It Would Be Absurd for Israel to Snub a Right-Wing High Italian Official

Dec. 13 2018

On Tuesday, Matteo Salvini—the Italian deputy prime minister, minister of the interior, and leader of the right-wing, anti-immigration Lega party—arrived in Israel where he met with Prime Minister Netanyahu and other high-ranking officials. Some in Israel have criticized this reception, arguing that Jerusalem should shun Salvini and praising President Reuven Rivlin for declining to meet with him—although Rivlin’s office insists that only scheduling problems prevented him from doing so. Emmanuel Navon comments:

No country in the world would sacrifice its national interest for the sake of moral [preening]. Expecting Israel (and only Israel) to do so is absurd. The question is not whether Israel is also entitled to play by the rules of Realpolitik (of course it is) but whether its policy of rapprochement with Europe’s “populist” governments serves the national interest. The answer is yes—although only to a point. . . .

[Some] European governments and parties, [including Salvini’s], happen to admire Israel for what it represents [in their eyes]: a proud nation-state that is economically successful and . . . has no qualms about defending its borders, about defeating terrorists, and about aggravating Eurocrats. Thanks to its strong ties with [such governments], Israel has been able to break the Brussels consensus. Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Romania, for example, have blocked an EU decision meant to condemn the transfer of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem. On the issue of Iran, the “Visegrad Group” (the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, and Slovakia) are making it harder for the European Commission to bypass the renewed U.S. sanctions on Iran. Recently, Israel signed a memorandum of understanding with Cyprus, Greece, and Italy to build a pipeline that will enable Israel to export its natural gas to Europe. . . .

[That being said], Israel has no interest . . . in the proliferation of populist governments [in Europe], because these governments generally oppose free trade and are more inclined to align with Russia than with the United States. . . . Israel has a free-trade agreement with the EU and is part of its flagship research-and-development program. [Israel] would therefore not benefit from a Europe dominated by pro-Russian mercantilists. But ad-hoc and calculated links with the governments of Eastern Europe and of Italy do serve, for the time being, Israel’s national interest.

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Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Europe and Israel, Israel & Zionism, Israel diplomacy, Italy

The Riots on the Gaza Border are Carefully Coordinated Attacks on Israel, and Should Be Treated as Such

Jan. 16 2019

On Friday, the weekly riots at the Gaza security fence resumed in full force: 13,000 people participated, and a Palestinian woman was apparently killed by Israeli gunfire. The UN Human Rights Council (UNHCR) had established a commission of inquiry in May, not long after these riots began, “to investigate all alleged violations and abuses of international humanitarian law and international human-rights law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, . . . particularly in the occupied Gaza Strip, in the context of the military assaults on the large-scale civilian protests that began on March 20, 2018.” In a report to the commission, Richard Kemp, a retired senior British officer, concludes, after investigating the situation at the Gaza border, that there is no evidence whatsoever of Israeli wrongdoing, and that the commission is operating under faulty assumptions:

The terms of [the commission’s] mandate are self-evidently biased against the state of Israel and the IDF. The context cited—“the military assaults on the large-scale civilian protests”—make clear that the UNHRC either failed to understand what was happening on the ground or deliberately misrepresented the reality. In addition, the commission’s mandate terms the Gaza Strip “Occupied Palestinian Territories,” which it is not. . . .

[T]he so-called “civilian protests” in reality were, and continue to be, a deliberate military operation, orchestrated and controlled by Hamas, [a] terrorist group that has been waging an armed conflict against Israel for many years. Their intention was and remains to kill and wound IDF soldiers, to break through the border fence, to murder and maim innocent civilians, to destroy property, and to compel the IDF to take defensive action resulting in the death of Gaza civilians for exploitation in the international arena. [Israel’s] “military assaults” were not what was implied by this prejudicial mandate. They were in fact lawful, proportionate, and restrained defensive actions. . . .

Suggestions that these demonstrations are [protests] against Israeli policy toward the Gaza Strip are demonstrably false and easily refuted by cursory viewing of Hamas and other public statements made at the time of the events. . . . Further, it is clear that Hamas intended this violence to continue its long-standing strategy of creating and intensifying international outrage, vilification, isolation, and criminalization of the state of Israel and its officials. . . .

[T]he starkest indication that these events were entirely under Hamas control is the simple fact that, when it suited Hamas’s political interests, the [demonstrations] occurred and were of a violent nature, and when such actions did not serve Hamas’s interests, the border was quiet. As the most recent example of this, in November 2018, Qatar began to make large cash payments to Hamas in Gaza. The most recent payment of $15 million was handed over in December 2018. These payments are reportedly part of an agreement with Hamas to diminish violence along the Gaza border. [After] the first payment, the border violence [was] reduced [and the] demonstrations [became] far more restrained.

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More about: Gaza Strip, Hamas, IDF, Israel & Zionism, Laws of war, UNHRC