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May 5, 2017

In-Depth Issues:

Trump to Visit Israel on May 22 - Itamar Eichner (Ynet News)
    President Donald Trump is officially set to visit Israel on May 22.
    U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will accompany the president.

Congressmen Call to Allow Americans Born in Jerusalem to List Israel as Their Birthplace - Adam Kredo (Washington Free Beacon)
    52 members of Congress led by Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) have written to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson calling for a reversal of the U.S. policy that prohibits Americans born in Jerusalem from listing Israel as their birthplace.
    Under the current policy, Americans born in Jerusalem have no country of birth listed on their passports.
    In a 2015 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Congress' 2002 law permitting Americans to list "Jerusalem, Israel" as their birthplace.
    See also Text: Congressional Letter on Recognizing Jerusalem as Part of Israel (U.S. House of Representatives)

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Israel Explores Construction of Railway to Gaza - Matan Tzuri (Ynet News)
    Last week, Brig. Gen. (res.) Kamil Abu Rokun, head of the Crossing Points Authority at the Israel Ministry of Defense, briefed the heads of local authorities in the Gaza vicinity on a plan for the construction of a railway from Israel to Gaza through the Erez Crossing - which today is used only for the crossing of people - for the purpose of transporting goods.

Gaza Power Cuts Affect Sewage Treatment - Nasouh Nazzal (Gulf News-Dubai)
    In April, the Palestinian Authority stopped paying Gaza's electricity bill. This means sewage treatment plants are receiving 3-4 hours of electricity a day, not enough to process Gaza's sewage.
    Gaza municipalities are now dumping 70,000 cubic meters of untreated sewage into the Mediterranean daily and the pollution has started reaching Egypt and Israel.

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The UN Campaign Against Business in Israel Makes No Sense - Doron Hindin (Washington Post)
    The UN Human Rights Council is creating a database designed to shame companies simply for doing business in the West Bank.
    Procedurally, companies would be added to the UN database without any form of due process. Businesses would not be able to contest their inclusion before it was made public, and once designated, they would not have access to review or delisting mechanisms.
    Companies would be branded wrongdoers simply based on their presence in a politically contentious region.
    And while the UN database ostensibly seeks to target only those companies operating in the West Bank, the reality is that any meaningful business in Israel entails business in disputed territories.
    Governments should work with their UN ambassadors and with Secretary-General Guterres to ensure that this list is never published.

Despite UNESCO's Bias, Jews Won't Abandon Israel's Holy Jewish Sites - Rabbi Abraham Cooper and Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein (The Hill)
    Forget fake news. UNESCO is promoting an entire fake universe with its new resolution rejecting Israeli sovereignty over any part of Jerusalem, including modern west Jerusalem.
    In its text, Rachel's Tomb and the Tomb of the Patriarchs, where Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rivka, Jacob and Leah are buried, were repackaged as Muslim mosques.
    Jerusalem is the heart of the Jewish people. Centuries ago, long before anyone heard of Mohammed, King David built his capital there and the Jews built two temples there.
    Rabbi Cooper is Associate Dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, where Rabbi Adlerstein is Director of Interfaith Relations.

Lockheed VP: "There's a Part of Israel in Every F-35" - Barbara Opall-Rome (Defense News)
    U.S. Air Force Gen. (ret.) Gary North, vice president for customer requirements at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, said Thursday in Tel Aviv, "There's a part of Israel in every F-35 that's ever been built."
    He said Lockheed has already contracted more than $1 billion worth of structures, subsystems, and components with Israeli industry.
    North cited the aircraft's helmet-mounted display system, outer wing sets, and aerostructures as examples of Israeli content.

