Friday, June 16, 2017
ISRAEL AND HAMAS COURT CATASTROPHE IN HIGH-STAKES GAME OF CHICKEN.
28 And when these things begin to come to pass,(ALL THE PROPHECY SIGNS FROM THE BIBLE) then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption (RAPTURE) draweth nigh.
29 And he spake to them a parable; Behold the fig tree,(ISRAEL) and all the trees;(ALL INDEPENDENT COUNTRIES)
30 When they now shoot forth, ye see and know of your own selves that summer is now nigh at hand.(ISRAEL LITERALLY BECAME AND INDEPENDENT COUNTRY JUST BEFORE SUMMER IN MAY 14,1948.)
3 A fire devoureth (ATOMIC BOMB) before them;(RUSSIAN-ARAB-MUSLIM ARMIES AGAINST ISRAEL) and behind them a flame burneth: the land is as the garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness; yea, and nothing shall escape them.
30 And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke.(ATOMIC BOMB AFFECT)
12 And this shall be the plague wherewith the LORD will smite all the people that have fought against Jerusalem; Their flesh shall consume away while they stand upon their feet,(DISOLVED FROM ATOMIC BOMB) and their eyes shall consume away in their holes,(DISOLVED FROM ATOMIC BOMB) and their tongue shall consume away in their mouth.(DISOLVED FROM ATOMIC BOMB)(BECAUSE NUKES HAVE BEEN USED ON ISRAELS ENEMIES)(GOD PROTECTS ISRAEL AND ALWAYS WILL)
13 And it shall come to pass in that day, that a great tumult from the LORD shall be among them; and they shall lay hold every one on the hand of his neighbour, and his hand shall rise up against the hand of his neighbour.(1/2-3 BILLION DIE IN WW3)(THIS IS AN ATOMIC BOMB EFFECT)
47 And say to the forest of the south, Hear the word of the LORD; Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will kindle a fire in thee, and it shall devour every green tree in thee, and every dry tree: the flaming flame shall not be quenched, and all faces from the south to the north shall be burned therein.
18 Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them in the day of the LORD'S wrath; but the whole land shall be devoured by the fire of his jealousy: for he shall make even a speedy riddance of all them that dwell in the land.
1 For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven;(FROM ATOMIC BOMBS) and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.
And here are the bounderies of the land that Israel will inherit either through war or peace or God in the future. God says its Israels land and only Israels land. They will have every inch God promised them of this land in the future.
Egypt east of the Nile River, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, The southern part of Turkey and the Western Half of Iraq west of the Euphrates. Gen 13:14-15, Psm 105:9,11, Gen 15:18, Exe 23:31, Num 34:1-12, Josh 1:4.ALL THIS LAND ISRAEL WILL DEFINATELY OWN IN THE FUTURE, ITS ISRAELS NOT ISHMAELS LAND.12 TRIBES INHERIT LAND IN THE FUTURE
Analysis-Israel and Hamas court catastrophe in high-stakes game of chicken-With the PA riding shotgun and Egypt in the backseat, Israel, hurtled along by a tailwind from the Persian Gulf, dares Hamas to go to war in Gaza-By Judah Ari Gross June 15, 2017, 2:49 pm-THE TIMES OF ISRAEL
The Israeli government, the Palestinian Authority and, to a lesser extent, the Egyptian government are locked in a game of chicken with Hamas, which has brought along the two million unfortunate residents of the Gaza Strip for the ride. This death race is being fueled by a combination of internal Palestinian spats, enabling Israeli policies, military changes on the ground, and a diplomatic siege in the Gulf — and a catastrophic collision seems increasingly likely.Yet, speaking to the Knesset on Monday, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman indicated that he was unperturbed, noting that the past year was the quietest on the Gaza border since 1967 and that while there have been protests recently along the security fence, they have not been made up of huge, organic crowds but of “Hamas operatives that were bused there.”He also called for a strategy toward Hamas and Gaza in which Israel “does not blink and does not deviate.”In light of developments in recent months, the terrorist group is, in many ways, in dire straits.The people it controls in the Gaza Strip are growing sick — some of them literally — of the conditions in the coastal enclave, where electricity is intermittent and raw sewage pollutes the surrounding sea because there’s no power for its water treatment facility.Meanwhile, work is poised to begin in the coming weeks on an Israeli subterranean border barrier that is meant to cripple Hamas’s ability to send fighters into the country through underground tunnels, one of the terror group’s main weapons.And one of Hamas’s main benefactors, Qatar, is in the midst of its own crisis, and thus unlikely to step in and help in the near future, as its neighbor Saudi