June 14, 2018

In-Depth Issues:

Israeli-Arab Woman in U.S. Charged in Islamic State Terror Plot (U.S. Department of Justice)
    Waheba Issa Dais, 45, a native of Jerusalem residing in Wisconsin, has been charged with attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State by maintaining a virtual library of instructions on how to make bombs, biological weapons, poisons and suicide vests to assist in attack planning.
    She provided detailed instructions on how to make Ricin and suggested introducing it to a government post or water reservoirs.
    She also suggested potential targets for bombing attacks, including summer street festivals and celebrations.

PA Forces Break Up Ramallah Protest over Gaza - Joe Dyke (AFP)
    Palestinian Authority security forces fired stun grenades and tear gas to disperse an anti-government protest in Ramallah in the West Bank on Wednesday as hundreds demonstrated against PA punitive measures against Hamas-run Gaza.
    See also Why Abbas Refuses to Make Life Easier in Gaza - Yoni Ben Menachem (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
    Mahmoud Abbas has been trying for a long time to stir up the residents of Gaza to revolt against Hamas in the style of the Arab Spring.
    Abbas is not interested in political cooperation with Hamas and integrating it into the political decision-making framework.
    He does not trust Hamas and is concerned that its true intention is to bring down his rule in the West Bank and take control of it, as it did in Gaza in 2007.
    Abbas wants to isolate Gaza and rid himself of the burden of it, until the situation there explodes and it falls like a ripe fruit into his hands.
    He believes that any humanitarian aid to Gaza will strengthen Hamas rule and will not serve his political interests.

Germany to Lease Israeli Combat Drones for $1 Billion (Deutsche Welle-Germany)
    The Bundestag's budget committee on Wednesday backed leasing a fleet of Israeli-made Heron-TP drones capable of carrying missiles in a $1 billion deal with Israel Aerospace Industries.
    The German army already flies Israel's Heron 1 surveillance aircraft in Mali and Afghanistan.

Israel's ELTA Gets $150 Million European Contract for Intelligence Systems - Shoshanna Solomon (Times of Israel)
    ELTA Systems Ltd., a subsidiary of Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), got a $150 million contract to modernize and upgrade a national signal intelligence and electronic warfare system for a European customer, IAI said Sunday.

