April 2, 2019

In-Depth Issues:

Pentagon Suspends F-35 Fighter Jet Deal with Turkey - Nancy A. Youssef and Doug Cameron (Wall Street Journal)
    The U.S. is suspending delivery of support equipment and supplies to Turkey for F-35 jet fighters because of Ankara's pursuit of a Russian antiaircraft system over repeated U.S. objections, the Pentagon announced Monday. Turkey received its first F-35 plane last June.
    Local suppliers such as Turkish Aerospace Industries produce major parts for the plane. The Pentagon said Monday it is developing alternative suppliers.
    The U.S. fears that introducing a top American jet fighter into a country equipped with Russian antiaircraft technology could allow the Russian system to better spot U.S. aircraft.

Setbacks in Turkey's Local Elections Dent Erdogan's Aura - Kareem Fahim (Washington Post)
    Turkish President Erdogan's party faced the prospect Monday of a local election defeat in Istanbul, after being defeated in several of the country's largest cities including Ankara, the capital.

Swedish Police Arrest Iraqi Journalist as Iranian Spy - Richard Orange and Raf Sanchez (Telegraph-UK)
    Swedish police have arrested Stockholm-based Iraqi journalist Raghdan al-Khazali on suspicion of operating as an Iranian spy who targeted members of an Ahwazi opposition group in Europe.
    Members of the group have been repeatedly targeted by Iranian assassins in Europe.

PA to Pay 50 Percent of Salaries for Second Month (IMEMC-PA)
    The PA Ministry of Finance announced on Monday that it will pay 50% of the monthly salaries to PA employees for the second month in a row, but that payments to prisoners and their families will be paid in full.

