Geopolitics

The Many Reasons Erdogan Plays The Palestinian Card

Even as other Muslim leaders were treading more carefully on the Palestinian question, Turkey's leader knows no better way to express his global ambitions than a frontal assault on Israel.

-Analysis-

ISTANBUL — Throughout last week, thousands of people demonstrated against Israel in Turkey. In a country where protests are often brutally shut down, the police did not attempt to break up the demonstrations. Because Erdogan supports Hamas, the Palestinian nationalist and Islamist movement that de facto governs Gaza. There are religious reasons for this that also fit right into his geopolitical strategy.

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Bad Actors, Same Script: Israeli-Palestinian Tragedy Plays On

The current spiral in the Middle East is a stinging reminder for the world, and particularly the United States under Joe Biden, that the violence will always return.

-Analysis-

Violence, rockets, sirens, airstrikes. Shared fear. Israeli shelters, gutted buildings in Gaza. Deaths on both sides. Concerned communiqués from abroad calling for deescalation. The usual script of the Israeli-Palestinian drama advances in proper order. Each actor returns to his role, with no certainty of tomorrow or long-term plan, with no other acceptable recourse than lethal force, while waiting for a future return to a precarious, necessarily precarious, calm.

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BDS And Me: Time To Spread Boycott Of Israel Far And Wide

-Essay-

CAIRO — As someone who fully supports the Palestinian cause, it is challenging to write an article about boycotting Israel for fear of being dragged into the particulars of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. In a world that is very much manipulated by biased media, it is hard to resist the urge to first rebut Israel's nonsensical arguments and list its daily brutalities, beginning with its right to exist as a state. Zionism is, after all, a colonial movement, as per the affirmation of the founder of political Zionism, Theodor Herzl, himself.

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Israel’s Vital New Defense Weapon: An Underground Blood Bank

Slated to open in 2020, Israel's National Blood Services Center is a high-tech insurance policy to ward against existential threats such as chemical attacks.

RAMLA — Half an hour's drive from Tel Aviv, bulldozers and excavators are hard at work on a new high-tech facility that will become a centerpiece of Israel"s national defense strategy. Located in the central city of Ramla, the Israeli National Blood Services Center will store blood for the country's growing population and serve as an underground bunker in case of a hostile attack.

In her office at the Tel Aviv headquarters of Magen David Adom (MDA), the Israeli equivalent of the Red Cross, the renowned hematologist Eilat Shinar monitors the progress on a live satellite feed of the construction site. "We need to dig 15 meters into the ground, but the digging is almost done," she says. "The new facility will be at the vanguard of blood banks around the world."

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Sources
Shireen al-Akkah

Hard Living In Gaza: Squeezed Between Israel And Internal Discord

Basic health care services are hard to come by.

GAZA CITY — As negotiations continue to prevent the collapse of reconciliation talks between internal rivals Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, the lives of those living under siege in Gaza play out in very different ways. Israel's blockade coupled with the sanctions the Palestinian Authority has imposed to extract political compliance from Hamas have left many Gazans watching politics unfold from below as they are left waiting for medical treatment, stranded with no means to resume studies, looking for ways to renew expired documents and residency permits, or working toward immigration.

A visit to the central Gaza City neighborhood of Rimal begins to paint a picture of this other reality. Financial aid applicants are taking up the better part of the most lively street in the entire strip. The poverty rate in Gaza sits at 65%, and unemployment is up to 47% from 41.7% two years ago, according to figures produced by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics cited in a July 2017 Palestinian Center for Human Rights report.

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Trump And The World
Alidad Vassigh

Trump, Jerusalem And The End Of American Diplomacy

Recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital is the surest sign that President Trump wants to dismantle the entire international relations system that the U.S. helped build after World War II.

