August 20, 2018

In-Depth Issues:

Long-Term Gaza Deal Is Still a Long Way Off - Avi Issacharoff (Times of Israel)
    Hamas does not view the ongoing protests along the border with Israel, or the kite and balloon arson attacks, as a violation of any ceasefire agreement. Hamas sees those attacks as part of the popular Palestinian struggle against Israel.
    However, Israel is unlikely to accept a ceasefire arrangement in which Gazans remain free to riot and burn Israeli farmland.
    The bottom line is that any arrangement with Hamas is not likely to be dramatic or all that significant.
    It would provide for a ceasefire, but one along the lines of the deal that ended the 2014 war in Gaza. It would be a mini-ceasefire, nothing more.
    See also Israel: Abbas Trying to Sabotage Deal with Hamas (Times of Israel)
    Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Sunday that PA President Mahmoud Abbas was trying to sabotage a possible ceasefire deal between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.
    Internal Palestinian talks on a long-term ceasefire agreement with Israel were paused for a week until the conclusion of the Eid al-Adha Muslim festival.
    See also Abbas Calls for Intensifying "Popular Resistance" Against Israel - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    PA President Mahmoud Abbas, addressing the PLO Central Council in Ramallah on Saturday, called on Palestinians to "keep the ground aflame with popular resistance" against Israel.
    The PLO council reaffirmed Palestinian opposition to President Trump's peace plan and vowed to pursue efforts to thwart it.

Head of Syrian Intelligence's "Palestine Department" Killed (Times of Israel)
    Ahmad Issa Habib, a Syrian military intelligence officer responsible for the struggle against Israel, was assassinated Saturday, Arabic media reported.

Pepsi to Buy Israeli Drink-Machine Maker SodaStream for $3.2 Billion - Rishi Iyengar (CNN)
    Pepsi announced Monday that it would take over SodaStream, the Israeli company that sells do-it-yourself seltzer makers, in a deal worth $3.2 billion.
    The move will boost Pepsi's efforts to shift from its traditional soft drinks to offering healthier options. SodaStream's products are marketed as a healthy alternative to sugary sodas.
    See also SodaStream as a Model of "Economic Peace" - Daniel Birnbaum (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