Arabia and many former allies cut ties with the small, oil-rich nation last week for a number of reasons, including its support for terrorist groups, among them Hamas.But while all seems to be falling apart for Hamas, the group is in top military shape, having completely rebuilt its arsenal and infrastructure in the three years since its 2014 war with Israel, according to Israeli estimates. Its ranks are said to have swelled to 27,000 fighters, nearly a tenth of them commandos. And the group is also believed to have invested heavily in both naval and aerial capabilities since the last Gaza conflict.But Amos Gilad, a long-time senior official in the Defense Ministry, said on Wednesday he was convinced that Israel has sufficiently deterred Hamas from seeking a renewed round of conflict.“They understand that their next attack on Israel might end ‘Hamastan,’ the Hamas government in Gaza,” he said, speaking in a phone briefing organized by the Israel Project.Gilad nevertheless advised Israel to work to prevent a full-blown humanitarian crisis in the Strip because “a humanitarian crisis is chaos, and we need to avoid it.”-A power struggle-On Sunday, Israel’s security cabinet approved a request by PA President Mahmoud Abbas to halve the already paltry amount of electricity the coastal enclave receives. The hours of power supply in Gaza will likely be reduced from about six hours a day to between two and four hours.Though the measure has been approved, it has not yet been implemented, as some technical aspects of it still have to be reviewed. When and if this decision will be implemented, it will place even more of a strain on the Strip’s hospitals and on average Palestinians, who are forced to power their homes and businesses with personal generators (when they can afford it; with an unemployment rate estimated to be approximately 40 percent, there aren’t many who can).Abbas is able to make such a request of Israel because, while Hamas levies taxes on residents of Gaza, it refuses to pay for the approximately 125 megawatt-hours of electricity that get wired in from Israel, forcing the PA — its bitter rival — to pick up the tab. Historically, the PA did just that, though the Strip hasn’t enjoyed round-the-clock electricity since Hamas took over some 10 years ago.With the PA paying the bills, Hamas, awash in cash and unencumbered by responsibilities, was able to sink its money into defensive and attack tunnels, as well as a new arsenal of rockets, mortars and drones to be launched at Israel.But this year Abbas adopted a more aggressive strategy. He refused to pay the taxes for the diesel fuel that supplied the Strip’s own power station and to cover the NIS 40 million ($11.3 million) a month for electricity into Gaza, agreeing only to pay NIS 20-25 million ($7 million) a month to power the Strip.In April, when Abbas first requested that Israel stop supplying the Gaza Strip with power in light of the debts it had racked up, it led to a minor tiff within the Israeli government. Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz balked at the notion, saying he was “not in the habit of taking orders from the Palestinian Authority, directly or indirectly, on matters under my authority.” It took two months, but the Israeli government came around.During Sunday’s cabinet meeting, the military warned that the move might prompt Hamas to attack Israel, but it nevertheless reportedly supported the decision to cut power to Gaza on the grounds that it was preferable to a standoff with the Palestinian Authority over the issue.Ignoring for a moment the diplomatic and political reasoning behind the cabinet’s decision, on a purely economic level, should a further reduction in electricity to Gaza indeed be the catalyst for another war, Israel will have proven itself to be agora-wise and shekel-foolish.The millions that it would cost for Israel to supply Gaza with power would pale in comparison to the billions that a large-scale military operation would end up costing the country in materiel, reservists’ pay, insurance payouts for buildings and infrastructure damaged by Hamas, lost work days, a drop in tourism and — it should go without saying — human lives.Though it is involved to a far lesser extent, Egypt is also part of the electricity calculus, as it provides Gaza with about 20 megawatt-hours through two power lines from Rafah. On Monday, apparently sensing Hamas’s desperation, it offered to increase the flow, in exchange for the terror group meeting certain conditions, according to the London-based Arabic newspaper Asharq al-Awsat.Hamas would have to hand over 17 men wanted by Egypt on terrorism charges, stop smuggling weapons into the Sinai, provide additional protection at the Egyptian border and give Cairo a heads-up on the movement of terrorists into Gaza through its underground tunnel network.On the issue of electricity, the ball is very much in Hamas’s court. The group does have its own funds, which could be used to settle its debts and ensure a steady supply of both power from Israel and diesel fuel into the Strip to allow the local power plant to provide residents with much-needed electricity.