-Editorial-

PARIS — Alone against everyone. U.S. President Donald Trump ignored all the warnings, stated in polite or pressing terms depending on the leader, and all pleas, even the Pope's, and duly announced Wednesday that the United States would recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital. The reactions worldwide were of alarm and indignation, except for the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who applauded on cue. It shows once more, for anyone who still doubted it, that Trump has no qualms about breaking taboos.

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eyes on the U.S.
Daniel Gordis

Donald Trump And Jerusalem: It's Complicated

Is the American in good faith? Why now? What's next? Questions pile up in the wake of a decision that reverses 70 years of U.S. diplomacy in the Middle East.

JERUSALEM — Calling it a "recognition of reality" and "the right thing to do," President Donald Trump announced Wednesday that the U.S. was recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital, and that the American Embassy will be moved from Tel Aviv to the contested city.

The announcement leaves many questions, two of which are primary. The first is whether violence will ensue. The Palestinians and Turks are making threats, and Israel's security establishment is said to be on alert. But many Israelis are dismissing the dangers of what they call "Trumpocalypse." Unlike hypothetical steps, such as assigning the Palestinians a smaller state than they demand or ending U.S. support for a two-state solution, recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital changes nothing on the ground. Many Israelis and even Palestinians thus doubt that, grandstanding aside, the Palestinians would risk much in response to a statement merely acknowledges what the world has long known to be true.

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Sources

With Attacks In Sinai, Gaza Border Shuts Even Tighter

There is one land crossing out of Gaza, Rafah on Egypt's border, and it is usually shut, confounding the life and travel plans of thousands of Palestinians.

RAFAH Here in southern Gaza, the Rafah crossing is the only exit point for Palestinians from the narrow strip of land sandwiched between Israel and Egypt. The possibility of actually passing through into Egypt, in order to travel to any foreign destination, has become an almost mythical prospect. More than 25,000 Palestinians registered and waiting to leave can testify to this reality.

Alaf al-Saafini is one of them. Several times since graduating in medicine in 2015 from Gaza's Islamic University, this sharply-dressed young woman thought her lucky day had arrived. First there was a surprise grant to pursue her studies at the Charité University Hospital in Berlin, which she had to forego since she could not leave Gaza. Then, last spring, she was offered work and a visa in Dubai. She packed her bags, paid the $1,700 to certify her degree and registered on the long list of people trying to cross the Rafah terminal into Egypt. Again, the veritable siege of Gaza thwarted her plans.

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Geopolitics
Tamar Vidon

A Century After Balfour, Time For A 'Johnson' Declaration?

After half a century of failed endeavors by the United States to find a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, maybe it's time to send that geopolitical hot potato back to the British.

It has been 100 years since Britain first declared its support for the establishment of "a national home for the Jewish people." The Nov. 2, 1917 Balfour Declaration was part of a British plan at the time to gain a mandate over Ottoman-controlled Palestine. Then, less than 10% of the territory's population was Jewish; today there is a Jewish majority in Israel and the Palestinians are still seeking a national home of their own.

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Israel
Piotr Smolar

A Heartbroken Gaza Father Has One Simple Request For Israel

Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish's three daughters were killed by an Israeli air strike in 2009. For the past seven years, the Palestinian doctor just wants an apology from Israeli officials.

JERUSALEM — He has the powerful, tireless voice of a man who would not stop knocking on a door until someone eventually opens up. And yet, for the past eight years, Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish has been met with the silence of indifference from the other side.

What he's asking for is both a lot and not much at all: an apology. He wants a formal apology from the Israeli government for the death of three of his daughters — Aya, Mayar and Bissan — and of his niece Noor in the bombing of his family home, in Gaza, in January 2009.

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Geopolitics

Middle East, Of Political Dead-Ends And Scientific Hopes

-Analysis-

Will the world's oldest conflict ever be resolved? There have been a few fleeting occasions over the past 25 years when both Israelis and Palestinians appeared eager to negotiate, and a solution seemed within reach. Alas these are now mere memories — so distant that their effects have largely worn off.

