October 2, 2018

In-Depth Issues:

Most of UNRWA's Foreign Staff in Gaza Evacuated to Israel after Death Threats - Amira Hass (Ha'aretz)
    Nine of the 11 international employees of UNRWA in Gaza were evacuated to Israel on Monday after receiving death threats from local employees who face dismissal.
    The decision was made in the wake of UN security assessments after protesters blocked senior foreign UNRWA officials from entering their offices and issued explicit death threats, the Palestinian news agency Sama reported.

Haley: Palestinians Should Complain to Abbas, Not Israel - Raphael Ahren (Times of Israel)
    "We believe that the Palestinians are going to have to come to the table. President Abbas is not helping the Palestinian people at all," U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said Friday at a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
    "The Palestinians, if they want to blame anyone, it shouldn't be Israel. They should be looking at President Abbas and saying, 'What are you doing for us?'"

Syria: We'll Liberate the Golan Heights - Martina Bet (Sunday Express-UK)
    Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem said Saturday in New York, "Just as we liberated southern Syria from terrorists, we are determined to restore the Golan Heights to the borders set in 1967."

Germany's Bild Calls for End of Iran Trade - Benjamin Weinthal (Jerusalem Post)
    On Monday, Germany's top-selling paper, Bild, urged businesses to stop trade with the Islamic Republic of Iran because of its terrorism and the regime's goal to obliterate the Jewish state.
    "This Iran cannot at this time be an ally," Bild's foreign policy editor Julian Ropcke wrote.

Palestinians Ask International Court of Justice to Revoke U.S. Jerusalem Embassy Move (WAFA-PA)
    The Palestinian Authority has filed a lawsuit against the U.S. at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for "violating international law" by moving its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, Foreign Minister Riyad Malki said on Saturday.
    The ICJ was asked to declare that moving the embassy to Jerusalem constituted a violation of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and to order the U.S. to take its diplomatic mission out of Jerusalem.

