What prompted Assad to use sarin gas?

The Hebrew version of this article was published several hours before the United States attacked the Syrian airport near the city of Homs with Tomahawk cruise missiles. This was President Donald Trump’s response to Bashar al-Assad’s use of deadly sarin gas. Though the response is clearly a message of deterrence, the fate of the Syrian people is not Trump’s only concern; he also wants to demonstrate the contrast between himself and his predecessor Barack Obama. It is also his desire to shrug off the cloud of suspicion that has haunted him since taking office, namely the FBI investigation into his team’s collusion with Russian president Vladimir Putin. It is important to define who is responsible for the overall tragedy in Syria, and especially to address the impact of Trump’s policy as it stood [i]before[/i] the images of horror from Idlib began flooding TV screens, newspapers and the social networks.

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The law to legalize settlements: Inching toward a one-state solution

On Feb. 6, 2017, Israel’s Knesset enacted the “Legalization Law,” dubbed by its opponents the “Theft Law.” The vote was 60 to 52. The law “legalizes” housing units built by settlers on private Palestinian land. This was after enforcement of a High Court decision to raze homes built on such land in the Amona outpost (and some in the settlement of Ofra are slated for similar treatment). The decision could affect more than 2000 settler homes built—say settler leaders—accidentally on private land.

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Stuck with Bibi, stuck with Occupation

“There will be nothing because there is nothing.” That is Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s response to the ongoing investigations against him. Well, there will be something because there is something. Gifts received by Bibi Netanyahu and his family were “given” because he demanded them. In addition, the corrupt deal initiated by Netanyahu with [i]Yediot Aharonot’s[/i] publisher, Arnon “Noni” Mozes (“you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours”) is not kosher. But it is doubtful whether there’s enough there to topple Netanyahu. Bibi has a firewall not because he lacks opponents (actually there are many within and outside of his party, and the media are not letting him off the hook), but because his opponents see no credible alternative to his rule. Also, his government is stable, the economy is doing well, and security tensions are bearable; as a result, Netanyahu is not getting flack from his base.

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The fate of Syria will be decided in Astana

On Friday, a “diplomatic assault” occurred when the United States abstained rather than veto a UN Security Council Resolution on the Israel/Palestine question. This resolution says that settlement activity constitutes a “flagrant violation” of international law and has “no legal validity.” Netanyahu was quick to accuse Obama of coordinating moves with the Palestinians. He slammed the Security Council, charging hypocrisy in light of the UN’s utter helplessness to end the genocide in Syria and South Sudan. Netanyahu is right. The settlement enterprise and the Israeli occupation are overshadowed by the terrible events perpetrated in Syria by Assad, Iran and Russia. But Netanyahu’s hypocrisy was exposed. In the Israeli daily [i]Yediot Ahronot[/i] (December 27, 2016), Ronen Bergman reported that Israel was absent from the UN General Assembly vote on a resolution calling for the establishment of an international mechanism for collecting evidence of war crimes in Syria. It was Netanyahu who gave the order to skip the vote despite the recommendation of the Israel Foreign Ministry to favor it, saying it was a moral issue of the first order.

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