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September 1, 2017

In-Depth Issues:

Report: U.S. to Let Iranian-Backed Militias Come within 5 Miles of Golan Heights - Stuart Winer (Times of Israel)
    U.S. officials have agreed to let Iranian-backed militias take up positions in Syria 5 miles from the Israeli Golan Heights, Asharq Al-Awsat reported Thursday.
    The report said the U.S. agreed that Iranian-backed militias could be positioned as close as 5-10 miles from the Jordanian border and the Golan Heights, less than half the originally sought 20 miles.
    See also Lavrov: Russia Did Not Ignore Israel's Security Interests in Syria (Sputnik-Russia)
    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Friday in Moscow that the decision to create de-escalation zones in Syria does not ignore Israel's security interests.

Israel: Lebanese Army Officer on Northern Border Is Hizbullah Operative (Times of Israel)
    Israel has called on UNIFIL to remove a top officer in the Lebanese army from a command post on Israel's northern border, accusing him of being a Hizbullah operative, Yediot Ahronot reported on Friday.
    Israel said Major Yahya Husseini serves as a "liaison officer" for Hizbullah and was "planted" into the Lebanese army.
    Husseini maintains continuous contact with Hizbullah operatives, gets instructions from them, and hands over information.

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Increase in East Jerusalem Arabs Studying Israeli Curriculum - Yarden Zur and Nir Hasson (Ha'aretz)
    The number of Arab residents of east Jerusalem studying the Israeli curriculum for matriculation has risen to 5,800 students this year, a 14% increase compared to last year, the Jerusalem municipality said.
    This is still less than 6% of the total number of students, though many study for the Israeli exams in private frameworks after school.

A Thriving UK-Israel Partnership in Science - Christian Duncumb (Jerusalem Post)
    In 2016, nearly 1,500 scientific publications included a UK and Israeli researcher.
    BIRAX has invested 7 million pounds over the last five years in 15 collaborative UK-Israel projects tackling major global diseases such as diabetes, Parkinson's and cardiovascular disease.
    The writer is director of the British Council in Israel.

Blind Soldier Fulfills Dream of Joining the IDF (Jerusalem Post)
    Daniel Defur, who is blind, told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about his wish to serve in the IDF.
    The prime minister reached out to Special in Uniform, a program that integrates young men and women with disabilities into the IDF.
    Daniel has since enlisted and will serve on an air force base.

