April 25, 2019

In-Depth Issues:

British Jewish Siblings Murdered in Sri Lanka Terror Attacks (Jewish News-UK)
    Two Jewish siblings were among those murdered in the Easter Sunday terror attacks in Sri Lanka.
    Speaking in the House of Lords, Lord Leigh of Hurley paid his respects to Amelie, 15, and Daniel Linsey, 19, two members of Westminster synagogue, of which he is the president.
    They were among the 8 Brits who perished in the coordinated bombing attacks which claimed more than 350 lives.

Video: Digging for History in the Ancient City of David (MSNBC)
    The Today Show offers a Passover tour and dig at the City of David in Jerusalem.

U.S. Treasury Targets Hizbullah Financiers - Sylvan Lane (The Hill)
    The Treasury Department on Wednesday targeted two individuals and three European companies under sanctions meant to dismantle Hizbullah's international financial network.
    Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) targeted Wael Bazzi of Belgium and Hassan Tabaja for operating companies and conducting business transactions on behalf of two top Hizbullah financiers.
    OFAC also designated three companies - two in Belgium and one in the UK - for serving as fronts for Hizbullah business activities.

Hamas Arrests Gaza Comedian Who Protested Economic Hardship - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    Hamas security forces have arrested Palestinian comedian Hussam Khalaf, known for his criticism of Hamas and Qatar, sources in Gaza confirmed on Wednesday.
    Khalaf is known for criticizing the political and economic conditions in Hamas-ruled Gaza through songs inspired by famous Egyptian singers.
    Sources said the comedian is suspected of "misusing technology" - a reference to his posts on social media - and of taking part in last month's anti-Hamas protests.

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Swiss Government Spending Millions on Anti-Israel Lawfare - Ariel Kahana (Israel Hayom)
    The Swiss government has been directly funding legal activity targeting Israel over the past year. The Swiss Foreign Ministry transferred at least $2 million through its diplomatic mission in Ramallah to a series of Israeli and Palestinian organizations.
    Israel Hayom has seen the contracts, signed by both the Swiss diplomatic mission in Ramallah and six pro-Palestinian organizations, to support activities including "building cases for the International Criminal Court" and "collecting testimonies, field inspections, holding interviews and [providing] legal assistance to victims of war crimes."
    Other Swiss-funded activities include interfering with Israel's demolition of terrorists' homes, assistance for imprisoned terrorists, participation in weekly protests demanding their release, and legal representation of terrorists.

Israeli Leaders Offer Warm Wishes to Druze Community for Nebi Shu'eib Holiday - Hagay Hacohen (Jerusalem Post)
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin offered warm wishes to the Druze community in Israel on Wednesday in honor of the Nebi Shu'eib holiday.
    Druze tradition believes the Prophet Shu'eib is the biblical Jethro, the father-in-law of Moses.
    Thousands of pilgrims flock to his burial site west of Tiberias during the four-day holiday that began on April 24.

IDF Soldier Born to Gaza Parents Commended for Excellence - Korin Elbaz Alush (Ynet News)
    Staff Sergeant A., 21, is a career soldier in the IDF Technology and Logistics Division.
    He was born to Muslim parents who relocated from Gaza to Sderot in Israel 30 years ago. In two weeks - on Independence Day - he is going to receive a special citation for excellence.
    See also Israel's Arab Soldiers - Seth J. Frantzman (Jerusalem Post)
    "We are there to protect Israel's border communities and deal with any threats that may arise," says Lt.-Col. Nader Eyada, commander of a unique IDF unit composed of Muslims and Christians from Arab communities.
    "Most of our soldiers are Muslims, including Bedouin, with some Christians. They volunteer due to family tradition and ideology," says Lt. Jaber Eyad.

