August 15, 2018

In-Depth Issues:

UK Investor Pulls Plug on 500 Million Euro Iran Solar Plant - Lefteris Karagiannopoulos (Reuters)
    British renewable energy investor Quercus said Tuesday it will halt the construction of a 500 million euro solar power plant in Iran due to recently imposed U.S. sanctions on Tehran.
    A string of European companies have recently announced they would scale back their business in Iran. On Tuesday, German engineering group Bilfinger said it did not plan to sign any new business in the country, while automotive supplier Duerr on Aug. 11 said it had halted activities in Iran.

White Powder Sent in Threatening Letters to Israeli, U.S. Embassies in Berlin - Herb Keinon (Jerusalem Post)
    A police spokeswoman in Berlin told the Jerusalem Post on Tuesday that a "crazy" man sent letters last month that contained a non-dangerous white powder to the Israeli, U.S. and Czech embassies and other institutions in the German capital.
    She said the man is not a member of a terrorist group.

Time for Palestinians to Stop Fighting Lost Battles - Daniel J. Arbess (Wall Street Journal)
    Palestinian Arabs need to realize it's time to stop fighting lost battles and accept reality.
    Israel is the ancestral and legal homeland of the Jewish people. Its capital is Jerusalem, as the U.S. has belatedly recognized, with other countries following.
    Israel's enemies lost the Six-Day War more than 50 years ago and relinquished the West Bank and the ancient city of Jerusalem.
    The 1967-borders-and-land-swaps formula of the 1993 Oslo Accord is an artifact of history, overtaken by developments on the ground, and the Palestinians rejected it.
    A broad alignment is coalescing among Israel and its treaty partners, Egypt and Jordan, and the consensus now informally includes Saudi Arabia and the UAE, among others.
    With this Israeli-Arab detente, the Palestinians are finding that they are the last holdouts of an Arab world that has accepted Israel and will make peace with it.
    Arab leaders who truly want to help their people know the path is through creativity, negotiation and compromise, not violent "resistance" - a euphemism for terrorism - and war.
    Polls show the Israeli public wants a dignified outcome that integrates the Palestinian people into Israel's thriving economy and culture of innovation.
    But security comes first. How could Israel ease security restrictions while Palestinian leaders are indoctrinating and inciting new generations to violence?
    The writer is CEO of Xerion Investments and a co-founder of No Labels.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Iran Oil Sanctions Will Hurt More than Before - Julian Lee
    Under Obama, Iran's crude and condensate exports fell by 1.2 million barrels a day over two years. Under his successor it looks like the decline will be bigger and faster, even without the political support of U.S. allies.
        It's easy to see another million barrels a day disappearing by November on top of the 430,000 barrels already lost. A halt in shipments to Europe, the UAE and Japan, and a halving of flows to India, would reduce Iranian exports by almost 1.5 million barrels a day over six months. (Bloomberg)
  • U.S. Blocks F-35 Fighter Jet Transfer to Turkey - Lara Seligman
    President Trump has signed into law a defense bill that will hold up the transfer to Turkey of 100 F-35 fighter jets. Turkey planned to take possession of the jets over the next decade and become the third-largest operator of F-35s in the world. But its cancellation will also complicate matters for the U.S. Several key components of the jet are manufactured by Turkish companies, and the U.S. Defense Department estimates it will take two years to find and qualify new suppliers to replace the Turkish firms. Meanwhile, the main European hub for the F-35's engine repair and overhaul is in Eskisehir, Turkey.
        "Trump...did want to make things nice with Turkey, and he by all accounts invested personally in the relationship," said Aaron Stein, an expert on Turkey with the Atlantic Council. "Now that he feels like the Turks have reneged on an agreement that they reached with him [to free imprisoned American pastor Andrew Brunson], the U.S. position is now an ultimatum."
        Turkey also plans to purchase the sophisticated Russian-built S-400 missile system. Officials say integration of the S-400 with the F-35 and NATO air defenses could compromise closely guarded U.S. and allied military secrets. (Foreign Policy)
        See also U.S.-Turkey Tensions Could Stall Progress Against ISIS - Helene Cooper and Eric Schmitt
    American and European intelligence and counterterrorism officials said on Tuesday that escalating tensions between the U.S. and Turkey over the detention of U.S. pastor Andrew Brunson could jeopardize cooperation between the two countries and halt new progress against Islamic State in Syria.
        A senior administration official said the U.S. is also demanding the release of Serkan Golge, a NASA scientist who has been imprisoned for nearly a year, and three Turkish citizens who worked for the State Department in Turkey. The official said that if Brunson was not released by Wednesday, more sanctions could be put in place. (New York Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel Reopens Key Gaza Crossing as Calm along Border Holds - Judah Ari Gross
    Israel reopened the Kerem Shalom goods crossing into Gaza and extended the Strip's permitted fishing zone from 3 to 9 nautical miles on Wednesday morning, after several days of calm along Israel's border. Israel had closed the crossing on July 9 except for food and medicine following weeks of violence. (Times of Israel)
        See also U.S. Wants to See Gaza Ceasefire "With or Without the Palestinian Authority" - Amir Tibon
    The U.S. wants to see a long-term ceasefire in Gaza, with or without the support of the Palestinian Authority, a spokesperson for the White House's National Security Council told Ha'aretz on Monday. (Ha'aretz)
  • IDF Nabs 3 Palestinians with Pipe Bombs in West Bank - Judah Ari Gross
    Israeli troops arrested three Palestinians armed with four pipe bombs outside the Israeli community of Elon Moreh in the West Bank on Tuesday. In a separate case, two pipe bombs were thrown at Rachel's Tomb in Bethlehem but failed to explode. (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Laws of Armed Conflict in Gaza - Lt.-Gen. (ret.) John Toolan
    In recent months, Hamas has debuted new tactics like indiscriminate airborne incendiaries and interspersing terror cells in crowds of civilians attempting to infiltrate Israel. Hamas attacks Israel and violates the laws of armed conflict by forcing the deaths of civilians to trigger heated condemnations of Israel.
        The "Great March of Return" involved Hamas encouraging thousands of Gazans to storm and potentially break through Israel's border fence en masse. Hamas implanted its military operatives within the onrushing crowds, effectively using civilians as human shields. Hamas paid rewards to those wounded, and large payouts to families of those killed.
        Israel will survive misperceptions and ill-informed reporting, though at the cost of increased and unnecessary pressure from the outside world to terminate lawful operations in self-defense. But sadly the same prospects for survival will not apply for Arab civilians unless perspectives on the radical differences in how Israel and its adversaries operate become dramatically more objective. The writer is former Commander, U.S. Marine Corps Forces Pacific. (RealClearDefense)
  • Can Israel Satisfy Critics of Its Nation-State Law? - Jonathan S. Tobin
    The primary purpose of Israel's new nation-state law is to give expression to the right of the Jewish people to self-determination in their ancient homeland. That shouldn't be controversial unless you think that the Jews are the only people who should be denied such rights when dozens of other countries similarly constituted aren't subject to siege or boycotts. The outrage that this law has provoked is not so much a discussion about how citizens of Israel should be treated, but whether or not the basic purpose for which the nation was created is legitimate.
        The Arab Higher Monitoring Committee organized a recent protest against the law in Tel Aviv at which some people waved Palestinian flags and chanted slogans such as "With blood and fire, we will redeem Palestine" and "Millions of martyrs are marching to Jerusalem." That made it quite clear that the goal wasn't so much equality or democracy, but the demise of Israel. Israeli opposition Yesh Atid party leader Yair Lapid wondered on Twitter what would happen to anyone who waved Israeli flags in Ramallah the way the demonstrators had flaunted their allegiances in Tel Aviv.
        The Arab Higher Monitoring Committee has long been on record as opposing Israel's status as a Jewish state, even if it is also explicitly democratic with equal rights guaranteed to minorities. The same is true of the Arab Joint List that has 13 seats in the Knesset and whose members oppose Israel's existence as a Jewish state under any circumstances. There's no way to satisfy such critics. Moreover, polls show a decisive majority of Israelis favor the law. (JNS)