Israeli Scientists Develop More Nutritious, Colorful Potatoes - Brian Blum (Israel21c)
    Researchers at Israel's Weizmann Institute of Science have figured out how to produce colored betalain pigments in plants and flowers that don't normally have them.
    Betalain pigments contain healthful antioxidant properties and are the basis for natural food dyes for products such as strawberry yogurt.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. Says Iran Shows "True Colors" by Restoring Hamas Ties - Michelle Nichols
    U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said on Thursday Iran had shown its "true colors" by restoring ties with Palestinian militant group Hamas and must be held to account by the international community. "Iran must decide whether it wants to be a member of the community of nations that can be expected to take its international obligations seriously or whether it wants to be the leader of a jihadist terrorist movement. It cannot be both," Haley said. "It's long past time for the international community to hold Iran to the same standard that all countries who actually value peace and security are held to."  (Reuters)
  • UN Monitor Says Iran Complies with Nuclear Deal - David E. Sanger and Rick Gladstone
    In a quarterly report released Thursday, the International Atomic Energy Agency said that two years after the nuclear deal, Iran's supply and enrichment level of uranium fuel were well within the allowed limits of the agreement. Iran's supply of heavy water also was within the limits. (New York Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • U.S. Court Rejects Palestinian Lawsuit on Israeli Settlements - Amir Tibon
    A federal court rejected a lawsuit by Palestinian activists against the U.S. government and prominent American companies for their support of Israeli settlements in the West Bank. District Judge Tanya Chutkan dismissed the case, stating that the court "lacks subject matter jurisdiction to adjudicate the claims against all defendants because they are replete with non-justiciable political questions....This simply inappropriate for this court to resolve. Instead, these issues must be decided by the political branches."  (Ha'aretz)
  • Israeli President Rivlin Wishes PA President Abbas a Happy Eid al-Adha
    Israeli President Reuven Rivlin spoke by telephone Thursday with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to wish him a happy holiday on the occasion of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, which began Thursday evening. Rivlin said he hopes the coming weeks will bring calm and quiet for both the Israeli and the Palestinian people, his spokesperson said. (Times of Israel)
  • Israeli Border Police Seize Cache of Weapons, IDF Uniforms in West Bank - Daniel K. Eisenbud
    Israeli Border Police raided an arms factory in the West Bank village of Beit Arush on Thursday, seizing a cache of rifles, IDF uniforms, binoculars and ammunition. Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said this "was one of the many operations taking place in Judea and Samaria to seize weapons being used in Israel by terrorist cells who are planning attacks."  (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • The Low-Profile War between Israel and Hizbullah - Yaakov Lappin
    Israel has been waging a low-profile military and intelligence campaign, dubbed "The War Between Wars," which monitors and occasionally disrupts the transfer of advanced weapons to Hizbullah. Israel remains determined to block the arrival of advanced surface-to-air missiles that would disrupt future Israel Air Force operations against Hizbullah, and surface-to-sea guided missiles which could target the Israel Navy, including naval bases, as well as Israel's offshore gas drilling rigs in the Mediterranean Sea.
        Despite Israel's efforts, Hizbullah and its Iranian patron have been able to assemble one of world's largest arsenals of missiles in Lebanon, and are making considerable progress in improving their accuracy and warhead size. The sheer size of Hizbullah's arsenal means that in a future war many of its rockets will crash into Israeli territory without being intercepted, as Israel's air defenses will have to focus on strategic and military sites, and on population centers. (BESA Center for Strategic Studies-Bar-Ilan University)
  • Tehran Is Taking over Syria and Coming Closer to Israel - Ben-Dror Yemini
    Iran is taking over Syria. The distant enemy is coming closer. ISIS has been defeated on the ground. The problem is that the alternative to ISIS on the ground - Iran and Hizbullah - is just as bad.
        The strengthening and spreading of Iran's influence were made possible, inter alia, because of the nuclear deal. In the five months that followed the sanctions' removal, Iranian exports - excluding oil - grew by $19 billion. Oil production soared from 2.5 million barrels a day to close to 4 million in recent months. The billions increased accordingly. There is no doubt the nuclear agreement served to bolster Iran and its expansionist aspirations. (Ynet News)
  • Abbas Moves to Take Control of the Palestinian Judiciary - Khaled Abu Toameh
    The PA government has proposed a new bill that a Palestinian lawyers group warns "will put an end to the independence of the judiciary." The proposed bill authorizes the executive branch to dismiss judges and makes the prosecutor-general subordinate to the PA government.
        The international community does not seem to care much about human rights violations and assaults on public freedoms by the PA in the West Bank. Abbas sought to become his people's editor-in-chief by controlling the Palestinian media, and he got what he wanted, despite protests by Palestinian journalists. Now, Abbas seeks to become the chief judge of the Palestinians. (Gatestone Institute)

