Prepared for the Conference of Presidents
September 21, 2018
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
Israel said on Thursday it would not halt strikes on Syria but would do more to "deconflict" them with Russian forces, after Syrian ground fire mistakenly downed a Russian surveillance plane on Monday. Ron Ben-Yishai, a veteran Israeli military commentator, told Ynet TV, "It is possible that, next time, they will say, 'Okay let's wait until the (Russian) plane goes back to its base, and then we will carry out the attack.'" (Reuters)
See also Syria Fired Missiles for 40 Minutes after Israeli Strike, Hitting Russian Plane
Syrian anti-aircraft batteries fired dozens of barrages without aiming for 40 minutes after the initial Israeli attack in Syria on Monday, downing a Russian plane, the IDF reported. The IDF's findings were presented in recent days by the head of the air force, Maj.-Gen. Amikam Norkin, to his Russian counterparts in Moscow. The IDF found that the "deconfliction mechanism" with Russian forces followed the usual procedure before the strike.
After the Syrians succeeded in downing an Israeli F-16 fighter in February, they have become more energetic in their efforts and every Israeli attack is met with dozens of anti-aircraft missiles. (Times of Israel)
At the UN Security Council in New York next week, President Donald Trump plans to chair a session on Iran aimed at discussing the nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction, according to a "concept paper" distributed by the U.S. The U.S. aims to supply all international treaties and agreements with "claws" to face countries using and spreading WMD, particularly states such as Iran.
"The Security Council must identify ways to ensure its resolutions on WMD threats are respected," the paper says. "States that violate these resolutions must be held accountable. In addition, all breaches of non-proliferation treaties and agreements must be treated seriously with consequences....The Security Council has regularly adopted resolutions to counter WMD threats. But those resolutions are often flouted without penalty."
Earlier this month, U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley said Trump was chairing the meeting "to address Iran's violations of international law and the general instability Iran sows throughout the entire Middle East region." (Asharq Al-Awsat-UK)
In response to a question about ending U.S. funding for Palestinian hospitals in east Jerusalem, State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert said Thursday: "The United States Government does not believe that it is responsible for paying for the hospital bills. Now, that may shock some people to hear that. The Palestinian Authority is the one that actually incurs these bills on behalf of Palestinian citizens and others who seek treatment at that hospital. The Palestinian Authority is solely responsible for paying for the treatment of Palestinians in those hospitals."
"Historically, they have neglected to pay the bills at their hospital of those individuals....The Palestinian Authority...has failed to prioritize paying its debts and has instead put money into funding things like payment to families of terrorists and payment to...families of those who have been imprisoned. We think that that is a wrong decision, that the Palestinians should be funding the care of their own people in the hospitals." (State Department)
After ten years of legal battles, Israel's Supreme Court has authorized the evacuation of the residents of the Bedouin encampment of Khan al-Ahmar to an alternative site. Responding to EU criticism of the decision, Israeli cabinet minister Naftali Bennett said in an interview, "I think it's pretty remarkable that these countries are intervening in Israeli domestic policy regarding illegal building. Imagine someone building something illegally in Paris or in London. It's none of Israel's business to tell the UK where to build houses and likewise here....In fact, these Bedouin folks are being held hostage by the Palestinian Authority and by the EU. It's all about poking Israel in the eye politically."
"The Israelis aren't going anywhere. The Palestinians aren't going anywhere. We're not two nations in love, but we have to figure out how to live side by side....The last time we pulled out of a piece of land in Gaza, we got tens of thousands of rockets shot at us, so we're not going to do that again." (BBC News)
Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar has said he will raise concerns about democracy and human rights in the PA, including the need to decriminalize homosexuality, when President Mahmoud Abbas visits this coming weekend. He said it was important to show Ireland was not afraid to raise serious issues of human rights in territories controlled by the Palestinian Authority and Hamas. (Independent-Ireland)
British Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn demanded a boycott of the Arsenal soccer club after Israeli holiday destinations were advertised at the stadium. "We must campaign against and boycott Arsenal football club for their arrangement with the Israeli tourist board," Corbyn told the Palestine Solidarity Campaign Trade Union Conference in 2006. "It is wrong to treat both parties [Israel and the Palestinians] as equals."
