September 12, 2019

In-Depth Issues:

Al-Qaeda Leader Urges Attacks on U.S., European, Israeli and Russian Targets in 9/11 Speech - Tim Korso (Sputnik-Russia)
    On the 18th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks, the leader of Al-Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahri, called on Muslims to carry out new strikes against the U.S., Russia, Israel, and European states, the SITE Intelligence Group reported.

Survey Shows Palestinian Reconciliation with Israel Still a Distant Dream - David Pollock (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
    A detailed Palestinian survey in the West Bank and Gaza conducted on June 27-July 15 by the Palestine Center for Public Opinion found that young and old share many hardline views.
    Asked if a two-state solution should be "the end of conflict with Israel," just 34% of young West Bank respondents answered yes, while the proportion was even lower (25%) among older residents.
    Majority popular opposition to permanent peace with Israel, even among younger respondents, suggests that real reconciliation remains a distant dream.

Number of Arabs in Israeli High-Tech Soars - Amitai Ziv (Ha'aretz)
    Since 2008, the number of Arab engineers in high-tech has risen nearly 20-fold - from 350 men in 2008 to 6,600 men and women now, says Sami Saadi, founder and CEO of Tsofen, which works to integrate Arabs into Israel's high-tech industry.
    Some 700 Arab engineers join Israel's high-tech industry every year, and 25% of Arabs working in high-tech are women.
    The number of Arabs studying for degrees in high-tech-related fields has doubled in the past six years, the Council for Higher Education reports.

Palestinian Middle Class Quitting Gaza - Fares Akram and Mohammed Daraghmeh (AP)
    With a two-story home and a family pharmacy, Tamer al-Sultan had a life many in Gaza would envy. Fed up with the heavy-handed rule of Hamas, al-Sultan braved a treacherous journey in hopes of starting a new life in the West - only to die along the way.
    His death has drawn attention to the growing exodus of thousands of educated, middle-class Gazans.
    It has also struck a nerve among many Palestinians because he appears to have fled persecution by Hamas.
    Al-Sultan had vented about Hamas' rule on social media and joined rare protests against a Hamas tax hike in March that were quickly and violently suppressed.
    "He left Gaza because of the oppression," said his brother, Ramadan al-Sultan.

