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    Benjamin Netanyahu Tag

    President Donald Trump has arrived in Israel, which he will visit for two days. In fact, his flight to Israel from Saudi Arabia is the first non-stop flight between the two countries that have no diplomatic ties. We will publish updates on Trump's visit, a truly historic one since Israel remains our most important ally in the Middle East. Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and his wife Nechama and Prime Minister Netanyahu and his wife Sara greeted Trump and First Lady Melania Trump as the two descended from Air Force One.

    Last week Gen. (ret.) Michael Herzog (brother of Israel's opposition leader Isaac Herzog) wrote a remarkable article (.pdf) in The American Interest. Herzog, who has been involved in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations since 1993 didn't write his article to place blame (though he does) for the failure of the 2013-2014 talks overseen by then-Secretary of State John Kerry but "it is my sincere hope that this analysis will inform a meaningful policy debate on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict." But if you Google Herzog's name for the past week, precisely one news organization covered the article: The Times of Israel. Some blogs such as The Tower and Yaacov Lozowick have written about it too. One would think that an insider's view of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians would draw a lot of attention, but it didn't. Presumably that is because Herzog didn't blame Bibi first.

    The press conference is now over. Video below. Quick Takes: Much warmer relationship than the tense Obama-Bibi appearances, where they could hardly contain their disdain for each other. Substantively, Trump did exactly what any good mediator would do -- not try to impose a solution on the parties. His point was that whatever form a peace deal takes that is acceptable to the parties, it's acceptable to him.

    Isreali Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is visiting the U.S. this week, and will meet President Trump. An important question is what is the status of the American popular opinion towards Israel. There is a misconception that American political support for Israel is a result of the "Israel Lobby" and "Israel Firsters." Those are terms frequently thrown around by regressive leftists and anti-Israel activists, a not too subtle play on the traditional antisemitic claim that Jews are disloyal to their home countries. Polling consistently shows, however, that Americans overwhelmingly support Israel, and that support has increased over the past decade, as we reported last year, Gallup: Americans still overwhelmingly support Israel. The "Israel Lobby" actually is the American people, and political support reflects popular opinion.

    In a call to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday, January 15, 2017, Secretary of State John Kerry assured the prime minister that there would be no further United Nations Security Council action taken against Israel in the wake the Paris peace conference. That conference brought 70+ nations together to discuss terms of peace between Israel and the Palestinians, without either party being present. United Nations Security Council resolution 2334, passed in late December 2016, when the United States abstained and failed to protect Israel from a resolution that stated that the Israeli presence in all lands captured in 1967, including parts of Jerusalem, constituted a flagrant violation of international law. The immediate effects of the resolution was to encourage boycotts of Israel and increase Palestinian violence, mostly rock throwing, against Israel.

    Probably the one columnist I have critiqued more than any other in my blogging career is Thomas Friedman of The New York Times. Friedman, one-time NY Times Jerusalem bureau chief, is considered The Times' go-to expert on the Middle East, globalization and environmental issues. However, when reading Friedman's columns, it's easy to see that rather than being an expert on any of these topics, he holds certain beliefs and uses all of his observations to support his deeply held beliefs. He often conveys his convictions using superficial metaphors that sound clever, but are meaningless or misleading.

    We've covered the back and forth today, from John Kerry's angry policy speech putting most of the blame on Israel for failure to reach an agreement on the final status of the dispute, to Bibi Netanyahu's equally blistering rebuttal. The rallying around Israel and Netanyahu by politicians on both sides of the aisle is a reflection of both ideological support for Israel and the fact that Israel remains hugely popular among the American public. The maligned "Israel Lobby" consists of a substantial majority of Americans who not only support Israel, but support Israel over the Palestinians. The American people are the Israel Lobby. But that can't explain the reaction against Obama's U.N. move.

    Back in February 2012, I wrote that I expected that in his second term Obama would force his vision of a "peace" deal on the Israelis. We've had several close calls, with the John Kerry negotiation fiasco and flirtation with various European and Arab initiatives through the UN. The mechanism would be a failure to veto a Security Council resolution setting the terms of a deal. Part of it is Obama hatred of Bibi Netanyahu, dating back to the beginning of Obama's presidency. The snubs and dislike was palpable long before Netanyahu's address to Congress opposing the Iran nuclear deal.

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu doesn't hesitate to take to social media to get his point across, including when the press treats him unfairly. (Where have I heard that before?) But if you read the headlines about some comments he made at a press event, you'd think Netanyahu just admitted to "attacking", "lashing out" at, and "berating, badmouthing" journalists on social media. But that's not what he said. Those journalists misstated the question he was asked in their headlines. Leftist Haaretz used the "lashing out" words:

    Early on in his first term, President Barack Obama suggested that in order to achieve peace between Israeli and the Palestinians, there needed to be more "daylight" between the United States and Israel. Obama, according to a report on a meeting between the president and American Jewish leaders, said, referring to the Bush administration, "During those eight years, there was no space between us and Israel, and what did we get from that? When there is no daylight, Israel just sits on the sidelines, and that erodes our credibility with the Arab states." During Obama's two terms in office, he made efforts to put daylight between his administration and Israel, and not just in terms of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: in 2010 the administration harangued Netanyahu over a plan to build apartments in Jerusalem, the administration pursued the nuclear deal with Iran over Israeli objections, senior administration officials, on and off the record, have disparaged Netanyahu, and Obama is said to be considering a move in the UN to support Palestinian statehood.

    Benjamin Netanyahu spoke at the U.N. today. As usual, it was an excellent speech. The headline is that Netanyahu offered to have Palestinian President speak at the Israeli Knesset (parliament) and for Netanhahu to speak at the parliament in Ramallah. https://twitter.com/IsraeliPM/status/779005562390515712 Put aside intentions, there will be some hurdles to overcome if Netanyahu is to speak to the Palestinian parliament. It hasn't met since 2007.

    Recently, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated an obvious truth. The demand that Jews leave Judea and Samaria (the "West Bank") as part of a two-state solution is nothing less than a demand for ethnic cleansing that cannot be a basis for peace, Netanyahu: Ethnic Cleansing of Jews For Peace is Absurd: That video, and the truth underlying it, caused a fury because it took on a core (but false) international view that Jewish presence beyond the 1949 armistice line (pre-1967) is illegitimate at best, illegal at worst.

    The other day we reported on Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu's video in which he pointed out that advocating the ethnic cleansing of Jews from Judea and Samaria (the "West Bank") is hardly a path to peace, Ethnic Cleansing of Jews For Peace is Absurd: Netanyahu was factually correct on the goals of the Palestinian leadership, and not only from Hamas:

    Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu released a new video Friday. In his latest YouTube chat, Netanyahu challenges the idea that ethnic cleansing of Jews in Judea and Samaria (the "West Bank") will lead to peace. According to Israel National News:
    "The Palestinian Authority leadership’s demand that a Palestinian state be free of Jews is ethnic cleansing, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said on Friday, and the concept of ethnic cleansing for peace is absurd. Netanyahu’s comments came in a video he released in Hebrew and English and which was also released in a version with Arabic subtitles."
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