Listed as a speaker alongside Corbyn at the 2006 conference was preacher Daud Abdullah, who called for attacks on the Royal Navy if it tried to prevent arms smuggling into Gaza, and led a boycott of Holocaust Memorial Day. (Daily Mail-UK)
University of Michigan professor John Cheney-Lippold rescinded his offer to write a recommendation letter for junior Abigail Ingber, who requested it for an application for a study abroad program in Israel, citing an academic boycott against Israel. The university's public affairs department released a statement reaffirming its consistent opposition to boycotting Israeli institutions of higher education, adding, "It is disappointing that a faculty member would allow their personal political beliefs to limit the support they are willing to otherwise provide for our students." (Michigan Daily-University of Michigan)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Speaking at a memorial ceremony for fallen soldiers of the 1973 Yom Kippur War on Thursday at Mount Herzl in Jerusalem, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel had a responsibility to undertake all efforts to avoid war. Before the Yom Kippur War, "The required decision to launch a preventative strike was the harder decision for the whole government because it could never have proven what would have happened if it had not acted. Israel should have delivered a preemptive strike." (Ynet News)
On Thursday, U.S. Ambassador David Friedman posted on Twitter, "The Palestinian Prisoner Affairs Commission has confirmed that the family of the terrorist who murdered Ari Fuld is 'eligible to receive a monthly salary' as compensation for his incarceration," which Friedman characterized as "unconscionable." U.S. Mideast envoy Jason Greenblatt tweeted, "Some people are complaining about U.S. cutting funds to the Palestinian Authority. But the PA continues to pay terrorists." (Jerusalem Post)
The UN envoy for the Middle East peace process Nickolay Mladenov condemned Palestinian glorification of terror attacks against Israelis during a Security Council briefing in New York on Thursday. Referring to this week's terror attack that claimed the life of Israeli-American Ari Fuld, Mladenov said, "It is reprehensible that Hamas and other Palestinian factions chose to glorify this attack." "Hamas leaders continued to incite violence, with one senior official speaking of 'cleansing Palestine of the filth of Jews,' and threatening to decapitate Israeli leaders."
"Fatah's official social media pages continued to glorify perpetrators of previous attacks against Israelis and failed to condemn terror attacks against civilians. Some religious leaders and officials made inflammatory statements, accusing Israel of plotting to destroy the al-Aqsa Mosque and denying Jewish historic and religious connection to Jerusalem." (Jerusalem Post)
Israeli security authorities detained 10 members of a gang of eastern Jerusalem residents who led violent clashes on the Temple Mount on July 27 which left four police officers wounded, the Israel Security Agency said Thursday. The gang had purchased fireworks which they smuggled to the Temple Mount compound in order to attack security forces at the end of Friday prayers. The group's leaders include Hamas operatives Ahmed Abu Sbeih and Rashid Rashak. (Jerusalem Post)
The U.S. online payment service PayPal has closed the account of the Germany-based NGO International Alliance - an organization that sympathizes with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and supports boycotting Israel. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
This month of peace anniversaries forces us to reckon with the reality that the efforts of a generation of Americans, Israelis and Arabs to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have largely come to naught. The Palestinians are yesterday's problem. Even the Arabs are tired of their fractious demands.
You can argue that the Palestinians kept balking at the peace deal that Israel would accept in hopes that if they waited and kept agitating, they could get more. The four-year-plus "intifada" that followed the Oslo agreement was a self-destructive waste for the Palestinians, poisoning good feeling in Israel. The same is true of Gaza, which greeted Israeli evacuation with continuing, self-defeating attempts to kill Israelis.
