Arab–Israeli and Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Saturday, January 6th, 2018 - 11:00 am (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: Editorial, General, Union for the Mediterranean

© Oncenawhile

© Oncenawhile

The Arab–Israeli conflict is the political tension, military conflicts and disputes between a number of Arab countries and Israel. The roots (European colonial period, Ottoman Empire, widespread Antisemitism in Europe, Jews in the Russian Empire, Baron Edmond James de Rothschild (Jewish land purchase in Palestine), Theodor Herzl, Jewish National Fund, timeline of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, World War I, Sykes–Picot Agreement, Balfour Declaration, World War II, The Holocaust (International Holocaust Remembrance Day), Évian Conference, Mandatory Palestine, Forced displacement, and United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine) of the modern Arab–Israeli conflict (or the history of collective failure) are bound in the rise of Zionism and Arab nationalism towards the end of the 19th century. Territory regarded by the Jewish people as their historical homeland is also regarded by the Pan-Arab movement as historically and currently belonging to the Palestinians, and in the Pan-Islamic context, as Muslim lands. The sectarian conflict between Palestinian Jews and Arabs emerged in the early 20th century, peaking into a full-scale civil war in 1947 and transforming into the First Arab–Israeli War in May 1948 following the Israeli Declaration of Independence (Nakba). Large-scale hostilities mostly ended with the cease-fire agreements after the 1973 Yom Kippur War, Ramadan War, or October War. Peace agreements were signed between Israel and Egypt in 1979, resulting in Israeli withdrawal from the Sinai Peninsula and abolishment of the military governance system in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, in favor of Israeli Civil Administration and consequent unilateral, internationally not recognized, annexation of the Syrian Golan Heights and East Jerusalem. Even when the text is about 60 pages long, it is just a summary. The multitude of links point out that there is a lot more to learn in detail. At first, it is a timeline of the major developments in the region and it leads to today’s challenges. The starting point is the view of the international community, especially the European Union and North America, on the conflict, enriched with excursions into the ideas, convictions, believes, and thoughts of the direct and indirect involved parties to the conflict.

Content

Timetable of wars and violent events

The nature of the conflict has shifted over the years from the large-scale, regional Arab–Israeli conflict to a more local Israeli–Palestinian conflict, which peaked during the 1982 Lebanon War. The interim Oslo Accords led to the creation of the Palestinian National Authority in 1994, within the context of the Israeli–Palestinian peace process. The same year Israel and Jordan reached a peace accord. In 1988 the Palestinian Authority recognized the state of Israel. A cease-fire has been largely maintained between Israel and Baathist Syria, as well as with Lebanon since 2006. However, developments in the course of the Syrian Civil War reshuffled the situation near Israel’s northern border, putting the Syrian Arab Republic, Hezbollah (whose military arm is classified by the Western community as a terrorist organization – The Guardian, 25 February 2019: UK to outlaw Hezbollah’s political wing) and the Syrian opposition at odds with each other and complicating their relations with Israel. The conflict between Israel and Hamas-ruled Gaza, which resulted in the 2014 cease-fire, is usually also considered part of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict and therefore the Arab–Israeli conflict. Its 2006–2012 phase is, however, also attributed to the Iran–Israel proxy conflict in the region (Government of Syria and Hezbollah are being supported by Iran). Since 2012, Iran (predominantly Shia) has cut ties with the Sunni Hamas movement on account of the Syrian Civil War. Despite the peace agreements with Egypt and Jordan, interim peace accords with Palestine and the generally existing cease-fire, the Arab world and Israel remain at odds with each other over many issues.

National movements
The roots of the modern Arab–Israeli conflict lie in the rise of Zionism and the reactionary Arab nationalism that arose in response to Zionism towards the end of the 19th century (at that time, Zionism was still a liberal, religious-nationalist movement, which has only experienced a major right-wing spin in the past twenty years and is therefore discussed controversially in the diaspora, in particular because the Zionist movement in Israel isn’t only claiming to speak for all Jews worldwide, but also to determine who is a Jew and how Jews have to live. As expected, this is received well only in parts of the diaspora). Territory regarded by the Jewish people as their historical homeland is also regarded by the Pan-Arab movement as historically and presently belonging to the Palestinian Arabs. Before World War I, the Middle East, including Palestine (later Mandatory Palestine), had been under the control of the Ottoman Empire for nearly 400 years. During the closing years of their empire, the Ottomans began to espouse their Turkish ethnic identity, asserting the primacy of Turks within the empire, leading to discrimination against the Arabs. The promise of liberation from the Ottomans led many Jews and Arabs to support the allied powers during World War I, leading to the emergence of widespread Arab nationalism. Both Arab nationalism and Zionism had their formulative beginning in Europe. The Zionist Congress was established in Basel in 1897, while the “Arab Club” was established in Paris in 1906. In the late 19th century European and Middle Eastern Jewish communities began to increasingly immigrate to Palestine and purchase land from the local Ottoman landlords. The population of the late 19th century in Palestine reached 600,000 – mostly Muslim Arabs, but also significant minorities of Jews, Christians, Druze and some Samaritans and Bahai’s. At that time, Jerusalem did not extend beyond the walled area and had a population of only a few tens of thousands. Collective farms, known as kibbutzim, were established, as was the first entirely Jewish city in modern times, Tel Aviv. During 1915–16, as World War I was underway, the British High Commissioner in Egypt, Sir Henry McMahon, secretly corresponded with Hussein ibn Ali al-Hashimi, the patriarch of the Hashemite family and Ottoman governor of Mecca and Medina. McMahon convinced Husayn to lead an Arab revolt against the Ottoman Empire, which was aligned with Germany against Britain and France in the war. McMahon promised that if the Arabs supported Britain in the war, the British government would support the establishment of an independent Arab state under Hashemite rule in the Arab provinces of the Ottoman Empire, including Palestine. The Arab revolt, led by Thomas Edward Lawrence (“Lawrence of Arabia”) and Husayn’s son Faysal, was successful in defeating the Ottomans, and Britain took control over much of this area. A very relaxed phase reached the relationships, as Baron Edmond James de Rothschild 1882 began to buy land in Palestine. All parties were satisfied with the solution, especially as Rothschild pushed ahead with his own goals, while the Arabs laughed that they had sold another piece of desert to the “batty European”. This could have gone on happily and endlessly, if there had not been fundamental upheavals in Europe and finally the Holocaust.

1974–2000

Egypt
Following the Camp David Accords of the late 1970s, Israel and Egypt signed a peace treaty in March 1979. Under its terms, the Sinai Peninsula returned to Egyptian hands, and the Gaza Strip remained under Israeli control, to be included in a future State of Palestine. The agreement also provided for the free passage of Israeli ships through the Suez Canal and recognition of the Straits of Tiran and the Gulf of Aqaba as international waterways.

Jordan
In October 1994, Israel and Jordan signed a peace agreement, which stipulated mutual cooperation, an end of hostilities, the fixing of the Israel-Jordan border, and a resolution of other issues. The conflict between them had cost roughly 18.3 billion dollars. Its signing is also closely linked with the efforts to create peace between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) representing the Palestinian National Authority (PNA). It was signed at the southern border crossing of Arabah on 26 October 1994 and made Jordan only the second Arab country (after Egypt) to sign a peace accord with Israel (BBC, 21 October 2018: Jordan seeks to end Israel land lease).

Iraq
Israel and Iraq have been implacable foes since 1948. Iraq sent its troops to participate in the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, and later backed Egypt and Syria in the 1967 Six-Day War and in the 1973 Yom Kippur War, Ramadan War, or October War. In June 1981, Israel attacked and destroyed newly built Iraqi nuclear facilities in Operation Opera. During the Gulf War in 1991, Iraq fired 39 Scud missiles into Israel, in the hopes of uniting the Arab world against the coalition which sought to liberate Kuwait. At the behest of the United States, Israel did not respond to this attack in order to prevent a greater outbreak of war.

Lebanon
In 1970, following an extended civil war, King Hussein expelled the Palestine Liberation Organization from Jordan. September 1970 is known as the Black September in Arab history and sometimes is referred to as the “era of regrettable events”. It was a month when Hashemite King Hussein of Jordan moved to quash the autonomy of Palestinian organisations and restore his monarchy’s rule over the country. The violence resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of people, the vast majority Palestinians. Armed conflict lasted until July 1971 with the expulsion of the PLO and thousands of Palestinian fighters to Lebanon. The PLO resettled in Lebanon, from which it staged raids into Israel. In 1978, Israel launched Operation Litani, in which it together with the South Lebanon Army forced the PLO to retreat north of the Litani river. In 1981 another conflict between Israel and the PLO broke out, which ended with a ceasefire agreement that did not solve the core of the conflict. In June 1982, Israel invaded Lebanon. Within two months the PLO agreed to withdraw thence. In March 1983, Israel and Lebanon signed a ceasefire agreement. However, Syria pressured President Amine Gemayel into nullifying the truce in March 1984. By 1985, Israeli forces withdrew to a 15 km wide southern strip of Lebanon, following which the conflict continued on a lower scale, with relatively low casualties on both sides. In 1993 and 1996, Israel launched major operations against the Shiite militia of Hezbollah, which had become an emergent threat. In May 2000, the newly elected government of Ehud Barak authorized a withdrawal from Southern Lebanon, fulfilling an election promise to do so well ahead of a declared deadline. The hasty withdrawal lead to the immediate collapse of the South Lebanon Army, and many members either got arrested or fled to Israel. In 2006, as a response to a Hezbollah cross-border raid, Israel launched air strikes on Hezbollah strongholds in Southern Lebanon, starting the 2006 Lebanon War. The inconclusive war lasted for 34 days, and resulted in the creation of a buffer zone in Southern Lebanon and the deployment of Lebanese troops south of the Litani river for the first time since the 1960s. The Israeli government under Ehud Olmert was harshly criticized for its handling of the war in the Winograd Commission (see Israeli–Lebanese conflict, Israel–Lebanon relations, and Palestinian insurgency in South Lebanon).

Palestinians
The 1970s were marked by a large number of major, international terrorist attacks, including the Lod Airport massacre and the Munich Olympics Massacre in 1972, and the Entebbe Hostage Taking in 1976, with over 100 Jewish hostages of different nationalities kidnapped and held in Uganda. In December 1987, the First Intifada began. The First Intifada was a mass Palestinian uprising against Israeli rule in the Palestinian territories. The rebellion began in the Jabalia refugee camp and quickly spread throughout Gaza and the West Bank. Palestinian actions ranged from civil disobedience to violence. In addition to general strikes, boycotts on Israeli products, graffiti and barricades, Palestinian demonstrations that included stone-throwing by youths against the Israel Defense Forces brought the Intifada international attention. The Israeli army’s heavy handed response to the demonstrations, with live ammunition, beatings and mass arrests, brought international condemnation. The PLO, which until then had never been recognised as the leaders of the Palestinian people by Israel, was invited to peace negotiations the following year, after it recognized Israel and renounced terrorism. In mid-1993, Israeli and Palestinian representatives engaged in peace talks in Oslo. As a result, in September 1993, Israel and the PLO signed the Oslo Accords, known as the Declaration of Principles or Oslo I; in side letters, Israel recognized the PLO as the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people while the PLO recognized the right of the state of Israel to exist and renounced terrorism, violence and its desire for the destruction of Israel. The Oslo II agreement was signed in 1995 and detailed the division of the West Bank into Areas A, B, and C. Area A was land under full Palestinian civilian control. In Area A, Palestinians were also responsible for internal security. The Oslo agreements remain important documents in Israeli-Palestinian relations (see Israeli–Palestinian conflict).

2000–09
The Second Intifada forced Israel to rethink its relationship and policies towards the Palestinians. Following a series of suicide bombings and attacks, the Israeli army launched Operation Defensive Shield. It was the largest military operation conducted by Israel since the Six-Day War (“Censored Voices” by Mor Loushy and Daniel Sivan). As violence between the Israeli army and Palestinian militants intensified, Israel expanded its security apparatus around the West Bank by re-taking many parts of land in Area A. Israel established a complicated system of roadblocks and checkpoints around major Palestinian areas to deter violence and protect Israeli settlements. However, since 2008, the IDF has slowly transferred authority to Palestinian security forces. Israel’s then prime minister Ariel Sharon began a policy of disengagement from Gaza from the Gaza Strip in 2003. This policy was fully implemented in August 2005. Sharon’s announcement to disengage from Gaza came as a tremendous shock to his critics both on the left and on the right. A year previously, he had commented that the fate of the most far-flung settlements in Gaza, Netzararem and Kfar Darom, was regarded in the same light as that of Tel Aviv. The formal announcements to evacuate seventeen Gaza settlements and another four in the West Bank in February 2004 represented the first reversal for the settler movement since 1968. It divided his party. It was strongly supported by Trade and Industry Minister Ehud Olmert and Tzipi Livni, the Minister for Immigration and Absorption, but Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom and Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu strongly condemned it. It was also uncertain whether this was simply the beginning of further evacuation. On 16 March 2003, Rachel Corrie, an American peace activist was crushed to death by an Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) bulldozer in Rafah during a non-violent protest of the Israeli demolition of Palestinian homes. Corrie stood in confrontation with the bulldozers for three hours wearing a bright orange jacket and carrying a megaphone. Although the Israeli government has denied responsibility in the incident and ruled her death as an accident, several eye-witness reports say that the Israeli soldier operating the bulldozer deliberately ran her over. In June 2006, Hamas militants infiltrated an army post near the Israeli side of the Gaza Strip and abducted Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. Two IDF soldiers were killed in the attack, while Shalit was wounded after his tank was hit with an RPG. Three days later Israel launched Operation Summer Rains to secure the release of Shalit. He was held hostage by Hamas, who barred the International Red Cross from seeing him, until 18 October 2011, when he was exchanged for 1,027 Palestinian prisoners. In July 2006, Hezbollah fighters crossed the border from Lebanon into Israel, attacked and killed eight Israeli soldiers, and abducted two others as hostages, setting off the 2006 Lebanon War which caused much destruction in Lebanon. A UN-sponsored ceasefire went into effect on 14 August 2006, officially ending the conflict. The conflict killed over a thousand Lebanese and over 150 Israelis, severely damaged Lebanese civil infrastructure, and displaced approximately one million Lebanese and 300,000–500,000 Israelis, although most were able to return to their homes. After the ceasefire, some parts of Southern Lebanon remained uninhabitable due to Israeli unexploded cluster bomblets. In the aftermath of the Battle of Gaza, where Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip in a violent civil war with rival Fatah, Israel placed restrictions on its border with Gaza borders and ended economic cooperation with the Palestinian leadership based there. Israel and Egypt have imposed a blockade of the Gaza Strip since 2007. Israel maintains the blockade is necessary to limit Palestinian rocket attacks from Gaza and to prevent Hamas from smuggling advanced rockets and weapons capable of hitting its cities. On 6 September 2007, in Operation Orchard, Israel bombed an eastern Syrian complex which was allegedly a nuclear reactor being built with assistance from North Korea. Israel had also bombed Syria in 2003. In April 2008, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad told a Qatari newspaper that Syria and Israel had been discussing a peace treaty for a year, with Turkey as a go-between. This was confirmed in May 2008 by a spokesman for Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. As well as a peace treaty, the future of the Syrian Golan Heights is being discussed. President Assad said “there would be no direct negotiations with Israel until a new US president takes office.” Speaking in Jerusalem on 26 August 2008, then United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice criticized Israel’s increased settlement construction in the West Bank as detrimental to the peace process. Rice’s comments came amid reports that Israeli construction in the disputed territory had increased by a factor of 1.8 over 2007 levels. A fragile six-month truce between Hamas and Israel expired on 19 December 2008; attempts at extending the truce failed amid accusations of breaches from both sides. Following the expiration, Israel launched a raid on a tunnel suspected of being used to kidnap Israeli soldiers which killed several Hamas fighters. Following this, Hamas resumed rocket and mortar attacks on Israeli cities, most notably firing over 60 rockets on 24 December. On 27 December 2008, Israel launched Operation Cast Lead against Hamas. Numerous human rights organizations accused Israel and Hamas of committing war crimes (United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict (Goldstone Report)). In 2009 Israel placed a 10-month settlement freeze on the West Bank. Hillary Clinton praised the freeze as an “unprecedented” gesture that could “help revive Middle East talks.” A raid was carried out by Israeli naval forces on six ships of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla in May 2010. After the ships refused to dock at Port Ashdod. On the MV Mavi Marmara, activists clashed with the Israeli boarding party. During the fighting, nine activists were killed by Israeli special forces. Widespread international condemnation of and reaction to the raid followed, Israel–Turkey relations were strained, and Israel subsequently eased its blockade on the Gaza Strip. Several dozen other passengers and seven Israeli soldiers were injured, with some of the commandos suffering from gunshot wounds.

2010–present
Following the latest round of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, 13 Palestinian militant movements led by Hamas initiated a terror campaign designed to derail and disrupt the negotiations. Attacks on Israelis have increased since August 2010, after 4 Israeli civilians were killed by Hamas militants. Palestinian militants have increased the frequency of rocket attacks aimed at Israelis. On 2 August, Hamas militants launched seven Katyusha rockets at Eilat and Aqaba in Jordan, killing one Jordanian civilian and wounding 4 others. Intermittent fighting continued since then, including 680 rocket attacks on Israel in 2011. On 14 November 2012, Israel killed Ahmed Jabari, a leader of Hamas’s military wing, launching Operation Pillar of Cloud. Hamas and Israel agreed to an Egyptian-mediated ceasefire on 21 November. The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights said that 158 Palestinians were killed during the operation, of which: 102 were civilians, 55 were militants and one was a policeman; 30 were children and 13 were women. B’Tselem stated that according to its initial findings, which covered only the period between 14 and 19 November 102 Palestinians were killed in the Gaza Strip, 40 of them civilians. According to Israeli figures, 120 combatants and 57 civilians were killed. International outcry ensued, with many criticizing Israel for what much of the international community perceived as a disproportionately violent response. Protests took place on hundreds of college campuses across the U.S., and in front of the Israeli consulate in New York. Additional protests took place throughout the Middle East, throughout Europe, and in parts of South America. Following an escalation of rocket attacks by Hamas, Israel started Operation Protective Edge in the Gaza Strip on 8 July 2014.

MAIN CONFLICTS TODAY
Consensus in Europe and North America is, that Israel within the 1967 borders is non-negotiable (Times of Israel, 14 February 2019: Is it really legitimate to talk about legitimacy?). This position has prevailed in most of the rest of the international community as well. Such a basic agreement between the two parties to the dispute is only partially given yet. In all other challenges, of which there are many, significant national and international differences in interests are evident. Of course, it is easier to classify and assess the conflict when not affected personally or emotionally, especially because of the differentiation in countries, states, policies, governments, populations and religions is easier. The closer you get to the action, the more emotional it becomes, and the differentiation hardly succeeds or is going lost at all.

State borders
The territory of a future State of Palestine and its border with Israel are unclear and even controversial among Israelis and Palestinians themselves. With the Arabs rejecting the UN Partition Plan of 1947 (Resolution 181) and Israel annexing much of the Palestinian territories during the Palestinian War, the area originally planned for a Palestinian state was reduced enormously. From 1960 to about 1989, according to internal and official documents, the PLO sought a Palestinian state that included Jordan, Israel, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip. The PLO gave up the demand for a state in Israel in the Oslo Accords and officially recognized Israel’s right to exist in 1988 (UN Security Council Resolution 242 – at the same time proclaiming the Palestinian Declaration of Independence), while international law doesn’t provide a “right for existence of states”. However, the word creation has served Israel well, especially as a vehicle was needed to create an alternative to the “Territorial Integrity of States” which explicitly refers to “the inviolability of the territory and borders of sovereign states”. Israel and Palestine, Israel and Syria and Israel and Lebanon doesn’t have such borders yet (United Nations General Assembly Resolution 194), so that it will take some time before nationally and internationally recognized borders will be given. Today, the PLO is seeking a state in the territory of the entire West Bank and the Gaza Strip with East Jerusalem as its capital, and is with solution in line with the international community. Parts of Fatah as well as the Islamist, classified by Israel and by parts of the Western community as terrorist organizations, Hamas (international positions) and Islamic Jihad (Times of Israel, 1 April 2019: Reports: Islamic Jihad planning large Gaza attack to derail ceasefire talks) continued to demand the “liberation of the whole of Palestine” including the territory of Israel, with it its elimination. In its recently revised charter, Hamas has distanced itself from this goal and is now referring to the 1967 borders, with the state of Israel still not recognized as such. On the Israeli side, there are calls from settlers and other right-wing extremist, radical and nationalist terrorist organizations (in Israel, referred to as “Taliban with Kippah“) for Eretz Israel, that is, the violent annexation of Gaza, the West Bank (the so-called, internationally unacknowledged, but supported by Christian Zionists (Second Coming of Christ), Judea and Samaria (Judea is the historical core settlement area of the Jews) and the Syrian Golan Heights to create a “Greater Israel”. The demolition of the Bedouin village Khan al-Ahmar in September 2018 has created further conditions for the full partition of the West Bank into two disjointed parts (on both sides of Highway 1) to illegally settle on more Palestinian lands and at the same time prevent the implementation of the 1988 Palestinian Declaration of Independence permanently and at any cost, thereby continuing the Netanyahu government’s endless sabotage of a peace treaty and the two-state solution (Israel National News, 29 May 2017: “Netanyahu no longer supports two-state solution”, BBC, 26 September 2018: Trump: Two-state Middle East solution would work best, NPR, 30 September 2018: Netanyahu’s Not-Quite-2-State Solution, Bloomberg, 15 November 2018: Netanyahu’s Opposition Keeps the Two-State Solution Alive and Times of Israel, 5 March 2019: What if a desperate Netanyahu embraces West Bank annexation?), driving the country more and more into international isolation and turning it into a theocracy. As a result, Netanyahu’s Israel has developed at a remarkable pace backwards and thus becoming increasingly similar to neighboring countries.

Important players in the region are the Gulf States, which are aiming for the two-state solution within the 1967 borders (Arab Peace Initiative), as well as the Western community. Without these players, solving the given challenges will not be possible (Jerusalem Post, 24 March 2019: Stronger Evangelical-Muslim relations will be key in achieving Middle East peace). To signal willingness to negotiate, Saudi Arabia surprisingly announced in May 2017 that it would allow Israeli companies to do business in the country (as part of the Saudi Vision 2030). Another milestone followed in March 2018: for the first time in history, Saudi airspace was opened for commercial passenger flights of Air India to Israel. On 2 April 2018, the reform-oriented (The Washington Post, 1 March 2018: Are Saudi Arabia’s reforms for real? A recent visit says yes.) Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced in an interview with The Atlantic (Saudi Crown Prince: Iran’s Supreme Leader ‘Makes Hitler Look Good’) that “the Palestinians and the Israelis have the right to their own land.” This is the first time ever, that a Saudi Arabian high profile awards Israel the right to exist. A statement that seemed to be unthinkable a year ago (New York Times, 3 April 2018: Saudi Prince Says Israelis Have Right to ‘Their Own Land’, BBC, 3 April 2018: Israel and Saudi Arabia: The relationship emerging into the open, France24.com, 3 April 2018: Saudi Crown Prince recognises Israel’s right to exist, Deutsche Welle, 3 April 2018: What is the Saudi prince’s strategy in recognizing Israel?, Haaretz, 1 May 2018: Palestinians Should ‘Shut Up’ or Make Peace, Saudi Crown Prince Told Jewish Leaders, Haaretz, 5 August 2018: Why Younger Saudis Won’t Fund, Facilitate or Fight for a Palestinian State, The New York Times, 23 November 2017: Saudi Arabia’s Arab Spring, at Last: The crown prince has big plans for his society., The Washington Post, 7 August 2018: Saudi Arabia cannot afford to pick fights with Canada, The Guardian, 12 August 2018: The bizarre spat with Canada shows Mohammed bin Salman’s true colours, The Washington Times, 26 October 2018: Israel’s Netanyahu pays surprise visit to Oman, Middle East Eye, 26 October 2018: Netanyahu makes surprise trip to Oman and meets with Sultan Qaboos, Reuters, 26 October 2018: Israeli PM Netanyahu makes rare visit to Oman, Al Jazeera, 26 October 2018: Israel’s Netanyahu meets Sultan Qaboos in surprise Oman trip, Bloomberg, 28 October 2018: Netanyahu’s Oman Visit Sets Off Israeli Cabinet Rush to Gulf, The Washington Post, 1 November 2018: Saudi crown prince described journalist as a dangerous Islamist in call with White House, officials say, The Atlantic, 1 November 2018: Progress Without Peace in the Middle East and BBC, 6 November 2018: Israel-Arab ties warm up after long deep freeze). Even if the Gulf States and Israel officially exclude mutual diplomatic missions, there has been unofficial backroom diplomacy for years, advocated and supported by the respective country leaders. That’s why sometimes Arab delegations stroll through West Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, or observers wonder which conversation partners meet in the business and conference centers of the hotels in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

Today, the state of Israel is recognized by 169 of the 193 United Nations states, and since 1988 by the Palestinians. Today, the state of Palestine is recognized by 136 states. Israel isn’t among them (or as Israreli writer Amos Oz wrote: “Israel is a refugee camp, Palestine too. The conflict is a tragic clash between the right and the right … both nations don’t have another place to go. They cannot unite into a big happy family, because they are not family, and they are not happy – these are two miserable, different families. A historical compromise must be made: a two-state solution.”).

Right of return
Among the parties particularly controversial is the right of return for the Palestinian refugees, who lost their homes and their property in the wake of the founding of Israel and were not allowed to return. The Palestinians demand the right of return (supported by UN General Assembly resolution 194) for all former refugees (about 800,000) and Palestinians today counted as refugees (about 6 million, Palestinian claims 8.5 million). Israel denies this, referring to the Israeli Law of Return for Jews from all over the world (the Likud coalition has recently passed legal restrictions on this), as well as the Jews expelled from the Arab lands during Israel’s founding: a right of return for both Jews and Palestinians would lead to the dissolution of the state of Israel in its current conception as a Jewish dominated state (which would also apply to the counter-concept of Eretz Israel by Israeli settlers’ and other right-wing extremist, radical and nationalist terrorist organizations), a right of return or compensation for the Arab Jews is unthinkable. The Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, despite their affiliation to the Palestinian Territories, are still mostly counted as refugees by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and are in most cases stateless. The same applies to the Palestinians, who still live in refugee camps in Lebanon and Syria. Despite the difficult living conditions in the refugee camps and the areas occupied by Israel, there is a sustained increase in population, especially in the latter. From 1967 to 2002, the number of Palestinians in the areas increased from 450,000 to 3.3 million. The birth rate in the Gaza Strip has been among the highest in the world for years. About half of all inhabitants of the occupied territories and refugee camps are under 15 years old (Foreign Policy, 25 June 2018: Shadow Government: Kushner’s Peace Plan Is a Disaster Waiting to Happen, Foreign Policy, 3 August 2018: Trump and Israel Seek End to Refugee Status for Millions of Palestinians, Haaretz, 23 October 2018: Israeli Foreign Ministry Official: If Trump Delays Peace Plan, France Will Offer Alternative, The Guardian, 1 January 2019: Why Trump’s Middle East peace plan is just a sideshow and Times of Israel, 7 January 2019: Justice ministry rejects Netanyahu’s criticism of corruption probes, Times of Israel, 7 January 2019: Justice ministry rejects Netanyahu’s criticism of corruption probes, Times of Israel, 28 February 2019: High Court rejects Likud petition to prevent AG announcing Netanyahu indictment, France24, 28 February 2019: Israeli Justice Ministry confirms intention to indict Netanyahu, The New York Times, 28 February 2019: Prosecutor Moves to Indict Netanyahu on Corruption Charges (which is why he is no longer referred to as “Prime Minister” but as “Crime Minister” in Israel), The New York Times, 28 February 2019: Trump Ordered Officials to Give Jared Kushner a Security Clearance (The Washington Post, 1 April 2019: White House whistleblower says 25 security clearance denials were reversed during Trump administration), The Washington Post, 20 March 2019: Under investigation and up for reelection, Netanyahu’s kinship with Trump has never been clearer, Haaretz, 20 March 2019: Pocket Money, Loans and Millions for Legal Advice: Has Netanyahu’s Wallet Finally Been Found?, Times of Israel vom 20.03.2019: State prosecutors said mulling criminal probe of Netanyahu in submarine case and Jerusalem Post, 22 March 2019: Trumpet recruits Netanyoohoo as 2020 running mate in US elex).

Israeli settlements in Palestinian territories
The third issue is the persistence of Israeli settlements established by Israel since 1967 in the occupied territories, where over 600,000 Israeli Jews live today and have skyrocketed in recent years. These settlements are internationally regarded as contrary to international law, whereby the military occupation as such is legitimate, since there is no peace agreement between the parties to date. The colonization of foreign territory violates international law (Geneva Conventions). The West Bank was divided into three zones (A: 18%, B: 20% and C: 62% of the territory behind the Green Line) as a result of the 1995 Interim Agreement on the West Bank and Gaza Strip, in which the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli military each have different powers. Jewish settlers established numerous Israeli settlements after the occupation especially in the C area, for which Palestinian land was partially confiscated. Thus, in the C area of today, there were about 1,200 Jewish-Israeli settlers in 1972, 110,000 in 1993 and 310,000 in 2010, which were settled in 124 settlements and about 100 outposts by the Israeli settlement policy. About 150,000 Palestinians live in the C areas. Israel controls the entire infrastructure and suppresses Palestinian development. This settlement policy is vehemently criticized by the Palestinians and the international community. The Israelis’ hope that the dissolution of various settlement areas, such as the complete eviction of Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip in 2005, would decisively advance the peace process (land for peace), was not fulfilled. The Gaza Strip became the center of power for Islamist Hamas, much as the Israeli withdrawal from southern Lebanon in the late 1980s did not bring peace, but the strengthening of the radical Islamic Hizbullah, which justified its fight against Israel with an internationally unacknowledged agreement between Syria and Lebanon over unsuccessful land transfer (Shebaa farms). At the end of January 2009, the Israeli daily Haaretz published a secret settlement database, which was held back by Defense Minister Ehud Barak because of its political explosiveness. The database shows that 75% of all settlements in the West Bank have been built to a significant extent without authorization or even against Israeli law. In more than 30 settlements, buildings and infrastructure (roads, schools, synagogues, yeshivas and police stations) were built on private property of Palestinians. Many different sources speak of “occupied Palestinian territories” when they refer to Palestine or parts of it. An interesting, ground-breaking and at the same time surprising turn experienced the problem on 23 December 2016 under the UN Resolution 2334, which declared all Israeli settlements (East Jerusalem, West Bank and Golan Heights – The Guardian, 23 December 2016: US abstention allows UN to demand end to Israeli settlements, The Guardian, 24 December 2016: Israel rejects ‘shameful’ UN resolution amid criticism of Netanyahu, The New York Times, 24 December 2016: Netanyahu Promises Retribution for ‘Biased’ U.N. Resolution, Foreign Policy Journal, 28 December 2016: The Significance of UN Resolution 2334 on Israeli Settlements, Times of Israel: UN Security Council Resolution 2334, Jerusalem Post: UN Security Council Resolution 2334, The Guardian, 16 November 2018: US to oppose UN motion condemning Israeli control of Golan Heights, The Washington Post, 16 November 2018: Syrian and Israeli diplomats clash at U.N. over Golan Heights, Reuters, 16 November 2018: U.S. opposes U.N. Golan resolution, wins Israeli praise and The Guardian, 30 December 2018: ‘It was terror’: Palestinians decry rise in attacks by Israeli settlers) as well as the Gaza Strip “non-Israeli” and thus the Jewish settlers indirectly to Palestinians or Syrians, which means that Palestine is now home to the second largest Jewish community in Western Asia, even in front of Iran. In 2017, the occupation by Israel last for 50 years (Six-Day War). During numerous demonstrations and events, this was addressed internationally and in Israel and Palestine itself and an end was demanded so that two equal, peaceful, free, socially and economically prosperous states can coexist. Meanwhile, however, both societies are deeply affected by the conflict, with all conceivable negative aspects, but also some positive side effects (common peace efforts, cultural, social and sporting projects (grassroots movements) and many more).

Water supply
The Middle East consists of 95% desert areas and has low freshwater resources. Only a few rivers carry water throughout the year, and the number of underground aquifers and aquifers is limited. Overall, only 1% of the world’s freshwater resources are available to the Greater Middle East (around 5% of the world’s population), which corresponds to a per-capita availability of 761 cubic meters / year (by comparison, the average global availability is 6895 cubic meters per capita per year). Based on estimates of the population of Israel and the occupied territories, the amount of fresh water is just over 200 cubic meters per capita per year. The situation in the Gaza Strip is particularly critical due to high population growth. This results in a water supply of only 27-38 cubic meters per capita per year. Across the Middle East, access to freshwater holds potential for conflict. Similarly, possible cooperative solutions are an important basis for the development of the entire region. The fundamental conflict, the Jordan Water Question, was solved as early as 1953 as part of the Johnston Plan, a UN compromise proposal to which the neighboring states abide. The agreement was never officially ratified at the instigation of the Arab League, as any contractual agreement was considered recognition of Israel. The water question started a very early unofficial and intensive bilateral dialogue between Jordan and Israel. In contrast, the Syrian intention to use the waters of the Jordan by diversion of rivers Banyas and Hasbani for itself exclusively, is viewed as a trigger of the Six-Day War.

