June 27, 2019

In-Depth Issues:

Israel Believes Russia Responsible for GPS Disruptions in Israeli Airspace - Yaniv Kubovich (Ha'aretz)
    Israeli security officials believe Russia is responsible for unexplained GPS disruptions in Israeli airspace over the past month.
    An aviation source told Ha'aretz the interruptions "do not put pilots and passengers at risk." Pilots have alternative instrument landing and navigation systems that are not reliant on GPS.

U.S. Carried Out Cyberattack on Iranian-Backed Militia - Barbara Starr (CNN)
    The U.S. military last week conducted a major cyberattack on the networked communications of Kata'ib Hezbollah, an Iranian-sponsored Shia militia group with forces in Iraq, Syria and inside Iran, two U.S. officials said.
    U.S. officials say Iran's proxy forces are a particular concern because of their access to Iranian missiles.

Saudi Arabia Arrests Saudis and Palestinian Expats Who Support Hamas - Hana Salah (Al Monitor)
    Lebanon's Al-Akhbar reported June 3 that the Saudi authorities have been conducting an arrest campaign for two months now against Saudi nationals and Palestinian expats affiliated with Hamas.
    The arrest campaign is taking place in tandem with the closure and tight control of bank accounts and a ban on remittances from Saudi Arabia to Gaza.

Israeli Company Wins Bid to Help Secure U.S. Border (Globes)
    Israeli defense electronics company Elbit Systems announced Wednesday that its U.S. subsidiary has been awarded a $26 million contract from U.S. Customs and Border Protection to install an Integrated Fixed Towers system in the Casa Grande area in Arizona.
    To date, Elbit has been awarded a number of contracts to install such systems in areas covering 200 miles of the Arizona-Mexico border.
    The system provides Border Patrol agents with long-range, persistent surveillance and situational awareness.

British Society for Middle Eastern Studies Calls for Israel Boycott - Marcy Oster (JTA)
    The British Society for Middle Eastern Studies passed a resolution with almost 80% support on Monday calling for an academic boycott of Israeli institutions.

Israeli Gymnast Linoy Ashram Wins 2 Gold Medals at European Games (Israel Hayom)
    After winning a silver medal at the 2019 European Games in Minsk, Belarus, on Saturday, Israeli rhythmic gymnast Linoy Ashram added two gold medals on Sunday.
    See also Video: Linoy Ashram at European Games (Rhythmic Gymnastic World)

