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July 14, 2017

In-Depth Issues:

The Egypt-Hamas Agreement: Leaving the Cat to Guard the Cream - Lior Akerman (Jerusalem Post)
    An agreement reached this week in Cairo between Hamas leaders in Gaza and Egyptian intelligence leaders seeking to close all ISIS smuggling routes between the Strip and Sinai has no real strategic importance.
    Hamas watching out for smugglers is like leaving the cat to guard the cream.
    It's clear to everyone that it's in Hamas' best interest to keep smuggling routes open so that it can continue bringing in goods, weapons, technological equipment, money and fighters, as well as offering ISIS logistical support in Sinai.
    Hamas will do everything in its power to create an image that will convince the Egyptians to give it the food, electricity and equipment Gaza so badly needs.
    But let's not be naive in thinking that while Hamas is earnestly guarding the old tunnels, other Hamas operatives aren't busy building new ones and preparing for their next confrontation with Israel.
    The writer is a former brigadier-general who served as a division head in the Israel Security Agency.

Israel Working to Safeguard Jewish Cemetery on Mount of Olives in Jerusalem - Udi Shaham (Jerusalem Post)
    Keeping the Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives safe is a national priority, Construction Minister Yoav Gallant, who is in charge of security at the site, said during a tour on Wednesday.
    "Jews have been buried here for at least 2,000 years," said Gallant. "It is important to maintain it and keep it protected."
    Among those who accompanied Gallant on the tour was Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.
    See also The Mount of Olives in Jerusalem: Why Continued Israeli Control Is Vital - Nadav Shragai (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

16-Year-Old Boy among Five Hizbullah Fighters Killed in Syria (Al Arabiya)
    Five Hizbullah fighters were killed in battles in Syria against opposition factions, the youngest being a 16-year-old boy, Lebanese websites reported Sunday.
    Social media circulated his photo, while his father, a Hizbullah member, appeared in a video during the funeral of his son.
    The International Criminal Court has defined child recruitment as a war crime.

Canadian Food Inspection Agency Backtracks after Saying Wine from the West Bank Isn't from Israel - Marie-Danielle Smith (National Post-Canada)
    The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is backtracking after a decision that wines produced in the West Bank should not be labelled as products of Israel.
    A Canadian government official said Thursday that a low-level employee at the CFIA "made a mistake."

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Israel Is Wooing Africa - Tom Collins (New African-UK)
    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is the first Israeli leader to visit West Africa since the 1960s and was the first ever non-African leader to address an Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) audience in June.
    Offering partnerships in technology, agriculture and security, he came to the summit with Israeli businessmen and met privately with 11 heads of state.
    Israeli company Energiya Global has recently committed to building $1 billion worth of solar field projects in Africa, starting with a $20 million solar field next to Liberia's main airport.
    In 2015, the company oversaw a solar project in Rwanda which now produces 5% of the country's electricity.

Israel Spends Millions to Shield Schools near Gaza from Rocket Fire - Lilach Shoval (Israel Hayom)
    The Israel Defense Ministry announced Wednesday it has completed fortifying schools and kindergartens in communities adjacent to Gaza at a cost of tens of millions of shekels.
    It now plans to invest another 20 million shekels ($5.6 million) to fortify dozens of classrooms and public institutions in Ashkelon and communities in the Shaar Hanegev Regional Council.

Video: The IDF Underwater Missions Unit (Jerusalem Post)
    The IDF's Yaltam unit is trained for underwater missions such as neutralizing mines and search and rescue.
    They use the latest technology and operate over 300 feet below sea level.
    Yaltam divers are present aboard any on-duty navy vessel, ready to provide aid should the ship need repairs at sea or should a sailor fall overboard.

