Trump appears to be changing his tune on Israel

 

comeysucks3

 

President Donald Trump on Friday fired a warning shot at Israel over a new West Bank settlement Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s government approved on Thursday.

“While the existence of settlements is not in itself an impediment to peace, further unrestrained settlement activity does not help advance peace” The White House said in a statement.

The rebuke may indicate that Trump is changing his formerly conciliatory stance on Israel.

Netanyahu’s government was pressured to approve the new settlement – the first in almost two decades — by right-leaning government officials, after Israeli police evicted 40 families from Amona, a West Bank settlement. Israel’s Supreme Court deemed the settlement illegal, as it was built on privately owned Palestinian land.

The White House’s statement didn’t expressly criticize the Israeli government for approving settlements, though it did say the Israeli government told the White House it will adopt a policy on settlement building that “takes President Trump’s concerns into consideration.”

Trump told Netanyahu to “hold back on settlements for a little bit,” during the Israeli prime minister’s White House visit in February.

Earlier in February, The White House issued a similar statement asking the Israeli government to not expand the construction of settlements, saying it doesn’t “help advance peace.” He also told an Israeli newspaper that settlements “may not be helpful” in February, notes CBS.

An Israeli settler family leave during an eviction by Israeli police of residents from the Israeli settler outpost of Amona in the occupied West Bank February 1, 2017.An Israeli settler family leave during an eviction by Israeli police of residents from the Israeli settler outpost of Amona in the occupied West Bank February 1, 2017. REUTERS/Baz Ratner

Trump then vs. Trump now

Trump’s recent statements on Israeli settlements are somewhat different than statements he released during the campaign and as president-elect — and he hasn’t exactly kept all of his promises.

On the campaign trail, Trump indicated he would move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, sending a strong message of support to right-leaning Israelis, while angering Palestinians, who claim Jerusalem as their capital. That move now appears to be on hold.

Trump’s Israeli ambassador, lawyer David Friedman, is a fervent supporter of settlement-building and has voiced skepticism of a two-state solution to the ongoing conflict in the region.

In December, the UN Security Council passed a resolution demanding that Israel halt building settlements on Palestinian territory. Trump, then president-elect, urged President Obama to veto the resolution.

“As the United States has long maintained, peace between the Israelis and Palestinians will only come through direct negotiations between the parties, and not through the imposition of terms by the United Nations,” Trump wrote on Facebook in December prior to the vote.

“This puts Israel in a very poor negotiating position and is extremely unfair to all Israelis,” he added.

The Obama Administration’s line on the issue was to deem West Bank settlements “illegitimate,” and outright reject all new settlements. While Trump has stopped short of that policy, his administration’s position on the issue isn’t really a major shift from Obama’s.

“Already, there seems to be some shell shock on the Israeli right, who were expecting President Trump to be the greatest thing to ever happen to them,” Michael Koplow, the policy director at the Israel Policy Forum, told Vox’s Zack Beauchamp earlier this week. “That turns out to be a bad misjudgment.”

Doomed though the venture certainly would be, the new US President is said to truly believe he can broker an Israeli-Palestinian accord, so did Netanyahu skip AIPAC to avoid tangling with a peace deal-pushing Trump?

The Ugly Truth

Op-ed: The PM is a habitual star turn at the lobby’s annual DC confab, but stayed away this year, of all years, when the Republicans finally hold center stage. Surely it wasn’t because he preferred not to meet the president?

ed note–again, at the risk of being over-repetitive, there is a new game being played and a new paradigm in operation here. The powered-interests responsible for installing Trump into the US Presidency realize that a confluence of events/circumstances has now arisen were the US must insert herself directly into bringing some sort of resolution to the Palestinian situation lest a threshold be crossed–more than likely the Russians working alongside the Iranians taking advantage of the loss of prestige/credibility on the part of the US and begin their own ‘peace process’ that produces results. It is for this reason then that astute watchers of the present drama can believe it when…

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Is Putin the ‘Preeminent Statesman’ of Our Times? By Patrick J. Buchanan

Is Putin the ‘Preeminent Statesman’ of Our Times?

Thursday — March 30, 2017

“If we were to use traditional measures for understanding leaders, which involve the defense of borders and national flourishing, Putin would count as the preeminent statesman of our time.”On the world stage, who could vie with him?”

So asks Chris Caldwell of the Weekly Standard in a remarkable essay in Hillsdale College’s March issue of its magazine, Imprimis.

