August 28, 2018

In-Depth Issues:

U.S. Strike Kills Islamic State Commander in Afghanistan - Rahim Faiez (AP-ABC News)
    A U.S. strike over the weekend killed senior Islamic State commander Abu Sayeed Orakzai in eastern Afghanistan, Afghan and U.S. officials said Monday.

New IDF Missile Corps Will Revolutionize How Israel Wages War - Yaakov Katz (Jerusalem Post)
    Israel's decision on Monday to purchase new precision ground-to-ground rockets is nothing short of a revolution.
    Israeli companies like Israel Military Industries manufacture rockets today that are guided by GPS and have the ability to strike their targets with unprecedented precision in all weather conditions at ranges of between 30 and 150 km.
    Having a rocket capability attached to ground forces gives infantry commanders the independence to take out targets faster than in the past.
    This is made possible by the dramatic upgrade to IDF communication networks. The Tzayad battle management system enables all IDF units to see one another on digital maps and to identify the position of enemy forces.

Israeli R and D Expenditures Up 11 Percent in 2017 (Xinhua-China)
    Israeli civilian R&D expenditures in 2017 amounted to $15.95 billion, up 11.1% over 2016, Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics reported Monday.

Israeli Equestrian Rider Withdraws from World Championships Due to Conflict with Yom Kippur (JTA)
    Israeli rider Dan Kramer has withdrawn from next month's world championships, to take place in North Carolina as a prelude to the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, because the competition will take place on Yom Kippur.

New Israeli Breathalyzer Can Flag Early Onset of Parkinson's Disease - Shoshanna Solomon (Times of Israel)
    Researchers at Israel's Technion Institute of Technology, led by Prof. Hossam Haick, have developed a device that can detect the early onset of Parkinson's disease by analyzing the breath of users. Earlier diagnosis and treatment can help slow down its progression.
    Researchers have identified the breath characteristics of 17 diseases. "We have proven that each of these diseases has a signature in breath," Haick said, and they could use the same technology for those diseases, including multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer's, lung cancer and gastric cancer.

