May 7, 2020

In-Depth Issues:

Palestinians Reject Normalizing Ties with Israel - Mohamed Abu Don (Anadolu-Turkey)
    Palestinian factions on Wednesday called on Arab societies to combat campaigns aimed at normalizing relations with Israel.
    "Those campaigning for normalization are a small fraction, who don't represent the Arab nation; they are affiliated with international parties like the U.S.," said Hani al-Thawabta of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) in Gaza City.
    He described TV shows promoting normalization with Israel by the Dubai-based Middle East Broadcasting Center (MBC) as a "crime against the Arab mind."

Amnesty Calls on PA and Hamas to End Arbitrary Detention of Critics (Amnesty International)
    The Fatah-led Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and the Hamas administration in Gaza must halt violations of the right to freedom of expression, in particular arbitrary detentions, and immediately and unconditionally release all those who have been detained solely for peacefully expressing their views, Amnesty International said Thursday.
    Amnesty published a detailed statement outlining a pattern of arbitrary arrests against people who have criticized the authorities amid the Covid-19 outbreak.

Worst Locust Plague in 50 Years Hits Iran - Stefanie Glinski (The New Humanitarian)
    For the second consecutive year, locust swarms are threatening widespread destruction across southern Iran in what's expected to be the worst infestation in more than half a century.
    Keith Cressman, senior locust forecaster for the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization, said, "There's a generation of locusts in southeastern Iran every year, and that's not the problem, as preparations have always been made to fight the insects."
    "The issue this year is that swarms from outside invaded the southwest of the country, while seasonal rains came early" and hatched the local population.