An Italian Jewish Rebirth - Michael Ledeen (Wall Street Journal)
    While anti-Semitism is on the upswing in many parts of Europe, Judaism and Jews are experiencing a renaissance in Italy.
    State support for Jews extends beyond helping to revive communities.
    The federal government helped finance the Italian translation of the first volume of the Talmud.
    Jewish food, including kosher food, is suddenly chic. Restaurants in Rome's Jewish ghetto are regularly packed. Kosher food and wine are now regularly featured at national food fairs and can be purchased at upscale stores throughout the country.
    Italian historians, archaeologists and anthropologists are hard at work to document the presence of Jews which dates back to the first century, following the Roman conquest of ancient Israel. Cooperative ventures between Italian and Israeli universities are underway as well.
    At the same time, anti-Semites are particularly active in northern cities like Milan and Turin. The country is also a landing point for Islamic immigrants, many of whom are openly anti-Semitic.
    The writer is a scholar at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Israeli-Palestinian Water Deal: A High-Water Mark in Relations - Seth M. Siegel
    Jason Greenblatt, the president's Middle East envoy, announced Thursday in Jerusalem that the Israelis, Jordanians and Palestinians will be cooperating on a large water infrastructure project. The project will take water from the Red Sea near Eilat, and use gravity to carry the water 137 miles via Jordan to the Dead Sea, where it will be desalinated, with the brine deposited in the shrinking Dead Sea and the fresh water transferred into Israel.
        In exchange, a water pipeline will be built from Israel into Jordan's capital, Amman, and Israel will augment the already significant amount of water it provides to the Palestinians in the West Bank, particularly in the Hebron area.
        The strategic genius of the plan is that it weaves vital economic interests of these sometimes-antagonists together. Even should Jordan or the West Bank someday fall to radical rejectionists, it would be nearly impossible for those leaders to entirely break the water ties established here without creating substantial hardship for their populations.
        In 2008, the Palestinian leadership decided to turn water into a political tool to bludgeon Israel. After warm working relations from 1995 to 2008, the Palestinian Water Authority refused to meet with its Israeli counterpart in the Oslo-created and hitherto high-functioning Joint Water Commission - under the banner of "anti-normalization."
        Politics in service of the governed had given way to politics in service of ideology and obstruction. Israel's settlements suffered from a lack of new water projects, but the Palestinians suffered more. Quietly, the Palestinian business community made clear that the value of blackening Israel's name was not worth the price being paid in quality of life and lost business opportunities. The writer is the author of Let There Be Water: Israel's Solution for a Water-Starved World. (New York Times)
        See also U.S. Welcomes Israeli-Palestinian Deal to Implement the Red-Dead Water Agreement (White House)
        See also Israeli-Palestinian Water Deal: Cooperation to Improve Palestinian Life - Herb Keinon
    The water agreement announced Thursday and an accord signed on Monday between Israel and the PA that will significantly increase the power supply to Jenin are examples of how the two sides can cooperate to improve Palestinian living conditions. A senior official in the Palestinian Water Authority said Israel agreed to start selling water to the PA by the end of the year, which is long before the full project - expected to take five years to construct - is completed. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israel Seeking Saudi Flight Deal to Bring Muslim Pilgrims to Mecca - Jonathan Ferziger and Yaacov Benmeleh
    Israel is trying to persuade Saudi Arabia to allow it to send special Hajj pilgrimage flights to Mecca, building on U.S. efforts to strengthen cooperation between the two nations. Instead of enduring a 1,000-mile bus route across Jordan and through the Saudi desert, Israel hopes its Muslim citizens will be able to fly directly from Tel Aviv's Ben-Gurion International Airport, Communications Minister Ayoob Kara said. While 6,000 Israeli Arabs make the Hajj journey every year, only a few hundred are allowed to fly to Saudi Arabia from Jordan.
