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September 2, 2016

In-Depth Issues:

"Hatikva" Played at Presidential Palace in Cairo as Israeli Ambassador Presents Credentials to el-Sisi - Matti Tuchfeld and Daniel Siryoti (Israel Hayom)
    David Govrin, Israel's new ambassador to Egypt, presented his credentials Wednesday to President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi in Cairo as the Egyptian military band played the Israeli national anthem.
    Govrin said of el-Sisi, "In a brief conversation I had with him in Arabic, he asked about my personal background and I told him, among other things, about my early acquaintance with Egypt as a diplomat in Cairo."
    Govrin, who is fluent in Arabic, served as first secretary in Israel's embassy from 1994 to 1997.
    "El-Sisi shook my hand amicably and stressed the importance of reviving relations with Israel."
    In September 2011, Israel shuttered its Cairo embassy after it was raided by an Egyptian mob. It was reopened in September 2015.
    See also The Arabs and Israel - Editorial (Al-Ahram-Egypt)

The Weakening of Islamic State in Sinai - Yoram Schweitzer (Institute for National Security Studies)
    Wilayat Sinai, an organization identified with the Islamic State, has recently suffered a series of serious blows from the Egyptian army.
    Most prominent was an air strike in early August 2016 that killed dozens of senior commanders.
    The recent decline in the intensity of Wilayat Sinai's attacks against the Egyptian army, alongside a drop in its media activity and propaganda systems, may point to cumulative damage to the group and a decline in its strength.
    However, it still carries out almost daily attacks on army and police posts in the areas of el-Arish, Sheikh Zuweid, and Rafah.
    The defeat of Wilayat Sinai could contribute greatly to the overall fight against the Islamic State and its image among Muslim populations.
    Therefore, supporting Egypt in its efforts to eliminate the organization is of the utmost importance.
    The writer is head of the research program on Terror and Low-Intensity Conflict at the INSS, following a distinguished career in the Israeli intelligence community.

Qatar Spends Big to Counter Charges of Lax Stance on Terror - Julian Pecquet (Al-Monitor)
    Qatar has quadrupled its spending on lobbying and public relations firms to $3.34 million in 2015, up from $764,000 the year before, to help reverse an onslaught of bad publicity over the country's role in supporting radical Islamists across the Middle East.

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Names of Female Candidates Are Hidden in Palestinian Elections (Al Bawaba-Jordan)
    In the Palestinian local elections scheduled for Oct. 8, some of the female candidates' names have been concealed, with the politicians being listed only as "sister" or "the wife of…."
    The hiding of women's names is common in many countries throughout the Arab world.

Leaked ISIS Documents Show Internal Chaos - Michael Weiss (Daily Beast)
    Internal documents from the Islamic State, captured by a U.S.-backed Syrian rebel group in June 2016, show the terrorist organization under strain from financial misappropriation, embezzlement, alleged infiltration by anti-ISIS spies, and bureaucratic infighting.

Israeli Doctors Save Palestinian Girl - Itay Stern (Ha'aretz)
    Nili Tal's film "Saving Nur" follows a Gazan girl in need of a liver and kidney transplant. In it, Tal describes the tremendous medical treatment Nur received.
    "Dr. Elhanan Nahum, director of the pediatric ICU at Schneider [Children's Medical Center], didn't go to sleep at home with his wife and children when Nur's life was in danger. The surgeon, Dr. Michael Gurevich, rushed to the hospital in the middle of the night to operate on her for the sixth time."
    Jewish volunteers from Israel drive children from Gaza to hospitals in Israel.
    In one of the film's peak moments, Nur's mother Maha Hajj says that if her daughter should die following the liver transplant surgery, she would want her organs to be donated to Israelis first.

