August 27, 2019

In-Depth Issues:

Israeli Minister: Some of the Strikes Attributed to Israel "Aren't Ours" (Times of Israel)
    Israel's Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon said Monday: "All IDF actions are intended to prevent an attack on Israel. We will continue to act in accordance with the decision of the security cabinet. We won't stop."
    "The prime minister once remarked that every explosion in the Middle East is attributed to Israel. I want to tell you that there are also things being attributed to us that aren't ours."

Poll: Half of Palestinians Don't Support Special Payments to Prisoners - David Pollock (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
    A poll from the Palestine Center for Public Opinion last month showed that half of West Bank and Gaza Palestinians agree with this proposal: "The Palestinian Authority should stop special payments to prisoners, and give their families normal social benefits like everybody else."
    This finding confirms results from previous polls.

Anti-LGBT Discrimination Is Now Official PA Policy - Fiamma Nirenstein (JNS)
    The Palestinian Authority has banned all activities designed to promote LGBT rights in its territory.
    The West Bank's LGBT community suffers persecution, blackmail, public ridicule, beatings, ostracism, and even "honor killing" at the hands of their own families. This leads LGBT Palestinians to flee to Israel.
    The writer, a former member of the Italian Parliament (2008-13), is a fellow at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

Israeli Firm Clears Minefields with Artificial Intelligence - Eytan Halon (Jerusalem Post)
    62 countries are known to have land mine contamination. At the current rate of mine clearance, some estimate it will take over 200 years to clear the world, at a cost of over $100 billion.
    A start-up founded by two former officers from the IDF Combat Engineering Corps offers a new approach to mine clearance based on artificial intelligence and autonomous robots.
    Established by Itzik Malka and Nir Cohen, 4M Analytics provides a "minefields location intelligence solution" which the company says can enable high-paced mine clearance at a lower cost and with lower risk than existing solutions.
    Data is collected by remote sensing based on multifaceted technological sensors including LIDAR, hyper-spectral, ground-penetrating radar, electromagnet, ultrasound and thermal imaging.

