March 7, 2018

In-Depth Issues:

Revolutionary Guards Commander: Iran's Missile Production Has Tripled (Reuters)
    Iran has increased its missile production three-fold, Brig.-Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, head of the Revolutionary Guards' aerospace division, said Wednesday, Fars news service reported.

Abbas Rivals Abroad Wary as PA Joins Interpol - Ahmad Abu Amer (Al-Monitor)
    The Palestinian Authority, voted in as a full member of Interpol in September, recently completed the technical procedures to connect the Palestinian police force to the Interpol database.
    With this new status, the Palestinian police have access to information from police agencies around the world and will be able to issue international requests for the detention of wanted individuals for extradition.
    The step has raised concerns among Abbas' exiled political rivals such as dismissed Fatah leader Mohammed Dahlan and others, who fear that the PA might use Interpol to track them down and extradite them.
    The PA's membership in Interpol is also unnerving Israel, which strongly lobbied against the admission to protect Israeli military and political leaders in European countries.

Delay the Release of Fifth-Generation Fighter Planes to Arab States - Col. (ret.) Shimon Arad (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)
    Israel's aerial superiority over the next decade will depend on the technological advantages that the F-35 fighter affords it.
    Consequently, Israel must retain its regional exclusivity of this platform and work to delay the release of fifth-generation fighters to other countries in the region for as long as possible.
    Israel must impress upon the U.S. its objection to the release of the F-35 to the Gulf states.

Shell Pulls Out of Gaza Gas Field (Al Jazeera)
    Royal Dutch Shell is giving up its stake in an undeveloped natural gas field off the coast of Gaza, Palestinian officials said Monday.
    Shell had been struggling to find a buyer for its 55% stake in the Gaza Marine field, which it took over during its acquisition of BG Group in 2016.

Hamas: No Normalization of Relations with Zionist Regime (IRNA-Iran)
    Hamas issued a statement Tuesday saying: "We reject all forms of normalization [with Israel]...which includes all aspects of political, economic, cultural and sports life."
    "Our people will not forgive anyone who normalizes relations with this enemy."