Over 100 Agronomists to Get Training in Israel - Peterson Tumwebaze (New Times-Rwanda)
    121 Rwandan agronomists will next week travel to Israel to undergo an 11-month internship program in agricultural mechanization and irrigation at the Kinneret Academic College and Agrostudies Center in Israel.
    Skills taught include cattle-raising, milk production, sheep husbandry and poultry production, fruit-tree farming, vegetable growing and postharvest technologies, State Minister for agriculture and animal resources Tony Nsanganira said.
    Over 150 have so far graduated from the center, while 130 others are still undertaking the program.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Israeli Communications Satellite Destroyed in SpaceX Rocket Explosion at Cape Canaveral - Alyssa Newcomb and Ben Popken
    A SpaceX rocket exploded on the launchpad Thursday in Cape Canaveral, Florida, destroying the rocket and the Israeli communications satellite it had been set to carry into orbit this Saturday. The launchpad was clear and there were no injuries, SpaceX spokesman Phil Larson said. SpaceX was conducting a static fire test of the rocket's engines as it does before every launch. (NBC News)
        See also A Setback for Satellite Communications - Michael Wilner
    An Israeli Amos 6 satellite built by Israel Aerospace Industries was destroyed Thursday during the fueling of the rocket, a Falcon 9 manufactured by SpaceX. The satellite was heading into space for a 16-year mission that was meant to serve Facebook, bring Internet connectivity to Africa and television service to providers in Europe and the Middle East. Currently, Israel has three working civilian satellites and eight military satellites in orbit around the Earth. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Amos 6 Satellite Was Insured for $330 Million - Nitzan Cohen (Globes)
  • World Scout Movement to Investigate Palestinian Branch over Glorifying Killer
    The Palestinian Scout Association, which was accepted six months ago as a full member of the World Organization of the Scout Movement, named a leadership training course after the killer of Richard Lakin, a dual American and Israeli citizen.
        Last week, Lakin's son, Micah Lakin Avni, sent a letter alerting the world scouting organization that the Palestinian training course is named in memory of Baha Alyan, who along with an accomplice carried out a stabbing spree aboard a Jerusalem bus on Oct. 13, 2015, that left Lakin, 76, and two other Israelis dead and 10 injured. Publicity for the course describes Alyan as a "martyr" and shows him in a Palestinian scouts uniform.
        "We are definitely investigating," Srinath Venugopal, executive director at the World Scout Bureau's office of the secretary general, told AFP. "Please be assured that the World Organization of the Scout Movement is not supportive of any terrorist activities."  (JTA)
        See also World Scout Movement Asked to Cancel PA Membership - Itamar Marcus (Palestinian Media Watch)
        See also PA and Fatah Continue to Glorify Jerusalem Bus Murderers - Itamar Marcus
    On Thursday, Israel gave over the body of terrorist Baha Alyan for burial. WAFA, the official PA news service, honored the terrorist, writing that: "Martyr Baha Alyan ascended to Heaven last Oct. 13 [2015], after he carried out a stabbing and shooting operation together with prisoner Bilal Ghanem on an Israeli bus."
        The PA news agency assumes that stabbing Israeli civilians on a Jerusalem bus makes Alyan worthy of "ascending to Heaven." Fatah posted on its Facebook page the picture of the terrorist, calling him a "heroic Martyr."  (Palestinian Media Watch)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israeli Consul-General: Settlements Are No Obstacle to Peace - Danielle Ziri
    The idea that Israeli construction in the West Bank and east Jerusalem is the main obstacle to achieving peace with the Palestinians is "nonsense," Israel's new Consul-General in New York, Dani Dayan, said in an interview this week. "It can be proven almost mathematically. The Arabs did not recognize Israel before even one so-called settlement existed, that is a fact; Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip, removing even the graves of our dead from there, and all we got is a launching pad for new aggression against Israelis, also a well-known fact that cannot be disputed."
        "Settlements can be an obstacle to anything only if you believe that if a Palestinian state is established, it should be ethnically cleansed of Jewish presence. Imagine for a moment Nelson Mandela saying that he wants majority rule, but not only majority rule, also the expulsion of all white persons from South Africa. Would he be the Nelson Mandela we admire? No. But for some reason, when Mahmoud Abbas says that, no one calls him to order."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Oren: America Doesn't Want to Be the World's Policeman
    Israeli Deputy Minister Michael Oren told the Harvard Alumni Club in Israel on Tuesday that "America today is not prepared to send a meaningful force to the Middle East. This is an America that is prepared to sit on the sidelines while half-a-million people are murdered in Syria and while Europe is flooded with refugees," Channel 10 reported. "This is an America that is not prepared to intervene in Syria, this is an America that doesn't want to be the world's policeman, and prefers to focus on its own internal issues."
        "This is a reality in which we are going to have to learn to stand on our own two feet."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israeli Pilots Trained in U.S. with Pakistani, UAE Air Forces - Amos Harel
    Eight Israel Air Force F-16 planes returned from the U.S. on Wednesday, where they participated in a large-scale military exercise with the U.S. Air Force and a number of other nations including Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates. The plane crews practiced intercepting other aircraft, attacking targets, rescuing pilots, intelligence gathering, cyber attacks, and engaging in aerial activity under the ostensible threat of ground-to-air missiles. (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Loopholes for the Mullahs - Editorial
    David Albright and Andrea Stricker of the Institute for Science and International Security, that specializes in nuclear issues, revealed Thursday that Iran's "compliance" with the nuclear deal came about thanks to a series of secretive exemptions and loopholes that the Administration and the deal's other signatories created for the mullahs sometime last year. Had those exemptions and loopholes not been created out of thin air, the authors report, "some of Iran's nuclear facilities would not have been in compliance" with the deal.