Jerusalem
Another unsolved problem is the future status of Jerusalem, which both sides claims as the future capital but is actually annexed by the state of Israel. The Middle East conflict has a strong religious component for many people involved on both sides, and certainly for some observers. Jerusalem is a holy city for Christians, Jews and Muslims. The Temple Mount, on which the temple of Jerusalem stood until 70 AD, and the western boundary wall of the plateau on which the temple stood – the so-called Wailing Wall, which is the most important shrine of Judaism today – for religious reasons many Jewish Israelis don’t want give out of hand. With the return to the Holy Land and the conquest of Jerusalem in 1967, they see the fulfilling of the promises of the Torah and are waiting for the return of Messiah (surprisingly, Jerusalem isn’t even mentioned once in the Torah). The settlement of holy places like al-Khalīl/Hebron in the West Bank would not have been possible to that extent without religious motivation. The Dome of the Rock, located in East Jerusalem, is a special sanctuary for Muslims. For radical Muslims, the very existence of Israel is a problem, because an area that once belonged to the sphere of influence of Islam can’t be handed over to “non-believers” (radical Muslims call Jews “non-believers” and Christians “crusaders”. In some cases, Christians and Jews are equally named “people of the book” (the Bible)). The most important concern of the Muslim Palestinians is to make sure that Jerusalem will become the capital of their own state with the Temple Mount as the center. These claims are based on the early Homayadian tradition that, according to Sura 17, verse 1-2 of the Koran, the meeting of Muhammad with Allah in company of the Archangel Gabriel and the Ascension of Muhammad at the site of today’s Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount should have taken place (it should be noted that all religious textsBible, Quran and Torah – have significant biological, geographical and physical weak points). In the conflict area, therefore, the conflict and its possible solutions appear differently depending on the application of the principles of the right of self-determination of the population residing there today, solely on the basis of demographic circumstances or by applying historical or historical-religious considerations. Since there is not even agreement on the applicable criteria on both sides and that each side postulates the principles which serve them most in the argument, the long-lasting and tenacious conflict can be explained. It is even further fueled by constantly creating new facts on the ground. As an example, the construction of new Israeli settlements in the West Bank is often mentioned. On the other hand, fears are voiced by the Israeli side that the overall significantly higher birth rate of the Arabs would change the existing demographic situation in the long run and lead to an Arab overweight. However, this is often counteracted by the equally high birth rate in the Jewish settlements in the West Bank. These and other arguments make it difficult to find a consensus solution to build two equal states side by side (international positions on Jerusalem and United States recognition of Jerusalem as capital of Israel).

Interesting about the “capital dispute” is that Jerusalem has been a whole lot in its long history, but hardly ever the capital of anything, but for millennians little more than a collection of huts. It is indisputable that the place has a long history as a religious center of various faiths – long before Christians, Jews and Muslims stayed in the region (the Old City in Palestinian East Jerusalem is the historic Jerusalem). Only during the British Mandate, the British headquarters was relocated to Jerusalem, so that the place became the capital of the mandate area. In this respect, the dispute between Israelis and Palestinians about the “capital” is unnecessary because it belongs equally to both parties or neither party.

For some time now, the Jerusalem suburb Abu Dis in the West Bank has been repeatedly discussed by Israeli and US representatives as an alternative capital of Palestine, instead of East Jerusalem. The offices of the authorities and administrations of the Palestinian National Authority, which are entrusted with Jerusalem-related tasks, are already located there today. Understandably, the Palestinians categorically reject this idea.

Security
There are further concerns on the Israeli side as to whether a future Palestinian government can guarantee the security of Israel and its citizens. In the past, there were repeated attacks from the Gaza Strip, were rockets where shot that hit Israeli territory. In addition, there were Israelis killed during suicide attacks that had been prepared in the Palestinian territories. On the other hand, terrorist attacks in the West Bank by radical Israeli settlers, the so-called Hilltop Youth and other Jewish-Israeli terrorist structures, against the Palestinian population repeatedly happened and still happen. There are also increasing attacks of members of the Israeli military against the Palestinian civilian population.

Cultural identity
According to one theory, there is a threat of an impending loss of identity on both sides, that is standing in the way of a solution in the near future. In addition to the religious and territorial aspects, both population groups need each other’s enemy image for their own identity/nation building process.

Peace process
The Middle East peace process refers to diplomatic efforts to find a peaceful solution to the Middle East conflict, in particular the initiatives to end the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, mediated by the United States and the Middle East Quartet. However, critics often sees the term as a mere political buzzword due to the alleged insolubility of the conflict or a lack of political will to implement a peaceful solution. These people may want to have a look at the living counter-evidence Abie Nathan, whose ideas would have brought peace to the region decades ago – if in particular politicians, activists, but as well the extremists of the various camps would have listened. Ultimately, however, with the sinking of his ship “Peace” off the coast of Ashdod, he charted the path of failed Israeli (not exactly peaceful or rational) efforts to resolve the conflict and further annexations of Palestinian land under Netanyahu. In retrospect, at no time before or after the Oslo peace process (Oslo Accords), which was negotiated between Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat during Bill Clinton‘s term of office, was a peace agreement closer (The Washington Post, 12 September 2018: A Middle East mirage – Twenty-five years ago, Israelis and Palestinians reached out for peace. But it escaped them.). The efforts ended abruptly when Yitzhak Rabin was shot dead after a peace event in th ecountry’s capitol Tel Aviv by an Israeli, who was obviously encouraged by Netanyahu’s massiv hate campaign against Rabin and his peace efforts (Haaretz, 22 October 2018: Analysis: Netanyahu’s Current Politics Reopen 23-year-old Wound of Rabin’s Assassination and Hotel New York). At the time, Netanyahu’s Greater Israel Party (Likud) was rightfully equated with the Palestinian Hamas (Haaretz, 17 September 2018: Israel’s Irreconcilable Differences With U.S. Jews and the Democratic Party May Soon Lead to Final Divorce). To date, both parties have further radicalized themselves. Surprisingly, with the help of several 100 million in PR and image campaigns, Netanyahu somehow managed to persuade parts of the international public to consider only Hamas (or at least parts of it) as a terrorist organization, although the Likud has neither changed its staff nor its ideology, and that Netanyahu’s role in the assassination of Rabin is either hushed up to the present day or highly emotionally debated, but hasn’t been legally processed at any time. The Rabin Square in Tel Aviv is a reminder of this. Shortly after, Netanyahu’s first term began, which has since severely and consistently massively worsened the starting point and conditions for peace agreements and the two-state solution. His efforts go hand in hand with the consistent erosion of Israel’s democracy (The New York Times, 19 July 2018: Israel Passes Law Anchoring Itself as Nation-State of the Jewish People (which is more a law for Jewish nationalists than a national law. Those Jews who do not live permanently in Israel and continue to work for a democratic Israel will be arbitrarily prevented from entering the country. The “home of all Jews” was abandoned more than a year ago in favor of unconditional nationalism and a harsher version of the law is already on the way – The New York Times, 22 July 2018: Israel Picks Identity Over Democracy. More Nations May Follow., BBC, 19 July 2018: Jewish nation state: Israel approves controversial bill, The Guardian, 19 July 2018: EU leads criticism after Israel passes Jewish ‘nation state’ law, The Guardian, 26 July 2018: Israeli cartoonist fired over ‘Animal Farm’ Netanyahu caricature, New York Times, 26 July 2018: Did Israel Just Stop Trying to Be a Democracy?, Haaretz, 30 July 2018: The Apartheid Prime Minister, Haaretz, 30 July 2018: Israeli Druze Commander Quits Army Over Nation-state Law in Open Letter to Netanyahu, Haaretz, 5 August 2018: Why It’s Now Every American Jew’s Duty to Oppose Israel’s Government, Haaretz, 7 August 2018: Israel’s War on Democracy Is Here – and the Justice Minister’s Leading the Charge, Jewish News, 7 August 2018: Vivien Duffield: I’ll be more ‘choosy’ in backing Israel after ‘apartheid’ law, The New York Times, 13 August 2018: Israel, This Is Not Who We Are, Haaretz, 14 August 2018: Peter Beinart and the Crisis of Israel’s Illiberal Zionism, Haaretz, 17 August 2018: When Jewish Billionaires Get Buyer’s Remorse Over Israel, Haaretz, 23 August 2018: Israel’s Message to the Liberal Diaspora Jews Who Support It: Shape Up or Stay Out, Haaretz, 30 September 2018: The Right-wing Think Tank That Quietly ‘Runs the Knesset’, Huffington Post, 13 December 2018: Natalie Portman Slams Israel’s Nation-State Law As ‘Racist,’ ‘Wrong’, Wikipedia Nationality Bill, which contradicts the content and spirit of the Balfour Declaration and the Israeli Declaration of Independence – Haaretz, 29 March 2019: Annul the Nation-state Law). Astonishingly, in Israel there is talk of an “Orbánization” of the country these days, although Viktor Orbán is successfully destroying Hungary’s democratic pillars only since 2010, while Benjamin Netanyahu has been doing so in Israel since 1996. In that sense, the “Orbánization” of the Visegrád Group and Israel is actually a “Netanyahuization”.

How fragile the whole process is was made clear, after the apparently inconsiderated announcement of the 45th US President in early December 2017, to unilaterally recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and relocate the US Embassy from Tel Aviv, where all international embassies are located at (United Nations Security Council Resolution 478 and Times of Israel, 17 January 2019: Embassy tactic? No more mere ‘honorary consuls’ in Jerusalem, Israel tells world), to West Jerusalem (therefore, the U.S. Consulate General in West Jerusalem will be upgraded in the middle of May 2018 to the Provisional U.S. Embassy until the new building will be completed one day (so far, not even a property corresponding to the requirements has been found. In addition, not thought-through or straight out stupid ideas usually result in high costs: CNN, 18 July 2018: US Embassy in Jerusalem to cost $20 million more than Trump’s estimate, Times of Israel, 4 March 2018: US closes Jerusalem consulate, demoting Palestinian mission and France24, 4 March 2019: US downgrades its Palestinian diplomatic mission). Most of the embassy staff will remain in Tel Aviv until the new building will be opened. Only the ambassador himself and few of his personal staff will work in the provisional embassy. The Consulate General building complex is located in the Arnona neighborhood and bisect by the City Line, which has survived to this day due to the repeatedly annulled Jerusalem Law by the UN, as part of the Green Line and thus partly in what was defined in 1949 as No Man’s LandThe New York Times, 5 December 2017: U.S. to Recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital, Trump Says, Alarming Middle East Leaders). Within hours there were historically significant communications from the other governments of the international community. In rare coincidence, they made clear that they do not support the unilateral partisanship of the US administration, that they will not relocate their embassies, and that the current Israeli and US administrations (and the micro states Guatemala, Honduras, Togo, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Palau, and Nauru extorted by Trump to join (Reuters, 16 May 2018: Guatemala opens embassy in Jerusalem, two days after U.S. move and Haaretz, 14 May 2019: Evangelicals and Empty Promises: A Year After Trump’s Embassy Move, Only One Country Has Followed U.S. to Jerusalem)) are completely isolated on this issue. Unisono, it was announced that the “status of Jerusalem is a firm and inseparable part of the future peace agreement between Israelis and Palestinians (The New York Times, 27 January 2018: It’s Time for Mahmoud Abbas to Go) and must be negotiated between these parties.” Even NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres and the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini felt the need to publish statements (Haaretz, 20 March 2019: Hungarian Foreign Minister: Embassy in Israel Will Not Be Moved to Jerusalem, Times of Israel, 20 March 2019: EU reiterates opposition to diplomatic missions in Jerusalem, Jerusalem Post, 24 March 2019: Romania at AIPAC: We will move our embassy to Jerusalem and Times of Israel, 24 March 2019: Romanian president rebuffs ‘ignorant’ PM over pledge to move embassy). Ultimately, the American announcement addresses the wrong parties (radicals, extremists and terrorists on the Palestinian and the Israeli side and the evangelicals in the US (Christians United for Israel and Times of Israel, 23 July 2018: Netanyahu vows ‘complete solidarity’ with Christians persecuted in Iran)) and at the same time, the current US administration unnecessarily and without necessity disqualified itself as a mediator between the parties. The peace process has thereby suffered considerable damage. At the same time, Iran, China and Russia will be able to achieve further land gains in an attempt to fill the power vacuum left by the US in Western Asia. The Arab and Muslim world is in turmoil, which will probably have a negative impact on future cooperation with the US and Israel. For the first time since 1945, the US administration opened Pandora’s box by creating a dangerous precedent under international law that opens the door to conquest campaigns, which will, e.g., facilitate the repeated violations of international law by Russian President Vladimir Putin while annexing the Ukrainian Crimea and the Georgian country parts Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and the annexation of the Northern part of Cyprus by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. In response to the unilateral recognition of West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, consisting of 57 member stats, unilaterally recognized East Jerusalem as Palestine’s capital in mid-December (Al Jazeera, 14 December 2017: OIC declares East Jerusalem as Palestinian capital). Further escalation steps are expected (The New York Times, 18 December 2017: U.S. Vetoes U.N. Resolution Condemning Move on Jerusalem, The Guardian 21 December 2017: UN votes resoundingly to reject Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as capital, The Washington Post, 14 January 2018: Palestinian leader attacks Trump, calling his peace deal the ‘slap of the century’, CNN, 16 January 2018: Palestinian leaders advise suspending recognition of Israel, The Guardian, 22 January 2018: US to open Jerusalem embassy sooner than expected, says Pence, Reuters, 22 January 2018 Abbas wins renewed EU backing for Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem, Haaretz, 31.01.2018: ‘Happy to Hear Israel Wants Two States’: German FM Meets Netanyahu 10 Months After Crisis Over Sit-down With Leftist NGOs, Hareetz, 31 January 2018: German FM After Meeting Netanyahu: Is Israel Prepared to Pay the Price of Perpetual Occupation? and The Guardian, 23 February 2018: US brings forward Jerusalem embassy opening to May). Meanwhile, some former and active members of the Israeli security structure (intelligence and military) have expressed their opposition to Trump’s decisions. The basic attitude is: “Only a two-state solution secures peace for Israel and the region, while protecting Israel from itself and continued democratic decline.” If it weren’t that tragic, one would have to laugh loudly about the recent remarks of the 45th US President on aid to the Palestinians because of the unbelievable impudence and distorted realities, after all it was he himself who had massively harmed the peace process: The Guardian, 25 January 2018: Trump threatens to cut aid to Palestinians for ‘disrespecting’ Pence, Politico, 25 January 2018: Trump on Palestinian aid: ‘The money is on the table’, The Guardian, 1 September 2018: Palestinian anger over US decision to end funding for UN agency, The Guardian, 8 September 2018: Trump axes $25m in aid for Palestinians in East Jerusalem hospitals, The Wall Street Journal, 10 September2018: Trump Administration to Close Palestine Liberation Organization Office in Washington – National security adviser John Bolton also plans to threaten sanctions against International Criminal Court, in a Monday speech, The Guardian, 10 September 2018: ICC will continue ‘undeterred’ after US threats and The Guardian, 15 Septmeber 2018: US has no plan for Middle East peace, says senior Palestinian. As long as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict isn’t settled and secured by treaties, the international community has no choice but to continue to see Tel Aviv as the capital of Israel de jure, even though the Israeli government see West Jerusalem as Israel’s de facto capital, and this status is at least tolerated by the international community. Only a sustainable, lasting peace solution between and supported by the parties to the dispute, the result can be recognized on an international level, which includes the future status of Jerusalem. International law and international agreements, regulations, resolutions and solutions always top national attempts in the legal hierarchy, whereby the hierarchy in this case (UN partition plan) has contributed to escalating the conflict in the first place. Whatever pranks Trump and Netanyahu are figuring out doesn’t matter on the international level, but has caused considerable turbulences in this case. Since there are negotiators and heads of state on both sides of the parties to the dispute, who are a lot but negotiators or statesmen, the dissolution of the conflict in the next 50 years is becoming increasingly unlikely.

The Arab states have stated for some time now, that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a whole is no longer of high priority to them (Jerusalem Post, 18 January 2019: Arab League: Palestinian issue has ‘reduced’ importance). Only the free and unhindered access to the holy places of Muslims isn’t negotiable. The result is a conceivable solution scenario, which would mean the final end of the Palestinian dream of an own state (“A state without land”). At the same time, Israel would face the final decision of either wanting to become a Jewish or a democratic state (ask your girl friend or wife what she thinks of the concept of a “little bit pregnant” – let me guess: It will become a short and loud discussion, that you will lose. However, Netanyahu has already made his choice, denouncing democracy to Israel and instead opting for a Jewish theocracy: France24, 10 March 2019: Netanyahu says Israel ‘not a state of all its citizens’, Haaretz, 10 March 2019: ‘Israel Is the Nation-state of Jews Alone’: Netanyahu Responds to TV Star Who Said Arabs Are Equal Citizens and Times of Israel, 10 March 2019: Amid Likud’s ‘Bibi or Tibi’ campaign, ADL slams ‘demonization’ of Israeli Arabs), especially since both isn’t possible at the same time. The scenario outlined here will not provide peace for another few years or decades, but rather the exact opposite, especially since the Palestinians will certainly not give up their land without fights in various forms. This has already been priced-in by the Netanyahu government, especially since Israel’s prime minister has repeatedly and plainly pledged the population in recent years to “many years of struggle”.

The bottom line is that neither Israelis nor Palestinians are willing or able to make peace. It is up to the respective US presidents to enforce peace between the parties to the dispute, but no US president has dared to take that step yet. This, of course, primarily with regard to the domestic electorate (about 26% of US-Americans are Evangelicals, who are mostly voting in favor of the Republicans. About 2% of Americans are Jews, who are mostly voting in favor of the Democrats), which is why, in the first term of office, such a step is out of the question at all and could not be implemented until the end of the second term, because then no more elections need to be won. However, it is questionable whether the successor would or could withstand the political pressure to undo the step, which would undoubtedly be built up by the Israeli side and its lobbyists in the Senate and Congress, in conjunction with the usual unsubstantiated anti-Semitism accusations, threats of all kinds, etc.

At the end of March 2018 and in the course of the so-called “March of Return” demonstrations with 120 dead and more than 2,500 injured, Hamas in the Gaza Strip has adopted a new, technically very simple but very effective tactic to attract attention. During favorable wind directions, incendiary devices are attached to stunt kites and/or balloons, which are driven by the wind towards southern Israel. During the landings, the incendiary devices causes fires in natural parks, forests and on agricultural land. Overall, the economic damage has been limited to a small, single-digit million amount so far. There was no personal injury on the Israeli side. How many Palestinians are killed and injured by Israeli snipers and air force counter attacks isn’t clear yet (i24news.tv, 16 April 2018: Firebombs tied to kites launched from Gaza spark fires in Israel near border, The New York Times, 4 May 2018: Flaming Kites From Gaza Thwarted by Winds, Haaretz, 9 July 2018: Netanyahu: Israel to Close Commercial Gaza Crossing Over Airborne Firebombs, BBC, 20 July 2018: Israel launches Gaza strikes as soldier dies from gunshot, Haaretz, 21 July 2018: Israel, Hamas Make U-turn on the Precipice With Gaza Cease-fire, B’Tselem, 15 October 2018: In 6 months of Gaza protests, Israeli forces fatally shoot 31 Palestinian minors, The Guardian, 22 January 2019: The Guardian view on Israel’s democracy: killing with impunity, lying without consequence?, Times of Israel, 23 January 2019: Israel lambasts The Guardian for accusing it of ‘killing with impunity’, The Guardian, 28 February 2019: UN says Israel’s killings at Gaza protests may amount to war crimes, Times of Israel, 28 February 2019: UN probe accuses Israel of possible crimes against humanity in Gaza border riots, Haaretz, 28 February 2019: UN Council: Israel Intentionally Shot Children and Journalists in Gaza, and Times of Israel, 22 March 2019: 23 to 9, UN rights council adopts report accusing Israel of war crimes in Gaza).

After so-called “secret military operations” in the West Bank had already been heavily gone wrong in recent months, the Israelis have tried it now again in the Gaza Strip. As a result, six Palestinians were killed by the attackers and one of the attackers himself. The troop withdrawal was secured by renewed bombardment of Gaza by the Israeli Air Force. It was followed by a classic: The usual whining of the Netanyahu government about that the Palestinians are fighting back, instead of simply standing still so that they can be easily shot dead. The repeatedly and with great fervor expressed irresponsibility and simplicity of the Netanyahu government is quite remarkable. At the same time, the international community was invited to join the fantasy world of the Israelis, who in turn renounced to do so (The Washington Post, 12 November 2018: Botched Israeli army operation in Gaza triggers sharp escalation in violence and The Washington Post, 6 December 2018: Resolution condemning Hamas fails at U.N. in setback for Israel and Trump administration). After all, this has first consequences now: The right-wing extremist on duty, boss of the ultra-nationalistic Yisrael Beiteinu party and Israel’s dubious Secretary of Defense, Avigdor Lieberman, has resigned from his post. As a result, Netanyahu is now Prime Minister, Foreign Minister, Health Minister, Minister of Aliyah and Integration and Defense Minister – as it is already known from Erdogan’s Turkish presidential system (Jerusalem Post, 11 December 2018: Netanyahu and his ministries, The Guardian, 14 November 2018: Israeli defence chief Avigdor Lieberman quits over Gaza truce and The Guardian, 18 November 2018: Netanyahu meets with coalition partner to stop government collapse). It was announced that the Minister of Education Naftali Bennett and the Minister of Justice Ayelet Shaked, both of the right-wing religious settler party The Jewish Home (Times of Israel, 29 December 2018: Bennett, Shaked quit Jewish Home, announce formation of ‘The New Right’), will resign from their posts on Monday, 19. November 2018. These ministries will then be transferred to Netanyahu as well (Times of Israel, 18 November 2018: TV: Jewish Home’s Bennett, Shaked will resign from government on Monday). However, with 27 active ministries and 10 inactive ministries in Israel, there is still room for improvement of his collection. After all, the announced resignations did not materialize, arguing that a successor government would then seriously work on a peace agreement with the Palestinians instead of continuing the flimsy Likud theater, in order to eventually usurp Palestine and attempting to legitimize this through the international community. A second Oslo peace process would be the ultimate nightmare of all right-wing nationalist and right-wing radical Israeli, that is, all parties involved in Netanyahu’s Likud administration. The first peace process ended in fatality for then-Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, when an Israeli, incited, among others by Netanyahu’s hate campaigns against Rabin and the peace process, killed Rabin after a peace rally in Tel Aviv. Since then, Israel’s right-wingers became neither more peaceful nor intelligent. One can imagine, how their trigger fingers already itch at the thought of a great statesman of the format of a Yitzhak Rabin to replace the rather simple-minded nationalist Netanyahu (The Washington Post, 19 November 2018: Netanyahu keeps coalition intact, but Hamas emerges stronger).

Trump’s peace plan/Deal of the Century: Haaretz, 20 November 2008: Netanyahu: Economics, Not Politics, Is the Key to Peace, Times of Israel: Trump Peace Plan, Foreign Policy, 10 April 2019: Trump Must Not Let Jared Kushner’s Peace Plan See the Light of Day, Reuters, 3 May 2019: Kushner hopes Israel will look at peace plan before any West Bank moves, The Washington Institute, 10 May 2019: Jared Kushner’s Peace Plan Would Be a Disaster, BBC, 17 May 2019: US Israel-Palestinian peace plan ‘a surrender act’ – Palestinian FM, Times of Israel, 19 May 2019: US will push economic side of peace plan at late June ‘workshop’ in Bahrain, Haaretz, 19 May 2019: Trump Peace Plan Economic Component to Be Revealed in June in Bahrain, CNN, 19 May 2019: First on CNN: White House to focus on investment in Middle East as part of peace proposal, Haaretz, 19 May 2019: The Deadly Consequences of a Dead-on-arrival Trump Mideast Peace Plan, The New York Times, 19 May 2019: Trump to Open Middle East Peace Drive With Economic Incentives, The Guardian, 19 May 2019: US to hold Bahrain economic conference to launch Middle East peace plan, The Washington Post, 19 May 2019: Trump administration to release part of its Middle East peace plan in June, Times of Israel, 19 May 2019: US will push economic side of peace plan at late June ‘workshop’ in Bahrain, Jerusalem Post, 20 May 2019: Part of’Deal of the Century’ to be released on June 25 in Bahrain, Haaretz, 20 May 2019: Palestinians Say ‘Plan Won’t Lead to Peace’ After U.S. Announces Bahrain Conference, Jerusalem Post, 20 May 2019: Palestinian PM: We weren’t consulted about U.S.-led economic conference, The Guardian, 20 May 2019: Donald Trump’s peace conference will fail, Palestinians say, Times of Israel, 20 May 2019: Bahrain vows support for Palestinians after economic ‘workshop’ announced, Times of Israel, 20 May 2019: Palestinians reject US economic peace summit in Bahrain, say they won’t attend, Times of Israel, 20 May 2019: (Economic) peace is coming! 7 things to know for May 20, Jerusalem Post, 20 May 2019: Bahrain economic parley signals adjustments to US peace plan – analysis, Washington Post, 20 May 2019: Palestinian leaders say U.S. “Peace to Prosperity” summit slights them, Times of Israel, 20 May 2019: US invites Israel to Bahrain confab on Palestinians – report, Times of Israel, 21 May 2019: Failure to launch? Economic workshop signals little appetite for US peace plan, Times of Israel, 21 May 2019: Drop the cynicism. The Bahrain economic confab is a big step forward, Times of Israel, 21 May 2019: Hebron businessman with ties to settlers may be lone Palestinian at Bahrain meet, Times of Israel, 22 May 2019: UAE, Saudi Arabia to attend US economic peace confab in Bahrain, Jerusalem Post, 22 May 2019: Arab states pressuring Palestinians to attend Bahrain workshop.



