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Israel News

Daily Alert

U.S. Imposes Sweeping New Sanctions on Iran

on September 24, 2020
(VOA News) Nike Ching - The U.S. is imposing sweeping new sanctions on Iran to curb Tehran's nuclear, missile, and conventional arms threats. White House National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien said Monday that the U.S. is imposing new sanctions and export control measures on 27 entities and individuals connected to Iran's nuclear weapons program. U.S. officials said individuals and companies, including European banks that assist Iran in the violation of the sanctions, will be punished.

Lebanon Explosion Destroys Hizbullah Arms Depot

on September 24, 2020
(Wall Street Journal) Nazih Osseiran - A large explosion shook a Hizbullah stronghold in southern Lebanon on Tuesday near the towns of Ain Qana and Kafarfila. The explosion took place in a center where explosive munitions gathered in the aftermath of the 2006 war between Hizbullah and Israel are stored.

Zoom Blocks Event with Palestinian Hijacker Leila Khaled

on September 24, 2020
(Jewish News of Northern California) Gabriel Greschler - Zoom announced Tuesday that San Francisco State University will not be allowed to use its videoconferencing platform to host an event Wednesday featuring Palestinian hijacker Leila Khaled, citing U.S. anti-terrorism laws. "In light of the speaker's reported affiliation or membership in a U.S.-designated foreign terrorist organization... we determined the meeting is in violation of Zoom's Terms of Service." Khaled hijacked two planes in 1969 and 1970 as a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

Facebook, YouTube Cancel Leila Khaled

on September 24, 2020
(Forward) Rob Eshman and Stewart Ain - After being blocked by Zoom, the Sept. 23 seminar featuring Palestinian terrorist Leila Khaled moved to Facebook, only to be blocked there too. When it then moved to YouTube, transmission abruptly stopped before she spoke.

Palestinian Funding from Arab Countries Plummets in 2020

on September 24, 2020
(Jerusalem Post) Sarah Chemla - The Palestinian Authority has received no aid from Arab countries since March, according to data from the Palestinian finance ministry. In the first seven months of 2020, Arab aid fell to $38 million from $267 million in the same period in 2019.

EU Governments Funding Palestinian Legal Actions Against Israel

on September 24, 2020
(Israel Hayom) Ariel Kahana - Denmark, Ireland, Sweden and Switzerland are sending money to Palestinian NGOs to help them file lawsuits against Israel in the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, the watchdog NGO Monitor reports. The recipient Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) states openly that its goal is to "inundate the [Israeli] occupation with hundreds and thousands of legal suits." In addition, the Al Mezan Center for Human Rights used funding from the Netherlands to petition the ICC.

New Palestinian Curriculum Shows No Improvements, Anti-Semitism Remains

on September 24, 2020
(Jerusalem Post) Donna Rachel Edmunds - The Palestinian Authority's newly released educational curriculum shows no substantive changes for the better, despite assurances earlier this year that egregious examples of anti-Semitism and hate education would be eliminated. An analysis by IMPACT-se, a research and policy institute that analyzes schoolbooks and curricula through UNESCO-derived standards on peace and tolerance, has found that educational textbooks for use in Palestinian schools throughout the West Bank remain openly anti-Semitic, encourage violence, and promote jihad and martyrdom. Most of the adjustments this year either keep the problematic material intact or amplify it. Not a single map mentions the name "Israel." European leaders had indicated that they expected changes to be for the better. Marcus Sheff, CEO of IMPACT-se, said: "There are leaders who understand the importance of a peace education. But Palestinians are bucking the trend, placing themselves firmly in the Iranian school of curriculum development and demanding the Europeans pay for it."

Israel Sends Emergency Supplies to Malaria-Stricken Chad

on September 24, 2020
(Israel21c) Abigail Klein Leichman - Last week, an Israeli Hercules military transport aircraft flew to Chad with 2,000 six-person tents, personal protection equipment (PPE) for medical teams, and backpack sprayers to eradicate malaria-carrying mosquitoes, donated by Israeli Flying Aid and the American Jewish Committee.

Israel, Italy Finalize Defense Deal

on September 24, 2020
(Times of Israel) Judah Ari Gross - Israel and Italy finalized a major exchange of military hardware on Wednesday. Israel will sell Spike anti-tank guided missiles and aircraft simulators in exchange for training helicopters, the Israel Defense Ministry said.