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LA STAMPA
Giordano Stabile

Israel Shifts Anti-Terror Strategy In Age Of ISIS

NABLUS — The historic West Bank city of Nablus spreads out in front of Mount Gerizim, also known as Jebel et-Tur in Arabic. Through his binoculars, Israeli Army Major Elitsur Trabelsi gazes from the mountain's peak at the sprawling urban area below — home to almost half a million people. "Do you notice anything? There aren't any checkpoints anymore," he says proudly.

The Second Intifada, a Palestinian uprising that claimed the lives of thousands on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from 2000 to 2005, started here. So did the more recent "Knife Intifada," sparked by the fatal stabbings of Eitam and Na'ama Henkin near the Israeli settlement of Itamar in October 2015. Since those bloody days, however, Israel decided to alter its longstanding strategy for combating terrorism.

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Turkey
Tolga Tanis

The ISIS Rockets “Made In Turkey”

In Iraq, near Mosul, ISIS was running a sophisticated operation to make guns and explosives. A new report has found much of the material used came from facilities in Turkey.

ISTANBUL — The events took place after the beginning of the Mosul operation. The Iraqi military had gained control of both the Gogjali neighborhood and the town of Qaraqosh, also known as Bakhdida, both near Mosul. The Conflict Armament Research (CAR), a British NGO researching arms in conflict zones, entered these areas alongside the military. They found terror group ISIS's weapons manufacturing facilities.

It turns out that ISIS was running a sophisticated operation to make guns and explosives. They apparently had the same standards as a country would have. Much of the material used came from facilities in Turkey — the sugar used in rocket fuel, the grade of aluminum needed for bombs, the grease to smooth guns and ammunition, the cement used for making mortar shells, the potassium nitrate manure used to make rockets.

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Israel
Gil Yaron

Netanyahu, The Real Master Of Populism

Right-wing populists are advancing in every corner of the world, but let's not forget the Israeli prime minister who has been in power for years. Here's his formula.

TEL AVIV — After 2,793 days, Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu now stands as the longest consecutively serving leader since the modern state's founding in 1948. Following his third victorious election, he is now due to remain in office until at least July, 19, 2019.

So what is his recipe for success? The question has become ever more relevant as seemingly everywhere — from the U.S., Britain and France, to Austria, Germany, Hungary and the Philippines — politicians are on the rise who, like Netanyahu, have mastered the fine art of populism.

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food / travel
Dani Rubinstein

Hungry Gaza Farmers And The Price Of A New Year's Tomato In Israel

Last year, the price of vegetables surged 140% during the high holiday season, yet the Israeli government still opposes the import of cheap, high-quality produce from Gaza.

TEL AVIV — Israeli Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel recently launched a preemptive strike against the surging prices of vegetables (mainly tomatoes) before the upcoming Jewish New Year holiday season, declaring that the ministry will grant a duty-free status to importers of tomatoes from countries that are members of the International Trade Organization.

Ariel, however, has made it clear that the ministry will not allow the importing of hundreds of tons of vegetables from Gaza, although Palestinian agriculture ministry officials and Palestinian vegetable merchants alike not that their prices are low, the quality of produce is high and passes all of Israel's health authorities' inspections.

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LA STAMPA
Giordano Stabile

Israeli Settler Birthrate Tops Palestinians — A Political Problem

As births by Israeli settlers tops Palestinians in the West Bank, the "demographic advantage" could vanish, and undermine hopes for a peace settlement.

JERUSALEM — The late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat once famously said that the wombs of Palestinian women were his "biological weapon", with a high birthrate that would outnumber Israelis and ensure the establishment of the Palestine nation.

Today, that "demographic firepower" is in the hands of Israel. A wave of migration from the former Soviet Union in the 1990s, combined with a soaring birthrate among Jewish settlers in the West Bank, have shifted the demographic calculus in the region. The Israeli birthrate is now just over three children per woman — as high as five for the ultra-Orthodox — compared to just under three per woman among Palestinians.

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