        An increasing number of Israeli companies in the fields of cyber-defense, agricultural technology and desalination have been doing business in Saudi Arabia and its Gulf neighbors, mostly through subsidiaries that mask their origins, Israeli officials say. Israel is also interested in receiving overflight permission from Saudi Arabia on flights to Asia by Israeli air carriers, saving them time and money. Kara says Israel's ties with the broader Arab world can't forever be held hostage to the Palestinian issue. (Bloomberg)
  • Islamic State Turned Desperate in Mosul Fight, Iraqis Say - Asa Fitch and Ali A. Nabhan
    In their final days in Mosul, Islamic State militants dispatched dozens of suicide bombers - including women with babies in their arms - and searched homes for young boys they could force into battle, said Iraqi commanders who led the fight and residents who survived. Almost all of the group's remaining fighters in Mosul's Old City wore suicide vests during gunbattles, and they also strapped bombs to disabled civilians. Some 60 suicide bombers were blowing themselves up every day at the end, said a high-ranking officer.
        "In this last small area [the Old City], they weren't able to use their traditional weapons like car bombs, mortars and drones, so they used suicide bombers," Lt. Col. Salam al-Obaidi, a field commander in Iraq's counterterrorism forces, said Thursday. "Many were women. More than 25 women detonated explosive vests targeting our troops in the last few days."  (Wall Street Journal)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Two Israeli Border Policemen Killed in Terror Attack in Jerusalem
    Two Israeli Border Policemen - Ha'il Satawi, 30, and Kamil Shnaan, 22 - were killed and another two were wounded in a terror attack on Friday morning at the entrance to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The three Israeli Arab terrorists from Umm al-Fahm, armed with two Carl Gustav rifles and a handgun, opened fire at the Israeli officers standing just outside the Temple Mount compound near the Old City's Lions Gate. The attackers then fled back into the Temple Mount compound and were shot dead by other police officers on the scene, a police spokesperson said.
        Three hours before the attack, two of the terrorists posted a photo on Facebook with the Al-Aqsa Mosque in the background and wrote: "The smile will be more beautiful tomorrow."  (Ynet News)
  • President Rivlin: Return of Israeli Soldiers' Bodies Is Precondition for Rebuilding Gaza - Yotam Berger and Jonathan Lis
    At a ceremony Thursday marking the third anniversary of the 2014 Gaza war, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin declared: "The rebuilding of Gaza requires the return of our sons and the cessation of all hostilities with Israel. As long as Hamas, a terrorist organization that seeks Israel's destruction, that does not respect human life, that does not respect human rights, a brutal and murderous organization, runs Gaza - Gaza will not be rehabilitated."
        "In [Operation] Protective Edge we were fighting to protect our home, our kindergartens and schools, our roads, our orchards and fields, on the home front and at the battlefront. It was a war over our everyday life. A moral, just campaign by a sovereign state seeking to defend its citizens."  (Ha'aretz)
  • After Official PA Condolence Call for Slain Terrorist, Israel Questions Palestinian Commitment to Peace - Stuart Winer and Dov Lieber
    The Israel Prime Minister's Office on Thursday denounced a condolence visit by a senior Palestinian official to the mourning tent for an attacker who tried to ram Israeli soldiers with his car on Monday, saying the show of support casts doubt on the Palestinian Authority's intention to make peace with Israel. Majed Faraj, the head of the PA intelligence service, visited the family of Muhammad Ibrahim Jibril, 24, in the West Bank village of Teqoa on Wednesday. Jamal Muhaisen, a member of the Fatah Central Committee, also visited the mourning tent. Fatah is the political party that dominates the PA. (Times of Israel)
  • Hamas Condemns Two Palestinians to Death for Spying
    A Hamas court in Gaza on Thursday sentenced to death two Palestinians, aged 32 and 53, accused of spying for Israel. The Hamas Interior Ministry said a third Palestinian was sentenced to forced labor in perpetuity. (AFP-Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Who Burned the Bridges to a Two-State Solution? - David Keyes
    In his column of July 12, Thomas L. Friedman claims that Prime Minister Netanyahu "is setting himself up to be a pivotal figure in Jewish history - the leader who burned the bridges to a two-state solution." Never mind that the Palestinian leadership turned down repeated offers for statehood, has refused to meet for direct negotiations for nearly a decade, pays terrorists hundreds of millions of dollars each year, and continues to call for the disappearance of Israel.
