It’s Howitzer Heaven for Trump and Bibi

You won’t find Donald Trump or Benjamin Netanyahu on any list of philanthropists or altruists. They’re takers, not givers.

Interestingly, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the United Arab Emirates, is a well-known philanthropist, though I doubt he sold out the Palestinians due to an excess of altruism.

Behind the peace agreement between the UAE and Israel that was announced yesterday – announced but not signed, note – is a trade-off. Its details have not been made public yet, though it’s not particularly difficult to discern its contours.

One broad hint is the centrality of Trump, who was the third leg in the joint statement issued by the two countries. The US has traditionally played a mediating role in Middle East negotiations, though it’s doubtful if any previous president has needed a “victory” as much as Trump does.

With less than three months to go before the US elections and plummeting in the polls – one result of his farcical handling of the coronavirus pandemic – Trump needed a major boost. It wasn’t going to be a domestic achievement – corona again, economic collapse, rioting in the streets – and his preferred foreign policy surrogate, the Taliban, didn’t play ball.

Enter the UAE, a tiny but rich territory, which includes the playland of the Arab world, Dubai.

Netanyahu, too, was in need of a diplomatic achievement. His initial coronavirus “victory” has soured rapidly, he is hounded by demonstrators in the street and, as an accused grafter who barely survived three elections last year, his magic was looking decidedly tarnished.

What’s more, Benny Gantz – Netanyahu’s intended dummy – did not turn out to be as obsequious as the boss had expected. Election fever was beginning to contaminate the air in Israel before yesterday’s announcement. A peace agreement with an Arab state – only the third since the founding of the state – could be the basis of a dream campaign.

But what of Al Nahyan, who lacks neither oil nor riches? The current common wisdom is that he was motivated by brownie points – as the Arab leader who got Netanyahu to renounce annexation of part of the occupied territories. But did he?

Trump says he did, the US ambassador to Israel says maybe he did but tomorrow’s another day, and Netanyah says he didn’t – he merely agreed to a “temporary suspension.”

Even a suspension will be regarded as a sell-out by Israeli settlers in the West Bank, for whom annexation has spiritual, rather than political, significance. But they detest Netanyahu anyway and typically vote for parties to his right. I doubt that their opposition – however vociferously expressed – will make much of an impact on the premier – to whom selling out comes naturally; he is normally juggling a few of them at any given moment.

Netanyahu is an experienced horse trader. If the annexationists desert him, he will find other partners. He’s always found them in the past.

Either way, stopping annexation does not appear to be sufficient recompense for betraying a 73-year-old, pan-Arab principle – not recognizing Israel before it has signed a peace agreement with the Palestinians. It’s unlikely that Al Nahyan would have left the fold without additional inducement.

That, I suspect, is where Trump comes in. There’s nothing a Middle Eastern potentate likes more than expensive, shiny things that kill – and America makes more of them than any other country. Israel is no slouch in that respect, either, though its role will probably be to provide intrusive software and digital systems, rather than hardware.

And then there’s the Iranian Satan, on which all three countries – the UAE, Israel and the US – see eye-to-eye. It stands to reason that a geo-strategic agreement that further tightens the screws on Iran is central to the peace pact. They all want it and there’s no downside – except for Iran, Hezbollah, Syria and Shi’ites in general.

On the face of it, the agreement announced yesterday is a win-win for Netanyahu and Trump. Its timing was perfect and neither of them will face much opposition. As for how Al Nahyan benefits from it – it’s too early to tell. I certainly don’t see the divided and self-interested Moslem world uniting against him.

And then there’s the Palestinians. I can’t see any upside for them in the current situation. Amid the triumphalism of Trump and Netanyahu, they have again been overlooked, betrayed, stabbed in the back – choose your own metaphor. If annexation is really all that Israel gave away, it will make precious little difference to those who have been effectively annexed for decades.




Gantz Doing Well After Spine-Stiffening Surgery

Israel’s Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz is recovering well from the emergency back surgery he underwent on Wednesday, the Sheba Medical Center spokesman has announced.

Gantz’ spine-stiffening procedure took over five hours and involved the implant of titanium rods to create the type of backbone not normally found in politicians, the spokesman said.

First contemplated earlier this year as elective surgery, the operation was upgraded to an emergency procedure following Gantz’s cringing and sycophantic performance since he took office.

“Such spinelessness is not something a people can live with for any length of time,” said Dr. Netanel Mayersohn, the surgeon who performed the operation.

“It not only impacts life-style, but life itself. Humans can’t function adequately without any sort of backbone whatsoever.”

“I wish Benny a full recovery,” said Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi. Gantz’s Blue & White Party colleague. “If it helps him get up from the carpet after Bibi has stepped all over him, I may consider having one myself.”




Blood-Thirsty Anarchists Accuse Bibi of Libel

The International Alliance of Anarchists (chair. M. Bakunin) has sent a formal complaint to the Israeli Consumer Protection Authority regarding the prime minister’s description of the protesters who have thronged his residence in recent weeks as “anarchists”.

In a six-minute rant in front of the Cabinet last week, Benjamin Netanyahu railed against “dens of anarchists,” who, he said, were out to topple his government.

The premier’s son, Yair ‘Parasite’ Netanyahu, also got into the act, tweeting that “you aren’t [even] allowed to protest outside the homes of anarchists who have called for the prime minister’s murder.”

“We take great exception to the image created of our profession,” the IAA wrote in its complaint to the Authority. “The namby-pamby, middle-class protestors with national flags, signs calling for democracy and smileys on their T-shirts who we see in the media are as far from anarchism as Netanyahu is from truth-telling.”

“Annoyance at the closure of one’s local sushi bar due to the pandemic does not an anarchist make.”

“If anything,” the complaint continued, “the true anarchists in Israel are those who raid Palestinian homes in the middle of the night, shoot people in the street and bomb the shit out of women and children. Those are our kind of anarchists.”

The complaint concluded with an invitation to the true Israeli anarchists to apply for membership in the IAA.