IDF Releases New Anti-Kidnapping App - Liel Leibovitz (Tablet)
    After the 2014 kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers, the Israel Defense Forces began developing an application that would enable soldiers facing similar threats to alert authorities with the push of a button.
    Released this week, the GPS-based Distress Signal app would enable soldiers to immediately alert a special unit dedicated to providing a rapid emergency response.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • UN General Assembly Blames Israel for Gaza Violence, But Not Hamas - Edith M. Lederer
    The UN General Assembly, in a 120-8 vote with 45 abstentions, approved a non-binding resolution Wednesday blaming Israel for violence in Gaza and deploring its "excessive use of force," after narrowly rejecting a U.S. demand to add a condemnation of attacks on Israel by Hamas. The U.S. amendment was approved by 62 to 58, with 42 abstentions, but a 2/3 majority was needed so the amendment failed. U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley said afterward, "Today, a plurality of 62 countries voted in favor of the U.S.-led effort to address Hamas' responsibility for the disastrous conditions in Gaza."  (AP-Washington Post)
        See also Nikki Haley: When Will the UN Hold Accountable Hamas, Which Is Running Gaza into the Ground?
    U.S. UN Ambassador Nikki Haley told the UN General Assembly on Wednesday: "This resolution...is totally one-sided. It makes not one mention of Hamas, who routinely initiates violence in Gaza....It feeds a narrative to the desperate people of Gaza that their leaders are not responsible for their predicament....At what point will the UN actually hold accountable those who are in charge of Gaza and running it into the ground?"
        "It is Hamas and its allies that have fired over a hundred rockets into Israel in the past month, hoping to cause death to as many civilians and as much destruction as possible. It is Hamas that has used Palestinian civilians as human shields at the boundary fence, seeking to incite violence and overrun the border. It is Hamas that refuses to cooperate with the Palestinian Authority to unite in the pursuit of peace. It is Hamas that calls for the destruction of the State of Israel within any borders."  (U.S. State Department)
        See also Israel Thanks U.S. for Support in UN Vote (Prime Minister's Office)
  • Israeli Diplomat: U.S.-North Korea Agreement Puts Pressure on Iran - Michael Lipin
    The U.S.-North Korean agreement to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula puts more pressure on Iran to drop its own nuclear ambitions, Israeli deputy chief of mission in Washington Reuven Azar told VOA Persian on Tuesday. "It is very clear that this U.S. administration is not going to allow rogue regimes to acquire nuclear weapons," Azar said. "I think (the summit) is a great sign to the Iranian people as well (because it) entails great hope for them in the future, if the regime decides to renounce that dangerous (nuclear) program."  (VOA News)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • U.S. Does Not Intend to Impose Peace Plan on Israel or Palestinians, Officials Say - Amir Tibon
    The Trump administration's plan for Israeli-Palestinian peace won't be a "take it or leave it" proposal, but rather a basis for direct negotiations, administration officials said this week. "We have said all along that we don't want to impose an agreement," one official explained. A second official said, "We are a facilitator. It would be arrogant to assume we know better than anyone else. At the end of the day, the two sides need to negotiate and reach an agreement."
        An official said, "We are astonished that Abbas won't even see" the plan. "It would be a shame for the Palestinian people if the Palestinian leadership refuses to engage with this plan." Administration officials also emphasized that they have no illusions about the Arab world "abandoning" the Palestinians as part of an alliance with Israel.
        One official contended that the U.S. summit with North Korea "shows how suddenly and unexpectedly things can change, and how intractable positions can potentially be softened and modified."  (Ha'aretz)
  • Palestinian Injured Preparing Bomb in East Jerusalem
    A Palestinian resident of Shuafat in east Jerusalem was critically injured in an explosion on Wednesday during an attempt to build a bomb, Israel Police said. They found additional explosive material in the apartment and detained eight suspects for questioning.  (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Why Iran Will Choose to Negotiate with the U.S. - Zalmay Khalilzad
    The Trump administration's approach has a reasonable chance of succeeding with Iran. The administration has indicated a willingness to enter into negotiations, even as it escalates pressure against Iran through sanctions, following a policy of maximum pressure, followed by negotiation and deal-making. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo invited Iran to "look at our diplomacy with North Korea" as evidence of the administration's willingness to engage adversaries in negotiations on very complex issues.
        A race toward nuclear weapons by Iran is fraught with risks. Any such Iranian decision, if it became known, would probably lead the Europeans to join the U.S. in imposing sanctions. Given that Washington has stated that it will not allow Iran to acquire nuclear weapons, Tehran would also be risking an attack aimed at its nuclear infrastructure. The Iranians would probably also lose the support of Russia and China. The writer was U.S. ambassador to the UN from 2007 to 2009. (Washington Post)
  • With a North Korea Deal in the Offing, Iran Is Becoming the Biggest Thorn in America's Side - Con Coughlin
    The real issue with Iran is whether anyone in Tehran has any serious inclination to settle their differences with the U.S. and its allies. The ill-fated nuclear deal was supposed to lay the foundations of a new era of international cooperation on the part of the Iranians. Instead, the regime saw the deal as an opportunity to expand Iran's malign influence throughout the Arab world.
        Derek Maltz, the former head of the U.S. Department of Justice's Special Operations Division, told an audience of senior Arab diplomats in London Tuesday that Iranian-backed Hizbullah was involved in a multi-billion dollar global drug smuggling racket, with a significant percentage of the funds being diverted to finance terrorist operations in the Arab world and beyond. These are not the actions of a country that is interested in ending its long-standing hostility to the West.
        The ball is very much in the Iranians' court. They have the option of continuing to provoke Washington with threats to intensify their nuclear activities, while persisting with their terrorism funding. Or they could be smart and follow Kim Jong-un's example by seeking to de-escalate tensions with America. (Telegraph-UK)

U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen told the International Homeland Security Forum in Israel on Tuesday:
  • Our alliance has been fortified through crises and strengthened by collaboration. Following the 9/11 attacks - the deadliest terror assault in modern world history - you were right there by our side. We knew we could not win the coming fight alone. And we turned to you for guidance because the State of Israel has withstood decades of violence at the hands of fanatics - and has proudly defended freedom against relentless terrorist enemies.
  • From Ottawa to Berlin, our communities are now on the frontlines. All countries represented here have experienced this evil in one form or another, whether your nationals have been victims or your homelands have been hit directly. We are at war. And we must respond accordingly.
  • Victory in this struggle begins with moral clarity. We are engaged in a generational struggle against Islamist militants, the preeminent terror threat to our lives, our livelihoods, and our way of life.
  • Whether it is global jihadist groups such as ISIS and al-Qaeda and their legions of digital followers, or the proxies of rogue nation states such as Iran, our enemies have perverted a major religion to justify horrific violence and lust for power. Their goal is to establish a totalitarian empire governed under a backwards and repressive worldview. And the danger they pose is at its highest point in decades.
  • There have been more than 100 terrorist attacks in Western countries since the rise of ISIS in 2013, resulting in thousands of casualties. The U.S. has been the victim of around 25 of those incidents. Most were carried out by homegrown violent extremists inspired by the group's heinous propaganda.
  • The good news is that we have put clear-eyed, focused pressure on terrorist groups around the world. We have obliterated the core safe havens of groups such as ISIS and taken tens of thousands of them off the battlefield. The U.S. is standing up to rogue regimes that bankroll terror and use proxies to advance their malign goals.

        See also U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Eyes Israel's Egypt Border for Wall Ideas - Dan Williams
    U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen inspected Israel's fenced-off border with Egypt on Tuesday for ideas for the U.S. border with Mexico, Israel Radio reported. Israel credits the fence with stemming an influx of African migrants and infiltration by Islamic State-linked militants. (Reuters)