April 18, 2019

In-Depth Issues:

U.S. to Take "Protective Measures" in Anticipation of Palestinian Rejection of Peace Plan - Mahmoud Barakat (Anadolu-Turkey)
    U.S. counter-terrorism coordinator Nathan Sales told Yediot Ahronot on Tuesday that his country was taking "protective measures" in anticipation of "active opposition from the Palestinian Authority" to the U.S. peace plan.

Russia Denies Recovering Remains of Israeli Spy Eli Cohen in Syria (AP-New York Times)
    Russia's Foreign Ministry has strongly rejected Israeli media reports claiming that Russian officials have taken the remains of legendary Israeli spy Eli Cohen out of Syria, where he was executed more than five decades ago.

Hizbullah Antenna in Lebanon Broadcasts Hamas Radio - Tzvi Joffre (Jerusalem Post)
    An antenna built two months ago at a post shared by Hizbullah and the Lebanese army in southern Lebanon 3 km. from the border has been broadcasting Hamas' Al-Aqsa radio into Israel, according to Israel's Channel 12 news.

Somali Diplomat Fired for Pro-Israel Views - Raphael Ahren (Times of Israel)
    Abdullahi Dool, 59, who served as director of the Somali foreign minister's office, was fired last month for publicly advocating the establishment of formal relations with Israel and was forced to flee the country.
    "I am a staunch supporter of my country establishing diplomatic ties with Israel. I know many people who are in favor of this move. Like myself they wonder why it has taken this long," he said in an interview this week.
    "One of the reasons we need to establish ties with Israel sooner rather than later is to bring an end to the war of the extremists that is being waged against our people on a daily basis....We will need all the help we can get to achieve this goal."

Noble Energy Inaugurates Gas Platform Training Center - Eytan Halon (Jerusalem Post)
    Houston-based Noble Energy has inaugurated a professional training center in Ashdod to prepare employees for work on the company's offshore Israel gas platforms.
    The Doron Learning Center will train employees for work in electronics, mechanics and the operation of the platforms, while simulating the nature of work and life offshore.