-A last hurrah for the tunnels-However, the game of chicken is not fueled by a power shortage alone.Beginning later this summer, the Defense Ministry will begin work on an underground barrier designed to counter the threat of Hamas terrorists burrowing into Israel through attack tunnels.The barrier will run along the 60-kilometer border with Gaza. It is expected to take several months to complete and cost NIS three billion ($850 million), while another NIS one billion ($280 million) will be invested in other projects to shore up Israel’s defenses against the subterranean threat.IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot also revealed to the Knesset earlier this year that the military has capabilities that allow it to target the tunnels from the air.While Hamas was once known for its rocket arsenal, with which it pummeled the town of Sderot and much of southern Israel for nearly a decade, it has increasingly turned to tunnels as its go-to means of threatening Israel.In a speech last year, Hamas’s then-politburo chief Ismail Haniyeh vowed that the group would live by “the rifle and the tunnel.”Hamas’s network of tunnels is said to crisscross the entire Gaza Strip, as well as penetrate Israeli territory, giving it a veritable underground fortress from which to conduct attacks against Israeli security forces and civilians.While the underground barrier along the border would not have an impact on the internal tunnel system, it is designed neutralize the threat of tunnels that enter Israeli territory.As work picks up on the barrier, Hamas might perceive a “use it or lose it” scenario regarding its border-crossing tunnels, and feel forced to send fighters through to carry out terror attacks while they still can.-Widening gulf with the Arab world-While Hamas has found itself pushed to the edge financially and militarily before, the difference this time is that its foreign support is in peril.Last Monday, a group of Sunni Muslim countries, led by Saudi Arabia, announced it was cutting diplomatic ties and shutting down all borders with Qatar over its support for terrorism and its actions that destabilized the region.Qatar has long been a source of consternation for Israel.“On the one hand, it’s a friend of the Americans. On the other, it’s a friend of the Iranians. Sometimes it’s with the Saudis; sometimes it’s not with the Saudis,” said Eldad Shavit, a former high-ranking official in both IDF Military Intelligence and the Prime Minister’s Office.As the Middle East is being divided along the Shia-Sunni (perhaps more accurately, the Iranian-Saudi) fault line, Qatar remains something of a wild card.And so at the beginning of last week, apparently emboldened by the supportive words of US President Donald Trump during his trip to Riyadh last month, Saudi Arabia got together a group of countries, including the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain, to lay down the law for Qatar and get it to toe the Sunni coalition line.Riyadh has considerable leverage over Doha, more so than the other countries in the Sunni coalition. Surrounding Qatar on three sides, Saudi Arabia controls the land borders through which approximately 40 percent of its food supply enters.Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir demanded that Qatar stop supporting Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood if it wanted a resumption of ties with its former allies.Qatar, it should be said, does not openly or directly fund the terrorist group, but assists it peripherally, acting as host to its leadership and supporting the people of Gaza so that Hamas can focus on its military strategy.There have already been reports that Qatar is prepared to expel some Hamas officials from the country, but the extent to which the Qataris will ultimately cave is still open to debate.“I don’t see [senior Hamas official Khaled] Mashaal getting kicked out of Qatar,” said Shavit, who is now a fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies think tank at Tel Aviv University.With so much on the line, Shavit said, he expected that Qatar will capitulate to the Sunni countries’ demands quickly.But the diplomatic crisis is liable to have a twofold effect on Hamas:As this severance of ties goes on, Qatar — while a rich country — would likely be more inclined to keep its money at home, feeding its citizens and keeping businesses afloat, rather than sending it out to Gaza. That would put more of a strain on Hamas to keep the Strip’s citizens happy. And, if Doha does eventually cave to the pressure, it would be cutting its more apparent support for the terrorist group, which will hurt Hamas directly.“But all this pressure on Hamas, coming from Egypt or coming from Qatar… puts them on this track to make a decision,” Shavit said.So what will that decision be? Will the game of chicken end in a horrific wreck, a fourth round of fighting in the beleaguered and battered coastal enclave? Israel, it seems, is prepared to take a gamble and stay the course, relying on Hamas to blink and swerve out of the way.
