March 1, 2018

In-Depth Issues:

Prince William to Make 1st Official UK Royal Visit to Israel, Palestinian Territories (AP-Washington Post)
    Prince William will make the first official visit by a member of the British royal family to Israel and the Palestinian territories, Kensington Palace said Thursday.
    The prince will also visit Jordan during the trip this summer.
    Overseas royal visits are made at the request of the British government.
    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that "this is a historic visit" and William "will be received here with great affection."

German Airport Refused to Refuel Iran Foreign Minister's Plane, Citing U.S. Sanctions (Deutsche Welle-Germany)
    Munich Airport refused to refuel Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif's plane in mid-February out of fear this would violate U.S. sanctions against Iran, Suddeutsche Zeitung reported on Tuesday.
    The German government arranged for the German army to refuel the plane.

White House Dismisses Reports on Middle East Peace Plan - Eric Cortellessa (Times of Israel)
    The White House on Wednesday dismissed a report in Asharq al-Awsat that claimed to offer details of the U.S. Middle East peace plan.
    "As we have not finished our plan, nobody knows what it is," a senior administration official told the Times of Israel. "There is constant speculation and guessing about what we are working on and this report is more of the same."

Egypt Increases Forces in Sinai with Israel's Agreement - Hagay Hacohen (Jerusalem Post)
    Head of the Egyptian armed forces Maj.-Gen. Mohammed el-Shahat said there are "42,630 soldiers and 800 vehicles" stationed in Sinai to fight ISIS militants there, Israel's Channel 11 reported on Wednesday.

Profiles of Leading Iranian-Backed Militias - Amir Toumaj and David Adesnik (Foundation for Defense of Democracies)
    Iran has built a network of Shiite militias, now fighting across the Middle East, whose fighters number in the tens of thousands.
    FDD has assembled profiles of ten leading militias that Iran's Revolutionary Guards have deployed.

