February 11, 2020

In-Depth Issues:

France Condemns Failed Iran Satellite Launch (AFP-Al Arabiya)
    France on Monday condemned Iran's attempt on Sunday to put a satellite in space, urging Tehran to abide by international obligations on its ballistic missile program.
    "France condemns this launch which calls on technologies used for ballistic missiles and, in particular, intercontinental ballistic missiles," the French Foreign Ministry said.

Ecuador Arrests Iranians Traveling with Fake Israeli Passports (Asharq Al-Awsat-UK)
    Authorities in the Ecuadorian capital Quito arrested two Iranians who were attempting to travel to Spain using fake Israeli passports.
    Their original Iranian passports were found in their possession.

109 U.S. Troops Diagnosed with Brain Injuries from Iran Attack (Reuters-New York Times)
    The Pentagon said on Monday that 109 U.S. service members had been diagnosed with mild traumatic brain injury stemming from Iran's missile attack on a base in Iraq last month. Of those, 76 had returned to duty.

Despite Turkey's Demands, Cyprus Refuses to Back Down - Menelaos Hadjicostis (AP-Navy Times)
    Cyprus won't put its exploratory gas drilling plans on hold despite Turkish pressure to force it to halt its activities, as Turkey conducts its own gas search in Cypriot waters, President Nicos Anastasiades said Sunday.

New System Will Fight Intentional Water Waste by Palestinian Prisoners - Itsik Saban (Israel Hayom)
    Israel will install a water control system in maximum security wings in prisons across the country to fight intentional water waste by Palestinian terrorists behind bars.
    Israel Hayom first reported in July 2018 that security prisoners had wasted hundreds of thousands of cubic feet of water on purpose by leaving their showers running for hours to undercut Israel's water supply.
    Data showed that security prisoners use 3.5 times more water a year than the average Israeli, costing taxpayers $1.5 million a year.

In Tunisia, "Normalization" with Israel in Tennis Sparks Debate - Lamine Ghanmi (Arab Weekly-UK)
    The Tunisian women's tennis team's decision to proceed with scheduled matches against an Israeli contingent in the 2020 Fed Cup tournament on Feb. 5 has sparked debate about normalization with Israel.
    The Tunisian Foreign Ministry assailed the Tunisian team for violating "the historic commitments of Tunisia towards the Palestinian cause."
    Many Tunisians pushed back against the government's stance, insisting that Tunisian athletes should have the right to represent their country against Israelis.