Is the International Criminal Court Becoming a Palestinian Propaganda Engine? - Amb. Alan Baker (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • In July, judges from a pre-trial chamber of the International Criminal Court ordered a campaign of outreach to Palestinian "victims residing within or outside of Palestine."
  • With this unprecedented move, the court is openly turning itself into a Palestinian propaganda engine, similar to the UN Human Rights Council, with a regular reporting regime on Palestine and a distinct section of its website devoted to Palestine.
  • This is curious in light of the fact that the court has yet to decide whether it indeed has any jurisdiction whatsoever regarding the Palestinian complaints, and whether a non-state can indeed be a party to the ICC statute.
  • Moreover, this measure ignores the basic question whether, pursuant to the ICC statute, a "State of Palestine" can be party when no Palestinian state exists, apart from in a non-binding General Assembly upgrade recommendation, which is far from being a legal ground for acceptance.
  • All this indicates that the ICC is venturing far beyond its role and is being politically manipulated - or is manipulating itself - against its own better interests.

    The writer, director of the Institute for Contemporary Affairs at the Jerusalem Center, participated in the negotiation and drafting of the Oslo Accords with the Palestinians and served as deputy director-general of Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

        See also Israel Protests ICC Moves to Reach Out to Palestinian "Victims" - Michael Bachner and Raphael Ahren
    Israel has lodged a formal protest with the International Criminal Court (ICC) for launching a campaign to reach out to "victims of the situation in Palestine." "The court's judges are completely ignoring the fact that the court lacks jurisdiction to deal with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and that the court's prosecutor hasn't made any decision in her preliminary examination," a senior Israeli legal official told Hadashot TV news. (Times of Israel)