Netanyahu and Abbas Shake Hands at Peres Funeral - Jeffrey Heller (Reuters)
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shook hands and exchanged brief words at the funeral of Shimon Peres on Friday.
"Long time, long time," Abbas told Netanyahu after shaking his hand before the start of the state ceremony.
Welcoming Abbas, Netanyahu said of his attendance: "It's something that I appreciate very much on behalf of our people and on behalf of us."
Abbas was given a front-row seat between European Council President Donald Tusk and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban.
President Obama briefly greeted the Palestinian leader with a kiss on each cheek before walking down the line to stand next to Netanyahu.
Hamas Slams "Contemptible" Abbas Condolences to Peres Family - Stuart Winer (Times of Israel)
Hamas on Thursday said a condolence letter that PA President Mahmoud Abbas sent to the family of deceased former Israeli President Shimon Peres showed "contempt" for Palestinians killed by Israel and for the "suffering" of the Palestinian people.
"The Palestinian people are relieved at the death of Peres, who carried out the massacre in Qana in Lebanon and other crimes against the Palestinian people," said Hamas spokesperson Sami Abu Zuhri, referring to an incident during a 1996 IDF operation against increased Hizbullah rocket fire from Lebanon when Peres was prime minister.
Peres' Last Wishes Fulfilled as Family Donates His Corneas - Yehuda Shlezinger (Israel Hayom)
Former President Shimon Peres, a lifelong advocate for organ donation, requested to donate his corneas, his family said.
Corneas from donors over age 80 are used in emergency transplants to stabilize patients in dire need, providing more time to find a better match, and are also useful in glaucoma surgeries.
Dvora Sherer, a spokeswoman for the National Transplant and Organ Donation Center, said, "During his last year as president, he held a touching ceremony to honor families of those who donated organs and saved lives. Shimon stood in front of the families, showed everyone his Adi [organ donor] card, and praised the noble deed of donating organs."
Peres Funeral VIPs Bump Hotel Guests - Yoav Zitun (Ynet News)
Approximately 30 of the VIPs coming for the funeral of former President Shimon Peres stayed at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem with their entourages.
Hotel CEO Haim Shkedi explained the need to evict some of the current occupants of the rooms due to the arrival of various heads of state.
"Most of them understand the situation. It also helps that this is Shimon Peres, a man whom everyone appreciated and admired. Everyone who cooperated with us in leaving the hotel said that they are doing it for Peres. It was really touching."
Palestinian Killed in Gaza Attack Tunnel Collapse (Times of Israel)
At least one Palestinian was killed and three others injured when a tunnel under the border with Israel collapsed near Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip on Thursday.
The Gaza Health Ministry said the accident occurred at a "military tunnel" used by Islamic Jihad.
At Jewish New Year, Israel's Population Is 8.585 Million - Lidar Grave-Lazi (Jerusalem Post)
As the Jewish New Year begins next week, Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics on Tuesday estimated the population to be 8.585 million.
There are 6.419 million Jewish residents (74.8% of the total) and 1.786 million Arab residents (20.8%). An additional 380,000 people (4.4%) are non-Arab Christians or people of other religions.
Jewish women had an average of 3.13 children in 2015, while Muslim women had 3.32 children, down from 8.47 children during the first half of the 1970s.
Israel Welcomes 27,936 New Immigrants in Past Year - Judy Maltz (Ha'aretz)
The total number of immigrants arriving in Israel since the last Jewish New Year is 27,936, with a downturn in emigration from France and Ukraine.
Immigration from Russia was 7,154, followed by 7,104 from Ukraine, 5,239 from France, 3,010 from the U.S., 654 from Brazil, 545 from Britain, and 402 from Canada.
Israel Offers Grants to Mandarin-Speaking Guides - Stephanie Freid (China Central Television)
Israel's Tourism Ministry is paying local Mandarin-speakers to get their tour-guide licenses as the number of Chinese visitors to Israel jumped by 50% this year.