Healthy.io Uses Smartphone Camera for Medical Lab Testing at Home - Lars Rehm (Digital Photography Review)
    A product from Israel-based company Healthy.io, Dip.io uses a smartphone and a dipstick to perform urine tests that can detect ten indicators of disease, infection, and pregnancy-related complications.
    In clinical trials undertaken in the process of receiving FDA approval, Dip.io was capable of matching the accuracy of professional laboratories.
    This is achieved at a considerably lower cost and less inconvenience to the patient, as well as doing away with waiting time for the results.
    The system could encourage more patients to undertake regular screenings and result in early diagnosis, which could save them dialysis.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Rouhani Says U.S. Must Lift Pressure and Apologize before Iran Will Negotiate
    "Negotiation [with America] is only possible if all the pressures are lifted [and] they apologize for their illegal actions," Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Wednesday, according to state media. (Reuters-New York Times)
  • Asian Companies Pull Back from Iran amid U.S. Pressure - Benoit Faucon and Sune Engel Rasmussen
    Asian companies that had provided a lifeline to Iran after the U.S. reimposed sanctions last year are pulling back, hurting the hobbled Iranian economy, Western diplomats say. Among Asian businesses rethinking their dealings with Iran are banks, oil companies and technology giants including Huawei, Lenovo, LG, and Samsung. Many deals between Iran and Chinese companies "are now dead in the water," said an adviser to a Chinese oil company in Iran. "No one wants to take the risk of going out of business."
        The Chinese Bank of Kunlun, a key conduit for Sino-Iranian trade, told clients on Monday that it will stop all transfers with Iran beginning May 1. The bank is owned by the state-run China National Petroleum Corp. Monthly Chinese exports to Iran stood at $629 million in March, down from a monthly average of $1.6 billion. Multibillion-dollar projects in oil and gas fields and railways granted to Chinese state-run giants are now under threat, according to Iranian business executives.
        European officials say Beijing has appeared willing to slow trade with Iran in return for concessions from Washington in the continuing trade fight between the U.S. and China. (Wall Street Journal)
  • How a Convicted PLO Terrorist Became a U.S. Citizen - Scott Glover
    Mahmad Hadr Mahmad Shakir, today known as Vallmoe Shqaire, spent years in an Israeli prison for attempting to bomb a bus in Israel in 1988, acting on the direction the Palestine Liberation Organization. Despite his conviction, which should have barred him from even entering the U.S., he became an American citizen in 2008.
        Federal authorities have been aware of his background since at least 2010. They've had fingerprint evidence conclusively linking him to the terrorist act since 2016. "Somebody dropped the ball," said Seamus Hughes, deputy director of the Program on Extremism at George Washington University. Shqaire, 51, was charged in September with illegally obtaining his American citizenship by intentionally withholding his criminal record and past associations. (CNN)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • U.S. Is Convinced Palestinian Authority Is Spreading "Fake News" in Arab Media about Its Peace Plan - Amir Tibon
    Both the U.S. and the Palestinian Authority are trying to convince key Arab countries to accept their views on the administration's Middle East peace plan, with the U.S. seeking a clear separation between the Palestinian reaction and that of the Arab world. The assumption in the White House is that the Palestinians will reject the plan. The administration hopes, however, that some Arab countries will agree to accept it as a "basis for discussions."
        Last week, Jason Greenblatt, U.S. special envoy to the Middle East, called reports that the U.S. plan would include a land swap with Egypt "fake stories," emphasizing that Sinai is Egyptian land. On Wednesday, Greenblatt denied reports that the peace plan would include an Israeli-Jordanian-Palestinian "confederation." An Arab diplomat told Ha'aretz that the U.S. believes such reports are being spread by the PA. (Ha'aretz)
  • New Checkpoint for Palestinians near Jerusalem Takes 5-10 Minutes to Cross - Adam Rasgon
    At the new Qalandiya checkpoint in northern Jerusalem that opened in February, it now takes 5 to 10 minutes for Palestinian workers to cross using biometric permits. "It is substantially better," said Yousef Jabareen, 43, a butcher in Jerusalem's Mahane Yehuda market. "It used to take about an hour to pass through the old one. Now it only takes a few minutes, which means that I get about an extra hour of sleep."
        Tens of thousands of Palestinians cross into Israel to work in construction, shops, restaurants and other places, where they can earn substantially higher salaries than in the West Bank. Defense Ministry official Maj. Moti Stolovich said Israel invested tens of millions of shekels in constructing the new checkpoint. (Times of Israel)
  • Israel Completes Naval Exercises with U.S., Greece - Anna Ahronheim
    Israel recently completed the three-week long trilateral Noble Dina 2019 exercise alongside American and Greek naval forces in the Mediterranean. A naval exercise in Haifa dealt with underwater warfare, swarms, rescue situations at sea, and air defense. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:


