June 19, 2018

In-Depth Issues:

Netanyahu's Offer of Water Technology Draws Wave of Iranian Support - Ariel Kahana (Israel Hayom)
    Prime Minister Netanyahu's video offering to share Israeli water technology with the Iranians racked up 5 million views in the first five days it was online.
    Nearly 100,000 Iranians joined the Israeli government's Farsi-language Telegram account within 24 hours.
    See also Video: Netanyahu Offers to "Save Countless Iranian Lives" with Israeli Water Tech (Prime Minister's Office)

Jerusalem Mufti: U.S. Peace Plan "Aims to Liquidate Palestinian Cause" (Times of Israel)
    The grand mufti of Jerusalem, Sheikh Muhammad Hussein, on Friday castigated U.S. President Donald Trump's as-yet-unannounced peace plan in his sermon to 90,000 worshipers gathered at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem for Eid al-Fitr prayers marking the end of Ramadan.
    He said it was an "unfair plan that aims at the liquidation of the Palestinian cause."

Israeli Navy Monitors Gaza to Prevent Infiltration by Sea - Yaakov Lappin (JNS)
    The Israeli Navy is monitoring Hamas' naval force build-up in Gaza. At a control center just north of Gaza, soldiers monitor an array of high-tech sensors, aware that any blind spot could carry a heavy price for nearby Israeli civilian communities.
    A mere 5 km. separate Gaza's northern urban neighborhoods - filled with Hamas military operatives and weapons - from the coastal Israeli city of Ashkelon, as well as its power plant, a critical national site.
    Maj. Liran Blander, commander of the control center, said it "is entrusted with building up a naval picture of what is taking place on a number of levels. This includes monitoring what is above the surface - what vessels are in the area - and underwater."
    Cutting-edge cameras, radars and sonar sensors feed control rooms, staffed 24 hours a day by mostly female control supervisors.
    The tireless control supervisors spend six hours a day glued to radar and camera screens, and dispatch alerts to naval forces, if necessary. "They are the eyes of the country. It's not just a slogan," he said.

Israel First-Quarter GDP Growth Revised Up to 4.5 Percent (Reuters)
    Israel's economy grew an annualized 4.5% in the first quarter of 2018, faster than previously thought, the Central Bureau of Statistics said Sunday.

