Monday, July 24, 2017

Notations On Our World (Special Monday Edition): On @POTUS; #Russia & Other Brief Thoughts...


We have been assessing the Russia investigation and some of the assertions by President Trump in regards to the issue of "Self-Pardon" and some of the discussions by leading Scholars including Professor Turley of George Washington Law School--available by clicking it here. 

We conclude this with this from Israel on the realities on the ground in the aftermath of the current crisis from Israel's Haaretz:

The Chemisphere
Senior columnist Chemi Shalev's rundown of this week's main stories and what's ahead
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Chemi Shalev

Israel is in crisis mode. As if things weren’t bad enough because of the tensions created by the metal detectors at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, they became infinitely more complicated on Sunday after a foiled attack on a security officer for the Israeli Embassy in the Jordanian capital of Amman, in which two Jordanians were killed. 

Netanyahu had hoped to contain Palestinian protests – as well as deadly terrorist attacks – and avert a complete breakdown of Israeli-Palestinian security coordination; instead, the fallout from the Temple Mount clash is spreading to other Muslim capitals and threatening Israel’s strategic ties with so-called moderate Sunni states, including Jordan

As I wrote in last week’s Chemisphere, tinkering with arrangements on the Temple Mount is akin to “tickling the dragon’s tail.” Well, the dragon is now fully awake, thrashing about, thumping its tail and blowing fire. And the dragon, as Amos Harel notes, isn’t an Arab leader such as King Abdullah, who would like nothing better than for the new crisis to go away, but enraged Muslim public opinion and the religious fanatics who inflame it further. 

For many Israelis, there is a distinct sense of deja vu in the confluence of two blasts from the past, harking back to Netanyahu’s first term. In September 1996 he hastily opened the Western Wall Tunnels and did not anticipate the ensuing mayhem, which left 17 Israeli soldiers and over a 100 Palestinians dead. Exactly a year later, a botched Mossad assassination attempt in Amman against Hamas leader Khaled Meshal sparked a bilateral standoff similar to the one Israeli faces now, as I write. It was resolved only when Netanyahu agreed to release Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, who directed and inspired terrorist attacks in which hundreds of Israelis were killed, before Prime Minister Ariel Sharon ordered his assassination in 2004. 

Throughout the ensuing years, the conventional wisdom was that Netanyahu had learned from his mistakes. Notwithstanding his combative rhetoric, Netanyahu was said to handle Israel’s security affairs cautiously and judiciously. But the decision to place metal detectors in the entrances to the Temple Mount following the terrorist attack in which two Israeli border policemen were killed, taken without careful consideration of its potential consequences, belies that assumption. 

Netanyahu, many Israeli analysts believe, is too concerned about political rivals and too preoccupied with the numerous police investigations in which he is either a suspect or a person of interest. 

The same can be said, and is being said, about Donald Trump – along with son in law Jared Kushner – who is besieged and isolated because of the investigation of his alleged ties to Russia. Along with the U.S. media, which is so obsessed with Trump it has forgotten there’s a world out there, Trump has shown scant interest in helping to resolve the Temple Mount crisis

He certainly hasn’t emulated Bill Clinton, who conducted several rounds of shuttle diplomacy by phone in 1997, or Barack Obama, whose personal intervention in 2011 averted a potentially disastrous takeover of the Israeli Embassy in Cairo by an Egyptian mob.

However, things may change now because of the involvement of King Abdullah, who has cultivated Trump assiduously, as well as other Trump allies, including Saudi Arabia.  Belatedly, Trump is sending in his cavalry, such as it is. The Middle East is the one area in which Trump has been credited with at least a semblance of diplomatic success. He certainly doesn’t want to see it consumed in the wildfire that started on the Temple Mount.

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