A Process to End the Arab-Israeli Conflict

on September 24, 2020
(Tablet) Dr. Michael Doran - The Abraham Accords are the most significant development in the Arab-Israeli conflict in the last 25 years. Not only have the Palestinians lost their veto over normalization between Israel and other Arab states, but the entire "Resistance Alliance," led by Iran, has revealed itself as incapable of placing obstacles in the way of Israel's integration into the Arab state system. True, the UAE and Bahrain are small powers, but behind them looms Saudi Arabia, which is by far the most influential Arab state. No one in the world has a plausible solution to the Palestinian question, and the best diplomatic minds have devoted more time and effort on it than any other question on the planet for reasons that are now beginning to recede into history. The Palestinian-Israeli conflict seems likely in time to become the Eastern Mediterranean equivalent to the Western Sahara conflict: an insoluble but localized dilemma. In breaking the debilitating lock that it has placed on American strategic thinking for decades, a process has been created to end the Arab-Israeli conflict which, unlike the local Israeli conflict with the Palestinians, has real geostrategic significance. The writer, a Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute in Washington, served in the departments of State and Defense, and on the U.S. National Security Council.

The Palestinians Are Now Fully Aware that the Arab World Has Changed

on September 24, 2020
(Jerusalem Post) Khaled Abu Toameh - For the first time in decades, the Palestinians now realize that the Palestinian issue is no longer the central issue of the Arab world. And for the first time in decades, the Palestinians are now fully aware that the Arab world has changed. "As far as many Arab countries are concerned, Iran, Turkey and the Muslim Brotherhood organization are the real enemy, and not Israel," said Amjad Shaheen, a prominent Fatah activist. "What's worrying is that many Arabs are attacking the Palestinians and are saying they are fed up with us and our issue. The Palestinian people feel abandoned and isolated." Prof. Sari Nusseibeh, who once served as the PLO's representative in Jerusalem, said, "The support we've had from the Arab world...has not actually borne fruit, as far as the Palestinians are concerned....Things seem to be sliding back, so to speak. Of course, this causes a great deal of pain for the Palestinians." "Our leadership is under pressure not only because it has not been moving forward with the peace process, but because the Palestinians in the areas it controls are not happy with its governance. I don't even discount violent change. Everything is possible."

Maybe We Peace Process Veterans Were Wrong

on September 24, 2020
(Washington Post) Aaron David Miller - Israel normalized diplomatic relations with Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, without progress on the issue of peace between Israelis and Palestinians as a condition. These developments confounded the predictions of many peace process veterans - me included. Long-held assumptions that have guided U.S. policy haven't borne out. The supposedly unsustainable status quo has proved remarkably sustainable. The writer, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, was a Department of State analyst, negotiator and adviser in Democratic and Republican administrations.

How the UAE Emerged as a Regional Powerhouse

on September 24, 2020
(BBC News) Frank Gardner - In 1999, with the Kosovo war raging, I was at a camp set up by the Emirates Red Crescent Society. Emirati troops patrolled the perimeter in Humvees mounted with heavy machine-guns. We had flown up the previous day in Puma helicopters flown by UAE Air Force pilots. Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, a graduate of Britain's Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, tells me there that the UAE has entered into a strategic partnership with France. As part of a deal to buy 400 French Leclerc tanks, the French are taking a brigade of Emirati troops "under their wing," training them to deploy alongside them in Kosovo. The UAE became the first modern Arab state to deploy its military in Europe, in support of NATO. Emirati forces also began quietly operating alongside NATO in Afghanistan. Former U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis dubbed the UAE "Little Sparta," in reference to this country punching well above its weight. This September, the UAE sent ships and fighter jets to Crete for joint exercises with Greece. With U.S. help, Abu Dhabi has become the first Arab nation to send a mission to Mars.

A Post-Palestine Middle East

on September 24, 2020
(Commentary) Hussein Aboubakr - When I was a 14-year-old jihadist wannabe in Cairo in 2013, all I needed to hear was the word "Palestine" in order to pledge my immediate unconditional loyalty to whoever was speaking. Palestine was never merely a disputed geographical territory; it was the Arab dream, the beating heart of Islam. To evoke Palestine was to evoke Islamic brotherhood and Arab honor. Much has changed in the past decade, however, and we are now entering the age of a post-Palestine Middle East. The United Arab Emirates has inaugurated the end of the long Arab march toward self-destruction and catastrophe that has devastated the region. Into a post-Islamist future, Islamism and its ideological and theological foundations will gradually become obsolete along with the fantastical cause that Islamists once so highly revered. This transition will be painful and it will take time. Remnants of Palestine-era politics will continue to live on; the two largest examples are the bellicosity of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the hegemonic ambitions of Turkey. But as the emerging Middle Eastern order develops strategies for mutual security, it will be better able to isolate and contain the threats posed by both countries. Political reality is merely catching up to what is already understood in Middle Eastern society. Palestine lost its centrality with the advent of the Arab Spring and the Syrian civil war.

