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by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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  DAILY ALERT Thursday,
September 15, 2016

In-Depth Issues:

Comparing the New Israel Aid Deal to the Previous Deal - Nahal Toosi and Bryan Bender (Politico)
    Some experts push back at the notion that the new U.S. military aid MOU provides much more than the current arrangement.
    Col. Gilead Sher pointed out that Congress has added roughly $500 million every year on top of the estimated $3 billion a year given out under the current agreement.
    "So the difference between the coming deal and the existing one would be just $300 million a year."

The Saudis Have Killer Drones - David Axe (Daily Beast)
    Saudi Arabia has signed a contract with Chinese firm Chengdu for Pterodactyl drones.
    The 30-foot-long, propeller-driven Pterodactyl, apparently modeled on America's Predator and Reaper drones, can fly for hours carrying cameras and missiles.

Muslim Arabs Feel Comfortable in Israel - Ron Kronish (Times of Israel)
    This week during the Muslim holiday of Id al-Adha, I visited two malls in Jerusalem where I saw hundreds of Muslim families out shopping for the holiday. No one harassed them, no one even noticed.
    Israeli Muslims easily enter Jewish malls without fear and travel to vacation spots all over Israel without trepidation.
    They are Israeli citizens and feel comfortable here. They share the workplace with Jews and are part and parcel of the landscape and of civil society.
    Rabbi Dr. Ron Kronish is the founding director of the Interreligious Coordinating Council in Israel (ICCI).

U.S., Israel to Establish Joint Energy Research Center - Sharon Udasin (Jerusalem Post)
    The U.S. Department of Energy will establish a joint U.S.-Israel energy research center in 2017, Jonathan Elkind, the department's assistant secretary for international affairs, announced last week.
    The center will build on the "extensive engagement that already exists between our two countries through the U.S.-Israel Energy Dialogue, as well as programs such as the BIRD [Binational Industrial Research and Development] energy program, the upcoming energy-water desalination challenge, and others."

