What a comeback means for Israel and the world

Russian Prime Minister Sergey Sobyanin and the War of the Future: The Ordeal of a Commander of the Russian Invasion in Ukraine

The mayor of Moscow, SergeySobyanin, appeared to be taking pains to offer reassurances. Mr. Sobyanin wrote that there was no plan to restrict the normal rhythm of the city’s life.

And despite the new power granted them by Mr. Putin, the regional governors of Kursk, Krasnodar and Voronezh said no entry or exit restrictions would be imposed.

But many Russians are sure to see a warning message in the martial law imposed in Ukraine, the first time that Moscow has declared martial law since World War II, analysts say.

“People are worried that they will soon close the borders, and the siloviki” — the strong men close to Mr. Putin in the Kremlin — “will do what they want,” Ms. Stanovaya said.

The new commander of the Russian invasion admitted on Tuesday that he could not find a solution to his army’s position in Kherson. The general said that he was prepared to make difficult decisions about military deployment, but didn’t specify what those might be.

“First, Russia has greatly diluted its forces in Syria as they were needed in Ukraine. The officer claimed that the threat to Israel from them has been reduced.

The Kerch Bridge Bombing: What Do We Really Know About the War in Ukraine and How Does Russia Attack Its Targets? CNN World Affairs Report from Frida Ghitis

Editor’s Note: Frida Ghitis, (@fridaghitis) a former CNN producer and correspondent, is a world affairs columnist. She is a weekly opinion contributor to CNN, a contributing columnist to The Washington Post and a columnist for World Politics Review. The views expressed in this commentary are her own. View more opinion on CNN.

Following the bombing of the Kerch bridge, the Kremlin stepped up its attacks onUkrainian infrastructure, including apartment buildings, power grids and water systems.

As Russia began to use Iranian drones to attack Ukrainian targets, Israel agreed to supply NATO with intelligence and technical information on how to counter the Iranian threat.

Since the start of the war in Ukranian, Tehran and Moscow have forged close bilateral ties as both capitals try to build new economic and diplomatic partnerships elsewhere. Iranians are feeling the economic pain of rising inflation and joblessness. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei said on Monday that the establishment faced “a tangible welfare and livelihood problem” that could not be cured without economic growth.

There is new information about the impact of the war in Ukranian. Some of Putin’s former friends in the far right have turned against him, but not all. Some people in Europe and the US have echoed Putin’s claims about the war. Their hope is that discontent will improve as winter comes and heating prices go up.

The historian Yuval Noah Harari said that a victory by Russia would open the door to wars of aggression that had been rejected by most nations after the Second World War.

For that reason, Ukraine received massive support from the West, led by the United States. The war in Ukraine reinvigorated NATO, even bringing new applications for membership from countries that had been committed to neutrality. It also helped reaffirm the interest of many in eastern European states – former Soviet satellites – of orienting their future toward Europe and the West.

Much of what happens today far from the battlefields still has repercussions there. When oil-producing nations, led by Saudi Arabia, decided last month to slash production, the US accused the Saudis of helping Russia fund the war by boosting its oil revenues. (An accusation the Saudis deny).

Any hope of a ceasefire has long vanished, and Ukraine has since publicly requested Israel help supply it with arms, especially with missile defense systems like the Iron Dome. Israel has sent humanitarian aid but has refused to send any weapons.

The economy in Ukraine has been damaged by war and persistent missile and drones attacks on critical power infrastructure. Millions of Ukrainians are having long periods without heat, electricity and water during the winter. (However, indicative of the resiliency that Ukrainians have displayed since the start of the war, many say they are prepared to endure such hardship for another two to five years if it means defeating Russia).

Higher prices not only affect family budgets and individual lives. When they come with such powerful momentum, they pack a political punch. Inflation, worsened by the war, has put incumbent political leaders on the defensive in countless countries.

The End of Greatness: Why Israel Needs a Great Prime Minister, Not a Cold Cold Cold War? Bringing Back the Good Smile to Putin

And it’s not all on the fringes. Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the Republican leader who could become speaker of the House after next week’s US elections, suggested the GOP might choose to reduce aid to Ukraine. The letter calling for negotiations was released by the Progressives. Evelyn Farkas, a former Pentagon official during the Obama administration, said they’re all bringing “a big smile to Putin’s face.”

