You wouldn’t expect Twitter to be the outlet for sound policy announcements, and Donald Trump doesn’t disappoint. He uses the social media platform as his
Crossing at border between Occupied and Syrian Golan
alternative to facing the media in press conferences, avoiding questions about his impulsive and often ill-considered decisions.
The latest example occurred on Thursday, when Trump took to Twitter to announce that he intended to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the western part of the Golan Heights, territory captured by Israel from Syria in the 1967 war. It is unclear from Trump’s words whether he was actually recognizing Israel’s sovereignty or simply broadcasting his intent to do so.
In either case, his decision is foolhardy. It is unnecessary for either security or geo-strategic reasons. Trump is turning a fundamental principle of international law on its head just to help reelect his friend, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Read more at LobeLog
The Irish Senate passed a bill last week that would criminalize doing any business, in goods or services, with Israeli settlements. As with most legislation that concerns Israeli settlement activity, the
Irish Senator Frances Black, who first proposed the anti-settlements bill
bill is already highly controversial. Supporters of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement have hailed it as a great victory while the usual suspects in and outside of Israel have leveled baseless accusations of anti-Semitism at Ireland and made disingenuous arguments to oppose any action against Israel’s blatantly illegal settlement program. Read more at LobeLog
This short clip of me on Israel’s i24 channel, a show called “Strictly Security,” where I explain why recent attempts to get the US to recognize Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights are doomed to failure…but this is Trump, and if it should become an issue he embraces, that could change.
On March 16, Israeli planes struck several targets in Syria. Israel said that it had targeted shipments of “advanced weapons” meant for Hezbollah, the Lebanese militia allied with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
These strikes occur from time to time, and there is usually little but fist-waving and statements from Syria in response. This time was different. Assad’s forces launched several missiles at the Israeli jets, none of which found their mark. More importantly, the next day, the new Israeli Ambassador to Russia was summoned by the Russian government for clarification of the incident. Read more at LobeLog
There was a lot to digest in the joint press conference held by US President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last week. Most of the focus has been on the apparent walk-back Trump made from the long-term and bipartisan US policy supporting a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict and Netanyahu’s shocking apologia for Trump’s refusal to address the sharp rise in antisemitism since his election.
Another point of real significance has therefore been squeezed out of the spotlight: Netanyahu’s proposal that the US recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights. Read more at LobeLog
According to reports on Syrian television, 23 people were killed along the border with Israel as they tried to go across the border with Israel.
The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) disputed the numberand the circumstances.
Syrian President Bashar Assad
Considering the sources of both the accusation and the denial, both highly dubious with long track records of dissembling, I’m keeping my mind open on this. But there are some very important points to be made about the violent confrontations on the northern border.
Let’s start with this: Uri Avnery was right when he said the IDF used disproportionate force. The IDF itself said all the injuries were on the Syrian side of the border—this is why they say they cannot confirm any casualties. The IDF also says they shot live fire at the legs of protesters heading toward the border fence, but still on the Syrian side. Hard to see how that can be called proportionate force. And at least one witness, a journalist, said that the Israelis are understating the severity of their response.
Let’s also be clear about another point: Israel is not defending its borders here. The Golan Heights, which is the area Israel is defending in these incidents, is occupied territory, internationally recognized as Syrian. Unlike the West Bank, which is claimed by the Palestinians but was not previously part of any sovereign state (it was occupied by Jordan from 1949-1967 and part of Mandatory Palestine before that), the Golan is Syrian, and Israel’s annexation of it in 1981 is illegal and recognized by no other country, including the United States.
So, Israel is not defending its borders here, but is defending its occupation. And herein lies the problem, because what is happening on the Syrian border, though certainly heartfelt and significant, is counter-productive for the Palestinians. Continue reading
Remember the date. November 22, 2010, the day Israel finally killed the two-state solution.
I know that for me, I will continue to hope that there is some way to still pull two states out of a hat. That’s my heart talking, because both in heart and mind, I very much doubt that a future that does not include a Palestinian state will include either peace or justice. But for at least a while, I’ll probably still hope.
"The nation WITH the Golan," a very popular bumper sticker in Israel
But I can no longer see how it is possible. The Knesset today passed the “referendum law” by a 65 to 33 margin, with some members of Labor and most of Kadima walking out of the vote (though a few MKs from both parties voted in favor). The law dictates that any “retreat” from land that Israel currently claims as its own (meaning the territories it has annexed – the Golan Heights and East Jerusalem – though no country, including the United States recognizes those annexations) must be approved by a public referendum.
While I do believe that the Israeli public would vote to evacuate large parts of the West Bank, I see no possibility that a popular vote would approve leaving Jerusalem, probably including all the “Greater Jerusalem” area.
The bill also makes peace with Syria, which is conditioned on withdrawal from the Golan Heights, impossible. There might be even less public support for the Golan withdrawal than there is for a West Bank one; it’s just discussed less in the media.
What this law does is essentially present a choice to the international community: either force a resolution on the Israeli people or give up on the two-state solution. Continue reading