Daily TIP

TIP CEO: Peace only possible through direct talks

Posted by Tip Staff - January 18, 2017
‘All or nothing’ leaves us nothing. The Israel Project's President and CEO Josh Block wrote an op-ed in The Hill on Tuesday picking apart last month’s United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334 and Secretary of State John Kerry’s subsequent speech condemning Israel—making clear that such actions are obstacles to peace.

“In an ‘all or nothing’ approach, the UNSC resolution and Kerry’s speech push the sides closer to ‘nothing’ – a result that leaves neither Israelis nor Palestinians better off,” he wrote.

Block also stressed that peace needs to be achieved through bilateral negotiations between the parties—not through unilateral moves. “Israelis and Palestinians must sit down and work out an agreement; solutions imposed from abroad will never be accepted and won’t last,” he stated.

So-called unified. The major Palestinian political parties agreed on Tuesday to form a unity government and hold elections after three days of reconciliation meetings in Russia.

“We have reached agreement under which, within 48 hours, we will call on [Palestinian Authority President] Mahmoud Abbas to launch consultations on the creation of a [national unity] government,” Azzam al-Ahmad, a senior official of the ruling Fatah party, said at a press conference.

The talks were held in Moscow to restore “the unity of the Palestinian people,” which has been lacking ever since the terrorist group Hamas launched a coup against Fatah and seized control of the Gaza Strip in 2007. Both Hamas and the Iran-backed terror group Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which also attended the talks, have pledged to destroy Israel.

A Fatah-Hamas unity government would violate one of the principles for Middle East peace set out by the Mideast Quartet, (the United States, Russia, European Union, and United Nations). In 2006, the Quartet stated that “all members of a future Palestinian Government must be committed to non-violence, recognition of Israel, and acceptance of previous agreements and obligations.”

The two parties have made numerous attempts to reconcile over the past decade without lasting success. However, former Israeli peace negotiator Tzipi Livni cited a short-lived 2014 Fatah-Hamas unity agreement as one of the main contributors to the failure of American-led peace talks that year, because of Hamas’s refusal to recognize Israel or renounce terror. The schism between the two groups has continually delayed the reconstruction of Gaza after the 2014 war, despite Israeli efforts to move the rebuilding process along.

Ahmad, the Fatah spokesman, also claimed that “today the conditions for [a unity initiative] are better than ever.” But just in the past week, infighting led to extended power outages in Gaza, prompting unprecedented demonstrations against the terror group’s rule; Hamas arrested a Gaza-based Fatah spokesman; members of each party burned pictures of each other; and Abbas himself accused Hamas of stealing Gaza’s electricity.

Despite these differences, both parties praised a recent terror attack that left four Israeli soldiers dead.

Terror-free skies. House Republicans and Democrats introduced a bill on Friday that calls on incoming President Donald Trump to report to Congress on any illicit military or terrorist use of commercial aircraft by Iran; if the Iranian airlines were found to be using aircraft for these activities, they would be sanctioned under the legislation. The Terror-Free Skies Act was introduced by Reps. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.), Brad Sherman (D-Calif.), and Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.), and focuses on the Iranian airlines Iran Air and Mahan Air.

Both of these airlines have been used to ferry personnel and weapons to the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria and the terrorist organization Hezbollah. The Jerusalem Post reported that a chart it received from the Foundation for Defense of Democracies “shows at least 494 flights from Iran to Syria since the nuclear deal was announced in 2015. And just since the [nuclear] agreement was implemented last year, Iran Air conducted 93 flights from Iran to Syria, while Mahan Air operated 185.”

Sherman has forcefully opposed the loosening of restrictions on Iranian commercial aircraft, which have historically and demonstrably been used by the Iranian regime for illicit, murderous, and terroristic purposes. He wrote a letter this past June to Secretary of State John Kerry, Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew, and Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker to express his concern about Boeing’s sale of aircraft to Iran Air, which was designated in 2011 for being used by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and Iran’s Ministry of Defense to transport military-related equipment, including rockets and missiles (while a technicality was used to drop sanctions on the airline as part of the nuclear deal, U.S. officials have not indicated that such activity has stopped). The letter read in part, “Iran Air’s aircraft will undoubtedly be used in the future to continue to funnel lethal assistance to Assad, to Hezbollah, and to other terrorist entities.” Speaking at a hearing at the House Financial Services Committee in July, he added, “We’re being asked to transfer planes to a company, Iran Air, that has served as an air force for terrorism.”

Would-be pilots, ER doctors and combat soldiers possessing a personality trait called “dissociative absorption” are likely to suffer from sleep deprivation and will have a harder time returning to full alertness as opposed to those without it. A new study from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev also shows that even after an eight hour night of sleep, people who tend to daydream, get absorbed in reading a book or watching a movie to the exclusion of their surroundings are those who will feel more tired as a result of sleep deprivation. “Dissociative absorption is the tendency to involuntarily narrow one’s attention to the point where one is oblivious to the surroundings. It involves a temporary lack of reflective consciousness, which means that the individual may act automatically while imagining vividly, bringing about confusion between reality and fantasy,” the researchers write in their article, recently published in Consciousness and Cognition. There are many studies about the deleterious effects of sleep deprivation (partial or full), including its effect on mood, cognitive function, and motor function. At the same time, there have been very few studies that identified who would be especially affected by sleep deprivation. The researchers say this study is the first to identify the role of dissociative absorption. (via Israel21c)

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