July 15, 2019

In-Depth Issues:

Hamas Intensifies Missile Tests - Ahmad Abu Amer (Al-Monitor)
    On July 3, Hamas' al-Qassam Brigades launched 10 missiles of different ranges from northern and southern Gaza into the sea, the largest such test in recent months.

Israel Discretely Increases Entry Permits for Gaza Workers - Shlomi Eldar (Al-Monitor)
    Without fanfare, Israel has coordinated with Hamas to increase the number of entry permits granted to Palestinians in Gaza.
    The additional 2,000 permits and another few thousand that Israel will hand out in the coming months are part of a pilot program being tested by security authorities.
    Maher Tabaa, head of the Gaza Chamber of Commerce, told the Saudi al-Quds al-Arabi newspaper that "trader" permits were in fact being given to laborers who leave Gaza every morning to work on Israeli farms, returning at the end of the day.
    Prior to the First Intifada in 1987, thousands of Gaza Palestinians boarded hundreds of buses daily to work on Israeli farms, in industrial plants, construction and even in hospitals as orderlies.
    Paradoxically, laborers from Gaza will now be employed to rehabilitate the damage caused by the incendiary balloons.
    See also Israel Building New Water Pipeline to Gaza - Ahmed el-Komi (Al-Monitor)
    The Israeli water company Mekorot started construction on June 17 to extend a water pipeline from Israel to Gaza with Qatari funding.
    The pipeline aims to increase water sales to the PA by 20-30 million cubic meters per year.
    The deputy head of the Palestinian Water Authority, Mazen al-Banna, said the cost of the water will be deducted from PA tax revenues collected by Israel.

Iranian Hacker Who Aided Cyber Espionage Attacks on U.S. Unmasked - Hollie McKay (Fox News)
    Jeff Bardin - the Chief Intelligence Officer at the California-based security firm Treadstone 71 - says he has unmasked Mostafa Selahi Qalavand, 29, a top Iranian malware developer and hacker linked to Tehran's Ministry of Defense, who was involved in cyber espionage attacks on the U.S., Sunni Arab countries and Israel.
    "His involvement was primarily with cyber espionage operations for the Iranian government," Bardin told Fox News.
    "He has been a key part of the supply chain for Iranian-affiliated hacking groups, which have carried out extensive cyber espionage campaigns.... Without his crypters [used to conceal malware in an attack], these Iranian attacks would have been far less successful."