PLO leader Yasser Arafat allowed his chief intelligence officer to maintain secret contact with the CIA, even as he kept trying to kill Israelis. He wanted a peace deal, so long as he could hold out for a better one. The Palestinians deserved better. (Washington Post)
The Palestinian leadership does not understand the character of President Donald Trump. Since the beginning of his presidential term, one of Trump's acquaintances warned: Try to understand how to disagree with him, otherwise he will throw you under the bus! This is what happened to Mahmoud Abbas, whose friends are now rushing to get him from under the bus.
Among the mistakes committed by the Palestinian leadership is that it tried a confrontation and forgot that the American government has huge influence on Palestinian activity as it's the largest funder of the Palestinian refugees and their organization UNRWA, contributing a quarter of a billion dollars each year.
When delegates dispatched by President Trump went to the Palestinian territories to explain their ideas, the Palestinian leadership refused to receive them. The leadership was angry because the American government had executed an old decision to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The opposite should have happened; the Palestinians should have met the American delegation. Sitting down and talking would have been the right approach.
One of the major mistakes is believing that Palestine is a pivotal cause which Arabs and Muslims will not give up on. Truth is they have given up on it a long time ago, as each state is preoccupied with its causes. This is the truth, which the dreamers in the Arab world must realize. The writer is former general manager of Al Arabiya and a former editor-in-chief of Asharq al-Awsat. (Al-Arabiya)
Two months after she was released from Israeli prison for assaulting an IDF soldier, Palestinian teenager Ahed Tamimi is rapidly losing her status as an "icon" of the Palestinian "resistance" against Israel. During a visit to France last weekend, Tamimi appeared in a photo with Salah Eddin Medan, a member of Polisario, the rebel movement fighting to end Morocco's presence in the Western Sahara. The photo enraged many Moroccans, who are now saying they regret having backed the campaign to support her.
Last month, Tamimi drew sharp criticism from Syrian opposition groups as well as Gulf commentators after she heaped praise on Hizbullah secretary-general Hassan Nasrallah. Moreover, a PA official in Ramallah said she "obviously made a big mistake by voicing public support for Hizbullah, which has been attacking us for many years and accusing us of being traitors." (Jerusalem Post)
Dr. David Koren, Advisor to the Mayor of Jerusalem for Arab and eastern Jerusalem affairs, says nationalism among the 400,000 Jerusalem Arabs "is in full retreat. It is giving way to two main contradictory alternative allegiances that are gaining strength in eastern Jerusalem and competing with each other: Israelization, on the one hand, and Islamization, on the other." Koren, 41, a former head of the Middle East branch in the National Security Council, bases his assessments on thousands of hours of talks with the residents and their leadership.
"Go to Damascus Gate and see the ocean of signs there inviting the Arab public to learn Hebrew. These aren't the municipality's signs; they belong to private institutes....See what's happening in the education system: only a few years ago, only hundreds were studying for an Israeli matriculation exam, and now - 7,000....Besides this, we're also seeing thousands of requests from residents who want to become Israeli citizens....15,000 Arabs from northern Israel have moved to eastern Jerusalem. In effect, they are agents of change."
At the same time, in the upcoming municipal elections in October, Koren believes that "More Arabs from eastern Jerusalem will vote than in the past, but not many." He says there will be islands of voting in Wadi Al-Joz, Beit Safafa, and Sur Baher, but "I don't think it will be enough to put someone on the city council. They are still threatened and intimidated by terrorism and ultra-nationalism. The PA's ability to label them as Zionist agents and collaborators still exists." (Israel Hayom-Hebrew-28July2018-Jerusalem Institute for Strategic Studies)
25 years after the Oslo peace accords, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been relegated to an after-thought. Instead, Israeli officials highlight their burgeoning ties with Arab states, a rapprochement achieved despite the failure of the peace process.
Israeli-Arab ties are still for the most part in an official state of war. Jordan and Egypt may have signed peace agreements with the Jewish state, but they are still stuck in a state of cold peace. But Israeli officials are right to point to a shift in the mood music and to a quiet expansion of covert co-operation with Arab states, including Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia and Israel share the view that the Iran nuclear agreement emboldened Tehran instead of curbing its regional ambitions. The whispers are that, under the radar, intelligence and technological co-operation is taking place. (Financial Times-UK)
If Arab and Muslim countries are so worried about UNRWA and the Palestinian refugees, why don't they step in to fill the vacuum and pay for the loss of U.S. funds? How much are the Arab and Islamic countries contributing to UNRWA?
