To Those Eager to Condemn Israel, Building Houses for Arabs in Jerusalem Threatens Peace

Nov. 18 2020

Six years ago, Israeli officials announced a plan to construct new residential buildings in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Givat Hamatos, which has been part of the Jewish state since 1949 and therefore should not be of concern to those who insist that the presence of “settlements” in the West Bank is the cause of the Palestinian predicament. The U.S. State Department nonetheless responded with a vigorous condemnation, and, in response to pressure from the White House, Israel postponed the plan. On Sunday, licenses were issued to begin the construction of 1,257 new homes in the neighborhood. Ruthie Blum comments:

Outrage at the building plan, which has been in the works for six years, was swift to emerge from the usual suspects: the Israeli NGO Peace Now, the Palestinian Authority, the European Union, and the United Nations. It’s basically all one needs to know before forming an opinion about the move.

Never mind that the neighborhood, originally filled with trailers for the housing of new immigrants from Ethiopia, is outside the so-called Green Line, [established as Israel’s de-facto eastern border during the 1949 armistice with Jordan]. Forget that the plan includes a phase of the construction of Arab housing on private lands belonging to the nearby Palestinian town of Beit Safafa. Disregard the shortage of land available for Jewish housing in Jerusalem—a situation that has caused a hike in rent and purchase prices, as well as an exodus from the Israeli capital.

None of the above prevented the administration of then-U.S. President Barack Obama from throwing a fit at the end of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s October 1, 2014 visit to the White House. Though the purpose of the meeting between Netanyahu and Obama had been to discuss Iran and Islamic State, it was upstaged by reports in the Israeli media, courtesy of Peace Now, about—gasp—apartments slated for Givat Hamatos.

Read more at JNS

More about: Barack Obama, Jerusalem, Peace Now

How Israel and Its Allies Could Have a Positive Influence on the Biden Administration’s Iran Policy

Nov. 25 2020

While the president-elect has expressed his desire to return the U.S. to the 2015 nuclear agreement with the Islamic Republic, this should not in itself cause worry in Jerusalem; it has never been the Israeli government’s position that a deal with Tehran is undesirable, only that the flaws of the deal negotiated by the Obama administration outweighed its benefits. Thus Yaakov Amidror, Efraim Inbar, and Eran Lerman urge Israel to approach Joe Biden’s national-security team—whose senior members were announced this week—to urge them to act prudently:

To the greatest extent possible, such approaches should be made jointly, or in very close coordination with, Israel’s new partners in the Gulf. These countries share Israel’s perspectives on the Iranian regional threat and on the need to block Tehran’s path to nuclear weapons.

For Israel, for Iran-deal skeptics in Washington, and for her partners in the region, the first operational priority is to persuade the incoming U.S. national-security team to maintain full leverage on Iran. Sanctions against Iran should not be lifted as a “gesture” without a verified Iranian return to the status quo ante (at the very least) in terms of low-enriched-uranium stockpiles and ongoing enrichment activities.

In parallel, there may emerge a unique opportunity to close ranks with the French (and with Boris Johnson’s government in London) on the Iranian question. On several issues (above all, the struggle for hegemony in the eastern Mediterranean, against Turkey), Jerusalem, Abu Dhabi, and Paris now see eye-to-eye. On Iran, during the negotiations leading to the [deal] in 2015, the position of France was often the most robust. In 2018, President Macron was willing to reach an operational understanding with Secretary of State Pompeo on [key issues regarding the Islamic Republic’s nuclear activities].

Last but certainly not least, it should be clear to the incoming U.S. national-security team that any attempt to negotiate must be, can be, and (as far as Israel is concerned) firmly will be backed by a credible military threat.

Read more at Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security

More about: France, Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, US-Israel relations