The Great March of Return, What Went Wrong? - Muhammad Shehada (Forward)
    Gaza's Great Return March was meant to be a six-week protest against everything that made the Strip unlivable.
    The focus on the Palestinian "right of return" to Israel was the march's greatest weakness from a tactical point of view. It reduced international support for the march, which was easily portrayed as a call for flooding Israel with Palestinians.
    The marchers were cast as surrendering to despair and pursuing martyrdom, as cannon fodder who were infiltrated, manipulated and ultimately controlled by Hamas.
    Hamas keeps the protests going, even though they are hollowed out of meaning and people are sick of them.
    But they continue to benefit Hamas as well, shielding it from facing the Gazan crowds who have become weary of Hamas' indefinite rule.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Golan Recognition Part of Larger U.S. Effort to Counter Iran - Adam Kredo
    U.S. recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights is part of a larger effort by the White House to open new fronts to combat Iran in the region, according to U.S. officials. One White House official said, "To allow the Golan Heights to be controlled by the likes of the Syrian and Iranian regimes would turn a blind eye to the threats emanating from a Syrian regime that engages in atrocities and from Iran and terrorist actors, including Hizbullah, seeking to use the Golan Heights as a launching ground for attacks on Israel."
        "This administration...is willing to acknowledge the reality that there can be no comprehensive peace agreement that does not satisfactorily address Israel's security needs in the Golan Heights. The Golan is an area vital to Israel's national security."
        U.S. Middle East peace envoy Jason Greenblatt tweeted, "A regime that gasses its own people and drops barrel bombs on women and children is in no position to try to convince the [international] community of their right to the Golan. Anyone who says Syria should control the Golan is taking a position not based in reality."  (Washington Free Beacon)
  • Pompeo Warned Lebanon about Covert Hizbullah Missile Factory - Barak Ravid
    Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned the Lebanese government during his visit to Beirut last month that Hizbullah and Iran have set up a new covert factory for precision missiles on Lebanese soil, U.S. sources said. Pompeo based his warning on intelligence he received from Israel. (Axios)
  • Brazil President Visits Western Wall in Jerusalem with Netanyahu
    Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro visited the Western Wall in Jerusalem on Monday alongside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The site, one of the holiest in Judaism, is located in a part of Jerusalem annexed by Israel after the 1967 Six-Day War. Such visits can be seen as granting tacit approval to Israeli sovereignty over the site. An Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman said it was the first time a sitting head of state had visited there with an Israeli prime minister. President Trump became the first sitting American president to visit the Western Wall, in May 2017, but he was not accompanied by any Israeli leaders. (AFP)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • PA Stops Referring Palestinian Patients to Israeli Hospitals - Adam Rasgon
    The PA Health Ministry has stopped referring Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza to Israeli hospitals, a Palestinian official confirmed on Monday. Last year, the PA sent 50,000 Palestinians to Israeli hospitals, said PA Health Ministry spokesman Osama al-Najjar.
        The Israel Finance Ministry deducts funds for medical bills from taxes that Israel collects on behalf of the PA, in accordance with the Paris Protocol, an annex of the Oslo Accords. The PA is no longer willing to accept this arrangement and will refer all ill persons requiring special operations or treatment that Palestinian hospitals cannot provide to medical institutions in Jordan and Egypt. (Times of Israel)
  • Israeli President: "Gazan People Not Our Enemy, We Have No War with Islam" - Yvette J. Deane
    Israeli President Reuven Rivlin said on Tuesday during a diplomatic visit to Canada, "The people of Gaza are not our enemy. We have no war with Islam." Rivlin added, "For years, our citizens in the south have lived with missiles from Gaza. Sleeping in bomb shelters, night after night for years, is a reality that is hard to grasp. Just last week a rocket fired from Gaza hit a house in the center of Israel and wounded seven people, including a six-month-old baby. These rockets are fired by Hamas, a ruthless and cruel terrorist organization."
        "I want to thank you not only for your friendship, but for your moral leadership....Unfortunately, we live in a time where moral leadership is not always valued. The UN Human Rights Council has been taken over by human rights violators, and many countries prioritize their economic ties with radical regimes like Iran, instead of speaking up against tyranny and terror....Israel and Canada can work together with other like-minded countries to build a new global alliance based on moral leadership and responsibility."  (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • PA to Reject U.S. Peace Plan - Jake Walles
    I recently returned from a visit to Ramallah where I met with senior officials in the Palestinian Authority (PA). To my surprise, my interlocutors showed almost no interest in President Trump's peace plan. My conclusion was that the Palestinian leadership had no expectation that the prospective peace deal would bring anything positive for them. Even if the administration secures a conditional "yes" from the Israeli side and some general expressions of support from Arab states, the Palestinians seem determined to respond with a firm "no."
        Those with whom I spoke indicated that they remained determined to maintain stability in the West Bank. Senior PA officials confirmed that they were continuing their security coordination with Israel and still maintained some contact for this purpose with the U.S.
        The writer, former U.S. Ambassador to Tunisia and Consul General in Jerusalem, is a nonresident senior fellow in the Middle East Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. (Carnegie Middle East Center-Lebanon)
  • Withdrawing from the Iran Nuclear Deal Has Paid Dividends - Bret Stephens
    Critics said the U.S. decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal would bring nothing but woe to the U.S. and our interests in the Middle East. But last week, the New York Times' Ben Hubbard wrote: "Iran's financial crisis, exacerbated by American sanctions, appears to be undermining its support for militant groups and political allies who bolster Iranian influence in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and elsewhere." Moreover, the U.S. is no longer looking the other way at Hizbullah's criminal enterprises, including drug smuggling and money laundering.
        Non-nuclear states that sponsor terrorism and subscribe to millenarian ideologies should never have access to any part of the nuclear fuel cycle, ever. Any U.S. administration that abdicates the responsibility to do everything it can to prevent such access effectively renounces America's status as a superpower as well. The Trump administration has succeeded in dramatically raising the costs to Iran for its sinister behavior, at no cost to the U.S. or our allies. (New York Times)

  • Kalman Yeger, a member of the New York City Council, is in trouble for denying the existence of a country named "Palestine." Council Speaker Corey Johnson and Mayor Bill De Blasio asserted that if Yeger didn't retract his comments, he should be booted off the council's Committee on Immigration.
  • Prior to 1948 and the birth of Israel, the only group that answered to the name "Palestinians" were Jewish residents of the British Mandate for Palestine.
  • Non-Jews who lived there considered themselves Arabs, not Palestinians, because there had never in history been a separate Palestinian Arab political entity or, prior to the birth of modern Zionism, a national movement that represented the ambitions of such a group. It was only after the birth of Israel that the Arabs embraced the name "Palestinian" and claimed that the country was "Palestine."
  • The reason why "Palestine" isn't a country is that Palestinian identity has been inextricably tied to denying the right of the Jews to a state in the same country.
  • When people like Rep. Ilhan Omar, Rep. Rashida Tlaib, and the BDS movement they support say "Palestine," they are not referring to a separate state next door to a secure Jewish state. They are, instead, referring to their hope of replacing the State of Israel with a Palestinian state that will deny the right of the Jews to self-determination.
  • Opposing that ambition is not Islamophobic or even necessarily rooted in hate against Palestinians.