May 19, 2020

In-Depth Issues:

PA to Bypass Banks to Pay Prisoners' Salaries (Middle East Monitor-UK)
    The Palestinian Authority is preparing to pay salaries to the families of Palestinian prisoners and martyrs directly without using banks, in order to stop banks from coming under Israeli sanctions, Al-Quds Al-Arabi reported Sunday.
    Last week, a number of Palestinian banks closed the accounts of Palestinian prisoners and the families of martyrs.

50 Percent Increase in U.S. Arrests Linked to Domestic Islamist Extremism (Anti-Defamation League)
    In 2019, ADL documented 30 arrests related to domestic Islamist extremist criminal activity - a 50% increase. Nine of these arrests were linked to terror plots.
    Violent Islamic State rhetoric and propaganda continue to inspire the majority of terror plots.

Iran Sees New Surge in Coronavirus Cases - Farnaz Fassihi (New York Times)
    When Iran began to reopen in late April without meeting the benchmarks recommended by health experts, commuters packed subways and buses, shoppers crowded the bazaars, and worshipers resumed communal prayer at mosques.
    Three weeks later, the country has been hit by a new surge of coronavirus cases in eight provinces.

New Study: 70 Percent of Coronavirus Cases in Israel Started in U.S. - Maayan Jaffe-Hoffman (Jerusalem Post)
    More than 70% of coronavirus patients in Israel were infected by a strain that originated in the U.S., according to a new study published Monday by Dr. Adi Stern of the School of Molecular Cell Biology and Biotechnology at Tel Aviv University.
    The remaining 30% of infections in Israel were imported from Belgium (8%), France (6%), England (5%), Spain (3%), and 2% each from Italy, the Philippines, Australia and Russia.
    Stern and his team of researchers mapped the spread of the virus by decoding the genomic sequence of the coronavirus strain in Israel and comparing it to 4,700 genomic sequences taken from patients around the world.