The Significance of the Israel Peace Deal

on September 24, 2020
(Telegraph-UK) Ed Husain - Muslim radicals claim Islam is the only true religion and therefore must dominate the world. Their narrative has turned the modern Middle East into a dangerous place for Christians. Turkey, Egypt, Iraq, Syria, homes to some of the oldest Christian churches, have all seen a near exodus. In Iraq, Christian communities have dwindled from 1.5 million in 2003 to just 250,000 today. A century ago, Turkey's Christian population was 20%; the figure is now 0.2%. The Abraham Accord challenges religious separatism by reminding Christians, Jews and Muslims of Abraham - first of the Hebrew patriarchs, praised by Jesus, and honored by the Quran as the "father of nations." Abraham is a prophet in the Muslim narrative. The prophet Mohamed, a descendant of Abraham, honored Jews and Christians as believers in the one God of Abraham. This common heritage moves the rug from under the feet of the extremists and the Iranian government. For too long, Muslims have been fed the falsehood that Jews are outsiders and occupiers. The Quran confirms the Jews' claim to Jerusalem, recognizing Joseph, son of Isaac, and the twelve tribes of Israel, while claiming Abraham's other son, Ishmael, as the ancient father of the Arabs. This deeper history and theology will be key to making the Jewish state acceptable to the world's 1.8 billion Muslims.

Is Saudi Arabia about to Go Nuclear with China's Help?

on September 24, 2020
(JNS) Israel Kasnett - The Wall Street Journal reported on Aug. 4 that Western officials have grown concerned about the construction of a facility for extracting uranium yellowcake from uranium ore in Saudi Arabia being built with the assistance of two Chinese companies. Dore Gold, president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, told JNS that the Saudi-Chinese relationship has existed for many years. In the 1980s, Saudi Arabia reached out to China because it wanted to obtain Chinese missile technology. "They acquired from China some of the longest-range ballistic missiles in the Middle East." Gold said "one of the challenges for diplomacy is to try and make some of the moderation in Saudi behavior more permanent, and I don't think we've done that. As much as Saudi interests have changed, it is a reversible change. We have to make sure that it has a higher degree of permanence." "Israel is right to be concerned," said Saeed Ghasseminejad, a senior Iran adviser at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. "The Middle East today is full of unstable governments, radicalized societies, apocalyptic militants and messianic politicians."

How Denmark, Sweden, the UN, and the EU Got Suckered into Funding a Terror Organization

on September 24, 2020
(Tablet) Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser - The arrests in December 2019 of 50 members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) in Ramallah, which was responsible for the murder of teenager Rina Shnerb on Aug. 23, 2019, exposed the magnitude of PFLP terror networks and their capacity to strike within Israel. Yet PFLP funders see or pretend to see PFLP-affiliated organizations as peaceful/nonviolent, whose actions are unrelated to its terrorist operations. The EU representative to the Palestinian Authority wrote on April 30, 2020, that the EU will keep funding Palestinian NGOs affiliated with the PFLP, in spite of its having been formally designated by the EU as a terror organization. The PFLP's terror arm, the Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades, operates from Damascus, where it maintains operational cooperation with Iran and Hizbullah. The PFLP was responsible for the murder of Israeli minister Rehavam Ze'evi (October 2001); six suicide bombing attacks during the Second Intifada that left 13 people dead including the Nov. 1, 2004, attack in the Carmel Market in Tel Aviv; and an attempt to murder Israel's former Chief Rabbi Ovadya Yosef in 2005. In November 2014, the PFLP murdered five Jewish worshippers with axes and guns while they were praying at the Har-Nof synagogue in Jerusalem, as well as a policeman who tried to stop the attack. The PA never takes action against PFLP terror activists and pays handsome salaries to PFLP terrorists incarcerated in Israeli jails, and to the families of those who died in the struggle against Zionism. The writer, who headed the Research and Assessment Division of Israeli Military Intelligence, is currently a Senior Project Director at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

