Hezbollah Forced to Drastically Cut Spending

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Slumping oil prices and sanctions hitting Iran’s economy are having a nasty trickle-down effect on Hezbollah, the Christian Science Monitor:

As Iran tightens its belt, Hezbollah has had to impose salary cuts on personnel, defer payments to suppliers and reduce monthly stipends to its political allies in Lebanon, according to a wide range of political and diplomatic sources in Beirut, including friends and foes of the powerful Shiite party. . .

Although the specifics are unknown, quoted estimates by analysts over the past decade range from $60 million to $200 million a year.

The Monitor adds that Hezbollah’s funds don’t come from the Iranian government budget, but rather from Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s “private resources.” That’s a reference to Setad, Khamenei’s personal business empire (See Reuters‘s in-depth look for more on that).

Settlers Gone Wild? CNN has a twisted sense of “balance.”

Saying No to BDS: Academic Group Rejects Last-Minute Effort: Israel-bashers in the American Historical Association flunked their first test of the year.

Forcing the New York Times to Print the Truth: HonestReporting has a full-page ad published in today’s New York Times featuring an inspirational speech from Israel’s UN Ambassador.


Israel and the Palestinians

Haaretz and the Times of Israel report that for the first time, Israel’s going to advocate Congress to cut aid to the PA. And according to Bloomberg News:

Israel has also discussed with Canadian officials the possibility of a cut in that country’s funding of the Hague-based ICC if the tribunal becomes a forum for the Palestinians to threaten Israeli leaders . . .

• Saeb Erekat “hinted” for the millionth time that the Palestinian Authority might dissolve itself. This time, it’s over Israel’s refusal to transfer tax revenue following the PA’s ICC membership bid. Jerusalem Post coverage.

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• Mahmoud Abbas plans to resubmit the PA’s statehood resolution to the UN Security Council. But Haaretz reports that an unenthusiastic Jordan is angry with the Palestinians over the whole affair.

Moreover, Palestinians frequently strive to receive pan-Arab support so as to wield pressure on Jordan, claiming the Jordanians are also under heavy U.S. pressure.

A senior Palestinian official confirmed in a conversation with Haaretz that on the eve of the UN Security Council vote last week, the Jordanians sought to delay the vote and carry on with discussions on the bid – mainly with the Americans.

First Palestinian ICC case to focus on Gaza war.

• One paper, conflicting spin: Irish Times correspondent Mark Weiss refers to the Palestinian-Israeli moves and counter-moves as “diplomatic tit-for-tat.”

But a staff-ed in the same paper slams Jerusalem’s freezing of tax revenue, saying “the Israeli government has once again dangerously escalated tensions.”

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• Sanity prevailed at the American Historical Association’s annual meeting. By a wide margin, the AHA leadership shot down a pair of motions condemning Israel. As a result, the motions will not be sent to AHA members for further discussion — for now, anyway. According to the New York Times:

Issues relating to Israel and the Palestinians will almost certainly get a hearing at the next A.H.A. convention. After the vote, the outgoing president, Jan E. Goldstein, announced that her successor, Vicki Ruiz, had already committed to holding several academic sessions on the issue at the 2016 meeting.

See also William Jacobson‘s take.

Islamic leader urges Muslims to visit Jerusalem holy site.

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• Egyptian forces shot and killed a Palestinian teenager. The New York Times reports that PA officials are demanding an investigation, but the world’s not interested in justice unless Israel can be blamed. (More on that below.)

• Japan‘s Prime Minister to visit Israel in mid-January.

• Anti-Semites in Belgium no longer hiding.

• Japan’s Prime Minister to visit Israel in mid-January.


Dennis Ross
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Dennis Ross


• Buzz of the day was Dennis Ross teeing off on Palestinian unilateralism and arguing that the world should make the PA pay. He writes in the New York Times:

Palestinian political culture is rooted in a narrative of injustice; its anticolonialist bent and its deep sense of grievance treats concessions to Israel as illegitimate. Compromise is portrayed as betrayal, and negotiations — which are by definition about mutual concessions — will inevitably force any Palestinian leader to challenge his people by making a politically costly decision.

But going to the United Nations does no such thing. It puts pressure on Israel and requires nothing of the Palestinians. Resolutions are typically about what Israel must do and what Palestinians should get. If saying yes is costly and doing nothing isn’t, why should we expect the Palestinians to change course.

That’s why European leaders who fervently support Palestinian statehood must focus on how to raise the cost of saying no or not acting at all when there is an offer on the table. Palestinians care deeply about international support for their cause. If they knew they would be held accountable for being nonresponsive or rejecting a fair offer or resolution, it could well change their calculus.

For a polar opposite argument, try reading Robert Fisk.

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• Worth reading: Aaron David Miller offers four reasons why the Palestinian diplomatic intifada will fail.

• Almost 2,600 Palestinians have been killed in Syria at the hands of both pro-Assad and jihadi forces. Some were executed, others killed by snipers, the deliberate shelling of their homes, torture, — so why is the PA bent on taking Israel to the International Criminal Court? Khaled Abu Toameh answers that question:

That Palestinians are being killed by Arabs does not seem to bother even the Palestinian Authority, whose leaders are busy these days threatening to file “war crimes” charges against Israel with the International Criminal Court. As far as the Palestinian Authority is concerned — and the media, the EU, the UN and human rights groups — the only “war crimes” are being committed by Israelis, and not by Arabs who are killing, torturing and displacing tens of thousands of Palestinians. And all this is happening while the international community and media continue to display an obsession only with everything connected to Israel.

10 Points Regarding the Fundamental Breach by the Palestinians of the Oslo Accords.

• For more commentary/analysis, see Omer Dostri (The PA has not done its homework), Esther Judah (Why France doesn’t care about anti-Semitism), Guy Bechor (The Arab oil era is over), and a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review staff-ed (Turtle Bay intolerance of Israel).

Featured image: CC BY flickr/Sjoerd Lammers; money CC BY-NC-SA flickr/Truthout.org; Ross CC BY-SA Wikimedia Commons/Nrbelex

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