Iran Deal (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action)
However, in the medium and long term, the events can have a positive effect for Israel, especially since the Gulf States, especially Saudi Arabia (Sunni Islam), and their regional allies are currently seeking for more allies against Iran (Shia crescent). Israel, not much beloved and esteemed in the Arab world, would be eligible, according to the motto “The enemy of my enemy is my friend” (Iran–Saudi Arabia relations and Iran–Israel relations). Conversely, Israel need every ally in the region that the country can find and can’t be picky. Benjamin Netanyahu will enjoy this, especially as he can continue his personal vendetta (Yonatan Netanyahu), which has now been going on for almost 40 years, with all the means at his disposal against Arab states and in particular against Palestinians. Among other things, he succeeded to trick George W. Bush in a war with Iraq under false pretenses (Iraq allegedly has an arsenal of weapons of mass destruction, which turned out to be a blatant lie – French President Nicolas Sarkozy and American President Barack Obama about Netanyahu’s personality: The Guardian, 8 November 2011 Sarkozy: Netanyahu’s a ‘liar’). Netanyahu was against the Iran deal, which was arduously negotiated between the P5+1 and Iran over the years, from the beginning, especially since the agreement has clearly fenced Iran in this point and by doing so is no longer suitable as an “enemy”. Of course, this needs to be changed immediately from Netanyahu’s point of view. Netanjahu is currently trying his for intelligence-minded people easy to understand game (Iran would allegedly violate the Iran deal and continue to build a nuclear bomb (The Guardian, 30 April 2018: Nuclear deal: Netanyahu accuses Iran of cheating on agreement), but according to his own words this should be crowned with success already tomorrow for the past 30 years) to push the intellectually overwhelmed Trump (whose “work” and “accomplishments”
are characterized by being unable to develop own successful strategies and, due to this considerable deficit, thus it is limited to wiping out the nationally and internationally acclaimed achievements by his outstanding predecessor, US President Barack Obama. If the situation weren’t that serious, one would have to laugh about the duo Netanyahu and Trump, which inevitably reminds of Pinky and the Brain – The Guardian, 9 March 2018: Meet Donald Trump’s twin: Benjamin Netanyahu) into an altercation with Iran (Iran–United States relations). Certainly, no one does need to place bets on it if this will work or not. The intellectual resources of the current US president aren’t big enough to see through the game. After Netanyahu’s theatrical performance, followed by big applause from (at the moment) US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, a similar statement from Washington was declared (BBC, 1 May 2018: Israel’s Iran documents show nuclear deal ‘was built on lies’, Haaretz, 30 April 2018: Trump: Netanyahu’s Speech on Iran Deal Proves That I Was 100% Right on Iran Deal, The Guardian, 1 May 2018: Europeans cast doubt on Israel’s claims about Iran nuclear breaches, DW, 1 May 2018: Netanyahu slideshow reinforces need for Iran nuclear deal, says EU, BBC, 1 May 2018 Iran nuclear row: Tehran says Israel’s Netanyahu lied, Reuters, 6 May 2018: Macron warns of risk of war if Trump withdraws from Iran deal, Haaretz, 6 May 2018: Netanyahu: Iran Must Be Stopped, Even if It Means Conflict – and Better Sooner Than Later, The Guardian, 6 May 2018: Fate of Iran nuclear deal at stake as UK foreign secretary heads to Washington, and New York Times, 15 May 2018: Allies at Cross-Purposes: Trump Puts Europe Into Damage-Control Mode). The whole of the theatrical spectacle organized by the US President and Netanyahu in favor of the dissolution of the Iranian agreement, that Iran fully complies to, overshadows two major aspects due to the volume of the two aforementioned show master: First, the entire Israeli security architecture (intelligence services and the IDF leadership) is backing the Iran deal in full (“It’s much better to have this deal than none!”). Secondly, neither the US President nor Netanyahu provide viable alternatives to the existing agreement, so that the opposition against it turns out to be pure and dangerous nonsense that threatens the security of Europe and would damage the credibility of treaties with the US for decades. An agreement similar to the Iran deal with North Korea would off the table as well (at the end of May 2018 happened what was already expected: The “great dealmaker” Trump failed during at the negotiations with North Korea as well – The New York Times, 24 May 2018: Trump’s Relationship With North Korea Just Got More Dangerous. Apparently, it doesn’t stop North Korea and South Korea in its negotiations. Who would have thought that one day a North Korean dictator would act smarter than a US president? Xinhua News Agency, 26 May 2018: Moon, Kim hold second summit in Panmunjom. If you look at the overall situation with humor, then a quote from the US sitcom Last Man Standing come to mind: “Why are there so many designer diseases like ADHD and allergies in the US? In the days back, we used to have measles and mumps and we just ignored everything else. Today, the North Koreans don’t even need a nuclear bomb because they could kill half of the US population with a single glass of peanut butter!”). It is certainly true that additional agreements on the ballistic missile programs with Iran would be desirable, but the amateur spectacle delivered by the US President and Netanyahu isn’t only not purposeful but extremely counterproductive. In addition to the foreign policy aspects obviously domestic policy aspects play a major role here. The US president tries to distract from the numerous affairs before (Trump / Russia – A definitive History by Seth Hettena, BBC, 3 May 2018: Why the Stormy Daniels-Donald Trump story matters, The Guardian, 6 May 2018: ‘Trump’s going to be forced to resign’: Stormy Daniels’ lawyer predicts a fall, Bloomberg, 26. August 2018: The Prosecutors Who Have Declared War on the President and France24, 27 February 2019: ‘Conman’ Trump broke law in office, Cohen tells Congress in explosive testimony) and during his first term to reach a second term. His voters forgive him all of his disastrous missteps anyway. Netanyahu in turn tries to distract him from the numerous corruption and fraud allegations (New York Times, 2 March 2018: Benjamin Netanyahu Is Questioned in 3rd Corruption Case in Israel, CNN, 2 December 2018: Israeli police say there’s enough evidence to indict Benjamin Netanyahu in a third corruption case, Haaretz, 2 December 2018: Police: Charge Benjamin and Sara Netanyahu With Bribery in Telecom Case, France24, 2 December 2018: Israeli police recommand indicting Netanyahu in graft probe, The Guardian, 2 December 2018: Police recommend indicting Benjamin Netanyahu on bribery charges, The New York Times, 2 December 2018: The Corruption Cases Against Netanyahu, The New York Times, 3 December 2018: Netanyahu’s Obsession With Image Could Be His Downfall, NBC News, 3 December 2018: Israel police recommend Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu be charged with bribery, Haaretz, 3 December 2018: Almost Half of All Israelis Fear ‘Grave Danger’ to Democracy in Their Country, The New York Times, 5 December 2018: Suspected of Crimes, Netanyahu Is Also Suspected of Fear-Mongering and Times of Israel, 6 January 2019: Ex-Supreme Court justice likens Netanyahu’s rhetoric to crime boss threats) against him (his wife Sara Netanyahu make a start here: The Washington Post, 21 June 2018: Sara Netanyahu not first leader’s wife accused of corruption, Haaretz, 7 October 2018: Judge in Sara Netanyahu Fraud Trial Gives Sides One Additional Month to Reach Deal and Washington Post, 7 October 2018: Lifestyle of Israeli prime minister’s wife under scrutiny as she goes on trial in Jerusalem and “Like father, like son”: The Guardian, 17 December 2018: Netanyahu’s son banned from Facebook over hate speech). Apparently, it has become a “good habit” among Israeli leading politicians of the past years to take appropriate prison sentences after the end of their terms. In addition, after losing his immunity status, Netanyahu willrarely leave Israel, especially since numerous international arrest warrants are waiting for him, including two from Spain. Nevertheless, it happened as expected: On May 8, 2018, Trump announced, expressly based on Netanyahu’s fairy tales (not to say lies), the withdrawal from the Iran deal and renewed the sanctions (and the addition of further sanctions) against Iran, which were stopped under the fantastic President Barack Obama on the basis of the Iran deal (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action). The US is responding to Netanyahu’s expressed desire to allow Iran to build/obtain nuclear weapons (The Guardian, 8 May 2018: Iran deal: Trump breaks with European allies over ‘horrible, one-sided’ nuclear agreement). Netanyahu is delighted to welcome the expected economic deterioration and the resulting unrest in Iran, especially since a destabilizing effect would be very accommodating to his plans of attack, for which again US soldiers will be sacrificed (as in the case of Iraq when Netanyahu tricked Bush Junior into the Iraq war), instead of Israeli soldiers. Not a good day for peace in the Middle East and the security of Europe – above all, it will be remembered who is responsible for it, namely Benjamin Netanyahu and then the duped by him Donald Trump (and his masterminds and stooges Leo Strauss (The Claremont Institue, and the The Heritage Foundation – The Guardian, 8 May 2018: Obama condemns ‘misguided’ violation of Iran deal as Republicans cheer move, Washington Post, 8 May 2018: Trump’s Iran decision just brought us closer to war, USA TODAY, 8 May 2018: Obama: Trump withdrawing from Iran deal is ‘serious mistake,’ turns our back on U.S. allies, New York Times, 8 May 2018: Trump Vandalizes the Iran Deal, Times of Israel, 17 July 2018: In recording, Netanyahu boasts Israel convinced Trump to quit Iran nuclear deal, The Guardian, 10 May 2018 :Israel has hit nearly all Iranian infrastructure in Syria, military claims, Jerusalem Post, 6 February 2019: Ambassador urges Germany to change anti-Israel stance at U.N., Times of Israel, 12 May 2019: Germany vows to back Israel at UN, in apparent break from past record (while in the real world, Germany isn’t voting against Israel, instead in very own and EU interests, which is, of course, the N° 1 priority of all German governments. Then and only then, the interests of foreign countries are taken into account. On the other hand, Israel sees itself as a possible EU member country and should ask itself, why its state interests are so fundamentally different to those of EU States and at the same time make a EU membership widely impossible – Auswärtiges Amt, 11 May 2019: Foreign Minister Maas on Israel in the United Nations)). After Israel’s renewed and massive air strikes on Syria during the night of 9th to 10th May 2018, it became finally clear that Netanyahu wants to force a war with Iran now, because he doesn’t know if he and his right-wing Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman will ever get another chance to do so (and to trick a US president into a war in the Middle East). The current scenario is very similar to the Suez Crisis 1956 and the Six-Day War, in the preparation of which the Israeli government had asserted Egypt or Syria would in turn prepare for war against Israel. In retrospect, it turned out that these were complete lies of the Israeli leadership in order to begin wars of aggression against the unprepared Egypt and Syria – the only reason why israel was able to win theses selfmade wars. Netanyahu apparently wants to continue this tradition. The perception of the Golan Heights from the international and Israeli point of view is interesting as well: In fact, the Golan Heights are part of the Syrian state territory, although annexed by Israel, this annexation has never ever been recognized by the international community. Assuming that the Syrian government (or its coalition partners) had actually done rocket-firing exercises in the Golan Heights, they would have every rights in the world to do so, especially because they can of course carry out as many military maneuvers and exercises as they want on their own soil. That is also why United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has rejected Israel’s request to hold a special session of the UN Security Council (at the end of July 2018, Israel shot down a Syrian fighter plane over Syrian territory: The New York Times, 24 July 2018: Israel Downs Syrian Fighter Jet Over Golan Heights). Over the past few days, newspaper reports have come to the fore that the Israeli government is now Trump, after the unilateral and internationally ineffectual recognition of (West) Jerusalem as Israel’s capital (at international level, it is de jure still Tel Aviv), to declare the Golan Heights Israeli unilaterally and thus again international ineffective (Times of Israel, 6 January 2019: Hosting top Trump aide, PM asks US to recognize Israeli sovereignty over Golan, Jerusalem Post, 11 March 2019: Is Netanyahu angling for a Golan gift from Trump before election? and Times of Israel, 11 March 2019: Trump ally Graham says he’ll lobby White House for Golan recognition). It is interesting, that the judicious Obama administration has voted against it under the effective United Nations Resolution 2334 in December 2017 (both in terms of East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights), so that it doesn’t matter what the dream dancers Netanyahu and Trump are coming up with: The international community will not play along (Haaretz, 29 August 2018: Israel Will Pay for Its Too-tight Embrace of Donald Trump). Netanyahu starts his European tour on 04 June 2018 to try to convince the governments in Berlin, Paris and London of his anti-Iran course, which is unlikely to succeed (The Guardian, 4 June 2018: Israel’s Netanyahu tours Europe to lobby leaders against Iran). With his sabotage of the Iran deal he endangers the security of Europe and that can’t be tolerated. His theater performances might impress Trump (for whom breach of agreements and contracts is everyday business), but certainly not European leaders. His first talks leads him to Berlin. Once again very bad timing, because on this day Joachim Loew will finally announce the formation of the German team for the World Cup in Russia. Neighborhood disputes in the Levant are at best secondary on such a day. Netanyahu spent the next day in Paris: France24, 5 May 2018: French President Emmanuel Macron warned of the risk of an “escalation” in the Iranian nuclear standoff on Tuesday following talks in Paris with Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu. How far the whole thing got out of hand becomes clear when one discovers with a mixture of disbelief, speechlessness and horror that one has to agree to remarks of Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei: Reuters, 21 July 2018: U.S. launches campaign to erode support for Iran’s leaders and Reuters, 21 July 2018: Iran supreme leader says ‘obvious mistake’ to negotiate with U.S.: website. And the show went on: The New York Times, 22 July 2018: Trump Threatens Iran on Twitter, Warning Rouhani of Dire ‘Consequences’, The Washington Post, 22 July 2018: Middle East: After Trump slams Iran’s president, Iranian officials accuse him of ‘psychological warfare’, The Guardian, 23 July 2018: John Bolton backs Trump’s Iran threat: ‘They will pay a price’, The Washington Post, 23 July 2018: Ignore Trump’s clueless bluster on Iran, The Guardian, 23 July 2018: Trump says Iran will ‘suffer consequences’ after speech by President Rouhani, The Guardian, 23 July 2018: Trump’s tweet to Iran cannot bully the west away from making peace and The Guardian, 24 July 2018: It’s not Trump Iranians are worried about – it’s their homegrown crises. At the UN General Assembly in New York in September 2018, Netanyahu has revealed his latest discovery: There are even warehouses in a village called Turquzabad in Iran 😲, presumably to store the CDs and ring binders from Netanyahu’s previous “sensational findings” (The Washington Post, 27 September 2018: Israel accuses Iran of harboring ‘secret atomic warehouse’, France 24, 22 February 2019: Iran is holding up its end of nuclear deal, shows IAEA report and Times of Israel, 22 February 2019: UN nuclear watchdog say Iran staying within limits of 2015 deal). The international response to Netanyahu’s “sensational findings” was mixed but overwhelmingly amused, especially as understandably pretty much nobody believed him.

The consequences of the re-enforced and additional sanctions imposed by Trump on Iran for European companies can’t be determined clearly yet. The essential aspect is how banks react to it. Without loans and payments, there will be no international business in Iran. Banks, operating in the US, will refrain from doing business with Iran in the near future, in order to avoid of being on the Trump’s sanction/play list and thus risking the US business or the entire US dollar-based business. Companies, which aren’t active in the US business, but would like to do business in Iran, therefore, have to be very creative, especially with regard to the selected bank and the currency (the European Investment Bank would be eligible if the European Union accidentally came to an agreement. The 1996 Helms-Burton Blocking Statute of the European Union, in order to fend off sanctions of the former Clinton administration, would be eligible (New York Times, 16 May 2018: E.U. Official Takes Donald Trump to Task: ‘With Friends Like That’ …, The Guardian, 17 May 2018: EU sets course for US clash with law blocking Iran sanctions, Reuters, 17 May 2018: EU to start Iran sanctions blocking law process on Friday, Der Spiegel, 22 May 2018: Interview with Joschka Fischer: ‘The U.S. President Is Destroying the American World Order’, The New York Times, 6 May 2018: Europe Asks U.S. for an Exemption From Sanctions on Iran, The New York Times, 6 August 2018: U.S. to Restore Sanctions on Iran, Deepening Divide With Europe, USA Today, 6 August 2018: Donald Trump reimposes economic sanctions on Iran, BBC, 7 August 2018: Iran sanctions: Trump warns trading partners, Reuters, 7 August 2018: Trump says firms doing business in Iran to be barred from U.S. as sanctions hit, The Guardian, 7 August 2018: The Guardian view on Iran and sanctions: the EU stands firm, Reuters, 11 December 2018: German exports to Iran soar ahead of U.S. sanctions, Reuters, 21 August 2018: Germany urges EU payment system without U.S. to save Iran deal, Reuters, 27 August 2018: World Court hears Iran lawsuit to have U.S. sanctions lifted, France24, 9 January 2019: EU sanctions Iran over assassination plots, The Washington Post, 9 January 2019: Iran supreme leader calls US officials ‘first-class idiots’, Politico.eu, 18 January 2019: Trump seeks to split EU as fight intensifies over Iran nuclear deal, Jerusalem Post, 18 January 2019: Are European countries moving closer to Trump on Iran?, Handelsblatt, 21 January 2019: Mahan Air: Berlin bans Iranian airline after EU slaps sanctions on Tehran, Bloomberg, 24 January 2019: EU Says Preparations for Iran SPV Are at ‘Advanced Stage’, The Washington Post, 28 January 2019: Germany says EU soon to launch Iran funding scheme, Times of Israel, 28 January 2019: Trump warns Europeans not to try to evade Iran sanctions, The New York Times, 29 January 2019: On North Korea and Iran, Intelligence Chiefs Contradict Trump, Times of Israel, 30 January 2019: Rouhani: Iran facing ‘greatest pressure and economic sanctions’ in 40 years, The Guardian, 31 January 2019: Europe sets up scheme to get round US sanctions on Iran, Bloomberg, 31 January 2019: Europe Protects Itself From Trump’s Caprice, Instex, The New York Times, 31 January 2019: 3 European Nations Create Firm to Trade With Iran, but Will Anyone Use It?, European Comission: Iran, Foreign Policy, 13 February 2019: Iran’s Economy Is Crumbling, but Collapse Is a Long Way Off, Reuters, 25 February 2019: Iran’s Foreign Minister Zarif, architect of nuclear deal, resigns, The Guardian, 25 February 2019: Iran’s foreign minister Javad Zarif announces resignation, The New York Times, 25 February 2019: Iran’s Foreign Minister, Architect of Nuclear Deal, Says He Is Resigning, The Washington Post, 25 February 2019: Iran’s foreign minister, who became the face of his country, tenders his resignation, Iran–European Union relations, France24, 27 February 2019: Iran’s Rouhani rejects Foreign Minister Zarif’s resignation, Times of Israel, 27 February 2019: Iranian president rejects Foreign Minister Zarif’s resignation, Washington Post, 27 February 2019: Iran’s Rouhani rejects chief diplomat’s resignation, calling it ‘against national interests’, Hawala, Economy of Iran, Germany–Iran relations and Iran–European Union relations). Today, and in the face of an obviously unstable US president, it would probably involve the risk of triggering a full-blown US-EU trade war through countermeasures from Washington – of course, despite the current transatlantic moods, the US remains the EU’s main and most important (trading) partner, because there aren’t any real alternatives given. People who think of Moscow or Beijing here, obviously didn’t deal enough with the basic data and the opposing social/society models (the democracy in the EU stands in clear and obvious opposition to the so-called “controlled democracy” in Russia under President Vladimir Putin, which in fact corresponds to an autocracy, and in the People’s Republic of China under President Xi Jinping, according to its constitution “under the democratic dictatorship of the people”, but is governed since 1949 authoritarian by the Chinese Communist Party)). Sometimes the mostly rightfully scolded, anonymized tax havens sometimes seems to be good for something. As a cherry on Trump’s absurdity cake, at the same time the current US Secretary of State (who knows how long he will stay or whether he will survive the next tweet) Mike Pompeo chats happily with Trump’s new buddy, North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, about possible help from the US to build up the country (The Guardian, 13 May 2018: Pompeo: US firms could invest in North Korea and Kim may get ‘security assurances’).

In the dispute over the Iran deal, the EU has now come a step further to protect small and medium-sized EU companies that are not active in the US business but want to do business in Iran – and there are surprisingly many. The European Commission has created a protection mechanism against US sanctions and has authorized the European Investment Bank to carry out payment transactions. By contrast, large companies and corporations can not benefit from the protection mechanism.

The next bomb exploded on June 27, 2018, when it became known that the blackmail duo Benjamin Netanyahu and Donald Trump will once again try to take the global economy hostage for their crude plans. Starting on November 4, 2018, those companies and countries (China is the largest buyer of Iranian oil, followed by the EU), which continue to import oil from Iran, will face US sanctions. Apart from the fact that the US will shoot itself in the foot, the step will certainly not increase the sympathy values for and the willingness to foreign investment in Israel and the United States. Should the economic situations of both countries change in the near future, which can be assumed, they can not only hope for appropriately amused reactions from the Arab world. As with the first round of US sanctions on Iran, following the unilateral termination of the Iran deal by Trump, the second round now means for the EU to seek again for banks that this time can handle the oil business with Iran. A prerequisite for the selection is to do little or no business in the US and therefore be able to laugh about possible sanctions. As with the first round, the EU will not be able to cope with the risk of default of large companies and corporations, especially since their international business usually includes considerable US business volumes. At the same time, countermeasures against the US must again be planned (e.g., complete suspension of liquefied gas and oil trade), and measures against Israel’s Trump whisperers should be considered as well. The current attempt is the 1:1 takeover of a confused Netanyahu plan to initially destabilize Iran economically and then attack the country militarily. Here is another aspect: The affair surrounding the assassination of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, which is making big waves internationally, is shaking Trump’s entire “Middle East policy” (if it exists at all), as it is build on Saudi Arabia’s important role as a regional power player and policymaker, especially with regard to Iran. After the evidence against Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman intensify, Democrats and influential Republicans are increasingly calling for the US to move away from Saudi Arabia and impose sanctions on the country. For Trump, but especially for Benjamin Netanyahu, that would be a bitter defeat. In particular, the latter hope for a major breakthrough in the Middle East conflict from the recent rapprochements between Saudi Arabia and Israel, especially as the appeal of Saudi Arabia to the Muslim world has considerable weight. Against the background, it is understandable why Trump and Netanyahu are desperately looking for ways out of the crisis (for the Saudi crown prince). Before Trump, this would’t have been possible (Haaretz, 20 November 2018: Trump: U.S. to Remain Steadfast Partner to Saudi Arabia to Ensure Israeli Interests, The Guardian, 20 November 2018: Trump ‘stands with’ Saudi Arabia and defends crown prince over Khashoggi, The New York Times, 20 November 2018: In Extraordinary Statement, Trump Stands With Saudis Despite Khashoggi Killing, Times of Israel, 14 January 2019: Pompeo: US wants accountability for Khashoggi murder, and Saudis agree, Times of Israel, 6 April 2019: US said set to declare Iran’s Revolutionary Guards as terrorist group, France24, 8 April 2019: US designates Iran’s Revolutionary Guards a ‘terrorist organisation’, The New York Times, 8 April 2019: Trump Designates Iran’s Revolutionary Guard a Foreign Terrorist Group, Jerusalem Post, 8 April 2019: Netanyahu praises Trump for putting Iran’s Revolutionary Guards on terror list, Times of Israel, 8 April 2019: Netanyahu says Trump designated Iran Guards a terror group at his request, The New York Times, 22 April 2019: U.S. Moves to Stop All Nations From Buying Iranian Oil, BBC, 22 April 2019: Iran oil: US to end sanctions exemptions for major importers, Reuters, 22 April 2019: U.S. to end all waivers on Iran oil imports, crude price jumps, Jerusalem Post, 22 April 2019: Netanyahu lauds Trump decision to eleminate Iran oil waivers, The Guardian, 24 April 2019: Iran will continue to defy US oil sanctions, says Tehran (Netanyahu and Trump obviously want to drive Iran to self-defense actions and then, of course, once again, mendacious and hypocritical as both are, cry into the cameras that Iran would have to take full responsibility for it. Netanyahu and Trump apparently assume that the rest of the world is just as limited in their ability to think as they are themselves. At any rate, they are closer to their goal of imposing war on Iran than ever before (2020 United States presidential election, Rally ’round the flag effect, United States sanctions against Iran, The Guardian, 6 May 2019: US deploys aircraft carrier and bombers after ‘troubling indications’ from Iran, gunboat diplomacy, BBC, 6 May 2019: US sends aircraft carrier and bomber task force to ‘warn Iran’, France24, 8 May 2019: Iran nuclear deal: what happens now?, The Guardian, 8 May 2019: Trump’s antics over Iran have endangered us all. The stakes are now lethally high, The Guardian, 8 May 2019: Iran announces partial withdrawal from nuclear deal, BBC, 8 May 2019: Iran nuclear deal: Tehran urged to honour commitments, The New York Times, 8 May 2019: U.S. Threatens New Sanctions as Iran Plans to End Compliance With Parts of Nuclear Deal, Washington Post, 8 May 2019: Why Russia is the big winner of the Iran deal fallout, The National, 8 May 2019: European pressure on Tehran is needed, Washington Post, 8 May 2019: Iran announces it will stop complying with parts of landmark nuclear deal, Times of Israel, 8 May 2019: Democrats warn Trump is leading US toward war with Iran, France24, 8 May 2019: Trump tightens Iran sanctions as France warns against ‘escalation’, The Guardian, 9 May 2019: EU rejects Iran’s two-month ultimatum on nuclear deal, France24, 9 May 2019: Europe rejects Iran’s ‘ultimatum’ but stands by nuclear deal, The Guardian, 10 May 2019: Trump’s foolish Iran policy only makes war more likely, The Washington Post, 11 May 2019: Why the U.S.-Iran Conflict Is Now Coming to a Head, Times of Israel, 12 May 2019: Amid US-Iran tension, Israeli minister fears Tehran ‘may fire rockets at Israel’, The Guardian, 12 May 2019: US war against Iran is impossible, claims Iranian general, The Guardian, 13 May 2019: Iran-US tensions are reaching new heights – and neither is likely to blink, The Guardian, 13 May 2019: Europe urges Mike Pompeo and US to show restraint towards Iran, The New York Times, 13 May 2019: White House Reviews Military Plans Against Iran, in Echoes of Iraq War, The National, 13 May 2019: Mike Pompeo delays Russia visit to lobby against Iran deal in Brussels, Al Jazeera, 13 May 2019: ‘Maximum restraint’: Europe allies reject US escalation with Iran, The National, 13 May 2019: The US and Europe must unite over Iran, The Washington Post, 13 May 2019: Pompeo crashes Brussels meeting of E.U. diplomats but changes few minds on Iran, The Times, 14 May 2019: US could stumble into a war with Iran, allies tell Mike Pompeo, The New York Times, 14 May 2019: It’s Time for the Leaders of Saudi Arabia and Iran to Talk, The Washington Post, 14 May 2019: It’s up to Israelis to stop Iran’s nuclear program. Here’s how they did it before., Times of Israel, 15 May 2019: Allies split with US over Iranian threat as war worries mount, The New York Times, 14 May 2019: Skeptical U.S. Allies Resist Trump’s New Claims of Threats From Iran, Haaretz, 15 May 2019: Iran Vows to Defeat ‘American-Zionist Alliance’ as Putin Warns Against U.S. Pressure, BBC, 15 May 2019: US pulls ‘non-emergency staff’ from Iraq as Iran tensions mount, Times of Israel, 15 May 2019: Iran’s defense minister: ‘We will defeat the American-Zionist front’, Arab News, 16 May 2019: Iran must not go unpunished, Haaretz, 16 May 2019: If the U.S. Goes to War With Iran, Netanyahu Will Be the Prime Suspect, Arab News, 18 May 2019: Gulf nations ‘approve US request to deploy troops in the Gulf’, Times of Israel, 18 May 2019: Saudi newspaper calls on Washington to launch strikes on Iran, Jerusalem Post, 19 May 2019: Saudi Arabia says it seeks to avert war, ball in Iran’s court, Times of Israel, 20 May 2019: Trump warns if Tehran attacks, it will be ‘official end of Iran’, Haaretz, 20 May 2019: Trump: ‘If Iran Wants to Fight, That Will Be the Official End of Iran’, The Guardian, 20 May 2019: Iran hits back at Trump for tweeting ‘genocidal taunts’, Jerusalem Post, 20 May 2019: Iranian commander: We are ready to confront the enemy, Times of Israel, 20 May 2019: Hitting back at Trump, Zarif says ‘genocidal taunts won’t end Iran’ (the whole extent of Trump’s stupidity shows again: Only those who are members of a club can change its rules. On the other hand, anyone who leaves the club and roars around from the fence just looks like a ridiculous idiot. With Benjamin Netanyahu’s forced unilateral termination of the Iran deal, the US president has reached exactly this position. An emperor without clothes), Times of Israel, 20 May 2019: Iran quadruples low-enriched uranium production, Times of Israel, 21 May 2019: Rouhani: In current situation, Iran chooses path of ‘resistance only’ (the recent episode between the US and North Korea already shows clearly that Iran would be well advised to promptly acquire nuclear weapons from North Korea, China, Russia or India to be able to respond to any military aggression from Israel and/or the US with the highest possible hardness. The easiest way would be a deal between North Korea and Iran (oil against nuclear warheads), especially since both countries are under maximum US sanctions and therefore couldn’t care less about what Trumps USA and its few remaining allies think about it. Of course, Iran would not use the nuclear warheads, because following the proverb “jumped as a lion and landed as a bedside rug” the US would then immediately withdraw. Netanyahu’s aggressions against Iran would certainly end soon, too)). It appears to be time to take countermeasures against Netanyahu’s Israel and Trump’s US to compensate for the damage caused by the two countries in the EU, and of course to make it clear that the EU will not allow the two hasardeurs Netanyahu and Trump to endager the EU’s very own interests and security. If Netanyahu had actually assumed that the EU would allow to be drawn into his shabby game, then he has once again made a serious mistake. At the same time, it is becoming increasingly clear that Israel’s membership in the EU is ruled out, since the goals are completely opposite and there remains very little common basis of values, especially as the already fragile Israeli democracy collapses further and further through measures taken by the Likud. Israel, however, adapting more and more to the customs in neighboring countries, which of course is an unequivocal statement itself. It will be interesting to see how this renewed escapade of the two protagonists will additionally negatively affect foreign direct investment in the USA and Israel.), Times of Israel, 22 April 2019: Iran threatens to close Strait of Hormuz after US ends sanction waivers, France24, 23 April 2019: US sanctions over Iran oil will ‘intensify Mideast turmoil’: China, Times of Israel, 24 April 2019: Iran threatens ‘consequences’ if US takes ‘crazy measure’ of blocking oil sales, Times of Israel, 25 April 2019: Zarif accuses Netanyahu and Saudis of trying to provoke US into war with Iran).

It should as well be kept in mind that the first nuclear enrichment plant in Israel in Dimona was a Franco-German joint project (supplied by France, paid by Germany). This is in line, e.g., with the nuclear first-strike weapon systems (Dolphin-class submarines) giftet (several times it was objected, that Israel had “bought” the submarines. In the official language, this is true, but on the other hand, there is not a single position in the federal budget stating that Israel has ever paid for the weapon systems handed over to it during the past decades) to Israel by Germany. In retrospect, it emerged that the Israeli government isn’t even able to finance the operation and maintenance of the weapon systems on its own. Actually, this shouldn’t be news, especially since the Israeli state budget is notoriously underfunded, so that in addition to official funds also unofficial funds from the German state budget (including through the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development and the detour via Brussels) are partially funding the Israeli state budget, making Germany the second largest donor nation to Israel after the US since decades. Recently, the Federal Ministry of Defence has become creative by concluding a billion-dollar leasing agreement about drones from Israel, their operation and maintenance. The Heron drones (which are European drone anyways, because without European advanced technology they would never have been started once), their operation and maintenance actually cost only a part of the agreed sum, so that the excess amount can be used, e.g., for the maintenance and operation of the gifted submarines. To donate these submarines has had negative impacts on the German economy, as e.g. Australia wanted to buy theses vessels, but stepped back from the deal after finding out, that Germany is gifting them away (DW, 11 February 2019: Australia signs major submarine deal with France).



Iran and Israel
Both Iran and Israel claim supremacy in the Middle East, even when both countries are only regional powers whose governments has apparently succumbed to megalomania. Iran is self-financing due to large natural resources (China is the largest buyer of Iranian oil), while Israel would be hopelessly inferior in the Middle East conflict without the US’s protective and guarantee power (which is why the Iranian leadership speaks of the “small (Israel) and big (USA) devel”). How a “leadership claim” can derive from these starting points remains the secret of the two governments. In any case, the basic requirements for this aren’t given on any side when considered objectively.

The relationship between what was then Persia and Israel was good at the time of the Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, but has dramatically deteriorated after the Iranian Revolution (Iran-Israel relations). Basically, the current dispute between Iran and Israel stands out from the usual Middle East conflicts because Iranians are Persians and not Arabs. Currently, the governments of the two countries agree on in their clamorous, mutual extermination fantasies, with Iran actually having greater chances of survival here due to the size of the country, than it would be the case for Israel. In addition, with 82 million inhabitants Iran has 10 times the population of Israel (and is home to the third-largest Jewish community in Western Asia, after Israel and Palestine, due to UN Resolution 2334) and 2.5 times as much inhabitants as Saudi Arabia with around 34 Millionen inhabitants. Israel is (still) far superior to Iran in terms of nuclear armament. In view of the successful attempt by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to sabotage and destroy the Iran Deal and thus allow Iran access to the atomic bomb, it can’t be ruled out that Iran will change the basis in its favor. From a military point of view, there is another aspect given: Iran doesn’t need fully-fledged nuclear weapons in order to be able to do equivalent damage to Israel in relation to what fully functioning Israeli nuclear warheads could do to Iran. Due to the size or smallness of Israel, dirty bombs would suffice. However, as Israel has the US Iron Dome, David’s Sling, and Arrow missiles from a strategic point of view, it would need larger, multi-stage missile attack waves. Since the Iranian air force can at best be described as “undersized”, this would be the only conceivable strategy with relatively good chances of success. Chances of success, which would follow the motto “whoever shoots first, dies second!” – both countries would have to pay too high a price for this option to be considered by rational strategists. Unfortunately, both sides aren’t always rational. It is rational that both countries deal militarily in Syria, especially as neither the Iranian nor the Israeli territory is included in this way. However, it is still questionable whether this will suffice for the governments of both countries or that the conflict shall be escalated – although, of course, both sides emphasize that they are not interested in the latter. Actons speaks louder than words and in this case in a very different and much clearer language.

Of course, with all the commotion, one has to take into account the fact that the people in the region are exposed to extensive sunshine, which apparently doesn’t lead to party mood of all participants, but rather the very opposite outbursts of emotion. For the governments of both countries obviously the latter applies. The theater is somehow entertaining, thrilling and fascinating (at least for the local audience), especially for the international audience it isn’t, especially since both countries can’t be interested in a military episode anyway. In addition to the expected substantial civilian casualties, it would mean the beginning of a regime change for the Iranian government. It is impossible to predict the consequences of a war for Israel. As the country is small, major war damage in Tel Aviv (the economical, cultural and social center) and/or Jerusalem (the religious and administrative center) would involve severe economic and political setbacks if not full destruction (Jerusalem Post, 11 April 2019: How Iran can solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict). Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is closer to his great and decades-old dream and desire to finally be at open war with Iran than ever before. It is unlikely that he will allow this possibility, which he sees as an “opportunity”, to pass: Newsweek, 31 May 2018: Israel planned to attack Iran and start a war, former spy chief says, Geopolitical Futures, 8 May 2018: Israel and Iran Prepare for Conflict, Bloomberg, 3 May 2018: Israel and Iran on Path to War as Mideast Tinderbox Awaits Spark, Times of Israel, 23 July 2018: Israel rejects Russian offer to keep Iran 100 km from Syrian border, Jerusalem Post, 23 July 2018: Russia working to move Iranians 100 km from Israel’s Golan Heights border and Haaretz, 7 January 2019: Does Iran Really Want to Destroy Israel?. More than 120 air strikes on Iranian posts in Syria speak a very clear language. With regard to the topic of “time of colonization”, there is a highly emotional as well as often fact-free discussion. Among other things, refers to a King David, for whose existence there is not a single scientifically viable proof, but shall serve as a proof that Jews/Israelites would have ostensible lived for thousands of years in the region. Based on this non-factual claims, modern Israelis shall be entitled to live in all of what was once called the Holy Land/Palestine. In real life and reality, this only counts for a very, very small part of the land area and a nomadic-like tribe, which then lets the emotions boil up even more. If one would take this argumentation seriously, Europe, Canada, the USA and parts of the Levant would have to be renamed “Viking Land“, because unlike the above mentioned, the migratory movements of the Vikings can be scientifically proven very well).

The Iranian religious leader Ali Khamenei recently brought up the in general very interesting idea of a Middle East referendum to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. However, the matter has a considerable snag: The referendum should only be open to those Christians, Jews and Muslims whose ancestors have demonstrably been living in the region for at least 100 years. Most of today’s Israelis would thus be excluded from the referendum, because the major waves of immigration from Europe began in the late 1920s. Regardless of that, it would of course be interesting to know how people in the Levant and the Gulf States actually think about the conflict and where they see solutions (the region’s loudspeakers and extremists aren’t the only ones who have views and opinions). If a referendum would be held in Israel at the same time and afterwards the results would be combined, it would certainly bring a few surprises to light. It would also be interesting to find out first which questions shall be asked, especially since such a complex topic can not be met with few “yes/no” questions without risking new conflicts (i24NEWS, 11 June 2018: Iran’s Khamenei wants referendum to solve Israeli-Palestinian conflict).

Due to the seemingly endless sanctions against Iran, the country has such a high demand that the resulting growth potential in both Saudi Arabia and Israel triggers fears. Assuming that all sanctions would be eliminated, the country would be able to become the most powerful economic nation in the region within a few years. This is another reason why Saudi Arabia and Israel are pushing for permanent sanctions to be maintained, especially since foreign direct investment sums would otherwise flow into Iran, which in turn would lead to reduced capital flows to Saudi Arabia and Israel – what both countries can’t afford permanently.

