June 13, 2019

In-Depth Issues:

Report: Hizbullah Planned Game-Changing Attacks on Israeli Targets Globally (Times of Israel)
    On Wednesday, Yediot Ahronot expanded on the revelation that Israel's Mossad intelligence agency has worked for over three years to stymie Hizbullah's efforts to establish explosives storehouses in London, Cyprus and Thailand - which police have concluded were ultimately directed at Israeli assets in those countries.
    Hizbullah "has established a network of enormous caches of advanced explosive materials" to develop the ability to launch massive terror attacks at will around the world, an Israeli intelligence official said.
    "Luckily, someone was in the right place at the right time to issue a warning, to pass on the information and to prevent the establishment of this infrastructure."

Woman Admits Role in Smuggling Airplane Parts to Iran - William Westhoven (Morristown [NJ] Daily Record)
    Joyce Eliabachus, 52, of Morristown, pleaded guilty Tuesday to conspiring with an Iranian national to smuggle thousands of airplane components - worth $2 million - to Iran. The ringleader of the network, Iranian Peyman Amiri Larijani, 33, was also charged.
    "For over two years, Eliabachus illegally engaged in aircraft component sales to Iran, a nation listed by the United States as a state sponsor of terrorism," said Brian Michael, a Homeland Security special agent.
    The two facilitated at least 49 shipments containing 23,554 aircraft parts between May 2015 and October 2017.
    Eliabachus admitted she repackaged and shipped the components to companies in the UAE and Turkey, where Larijani and other Iranian conspirators directed them to locations in Iran.

Saudi Arabia Opens Its Doors to Israeli Arabs - Dan Zaken (Globes)
    Saudi Arabia is about to approve a plan giving permanent resident status in the country to investors, entrepreneurs, engineers, and even cashiers. The new plan will also allow Israeli Arabs to work in Saudi Arabia.
    Arab graduates of Israeli universities are esteemed as professionals in the Arab world, and a window for their employment is now being opened in Saudi Arabia, a source of livelihood for citizens of other Arab countries.
    11-12 million foreigners currently live in Saudi Arabia, making up a third of the population.

FIFA to Probe Rajoub for Glorifying Terror, Inciting Hatred - Ilanit Chernick (Jerusalem Post)
    The international soccer organization FIFA has launched an investigation of the chairman of the Palestinian Football Association (PFA), Jibril Rajoub, for breaching the body's ethics code.
    The investigation is based on evidence submitted by Palestinian Media Watch (PMW), which found that Rajoub and the PFA have been promoting and glorifying terrorism, inciting hatred and violence, and promoting racism.
    See also Kick Terror Out of Soccer (Palestinian Media Watch-NGO Monitor)