Israeli Elections Are a Festival of Democracy - Joel Carmel (Jerusalem Post)
    This year I served as the secretary of a local election committee, the person who hands you your envelope before you vote.
    Getting the chance to have one's say is still a meaningful moment in people's lives.
    The number of people who brought their children with them to help push the envelope through the slit in the ballot box, not to mention the amount of selfies taken in the polling station, are a testament to what it means to people that their voices are heard.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Iranian President Rouhani Urges Mideast States to "Drive Back Zionism"
    Iran's President Hassan Rouhani called on Middle East states on Thursday to "drive back Zionism." "If we have a problem in the region today, its roots are either with Zionism or America's arrogance," Rouhani said. (AFP-Daily Mail-UK)
  • Gasoline Shortage in Syria after Iranian Credit Freeze
    Since an Iranian credit line was halted six months ago, not one oil tanker has reached Syria, resulting in a worsening fuel crisis, the pro-government al-Watan newspaper reported Wednesday. State news agency SANA showed a photo of hundreds of cars waiting in line at one Damascus petrol station. Oil produced in parts of Syria recovered by government forces stands at 24,000 barrels per day, well short of the 136,000 barrels required. (Reuters)
  • 9,000 ISIS Fighters, including 2,000 Foreigners, Detained in Syria - Ryan Browne and Jennifer Hansler
    The number of suspected foreign ISIS fighters being detained by U.S.-backed forces in Syria has now surpassed 2,000, three U.S. officials told CNN. The foreigners are among more than 9,000 ISIS fighters being held by the Syrian Democratic Forces.
        An additional 60,000 ISIS "affiliates" are staying in camps where the SDF has a security presence. "These are women and children, and the vast majority of these are assessed not to be innocent civilians. These are people who have chosen to stay, or were coerced to stay as part of the ISIS caliphate," a senior U.S. defense official said. (CNN)
        See also The Dangerous Dregs of ISIS - Robin Wright
    After five years of war with the Islamic State, the biggest problem for the winners is coping with the losers. There are tens of thousands of captured ISIS members whom no nation wants to repatriate, and the local militia holding them has neither the resources nor the personnel to keep them indefinitely. They're dispersed in pop-up prisons in northeast Syria.
        Up to 300 Americans attempted to join or succeeded in joining jihadist movements in Syria and Iraq, according to a 2014 report by George Washington University's Program on Extremism. More than a hundred ended up fighting with ISIS, according to former Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel. (New Yorker)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Kushner: U.S. Peace Plan Will Not Be Released before Ramadan in June - Omri Nahmias and Tovah Lazaroff
    Senior U.S. presidential adviser Jared Kushner told foreign diplomats on Wednesday that the U.S. peace plan will not be released before the end of Ramadan in June. He asked them to keep an open mind and said the plan would require both sides to compromise. He said the plan will not jeopardize Israel's security.
        U.S. special representative for international negotiations Jason Greenblatt responded Tuesday to PA Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh's announced rejection of the plan, tweeting: "PM Shtayyeh, starting a new job by condemning a plan you haven't seen is unfair to Palestinians. You have an obligation to first look at an opportunity before you dismiss it. The PA can continue to push us away, but that will do nothing to improve the lives of the Palestinians....By working with us, perhaps something wonderful can happen for Palestinians."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Qatar and Turkey Face Setback in Libya and Sudan - Seth J. Frantzman
    Qatar and Turkey backed Sudanese leader Omar al-Bashir for years, but now find themselves challenged after Bashir was pushed from power by popular protests and the military. They also supported the West Libya government in Tripoli, siding with hard-line religious groups, including Muslim Brotherhood-influenced parties. In early April, Gen. Khalifa Haftar, based in eastern Libya, launched an offensive to take Tripoli, with backing from Egypt, the UAE, and Saudi Arabia. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Universities Are Failing to Protect Jewish Students - Carly Pildis
    Israel Apartheid Week now takes place on 37 campuses around the country, with protests, rallies, film screenings, lectures, and actions designed to promote BDS and the idea that Israel is a colonialist apartheid regime. It is increasingly funded by the schools themselves. This year, Harvard provided the Palestinian Solidarity Committee with $2,050 to host Israel Apartheid Week.
        IAW is not designed to foster dialogue; it is designed as an expression of rage for the Palestinian cause and an attempt to enrage others into action. The Israeli government is out of the reach of these student activists, but Jewish students are right there - and boy do they make a convenient target. As a result, we are now watching as students who are members of a group of historically oppressed minority people - who were the primary targets of the largest genocide of the 20th century - are harassed across American universities.
        There are ways to discuss disagreements civilly, but IAW does not seek discussion, only disruption and intimidation. There should be no quarter given to events designed to harass, intimidate, and ultimately silence any minority group.
        Israel Apartheid Week is sponsored intimidation. It isn't about learning or debating; it's entirely about attacking. Harassing Jews because of their Jewishness is not a consequence; it's the goal. Think about it: Could you imagine any other school-sanctioned event in which a minority is deliberately singled out for harassment? (Tablet)
  • Israel's Information Campaigns: An Alternative to Kinetic Strikes - Yaakov Lappin
    Information campaigns, which involve the revelation through the media of enemy activity, allow military decision-makers to utilize sensitive intelligence to disrupt enemy build-up processes and attack plans without the associated risk of escalation that comes with kinetic strikes. In recent months, the Israeli defense establishment has made increasing use of such campaigns.
        Making enemy decision-makers feel vulnerable to Israel's intelligence capabilities boosts Israeli deterrence and pushes back the prospect of the outbreak of a new full-scale war. However, information campaigns appear to be most effective when they complement kinetic strikes.
        In September 2018, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the UN General Assembly about multiple underground sites in Lebanon that were to be used for converting unguided rockets into guided missiles. Three months after these warnings, in December, Netanyahu said that Hizbullah had shut down these conversion centers. The writer is a research associate at the BESA Center. (BESA Center for Strategic Studies-Bar-Ilan University)

PLO Position Paper Confirms There's No Partner for Peace - Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser (Times of Israel)
  • The "PLO Committee for Interaction with Israeli Society" recently published a detailed, 37-page position paper in Hebrew explaining its positions regarding relations with Israel. The writers are careful not to use the term "the Jewish people" - a term that is tantamount to heresy in the Palestinian narrative that continues to deny the existence of a Jewish people or nation.
  • The paper completely ignores Palestinian terrorism as the main factor preventing the implementation of the Oslo Accords. It also makes no mention of the Palestinian obstinacy and intransigence that led to the rejection of all American and Israeli initiatives. Nowhere does it use the phrase "two states for two peoples" because this phrase implies a recognition of the Jewish nation.
  • The Palestinian narrative is the primary obstacle to peace and is the source of ongoing terrorism. It proclaims that there is no Jewish people and states that the Jews do not have a history of sovereignty in the Land of Israel. Therefore, the ongoing struggle against Zionism is legitimate.
  • The paper states that the allowances paid by the Palestinian Authority to the families of Palestinian casualties and prisoners are not support for terrorism. It claims that these casualties and prisoners did not commit acts of terror, but rather they are "freedom fighters."
  • Thus, they admit that these payments are not "welfare support," but rather an expression of esteem for the attacks that these people carried out. It promises these payments to any terrorist in advance and thereby encourages terrorism.
  • The Palestinian position paper once again details the reasons for there being no Palestinian partner for peace. It displays that there is no chance of making progress in the peace process, even within the framework of the American plan.

    The writer is Director of the Project on Regional Middle East Developments at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. He was formerly Director General of the Israel Ministry of Strategic Affairs and head of the Research Division of IDF Military Intelligence.