Trump since his inauguration, in a visit that was generally seen as important for both US-Israeli relations during Trump's term in office and for setting a baseline for the Trump Administration's policy on Middle East peacemaking. Most of the media headlines about the summit have focused on the initial press conference and especially Trump's remark, when asked about the two-state solution, "I’m looking at two states and one state, and I like the one that both parties like. I’m very happy with the one that both parties like. I can live with either one..." (The media conference can viewed in full here, while a transcript is here.)

Bob Hawke is wrong: recognising Palestine would just encourage intransigence

Bob Hawke is wrong: recognising Palestine would just encourage intransigence Author: Mark Leibler Categories: Australasia, Israel, Op-eds, Palestinians    

Former Prime Minister Bob Hawke is correct that, as former Israeli PM Golda Meir said, there can be no peace for Israel without an honourable settlement of the aspirations of the Palestinian people. However, there can also only be peace if both parties negotiate that honourable settlement in good faith, and are prepared to make the painful compromises required.

Print edition
On construction within settlements, Israel maintains policy

On construction within settlements, Israel maintains policy Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Israel, Palestinians    

In a follow-up to my previous blog on Israel's West Bank settlements from late last month, I examine a second round of approvals for around 3,000 more housing units in the settlements that was announced approximately a week later.

What's of particular note is that, although this announcement from January 31, like the previous one from January 24, occurred after the inauguration of Donald Trump, it remained consistent with Israel's settlement policy for over a decade - largely avoiding significant expansion of construction in settlements outside of the settlement blocs Israel is expected to retain in any future peace agreement through the use of land swaps with the Palestinians.


End the Madness over Jerusalem

End the Madness over Jerusalem Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Israel, Op-eds, Palestinians, United States    

The City of Jerusalem, holy to the Jewish, Christian and Islamic faiths, is known to cause its own particular kind of madness. About 50 foreign visitors to the city a year experience what is known as "Jerusalem Syndrome" - psychotic delusions that they are biblical figures or harbingers of Armageddon.

The city also causes some peculiar diplomatic madness. Jerusalem is Israel's capital, but almost no country recognises it as such.

Israel's controversial settlements regulation bill
Israel's Supreme Court: Likely to rule against the new bill

Israel's controversial settlements regulation bill Categories: Israel, Updates    

As readers will probably be aware, on Monday night the Israeli Knesset passed a very controversial law, known as the "Regulation Law" which retroactively allows residents of housing units in the West Bank "outposts" - settlements built without government permission - to stay in their homes if it is discovered their homes are inadvertently built on privately-owned Palestinian land. The landowners are to receive compensation rather than the evacuation of the land by the Israeli residents, as Israeli courts had previously ordered.

Freedom in the World 2017: Israel a leader in a dismal and worsening Middle East region

Freedom in the World 2017: Israel a leader in a dismal and worsening Middle East region Author: Shmuel Levin Categories: China, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Middle East, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Updates    

The US based Freedom House think-tank has released the initial findings of its annual Freedom in the World report. The report analyses the state of political and civil freedoms, as well as the state of governance frameworks, in each country around the world, based upon a "combination of on-the-ground research, consultations with local contacts, and information from news articles, nongovernmental organizations, governments, and a variety of other sources."

Noted and Quoted - February 2017 Categories: Iran, Israel, Media/ Academia, Palestinians, Terrorism, United Nations    

The future of US and United Nations relations was discussed following Donald Trump's outrage that the Obama Administration abstained on UN Security Council Resolution 2334 and Republican party threats to withhold funding to the world body.

A Washington Post analysis by Josh Rogin in the Age/Sydney Morning Herald (Jan. 1) noted that 2334 "has opened up a Pandora's box in Washington, allowing anyone with a grievance against the world body to their day in the sun."

Biblio File: The Philosopher

Biblio File: The Philosopher Author: Ben Cohen Categories: Antisemitism, Islamic Extremism, Israel, Middle East    

Bernard-Henri Lévy, France's leading public intellectual, has a new book, The Genius of Judaism - perhaps the fullest expression yet of his commitment to the Jewish faith, Jewish culture, and the continued flourishing of the State of Israel. Newly-returned from the Iraqi city of Mosul, where he accompanied Kurdish peshmerga fighters combating ISIS, Lévy spoke by phone with Ben Cohen, senior editor of The Tower magazine.