  • The Iran Deal Is Dead: Politicians Should Commit to a New Agreement that Might Actually Work - Editorial
    The 2015 nuclear deal with Iran was fatally flawed. Critics said it ignored Iran's destabilizing activities in the region and feared the regime would use the political cover provided by the deal to step up its threatening behavior.
        They were right. Since the deal, Iran has only grown more belligerent. In Syria, it has helped President Assad slaughter his own citizens. In Lebanon and Gaza, Iraq and Yemen, it has continued to arm brutal proxy fighters. It has only intensified its pursuit of ballistic-missile technology and its cyberattacks against the U.S. If an agreement limited to nuclear weapons was too narrow in 2015, Iran's actions since have made such a deal entirely insufficient.
        A new deal should require Iran to forswear not only nuclear weapons, but also missiles capable of carrying them. It should demand that the regime cease its other threatening activities in the region and allow for more intrusive and aggressive monitoring than that stipulated in the original agreement.
        Presidential candidates should recognize that the Islamic Republic's actions have changed the facts on the ground, making a simple return to the terms of 2015 impossible. (Bloomberg)
  • Don't Rejoin the Iran Deal, Fix It - David Albright and Andrea Stricker
    Rejoining the Iran nuclear deal without the necessary fixes to it would in essence bless Iran to enlarge its conventional, missile, and nuclear programs without receiving any commensurate concessions from Iran. Rather than making this a partisan issue, a better option is to use the new leverage created by the reimposition of sanctions to build domestic and international consensus to fix the flaws in the deal during the next few years.
        Statements urging rejoining the deal typically contain notable mischaracterizations, such as asserting that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) stated Iranian "compliance" with the deal. In its quarterly safeguards reports since the deal has been implemented in January 2016, the IAEA has reported that it still has not been able to determine that Iran has no undeclared nuclear facilities and materials and thus cannot conclude that Iran's nuclear program is peaceful.
        Rejoining the nuclear deal unconditionally means accepting the end of the UN conventional arms embargo on Iran, slated to happen no later than October 2020. At that time, Iran will be able to freely import conventional arms and military hardware from Russia and China and arm itself as never before, posing a much greater risk to U.S. and allied forces in the region.
        Iran's development of missiles capable of carrying nuclear weapons has also continued apace, with Iran conducting multiple launches of nuclear-capable missiles in defiance of UN Resolution 2231. These developments ultimately threaten the U.S. with nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missiles.
        David Albright, a physicist and former weapons inspector, is the founder and president of the Institute for Science and International Security where Andrea Stricker is a senior policy analyst. (National Interest)
  • Iran's New Revolutionary Guards Commander Threatens the U.S. and Israel - Lt.-Col. (ret.) Michael Segall
    Ayatollah Ali Khamenei appointed Hossein Salami as the new Commander-in-Chief of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), replacing Maj.-Gen. Mohammad Ali Aziz-Jafari, who had served in the job since 2007. Salami, like many of the IRGC's top commanders, is well-known for his fiery rhetoric against Israel, the U.S., and Saudi Arabia.
        On Jan. 31, 2019, following Israeli Air Force attacks against IRGC and pro-Iranian militias in Syria, Salami said: "We warn the Zionist Regime (Israel) not to play with fire....This will only lead to their disappearance, and they will be destroyed before America hears their cry for help, and they will not have the opportunity to dig enough graves to bury their corpses."  The writer, an expert on strategic issues with a focus on Iran, is a senior analyst at the Jerusalem Center. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

  • Palestinians

  • U.S. Peace Plan Will Set New Baseline for Mideast Diplomacy - Herb Keinon
    The U.S. administration has 20 months in which it can put down new markers on Middle East issues and set new parameters. One of the aims of its peace plan is perhaps less about reaching a final settlement now, and more about setting down a new set of parameters.
        Much has changed since the Clinton Parameters of 2000. The Second Intifada and the Gaza withdrawal have changed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the "Arab Spring" has fundamentally changed the Middle East. It is expected that the Trump plan will reflect those changes, something that could set the narrative for the next decade.
        Animating the discussion on Israel inside the administration is the sense that Israel is America's most important ally in the Middle East, and that Washington does not want to weaken it in any way. Likewise, the U.S. does not want to weaken Jordan - another key Mideast ally - and does not want to set up a possible failed state in the West Bank that could threaten the Hashemite Kingdom. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Who Denied the Palestinians an Independent State? Not Israel - Jonathan S. Tobin
    The Palestinian leadership has repeatedly rejected compromises that would have given them the statehood they claim to want. Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and President Bill Clinton offered PA head Yasser Arafat an independent Palestinian state in Gaza, almost all of the West Bank and a share of Jerusalem at Camp David in 2000. He said no to that offer and to an even more generous one, responding with a terrorist war of attrition known as the Second Intifada.
        Mahmoud Abbas rejected an even sweeter deal in 2008, and refused to negotiate seriously over statehood during the eight years when President Barack Obama was tilting the diplomatic playing field in the Palestinians' direction. If Palestinians can't change their leaders or the policies that have left them in their current state of limbo, then they have no one to blame but themselves. (Israel Hayom)

