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World News
The Khashoggi affair, which is far from over, poses the most significant challenge to US-Saudi relations since the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the United States. Thus far, the administration’s response reflects uncertainty and ambivalence, given its understanding that Riyadh’s conduct demands a response, versus its hope that it will not be forced to acknowledge the failure of its Middle East policy, which assigns Saudi Arabia a critical role, particularly in the efforts to contain Iran. The recent events have intensified the internal unrest that has marked the kingdom for some time, against the background of the confrontational conduct of Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman. (Full Story)
By Gal Perl Finkel and Gilead Sher

The Knesset has recently amended the “Basic Law: The Government,” with respect to "authority to declare war or conduct a significant military operation." The new concludes: "Under extreme circumstances and for reasons that will be noted…the prime minister and the minister of defense are authorized to make the decision in a more restricted legal quorum." Such a law has almost no equivalent in Western democracies. It lacks the checks and balances essential to a democratic regime and is bound to undermine the principle that war is an act requiring maximum domestic and international legitimacy. (Full Story)

by Raz Zimmt

Some two months after the wave of protest that swept through Iran, the Iranian authorities are endeavoring to bring the situation back to normal, though local protest events are still ongoing. The protests, which reflected the Iranian public’s demand for change, once again highlighted the conflicting opinions in the Iranian leadership concerning the desired response to the civilian plight. President Hassan Rouhani is attempting to exploit the protests to advance economic reforms and civil rights.  (Full Story)

Recent events and statements by German figures indicate a change in Germany's attitude to Israel. What for decades was a unique bilateral relationship - grounded in the memory of the Holocaust and the commitment that Germany consequently made to Israel's existence and security - has been increasingly shaped by considerations of realpolitik that formerly played a secondary role. Indeed, the role of memory in German policy considerations regarding Israel is slipping, in part due to the growing distance from the Holocaust and generational changes.  (Full Story)
By Eldad Shavit

The United States is determined to continue to provide assistance to Lebanon’s armed forces, believing that this military assistance helps maintain state stability. Yet while in his recent visit to Beirut Secretary of State Tillerson stressed repeatedly the administration’s opposition to Hezbollah, it did not appear that the United States has confronted the reality of Hezbollah’s partnership in the Lebanese government, or the identical interests of Hezbollah and official Lebanese government positions. Israel’s official view of US aid to the Lebanese military runs sharply counter to the approach of the US administration. (Full Story)

by Emily B. Landau

While North Korea’s recent nuclear tests significantly raised the level of fear in the United States, they were not a surprise. North Korea, long a nuclear state, is a dangerous nuclear proliferator that has shirked international commitments. Pyongyang issues highly aggressive rhetoric toward the United States and its regional neighbors on a regular basis; it flaunts its nuclear capability and threatens to use it, and tends to share nonconventional know-how and technologies.  (Full Story)

By Ari Heistein

Donald Trump’s victory, which surprised the media and pollsters alike, has created a great deal of uncertainty for both the American people and their allies in Israel. Many in Jerusalem see the Trump administration as an opportunity to restore the special relationship between Israel and the United States, its most important and irreplaceable ally. At the same time, many of their American coreligionists are worried about the negative consequences of Trump’s victory: the zeitgeist he has cultivated, threats to their safety, and the standing of minorities in the US in general, and Jews in the US in particular. If the incoming administration pursues a different strategy from the one it took on the campaign trail and chooses to bridge gaps among the American people, it could also help bridge a potentially widening gap between the American Jewish community and Israel. (Full Story)

By Yves Mamou

''How quickly the unthinkable became the irreversible''  writes  The Economist.  They are talking about Brexit, of course. The question of today is: Who could have imagined that British people were so tired of being members of The Club? The question of tomorrow is: What country will be next? (Full Story)

The terrorist attacks on the airport and metro in Brussels are casting a spotlight, once again, on Belgium's role as a European haven for jihadists. (Full Story)
By Ephraim Asculai  and Emily B. Landau
Ephraim AsculaiEmily B. Landau

The January 6, 2016 artificial earthquake in the northeastern region of North Korea was caused by a hydrogen bomb explosion, or so the official North Korean announcement claimed. Subsequent questions focused on whether North Korea’s claims were true – in this case, whether or not this was a hydrogen explosion, or even a boosted fission-based explosion. South Korea and the US lead the camp of skeptics, but whether hydrogen or not, this was still clearly North Korea’s fourth nuclear test. 

  (Full Story)

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