March 22, 2018

In-Depth Issues:

Israel to Deploy Tear Gas Drones Against Gaza Border Protests - Stuart Winer (Times of Israel)
    Israeli Border Police are planning to deploy a newly developed drone that can drop tear gas to disrupt Palestinian demonstrators planning to march on the border fence between Israel and Gaza in the coming weeks, Border Police Deputy Commissioner Yaakov Shabtai told Hadashot TV on Wednesday.
    "Beyond the fact that this equipment neutralizes any danger to the troops, it enables reaching places that until now we couldn't get to," he said.
    The test of the tear gas drone during a protest two weeks ago was considered a success. The drone enables security forces to engage the rioters before they approach the security fence.
    Channel 10 reported Wednesday that the IDF is also preparing for the march by building sand berms for sniper positions, setting up lookout posts, and laying down barbed wire in the area.

Jordan Jails Jihadists for Plotting Attacks on Israel, Russia and Iran Embassies (AFP-Arab News-Saudi Arabia)
    Two Jordanians belonging to Islamic State were sentenced to 10 years in jail on Wednesday for planning to carry out bomb attacks in 2016 on the Russian, Iranian and Israeli embassies in Amman.

Palestinian Protesters Want U.S. Offices Closed in West Bank (Al Jazeera)
    Dozens of Palestinian protesters gathered outside America House in Ramallah on Wednesday to call for the closure of U.S. offices in the West Bank.
    "We will not abandon our demand that U.S. institutions be expelled from Palestine," said Essam Abu Baker, coordinator of the Palestinian National and Islamic Forces.
    Affiliated with the U.S. Consulate General in Jerusalem, America House was established in 2010 to promote U.S. culture.