By 2020, the ministry predicts China natives will be among the top five nationalities visiting Israel.
A new, 10-year-multiple entry visa policy for Chinese citizens has been implemented and airlines operate six direct Beijing-Tel Aviv flights per week.
Israeli Startup Sells Anonymous Messaging App for $32 Million (Times of Israel)
The Israeli Shellanoo Group sold its Blindspot anonymous messaging app and Mr. C music radio app to a Chinese consortium for $32 million, Israel's Channel 2 reported Monday.
Samsung Opens Branch in Tel Aviv to Tap into Israel's Engineering Innovation - Gwen Ackerman (Bloomberg-Washington Post)
Samsung Electronics opened a branch of its early-stage technology investment program in Tel Aviv to tap into the innovative engineering Israel is known for.
CA Technologies to Acquire Israeli Startup BlazeMeter for $90 Million - Eliran Rubin (Ha'aretz)
CA Technologies said on Tuesday it had agreed to acquire Israel's BlazeMeter, a maker of software for performance testing of mobile and web applications, for $90 million.
Israeli Car Cyber Security Co. Karamba Raises $2.5M (Globes)
Israeli startup Karamba Security, which secures vehicles from cyberattacks by locking down electronic control units, has closed a $2.5 million financing round.
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- U.S. Signed Secret Document to Lift UN Sanctions on Iranian Banks - Jay Solomon and Carol E. Lee
The Obama administration agreed to back the lifting of UN sanctions on two Iranian state banks blacklisted for financing Iran's ballistic-missile program on the same day in January that Tehran released four American citizens from prison, according to U.S. officials. The UN sanctions on the banks weren't initially to be lifted until 2023 under the nuclear agreement between Iran and world powers.
The UN Security Council's delisting of Bank Sepah and Bank Sepah International was part of a package of tightly scripted agreements that included the transfer of $1.7 billion in cash to Iran, that were finalized between the U.S. and Iran on Jan. 17, the day the Americans were freed.
(Wall Street Journal)
- Senators Target U.S. Aid to Palestinians - Mary Orndorff Troyan
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), along with Sen. Dan Coats (R-Ind.), and Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), says the U.S. should stop all economic assistance to the Palestinian Authority until it stops financially rewarding terrorists who commit acts of violence against Israel. Congress has previously required that U.S. aid be reduced by the same amount the Palestinian Authority spends to support terror suspects and their families. Graham said legislation introduced Tuesday would target all economic assistance. "This bill is not a result of animosity toward the Palestinian people, it's a pushback against state-sponsored terrorism," Graham said.
Since the mid-1990s, the U.S. government has provided more than $5 billion in economic and security assistance to the Palestinians, according to the Congressional Research Service. With the congressional session drawing to a close, the legislation has no chance of passing this year, but Graham said he considered it the start of a long process to draw attention to how the Palestinian Authority misuses U.S. economic aid intended to make the region more stable.
(Greenville [S.C.] News)
See also Video: Senators Introduce Legislation to Cut Off Funding for Palestinian Terror Attacks (YouTube)
- French Jews Feel They Can Give Their Children a Better Future in Israel - Michele Chabin
Yael Haccoun, 33, her husband, and their three children flew to Israel from Paris this month to start a new life and escape the anti-Semitism around them.
"French people think that it's natural when Jews are targeted" in terror attacks, said Haccoun. "The fact that the army must protect Jewish schools and synagogues isn't normal."