        Mr. Friedman claims that Prime Minister Netanyahu used "manipulation" in showing President Trump a video of Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president. Never mind that the video shows Mr. Abbas himself encouraging violence saying, "We welcome every drop of blood spilled for Jerusalem."
        Mr. Friedman claims that "runaway Jewish nationalism threatens to meld Israel with the Palestinians in the West Bank." Never mind that the Palestinians could have had a state of their own in 1937, 1947, 2000 or 2008; instead, they continue to prefer trying to destroy our state rather than build their own. The writer is a spokesman for Prime Minister Netanyahu. (New York Times)
  • After the Defeat of ISIS in Mosul, Iran Prepares for Regional Domination - Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Dr. Shimon Shapira
    The commander of the largest Shiite militia in Iraq - the Popular Mobilization Force (PMF) - is Jamal al-Ibrahim, known as Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis. Abu Mahdi is a former colleague of Hizbullah leader Imad Mughniyah and a protege of Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard's Quds Force.
        Abu Mahdi escaped from a Kuwaiti prison in 1990 after he was convicted and sentenced to death for bomb attacks on the American and French Embassies in Kuwait that killed five people. Incredibly, he was elected to the Iraqi parliament in 2005 as a member of the Shiite governing coalition. When his involvement in the Kuwaiti bombing became known, Abu Mahdi fled to Iran.
        Iran's Supreme Leader Khamenei has said that the PMF is an "important and blessed phenomenon" that will have an important role in ruling Iraq after the defeat of the Islamic State. Thus, Iran has virtually won control over Iraq, a key segment of the "Shiite arc" land route from Tehran, through Iraq and Syria, to southern Lebanon and the Mediterranean.
        The writer, a senior research associate at the Jerusalem Center, served as Military Secretary to the Prime Minister and as Israel Foreign Ministry Chief of Staff. (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • America Can Succeed Militarily in the Mideast - ISIS' Defeat in Mosul Tells Us How - David Ignatius
    The collapse of the caliphate tells us that the U.S. can succeed militarily in the Middle East only if it works with local forces who are prepared to do the fighting and dying. The American campaign has been built around Special Operations forces, whose slogan has been that the battle must be waged "by, with and through" local partners. That has meant training, equipping and advising Iraqi and Syrian soldiers - then providing them with air support that has relentlessly pounded the enemy.
        The most brutally efficient part of the campaign has been the secret "capture or kill" strikes by the U.S.  In simple terms, when the U.S. has actionable intelligence about a terrorist operative, it has tried to take that person off the battlefield. The marriage of local ground forces with U.S. drones, warplanes and intelligence has been potent. (Washington Post)
  • The Fight Against the Islamic State Is Far from Over - Jacob L. Shapiro
    It took nearly nine months for Iraqi security forces to dislodge IS from Mosul despite the fact that they significantly outnumbered IS forces and were backed by the U.S.  (By comparison, it took IS only two weeks to take Mosul.) The Islamic State could not have lasted as long as it did without a fair amount of local support. The population of the majority Sunni city doesn't trust the central government and so Iraq's fundamental problems remain unresolved.
        Iraqi security forces were so bloodied in the battle of Mosul that they will be in no rush to resume the fight in other IS-controlled areas such as those in Anbar province. Moreover, the death of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is irrelevant. Groups like the Islamic State are more hydra than snake: Cutting off the head doesn't kill the body, it just creates new heads.
        Islamic State is not yet defeated. It still holds defensible territory stretching from Deir el-Zour to Abu Kamal. It still conducts terrorist attacks. And it still tries to infiltrate surrounding countries, most notably Jordan and Saudi Arabia. (Geopolitical Futures)
        See also The Terrorist Diaspora: After the Fall of the Caliphate - Thomas Joscelyn
    The writer is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. (Long War Journal)
        See also The Caliphate Project in Iraq Post-Mosul - Aaron Y. Zelin
    The writer is a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)

