Netanyahu Heads to Brazil for Bolsonaro Inauguration
- Herb Keinon (Jerusalem Post
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu landed early Friday in Brazil to attend the Jan. 1 inauguration of president-elect Jair Bolsonaro.
This will be the first-ever visit of an Israeli prime minister to Brazil, the world's 5th most populous country with the 8th largest economy and the 9th largest Jewish community of 120,000.
He also has scheduled meetings with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez, and Chile's President Sebastian Pinera.
Former Israeli Ambassador to Brazil Giora Becher said that now Brazil has a president who "says openly that he is pro-Israel...this is a major change in the foreign policy of Brazil."
German Company Linked with Iran's Rockets Stops Business with Tehran
- Benjamin Weinthal (Jerusalem Post
Rainer Westermann, a spokesman for the German company Krempel, which provided material used in rockets produced by Iran to gas Syrians, told the Jerusalem Post
on Thursday that the firm has stopped trade with the Islamic Republic.
"Corporations realize that doing business with Iran means funding the IRGC's terror strategy," U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell told the Post
A Syrian photographer found parts made by Krempel Group in the remains of Iranian-produced chemical rockets that gassed Syrian civilians in January and February.
29,600 Jews Moved to Israel in 2018
- Judy Maltz (Ha'aretz
29,600 Jews moved to Israel in 2018, an increase of 5% over 2017.
10,500 immigrants from Russia arrived, an increase of 45%, while 6,500 came from Ukraine, down 9%.
Aliyah from North America totaled 3,250, down 10%. Aliya from France totaled 2,600, down 25%. Aliya from the UK totaled 500, down 9%.
Fabricating Palestinian Suffering for Profit
- Ari Lieberman (FrontPage Magazine
A Twitter account called Free Gaza Team published multiple graphic photos of "Noor from Gaza," a young girl whose arm had been sheared off. A link to an online crowd funding site called "Social Fund" was provided with the appeal: "Help Noor from Gaza get an artificial limb."
When I performed a Google image search, Noor's image appeared. The girl advertised by the Free Gaza Team was in fact a Syrian child from Deir ez-Zor, injured as a result of airstrikes.
I immediately reported the scam to Social Fund, which promptly terminated Free Gaza Team's donation drive. It has since opened another "charity drive" for Noor on PayPal.
In the age of modern communications and social media, fraudulent images are transmitted to millions of people in seconds and negative impressions and beliefs are instantly formed.
Palestinian Mission Takes Down Pro-Terror Post after Rebuke from Germany's Foreign Ministry
- Benjamin Weinthal (Jerusalem Post
The Palestinian Mission in Berlin posted on its Facebook page an illustration of convicted Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) terrorist Leila Khaled, a key member of the terrorist cell that hijacked a TWA flight in 1969 who also participated in the attempted hijacking of an El Al flight in 1970.
On Tuesday, Germany's Foreign Ministry blasted the Palestinian Mission for glorifying terrorism.
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Israeli-Japanese Friendship: A Potential Yet to Be Realized
- Shaun Ho (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
Although relations between Jerusalem and Tokyo have improved significantly since the end of Japan's participation in the Arab League boycott, the two countries have yet to develop a close relationship to the extent that Israel has with its Western allies and even China.
Because of Jerusalem's improved relations with the Arab states and Japan's declining reliance on Middle Eastern oil supplies, Tokyo will not need to be as cautious in improving political relations with Jerusalem or fear pressure from its other Middle Eastern partners.
As geopolitical obstacles from other Middle Eastern countries decline in significance and the economic benefits of technological cooperation become clear, there is little reason for Israel and Japan not to increase their cooperation.
Bible Lands Museum in Jerusalem Displays Smuggled Antiquities
- Amanda Borschel-Dan (Times of Israel
For decades, 40,000 stolen ancient artifacts confiscated from smugglers and looters in the West Bank were stockpiled in the offices of the Antiquities Department of the Israeli Civil Administration.
In 2010, the new Staff Officer of Archaeology of the Civil Administration in Judea and Samaria, Hananya Hezmi, began sorting, dating, registering, and documenting the artifacts. In the process, he stumbled upon some rare items.
The recently published first of four volumes, called Finds Gone Astray: ADCA Confiscated Items
, catalogues 134 examples of the more unique items.
