December 4, 2019

In-Depth Issues:

Israel Asks U.S. to Withhold Anti-Tank Missiles, Drones from Lebanese Military Aid - Arie Egozi (Breaking Defense)
    Israel is asking Washington to bar anti-tank missiles and drones from any military aid to Lebanon, since such weapons can be used against the IDF, Israeli sources say.

French Parliament Decides Anti-Zionism Is Anti-Semitism - Lahav Harkov (Jerusalem Post)
    Anti-Zionism is a form of anti-Semitism, France's National Assembly determined on Tuesday, voting 154-72 to approve a resolution calling on the government to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance's definition of anti-Semitism.
    The resolution states, "Anti-Zionist acts can at times hide anti-Semitic realities. Hate toward Israel due to its perception as a Jewish collective is akin to hatred toward the entire Jewish community."

New IAEA Head Seeking Answers from Iran - Kiyoko Metzler (AP)
    The new head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Rafael Grossi, said Tuesday that the agency is still waiting for information from Iran on the discovery of uranium particles at a site near Tehran.
    "We have so far not received an entirely satisfactory reply from them," he said.
    The U.S. and Israel had been pressing the IAEA for some time to look into the Turquzabad facility, which Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described to the UN in 2018 as a "secret atomic warehouse."
    In November, the agency confirmed that its inspectors had found uranium of man-made origin "at a location in Iran not declared to the agency."

Palestinian Prime Minister Rejects Economic Projects in Gaza (Asharq al-Awsat-UK)
    Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said Monday that the U.S. hospital to be built in Gaza, as well as plans for industrial zones and ports, all embody proposals announced by the U.S. president's advisor, Jared Kushner, at the Manama workshop in June, which the PA boycotted.
    Shtayyeh said these projects deviate attention from national unity, warning that they strike at the foundations of the Palestinian national project.

Hizbullah Operative in New York Sentenced to 40 Years in Prison (AP-Washington Post)
    Lebanon-born Ali Kourani, 35, convicted of providing material support to Hizbullah by seeking targets in New York City for terrorist attacks, was sentenced Tuesday in Manhattan federal court to 40 years in prison.
    U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said that Kourani conducted surveillance at federal buildings, airports including Kennedy International Airport, and even daycare centers after he was recruited, trained and deployed by Hizbullah.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. Pushing Arab States on Non-Belligerence Pacts with Israel - Barak Ravid
    One of the main U.S. goals in the Middle East has been to promote the normalization of ties between Israel and the Gulf states. U.S. Deputy National Security Adviser Victoria Coates met last week with the ambassadors of the UAE, Bahrain, Oman and Morocco in Washington. All four countries have secret contacts and cooperation with Israel but no diplomatic relations. Coates raised the initiative for non-belligerence agreements, told them the U.S. supports such a move, and asked what their positions were. (Axios)
  • U.S. Opposes Five New Anti-Israel Resolutions at UN General Assembly
    Acting U.S. Deputy Representative to the UN Cherith Norman Chalet said Tuesday, "The United States once again opposed the five resolutions voted upon today, which are entirely biased against Israel. These are in addition to the ten other resolutions in the General Assembly this year that criticize Israel....This one-sided approach only undermines trust among the Israelis, Palestinians, and the international community, and fails to create the kind of positive environment critical to achieving peace."
        "Member states continue to disproportionally single out Israel year after year through these types of resolutions. It is regrettable that the United Nations - an institution founded upon the idea that all nations should be treated equally - should be so often used by member states to treat one state in particular, Israel, unequally....The cause of peace will be served when the bias promoted in these resolutions against Israel ends."  (U.S. Mission to the UN)
  • Israel Seeks UN Recognition of Jewish Refugees from Arab Countries - Jennifer Peltz
    Israel wants the UN to recognize as refugees hundreds of thousands of Jews who fled Arab and Muslim countries in the last century, UN Ambassador Danny Danon told the General Assembly on Tuesday. "We don't hear the international community speak of them when they discuss the refugees of the conflict, perhaps because it doesn't serve the Palestinian narrative," Danon said.
        Danon said 850,000 Jews were forced out of Iraq, Egypt, Morocco, Iran, and many other countries during the 20th century after enduring violence and persecution. Many fled to Israel around the time of its establishment, where the uprooted Jews were absorbed. The bid for refugee recognition reflects Israel's determination to highlight years of pro-Palestinian bias at the UN, including on the issue of refugees. (AP)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • In Surprise Change, 13 Countries Vote Against UN's Division of Palestinian Rights - Raphael Ahren
    13 countries on Thursday abruptly changed their voting pattern at the UN, opposing an annual resolution expressing support for the Division of Palestinian Rights at the UN Secretariat. Germany, the Czech Republic, Austria, Bulgaria, Denmark, Estonia, Greece, Lithuania, Netherlands, Romania, Slovakia, Brazil and Colombia voted against the resolution for the first time, where in the past they had abstained. The resolution still passed by 87 to 54 with 23 abstentions. The U.S., Canada, Australia, Guatemala, Honduras, Hungary, Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, Nauru and Kiribati again voted against the resolution. (Times of Israel)
  • Israel Targets Terrorist Finance Agents - Anna Ahronheim
    Israel's Defense Ministry announced Tuesday it would place "targeted economic sanctions" on members of terrorist organizations in Israel and abroad to limit their ability to use their assets to finance terrorism. The first targeted individual is Mohammad Jamil, a Hamas activist deported by Israel who now heads the Arab Human Rights Organization in the United Kingdom, a branch of Hamas.
        The ministry said, "The people against whom the orders will be signed will be added to the list in the security system, which is accessible to everyone, so that dozens and later hundreds of members belonging to the terrorist organizations Hizbullah, Hamas and others are marked across the world. At the heart of the move is a clear concept that the State of Israel will act against Islamic terrorism with additional non-military tools, with an emphasis on economic sanctions, in order to bring agencies around the world to avoid contact with terrorists."  (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • ICC Prosecutor Recognizes IDF Legal Probe in Marmara Case - Yonah Jeremy Bob
    On Tuesday, International Criminal Court Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda closed the 2010 Mavi Marmara flotilla case for a third time. In her past two decisions to close the case, she merely said that 10 dead activists who clashed with the IDF was not a high enough volume of casualties to warrant her office's attention, which deals mostly with genocide or mass killings.
        This time Bensouda said that one reason that she would not open a criminal probe was that the case had been probed by the IDF legal division. Her explanation noted that if a country's legal division's probe were viewed as a sham, that they would not have provided any protection from the ICC, meaning that the IDF probe here was not a sham.
        Along the same lines, Bensouda pointed out that Spain, England, Sweden and Germany had all dismissed any war crimes allegations against the IDF for the incident, with some recognizing Israel's justice system as legitimate and as having properly probed the issue. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Text: Decision of ICC Prosecutor to Close Mavi Marmara Case - 2 December 2019 (International Criminal Court)
  • Media Coverage Is Wrong about Medical Impact of Sanctions in Iran - David Adesnik and Saeed Ghasseminejad
    U.S. media have widely reported that U.S. sanctions are responsible for dangerous pharmaceutical shortages in Iran, even though humanitarian goods, including food and medicine, are clearly exempt under U.S. law. The evidence tells a different story, however. EU data show that pharmaceutical exports from the EU to Iran actually rose slightly during the first half of 2019 compared to the same period last year, after the U.S. reinstated most sanctions in November 2018. Chinese customs data likewise show that Iranian pharmaceutical imports increased.
        The question to ask is why Iran does not spend more on such imports if consumers are complaining about shortages, instead of bankrolling Hizbullah, Hamas, and Bashar al-Assad. President Hassan Rouhani's first health minister, Ghazizadeh Hashemi, commented, "The problems that we have in the field of pharmaceutical products have been created by ourselves inside the country and the medicine problem has nothing to do with the sanctions."
        This is not the first time that superficial press coverage has lent credibility to Iranian talking points about the negative impact of sanctions. Iranian leaders understand that Americans have sincere humanitarian concerns that Tehran can manipulate. David Adesnik is director of research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, where Saeed Ghasseminejad is a senior Iran and financial economics advisor.  (The Hill)

