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There were no newspapers published in Israel on Thursday, as the country comes to a virtual standstill to mark 67 years of independence. Overnight, the Internet websites were dominated by the speeches delivered by Israeli leaders at various official ceremonies across the country. By this morning, however, many have moved on to harder news.

The websites of Haaretz and Times of Israel lead with a report from the New York Times, which claims that U.S. President Barack Obama told Jewish leaders last week that he would not be inviting Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to visit Washington until after the June 30 deadline for the Iranian nuclear talks. Obama told the group that he was concerned Netanyahu would publicly vent his complaints about White House policies, specifically the ongoing negotiations with Iran regarding its nuclear program. He told the delegation that he would speak with Netanyahu over the telephone in the meantime. Ynet reports that an Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson announced that Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif had conducted a phone conversation with his American counterpart, John Kerry, about the nuclear deal.

In other news, Army Radio reports that there has been an increased Israel Air Force presence on Thursday morning in the Golan Heights. According to the report, the spike in activity is due to intensified fighting on the Syrian side of the Golan.


BURYING THE HATCHET: Writing on the News 1 website, Yoni Ben-Menachem says that efforts to broker a détente between Palestinian President Mahmoud 'Abbas and Mohammed Dahlan have been renewed, but that there are some in Ramallah who will do anything to prevent this from happening.

"Last week, the Palestinian court for corruption in Ramallah made a rather surprising announcement. It announced that it was dropping charges against Mohammed Dahlan, the former Fatah official who was ousted from the movement over graft allegations and following a very personal spat with Palestinian President Mahmoud 'Abbas.

The court explained its decision by saying that charges had been brought against Dahlan before his immunity as a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council had been lifted. Because of the ongoing conflict between Fatah and Hamas, it was almost impossible to convene the PLC, so Abbas published a presidential edict lifting Dahlan's immunity. The corruption court, however, decided to ignore that edict and dropped all charges against Dahlan.

The rivalry between Abu Mazin and Dahlan, who was the Palestinian president's protégé for many years, erupted in 2011 and steadily got worse – until Dahlan was ousted from Fatah and was put on trial in absentia. Since then, there have been efforts by several parties to broker a rapprochement between the two. Even Egyptian President Abdelfattah el-Sissi tried to mediate between them, but his efforts were rebuffed.

The decision by the court in Ramallah led to a wave of rumors about new, behind-the-scenes efforts to end the spat between Abu Mazin and Dahlan. It would appear that any such détente now hinges on whether the Palestinian Authority will formally appeal against the decision to drop charges.

Sources in Fatah close to Dahlan confirm that efforts to end the five-year spat with Abu Mazin have been renewed, in light of Dahlan's growing strength and popularity in the Gaza Strip and in Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon. Over the past few months, Dahlan has also been gaining support in the refugee camps near Nablus and Jenin; there have even been armed clashes between his supporters in the Balata refugee camp and forces loyal to Abu Mazin in Nablus.

Lebanese newspaper al-Akhbar published a report identifying the latest would-be mediator between Abbas and Dahlan. According to the report, the Lebanese government is keen for the two Palestinian leaders to bury the hatchet, since it believes that this would encourage stability inside Palestinian refugee camps on Lebanese soil, in light of ISIS’s recent incursion into and control of the Yarmouk camp in Damascus.

According to al-Akhbar, the mediator is the director of Lebanon's General Directorate of General Security, Major General Abbas Ibrahim, who recently initiated a meeting with Dahlan in the United Arab Emirates and reached certain agreements with him. After meeting with Dahlan, Ibrahim met with Ashraf Dabbour, the Palestinian ambassador to Lebanon, who relayed messages from the Lebanese government and from Dahlan to Abbas in Ramallah. Abbas responded positively to the overtures and contacts continued. Ibrahim proposed a media ceasefire between Abbas and Dahlan, which both sides now appear to be honoring.

Samir Masharawi, a senior Fatah figure in Gaza and a confident of Dahlan, confirmed that contacts had been renewed with Abbas, but denied that there was any connection between the hoped-for détente and the court's decision to drop charges against Dahlan. Masharawi claims that the only impediment to a full rapprochement between Dahlan and Abbas is the opposition expressed by some of the Palestinian president's supporters to allowing Dahlan to return to active involvement in Palestinian politics. Their major concern is that Dahlan has enough regional and international connections to become a viable candidate to replace Abu Mazin as president.

Abbas is an octogenarian and some members of his Fateh movement – including one of Dahlan's main rivals, Jibril Rajoub – see themselves as potential successors. They, it seems, will do anything to prevent a détente between Abbas and Dahlan, in the hope that this will scuttle any talk of Dahlan succeeding Abu Mazin."



CRAZY: Writing on the E-Mago website, Dr. Eli Nachmias of Haifa University postulates that, in order to protect itself in a violent neighborhood, Israel may have to adopt some of the characteristics of what Professor Yehekzel Dror termed 'crazy states.'

"It was Professor Yehezkel Dror who first coined the term 'crazy states.' He did so in his book 'Crazy States: A Counter-conventional Strategic Problem,' which was published in Hebrew in 1973 and translated into English in 1980. In the past, the State of Israel has been perceived as a moderately 'crazy' state, but, more often than not, it has been seen as a 'normal' state.

In defining what makes a 'crazy state,' Dror argued that a country (or a terrorist organization such as Hamas or Hizbollah) is seen as crazy when it fulfills the following criteria: it attempts to impose a new ideology on the world; it adheres to its goals and is totally willing to pay a very heavy price to achieve them; it is willing to make extreme sacrifices to do so; it has a tendency to take risks and has an extreme preference for high-stakes risks; there is an inverse correlation between its means and its goal (that is, decision makers, in a state of 'delirium,' do not claim that there is any connection between the means and the goals, a situation that is seen as absurd by Western civilization); and its leadership is characterized by dogmatism and there is a tendency to adopt patterns of behavior which violate accepts norms (such as ISIS, which attempts to terrorize its victims by use of barbaric tactics).

