June 7, 2018

In-Depth Issues:

Australia Questions Use of Aid to Fund Palestinian "Martyrs" - Primrose Riordan (The Australian)
    Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop wrote on May 29 to the Palestinian Authority asking for assurances Australian aid hasn't funded payments to "martyrs."
    The PA has been accused of paying stipends to the families of terrorists killed or jailed by Israeli authorities of up to US$3,500 a month.
    "Obviously that is completely at odds with Australian values," an official at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) told a Senate hearing.

Israel Demands FIFA Investigate "Soccer Terror" that Caused Argentina to Cancel Match (i24News)
    The Israel Football [Soccer] Association announced Wednesday it will file a complaint to FIFA accusing its Palestinian counterpart of pressuring Argentine players and staff into cancelling a friendly match set to take place in Jerusalem.
    Rotem Kamer, vice-president of the Israeli FA, said: "We are confronting football terror from the Palestinian Football Association and its president [Jibril Rajoub]," accusing them of "threatening football players."
    See also Argentine Press Lambastes National Team on Israel Game (Times of Israel)
    Argentina's Clarin newspaper on Wednesday printed rebukes of the national team's decision to cancel its friendly game with Israel.
    Miguel Winazki wrote that the national team should also "not play in Russia, because the Kremlin was behind the decision to launch military incursions in Syria." It should also "not play against Spain, for its colonial enclaves" on the Moroccan coast.
    Daniel Lagares noted that the team had "been warned that Jerusalem is dangerous." Yet Argentina's superstar striker, Lionel Messi, lives in Barcelona, where only last year 13 people were murdered in a terror attack.
    Other Argentine team members play in England, "where just a year ago a bomb exploded on the London Bridge," and in Paris, where the Stade de France soccer stadium was targeted in November 2015.