Two Israelis Earn Medals at European Windsurfing Championships - Itamar Katzir (Ha'aretz)
    Israeli Yoav Omer won a silver medal, while Shahar Tzuberi won a bronze medal, in the European RS:X Windsurfing Championships.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Iran Signs Deal with Syria to Deepen Military Cooperation - Asa Fitch and Sune Rasmussen
    Iran said Monday it had agreed to a deal to deepen military cooperation with Syria, reaffirming its intention to remain in the country. The move comes as the Trump administration and Israel amplify calls for Iran to withdraw completely from Syria.
        Last week, White House national security adviser John Bolton said Russian President Vladimir Putin "would be content to see Iranian forces all sent back to Iran," but Bolton said Putin indicated he couldn't evict Iran from Syria by himself. Syrian President Assad has previously said that Iran's presence in Syria wasn't negotiable and wouldn't be part of a political settlement over the country's future. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Iran Urges UN Court to Halt Re-imposed U.S. Sanctions - Stephanie van den Berg
    Iranian lawyers asked the International Court of Justice on Monday to order the U.S. to lift sanctions imposed by the Trump administration against Tehran. Iran says the U.S. sanctions violate the terms of a 1955 friendship treaty between the two countries.
        U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo described Iran's suit as "an attempt to interfere with the sovereign rights of the United States to take lawful actions, including re-imposition of sanctions, which are necessary to protect our national security. We will vigorously defend against Iran's meritless claims this week in The Hague."  (Reuters)
        See also Statement on Iran's Claim before the International Court of Justice - Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo (State Department)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Ceasefire Deal with Hamas Has Stalled - Avi Issacharoff
    While violence on the Israel-Gaza border has significantly decreased, a dramatic, significant agreement between Israel and Hamas now looks like a distant fantasy. Egypt believes an intra-Palestinian reconciliation deal must first be reached between Hamas and Fatah before a wider agreement can be negotiated between Israel and Gaza. Yet such reconciliation hinges on the good will of PA President Mahmoud Abbas, who is setting conditions that include disarming Hamas' military wing and its handing over all weapons to the PA, which Hamas has no intention of doing. (Times of Israel)
        See also Hamas Will Continue to Arm Even If Truce Is Reached with Israel
    Hamas foreign relations chief Osama Hamdan said Monday that even if a long-term ceasefire deal with Israel is reached, the terror group would continue to "build its [military] capabilities."  (Times of Israel)
  • Incendiary Balloons from Gaza Cause 3 Fires in Israel Monday - Matan Tzuri
    Three fires broke out on Monday in Israel near the Gaza border - near the Be'eri Forest, at Sa'ad Junction, and in the Shokeda Forest. (Ynet News)
  • Hizbullah Leader Claims Israel Is on the Verge of Collapse - Herb Keinon
    Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah claimed Sunday that Israel is on the verge of collapse. "The Israeli leadership knows that it is difficult to convince people to enlist in the elite units, the combat units, and everyone prefers to serve in rear units. They lack the willingness to sacrifice that they once had; they have no motivation to endanger their lives," he said.
        According to IDF statistics, 67% of those who enlisted in the summer of 2017 wanted to serve in combat units, as opposed to 68.8% in 2016. One of the reasons was a desire to serve in high-tech units that are of increasing import in modern warfare. At the same time, there are more applicants than places available in most Israeli combat and elite commando units. This is not exactly the same as everyone preferring "to serve in the rear units."  (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • UNRWA Is Not the Solution - Amb. Ron Prosor
    Established for the exclusive benefit of Palestinian refugees, UNRWA has, instead of resolving their problem, done everything in its power to perpetuate it. Instead of peace and coexistence, it teaches hatred and incitement. Instead of fighting terrorist organizations, it collaborates with them. As someone who has worked toward UNRWA's closure for years, I am glad Washington finally gets it.
        Responsibility for the Palestinians and the UNRWA budgets could be transferred to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, which looks after the rest of the world's refugees and, unlike UNRWA, works toward solving the refugee problem. Alternatively, UN agencies that already operate in the region, such as the UN Development Program, could be tasked with the job. Another option is to transfer the budgets directly to the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, which would strengthen the PA.
        The writer, former Israeli Ambassador to the UN and the UK, holds the Abba Eban Chair of International Diplomacy at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya. (Israel Hayom)
  • Carter's Plan to Reengage with Assad Regime Is Unrealistic - Frederic C. Hof
    In an op-ed ("In Syria, An Ugly Peace is Better than More War") in the New York Times on Aug. 24, former President Jimmy Carter asks Western governments to reengage with the Assad regime diplomatically and lift economic sanctions, while asking the Syrian government to "accept the inevitability of reforms and implement confidence-building measures."
        Asking the Assad regime to reform and build confidence is like counseling a shark to go vegan. And accountability for the torture chambers and the mass murder conducted therein would require Assad and his jailers to present themselves for trial in The Hague. Clearly this will not happen. To lavish resources and international legitimacy on a regime whose human rights performance contradicts everything Carter stands for would only prolong Syria's agony.
        The writer, former ambassador and special adviser for transition in Syria, is a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council's Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East. (Atlantic Council)
  • The Nation-State Law and the Revival of the UN "Zionism-Is-Racism" Libel - Dan Diker
    Israel's new Nation-State Law was passed as a response to a spate of resurgent ideological threats against Israel's existence as the nation-state of the Jewish people - a de facto continuation of UN Resolution 3379, known as the "Zionism-is-racism" resolution, approved in 1975 and repealed in 1991. In passing the Nation-State Law, Israel codified in law the rebirth of the world's one Jewish sovereign democracy. The writer, former secretary-general of the World Jewish Congress, directs the Program to Counter BDS and Political Warfare at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. (Jerusalem Post)

  • Last week the State Department announced a $200 million cut in annual aid to the Palestinian Authority. Before that, America cut support to UNRWA, a body created in 1949 to tend to some 750,000 Arab refugees from the war Israel's neighbors launched to erase it off the map.
  • UNRWA now handles aid to over 5 million Palestinians, while another UN agency deals with refugees everywhere else on the globe.
  • Absurdly, Palestinian UNRWA clients living where the Palestinian Authority or Hamas has full control remain "refugees," despite Palestinian rule.
  • Former Knesset member Einat Wilf, a vocal advocate of peace negotiations with the Palestinians, nevertheless calls for dismantling UNRWA.
  • "UNRWA encourages radicalism. It keeps alive the dream that the pre-1948 status quo will return and that Israel as a Jewish state will be erased from the map. I'm not against aid to Palestinians, just against encouraging that dream," she said.
  • In the long run, peacemaking will succeed if it addresses 21st-century facts, rather than 1948 hopes.