Israeli Invention Helps Paralyzed Woman Finish Race - Josh Jackman (Jewish Chronicle-UK)
    Claire Lomas, 36, a sportswoman from Leicestershire who is paralyzed from the chest down after she was thrown off her horse in racing trials nine years ago, has completed the Great North Run wearing an Israeli exoskeleton.
    Lomas, who is 16 weeks pregnant, took five days to walk the half marathon in the ReWalk suit.
    Last week, ReWalk announced it had made its hundredth sale to private customers.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S.-Israel Security Aid Agreement Prevents Congress from Giving Israel More Money in 2017 and 2018 - Josh Rogin
    As part of the new 10-year U.S.-Israel security aid agreement, the Israeli government signed a letter promising not to accept any money given by Congress for 2017 and 2018 above the levels in the new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), chairman of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee that manages the foreign affairs budget, said, "You know the White House pressured them into writing that letter. It is a level of antagonism against Israel that I can't understand."
        Graham pointed out that Congress regularly increases foreign aid above the levels in MOUs when dealing with other countries. For example, Congress increased foreign aid to Jordan above its $1 billion annual allotment last year in light of that country's refugee crisis. Tamara Cofman Wittes, a Brookings Institution scholar and former Middle East official in the Obama administration, tweeted this week that Congress still has the right to appropriate whatever it wants. (Washington Post)
        See also Israel Could Ask for Additional U.S. Military Aid in Case of Emergency - Michael Wilner
    Israel's acting National Security Adviser Yaakov Nagel, who negotiated the new defense aid deal on Israel's behalf, said Wednesday that the deal guarantees $5 billion over the next decade for missile defense and that Israel has obligated itself not to ask Congress for additional funds for this purpose. Nagel added that Israel can ask for additional funding in case of war, and that it also can ask for additional funding for other items, such as tunnel defense.
        While under the current defense aid arrangement Israel was able to use 26% of the funds for procurement in Israel, under the new MOU that percentage will gradually decline, starting in the sixth year, until by the 10th year all the funds will have to be spent in the U.S. Nagel said that if under the current MOU, $7.8 billion could be spent in Israel, under the new MOU that number will drop to $5.6 billion. He stressed that the change will be done in a gradual manner, giving Israeli defense industries plenty of time to prepare for the new reality.
        Nagel did not characterize his talks with the administration as "negotiations," saying that this assistance is a gift. He added that at no time did anyone link the aid package and the Palestinian issue. (Jerusalem Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Netanyahu Thanks U.S. for New 10-Year Security Aid Package
    Prime Minister Netanyahu said Wednesday: "I would like to thank President Obama and his administration for this historic agreement. I also thank our many, many friends in the American Congress and among the American people for their great support....Many in the United States understand that investment in the security of Israel strengthens the stability of the unstable Middle East and serves not only our security interests but those of the United States as well."
        "This agreement illustrates a simple truth: relations between Israel and the United States are strong and steadfast. This does not mean that we do not have disagreements from time to time, but these are disagreements within the family. They have no effect on the great friendship between Israel and the United States, a friendship that is expressed in this agreement, which will greatly assist us in continuing to build up Israel's strength in the coming decade."  (Prime Minister's Office)
        See also Israeli Official: Netanyahu's Stance on Iran Nuclear Deal Had No Impact on U.S. Military Aid Package - Barak Ravid
    Yaakov Nagel, the acting head of the National Security Council who led the team that negotiated the new defense aid agreement with Washington, said Wednesday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's opposition to the nuclear agreement with Iran had no impact on the size of the defense package. "As the one conducting these talks since 2013, I can say that at no stage of the negotiations was there a higher American offer on the table than the one we ultimately received. There are many speculations, but...the figures thrown in the air, about whether we hadn't made the speech in the Congress, are simply not true."
        "This agreement isn't an American compensation for the agreement with Iran. It never was. The agreement is intended to support Israel's security....I believe it's the maximum the Americans could give us considering their economic situation and defense budget cutbacks."  (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Iran's Foreign Minister in the New York Times - Danielle Pletka
    In a New York Times op-ed Tuesday, Iranian Foreign Minister Muhammad Javad Zarif is right to note that Wahhabism is indeed a danger to the world, a scourge of extremist Salafi ideology that successive Saudi regimes have inflicted upon the Muslim (and Christian and Jewish) world. The Saudis helped created al-Qaeda and have systematically used their oil riches to crowd out moderate Islam through the funding of mosques, imams, and textbooks. Saudi funded schools and madrasas have taught intolerance, anti-Semitism and extremism to susceptible young minds for decades.
        Zarif is only concerned with Sunni terrorism, but Iran is the veritable godfather of modern terrorism. Unlike the Saudi government, which has actually begun to grapple with its legacy, Iran has merely doubled and tripled down on its terror model.
        It was the Islamic Republic of Iran that created Hizbullah and sponsored the groups that kidnapped and murdered Americans through Lebanon's long civil war. It is Iran that funds Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. It is Iran that props up the murderous Assad regime that has repeatedly gassed its own people. It is Iran that has assassinated its enemies the world over, and it is Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps that was responsible, during the Iraq war, for the deaths of hundreds of U.S. servicemen.
        It is Iran that helped arm and support Hugo Chavez's dictatorship in Venezuela; Iran that has been in attendance at at least one of North Korea's nuclear tests; Iran that has long hosted al-Qaeda and facilitated the movement of its people before and after 9/11. The notion that somehow the Islamic Republic of Iran can be a leader against terrorism is macabre humor. The writer is senior vice president for foreign and defense policy studies at AEI. (American Enterprise Institute)
  • The Businesses of Mahmoud Abbas and His Sons - Yoni Ben Menachem
    PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas rejected the request of four Arab states - Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates - to mend fences with his bitter rival Muhammad Dahlan. Some of those states want to see Dahlan as the next PA chairman. At the urging of Egypt and Jordan, which fear Hamas, Abbas called off the elections in the territories and consented to a return to Fatah by some of Dahlan's people.
        Abbas' rejection of Dahlan has impelled the interested parties to reveal publicly the power-wealth nexus of Abbas and his sons. On September 11, Egyptian journalist Hussein Yousef wrote in Al-Masri Al-Youm about the business activity of Abbas and his two sons, Yasser and Tareq. The family's business empire is based on Abbas' own commercial ties and connections with states and large companies worldwide, all of which benefit his two sons' business concerns.
        The sons own a large business consortium called Falcon, which is involved in tobacco and cigars, electrical and mechanical contracting, international media, and insurance, among other things. Dahlan said Abbas' sons' wealth today comes to $300 million. Abbas seeks a suitable successor who will safeguard his sons' economic empire after he retires. The writer, an Arab affairs expert, is former director general of the Israel Broadcasting Authority. (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

Palestinian Hostility to the Presence of Jews Must Be Addressed - Jonathan S. Tobin (Commentary)

  • In the State Department's view, a two-state solution means a Palestinian state that would be only for Arabs alongside an Israel in which an Arab minority enjoys full legal rights. PA leader Mahmoud Abbas said in 2013, "In a final resolution, we would not see the presence of a single Israeli - civilian or soldier - on our lands."
  • Given the drumbeat of incitement to hatred of Jews and Israelis in Palestinian media and in their schools, it is hard to argue that Jews wouldn't be at risk in a Palestinian state. The primary reason Israel withdrew every settler when it evacuated Gaza in 2005 is the certainty that Jews whose lives would depend on the mercy of the Palestinians would be as good as dead.
  • Indeed, deprived of the opportunity to attack individual Jews after the Israelis withdrew from Gaza, Palestinian mobs vented their rage on the abandoned buildings the Jews left behind, including the greenhouses that had been purchased by well-meaning philanthropists for use by the Arab population.
  • In any other conflict, we would label the Palestinian demand for the removal of Jewish communities (or those of any other group) with the same words used by Netanyahu: ethnic cleansing. But when it comes to Jews living in their ancient homeland, the rules are different, and bigotry is not only accepted but also supported.
  • Until Palestinian hostility to the presence of Jews is addressed by both the U.S. and the international community rather than ignored, the peace everyone claims to be seeking will never happen.

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