The Civil Administration has loaned a collection of items for display in an exhibit which opens on Dec. 31 at the Jerusalem-based Bible Lands Museum.
Record 4 Million Tourists Visit Israel in 2018
- Yvette J. Deane (Jerusalem Post
Israel expects a record-breaking 4 million tourists by the end of 2018.
There were 13% more tourist entries in 2018 than in 2017 and 38% more than in 2016.
61% of tourists were Christians and 22% were Jews. 40% had visited Israel before.
There were 813,500 tourists from the U.S., 320,000 from France, 303,200 from Russia, 259,500 from Germany, 200,000 from Britain, and 100,000 from China.
Israeli Startup NoTraffic Raises $3.2 Million for Congestion Management System
(Times of Israel
Israeli startup NoTraffic has developed a traffic management system that tracks vehicle movement in cities and uses AI algorithms to optimize traffic lights at intersections to relieve congestion.
"The system streamlines the timing of the traffic lights to maximize traffic flow," the company says.
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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
- Syrian Kurdish Leaders Look to Russia and Assad - Ellen Francis
Kurdish leaders in northern Syria are urging Russia and the Syrian government to send forces to shield them from the threat of a Turkish offensive, in the wake of the U.S. decision to withdraw forces. The territory at stake spans about a quarter of Syria, most of it east of the Euphrates River, controlled by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an umbrella group dominated by the Kurdish YPG. The SDF has been Washington's main Syrian partner in the fight with Islamic State, but Turkey views the YPG fighters as a threat and has vowed to crush them.
- U.S. Troop Withdrawal from Syria Could Take Several Months - Luis Martinez
The U.S. military is drafting a plan for
withdrawing U.S. troops from Syria over several months, according to U.S. officials. No final decisions have been made about the planned pace of the withdrawal.
A major consideration is the protection of American forces as they execute the withdrawal. Officials have said that U.S. and coalition aircraft will continue to conduct airstrikes and provide air support for American troops as they carry out the withdrawal.
- A Small U.S. Base Gets in Iran's Way - But Maybe Not for Long - Sune Engel Rasmussen and Michael R. Gordon
A small, remote U.S. base in southern Syria has made it more difficult for Iran to project power across the Middle East. More than 200 U.S. troops have been advising local Syrian fighters at the al-Tanf garrison, which they have used to combat Islamic State and which sits astride a potential Iranian supply route through Iraq to Syria. Those U.S. forces will likely be the last to leave Syria, U.S. officials say.
(Wall Street Journal)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
- Video: IDF's Tunnel Sealing Material Seen Leaking Out of Lebanese Homes - Anna Ahronheim
The IDF destroyed a Hizbullah cross-border tunnel near the Israeli community of Metulla by filling it with material which would prevent its use. IDF Spokesman Brig.-Gen. Ronen Manelis said Thursday that the material pumped into the tunnel has come out in several places connected to the tunnel, including residential homes in the Lebanese village of Kfar Kila from where the tunnel was dug. "This fact indicates Hizbullah's use of civilian structures in the heart of an urban area in southern Lebanon," Manelis said.
A senior IDF officer said of the five tunnels discovered so far,
"We found one tunnel that resembles a Hamas tunnel because of its route, but the rest of the tunnels are five stars...something that Hamas could only dream of, with ventilation shafts and electricity." Some of the tunnels were two meters wide and two meters high, and were excavated at least 25 meters deep.
The attack tunnels were built to allow Hizbullah fighters to infiltrate the communities around Metulla, cut them off, and kill as many Israeli civilians and troops as possible. (Jerusalem Post)
- U.S., Israel Work to Block Unilateral Palestinian Statehood Drive at UN - Tovah Lazaroff
The U.S. and Israel are working to block a renewed Palestinian Authority drive to become a member state of the United Nations, effectively handing the Palestinians unilateral statehood recognition outside the context of any final status agreement with Israel.
There are 137 countries which, outside the context of the UN, recognize Palestine as a state, out of which 120 maintain full diplomatic ties.
But most Western countries, including most European nations, have not recognized Palestine as a state.