Iranian Wrestling Official Quits over Israel Policy (Radio Free Europe-Radio Liberty)
    The head of Iran's wrestling federation, Rasoul Khadem, has resigned after criticizing the authorities for letting Iranian athletes be punished because of the country's ban on facing Israeli opponents.
    "Forcing an athlete to accept defeat or run around all night looking for a doctor's note is not right," he said.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Senators Return from Israel: We Must "Stop the Iran-Assad Machine" - Joe Gould
    War between Israel and Iranian proxy forces is imminent, a bipartisan group of U.S. senators warned Tuesday after a trip to the Middle East last week. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said of talks with Israeli officials, "When they tell you we want help to deal with the blowback that might come from attacks on civilian targets where Hizbullah has integrated military capability, that was pretty striking."
        Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) said, "The tempo in terms of potential for conflict in Syria has gone up; the technologies Iran is projecting into Syria and southern Lebanon has gone up; Iran's willingness to be provocative, to push the edges of the envelope, to challenge Israel, has gone up."
        "Israel's worst nightmare is to have Assad forces with Hizbullah and Iranian Revolutionary Guard elements on their border," Graham said. "It's in our interest to stop the Iran-Assad machine." Coons and Graham called on the administration to present Congress with a plan to counter Iran and Russia. (Defense News)
  • Palestinians Call for Closure of U.S. Mission
    At a demonstration outside America House in the West Bank city of Ramallah, scores of Palestinians on Wednesday called for the expulsion of American diplomats as well as the closure of the U.S. mission in protest against President Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Mustafa Barghouthi, a member of the PLO Central Council, said the continued operation of the mission is "unacceptable." He also said, "We reject any American peace solution or proposal."  (Middle East Monitor-UK)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • IDF: In Next War, Ground Forces Will Rapidly Penetrate Enemy Territory to Stop Rocket Fire - Yoav Zitun
    A senior IDF officer said Tuesday that in the next war, there will be no alternative but to deploy ground forces to carry out a rapid and deep penetration in order to conquer the enemy's territory, eliminate the enemy (rather than "neutralize" it), and destroy its weapons stores, especially rocket launchers, in order to decrease rocket fire on the home front.
        "The enemy will launch thousands of rockets daily at population centers. In such a multi-front war, we will draft the entirety of the ground forces," said the officer. "There is agreement among senior army staff that in the next war, missiles falling on population centers...will mandate the army command to rapidly deploy ground force maneuvers."  (Ynet News)
  • U.S. Slams UN Human Rights Council on Israel - Tovah Lazaroff
    "It is unacceptable that the [UN Human Rights Council] treats Israel differently from every other UN member," U.S. Ambassador Mary Catherine Phee told the Council on Wednesday in Geneva. "The institutional integrity of the Council demands that the efforts to delegitimize and isolate Israel through such blatant bias must end."
        The HRC mandates that Israeli human rights abuses against Palestinians in the West Bank must be debated at each session and that there must be a permanent investigator assigned to investigate such abuses. No other country has such a permanent mandate, including countries considered to be serial human rights abusers.
        On Tuesday, the U.S. said it was "appalled" that Iranian Justice Minister Seyyed Alireza Avaei was allowed to speak at the HRC. "Minister Avaei oversaw the summary executions of Iranians in the late 1980s....Avaei oversees systematic arbitrary arrests and detentions of Iranians engaging in peaceful political and civic activism, and imprisons them in a network of facilities notorious for suspicious deaths, the use of torture, and denial of medical care," the U.S. said. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Blacklisted Iranian Official Stirs Outrage at UN Human Rights Council - Nick Cumming-Bruce (New York Times)
  • IDF Defuses Explosives Planted on Gaza Fence by Palestinian Rioters - Judah Ari Gross
    "IDF soldiers neutralized an IED on the security fence in southern Gaza. It was set up to harm IDF soldiers stationed near the fence," an army spokesperson said Thursday. The bomb was similar to one that injured four soldiers two weeks ago. (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • PA President Abbas Calls for Jihad - Dr. Reuven Berko
    PA President Mahmoud Abbas' speech at Al-Azhar University in Cairo on Jan. 17 was a blatant call for religious war against Israel. Abbas quoted from the Quran's Surah Al-Isra (The Night Journey), which contains the Prophet Muhammad's vision of the destruction of Israel and Jewish Jerusalem and Islam's impending conquest of the city.
        According to Abbas, Jerusalem is holy only to Islam and Christianity and time is coming to an end for Israel the usurper. Abbas called upon the Islamic nation to help in the struggle to "liberate Jerusalem, the eternal capital of Palestine, from the hands of the occupier." Abbas linked the Palestinians to the Canaanites and Jebusites who inhabited this land over 5,000 years ago to prove that the Palestinians preceded the people of Israel - while ignoring the Quran which says that the land was promised to the Israelites.
        Abbas, the long-time "opponent of violence," boasted in his speech that more than 30 "martyrs" have fallen on the altar of "peaceful" resistance since Trump's declaration recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Dr. Col. (ret.) Reuven Berko was an adviser on Arab Affairs to the Jerusalem district police. (Israel Hayom)
  • Video: A Negotiated Route to Kurdish Independence - Dore Gold
    Dore Gold told the Valdai conference in Moscow on February 19, 2018: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that the Kurds are deserving of self-government. The Kurdish quest for political independence began at the same time as the Jewish national movement. We both appear in the treaties after World War I, where the international community made commitments to Jewish self-government and to Kurdish self-government.
        If I can give the Kurds some friendly advice, it is always tempting when you're frustrated to go the route of unilateralism. But a negotiated route to independence, as difficult as it is, is a far better course of action than doing it yourself. Amb. Dore Gold is president of the Jerusalem Center and a former director-general of the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Comparing America to Israel on Gun Laws - Haviv Rettig Gur
    In Israel, guns are tightly controlled and carefully tracked by the state. Israelis must ask the state for a license, demonstrate a justified need to carry a firearm, and are permitted only one gun at a time.
        There is no inkling of a belief among Israelis that citizens should be permitted to own guns as a check on government power. Israelis expect the state to manage things in such a way that only the right people are armed. Israelis are armed not against the state, but by the state against external threats like terror attacks. (Times of Israel)

  • Syria has become a "Shi'a colony of Iran," Bassam Tibi, Syrian-born professor emeritus of international relations at Georg-August University of Gottingen, told a recent conference at the Begin-Sadat (BESA) Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University. "The Alawites of the Assad regime have killed our Sunni identity."
  • Since the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, Iran has been filling the vacuum "created by the removal of Saddam Hussein. Ever since, Iran has been expanding its power....The Saudis are unable to meet the Iranian challenge. Iran now controls Iraq, Lebanon and Syria."
  • Daniel S. Mariaschin, executive vice president and CEO of B'nai B'rith, who recently met with Persian Gulf leaders in the UAE, said, "Sunni eyes are opening to the fact that Israel poses no threat, but that Shi'a Iran...aspires to dominate far beyond its borders."
  • Professor Hillel Frisch, a member of BESA, said the term "Arab-Israeli conflict" is no longer relevant to describe the region. "It's basically an Israeli-Iranian conflict or an Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The only Arabs that are confronting Israel today are proxies of Iran."
  • Frisch described Iran as "truly a radical imperial state. The best proof of that is that it's the only state in the Middle East...that projects power over 1,000 kilometers from its border," using it to attack Israel, which harbors no ill will towards Iran.