In addition to the numerous emotional-irrational-hysterical aspects (every year on the last Friday of the month of Ramadan (in the West mostly on the following Saturday), demonstrations on the International Quds Day take place in many countries. In Iran it is even a public holiday) on both sides, there is also a rational aspect: The Shia Crescent (Iran calls itself a “Muslim power” rather than “Shiite power” (which is why it is called “Islamic Republic” and “Islamic Revolution” – Al Jazeera, 1 February 2019: 40 years on: Khomeini’s return from exile and the Iran revolution and Times of Israel, 1 February 2018: Crowds chant ‘death to Israel’ as Iran marks 40 years since Islamic Revolution. On the occasion of the festivities, Minister of State Niels Annen of course visited the embassy of Iran in Berlin (Jerusalem Post, 13 February 2019: German Foreign Ministy celebrates Iran’s Islamic Revolution in Berlin). Federal President and former Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier has sent a congratulatory telegram in accordance with diplomatic practices between states (Times of Israel, 25 February 2019: German president under fire after congratulating Iran on revolution anniversary). In the face of Netanyahu’s heightened desire to finally wage war against Iran and the US President’s supportive measures, the expectable reactions came from these directions (even from the Central Council of Jews), which can be noted with a shrug, especially since the actual background of these reactions are already known. It is particularly surprising that the BILD newspaper, the medium for the underclass and the precariat, was consistently selected to launch the critiques, in order to try to influence the public opinion and therefore discredit themselves altogether) to gain influence in the region.), which scares not only Israel, but the Gulf States as well, especially Saudi Arabia. The countries are currently forming a very unusual coalition, which can have a very favorable effect on all those involved, but at the end of the day could also include the topic “War on Iran on several fronts”. Iran could only lose, which in turn would mean the continuation of seemingly endless terrorism in the region. Iran has great influence in the region. The country supports Hezbollah in Lebanon (which is part of the government there) and Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip. By participating in the civil war in Syria on the side of President Bashar al-Assad, the already large influence in Syria is still growing, making the Shia Crescent between the Caspian Sea, the Persian Gulf and the Mediterranean Sea a reality (Haaretz, 29 August 2018: Iran, Russia Prepare to Battle Each Other Over Control of Post-war Syria, Times of Israel, 30 November 2018: Iran, facing off against Israel in Syria, now sending arms directly to Lebanon, Haaretz, 2 December 2018: Battle Between Israel and Iran Shifting From Syria to Lebanon, Reuters, 2 December 2018: Iran says it will continue missile tests after U.S. allegation, The Guardian, 4 December 2018: Israel begins operation to expose Hezbollah ‘attack tunnels’ on Lebanon border, The New York Times, 4 December 2018: Israel Begins Anti-Tunnel Effort Along Its Border With Lebanon and Times of Israel, 19 December 2018: Trump pullout from Syria leaves Israel alone to battle Iran’s likely resurgence). After Netanyahu had managed to persuade the US president of the completely senseless and unilateral termination of the Iran deal, he now once again faces the shambles of his actions. By putting everything on the Trump card, he again maneuvered himself offside. Of course one can take note of this with great malicious joy, after all, he has been warned beforehand from all sides (The Jerusalem Post, 24 December 2018: Netanyahu’s coalition collapses; Israel heading to elections in April, Al Jazeera, 24 December 2018: Israel to hold early elections in April, The Guardian, 24 December 2018: Israeli government agrees to hold early elections in April and i24 News, 24 December 2018: Israel announces dissolution of government, snap elections in April (like Trump on Twitter and Putin with his RT channel, Netanyahu now has his own fake news TV channel, named “Likud TV”, streamed on Facebook – Times of Israel, 4 February 2019: With fake media outlet Likud TV, Netanyahu sets up nakedly self-serving soapbox, matching to the upcoming elections) Times of Israel, 20 February 2019: Netanyahu’s despicable push to bring racists into Israel’s political mainstream, Haaretz, 20 February 2019: Top Posts for Merging With Kahanists: Netanyahu, Far-right Party Reach Deal, France24, 20 February 2019: Israel PM deal seeks to boost ultra-right in April vote, Haaretz, 21 February 2019: Netanyahu Just Destroyed One of Israel’s Key National Security Assets, The Guardian, 21 February 2019: Benjamin Netanyahu strikes deal with hardline parties ahead of Israel elections, Haaretz, 21 February 2019: Netanyahu Now Endorses Jewish Fascism. U.S. Jews, Cut Your Ties With Him Now, Times of Israel, 22 February 2019: AIPAC slams ‘racist and reprehensible’ extremist party wooed by Netanyahu, Haaretz, 22 February 2019: ‘Racist and Reprehensible’: AIPAC Slams Kahanist Party Backed by Netanyahu, Times of Israel, 23 February 2019: Lapid: Netanyahu puts politics before country, harms Israel’s image, Times of Israel, 23 February 2019: After AIPAC rebuke, Netanyahu defends aiding Kahanists: ‘Hypocrisy by the left’, Haaretz, 24 February 2019: For U.S. Jewry, Kahanist Caper Casts Netanyahu as Prince of Darkness and Trump on Steroids, Times of Israel, 24 February 2019: The desecration of Israel, Times of Israel, 24 February 2019: Ex-AIPAC official: By backing extremists, Netanyahu ‘overstepped the line’, Times of Israel, 25 February 2019: US Reform leader: Netanyahu’s deal with extremists is like ‘welcoming’ the KKK, The Guardian, 25 February 2019: Pro-Israel US group condemns Netanyahu pact with extremists, Times of Israel, 28 February 2019: High Court rejects Likud petition to prevent AG announcing Netanyahu indictment, France24, 28 February 2019: Israeli Justice Ministry confirms intention to indict Netanyahu and The New York Times, 28 February 2019: Prosecutor Moves to Indict Netanyahu on Corruption Charges (which is why he is no longer referred to as “Prime Minister” but as “Crime Minister” in Israel), The Guardian, 28 February 2019: Netanyahu to be indicted on corruption charges, Israeli attorney general says, The New York Times, 28 February 2019: Netanyahu Indictment Closer as Israeli Prosecutor Seeks Charges, Times of Israel, 28 February 2019: Gantz appeals to Netanyahu to put Israel’s interests first and ‘resign’, Times of Israel, 28 February 2019: Netanyahu’s illicit dealings benefited tycoon by $500 million, AG alleges, Times of Israel, 28 February 2019: ‘You knew you were taking a bribe’: The specifics of Netanyahu’s alleged crimes, The New York Times, 1 March 2019: Time for Netanyahu to Go, Times of Israel, 1 March 2019: Poll shows two-thirds of Israelis think Netanyahu should resign if indicted, Times of Israel, 2 March 2019: Bret Stephens calls Netanyahu the ‘Nixon of Israel,’ says he should resign, The New York Times, 2 March 2019: Can Israel Survive Without Netanyahu? Israelis Imagine the Future, Times of Israel, 3 March 2019: Is Netanyahu a crook? Allegedly. A threat to democracy? That verdict is sadly in, Haaretz, 4 March 2019: Netanyahu Is Going Down, but What About His Powerful Accomplice?, Times of Israel, 6 March 2019: Right-wing ally of Netanyahu proposes bill to save him from prosecution, Times of Israel, 7 March 2019: Police recommend bribery charges for Likud’s David Bitan, Times of Israel, 7 March 2019: Lapid: If Netanyahu is reelected, he’ll legislate to place himself above the law, Haaretz, 7 March 2019: Yair Lapid Outlines Four Demands for Peace With Palestinians, The Washington Post, 7 March 2019: Israeli electoral committee bans Arab candidates, allows extreme right to run, Haaretz, 7 March 2019: The Israeli Elections Committee Embraced Jewish Supremacists and Expelled Arab Radicals. So What Else Is New?, Times of Israel, 8 March 2019: Benny Gantz’s tall order: Convincing Israel that he can replace Netanyahu, The Guardian, 10 March 2019: Benjamin Netanyahu says Israel is ‘not a state of all its citizens’, The New York Yimes, 10 March 2019: Netanyahu-Trump Partnership Is Stronger Than Ever. Are These Its Final Days?, Times of Israel, 10 March 2019: Amid Likud’s ‘Bibi or Tibi’ campaign, ADL slams ‘demonization’ of Israeli Arabs, Times of Israel, 10 March 2019: There are no second-class citizens, Rivlin says, in implicit swipe at Netanyahu, Times of Israel, 11 March 2019: For Netanyahu, all Israelis are equal, but some are more equal than others, NPR, 11 March 2019: Netanyahu Says Israel Is ‘Nation-State Of The Jewish People And Them Alone’, Jewish News, 12 March 2019: Jerusalem’s cable car: Moving in the wrong direction, ynet, 12 March 2019: The Likud is the real threat to Israel, Times of Israel, 12 March 2019: Yair Netanyahu put on leave from NGO job a day after deriding Rivlin (the most important lines of the articel are “Throughout the election campaign we have been careful to be respectful toward the Netanyahu family, but now we are calling on Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu: Control the mouth and keyboard of your son Yair,” a statement from party leader Benny Gantz said. “Your incitement toward our president crosses every possible line. Israel comes before anything else, the Netanyahu family doesn’t.”), Haaretz, 14 March 2019: J Street to Offer Competing Free Trip to Israel for Those Fed Up With Birthright, Times of Israel, 14 March 2019: Clouds gather as Israel emerges from economic ‘golden decade’, Jerusalem Post, 14 March 2019: 71% of Israeli Jews find Israeli control over the Palestinains as immoral, The Guardian, 14 March 2019: The fall of the Israeli peace movement and why leftists continue to fight, Haaretz, 14 March 2019: What a Netanyahu Election Victory Will Mean for American Jewry, Haaretz, 16 March 2019: To Defeat Gantz, Netanyahu Instructs His Party to Lie, Netanyahu’s next low point (though he can barely go lower anyway, he manages to beat himself again): Times of Israel, 17 March 2019: Cyber entrepreneur says Netanyahu behind ‘Iranian hack’ of Gantz, Times of Israel, 18 March 2019: Gantz calls for state commission of inquiry into submarine scandal, Times of Israel, 18 March 2019: Gantz: Ignore phone hack, Netanyahu guilty of ‘worst scandal in Israeli history’, The Washington Post, 20 March 2019: Under investigation and up for reelection, Netanyahu’s kinship with Trump has never been clearer, Haaretz, 20 March 2019: Pocket Money, Loans and Millions for Legal Advice: Has Netanyahu’s Wallet Finally Been Found?, Times of Israel, 20 March 2019: Pompeo in region to counter Iran, boost Netanyahu, Haaretz, 20 March 2019: Pompeo Arrives in Israel to Discuss Iran Threat, Energy and Regional Issues, Times of Israel, 20 March 2019: State prosecutors said mulling criminal probe of Netanyahu in submarine case, Times of Israel, 21 March 2019: Gantz is target of most fake news for 8th week running — report, Times of Israel, 21.03.2019: Netanyahu and the submarine scandal: Everything you need to know, Jerusalem Post, 22 March 2019: UNHRC voted 26-16 against Israel’s ‘occupation’ of the Golan Heights, Times of Israel, 22.03.2019: Supreme Court orders state witness in submarines case kept in custody, Jerusalem Post, 22 March 2019: Trumpet recruits Netanyoohoo as 2020 running mate in US elex, The Guardian, 23 March 2019: Israel’s Netanyahu to play Trump card in tight election, Haaretz, 22 March 2019: U.S. Media Finally Discovers Netanyahu-Trump Similarities – and pro-Israel Groups Are Worried, The New York Times, 23 March 2019: Israel Lobby Convenes in Washington Amid Fraying Bipartisanship and Rising Tension, Haaretz, 24 March 2019: AIPAC Is More Divisive Than Ever. As Confab Kicks Off, Here’s How to Fix It, Haaretz, 25 March 2019: Cleared of Collusion With Russia, Trump Can Now Collude Shamelessly With Netanyahu, Times of Israel, 25 March 2019: With some of Rabin’s awkward charisma, Gantz passes the AIPAC test, Times of Israel, 25 March 2019: At AIPAC, Gantz vows to rid Israel’s leadership of racism, corruption, The Washington Post, 26 March 2019: On Israel, Charles Schumer rises to the occasion, Haaretz, 27 March 2019: It’s a Grave Mistake to Entrust American Evangelicals With Israel’s Future, Haaretz, 28 March 2019: Bank of Israel Warns of Long-term Decline in Economic Growth, Times of Israel, 31 March 2019: Gantz says Netanyahu rancor could spark ‘civil war’, Haaretz, 1 April 2019: Network of Fake Social Media Accounts Boosting Netanyahu Ahead of Election, Report Says, The New York Times, 1 April 2019: Twitter Network Uses Fake Accounts to Promote Netanyahu, Israel Watchdog Finds, Times of Israel, 1 April 2019: Gantz claims Netanyahu trying to ‘steal elections’ as fake news network revealed, Times of Israel, 2 April 2019: Twitter said to take down most fake pro-Netanyahu accounts flagged in report, The Guardian, 3 April 2019: I fought South African apartheid. I see the same brutal policies in Israel, Times of Israel, 3 April 2019: Benny Gantz to ToI: Future of Israel as a democracy is at stake in this election, Jerusalem Post, 3 April 2019: Former Generals call for national inquiry into submarine corruption, Haaretz, 3 April 2019: Under a Decade of Netanyahu Rule the Israeli Economy Has Gone Backwards, Daily Herald, 3 April 2019: Palestinians Are Nowhere to Be Found in Israel’s Election, Times of Israel, 4 April 2019: Report: PM ‘likely benefited’ from sales by cousin’s company to Gaddafi’s Libya, Jewish News, 4 April 2019: Hidden danger behind the new US approach, Haaretz, 4 April 2019: Netanyahu Deserves to Win the Election. And We Israelis Deserve Him, Times of Israel, 4 April 2019: Who knows?, The Guardian, 5 April 2019: Best of the worst? Israel’s left looks to Gantz as election nears, The Washington Post, 5 April 2019: Israel’s Netanyahu, a political Houdini, is facing his toughest escape act yet, Times of Israel, 5 April 2019: Up to 1 in 5 Israelis said exposed to fake news smearing Gantz, Times of Israel, 5 April 2019: With Israeli election looming, liberal US Jews set their ire on Netanyahu, France24, 6 April 2019: Israeli political parties seek to integrate former generals into their ranks, Haaretz, 6 April 2019: Three Days Until Israeli Election: Netanyahu Hits the Panic Button, The Guardian, 7 April 2019: Netanyahu vows to annex Jewish settlements in occupied West Bank, Haaretz, 7 April 2019: With Gantz as Election Rival, Netanyahu Competes Against an Old Version of Himself, The New York Times, 7 April 2019: As Israel Charts a Future, Color and Chaos Abound in Its Election, Times of Israel, 7 April 2019: The simple, agonizing question for voters Tuesday: Is Netanyahu good for Israel?, The Guardian, 7 April 2019: Netanyahu’s fearmongering is working. Israelis have forgotten how to hope, Haaretz, 7 April 2019: Netanyahu Owned Shares in More Than One of His Cousin’s Companies, France24, 7 April 2019: Israeli extreme right set to become kingmaker, The Guardian, 7 April 2019: Benjamin Netanyahu’s proposal would bury the two-state solution, The Guardian, 7 April 2019: The Observer view on Benjamin Netanyahu and Israel’s elections, Times of Israel, 7 April 2019: Bibi, Trump and the Death of ‘Truth’, Times of Israel, 7 April 2019: The case for Gantz – and a return to decency, Times of Israel, 7 April 2019: Likud cancels Sunday right-wing rally in Jerusalem over fears of poor turnout, The New York Times, 7 April 2019: Will the Israeli ‘King’ Be Recrowned?, The Guardian, 8 April 2019: The secret of Netanyahu’s success? A simple tale of good versus evil, Haaretz, 8 April 2019: Non-Jews Are About to Lose the Right to Vote in Israel, Times of Israel, 8 April 2019: Day before election, Gantz says ‘the right is not in danger – Netanyahu is’. Both, Trump’s recognition of West Jerusalem as an Israeli capital forced by Netanyahu and the recognition of the Syrian Golan Heights as belonging to Israel, have only one consequence, namely that the entire international community has developed the exact opposite point of view, after Netanyahu had forced the member states of the international community to clearly define their own points of view on the two topics. By doing so, Netanyahu ensures the further isolation of Israel (at the same time, of course, he has significantly weakened Israel’s standing in the world, as it becomes increasingly clear that his claim that “Israel belongs to the West” collapses like a house of cards. On all major issues of the recent past, “the West” (with the exception of the USA) from Canada to Australia took opposing positions to his. Instead, he courtes semi-autocrats, autocrats and dictators around the globe and call them “true friends of Israel”. In light of the 2019 election results, 57% of Israelis seems to like this Israeli policy and approach. This will not have a positive impact on Netanyahu’s Israel. It is to be expected a development as recently in Turkey, of course, with Judaism and not Islam as the center). After Netanyahu has already gotten a black eye in the total misjudgment that Trump’s announcement to recognize West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and thus sets the world community on the same path, he will also succeed in getting the next black eye in regard to the Syrian Golan Heights: Haaretz vom 21.03.2019: Trump: Time for U.S. to Recognize Israel’s Sovereignty Over Golan Heights, Times of Israel vom 21.03.2019: Trump says time has come for US to ‘recognize Israel’s sovereignty’ over Golan, The New York Times vom 21.03.2019: Trump Wants U.S. to Recognize Israeli Sovereignty Over the Golan Heights, The Washingotn Post vom 21.03.2019: Trump endorses Israeli control of the disputed Golan Heights, France24, 21 March 2019: Trump says US recognises Israeli sovereignty over Golan Heights, The Guardian, 22 March 2019: Trump provokes global anger by recognising Israel’s claim to Golan Heights, Times of Israel, 22 March 2019: Trump tweet does little for Golan, but much for Netanyahu, critics charge, France24, 22 March 2019: France says Israeli sovereignty over Golan breaks international law, Reuters, 22 March 2019: EU holds position on Golan Heights despite Trump: Tusk, Times of Israel, 22 March 2019: EU says it will not follow Trump in recognizing Israeli sovereignty over Golan, The Guardian, 23 March 2019: Israel’s Netanyahu to play Trump card in tight election, France24, 24 March 2019: Netanyahu in Washington with Golan Heights recognition on tap, France24, 25 March 2019: Trump signs US recognition of Israeli sovereignty over Golan Heights, Times of Israel, 25 March 2019: Alongside PM, Trump signs proclamation recognizing Israeli sovereignty on Golan, France, 26 March 2019: Trump’s Golan move unites Gulf States and Iran in condemnation, The New York Times, 26 March 2019: Golan Heights Recognition by U.S. Sets Precedent for Annexation, Netanyahu Says, Times of Israel, 26 March 2019: Israel says US Golan recognition helps pave way for keeping other captured lands, Haaretz, 26 March 2019: If You’re Still Voting Netanyahu After This Rocket, You’re Thinking Like Hamas, The Guardian, 26 March 2019: Israel-Hamas relations: a predictable but fatal dance, The Guardian, 27 March 2019: Trump’s Golan Heights proclamation is a cynical, dangerous move, Times of Israel, 27 March 2019: All EU countries say no to recognition of Israeli Golan Heights, Times of Israel, 27 March 2019: European envoys said sent to White House, State Department to protest Golan move, Jerusalem Post, 27 March 2019: All 28 EU member states reject Israeli souvereignty over Golan, Haaretz, 27 March 2019: Two-state Solution: U.S. Jews Won’t Budge. Will It Cost Them Their Relationship With Israel?, Haaretz, 27 March 2019: Why Golan Recognition Can’t Pave Way for Israel to Annex West Bank, Haaretz, 27 March 2019: EU States Unanimously Announce: We Do Not Recognize Israeli Sovereignty Over Golan Heights, Times of Israel, 28 March 2019: US slammed at UN Security Council for recognizing Golan as Israeli, The Guardian, 22 May 2019: Israel plans to name settlement on occupied land after Trump (At least United Nations Disengagement Observer Force can finally be ended). So you can get popcorn ready to watch and laugh at Netanyahu’s latest election comedy stunt, especially since it is completely unimportant what Netanyahu dictates Trump to the pen, because it is not more than ineffective symbolism anyway. Among other things (United Nations Security Council Resolution 242 and United Nations Security Council Resolution 497), this was ensured by the intellectually and strategically overwhelmingly superior and prudent US President Barack Obama, who helped to pass Resolution 2334 on 23 December 2016 in the United Nations Security Council, declaring East Jerusalem, the West Bank, Golan Heights and the Gaza Strip as “non-Israeli”, creating a hurdle insurmountable to Netanyahu and Trump. The only option for the two hasardeurs to overcome the hurdle would be to bring in their own resolution to the Security Council, which would not only neutralize Resolution 2334, but even turn it in the opposite direction. One can probably bet a larger amount of money without hesitation that such a project would be crowned by a crushing defeat. Palestine and Syria should actually cheerfully thank Obama for this even today. In addition, of course, international law explicitly prohibits the annexation of foreign territory. If Netanyahu wants to develop Israel into a pariah state, he is very well on the way. Times of Israel, 28 March 2019: Ex-Mossad chief: Netanyahu’s version on Egypt submarine deal ‘makes no sense’, Haaretz, 29 March 2019: Netanyahu’s Likud Lags Behind Gantz-Lapid Alliance, New Election Poll Shows, Jerusalem Post, 31 March 2019: Bank of Israel: Rising expenditure, reduced taxes endangers economy – with the 2019 Israeli parliamentary elections scheduled for April 9, one can only hope that former IDF Chief of Staff Aluf Benny Gantz will be able to win the election and then begin with the recovery of the deeply damaged and weakend democracy by Netanyahu over the past decades, and, as a result, will more likely be able to activate international support than is the case during the Netanyahu government (even in the US, the approval ratings for Israeli policy have been on the decline for years – Times of Israel, 7 March 2019: New poll: Americans’ support for Israel falls to lowest point in a decade and Times of Israel, 11 March 2019: Omar furor reflects increasingly polarized US debate over Israel). After the killing of Yitzhak Rabin (Times of Israel, 31 March 2019: Gantz accuses Netanyahu of role in incitement ahead of Rabin murder), Israel deserve to have another smart, serious, law-abiding and internationally welcomed statesman (and not only when he finally gets back on the plane to fly off) for Prime Minister, and with it the exact opposite of Netanyahu and his Likud, to not further damage the national and international image and perception of Israel. Following the saying “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.”, it now looks (a few days before the election and despite the charges of fraud and embezzlement awaiting Netanyahu, as well as suspected election interference through the use of bots), as if the Likud government will get another term in order to promote the further erosion of democracy and the rule of law, deepening the right-wing radicalization, xenophobia and continued terrorist activities in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Overall, the election campaign in recent weeks has become a head-to-head race in a directional election, so that voters are now faced with the task of deciding in which direction the Israeli state should develop: Should Neteanjahu’s Likud continue the further de-democratization and the development of a Jewish theocracy, or should the Blue and White coalition, led by Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid, lead the country into a process of re-democratization, including the return to lawfulness and the fight against corruption (in which Netanyahu for personal reasons, especially because of his own entanglements in numerous crooked businesses, isn’t interested at all)? The answers of the voters will be given soon. Subsequently, the certainly not easy coalition talks to form the future government will start. If the Likud should be re-elected, it would probably be likely that there will be new elections in about a year, because then the lawsuits in several cases against Netanyahu will go on trial, although he is apparently just about to tinker with an immunity law against his prosecution (Haaretz, 8 April 2019: Who Is Running in Israel’s Election? The Full List of Parties and Candidates, France24, 9 April 2019: Polls open in high-stakes election in Israel, The Guardian, 9 April 2019: Israel election: voters go to polls as Netanyahu seeks fifth term, The New York Times, 9 April 2019: In Trump, Netanyahu Sees an Ally Who Helps Him Push the Envelope, The Wahington Post, 9 April 2019: Israeli elections to decide Netanyahu’s fate as voters cast ballots, Haaretz, 9 April 2019: Israel Election 2019: ‘Arab Turnout at Historic Low’; Netanyahu Defends Hidden Cameras in Arab Polling Stations, Haaretz, 9 April 2019: Israel Votes: Everything You Need to Know About Netanyahu’s Corruption Scandal, The Guardian, 12 April 2019: Trump and his imitators are out to nobble the world’s referees, Times of Israel, 12 April 2019: Nine Jewish groups ask Trump to restrain Netanyahu on West Bank annexation and Times of Israel, 14 April 2019: Gantz warns next government will distance country from law and democracy). The election result shows two things: Benny Gantz won the showdown in direct competition with Netanyahu, proving that there is indeed a serious, democratic and liberal alternative to the dubious and racist Netanyahu. Israel will remember it in a year, namely when Netanyahu is expected to stand trial. At the same time, “Blue and White” could not win the election altogether, because Netanyahu had already forged a coalition with nationalists, fascists and extremists before the elections, so that in the future two extremists (Israeli and US commentators compare them to the KKK) will hold ministerial posts. The erosion of democracy and the rule of law will therefore increase in speed. Neighboring states will rejoice that Israel is developing into another theocracy in the region, so that they themselves have no reason to develop their countries towards democracy and still call themselves “one of the many democracies in the Levant”. It will be a mammoth task for the future successor of Netanyahu to get Israel back on track, if at all possible (when religious fanatics are in power, the downward spiral can drag on for decades). Turkish President Erdoğan will also be pleased with the election results, as members of his Justice and Development Party has been voicing concern for some time that Israel could join the EU before Turkey (in real life, no country in the Levant will actually become an EU Member State unless Turkey has already become member). After all, his country is on the list of potential EU Member States, even when the accession talks are frozen and a timely membership is currently excluded. Netanyahu’s Israel isn’t even able to enter the list of potential candidate countries (France24, 9 April 2019: Netanyahu poised to claim victory in Israeli election, The Guardian, 10 April 2019: Israeli election: Netanyahu appears on track for victory despite tied result, France24, 10 April 2019: Right-wing world leaders congratulate Netanyahu on likely election victory, The New York Tims, 10 April 2019: It’s Netanyahu’s Israel Now, Times of Israel, 10 April 2019: Blue and White concedes race, vows to battle Netanyahu from opposition, The Washington Post, 10 April 2019: In tightly fought election, Netanyahu appears set to clinch fifth term in office, Times of Israel, 10 Apri 2019: Top Palestinian official: Israelis voted to maintain status quo, want apartheid, The Guardian, 10 April 2019: ‘The future is dark’: Palestinians react to Israel’s election, Times of Israel, 10 Apri 2019: Netanyahu won, everyone else lost: 5 takeaways from the 2019 elections, The Guardian, 11 April 2019: The Trump-Netanyahu relationship is sowing disaster for both countries, Haaretz, 12 April 2019: AIPAC-affiliated Democrats Warn Netanyahu Against West Bank Annexation, Times of Israel, 13 April 2019: Some of Israel’s best American friends worried by Netanyahu’s annexation talk, The Washington Post, 14 April 2019: Netanyahu was a cautious leader — until Trump came along, The Guardian, 15 April 2019: Europe urged to reject US Middle East plan if it is unfair to Palestinians, Times of Israel, 15 April 2019: German leader calls Netanyahu, stresses need for two-state solution, Times of Israel, 15 April 2019: Trump peace plan likely won’t include Palestinian state — report, Times of Israel, 15 April 2019: The people have spoken. They want to live in Netanyahu’s Israel (2019 electin results), The Washingotn Post, 14 April 2019: Trump peace package for Middle East likely to stop short of Palestinian statehood, Jerusalem Post, 17 April 2019: EU rejects Israeli annexation talk, warns of Middle East chaos, Times of Israel, 17 April 2019: President officially taps Netanyahu to form next government, The Atlantic, 19 April 2019: The French Ambassador Is Retiring Today. Here’s What He Really Thinks About Washington., Times of Israel, 20 April 2019: French envoy to US: Trump plan ‘very close to what Israel wants, 99% doomed’, Haaretz, 21 April 2019: Israel Already an Apartheid State Says Outgoing French Ambassador, Discussing Trump’s Peace Plan, The Guardian, 22 April 2019: Is Benjamin Netanyahu about to go rogue in Jerusalem? All the signs are there, Politico.com, 23 April 2019: Netanyahu calls for new Golan settlement named for Trump, Jerusalem Post, 12 May 2019: Location found in Golan Heights for town to be named after Trump (a nice idea to give the Syrians a clue as to where they can start reconquering their national territory), Times of Israel, 24 April 2019: With immunity gambit, Netanyahu endangers his legacy and our democracy, The Guardian, 24 April 2019: Israelis are not all rightwing. But our leftist parties have lost faith in themselves, Times of Israel, 24 April 2019: Poll: Most Americans like Israelis – but not their government, Times of Israel, 29 April 2019: Mandelblit: The rule of law trumps Netanyahu’s win at the polls, Times of Israel, 13 May 2019: Netanyahu said to plan bill to override High Court, safeguard his immunity, Jerusalem Post, 13 May 2019: Gantz compares ‘threat to democracy’ from Netanyahu to Israel’s enemies, Times of Israel, 13 May 2019: In first Knesset speech, Gantz warns of ‘threat to democratic system’, Times of Israel, 16 May 2019: Full text: The criminal allegations against Netanyahu, as set out by Israel’s AG, Times of Israel, 16 May 2019: Opposition lambastes Netanyahu after report says he will push for immunity law, Haaretz, 16 May 2019: If the U.S. Goes to War With Iran, Netanyahu Will Be the Prime Suspect, Times of Israel, 19 May 2019: Veteran former Likud MK blasts Netanyahu’s ‘corrupt’ immunity bid, Haaretz, 20 May 2019: Netanyahu Is Seeking a Free Hand to Commit Crimes, Times of Israel, 23 May 2019: Former justice minister for Likud warns of Netanyahu ‘dictatorship’). It will be a problem at the point where it will now be possible for Iran (after the successful political implementation of the Shia Crescent) to get the chance to accomplish the military implementation of the Shia Crescent and thus to attack Israel directly from both Syria and Lebanon. It will take some time before it actually can happen, but the signs are unmistakable.

In order to get a basic understanding of Iranian security needs, one need to understand the outcome of the Iraq-Iran War, during which Iraq used chemical weapons and ended with more than 500,000 dead on the Iranian side. From this time results the still valid and understandable slogan “Never again!” (what the Israelis should actually understand very well, especially with regards to the unconditional right of self-defense. There are further aspects: Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, Mohammad Mossadegh, 1953 Iranian coup d’état and Iran–Contra affair). Since then, the Iranian leaders have been supporting any group that ensures that Iranian territory can only be attacked with great difficulty by setting up buffer zones and securing them militarily (in Iran, this is called “forward defense”). The fight against the Sunni terrorist organization ISIL in Syria and Iraq, Shiite Iran understood and still understands as an existential fight for survival. On that basis, the missile program, that is very important for Iran, can be seen, because the country doesn’t have a significant air force. Rockets are therefore the only solution to defend national borders and, if possible, to ward off attacks on the territory in one of the buffer zones. This is, of course, more than understandable. It becomes problematic when the security interests of other states in the region (especially Saudi Arabia and Israel) are endangered. This is currently the case. Added to this are domestic political challenges. The current government seems to like the expansion policy in the region well, while the people expect and demand to improve the situation in the country itself at first. This poses some threats to the stability of the country and thus to the entire region.

Recently, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps has announced that the already given reach of 2,000 km of the Khorramshahr medium-range ballistic missile, which can be launched from mobile launch ramps, could technically be expanded far beyond the actual reach, but that this step isn’t planned yet. As of today, all destinations between Iran and the Levantine Sea as well as large parts of Romania, Bulgaria and Greece can be reached. This are good news for the largest part of the European Union, but also make clear why Romania, Bulgaria and Greece insist on participating in the US Missile Defense project (Ground-Based Midcourse Defense) as the threat emanating from the Iranian missiles, unlike the Kreml want to make believe (who, incidentally, has repeatedly been invited to participate in the project but has refused), is a real threat. At the same time, the Revolutionary Guards make it clear where they see their “red line” in terms of military self-protection and self-defense by medium-range missiles, namely right at this point. A result and knowledge gain with which one can live and work (The Times of Israel, 27 August 2018: Defense Ministry inks deal with Israeli firm for new precision rockets and Jericho missile).

A replacement for the unilateral cancellation of the Iran deal by Trump, forced by Benjamin Netanyahu, is still not in sight. This will only be negotiated when in Israel and Washington, D.C. trustworthy, law- and contract-abiding heads of state will sit. Until that happens, it can take many more years to come. On the other hand, Benjamin Netanyahu went “all in” for years to sabotage and destroy the Iran deal. The result is now obvious: He has lost and achieved the exact opposite of what he purportedly wanted to achieve, because Iran can now enrich uranium and build atomic bombs at will, even explicitly referring to the outrageous stupidity of Netanyahu and Trump, both too naive to even suggest or bargain for alternative solutions and now facing the shambles of their own incompetence. So, if the two in the future once again complain about the allegedly “evil and terrorist Iran”, you can laugh at them or to use a modified quote of the unique Sarah Palin, who argues on the same intellectual level as Netanjahu and Trump: “How’s that Iran deal destroying thing working out for ya?” Another aspect is that Netanyahu has apparently assumed that if he destroys the Iran deal, and weakening Europe’s security by doing so, Europeans would surely support his “shitshow” towards Iran. Assumptions that can not be surpassed in naivety, misjudgments, or both, especially since Europeans, of course, will not work against their very own fundamental (security) interests.

In the course of the reinstatement and tightening of US sanctions, especially with regard to the for Iran vital oil and gas exports, war rhetoric on both sides is intensifying. As a countermeasure, Iran, for its part, now threatens to seal off the Bab-el-Mandeb strait, effectively closing the world’s most important strait for the transport of oil. The country wouldn’t even need to set naval units permanently into action. It would be sufficient to mine the straits at various depths to block the passage for over- and underwater vehicles (Reuters, 1 August 2018: Israel warns Iran of military response if it closed key Red Sea strait and Bloomberg, 11 August 2018: U.S.-Iran Sanctions Give China Lead in World’s Biggest Gas Field).

Above all, something else is quite interesting. While Iran is portrayed by Israel and the US as an “enemy of Israel” and an “anti-Semitic regime”, with just over 50%, Iran has by far the lowest percentage of anti-Semitic residents, while “America’s allies among the Gulf States” account for 70% or more.