With respect to UN membership, Security Council approval from 9 of 15 UNSC member states is needed for UN membership. Out of those 15, 10 have individually recognized Palestine as a state. The U.S., which has veto power at the UNSC, has historically opposed any Palestinian UN membership drive and would be expected to veto this latest initiative.
- Russia Trying to Set New Rules for Israel in Syrian Airspace - Yoni Ben Menachem
Russia responded angrily to the Israeli air force attack in the Damascus region that took place on December 25, 2018. The Russians are trying to set new rules of the game for Israel in Syrian airspace.
Israel has no intention of ending its attacks in Syria, which are intended to prevent Iranian military entrenchment in that country. While the Iranians are determined to transfer "game-changing" weapons to Hizbullah to improve the accuracy of rockets that they possess, Israel has no choice but to protect its security interests.
While Russia claimed that Israeli air force planes endangered civilian flights, Israeli pilots are very cautious and are among the best in the world. Every Israeli aerial operation is painstakingly planned in order to prevent mistakes. In fact, the Syrian aerial defense system is what is endangering civilian aviation because it is not professional enough. It even accidentally brought down a Russian spy plane in September 2018.
The writer, a veteran Arab affairs and diplomatic commentator for Israel Radio and Television, is a senior Middle East analyst for the Jerusalem Center.
(Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
- Former President Mubarak: Hamas, Hizbullah Militants Infiltrated from Gaza in 2011, Broke into Egyptian Prisons to Free Prisoners
During the trial of former Muslim Brotherhood President Mohamed Morsi in Cairo Criminal Court, former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said on Wednesday that the former Chief of the General Intelligence Service (GIS), Omar Soliman, informed him that around 800 Hamas and Hizbullah militants infiltrated into Sinai through the tunnels from Gaza in January 2011. The militants fired shots at the demonstrators in Tahrir Square and broke into Wadi al-Natron prison and released prisoners belonging to Hizbullah, Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood.
Morsi and Muslim Brotherhood leaders were accused of planning the prison break-ins, which resulted in the escape of many terrorists and other criminals, leading to the scourge of terrorist activity in the country.
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
- Hamas continues to seek missiles to bombard Israeli civilians and to construct cross-border tunnels to perpetrate atrocities. That's the reason Israel must maintain its blockade and has undertaken three major military incursions into Gaza over the last 10 years.
- Hamas continues to transform Gaza's cities into battlefields by positioning military headquarters, weapons caches, and rocket launchers near, in, or under civilian buildings. That's the reason the fighting has injured and killed Palestinian noncombatants.
- Hamas continues to foment hatred of Israel through the media and schools, to persuade Gazans that what is now Israel rightfully belongs to them and will someday, through force of arms, be theirs. That's the reason Israel must safeguard its borders and prevent its territory from going up in flames.
- Were it not for Hamas' acts of war, Gazans would not face today an appalling scarcity of electricity and potable water; rivers of untreated sewage polluting beaches and ground water and spreading parasites; and a decimated economy.
- The Center for a New American Security and the Brookings Institution published a report this month, "Ending Gaza's Perpetual Crisis: A New U.S. Approach." It calls for stabilizing Gaza through humanitarian relief and reintegrating it into the Palestinian Authority in order to establish an independent state through "vigorous diplomacy."
- Yet despite its ambition to break with the mistakes of the past, the report embodies the old approach. First, by offering anodyne formulations about the "cycle of violence" that blur the difference between Hamas' desire to destroy Israel and Israel's desire to be left alone, the report obscures the abiding sources of Gaza's humanitarian crisis.
- Second, it is doubtful that the Palestinian Authority leadership - which rejected peace proposals advanced by President Bill Clinton and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak at Camp David in 2000, by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in 2008, and by Secretary of State John Kerry in 2013-14 - will cooperate with the elaborate scheme.
- Third, the report blames the Trump administration for damaging relations with the PA by recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital, moving the American embassy there, and cutting aid to the PA and to UNRWA. But Jerusalem is Israel's capital. Pretending otherwise encourages Palestinians to indulge unrealistic expectations and advance extravagant demands. As for coddling the PA and overlooking UNRWA's corruption and anti-Israel propagandizing, disincentivizing bad conduct offers the prospect of reducing it.
The writer, a political scientist and former law professor, is a senior fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution.
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