93 Percent of Tourists Say Visit to Israel Was Successful (Maariv-Jerusalem Post)
    A Ministry of Tourism survey found that 93% of tourists said their visit to Israel was successful, Maariv reported.
    53% of the tourists said that their opinion of Israel changed for the better after the visit, 46% said the visit did not change their minds, and 1% said it had a negative impact.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Greenblatt: U.S. Will Not Give the Palestinians "Carrots" Just to Come to the Table - Larry Kaplow
    U.S. Special Envoy Jason Greenblatt told NPR in an interview: "If the Palestinian leadership...choose to cut us off to the detriment of their people and to the detriment of the possibility of peace, that's their choice. We aren't going to give them the so-called carrots or, you know, goodies in order to buy them to come to the table, because it's never worked before."
        "At the moment...we have not only non-engagement but actually boycotts undermining...all of our efforts. Insults hurled at the president, our ambassador to Israel, many members of the administration. It is not a wise use of U.S. taxpayer money to keep feeding into a system where there is no positive momentum."
        "I know that there's been a lot of criticism that we're trying to buy off the Palestinians, that we're trying to bribe the Palestinians, that there's no political plan. All of that is completely untrue. When everybody sees the two parts to the plan, I think it'll make sense to everybody."  (NPR)
  • Tankers Take Precautions Against Iran in Persian Gulf - David Hodari and Benoit Faucon
    Naval vessels are increasingly protecting oil tankers as they carry crude through the Strait of Hormuz. On Thursday, a British-flagged tanker transited under naval escort, while another vessel off the coast of Saudi Arabia appeared to await an escort, according to London-based cargo tracker Kpler. (Wall Street Journal)
        See also Second UK Warship Heads to Gulf to Protect British Vessels - Lucy Fisher
    The HMS Duncan destroyer, now in the Black Sea, will be dispatched ahead of schedule to the Gulf to help to shadow British merchant vessels sailing through the Strait of Hormuz, the Ministry of Defence has confirmed. It will join the HMS Montrose frigate, which drove off Iranian patrol boats on Wednesday. (The Times-UK)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Senior Hamas Official Calls on Palestinian Diaspora to Kill Jews - Adam Rasgon
    Fathi Hamad, a member of Hamas' politburo, said Friday at a protest at the Gaza border: "Our brothers [in the diaspora]...are warming up....All of you 7 million Palestinians abroad, enough of the warming up. You have Jews everywhere and we must attack every Jew on the globe by way of slaughter and killing."
        Hamad also appeared to call on Palestinians in the West Bank to stab Israelis. "O, the people of the West Bank, until when will you be quiet? We want knives to come out....How much does the neck of a Jew cost? Five shekels or less?" Hamad also claimed that Hamas has established a factory to produce explosive belts. He warned that Palestinians could enter Israeli territory through the fence between Gaza and Israel wearing the belts. (Times of Israel)
  • Gaza Arson Attacks Set 138 Fires that Burned 180 Acres So Far in 2019 - KKL-JNF
    Keren Kayemet LeIsrael - Jewish National Fund (KKL-JNF), which has been planting trees in Israel since 1901, reports that incendiary balloon arson attacks from Gaza between April and July 5, 2019, set 138 fires over an area of 180 acres in the region of Israel bordering Gaza.
        The damage wrought by this year's fires was much more limited compared to last year thanks to the quick response of firefighting teams and preventive measures taken to minimize the spread of fires. These included removing pruned branches from forests, cutting dry weeds, and creating buffer zones between forested areas. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Palestinian Challenges PA over Denying His Daughter Treatment in Israel
    The Palestinian Authority decided to stop funding medical treatment in Israel for its citizens after March 26. Journalist Fathi Sabbah's daughter Rima, who suffers from a form of blood cancer, was one of thousands of Palestinians affected by the decision. Rima's case caught the attention of U.S. Special Envoy Jason Greenblatt, who tweeted about it on Sunday.
        Previously, more than 20,000 permits had been granted annually to Palestinians living in the West Bank to enter Israel and receive treatment or support a patient who was receiving treatment, up by 3,000 from the year before. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • The Palestinians Refuse to Recognize the Jewish State in Any Borders - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu interviewed by Brian Bennett and Joseph Hincks
    In an interview in Jerusalem on June 25, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: "Everybody recognizes that under any realistic peace proposal, there are areas in Judea and Samaria that have already become basically part of Israel....It's a fact. Half of Jerusalem is beyond the proverbial green line. The '67 separation [line]. Does anyone believe that we'll tear up half of Jerusalem? Nobody believes that."
        "[The Palestinians] were offered just about everything in Camp David in 2000, with President Clinton and then-Prime Minister Barak, and they walked away from that. They walk away each time. They walked away with Olmert. They walked away when President Obama and John Kerry wanted to propose a framework for negotiations....They serially walk away from any negotiations that will present a workable peace."
        "The reason we can't get peace is because nobody goes to the heart of the problem, which is the persistent Palestinian refusal to recognize the Jewish state in any borders."  (TIME)
  • The Moment of Truth Has Come for U.S.-Turkey Relations - Josh Rogin
    For two years, the U.S. has been warning the Turkish government against receiving a huge Russian missile defense system. Washington has made clear that, were that to happen, it would have no choice but to impose sanctions that could further cripple the Turkish economy, restrict Turkey's role in NATO and forever alter the U.S.-Turkey alliance. This week the Russian equipment is arriving in Turkey.
        Turkish President Erdogan's decision to move ahead with the purchase of the S-400 Russian missile defense system - in direct defiance of the U.S. - is not just about the U.S. and Turkey. By daring the Trump team to enforce a law that promises to punish any country that does business with Russia's defense industry, he is attacking the credibility of U.S. sanctions policy worldwide. That's one reason the administration isn't going to look the other way.
        The decision to expel Turkey from the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program seems obvious, because the most sensitive U.S. aircraft cannot share the same geographical space with the Russian system designed to detect it. Congress is on board. In June, the House unanimously passed a resolution calling on the administration to enforce tough sanctions against Turkey if Erdogan doesn't reverse course on the S-400. (Washington Post)
        See also Russian Deliveries of S-400 System Parts to Turkey Continue
    Russia delivered components of its S-400 air defense system to Turkey for the third straight day on Sunday, as a fifth and sixth Russian cargo plane landed at Murted Air Base near Ankara and two more planes were expected within hours. (AP)

The Problem with Opposing Israel's "Occupation" - Jonathan S. Tobin (JNS-Israel Hayom)
  • A two-state solution that would be predicated on Israel's leaving the West Bank is a position endorsed by only a minority of Israelis under the current circumstances. Most Israelis think that following that advice would be a rerun of Ariel Sharon's 2005 experiment in which he withdrew every soldier, settler, and settlement from Gaza - only to see the creation of a terrorist state on their country's southern border. Israeli voters have made it clear that replicating that disaster in the larger and more strategically important West Bank would be insane.
  • When Israel's foes say "occupation," they don't mean a two-state solution that would create a peaceful Palestinian state alongside Israel. To the contrary, when anti-Zionists and most Palestinians say they want to end the occupation or speak of justice for the Palestinians, they're talking about a "one-state solution" in which the one Jewish state on the planet is eliminated.
  • As far as the Palestinian Authority's official media and education system are concerned, Tel Aviv and Haifa, let alone Jerusalem, are every bit as "occupied" by the Jews as the most remote hilltop settlement in the West Bank.
  • The reason why a Palestinian state in the West Bank doesn't already exist is because the PA has repeatedly rejected Israeli offers that would have given them one. These refusals centered on the Palestinian leadership's fear of being branded as traitors for agreeing to any pact that would recognize the legitimacy of a Jewish state within any borders.
  • The same is true for complaints about the checkpoints and the security fence that Palestinians say make their lives miserable. They only exist because of the carnage that the Palestinians unleashed on Israelis during the Second Intifada, in which they answered a peace offer with a terrorist war of attrition.
  • While the status quo in the West Bank isn't ideal for either side, the obstacle to peace remains the Palestinians' futile clinging to their fantasy of occupying all of Israel. Americans should be wary of being lured into statements opposing "occupation." What it really does is fuel the intransigence that makes peace impossible.