Unemployment in Israel Falls to 3.7 Percent in July - Guy Ben Simon (Globes)
    Unemployment in Israel fell to 3.7% in July from 4.1% in June, according to the Central Bureau of Statistics.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Israel's Shadow War with Iran Widens - Felicia Schwartz
    Israel's shadowy military campaign against Iran has burst into the open with expanded strikes on Tehran's allies in Syria and Iraq. U.S. officials defended Israel's actions against Iran, characterizing the strikes as necessary responses to Iranian military moves across the Middle East. "We definitely don't want war with Iran, but that also doesn't mean Iran can act with unfettered behavior throughout the region," said one senior administration official.
        Current and former Israeli military officials say Israel's expanded actions stem from a years-long effort to disrupt the spread of Iranian military equipment that Hizbullah could use to attack Israel. Israel is also increasingly worried about Iran's ability to use Iraq as a staging ground. "Iran is more aggressive," said Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Yaakov Amidror, former head of Israel's National Security Council. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Airstrikes on Pro-Iran Militias in Iraq Aimed at Countering Iran - Joyce Karam
    Since July 19, there have been at least six drone attacks on the pro-Iran Popular Mobilization Units militias in Iraq. U.S. officials told the New York Times that Israel was behind some of the attacks. "The working theory among many Iraqi politicians and intellectuals is that Israel would not strike in Iraq unless it has a green light from the United States," said Abbas Kadhim, director of the Iraq initiative at the Atlantic Council.
        Jonathan Schanzer, vice president of research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, said, "I'm not sure how Israeli strikes would make the [PMU] more of a threat. If anything, they might deter them. As Iraq has slowly but surely allowed its territory to be exploited by Iran and its proxies, the Israelis have slowly but surely developed a military strategy for countering Iran and its proxies across the Middle East."  (The National-Abu Dhabi)
        See also Iran's Expanding Militia Army in Iraq: The New Special Groups - Michael Knights
    The writer is a senior fellow of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. (Combating Terrorism Center at West Point)
  • New Zealand Suspends Funding to UNRWA
    New Zealand has now joined the Swiss, Dutch, and Belgium governments in suspending donations to UNRWA. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) said, "We are aware of recent media reports of allegations of ethical issues and mismanagement within UNRWA....The Ministry will review the findings of the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) report once the investigation is complete and provide advice to the New Zealand Government. New Zealand will not make any further payments to UNRWA until we have reviewed the report's findings and assessed UNRWA's response to any recommendations."  (Israel Institute of New Zealand)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Netanyahu Calls on International Community to Act to Halt Iranian Attacks on Israel - Herb Keinon and Anna Ahronheim
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday: "Iran is working on a broad front to carry out murderous terrorist attacks against the State of Israel. Israel will continue to defend its security however that may be necessary. I call on the international community to act immediately so that Iran halts these attacks."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Army Disarms IED on West Bank Highway - Judah Ari Gross
    On Monday, an IDF tracker spotted a suspicious object along Route 555 between Itamar and Elon Moreh in the West Bank. Police sappers determined that it was an IED and disarmed it. The device did not appear to be of the same variety as the IED that killed an Israeli girl at a natural spring last week. (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Arab Countries Watch as Israel Hits Back at Iran - Dan Zaken
    A recent string of security incidents highlights the difficult defense situation facing Israel on multiple fronts. Israel's diverse capabilities in coping with the many threats are admired and praised by moderate Arab countries. Praise comes mainly from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the Persian Gulf states, but there are also voices in Jordan, Iraq, and Lebanon taking Israel's side in these conflicts.
        The media in those countries are reporting the incidents extensively, and are not omitting the reports that Syrian President Bashar Assad asked Russia to restrain Iranian activities on his territory. The attacks are even winning praise on many social networks. Iran is portrayed as humiliated. The Magen David (Star of David), which used to be a negative symbol in Arab communications channels, is now appearing in a positive context.
        Hizbullah reported that Israel had attacked its offices in Beirut - a report whose reliability is doubtful. The drone shown in the photographs cannot fly far enough to reach Beirut from Israel. (Globes)
  • Attacks on Iranian Targets in Syria Serve Russian Interests - Akiva Bigman
    Russia would also like to see the Iranians leave Syria, and Israel's attacks on Iranian targets in the country serve this mutual interest, said Dr. Eran Lerman, former deputy for foreign policy and international affairs at Israel's National Security Council. "True, the Russians and the Iranians had common interests in maintaining Assad's rule, and they cooperated," he says, but "down the road, what the Iranians want to do in Syria and what the Russians want to do in Syria are two totally different things."
        While the Iranians want to use Syria as a base for attacking Israel, the Russians want to use it to restore their status as a regional power, and they have no intention of cooperating with the ambitions of the fundamentalist Islamist republic. "Step by step, we entered the crack [in Iran-Russia ties] and elegantly expanded it," Lerman said. (Israel Hayom)
  • Israel's Campaign to Disrupt the Iranian War Machine in Syria - Yaakov Lappin
    IDF spokesman Lt.-Col. Jonathan Conricus said Sunday, "The Iranians have tried to attack Israel in February and May in 2018, as well as in January 2019....I know that Israel and the IDF are fighting from within Israel to defend our civilians and sovereignty. And I know that the Iranians are, on average, 600 to 1,000 kilometers away from their borders. They're trying to attack Israel....We are prepared for a large amount of different scenarios and have the necessary offensive plans to retaliate."  (JNS)

Why Have Israelis and Palestinians Failed to Make Peace - Michael Mandelbaum (American Interest)
  • Israelis value security above all else, located as they are in a region filled with people, organizations, and governments that at best do not want them there and in many cases are actively trying to kill them.
  • In the quarter-century since the Oslo Accords, Israelis and Palestinians have failed to make peace. The responsibility for that failure belongs to the Palestinians.
  • The Palestinian entity in control of Gaza, the Islamic fundamentalist Hamas, says explicitly that it will never accept Jewish sovereignty and devotes its resources to terrorism against Israel.
  • Its putatively moderate counterpart in the West Bank, the Palestinian Authority headed by Mahmoud Abbas, has refused all offers to settle the conflict, which have included substantial territorial concessions.
  • The PA has never put forward a counteroffer of its own. It has done nothing to build the institutions of statehood other than deploying multiple police forces that repress political opposition. It has generated vile anti-Jewish propaganda that harks back to Europe in the 1930s and has sponsored the murder of Jews by publicly praising and paying the murderers. The Palestinians have thus clearly demonstrated that they are not "a partner for peace."
  • Assuring the Palestinians that they will pay no price - indeed that they will continue to receive generous Western political and financial support - for their unyielding and indeed violent refusal to accept the legitimacy and permanence of a Jewish state in the Middle East has helped to perpetuate the conflict.

    The writer is Professor Emeritus of American Foreign Policy at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.