Coming Soon: Cyclist Goggles with Fighter Pilot Technology - Gwen Ackerman (Bloomberg)
    Israel's Elbit Systems is gearing up to sell augmented reality smart glasses for bicycle riders, equipped with technology developed for fighter-pilot helmets.
    Made by Everysight, an Elbit spinoff, the glasses have a map-projection overlay that helps riders navigate new terrain, give real-time performance metrics and allow cyclists to receive notifications, calls and text messages.
    The glasses are expected to hit the market by the end of the year.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Trump's Approach to an Israeli-Palestinian Peace Deal: Get to Yes, and Figure Out the Details Later - Brian Bennett and Tracy Wilkinson
    President Trump hosted Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at the White House on Wednesday and told him, "I've always heard that perhaps the toughest deal to make is the deal between the Israelis and the Palestinians; let's prove them wrong." Despite the opening flourishes of praise and goodwill, the meeting between Trump and Abbas was expected to become more uncomfortable behind closed doors, as the administration laid out a series of demands.
        The White House went out of its way to build up Abbas during the visit, giving in to requests for a lunch with Trump beyond their meeting, as well as that the Palestinian flag be placed behind Trump while the two leaders made statements about the visit, a person close to the White House said.
        The White House felt that giving Abbas those symbolic concessions would help create an opening to demand that Abbas shut down terror incitement, stop payments by the Palestinian Authority to the families of those killed or imprisoned in terrorist attacks against Israelis, refrain from lobbying the UN for additional resolutions against Israel, and get on board toward a peace deal. (Los Angeles Times)
        See also Netanyahu: Israel Is Always Ready to Pursue a Genuine Peace
    At his meeting with Romanian Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu on Thursday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: "I look forward to discussing with President Trump the best ways to advance peace. This is something we fervently share with the President. I heard President Abbas yesterday say that Palestinians teach their children peace. That's unfortunately not true. They name their schools after mass murderers of Israelis and they pay terrorists. But I hope that it's possible to achieve a change and to pursue a genuine peace. This is something Israel is always ready for."  (Prime Minister's Office)
  • Russia, Turkey, Iran Agree on Syria Safe Zones - Louisa Loveluck and Karen DeYoung
    Russia, Iran and Turkey, meeting in Astana, Kazakhstan, said Thursday that they have agreed to create "de-escalation zones" across four areas in Syria, while renewing diplomatic efforts. A cease-fire deal to come into force Saturday would apply to government and rebel forces in the designated areas, where the Islamic State does not hold large swaths of territory.
        The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights in Britain said the Syrian air force stepped up strikes in the proposed de-escalation zones after their locations were revealed in a Russian draft proposal Wednesday. (Washington Post)
        See also U.S.: "Iran's Activities in Syria Have Only Contributed to the Violence"
    State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert said Thursday, "We continue to have concerns about the Astana agreement, including the involvement of Iran as a so-called "guarantor." Iran's activities in Syria have only contributed to the violence, not stopped it, and Iran's unquestioning support for the Assad regime has perpetuated the misery of ordinary Syrians. In light of the failures of past agreements, we have reason to be cautious."  (U.S. State Department)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Palestinian Authority Rejects Trump's "Mad" Request to End Terrorists' Payments - Yasser Okbi
    Nabil Shaath, a senior foreign policy adviser to PA President Mahmoud Abbas, described President Trump's appeal to halt payments to convicted terrorists or their families as "mad" during an interview with Israel Radio, Maariv reported Thursday. Shaath added, however, his "appreciation" for Trump's "respectful" approach in an attempt to relaunch the peace process. (Jerusalem Post-Maariv Hashavua)
        See also Palestinians Delight in Warm Trump Welcome But Have Cause for Concern - Avi Issacharoff
    The meeting between President Donald Trump and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at the White House on Wednesday was "very pleasant," senior Palestinian officials said. "He was very sympathetic," and "the atmosphere was excellent and warm." Yet the Palestinian side has cause for concern on the morning after. Legislation is making its way through the U.S. Congress to stop aid to the PA if it continues to pay salaries to families of security prisoners.
        Meanwhile, Al-Hayat in London reported Thursday that Trump had promised Abbas an Arab "political umbrella" - Saudi, Egyptian and Jordanian backing - if the PA leader agreed to enter talks with Israel. (Times of Israel)
  • U.S., Israel, Palestinians Meet in Brussels on Economic Initiatives in the West Bank - Tovah Lazaroff
    Israeli Regional Cooperation Minister Tzachi Hanegbi met with U.S. special envoy Jason Greenblatt and three Palestinian ministers in Brussels on Thursday to discuss economic initiatives in the West Bank. The meeting took place on the sidelines of a session of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee, which meets twice a year to determine donor funding for projects to help Palestinians in the West Bank. Countries that attended the committee meeting included Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Israel Presents the International Community with Projects for the Benefit of Palestinians
    At a meeting of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee on Wednesday, IDF Col. Hatib Mansour, head of the Civil Department of the office for Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), presented the various projects that Israel is promoting in Judea, Samaria and Gaza. The Israeli delegation presented proposals on how the international community can contribute and assist in several of these important projects that will significantly improve the quality of life for Palestinians, as well as provide a boost to economic growth.
        COGAT projects involve such fields as electricity, water and sewage infrastructure, and Palestinian employment and improvement of the crossings. COGAT's objective is to promote the civilian interests of Palestinians in order to improve their quality of life, and thereby bring about stability and prosperity for the general public. (COGAT)
  • The Truth about the Conditions of Palestinian Security Prisoners in Israel
    Palestinian security prisoners in Israel - terrorists responsible for the deaths of many Israelis - complain of the "harsh conditions" in Israeli jails. Yet anyone who knows the Israeli prison system knows that the conditions of security prisoners meet a very high standard. Prisoners in the Palestinian Authority, Gaza, and even in the Western world can only dream of the benefits that prisoners in Israel receive. They also receive regular visits from the Red Cross.