What elevates Putin above all other 21st-century leaders?

“When Putin took power in the winter of 1999-2000, his country was defenseless. It was bankrupt. It was being carved up by its new kleptocratic elites, in collusion with its old imperial rivals, the Americans. Putin changed that.

“In the first decade of this century, he did what Kemal Ataturk had done in Turkey in the 1920s. Out of a crumbling empire, he resurrected a national-state, and gave it coherence and purpose. He disciplined his country’s plutocrats. He restored its military strength. And he refused, with ever blunter rhetoric, to accept for Russia a subservient role in an American-run world system drawn up by foreign politicians and business leaders. His voters credit him with having saved his country.”

Putin’s approval rating, after 17 years in power, exceeds that of any rival Western leader. But while his impressive strides toward making Russia great again explain why he is revered at home and in the Russian diaspora, what explains Putin’s appeal in the West, despite a press that is every bit as savage as President Trump’s?

Answer: Putin stands against the Western progressive vision of what mankind’s future ought to be. Years ago, he aligned himself with traditionalists, nationalists and populists of the West, and against what they had come to despise in their own decadent civilization.

What they abhorred, Putin abhorred. He is a God-and-country Russian patriot. He rejects the New World Order established at the Cold War’s end by the United States. Putin puts Russia first.

And in defying the Americans he speaks for those millions of Europeans who wish to restore their national identities and recapture their lost sovereignty from the supranational European Union. Putin also stands against the progressive moral relativism of a Western elite that has cut its Christian roots to embrace secularism and hedonism.

The U.S. establishment loathes Putin because, they say, he is an aggressor, a tyrant, a “killer.” He invaded and occupies Ukraine. His old KGB comrades assassinate journalists, defectors and dissidents.

Yet while politics under both czars and commissars has often been a blood sport in Russia, what has Putin done to his domestic enemies to rival what our Arab ally Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi has done to the Muslim Brotherhood he overthrew in a military coup in Egypt?

What has Putin done to rival what our NATO ally President Erdogan has done in Turkey, jailing 40,000 people since last July’s coup — or our Philippine ally Rodrigo Duterte, who has presided over the extrajudicial killing of thousands of drug dealers?

Does anyone think President Xi Jinping would have handled mass demonstrations against his regime in Tiananmen Square more gingerly than did President Putin this last week in Moscow?

Much of the hostility toward Putin stems from the fact that he not only defies the West, when standing up for Russia’s interests, he often succeeds in his defiance and goes unpunished and unrepentant.

He not only remains popular in his own country, but has admirers in nations whose political establishments are implacably hostile to him.

In December, one poll found 37 percent of all Republicans had a favorable view of the Russian leader, but only 17 percent were positive on President Barack Obama.

There is another reason Putin is viewed favorably. Millions of ethnonationalists who wish to see their nations secede from the EU see him as an ally. While Putin has openly welcomed many of these movements, America’s elite do not take even a neutral stance.

Putin has read the new century better than his rivals. While the 20th century saw the world divided between a Communist East and a free and democratic West, new and different struggles define the 21st.

The new dividing lines are between social conservatism and self-indulgent secularism, between tribalism and transnationalism, between the nation-state and the New World Order.

On the new dividing lines, Putin is on the side of the insurgents. Those who envision de Gaulle’s Europe of Nations replacing the vision of One Europe, toward which the EU is heading, see Putin as an ally.

So the old question arises: Who owns the future?

In the new struggles of the new century, it is not impossible that Russia — as was America in the Cold War — may be on the winning side. Secessionist parties across Europe already look to Moscow rather than across the Atlantic.

“Putin has become a symbol of national sovereignty in its battle with globalism,” writes Caldwell. “That turns out to be the big battle of our times. As our last election shows, that’s true even here.”

Greenblatt: Peace deal would ‘reverberate’ through the world

The Ugly Truth

At Arab Summit in Jordan, US envoy says Trump has ‘personal interest’ in achieving Israeli-Palestinian agreement

ed note–for those who are still wandering around in the dark about the matter, Trump represents the proverbial ‘desperate times call for desperate measures’ maneuver on the part of those entrenched interests who recognize that the US better do something really, really fast lest she lose the dominant position in the Middle East she has maintained for the last half century. With Russia and Iran successfully bringing stability in that sea of chaos which the US has sown along with Israel, the very real chance exists of a true peoples’ revolution in the region as took place with Iran in 1979.