        Among the exemptions: Iran was allowed to keep more than 300 kilos of low-enriched uranium provided it was in various "waste forms." The deal was also supposed to cap Iran's production of heavy water at 130 tons, but another loophole now allows Iran to exceed that. In a third exemption, Iran was allowed to maintain 19 large radiation containment chambers, or hot cells, which are supposed to be used for producing medical isotopes but can be "misused for secret, mostly small-scale plutonium separation efforts." The report notes that Congress was secretly informed of the exemptions in January, but there was never public disclosure. (Wall Street Journal)
        See also Text: JCPOA Exemptions Revealed - David Albright and Andrea Stricker ( Institute for Science and International Security)
  • The World May Never Know If Syria Really Destroyed All Its Chemical Weapons - Colum Lynch
    Between 2004 and 2007, Syria made 385 metric tons of sulfur mustard gas. A report by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) questions whether Syria may have retained a stockpile of tactical chemical munitions for delivery of mustard gas that it has never acknowledged. "Syria has engaged in a calculated campaign of intransigence and obfuscation, of deception, and of defiance," Kenneth Ward, the U.S. representative to the OPCW, told the group's executive council in July. "We...remain very concerned that [the chemical warfare agents] and associated munitions, subject to declaration and destruction, have been illicitly retained by Syria."
        The discrepancy in Syria's mustard gas inventory is only one of more than a dozen big mysteries surrounding the country's chemical weapons program. There remain serious questions over Damascus' claims that it has eliminated all its chemical weapons munitions, as well as precursors of deadly agents, including ricin, and nerve agents such as sarin, VX, and soman, according to the report. (Foreign Policy)
  • Palestinian Politics after Abbas: Institutional and Constitutional Challenges - Lauren Mellinger
    The Palestinian succession battle is already underway. PA President Mahmoud Abbas is unlikely to name a deputy in the near future. The constitutional mechanism for succession is likely to be set aside and the odds strongly favor Abbas' successor emerging from within Fatah party ranks, absent elections.
        Within Fatah, the absence of internal elections and failure to address the growing generational divide threatens the party's future as a leader of the Palestinian national movement. The likelihood that a drawn out succession crisis may destabilize the West Bank, possibly resulting in the collapse of the PA, is of growing concern to Israel, Egypt, and Jordan.
        The end of the Abbas era likely marks the end of the rule of the traditional, "Tunis-based" political leadership. Those who subsequently assume leadership of the PA and of the PLO will be forced to contend with a constituency that has grown disillusioned with the promises of the Oslo process, and many of the contenders espouse policies at odds with those calling for the sides to reach a negotiated final-status agreement establishing two states. The writer, a research fellow at BICOM, is pursuing a PhD in War Studies at King's College London. (BICOM-UK)
  • Palestinian Press Views Internal Palestinian Violence in Nablus - B. Shanee
    In recent weeks, the Palestinian press has featured numerous reports on internal Palestinian violence in the West Bank city of Nablus. Some writers criticized the anarchy that prevails in Palestinian society and the PA's deficient handling of local governance. Some said the chaos was the result of failures in upbringing and culture, and cannot be blamed on the Israeli occupation.
        Others noted that the lawlessness was symptomatic of root problems in PA society, pointing to the absence of civic values and a sense of national affiliation, as well as to the prioritizing of personal interests above national ones. The writers also pointed out the grave deficiencies in the Palestinian political system and the ruling institutions' lack of legitimacy. (MEMRI)
  • Israel and Its Arab Neighbors Drawn Together by Iran - Jonathan S. Tobin
    After several decades of unremitting hostility, some of the fiercest opponents of Israel are starting to view the Jewish state very differently. Covert ties with Saudi Arabia are now becoming more open. Egypt has a government that is no longer shy about treating Israel as an ally if not a friend.
        Israel and its Arab neighbors have been drawn together in large part due to the Iran nuclear deal. Those nations that are targeted most directly by Iran - Israel and Saudi Arabia - understand that appeasement of Iran advances its drive for regional hegemony as well as merely postponing the moment when it will achieve nuclear capability.
        While both the Saudis and Egyptians hope to use their new ties with Israel to jump-start peace talks with the Palestinians, PA leader Mahmoud Abbas is appalled about the idea of being pushed into negotiations with Israel again because it will force him to either refuse peace offers (as he did in 2008) or to blow up the talks (as he did in 2014) to avoid being cornered.
        Ever since 1967, any hope of Arab reconciliation with Israel has been frustrated by Palestinian rejectionism. But that is a luxury that Cairo and Riyadh can no longer afford because of the nuclear deal and the rise of Islamist terror groups. (Commentary)
  • UN Non-Governmental Organizations: Inciting Hatred, Anti-Semitism and Violence from the World Stage - Anne Bayefsky and Sarah Willig
    More than 6,150 NGOs have been invited to participate in UN activities and have thus been handed a global megaphone. However, the NGOs' ranks include bigots, anti-Semites, and terrorist advocates who are now spreading hatred and inciting violence from the world stage.
        The links between UN-accredited NGOs and the promotion of terrorism and hatred violates the terms and conditions of these NGOs' accreditation. There are numerous examples of UN-accredited NGOs engaging in anti-Semitism, promoting violence and terror, demonizing the UN member state of Israel, and advocating its destruction. In this report we provide a range of examples of these activities. (Human Rights Voices)
        See also Accomplices in Hate - Melanie Phillips (Jerusalem Post)