        Many security prisoners receive monthly salaries, which can sometimes reach up to 12,000 shekels ($3,300) a month, from the Palestinian Authority for carrying out their murderous crimes. (COGAT)
        See also Payments to Terrorists by the Palestine National Fund (COGAT)
        See also Incentivizing Terrorism: Palestinian Authority Allocations to Terrorists and their Families - Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • The Trump Approach to the Palestinian Arena - Brig.-Gen (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser
    While iterating deep zeal to make the ultimate deal and solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, President Trump adopts a different approach to the promotion of peace than that of his predecessors. Instead of proposing solutions, he focuses on helping the two sides reach an agreement by themselves, and puts more emphasis on improving economic conditions.
        Faced with this new policy, the Palestinians find themselves under growing pressure. Hence, the Palestinian Authority finds it necessary to look for ways to prevent what they consider dangerous developments, like the promotion of a regional initiative or a cut of foreign aid.
        Even as Hamas tried to adopt a position paper that would distance it from the harsh anti-Semitism of its charter, Hamas remains committed to the annihilation of Zionism and the State of Israel through jihad, but understands that the current situation requires more finesse and sophistication.
        There is no real difference between the narratives of Hamas and the PA. Both deny the existence of a Jewish people and any sovereign Jewish history in the Land of Israel, both consider Zionists colonizers. Both see as their ultimate and uncompromising goal the liberation of all of "Palestine" and are committed to the so-called "right of return." The only tactical differences are about the attitude toward the Oslo agreements (Hamas opposes them, the PA accepts them but ignores Palestinian obligations under them). The writer was formerly director general of the Israel Ministry of Strategic Affairs and head of the Research Division of IDF Military Intelligence. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Emerging U.S. Policy on Israeli-Palestinian Peace - Daniel B. Shapiro
    On their visits to Washington, leaders of key Arab states - Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the Gulf states - were showered with praise by President Trump as key partners in the campaign against ISIS. Arab leaders are ecstatic about Trump's tough rhetoric toward Iran and deep skepticism toward the nuclear deal signed by the Obama administration. In turn, Washington has advocated a regional approach to reinvigorating Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, in which the Arab states would contribute by making gestures of normalization toward Israel and encouraging the Palestinians to show flexibility at the negotiating table.
        The issue of ending Palestinian Authority payments to terrorist prisoners and their families has gained new currency in Washington, where the murder of U.S. Army veteran Taylor Force by a Palestinian terrorist in 2016 has galvanized bipartisan Congressional efforts to condition assistance to the Palestinians on an end to these payments. The writer is a former U.S. ambassador to Israel. (Fathom)
  • Abbas Lies to Trump, Big Time - Noah Pollak
    On Wednesday at the White House, PA President Mahmoud Abbas claimed, "We are raising our a culture of peace." In his campaign speech to AIPAC, Trump said: "In Palestinian textbooks and mosques, you've got a culture of hatred that has been fomenting there for years." But Abbas denied that any such concerns are legitimate or true. Please forget all those videos you've seen of Palestinian kindergarteners declaring their greatest ambition in life is to stab a Jew. The lie Abbas told President Trump to his face told the president almost everything he needs to know about the man he is relying on as his partner. (Washington Free Beacon)
        See also The Palestinian "Culture of Peace"
    During his May 3 meeting with President Trump, PA President Mahmoud Abbas said: "Mr. President, I affirm to you that we are raising our a culture of peace." On March 8, Abbas met with Palestinians who carried out terrorist attacks between Oct. 2015 and mid-2016, including Osama Zaidat, 14, who attempted to stab Israeli civilians in Kiryat Arba on Sep. 20, 2016.
        Abbas heads the Fatah movement. On its 51st anniversary in 2016, events included a parade in Deheishe near Bethlehem attended by senior PA and Fatah officials, featuring children with mock RPG rockets and suicide belts. On March 17, 2016, Fatah held a ceremony in Ramallah in memory of female terrorist Dalal Al-Mughrabi, who was deputy commander of Fatah's March 1978 Coastal Road terror attack, in which 35 Israeli civilians, among them 13 children, were killed. A little girl named Majd Abu Rmeileh recited a poem, and a Scout troop gave a musical performance. (MEMRI)
        See also Teaching Palestinian Children to Value Terrorism - Elliott Abrams
    Peace between Israel and the Palestinians does not, fundamentally, depend on who is doing the negotiating or how skilled they are. Fundamentally it depends on the desire for peace. A new study of Palestinian textbooks finds that they are significantly more radical than previous ones, teaching students to be martyrs and demonizing Israel. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will be in Washington this week. The teaching and glorification of terrorism and violence should be at the top of the agenda with him. The writer is a senior fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at CFR. (Council on Foreign Relations)
  • The New "Softer" Hamas Position Is Nothing More than a Front for Plans of Domination - Kobi Michael
    Hamas is not changing its stripes. Hamas was, and remains, a radical Islamic militant organization and a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood that ideologically rejects the right of Israel to exist. The purported updates to its charter that have been leaked so far are nothing more than political acrobatics by Hamas leaders who are attempting cosmetic changes for political gain.
        By appearing to soften its position and temporarily accept a Palestinian state within the 1967 lines, political leader Khaled Maashal is maneuvering Hamas for an inside takeover of the Palestine Liberation Organization - the umbrella group headed by Abbas. At the same time, the leaked information came from Lebanon, not Gaza, where the new leadership of Yahya Sinwar, known for his militancy, has said nothing about softening any Hamas positions against Israel.
        The new text rejects the three basic requirements set by the Middle East Quartet for Hamas to end its isolation as a terrorist organization: accept previously signed accords, reject violence and recognize Israel. The writer is former deputy director general of Israel's Ministry of Strategic Affairs and a senior research fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University. (Newsweek)