At present, Iran’s support for rebel and terrorist groups in the Levant remains as a concrete starting point for upcoming negotiations (especially Hamas (Al-Qassam Brigades), Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah and others – Note: From the Jewish underground and terrorist organizations Irgun, Hagana and others later emerged the Israeli army, which pride itself as the “most moral army in the world” (which can at least be doubted). Under what circumstances shouldn’t Hamas and the Islamic Jihad be in the position to establish another “most moral army” in the region after signing a peace treaty and the recognition of the state of Palestine by Israel and the West, as they are already much better equipped and trained than their Jewish counterparts were? This apart from the fact that the fighters need an adequate task anyway after a peace agreement will be given) as this behavior is unacceptable, especially as it can’t be justified as self-protection or military self-defense.



Lebanon
Before the Lebanese Civil War (1975–1990), the country experienced a period of relative calm and renowned prosperity, driven by tourism, agriculture, commerce, and banking. Because of its financial power and diversity in its heyday, Lebanon was referred to as the “Switzerland of the East” during the 1960s, and its capital, Beirut, attracted so many tourists that it was known as “the Paris of the Middle East“. At the end of the war, there were extensive efforts to revive the economy and rebuild national infrastructure. In spite of these troubles, Lebanon has the highest Human Development Index and GDP per capita in the Arab world, to the exclusion of the oil-rich economies of the Persian Gulf.

In 1920, following WWI, the area of the Mutasarrifate, plus some surrounding areas which were predominantly Shia and Sunni, became a part of the state of Greater Lebanon under the French Mandate of Syria and Lebanon. Around 100,000 people in Beirut and Mount Lebanon died of starvation during World War I. In the first half of 1920, Lebanese territory was claimed as part of the Arab Kingdom of Syria, but shortly the Franco-Syrian War resulted in Arab defeat and capitulation of the Hashemites. On 1 September 1920, France reestablished Greater Lebanon after the Moutasarrifiya rule removed several regions belonging to the Principality of Lebanon and gave them to Syria. Lebanon was a largely Christian country (mainly Maronite territory with some Greek Orthodox enclaves) but it also included areas containing many Muslims and Druze. On 1 September 1926, France formed the Lebanese Republic. A constitution was adopted on 25 May 1926 establishing a democratic republic with a parliamentary system of government.

Lebanon gained a measure of independence while France was occupied by Germany. General Henri Dentz, the Vichy High Commissioner for Syria and Lebanon, played a major role in the independence of the nation. The Vichy authorities in 1941 allowed Germany to move aircraft and supplies through Syria to Iraq where they were used against British forces. The United Kingdom, fearing that Nazi Germany would gain full control of Lebanon and Syria by pressure on the weak Vichy government, sent its army into Syria and Lebanon. After the fighting ended in Lebanon, General Charles de Gaulle visited the area. Under political pressure from both inside and outside Lebanon, de Gaulle recognized the independence of Lebanon. On 26 November 1941 General Georges Catroux announced that Lebanon would become independent under the authority of the Free French government. Elections were held in 1943 and on 8 November 1943 the new Lebanese government unilaterally abolished the mandate. The French reacted by imprisoning the new government. In the face of international pressure, the French released the government officials on 22 November 1943. The allies occupied the region until the end of World War II. Following the end of World War II in Europe the French mandate may be said to have been terminated without any formal action on the part of the League of Nations or its successor the United Nations. The mandate was ended by the declaration of the mandatory power, and of the new states themselves, of their independence, followed by a process of piecemeal unconditional recognition by other powers, culminating in formal admission to the United Nations. Article 78 of the UN Charter ended the status of tutelage for any member state: “The trusteeship system shall not apply to territories which have become Members of the United Nations, relationship among which shall be based on respect for the principle of sovereign equality.” So when the UN officially came into existence on 24 October 1945, after ratification of the United Nations Charter by the five permanent members, as both Syria and Lebanon were founding member states, the French mandate for both was legally terminated on that date and full independence attained. The last French troops withdrew in December 1946. Lebanon’s unwritten National Pact of 1943 required that its president be Maronite Christian, its speaker of the parliament to be a Shiite Muslim, its prime minister be Sunni Muslim, and the Deputy Speaker of Parliament and the Deputy Prime Minister be Greek Orthodox. Lebanon’s history since independence has been marked by alternating periods of political stability and turmoil interspersed with prosperity built on Beirut‘s position as a regional center for finance and trade. In May 1948, Lebanon supported neighbouring Arab countries in a war against Israel. While some irregular forces crossed the border and carried out minor skirmishes against Israel, it was without the support of the Lebanese government, and Lebanese troops did not officially invade. Lebanon agreed to support the forces with covering artillery fire, armored cars, volunteers and logistical support. On 5–6 June 1948, the Lebanese army – led by the then Minister of National Defence, Emir Majid Arslan – captured Al-Malkiyya. This was Lebanon’s only success in the war. 100,000 Palestinians fled to Lebanon because of the war. Israel did not permit their return after the cease-fire. Today, more than 400,000 refugees remain in Lebanon, about half in camps. In 1958, during the last months of President Camille Chamoun‘s term, an insurrection broke out, instigated by Lebanese Muslims who wanted to make Lebanon a member of the United Arab Republic. Chamoun requested assistance, and 5,000 United States Marines were briefly dispatched to Beirut on 15 July. After the crisis, a new government was formed, led by the popular former general Fuad Chehab. With the defeat of the PLO in Jordan, many Palestinian militants relocated to Lebanon, increasing their armed campaign against Israel. The relocation of Palestinian bases also led to increasing sectarian tensions between Palestinians versus the Maronites and other Lebanese factions.

In 1975, following increasing sectarian tensions, a full-scale civil war broke out in Lebanon. The Lebanese Civil War pitted a coalition of Christian groups against the joint forces of the PLO, left-wing Druze and Muslim militias. In June 1976 Lebanese President Elias Sarkis asked for the Syrian Army to intervene on the side of the Christians and help restore peace. In October 1976 the Arab League agreed to establish a predominantly Syrian Arab Deterrent Force, which was charged with restoring calm. In 1982, the PLO attacks from Lebanon on Israel led to an Israeli invasion. A multinational force of American, French and Italian contingents (joined in 1983 by a British contingent) were deployed in Beirut after the Israeli siege of the city, to supervise the evacuation of the PLO. It returned in September 1982 after the assassination of Bashir Gemayel and subsequent fighting. During this time a number of massacres occurred, such as in Sabra and Shatila, and in several refugee camps. The multinational force was withdrawn in the spring of 1984, following a devastating bombing attack during the previous year. In September 1988, the Parliament failed to elect a successor to President Gemayel as a result of differences between the Christians, Muslims, and Syrians. The Arab League Summit of May 1989 led to the formation of a Saudi-Moroccan-Algerian committee to solve the crisis. On 16 September 1989 the committee issued a peace plan which was accepted by all. A ceasefire was established, the ports and airports were re-opened and refugees began to return. In the same month, the Lebanese Parliament agreed to the Taif Agreement, which included an outline timetable for Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon and a formula for the de-confessionalisation of the Lebanese political system. The war ended at the end of 1990 after sixteen years, resulting in massive loss of human life and property, while devastating the country’s economy. It is estimated that 150,000 people were killed and another 200,000 wounded. Nearly a million civilians were displaced by the war, and some never returned. Parts of Lebanon were left in ruins. The Taif Agreement has still not been implemented in full and Lebanon’s political system continues to be divided along sectarian lines.

The internal political situation in Lebanon significantly changed in the early 2000s. After the Israeli withdrawal from southern Lebanon and the death of Hafez Al-Assad in 2000, the Syrian military presence faced criticism and resistance from the Lebanese population. On 14 February 2005, former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri was assassinated in a car bomb explosion. Leaders of the March 14 Alliance accused Syria of the attack, while the March 8 Alliance and Syrian officials claimed that the Mossad was behind the assassination. The Hariri assassination marked the beginning of a series of assassinations that resulted in the death of many prominent Lebanese figures. The assassination triggered the Cedar Revolution, a series of demonstrations which demanded the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon and the establishment of an international commission to investigate the assassination. Under pressure from the West, Syria began withdrawing, and by 26 April 2005 all Syrian soldiers had returned to Syria. The UNSC Resolution 1595 called for an investigation into the assassination. The UN International Independent Investigation Commission published its preliminary findings on 20 October 2005 in the Mehlis report, which cited indications that the assassination was organized by Syrian and Lebanese intelligence services. On 12 July 2006, Hezbollah launched a series of rocket attacks and raids into Israeli territory, where they killed three Israeli soldiers and captured a further two. Israel responded with airstrikes and artillery fire on targets in Lebanon, and a ground invasion of southern Lebanon, resulting in the 2006 Lebanon War. The conflict was officially ended by the UNSC Resolution 1701 on 14 August 2006, which ordered a ceasefire (Times of Israel, 26 April 2019: Report: UNIFIL instructed to boost, expand patrols in south Lebanon and Times of Israel, 23 April 2019: Lebanon ‘ready’ to demarcate maritime border with Israel under UN supervision). Some 1,191 Lebanese and 160 Israelis were killed in the conflict. Beirut’s southern suburb was heavily damaged by Israeli airstrikes. In 2007, the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp became the center of the 2007 Lebanon conflict between the Lebanese Army and Fatah al-Islam. At least 169 soldiers, 287 insurgents and 47 civilians were killed in the battle. Funds for the reconstruction of the area have been slow to materialize. Between 2006 and 2008, a series of protests led by groups opposed to the pro-Western Prime Minister Fouad Siniora demanded the creation of a national unity government, over which the mostly Shia opposition groups would have veto power. When Émile Lahoud‘s presidential term ended in October 2007, the opposition refused to vote for a successor unless a power-sharing deal was reached, leaving Lebanon without a president. On 9 May 2008, Hezbollah and Amal forces, sparked by a government declaration that Hezbollah‘s communications network was illegal, seized western Beirut, leading to the 2008 conflict in Lebanon. The Lebanese government denounced the violence as a coup attempt. At least 62 people died in the resulting clashes between pro-government and opposition militias. On 21 May 2008, the signing of the Doha Agreement ended the fighting. As part of the accord, which ended 18 months of political paralysis, Michel Suleiman became president and a national unity government was established, granting a veto to the opposition. The agreement was a victory for opposition forces, as the government caved in to all their main demands. In early January 2011, the national unity government collapsed due to growing tensions stemming from the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, which was expected to indict Hezbollah members for the Hariri assassination. The parliament elected Najib Mikati, the candidate for the Hezbollah-led March 8 Alliance, Prime Minister of Lebanon, making him responsible for forming a new government. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah insists that Israel was responsible for the assassination of Hariri. A report leaked by the Al-Akhbar newspaper in November 2010 stated that Hezbollah has drafted plans for a takeover of the country in the event that the Special Tribunal for Lebanon issues an indictment against its members. In 2012, the Syrian civil war threatened to spill over in Lebanon, causing more incidents of sectarian violence and armed clashes between Sunnis and Alawites in Tripoli. As of 6 August 2013, more than 677,702 Syrian refugees are in Lebanon. As the number of Syrian refugees increases, the Lebanese Forces Party, the Kataeb Party, and the Free Patriotic Movement fear the country’s sectarian based political system is being undermined (Times of Israel, 10 February 2019: Iran foreign minister visits Lebanon, offers support for new government, Times of Israel, 22 March 2019: Pompeo in Lebanon to talk Hezbollah amid Golan condemnation, France24, 22 March 2019: Pressure on Iran, Hezbollah is working, Pompeo says on visit to Lebanon, Israeli–Lebanese conflict and Israel–Lebanon relations).



Israel and Syria
In 1516, the Ottoman Empire invaded the Mamluk Sultanate of Egypt, conquering Syria, and incorporating it into its empire. The Ottoman system was not burdensome to Syrians because the Turks respected Arabic as the language of the Quran, and accepted the mantle of defenders of the faith. Damascus was made the major entrepot for Mecca, and as such it acquired a holy character to Muslims, because of the beneficial results of the countless pilgrims who passed through on the hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca. Ottoman administration followed a system that led to peaceful coexistence. Each ethno-religious minority – Arab Shia Muslim, Arab Sunni Muslim, ArameanSyriac Orthodox, Greek Orthodox, Maronite Christians, Assyrian Christians, Armenians, Kurds and Jews – constituted a millet. The religious heads of each community administered all personal status laws and performed certain civil functions as well. In 1831, Ibrahim Pasha of Egypt renounced his loyalty to the Empire and overran Ottoman Syria, capturing Damascus. His short-term rule over the domain attempted to change the demographics and social structure of the region: he brought thousands of Egyptian villagers to populate the plains of Southern Syria, rebuilt Jaffa and settled it with veteran Egyptian soldiers aiming to turn it into a regional capital, and he crushed peasant and Druze rebellions and deported non-loyal tribesmen. By 1840, however, he had to surrender the area back to the Ottomans. From 1864, Tanzimat reforms were applied on Ottoman Syria, carving out the provinces (vilayets) of Aleppo, Zor, Beirut and Damascus Vilayet; Mutasarrifate of Mount Lebanon was created, as well, and soon after the Mutasarrifate of Jerusalem was given a separate status. During World War I, the Ottoman Empire entered the conflict on the side of Germany and the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It ultimately suffered defeat and loss of control of the entire Near East to the British Empire and French Empire. During the conflict, genocide against indigenous Christian peoples was carried out by the Ottomans and their allies in the form of the Armenian Genocide and Assyrian Genocide, of which Deir ez-Zor, in Ottoman Syria, was the final destination of these death marches. In the midst of World War I, two Allied diplomats (Frenchman François Georges-Picot and Briton Mark Sykes) secretly agreed on the post-war division of the Ottoman Empire into respective zones of influence in the Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1916. Initially, the two territories were separated by a border that ran in an almost straight line from Jordan to Iran. However, the discovery of oil in the region of Mosul just before the end of the war led to yet another negotiation with France in 1918 to cede this region to ‘Zone B’, or the British zone of influence. This border was later recognized internationally when Syria became a League of Nations mandate in 1920 and has not changed to date.

In 1920, a short-lived independent Kingdom of Syria was established under Faisal I of the Hashemite family. However, his rule over Syria ended after only a few months, following the Battle of Maysalun. French troops occupied Syria later that year after the San Remo conference proposed that the League of Nations put Syria under a French mandate. General Gouraud had according to his secretary de Caix two options: “Either build a Syrian nation that does not exist… by smoothing the rifts which still divide it” or “cultivate and maintain all the phenomena, which require our abitration that these divisions give”. De Caix added “I must say only the second option interests me”. This is what Gouraud did. In 1925, Sultan al-Atrash led a revolt that broke out in the Druze Mountain and spread to engulf the whole of Syria and parts of Lebanon. Al-Atrash won several battles against the French, notably the Battle of al-Kafr on 21 July 1925, the Battle of al-Mazraa on 2–3 August 1925, and the battles of Salkhad, al-Musayfirah and Suwayda. France sent thousands of troops from Morocco and Senegal, leading the French to regain many cities, although resistance lasted until the spring of 1927. The French sentenced Sultan al-Atrash to death, but he had escaped with the rebels to Transjordan and was eventually pardoned. He returned to Syria in 1937 after the signing of the Syrian-French Treaty. Syria and France negotiated a treaty of independence in September 1936, and Hashim al-Atassi was the first president to be elected under the first incarnation of the modern republic of Syria. However, the treaty never came into force because the French Legislature refused to ratify it. With the fall of France in 1940 during World War II, Syria came under the control of Vichy France until the British and Free French occupied the country in the Syria-Lebanon campaign in July 1941. Continuing pressure from Syrian nationalists and the British forced the French to evacuate their troops in April 1946, leaving the country in the hands of a republican government that had been formed during the mandate (French Mandate for Syria and Lebanon and Mandatory Syrian Republic).

Upheaval dominated Syrian politics from independence through the late 1960s. In May 1948, Syrian forces invaded Palestine, together with other Arab states, and immediately attacked Jewish settlements. Their president Shukri al-Quwwatli instructed his troops in the front, “to destroy the Zionists”. The Invasion purpose was prevention of the establishment of the State of Israel. Defeat in this war was one of several trigger factors for the March 1949 Syrian coup d’état by Col. Husni al-Za’im, described as the first military overthrow of the Arab World since the start of the Second World War. This was soon followed by another overthrow, by Col. Sami al-Hinnawi, who was himself quickly deposed by Col. Adib Shishakli, all within the same year. Shishakli eventually abolished multipartyism altogether, but was himself overthrown in a 1954 coup and the parliamentary system was restored. However, by this time, power was increasingly concentrated in the military and security establishment. The weakness of Parliamentary institutions and the mismanagement of the economy led to unrest and the influence of Nasserism and other ideologies. There was fertile ground for various Arab nationalist, Syrian nationalist, and socialist movements, which represented disaffected elements of society. Notably included were religious minorities, who demanded radical reform. In November 1956, as a direct result of the Suez Crisis, Syria signed a pact with the Soviet Union. This gave a foothold for Communist influence within the government in exchange for military equipment. Turkey then became worried about this increase in the strength of Syrian military technology, as it seemed feasible that Syria might attempt to retake İskenderun. Only heated debates in the United Nations lessened the threat of war. On 1 February 1958, Syrian President Shukri al-Quwatli and Egypt’s Nasser announced the merging of Egypt and Syria, creating the United Arab Republic, and all Syrian political parties, as well as the communists therein, ceased overt activities. Meanwhile, a group of Syrian Ba’athist officers, alarmed by the party’s poor position and the increasing fragility of the union, decided to form a secret Military Committee; its initial members were Lieutenant-Colonel Muhammad Umran, Major Salah Jadid and Captain Hafez al-Assad. Syria seceded from the union with Egypt on 28 September 1961, after a coup (Syrian Republic (1946–63), United Arab Republic, and 1963 Syrian coup d’état).

The ensuing instability, following the 1961 coup culminated in the 8 March 1963 Ba’athist coup. The takeover was engineered by members of the Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party, led by Michel Aflaq and Salah al-Din al-Bitar. The new Syrian cabinet was dominated by Ba’ath members. On 23 February 1966, the Military Committee carried out an intra-party overthrow, imprisoned President Amin Hafiz and designated a regionalist, civilian Ba’ath government on 1 March. Although Nureddin al-Atassi became the formal head of state, Salah Jadid was Syria’s effective ruler from 1966 until November 1970, when he was deposed by Hafez al-Assad, who at the time was Minister of Defense. The coup led to a split within the original pan-Arab Ba’ath Party: one Iraqi-led ba’ath movement (ruled Iraq from 1968 to 2003) and one Syrian-led ba’ath movement was established. In the first half of 1967, a low-key state of war existed between Syria and Israel. Conflict over Israeli cultivation of land in the Demilitarized Zone led to 7 April pre-war aerial clashes between Israel and Syria. When the Six-Day War broke out between Egypt and Israel, Syria joined the war and attacked Israel as well. In the final days of the war, Israel turned its attention to Syria, capturing two-thirds of the Golan Heights in under 48 hours. The defeat caused a split between Jadid and Assad over what steps to take next. Disagreement developed between Jadid, who controlled the party apparatus, and Assad, who controlled the military. The 1970 retreat of Syrian forces sent to aid the PLO during the “Black September” hostilities with Jordan reflected this disagreement. The power struggle culminated in the November 1970 Syrian Corrective Revolution, a bloodless military overthrow that installed Hafez al-Assad as the strongman of the government. On 6 October 1973, Syria and Egypt initiated the Yom Kippur War against Israel. The Israel Defense Forces reversed the initial Syrian gains and pushed deeper into Syrian territory. In early 1976, Syria entered Lebanon, beginning the thirty-year Syrian military occupation. Over the following 15 years of civil war, Syria fought for control over Lebanon. Syria then remained in Lebanon until 2005. In the late 1970s, an Islamist uprising by the Muslim Brotherhood was aimed against the government. Islamists attacked civilians and off-duty military personnel, leading security forces to also kill civilians in retaliatory strikes. The uprising had reached its climax in the 1982 Hama massacre, when some 10,000 – 40,000 people were killed by regular Syrian Army troops. In a major shift in relations with both other Arab states and the Western world, Syria participated in the US-led Gulf War against Saddam Hussein. Syria participated in the multilateral Madrid Conference of 1991, and during the 1990s engaged in negotiations with Israel. These negotiations failed, and there have been no further direct Syrian-Israeli talks since President Hafez al-Assad‘s meeting with then President Bill Clinton in Geneva in March 2000. Hafez al-Assad died on 10 June 2000. His son, Bashar al-Assad, was elected President in an election in which he ran unopposed. His election saw the birth of the Damascus Spring and hopes of reform, but by autumn 2001, the authorities had suppressed the movement, imprisoning some of its leading intellectuals. Instead, reforms have been limited to some market reforms. On 5 October 2003, Israel bombed a site near Damascus, claiming it was a terrorist training facility for members of Islamic Jihad. In March 2004, Syrian Kurds and Arabs clashed in the northeastern city of al-Qamishli. Signs of rioting were seen in the cities of Qamishli and Hasakeh. In 2005, Syria ended its occupation of Lebanon. On 6 September 2007, foreign jet fighters, suspected as Israeli, reportedly carried out Operation Orchard against a suspected nuclear reactor under construction by North Korean technicians.

The ongoing Syrian Civil War was inspired by the Arab Spring revolutions. It began in 2011 as a chain of peaceful protests, followed by a crackdown by the Syrian Army. In July 2011, Army defectors declared the formation of the Free Syrian Army and began forming fighting units. The opposition is dominated by Sunni Muslims, whereas the leading government figures are generally associated with Alawites. According to various sources, including the United Nations, up to 100,000 people had been killed by June 2013, including 11,000 children. To escape the violence, 4.9 million Syrian refugees have fled to neighboring countries of Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon, and Turkey. An estimated 450,000 Syrian Christians have fled their homes. By October 2017, an estimated 400,000 people had been killed in the war according to the UN (The Guardian, 23 March 2019: Isis defeated, US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces announce, The New York Times, 23 March 2019: Last ISIS Village in Syria Falls, and a Caliphate Crumbles, and The Washington Post, 23 March 2019: The Islamic State’s caliphate has been defeated, U.S.-backed forces say ).

Since the beginning of the civil war, the Israeli government has ordered more than 300 air and missile strikes against targets in Syria (France24, 21 January 2019: Israel says strikes launched against Iranian targets in Syria, The Guardian, 21 January 2019: Israeli military strikes Iranian targets inside Syria, Times of Israel, 23 January 2019: Russia says Israel must halt its ‘arbitrary’ airstrikes in Syria and Times of Israel, 23 January 2019: Netanyahu threatens Gaza, Iran after flareups on two fronts), but at the same time claims to be totally uninvolved in the fightings (in other parts of the world, such a statement would lead to the diagnosis “schizophrenia“). Since 1948, Israel and Syria have been more or less in a state of war. There has never been a peace treaty between the two countries, but several half-hearted attempts: Israel–Syria relations and Iran–Israel proxy conflict. One of the linchpins is the Israeli occupation of the Syrian Golan Heights, which at no time has been legitimized by the international community, and the illegal Israeli settlements spreading there. Interesting is the reporting about it. The Israeli government and the Israeli media are presenting the status as if the Syrian Golan Heights would belong to Israel, which of course is not the case. All attempts by Syria to liberate the Golan Heights from the Israeli occupation are portrayed as attacks on Israel. In real life, it’s the other way round. Syria is perfectly legitimate against continued Israeli aggression (illegal land grabbing, construction of illegal settlements, etc.). Both, Trump’s recognition of West Jerusalem as an Israeli capital forced by Netanyahu and the recognition of the Syrian Golan Heights as belonging to Israel, have only one consequence, namely that the entire international community has developed the exact opposite point of view, after Netanyahu had forced the member states of the international community to clearly define their own points of view on the two topics. By doing so, Netanyahu ensures the further isolation of Israel. After Netanyahu has already gotten a black eye in the total misjudgment that Trump’s announcement to recognize West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and thus sets the world community on the same course, he will also succeed in doing so with regard to the Syrian Golan Heights: Haaretz, 21 March 2019: Trump: Time for U.S. to Recognize Israel’s Sovereignty Over Golan Heights, Times of Israel, 21 March 2019: Trump says time has come for US to ‘recognize Israel’s sovereignty’ over Golan, The New York Times, 21 March 2019: Trump Wants U.S. to Recognize Israeli Sovereignty Over the Golan Heights, The Washington Post, 21 March 2019: Trump endorses Israeli control of the disputed Golan Heights, France24, 21 March 2019: Trump says US recognises Israeli sovereignty over Golan Heights, The Guardian, 22 March 2019: Trump provokes global anger by recognising Israel’s claim to Golan Heights, Times of Israel, 22 March 2019: Trump tweet does little for Golan, but much for Netanyahu, critics charge, Reuters, 22 March 2019: EU holds position on Golan Heights despite Trump: Tusk, France24, 22 March 2019: France says Israeli sovereignty over Golan breaks international law, Jerusalem Post, 22 March 2019: UNHRC voted 26-16 against Israel’s ‘occupation’ of the Golan Heights, Times of Israel, 22 March 2019: EU says it will not follow Trump in recognizing Israeli sovereignty over Golan, France24, 24 March 2019: Netanyahu in Washington with Golan Heights recognition on tap, France24, 25 March 2019: Trump signs US recognition of Israeli sovereignty over Golan Heights, Times of Israel, 25 March 2019: Alongside PM, Trump signs proclamation recognizing Israeli sovereignty on Golan, France, 26 March 2019: Trump’s Golan move unites Gulf States and Iran in condemnation, The New York Times, 26 March 2019: Golan Heights Recognition by U.S. Sets Precedent for Annexation, Netanyahu Says, Times of Israel, 26 March 2019: Israel says US Golan recognition helps pave way for keeping other captured lands, The Hill, 26 March 2019: Trump’s Golan Heights announcement will backfire for Netanyahu — and US, The Guardian, 27 March 2019: Trump’s Golan Heights proclamation is a cynical, dangerous move, Times of Israel, 27 March 2019: All EU countries say no to recognition of Israeli Golan Heights, Times of Israel, 27 March 2019: European envoys said sent to White House, State Department to protest Golan move, Jerusalem Post, 27 March 2019: All 28 EU member states reject Israeli souvereignty over Golan, Haaretz, 27 March 2019: Two-state Solution: U.S. Jews Won’t Budge. Will It Cost Them Their Relationship With Israel?, Haaretz, 27 March 2019: Why Golan Recognition Can’t Pave Way for Israel to Annex West Bank, Haaretz, 27 March 2019: EU States Unanimously Announce: We Do Not Recognize Israeli Sovereignty Over Golan Heights, Times of Israel, 28 March 2019: US slammed at UN Security Council for recognizing Golan as Israeli (At least United Nations Disengagement Observer Force could finally be ended), Times of Israel, 29 March 2019: Iran to ‘resist’ Trump decision on Golan Heights, (United States Deputy Secretary of Energy, Dan Brouillette, has said, that the decisions to recognize West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and the Golan Heights as part of Israel were made, because the US itself is producing so much oil and natural gas that its dependency (United States energy independence) on the Gulf States is no longer given. Of course, one can try to talk nicely about breaking international law), Times of Israel, 27 March 2019: Israel and Hamas prepare to square off on anniversary of ‘March of Return’, Times of Israel, 28 March 2019: Hamas and Israel risk another Gaza war in deadly game of chicken, France24, 29 March 2019: Gaza, Israel brace for mass border demos, The Washington Post, 29 March 2019: Gazans have paid in blood for a year of protests. Now many wonder what it was for., The Guardian, 30 March 2019: Border protests: Palestinian killed by Israeli fire, officials say, The Washington Post, 30 March 2019: Clashes erupt as Gazans mark anniversary of bloody border protests, Haaretz, 30 March 2019: Tens of Thousands of Palestinians Gather in Gaza for March of Return Anniversary, Haaretz, 30 March 2019: Israel-Egypt Treaty, 40 Years Later: When Israel Made Peace a Priority, The Guardian, 30 March 2019: Israeli fire kills three Palestinians, says Gaza health ministry.



Israel and Turkey
Israel–Turkey relations were formalized in March 1949. Turkey was the first Muslim majority country to recognize the State of Israel. Military, strategic, and diplomatic cooperation between Turkey and Israel were accorded high priority by both countries, which shared concerns with respect to the regional instabilities in the Middle East. According to a New York Times report in 1999, the strategic partnership between the two countries had the potential to alter Middle East politics: Trade and tourism were booming, the Israel Air Force practiced maneuvers in Turkish airspace and Israeli technicians were modernizing Turkish combat jets. There were also plans for high-tech cooperation and water sharing.

Relations between Israel and Turkey took a downturn during the term of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as Turkish Prime Minister. Though Erdoğan had paid an official visit to Israel in 2005 and initially had maintained business-as-usual relations, his perceived anti-Israeli rhetoric is considered to have symbolized an intentional shift of Turkish interests in the Middle East and realignment from secular Israeli-oriented to Islamist pro-Arab stance of Turkish Republic. Most notably, the relations deteriorated after the 2008–09 Gaza War and the 2010 Gaza flotilla raid. In March 2013, Israel apologized for the raid, opening path for normalized relations. However, despite US-mediation, no progress has been achieved in reconciliation through 2013. With the scandal over alleged Turkish involvement in exposure of special agents of Israel in Iran in October 2013, the relations between Israel and Turkey hit a new low. However, in December 2015, Turkey and Israel began to negotiate on restoring diplomatic relations by holding a secret meeting, in the aftermath of the 2015 Russian Sukhoi Su-24 shootdown by Turkey the previous month, and the subsequent crisis with Russia and the increasing isolation of Turkey. The two countries reached an agreement on 27 June 2016 to start the process of normalization of ties. In December 2017 Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan threatened to break off diplomatic ties with Israel if the United States formally recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s capital (Israel–Turkey relations). However, Israel, Jordan, Egypt and Turkey are still be seen as stability anchors in the region. At the end of June 2018, early elections are held in Turkey. Even if the result is still seemingly completely open, the outcome can probably be predicted as “regardless of whether Erdoğan will be elected or not, he definitely remains to be president of Turkey”. In this respect, it can be assumed that the political and economic situation in Turkey will continue to worsen, that Turkey will continue to move away from the EU, while moving closer to Russia and Iran. It won’t have a positive effect on the Turkey-Israel relationship as well (The Washington Post, 10 August 2018: Trump takes aim at Turkey, announcing doubling of steel and aluminum tariffs in effort to punish country, The Guardian, 10 August 2018: Turkey’s economic crisis deepens as Trump doubles tariffs, The New York Times, 10 August 2018: Turkey Emerges as Economic Flash Point as Tensions With U.S. Soar and The Washington Post, 10 August 2018: How a Trump tweet and an Erdogan speech shook Turkey’s economy).



Israel and Ukraine
Both countries recognized each other de facto on 11 May 1949 as the Ukrainian SSR (Soviet Union) and established de jure diplomatic relations on December 26, 1991 as an independent state (Ukraine). Israel has an embassy in Kiev. Ukraine has an embassy in Tel Aviv and a consulate-general in Haifa. In July 2010 the foreign ministers of both countries signed an agreement of non visa traffic between Israel and Ukraine. This came into effect on February 9, 2011 and since then Ukrainians and Israelis may enter territory, travel through it or stay in Ukraine/Israel without having to obtain visas for 90 days within a period of 180 days. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko stated in September 2016 that this visa-free regime had increased tourist flow between both countries tenfold. In November 2014, Oleg Vyshniakov, entrepreneur and a Ukrainian public figure, was appointed to the Israel’s honorary consul in western Ukraine. In May 2015 the honorary consulate of Israel was inaugurated in Lviv. In January 2019 both countries closed a free trade agreement (Jerusalem Post, 21 January 2019: Ukraine and Israel sign massie free trade agreement and Times of Israel, 22 January 2019: Israel and Ukraine sign agreement for free trade. As Ukraine is rich with Jewish history, it plays a major part in Israeli education for young generation of Jews. In addition, Ukraine is also rich in religious history and contains the grave of Rabbi Nachman of Breslev, which is a pilgrimage site to many religious Jews. As Israel and the West Bank contain rich Christian history, Ukrainians come to Israel and Palestine as religious pilgrims. This is especially true regarding East and West Jerusalem, with its Orthodox Christian holy sites. For Jews worldwide, Ukraine also holds many memories regarding the Holocaust, as the site of Babi Yar is in its territory. As Ukraine is a newly independent state, this serves to create a common sense of identity of Ukraine and Israel as nations who gained their independence in the 20th century. A special tourisms programs for Jews and Israelis, developed in cooperation with the Lviv Municipality and the District Administration, which includes visits to Jewish memorial sites and architecture, operated by Hebrew speaking tourist guides. In May 2015 a direct flight Lviv-Tel Aviv-Lviv was launched and is operated by the airline “UIA” (Ukraine International Airlines), on regular flights twice a week. Ukraine has one of the world’s largest Jewish communities. At the same time, Ukrainian Jews make up a significant proportion of Israel’s population.

The Israeli government claims that their failure to vote in support of Ukraine against Russian aggression on Crimea and in Eathern Ukraine was due to a public workers strike (Israel–Ukraine relations).