Video: Turkish TV Shows Abundance in Gaza (TRT-Turkey-YouTube)
    Turkish channel TRT broadcast a report on May 24, 2018, showing the plentiful side of Gaza, with the central marketplace full of food and supplies for Ramadan.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Iran Opens New Nuclear Facility for Centrifuge Production
    Iran's nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi on Wednesday inaugurated the Islamic Republic's new nuclear enrichment facility at Natanz, geared toward producing centrifuges that will operate within the limits of the nuclear deal Tehran signed with world powers. Earlier Wednesday, Reza Najafi, Iranian ambassador to the IAEA, said that Iran had given European nations "a few weeks" to come up with ways to protect the deal from America's pullout. (AP-USA Today)
  • Boeing Says It Will Not Deliver Aircraft to Iran
    Boeing will not deliver aircraft to Iran in light of U.S. sanctions, effectively aborting a pair of large contracts with Iranian carriers, a Boeing spokesman said Wednesday. Boeing had announced an agreement to sell 80 aircraft valued at $16.6 billion to Iran Air and 30 aircraft valued at $3 billion to Iran Aseman Airlines. (AFP)
  • Mayor of London Calls to Ban Hizbullah
    London Mayor Sadiq Khan has written to Sajid Javid, the new Home Secretary, asking him to ban Hizbullah in order to prevent displays of the group's flag on London's streets. It comes days ahead of the annual Al Quds Day march in London, at which the flag has been flown in recent years. Hizbullah is already banned in the U.S., Canada and Arab League countries. "I genuinely think if you allow some hatred to be seen to be acceptable, that can soon spread not just to name-calling but to criminal damage and violence and ultimately lives being lost," Khan said.
        "There are places of worship in London that, because they're Jewish places of worship, need security because they're synagogues. That can't be right," he added. (Jewish News-UK)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • European Leaders Agree Iranian Forces Must Leave Syria - Noa Landau
    Sources in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's entourage on his trip to Europe said that German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and British Prime Minister Theresa May had agreed that Iranian forces should be removed from Syria and that the goal "had been significantly advanced." The three leaders also agreed to ask the International Atomic Energy Agency to examine the Iranian nuclear archive documents obtained by Israel. (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel Pushes Plan to Develop Golan Heights - Gil Hoffman
    Israeli Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon endorsed a new plan on Wednesday to rapidly develop the Golan Heights and raise its population from 22,000 to 100,000 within a decade. Deputy Minister Michael Oren noted, "Iran is trying to replace the Sunni population near the border with Shi'ite forces to build a base in Syria and make the Golan a conflict zone with Israel."  (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Israel Will Not Leave the Golan Heights - Yair Lapid
    Anyone with an understanding of reality can see that Israel will never return the Golan Heights to Assad, a psychopath who has murdered half a million of his own people and whose partners are Iran and Hizbullah. Both the opposition and the coalition in Israel agree on this issue.
        The argument that the Golan Heights historically belong to Syria is absurd. Syria ruled over the Golan Heights for only 21 years, from 1946 to 1967. Israel's connection is traced back to the Bible. The Golan is the biblical Bashan.
        Israel will not leave the Golan Heights and no one who cares about our security should ever expect us to. The world needs to recognize that reality. The writer, head of the opposition Yesh Atid party in Israel's Knesset, is a former Treasury Minister. (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Congress Forces Pentagon to Come Clean on Aid to Lebanon - Eli Lake
    Last month, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said that Hizbullah was now "in complete control not just of the Lebanese [government], but also its army." Since 2007, the U.S. has provided $1.7 billion worth of aid and equipment to the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF). U.S. military leaders have assured Congress that U.S. equipment has not ended up in the hands of Hizbullah, and that the LAF has fought valiantly against Sunni jihadis like the Islamic State, working alongside American special operations forces. Many in Congress, however, are ready to write off the U.S. relationship with the LAF.
        The original goal of America's aid to Lebanon's military, during the George W. Bush administration, was to help the LAF implement UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which requires the military to disarm Lebanon's militias. In the last 11 years, the LAF has made zero progress in disarming Hizbullah. Last month, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) attached an amendment to the Senate defense authorization bill requiring the Pentagon and the State Department to assess how well the LAF is meeting the terms of Resolution 1701. (Bloomberg)
  • Jordan's Protests Are Economic, Not Political - Abdulrahman al-Rashed
    The recent protests in Jordan are not a political spring. Jordan's problems are economic, not political. There is a pragmatic political leadership in Jordan that's close to the people. The reasons behind the people's anger are out of the government's control. The World Bank refuses to give Jordan loans without it lifting subsidies and decreasing government spending.
        Based on the pragmatic approach that's common in Jordan, conciliatory solutions have been proposed, which will probably mitigate tensions. However, solutions aimed at calming down the streets will not resolve the chronic problem. Jordan's resources are scarce compared to its neighbors. (Al Arabiya)
        See also Israel Has a Great Interest in Preserving the Stability of Jordan - Oded Eran
    It is important to remember Jordan's contribution to Israeli security, which in recent years has served as a buffer zone between Israel and ISIS. The writer served as Israel's ambassador to the EU and Jordan. (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)

Economic Benefits Will Not Bring Stability to Gaza - Prof. Hillel Frisch (BESA Center for Strategic Studies-Bar-Ilan University)
  • Is an easing of economic conditions in Gaza and granting permission to Gazans to work in Israel the way to achieve political stability in a Gaza Strip ruled by Hamas?
  • Benjamin Netanyahu's liberal economic policy towards the residents of Mahmoud Abbas' Palestinian Authority (PA), primarily by allowing over 100,000 Palestinians to work in Israel, succeeded because of certain prior conditions.
  • At the height of the second intifada in 2002, Israel reconquered major towns in the PA that had become sanctuary areas for PA-linked Fatah, Hamas, and Islamic Jihad terrorism. It has prevented the reemergence of sanctuary areas ever since through preventive arrests throughout the West Bank that run into the thousands annually.
  • The PA was essentially defeated. Israel and the PA then became allied against joint enemies - Hamas and Islamic Jihad. The Hamas takeover of Gaza in 2007 made clear who was the greater threat to Abbas' rule.
  • It was only after these events that economic prosperity could play its facilitating role. And even then, the economic effects were limited.
  • Gaza under Hamas rule remains a sanctuary area where Hamas can freely build up its military capabilities with little interference. Moreover, there is no common enemy that would render Hamas conciliatory.
  • Economic largesse at this point would only augment Hamas' resources. Only when Hamas envisions its territory as a future Singapore rather than a murderous labyrinth of fundamentalist terrorism should economic benefits accrue to Gaza.

    The writer is a professor of political and Middle East studies at Bar-Ilan University and a senior research associate at the BESA Center.