February 25, 2019

In-Depth Issues:

Report: Britain's MI6 Spy Chief Makes Secret Israel Trip to Discuss New Iran Nuclear Activity (Times of Israel)
    Britain's MI6 intelligence chief Alex Younger secretly visited Israel last week amid concerns that Iran may breach the 2015 nuclear deal and attempt to break out to a nuclear weapons capability, Israel's Channel 13 reported on Friday.
    Israel's assessment is that Iran is "making preparations" and "getting ready," but has not yet made the political decision to break out to a bomb.
    The report said Iran has recently renewed its "industrial" production of centrifuges, "and is gearing up for the renewal of uranium enrichment."
    It said Iran is "preparing the infrastructure...in an accelerated fashion."

Israeli Lunar Spacecraft Completes First Maneuver toward Moon (Jerusalem Post)
    Israel's first lunar spacecraft, Beresheet (Genesis in English) successfully turned on its engine for the first time and completed its first maneuver toward the Moon after detaching from its launcher and completing its planned orbit of Earth.
    Its next planned maneuver is on Monday. The spacecraft will traverse four million miles before it lands on the Moon, in the Sea of Tranquility, on April 11.
    The spacecraft measures 1.5 meters by 2 meters. It cost $100 million - far less than other lunar spacecraft.
    The craft holds a "time capsule" of hundreds of files digitized on a disk, and contains drawings by Israeli children, the Bible, the national anthem, prayers, Israeli songs and a map of the State of Israel, along with other cultural items.
    See also Backup of Humanity Headed to Moon aboard Israeli Lander - Eric Mack (CNET)
    On board Israel's Beresheet spacecraft is a specially designed disc encoded with a 30-million-page archive of human civilization built to last billions of years into the future.
    The backup for humanity has been dubbed "The Lunar Library" by its creator, the Arch Mission Foundation (AMF).

Former Pakistani President Musharraf: Build Relations with Israel to Counter India - Sibte Arif (The News-Pakistan)
    Former Pakistani President Gen. (ret.) Pervez Musharraf hinted at establishing relations with Israel to counter India at a press conference in Dubai on Friday.
    He mentioned his initiative for making contact with the Israeli leadership with the help of Turkey in 2005 and said that the Israeli leadership had responded within 24 hours to his offer of a meeting.