According to statistics released by UNRWA for the year 2017, the U.S. was the No. 1 contributor with $364 million. No. 2 was the EU with $142 million; No. 3 Germany, No. 4 the UK, and No. 5 Sweden. Saudi Arabia was No. 6 with $53.2 million. The oil-rich UAE was No. 15 with $12.8 million. Algeria and Tunisia, whose foreign ministers say they are worried about the U.S. decision, contributed no money.
The Islamic Republic of Iran provided only $20,000 to UNRWA between 2008 and 2017. Yet Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani described the U.S. decision as "shameful" and urged all parliaments of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation member-states to condemn the U.S. move. (Gatestone Institute)
After decades of accepting the idea that Palestinians deserve American financial assistance without offering anything in return, President Trump has decided the Palestinians are not entitled to U.S. taxpayer dollars to pay terrorists, support phony refugees, and line the pockets of corrupt leaders who enrich themselves, their families, and their cronies.
UNRWA has invented five million refugees and created a welfare system to guarantee their perpetual misery. The refugee problem could have been solved decades ago, as UNRWA originally envisioned, if the leaders in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan, and Syria gave the Palestinians citizenship, took them out of camps, and allowed them to assimilate into their societies, where they already shared a common language, religion, and culture. The writer is executive director of the American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise (AICE) and the Jewish Virtual Library. (Algemeiner)
Jordan will import 8.5 million cubic meters of natural gas from Israel every day, Amani Azzam, secretary general of the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources, said Tuesday. ordan's daily needs of natural gas stand at 9.9 million cubic meters. The gas will be distributed to the country's power plants for electricity generation.
The deal is expected to save around 700 million Jordanian dinars (nearly $1 billion) annually from the country's energy bill. Egyptian gas supply to the kingdom halted in 2013 following terrorist attacks that destroyed the pipeline that brought cheap gas to Jordan. (Jordan Times)
Despite billions of dollars in foreign aid, Jordan still struggles with an economic crisis fueled by a national debt of nearly $40 billion, an 18.5% unemployment rate, a debt-to-GDP ratio of 95%, and an average per capita income of $5,213. Jordan's financial woes are coupled with its absorption of millions of refugees from neighboring war-torn countries, which have cost the kingdom $6.6 billion from 2011 to 2016. (National Interest)
A new book by historian Laurent Joly and documentary by filmmaker David Korn-Brzoza have revealed the lengths to which the French wartime Vichy regime went to please the Nazis. Previously unseen documents show how the French police and top officials were willing collaborators in the rounding up of tens of thousands of Jews. During World War II some 75,000 Jews were deported from France to Nazi death camps, where almost all were murdered.
"The Germans were not asking for the Jews who lived in the Vichy-controlled part of France to be handed to them," Joly said. "Vichy was always trying to demonstrate its goodwill towards the Germans....The policy of collaboration was a deliberate choice." (AFP)
Prince William on Tuesday unveiled a statue to honor MI6 hero Frank Foley in Stourbridge, where the veteran intelligence officer chose to retire. Foley saved 10,000 Jews by issuing them passports while working undercover in Berlin. William met members of Foley's family, as well as people who were saved by Foley and descendants of others that Foley rescued. "I hope it will help people learn how Frank Foley refused to stand by when people were being persecuted because of their race or religion," said local MP Ian Austin. (Jewish News-UK)
See also MI6 Honors British Spy for Saving 10,000 Jews from Nazi Germany - Eytan Halon (Jerusalem Post)
Reinventing the U.S. Approach to the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict - Robert Malley and Aaron David Miller (Atlantic)
Robert Malley is President of the International Crisis Group. Aaron David Miller, Vice-President of the Woodrow Wilson Center, served as a State Department analyst, adviser and negotiator in Republican and Democratic administrations.