Jerusalem's Tomb of the Kings: Did the French Hijack a Jewish Heritage Site? - Dr. Richard Rossin and Amb. Freddy Eytan (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • France owns four sites of religious significance in Jerusalem. One is the Tomb of the Kings, containing the tomb, hewn into the rock, of Queen Helena, originally from Kurdistan, who converted to Judaism and moved to Jerusalem around 30 CE. Also buried there are first century figures, Nicodemus Ben Gurion, a wealthy philanthropist, and his friend Kalba Savua, the rich father-in-law of Rabbi Akiva. The site is located about 800 meters north of Jerusalem's Old City walls.
  • Bertha Pereire, a wealthy Jewish philanthropist, purchased the area of the tomb for 30,000 francs. In 1874, she gave her acquisition to the Jewish Consistoire Central de France, writing, "I have no other objective than the conservation of this ancient and respected monument....It is a relic of my ancestors that I want to preserve from any further desecration."
  • After her death and that of her two sons, Bertha's cousin, Henry Pereire, curiously gave the Tomb of the Kings to France. But he was not Bertha's heir and had no right to give away such property without first offering it to the Consistoire as its legitimate owner. Nevertheless, the site was directly handed over to the French consul in Jerusalem in 1886.
  • In 1997, French Consul Stanislas de Laboulaye allowed a Palestinian cultural society, Yabous, to hold a music festival there. In recent years, the Consul repeatedly permitted Yabous to use the site. In effect, the French hijacked a Jewish heritage site. The president of the Consistoire Central Israelite de France has questioned why a site under French sovereignty is forbidden to Jews and has argued that a concert performance is inappropriate for a holy site.
  • The site, closed in 2010, was reopened on June 27, 2019, but with limited, reserved, and paid admission. The official French announcement reopening the Tomb was translated into Arabic, but not into Hebrew. It stated that the "Tomb of the Sultans" will be opened. Yet the tomb predates the nomination of the first Arab sultan by 11 centuries.

        Dr. Richard Rossin, an orthopedic surgeon, writer and editorialist, served as General Secretary of Doctors Without Borders.
        Amb. Freddy Eytan is a former Foreign Ministry senior advisor who served in Israel's embassies in Paris and Brussels and was Israel's first Ambassador to the Islamic Republic of Mauritania.