40,000 Runners in Tel Aviv Marathon - Itamar Katzir (Ha'aretz)
    40,000 runners took part in the Tel Aviv marathon on Friday, including 2,500 foreign competitors.
    The winners were from Ethiopia and Kenya.
    See also IDF Veteran Who Lost a Leg Completes Tel Aviv Marathon - Hagay Hacohen (Jerusalem Post)
    IDF veteran Assaf Dahan completed the demanding 42 km. Tel Aviv Marathon on Friday despite losing his leg during army service, with the help of his service dog Chewy.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • In Shift, U.S. to Leave 400 Troops in Syria - Mark Landler and Helene Cooper
    President Trump has agreed to leave 400 troops in Syria - 200 in a multinational force in the northeastern part of the country and another 200 at the outpost in al-Tanf in the southeast, where they will seek to counter Iran's influence. A senior administration official said Friday that Trump recognizes there are still supporters of the Islamic State in northeastern Syria and is willing to maintain a combat-ready American ground force there to prevent the extremist fighters from regrouping. The U.S. will also continue to provide air support to strike Islamic State targets.
        The Pentagon wants to keep working with American-backed Kurdish and Arab fighters in Syria who have borne the bulk of the fight against the Islamic State. The troops stationed at al-Tanf would continue to train local Syrian fighters and monitor Iranian-backed militias in the area. (New York Times)
        See also Wise Rethink on Syria - Editorial (Wall Street Journal)
  • Switzerland Halts Arms Exports to Lebanon Due to Missing Weapons
    On Wednesday, the head of the Swiss Economics Ministry said that exports of war materiel to Lebanon would no longer be allowed. This decision is linked to post-shipment verification last year of 10 assault rifles and 30 sub-machine guns that were exported to Lebanon in 2016. Swiss inspectors were only able to verify and inspect nine of the 40 weapons. It was agreed that the risk of the weapons ending up in undesirable hands is high and justifies a halt in licensing exports. (Swissinfo.ch-Switzerland)
  • Ninth MP Quits British Labour Party over "Culture of Anti-Semitism" - Dan Sabbagh
    Ian Austin, an MP since 2005, became the ninth to quit the Labour party last week. On Friday he said: "I am appalled at the offense and distress Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour party have caused to Jewish people. It is terrible that a culture of extremism, anti-Semitism and intolerance is driving out good MPs and decent people who have committed their life to mainstream politics."
        "The hard truth is that the party is tougher on the people complaining about anti-Semitism than it is on the anti-Semites."  (Guardian-UK)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Thousands of Palestinians Enter Closed Site on Temple Mount in Jerusalem - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Thousands of Palestinians chanting "Allahu Akbar" entered the Golden Gate area of the Temple Mount on Friday. Israel had closed the site in 2003 after Palestinian activists affiliated with Hamas and members of the Islamic Movement in Israel - Northern Branch opened offices there to carry out political activities on the Temple Mount. At the time, Jordan's Wakf Department, which manages the Temple Mount, was not pleased with what was going on at the Golden Gate site, said Shalom Goldstein, former Arab affairs adviser to the mayor of Jerusalem.
        Sheikh Abdel Azim Salhab, chairman of the Wakf administration, praised the Palestinians who forced their way into the site, saying that the Wakf was now preparing to renovate the area to allow Muslims to pray there on a daily basis. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Secrets under the Al-Aqsa Mosque: A Photographic Essay - Lenny Ben-David (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs-27Oct2015)
  • Palestinians Chipping Away at Status Quo on Temple Mount - Nadav Shragai
    Palestinians in Jerusalem on Friday crowded into the Golden Gate area of the Temple Mount, which has been under a closure order since 2003 because of Hamas activity there, as the police sought to avoid widespread, violent clashes. The Palestinian gambit is another step in their campaign to chip away at the status quo on the Temple Mount. Two new mosques have been built at Solomon's Stables and at the site of the ancient Al-Aqsa mosque. There are restrictions on when and where Jews are allowed to visit the Mount, and almost no enforcement of planning and construction and antiquities laws.
        The Jordanians have installed a new Waqf council, which oversees the Temple Mount and its mosques, to include Sheikh Ikrama Sabri, a former mufti of Jerusalem and now a Muslim Brotherhood member, as well as a number of officials from the Fatah movement and the Palestinian Authority. The new council and Hamas are spreading lies about Israel planning to build a synagogue at the Golden Gate. (Israel Hayom)
  • Nighttime Riots at Gaza Fence Take Toll on Children from Israel's Border Communities - Almog Ben Zikri
    Hamas has recently increased its nighttime rioting near the Gaza border fence, which includes throwing explosives and using loudspeakers to simulate rocket alerts, often until midnight. (Ha'aretz)
  • Palestinian Arrested for Smuggling 37 Pistols from Jordan to Israel - Judah Ari Gross
    On Feb. 7, Israeli Border Police arrested a Palestinian man as he attempted to cross the border fence into Israel from Jordan wearing a large backpack containing 37 pistols, police said Sunday. Police arrested three other Palestinians who were planning to pick up the smuggler. (Times of Israel)
        See also IDF Arrests Palestinian Driver of Vehicle Loaded with Ammunition in West Bank Sunday - Yoav Zitun (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Israel Ramping Up Scrutiny over Tech Deals with China - Nisha Gopalan
    Pressured by the Trump administration, Israel is moving to create an interagency government body to oversee deals with China in sensitive sectors, similar to the U.S. Committee on Foreign Investment (CFIUS). The regulator body would focus on dual use products that have military and commercial applications, such as drones and artificial intelligence.
        Unlike their European and American rivals, Israeli startups don't have a massive home market at their doorstep. Many see Chinese backers as a way into the world's second-largest economy. (Bloomberg)
  • BBC Distorts Reality of Life in Hebron - Emanuel Miller
    A flashy new feature on the BBC website entitled "Hebron: One street, two sides," takes one of the most complex places in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and creates a spectacularly misleading and one-sided narrative. The presentation starts by describing Hebron as "the only Jewish settlement...in the middle of a Palestinian urban center." This is only half the story. In reality, Hebron has a Jewish history dating back millennia.
        The interactive website features nine video clips, of which seven are severely critical towards the local Jewish community or sympathetic with the Arab residents of the city. No video footage is taken from the Jewish community or pro-Israel organizations showing shootings, stabbing attacks, or riots. (Honest Reporting)

The U.S. Green Party's Crusade Against Israel - Amb. Alan Baker (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Anyone who peruses the website of the U.S. Green Party or any component of the global Green movement would naturally expect to read about the noble aims of a movement devoted to such values as ecological wisdom and environment protection. Such issues touch upon the very sustainability and integrity of our existence on the planet and should logically override partisan, political issues.
  • In a world that is plagued by environmental and ecological catastrophes and that faces continuing and ongoing moral and humanitarian crises such as willful bombing and wholesale killing of civilians, mass murders, mass expulsions, denial of basic social, cultural and religious rights and freedoms, assaults on immigrants and others, it is curious that the U.S. Green Party has chosen to concentrate most of its efforts on hounding Israel.
  • This is even more astounding because Israel is one of the only states that excels in the very values treasured by the Green movement - innovative ways to protect the environment, reduce pollution, purify wastewater, desalinate seawater, reforest, and protect natural resources.
  • It is all the more curious that the U.S. Green Party, as a matter of policy, considers itself sufficiently credible and authoritative as to advocate dismantling the State of Israel and replacing it with "the creation of one secular, democratic state for Palestinians and Israelis on the land between the Mediterranean Sea and the River Jordan."
  • On September 12, 2018, the U.S. Green Party wrote to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court on behalf of "the oppressed and besieged people of Palestine peacefully protesting on a weekly basis for their Right of Return," accusing Israel of committing crimes against humanity, including genocide.
  • The U.S. Green Party ignores the grave Palestinian violations of some of the most basic and important ecological and environmental principles that should surely constitute the backbone of any genuine Green party, including deliberate pollution of the air through the massive burning of tires, the deliberate arson of agricultural produce through the use of explosive kites and balloons, and the deliberate pollution of groundwater resources.

    The writer participated in the negotiation and drafting of the Oslo Accords with the Palestinians and served as legal adviser and deputy director-general of Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.