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Rod Reuven Dovid Bryant and Jerry Gordon interview Dan Diker, Director of the Program to Counter Political Warfare at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. The occasion was the stunning policy ruling by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that Israeli settlements in the disputed territories of Judea and Samaria, aka the West Bank, were legal. The Secretary’s ruling was based on studies by international legal experts and scholars sponsored by the US State Department. This policy ruling occurred on the cusp of the EU issuing an anti-Semitic BDS labelling requirement on Israeli products produced in the disputed territories of Judea and Samaria. Overall the reaction was positive in the Israeli body polity, according to Dan Diker. It represented a positive assault against the delegitimization and general misunderstanding about the Israeli settlement presence in the disputed territories. The US history on the issue had varied starting in 1967 that recognized Israel’s right to defensible borders Under UN Res. 242. However, over the past nearly 53 years there had been instances under Presidents Carter and Obama that took exception to Israel’s legal rights suggesting that building settlements was problematic. The most glaring example being the Obama Administration abstention on UN Security Council Resolution 2234 in December 2016 directed at curtailing construction of new settlements. Diker thinks that Pompeo’s decision parallels Israeli law, especially the Edmund Levy opinion that re-established the legitimacy of settlements in the disputed territories for nearly 500,000 Israelis. Diker thinks Pompeo’s ruling paves the way to apply Israeli law for Israeli settlements in Area C covering 95 Percent of the 500,000 population that resides close by the 1967 green line. Pompeo’s ruling raised adverse comments among leading US Democratic Presidential hopefuls. He noted former Vice President Biden’s warning that confirming the legality of Israeli settlements in the illegal West Bank occupied for 19 years by Jordan might give rise to “instability in the region”. Diker contended that neither the move of the US Embassy to Jerusalem and Trump’s support for Israeli sovereignty over the Golan hadn’t caused violence against the Jewish nation of Israel. Instead he pointed out the increasing security, commercial and diplomatic relations with Sunni Kingdoms and Emirates. Diker was asked to contrast anti-normalization versus normalization as an expert on the issues. He noted that anti-normalization has been fostered by the International BDS Campaign of the PLO/PA and NGOs. The purpose was to isolate Israel as equivalent to the former Apartheid South Africa regime. Israel sovereignty has been confirmed in the 20th Century through the Balfour Declaration of 1917, the 1920 San Remo, 1922 US Congressional resolutions and the UN Charter adoption of the League of Nations international resolutions. The practical side of normalization is reflected in a major initiative announced by Israel PM Netanyahu this past week: the creation of new industrial zones in Area C employing more than 250,000 new jobs for Arabs with earnings 3 times that under the PA in Areas A, and B under the Oslo Accords. This normalization initiative Diker suggest, will lay the groundwork for ultimate Palestinian sovereignty. When the discussion turned to the impact of the Pompeo ruling on the current impasse in the Israeli electoral process. Diker thinks that both Gantz and Netanyahu share the same view that the 4th Geneva Convention of 1949 does not apply to Israeli settlements. There was no coercion involved, as the Jews moved into the disputed territories voluntarily. That maintenance of national security over the Jordan Valley approaches is paramount to ensure Israel’s unilateral actions. Both share mounting concerns over the Iranian national security threat on all of Israel’s border. Diker noted that the recent rocket campaign by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Gaza was ordered by the IRGC involving more than 450,00 rockets supplied by Iran, North Korean nd manufactured in Gazan workshops. Turning to the mounting anti-Iran violent protests in Iraq, Lebanon and massive internal protests, triggered by a 50% increase in gasoline process necessitating rationing, Diker had the following thoughts. These protests reflected profound economic frustrations directed at the Islamic Regime for billions squandered in external conflicts in Yemen, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. He cited protester cries in Farsi of “No Lebanon, No Palestine, no foreign wars.” Diker noted the prediction of the late Uri Lubrani, the last Israeli Ambassador to Iran, that popular discontent would lead to regime change rather than an external attack. That the Iranian people are fundamentally democratic and opposed to living under an Islamic terrorist supporting regime. Diker cited a US official suggesting that it might cost less than $100 million to foster regime change in Iran, a lot less expensive than a full-throated kinetic war. Trump’s abandoning the Iran nuclear pact and the maximum pressure campaign contributed to the current economic unrest. The problem is that Trump is an isolationist as witnessed by his abandonment of the Kurds and withdrawal of US forces from Syria. The conversation ended with Diker’s assessment of the temporary troika of Putin’s Russian re-insertion in Syria supporting Assad, Erdogan’s Muslim Brotherhood Sunni antipathy to Iran’s completion of a Shiite Crescent, while displacing Kurds in northwest and northeastern Syria.

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