  • Weekend Features

  • British Newspaper Publishes False Claim that Israel Prevents Gaza Docs from Traveling Abroad - Adam Levick
    A recent article in The Independent included a claim by a representative of Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-I) that "Israel prevents Gazan doctors from traveling abroad for training and the blockade prevents essential medical equipment from reaching hospitals."
        First, there are almost no Israeli restrictions on essential medical equipment going to Gaza, except for dual-use items that include radioactive materials.
        Concerning the claim that Gaza doctors are prevented from traveling abroad for training, a spokesperson from COGAT (the Israeli Defense Ministry unit which coordinates government activities in the territories) said: "The statement is not correct, the opposite is correct; through the Erez Crossing, doctors and medical teams enter Israel for professional training in Israel and abroad. In 2016 alone, 221 crossings of doctors were coordinated for professional training abroad, while an additional 43 crossings were coordinated in 2017. It is important to note that the list of doctors is determined by the Palestinian Authority."  (UK Media Watch)
  • The Los Angeles Times and the Jahalin Bedouin - Tamar Sternthal
    "Bedouins in the West Bank hold fast to their land - as pressure builds for them to leave," is the Los Angeles Times headline last week about Khan Al Ahmar, the Jahalin Bedouin encampment in the contested E1 area east of Jerusalem.
        Shlomo Dror, a former spokesman for the IDF's Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), said in a 1996 interview: "In 1988, the Jahalin tribe moved near Maaleh Adumim. Many members of the tribe work in Maaleh Adumim. They knew the whole time they were on government land." Indeed, a photograph of the site in 1967 shows that Khan Al Ahmar was virtually empty. The 160-person outpost sprung up only within the last 15 years or so, with a significant number of the residents having arrived within the last 10 years.
        As Ha'aretz reported, "In the past, the Civil Administration has offered residents to move to a permanent location....The Bedouins living in Area C near Maaleh Adumim endure harsh conditions and poverty, and the EU has often provided structures in their villages. These buildings have been put up illegally, but the EU makes sure to put a large sticker with the EU flag on all of them."
        COGAT said it is currently promoting 12 residential projects including infrastructure for water, electricity and sewage for Bedouin throughout the West Bank. The projects are suitable for the Bedouin lifestyle and many families inhabit the 200 legal buildings that Israel constructed a few years ago in the Jahalin HaVatikah neighborhood of nearby Abu Dis.
        By encouraging the Bedouin to entrench themselves in illegally-built encampments on state land, while Israel has repeatedly offered alternative housing including infrastructure lacking in their current homes, the EU is exacerbating the Palestinian-Israeli divide. Were the EU to assist the Bedouin to move to nearby legal homes with running water, electricity and sewage, 12-year-old Nasrin would not have to wash her hair with a bucket in her dilapidated shack. (CAMERA)
  • 70th Anniversary of the Exodus Jewish Immigration Voyage to Israel - Shoshana Kranish
    This week commemorates the 70th anniversary of the voyage of the Exodus, a ship carrying over 4,500 Jewish immigrants from France to Israel following World War II. The ship left the French port of Sete on July 11, 1947. A majority of the ship's passengers were Holocaust survivors who possessed no legal travel documents for their arrival in then-Mandatory Palestine.
        Upon nearing its arrival at Haifa's port, British soldiers boarded the ship and deported the passengers back to France. When the ship returned to France, the immigrants on board refused to get off, braving a heat wave and food shortages. The British eventually sent the ship to Hamburg, Germany, where they forced the passengers to disembark.
        The 1960 film "Exodus" featuring Jewish-American star Paul Newman was based on the ship's story, as was Leon Uris' 1958 novel of the same name. (Jerusalem Post)
  • The 1944 Warsaw Uprising and the Jews - Robert Cherry
    In 1944, despite limited resources, combatants led by the Polish Home Army rose up in Warsaw and withstood the Nazi response for 63 days, resulting in the destruction of more than half the city, the execution of upwards of 100,000 after the defeat, and tens of thousands of Poles being transported back to Germany for slave labor.
        The Home Army leadership hoped to begin the uprising a day or two before Soviet forces entered Warsaw, just as De Gaulle did with the Paris invasion, and take credit for the liberation. Despite receiving new reports that Nazi forces had successfully pushed back the Soviet advance, the Home Army uprising in Warsaw went forward.
        During the uprising, a modest number of surviving Warsaw Jews came out of hiding to join the efforts. The response of the Home Army was either to drive them away or kill them. This attitude was similar to the Home Army's approach to the Jews that had escaped to the forests, who were often hunted down by Home Army contingents. The writer is a Broeklundian professor of economics at Brooklyn College. (Jerusalem Post)

Israel and Europe: Why Economic and Strategic Cooperation Have Never Been Better - Toby Greene and Jonathan Rynhold (Foreign Affairs)

  • The economic, security, and identity crisis in Europe is creating new incentives for cooperation with Israel. Israel's economic and security ties with European states are strong. Meanwhile, a heightened fear of Islamist extremism strengthens the argument of those European leaders who believe they share common enemies with Israel because they share common values.
  • Imports from Israel to the EU hovered steady between 2011 and 2016 at around $14.8 billion - a historic high - and last year, European governments bought record levels of defense equipment from Israel. Israel's reputation as the "start-up nation" is much admired on the Continent, as are its energetic academic and creative exports.
  • More important for EU members' trade balances, Israel is an increasingly important market, with imports from the EU growing from 14 billion euros in 2006 to more than 21 billion in 2016.
  • Even in countries where there has been a decline in affection for Israel, this sentiment has not been accompanied by a broad embrace of the Palestinian cause. For many political leaders and much of the neutral public, the Palestinian national movement is associated with chaos, corruption, and violent extremism, underlined by the consequences of Israel's pullout from Gaza, which led to Hamas rule and thousands of rockets fired at Israeli civilians.
  • Terror attacks in European cites, searing images of Islamic State butchery, and waves of Syrian refugees pouring into Europe have made it harder to sustain the idea that Israel is the source of Middle East instability. European states especially value Israeli intelligence on the threats posed by Sunni jihadist groups.
  • Moreover, when jihadists target European cities, it bolsters the Israeli narrative that frames Palestinian violence as driven by ideological extremism.

    Dr. Toby Greene is an Israel Institute post-doctoral fellow at the Leonard Davis Institute for International Relations at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
        Prof. Jonathan Rynhold is director of the Argov Center for the Study of Israel and the Jewish People at Bar-Ilan University.

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