Israeli Compostable Packaging Firm Tipa Raises $25 Million - Shahrzad Pourriahi (Plastics News Europe)
    Israeli supplier of compostable flexible packaging solutions, Tipa, has raised $25 million in a recent round of financing.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Netanyahu Sees U.S. Staying "Very, Very Tough" on Iran
    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu predicted on Wednesday that Washington would hold to a tough line on Iran after John Bolton's exit from the post of U.S. national security adviser. "Look, the one who formally crafted the American policy was Pompeo...and President Trump, of course," he told Israel's Channel 20. Netanyahu cited new U.S. sanctions against Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps. "So I am convinced, I have no doubts at all, that in any situation - with talks, without talks - President Trump and his administration will be very, very tough with Iran."  (Reuters)
        See also Israeli Ambassador Urges U.S. to "Stay the Course" on Pressuring Iran - Ron Kampeas
    Ron Dermer, the Israeli ambassador to Washington, said Tuesday: "What is important now is to stay the course, stand up to Iran's aggression and continue ratcheting up the pressure until Iran abandons its nuclear ambitions once and for all. Israel looks forward to working with the Trump administration to do just that in the year ahead."  (JTA)
  • "Death to America - Death to Israel" Billboards Appear in Baghdad as Part of a Campaign by Iran - Tucker Reals
    At least five large billboards with the slogans "Death to America - Death to Israel" have appeared in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad in recent days as part of a campaign by Iran. "The billboards...are evidence of the government's inability to control pro-Iranian groups who want to drag Iraq into an international conflict that endangers the country's future on behalf of Iran," Atheel al-Nujaifi, the governor of Iraq's Nineveh province, said last week.
        Former presidential adviser Hiwa Osman said the signs show how firm a foothold Iran has in Iraq. "If you speak against America nothing happens. If you speak against Iran, you are likely to get killed," he said. (CBS News)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Second Day of Gaza Rocket Fire on Israel - Yaniv Kubovich and Almog Ben Zikri
    Palestinians in Gaza fired three rockets at Israel on Wednesday. One landed in a greenhouse, while another landed in another community, damaging a home. In response, an Israeli army tank hit two Hamas military positions in Gaza. (Ha'aretz)
  • Jerusalem Skyline Lights Up in Memory of 9/11
    An art installation called a "Tribute in Light" lit up Jerusalem's skies Tuesday evening in a ceremony at the KKL-JNF 9/11 Living Memorial Plaza marking 18 years since the devastating attacks in the U.S. on September 11, 2001. The installation includes two beams of light, shining up to 300 meters, similar to the "Ground Zero" tribute in New York. (Ynet News)
        See also Israel Honors the Memory of the 9/11 Victims (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Israel's Sovereignty Claims over the Jordan Valley Are Legitimate - Erielle Davidson
    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu never used the word "annexation" on Tuesday regarding his plan to formalize Israeli sovereignty in the Jordan Valley. Instead, he spoke of "applying sovereignty." There is a reason for his careful choice of wording, and for its mistranslation and misrepresentation abroad. A nation cannot annex land over which it already has sovereign claims. Yet foreign media is doing its best to portray the potential application of sovereignty in the Jordan Valley as illegitimate.
        In 1948, Jordan conquered the West Bank in a war of aggression aimed at destroying the Jewish state. Following the war, it was nearly unanimously held that Jordan did not possess any legitimate claim of sovereignty over the territory, so Israel's claims of sovereignty remained. Moreover, when Israel liberated the West Bank, it was understood by many scholars to be in accordance with Article 51 of the UN Charter, which permits a nation to act in self-defense. This may allow the non-aggressor to assume control over territory previously held by the aggressor. (The Federalist)
  • Palestinians Are Tired of Being the Only Refugees Denied the Right to Resettlement - Evelyn Gordon
    Hundreds of Palestinian refugees demonstrated outside the Canadian Embassy in Beirut on Sept. 5 to request asylum in Canada or the EU, the second such protest in the last month. After more than 70 years, Palestinians are publicly protesting the fact that they alone, of all the world's refugees, are denied the right to seek resettlement in a safe third country.
        All other refugees worldwide are handled by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, which resettles tens of thousands of refugees in third countries every year. But Palestinian refugees are handled by UNRWA, an agency created exclusively for them, which hasn't resettled a single refugee in 70 years. The only option it offers the refugees and their descendants is eternal limbo: awaiting a "return" to Israel that will never happen.
        The West has deprived Palestinian refugees of their basic right to resettlement in order to hold a gun to Israel's head. It's long past time to stop treating millions of Palestinians as nothing but political pawns in a war to destroy Israel. (JNS)
  • Assad's Hollow Victory
    Bashar al-Assad destroyed whole cities and gassed and starved his own people. Against all the odds, the monster has won. Yet it is a hollow victory. Assad has displaced half the population. Eight years of civil war have destroyed the economy and cost 500,000 lives. What rebels remain are holed up in Idlib province. The area is controlled by the hardest core jihadists linked to al-Qaeda, who will not go quietly.
        When the fighting stops, the tensions that originally threatened the regime will remain - but they will be worse than ever. Millions of Sunnis have fled the country, but millions remain. They have seen their homes looted, property confiscated and districts overrun by Assad supporters. Resentful, fearful and oppressed, they will be a source of opposition to the regime.
        Then there is Assad's cruelty. His secret police has tortured and killed at least 14,000 people in the regime's prisons. Nearly 128,000 people are thought to remain in the dungeons, though many are probably dead. Even as the war nears its end, the pace of executions is increasing.
        Some European leaders think it is time to engage with Assad, participate in reconstruction and send the refugees home. This is misguided. The refugees will not return willingly. Reconstruction will only benefit the regime and the warlords and foreigners who backed it. (Economist-UK)

  • The Arab countries roundly - if rather perfunctorily - condemned Prime Minister Netanyahu's announced intent to extend Israeli sovereignty over the Jordan Valley. Dore Gold, the head of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and a former director-general of the Israel Foreign Ministry, said that the muted response has to do with "understanding very well...the Iranian threat to the eastern portion of the Arab world."
  • He said that there is a degree of understanding about the context of the move, and how it has "strategic military significance" in checking malign Iranian intentions in the region.
  • Gold noted that one of the significant aspects of Netanyahu's announcement was that he presented a map where he defined the area that he feels is necessary for Israel's security, and that the map he used is very close to the one that Deputy Prime Minister Yigal Allon proposed soon after the 1967 war.
  • Gold said that Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin also adhered to the Allon Plan to retain the Jordan Valley, saying in his final address to the Knesset in 1995 that in any future agreement, "the Jordan Valley in the widest sense of that term would be the security border of the State of Israel."
  • At the time, Gold said, "Israeli planners were largely preoccupied with the future threat of an Iraq expeditionary force that could cross Jordan in 35 hours."
  • While Saddam Hussein has been eliminated, he said, the threat to Israel from the east did not disappear, since Iran "is very actively trying to project its military power westward toward the Mediterranean."