Israeli and international groups warn of looming Gaza disaster-Coalition of NGOs urge attorney general to dissuade ministers from further power cuts to Hamas-run enclave-By AFP and Times of Israel staff June 14, 2017, 10:39 pm
Israeli and international NGOS joined the UN on Wednesday in warning of a “total collapse” in Gaza if Israel goes ahead with plans to further cut power supplies to the enclave.A joint statement of 16 groups, among them Israel’s B’Tselem, Peace Now and Rabbis for Human Rights along with Amnesty International, said they has asked Israel’s attorney general to intervene.Gazans currently receive only three to four hours of mains electricity a day, delivered from the territory’s own power station and others in Israel and Egypt.Senior Israeli ministers decided on Sunday to reduce the amount of electricity supplied to Gaza by between 45 and 60 minutes a day after Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas cut funding for it by his West Bank-based Palestinian Authority. As of Tuesday, the cut had not been implemented.The move was widely seen as an attempt by the PA leader to step up pressure on his Hamas rivals, the terrorist organization which runs the Gaza Strip.“A group of civil society organizations… sent an urgent letter today to attorney general Avichai Mandelblit demanding that he advise the members of the security cabinet to immediately rescind (its) decision to reduce the supply of electricity sold and provided by Israel to the Gaza Strip,” the NGOs said in their statement.They said further cuts would contravene a 2008 Israeli supreme court ruling that years of Israeli control over the strip had created near-total dependence on power supply from the Jewish state and it must therefore continue to provide sufficient electricity to meet humanitarian needs.Amnesty warned in a separate statement of a “looming humanitarian catastrophe.”It said additional reductions in power “will have a disastrous impact on Gaza’s battered infrastructure and cause a public health disaster.”“The move will also endanger thousands of lives including those of hospital patients with chronic conditions or in intensive care, including babies on life support.”The UN humanitarian coordinator for the Palestinian territories, Robert Piper, warned that fresh cuts would be disastrous.“A further increase in the length of blackouts is likely to lead to a total collapse of basic services, including critical functions in the health, water and sanitation sectors,” Piper said in a statement.“The people in Gaza should not be held hostage to this longstanding internal Palestinian dispute.”-‘A catastrophe’-The French government also expressed concern.“France is following with concern the situation in Gaza, which continues to deteriorate in the absence of a lasting political solution,” said a foreign ministry spokesman.Hamas has run Gaza since 2007, when it seized the territory in a violent coup from Abbas loyalists.Multiple attempts at reconciliation between Hamas and Abbas’s Fatah movement have failed, but his Palestinian Authority has continued to pay Israel for some electricity delivered to Gaza.The prospect of even lengthier blackouts in Gaza has raised fears of a new upsurge in violence. Israel and Hamas have fought three wars since 2008.Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday that Israel had “no interest in an escalation,” blaming internal Palestinian disputes for the crisis.Hamas said the cut was made on Abbas’s orders and termed it “a catastrophe.”“This decision aggravates the situation and risks an explosion in the Gaza Strip,” it said on Monday.But on Wednesday Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman dismissed the idea of a humanitarian crisis in the tiny enclave of some two million people.“It is clear the Gaza Strip is not Switzerland, but there is no humanitarian crisis,” he said, citing the “hundreds” of trucks delivering goods each day.The World Food Programme, however, said Gazans also face a food shortage brought about by a drop in funding for its aid program.“Unless new funding quickly arrives, the United Nations World Food Programme may be forced to suspend its voucher food assistance in July,” it said.“The energy crisis has eroded people’s purchasing power and increased the prices of basic essentials,” it added. “The poorest families, including those assisted by WFP, are affected the most.”
