Photo Credit: Jewish Press

Momentous week in the Middle East! If you read no further than this, let’s just be clear about one thing: It’s extremely unlikely that the incredible events of this week would have happened without the Trump administration. The major proof being that it never happened before in the history of the modern state of Israel. Peace for Peace! Of course, the haters are still going to hate. Trump is totally #winning.

The huge news this week is obviously the stunning announcement of the decision by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to normalize relations with Israel, so let’s look at that a bit:

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Seemingly out of nowhere (but actually with much work on the part of the Trump Administration), it was announced that Israel and the United Arab Emirates (which is a federation of seven different small independent entities on the Arabian peninsula) are establishing full diplomatic relations. This is quite serious. The only other Arab countries with official relations with Israel are Egypt (1979) and Jordan (1994).

Now of course Israel was never actually at war with the UAE, as they were with Egypt and Jordan, but the results of the peace treaties with those two countries have not resulted in the kind of cooperation and warm relations that this agreement is starting out with from the beginning.

In truth, it’s been known for a while that Israel and the UAE did things together, quietly. UAE even has a small, but active, Jewish community. This is something virtually impossible in most Arab countries. It’s important to note that this involves Arabs – whereas both Iran and Turkey are not Arabs, although Muslims. This agreement does not end the “Israeli-Arab” conflict, but it certainly goes a long way in making progress toward that.

In addition to all the benefits, including economic and defense that will emerge from this development (numerous deals are already being made as I write this!), it is believed that more Arab countries will be making similar agreements with Israel in the near future. As many as five other countries have been mentioned as potential partners with Israel, including the very important Saudi Arabia.

Others include Sudan, Morocco and Bahrain. Until now, this would all have been almost unimaginable. But I guess it has a lot to do with the art of the deal.

Of course, not everyone is so thrilled with all this peace and harmony. The main three opponents are Iran, Turkey, and the Palestinians. Quite a group. Two of them want to rule the entire Middle East and the last one only exists to try to kill all the Jews in the Middle East. Lovely.

Former President Obama seemed to think that these three groups should be aggressively courted and embraced. President Trump did the opposite, and the results are simply staggering. In fairness to Obama (not that he deserves it), he was continuing many of the policies of previous administrations and their “experts.” Could they all have been wrong? Yes. Yes they were, and so is Seth Rogen.

But what about extending Israeli sovereignty over Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria as part of the Trump peace plan? For now, President Trump has said that US recognition of such a move is currently “off the table.”

However, after getting smashed from the “right” in Israel about his explicit and often repeated campaign promise to extend sovereignty, Prime Minister Netanyahu says that there is a delay, but that sovereignty will still happen sometime soon. Whom do you believe?

 

Hamas Responds with Explosive Balloons 

Leading up to and following the announcement of the new relations, Hamas operatives in Gaza have been sending dozens of balloon clusters with attached explosives over the border into Israel on a daily basis. No one has been killed, but hundreds of fires have been started over the past few weeks. Each night, Israel responds by selectively bombing Hamas targets in Gaza. Recently, a team of mediators from Egypt arrived in the Gaza Strip to try to find a way to put an end to the attacks, but left empty-handed – and the attacks continued.

Hamas claims that Israel hasn’t fulfilled past agreements. Israel claims that Hamas is constantly attacking and using materials brought into Gaza for attacks. As a further result of the recent balloon attacks, Israel has stopped the delivery of diesel fuel to Gaza and now the only power plant will no longer be able to function. Meaning: either an agreement will be reached soon or the violence will escalate soon, but this lack of electricity situation will certainly not continue.

A rocket was now shot at Israel from the Gaza Strip, so that may be your answer. Even somewhat senile Israeli President Ruvi Rivlin was threatening war today when he visited near the Gaza border. His current mental ability is probably an inspiration to folks like Joe Biden.

 

Corona in Israel

The numbers just continue to rise: number of those infected, deaths, serious condition, critical condition… The authorities are suggesting all kinds of restrictions for the upcoming Jewish holidays. Meanwhile they are opening up the airport and event halls. It’s confusing and not clear what’s the best way forward.

 

Elections? 

With all this going on, can anyone really think having elections right now is a good idea? Apparently yes, and his name might be Prime Minister Netanyahu. Or maybe not.

Last week, most folks thought the threat of elections had been averted. Not so much this week. It appears that Prime Minister Netanyahu kept his Blue and White party “partners” totally in the dark about the UAE development, and they can’t like that too much. Netanyahu took sole credit. Well, him and Jared Kushner.

Finally, Israeli air force planes are currently conducting maneuvers with their German counterparts. So for the first time, Israeli combat planes have landed in Germany. Much has changed in the last century, and much has changed in the last week. These are truly wild times. The only one keeping his cool completely is Prince Andrew. He’s got a condition and he doesn’t sweat.

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Rabbi Ben Packer is the director of the Jerusalem Heritage House.