She said her family watched in horror in July 2014 as a demonstration protesting Israel's war with Hamas turned into an anti-Semitic rampage. Dozens of men chanting "God is great" in Arabic and "death to the Jews" attacked Jewish-owned businesses with clubs and fire bombs. A poll by the French Institute of Public Opinion in January showed 43% of France's Jewish community are considering a move to Israel, and 51% said they have "been threatened" because they are Jewish. (USA Today)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- World Leaders Gather for Final Tribute to Peres - Herb Keinon
More than 20 presidents, 10 prime ministers, more than 20 foreign ministers, five defense ministers, a Spanish king, and a British prince from more than one-third of the nations in the world attended the funeral of former Israeli President Shimon Peres on Friday.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu began a series of meetings on Thursday with some of the dignitaries attending the funeral, including former U.S. President Bill Clinton and EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini. President Barack Obama, who arrived on Friday morning, was not scheduled to meet with Netanyahu, whom he met last week in New York. Obama ordered the lowering of U.S. flags to half-mast, an honor bestowed on only six other foreign leaders: Winston Churchill, Anwar Sadat, Yitzhak Rabin, King Hussein of Jordan, Pope John Paul II and Nelson Mandela.
Egypt was represented by Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and Jordan by Deputy Prime Minister Jawad al-Anani.
- Israeli Prime Minister Thanks World Leaders for Attending Peres Funeral in Jerusalem
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told world dignitaries on Friday at the funeral of former President Shimon Peres at Jerusalem's Mt. Herzl cemetery,
"I want to thank you all for coming today. That so many leaders came from around the world to bid farewell to Shimon is a testament to his optimism, his quest for peace, his love for Israel. The people of Israel deeply appreciate the honor you have shown Shimon." (Ha'aretz)
See also Prime Minister Netanyahu at a Special Cabinet Meeting in Memory of Shimon Peres (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
See also President Rivlin's Eulogy at the Funeral of Shimon Peres (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
- Shimon Peres Believed in a New Middle East - Yochi Dreazen
Former Israeli President and Prime Minister Shimon Peres spent the first half of his life building up Israel's military might and the second half trying to forge peace deals with its neighbors. It is right and proper to mourn the passing of Peres, an idealist and an honorable man. But don't mourn his passing as a sudden, fatal blow to the peacemaking efforts he championed. Those have been dead for quite some time.
Peres won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994 for his role in the landmark Oslo Accords with the Palestinians. Then successive waves of Palestinian suicide bombings in the 1990s and early 2000s killed hundreds of Israeli civilians and left much of the Israeli public skeptical that a peace deal would ever be reached. The writer is managing editor of Foreign Policy.
- Recognizing Iran as an Enemy - Col. (res.) Dr. Eran Lerman
In a speech on Sept. 18 to the Iran Revolutionary Guards Corps, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei declared that deterrence can only be achieved if fear of Iran's raw power is instilled in the hearts of her enemies.
Khameini said there are misguided souls in Iran who seek to negotiate with the U.S. even as the Americans themselves seek a dialog with Iran on regional affairs (e.g., on Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Yemen). He rejects this quest not only as poisonous for Iran, but as evidence that America is now a spent force.
There could be an opportunity here. Neither candidate for the U.S. presidency seems to have bought into the strange notion that Iran can serve as a useful counterweight to other forces in the region. Nor have they bought into the delusion that Iran's revolutionary impulse can be assumed to be benign. The U.S. is thus still able to think of Iran as an enemy, which it is.
The writer is former deputy for foreign policy and international affairs at Israel's National Security Council.
(Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies-Bar-Ilan University)
- Jordan Chooses Stability - Oded Eran
On Sep. 20, Jordan held elections for parliament, emerging as an island of stability in a seething Middle Eastern sea.
The Muslim Brotherhood, represented in Jordan by the Islamic Action Front,
has experienced a change in leadership and an ideological softening since the party boycotted the electoral process in 2010 and 2013.
Given that it won 15 seats, it would be accurate to say that in Amman, the refugee camps, Zarka, and Irbid, there is support for the Muslim Brotherhood, but in Jordan, the Brotherhood is not a decisive political power.