Major US academic body ratifies anti-boycott resolution-Israeli minister says Modern Language Association’s vote is a ‘major blow’ to divestment efforts against Israel-By Stuart Winer and Raoul Wootliff June 15, 2017, 12:04 pm-THE TIMES OF ISRAEL
The Modern Language Association ratified a resolution opposing academic boycotts of Israel in a vote by its members, drawing praise from the Jewish state, which called it a major blow to boycott efforts.Voting on MLA resolution 2017-1 concluded at midnight June 1 and the results were posted on the MLA website on Wednesday.In January the annual MLA Delegates Assembly rejected a resolution calling for a boycott of Israel and also approved a call to refrain from boycott activities. To be accepted as policy, the latter resolution required approval by at least 10 percent of the MLA’s 18,279 eligible voters.The proposal eventually squeezed by with 1,954 in favor and 885 against.Established over a century ago, the MLA is the principal US body for scholars of literature and language, and has some 24,000 registered members.Resolution 2017-1 states that “endorsing the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel contradicts the MLA’s purpose to promote teaching and research on language and literature” and contradicts an earlier resolution that condemns boycotts against scholars.Boycotting Israeli academics could also “curtail debates with representatives of Israeli universities… thereby blocking possible dialogue and general scholarly exchange,” the resolution noted.Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan congratulated the MLA and said the decision represented “a major blow to ongoing efforts by the BDS movement for an academic boycott of Israel.”“This victory is a major blow to the BDS campaign in the academic arena,” added Erdan, who is also public security minister, in a statement early Thursday. “Universities and academic associations are increasingly rejecting BDS as being opposed to the most basic values of academic freedom.”Erdan’s Strategic Affairs Ministry deals with boycott efforts against Israel.Pro-Palestinian groups campaign around the world for boycott, divestment, and sanctions against Israel in what is known as the BDS movement. The activities include calls for academic boycotts that have had mixed success with universities and other institutes stressing the importance of academic freedom and dialogue.