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Two Oil Tankers Attacked in Gulf of Oman - Richard Perez-Pena and Stanley Reed
    Two oil tankers came under attack in the Gulf of Oman on Thursday 40 miles east of the UAE port of Fujairah, a month after four tankers were damaged there. An industry official said the tanker M.T. Front Altair was on fire, and the crew had abandoned ship and been rescued. Contact had been lost with another tanker, the Kokuka Courageous. (New York Times)
        See also Mysterious Blazes on Iranian Ships in Iranian Ports - Iran Desk
    The Iranian Republic News Agency reported that on June 7, 2019, four merchant ships caught fire in the port of Nakhl Taqi. Farsi-language broadcasts on Voice of America TV referred to these cases as a "suspicious event."  (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Houthi Attack on Saudi Arabia's Abha Airport Injures 26 - Mina Aldroubi
    Yemen's Iran-backed Houthi rebels attacked Saudi Arabia's Abha International Airport on Wednesday, injuring 26 people. The airport lies 200 km. north of the Saudi border with Yemen, and a projectile fell on the airport's arrival hall. (National-Abu Dhabi)
  • Syria Refuses Access to Chemical Weapons Investigators
    Syrian officials have refused access to a newly-created chemical weapons investigation team formed to identify culprits behind attacks with banned munitions, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said Wednesday. The OPCW voted last year to create the Investigation and Identification Team (IIT), a decision opposed by Syria and Russia. (Reuters)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • IDF Strikes Hamas Target after Rocket Fire at Israel
    The IDF attacked a Hamas tunnel in Gaza overnight Wednesday after Palestinians launched a rocket towards Israel. The Iron Dome missile defense system intercepted the rocket. (Ynet News)
  • IDF: Drone Penetrates Israeli Airspace from Lebanon - Ahiya Raved and Yoav Zitun
    A drone from Lebanon crossed into Israeli airspace over the town of Shlomi in Western Galilee on Wednesday before turning back across the border. The IDF Spokesperson's Unit said the drone was observing Israeli troop movements. (Ynet News)
  • Hamas Ups Pressure on Israel to Gain Concessions and Cash - Avi Issacharoff
    Hamas was behind 12 balloon-sparked brush fires near Israeli communities close to the Gaza border on Wednesday. Gazans also announced the renewal of activities by the "night units," which hold riots at different locations along the security fence each night in an effort to maintain pressure on Israel. In response to the significant increase in arson balloon launches, Israel has stopped all fishing by Palestinians off Gaza's coast. (Times of Israel)
        See also Balloon-Borne Bomb from Gaza Explodes over Israeli Town - Judah Ari Gross (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Iran Searching for a Path to a New Deal - Assaf Golan
    IDF Lt.-Col. (ret.) Mickey Segall, formerly head of the Military Intelligence Directorate Research Division's Iran desk and a senior analyst at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, believes that although Iran and the U.S. are threatening one another publicly, in actuality they are implementing quiet understandings behind the scenes.
        "On one hand, the Iranians are accelerating their uranium enrichment, adding new centrifuges, and pro-Iranian elements are active in the region, for instance, the attack by Houthi rebels in Saudi Arabia over the weekend. All [these] indicate that the Iranians are signaling they have room to maneuver....On the other hand, the Iranian intelligence minister said in May that 'Iran needs to show courage and flexibility.'"
        "The Iranian foreign minister visited Oman, which helped mediate the previous nuclear deal. The German foreign minister is currently in Iran, while the U.S. and its allies in the region are presently gritting their teeth in the face of Iranian provocations. This tells us there is a comprehensive initiative in the works by both sides to reach understandings or to reinstitute calm."
        "This isn't assured to work and it's quite possible there will ultimately be a giant conflagration because some pro-Iranian actor has carried out too successful an operation or another form of miscommunication. It appears, however, that at least for now the sides don't want conflict, rather quiet understandings."  (Israel Hayom)
  • Nikki Haley: Abbas Revealed His True Colors by Refusing to Come to the Negotiating Table - Boaz Bismuth
    Former U.S. UN Ambassador Nikki Haley told Israel Hayom in an interview on Thursday: "At this point, it is hard to see an opportunity in which Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is even going to come to the table, and I think that...it shows Abbas' true colors. It shows the Arab community's true colors, that they [the Arab states] don't really care about the Palestinians, because if the Palestinians were that much of a priority, everybody would be holding Abbas' hand and leading him to the table."
        "I read the [U.S. peace] plan and think it is very thoughtful, and very well done and it very much takes into account both sides' vulnerabilities and both sides' wants."  (Israel Hayom)
  • Israel's High-Tech Facelift Takes the Sting Out of Checkpoints - Ruth Eglash
    At the Qalandia military checkpoint north of Jerusalem in the West Bank, people step calmly up to the electronic barrier and allow their ID cards to hover for a second over a green laser before an automatic gate pops open like at an advanced airport terminal. After a multimillion-dollar renovation, Palestinians breeze through, encountering the Israeli military only if they had not yet received a biometric identification card. Even during busy times, it takes less than five minutes to cross.
        Qalandia checkpoint was established 18 years ago during the second intifada, when Palestinian suicide bombers were sent to blow up buses and restaurants inside Israel. Shaul Shay, an Israeli military historian, said that maintaining checkpoints but upgrading them was the best way to maintain "coexistence between Israelis and Palestinians.... Unfortunately, as long as Palestinian terror continues, Israel cannot take any risks. This system is unavoidable."  (Washington Post)

  • I participated in the drafting of UN Security Council Resolution 242 back in 1967, when Justice Arthur Goldberg was the U.S. Representative to the UN. I had been Justice Goldberg's law clerk, and he asked me to come to New York to advise him on some of the legal issues surrounding the West Bank. The major controversy was whether Israel had to return "all" or only some of the territories captured in its defensive war against Jordan.
  • The end result was that the binding English version of the resolution deliberately omitted the crucial word "all," which both Justice Goldberg and British Ambassador Lord Caradon publicly stated meant that Israel was entitled to retain some of the West Bank. Moreover, under Resolution 242, Israel was not required to return a single inch of captured territory unless its enemies recognized its right to live within secure boundaries.
  • U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman is right in two respects: (1) Israel has no right to retain all of the West Bank, if its enemies recognize its right to live within secure borders; (2) Israel has "the right to retain some" of these territories. The specifics are left to negotiation between the parties.
  • The reality is that Israel will maintain control over traditionally Jewish areas, as well as the settlement blocs close to the Green Line. I know this because Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has told me this on more than one occasion when we have met.
  • The attack on Ambassador Friedman is mere posturing by the Palestinian leaders and their supporters. The realpolitik, recognized by all reasonable people, is that Israel does have a right to retain some, but not all, of the West Bank.
  • The Palestinians can end the untenable status quo by agreeing to compromise their absolutist claims, just as Israel will have to compromise on its claims. The virtue of Ambassador Friedman's statement is that it recognizes that both sides must give up their absolutist claims, and that the end result must be Israeli control over some, but not all, of the West Bank.

    The writer is Professor of Law Emeritus at Harvard Law School.

        See also David Friedman Didn't Endorse Annexation - Jonathan S. Tobin
    What his critics really can't stand about Friedman is that he is willing to say that the West Bank or any other part of the country isn't "Palestinian territory" but disputed land, and that Israel can assert its rights as well as its security needs in any negotiation. He's right about that. And he's also right that the U.S. is not opposed to Israel holding on to at least some of the West Bank in the event of a theoretical peace agreement that the Palestinians clearly have no interest in negotiating, let alone signing. (JNS)