F-35 Sale to the UAE: How to Balance Competing Priorities

on September 24, 2020
(Washington Institute for Near East Policy) Lt.-Col. Christine McVann - The F-35 is the most advanced fighter currently on the market, and acquiring it would significantly increase the UAE's deterrence against Iranian military activity. In the future, the UAE's relations with either Israel or the U.S. could shift, but the jet's sophistication would likely mitigate the impact of any such shift. The F-35 requires substantial maintenance and expertise, most of it provided through Lockheed Martin. The capabilities that make this aircraft so extraordinary would rapidly degrade without intensive assistance from the contractor. At the same time, Washington must figure out how to handle F-35 requests from additional partners who may be more politically problematic, by assessing the potential rise of hostile geopolitical realignments that might threaten American interests and Israeli security in the future. The writer, a U.S. Air Force intelligence officer who served in multiple Middle East military campaigns, is a military fellow at The Washington Institute.

Iran's Space Program

on September 24, 2020
(Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security) Dr. Uzi Rubin - Iran's space program is central to the Islamic Republic's quest for regional hegemony and global power. The drafters of the Iran nuclear agreement intentionally obfuscated the language relating to Iran's missile obligations to the point where Iran is basically free to do as it pleases in this regard. Iran aspires to leverage itself from a regional power to a regional hegemon, then to a leader of the Islamic World, and ultimately to a global power on a par with Russia and China. A precondition for achieving global power are the ultimate status symbols: nuclear ICBMs backed by space-based early warning satellites to ensure a credible second-strike capability. The Islamic regime is patiently pursuing the building blocks for such a posture and its space program is one of the more significant blocks. In a 2014 television interview, Gen. Majid Mussavi, deputy commander of the IRGC air and space force, said: "The real mission of (Iran's) space program is technological advancement to circumvent the self-imposed limitation on missile range to 2000 km." In 2009, Iran succeeded in launching a satellite into earth orbit - the ninth nation to do so. There were additional successful launches in 2011, 2012 and 2015, as well as numerous failures. The writer was founding director of the Israel Missile Defense Organization, which managed the Arrow program.

Why Other Arabs Resent Palestinians

on September 24, 2020
(BESA Center for Strategic Studies-Bar-Ilan University) Lt.-Col. (res.) Dr. Mordechai Kedar - While many Arabs and Muslims hate Israel, a good many hate the Palestinians just as much. Many of the Palestinian Arabs are not originally Palestinians at all. They are immigrants who came to the Land of Israel from all over the Arab world during the British Mandate in order to find employment in the cities and on the farms the Jews had built. Why, ask the other Arabs, should they get preferential treatment over those who remained in their original countries? At the end of the 1948 Israeli War of Independence, the politics in the Arab world began to center on Israel and the "Palestinian problem," the solution to which was to be achieved by eliminating Israel. In order to succeed in that mission, the Arab "refugees" were kept in camps and not absorbed into other Arab countries. They were provided with food, education, and medical care without charge, even as other Arabs had to work to provide food, education, and medical care for their own families. "Refugees" would often sell some of their free foodstuffs to their non-refugee neighbors and make a tidy profit. Over the years, the Palestinian Arabs were given many billions of dollars by the nations of the world, so that the yearly per capita income in the PA is several times greater than that of the Arabs in Egypt, Sudan, Algeria, Syria, Iraq, Libya, and Yemen. Much of the Arab and Muslim world is convinced that the Palestinians do not in fact want a state of their own. After all, if that state were established, the world would cease its steady donations and Palestinian Arabs would have to work just like everyone else. The writer, a senior research associate at the BESA Center, served for 25 years in IDF military intelligence.

The South Syria Deal: Two Years Later

on September 24, 2020
(Center for Global Policy) Ibrahim Hamidi - Two years have passed since a U.S.-Russian understanding with Jordan's and Israel's blessings allowed government forces to take control of the countrysides of Daraa and Quneitra in southwestern Syria. Daraa-based opposition forces had to surrender, while "non-Syrian elements" (a euphemism for pro-Iran militias) were removed from the Jordan and Golan borders. Two years later, Jordan is still unable to relocate refugees in large numbers, and Iran's continued presence is prompting Israeli airstrikes. The U.S.-Russian agreement failed to completely keep Iranian forces away from the Jordanian or Israeli borders. Iran may have withdrawn its non-Syrian militias, but it is consolidating its presence by enlisting Syrian militias to keep the pressure on Israel. At the same time, a quiet struggle over South Syria is being played out via two proxy forces in the Syrian military: the Iranian-leaning 4th Division and the Russian-backed 5th Corps, with repeated attempts by each side to take full control. Moreover, Iran has long sought to install cells in the Golan, coupled with Hizbullah taking over al-Hadar in the Quneitra countryside. The writer, a Syrian journalist and senior diplomatic editor at Asharq Al-Awsat, was in the Damascus bureau of Al-Hayat for 22 years.

