February 26, 2019

In-Depth Issues:

Iranian Media: Zarif to Remain Foreign Minister Despite Resignation - Daniel Salami (Ynet News)
    The Iranian Fars news agency reported Tuesday that Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif will remain in his post.
    See also Rouhani: Zarif at Frontline of Battle Against America (Reuters)
    Foreign Minister Zarif is at the frontline of the battle against America, President Hassan Rouhani, who has not yet formally accepted Zarif's resignation, said Tuesday.
    See also Iranian Parliament Wants Zarif to Stay (Tehran Times-Iran)
    See also Iran's Foreign Minister Zarif Said to Resign (Fars News-Iran)

Ayatollah Khamenei Praises Chess Player for Refusing to Play Against Israeli Opponent (Mehr-Iran)
    The Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran Ayatollah Khamenei met with chess player Aryan Gholami on Sunday, praising him for refusing to play against an Israeli opponent.

Gazans Becoming Reluctant to Import from Egypt Due to Higher Costs - Rasha Abou Jalal (Al-Monitor)
    Hamas' Ministry of Finance had been collecting about $6.5 million monthly from taxes imposed on goods entering Gaza from Egypt through the Saladin gate near the Rafah border crossing.
    But a high-ranking source in Hamas' Ministry of National Economy in Gaza said this amount has significantly dropped due to dwindling imports from Egypt. In January, Hamas collected only $2.15 million.
    Gaza traders are becoming reluctant to import from Egypt due to "insurance and transportation" fees imposed by Egypt.

Israel's Zebra Medical to Deploy Its Scan-Reader - Federico Maccioni (Times of Israel)
    Israel's Zebra Medical Vision, which uses artificial intelligence technology to help read medical scans, has received grants from the Israel Innovation Authority to deploy its technology to detect early signs of breast cancer and osteoporosis at Israel's two largest HMOs - Maccabi and Clalit.
    Zebra's online software reads data from CT scans, analyzes the information and produces medical reports with 90% accuracy, the company has said.
    By 2020 Israel will become the first nation to have the vast majority of its population covered by medical imaging AI to perform faster and better diagnostics.