London fire death toll raised to 17, no more survivors expected-Entire families missing after flames gut 120-unit Grenfell Tower; firefighters still unable to enter building due to structural problems-By DANICA KIRKA June 15, 2017, 2:41 pm-THE TIMES OF ISRAEL
LONDON (AP) — London firefighters traumatized by the devastation they witnessed in a high-rise apartment blaze that killed at least 17 people worked Thursday to make the building safe so they could continue the search for more victims.Entire families are missing, and the death toll is certain to rise after flames tore through the 120-unit Grenfell Tower in the early hours of Wednesday when most people were asleep. Fire Commissioner Dany Cotton said it would be a “miracle” if anyone else were to be found alive.It is unsafe for firefighters to go to all parts of the 24-story tower, so the fire department is working with structural engineers to shore up the building so they can complete a “finger-tip search” of the entire structure, Cotton said.Some residents threw a baby and other children out the window to escape the flames. There were other reports of adults jumping.“I spoke to one of my officers who was very near when someone came out the window, and he was in tears and he is a professional fire officer,” Cotton told Sky News. “We like to think of ourselves as ‘roughty, toughty’ and heroes — they are heroes — but they have feelings, and people were absolutely devastated by yesterday’s events.”More than 200 firefighters worked through the night and parts of the building were still seen as being unsafe. Now that the smoke has cleared, the public could only gape at the huge burned-out hulk in the working class, multi-ethnic neighborhood.The blaze in west London’s North Kensington district also injured 74 others, 18 of them critically, and left an unknown number missing. Cotton said that specialist dogs would be brought into search the building.A tenants’ group had complained for years about the risk of a fire in the building. The cause of the fire is under investigation, and authorities have refused to speculate on what could have started the blaze. But the focus has turned to renovations completed last year that added decorative touches to the building.The renovation project included installation of insulated exterior cladding, double-glazed windows and a communal heating system. Fire experts say the investigators will need to look at what materials were used in the project and who approved their use.Up to 600 people lived in the 120 apartments at Grenfell Tower. After announcing the updated death toll of 12 on Wednesday afternoon, Cmdr. Stuart Cundy said that “we believe this number will sadly increase.”Prime Minister Theresa May promised an investigation and visited the site on Thursday. London Mayor Sadiq Khan said that many questions must be answered about safety for the scores of other apartment buildings around the British capital.The London Fire Brigade said it received the first reports of the blaze at 12:54 a.m. and the first engines arrived within six minutes. Survivors told of frantic attempts to escape during the nighttime fire.“The flames, I have never seen anything like it. It just reminded me of 9/11,” said Muna Ali, 45. “The fire started on the upper floors. … Oh my goodness, it spread so quickly. It had completely spread within half an hour.”More than 1 million pounds ($1.27 million) has been raised to help victims of the tragedy as volunteers and charities worked through the night to find shelter and food for people who lost their homes.St. Clement’s Notting Dale, a church near the tower, has turned into an informal center for people searching for friends and family.Laminated signs bearing the missing persons phone number are tied to the fence next to notices from happier times advertising the Summer Fete with its barbecue, children’s games and giant slide. A handwritten sign ripped from a spiral pad reads “breakfast from 0800 inside.” The church is also serving lunch and dinner to survivors.On a utility box by the church’s front door, residents have taped signs looking for information about Khadija Saye, last seen on the 20th floor, and Mariem Elggwahry, last seen on the 19th floor at 2:30 am.Community centers in London have been overwhelmed by the number of donations flooding in for those left homeless by a high-rise apartment building fire.So much food, clothing, shoes and other items have been coming in that the centers, churches and mosques have had to start turning away new donations.Missing people posters have been put up throughout North Kensington. Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver has offered free food for survivors at one of his nearby eateries.Many were moved to tears Wednesday at a moment of silent contemplation outside the Notting Hill Methodist Church in west London.“There are times when all the words we can say are not adequate and sometimes words fail us because no words can do justice to how we feel, or what we have seen or what has happened. Today is one of those days,” Rev. Mike Long said.“What we can simply do is look to all that we have seen today — which is good, which is fabulous — people getting together.”Emergency accommodation had been provided to 44 households affected by the fire.