Gulf States and Israel
Since the founding of Israel in 1948 and the immediate beginning of the Middle East conflict (or its consistent continuation, depending on the perspective), there is a tense relationship between the Gulf States on the Arabian Peninsula on the Arabian Gulf and Israel, resulting from solidarity of the Gulf States with the Arab states in the Middle East (Israel–Saudi Arabia relations, Israel–United Arab Emirates relations, Israel–Oman relations, Israel–Qatar relations, Bahrain–Israel relations, Israel–Kuwait relations, Israel–Yemen relations, Iraq–Israel relations, and Foreign relations of Israel). No state in the region recognized Israel at that time. Neither was any significant bilateral treaty with Israel be concluded, nor are there official diplomatic relations. This follows the logic that you can’t conclude treaties or maintain diplomatic relations with a state that doesn’t exist. In addition, there are trade and travel restrictions given that have arisen on the basis of the Middle East conflict and will be abolished after a peace treaty between Israel and Palestine will be given. In the meantime, relations have eased considerably, but official recognitions of Israel are still pending, even if semi-official recognitions have been hinted or were announced several times.

As so often in the region there is rarely something like it seems to be. In fact, the Gulf States and Israel have been operating backroom diplomacy for years, which of course is only possible because the respective heads of state wish and encourage it. There are a lot of common interests, especially in the field of security, which are being pursued together in unofficial ways. The economic realignments (away from the oil, towards diversified and open economies) of the Gulf States with sometimes very ambitious plans (Saudi Vision 2030, United Arab Emirates Vision 2021, Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030, UAE 2021-2030, Bahrain 2030, Qatar National Vision 2030, New Kuwait 2035, and Oman Vision 2040) are leading to gradual rapprochements and openings of the markets, even for Israeli companies. This is accompanied by gradual societal openings in the Gulf States. The rapprochement, however, also results from the weakening of the Middle East conflict, which today can be narrowed down essentially to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. At this topic, amazing progress is given, especially due to signals from Saudi Arabia (Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman acknowledged for the first time Israel’s possible right to exist, that would have to result from the two-state solution (Arab Peace Initiative) – The Atlantic, 2 April 2018: Saudi Crown Prince: Iran’s Supreme Leader ‘Makes Hitler Look Good’). As part of the Iran-Saudi Arabia struggle for supremacy in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia considers Israel a natural, strategic partner, according to the motto “My enemy’s enemy is my friend”(Times of Israel, 8 February 2019: Foreign Ministry said to see little chance of breakthrough in Israeli-Saudi ties, Times of Israel, 11 February 2019: Bahrain said to have informed Israel two years ago it wanted to normalize ties and Al Jazeera, 14 November 2018: Normalising relations with Israel will not benefit Gulf states). It will not be easy to enforce this position vis-à-vis the rest of the Gulf States and, in particular, the Arab League, even when Saudi Arabia is the undisputed leading power here. Nevertheless, some countries brace themselves openly and vehemently against the attempt. Overall it can be stated that the relationship between the Gulf States and Israel has become more conciliatory in recent years. The situation will remain interesting and fascinating. The gradual rapprochement will take a lot of time, especially since a lot of china has been smashed on both sides, so that not only at the governmental level but in particular in the populations, basic trust towards the respective other side has to be built up, to overcome the mutual hate, envy, resentments and aversions that are still all too apparent today (Jerusalem Post, 13 April 2019: Saudi journalist condemns Arab antisemitism). This will be a task for several generations. The Trump administration has been trying for some time now to create the Arab version of the NATO (Middle East Strategic Alliance (MESA) – Jerusalem Post, 11 April 2019: An Arab NATO in the making), consisting of the Gulf States, Egypt and Jordan, which is to keep Iran militarily in check. Whether this succeeds, however, is still in the stars, especially since Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates want to buy US top weapon technology in exchange, have been negotiating for years with Washington, but apparently weren’t successful (Reuters, 15 January 2019: U.S. to host Iran-focused global meeting in Poland Feb. 13-14, Times of Israel, 18 January 2019: EU could snub US-called summit on Iran, officials say, The National, 18 January 2019: EU states boycott Iran summit US called in Poland, Forbes, 22 January 2019: Poland Excludes Tehran From Warsaw’s Iran Conference, The Guardian, 25 January 2019: UK to attend US summit on Iran on condition of Yemen talks, CNN, 11 February 2019: Iran marks 40 years since Islamic Revolution with nostalgia and threats and Al Jazeera, 11 February 2019: Iran marks 40th anniversary of Islamic revolution. In the wake of the 40th anniversary of the Iranian Revolution (Jerusalem Post, 16 February 2019: US ambassador slams German government for celebrating Iran’s revolution (the funny part on this report is, that the JP obvious has the impression as if Richard Grenell would be treated like a high-profile in Berlin and Germany. In the real world, quite the opposite is true. As he is seen as just another of Trump’s lap-dogs, he is treated as such by widely ignoring and isolating him, while on the other hand, he is doing everything to justify his isolation. When the former US Ambassador to Germany, John B. Emerson, left office, he had reached rockstar status in Germany. To celebrate his “good bye” party, the US embassy had to rent the Olympiastadion in Berlin to be able to accommodate the shire mass of people, who wanted to thank him for his awesome service. Once Grenell will leave, a bus stop or a single garage will be more than enough. Btw, not a single serious German newspaper reported on Annen’s visit to the Iranian embassy, not least because there was nothing to report – DW, 19 March 2019: Germany: US ambassador Richard Grenell should be expelled, says FDP deputy leader), it is a special concern and wish of the political far right from the USA and Israel to try to initiate a regime change in Iran. For Netanyahu, the conference is even the further preparation of a war of aggression against Iran. Again, under false pretenses, as he has already driven US President Bush Junior into the Iraq War. The Americans should insist that Israeli troops be used in Netanyahu’s war against Iran instead of sacrificing American soldiers for his fantasies – The Guardian, 14 February 2019: Mike Pence chides US allies at Warsaw summit on Iran, France24, 14 February 2019: US-led Warsaw summit vies with parallel Syria talks, The Washington Post, 14 February 2019: Pence urges Europeans to withdraw from Iran nuclear deal, warns of more sanctions and Times of Israel, 14 February 2019: Netanyahu’s staff scrambles after he speaks of ‘war against Iran’). In addition, there are significant tensions between the future partner states (Bloomberg, 3 April 2019: First Images of Saudi Nuclear Reactor Show Plant Nearing Finish (the country that is, inter alia, behind 9/11 and the financing of ISIL, while Iran is referred to as a “terrorist state”)).



Yemen
The situation in Yemen was very uneasy even before the 1990s. Since the 1990s there have been several civil wars and military interventions from outside, so that the situation is now as confusing due to the numerous groups and states involved as in Syria. For the country and its people, it is a catastrophe and the improvement of the situation isn’t in sight (Saudi Arabian–led intervention in Yemen, History of Yemen, Yemenite Jews and Israel–Yemen relations). Off the legendary wealth of the Queen of Sheba and the prosperity of Yemen just very few buildings are left (Saudi Arabian-led intervention in Yemen and Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, 31 May 2018: Saudi Arabia and UAE’s dangerous rivalry over Yemen). The actual war in Yemen has another important component for Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates: Since both states have kept out of wars in the region in the past, deployment capabilities need to be built up in the event of a possible direct war with Iran. So to speak, the war in Yemen is a “maneuver exercise under real conditions”.



European Union
Often Israeli politicians say that Israeli military interventions in the Middle East would contribute to the security of Europe. In fact, the opposite is true. In part, thanks to the support by Europe, Israel can still be found on the map today. Understandably, that isn’t the prefered point of view in Israel, especially as it would be a clear sign of domestic and external weakness, and would include the acknowledgment that EU support measures are part of the country’s livelihood survival strategy. In the opposite direction, the strategic significance is noticeably lower. In Europe, the religious and historical relevance play a significantly larger role (Holy Land and Christianity in Israel/Palestinian Christians (the number of religious Christians in Europe has been steadily declining for years (Religion in Europe, Religion in Germany and Secularization), and with it the relevance of places and sites important to Christianity in the Holy Land for Europe as a whole), Évian Conference, The Holocaust, and State of Israel/Israeli Declaration of Independence. From a specifically German point of view, there is another aspect to the importance of Europe for Israel: German influences have been of great importance to the region of present-day Israel since the 1850s and are still today. They were the first European colonists in Palestine, 700 years after the end of the Crusader era. Among other places, the foundations of Haifa as a port city and Tel Aviv (this includes The White City) go back to the colonists of The German colony in Palestine. The second official residence of the Israeli Prime Minister is still located in buildings of the former German colony in Tel Aviv. Parts of Jerusalem and most of the other cities of Israel are strongly influenced by the German colonists. Quality always prevails, everywhere and long term. The German colonists were particularly important because they brought progress, social, economic and technical developments to Palestine, including the most advanced, agricultural methods that provided rich income and continue to do so to todays Israeli viticulture and other agricultural activities. The German colonists have thereby inspired the ideas of Zionism, because at that time Jews started to dream of founding colonies in Palestine as well. The Jews coming to Palestine have profited enormously from the German land developments in the region and continue to do so today. What is being propagated today as “great Israeli achievements” actually goes back to the German colonists. Even todays common natural stone facades and todays less common kibbutzim are going back to the German colonies. Some time ago, Israelis began to confront themselves and visualize this German cultural, social, technical and economic legacy in Palestine/Israel – with the exception of the right-wing nationalist Likud, of course, who still prefers to deny and/or falsify Israel’s past history). Moreover, for decades Europe has been the largest donor to all countries of the enlarged Levant. There are also obvious counter-strategies and counter-interests: While Europe sees the solution to the conflicts in the region in the countries political and economic stabilization, Israel’s goal is to leave countries destabilized for as long as possible, especially as these countries then pose no threat to Israel, while at the same time are risk-free targets for the IAF. At the same time, the country sees itself as a hegemonic power of the region, which is downright grotesque. The country has become a regional military power, thanks to generous arms donations from the United States and Europe, but, understandably, not a single Arab country would ever recognize Israel’s leadership in the region. The region’s most powerful country thus remains to be Saudi Arabia (not only because of its economic omnipotence, but also because of its enormous impact in the Muslim world), followed by Iran (the importance of the United Arab Emirates is growing constantly), while Israel, Jordan, Egypt and Turkey take on the roles of “stability anchors of the region”. The statement that “Israel defends the security of Europe” is probably to be interpreted only as propaganda to the outside world and pure wishful thinking of the government (when two nationalists are of the same opinion concerning Xenophobia, Islamophobia, Illiberality and EU Hostility, then open anti-Semitism apparently no longer matters: France24, 18 July 2018: Hungary’s Orban set for controversial visit to Israel, Reuters, 19 July 2018: Hungary’s Orban tells Israel that Jews in his country can feel safe, CNN, 19 July 2018: Why Netanyahu is cozying up to Europe’s renegades, Deutsche Welle, 19 July 2018: Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu caught on microphone slamming EU in Budapest, France24, 19 July 2018: Middle East: Hungary’s Orban vows ‘zero tolerance’ for anti-Semitism on Israel visit, UNESCO.org – Education about the Holocaust and genocide and UNESCO.org – Addressing anti-Semitism through education).

But it is obvious that the European Union lags behind its possibilities in the Middle East, especially as mainly common economic interests are pursued (among others, one focus here is on oil from Iran). In other fields (politics and military), there is only a small number of common interests given. Here, Europe speaks with 28, partly contradictory voices, especially because there are only limited common geopolitical interests in the Middle East given. And this hasn’t been necessary, given the overwhelming interests and enforcement of the same by the United States in the Middle East over the past decades, and that Europe is seen little more than an mostly uninvolved observer (or being biased in favor of Israel) anyway, although the pacification and stabilization of the entire region is Europe’s historical heritage (Colonialism, Sykes–Picot Agreement, World War I, Balfour Declaration, Mandatory Palestine, World War II, United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine, Cold War, and other aspects). While some EU members have tried to influence the situation through diplomatic channels, the results have been modest.

With the US withdrawal from the Middle East, the EU increasingly has a role that it doesn’t want at all, but still has to learn swiftly to deal with it, and to become more active politically and militarily on the ground when Brussels wants to become more than just an observer and actually wants to contribute to solutions. The alternative would be to establish a very high and extremely well-guarded border security facility, while at the same time completely withdraw from the Middle East in every and any given way. A solution in between doesn’t exist or would merely be the continuation of the current “active passivity” due to the disagreement within the EU members.

Meanwhile, Russia and Iran are filling the resulting power vacuum in the Middle East. The EU certainly can’t be interested in this at all. In particular, Iran’s aggressive actions and its ongoing support of rebel and terrorist groups in the region will not be resolved by the EU in the context of group-dynamic discussion groups to which non-aggresive jasmine tea is served. There are much more robust approaches needed, unless the EU really want to leave Western Asia to Moscow and Tehran, which are already enforcing their interests with utmost brutality. In Syria, the Israeli government barely talks to Washington. Instead, there are continuous talks with Moscow (which is insofar understandable as the bombing of Russian bases and soldiers in Syria by the IAF would immediately lead to a backlash from Moscow, so that Israeli fighter jets after the inhumane approach (a tactic adopted from Hamas) over Lebanese territory to Syria would immediately be shot down after the violation of Syrian airspace). Brussels isn’t even informed by Israel anymore. This is the result of a still non-functioning Common Foreign, Security and Defence Policy and the resulting, tentatively and hesitantly developing Common EU military structure, which in turn leads to absurd situations: In the absence of a common EU military structure, the German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen want a complete repositioning of the Bundeswehr with a cost of over 60 billion euros (in 2018 and in the heart of Europe), because some EU members with their Nationalist small-minded mentalities don’t want to set up a EU Army and therefore jeopardize Germany’s security, instead of landing a big coup and at the same time setting accents in the economically weak external areas of the EU, by locating EU Army bases there which will be funded jointly by all EU members. The advantage would not only be in a much higher, general operational military readiness, but in the enormous cost advantages against individual armies of the Eu members – common procurement of weapon systems and equipment, and maintaining military branches only where they are strategically needed. This seems to be causing some headaches, especially in the EU’s eastern enlargement. The key question, which critics of the solution in particular have to face more and more often, is “What happens if we do not deploy the army, what are the risks and challenges and how could they be dealt with alternatively?” The answers are as sobering as they are enlightening, because there are no viable alternatives given. The earlier everyone realize this, the sooner we can start building the EU army. The above aspects are only a part of what contributes to why the EU is ridiculed politically and militarily in the Middle East (JCall, Arab League–European Union relations, Foreign relations of the European Union, and Israel–European Union relations).



United States of America
The relationship between the US and Israel isn’t easy to classify. Whether it was ever really a matter of the heart, or was followed by domestic political calculations and constraints only, can’t be clearly answered. It is probably a very small portion of the first and a very large portion of the second. When addressing Americans directly about Israel, one could confuse the reactions often with a competition in eye rolling without getting a real answer.

The road to become Israel’s hegemonic, and protecting power was long, initially anything but wanted, and sometimes rocky – and who knows what Trump will think of it in the next few days or at least tweet about it. From the complete withdrawal from all agreements with Israel to the appointment of Israel as a US Overseas Territory or the acceptance of Israel as the 51st state of the US, everything is possible. During the conference of Évian in 1938, the US, among 32 other countries, refused to accept Jewish refugees from the German Reich and Austria, as well as from Eastern Europe. In addition to the Holocaust itself, the conference is considered to be a key moment for the later founding of Israel (Exodus 1947). The US wasn’t a stranger to anti-Semitism at the time, currently experiencing a renaissance under and because of # 45. Today, there are more Jews living (History of the Jews in the United States) in the US than in any other country in the world, including Israel. The Jewish lobbying associations are very well networked in the political US and thus successful in their lobbying work. At the same time, today, the vast majority of US Jews under the age of 40 can’t identify with either the State of Israel or its government. Especially during Netanyahu’s terms, this gap has grown larger and larger. For the Democrats and Republicans, even though they make up only about 2% of the population, American Jews are, above all, voters (mostly voting in favor of the Democrats). To the astonishment of observers, regular protests of ultra-Orthodox Jews takes place in front of the main entrance of the UN building in New York under the motto “Judaism Yes, Zionism No!, State of Israel must go!”, in additon to numerous other demonstrations of this group against Netanyahu’s policies. This group now accounts for about 1/3 of the Jews living in the Tri-State Area. A much more significant group of voters are the evangelicals (mostly voting in favor of the Republicans), who represent nearly 26% of the population and seriously believe that Israel and Palestine would have to be reunited into the original Holy Land so that Jesus would return to earth, which is why this group explicitly endorses the illegal Israeli settlements and promotes and supports further Israeli land grabs (The Washington Post, 14 May 2018: Half of evangelicals support Israel because they believe it is important for fulfilling end-times prophecy, Haaretz, 20 November 2018: U.S. Evangelicals Put Their Faith in Netanyahu as Trump Readies Mideast Peace Plan and Times of Israel, 5 February 2019: As US readies peace plan, official says no need to be seen as ‘honest broker’). Both groups together form 28% of the population, so that every party and certainly any presidential candidate has to make some concessions with regard to Israel, if she/he wants to be elected (in the past, these were mostly concessions that couldn’t been kept, except for the steady increase in economic and military aid – Haaretz, 28 November 2018: Pro-Israel Groups Launch Campaign Against Rand Paul Over Bid to Block Military Aid). In addition, there are the for Trump important voters, who he calls “very fine people” (the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, because his father was already known to the New Yorker police as an activist of the Ku Klux Klan, along with other well-tried offenses) – the American right-wing radicals. This leads to sometimes unbelievable, pointless, and devastating decisions of the US governments, which can lead European observers to shout at the screen during the TV news (The New York Times, 22 September 2018: Sheldon Adelson Sees a Lot to Like in Trump’s Washington, Times of Israel, 7 March 2019: New poll: Americans’ support for Israel falls to lowest point in a decade and The New York Times Magazine, 28 March 2019: How the Battle Over Israel and Anti-Semitism Is Fracturing American Politics).

With this background given, America’s entire appearance in the Middle East is easier to classify. At the end of the day, it’s all about the safety of Israel (seemingly, actually about the re-election at home) and if, from the point of view of American governments, the one or the other war in the Levant or in North Africa has to be waged, in parts to entertain the audience at home and to unite the population behind the flag, then this is exactly what will happen. After all, a war in the region almost automatically leads to a second term in the White House. Surprisingly, not even Trump failed to see this. Immediately after the cancellation of the Iran deal, US government circles are already talking about a regime change in Iran with the help of American assistance (Reuters, 13 May 2018: Bolton: ‘Regime change’ in Iran not policy of Trump administration (by now) – February 11, 2019 marks the fortieth anniversary of the Iranian Revolution. For the US right-wingers it would be the greatest satisfaction to at least be able to contribute or help to perform a regime change in Iran (Iran hostage crisis and Operation Eagle Claw). The Iranian hardliners are already looking forward to taking power from President Hassan Rouhani and installing the old regime with the help of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps). As a result, the situation is often worsened in the region, but destabilized countries are unable to attack Israel but, on the contrary, are easy targets for the IAF (Israel is the only regional nuclear power of Western Asia (Haaretz, 3 May 2019: How a Standoff With the U.S. Almost Blew Up Israel’s Nuclear Program). Someone who wants to attack such an opponent (and with it the USA), would either have to have own nuclear weapons or would have been repeatedly bathed too hot, because here, too, the top maxim of warfare applies: “Do not fight if you can’t win.” – Times of Israel, 7 April 2019: Senator proposes US enter defense pact with Israel).

Already under President Barack Obama, the decision has been made to withdraw from the region militarily, in order to relocate the forces instead to the Pacific region. Trump has given up on the latter goal. That said, the US Air Force continues to have a base (Mashabim Air Base) west of Dimona and Yeruham in the Negev Desert in Israel.

At this point, the circle closes and the role of the European Union begins or ends, depending on which path Brussels will take in the future. Although Barack Obama has repeatedly and clearly pointed to the withdrawal of the US armed forces, this obviously wasn’t believed in Brussels or held for a tactical game. As it turns out, this was a big mistake, while Russia and Iran are already creating new facts on the ground (Times of Israel, 24 April 2019: Poll: Most Americans like Israelis – but not their government, J Street, United States foreign policy in the Middle East, History of United States–Middle East economic relations, Arab–American relations, Israel–United States relations and Israel–United States military relations).

Accompanied by international lack of understanding, the United States resigned from the UN Human Rights Council on 19 June 2018 – again on flimsy grounds, again executed by the wilful US Ambassador Nikki Haley and again against the core interests of the United States. Due to the educational status of the 45th US President, even the previous withdrawal from the UN cultural and educational organization UNESCO wasn’t that surprising. Only Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu like both steps and has terminated the Israeli UNESCO membership as well. In the light of the actual developments in Israel, his point of view is hardly surprising. Both, Trump and Netanjahu, have very similar personalities (The New York Times, 19 June 2018: Trump Administration Withdraws U.S. From U.N. Human Rights Council, Jerusalem Post, 31 December 2018: Israel, U.S. slated to leave UNESCO today to protest anti-Israel bias, Times of Israel, 1 January 2019: 69 years after joining, Israel formally leaves UNESCO; so, too, does the US, DW, 1 January 2019: Goodbye, UNESCO: Israel and US quit UN heritage agency and Algemeiner, 17 January 2019: Why the US and Israel Were Right to Leave UNESCO).



Russia
Russia’s view of Israel can best be described by the term “ambivalent”, above all because of the history of the Jews in Russia, especially since pogroms against Jews were one of the first steps for settling Palestine by Jews from Eastern Europe and the later founding of Israel. This extends to today’s relations, although today Israel has the second largest share of Russian-speaking/Russian-born people in the world (percentage) after Russia. For Israel, this is a socio-political challenge insofar as the population share with a Russian background increasingly calls for citizenship and home rights in Israel, while at the same time there are still very strong ties to Russia (Haaretz, 29 October 2018: Survey: 41 Percent of Israelis Think Anyone Calling for Boycott Should Be Denied Entry). Although much is still today reminiscent of the socialist beginnings of Israel and the majority origin of their Jewish inhabitants, above all, of course, the still existing kibbutzim, leaning on the Eastern European kolkhozes, on foreign policies the two countries often found themselves on the respective opposite sides, among others during the Cold War or today in the Syrian Civil War. Russia was one of the first countries to recognize the founding of Israel. A short time later, the Cold War began and thus Russia’s turning away from Israel, while turning towards the Arab states. This also led, among other things, to the fact that Soviet Jews were no longer allowed to leave for Israel, especially since they “like all other inhabitants of the Soviet Union, live happily ever after”. Until the collapse of the Soviet Union, little changed. Since the early 2000s, during the tenure of Vladimir Putin, relations between the two countries initially relaxed until Russia intervened in the Syrian civil war on the side of the Assad terror regime. Since then, it has become increasingly difficult to cover the inter-state differences. Joint trade and strategic coordination on Syria are intended to help, but in the war zone both parties are getting often dangerously close (Haaretz, 23 September 2018:: Russia: Israel to Blame for Downed Plane Over Syria, Deliberately Misled Us, The Washington Post, 23 September 2018: Russia revives allegations of Israeli culpability in downed plane in Syria, Haaretz, 23 September 2018: Russia’s Claims on Downed Plane Over Syria Are Dubious, but Will Usher in New Reality for Israel and The Washington Post, 23 September 2018: Russia revives allegations of Israeli culpability in downed plane in Syria). It is also interesting to see how Putin is fueling anti-Semitic conspiracy theories in Russia, while on the international level he tries to leave the impression that bilateral relations are relatively normal and calm. On the other hand, one can of course always wonder about the skills of the trapeze artist Netanyahu, who does business with Putin and the heads of governments of the Visegrád Group like business as usual while completely ignoring their anti-Semitism, as well as being best buddy of the newly elected right-wing Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro (The Guardian, 1 November 2018: Brazil president-elect Bolsonaro says he plans to move embassy to Jerusalem, France24, 29 December 2018: Netanyahu and Bolsonaro play up ‘brotherhood’ but avoid embassy talk, Haaretz, 28 March 2019: Bolsonaro Backtracks on Jerusalem Embassy Move, Says He May Open ‘Business Office’ Instead and Times of Israel, 31 March 2019: Brazil to open trade office in Jerusalem ‘as a part of its embassy’), while at the same time the British civil rights activist and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is publicly grilled for unproven anti-Semitism charges (especially because of his commemoration of the victims of the Israeli attack on Tunisia – Operation Wooden Leg), although he clearly, unmistakably and unequivocally distanced himself from anti-Semitism and announced extensive cooperation in the investigations against individual party members. Corbyn is considered a sharp critic of Israeli settlement policy (The Guardian, 2 November 2018: Police open antisemitism inquiry into Labour members, Jerusalem Post, 2 March 2019: Why Labour’s antisemitism is a crisis for the world and Israel–Russia relations).



China
An interesting aspect are the Sino-Israeli relations, especially becausee of the calm and pragmatic Chinese foreign policy, which builds good relations with all states that are of interest to them without being involved in regional disputes (except those around its own borders). Thus, the Chinese leadership has been able to establish as good relations with Israel as it does with Russia, the Arab states and Palestine without significant problems and has thus accomplished something that the US has not succeeded to this day. This achievement alone is already worth recognition. Official diplomatic relations between China and Israel exists since 1992. Between 1948 and 1992, secret solutions and agreements sufficed. The story of China and Israel could not be more different: while China looks back on a millennia-old history, on which even partially ancient Egypt was build, while Israel is a very young country that has yet to find its place in history (Jewish history). China is the fourth largest country in the world, while you have to take a closer look to find Israel on the map. With a population of 1.4 billion, China is the most populated country in the world, with more than 100 cities with over one million inhabitants, of which more than 20 have a larger population than Israel’s total population. Both countries have in common, that, during the founding of the state of Israel in 1948, both countries were agricultural states until the 1980s, while at the same time suffered severe economic problems. Over the past decades, they have increasingly become high-tech locations from different start positions and want to further accelerate these developments. This is where most common points of departure are today, which is why China has stepped up cooperation over the past few years and increased state investments in Israel. In addition, Israel is of interest to China for logistical reasons, which now also manages the port of Haifa alongside the port of Ashdod in the context of the One Belt, One Road project (in addition to units of the Israeli Navy (including the German submarines of the Dolphin class) there are units of the 6th Fleet of the United States stationed in Haifa. With the takeover of the commercial port by a Chinese company, the US sees its security interests violated and is therefore likely to withdraw its units from the port. Since the port of Ashdod has been taken over by another Chinese company, the US Navy is expected to completely withdraw from Israel (Reuters, 10 May 2018: Striking dockers shut down Israel’s Haifa and Ashdod ports, Newsweek, 14 September 2018: Chinese deal to take over key Israeli port may threaten U.S. naval operations, critics say and Times of Israel, 13 April 2019: Trump said to warn PM security ties could suffer due to Israel-China relations)). Israel willingly opened its doors to the future world power China (Council on Foreign Relations, 21 June 2018: What’s Behind Israel’s Growing Ties With China?, BBC, 19 July 2018: Unlikely partners? China and Israel deepening trade ties, AP News, 22 October 2018: Chinese VP Kicks Off Visit to Israel, Haaretz, 22 October 2018: Opinion: Israel-China Ties Are a Very Good Thing, South China Morning Post, 24 October 2018: Chinese Vice-President Wang Qishan meets Israeli and Palestinian officials on Mideast tour, Haaretz, 29 October 2018: Survey: 41 Percent of Israelis Think Anyone Calling for Boycott Should Be Denied Entry, Jerusalem Post, 24 March 2019: China expected to be raised in Trump, Netanyahu talks on Tuesday and China–Israel relations).


Religious aspects of the conflict
Some groups opposed to the peace process invoke religious arguments for their uncompromising positions. The contemporary history of the Arab–Israeli conflict is very much affected by the religious beliefs of the various sides. The Land of Canaan or Eretz Yisrael (Land of Israel) was, according to the Hebrew Bible, promised by God to the Children of Israel/“chosen people”. In his 1896 manifesto, The Jewish State, Theodor Herzl repeatedly refers to the Biblical Promised Land concept. The ultra right-wing, nationalistic and religious part of Likud is currently the most prominent Israeli political party to include the Biblical claim to the “Promised Land” and the “Chosen City” of Jerusalem in its platform. Muslims claim rights to that land in accordance with the Quran. Contrary to the Jewish claim that this land was promised only to the descendants of Abraham‘s younger son Isaac, they argue that the Land of Canaan was promised to what they consider the elder son, Ishmael, from whom Arabs claim descent. Muslim teaching is that Muhammad passed through Jerusalem on his first journey to heaven. Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip, claims that all of the land of Palestine (the current Israeli and Palestinian territories) is an Islamic waqf that must be governed by Muslims. Additionally, Muslims also revere many sites holy for Biblical Israelites, such as the Cave of the Patriarchs/Ibrahimi Mosque and the Temple Mount/Haram esh-Sharif. In the past 1,400 years, Muslims have constructed Islamic landmarks on these ancient Israelite sites, such as the Dome of the Rock/Qubbat As-Sakhrah and the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the holiest site in Judaism. This has brought the two groups into conflict over the rightful possession of Jerusalem. Christian Zionists often support the State of Israel because of the ancestral right of the Jews to the Holy Land, as suggested, for instance, by the apostle Paul in his letter to the Romans, chapter 11, in the Bible. Christian Zionism teaches that the return of Jews in Israel is a prerequisite for the Second Coming of Christ. For Christians, the Temple Mount is of religious significance, because the Temple in Jerusalem is said to have been home to the Ark of the Covenant, which contained the Ten Commandments that Moses allegedly received from God on Mount Sinai. Other places of interest in Israel and Palestine (Holy Land) are, e.g., Church of the Holy Sepulchre (East Jerusalem), Via Dolorosa (East Jerusalem), Gethsemane at the foot and the Chapel of the Ascension on the highest point of Mount of Olives (generally classified as belonging to East Jerusalem), Nazareth (Basilica of the Annunciation, Jesus Trail, Sermon on the Mount) (Israel), Cana (Israel), Sea of Galilee (Israel/Syria), Historical Jesus (with places of action in Israel, Palestine and Jordan), and Bethlehem (West Bank) (Politico.eu, 8 January 2019: US pivots from Obama’s Mideast vision).

Cost of conflict
A report by Strategic Foresight Group has estimated the opportunity cost of conflict for the Middle East from 1991–2010 at $12 trillion (Arab League boycott of Israel). The report’s opportunity cost calculates the peace GDP of countries in the Middle East by comparing the current GDP to the potential GDP in times of peace. Israel’s share is almost $1 trillion, with Iraq and Saudi Arabia having approximately $2.2 and $4.5 trillion, respectively. In other words, had there been peace and cooperation between Israel and Arab League nations since 1991, the average Israeli citizen would be earning over $44,000 instead of $23,000 in 2010.

Solution approaches
For some time now, various approaches have been circulating to end the conflict. They are based on the 1967 borders, supplemented by land exchanges and land compensation, in order to meet the security requirements of Israel and Palestine, but also to ensure the equitable distribution of fertile farmland and access to water. The Gaza Strip (Reuters, 22 February 2018: Qatar says Gaza aid spares Israel war, shows Doha does not back Hamas) was evacuated by Israel in August 2005 (Disengagement from Gaza). Since then, there has been a massive blockade by Israel and Egypt (Blockade of the Gaza Strip). Efforts are being made to develop, operate and secure the Port of Gaza into a trading port (various private investors and countries, including Turkey, would undertake investment, operations and security), as well as significantly expand the fishing zone to improve the self-supply situation. In addition, efforts are underway to renovate Yassir Arafat International Airport, which is severely affected by war damage and retaliation for the deaths of four Israeli soldiers, and to develop it into a commercial airport. Various investors and operators are available for this purpose. More recently, a project idea (Gaza Island) has been added, which includes the construction of an artificial island 4.5 kilometers off the coast of the Gaza Strip. A power plant, a desalination plant and a port and airport shall be built on the island in order to improve the supply of the Gaza Strip. Access to the island shall be via a bridge, controlled by Israeli security forces. The project has great potential, especially to provide qualified jobs for Palestinians (Deutsche Welle, 27 May 2018: Israel erecting sea barrier to prevent Gaza infiltrators). At the same time, Egypt is trying to avert the ever-escalating escalation provoked by the Netanyahu government into a humanitarian catastrophe in the Gaza Strip by opening its borders more frequently.

The UN Partition Plan foresaw Jerusalem as the common capital of Israel and Palestine. The previous division into West and East Jerusalem would be eliminated in the future and an important and essential issue between the parties would be off the table. So far, the Palestinians have maintained Ramallah and Gaza City as provisional capitals of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Israel’s claim to Jerusalem as its capital is tolerated by the UN for West Jerusalem only. The status isn’t recognized by the UN. The Israeli Jerusalem Law was annulled by the UN Security Council Resolution 478, which preserved the basic idea of a joint Israeli-Palestinian capital on the one hand, and keep the pressure up on Israel on the other hand, to declare Tel Aviv to Israels only internationally recognized capital by UN decision, if necessary. All international embassies are already located in Tel Aviv (Daniel Barenboim in The Guardian, 22 December 2017: After Trump’s Jerusalem gambit, the world must recognise a Palestinian state).