Two Korean Sisters, Separated 47 Years Ago, Reunited by Israeli Tech - Yvette J. Deane (Jerusalem Post)
    Two sisters abandoned at a train station in South Korea 47 years ago and adopted by different families discovered one another and met in February thanks to a DNA test they both took with Israeli company MyHeritage.
    One sibling lives in the U.S. and the other in Belgium.
    MyHeritage is the world's largest genealogy platform with DNA samples of 100 million registered users.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Hizbullah to Be Added to UK List of Terrorist Organizations
    The UK Parliament is set to pass new rules classifying Hizbullah as a terrorist group. Its military wing has been banned since 2008. UK authorities say they are no longer able to distinguish between the group's military and political wings.
        The changes are expected to take force from Friday and will put Britain in line with other countries including the U.S.  Home Secretary Sajid Javid said he had decided to proscribe the group in its entirety because Hizbullah was "continuing in its attempts to destabilize the fragile situation in the Middle East."
        Javid's Israeli counterpart Gilad Erdan welcomed the decision on Twitter and called on the EU to follow suit. (BBC News)
  • U.S. Pressing Gulf States to Hold Off Restoring Ties with Syria - Ghaida Ghantous and Michael Georgy
    The U.S. is lobbying Gulf states to hold off restoring ties with Syria, sources said. Washington, backed by Saudi Arabia and Qatar, does not want Syria welcomed back into the international community until a political process to end the war is agreed. (Reuters)
  • As "Caliphate" Crumbles, ISIS Women Remain Defiant
    "My son will grow up to become a jihadist," a woman cried proudly as she stepped off a bus ferrying people out of the ISIS group's last sliver of territory in eastern Syria. She is one of 2,000 people evacuated Friday from the village of Baghouz near the Iraqi border.
        She insisted the jihadists had only "stumbled," adding, "had the caliph not ordered it, we would not have left. I hope the caliphate will return and spread across all corners of the globe."  (AFP-Asharq Al-Awsat-UK)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Kushner: Peace Plan Will Focus on Borders - Alon Einhorn
    U.S. special envoy Jared Kushner told Sky News Arabic on Monday that "the American peace plan...will focus on drawing the border and resolving the core issues."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Chief Rabbi of Argentina Violently Beaten in His Home - Jeremy Sharon
    The Chief Rabbi of Argentina Rabbi Gabriel Davidovich was severely beaten in his home in Buenos Aires early Monday and has been hospitalized with "serious injuries." Davidovich's wife was tied up during the break-in and the assailants stole money and other possessions from the home while telling Davidovich, "We know that you are the AMIA Rabbi." AMIA is the Argentine Israelite Mutual Association. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Denmark, Australia: UN Human Rights Council Must Stop Biased Treatment of Israel - Tovah Lazaroff
    Denmark and Australia on Monday called on the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to stop its biased treatment of Israel by eliminating Agenda Item 7 that singles out Israel. Danish Foreign Minister Anders Samuelsen said, "Denmark will work for a council that treats all states in an equal and fair manner. It undermines the credibility of this council and its members when it insists on singling out one country, Israel, a democracy, under its own agenda item." Only Israel is singled out with its own separate listing on the agenda.
        Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne added: "It is our firm view that a separate agenda item focusing on a single country situation - in this case Israel - is inappropriate. It does not occur in any other context for any other country."  (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • The UK's Hizbullah Ban Is a Victory for Common Sense - Douglas Murray
    For over a decade, the UK government has stuck to a very strange lie on the matter of the terrorist group Hizbullah. In 2008 they banned its military wing. This idea - only ever believed in by a few officials in the British Foreign Office - survived on the extraordinary presumption that the group had two totally separate arms - a military and a political wing. Of course this division of labor didn't exist in the eyes of anyone in the region. And it certainly didn't exist in the eyes of Hizbullah itself.
        For years at radical and Islamist demonstrations in London it has been commonplace to see the flag of this terrorist organization being waved. The police have said that they will not arrest people flying the flag of Hizbullah because the wavers might be demonstrating support for the (unbanned) political wing. From now on that distinction will not be able to be claimed. (Spectator-UK)
  • Anti-Zionism Is the New Anti-Semitism - Dow Marmur
    Anti-Zionism is the latest euphemism for anti-Semitism. Current practitioners of anti-Semitism excuse themselves by falsely separating between the Jewish religion and the Jewish people. They argue that they're "only" against those they conveniently call Zionists, i.e., Jews who have built and now maintain the State of Israel, and their supporters abroad.
        Readers are invited to reflect on European anti-Semitism in its current guise in a new little book, Mission Impossible? Repairing the Ties between Europe and Israel, published by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and edited by Fiamma Nirenstein, a distinguished journalist and former member of the Italian Parliament. Many of the articles tell readers that though Israel seems to have good bilateral relations with most members of the EU, yet as a collective body it has become something of a hotbed of unbalanced, even vicious, criticism of Israel. (Toronto Star-Canada)
        See also Mission Impossible? Repairing the Ties between Europe and Israel - Fiamma Nirenstein, ed. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Hizbullah's Tunnels Offer Peek at Looming Conflict with Israel - Lt.-Gen. (ret.) Kenneth Glueck, Lt.-Gen. (ret.) Michael Tucker and Lt.-Col. Geoffrey Corn
    Israeli engineers have been neutralizing Hizbullah's sophisticated cross-border infiltration tunnels which embody its ongoing efforts to threaten substantial harm to Israeli civilians. They are also a reminder of the potential for major destruction and suffering that would befall both Israeli and Lebanese civilians in another conflict on Israel's northern front.
        These concerns were central to the Jewish Institute for National Security of America's (JINSA) Hybrid Warfare Task Force and its fact-finding mission to Israel earlier this year.
        Years of fighting alongside Russian and Iranian forces in Syria have transformed Hizbullah into a formidable military force capable of launching raids into Israel. These raids will target Israeli civilian communities, seeking to inflict as many casualties, take as many hostages, and cause as much destruction as possible before withdrawing. Hizbullah's ultimate goal will be to defeat Israel politically, by exploiting public reaction to the inevitable destruction and suffering Hizbullah's own aggression will produce. (The Hill)

The Iranian Nuclear Archive Suggests Iran's Nuclear Weapons Program Never Ended - David Albright, Olli Heinonen and Andrea Stricker (Institute for Science and International Security)
  • Iran's "nuclear archive" seized by Israel last year is extremely rich in new information about Iran's substantial, rapidly advancing nuclear weapons effort in the early 2000s. Iran aimed to develop and manufacture five 10-kiloton nuclear weapons and build a missile suitable to deliver them. The archive documentation supports that rather than ending the program in 2003, Iran reoriented it to a more disguised nuclear weapons program.
  • The new information provides a more complete picture of successor activities which were intended to allow Iran to continue to pursue key nuclear weapons-related work that had no plausible civilian justification in a more covert, dispersed manner. The information in the archive suggests that the nuclear weapons program never ended - and it could be continuing today.
  • The archive materials suggest that Iran can produce deliverable nuclear weapons more quickly than earlier assessed. It supports replacing the nuclear deal with a more comprehensive, long-lasting approach aimed at blocking Iran's latent pathway to nuclear weapons.
  • The archive information is in a form that is actionable in terms of: better carrying out of inspections of Iran's nuclear activities; challenging Iran's prior incomplete and duplicitous statements about its nuclear weapons programs; more adequately understanding the threat Iran's nuclear programs pose today and in the future; and better designing policies to address this issue.
  • It is difficult to see how storing and curating an extensive nuclear weapons archive focused on developing and building missile-deliverable nuclear weapons is consistent with Iran's pledge under the JCPOA that under no circumstances will it ever seek nuclear weapons.