Editor’s Note: Aaron David Miller is a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and author of “The End of Greatness: Why America Can’t Have (and Doesn’t Want) Another Great President.” Miller was a Middle East negotiator in Democratic and Republican administrations. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his own. Read more opinion on CNN.

A technical adviser to the Israel Central Elections Committee that Bill Murray was hired for might have been. Based on pre-election polling it seemed that Israel was headed for yet another Groundhog Day-style hung election for the fifth time in just short of four years.

It’s also going to prove a stunning moment for Netanyahu who midwifed this unholy alliance in an effort to maximize his chances of securing the magic number of 60-plus seats to form a government. The plan to reform the judicial system and ensure that Netanyahu is immune from prosecution was written by one of the parties in this bloc.

The same is true of Israel’s leaders, especially of Benjamin Netanyahu, the country’s longest-serving prime minister who returned to office at the end of 2022.

The left and center-left in Israel once dominated by the iconic Labor Party, the driving political force for the first three decades of independence, has been reduced to a shadow of its former self with just a handful of seats in the Knesset.

And while the center-left and right bloc of the caretaker Prime Minister Yair Lapid made a respectable showing – perhaps even garnering more votes – the fracturing of the left and the Arab vote gave the advantage to the more cohesive and disciplined Netanyahu bloc.

More than that Netanyahu now has a partner-rival in Gvir who, at 46, is just starting his rise in Israeli politics. If Netanyahu wants to save the nation, he’ll have to reach out to the more centrist party in order to check Gvir or at least to reduce his demands.

In the past five years, Israeli civilian and military casualties have been very low, but the Israeli Jewish public is less willing to stomach losses. In the wake of the 21-day war last spring — sparked by an Israeli raid on the Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem and responded to with rocket fire from Gaza — and the interethnic violence in so-called mixed cities, Mr. Ben-Gvir channeled Israelis’ desire for a quick and easy solution to what some call the“Palestinian problem” by proposing to resolve it by force. His party’s platform promises “the establishment of sovereignty over all parts of Eretz Israel liberated in the Six-Day War and settlement of the enemies of Israel in the Arab countries that surround our small land.”

Israel has been drifting for a long time. Indeed according to analyst Tamar Hermann of the Israeli Democracy Institute, a full 60% of the Israeli electorate is right-wing; 12-14% identifies as left and the remainder are in the so-called center.

The new prime minister is now beholden to these extremists and the two ultra-Orthodox parties who will have a long list of demands. The right-wingers and ultras won 31 seats, which makes him a minority within his own government.

One may be forgiven for thinking that the narrow right-wing government will not last. But there may be more that binds this coalition together than divides it. The two Orthodox parties are looking for support for their schools and institutions, as they have been out of power.

How will this government actually behave? It’s safe to say as Israel’s 75th anniversary approaches next year, it won’t bring the country any closer to tackling the domestic and foreign policy challenges it faces and will almost certainly make them worse. Israel will become more divided at home, with an independent judiciary and rule of law under threat.

An Israeli diplomat adds another reason why Netanyahu would consider supporting Ukraine more forcefully. Unlike the Bennett-Lapid government, his new coalition of far-right and ultra-religious parties is regarded with suspicion by the Biden administration that has already voiced its displeasure with the new government’s plans for a legal overhaul, which drastically weaken the powers and independence of Israel’s supreme court.

If there is a confrontation with Palestinians in the West Bank or Jerusalem the chances are that relations will get worse and that it will be harder to get settlers to live in Jerusalem.

Ties with Biden would have been difficult even without being tied to the extremists because their views on the settlements and building of Jerusalem would have clashed.

The real reasons for this shift defy the conventional explanations. The second intifada in the early 2000s made some Jewish Israelis doubt the possibility of peace with the Palestinians. But the subsequent decade and a half, during most of which Mr. Netanyahu was prime minister, largely insulated most Israelis from the consequences of their government maintaining an indefinite occupation of the West Bank and siege of the Gaza Strip. The issue of a two-state solution almost vanished from Israeli discourse.

Zelensky vs Putin: What do we really need to know to stop arguing about Putin in Ukraine, or what do we need to do next?