  • Weekend Features

  • In Munich, a Tribute to Israeli Athletes and Families' Persistence - Andrew Keh
    The Munich 1972 Massacre Memorial, carved into a grassy hillside, is set to open on Sept. 6, commemorating that year's Olympic Games, when 11 members of the Israeli team and one German police officer were killed by members of the Palestinian group Black September. Ankie Spitzer, whose husband, Andre, a fencing coach, was among those killed at the Munich Games, said, "It took 45 years, but like I tell my kids, if you have a dream, pursue it, if you feel that it is just."
        Spitzer and the other families had urged the Bavarian government for years to erect a memorial and museum at the Olympic Park, where the Israeli team members were initially taken hostage. Two team members were killed there, and the rest, as well as the German policeman, died during a chaotic rescue attempt at a nearby air base. "It is late," said Ludwig Spaenle, the Bavarian minister of culture, whose office led the project. "But it is not too late."
        The exhibition area includes a 36-foot LED screen that will play a 27-minute loop of news footage broadcast during the crisis. In the center of the memorial, a triangular column will display biographical profiles of each victim in German and English, with photographs. (New York Times)
  • Israeli Technology Aims to Replace Doctor's Visits
    An Israeli tele-medicine company is looking to replace some doctor visits with a new device that allows patients an accurate self-examination from home. The Tytocare device allows patients to measure their own vital signs - heart rate or temperature - as well as to conduct examinations of organs such as ears, throat and lungs. "We basically replicate a face-to-face interaction with a remote clinician while allowing him to do a full physical examination, analysis and the diagnosis of a patient at home," explained Dedi Gilad, CEO and co-founder of Tytocare.
        The TytoHome package can be used by parents of young children who find themselves arriving at a doctor's clinic too often, people with disabilities, or populations residing in rural areas where health care services are scarce. In the U.S., the average cost of a primary care visit is $170, while a telemedicine visit costs $50. Tele-medicine also eliminates the costs involved in maintaining a physical clinic.
        The TytoHome package has FDA approval and is already marketed in the U.S.  Israel's Schneider Children's Hospital compared the accuracy and quality of physical check-ups done by Tyto to those conducted by doctors and found almost no difference between the two types of examinations. (Reuters-Jerusalem Post)
        See also Video: New Device and App Allows Patients to Conduct Self Checkups - Faith Lapidus (VOA News)
  • Cutting-Edge Israeli Device Accurately Tests Fruit for Freshness - Abigail Klein Leichman
    Avi Schwartzer, R&D manager at Hewlett-Packard in Israel, came up with the idea for the AclaroMeter to help determine, on the spot, a fruit's quality and ripeness. "There is a huge demand for this product" from farmers, wholesalers and retailers, as well as home gardeners, said Schwartzer.
        The product combines two unique made-in-Israel tools: AclarTech's proprietary algorithm and Consumer Physics' SCiO handheld molecular sensor. "We put a software layer on top of the SCiO hardware. You could compare it to GPS and Waze; you cannot build Waze without GPS."
        AclaroMeter crunches that data from SCiO, along with smartphone camera images of external attributes such as color and size, to display a quality and ripeness "grade" for the fruit instantaneously. (Israel21c)
  • U.S.-Israel Commercial Ties Grow Stronger - Shoshanna Solomon
    In May, the U.S. and Israeli chambers of commerce announced a new multi-year initiative called Business Israel to bring executives from leading businesses from the U.S. to Israel. America and Israel have strong economic ties, said Josh Kram, a senior director of Middle East Affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, in an interview during a visit to Israel last month.
        40% of all investment into the U.S. from the Middle East comes from Israel, and Israel is the second-largest importer of U.S. goods in its region, despite representing only 2% of the population. Trade between Israel and the U.S. totaled $35 billion in 2016 and $18 billion in January-June 2017. (Times of Israel)

The Future of U.S. Intervention in Syria - David Ignatius (Washington Post)

  • The U.S.-led coalition is accelerating its campaign to destroy the Islamic State's remaining strongholds in Syria.
  • Military and civilian officials who have been closest to U.S.-Syria policy appear convinced that America should maintain a residual presence of special operations forces to continue to train and advise - and also, restrain - the Syrian Kurdish militia that has been America's key partner against the Islamic State.
  • The Syrian Kurdish militia known as the YPG, advised by elite American forces and backed by U.S. air power, has swept across the area east of the Euphrates over the past three years, and in about six weeks is expected to seize the Islamic State's capital of Raqqa.
  • As they advanced, the Kurds recruited Sunni Arab allies into a broader coalition known as the Syrian Democratic Forces. Battlefield success generates its own political momentum and, as the U.S. and the SDF have advanced, a bandwagon effect has developed. Sunni opposition groups now seem eager to fight alongside the Kurdish-led forces, under overall U.S. command.
  • If U.S. military advisers remain in eastern Syria, say U.S. officials, they can curb the Kurds' ambitions for independence, deter the Turks from intervening, and encourage the Sunni opposition to work with all sides.
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