  • Weekend Features

  • The IDF Military Intelligence Technology Unit - Yoav Limor
    At the height of the War of Attrition in the late 1960s, Israel needed a way to take photographs deep within Egypt. Using airplanes proved problematic because of Russian anti-aircraft missile batteries deployed in Egypt after the 1967 Six-Day War. The technology division of IDF Military Intelligence developed a high-resolution miniature camera that could be used to take covert photos deep within enemy territory. Completed in 1969, this was actually the first prototype of an aerial photography drone.
        The R&D unit, one of the most secretive in the IDF, has been awarded 33 Israel Security Prizes over the years for its unique solutions. The unit's innovations are not patented. Exposing them would immediately result in the development of counter-technology to block them. Some of the innovations have taken years to complete, and many have cost fortunes, but the breakthroughs they enable - in terms of intelligence, operations and technology - have paid off immensely.
        Every system must be 100% dependable. One member of the unit compared the innovations to a "match that has to be guaranteed to light up on the first try in the field under stressful conditions. You can't light it ahead of time because it will burn out by the time you need it. So our job is not only to develop it, but to know without a doubt that when the fighters take it to the field, it will light successfully."  (Israel Hayom)
  • Irish Army Buys Israeli Drones - Mark O'Regan
    A fleet of high-powered "spy drones" have been bought by the Irish Army from an Israeli defense company for 1.9M euros. The Defence Forces stress the primary objective is to provide the "greatest possible force protection" to Irish troops. They also emphasize that they tendered internationally to get the best possible deal.
        The Irish army's new fleet of covert technology will provide a valuable "over the hill" surveillance asset for troops on peacekeeping missions. The 336-member 109th Infantry Battalion of the Defence Forces is currently serving a six-month tour of duty in South Lebanon.
        Declan Power, a security analyst who has served overseas in the Irish Army, described as "facetious nonsense" suggestions that the purchase of arms from Israeli companies undermines Ireland's peacekeeping role in the Middle East. "The people who make those kinds of statements demonstrate their lack of knowledge about such matters. They are hugely politicized and know nothing about operational reality."
        "Israel is not North Korea; it is a democratically accountable state that is seen as a responsible vendor of these goods. We purchase equipment from the U.S. Are we supposed to down tools because some group of political extremists and malcontents have an issue with that?"  (Sunday Independent-Ireland)

Sinai Bedouin Aligning with Egypt Against ISIS - Yoni Ben Menachem (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

  • In its battle against ISIS in the Sinai Peninsula, one of the main difficulties facing the Egyptian army has been the absence of accurate, real-time intelligence on the location of ISIS forces, experts on the war on terror agree. But this problem may soon be resolved due to a series of missteps by ISIS in Sinai involving the Bedouin tribes living there.
  • According to a report in Al-Arabi Al-Jadeed of April 29, over the past three years, ISIS operatives have shot and killed 300 members of Bedouin tribes in Sinai and beheaded another 200 Bedouin for allegedly "collaborating" with the Egyptian army and police forces, in order to terrorize and frighten the Bedouins into submission.
  • In recent weeks there have been numerous violent incidents between ISIS and Sinai Bedouin. The Bedouin tribes, who refused to cooperate with the Egyptian army against ISIS in northern Sinai over the past three years, have changed their minds, since the Bedouins are fed up with the continued clashes with ISIS.
  • On April 29, 2017, the Tarabin tribe published a statement calling on all the tribes to unite in order to fight the terrorism that threatens Egypt. The Tarabin tribe has a large military force and weapons that ISIS does not have. They also have lots of money and can buy new weapons.
  • The weakening or removal of ISIS in the Sinai Peninsula is an important interest for Israel, since ISIS has carried out a number of attacks against Israel from Sinai and has fired rockets at the city of Eilat.

    The writer is a veteran Arab affairs and diplomatic commentator for Israel Radio and Television.
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