March, 2016 Israel

Peter Beaumont in Jerusalem
Six months after it began, a deadly wave of violence between Palestinians and Israelis that has been referred to as the “knife intifada” shows no sign of ending, despite a drop in incidents from a high point last autumn.

 A Palestinian man sits on a rock at Jordan Valley near the West Bank city of Jericho [REUTERS]

Geoffrey Aronson
US Vice-President Joe Biden was not revealing a secret when, during a recent speech to the pro-Israeli lobby AIPAC, he observed that there is "no political will at this moment among Israelis or Palestinians to move forward with serious negotiations".


Author Uri Savir
Israeli-American relations are at an all-time low. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s refusal to meet President Barack Obama, as suggested by the White House, prior to the AIPAC conference on March 20 is another unprecedented blow to the relationship.


OFRA BENGIO
The asymmetrical but rewarding relationship between two Middle East minority nations.
Over the past few years, Israeli politicians—from Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu to President Shimon Peres to Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman—have been publicly advocating the establishment of a Kurdish state. Most recent to weigh in is Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, who called this past January for the formation of an independent Kurdistan and urged enhanced policy cooperation between Israel and the Kurds.

Alan Schneider, Director, B’nai B’rith World Center – Jerusalem
Over the last two months, B’nai B’rith International has been at the cusp of an important emerging diplomatic development in the turbulent area of the Eastern Mediterranean—the establishment of a regional geopolitical consensus among the only three stable democracies in the area: Israel, Greece and Cyprus.


by Burak Bekdil, The Gatestone Institute
Columnist Seyfi Sahin wrote on January 31, "I believe that the gorillas and chimps living today in the forests of North Africa are cursed Jews. They are perverted humans that have mutated."
The 74th anniversary of an embarrassing tragedy took place in Turkey on February 24, 2016.


Author Semih Idiz
Recent months have witnessed much talk, suggesting the long-awaited reconciliation between Turkey and Israel is around the corner. Uncharacteristically positive remarks about Israel from President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and upbeat statements from Turkish government officials have also increased expectations.


Author Shlomi Eldar
The current intifada will not yield substantial change for the Palestinians or bring about a diplomatic breakthrough. This is the belief of Fatah activists who served as field leaders in the first and second intifadas.

US President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hold a meeting in the Oval Office

By ERIC R. MANDEL 
None of this was a surprise to anyone who was paying attention.

More than any other American president, Barack Obama seemed to be thinking about his legacy from the moment he took office, viewing himself as a transformative and iconic world figure. He received international accolades before he even began. His desire to humble America before the Muslim world in Cairo, his discomfort with American exceptionalism, his eagerness to apologize for America’s historical transgressions were rewarded with a Noble Peace Prize.


Project Syndicate, Shlomo Ben-Ami
TEL AVIV – Israel’s persistent occupation of Palestinian lands is irreparably damaging its international standing – or so the conventional wisdom goes. In fact, Israel currently enjoys a degree of global influence unprecedented in its history, as a slew of new international challenges give its foreign policy, long held hostage by the single issue of Palestine, significantly more room for maneuver.


by Jonathan Spyer, The Tower

The Syrian civil war is a disaster of historic proportions that shows no sign of ending anytime soon. The latest figures suggest that it has killed nearly half a million people, making it the greatest catastrophe to hit the Levant since 1945, dwarfing earlier crises in terms of its human cost. But throughout all this carnage, only one country that borders Syria has managed to remain largely immune to the side effects of the war. That country is Israel.

Anyone who visits Gaza cannot help but be struck by the humanity of ordinary people, writes Marsh [AP]

Saskia Marsh
More than 10 years have passed since Israeli settlers withdrew from Gaza. Life for the average Gazan has become markedly worse since - exacerbated, some would argue, by the election of Hamas in 2006 and its physical takeover of the territory in 2007.


Author Ben Caspit
A fascinating and volatile drama has been unfolding in recent weeks around the intrigue that begins in Jerusalem and winds through Moscow, Damascus, Beirut, Ankara, Tehran and Canberra. Israel, Russia, Turkey, Australia and Iran are the key players, while Syria and Lebanon have supporting roles. To the players in the field, the game is reminiscent of a regional chessboard with a lot more than two contestants.

Project Syndicate, Ian Shapiro and Nicholas Strong
NEW HAVEN – As the turmoil in the Middle East worsens, the fate of the Palestinians seems to have been put on the diplomatic back burner. Indeed, the two-state solution has been on life-support since Israel’s 2014 Operation Protective Edge in Gaza, despite US Secretary of State John Kerry’s heroic efforts to revive it. Many in the region, and elsewhere, now believe that it is dead.


Author Ben Caspit
Egyptian parliament member and TV talk show host Tawfiq Okasha let the genie out of the bottle. Even though a shoe was thrown in his face by Kamel Ahmed, another parliament member, and despite the savage attacks directed at him in the Egyptian media and public forum in recent days, the sharp-tongued, brazen Okasha doesn’t get excited.