One reason for the modest success of the Brotherhood may lie in the loathing and fear of the Islamic State on the part of most of the older Jordanian voters (although hundreds of Jordanians have joined the ranks of the Islamic State), which grew stronger following the brutal murder in January 2015 of Jordanian pilot Muath al-Kasasbeh, held captive in Syria by the Islamic State. Furthermore, an internal split in the movement has weakened it.
At this stage, the regime has passed the hurdles posed by the social and political awakening of the Arab Spring with success, but it must remain attentive to the public mood reflected in the public discourse. Dr. Oded Eran served as Israel's ambassador to the EU and Jordan.
(Institute for National Security Studies)
- U.S.-Israel Relations: Beyond the Military Aid Agreement - Jonathan Rynhold
From the U.S. perspective, the new military aid agreement reflects the fact that Israel remains an important, powerful and reliable ally, with superb intelligence capabilities. In a very unstable Middle East and with the U.S. less inclined to play an assertive interventionist role in the region, Israel's value as a strategic asset is clear. The aid, in fact, constitutes an indirect subsidy to American arms producers, because Israel will have to spend all of it in the U.S.
While U.S. military aid to Israel is valuable, it is less significant than other aspects of the strategic relationship. Those include the American commitment to maintaining Israel's qualitative edge, intelligence co-operation, and U.S. diplomatic support for Israel at the UN. None of these elements will be directly affected by this agreement.
Prof. Jonathan Rynhold is director of the Argov Center for the Study of Israel and the Jewish People, and deputy chair of the department of political studies, at Bar-Ilan University.
(Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies-Bar-Ilan University)
- How Arafat Distorted the Oslo Process - Efraim Karsh
The Palestinian population of the West Bank and Gaza has paid a heavy price for its leaders' perennial disinterest in statehood and obsession with violence.
Just as these leaders' rejection of the November 1947 partition resolution and the waging of a war of annihilation against their Jewish neighbors led to the collapse and dispersal of Palestinian society, so the use of the Oslo Accord as a tool for anti-Israeli activities and domestic repression rather than the vehicle for peace and state-building it was meant to be has made these goals ever more remote.
For all his rhetoric about Palestinian independence, Arafat had never been as interested in the attainment of statehood as in the violence attending its pursuit. Once given control of the Palestinian population in the West Bank and Gaza as part of the Oslo process, Arafat established a repressive and corrupt regime where the rule of the gun prevailed over the rule of law and where large sums of money donated by the international community for the benefit of the civilian Palestinian population were diverted to funding racist incitement, buying weaponry, and filling secret bank accounts.
Within a short time, the Palestinian Authority had literally become the largest police state in the world with one policeman for every 40 residents - four times as many as in Washington, D.C., the American city with the highest number of law enforcement officers per capita.
Just as the creation of free and democratic societies in Germany and Japan after World War II necessitated a comprehensive socio-political and educational transformation, so it is only when Palestinian society undergoes a real "spring" that will sweep its corrupt and oppressive PLO and Hamas rulers from power, eradicate the endemic violence from political and social life, and value the virtues of coexistence with their Israeli neighbors, that the century-long conflict between Arabs and Jews can at long last be resolved. The writer is emeritus professor of Middle East studies at King's College London and director of the BESA Center for Strategic Studies.
(Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies-Bar-Ilan University)
- Israel Upholds International Law in the Territories - Melanie Phillips
Last week at the UN, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas made a speech expressing hostility to Israel's very existence.
He falsely presented the Jews of Israel as squatters in the Palestinians' own land, when the only people for whom the Land of Israel and the disputed territories have ever been their national kingdom are the Jews. He even demanded that Britain apologize for the 1917 Balfour Declaration, which first committed Britain to reestablish the Jewish homeland in what was then called Palestine. His speech showed that the Palestinians' complaint is not about the absence of a state of their own. It is about the existence of Israel which they want gone.
