August 8, 2018

In-Depth Issues:

Report: Hamas, Israel Weigh Five-Year Cease-Fire - Turgut Alp Boyraz and Esat Firat (Anadolu-Turkey)
    A five-year truce between Hamas and Israel will begin with a two-week trial cease-fire as part of a deal being brokered by Egypt and the UN, a Hamas source told Anadolu agency.
    Under the proposed agreement, the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and Gaza would be opened on a permanent basis, while Israeli restrictions on the Kerem Shalom border terminal would be eased dramatically.
    The deal reportedly calls for the establishment of a seaport and airport in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula for use by the people of Gaza.
    It would also include the release of two Israeli civilians and the bodies of two soldiers held by Hamas.

Palestinian Islamic Jihad Leaders Meet with Russian Officials in Moscow - Shiri Moshe (Algemeiner)
    Officials from Gaza-based Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) met on Tuesday with Russian officials in Moscow, drawing concern from Israel.
    Designated as a terrorist organization by the U.S. and more than 30 other countries, PIJ has called for Israel's replacement with an Islamic Arab state. It regularly frames its mission as a religious struggle against Jews.
    Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesperson Emmanuel Nahshon said that Israel was "opposed to any meetings with people or organizations advocating Israel's destruction. This does not serve the cause of peace - on the contrary."

Kuwait Airways Pays Damages to Israeli Barred from Heathrow Flight (Jewish News-UK)
    Kuwait Airways has agreed to pay substantial damages plus costs to an Israeli national, Mandy Blumenthal, who was refused a ticket on a flight from London to Bangkok on the grounds of her nationality last November.
    Her encounter at the Kuwait Airways desk was filmed and the video is available on YouTube.
    Lawyer David Berens said: "The law is clear: direct discrimination on grounds of nationality in the provision of a service to the public is illegal. Ms. Blumenthal has done a service in showing up Kuwait Airways' illegal policy. Kuwait Airways is now legally obliged to end this policy or end its services from the UK altogether."

Record Enlistment of Women in IDF Combat Units (Jerusalem Post)
    A record number of 1,000 women enlisted in IDF combat units this year, Israel's Army Radio reported Wednesday.
    Six years ago, 547 women served in combat units.
    See also Israel Air Force Gets 1st Female Squadron Leader - Anna Ahronheim (Jerusalem Post)