Editor’s Note: Michael Bociurkiw (@WorldAffairsPro) is a global affairs analyst currently based in Odesa. He is a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council and a former spokesperson for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. He is a regular contributor to CNN Opinion. The views he expresses in this commentary are his own. View more opinion at CNN.

“He is probably more comfortable than Putin on camera, too, both as an actor and as a digital native,” she added. Zelensky is doing a better job of balancing authority with accessibility and I think both of them want to come across as personable.

In Paris, I witnessed how Zelensky pulled up to the lysée Palace in a small car, while Putin drove up in a limo. The host, the French President, hugged Putin, but only shook hands with Zelensky.

Zelensky is the brand beyond the man. These days, it is almost impossible to say no to the Ukrainian leader’s olive green t-shirts; worn when meeting military commanders and world leaders.

Failure to demonstrate further progress on the battlefield with billions of dollars worth of military kit could stir unease among Western backers. If you capitulate to Russia, it would be a political death sentence.

Zelensky was raised in the rough neighborhoods of Kryvyi Rih in central Ukraine and learned how to be a tough kid.

He knew what he needed to do once he got into the position of being bullied by Putin and he was ready to do it.

This, after all, is the leader who when offered evacuation by the US as Russia launched its full-scale invasion, quipped: “I need ammunition, not a ride.”

Source: https://www.cnn.com/2022/12/19/opinions/volodomyr-zelensky-profile-ukraine-russia-bociurkiw/index.html

The Twilight of Zelensky During World War II: When Putin revoked Vladimir Putin in Kiev, and when G7 made a sharp cut on Russian crude

Amid the fog of war, it all seems a long, long way since the heady campaign celebration in a repurposed Kyiv nightclub where a fresh-faced Zelensky thanked his supporters for a landslide victory. He looked in a state of disbelief as he stood on the stage and saw that he’d defeated Petro Poroshenko.

The war appears to have turned his ratings around. Zelensky’s approval went up to 90% after the invasion, but still remains high to this day. Even Americans early in the war rated Zelensky highly for his handling of international affairs – ahead of US President Joe Biden.

He has many people from his previous life as a TV comedian. The press conference on the platform of the metro station in April was a good example of a wartime setting even in the midst of the war.

As for his skills as comforter in chief, I remember well the solace his nightly televised addresses brought in the midst of air raid sirens and explosions in Lviv.

Zelensky is projecting confidence and competence in a modern way to a younger, global audience by wearing T-shirts and hoodies.

Zelenska was able to communicate her smarts and style when she traveled to where her husband couldn’t. Most recently, she met with King Charles during a visit to a refugee assistance center at the Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral of the Holy Family in London. Zelenska was not included on the cover list of TIME magazine and there was only a passing reference in the supporting text.

There are signs that Zelensky may no longer have a significant influence on the international scene. For example, last week, in what analysts called a pivotal moment in geopolitics, the G7 imposed a $60 a barrel price cap on Russian crude – despite pleas from Zelensky that it should have been set at $30 in order to inflict more pain on the Kremlin.

If the Zelensky administration succeeds in getting liberated from Russia, it will add up to a complex path that is part of the definition of victory. The tough guy is true to form, and shows no sign of backing down.

“Paradoxically, Zelensky achieved the thing that Putin most wanted to achieve but failed … to rally support domestically with a patriotic war in order to deflect and distract from his abject failures at home. In Putin’s mind, to be shown up by a mere ‘decadent’ comedian must be excruciatingly painful for him,” New York-based geopolitical and business analyst Michael Popow told me.

Zelensky said in a recent video address that if the world is truly united it is the world that determines how events develop.

Editor’s Note: David A. Andelman, a contributor to CNN, twice winner of the Deadline Club Award, is a chevalier of the French Legion of Honor, author of “A Red Line in the Sand: Diplomacy, Strategy, and the History of Wars That Might Still Happen” and blogs at Andelman Unleashed. He formerly was a correspondent for The New York Times and CBS News in Europe and Asia. The views expressed in this commentary are his own. View more opinion at CNN.

It was a trajectory – Washington to Cairo, and then Jerusalem – similar to the one made nearly a half century earlier by a predecessor of Antony Blinken.