Israeli Food Tech Is Booming - Simone Somekh (Tablet)
    Israeli start-up companies are finding new ideas to change the way we think about, produce, and eat food.
    Inno-Bev has created a plant-based drink that keeps El Al pilots awake during long flights.
    SuperMeat is developing lab-made chicken meat.
    Hargol runs a commercial farm producing grasshoppers as a source of protein.
    Other companies are developing new solutions to check for food safety. Inspecto is working on a portable device that detects contaminants in food, like residues of fertilizer.
    Yarok has invented a microbiological test which allows to check for bacteria in food in 45 minutes; the tests in use now take up to 72 hours and the results are often inaccurate.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Top Senate Democrat Blames Peace Deadlock on Palestinians - Sen. Chuck Schumer
    U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) told AIPAC on Monday: "Many wonder: 'Why don't we have peace in the Middle East?' even though a majority of Israelis want peace....There are some who argue the settlements are the reason there's not peace, but we all know what happened in Gaza. Israel voluntarily got rid of the settlements there, the Israeli soldiers dragged the settlers out of Netzarim, and three weeks later the Palestinians threw rockets into Sderot. It's sure not the settlements that are the blockage to peace."
        "During the negotiations in 2000, [Prime Minister] Ehud Barak was making huge territorial concessions that most Israelis didn't like, [but] it was Arafat who rejected the settlement....And it's certainly not because we've moved the embassy to where it should belong in Jerusalem."
        "Why don't we have peace? Because...too many Palestinians and too many Arabs do not want any Jewish state in the Middle East....We, in America, must stand strong with Israel through thick and thin. We must, because that is the reason, not any of these other false shibboleths, why there is not peace in the Middle East."  (AIPAC)
        See also below Observations - Netanyahu to AIPAC: "We Must Stop Iran" (Prime Minister's Office)
  • Jerusalem Safe Enough to Move U.S. Embassy There, City's Mayor Tells Congress - Dan Boylan
    The mayor of Jerusalem has assured the U.S. Congress that America faces no additional terrorist threat by moving its embassy from Tel Aviv to the ancient city. "The importance of the move to Jerusalem is second to nothing else," Nir Barkat told the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on Tuesday. "God forbid, if there is a security challenge, I assure you we will not shy away from it." Barkat noted that Israelis deeply appreciate the historical significance of the White House decision to recognize Jerusalem as its capital.
        From a security standpoint, Barkat noted that Washington has a murder rate 15 times higher than Jerusalem. "So whenever I fly to D.C., I pray to come back to Jerusalem safely."  (Washington Times)
  • After Reports of Chemical Attacks, White House Considers New Military Action Against Syrian Regime - Karen DeYoung
    President Trump has requested options for punishing the Assad government after at least seven reported chlorine gas attacks this year on civilians in opposition-controlled areas. "The civilized world must not tolerate the Assad regime's continued use of chemical weapons," White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said Sunday. Last April, Trump ordered a Tomahawk missile attack on a Syrian air base linked to a sarin gas attack that killed 80 people. (Washington Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Palestinians Increase Payments to Terrorists to $403 Million - Lahav Harkov
    The Palestinian Authority increased its payments to terrorists and their families in 2018 by nearly $56 million, Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Chairman Avi Dichter said Monday, when a bill to discourage the practice passed a first reading in the Knesset. The PA paid terrorists and their families more than $347 million in 2017. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Congress Is Overdue to Pass the Taylor Force Act - Michael Barbero, Sander Gerber and Michael Makovsky (The Hill)
  • Fatah Prepares to Replace Mahmoud Abbas - Yoni Ben Menachem
    At the recent meeting of the Fatah Revolutionary Council in Ramallah, one key topic was what to do if Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas were to become unfit to rule as a result of his age (82) and fragile state of health. Abbas reportedly told the participants, "It's possible that this is my final meeting with you."
        The Council changed Fatah's constitution to allow Fatah Vice Chairman Mahmoud al-Aloul to stand in for Abbas as acting party leader for three months if Abbas becomes unfit to govern. Apparently, Abbas is starting to realize that he may have to leave his position and he wants to influence the choice of his successor while he still has the strength to do so. Mahmoud al-Aloul, 66, considers himself the heir to Abbas. He has a long history of struggle against Israel, was an early member of the PLO's higher military council, and supports a tough stance against Israel.
        Despite al-Aloul's rivalry with Jibril Rajoub, who is secretary-general of the Fatah movement, both men are working together against Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, an Abbas protege, and both are working against Mohammed Dahlan for the PA crown. However, Fatah sources say Abbas' preferred candidate for his successor is Gen. Majid Faraj, head of the General Intelligence Service in the West Bank. The writer is a veteran Arab affairs commentator for Israel Radio and Television. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
        See also Health of Palestinian Leader Mahmoud Abbas Deteriorates in Recent Months - Amos Harel (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • The Carnage in Syria Shows that the International Community Cannot Be Trusted to Protect Anyone's Security - Prof. Eyal Zisser
    News reports tell of the construction of a new Iranian missile base, in addition to the 20 other bases or outposts the Iranians have already built throughout Syria. The all-out attack the Syrian regime is waging in eastern Ghouta, with the help of its allies from Tehran and Moscow, is merely a promo for what it plans to do in Idlib in the north, followed by the south and the Golan Heights.
        The events in Syria expose the fact that the international community, the same one that often preaches morality to Israel, is fictitious and cannot be trusted to fulfill its promises pertaining to Israel's security. The writer, vice rector at Tel Aviv University, is former director of its Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies. (Israel Hayom)
  • Erdogan's Rising Islamist Militarism in Turkey - Eric S. Edelman and Merve Tahiroglu
    Nationalism is running high in Turkey. Turkish President Erdogan has done his best to promote militarism among the populace, including by openly encouraging the formation of civilian militias claiming to defend his government - and the Turkish nation.
        Over the last year, the Turkish government has facilitated militaristic student parades, while Turkey's state-run religious affairs directorate is teaching Turkish children about the grandeurs of martyrdom. Some state-run schools even replaced their recess bells with Ottoman military marches.
        The Turkish government blames the U.S. for both the failed July 2016 coup and the rise of Kurdish self-rule in northern Syria. Most Turkish people, opinion polls show, now consider the U.S. the top threat to their national security. Erdogan has promised to deliver an "Ottoman slap" to the U.S. and "bury" U.S. special forces soldiers operating in Syria.
        The U.S.-Turkish relationship cannot survive if the bulk of the Turkish population sees the U.S. in such adversarial terms. Eric S. Edelman is a former U.S. ambassador to Turkey and a senior adviser at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, where Merve Tahiroglu is a research analyst. (Weekly Standard)

Netanyahu to AIPAC: "We Must Stop Iran" (Prime Minister's Office)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the AIPAC Policy Conference in Washington on Tuesday:
  • "First the good news: Israel has never been stronger militarily....That's an F35 fighter plane, the most advanced in the world. That's an Iron Dome interceptor, and many other systems that we developed with the help of America. Thank you America; thank you successive American presidents; thank you Congress, Republicans and Democrats alike; thank you AIPAC for helping bring this about."
  • "And this incredible military is buttressed by superb intelligence, unmatched in the world....In the last few years, Israel's incredible intelligence services have foiled dozens of terrorist attacks across the world in dozens of countries."
  • "The bad news is that bad things are getting worse....What do we do about Iran? The force behind so much of what is bad is this radical tyranny in Tehran....We must stop Iran. We will stop Iran."
  • "When I last spoke here, I tried to warn the world about a nuclear deal that was a threat to the survival of Israel, the security of the region, the peace of the world. I warned that Iran's regime had repeatedly lied to the international community, that it could not be trusted....And I warned that by removing Iran's sanctions, Iran's regime would not become more moderate and peaceful, but more extreme and belligerent, much more dangerous. And...that's exactly what has happened."
  • "Iran is building an aggressive empire: Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Gaza, Yemen, more to come. Now Iran is seeking to build permanent military bases in Syria, seeking to create a land bridge from Tehran to Tartus on the Mediterranean. And in addition to moving its army, its air force, its navy to Syria to be able to attack Israel from closer hand, it's also seeking to build precision guided missile factories in Syria and Lebanon against Israel."
  • "As we counter Iran's aggression, we should always remember the brave people of Iran....Women are jailed for removing their hijabs. Students are tortured and shot for advocating freedom. We stand with those in Iran who stand for freedom. I believe that a day will come when this horrible tyranny will disappear...and at that point, the historic friendship between the people of Israel and the people of Persia will be reestablished."

        See also Video: Netanyahu at AIPAC (Ha'aretz)