UN General Assembly Resolution 194 from 1948 defines the establishment of an international zone comprising Jerusalem and Bethlehem in the West Bank under UN administration for the protection of members of the Abrahamic religions and their free access to the holy places, which the two parties to the dispute obviously aren’t able to provide. According to the current status, the zone would probably include Hebron (Al Jazeera, 23 February 2019: Hebron massacre: Palestinians mark anniversary of settler attack and Ibrahimi Mosque massacre) in the West Bank. The absurdity of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is again fully visible here: Both sides reject this option because it would “interfere in state sovereignty.” Factually, neither party has recognized sovereign rights over the holy places. The Temple Mount/Haram esh-Sharif in East Jerusalem and the Ibrahimi Mosque/Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron are under Jordanian administration (Jerusalem Islamic Waqf) and the Palestinian West Bank, including East Jerusalem, under Israeli military administration. The establishment of an international zone would completely defuse a core issue of the conflict (Haaretz, 28 January 2019: Israel to Expel International Monitoring Force in Hebron After 20-year Presence, Middle East Eye, 28 January 2019: Netanyahu to eject international observers in Hebron, Times of Israel, 2 February 2019: UN head backs international observer mission booted from Hebron, Protocol Concerning the Redeployment in Hebron and Temporary International Presence in the City of Hebron).

A seemingly big problem are the massive settlements in the West Bank. On closer examination, the problem is relativized, since the massive increase in construction activity from the government’s point of view is of purely political nature and, from the point of view of majority residents, follows purely economic interests. Only a relatively small proportion of the people living there are actually ideologically/religiously radicalized. The majority of the population lives there because the Israeli government has created corresponding economic incentives (cheap land prices, financing and rents, tax benefits and better social benefits than in Israel, etc.). If the Israeli government would create affordable housing where it is actually needed, ie where there is work, around and within the metropolitan areas and within the 1967 borders, the settlements, internationally viewed as illegal (Geneva Conventions), would become swiftly vacated. Of the approximately 600,000 settlers at present, it is estimated that only between 50,000 and 70,000 ideological settlers would remain, which would still be a significant eviction problem, of which over 50% can be convinced to move with the help of appropriate disincentives (demolition of security measures, demolition of buildings) and infrastructure, withdrawal of police and army, withdrawal of Israeli citizenship, etc.). There will also be solutions for the remaining 20,000 to 30,000 people, especially as it is unlikely that they would actually want to become Palestinians, Lebanese or Syrians. Of course, the deconstruction of the settlements takes time. A transitional period of 10 to 20 years is therefore to be expected. One strong aspect to clear the settlements is the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334, which made clear that the Gaza Strip, East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Golan Heights isn’t Israeli lands, which declared Jews living there to Palestinians, Lebanese or Syrians, making Palestine, before Iran, home to the second largest Jewish community (600,000) in Western Asia, and the third largest in the world after the United States and Israel, well ahead of France, Canada, the United Kingdom and Germany. Another aspect was the release of a secret government-maintained database of all settlements in 2009 by the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, which revealed that over 75% of all settlements are illegal under Israeli law (The Guardian, 19 November 2018: Airbnb to take rentals in Israeli West Bank settlements off website, BBC, 20 November 2018: Airbnb: Israeli uproar as firm bars West Bank settlements, CNN, 20 November 2018: Airbnb removes Israeli West Bank settlements listings and The Washington Post, 21 November 2018: Israel steps up boycott fight after Airbnb settlement ban). The significant increase in settlement activity since 2009 leads to an increase of illegal settlement activities as well (Haaretz, 7 January 2018: Israel Publishes BDS Blacklist: These Are the 20 Groups Whose Members Will Be Denied Entry).

On the other hand, the withdrawal from the illegal settlements could mark the beginning of major land, building and anti-corruption (which is as of today like the corruption in the 1950s to the 1980s in the western EU states and North America or as of today in Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Russia, both, in the private sector and institutionalized – Times of Israel, 13 January 2019: Now a member of anti-money-laundering body, has Israel truly cleaned up its act? and Corruption in Israel) reforms in the construction and real estate sectors, in particular attracting foreign investors investing in the increasingly renewal needy infrastructure and building substance, and especially counteract to the unsatisfactory situation in the housing market. The land area of Israel is largely owned by the state (69% by the state itself, 12% by the development agency and 12% by the Jewish National Fund (Times of Israel, 14 January 2019: Accusing leader of cronyism, ministry report urges century-old KKL be dismantled), together 93%, managed by the Israel Land Authority) and can be leased from the state under certain conditions and over different terms, whereby non-Jews and non-Israelis are significantly disadvantaged when trying to acquire land. Only 7% of the country’s territory, mostly around the large agglomerations, are freely tradable and freely available for non-Jews and foreigners. Among the private landowners are religious institutions. Due to the scarce availability, corresponding sales prices are given, which ultimately lead to rental prices that are unrelated to the service offered. At the same time, however, it gives the impression that there would be a valuable property stock in Israel. An impression that the Bank of Israel is clearly opposing. In the most recent forecast, market adjustment effects amounting to an average of 20%, in the peaks at over 40%, are assumed. The rental and purchase price trend would approximate the actual property values. When setting up a business, it is necessary to look more closely at the details (Israeli representative, composition of management, advisory board and supervisory board, etc.), although the start-up costs are pleasingly low (about 2,700 euros) and implementation is fast (about 14 days).

The Israeli government has been trying for several years to shift responsibility for the Gaza Strip and the West Bank to Egypt and Jordan. Understandably, both countries are unwilling to accept the responsibility for problems, challenges and consequences of the Israeli occupation. At the same time, the Israeli government is trying to legalize the annexation of East Jerusalem, which in turn is understandably being rejected by the international community, especially by the Arab world.

In addition, there are some other hypothetical options: Right-wing nationalistic to radical Israelis, some of whom are represented in the Likud government today, insist that all Palestinians should be forcibly relocated to Jordan or Lebanon (One-state solution). As is the case for the most part, these nationalists also provide abstruse and baseless justifications, half-truths and lies to promote these options. Faktually, the proposals will remain to be hypothetical options. Ever since the beginning of the 2000s, reports have repeatedly circulated in English-language Arabic and Israeli newspapers about possible assignments of parts or the whole of the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt to Palestine to build a state there (“Greater Gaza” or “Gaza-Sinai State” – Al Jazeera: Is Gaza-Sinai state a possibility for Palestinians?, 24 July 2017 and The Jerusalem Post: ‘Gaza-Sinai’ state idea a danger under Trump, warns Gaza analyst, 21 February 2017). Egypt itself has made preparations to the extent that the North has been largely omitted from the overall economic development of the country, whereby parts of the population have significantly radicalized itself and now commit terrorist attacks and fights against the Egyptian army. However, this option has the charm of being not only supported by the most important player in the entire region, Saudi Arabia. Even concrete support measures are already planned. The same applies to the economic support by Egypt and Israel. Regardless of this, Saudi Arabia recently took over the formerly Egyptian islands Sanafir and Tiran on the Gulf of Aqaba to build the state-of-the-art technology center Neom, that will not only become the most modern technology center of the Middle East but presumably the world, on the mainland and the islands. Infrastructure measures will provide a direct land connection between North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, bypassing Israel. These measures will unlock significant growth potential on the Sinai, regardless of whether the peninsula remains Egyptian or becomes Palestinian. The options described also imply that the originally as democracy planned state of Israel would become a Jewish theocracy (when looking at today’s governing coalition, then it obviously can’t go fast enough into this direction), which would fit well into the region in this conception, but would end far away from the founding considerations of Theodor Herzl and his ideological successors (The Guardian, 20 May 2018: The fight to define the very essence of Israel, i24news.tv, 10 July 2018:Rivlin warns against clause in proposed law allowing ‘Jewish-only’ communities, Al-Monitor, 11 July 2018: Israeli president stands up against Arab discrimination, France24, 12 July 2018: Israel summons EU envoy in row over controversial bill and The Irish Times, 13 July 2018: EU ambassador to Israel under fire for criticising ‘racist’ Bill). Moreover, it would ensure that the surrounding theocracies could sit back and relax and argue “When the Jewish state, a very small country, isn’t able to establish a functioning and complete democracy, even with massive support of all kinds from the West and 70 years after the founding of the state, why should we even try?” (on May 14 (according to the Jewish calendar in 2018 on April 19), the Independence Day (New York Times, 17 April 2018: Israel Celebrates Its 70th Israeli Style: With Rancor and Bickering) is celebrated in Israel (2018 marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of the state, accompanied by several weeks of mass protests under the slogan “Great March of Return” (The Guardian, 31 March 2018) by the Palestinians. Numerous protesters were shot dead or heavily injuried through the shelling with live ammunition and tear gas grenades by the Israeli army). On May 15 (according to the Jewish calendar in 2018 on April 20), the Nakba (Catastrophe) Day is celebrated in Palestine. The Guardian, 5 May 2018: Israel fears ‘explosion of violence’ as US prepares to open embassy in Jerusalem, New York Times, 13 May 2018: Israel Feels Pride but Senses Peril as U.S. Moves Embassy, Haaretz, 14 May 2018: Jerusalem Embassy and Gaza Protests: 41 Palestinians Reported Killed by Israeli Gunfire at Border, Washington Post, 14 May 2018: Jerusalem welcomes the new U.S. Embassy as Palestinians decry ‘hostile’ move, The Guardian, 14 May 2018: Palestinians do not want to negate Israel. We just want a future, New York Times, 14 May 2018: At Least 37 Palestinians Die in Protests as U.S. Prepares to Open Jerusalem Embassy, Los Angeles Times, 14 May 2018: At least 37 Palestinians killed by Israeli army at Gaza border, Washington Post, 14 May 2018: Israelis kill dozens of Palestinians in Gaza protesting U.S. Embassy move to Jerusalem, New York Times, 14 May 2018: Israel Kills Dozens at Gaza Border as U.S. Embassy Opens in Jerusalem, The Guardian, 14 May 2018: Israel: Trump’s new embassy opens – and dozens are killed, The Guardian, 15 May 2018: Palestinians to bury 58 people killed in US embassy protests, New York Times, 14 May 2018: Jerusalem Embassy Is a Victory for Trump, and a Complication for Middle East Peace, New York Times, 14 May 2018: Death in Gaza, New Embassy in Jerusalem, and Peace as Distant as Ever, The Guardian, 15 May 2018: Pastors at embassy opening highlight evangelicals’ deal with The Donald, The Guardian, 16 May 2018: Israel’s violent rule increasingly driving liberal American Jews on to the streets, Times of Israel, 14 May 2019: Year after US embassy move, Jerusalem diplomatic influx fails to materialize – another result of “successful cooperation” between Netanyahu and Trump. Both try to sell their renewed defeat as “politically motivated”. Since they have no understanding of the law and order (except when it comes to use it to fight against their political opponents), they can not develop a different view. In addition, their previous approaches on various issues presented to the international community have forced the countries of the international community to go back to pure legal positions, significantly reducing diplomatic manoeuvring space. Congratulations to this expected as well as short-sighted result). How the (after May 14, 2015 still only planned) relocation of the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to West Jerusalem and the one-sided US recognition of West Jerusalem as the Israeli capital will affect the peace process is still uncertain. On the one hand, there are the voices that have declared the peace process finally failed because of the one-sided US exit from the decades old consensus of the international community, on the other hand, there are the voices who are more optimistic here and continue to believe that a two-state solution is possible, and that “the Palestinians would only have to give up on East Jerusalem.” At the moment, the dice seem to have fallen in favor of the occupying power Israel, given the background in the extended Levant (Syria and Iran) and the approaching rapprochement between Israel and the Gulf States. The conflict, however, could never have lasted for so long if there weren’t more than enough (which includes Israel explicitly) loonies (sorry, but there isn’t a nicer word to describe these folks), which, moreover, has excellently earned for decades and therefore have a strong interest in continuing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, so that the topic can turn easily in the opposite direction one day again. During the UN Security Council Special Session on 14 May 2018, which dealt with the Israeli excesses of violence against Palestinian demonstrators, during which more than 120 people died and more than 2,500 were injured, the Trump administration opposed an independent investigation into the incidents as expected. The current US administration, represented here by US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, has already made it clear on previous occasions that it basically won’t ever sanction Israel in the UN Security Council (see role of the United States of America). The Israeli government itself, which during the Netanyahu government didn’t comply with a single decision by the international community, responded to the special session in the meanwhile well known whining-accusing manner, mostly because it can’t refute the fully accurate allegations (Reuters, 13 June 2018: United Nations condemns excessive Israeli force against Palestinians).

What’s interesting about the scenarios described above is that hypothetical options to resettled Jewish Israelis outside of today’s settlement area (Israel) are commonly considered to be anti-Semitic, whereas the permanent expropriations and resettlements of the landowners themselves, the Palestinians, seems to be unproblematic for some commentators. Since the response of the Palestinians to all the above mentioned options is clearly negative, they will remain hypothetical models. In addition, it wouldn’t end the conflict as a whole, because the Jerusalem question, free, unhindered access to the holy places of Muslims, and the future status of the West Bank (Reuters, 31 December 2017: Likud party calls for de-facto annexation of Israeli settlements, Haaretz, 6 April 2019: Netanyahu: I Told Trump I Wouldn’t Agree to Evacuate Even a Single Settler From West Bank) would still be unresolved.



Solution proposal
If one were to assume that the parties to the dispute were rational and pragmatic negotiating partners, the following solution could come into consideration. However, since they are obviously irrational and emotional negotiating partners (Netanyahu has already ruled out a two-state solution or peace agreement during his terms in office – Times of Israel, 5 March 2019: Jimmy Carter: Israeli-Palestinian peace impossible with Netanyahu at helm), it at least doesn’t matter to formulate the proposal in a simplified form:

  • Creation of a subterranean and thus well secured land connection (one railroad track and one lane for cars, trucks, buses/ambulances/taxis in both direction) between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Depending on the route, the distance is between 40 and 45 km. As a result, relations between Gaza City and Ramallah can be normalized, but also the movement of persons and goods can be significantly increased, while Israel and Egypt can further expand their border security (There are already a number of interesting proposals, e.g. a 50 meter-deep moat around the Gaza Strip, which would ensure that all tunnels from the Gaza Strip to Israel and Egypt would be automatically flooded by the Mediterranean Sea). This would also ease the worsening humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip. The supply of the Gaza Strip would be relatively unproblematic and in large quantities through Jordan and the West Bank. If point 2 of 5. were to apply, this topic could be dropped entirely.
  • Construction of a transportation airport in the West Bank, as a replacement for the Israeli bombed now former airport in the Gaza Strip. Construction, expansion and operation of a trading port in the Gaza Strip by Saudi Arabia or China (this, of course, includes the extension of the fishing zone). In this way, both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip would be directly involved in international trade, and the Palestinians would have something to lose for the first time in decades, if both, for whatever reason, would disappear again.
  • Solution of the water question, with consideration of 5.
  • The following two topics are likely to be difficult, especially since these are core interests of the parties to the dispute, namely the Israeli settlements in Palestine, the Jerusalem question and the access to Bethlehem and Hebron:
    • Palestine renounces East Jerusalem as the capital, as it is already hopeless today that Israel will give up its appetite for the whole of Jerusalem.
    • In return, Israel guarantees free, unhindered and constant access to the Temple Mount (a demand of the Arab states as a whole). Logistically, this can be easily solved by appropriately secured access.
    • Palestine guarantees free, unhindered and constant access to Bethlehem and the Abraham grave in Hebron. The latter is logistically not easily solvable, because Hebron is located 30 km deep in the West Bank.
    • The administration and operation of all three sanctuaries is carried out by the Jordan Waqf Authority, by an international body with a parity of Christians, Jews, and Muslims, or by a UN mission, as the parties to the dispute themselves are obviously neither capable, nor willing or able to do so.

  • Dismantling settlements and/or adequate land exchange:
    • Eviction of all Israeli settlements and withdrawal of all Israeli settlers behind the 1967 border.
    • Alternatively, exchange of land, so that a contiguous Palestinian state area is created, which would make 1. unnecessary, but 3. would be of greater importance.
    • The allocation of land is necessary so that the Palestinians in the various refugee camps in Lebanon and Jordan can return to their homeland and as citizens of Palestine are no longer stateless. At the same time, one of the major miscalculations of the UN Partition Plan (fragmented land distribution) would be resolved.

  • All projects are given absolute priority over all other measures to ensure the fastest possible implementation.
  • Instead of a calling it peace treaty or two-state solution, it could be named neighborhood or friendship treaty, so that both sides can continue their over the decades beloved saber-rattling, howling and gnashing of teeth, until one day a peace treaty can be reached.
  • Should it come to such a comprehensive agreement, the only question ramaining would be that of the financing. As the international community continues to be interested in resolving the conflict, it can be expected that the member states will help find a solution to this challenge.
  • Finally, the most important ingredient is missing, the only person on this planet who has the power to force this solution on both parties: The President of the United States of America. This would have to be a candidate of the Democrats, because the majority of the Republican electing evangelicals would not support this solution.
  • It can be assumed that a timeframe of 15 to 20 years will be needed before all measures can and will be implemented.
  • There is still a solution to the conflict surrounding Israel’s illegal annexation of the Syrian Golan Heights needed, but this is written on a different page anyway.
  • In 2010, a completely outlandish law (“Law for Preservation of the Rights to Compensation of Jewish Refugees from Arab countries and Iran”) was passed in Israel stating that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can only be resolved if all Arab states compensate for expelling Jews from Arab states, as a response to the expulsion of the Palestinians by Israel before and after the Israeli state foundation. In the opposite direction, Israel doesn’t want to grant Palestinians their right of return, nor compensate for land grabbing, continued expropriation and destruction of Palestinian property and livelihoods. A calculation that of course can’t work, but another example that the Netanyahu government at no time was interested in a peaceful solution or the end of the conflict.

An alternative to a two-state solution would be a type of confederation, consisting of an Israeli and Palestinian state, which would be interwoven in a similar way to the EU – with free movement of persons, goods, services and capital. Both countries would agree to jointly manage the entire land area so that most other challenges (borders, evacuation of the Israeli settlements, East and West Jerusalem, etc. pp.) would be off the table. However, the right of return of the Palestinian refugees would be finally off the table as well. Of course, that would be a difficult attempt, especially as nationalists, extremists and terrorists on both sides are expected to respond with rioting and maximum violence, but in view of the already substantial urban sprawl of Palestine by Israeli settlements, it certainly makes a lot of sense (this idea stems astonishingly from one of the very, very few liberal Israeli settlers in the West Bank).


Incentives for a peace treaty and the two-state solution
Of course, the incentives set by the international community are an important issue for positive developments. Why would, in particular, Israel want to agree to a peace treaty and a two-state solution (The New York Times, 5 January 2018: As a 2-State Solution Loses Steam, a 1-State Plan Gains Traction, One-state solution and Haaretz, 22 March 2019: Israel, the Palestinians and the conflict)? Over the past few decades, the country has been doing very well with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Neither economically, scientifically, technologically nor militarily would Israel be today, together with Turkey and Jordan, anchor of stability in the Levant, if there wouldn’t be the annual billion-dollar contributions from the US and the EU (in light of the questionable political situations in the three countries, observers have a good impression of the politically desolate overall state of the region). To date, the western community has not claimed adequate compensation. In particular, the demographic change in the Jewish community in the US could change this. The under 40-year-old Jewish Americans can’t identify themselves neither with the state of Israel nor with its politics. This has consequences. The largest lobbying organization, the conservative American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), is increasingly distancing itself from the Israeli government, while support organizations are holding back tens of millions in donations or setting up their own offices in Israel to implement projects locally and above all under their own direction, to ensure that the donations are actually used as intended.



Observers of the Middle East and Israeli-Palestinian conflict
At this point, the role of the “observers of the Middle East and Israeli-Palestinian conflict” shall be considered in more detail, especially as the majority opinions are, of course, always included in the expressions of interest of the member states of the international community and are therefore reflected in corresponding resolutions. Further explanation requires a short excursion to “Botany” or in online language “off topic”: For almost ten years now, the entries in this blog are mainly about cities, places, squares and buildings around the globe. Of course, this includes places in Israel and Palestine. The corresponding contributions to Israel and Palestine are remarkably under-visited or, to put it more plastically: In retrospect, it would generally have been enough to find catchy headlines and a beautiful cover picture for these contributions and to embed the weather forecast of weather.com for the respective location in the text segment – very few readers would have noticed it. While this was somewhat unsatisfactory, visitors of this blog may well be interested in other topics (contributions about locations in the EU, the US, and the Gulf States (in this order) are always well attended) – so was the guess (on the other hand, according to statistics, Israelis and Palestinians are interested significantly below average in the rest of the world). After a press report on the subject and the contact to blogs with comparable orientations, it turned out that we seem to have the same type of readers, because there, the numbers of visits to contributions about Israel and Palestine are very low as well. How is this possible, when the national and international media are constantly reporting about the topic, giving the impression that there is a general interest in it? Why else should they report about it so continuously, when it really is of very little interest for the vast majority (apart from free travel through the country for foreign journalists at the invitation of the state in return for positive coverage)? Especially when it comes to the Middle East conflict, the comment sections in social media seem to outright explode. That was and is strange and does not really fit together. As a small test balloon religious buildings in Israel and Palestine were included in the blog contributions, as well as the Israeli settlements in the Palestinian territories. It didn’t change anything, so the post you are actually reading would have been the “farewell” from Israel and Palestine if not something quite amazing had happened: In fact, thanks to your support, the post, which is one of the youngest of the blog, has been visited seven times as often than the about 60 contributions about Israel and Palestine together, and at the same time, interesting content-related discussions have emerged, so that the originally 8 pages of compressed Middle East conflict have now become 60 pages and an end to the extensions and additions is currently not foreseeable (of course, there were the expected voices that fabulated about the entire blog post as being “anti-Israeli”, “anti-Palestinian”, “anti-Jewish” or “anti-Islamic”. However, their objections weren’t taken into account at all. The equable split of such comments shows that the core of the topic is well and accurately described. Since both, the Israeli and the Palestinian governments, are obviously resistant to consultations, there is no basis given for whatsoever partisanship. It is clear and enshrined in laws, that the duties of occupiers go well beyond those of the occupied). On the one hand this is of course nice and a cause for joy, on the other hand, it also raises the one or the other question:

  • Why is someone interested in the political situation on the ground, when there is actually no interest (this can be assumed on the statistic basis) in Israel and Palestine?
  • How can one form a qualified opinion about the conflict if one isn’t interested in the countries, the populations, their ways of life, living conditions, habits and cultural characteristics?
  • How would the own view on the conflict change, if one knew how the local populations is living and on which small space they live there?
  • Are Israelis and Palestinians right in assuming they are more and more left alone by their classic support groups (Israelis from the West, Palestinians from the Arab States)? What could be the reason for this and how could the parties to the conflict find an overall solution that is sustainable for both sides?

These are questions that everyone need to answer individually. For this blog, the consequence of this is to better describe the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the example of Jerusalem, as the germ cell of the conflict and at the same time as the “Middle East conflict under the magnifying glass”, within a Theme Week. Unlike the regular Theme Weeks, however, this will include not just the usual six contributions, but 12 or more, each from the point of view of the international community (East Jerusalem and West Jerusalem) with some Israeli and Palestinian points of view.



Naftali Bennett, chairman of the right-wing religious party The Jewish Home and current Israeli Minister of Education, works in the spirit of his party with emphasis on historical revision of the education system, the further erosion of the democratic fabric, and together with the “Jewish Home” Justice Minister Ajelet Schaked on the devaluation of the legal system towards a Torah-based basic law (Haaretz, 7 May 2018: Destroying Democracy). The Israeli population, especially the under 30 years old, has an increasing right- and extreme right wing problem, which manifests itself in corresponding nationalistic, xenophobic and Islamophobic comments, expressions and actions, fueled by members of the government, the prime minister in particular. This includes a first-reading (of three readings) and adoption of a bill in May 2018, which foresees the establishment of purely Jewish places and with it removes step by step the visions of Theodor Herzl for a democratic to the benefit of a theocratic Israel. The two further readings are to take place in the coming parliamentary term. Now one did not need to be a prophet to foresee the corresponding developments years ago, especially as the signs were unmistakably there. However, this does not make the situation any better, especially since the international community can only watch how Israel’s democratic future is gradually being sacrificed. The dealing with refugees is just another example of the de-democratization process and the disregard of international law: Deutsche Welle, 19 November 2017: Israel to deport 40,000 African refugees without their consent, and The Washington Post Israel is betraying its history by expelling African asylum-seekers.

Israelis mostly ignore the 50th anniversary of the occupation of the Palestinian West Bank, East Jerusalem, the Syrian Golan Heights, the blockade of Gaza, and the spread of illegal settlements in the Palestinian territories in 2017, of course, so as not to deal with the inevitable consequences of the occupation (Haaretz, 28 November 2018: It’s Not So Simple for Israel to Just ‘End the Occupation’). At the same time, Israeli NGOs are coming under significant pressure from the government, including the peace movements Peace Now (The New York Times, 28 December 2018: Amos Oz, Israeli Author and Peace Advocate, Dies at 79) and Breaking the Silence, founded by IDF veterans (Israel Defense Forces), and the human rights organization B’Tselem, which are dedicated to peace and reconciliation. The same can be seen in the art scene. In particular, subsidy-dependent art and cultural enterprises are getting state pressure to offer performances and exhibitions and/or to establish branches in the illegal settlements in order to continue to be funded by the state in the future as well (Jewish Museum Berlin: Exhibition Welcome to Jerusalem, i24 News, 9 December 2018: Merkel receives Israeli request to cut funding to Berlin’s Jewish Museum: report, Haaretz, 9 December 2018: Israel Demanded Germany Cut Funding to Jewish Museum in Berlin, Report Says and The New York Times, 23 December 2018: Jerusalem Criticizes Berlin’s Jewish Museum for ‘Anti-Israel Activity’).



BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions)
In contrast to the numerous peace initiatives and human rights activities, the BDS (Israeli Apartheid Week – the other side of the medaille: Times of Israel, 19 May 2019: Brother where art thou? A call to join the defense of Israel’s right to exist) international initiative is actually counterproductive, with the aim of completely isolating the state of Israel economically, socially, culturally and politically. The basic idea of BDS, the boycott of products from the Israeli settlements (which generate only 1.5% of the Israeli GDP) has at first made its impact, was a legitimate, above all non-violent approach (which was also supported by major German corporations) and would have had to be accepted by Israel as the “price for the settlements” (Haaretz, 26 October 2017: From Motorola to Ahava: The UN Blacklist of Companies Doing Business in Israeli Settlements and Times of Israel, 13 February 2019: UN set to publish blacklist of Israeli companies operating over Green Line. Most of the 150 to 190 companies that would be eligible for listing are completely unknown in Europe). As so often in the region, the action then swiftly got out of hand, especially by participants who are mostly not in the region. Relatively quickly the originally outlined basic idea was changed against a general and full-fledged campaign against the territories occupied by Israel and Israel itself. Cooperations in the fields of society, economy, art, culture, science and sports form the basic communication between states. By cutting these off, no situation changes can be brought through, so that important instruments are given out of hand without the need to do so. In addition, private initiatives from North America and the EU have no chance of lasting success if they run counter to the interests and in some cases laws (anti-discrimination laws/general equality laws) of the countries of origin. BDS has become such an initiative. It can not be ruled out that the initiative was surprised by its own success and therefore did not prepare itself with the resulting responsibilities. Israel is a very small country and therefore vulnerable to international campaigns. In addition, since the all-time record tourist season 2013 with 3.5 million visitors (in comparison: the Oktoberfest in Munich is visited annually on average by about 6 million people from all over the world within 14 days, the city of Hamburg has an annual 14 million overnight stays, and Berlin has an annual 31 million overnight stays (DW, 8 February 2018: Germany sees another record year for tourism and Xinhuanet, 14 January 2019: Tourism in Germany expected to hit record level in 2018). Given the number of stays in Israel, it’s for sure not to much to ask BDSers to simply allow the country this modest success), the numbers of visitors decreased in 2014 massively due to Protective Edge, in 2016 the numbers were up to about 2.7 million visitors. For 2017, the numbers are puzzling. While the private tourism board claims that there have been a bit over 3 million tourists, the tourism authority claims that there were 3.6 million. It’s on you which number you want to believe, but a jump of over 35% from 2016 to 2017 is at least very unlikely. For 2018, the officially mentioned numbers look even far less credible. But then, right-wing governments have never been good at mathematics and statistics ;-) As soon as larger violent clashes occur in the region, European tourists traditionally stay away for some years before the numbers recover. In order to be better able to absorb the associated drop in turnover, the tourism authority has began to market the country as a tourism destination in Asia (especially in China and Japan). So far with moderate success. In principle, it should be differentiated between religious package tourism and individual tourism. While religious package tourism reaches its capacity limits several times a year, individual tourists can choose from a wide range and number of overnight stays all year round) in tourism, which is an important part of the country’s economy. This and all other negative trends in the economy are reflected in the national accounts in a timely manner. Neither North America nor the EU are interested in it, especially as it has taken many years of time, effort and billions of taxpayers’ money to get the country where it is right now. BDS activists should be aware that their own additional tax money will eventually be used to close the gap in Israel’s state budget given because of boycott measures. Not to discriminate Palestinians, but to permanently secure the survival of the state of Israel, regardless of the sensitivities and often very problematic policies of the respective Israeli governments. When looking at the import figures from Israel to the EU, then the numbers are so small, that a boycott would be a little suitable means anyway. If, for example, selling all Israeli-imported products and services in Germany through retail and online retail (which is not possible because they are often intermediate goods that become part of end-products), it would take less than a day to sell all of them, leaving over 310 more sales days for selling truly in-demand products and services. With usual consumption as an average consumer one will rather come in contact with products from Israel by coincidence than wanted. Kosher products are usually produced at a distance of less than 300 kilometers from the own place of residence (or are from US-American productions than from Israeli ones), consumer electronics (computers, notebooks, tablets, cell phones, smart phones, etc.) is predominantly made in China. The processors from the US manufacturer Intel are produced in the US and Malaysia (Haaretz, 18 March 2019: Israel’s Intel Computer Chip Sales to China Jump by 80 Percent). The list can be continued indefinitely. In view of the tiny import figures from Israel, the question is what sense a boycott should have, when you first have to search for products from Israel for two weeks straight, and then rejoice “HA! I will not buy this”, except that, after this procedure, one should perhaps think about a medical review of his/her own state of mind (if the sales person does not call an emergency doctor as a precaution)? The Israeli government has reacted furiously to BDS. Among other things, since this year, people who want to boycott Israel, products from Israel and from the Israeli settlements in the Palestinian territories or who want to prevent international social, cultural, scientific and sporting cooperation with Israel are no longer allowed to enter Israel (Haaretz, 7 January 2018: Israel Publishes BDS Blacklist: These Are the 20 Groups Whose Members Will Be Denied Entry). From an international point of view, this is amusing, because someone who wants to boycott Israel as a whole, will hardly travel the country or at least doesn’t understand the concept of a boycott if he/she still intends to do so. However, this is problematic in that many Jewish activists, particularly from North America and the EU (in part with second homes in Israel), are campaigning for a boycott of products from the occupied territories, hoping for a support for the two-state solution and in doing so are affected by the entry ban as well. By doing so, the Israeli government has recently given up the Israeli status of being the “home of all Jews” in favor of restrictions on freedom of expression and consumer freedom in order to deny access to the land, especially demanded by right-wing Israelis, to so-called self-hating Jews. Some states of the Western Community have adopted their own regulations to make BDS activities more difficult. This includes the excluding of companies from public contracts when they are supporting BDS campaigns. In addition, there are some political parties and associations that have published symbolic statements without any practical relevance against BDS. Finally, the question need to be asked as to whether the goals set by BDS can be achieved through boycott measures? The answer turns out to the disadvantage of BDS. In particular, agricultural production in the occupied territories is to a certain extent Israel’s illegal fruit and vegetable garden, with the help of which the self-sufficiency base is strengthened (due to irresponsible high water extractions from the Jordan, the inflow of the Dead Sea, by Israel for agricultural purposes, the water level of the Dead Sea has dropped by 40 meters and continues to drop by at least a meter per year, which is why large parts of the bank on the Palestinian and Israeli sides have already been blocked for public access, which, of course, has significant negative consequences for tourism). So if a few pounds of oranges, tomatoes, aubergines or a few bottles of Syrian wine from the Golan Heights are sold less abroad, the products are being sold in markets in Israel. Often technical products and services are part of international supply chains that will not be interrupted unless alternative solutions have been set up, but they are not even sought because of a short to medium-term phenomenon like BDS. It is certainly not pleasing if a few musical events or theatrical performances have been canceled in the country and will continue so in the future, but a resounding success would look quite different. In particular, BDS wanted to pressure the Israli government. In the face of the partially blind activism of the Netanyahu government, this has worked in part (Netanyahu should be nominated by BDS for the “best employee of all time” and “honorary member for life”, because without him and his supporters (especially Counter Propaganda Minister Gilad Erdan, official job title: Minister of Strategic Affairs and Hasbara – Haaretz, 2 May 2019: Stop Trying to Justify Israel) BDS would never have gotten as much international publicity and success, as it is now the case worldwide – Haaretz, 16 December 2018: BDS Isn’t anti-Semitic, Says Gideon Levy. Listen to Our Podcast, While It’s Still Legal). However, the given results look completely different than they were thought out in the beginning. In fact, the right-wing government emerges strengthened from the scene by communicating always the same, as hackneyed as it is inaccurate, “The whole world is against us” image (even the results of the annual Eurovision Song Contest points in the opposite direction in 2018 – The Guardian, 7 September 2018: Boycott Eurovision Song Contest hosted by Israel, The Guardian, 29 January 2019: British cultural figures urge BBC to boycott Eurovision in Israel, Haaretz, 30 January 2019: British cultural figures urge BBC to boycott Eurovision in Israel, Al Jazeera, 21 March 2019: Singing in Europe’s last Middle Eastern colony, Times of Israel, 4 May 2019: UN envoy says working with Egypt in bid to end Gaza fighting, France24, 5 May 2019: Hamas commander killed as violence in Israel, Gaza intensifies, The New York Times, 5 May 2019: Clashes Between Israel and Gaza Intensify as Death Toll Rises, The Washington Post, 5 May 2019: Death toll rises as Gaza militants fire more than 500 rockets into Israel and Israel responds with airstrikes, Times of Israel, 5 May 2019: Not Gaza’s toy? 7 things to know for May 5, Haaretz, 5 May 2019: Eurovision Ticket Sales Low, Less Tourists Flock to Israel as Gaza Flare-up Refuses to Simmer Down, Guardian, 7 May 2019: Israel says it will not allow in activists planning to ‘disturb’ Eurovision, Palestine Chronicle, 10 May 2019: Announcing ‘Gazavision’, Gaza Artists Call for Boycott of Eurovision 2019, Haaretz, 10 May 2019: BDS = Beautiful, Diverse, Sensational: Israel Fights Eurovision Boycott Campaign Using Google Ads, Times of Israel, 11 May 2019: Israel quietly launches online anti-BDS campaign ahead of Eurovision, PNN, 11 May 2019: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Israeli occupation exploits the “Eurovision” to consolidate its colonialism, Independent, 11 May 2019: Nakba Day: What is the ‘Day of Catastrophe’ observed by Palestinians and why do marchers wave keys?, Al Jazeera: Al Nakba News, (Nakba Day), Times of Israel, 14 May 2019: Anti-occupation billboard greets Eurovision visitors to Israel, The New York Times, 14 May 2019: Eurovision Arrives in Tel Aviv, in Range of Rockets and the Focus of Protests, Haaretz, 15 May 2019: 10,000 Gazans Gather for Nakba Day, 60 Injured by Israeli Fire, Times of Israel, 15 May 2019: Thousands of Palestinians mark ‘Nakba’ with Gaza protests, West Bank marches, Al Jazeera, 15 May 2019: Nakba Day: Palestinians mark 71st anniversary of ‘catastrophe’, Haaretz, 16 May 2019: Hosting Eurovision Doesn’t Make Israel Part of Europe, Times of Israel, 16 May 2019: Eurovision, the kitsch song extravaganza, may be coming to America, Jerusalem Post, 16 May 2019: My word: Roger Waters and the dark side of BDS, Times of Israel, 17 May 2019: Syria says Israel carried out strike, claims to intercept missiles, Al Jazeera, 18 May 2019: Syria says missiles fired from Israeli-held territory at Damascus, Haaretz, 18 May 2019: Syrian Air Defenses Intercepted Projectiles Fired From Israel, State Media Reports, The Guardian, 18 May 2019: Eurovision finals to air in Tel Aviv in politically charged contest, France24, 19 May 2019: Netherlands mulls host city for Eurovision 2020, The Guardian, 19 May 2019: Eurovision song contest 2019 won by the Netherlands’ Duncan Laurence, The Washington Post, 19 May 2019: The Netherlands wins Eurovision Song Contest in Tel Aviv, Haaretz, 19 May 2019: Madonna Surprises Eurovision With Palestinian Flag on Dancer’s Back, Times of Israel, 19 May 2019: Madonna politicizes Eurovision with 2 dancers wearing Israeli, Palestinian flags, Jerusalem Post, 19 May 2019: Madonna, Iceland, include Palestinian flags at Eurovision, Times of Israel, 19 May 2019: Politics (mostly) kept off center stage as Israel hosts Eurovision mega-event, The Guardian, 19 May 2019: There should be nothing wrong in waving Palestinian flags at Eurovision, Haaretz, 19 May 2019: Netanyahu Refused to Fund the Eurovision but Reaps Its Fruits (Roger Waters and the BDS crew should take a closer look, because this is how it is done: You do not boycott the event, but use it instead to bring your concerns (Madonna) to the attention of around 200 million viewers. With positive messages you can change things. Of course, like Waters and BDS, you can just have a bad day instead, but that doesn’t change the overall problem at all), Haaretz, 20 May 2019: Madonna Surprises Eurovision With Palestinian Flag on Dancer’s Back, Haaretz, 20 may 2019: After Eurovision, Israel Is Hoping for Tourism Boom – almost funny again that for a year a huge political issue was made from the Eurovision, recently underlain with rocket fire, in order to achieve that the competition does not take place, while even before the confrontation hardly anyone has been interested in a visit (hoteliers expect 5,000 to 15,000 visitors. The state had predicted over 100,000 visitors. By comparison, the 2019 Port of Hamburg birthday party was once again visited by just over 1 million visitors from all over the world). There are still tickets for the final and the ticket sale for the semi-finals has been canceled because hardly tickets can be sold for it), which its followers are all to willingly want to believe. At the same time, the already not very strong and clearly fragmented opposition has been further weakened, that is, the forces that have great sympathy for BDS ideas, demand a peace treaty at eye level and the two-state solution, and therefore rely on domestic and international support to replace the current governing coalition. BDS seeks to block these supportive measures, presumably unknowingly, and thereby blocks itself, while the governing coalition in turn hardens the opposition’s thumbscrews. Since the founding of the BDS movement, Israel has steadily increased its international trade, but not to the extent that Netanyahu dreams off. Apparently, as a result of feverish spurts, he has recently fabled that the country would be competing with the world’s major economies, while completely suppressing that his country is still dependent on international economic and military aid (Haaretz, 19 December 2018: Israel’s Crusade Against BDS Comes at the Cost of Its Own Democracy, Irish Times, 23 January 2019: Focus on Independent Alliance over occupied territories Bill, Haaretz, 18 March 2019: In Europe, the BDS Movement Is Weaker Than Its Image Would Lead One to Believe and Gulf News, 31 March 2019: Ireland’s case against Israeli colonies needs our support). We wish him, that he may get well soon and that he fully recovers.