The speech reflected two entirely false Western beliefs: that Israel acts in contravention of international law, and that the land originally belonged to the Palestinians. The West maintains that Israel occupies Palestinian territory in the "West Bank." This is untrue. There has never been any "Palestinian territory." Israel is furthermore entitled under international law to continue to hold onto the disputed territories as a defensive measure as long as its Arab aggressors continue to use them for belligerent ends.
The West says Israel's settlements are illegal. This is also untrue. In the 1920s, the Mandate for Palestine gave Britain the legally binding duty to settle the Jews throughout what is now not just Israel but the disputed territories too. That Jewish right has never been abrogated. The West makes a fetish of international law. Yet it denounces Israel, the one Middle East state that upholds it.
The writer is a columnist for The Times (UK). (Jerusalem Post)
- Jewish Ties to the Land of Israel - Dror Eydar
Hebrew is an ancient language. Hebrew speakers are able to read texts that date back 2,000 years or more. Several weeks ago, archaeologists revealed how the decorative floor of the Temple looked, discovered after intensive work putting together fragments of stone that had been found among rubble removed from the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The enormous excitement about the discovery demonstrated that it had touched a raw nerve as we encountered a remnant of our past as a people.
The Palestinians routinely refer to the Jewish Temple as "imagined" and the stories of the Bible as "imaginary." The reason is clear: If there is no historic link between the Jewish people and this land, then we are foreign invaders who took control of a country that wasn't ours. But we don't live by what the Palestinians say. The "iron wall" that Zionist leader Ze'ev Jabotinsky sought to erect between us and our enemies, so that they would despair of ever driving us out, is, first and foremost, an iron wall of consciousness.
- Major Elements of Violent Islamist Extremists Will Still Survive after the Defeat of ISIS - Anthony Cordesman
Even the best possible defeat of ISIS in both Syria and Iraq will immediately raise critical issues for the Arab Sunnis, Arab Shi'ites, Arab Alawites, and Kurds in each country. The broad ideological struggle for the future of Islam now goes far beyond ISIS, or even Islamic extremism. Iran and the Arab Gulf states increasingly are making it a struggle between all Sunnis and Shi'ites.
Major elements of violent Islamist extremists will still survive in both countries and the region, regardless of what happens in Mosul or Raqqa, or to the ISIS brand name. Turkey, Iran, and Russia are key players with serious influence that do not want the same "end state" as the U.S. and its European allies, or have the same goals between them. The writer, who holds the Burke Chair in Strategy at CSIS, has held senior posts in the U.S. Department of Defense. (Center for Strategic & International Studies)
- Beyond Mosul - Jonathan Spyer
The reduction of the area of Islamic State control is already an advanced process. The jihadis have lost 50% of their holdings in Iraq, and around 25% in Syria. Yet the almost certain defeat of IS will ultimately constitute only an episode in the wider story of conflict in Iraq. The anti-IS forces arranged around the IS stronghold of Mosul are a deeply varied gathering. They include the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF), the Kurdish Pesh Merga, the Shia militias of the PMF (Popular Mobilization Forces), the Sunni militiamen of the Hashd al-Watani (National Mobilization) and even the Kurdish PKK.
Even now, before the victory, the various forces in the "coalition" assembled to destroy IS are already looking toward the political, and perhaps also the military struggles which will follow Mosul's conquest. The Kurdish Pesh Merga on the ridges above the city are thinking about independence; the Sunni militiamen under their tutelage also see little future for themselves in a united Iraq; the Shia militiamen are serving the cause of the larger, Iran-led regional alliance of which they are a part. The PKK are seeking to advance their own, rival Kurdish nationalist project. The writer is Director of the Rubin Center, IDC Herzliya, and a fellow at the Middle East Forum.