Israeli Judoka Wins Gold in Paris - Adi Rubinstein (Israel Hayom)
    Israeli judoka Peter Paltchik, currently ranked sixth in the world, won the gold medal at the Paris Grand Slam on Sunday.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Palestinians Withdraw Request for UN Security Council Vote on U.S. Peace Plan
    The Palestinians have abandoned their request for a vote at the UN Security Council Tuesday on rejecting the U.S. Mideast peace plan. Diplomats said the resolution risked not having 9 out of 15 votes in its favor, the minimum required for adoption provided there is no veto by a permanent member.
        The Palestinian withdrawal of their request came after the U.S. proposed a series of amendments that would significantly alter the text. The U.S. sought to remove references to the 1967 lines being the basis of peace, a statement that Jewish settlements in the West Bank are illegal, and language equating east Jerusalem with the West Bank. The U.S. wants the resolution to state that the Security Council "welcomes discussion on this proposal to advance the cause of peace."  (AFP-France 24)
        See also Fearing "Humiliation," Palestinians Pull UN Resolution Against U.S. Peace Plan - Daniel Siryoti
    Members of PA President Abbas' delegation to the UN told Israel Hayom that pulling the draft resolution opposing the U.S. peace plan stemmed from "a lack of international support for the Palestinians' claims." A senior delegation official said: "Even after submitting the softened version of the draft resolution, which excluded any form of explicit condemnation of the deal of the century, we struggled to secure the necessary majority for passing the resolution. Of the 14 member states [on the Security Council], we had five who supported the draft resolution that was submitted. We chose not to humiliate ourselves and pulled the draft."
        Israel's UN Ambassador Danny Danon said Abbas should come to the Security Council on Tuesday "to present his vision for the future" instead of coming to reject the U.S. plan. He added that Abbas should come to Jerusalem to address the Israeli people and "deliver a message of hope, instead of a message of hate....Only negotiations will advance a peace process."  (Israel Hayom)
  • Syria and Turkey Inch Closer to War - Kareem Fahim
    Syria and Turkey inched closer to all-out war Monday in the northern Syrian province of Idlib, the last remaining major rebel redoubt. After shelling by Syrian forces killed five Turkish soldiers and injured five others, Turkey responded with attacks on "115 regime targets." The Turkish Defense Ministry claimed that 101 troops loyal to Syrian President Assad were killed. (Washington Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Netanyahu: The Jordan Valley Is the Eastern Gate to Israel
    At a tree-planting ceremony at Mevo'ot Yericho in the Jordan Valley on Monday in honor of Tu B'Shvat, the Jewish "New Year of the Trees," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the recent declaration by President Trump will recognize the application of sovereignty and Israeli law "in the Jordan Valley, in the northern Dead Sea and in all of our communities in Judea and Samaria." This does not depend on Palestinian consent to the U.S. peace plan. "We will do this in agreement with the Americans because we do not want this to be unilateral; we want the consent of the Americans and we have it."
        "We have been struggling over this place for 3,000 years, since the time when Joshua and tribes of Israel passed through here....This is the eastern gate [to Israel]."  (Prime Minister's Office)
  • Egyptians Warns Hamas to Stop Supporting Iranian Interests - Tzvi Joffre
    The Egyptian security delegation that visited Gaza on Monday warned Hamas to avoid escalating the military conflict with Israel and to stop supporting Iran, according to Al-Arabiya. The Egyptians expressed reservations about the relationship between Hamas, Iran and Hizbullah, and warned Hamas against becoming involved with Iran in any military escalation. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • The Deal within the U.S. Peace Plan - Alex Traiman
    U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman clarified on Sunday the process of the application of Israeli sovereignty over Jewish communities and strategic tracts of land in the West Bank that would become part of Israel under the U.S. peace plan. President Trump said on Jan. 28 that "we will form a joint committee with Israel to convert the conceptual map into a more detailed and calibrated rendering so that recognition can be immediately achieved."
        Speaking at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, Friedman said that in return for the immediate recognition of Israeli annexation of certain territories, the deal "creates a four-year settlement freeze on the 50% of Area C that will go to the Palestinians and will use that as the basis for negotiations." He said that "it seemed like a small price to pay, to recognize Israeli sovereignty over that territory, in exchange for a freeze on the other territory." This is what Friedman referred to as "the deal within the deal."  (JNS-Israel Hayom)
  • Sudanese Leader Says He "Felt Comfortable" with Netanyahu during Meeting
    Sudan's leader Abdel Fattah al-Burhan told a local newspaper Saturday that he "felt comfortable" at his recent meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Uganda last week and that the two shared a meal. "A few days before I met with Netanyahu, I prayed to God. I asked him whether this was a good thing for Sudan. If so, I said I'd go. If not, 'send me a sign.' God gave me the feeling that I should go and meet with him," Israel's Channel 12 reported, citing the newspaper. (Times of Israel)
        See also In Sudan, More Support for Normalizing Ties with Israel - Aidroos Abdulaziz
    In Sudan, more people support normalizing ties with Israel than those who don't. Among those supporters is Sudan's former deputy prime minister Mubarak al-Fadil al-Mahdi, who told Asharq Al-Awsat that opposing normalization with Israel is "irrational," especially since the Palestinians themselves had normalized their ties with Israel after the Oslo Accords. He noted that Palestinians deal with Israel in electricity and customs, and that a large number are working in Israel.
        Mahdi, who heads the National Umma Party, said Sudan is in dire need of a waiver for its terrorism-related sanctions, and that normalization of relations will "acquit" Sudan of past support for terrorism by its previous government. He added that continuing to boycott Israel has "become meaningless." If relations should thaw, there are quite a few things Sudan could get from Israel. Among them: technological and scientific aid, assistance in intelligence, and, above all, access to the White House. (Asharq Al-Awsat-UK)
        See also Sudan's Republican Party Backs Normalization with Israel (Sudan Tribune)

Abbas' Palestinian Authority Hurts Everybody - Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser and Sander Gerber (Tablet)
  • The Palestinian Authority, established in 1994 in the Oslo Accords, was supposed to enable the Palestinians living in the territories to enjoy self-rule in a democratically functioning regime that respected their human and civil rights. Additionally, the PA was supposed to lead the Palestinians toward a permanent peace with Israel through diplomatic negotiations.
  • Israel expected the PA to stop incitement to hatred and violence against it within Palestinian society. The international community, led by the U.S., expected the PA to improve the economic situation of the Palestinians and they provided very generous financial and economic assistance.
  • The Oslo Peace Process never envisioned Israel or some other outside power fulfilling the aspirations and expectations of the Palestinian people for freedom, a decent political system, and economic prosperity. Those needed to be fulfilled from inside Palestinian society. The total failure to fulfill those expectations, therefore, begins with the PA itself, which has proved to be deeply corrupt, incompetent, and undemocratic in the eyes of the people it purports to represent.
  • The PA has not held elections in 14 years; its elected parliament does not function. Instead, it governs by executive orders issued by a president who was elected in 2005. The PA denies its Palestinian citizens basic human rights and freedoms, such as freedom of speech. It tortures prisoners.
  • The PA uses international aid to eternalize the conflict by paying handsome salaries to terrorists and their families (about 7% of the PA's annual budget). It has misused the enormous foreign aid it received and has failed to translate this aid into building a successful economy.
  • The new U.S. peace plan, unlike any previous plan, tells the Palestinian Authority that if it does not choose to change in the coming four years, the U.S., Israel, and the pragmatic Arabs are not going to wait any longer and will not enable the PA to have veto power over their will to move forward.
  • Let us hope that this new peace paradigm, which is based on the realities on the ground, will help heal the wounds that the PA has inflicted on Palestinians, Israelis, moderate Arabs, and international donor countries, whose money has been spent on murder and hate - and help us build a road to peace.

    Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser and Sander Gerber are fellows of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.