  • Other Issues

  • Perfecting Intelligence Gathering - The Lessons of Sri Lanka Terror - Maj.-Gen. (res.) Giora Eiland
    Three years ago I visited Sri Lanka along with a number of former Israeli security personnel, who gave a short seminar to an audience of local security officers on the prevention of terror attacks. Although the officers listened politely, it appears they had not internalized the message, since they probably felt they already had everything under control.
        There are lessons which can be learned from the horrific Easter Sunday attacks and all of them have to do with intelligence gathering. The biggest difficulty in the war on terror stems from not knowing who's the real enemy. Fortunately, today's technology allows the security forces to listen to any phone conversation. Advanced search engines can easily identify repeated searches related to terror activity. Yet, governments around the world still prioritize investment in warplanes and tanks rather than in advancing intelligence capabilities.
        It's important to establish communication between the various intelligence agencies, and that's what the Sri Lankan government should've done. There was concrete intelligence information, which didn't reach those who were supposed to act on it. These lessons are well-known, but, unfortunately, only a large-scale traumatic event causes governments to finally adopt the right policy. The writer is a former head of Israel's National Security Council. (Ynet News)

  • Weekend Feature

  • Gaza Rocket Attack Survivor: "Our Enemies Don't Understand that We Aren't Going Anywhere" - Yaron Doron
    This Sunday, the Wolf family - whose home on Moshav Mishmeret was destroyed by a rocket fired from Gaza last month - welcomed their fifth grandchild. Grandfather Robert Wolf told Israel Hayom: "Susan, my wife, still has shrapnel in her head....She was wounded all over her body because she had her back turned. She, like any good mother, took care that everyone made it into the safe room and didn't manage to get inside herself."
        "She's a very strong woman. The first thing she said in the hospital was, 'We're so lucky it landed on us, [since] we have a safe room, and not on the neighbors, who don't.'...You can't take it lightly - you need to get into the safe room [when there is a warning siren]. It saves lives."
        "What gives us strength is the miracle we experienced. Seven people were in a house, a rocket destroyed the house, and we're all still here....We'll build another house. I'm deeply rooted in this land. When I came to Israel 35 years ago [from the UK], there were 3 million people here. Now we're 9 million. Our enemies still don't understand that we aren't going anywhere. They don't understand that Israel is growing and getting stronger."  (Israel Hayom)

Israel's Armistice with Hamas, Growing Tensions with Abbas - Ehud Yaari (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • The Palestinian Authority is committed to rejecting the U.S. plan and wants Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to resume peace negotiations under Russian auspices. Yet Israel is unlikely to replace White House mediation with the Kremlin's.
  • In Gaza, Hamas is inching closer to a separate set of understandings with Israel to stabilize the turbulent situation there, establish a fragile long-term ceasefire, and usher in a generous package of economic programs.
  • PA and Hamas leaders have been exchanging highly emotional public pleas for speedy Palestinian reconciliation, hoping to unify the ranks before the U.S. plan is released. So far, however, they are stubbornly avoiding any concessions that would help end the 12-year split between Gaza and the West Bank, and reconciliation talks are at a dead end.
  • Ironically, even as Hamas and Fatah denounce each other's contacts with Israel, both are pursuing dialogue with Netanyahu's team. The PA has preserved effective security cooperation with Israeli military and intelligence agencies as well as close coordination on economic issues.
  • The top Hamas leader in Gaza, Yahya al-Sinwar, spent 22 years in Israeli jails, speaks fluent Hebrew, and follows the Israeli media religiously, so he understands that Netanyahu's response to another major confrontation would be far more devastating than in 2014.
  • Meanwhile, Hamas has lost most of its cross-border attack tunnels into Israel and is struggling to maintain its rocket arsenal after Egypt cut its smuggling routes through the Sinai Peninsula.

    The writer is a fellow with The Washington Institute and a veteran commentator for Israeli television.
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