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Iran: We Told the Houthi in Yemen to Attack the Two Saudi Tankers and They Did
    Gen. Naser Sha'bani of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) told the Iranian Fars news agency in an interview on Aug. 6: "We told the Yemenis to attack the two Saudi tankers, and they attacked [on July 25]. Hizbullah in Lebanon and Ansar Allah [the Houthi] in Yemen are our homeland depth."  (MEMRI)
  • Israel Sees Syrian Army Growing Beyond Pre-Civil War Size
    Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said on Tuesday that Syria was building up its ground forces beyond their pre-civil war size, an assessment that suggests President Assad's army has recovered from a critical manpower shortage earlier in the war. "We see the Syrian military, which is not satisfied with just taking over all of Syrian territory but is expressly building a broad-based, new ground army that will return to its previous proportions and beyond."
        Russia has been helping arm and train the Syrian army. Local Syrian militias raised by Lebanese Hizbullah with Iranian support include the National Defense Forces. (Reuters)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • EU Stops Funding Anti-Israel NGO - Herb Keinon
    The EU will immediately stop funding the Freedom Protection Council, an NGO "operating in Israel which undermines the State of Israel's right to exist and seeks to defame it around the world," the Prime Minister's Office announced Tuesday. Netanyahu has prioritized the cessation of funding for anti-Israel NGOs in his meetings with European officials. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Photos: The Effects of Arson Kites on Israel - Tovah Lazaroff
    The face of Israel's burnt lands is on display at the UN in New York with an exhibit of nine pictures by nine Israeli photographers organized by Israel's UN Mission. The UN has failed to condemn Hamas violence against Israel. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also 10 Fires Caused by Arson Balloons Tuesday - Matan Tzuri (Ynet News)
  • Spearhead of Gaza Border Protests Says "We've Lost Battle for Public Opinion" - Michael Bachner
    Ahmed Abu Artema is a Palestinian activist whose Facebook post earlier this year calling for peaceful protest is widely held to be the inspiration behind the weekly riots at the Israel-Gaza border fence in recent months.
        He said in a TV broadcast last week: "Unfortunately we have lost the battle for public opinion in the March of Return, when it became associated in people's minds with blood and the loss of limbs. This is very scary....It is okay, from time to time, to engage in a tactical withdrawal, if you sense that your path has become too costly."  (Times of Israel)
  • Palestinians Jailed for Trying to Rob Biblical Archaeological Site - Michael Bachner
    Three Palestinians were sent to 36 days in prison on Tuesday for damaging and attempting to rob the ancient town of Sebastia, a major archaeological site in the West Bank. They were caught at 1:00 a.m. on July 18 by an inspector for the archaeology division of the Civil Administration while carrying digging equipment and a metal detector.
        Sebastia served as the capital of the biblical Kingdom of Israel in Samaria in the 8th and 9th centuries BCE. The site includes a Crusader cathedral, an ancient Roman city boasting a forum, a colonnaded street and a temple to Emperor Augustus, and the remains of the palace of Omri, ruler of the Kingdom of Israel. (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • U.S. Developing a New Approach to Israeli-Palestinian Peace - Amir Tibon and Amos Harel
    "When reading through the [U.S. peace] plan, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) will be unhappy on some pages and happy on others, just as Israelis will be pleased with some pages and uncomfortable on others," a senior U.S. official told Ha'aretz. The official added that the plan will "go beyond broad parameters that in the past didn't actually solve the problem."
        A large part of the plan will focus on strengthening the Palestinian economy and its ties to Israel. The official added that "we need to explain to both sides a realistic way to resolve the conflict, not just to debate unhelpful, calcified talking points."
        A diplomatic source involved in the discussions said the plan needs to find the "exact spot" where both Israel and the Arab regimes can address it positively - without suffering dangerous consequences at home and in the region. (Ha'aretz)
  • The Iranian Regime Is in Deep Trouble - Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser
    After the re-imposition of the first round of sanctions on Iran by the Trump administration, efforts of Iran and Europe to mitigate their impact on the Iranian economy are doomed to fail. The "blocking statute" that the EU has announced in response does not have the power to prevent any reasonable company from cutting its economic relations with Iran or incentivize it to enter a costly legal adventure against the U.S.
        The Iran deal (JCPOA) was such a wonderful gift to Iran that even after the re-imposition of sanctions, Iran prefers to stay in the deal. The deal is still the best course for the Iranians to have an arsenal of nuclear weapons in less than thirteen years.
        Iran does not have a real confrontational option as long as the U.S. is perceived ready and capable to use force in case Iran challenges it. The bravado of Iran regarding closing the Hormuz Straits and the show of force in the Bab-el-Mandeb are empty threats.
        As the second round of sanctions draws closer, growing pressure may force the Iranian government to go through some soul-searching in an attempt to guarantee the survival of the regime - the only value more important to it than moving towards a nuclear arsenal and securing a hegemony in the Middle East.
        The writer, former head of the IDF Military Intelligence Research Division, is Director of the Project on Regional Middle East Developments at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. (Times of Israel)

A Democratic Nation State of the Jewish People - Sara Greenberg (Jerusalem Post)
  • As Prime Minister Netanyahu's Advisor for World Communities, part of my job is to listen to what people around the world have to say. Much of what I have heard from critics following the passage of Basic Law: Israel - Nation State of the Jewish People is mistaken and misinformed. The accusations about the new law's effects on Israeli democracy have no connection to the actual content or context of the law.
  • The new Basic Law was passed to fill a constitutional void. Israel, like the United Kingdom, lacks a written constitution and instead relies on a set of basic laws. Israel already has basic laws to protect individual freedoms (such as Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty). Israel lacked a basic law defining the identity and purpose of the state.
  • During the seven-year debate surrounding the Nation State Law, there was a broad consensus that a basic law was needed to define the identity of the country. However, the new basic law does not contradict or supersede the basic laws that protect and guarantee individual rights of all citizens regardless of ethnicity, religion or gender.
  • The new law does not erode a single right or protection of any minority. It actually reaffirms Israel's commitment to minority groups.
  • The new law also, for the first time, constitutionally enshrines Arabic as a language with "special status." It affirms that "the status given to the Arabic language before this law came into effect will not be harmed."

        See also Text: Basic Law: Israel - The Nation State of the Jewish People (Jerusalem Post)