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Tuesday, April 22, 2015

Israel Remembers Fallen, Celebrates a New Year

Israel, on Wednesday and Thursday, is engrossed in its signature back-to-back commemoration that begins with 24-hours of solemnity in memory of those who died in the state’s many wars and terrorist attacks; before morphing into a raucous celebration of its 67th year of independence. The emotional highs and lows over a 48-hour period are marked first by the suspension of regular television programming in favor of vignettes highlighting the lives of the fallen, the sounding of air raid sirens at night and in the morning, and moving ceremonies at national sites. As Remembrance Day departs, Independence Day arrives to a nationally televised festival at the national military cemetery. The day features the International Bible Contest; the awarding of the Israel Prize, the highest civilian award; fly-overs by the Israeli air force; and countless barbeques. In a note of controversy amid the festive airs, the family of the Palestinian teenager who was murdered by Jewish terrorists last summer requested and was granted the removal of Mohammed Abu Khdeir’s name from the Victims of Acts of Terror Memorial at the Mt. Herzl cemetery. The boy’s father told the Israeli news site YNet that he would “prefer for the court to do justice with those who burned my son alive, and sentence them to the appropriate punishment.”

Saudi Air Campaign in Yemen is Over; New Phase aimed at Interdicting Rebels

The Saudi-led air campaign against Shiite fighters in Yemen ended abruptly on Tuesday night with the announcement that Operation Decisive Storm was “over.” On Wednesday, Saudi spokesman Brig. Gen. Ahmed Asiri said the rebels no longer pose a danger to civilians. He said a new phase was beginning whose goal is to prevent the Houthi rebels from interfering with civilians. Given the situation vis-à-vis the Houthis, most expect operations against the Shiite Islamists to continue.

Palestinians and Israelis Face New International Pressure to Find Agreement

It appears that Israeli and Palestinian leaders are in for a marked increase in pressure from the international community to find ways to resolve their differences. New Zealand has emerged as an unlikely interlocutor, having said on Tuesday that it will draft a United Nations Security Council resolution to get the ball rolling. France and the United Kingdom on Tuesday called for the creation of a framework for an Israeli-Palestinian agreement, presumably a la the US-brokered deal between Washington and Tehran that was announced on April 2. French officials have said that they will also pressure the United States, which most observers believe means to persuade President Obama not to veto any resolution to which Israel objects. Based on comments by European officials, any resulting resolution can be expected to include time-fixed milestones – a feature supported by the Palestinians and rejected by the Israelis. Some are suggesting that the Europeans’ sense of urgency lies in part with the belief that the Obama White House will be far more willing to break with Israeli concerns than will the next president who will be elected in 2016.

Egypt’s Mohamed Morsi Spared Death Sentence but Gets 20-Years

Mohamed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood leader who became the first Egyptian to be elected president in a democratic election but who was later ousted from office, was given a 20-year jail sentence by a Cairo court on Tuesday. Morsi was facing a possible death sentence for charges that he incited to murder, but was acquitted of that charge and sentenced for having abused protestors when he was president in 2012. Morsi still has other trials to survive. Morsi was elected to replace former president Hosni Mubarak in 2011 and was overthrown one year later. Overseeing efforts to topple the Islamist leader was the military chief Gen. Abdel Fatteh Al-Sisi, who was himself later elected to the presidency. The Muslim Brotherhood has since been banned in Egypt but its members continue to demand the release of Morsi and his reinstatement to what they claim is his proper place as the duly elected president of Egypt.