Asia Watch: True to form
Najib: UN vote a “victory” for the Palestinians

Asia Watch: True to form Author: Michael Shannon Categories: Asia, Islamic Extremism, Israel, United Nations    

Support from Malaysia and Indonesia for the United Nations Security Council's Resolution 2334 - which condemned Israeli settlement construction - came as no surprise, given both nations' longstanding sympathy for the Palestinian cause and concordant refusal to establish diplomatic relations with Israel.

Trump and the UNRWA farce

Trump and the UNRWA farce Author: Sol Stern Categories: Israel, Palestinians, United Nations    

To make a real difference, our next president needs to understand how the United Nations' hostility to the Jewish state is rooted in perverse institutions that have been abetted by previous US administrations. The most glaring example of this is the inaptly named United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).

Rafsanjani the "moderate"

Rafsanjani the "moderate" Author: Michael Rubin Categories: Iran    

The whitewashing of Rafsanjani's record is akin to praising Pol Pot for improved statistics on eyesight in Cambodia, Fidel Castro for free health care, or Jim Jones for raising the prominence of the Kool-Aid brand.

The Amona evacuation and Israel's settlement announcements
Dramatic scenes in the northern West Bank, as thousands of of Israeli police move to evacuate the illegal outpost of Amona

The Amona evacuation and Israel's settlement announcements Categories: Israel, Updates    

This Update is devoted to exploring the link between recent Israeli announcements about new construction in West Bank settlements and the dramatic evacuation of the West Bank outpost of Amona yesterday, which led to scenes that many Israelis found traumatic (a gallery of images from the evacuation is here). Another theme is the link between Israeli policy toward West Bank settlements and Israeli relations with the new Trump Administration in Washington, which yesterday issued a statement cautioning Israel against announcing new settlements or expanding the boundaries of existing ones.  Finally, following up on the recent Update on "Jerusalem and future peace hopes", we offer an interesting piece on Arab reactions to any plans to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem, as promised by Trump.

Print edition
Europa Europa: French Follies

Europa Europa: French Follies Author: Douglas Davis Categories: Europe, Israel, Middle East, Palestinians    

There is no doubt that France was an enthusiastic player in the colonial era... There are few signs that France has found a role for itself in the new international environment. Or that it has learned to cope with its five-million-strong Muslim population. Little wonder, then, that it has resorted to the role of serial organiser of "Middle East Peace Conferences".

Syria's future depends on Russia

Syria's future depends on Russia Author: Jonathan Spyer Categories: Russia, Syria    

The direction of events in Syria raises a number of questions about the current diplomacy of the Syrian war which have potential implications far beyond Syria itself. These relate primarily to the intentions of Russia in the Syrian conflict, and also to the stance that the new US Administration will take.

Regarding Russia, the question is what Putin is looking for in Syria - how do the Russians see the endgame?

A New Counter-Terrorism Strategy for a New President

A New Counter-Terrorism Strategy for a New President Author: Boaz Ganor Categories: International Security, Islamic Extremism, Terrorism, United States    

Despite the fact that, during his campaign, new US President Donald Trump stressed his intention to resolutely fight terrorism in general, and the Islamic State in particular, neither he nor his advisers have presented a clearly formulated strategy outlining how he intends to achieve these objectives. The only clue to be gleaned from his statements is that Trump's counter-terrorism doctrine will be different to that of President Obama.

Fatah and Hamas announce unity - for at least the eighth time

Fatah and Hamas announce unity - for at least the eighth time Author: Shmuel Levin Categories: Fatah, Hamas, Palestinians    

In recent weeks, much has been reported about a proposed Fatah-Hamas unity government. "Fatah and Hamas to form unity government" reads the headline from Al-Jazeera. However, this headline falls short on two accounts. First, this new reconciliation attempt is only the latest of multiple similar reconciliation attempts - we count eight previous times in all, below. Second, it is very unclear that any real and meaningful reconciliation agreement has in fact been reached this time round.

The Last Word: Stars over the Desert

The Last Word: Stars over the Desert Author: Jeremy Jones Categories: Africa, Interfaith Dialogue, International Jewry    

"This is the Hamsa. This is the Hand of Fatima. This is (hesitation) a star".

In a typical Moroccan jewelry shop, the proprietor was discussing the recurring motifs in his necklaces, rings and decorations. The "star" was a Magen David, the well-known Jewish symbol.

The jewellery, religious ritual items and artworks on sale were a reminder of the once large, vibrant Jewish population of the Kingdom, and the shopkeeper's words a reminder of the conflicted attitude of many Moroccans towards that population, Judaism and Israel.