UAE Writer: Arab Countries' Expulsion of Jews Was Disastrous Mistake

on September 24, 2020
(MEMRI) Emirati writer Salam Hamid, founder of the Al-Mezmaah Studies and Research Center in Dubai, wrote in Al-Ittihad on Sep. 13: "During the years that followed the declaration of the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, most Arab countries expelled their Jewish citizens, who numbered approximately 900,000, to Israel....Why were these people deported, and what was their crime?" "The Arabs had lost an elite population with significant wealth, property, influence, knowledge, and culture. Any intelligent person is aware that Jews had lived in Arab countries for 2,000 years before being arbitrarily expelled."

El Al Pilot Recounts Outmaneuvering Palestinian Hijacker Leila Khaled

on September 24, 2020
(Jewish News of Northern California) Dan Pine - Fifty years ago this month, El Al pilot Uri Bar-Lev, today a retiree just shy of 90, foiled Palestinian hijacker Leila Khaled and an accomplice during a violent midair hijacking attempt on a flight from Amsterdam to New York - the only pilot ever to do so. On Sep. 6, 1970, Khaled boarded El Al Flight 219. Soon after takeoff, Bar-Lev got word that two terrorists were hijacking the plane. They had shot and gravely wounded an El Al flight attendant and had put a gun to the head of another, demanding to be let into the cockpit, which Bar-Lev had immediately locked. While he feared for the flight attendant, "I knew what they would do to me and the crew and the Jewish passengers if we were taken." Bar-Lev put the plane in a steep dive. The aircraft plummeted 10,000 feet in under 60 seconds. He knew his passengers, all seated and strapped in, would be safe. The terrorists were thrown to the floor. Once the plane leveled out, one of the two on-board Israeli sky marshals shot the accomplice dead. Khaled was physically subdued.

Israeli Firefighter in California

on September 24, 2020
(Jewish News of Northern California) Maya Mirsky - Israeli firefighter Idan Braun came halfway around the world to help fight Northern California's wildfires. He was part of a team of 10 Israeli firefighters who for nearly two weeks worked shoulder to shoulder with state firefighters to push back against the wildfire in Napa and Sonoma counties. It is nearly fully contained now. "In the first day, we spent 24 hours straight on the mountain," Braun said. The Israeli crew also subbed at understaffed firehouses in the Sacramento area.

Why the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Is Uniquely Stable among the Arab States

on September 24, 2020
(Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs) Dore Gold - Among the Arab Gulf states, the UAE shows signs of greater stability than any of its neighbors. It does not have a problem of religious extremism. It has a clear succession for the presidency. It has resolved most of its border problems with its neighbors. Abu Dhabi is the largest of the emirates, accounting for 88% of the entire area. It dominates the federal government and its relative size and wealth make it extremely difficult for the lesser emirates to break off. Some 25% of the UAE population are Shiites. But concern there has focused on families of Iranian origin who are represented in large numbers in Dubai (as many as 400,000). The U.S. and UAE signed a Defense Cooperation Agreement in 1994, after which the U.S. military presence in the UAE greatly expanded. Roughly 5,000 U.S. servicemen are deployed there. The Al Dhafra air base near Abu Dhabi has proven critical for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as combat operations against ISIS. The U.S. also uses naval facilities at the Jebel Ali port and Fujairah. The large American military contingent acts as a tripwire: an armed attack by Iran on Abu Dhabi that led to U.S. fatalities would likely bring about a massive American retaliation. Above all, American power in the Gulf region is the single most important factor in guaranteeing the stability of the UAE in the future. The UAE has taken measures to reduce its vulnerability to internal Islamist challenges. Moreover, public opinion is strongly against the emergence of any form of a theocratic state, which helped put the brakes on support for radical Islamic organizations. UAE courts closed down all branches of the Muslim Brotherhood in 2014. The writer, former Director-General of the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Israeli Ambassador to the UN, is president of the Jerusalem Center.

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