June 27, 2018

In-Depth Issues:

U.S. Army to Buy Israeli Tank Defense System - Judah Ari Gross (Times of Israel)
    The U.S. Army on Tuesday awarded a contract worth $193 million to American defense contractor Leonardo DRS, which has partnered with Israel's Rafael Advanced Defense Systems to manufacture the Trophy defense system to shield Abrams tanks from incoming anti-tank missiles.
    Trophy has been in use in Israel's Merkava tanks since 2011 and saw extensive use in the 2014 Gaza war.

U.S. and Israel Team Up to Stop Hackers from Hitting Critical Sites (U.S. Department of Energy)
    The U.S. Department of Energy and the Israeli Energy Ministry signed an agreement Monday to establish the U.S.-Israel Center of Excellence in Energy, Engineering and Water Technology.
    The Center aims to accelerate development and more rapid deployment of critical and innovative technologies for energy cybersecurity in critical infrastructure and other areas.

Indonesia Lifts Ban on Israeli Tourists - Michael Bachner (Times of Israel)
    Citing the loss of life in Gaza, last month Indonesia said it would no longer issue visas for Israelis in group tours.
    In response, Israel announced a ban on Indonesian tourists. Some 30,000 Indonesian Christian pilgrims visit Israel every year.
    After Jakarta agreed to lift its own moratorium, Israel reversed its ban, Israel's Foreign Ministry said Wednesday.