FDA Approves Israeli Generic EpiPen - Maggie Fox (NBC News)
    The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Thursday approved an Israeli-made competitor to the EpiPen for people with life-threatening allergic reactions.
    The approval of the new generic made by Teva Pharmaceuticals "means patients living with severe allergies who require constant access to lifesaving epinephrine should have a lower-cost option, as well as another approved product to help protect against potential drug shortages," FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb said.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • UN Chief Proposes Peacekeeping Force to Protect Palestinians in Gaza - Michelle Nichols
    UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres proposed in a report on Friday the deployment of armed UN peacekeepers or armed forces from a group of like-minded states operating under a UN mandate to offer physical protection to Palestinian civilians in Gaza. The UN General Assembly requested the report in a resolution adopted in June that condemned Israel but did not mention Hamas. (Reuters)
        See also Israeli UN Ambassador: Gazans Need Protection from Hamas, Not Israel
    Israel's ambassador to the UN Danny Danon on Saturday condemned suggestions by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres aimed at boosting protection of Palestinians. "Instead of delusional suggestions on how to protect the Palestinian people from Israel, the UN should hold the Palestinian leadership accountable for the harm caused to its own people," Danon said. (Times of Israel)
  • Hundreds of Neo-Nazis March in Berlin
    Hundreds of neo-Nazis waving flags with the colors of the German Reich marched through central Berlin on Saturday, protected from counter-protesters by police in riot gear. The neo-Nazis wore white shirts to commemorate the 31st anniversary of the death of high-ranking Nazi official Rudolf Hess and carried banners with slogans such as "I regret nothing."  (AP-Chicago Tribune)
        See also Photos and Video of Neo-Nazi March in Berlin - Charlie Bayliss (Daily Mail-UK)
  • The Secret App that Gives Syrian Civilians Minutes to Escape Airstrikes - Louisa Loveluck
    A flight spotter in the hills near a Syrian military airport sees a warplane gather speed on the runway and with his cellphone beams details of the flight to a server abroad. The data is analyzed to identify targets and then warnings are sent via social media. Across rebel strongholds, rescue workers and hospitals brace for casualties. Hala Systems - known to many Syrians as the Sentry system - can win crucial minutes for residents to find safety when warplanes are thundering toward them.
        American entrepreneur Dave Levin founded the operation with former U.S. diplomat John Jaeger and a Syrian computer coder. The undertaking, financed by Western governments, has helped save hundreds of lives and prevent thousands of injuries. (Washington Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • U.S. National Security Adviser Bolton Meets Prime Minister Netanyahu in Jerusalem - Noa Landau
    U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Sunday that of "the great challenges" facing Israel and the U.S., "the Iran nuclear weapons program, the ballistic missile programs are right at the top of the list." Netanyahu said the most important topic he will discuss with Bolton will be "how to continue to roll back Iran's aggression in the region and to make sure that they never have nuclear weapons."
        In an interview with ABC News on Sunday, Bolton said: "Certainly the objective of the United States, of Israel, President Putin said it was Russia's objective, is to get Iran - Iranian forces, Iranian militias, Iranian surrogates - out of the offensive operations they're in in both Syria and Iraq and frankly, to end Iran's support for Hizbullah."  (Ha'aretz)
  • Palestinians in Gaza Continue Weekly Riots along Israel's Border Friday
    Thousands of Palestinians gathered and rioted near the Israel-Gaza border on Friday. A number of firebombs and IEDs were thrown toward the security fence and incendiary balloons were launched at Israel. Two Palestinians were reported killed in the clashes.
        Despite attempts to broker a cease-fire, Hamas sources said Friday it would continue to engage in weekly riots, which have taken place every Friday since March 30. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Incendiary Balloons from Gaza Spark Two Fires in Israel Sunday - Jacob Magid (Times of Israel)
  • Palestinian Stabbing Attack Foiled in Jerusalem's Old City Friday - Yishai Porat
    Ahmad Muhammad Mahamid, 30, an Israeli Arab from Umm al-Fahm, tried to stab a policeman in Jerusalem's Old City on Friday. The assailant was shot and killed by policemen. (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Iran May Remain in Nuclear Deal to Shield It from a Military Strike - Amos Harel and Amir Tibon
    According to both Israeli and American officials, Iran's current strategy is to try to "wait out" President Trump's term in office while keeping the nuclear deal in place. The Iranians think the agreement can serve as an "insurance policy" against an American or Israeli military strike on Iran's nuclear facilities. The Iranians believe that politically, it will be impossible for Trump to create international support, and even internal American consensus, for a strike on Iran as long as the 2015 agreement stands.
        The Israeli view is that Trump is perceived by the Iranians as someone who could actually choose a military strike, given the right conditions, and as an avid supporter of Israel who would let it take action on its own if it decided to.
        Israeli security officials believe Secretary of State Pompeo's 12 demands on Iran have returned a sense of balance to American policy in the Middle East: The U.S. is no longer exclusively focused on defeating ISIS, but is also asking itself how it can block Iran's influence. The Americans are devoting more efforts to blocking the actions of the Revolutionary Guards.
        Iran has so far not actualized its plan to build military installations in Syria. The grand Iranian vision of a Shi'ite militia with 100,000 soldiers in Syria has so far stopped at 10,000. Meanwhile, Russia has been keeping the Iranians 85 km. away from the Israeli border, except for the region of Damascus where there still is an Iranian presence. (Ha'aretz)
  • The Misrepresentation of Israel's Democracy - Matthew Continetti
    Reasonable people and friends of Israel may disagree about the necessity and utility of the new nation-state law. Such disagreement, however, ought to be based on facts. The Los Angeles Times described the nation-state law as "granting an advantageous status to Jewish-only communities." But that is false: The bill contained no such language. The New York Times noted the law "omits any mention of democracy or the principle of equality." But that is because other Basic Laws already have codified the democratic and egalitarian character of Israel, including two laws dealing specifically with human rights.
        The nation-state law contains no additional rights for Jews; nor does it promulgate fewer rights for Arabs. A front-page article in the Times was headlined "Israel Picks Identity Over Democracy." This was a funny way to characterize a law that had been first introduced in 2011 by the centrist Kadima Party and won majority support, following parliamentary procedure, of a democratically elected legislative body. These often-hysterical reactions to the nation-state law use the legislation merely as a jumping-off point for larger complaints about Israel's Jewish character.
        The truth is that democracy is thriving in Israel. Last I checked, Israel is the one country in the Middle East where you can attend an LGBT Pride parade. The proportion of women serving in the Knesset is higher than in the U.S. Congress or average EU parliament. Minority citizens are guaranteed the same rights as Jewish ones. And it is precisely these achievements that are sustained by Israel's Jewish character and traditions. The writer is editor in chief of the Washington Free Beacon. (Commentary)

Does Israel Have a Strategy for Gaza? - Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser (Times of Israel)
  • For lack of any other feasible alternative, Israel is ready to accept Hamas as the de-facto ruling party in Gaza. Hamas is a terror entity committed to Israel's annihilation, but Israel believes that Hamas and the terrorism that comes with it can be constrained and contained for long periods of time.
  • To restrain and contain the terror from Gaza, Israel uses a combination of tools that are supposed to keep Hamas powerful enough to force its will over violent elements in Gaza and at the same time deterred from attacking Israel.
  • Keeping this fragile equilibrium for a long time is tricky and from time to time, Israel has to exercise more tools to deal with deviations from this delicate balance.
  • The toolkit includes a wide variety of military capabilities and operations, the security blockade, occasional economic pressure, and cooperation with Egypt and other Arab and international players.
  • Israel sees more advantages than disadvantages in the lasting separation between Gaza and the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank. The government is opposed to the idea that Israel should bring Fatah back to Gaza.
  • Israel believes internal Palestinian reconciliation is not going to happen because Hamas and Fatah will refuse to concede real power to the other in their respective areas of control.

    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.