Netanyahu Meets with Indonesian Vice President - Hagay Hacohen (Jerusalem Post)
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a secret meeting with Indonesian Vice-President Jusuf Kalla while in New York City, Israel's Army Radio reported Sunday.
    Indonesia does not have official diplomatic relations with Israel.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Ten-Year U.S.-Israel Security Agreement Begins - Spokesperson Heather Nauert
    On Oct. 1, "the ten-year period of the $38 billion Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed by the United States and Israel in 2016 begins. Under the terms of the MOU, the United States will set funding for Israel at levels of $3.3 billion in Foreign Military Financing and $500 million for cooperative programs for missile defense over each of the next ten years."
        "The MOU was negotiated under the previous Administration, reflecting the bi-partisan nature of this commitment. Israel is a valuable and capable ally to the United States that today faces dangerously escalating regional threats, first and foremost from the Iranian regime's sponsorship of terrorist groups seeking to attack not only Israel but also American interests."
        "The United States unconditionally affirms Israel's right to self-defense, and this MOU is a concrete demonstration of our commitment to Israel's capacity to defend itself with a qualitative military edge over all potential regional adversaries."  (State Department)
  • U.S. Eyeing Arab "Boots on the Ground" to Counter Iran in Syria - Travis J. Tritten
    President Trump has backed a plan to keep a presence in Syria until Iran leaves, but that does not necessarily mean U.S. military "boots on the ground," according to Amb. James Jeffrey, U.S. Special Representative for Syria Engagement. Arab allies and local proxy forces backed by U.S. air power could replace the 2,000 American troops deployed there now, Jeffrey said last week. (Washington Examiner)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel Rejects Claim that Secret Atomic Warehouse in Tehran Contained "Just Documents" - Raphael Ahren
    After Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the UN General Assembly on Thursday that Iran was keeping 300 tons of nuclear equipment and material in a "secret atomic warehouse" in Tehran, Reuters quoted a U.S. official as saying the prime minister's information was misleading, and that the site contained documentation and not nuclear materials. However, a senior Israeli official said Friday, "It's not just documents. There are other things there. Did he check it? First of all, let them check."
        Israel's Channel 10 reported that the Israeli official was adamant that what the Iranians were keeping in the newly revealed warehouse was considerably more grave than the contents of the Iranian nuclear archive that Israel revealed in April, saying it was "forbidden nuclear material."  (Times of Israel)
  • Netanyahu: Hizbullah "Brazenly Lying" about Weapons Sites
    On Monday, Lebanese Foreign Minister Gibran Bassil took 73 foreign envoys on a tour of sites around Beirut in a bid to disprove Israeli accusations that they housed secret weapons facilities. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded Monday that "Hizbullah is brazenly lying to the international community by means of the fraudulent propaganda tour of the Lebanese foreign minister who took ambassadors to the soccer field [one of the secret weapons sites] but refrained from taking them to the nearby underground precision missile production facility."
        Netanyahu said the envoys "should ask themselves why they waited three days to give them a tour," and that Hizbullah took pains to clear out some of the facilities so that foreign diplomats could tour the area. (Times of Israel)
  • Over 100 Bombs, Grenades Hurled at IDF Troops during Friday's Gaza Riots
    Over 100 improvised bombs and grenades were hurled at Israeli troops during Friday's riots at the Gaza border, the IDF said Saturday. Some 20,000 Palestinians participated in the riots. The Hamas-run Gaza health ministry said 7 Palestinians were killed during the riots. (Times of Israel)
        See also Hamas Escalates Arson Balloon Fires to 12 a Day - Matan Tzuri
    An average of 12 fires a day are caused by incendiary balloons from Gaza. In addition, terrorists are now launching balloons attached to improvised explosive devices. Since the cease-fire talks halted, "Hamas has loosened the reins and is now authorizing the operation of incendiary balloon terrorist squads," a security official said. (Ynet News)
        See also Hamas Is Deliberately Testing Israel on Gaza Border - Amos Harel
    Friday's bloodshed on the Gaza border was the worst in almost two months. The level of violence appears to be a direct result of a decision by Hamas to escalate the clashes with Israel. The frequency of the Palestinian riots has increased to almost every day. (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Israel Confronts Russian-Made Air Defense Systems in Syria - Yossi Yehoshua
    While the Russians claimed that Israel had warned them only one minute before the Israeli attack in Syria that led to the downing of a Russian plane by Syrian anti-aircraft fire, in reality it was 12 minutes, and according to the Russians themselves, the plane was hit 25 minutes after the Israeli warning was received.
        Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov said last week that the transfer of the S-300 anti-aircraft missile system to Syria has already started. However, the Syrians still do not know how to operate the system. As we have seen, especially during the downing of the Russian plane, the skill level of the Syrian army is amateurish at best, and they are liable to endanger not only Russian and American aircraft but civilian ones as well. Thus, the Russians might be the ones operating the system until the Syrians are ready. The IDF assesses that the probability of Russian soldiers shooting missiles at Israeli aircraft is quite low.
        Meanwhile, Israeli policy in Syria targeting shipments of weapons is not expected to change. (Ynet News)
  • Forcing Iran's Allies to Face the Truth - Amb. Ron Prosor
    The evidence Prime Minister Netanyahu presented for the existence of secret nuclear facilities in Iran and Hizbullah missile bases in the heart of Beirut is the best answer to Europe's appeasement policy vis-a-vis Iran. Despite being privy to detailed, verified and accurate information on Iranian violations of the 2015 nuclear deal, the International Atomic Energy Agency and the EU have done nothing, acting as if Iran will one day relinquish its nuclear aspirations willingly.
        The writer, chairman of the Abba Eban Institute of International Diplomacy at the IDC Herzliya, is a former Israeli ambassador to the UN and the UK. (Israel Hayom)

Why Mega-Projects for Saving Gaza Won't Work - Dr. Mohammed Samhouri (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • I was a member of a hopeful group of technocrats who developed a clear roadmap for Gaza after Israel's unilateral disengagement in 2005, and then watched as that plan collapsed. On Sep. 12, 2005, I was among the first people to enter the evacuated Jewish settlements.
  • The scene I observed in the ex-settlements that day was one of utter anarchy and total chaos. Tens of thousands of people from Gaza took what they could from the buildings the Israeli settlers had left behind - from pipes and doors to concrete and other basic building materials. The Palestinian police were nowhere in sight. By the end of the day, little was left.
  • Not even in our worst nightmares could we have envisioned Gaza as it stands today: a place torn by more than a decade of bitter Palestinian political division, three wars between Hamas and Israel, and near total isolation from the rest of the world.
  • One lesson is clear: technical solutions to Gaza's complex problems, absent a supportive political and security setting, are not likely to work. Yet this lesson and its policy implications don't seem to be well understood today. The proposed solutions are all in the form of a "list of mega projects" to save Gaza's collapsing economy.
  • Based on the experience of post-disengagement Gaza, these projects can be fully implemented only if Gaza's political and security situation is stabilized first.

    The writer, a Palestinian economist, was a member of a Palestinian technical team in charge of preparing Gaza for the day after disengagement in 2005.

Today's issue of Daily Alert was prepared in Israel on Isru Chag.