Israeli Company Invents Plastic Packaging that Decomposes - Ruth Schuster (Ha'aretz)
    Israel-based TIPA makes packaging film that is 100% compostable.
    TIPA packaging disintegrates into water, carbon dioxide and organic matter that bacteria then degrade.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Britain Gives UN Human Rights Council Six Months to Cease Anti-Israel Bias
    British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson told the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on Monday: "We share the view that a dedicated agenda item focused solely on Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories is disproportionate and damaging to the cause of peace and unless things change, we shall move next year to vote against all resolutions introduced under" this item. (UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office)
  • U.S. Ambassador to Israel Blocked Check of IDF Human Rights Record after Concerns Raised about Egypt - Nahal Toosi
    After State Department officials asked U.S. embassies in the Middle East to more carefully examine American military assistance to governments in the region in the wake of a U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) report critical of Egypt, U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman rejected the idea, responding in October that he did "not believe we should extend the new [guidelines] to Israel at this time."
        "Israel is a democracy whose army does not engage in gross violations of human rights," Friedman wrote, adding that Israel "has a robust system of investigation and prosecution in the rare circumstance where misconduct occurs." Friedman wrote that he "disagrees with the assessment that the [State] Department should proactively address Israel based on GAO criticism of procedures in Egypt. We cannot and should not assume that GAO intended to apply the same criticism to Tel Aviv."  (Politico)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Prime Minister Netanyahu Meets Jordan's King Abdullah in Amman - Jonathan Lis
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Jordan's King Abdullah II in Amman on Monday, the prime minister's office said. They spoke about regional developments, advancing the peace process and the economic ties between the two countries. (Ha'aretz)
  • Moderate Arab States Press PA's Abbas to "End Trump Boycott" - Daniel Siryoti
    Palestinian officials said Sunday that officials in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Jordan are pressing PA President Mahmoud Abbas to meet with President Trump's top Middle East advisers this week, despite his rejection of the U.S. as a peace broker in the wake of its recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital. Abbas has conditioned any meeting with U.S. officials on Washington rescinding its recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital and canceling its embassy move there. (Israel Hayom)
  • U.S. Wants Gulf States to Invest $1 Billion in Gaza Economy - Amir Tibon and Amos Harel
    The U.S. is trying to convince Arab monarchies in the Gulf to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in economic projects for Gaza, in an attempt to calm the situation there and generate momentum before the White House presents its Middle East peace plan. Presidential aides Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt are heading to the Middle East this week for talks with the leaders of Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and Israel.
        One option being discussed is a solar energy project to be built near the Egyptian town of El-Arish in northern Sinai that would serve some of Gaza's energy needs. Other projects could include the construction of a port in northern Sinai and the building of a power plant and water desalination plant. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Abbas Rejects U.S. Plan to Help Rehabilitate Gaza - Jack Khoury and Amir Tibon
    Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' spokesman, Nabil Abu Rudeineh, said Monday: "The Palestinian leadership warns the countries of the region against cooperating with a move whose goal is to perpetuate the separation between Gaza and the West Bank." The Palestinian leadership sent similar messages directly to Saudi Arabia and Qatar. (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • The Western Wall in Jerusalem Is Holy Only to Jews - Nadav Shragai
    The Western Wall of the Temple Mount became the central place for Jewish prayer in Jerusalem following the earthquake that shook the city in 1546. The earthquake brought down the buildings that had stood flush up against the Western Wall, in what today is the well-known prayer plaza, and allowed the Turks to allot the Jews a narrow passageway for their prayers.
        From the moment the Muslims allowed the Jews back into Jerusalem, over 1,000 years ago (after the Christians had barred them from the city), they would pray along the length of the Western Wall. The Western Wall became the preferred choice for prayer because it was closer to where the Jewish Temple was believed to have stood than any of the other walls of the Temple Mount.
        The identification of the Western Wall as the place where the Prophet Muhammad tied up his winged horse in his dream of a night journey from Mecca gained traction in the 1920s in response to the strengthening Jewish presence in the Holy Land. At the same time, Muslims went to great lengths to desecrate the place by intentionally throwing out animal waste there.
        Today, the Muslims are claiming that the Western Wall is holy to them, but they erected homes and outhouses in front of it and ran sewer pipes along it. A section of the Wall which lies in the heart of the Muslim Quarter is frequently defaced with graffiti and public urination and used as a trash heap. This is not how a religion treats a place it claims is holy. The writer is a journalist and commentator who has documented the dispute over Jerusalem for 30 years. (Israel Hayom)
  • Prince William's Visit to Israel - Elliott Abrams
    On June 25, Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, will visit Israel in the first official visit by a member of the British royal family, which has made scores of visits to Arab capitals. But leave it to the British Foreign Office to try to stir ill will over the visit. As the London Jewish Chronicle reports, his visit to Jerusalem is described by the Foreign Office as a trip to the "Occupied Palestinian territories."
        As former holders of the Palestine Mandate, the British should know that the Old City of Jerusalem was never "Palestinian territory" and has never been under Palestinian sovereignty for one single day. To call a visit to the Old City a visit to "Occupied Palestinian territory" is deeply and probably intentionally offensive - and plain wrong.
        This episode has made me agree entirely with David Friedman, the U.S. ambassador to Israel, that the U.S. should stop using the term "occupied territory" to describe any part of Jerusalem or the West Bank. Call it "disputed territory," which it certainly is. Legally, it is hard to see how land that was once Ottoman, then governed by Britain, then Jordanian, can be "Occupied Palestinian territory."  The writer, a senior fellow at CFR, handled Middle East affairs at the U.S. National Security Council from 2001 to 2009. (Council on Foreign Relations)

The Palestinian Authority Is Complicit in Its Own Economic Stagnation - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • The Palestinian leadership's rejection of normalized relations with Israel that were established in 1993 with the Oslo Accords has created an economic void, hurting the Palestinian public. The Oslo vision has been undermined, largely because of measures by the Palestinian leadership to publicly shun Israeli-Palestinian economic cooperation and stifle domestic Palestinian business initiatives and innovation.
  • Without the existence of a viable independent economy, or government encouragement of the joint initiatives laid out in the Oslo Accords, many Palestinians in the West Bank have become largely dependent on Israel and private Israeli business and industry for their economic livelihoods.
  • In short, the Palestinian leadership has quashed any major joint initiatives between Israelis and Palestinians intended to benefit both publics. This unfriendly business environment has also discouraged foreign investors.
  • The Palestinian leadership and its NGO partners and supporters have distracted the international focus from addressing Palestinian economic development, liberalization, and infrastructural development.
  • Unlike much of the developing world, the Palestinian leadership has refused to develop its economy in conjunction with its economically thriving Israeli neighbor, who is potentially the prospective Palestinian state's strongest trading partner. Thus, the Palestinian leadership has been complicit in its own economic stagnation.
  • The Palestinian leadership would be well advised to follow the lead of its citizenry and cooperate closely with its Israeli neighbor, learning from and adapting to the Start-up Nation culture that Israeli entrepreneurs have attempted to share with Palestinian colleagues in an effort to forge a better common future.

    The writer, an Israeli-Arab journalist, is a fellow at the Gatestone Institute.