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • No "Boots on the Ground" in Iran Dispute, Trump Says; Cites "Unlimited Time" for New Deal - Tim Ahmann
    President Donald Trump said on Wednesday that he was "not talking boots on the ground" should he take military action against Iran and that he had "unlimited time" to try to forge an agreement with Tehran. Iran's UN Ambassador Majid Takht Ravanchi told the Security Council on Wednesday that Iran would no longer be burdened with preserving the nuclear deal. (Reuters)
  • Malaysia Enables Iran to Continue Oil Exports to China - Damon Evans
    Malaysia is helping Iran sustain its oil exports to China. "Iranian oil typically arrives in the Straits of Malacca and is handed over using ship-to-ship oil transfer to Chinese very large crude carriers," said Samir Madani, co-founder of TankerTrackers.com. Throughout their time near Malaysia, the Iranian ships keep their tracking transponders turned off.
        Vandana Hari, chief executive of the oil markets research company Vanda Insights in Singapore, noted that crude oil shipments to China from Malaysia surged 86% in May from a month earlier. "This cannot be explained as higher flows of Malaysian crude to China [because] Malaysian oil output is stagnant," she said. (Nikkei Asian Review-Japan)
        See also China's Oil Imports from Iran Said to Drop 67 Percent in May - Oceana Zhou
    China directly imported 255,065 b/d, of crude oil from Iran in May, down 67% from April as U.S. sanction waivers for Iranian oil expired on May 2. (S&P Global)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Bahrain Foreign Minister: Israel Part of Middle East's Heritage - Noa Landau
    Bahrain's foreign minister Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa told Israeli journalists on the sidelines of the U.S. Mideast peace conference in Manama that "Israel is part of this heritage of this whole region, historically. So, the Jewish people have a place among us."
        He also voiced support for Israeli strikes against Iranian targets in Syria, saying "every country has a right to defend itself." He called Iran a "major threat to the stability and the security of the region," and said Iran's support for militant groups have hindered Arab-Israeli peace efforts. (Ha'aretz)
  • Gaza Arson Balloons Spark 19 Blazes in Israel
    Incendiary balloons launched from Gaza started 19 fires in Israel on Wednesday. (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Is Qatari Money to Gaza Falling into Hamas' Hands? - Shlomi Eldar
    Since October 2018, Qatar has distributed tens of millions of dollars to some 100,000 needy families in Gaza. A source in Israel's Civil Administration told Al-Monitor, "Huge crowds of people appear at the distribution centers, including Hamas activists with status and power in Hamas. They disguise themselves as needy recipients in order to get money."
        In addition, there is a problem in overseeing the larger sums of money that Qatar sends to Gaza to improve the enclave's infrastructure. Hamas is able to acquire funds under the table from local contractors and merchants who have won infrastructure tenders. "The big contractors approved by Israel, who get work paving roads, laying water pipelines or fixing power lines, are forced to pay protection to Hamas activists."
        The owner of an Israeli firm involved in the transport of goods from Israel's Ashdod port to the Kerem Shalom crossing into Gaza said his Palestinian counterparts in Gaza have described how anyone who wins a tender to do work there is required to pay a 10-22% "commission" to Hamas to ensure that they can do the work safely. (Al-Monitor)
  • How Fault Lines in the PA and the Arab World Affect Jerusalem - Pinhas Inbari
    The Palestinian Authority has stopped financing east Jerusalem hospitals including Makassed and Augusta Victoria. Al-Quds University in east Jerusalem has requested to join Israel's Council for Higher Education, leading the PA to fire lecturers from east Jerusalem. Former university president Sari Nusseibeh, known for advocating the integration of east Jerusalem with Israel, was appointed by Abu Dhabi as the head of an economic fund for east Jerusalem that has no connection with the PA in Ramallah.
        Arab youth in east Jerusalem are still connected to Ramallah by the Arab cultural events it offers and its good restaurants, but PA officials in Ramallah see the visiting Israeli Arabs and residents of east Jerusalem as "corrupting" the spirit of struggle that the PA wants to nurture among younger Palestinians. The PA was particularly incensed by the fact that on the "global day of rage" marking the transfer of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem in May 2018, east Jerusalem and Israeli Arab youths partied with drinking and dancing in the new West Bank town of Rawabi instead of attacking IDF checkpoints.
        Another cause of tension involves Palestinian and Jordanian fears regarding the intentions of Saudi Arabia toward the Temple Mount. When an emergency delegation from the Waqf in east Jerusalem visited the Gulf and claimed that the Al-Aqsa mosque was in danger, the Gulf leaders answered, "No problem. If the Al-Aqsa mosque collapses, we will build a new one that is much nicer." This answer demonstrates that Saudi Arabia and the Gulf countries perceive the Al-Aqsa mosque as a rival to the holy city of Mecca and do not support it. (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • If Only the Palestinian Leadership Really Wished for Peace - Alex Ryvchin
    The petulant refusal of the Palestinian leadership to even consider a proposal intended to offer ordinary Palestinians an alternative to war, conflict and victimhood is impeccably consistent with earlier Palestinian responses to international efforts aimed at giving them statehood. Palestinian unionist Majdi Shella admitted the Palestinians "have a long tradition of boycotting everything. Sometimes boycotting is the easier road. If you want to do nothing, boycott."
        The Palestinians have refined their instinct for rejection and political self-immolation to such an extent that they appear to know no other path. This is why Palestinian rioters destroyed greenhouses left to them by the Israelis following the unilateral Israeli withdrawal from Gaza in 2005. This is why last year Palestinians in Gaza set fire to the Kerem Shalom border crossing through which medicine, aid and consumer products intended for the Palestinians are transferred. The writer is co-Chief Executive Officer of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry. (The Australian)

Will Arabs Accept Normalization with Israel? - Prof. Asher Susser interviewed by Samuel Nurding (Fathom-BICOM-UK)
  • Israel's peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan were a result of their leaders coming to terms with the fact that fighting Israel was too costly and that it was therefore preferable to make peace. But the treaties were not about the public's recognition of the legitimacy of Israel and the Zionist cause.
  • The idea of "normalization," as Israelis like to call it, is unacceptable to most Arabs. It means acceptance of Israel as a natural facet of the Middle Eastern neighborhood. But they don't, and they won't (and they don't think they should).
  • There is an antipathy towards Israel which is perceived as having imposed itself on the Arabs, inflicting a humiliating defeat upon them. It is too much for us to ask for them to not only accept Israel, but to embrace it too. This "cold peace" means that Israel must retain its military superiority to maintain deterrence.
  • The Arab world has entered a protracted period of crisis, with declining economies and rapidly growing populations creating unmanageable economic situations and instability. What happens if Jordan or Egypt collapses economically? How is Syria expected to be re-established? What lies ahead for the West Bank and Gaza? There is a zone of instability on Israel's doorstep and it could blow up at any time.

    The writer, Professor Emeritus of Middle Eastern History at Tel Aviv University, directed its Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern Studies.