August 6, 2018

In-Depth Issues:

U.S. Postpones Peace Plan Rollout until after November Elections - Daniel Siryoti (Israel Hayom)
    A White House source on Thursday said the Trump administration was postponing the rollout of its Israeli-Palestinian peace plan until after the congressional mid-term elections on Nov. 6.

Iran Targets Tajikistan. Its Proxies Are Islamic Terrorists - Iran Desk (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
    The Tajikistan Interior Ministry announced on July 31, 2018, that the terrorists who killed four foreign tourists on July 29 were members of ISIS who underwent terrorist training in Iran.
    The four victims were among seven European and American cyclists who were riding through southern Tajikistan.
    A car repeatedly rammed the tourists and then the attackers got out and stabbed them.
    The fatalities included two Americans - Lauren Geoghegan and Jay Austin, both 29 - one Dutch and one Swiss.
    Three more cyclists were wounded. Tajikistan police killed four attackers and arrested another five suspects.
    Later, senior Tajik Interior Ministry officials told BBC that ISIS was not connected to this incident, but an affiliated Islamic movement, the Tajik Islamic Renaissance Party (TIRP), carried out the attack.
    The leader of the attack was Hussein Abdul Samadov, who underwent military and ideological training in Iran.

IDF Closes Medical Clinic near Syrian Border (IDF Spokesperson)
    The "Mazor Ladach" field medical clinic was established in Israel near the Syrian border by the IDF in August 2017 in cooperation with an American humanitarian organization as part of operation "Good Neighbor."
    On Friday the IDF announced that the clinic has been discontinued and forces began evacuating the compound.
    Some 6,800 people were treated at the clinic over the course of the year. (ANSA-Italy)

Photos: Israel Unveils Gaza Sea Barrier (Times of Israel)
    The Israel Defense Ministry on Sunday revealed images of a new sea barrier being constructed to protect the country from attacks from Gaza.
    When completed the breakwater will be 200 meters (650 feet) long, 50 meters (160 feet) wide, and six meters (20 feet) above the water. It is due to be completed by the end of the year.
    The decision to build the barrier was prompted by an attack by Hamas naval commandos during the 2014 Gaza war.

