June 4, 2019

In-Depth Issues:

Nechama Rivlin, Israeli President's Wife, Passes Away (Jerusalem Post-Times of Israel)
    Nechama Rivlin, the wife of Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, passed away on Tuesday one day before her 74th birthday.
    She worked as a researcher at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in the departments of zoology, ecology, and genetics before retiring in 2007.
    Nechama suffered from pulmonary fibrosis and used an oxygen tank for many years to assist her breathing.
    She had undergone a lung transplant in March, but efforts to stabilize her during rehabilitation were unsuccessful.
    See also When Melania Met Nechama (Ha'aretz)

Report: Israeli Intelligence Helped Link Iran to UAE Tanker Sabotage (Times of Israel)
    Intelligence from Israel's Mossad helped link Iran to the sabotaging of four oil tankers off the coast of the UAE last month, Israel's Channel 11 reported on Monday.

German Intelligence: Iran Buying Illegal Technology for Weapons of Mass Destruction - Benjamin Weinthal (Jerusalem Post)
    Iran is "making efforts to expand its conventional arsenal of weapons with weapons of mass destruction," according to a Bavarian state intelligence report.
    The report noted that Germany's criminal customs police prevented an electronic beam-welding machine from being sold to Iran. "The machine can be used for the production of [missile] launch vehicles."
    Extensive attempts were made "to disguise the actual customer in Iran," with claims that the end-user was in Malaysia.

Wife of Terror Victim Tells French MPs: Check How Your Money to PA Is Spent - Elisha Ben Kimon (Ynet News)
    French-born Yael Shevah, whose husband Raziel was killed in a drive-by shooting in January 2018, told French lawmakers at a Paris conference last Tuesday: "France gave the Palestinian Authority 16 million euros in 2016. Check how your money is spent. Demand it does not pay for murder."
    "Eighteen months ago, my husband was murdered while on his way home. His killer told the judge that my husband was chosen for his Jewish appearance."
    "Islamic terrorism, which has already struck Europe a number of times, is trying to target us. The Palestinian Authority regards these terrorists as heroes and pays them for their murderous acts. It gives them salaries for committing murder."
    "Many countries, including France, support the Palestinian Authority financially. I implore you to find out what your money is used for."

Williams College under Federal Investigation for Discriminating Against Jewish Students - Jeremiah Poff (College Fix)
    The Office for Civil Rights in the U.S. Department of Education announced on May 31 that it is investigating Williams College in Massachusetts over concerns that it violated antidiscrimination laws when the student government refused to recognize a pro-Israel student group.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Iran Rejects U.S. Offer of Talks with "No Preconditions" - Courtney McBride
    Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi rebuffed an offer by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for talks between the U.S. and Iran without preconditions. Pompeo said Sunday, "We're ready to sit down with them. But the American effort to fundamentally reverse the malign activity of this Islamic republic, this revolutionary force, is going to continue."  (Wall Street Journal)
  • UK Equality Watchdog Launches Formal Investigation into Labour Party Anti-Semitism
    The UK Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has launched a formal investigation into the Labour Party over allegations of anti-Semitism. After receiving a number of complaints, it will now formally look into whether Labour has "unlawfully discriminated against, harassed or victimized people because they are Jewish." The party leadership has been accused of tolerating a culture of anti-Jewish prejudice by a number of its own MPs, some of whom have quit the party in protest.
        Mike Katz, chair of the Jewish Labour Movement, said: "For years we have been warning that the Labour Party's response to anti-Semitism within our ranks has been woeful at best, and institutionally racist at worst. Last year we took the unprecedented step to refer the party to the EHRC, and we welcome their decision today to launch a full statutory inquiry."  (BBC News)
        See also Labour Anti-Semitism Probe: Evidence Submitted from 100 Witnesses - Jamie Doward
    At least 100 witness testimonies describing alleged anti-Semitic behavior will be submitted to the equality watchdog's official investigation into the Labour Party. (Guardian-UK)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • U.S. Official Shows Lebanon Government Photos, Maps of Hizbullah Weapons Sites
    U.S. Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Satterfield has shown Lebanese government officials photographs and maps of sites used by Hizbullah to store precision missiles, the London-based Al-Hayat newspaper reported Sunday. Satterfield told Beirut officials that the U.S. could neither overlook the findings nor hold Israel back from acting to deal with them, and that it was up to the Lebanese government to resolve the situation. Satterfield is in the region to mediate between Lebanon and Israel on demarcating the countries' maritime borders. (Times of Israel)
  • IDF: Hamas Has Decided to Restrain Gaza Border Riots - Anna Ahronheim
    IDF Southern Command head Maj.-Gen. Hertzi Halevy last week discussed the March of Return protests along the security fence with Israel. "We know the intentions of Hamas. They say that they would like to breach the fence with thousands of people, then infiltrate with hundreds and then have small teams of five to six people - each with guns and grenades - in order to kill civilians. We must stop these crowds from breaching the fence because, if we fail, the challenge will be much bigger five minutes later."
        Halevy noted that approvals to shoot are given by senior commanders, and a debriefing is carried out following every bullet fired. "We haven't found even one incident of a soldier intentionally shooting into the crowd, even on tough days." He added that in recent months the border protests have seen a "dramatic" decrease in the number of deaths and injuries after Hamas decided to restrain rioters by putting their own troops between protesters and the security fence. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Pompeo: Archive Captured by Israel Reveals Iran's Thinking on Nuclear Program
    Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo said in an interview on Monday that Israel's capture of the Iranian nuclear archive "was an important thing that Israel did there. We have learned more about the [Iranian nuclear] program, and the mere existence of that program intact indicates that the Islamic Republic of Iran is thinking about the day when they might begin to continue their program in a serious way....Some of the infrastructure for the Islamic Republic of Iran's nuclear program was dispersed, those scientists are still out working in laboratories and schools and facilities all around Iran."
        "The United States is watching closely each of these sites that we suspect may have engaged in some element of a weapons program. I think it's abundantly clear that the declaration that was made [by Iran]...about the Iranian weapons program's history, called the PMD [Possible Military Dimensions] in the JCPOA, that that was fundamentally false. And we have worked diligently to ensure that the IAEA is aware of those things which weren't accurate, and we have urged them to continue to conduct inspections to validate not only that the basis for the JCPOA had factual inaccuracies, but more importantly, the risk that that creates to the nonproliferation regime that was set up by the JCPOA."  (State Department)
  • Which Middle East Leader Showed "Open Disdain" for Peace Efforts? - Adam Levick
    On May 20, the Guardian published an article, "Donald Trump's peace conference will fail, Palestinians say," which stated: "Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, has expressed open disdain for peace efforts." Though Netanyahu was a critic of the Oslo peace process, during his first stint as prime minister he agreed to significant Oslo-related territorial withdrawals with the Wye River Memorandum and the Hebron Protocols.
        During the Obama Administration, Netanyahu implemented an unprecedented 10-month settlement freeze to induce Mahmoud Abbas to come to the table. Several years later, during Secretary of State John Kerry's peace efforts, Netanyahu agreed to release over 100 Palestinian prisoners who had been convicted of violent terror offenses.
        At the same time, Abbas showed "open disdain" for the peace process in rejecting a comprehensive offer by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert that would have given the Palestinians almost everything they wanted. Indeed, the Guardian has ignored Abbas' ten-year history of scuttling peace talks. (UK Media Watch-CAMERA)