Starting in 1974, then-Secretary of State Henry Kissinger’s “shuttle diplomacy” would bring an accord of sorts and a degree of stability to the region following the catastrophic and bloody Yom Kippur War between Israel and its Arab neighbors.

Today, 49 years later, there is still no Palestinian state, relations between Israelis and their Palestinian neighbors are as fraught as ever, blood runs in the streets of both places, and the most obdurate, certainly the most right-wing government in Israeli history has just taken power in Jerusalem.

Three days of meetings with the Egyptian President, the Israeli Prime Minister, and the Palestinian Authority President came to a close on Tuesday.

Middle East peace with the Palestinians was seen as a precondition for any deal between Arab countries and Israel. But Netanyahu argued the Abraham Accords changed the game.

The prime minister also told CNN he believed his priority of cementing amicable arrangements with all Arab nations, as the Abraham Accords provided, would eventually drive the Palestinians to the peace table, effectively on his terms.

But he was quite clear on the profound challenges in all three cities he’d visited where “I heard a deep concern about the current trajectory.” He was clear that the United States supports a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a concept that Palestinians believe is not shared by the Netanyahu government.

Indeed, it would seem that the government Netanyahu leads is determined to press forward on initiatives only calculated to inflame passions on both sides. His public security minister, Itamar Ben Gvir, has been convicted for inciting anti-Arab racism. While Aryeh Deri, leader of the ultra-Orthodox Sephardi party Shas, was forced to step down as interior minister by the nation’s high court, he is expected to return after Netanyahu’s ruling coalition pledged its support.

At the same time, the right-wing dominated Knesset awarded to Bezalel Smotrich – a religious-Zionist leader of the settler movement – supervision of the Jewish territories that Palestinians have long claimed for themselves.

Passions continued to rise, as an Israeli army raid on the Jenin refugee camp last week left 10 Palestinians dead and was followed by an attack by a Palestinian gunman on a Jerusalem synagogue that left seven dead.

The Story of the Davos Middle East: CNN’s View of the Case for a Peaceable Solution to the Israel-Palestine Conflict

There is little reason for Saudi Arabia or other key nations in the Middle East to have a working relationship with Israel that can lead to a lasting peace.

At Davos, before the latest deadly confrontations between Israelis and Palestinians, Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud told the World Economic Forum, “Palestine remains an important evocative issue in our region… the focus really needs to be on a pathway to resolving this conflict.”

Fears of a spiral out of control in Israel and the West Bank had been growing, so Blinken’s visit was expected to calm tensions. Blinken asked senior State Department officials to remain in the Middle East to help assist with steps that both Israel and the Palestinians have suggested to him “to lower the temperature.”

Still, as Netanyahu pointed out to Tapper, and negotiators harking back to Kissinger have recognized, deeply flawed though Israel may be, it is the only working democracy in the Middle East.

The US has little alternative, then, to support it and do its best to hold up a mirror to its faults, praying it will do the right thing for all who live within its borders and abroad.

There is a version of the story that appears in today’s edition. CNN looks at the biggest stories in the Middle East for three times a week. Sign up here.

Background: Blinken’s visit comes after Palestinians and Israelis suffered significant bloodshed last week. The day of Thursday was the deadliest for Palestinians in the occupied West Bank in nearly two years, followed by a shooting near a Jerusalem synagogue, which Israel believes to be one of the worst terror attacks in recent years.

Netanyahu said he is willing to have all the powers that they need to govern themselves, but not the powers that can threaten us.

I told them that they could not divide who controls the airspace. Between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River. You have to cross it. It takes two minutes for an airplane to cross it. One minute Israel controls it and the other the Palestinians. Of course it isn’t workable.

You are correct, I said. I am not sure what you mean by that, but it provides them the opportunity to control their life, to choose their officials, to run their economy, to have their flag, and to have their parliament, but we have to have security control.

The accusations that Israel is engaging incollective punishment of Palestinians were brought up by Tapper when discussing the two shooting attacks that killed seven and wounded five. Measures announced by the Israeli cabinet in response included issuing more gun permits for civilians, increasing security for Jewish settlements in the West Bank and pushing draft legislation that would possibly revoke the Israeli residency of families of those accused of engaging in or supporting terrorism.

It is not targeting family members. It’s targeting family members who were involved in the terror acts or supported it after the act was done … I think that disincentivizes the terrorists,” Netanyahu said.