Under normal circumstances, the international community is shocked by these crazy states and organizations and organizes to take dramatic action against them, since in the end they pose a threat to Western civilization.

At the same time, a country is perfectly capable of playing a political game and can pretend to be on the very edge of 'craziness.' In the first three decades of its existence, the State of Israel acted in a way that can be described as 'crazy.' It is possible that Israel had no choice in the matter, since its existence and survival were on the line; it was (and still is) the target of 'crazy' organizations like Hizbollah and Hamas – and who knows what kind of threat ISIS may still pose to the Jewish state.

During the first 30 years of its existence – right up to the immediate aftermath of the Yom Kippur War – Israel, as part of its defensive strategy, adopted a policy of partial craziness. The main elements to this policy were unpredictability, a willingness to launch an independent response in order to achieve its goals, a tendency to take major risks in order to achieve tactical and strategic goals, dogmatism at the highest levels of leadership and a tendency to ignore the accepted patterns of behavior. The problem is that the Westernization of Israel since then has obligated it to adopt more normative and proportional patterns of behavior. This would appear to have severely damaged Israel's deterrence capabilities. Strategic and tactical decisions started to take into account considerations of cost-benefit. There was also a significant decline in Israel's willingness to launch unconventional operations against terrorist organizations that targeted it.

The question, therefore, is whether Israel should once again become a state on the verge of craziness and, if so, how it should achieve this. Should Israel's foreign and defense policies include elements generally seen as verging on the crazy? The answer can be found in a strategic decision taken by Israel's policy-makers and its government. That is to say – has Israel adopted some crazy elements in its policies? If the answer is positive, then Israel needs to coordinate its strategic planning with its international political policy.

It must be remembered that any strategy aimed at countering a crazy organization (usually a terrorist group), must include unconventional operations. Israel must decide to selectively attack terrorist organizations and must be willing to sacrifice the lives of its soldiers to do so. This must be preceded by preparations, as well as propitious international circumstances, such as a global war on terror, international cooperation and a broad consensus. Beyond this, Israel must ensure that its enemies perceive it as unpredictable and willing to take actions seen as not being normative. Such tactics, however, must be used sparingly. While declaring itself to be unpredictable, Israel must ensure that it does not lose the element of surprise.

Having said all this, it is vital that Israel not take any action that could lead to more threatening and potentially fatal consequences. This does not mean that Israel needs to become a fully militaristic state like North Korea, but, a country that is facing an existential threat, which is concerned with nothing more than physical survival and which espouses democratic values has the right to try and adapt itself to its surroundings – near and far.

It is possible that this approach, while reprehensible under normal circumstances, is perfectly acceptable given the neighborhood that we live in."



I SWEAR I WON’T BOYCOTT: Writing in Haaretz, Akiva Eldar comes out against the High Court's decision to uphold a law making it illegal for Israel to back any kind of boycott against the settlements.

"I promise I will not propose to anyone to boycott goods produced on occupied land, refuse to recognize Israeli institutions of higher education that operate over the Green Line, or to keep away from cultural institutions established on non-Israeli territory.

From now on I will only say the following things: It is forbidden to harm Jews who work night and day to transform Israel into a binational state, or an apartheid regime. It is forbidden to encourage a boycott against the settlements and unauthorized outposts which were established through land theft, forgery of documents and paying bribes to collaborators, as well as through the gross trampling of the planning and building laws. We must file away the reports of the state comptroller that describe the injustices of Israeli rule in the West Bank and the report on the unauthorized outposts. It is completely and totally forbidden to say that the settlements are a violation of international law – someone could very well understand that as a call for law-abiding nations to boycott their products. And in addition, how is it possible to harm Jewish communities that bring us, year after year, the World Cup in international protest and condemnation?

It is forbidden to harm the source of the sustenance for Israeli pioneers, who in their spare time harass Palestinian shepherds and vandalize the vineyards of their helpless neighbors. Far be it from a respectable citizen to deviate from those Jews who interpret the saying 'You have chosen us from among all the nations' as a license to deprive another people of their freedom, honor and rights. We must not harm the young men and women who declare that the only command they honor is the divine one. We must shut up and open our wallets, in order to finance guarding them and to send the finest of our sons to the Israel Defense Forces, in order to be spat on by them.

It is forbidden to boycott a project that without which the Settlement Department of the World Zionist Organization – the national carrier for public funds to the settlement enterprise, and it is also suspected to the pockets of public officials – has no right to exist.

It is forbidden to propose to academic institutions to avoid any connections with a college that an organization belonging to the mechanism of the occupation (The Council for Higher Education in Judea and Samaria) has granted the status of a university and the Israeli Education Ministry supplies its budgets. It is forbidden to criticize artists who appear in the hall surrounded by Arab villages whose residents need a special permit from the occupation authorities to participate in the wedding of a relative in an Arab village in Israel.

From now on, whenever a European diplomat asks me if I support his government declaring a boycott against the settlements, I will say: 'God forbid! How can anti-Semitic Europe even think about boycotting Jews, who the State of Israel has been sending for 48 years to settle the land of their ancestors?' And what will I answer to that very same goy if he wants to know why then the time has not come for Europe to impose a boycott against the State of Israel? I will tell him that in the only democracy in the Middle East it is forbidden to answer such questions."




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