Iran Gives $100 Million a Year to Hamas and Islamic Jihad - Elior Levy (Ynet News)
    Iran transfers $70 million a year to Hamas, while Islamic Jihad gets $30 million.
    In addition, Iran has been transferring $1 billion annually to Hizbullah.
    Due to budget difficulties, this figure was reduced to $800 million in the past year.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. Targets UNRWA - Colum Lynch and Robbie Gramer
    Senior U.S. presidential advisor Jared Kushner has quietly been trying to do away with the UN Palestinian relief agency UNRWA, according to internal emails obtained by Foreign Policy. His initiative is part of a broader push by the Trump administration and its allies in Congress to address the issue. "It is important to have an honest and sincere effort to disrupt UNRWA," Kushner wrote in an email dated Jan. 11. "This [agency] perpetuates a status quo, is corrupt, inefficient and doesn't help peace."
        Many Israel supporters in the U.S. see UNRWA as part of an international infrastructure that has artificially kept the refugee issue alive and kindled hopes among Palestinians that they might someday return home. Critics of the agency point to its policy of granting refugee status not just to those who fled Mandatory Palestine 70 years ago but to their descendants as well - an accounting that puts the refugee population at around 5 million.
        Victoria Coates, a senior advisor to Special Representative for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt, sent an email in January to the White House's national security staff saying, "UNRWA should come up with a plan to unwind itself and become part of the UNHCR [UN High Commissioner for Refugees] by the time its charter comes up again in 2019." Other ideas being discussed in the U.S. include asking UNRWA to operate on a month-to-month budget and devising "a plan to remove all anti-Semitism from educational materials."
        Elad Strohmayer, a spokesman for the Israeli Embassy in Washington, said, "We believe that UNRWA needs to pass from the world as it is an organization that advocates politically against Israel and perpetuates the Palestinian refugee problem."  (Foreign Policy)
  • Head of Syria's Chemical Weapons Unit Killed by Car Bomb
    Aziz Asber - director of the Syrian Scientific Research Center in Masyaf that Western countries say was part of a chemical weapons program - was killed when his car was blown up, Al-Watan reported Sunday. (Reuters)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Fatah Warns Hamas Against Reaching Truce Accord with Israel - Khaled Abu Toameh
    The ruling Palestinian Fatah faction on Saturday warned Hamas against reaching a cease-fire agreement with Israel in return for humanitarian and economic aid to Gaza, amid reports that Israel and Hamas were considering a long-term truce agreement. Fatah spokesman Osama Qawasmeh expressed fear that the U.S. and Israel would take advantage of a deal between Hamas and Israel to separate Gaza from the West Bank and impose President Trump's peace plan. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Stabilizing Israel-Hamas Relations in Gaza - Pinhas Inbari
    PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas wants Hamas to accept Ramallah's rule in Gaza under Ramallah's terms. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Gaza Arson Balloons Spark 30 Fires in Israel Friday, 10 on Saturday
    On Saturday, Israeli firefighters battled 10 fires in areas adjacent to Gaza and over 30 fires on Friday sparked by incendiary balloons, Israeli broadcaster Kan reported. (Times of Israel)
        See also Gaza Arson Balloons Spark 6 Fires in Israel Sunday - Matan Tzuri (Ynet News)
  • Israeli Navy Intercepts Second Gaza-Bound Boat
    The Israeli navy intercepted a Swedish-flagged activist boat bent on breaching its blockade of Gaza, after stopping a Norwegian-flagged boat last week, the IDF said on Saturday. "The ship was monitored and was intercepted in accordance with international law," the army said. It was made "clear to the sailors that they were breaking the blockade and that all humanitarian supplies could be transferred to Gaza via the Ashdod port."  (i24News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Why Younger Saudis Won't Fund, Facilitate or Fight for a Palestinian State - Haisam Hassanein
    Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are experiencing tremendous socio-political change that has accelerated a generation gap. The younger generations are characterized and led by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) and his close ally Mohamed bin Zayed (MBZ), the crown prince of Abu Dhabi and primary driver of the UAE's foreign policy.
        The younger Gulf generations are now unconvinced that moderation would follow the establishment of a Palestinian state. They believe it is more likely that a fully independent Palestinian state would itself be hostage to radical forces, and would in fact become an extreme source of instability in the region. MBS and MBZ believe that establishing a Palestinian state would mean handing Iran and Sunni political Islamists another Arab capital to control and influence.
        Many Western policymakers still fantasize about the idea that the Gulf countries could provide money to birth and develop a Palestinian state - indeed, this is reportedly one of the founding principles of the Trump-Kushner peace plan. That is never going to happen, despite what they may promise publicly. Those who actively dictate policy in the Gulf are convinced that every dollar the Saudis give to the Palestinians means handing it to Iran. The writer is a PhD candidate at Tel Aviv University and a former Glazer Fellow at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy. (Ha'aretz)
  • To Reboot Gaza, Look to Jenin in the West Bank - Dave Harden
    During the Second Intifada, Jenin was the most dangerous city in the West Bank, home to at least 28 suicide bombers who killed 124 Israelis. Then in the mid-2000s, in the northern West Bank along the Jenin-Jalameh corridor close to northern Israel, the U.S. and Israel promoted trade and economic opportunity to stabilize the region and marginalize Palestinian rejectionists and militias.
        The Americans provided $10 million in assistance for the Jenin trading corridor that leveraged an estimated $500 million of sustained, private sector trade which fundamentally changed the economic, security, and social fabric of the northern West Bank. During the 2014 wave of lone-wolf attackers, almost none were from Jenin.
        Massive continued humanitarian aid, as being discussed for Gaza, alleviates suffering but creates a welfare dependent, failed society. To reboot Gaza, look to Jenin in the West Bank where economic opportunity has changed almost everything. The writer, managing director of the Georgetown Strategy Group, was an American diplomat who led the U.S. assistance mission to the West Bank and Gaza for more than a decade. (Jerusalem Post)

  • Foreign policy experts have urged the immediate rehabilitation of Gaza as panacea to its endemic propensity for violence. Yet this argument is the inverse of the truth. It is not Gaza's economic malaise that has precipitated Palestinian violence; rather, it is the endemic violence that has caused the Strip's humanitarian crisis.
  • Countless nations and groups in today's world endure far harsher socioeconomic or political conditions than the Palestinians, yet none have embraced violence and terrorism against their neighbors with such alacrity and on such a massive scale. Moreover, there is no causal relationship between economic hardship and mass violence.
  • Public opinion polls among Palestinians during the 1990s revealed far stronger support for the nascent peace process with Israel, and opposition to terrorism, among the poorer and less educated parts of society - representing the vast majority of the population.
  • It is not socioeconomic despair but the total rejection of Israel's right to exist, inculcated by the PLO and Hamas over the past 25 years, which underlies the relentless anti-Israel violence emanating from these territories and its attendant economic stagnation and decline.
  • So long as Gaza continues to be governed by Hamas' rule of the jungle, no Palestinian civil society, let alone a viable state, can develop.
  • Just as the creation of free and democratic societies in Germany and Japan after World War II necessitated a comprehensive sociopolitical and educational transformation, so, too, it is only when the local population sweeps its oppressive rulers from power, eradicates the endemic violence from political and social life, and teaches the virtues of coexistence with Israel that Gaza can look forward to a better future.

    The writer is director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University and emeritus professor of Middle East and Mediterranean studies at King's College London.