The residency revocation of the families of attackers will likely face legal challenges and that’s something HaMoked has vowed to do.

But with rising and concerning levels of violence from all sides, a far-right Israeli government in place under Netanyahu, and a Palestinian Authority led by an increasingly unpopular President Mahmoud Abbas, that may be an overly optimistic game plan.

It was during a meeting with Abbas that Blinken called on Israelis and Palestinians to stop the violence and reduce the tensions. He cautioned against Israeli moves including “things like settlement expansion, the legalization of [Israeli settler] outposts, demolitions and evictions [of Palestinians from their homes], disruptions to the historic status of the holy sites and of course incitement and acquiescence to violence.”

IHC announcement of a follow-on public offering investment in India’s Adani Enterprises: Iran, Moscow and Tunisia’s parliamentary runoff elections

Abu Dhabi’s International Holding Company (IHC) on Monday announced that it would invest 1.4 billion dirhams ($381 million) in India’s Adani Enterprises’ follow-on public offering . The investment comes after the Indian conglomerate’s market value plummeted around $70 billion following a damaging short seller report.

Iran and Russia have connected their interbank communication and transfer systems to help boost trade and financial transactions, Reuters cited a senior Iranian official as saying on Monday, as both Tehran and Moscow are chafing under Western sanctions. Iran’s Central Bank chief Mohammad Farzin welcomed the move. He said the financial channel between Iran and the world is being repaired.

The turnout in Tunisia’s parliamentary runoff elections on Sunday, Reuters cited the country’s electoral commission as saying. President Kais Saied said on Monday that the low turnout was due to hatred among voters of the parliament, and that it was a state within the state. His critics said the turnout was evidence of the public’s dislike of his agenda and that opposition parties called for his resignation.

The map shows that the A380 turned back upon arriving west of Indonesia, more than a third of the way into New Zealand.

The biggest city of New Zealand has a lot of rain. Friday was the rainiest day in the city’s history, with an estimated 480 millimeters of rain falling.

The rain caused widespread travel disruption over the weekend. The airport said more than 2,000 people stayed in the airport terminals because of the flooding. Domestic flights resumed Saturday but the international terminal was not operational until Sunday.

After almost three years of interruption due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the longest route in the country was reopened in December. The flight takes between 16 and 17 hours to complete.

The Israeli War with Syria: Israel’s War with Russia and its Implications for Security and the Interaction with the United States in Europe and the Middle East

Anshel is a writer for Ha’aretz, and the Israel correspondent of The Economist. He’s the author of Bibi: The Turbulent Life and Times of Benjamin Netanyahu. The views he has are of his own. Read more opinion at CNN.

Israel refused to join the western governments in condemning Russia for annexing a peninsula. Strict neutrality was to be maintained.

Since he came to power at the end of 1999, Russian President Vladimir Putin has gone out of his way to court the Israeli leadership. He made sure to hold a meeting at least once a year with the serving Israeli prime minister, usually at his residences in Sochi or Moscow, and every few years he would travel to Jerusalem.

The two leaders agreed that Israel would remain in Syrian airspace but only attack targets linked to its enemy Iran, whilst leaving Assad’s forces untouched. There is a hotline between the Russian command center in Syria and Israel’s air force headquarters.

Over the years, senior Israeli officials have emphasized to the public that while the United States remains Israel’s main strategic ally, it was important to maintain coordination with the Russians.

Netanyahu was not in office when Russia invaded Ukranian last year. Naftali Bennett was the prime minister and he stuck to the neutrality policy.

Bennett explained to me that “we are not in the same position as other countries. Russia is over our border in Syria. It is important to consider the presence of large Jewish communities in Russia and Ukraine. And besides, it’s useful for everyone to have a government like Israel which has good ties with both sides to serve as a go-between.”

Bennett traveled to the Russian capital to meet with Putin and speak with Zelensky during the early weeks of the war. He says that the 50% chance of reaching a ceasefire was not a good one. He also claims that his involvement helped broker short-term local truces, which allowed saving civilians from the war zone.

“Netanyahu has two immediate reasons for changing policy and supporting Ukraine,” a former Israeli intelligence officer who was deeply involved in Israel’s military relationship with Russia, told me.

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