And not just for the US, but for these corrupt Arab governments as well. Keep in mind that they are cauldrons of discontent as well, much of it due to the average Arab’s…

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The Trump and Putin effect? U.S. priority on Syria no longer focused on ‘getting Assad out’: Haley

The United States’ diplomatic policy on Syria for now is no longer focused on making the war-torn country’s president, Bashar al-Assad, leave power, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations said on Thursday, in a departure from the Obama administration’s initial and public stance on Assad’s fate.

The view of the Trump administration is also at odds with European powers, who insist Assad must step down.

“You pick and choose your battles and when we’re looking at this, it’s about changing up priorities and our priority is no longer to sit there and focus on getting Assad out,” U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley told a small group of reporters.

“Do we think he’s a hindrance? Yes. Are we going to sit there and focus on getting him out? No,” she said. “What we are going to focus on is putting the pressure in there so that we can start to make a change in Syria.”

The Obama administration, in its later years, was focused on reaching a deal with Russia that would eventually see Assad go though it also shifted its focus to the fight against Islamic State militants, who captures swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria in 2014.

As presidential nominee, Donald Trump said defeating Islamic State was a higher priority than persuading Assad to step down.

“We can’t necessarily focus on Assad the way that the previous administration did,” said Haley, a former governor of South Carolina. “Our priority is to really look at how do we get things done, who do we need to work with to really make a difference for the people in Syria.”

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On Wednesday, Haley accused Russia, Iran and the “Assad regime” of committing war crimes. She has also said that the United States supports the U.N.-led Syria peace talks, that Syria could no longer be a “safe haven for terrorists” and that it was important “we get Iran and their proxies out”.

A senior Trump administration official told Reuters Haley’s remarks reflected “a measure of just realism, accepting the facts on the ground. … Assad is never going to have sufficient force to reassert control over the whole country … Our focus is on defeating ISIS and al Qaeda and preventing Syria from being used as a terrorist safe haven.”

CONTRADICTORY MESSAGES

Syrian opposition member Farah al-Attasi said the State Department and the White House were sending contradictory messages on Syria and should start leading and not focus exclusively on fighting Islamic State.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, speaking in Ankara on Thursday, said Assad’s longer-term status “will be decided by the Syrian people.”

Britain and France reinforced their stance on Assad earlier on Thursday.

French U.N. Ambassador Francois Delattre told reporters: “Assad is not and cannot be the future of his country.”

Robert Ford, who resigned in 2014 as U.S. ambassador to Syria over policy disagreements, said the U.S. government’s policy since late 2014 had been to focus more specifically on the fight against Islamic State as well al Qaeda, “even if it never acknowledged that its focus on Syria had shifted”.

“Ambassador Haley’s remarks just confirm that the Trump administration is following the same path,” said Ford, a fellow at the Middle East Institute and senior fellow at Yale.

Since the uprising that led to the six-year-long civil war in Syria, the Obama administration insisted that Assad must go.

But in mid-2014 as Washington increased support to moderate rebels to fight Assad’s regime, U.S. officials privately conceded Assad wasn’t going anywhere soon and admitted the difficulty in removing him.

By September 2015, Kerry said Assad had to go but the timing of his departure should be decided through negotiation.

(Additional reporting by Lesley Wroughton in Ankara, Tom Miles in Geneva and Steve Holland in Washington; Writing by Yara Bayoumy; Editing by Leslie Adler and James Dalgleish)

Thousands of Witches Cast Spells to Oust Trump. And They Say It’s Working

The Ugly Truth

Weird sisters and brothers in the Magic Resistance don’t want to harm the president, just prevent him from harming others. Witches want health care, too.

ed note–lest we forget, the conjuring up of anti-Trump Judaic witchcraft was first openly discussed here, to wit–

‘Like some modern day witch performing a ritualistic blood sacrifice or a voodoo priestess sticking pins into a doll, the fact that Mz. Levy painted the picture with her own blood hints at something more than just the desire to be artistically avant garde. She collected the blood in a vessel similar in shape to the same Mizrak used by her Levitical forefathers of centuries past when performing the ritual slaughter of animals as methodically laid out in the Jewish Torah. The white, rectangular-shaped canvas upon which she splattered her own menstrual blood via paintbrush became an ‘artistic’ representation of the same altar of sacrifice upon…

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