Israel Names 10 Government Ministers with Moroccan Roots - Yahia Hatim (Morocco World News)
    The new Israeli government announced Sunday includes 10 ministers with Moroccan roots.
    Interior Minister Arye Dery was born in Meknes in 1959, while Economy Minister Amir Peretz was born in Boujad in 1952. The others are Israeli-born with Moroccan parents.
    Some 1 million Israelis, over 10% of the population, have at least partial family origins in Morocco.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Report: Israel Retaliated for Iranian Cyberattack - Joby Warrick and Ellen Nakashima
    On May 9, shipping traffic at Iran's Shahid Rajaee port terminal came to an abrupt halt as computers that regulate the flow of vessels, trucks and goods all crashed at once. U.S. officials say the port was the victim of a substantial cyberattack that appears to have originated with Israel. The attack was presumably in retaliation for an April 24 Iranian attempt to penetrate computers that operate rural water distribution systems in Israel. (Washington Post)
  • Syrian Army Preparing New Offensive Closer to Israeli Border - Ehud Yaari
    Partly enabled by the ceasefire further north in Idlib province, the Syrian army and its Iranian-sponsored Shia militia allies seem poised to renew heavy fighting with Sunni Arab groups in the southern province of Deraa that shares frontiers with Israel and Jordan, as evidenced by the arrival of significant military reinforcements. This combines with a long series of assassinations in the area and increased regime attempts to storm local towns.
        The current crisis stems from the Assad regime's inability to reassert control over Deraa province after recapturing it in July 2018. Violent skirmishes occur nearly every day, and popular demonstrations against the regime have become routine, with crowds calling for the removal of Shia militiamen. Meanwhile, army personnel are frequently being attacked on the roads, and nine regime police officers were killed inside their station in Mzairib village on May 5. The writer, a fellow with The Washington Institute, is a veteran commentator for Israeli television. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy )
  • U.S. Forces in Iraq Move from Defeating ISIS to Self-Protection - Shawn Snow
    A recent inspector general report stated that U.S. base transfers to Iraqi forces were accelerated "in some part due to increased threats presented by malign actors," referring to Iran and its militia forces in Iraq. The U.S.-led Operation Inherent Resolve mission to defeat ISIS in Iraq and Syria was experiencing a "change in focus from [defeat-ISIS] operations to force protection." Iran-backed militias have continued deadly rocket attacks targeting coalition troops housed across Iraq bases. (Military Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel Strikes Back at Iran - Yonah Jeremy Bob
    In April, Iran crossed a line and attacked an element of critical Israeli civilian infrastructure. The cyberattack did not succeed, but if it had, it could have contaminated Israel's water supply and endangered civilians. Israel's counterstrike was far more physically damaging to Iran than Tehran's failed attack on Israel. Traffic around Iran's Shahid Rajaee port was impacted for days. The message was clear: Do not test Israel. Israeli cyber weapons are far superior to Iran's.
        There was a time when Israeli officials tried to support efforts to arrive at worldwide standards to limit cyberattacks. Now, Israel is using old-fashioned deterrence and responding disproportionately to "encourage" those who would hack it to think twice. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Israel Beefs Up Cyber Defenses at Key Sites to Repel Iranian Attacks
    Israel is beefing up cyber defenses on key sites as it braces for possible attacks from Tehran, the Israeli news site Walla! reported Tuesday. (i24News)
  • Israel's Coronavirus Death Toll Is 277
    Israel's coronavirus death toll is 277 (up from 272 on Monday), the Israeli Health Ministry said Tuesday morning. 51 people are in serious condition (compared with 57 on Monday), of which 39 are on ventilators (compared with 47 on Monday). 3,074 people are currently ill with the virus (compared with 3,335 on Monday) and 13,299 people have recovered (compared with 13,014 on Monday). (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • The Palestinians Should Move Fast toward Negotiations. Time Is Not on Their Side - Walter Russell Mead
    Palestinian options are narrowing as they search for allies. Two of the most important Arab states - Syria and Iraq - are so torn by internal strife that they can no longer project power beyond their borders. With the U.S. looking to reduce its regional commitments, this has made Israel a vital strategic ally for the Sunni Arab world. Despite continuing sympathy for the Palestinians, Arab governments cannot escape the reality that for now, the existence of a strong Israel is a pillar of their own independence.
        Russia's ties to Israel are deep. The Palestinians have nothing to offer Russia to offset what it gains economically, politically and technologically from its ties to Israel. Europe is divided and preoccupied with crises closer to home.
        The Palestinians have always believed that time was on their side. That confidence was misplaced. As Israel has grown into a tech giant and a regional superpower, the Palestinian bargaining position continues to erode. If the PA doesn't move fast toward negotiations for a final peace, time will continue to work in Israel's favor, and Palestinian options will only narrow. The writer is professor of foreign affairs and the humanities at Bard College. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Israeli Sovereignty, Not Appeasement, Is the Key to Lasting Peace - Caroline Glick
    Since 1937, Israel has consistently agreed to share its land with the Palestinians and the Palestinians have consistently refused peace. Since 2000, Israel has made three separate offers of peace that involved Israel surrendering nearly all of Judea and Samaria to the Palestinians and repartitioning Jerusalem. The Palestinians rejected all of Israel's offers. The notion that people who demand the ethnic cleansing of Jews from Judea and Samaria and Jerusalem will ever live at peace with the Jewish state is manifestly absurd.
        The U.S. peace plan is the first with any chance of success because it rejects the notion that Israel is to blame for the Palestinians' 100-year refusal to accept the Jewish people's right to self-determination and independence in their ancestral homeland. It accepts the fact that Israel has both legal and national rights to sovereignty in its national home, including in Judea and Samaria. It also accepts that Israel cannot defend itself and secure its future without permanent control over its eastern frontier in the Jordan Valley. Finally, the plan rejects the Palestinian demand for the ethnic cleansing of Jews. (Newsweek)

Video: Does the Term "Annexation" Even Apply to the West Bank? - Dore Gold (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • The territory that was to become British Mandatory Palestine was designated as a future Jewish National Home 100 years ago at the post-World War I San Remo Conference.
  • This history is pertinent to the debate that has emerged about Israel retaining parts of the West Bank this year in fulfillment of the U.S. peace plan.
  • This is commonly referred to as "annexation" and states have pointed out that they oppose the annexation of someone else's territory. But can you annex territory that has already been designated as yours?
  • The Turkish invasion of Cyprus was an act of aggression. The Russian invasion of Crimea was an act of aggression. Israel in the West Bank is an entirely different story. International law draws a distinction between unlawful territorial change by an aggressor and lawful territorial change in response to an act of aggression.
  • In addition to the designation of these territories as part of the Jewish national home, one must remember that the West Bank was captured by Israel in a war of self-defense in 1967. That makes all the difference.
  • It would be more correct not to use the term "annexation" but rather "the application of Israeli law to parts of the West Bank."

        See also Video: The San Remo Conference of 1920 Converted the Balfour Declaration into a Binding International Treaty - Dore Gold (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

    The writer, former director-general of the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Israel's Ambassador to the UN, is president of the Jerusalem Center.

Daily Alert was founded by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations in 2002.
Unsubscribe from Daily Alert.