Interview-Israel is ‘in our blood,’ outgoing Australian ambassador says-Packing up after four years in Tel Aviv, Dave Sharma reflects on close relationships, lessons learned, and a few ‘difficult conversations’-By Raphael Ahren June 15, 2017, 1:39 pm-THE TIMES OF ISRAEL
It’s diplomatic etiquette for ambassadors to say nice things about their host countries before they leave. But at his farewell party Sunday in Tel Aviv, Dave Sharma, the outgoing Australian envoy to Israel, went above and beyond, using an unconventional metaphor to describe his family’s attachment to the Jewish state.“I can honestly say that Israel will always be in our hearts. Israel will always be in our blood,” he told his guests at the Peres Center for Peace, speaking in Hebrew.“Maybe it works better in English than it does in Hebrew, I’m not sure. But it basically means that Israel is part of our soul now,” Sharma told The Times of Israel on Wednesday, one day before he, his wife Rachel Lord, and their three young children were set to leave Israel after four years.“Israel will have had a formative imprint not only on my life but on that of my wife and my children,” the unimposing and affable diplomat said. “That’s something we’ll always take with us — not just the memories from here and the relations and friendships we’ve made here, but also some of the life lessons we’ve drawn from here. In that sense, Israel is in our veins. We’ll carry it with us wherever we go.”Undeniably, Sharma’s job was made easier by the fact that bilateral relations are consistently excellent. Canberra is one of Jerusalem’s staunchest allies and best friends in the international community. In 2014, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop surprisingly refused to call Israeli settlements illegal, defying international consensus. And when 14 out of 15 members of the United Nations Security Council voted in favor of an anti-settlements resolution (with the US abstaining) in December, Australia was the only country to publicly say it would have opposed the text.That is not to say that Australia always sees eye to eye with the policies of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who rejects the oft-made claim that Israeli settlements in the West Bank are an obstacle to peace.“We’re opposed to any unilateral move that undermines the viability of the two-state solution. Settlement are one of those,” said Sharma. The issue was brought up during Bishop’s visit to Israel in September and also during Netanyahu’s meeting with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in February in Sydney, during the first-ever visit down under by an Israeli leader.“We are committed to the two-state solution,” Sharma said. “But we’ve always taken the view that final-status issues, which include borders and the status of Jerusalem and things like that, can and should only be resolved by negotiations between the parties.”Building new settlements and expanding existing ones is “unhelpful,” the ambassador said, adding that Australia also opposes incitement to violence and Palestinian efforts to gain unilateral statehood recognition in multilateral forums.Jerusalem and Canberra had other differences as well during his four-year term, Sharma said, though he declined to provide more detail.“We had a few disagreements during my time here. But in the nature of our strong relations we keep and resolve them in private,” he said. Israelis and Australians are both frank and honest people, and he always found that he could sort out problems easily and in a friendly atmosphere, he noted.Were there moments when was furious at his Israeli interlocutors? “No,” he replied immediately. He did have some “difficult conversations” with people but they usually took place in the context of good friendship. “I have never felt white-hot fury or anything like that.”Indeed, Sharma — who has not been assigned to a new posting yet — said Israel-Australia ties today are the “strongest they have been than in a long time, perhaps since the early days of Israel’s founding.”Even though Australia was one of the first countries to recognize the State of Israel, opening an embassy here in 1949, no sitting Israeli prime minister had visited down under until Netanyahu’s four-day trip to Sydney in late February.Indeed, several cancellations of planned visits in the past had threatened to cast a pall over the otherwise rosy bilateral relationship. Netanyahu had reportedly considered canceling or postponing this year’s trip, too, but sensing that Canberra would not take it well, he went ahead with it.“It was very important that the visit happened as a recognition to the strength of the relationship. The fact that there hadn’t been a visit in the past was becoming an irritant in the relationship,” Sharma said. “If the visit hadn’t happened, that irritant would have only grown at the time. It was an overdue but very welcome recognition of the importance of the Australia-Israel relationship and the importance of Australian support for Israel.”Netanyahu’s visit also had a “forward-looking agenda,” as his talks focused on promoting bilateral cooperation in fields like cybersecurity, high-tech, aviation, research and development, double taxation and others, Sharma said. “It did deliver a substantial agenda and set a pathway for the future of the relationship in the next couple of years.”Sharma’s replacement, Chris Cannan, is scheduled to arrive in Israel on Sunday and to start working on Monday. Like Sharma, he is a career diplomat and Israel is his first ambassadorial posting.Sharma’s main advice for Cannan is to be a good listener. “There are a lot of complexities in this part of the world,” he said. “Try to hear as many perspectives and to learn from as many people as you can. It’s quite important to come here and be ready to hear all sides and listen to all arguments. Prepare to hear all views, that’s the key to doing well here.”
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