IDF Naval Commando Unit Keeps Oxygen Flowing to Civilian Care Centers - Yaakov Lappin (JNS)
    The IDF's naval commando unit, Shayetet 13, has been making nonstop deliveries of oxygen cylinders to civilian care facilities during the coronavirus pandemic, due to its extensive experience in scuba-diving and the ability to compress oxygen gas into cylinders.
    Maj. "N" explained: "In Atlit [where the unit is based], there is a kind of small factory for compressing oxygen. We saw that nursing homes and organizations that care for vulnerable populations had a bit of a hard time getting hold of oxygen cylinders.... This is the need of the hour."
    Civilian organizations send over empty oxygen tanks and the Atlit center compresses oxygen into them and returns them.
    In the past three weeks, Shayetet 13 has delivered more than 500 oxygen tanks to care centers around the country.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Israel Demands Major Changes in UN Peacekeeping in Lebanon - Edith M. Lederer
    Israel's UN ambassador Danny Danon said Wednesday that his government is demanding major changes in the way the UN peacekeeping mission in southern Lebanon operates on the ground and has support from the U.S.  Danon said Israel will insist that peacekeepers have access to all sites, that they have freedom of movement, and that any time they are being blocked, the UN Security Council must be immediately informed. Israel has repeatedly accused Iranian-backed Hizbullah of impeding the peacekeepers from carrying out their mandate. (AP)
  • PA to Sue U.S. for Recognizing Israeli Sovereignty in Parts of West Bank
    Palestinian Justice Minister Mohammed al-Shalaldeh told Xinhua on Wednesday that the Palestinian Authority intends to file lawsuits against the U.S. for supporting Israel's plans to declare sovereignty in parts of the West Bank. "We are looking for legal mechanisms to hold the U.S. government accountable in committing war crimes against the Palestinians together with Israel," he said. The Palestinian government filed a lawsuit against the U.S. in the International Court of Justice after it moved its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in 2018, he noted. (Xinhua-China)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • PA Hiding Terrorist Salaries in Financial Reports to Donor Countries - Maurice Hirsch, Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik
    The Palestinian Authority's monthly financial documents for 2020 show that the PA is trying to hide its monthly salary payments to terrorist prisoners. Its monthly budget performance reports for 2018 and 2019 openly listed the payments as expenditures of the PA Ministry of Prisoners' Affairs. However, since the beginning of 2020, there is no listing at all for the ministry.
        The PA is still paying monthly salaries to terrorist prisoners, but is trying to hide them by listing them under a different category. In 2020 there has been a huge rise in the amount the PA transfers to "PLO institutions" - an amount equivalent to what the PA used to allocate to the Ministry of Prisoners' Affairs.
        As a recipient of international funding, the PA is obligated by donor countries to show full transparency and publicly list all its expenses, whereas the PLO is not accountable to anyone for how it spends its money. (Palestinian Media Watch)
  • IDF Soldiers Work Together with Palestinian Volunteers in Eastern Jerusalem - Khaled Abu Toameh
    In the era of the coronavirus pandemic, nothing seems to be impossible, including cooperation between the IDF and Palestinian activists in distributing thousands of food parcels to families in east Jerusalem villages and neighborhoods. In the past few weeks, IDF soldiers have been distributing food parcels in neighborhoods such as Kafr Aqab, Shu'afat, Kalandiya, Jabel Mukaber, Beit Hanina, Issawiya, and Sur Baher. The IDF troops were assisted by dozens of Palestinian volunteers.
        "In the past few weeks, especially since the beginning of the fasting month of Ramadan, we have provided significant aid to the residents of all the Arab neighborhoods in Jerusalem," said Col. Sharon Gat, commander of the division responsible for the Jerusalem area. "We are working in cooperation with the Jerusalem Municipality and its community centers." Gat noted that he later saw many residents express gratitude to Israel on social media platforms for its assistance. "Some of their leaders also came to the municipality to thank us for the beautiful cooperation," he said.
        "The people there told us: 'Let's put politics aside and work together.' There was full cooperation between us and the residents there. We also distributed medical equipment, not only food....I hope we will see more cooperation like this in the future. Besides the bad things the coronavirus has done, it has nevertheless brought about good things; it united us and made us forget about politics."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israel's Coronavirus Death Toll Is 239
    Israel's coronavirus death toll is 239 (up from 238 on Wednesday), the Israeli Health Ministry said Thursday morning. 83 people are in serious condition (down from 90 on Wednesday), with 69 needing ventilator support (down from 70 on Wednesday). Active coronavirus cases dropped to 5,370 (down from 5,549 on Wednesday). (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Ex-IDF Intelligence Chief Yadlin: The Iranians Are Not Leaving Syria - Yonah Jeremy Bob
    Former IDF intelligence chief Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Amos Yadlin, executive director of the Institute for National Security Studies, said Wednesday that "the Iranians are not leaving" Syria. He suggested that the forces led by Iran in Syria have always included a mix of Iranians and militias made up of local Syrians, Hizbullah, Iraqi Shiites, Pakistanis and Afghans, and at most there might be an adjustment in the mix.
        Syria is "the only Arab country which supported Iran's war with Iraq [in 1980-1988]. Ties between Iran and Syria are strong strategically. Iran sees Syria as the cornerstone of its regional policy. It was very important for Iran to keep the Syrian regime alive. In the words of Qasem Soleimani - protecting Tehran starts in Damascus."
        He added that "Iran also wants to be very close to us [Israel].... Nothing has changed regarding Iran's strategic goal." When the Assad regime started to win against ISIS, Soleimani "thought this was a huge opportunity to transform Syria into an Iranian base to attack Israel. His plan was to have airports, bases, naval bases, lines of logistics, advanced ballistic missiles, UAVs - everything to enable attacking Israel from Syria." However, Israel discovered the plan and "started to attack Iranians in Syria...[and was] able to stop 70-80% of what Soleimani wanted."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Implementing Elements of the Trump Plan: An Opportunity to Give New Life to the Two-State Option - Col. (res.) Dr. Eran Lerman
    Extending Israeli sovereignty to the Jordan Valley and settlement blocs, we are being told, would finally bury all hopes of an agreed solution. At the core of the underlying assumptions which give rise to these dire warnings is one persistent but unfortunately perverse proposition: that only an agreement (or an imposed solution) based on the 1967 lines, with minor swaps, a partition of Jerusalem, and some more-or-less symbolic concession on the Palestinian "right of return" can offer any hope for the future. This may be called the "Everybody Knows Paradigm" (EKP) for Israeli-Palestinian peace.
        Yet there must be a reason why all attempts to realize the EKP have failed, again and again; hence the need to chart a new way forward. A case can be made for trying to do so based upon the strategic outline of Trump's plan. It may even be the case that taking unilateral steps towards its implementation would not wreck the prospects of peace but rather the opposite. It could jolt a moribund process into life.
        Past intense peace processing efforts fell apart, at the end of the day, not because of some specific fault in Israeli policy, but because the sky-high Palestinian expectations were not met. JISS Vice President Eran Lerman held senior posts in IDF Military Intelligence for over 20 years. (Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security)

  • The International Criminal Court under the leadership of Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda has collaborated with terror-tied groups to pursue charges against American and Israeli military officials it claims are guilty of committing war crimes against civilians, including in Afghanistan and Palestinian territories, according to a new report from the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.
  • The findings call into question the court's integrity at a time when it is facing international backlash over its pursuit of politically motivated cases.
  • The cases originated with complaints filed with the court by two nonprofit advocacy groups with ties to terrorism - the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR). The NGOs are tied to a network of anti-Israel activists who use the human rights community to push radical agendas at a range of international institutions, including the UN.
  • The organizations "are far from being human rights organizations as they have falsely represented themselves, as they maintain close ties to terror organizations designated by the U.S. State Department and the European Union," according to the report.
  • ICC Chief Prosecutor Bensouda participated in FIDH's 40th congress in 2019. This has raised questions about Bensouda's impartiality when it comes to cases that FIDH and its affiliates have promoted.

        See also Legal Assault: How the ICC Has Been Weaponized Against the U.S. and Israel - Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser and Dan Diker (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

Daily Alert was prepared for the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations from May 3, 2002, to April 30, 2020.
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