(Rubin Center-IDC Herzliya)
- After Islamic State, Fears of a "Shiite Crescent" in Mideast - Yaroslav Trofimov
For Sunni Arab regimes anxious about Iran's regional ambitions, the Islamic State's firewall blocks territorial contiguity between Iran and its Arab proxies in Syria and Lebanon. Now, as Islamic State is losing more and more land to Iranian allies, these Sunni countries - particularly Saudi Arabia - face a potentially more dangerous challenge: a land corridor from Tehran to Beirut that would reinforce a more capable and no less implacable enemy.
Pro-Iranian Shiite militias such as Lebanon's Hizbullah and Iraq's Badr and Asaib Ahl al-Haq are filling the void left by Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, and they are much better equipped and trained. They are also hostile to the Saudi regime, talking about dismantling the kingdom and freeing Islam's holy places from the House of Saud. Abuses committed by Iranian proxies in Sunni areas are just as bad as those of Islamic State, argued Prince Turki al-Faisal, the former head of Saudi intelligence.
Last month, Iraq expelled the Saudi ambassador over his criticism of the Shiite militias.
(Wall Street Journal)
- Ukraine Marks 75th Anniversary of Babi Yar Massacre
Ukraine on Thursday marked the 75th anniversary of the Babi Yar massacre during World War II. Babi Yar, a ravine in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev, is where 34,000 Jews were killed within 48 hours in 1941 when the city was under Nazi occupation. The killing was carried out by SS troops along with local collaborators.
"While Babi Yar was organized by the Nazis, there were willing helpers in the Ukrainian militia," said World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder. At the same time, "there were Ukrainians who risked their lives to save their Jewish neighbors." (AP-CBS News)
- This Serial Entrepreneur Sold Companies to IBM and GE, and Now Has Another Hot Startup - Elizabeth MacBride
Zvi Schreiber, a Jerusalem-based entrepreneur, is on his fourth successful startup. Schreiber, who has a PhD in computer science, has led three startups to acquisitions: Tradeum Inc., a BtoB pioneer, had revenues of $100 million before it was acquired in 2000. He sold a database operator called Unicorn, to IBM in 2006, and another company, Lightech, to GE Lighting in 2011.
His latest startup, Freightos, one of a crop of startups aiming to disrupt the $1 trillion shipping industry, looks to be another success. Freightos says it works with 90% of the top 25 freight forwarders and employs 140 people in Jerusalem, Ramallah and Spain.
Why Iran Is More Dangerous than Islamic State - Moshe Ya'alon (Los Angeles Times)
- U.S. political leaders of both parties argue that destroying Islamic State is America's top priority in the Middle East. In reality, that's not nearly as important as confronting the challenge posed by Iran.
- The nuclear deal that went into effect a year ago may have postponed the danger of an Iranian nuclear bomb, but the multifaceted threat of a militaristic, messianic Iran - 80-million strong - is much more menacing to Western interests than the Sunni thugs and murderers of Raqqa and Mosul.
- From Tehran's perspective, it gained much more than it gave up. In exchange for postponing its military nuclear project, it achieved the lifting of many economic sanctions, an end to its political isolation, and the loosening of restrictions on its ballistic missile program.
- And out of the P5+1's exaggerated fear of taking any steps that might give the Iranians an excuse to scuttle the deal, Tehran won wide latitude to advance its influence throughout the region, as it no longer fears a U.S.-led "military option."
- Concerned nations need to work together now to prevent Iran from exploiting the nuclear deal to redraw the political map of the Middle East in its favor. Such steps would include ensuring strict inspection of Iran's nuclear facilities - and not just by the International Atomic Energy Agency. After all, the vast majority of Iran's nuclear violations were exposed by Western intelligence agencies, not the IAEA.
- It is not too late to repair the impression that the West views Iran as part of the solution to the problems of the Middle East, rather than the chief source of the region's instability and radicalism. Those who believed that the nuclear agreement would lead to a more moderate, open, reformist Iran, at home and abroad, regrettably suffer from wishful thinking.
Lt.-Gen. (ret.) Moshe Ya'alon is a former Israeli defense minister and IDF chief of staff.
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