Could Assad and Russia Expel Iran from Syria? - Omar Alradad (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
    Due to an agreement recently reached with Russia, Israel can now launch air raids against Iranian bases in Syria as long as the Syrian Army is not targeted in these strikes.
    Israel is signaling that it would tacitly accept the continuance of the Assad regime if Assad works to remove Iranian forces from the country.
    In the long run, Iran poses a threat to Russia's military and political intentions in Syria.
    Whereas Moscow would prefer Syria to be a secular and federal state able to maintain its coastal military bases, Tehran is interested in expanding its regional influence through a sectarian Syrian state controlled by Iran's ideological counterparts.
    Therefore, Russia is likely to try to curtail Iran's influence in Syria.
    The writer is a former brig.-gen. in the Jordanian General Intelligence Directorate.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. Pushing Nations to Cut Iran Oil Imports to Zero by Nov. 4 - Josh Lederman
    The U.S. is pushing foreign countries to cut their oil imports from Iran to zero by November, a senior State Department official said Tuesday. The Trump administration does not intend to give out waivers allowing countries to keep importing, the official said. The U.S. is working with other Middle East countries to increase production so the global oil supply isn't harmed. U.S. allies, including India, South Korea, Japan and Turkey, import significant amounts of Iranian oil. (AP-Washington Post)
  • BBC Finds Television Presenter Andrew Marr Guilty of Rules Breach over Anti-Israel Comments - Chris Hastings
    BBC bosses have found Andrew Marr guilty of breaching editorial guidelines with a "misleading" claim on his flagship Sunday news program that Israel had killed "lots of Palestinian kids." The Corporation's ruling against one of its most senior personalities is almost unprecedented.
        During the April 8 edition, Marr concluded a discussion of the Syrian regime's chemical weapons attack on civilians by saying: "There's lots of Palestinian kids being killed further south as well by Israeli forces." Anti-Semitism campaigner Jonathan Sacerdoti complained: "When talking about a story on the use of chemical weapons in Syria, Andrew Marr for some reason decided to talk about Israel....This is completely incorrect and is made up. This was irrelevant to the conversation on Syria...and also actually completely false."
        Fraser Steel, head of executive complaints at the BBC, wrote: "The BBC's guidelines require that output is 'well sourced' and 'based on sound evidence.' In the absence of any evidence to support the reference to 'lots' of children being killed at the time of transmission, it seems to us to have risked misleading audiences on a material point."  (Mail on Sunday-UK)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israeli President Rivlin Asks Prince William to Take "Message of Peace" to Abbas - Raphael Ahren
    President Reuven Rivlin on Tuesday asked visiting Prince William of Britain to convey to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas "a message of peace." Rivlin said the Palestinians need to accept that Jews have returned to their ancestral homeland and that it was about time Israelis and Palestinians end their conflict. (Times of Israel)
  • Hamas in Gaza Fires 13 Rockets at Israel - Hagay Hacohen
    Hamas fired at least 13 rockets at Israel from Gaza on Tuesday evening, the IDF said. Three of the rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome anti-missile system. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also IDF Targets 2 Cars, Observation Post Used by Gazans Launching Fire Balloons - Judah Ari Gross
    Israeli drones on Tuesday destroyed two cars and an observation post used by Palestinians to launch incendiary balloons into Israel from Gaza. On Monday, 11 fires broke out in Israel that were caused by airborne arson devices. A number of balloons with explosive devices attached were found on Tuesday. (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Iran's Regime Faces Widespread Economic and Political Unrest - Lt. Col. (ret.) Michael Segall
    The Iranian media has dealt with the economic crisis in depth. Much criticism was directed at President Rouhani who, "to the surprise of the public," chose to spend his vacation at the luxury Tochal mountain resort in north Tehran in the middle of an economic crisis. The protest of the bazaar traders follows those of truck drivers, teachers, laborers, and protests about pollution and the lack of water. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
        See also Dozens Arrested as Tehran Bazaar Protest Spreads to Other Cities (Radio Free Europe-Radio Liberty)
        See also Why the New Iran Protests Won't Change Much - Tom Rogan
    While the more-moderate bloc will eventually overthrow the Islamists, the hardliners currently retain the guns and economic power to dominate the protesters and buy-off security officials on the fence. Until that changes, it's hard to see how these protests will change things. Instead, the Iranian revolutionaries will again paint their ideological colors with their fellow citizens' blood. (Washington Examiner)
  • William's Visit to Israel Is a Putdown for Foreign Office Arabists - Roger Boyes
    William, aka the Duke of Cambridge, met this week with the Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas. It's a remarkable encounter for the second-in-line to the throne because the Palestinian is a nasty piece of work (doctoral dissertation: "The secret relationship between Nazism and Zionism").
        A shift in geopolitics has made the visit possible - and a cultural change in the Foreign Office, which has for many decades advised the royal household that it is better to butter up Arab autocrats than engage with the gritty detail of the Israeli-Palestinian relationship.
        A romantic vision of the Arab world translated until recently into a sense that Palestinians have drawn the short straw. And that Israel is gaming the West and the Americans in particular. It was a world view in which Israel was a disruptor of the natural order.
        The fact is the caravan has moved on. The Sunni Gulf Arabs share a common enemy with Israel: Iran. And the Palestinians are becoming a source of irritation for many Arab governments rather than a holy cause. This has left Britain out of step. (The Times-UK)
  • A Brief Lesson in the History of Jerusalem - Nadav Shragai
    While the United Kingdom continues to claim that east Jerusalem is "occupied territory," someone needs to, respectfully, give Prince William a lesson on the history of the city: In a nutshell, Islam, which demands Jerusalem and its holy sites, only showed up on the scene some 2,000 years after the people of Israel became a nation.
        The Palestinians, who demand east Jerusalem and the Old City as their future capital, only began to define themselves as a nation in the last century. Jerusalem has always been the capital of the Jewish people and Jewish consciousness and was never of similar importance to any kind of Arab or Islamic kingdom or state. (Israel Hayom)

Trump's New Deal for the Middle East - Zev Chafets (Bloomberg)
  • Jared Kushner told the Palestinian newspaper Al Quds, "Don't allow your grandfather's conflict to determine your children's future."
  • This assumes that a new generation of Palestinians will put material self-interest before anti-Zionist dogma, and accept a peace with Israel that offers Muslim control of the holy places in Jerusalem, limited communal autonomy in the West Bank, and prosperity through massive public and private-sector investment.
  • But for young Palestinians it requires a rejection of elders, relatives in the diaspora, and a widely believed national narrative.
  • Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and the Gulf States depend on the U.S. for protection against ISIS and Iran. Trump doesn't believe State Department wisdom about the need to court Arab goodwill. As far as he is concerned, it is the Arab allies who need to court him. That means helping him get the deal of the century in the Middle East.
  • Nor is Trump likely to accept the excuse that they can't help him because of the hatred in the street for Israel. If they can't deliver, what good are they?
  • This approach is radically different than anything the U.S. has proposed in the past. It is premised on the idea that most Palestinians want a better life more than they want revenge or another generation of dysfunction and conflict. Perhaps Trump is naive to think so. Or maybe he is right. In any case, it is what's coming next.

    The writer served for five years as director of the Israel Government Press Office.