  • Weekend Features

  • The Man Who Won History's "Biggest Murder Trial" at Nuremberg - Karen Heller
    Ben Ferencz, 96, is the last surviving prosecutor from the post-World War II Nuremberg trials. His Nuremberg case, which the Associated Press called "the biggest murder trial in history," involved the Einsatzgruppen, roving extermination squads led by Nazi officers that were responsible for more than a million deaths. He presented precisely one witness, who certified Nazi documents that recorded the slaughter of Jews, gypsies and other civilians.
        "They were so sure they were going to win! The Germans were great at documentation," Ferencz says. "If these men be immune, then law has lost its meaning," he told the courtroom. All 22 defendants were found guilty.
        After Nuremberg, Ferencz worked for years seeking restitution for individuals and organizations. "I was known as a lawyer who takes hopeless but morally well-founded cases on a contingency basis," he says. (Washington Post)
  • Oldest Human Remains Found Outside Tel Aviv - Asaf Kamer
    When work began to widen a highway outside of Rosh HaAyin near Tel Aviv 16 years ago, workers discovered the opening to a world frozen in time - a giant limestone cave which had been sealed for over 200,000 years. The Qesem Cave is one of the most important prehistoric sites in the world. Archaeology professor Ron Barkai of Tel Aviv University heads the digging at the cave. "It reflects an unknown stage in the history of humanity," he said.
        "They made flint knives alongside other large artifacts such as hand axes....These are the oldest examples of knives in the history of humanity. By comparison, Europe only started seeing humans using knives 30,000 years ago. These knives were created 400,000 years ago. What happened here in Israel 400,000 years ago predates the rest of the world by hundreds of thousands of years."
        Archaeologist Avi Gofer says, "The people who lived here were a huge revolution (in humanity). What these people did here is completely different than what other humans were doing; in terms of chiseling technology, behavior, hunting techniques, organization, use of fire, and much more."
        Professor Torsten Otmeier of the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Germany, noted, "This site is approximately 400,000 years old...[and] represents one of the most important turning points in the evolution of mankind."  (Ynet News)
  • Israel Emerges as a Significant Player - Yoram Ettinger
    Israel's government debt-to-gross domestic product ratio, the Achilles' heel of most countries, has been reduced from 100% in 2002 to 63.9% in 2016, compared with the euro bloc's 90.7% and the OECD's 94%. Israel's unemployment rate has declined to 4.8%, compared to the OECD average of 6.3% and the euro bloc's 10.1%.
        According to the Huffington Post: "The emergence of Israel as a small, but significant, player on the world stage is one of the remarkable developments at the end of the post-Cold War era....With a flourishing economy of $300 billion and nearly $40,000 GDP per capita...its military was rated by the Institute for the Study of War as pilot to pilot and airframe to airframe, the best air force in the world."  (Israel Hayom)

Why Peace Is Not at Hand - Elliott Abrams (National Review)

  • Relentless optimists have long argued that Israel and the Palestinians are an inch apart and peace can be attained if they would just get to the table. Wrong.
  • A new poll by the Israel Democracy Institute and the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research asked Palestinians and Israeli Jews if they support the division of Jerusalem, under which West Jerusalem would be Israel's capital and East Jerusalem would be the capital of a new Palestinian state. Just 30% of Palestinians supported such an arrangement and 32% of Israeli Jews. Majorities were opposed.
  • Majorities on both sides also said sovereignty over the Temple Mount was critical to them: 55% of Israeli Jews said this was a deal-breaker, as did 57% of Palestinians. (In other words, a compromise wherein the Jews get the Western Wall and the Palestinians get the Temple Mount is opposed by majorities on both sides.)
  • Israelis and Palestinians are deeply divided on all the major issues. A deal that would mark a final end to the conflict and an end to claims was supported by 64% of Israeli Jews but only 40% of Palestinians.
  • Making the new Palestinian state entirely demilitarized gets the backing of 61% of Israeli Jews but only 20% of Palestinians.

    The writer, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, handled Middle East affairs at the U.S. National Security Council from 2001 to 2009.
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