The "War of Many Rounds" in Gaza: Hamas and Islamic Jihad vs. Israel - Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser and Eitan Fischberger (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Since the end of the 2014 Gaza war, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) in Gaza have launched rockets against Israeli civilian targets and provoked Israeli air strikes in retaliation in eight rounds of escalation that are part of one long war. Both sides realize that this kind of war cannot lead to a significant change in the reality concerning Gaza.
  • Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad believe that the rounds of escalation serve their interests and are important in their own merit as they help demonstrate their commitment to the struggle against Israel. The escalations enable them to boast of their military capabilities, mobilize the population to the cause of fighting Zionism, distract the Gaza population from their daily miseries, and gain economic assistance from Qatar, while blaming Mahmoud Abbas for the difficulties in Gaza and pressuring the PA, Egypt, Qatar and Israel to improve living conditions in Gaza.
  • Israel remains committed to a policy of trying to maintain a balance in which Hamas serves as the Gaza entity strong enough to maintain a monopoly over the use of force from the territory it governs, and at the same time remains weak and deterred enough to be restrained from firing on Israel.
  • The continuing rounds of conflict raise doubts regarding the ability of Hamas to fulfill this role. It appears that PIJ and militant elements within Hamas are emboldened enough to challenge the Hamas leadership from time to time. Yet Hamas is always able to restore discipline and restraint, which means that the Israeli policy has not lost its relevance. The alternative to this policy is regarded as very costly both in the short and long term, and this is why Israel prefers to stick to its current path.
  • In the latest round, Israel raised the price for the Palestinians, while also showing greater readiness to improve their living conditions. If this strategy convinces the Palestinians in Gaza to reach an agreement that will guarantee an extended period of calm, then the policy will have been successful. But if it fails and there is another round of the war, and if the harassment of the Israeli population along the Gaza border continues, Israel may be forced to consider other options.
  • The fundamental problem is that the population of Gaza is comprised primarily of descendants of Palestinian refugees who have been indoctrinated by their leadership to believe that they are duty-bound to fight against Zionism until they can return to their ancestral homes in Israel. This narrative perpetuates the conflict and makes a political solution nearly impossible.
  • This means that the slogans that call for Israel to reach a political solution to the conflict are, unfortunately, detached from reality. Palestinians in Gaza truly desire and deserve to live better lives. Regrettably, they and their leadership do not see this goal as more vital than the struggle against the State of Israel.

    Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser, former head of the IDF Military Intelligence Research Division, is Director of the Project on Regional Middle East Developments at the Jerusalem Center, where Eitan Fischberger, a student at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya (IDC), is a research intern.