“Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, the coordinator of government activities in the territories, has called for the implementation of a Gazan version of the Marshall Plan through which the international community would direct large amounts of assistance to improve the economy in the Gaza Strip. Mordechai said he believes there is an inseparable link between the conditions the residents of Gaza are enduring including its struggling economy and the security situation. He warned that a continued worsening of the situation there would increase the chances of an escalation of violence between Israel and Hamas, the Islamist movement that has run the strip for the past decade. So he decided to recommend that Israel support a wide-scale plan that would bring real hope for positive change to the population of Gaza.”
“An estimated 85,000 rallied in Rabin Square in Tel Aviv to mark the 22nd anniversary of the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. The rally Saturday night was controversial for stressing national unity over peace. The rally, organized by two centrist organizations: the Darkenu movement and Commanders for Israel’s Security, was held under the slogan “We are one people,” and did not include national politicians on its list of speakers. Banners and flags of the left-wing Labor and Meretz parties flew throughout the crowd, as did the banners of the anti-settlement group Peace Now and the Palestinian human rights group B’Tselem. Oded Revivi, mayor of the West Bank settlement of Efrat, was booed by the some in the crowd before he started to speak. Several lawmakers from right-wing parties attended the rally, apparently for the first time.”
Zvi Bar’el observes, “The position adopted by Russia, the EU and China, all of which continue to do business and sign long-term economic agreements with Iran, not only exposes the strategic fault line running through the world, but also sends a clear message to the U.S. administration: Even if Washington imposes more sanctions on Iran, those sanctions will end up hurting America no less than Iran.”
Palestinian President Abbas is traveling to Saudi Arabia on Monday in a surprise visit, where he will meet with King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman. A source close to Abbas told Haaretz that Abbas will head to Riyadh via Sharm el-Sheik, after meeting with Egypt President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi. “The visit was not planned but after being in touch yestrday, it was decided that Abbas would make a quick visit to Saudi Arabia.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday resolutely rejected a one-state solution but stopped short, however, of explicitly endorsing Palestinian statehood.
Prime Minister Netanyahu’s attorney and confidant, David Shimron, and another associate were interrogated by police for 15 hours on Sunday as part of the ongoing investigation into the purchase of German submarines and other vessels, known as Case 3000.
Israel is holding the bodies of five Islamic Jihad terrorists killed in the Gaza terror tunnel that the Israel Defense Forces blew up last week. The IDF said on Sunday that it is holding the bodies, days after Hamas, which controls Gaza, asked to be allowed to search for the missing men.
Saad Hariri Quits as Lebanon Prime Minister, Blaming Iran, The New York Times
Prime Minister Saad Hariri of Lebanon said on Saturday that he had quit his post, blaming Iran for interference in Arab affairs and throwing his country, already awash with tensions and regional rivalries, into deeper uncertainty. Mr. Hariri, speaking in a televised address from the Saudi capital, Riyadh, issued a blistering condemnation of Iran and its growing power and influence in the region. He also assailed Iran’s Lebanese ally, Hezbollah, the Shiite militia and political party that is part of the national unity cabinet he led.
Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman called on President Reuven Rivlin on Sunday to pardon Elor Azaria, the soldier who is serving a 14-month prison sentence following a manslaughter conviction for killing a Palestinian terrorist, Abdel Fattah al-Sharif, in Hebron last year. Sharif had been subdued and was on the ground when Azaria shot and killed him.
The United States is ready to pull out of the U.N. Human Rights Council unless it institutes reforms, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley told an Israeli-American audience. “The Human Rights Council will either adopt these reforms, or the United States will leave,” Haley said Saturday to applause at the annual Washington conference of the Israeli American Council. Haley said U.S. proposed reforms include removing “Item 7,” which requires a report on Israeli actions in the West Bank each time the panel convenes.
Israeli settlers on Sunday toured the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in East Jerusalem under the protection of Israeli armed forces, according to official Palestinian Authority (PA)-owned Wafa news agency.
Labor party leader Avi Gabbay lambasted the head of Yisrael Beytenu on Sunday evening, saying Avigdor Liberman was a promoter of government corruption, after the latter said he would not join any government coalition headed by Gabbay. Gabbay also dismissed Liberman’s claim, saying he would join a Labor-led government if the opportunity were to arise.
Iran’s hard-liners use Trump’s rhetoric to target rivals at home, Washington Post
Erin Cunningham reports, “Escalating tensions with the United States have stirred nationalist sentiment in Iran, giving its hard-liners an opportunity to more fiercely target critics and settle old scores, rights advocates and analysts say. The clampdown on activists, journalists and even politicians has served as a warning to pro-reform leaders who have pushed for a more tolerant and open Iran. In recent weeks, hard-line judges have confined a reformist ex-president to his home, sentenced pro-reform leaders to prison and opened a criminal investigation into BBC’s Persian-language channel for conspiracy to harm national security.”
The Balfour Declaration at 100, J Street Blog
Members of J Street’s staff reflect on Israel’s past and future 100 years after the Balfour Declaration.
Why There’s Hope for a Progressive Agenda in Israel, Jewish Currents
Maya Haber observes, “Much like the right in the 1990s, the Israeli progressive camp now understands that in order to make Israel a better place, it needs to gain power. They have identified the vulnerabilities of the right and have started fighting back.”
US optimistic about Mideast peace deal, Al-Monitor
Uri Savir writes, “A senior Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs official who spoke to Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity said that the possibility of guidelines for peace negotiations has indeed been discussed between Greenblatt and Jerusalem. According to the Israeli source, Netanyahu objects qualifying Hamas disarmament as a goal of negotiations, as in the US possible proposals; this must be a precondition to negotiations. On the Palestinian side, a senior PLO official reacted to the US ideas with skepticism. Abbas is indeed encouraged by US-Egyptian cooperation on the reconciliation agreement and on eventual peace talks, but the content of this US position is unacceptable to him. Still, the PLO source emphasized that Ramallah was told by the administration it was free to express its positions on all permanent status talks.”
Dan Shapiro writes, “Israeli leaders have been preparing for the next war with Hezbollah since 2006. Iran’s increasing assertiveness across the region makes clear that, even more than the last war, it will be a fight to diminish the Iranian threat on Israel’s borders. Israel and Saudi Arabia are fully aligned in this regional struggle, and the Saudis cannot help but be impressed by Israel’s increasing assertiveness to strike at Iranian threats in Syria….But Israeli leaders will want to take care not to find themselves backed into a premature confrontation by the maneuvers of their allies who sit in Riyadh.”
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