December 18, 2018

In-Depth Issues:

Sharp Rise in Palestinian Incitement before Week of Terror - Lahav Harkov (Jerusalem Post)
    There was a sharp rise in calls by Hamas to attack Israelis in the West Bank in October and November, according to a new report by Israel's Strategic Affairs Ministry.
    It said "support for terror and its extolment are at all-time highs in the PA."

PA Believes Hamas Terrorist Released in Shalit Prisoner Exchange Deal behind West Bank Shootings - Elior Levy (Ynet News)
    Palestinian Authority officials believe the mastermind of the Hamas cell that carried out the recent shooting attacks near Ofra and Giv'at Asaf in the West Bank is Jassar Barghouti, who was released from prison in 2011 as part of the prisoner exchange deal for captured IDF soldier Gilad Shalit.
    After being deported to Gaza, Barghouti became involved in directing Hamas attacks in the West Bank.

Funding for Al Quds [Jerusalem] Rally Group Will Be Terminated, European Commission Says (Jewish Chronicle-UK)
    The European Commission is to end its association with the Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC) that organizes the annual Al Quds [Jerusalem] Day march through the center of London, where participants have been seen waving the flag of Hizbullah and expressing anti-Semitic views.
    A spokesman for the European Commission told the Sunday Telegraph: "The Commission services have launched the procedure to terminate the grant agreement with the organization in question (IHRC)."

Canadian Warship Docks in Haifa Port - Anna Ahronheim (Jerusalem Post)
    The heads of Canada's Navy and Air Force joined the HMCS Ville de Quebec on Thursday to dock in Haifa port for the first time in four years.
    "This visit is a demonstration, overall, of the great military-to-military cooperation and ties that Canada and Israel have," said Canada's Deputy Ambassador to Israel Anthony Hinton.

NATO Conducts Maritime Medical Exercise with Israel - George Allison (UK Defence Journal)
    The flagship for the current NATO Operation Sea Guardian Focused Security Patrol, Greek frigate HS Navarinon, has conducted a medical response exercise with Israeli Navy corvette INS Eilat to ensure that any health issue among the crews on board NATO military ships can be addressed quickly.