That’s one part. The other part is that, of course, Israel, like all other countries, is in the international competition for business settlements, corporate investments and equity/venture capital. The necessary state advertising for this sometimes drives interesting blossoms, like, among other things, equating the medium size city of Tel Aviv (the number of inhabitants is that of cities like Albuquerque, Tucson, Leipzig, Dortmund, Liverpool or Lyon) with serious metropolises such as Berlin, Paris, London, New York, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Singapore, Chongqing, Shanghai and Hong Kong. Due to the obvious exaggerations, this ensures regular amusement among the recipients of the advertising messages. In advertising, everything is allowed, which is not prohibited. Filtering out the exaggerations in other areas is less easy, especially since the statements on the alleged “Start-up Nation” or the self-proclaimed “second most important technology location after the Silicon Valley” are neither right nor completely wrong (China and Japan are leaders in the field of artificial intelligence, even ahead of the USA). By omissions and additions, it could actually create the impression, as if it were the case. In fact, both statements are neither plausible nor assignable. The reason why companies from the Western EU and North America spent money to carry out research and development work here is, because they can have four or more done in Tel Aviv for the cost of a single R & D project in the EU or North America. What China is on a large scale for the West, “the extended workbench,” Israel is on a far smaller scale. No more and no less. It is all about business and economics and not about politics, and the aforementioned investments happen within the 1967 borders, mostly in the Tel Aviv Metropolitan Area. The Tel Aviv Business Development is just one example. Less interesting locations, like Beersheba, try their luck in a similar way. West Jerusalem, as the country’s religious and administrative center, has its own, no less quiet, ways, but it can not compete with the economic success of Tel Aviv at all. However, wanting to boycott the business development in Israel would lead to higher consumer prices at home and have the same effect as the boycott of Israeli end products: Increased tax and development aid from the West to cover Israel’s public deficit.

It would be interesting to create a counter-initiative that only and exclusively promotes and implements projects that promote the similarities of Israelis, Palestinians, Arabs, Jews and Muslims and that are equally staffed. Smaller projects have been around for a while, but so far they have rarely made it into the focus of the (world) public. If an initiative were to strive to create a common platform for these projects, creating publicity, te marketing and, above all, emphasizing the positive effects would be much easier – with all the positive accompaniments. Hig-ranking personalities, companies and corporations with the right media contacts and marketing power would be needed to make this positive campaign successful within a relatively short time frame. In order to gain the support and resources of the initiative, it would almost certainly be the case that a large number of projects would emerge within a short period of time. After all, there are more than enough divisions among the parties to the Middle East conflict, and on all sides there is an ever-increasing hardening of opposing points of view and thus a continuation of the conflict for eternity. It doesn’t make sense to be one-sided (and thus automatically against the other side), if one want to be part of a solution and not part of the problem (The Guardian, 14 August 2018: BDS: how a controversial non-violent movement has transformed the Israeli-Palestinian debate, The Guardian, 24 October 2018: European parties urged to agree Israel boycott tactics are antisemitic and Haaretz, 29 October 2018: Survey: 41 Percent of Israelis Think Anyone Calling for Boycott Should Be Denied Entry, Haaretz, 16 May 2019: German Parliament to Pass Motion Condemning BDS as anti-Semitic, Times of Israel, 16 May 2019: German parliament to denounce boycott movement as ‘anti-Semitic’, Haaretz, 17 May 2019: German Parliament Passes Motion Condemning BDS as anti-Semitic, The Guardian, 18 May 2019: German parliament declares Israel boycott campaign antisemitic, The New York Times, 18 May 2019: German Parliament Deems B.D.S. Movement Anti-Semitic, Times of Israel, 18 May 2019: As rowdy German parliament okays landmark anti-BDS law, far-right AfD wants more (restrictions on freedom of expression and consumer freedom). A so-called “motion for a resolution” (Entschließungsantrag) is legally non-binding, but merely a proposal of the Bundestag to the Federal Government, so that it has only symbolic character. What is interesting about this step is above all that BDS actually does not play any role at all in Germany. When the Bundestag is dealing with such trifles, it’s like shooting with cannons on sparrows or is making mosquitoes elephants, than it is no wonder that there is so little progress in the country. Trump’s Troll in Germany, Richard Grenell, once again is trying to practice great politics and once again failed completely: Jerusalem Post, 18 May 2019: US ambassador: German anti-BDS motion should apply to Iran’s regime, Jerusalem Post, 19 May 2019: Germany’s anti-BDS measure not only about BDS – analysis (what isn’t said in the report is, that the AfD proposal is nothing else but driven by xenophobia in general (which includes antisemitism) and hostility towards Muslims and Islam in particular. Another reason why no one with brain for 10 cents would agree to the proposal, because it is on top in conflict with the German Basic Law), Times of Israel, 19 May 2019: Arab League calls on Germany to reverse anti-BDS motion, Haaretz, 20 May 2019: Germany, Shame on You and Your anti-BDS Resolution, Jerusalem Post, 22 May 2019: Israelis incite against Arabs on social media every 66 secoonds – report, Haaretz, 24 May 2019: Bundestag Members, Am I anti-Semitic? (throughout the discussion, especially in the Israeli media and social networks, it is erroneously assumed that the motion for a resolution (Entschließungsantrag) would be legally binding, which it isn’t, but instead is a suggestion/proposal of the Bundestag only. It is hardly to be assumed that the Federal Government will actually adapt this obviously inconclusive and insufficiently detailed proposal. On the other hand, it has already achieved its goal, because it is talked about internationally at least. In Germany, BDS is actually too insignificant to ever be able to get out of their niche existence, which is why a discussion about BDS hardly takes place. In the bigger picture, parts of the BDS movement, which is made up of around 200 organizations around the world with clearly different orientations, are in fact anti-Semitic. It does not apply to the entire movement. The general suspicion is certainly not helpful. In this respect, the Federal Government will be able to implement at most parts or a correspondingly adapted version of the proposal. Of the BDS support organizations in Germany, the smallest part is in fact anti-Semitic. Also against the background that other organizations such as e.g. AfD, Pegida, Identitarian movement etc. were not classified as antisemitic and had not been banished, it would be legally difficult to fully exclude BDS on the basis of the Bundestag proposal. It would make more sense, if one would take a closer look at the individual BDS support groups in order to sustainably weaken and exclude the anti-Semitic organizatons. Thus, the perfectly legitimate part, often initiated and organized by Jews, would be preserved, while the anti-Semitic part would be sanctioned (possibly also legally punishable). Another criticism of the Bundestag proposal is the lack of distinction between Israel and the Palestinian and Syrian areas occupied by Israel (UN Resolution 2334). This would be covered neither by the so-called German State Reason, nor by the EU position on the Middle East conflict and could be understood as recognition of the illegal Israeli settlements through the back door. Hardly to assume that the Federal Government will engage in such a game with the fire. The aspect is also important because the core idea of BDS only and exclusively refers to the territories occupied by Israel, but not to Israel itself. Even when the basic idea of the Bundestag proposal, the containment of the growing anti-Semitism in Germany, Europe and North America, is absolutely to be welcomed and supported, a great deal of detail is obviously still to be readjusted)).



German raison d’être/German National Interest
It is the German national interest to secure the ability of the state of Israel to permanently survive as such, regardless of the sensitivities and sometimes very problematic proceedings of the respective Israeli governments. It is explicitly not about discriminating against Palestinians. Already since the 1950s, all West German governments support Israel with generous weapon gifts, and even after the reunification this wouldn’t result in automatic assistance obligation in case of war. For some good reasons, the Bundeswehr is very much limited in its actions abroad by law (international mandate, UN Mandate and decision by the Bundestag (parliamentary army)). If Israel had as much of everything as it has soldiers, the country wouldn’t need the permanent support of the West anyway. With this background given, the annual repetitions of the statement of the Bundestag on the “right to exist, the security of Israel and the unbreakable friendship of both countries” sounds pompous and ambitious at the first sight, but on closer consideration there is little to nothing left of any concrete military action obligations at the end of the day, except for the already obligatory arms deliveries, whereas the strategies of Germany and the EU in and for Western Asia couldn’t hardly be more contradictory to the Israeli ones. In addition, the Bundeswehr, due to the already high capacity utilization by foreign missions, the national defense and the tasks within NATO doesn’t have the necessary capacity to engage in the decades-old adventure “Middle East Conflict”. After building an EU defense structure, things would be different. However, it is unlikely that the Israeli side is seeking for the intervention by the Bunderswehr at all, especially since the strong presence of the guarantor USA is completely sufficient for any eventualities.

In addition to the arms deliveries, since 1951, due to an agreement between the West German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer and David Ben-Gurion, the Israel receives economic aid from Germany. Particularly in the 1950s to the 1980s, Israel was broke – in today’s parlance a failed state – and threatened by famine, which were averted by German funds (until 2007, the economic aid amounted to just over 25 billion euros, without taking inflation into account. As of today, about three times the sum in). To date, Israel, although one of the smallest countries in the world in terms of area and population, is one of the top beneficiaries of international economic, military and development aid, which in turn allows some conclusions about the actual state and performance of the country in general.

Both together (military and economic aid) finally led to the official establishment of diplomatic relations between Israel and West Germany on 12 May 1965. Over time, it became the Special relationship between Germany and Israel (Germany–Israel relations), to today’s Unbreakable friendship between both countries. In view of the common history (history of the Jews in Germany and the Holocaust) this isn’t self-evident and is still associated with many challenges and setbacks at all levels. A normalization of the bilateral relations will not and can not take place in the coming decades, especially since the emotional level plays a major role alongside the rational level. Even the diplomatic formulation of befriended countries make this clear. The two countries generally agree in the meaning of the relationship (just another small excursion into “botany”: With the support measures for Israel, Germany simultaneously secures access to the US market. Due to a law in the US, companies or entire countries may be excluded from public contracts if they don’t deliver to Israel in quality and quantity the country desires. For Germany, the Unbreakable friendship between both countries pays off very positive in other places); about what happens below this level much less. However, the principle mentioned in the introduction to secure the ability of the state of Israel to permanently survive as such, regardless of the sensitivities and sometimes very problematic proceedings of the respective Israeli governments applies to future German Federal Governments as well, especially since it became clear that Israel will continue to rely on military and economic aid in the future.

In the opposite direction, at the end of December 2018 a member of the Netanyahu government has once again affirmed that the “German-Israeli friendship” is little more than lip service and should be confined exclusively to the receipt of development aid. The Israeli Ambassador to Germany, Jeremy Issacharoff, said that he does not advocate, support, promote or agree with Israelis who prefer to live, love and work in Germany rather than in Israel. At the same time, he is actually wondering why the said Israelis are largely uninterested in a contact with him or the Israeli embassy.

Not only in view of the 70th anniversary of the Israeli Declaration of Independence in 2018, the German Federal Government urges citizens, associations and companies several times a year to have a focus on Israel, the Middle East conflict, the two-state solution, the Holocaust, but to also tackle once again high-boiling xenophobia in general, and anti-Semitism and Islamophobia in particular, in Germany, Europe and throughout the world and to work for peace, freedom, equality and democracy. Most of the readers of this article didn’t experience in their lifetime that there was peace in the Middle East, not in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict anyway, and have little chance of experiencing both, so understandably a certain amount of fatigue and frustration has hit in. On the other hand, the topics mentioned are part of the German raison d’être as well, which can hardly be hidden or separated from one another, if one is interested in finding solutions (even if these solutions seems unlikely to be achievable). Anyone interested can make the change within their means, no matter what their attitude toward the conflict is, from which side the conflict is approached, whether they take sides in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for one, the other, or both parties to the dispute (while taking side for one of the conflicts parties led to today’s apparent insolubility of the conflict) or how small or big the proposed changes are – as long as the changes are positive, it’s a win for everyone (Bloomberg, 19 April 2018: Israel’s First 70 Years Have Surprised the World, The New York Times, 20 April 2018: Jewish Power at 70 Years, Deutsche Welle, 8 May 2018: 70 years of Israeli independence: a bitter-sweet celebration, The Guardian, 11 May 2018: Israel at 70: jubilant US embassy opening masks fevered times and France24, 11 May 2018: 70 years on, Israel facing different kind of conflict).



Since the late 1980s, there have been various small and large waves of immigration to Israel. In the large wave came economically weak Russian Jews, who moved to Israel with the help of donations and state support. In the following years the economic ascent did not succeed. Today, people in this group make up a large part of the economically weak, ideologized/radicalized Jewish Israelis. The second wave of Russian Jews brought people who had already made a career in their home country and were hoping for a career boost through relocation, which often didn’t happend. At the same time, however, members of the Russian organized crime have discovered their Jewish belief in order to transfer illegally acquired assets to Israel and to have easy access to Western countries with the help of the Israeli passport. Meanwhile, career-minded Russians are leaving the country and, in part, are moving back to Russia, along with allegations because of cost of living, wages, lack of prospects, but as well in connection with the accusation “even in Russia there is not as much racism and xenophobia as we experienced it in Israel.” Several polls about it have been published in Haaretz (Times of Israel, 16 November 2018: Israelis are blunt and rude. You got a problem with that?). From France there has been a small wave of immigration to Israel. Reports from returnees in French newspapers are alarming. An obviously not small part of the emigrants has been robbed of their assets less well-intentioned persons, so that the return to France took place in order to have to start from scratch. In addition, Ethiopian Jews complain about discrimination and exclusion at all levels.

In addition to all of the above, Jewish Israelis are not allowed to enter some Muslim-dominated countries because of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and Israeli companies may not do business in some countries for the same reason.

In the immediate neighborhood and on the Arabian Peninsula, the two-state solution within the 1967 borders will lead to the complete removal of entry and trade restrictions. The restrictions have been explicitly imposed with regard to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. When the conflict ends, the reasons for the restrictions are removed. This will lead to a significant increase in trade flows and thus to economic prosperity, as well as to the gradual normalization of state and social relations.



Israel and the European Union
Since the beginning of the 2000s, the Israeli government has sought membership in NATO and the EU (while at the same time want to see the EU disappear: The Guardian, 19 July 2017: Netanyahu attack on EU policy towards Israel caught on microphone). Both are failing because Israel is actually at war and has no nationally and internationally recognized borders. NATO has granted observer status to Israel, along with Bahrain, Jordan, Qatar and Kuwait, allowing the country to occupy an office at NATO Headquarters and participated in a NATO maneuver of NATO members and non-members in Poland and the Baltics (Saber Strike) for the first time ever in June 2018. An automatism for the later membership doens’t results from it. At the same time, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg made it clear at the beginning of June 2018 that Israel couldn’t expect any support from NATO, especially since it isn’t participating in the Middle East conflict. Neither NATO nor the EU granting membership to countries at war in order not to have to take on back-up commitments immediately after accession and thus become part of the problem instead of contributing to solutions. The border disputes between Croatia and Slovenia, which were already EU states at the time of the dispute, have resulted in changes to the recruitment of future members. Future EU candidates must have all border/neighborhood disputes settled in a binding, comprehensive and lasting manner before admission.

The way in which the Netanyahu government was trying to negotiate Israel’s accession to the EU led to the decision of the EU to oppose the membership of the country. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu‘s ridiculous and presumptuous demand for Israel to become an EU member without the compulsory admission and harmonization procedure probably reflects the deep concern about the legal situation in Israel and the need to adapt the rules of law from the EU. The full democratization and equal treatment of all citizens, demanded by Israeli human rights organizations for years, would have to be implemented. This would go hand in hand with the country’s reclassification in the Democracy Index from “Incomplete Democracy” to “Full Democracy”. This frightens the right-wing Likud government (The Huffington Post, 1 February 2018 Right-Wing Israeli Government Moves Even Further Away From 2-State Solution – by comparison, if there were such a government coalition in Germany, this would amount to a coalition between AfD, NPD, Pegida, Reichsbürger, Identitarian movement and a Christian-nationalist sect, with the difference that, due to German history and the numerous “excursions into the neighborhood”, the Allies would rightfully take precautionary measures). Without harmonization of all spheres (the negotiations are divided into 35 chapters, ranging from the free movement of goods to security, freedom and justice to institutional issues), Israel’s membership is given only small chances. Apart from a few die-hard Israel lobbyists (Hasbara as a very special interpretation of public diplomacy), there is currently no one in Brussels who, under the given current circumstances, seriously believes that Israel will be accepted into the EU. With current policies and legislation and the associated further erosion of democratic values, the country is increasingly bartering away the opportunity of a future EU membership (Haaretz, 24 July 2018: Israel Is Inventing a Crisis With the EU and Times of Israel, 16 May 2019: Rivlin hails ‘flourishing relations’ with European Union after years of tensions). In fact, Israel is already participating in some EU programs today, with significant upsurge on both sides on account of the illegal Israeli settlements in the Palestinian territories on a regular basis, especially as the EU understandably desires to ensure that Israel’s participation in EU programs won’t legitimize the settlements through the back door. Therefore, since 2014, every treaty between the EU and Israel has been supplemented with the exclusion of all Israeli settlements on Palestinian territory from promotion, research and development projects. The dispute over the labeling requirement (designation of origin) of products from the occupied territories under EU law has exemplified the problem.

Due to the anger of the EU over Netanyahu’s settlement policy, relations have recently been put on hold. Even the bilateral German-Israeli relations described as the Special relationship between Germany and Israel are clearly burdened. Chancellor Angela Merkel has suspended indefinitely the German-Israeli intergovernmental consultations, that have been taking place regularly since 2008, due to her understandable, clear anger about Netanyahu in early 2017.

In light of the increasingly hostile rhetoric of Likud government members, and especially the Prime Minister himself, towards the EU, Netanyahus’s attempt to divide the EU by allying with other right-wing leaders of the Visegrád Group, further expansion of illegal settlements and further annexations of Palestinian territory, Netanyahu’s attempt to persuade the EU to follow the Trump line in relocating the embassies from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, although this would clearly run counter to EU interests, the abandonment of the already fragile Jewish democracy in favor of a Jewish theocracy (due to legal restrictions in parts “home of all Jews” or to be more specific “home of a lot of Jews”) by Knesset resolution, and, most importantly, the endangerment of Europe’s security in favor of the completely meaningless abandonment of the Iran deal by Trump due to pressure from Netanyahu, and Netanyahu’s attempt to persuade the EU to support US sanctions against Iran, even though they are clearly against the interests of Europe, the question arises as to whether there are still sufficient approaches to discussing a currently only theoretical possibility of a EU membership of Israel (Haaretz, 29 October 2018: Survey: 41 Percent of Israelis Think Anyone Calling for Boycott Should Be Denied Entry).

There are currently association agreements between Egypt, Algeria, Israel, Jordan, Morocco, Tunisia and the EU – but without a membership perspective. There is an interim association agreement with the PLO, which, according to recent information from French President Emmanuel Macron, is to be swiftly upgraded to an association agreement, and negotiations are ongoing with Lebanon. The unclear situation surrounding Turkey’s accession to the EU may also have a significantly negative impact on the aspirations of membership of the above named countries if the negative trend continues. In the light of recent developments, one even need to unintentionally praise Turkish President Recep Erdoğan, who was smart enough to put Turkey on the list of candidate countries first, before he started a dispute with the EU. Even for this simple strategy, Netanyahu lacks the necessary circumspection and prudence.

A largely untapped option is the Union for the Mediterranean (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and Mediterranean Dialogue), which has a lot of potential but, unfortunately, is little more than a paper tiger by now. The EU has taken a too passive role in it. Instead of first pushing the feasible steps, ie strengthening the Union for the Mediterranean, by bringing together the countries of the Levant and North Africa and only then talk about possible EU accessions, regional and national leagues are skipped, while discussing the entry into the Champions League (EU membership) in the first step. The results of this procedure are as predictable as they are frustrating for the participants. There are two other serious issues for the development of the Union for the Mediterranean: The withdrawal of the United States from the Middle East and the failure to build up the European Defense Union enabled Russia, Iran and China to fill the power vacuum. How this affects the region can already be seen in the Syrian Civil War (in which Israel participates since 2011 with more than 100 known air strikes). Within a short time, the land bridge around the Mediterranean was broken and Syria divided among Russians, Iranians and now Turks. A conceivable EU enlargement in the eastern Mediterranean is thus stopped for the time being. Hezbollah is a part of the government in Lebanon, so that Iran has significant influence here as well. Depending on the development, the interruption of the land bridge could extend even further. This would be in the interest of Russia and Iran, and increasingly of Turkey. This would require a fundamental reassessment of the situation, especially since the EU would then definitely end in Cyprus in the eastern Mediterranean. From there it gets complicated. It will certainly take years for the Union for the Mediterranean to become operational, especially since the consequences of the Arab Spring, which was accompanied by high hopes, need to be overcome, but each path begins with the first step, the more promising the more feasible the achievement of the first (intermediate) goal appears.



A peace treaty between Israel and Palestine and the two-state solution envisaged by the West would significantly change the positions to the positive on all points mentioned above. This should be clearly and publicly communicated by NATO and the EU.

Read more on Lists of UN resolutions concerning Israel and Palestine and Wikipedia Arab–Israeli conflict (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State). Photo by Wikimedia Commons. If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.



Sources
The sources used for this article are beside own research and own conclusions primarily the German and English language Wikipedia, supplemented by media reports by: Der Standard from Austria. New China News Agency from China. France24.com from France. Zeit Online, Süddeutsche Zeitung, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Spiegel Online, Handelsblatt, Deutsche Welle (DW), RP Online, Der Stern and Federal Agency for Civic Education from Germany. Haaretz, The Jerusalem Post, The Times of Israel and i24NEWS from Israel. Palestine News Network (PNN) and Palestine Chronicle from Palestine. Al Jazeera from Qatar. Arab News and Saudi Gazette from Saudi Arabia. The National, Khaleej Times and Gulf News from the United Arab Emirates. The Guardian, Reuters and BBC from the United Kingdom. The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, Los Angeles Times, CNN, Bloomberg, The Huffington Post, USA TODAY, Politico, Miami Herald, Tampa Bay Times and Newsweek from the United States of America. Reports by the governments of the Gulf States about the planned economic and social reorientation of their countries. Reports and resolutions by the United Nations. And other linked sources.



Note: As it will certainly not become boring in the region, this article is sporadically updated in the Main conflicts today section, and especially in the Jerusalem, Peace process, and Solution approaches sub sections. Download this article as a PDF file: Arab–Israeli and Israeli-Palestinian conflict (ca. 2,5 MB, latest update: 4 May 2019).



Recommended posts:

Share this post:

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

German Half-Timbered House Road

German Half-Timbered House Road

[caption id="attachment_1420" align="alignleft" width="382" caption="Complete overview of the seven regional routes of the German Half-Timbered House Road © Wolfgang A. Köhler"][/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]The German Half-Timbered House Road (German: Deutsche Fachwerkstraße) is a German tourist route leading from the river Elbe in the north to Lake Constance in the south. Along the road you can find nearly 100 cities and towns with remarkable timber-framed houses. It is divided into seven sections, leading through the following...

Theme Week Bolivia - Sucre

Theme Week Bolivia - Sucre

[caption id="attachment_183397" align="aligncenter" width="590"] Sucre, capital de Bolivia © flickr.com - Micah MacAllen/cc-by-sa-2.0[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]Sucre is the constitutional capital of Bolivia, the capital of the Chuquisaca Department, and one of the capitals of Bolivia, where the Supreme Court is located. The government of the City of Sucre is divided into the executive and legislative branches. The city is named in honor of the revolutionary leader Antonio José de Sucre. After the economic decline of Potosí an...

Downing Street in Westminster

Downing Street in Westminster

[caption id="attachment_163132" align="aligncenter" width="590"] © Drow male/cc-by-sa-3.0[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]Downing Street in London has for more than three hundred years housed the official residences of two of the most senior British Cabinet ministers: the First Lord of the Treasury, an office now synonymous with that of Prime Minister of the United Kingdom; and the Second Lord of the Treasury, an office held by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The Prime Minister's official residence is 10 Downing Street; the Chancell...

Theme Week Montenegro - Bar

Theme Week Montenegro - Bar

[caption id="attachment_150258" align="aligncenter" width="590"] Bar panorama © flickr.com - Raymond Zoller/cc-by-sa-2.0[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]Bar is a coastal town and seaport in southern Montenegro. It is the capital of the Bar Municipality and a center for tourism. Bar is located on the coastal western border of Montenegro on the shore of the Adriatic Sea. It is approximately 53 kilometres (33 mi) from Podgorica, the capital of Montenegro.To the east is the largest lake in the Balkans, Lake Skadar. To the west, across th...

Ann Arbor in Michigan

Ann Arbor in Michigan

[caption id="attachment_192959" align="aligncenter" width="590"] University of Michigan (1855) by Jasper Francis Cropsey[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]Ann Arbor is a city in Michigan and the county seat of Washtenaw County, with a population of 114,000, making it the sixth largest city in Michigan. Ann Arbor is home to the University of Michigan. The university significantly shapes Ann Arbor's economy as it employs about 30,000 workers, including about 12,000 in the medical center. The city's economy is also centered on high technol...

Magdalen Islands in Quebec

Magdalen Islands in Quebec

[caption id="attachment_192472" align="aligncenter" width="590"] Cap-aux-Meules Island - L'Étang-du-Nord Lighthouse © Renaudp10/cc-by-sa-3.0[/caption][responsivevoice_button voice="UK English Female" buttontext="Listen to this Post"]The Magdalen Islands are a small archipelago in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence with a land area of 205.53 square kilometres (79.36 sq mi). Though closer to Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia, the islands are part of the Canadian province of Quebec. There are eight major islands: Amherst, Grande Entrée, Grindstone, Grosse-Île, House Harbour, Pointe-Aux-Loups, Ent...

Return to Top ▲Return to Top ▲
Museum International d'Horlogerie © Schwizgebel/cc-by-sa-3.0
La Chaux-de-Fonds in Neuchâtel

La Chaux-de-Fonds is a Swiss city of the district of La Chaux-de-Fonds in the canton of Neuchâtel. It is located...

© Estrategy/cc-by-sa-3.0
Hermosa Beach in California

Hermosa Beach is a beachfront city in Los Angeles County. Its population is at 20,000. The city is located in...

© Patrick Wernhardt/cc-by-sa-3.0
The sail training ship Dar Młodzieży

Dar Młodzieży (Polish: Gift of the Youth) is a Polish sail training ship designed by Zygmunt Choreń. A prototype of...

Schließen