IDF Trains U.S. Jews to Help Themselves, Israelis in Event of Natural Disaster - Hanan Greenwood (Israel Hayom)
    The IDF Home Front Command has recently begun training dozens of Jewish American volunteers to help Israelis in the event of a devastating natural disaster.
    Last week, representatives from the Home Front Command, Israel Fire and Rescue Services and Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon flew to Atlanta, Georgia, to teach locals how to use household items in search and rescue efforts.
    Similar training sessions have been held in Israel since 2013. Seven sessions are planned for 2018, where hundreds of American civilians will be trained to help in the aftermath of a natural disaster, both in Israel and in their own communities.
    "We learned from events around the world that 90% of people who were trapped after earthquakes were saved by their neighbors," said Lt. Inbar Levy of the Home Front Command.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Taylor Force Act Moves Forward in Senate - Jacob Kornbluh
    The Senate is expected to pass the Taylor Force Act as part of the $1.3 trillion omnibus appropriations bill this week, according to Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who introduced the legislation last year. The bipartisan bill will cut off U.S. economic assistance to the Palestinian Authority until they cease payments to terrorists and their families. The House passed the Taylor Force Act in December.
        Graham said, "This will give us leverage with the Palestinians to push back on what I think is outrageous. You can make more money being a terrorist than getting a real job. This has to end."  (Jewish Insider)
        See also Taylor Force Act a Turning Point in U.S. Stance on PA Terror Payments - Ben Cohen and Dovid Efune
    As the U.S. Senate prepared for a final vote to approve the Taylor Force Act that sanctions the Palestinian Authority for financially incentivizing terrorism, Sander Gerber, the leading private advocate of the legislation, said the measure carried a political and moral significance far beyond its financial impact.
        "The biggest impact lies in the requirements on the State Department and the U.S. representative at the UN to make known and report upon the Palestinian "pay-for-slay" infrastructure," Gerber said. He stressed that Congress had grasped that the PA was "incentivizing terror." The legislation would focus attention on "removing an incentive structure that is consuming more than 7% percent of the Palestinians' national budget."
        Of the $200 million of U.S. aid that "directly benefits" the PA, $125 million will be cut once the legislation is passed. Exemptions were made for aid to Palestinian wastewater projects, the East Jerusalem Hospital Network, and for a children's vaccination program. However, Gerber said, "it's not going to change the PA's practice of paying terrorists. This is something that is embedded within their societal structure."  (Algemeiner)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Hamas Seeks Alliance with Iran, Hizbullah to Foil U.S. Peace Plan - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Hamas has bolstered relations with Iran and Hizbullah and is consulting with Russia and China as part of an effort to thwart President Trump's peace plan, Palestinian sources in Gaza said Thursday. "Hamas is working to forge a Palestinian-Arab-Islamic alliance that would be able to confront Trump's plan," a source told Al-Hayat. "Discussions with Iran and Hizbullah on this matter have gone a long way."  (Times of Israel)
        See also Palestinian Rejection Said to Delay U.S. Peace Plan - Khaled Abu Toameh
    The U.S. has decided to delay indefinitely the announcement of its peace proposal after concluding that no Arab country would be willing to accept the plan as long as the Palestinians continued to reject it, a senior Palestinian official told Al Hayat in a report published Thursday. (Times of Israel)
  • Palestinian Teen Provocateur Accepts Eight-Month Prison Term - Elisha Ben Kimon and Yoav Zitun
    Palestinian provocateur Ahed Tamimi, 17, was sentenced to eight months in prison on Wednesday after pleading guilty to assaulting an IDF soldier, incitement, and two counts of obstructing soldiers. Her cousin, Nur Tamimi, 21, who also took part in the incident, was sentenced to five months in prison, while her mother, Nariman, was sentenced to eight months in prison. (Ynet News)
  • Abbas May Impose New Sanctions on Gaza - Yoni Ben Menachem
    PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas announced Monday that he would adopt new sanctions against Gaza following an attempt on the life of Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah on March 13. Abbas is considering a plan to declare Gaza a "rebel zone" and take measures that would paralyze daily life there if the Palestinian Authority does not receive all of the official powers held by Hamas in Gaza immediately.
        If Abbas puts his new plan into action, he will create new political realities for the Palestinian issue and worsen the already precarious situation. Egypt is furious with Abbas because of his Gaza policy, but it is being cautious to avoid a confrontation or to let him down towards the end of his life. The writer is a veteran Arab affairs commentator for Israel Radio and Television. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Terror Victim Taylor Force's Father Becomes Advocate "for Right vs. Wrong" - Sean Savage
    Taylor Force, a West Point graduate and U.S. Army veteran, was stabbed and killed by a Palestinian terrorist in Israel on March 8, 2016. His father, Stuart Force, told JNS, "If you are ideologically different than most Israelis or anyone else, it still doesn't give you the right to commit murder and crimes. That is the basic decency that bothers us - that you think you have the right to do this."
        Speaking in Newton, Mass., on March 12, he said, "What is motivating our family is the fact that people, both men and women, are being rewarded for terrorism. Probably most of them have been motivated or coerced by their whole educational system honoring martyrs. And there's no good reason for doing that."
        "The way we look at it...is that money that goes to help a group of people, that's where it should go to. It shouldn't go somewhere else to hurt other people....This is right versus wrong; it's not political. You don't have the right to hurt other people; that's a core Judeo-Christian value."  (JNS)
  • The Begin Doctrine: The Lessons of Osirak and Deir ez-Zor - Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Amos Yadlin
    Prime Minister Menachem Begin drafted the unofficial Israeli doctrine that seeks to prevent countries hostile to Israel, and that call for its destruction, from developing a nuclear military capability. With the perspective of hindsight, the Israeli government decisions to attack nuclear reactors in Iraq in 1981 and in Syria in 2007 were clearly correct. Saddam Hussein and Bashar al-Assad, who had no qualms about using chemical weapons against their own people, could have constituted extremely dangerous enemies had they been armed with a nuclear weapon.
        The Islamic State, which took control over major areas of Syria and Iraq (including the actual Syrian reactor site in Deir ez-Zor), could definitely have gained access to fissile material - a development that would have exposed the entire world to unprecedented risks. The writer, former head of IDF Military Intelligence, is director of INSS. (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)

  • If the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, is a coherent cluster of policies in the service of a modest arms-control strategy, there might be a basis for building on it as policy. But if it is a mess of contradictions that can't be integrated into any coherent policy advancing American interests, then there are a dozen different scenarios in which the deal's collapse becomes inevitable long before it begins sunsetting in the mid-2020s.
  • In October 2017, President Trump declared that the JCPOA had been giving Iran too much in exchange for too little. Iran had been granted legalized nuclear and ballistic-missile programs, hundreds of billions of dollars, and the diplomatic and military space to expand across the Middle East right up to Israel and Saudi Arabia's borders.
  • The administration made clear that it considered the JCPOA fatally flawed due to a weak inspections regime in which the UN's nuclear watchdog can't access Iranian military facilities, an arrangement where Iran was allowed to develop ballistic missiles, and the fact that the deal's expiration dates mean Iran will legally be allowed to get within a hair's breadth of a nuclear weapon.
  • U.S. officials have emphasized that America will increase its pressure on Iran in response to the Iranians' continuing their ballistic-missile development, regional expansionism, human-rights atrocities, terror sponsorship, cyberattacks, and other malign behaviors.

    The writer is a managing director at The Israel Project.