Israel Partners with India for UAV Manufacturing (Financial Express-India)
    Adani Defence and Aerospace and Israel-based Elbit Systems inaugurated the Adani Elbit Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) manufacturing facility in Hyderabad to produce the Hermes 900.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • UN Says Hizbullah Tunnels that Crossed into Israel Violate Security Council Resolution
    The UN Interim Force in Lebanon said Monday: "Based on UNIFIL's independent assessment, UNIFIL has so far confirmed the existence of all the four tunnels close to the Blue Line in northern Israel. After further technical investigations conducted independently in accordance with its mandate, UNIFIL at this stage can confirm that two of the tunnels cross the Blue Line. These constitute violations of UN Security Council Resolution 1701. This is a matter of serious concern."  (UNIFIL)
        See also IDF: Hizbullah Attempting to Seal Its Attack Tunnels - Judah Ari Gross
    The IDF on Tuesday said Hizbullah appeared to be trying to seal some of the attack tunnels it dug into Israeli territory from southern Lebanon. In footage filmed by an Israeli robot, "an attempt to seal off the passage can be seen, which we understand was carried out by operatives of the Hizbullah terror group in recent days," the army said. The attempt to seal the tunnel was made after it had been found and booby-trapped by the military, an IDF spokesperson said. (Times of Israel)
  • U.S. Accepts Assad Staying in Syria, But Won't Give Aid
    James Jeffrey, the U.S. special representative in Syria, told the Atlantic Council in Washington on Monday that the U.S. was no longer seeking to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad but it would not fund Syrian reconstruction unless the regime is "fundamentally different." Jeffrey said that Assad needed to compromise as he had not yet won the civil war, estimating that 100,000 armed opposition fighters remained in Syria.
        Jeffrey also called for the ouster of Iranian forces, although he said the U.S. accepted that Tehran would maintain some diplomatic role in the country. (AFP-Daily Mail-UK)
  • EU Court Dismisses Hamas Appeal over Frozen Funds - Ian Geoghegan
    Europe's top court Friday dismissed an appeal by Hamas against the EU freezing its funds because of its involvement in terrorism. The General Court, the arm of the European Court of Justice that deals with cases involving EU institutions, said in its ruling: "The measures for the freezing of Hamas' funds are neither disproportionate nor intolerable, especially as they do not violate its fundamental rights, since the aim pursued by such measures is to counter threats posed by terrorist acts on international peace and security." Hamas had appealed the court's ruling in July 2017 that the group should remain on a European list of terror organizations and have its funds frozen. (Politico-EU)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Netanyahu: Arab States Are Looking for Links with Israel Because It Is Strong
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told a conference of Israeli ambassadors in Jerusalem on Sunday: "We are in a process of normalization with the Arab world without progress in the diplomatic process with the Palestinians. The expectation was that progress or a breakthrough with the Palestinians would open links for us with the Arab world."
        "Today we are going there without the Palestinians being involved and it is much stronger because it does not depend on their caprices. The Arab states are looking for links with the strong. Cultivating strengths gives us diplomatic power. It is more likely that it will work in reverse. Links with the Arab world will bring normalization and create the conditions for developing links with the Palestinians."  (Prime Minister's Office)
  • Russia, Israel "Cooperating Closely" after Downing of Russian Plane - Herb Keinon
    The Israeli and Russian militaries are cooperating closely again following the downing of a Russian intelligence plane by Syrian antiaircraft fire in September, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told Jewish Agency head Isaac Herzog on Monday in Moscow. Lavrov said that representatives of the IDF and the Russian Army met "several times," that the meetings were "professional," and that he hopes cooperation will continue "in a way that does not endanger the lives of Russian soldiers...and in a way that ensures the security of Israel."
        Lavrov initiated an on-camera photo-op with Herzog in what was interpreted as an attempt to signal that ties with Israel have returned to normal. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Time to Rethink International Aid to Palestinians - Nathan J. Brown
    Current efforts to provide international assistance for Palestinians to build strong, effective governance institutions in areas where the Palestinians exercise autonomy have been losing their ostensible purpose as leaders of the Palestinian national movement are shifting priorities away from domestic institution-building.
        In the current atmosphere, U.S. moves to curtail assistance to Palestinians spark dismay but little resistance; donors were already quietly asking each other whether their efforts are actually building a more just, peaceful, and stable region. It is difficult to give a positive answer to that question. Assistance itself is not a problem, but the political foundation that current efforts assume to exist has decayed.
        Rather than simply ignore U.S. efforts to obtain Palestinian and broader Arab acquiescence in current realities, it makes more sense for other international donors to repurpose existing programs. The writer is professor of political science and international affairs at George Washington University. (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace)
  • A Pragmatic Paradigm Shift Is Needed to Resolve the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict - Jason Isaacson
    After too many lives lost and too many opportunities squandered, some pragmatic governments in the Middle East and North Africa are charting a new course to peace and a better life for their people, applying the lesson that, with patience and level-headed leadership, national interest can triumph over ideological rigidity.
        Suspicion and resentment of Israel remain common on the Arab street, in the media and in professional associations. Virulent rejectionism has adherents across the region. However, geostrategic realities - notably Iran's territorial ambitions - combined with awareness of Israeli technological prowess and cultural compatibility are shaping a new narrative. High-level contacts that once took place privately are now public events.
        It can be argued that the pragmatic decision to engage with Israel reflects an understanding that decades of Arab efforts to delegitimize Israel have done nothing to either make Palestinian statehood a reality or the achievements of the democratic Israeli state any less spectacular.
        Israel is reaching out to the Gulf and seeking to build on historic kinships and connections in North Africa and elsewhere in the Arab world. The news is that the region is beginning to reach back. The cracks in the Arab "anti-normalization" wall are spreading, revealing a promising future - one that offers a counter-narrative to the region's nihilist fanatics.
        The writer is the American Jewish Committee's associate executive director for policy. (Arab Weekly)

Video: Mahmoud Abbas Contradicts the Palestinian Narrative on Refugees - Dore Gold (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • It has been axiomatic for the Palestinian narrative that as a result of the first Arab-Israeli war in 1948, the Palestinian Arab refugees were forcibly expelled by Israeli forces from their towns and villages.
  • Despite the fact that the 1948 war was caused by the invasion by five Arab armies into the nascent State of Israel, the emerging Palestinian narrative put the blame squarely upon the Israeli side.
  • That is why the recent words of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, at the PLO Consultative Council on December 9, 2018, are so significant. 
  • Looking back historically, Abbas declared: "Everyone started to speak in our name, in our absence. Therefore we could do nothing. And you recall, if you remember, that in 1948, when the 'Nakba,' or catastrophe, took place, we weren't a party to it. We were taken out, and we were told, 'after a week we will return you.'" 
  • Moreover, in March 1976, Abbas told Falastin El-Thawra, published in Beirut, that the Arab armies forced the Palestinians to emigrate and to leave their homeland.
  • Of course there were cases in which Palestinians left as a by-product of the war. But as Israel historian Benny Morris argued in Ha'aretz on July 29, 2017, Israel had no "expulsion policy" in 1948.

    Amb. Dore Gold, former director general of the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Israeli ambassador to the UN, is president of the Jerusalem Center.