May 22, 2020

In-Depth Issues:

Hizbullah Is Training Syria's 1st Corps for Future War Against Israel - Anna Ahronheim (Jerusalem Post)
    Hizbullah is preparing the Syrian Arab Army's 1st Corps for a future war against Israel, training its commanders and soldiers as well as deploying it for intelligence-gathering against the IDF in the Golan Heights.
    Since the return of regime forces to southern Syria, the influence of Hizbullah on the Syrian army has increased dramatically.
    If Hizbullah carries out an attack from the Golan Heights, the 1st Corps will provide Hizbullah with better mobility, firepower, and manpower.
    Intelligence-gathering is carried out through dozens of Syrian army observation posts along the Syrian Golan Heights.
    While there are Syrian soldiers in each post, sometimes accompanied by Hizbullah operatives, all orders are given by Hizbullah.
    Hizbullah's Southern Headquarters operation is led by commander Hajj Hashem, whose real name is Munir Ali Na'im Shaiti, who has been involved in several terror attacks against Israeli civilians.
    While the commanders of the Southern Headquarters are all Lebanese Hizbullah, the troops are all local Syrians.
    According to a report by Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, Shaiti has recruited over 3,500 locals through financial incentives since mid-2018.

Israel Learned from Turkey's Defeat of Hizbullah in Syria - Anna Ahronheim (Jerusalem Post)
    Israel watched the fighting between Hizbullah's Radwan unit and Turkish forces in Syria's Idlib province very closely, learning that the elite unit found it difficult to stand up to a conventional army.
    In February, Turkey deployed tanks, armored vehicles, artillery and troops to Idlib to stop a Syrian offensive backed by hundreds of Hizbullah troops as well as Shi'ite militias supported by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.

Palestinians Reject Coronavirus Aid from UAE Flown to Israel - Fadwa Hodali (Bloomberg-Ha'aretz)
    The Palestinian Authority has declined to accept a shipment of coronavirus aid sent by the United Arab Emirates aboard a direct flight to Tel Aviv this week because the PA doesn't want to serve as a bridge for the normalization of ties between the UAE and Israel, the Palestinian Maan news agency reported.
    The shipment will instead go to Gaza.
    See also Gaza: 29 Returnees from Egypt Test Positive for Virus - Mohammad Majid (Anadolu-Turkey)
    29 infections were reported among new returnees to Gaza who recently arrived from Egypt via the Rafah crossing, Gaza's deputy health minister Yousef Abu al-Reesh said Thursday.

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Iran Has Banned All Use of Israeli Tech. Really? - David Horovitz (Times of Israel)
    Iran's parliament has unanimously passed legislation banning "any cooperation" with Israel - specifically including the use of Israeli computer hardware and software - as a crime against God.
    The Free World might consider applauding the ban, if not actively demanding its enforcement, because, given the centrality of Israeli innovation and technology to so many aspects of modern life, the new anti-Israel legislation, if implemented, will set Iran back decades.
    All of Iran's computers feature Intel chips and/or technologies designed and/or developed in Israel.

Israeli Startup Makes Software to Help Employees Work Remotely - Yaacov Benmeleh and Ivan Levingston (Bloomberg)
    The valuation of Monday.com, an Israeli startup that makes software to help employees work remotely, has jumped to $2.7 billion.
    Employers are seeking ways to manage employees who have had to work from home due to the pandemic.
    This has boosted the importance of finding tools to help keep tabs on assignments and avoid communication breakdowns.
    Monday.com has 100,000 paying customers in 160 countries.

Thou Shalt Innovate: How Israeli Ingenuity Repairs the World - Yvonne Bohwongprasert (Bangkok Post-Thailand)
    Avi Jorisch's book Thou Shalt Innovate: How Israeli Ingenuity Repairs the World has been translated into over 30 languages, including Thai.
    In it, the author offers 15 uplifting profiles on some of the most brilliant Israeli innovators, all contributing to Israel's success as a light unto other nations.
    Jorisch said he was aware of Israel's incredible record of innovation. But what he hadn't perceived was the extent to which Israel's innovative spirit was having an impact far beyond the country.
    "It quickly became clear to me that Israel was much more than the start-up nation. It was playing a disproportionate role in helping solve some of the world's biggest challenges."

FDA Okays Israeli Imaging Technology to Detect Covid-19 - Hagar Ravet (Calcalist)
    The U.S. FDA has allowed the use of technology developed by Tel Aviv-based Aidoc Medical Ltd. to be used to detect findings associated with Covid-19.
    Aidoc's AI-based medical imaging software is designed to quickly analyze medical scans and can help radiologists detect lung anomalies associated with Covid-19.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • IDF: Iran Is Slowly Pulling Out of Syria - Tia Goldenberg
    Iran is slowly pulling out of Syria in response to Israeli strikes, as well as growing domestic discontent linked to the economy and its handling of the coronavirus pandemic, the Israeli military said Thursday. Israel has carried out repeated strikes aimed at pushing back Iranian forces and preventing the transfer of advanced weapons to Hizbullah.
        The IDF described the withdrawal as "a backward movement from various locations to other locations that are further away and in reduced numbers." The movement was "not massive, not overwhelming," but also "undeniable."  (AP-Washington Post)
  • EU Chief Condemns Iran Threats to Israel
    Josep Borrell, the EU high representative for foreign affairs, took to Twitter on Thursday after Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei called to eliminate Israel and said, "We will support and assist any nation or any group anywhere who opposes and fights the Zionist regime."
        Borrell wrote, "I condemn in the strongest possible terms the call by the Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei to fight Israel. This is a threat to international peace and security. The security of Israel is of paramount importance and the EU will stand at its side."  (AFP-Al Arabiya)
        See also Iran's Khamenei: Israel Will Be Eradicated - Yaghoub Fazeli
    "The Zionist regime is a deadly and harmful appendage for this region, and it will certainly be eradicated," Iran's Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Friday. "The struggle for the liberation of Palestine is a jihad for the sake of Allah and a desirable Islamic duty," he added. (Al Arabiya)
        See also Text: Khamenei's Quds (Jerusalem) Day Speech (Khamenei.ir)
  • U.S. Charges Iranian Company and Executives with Sanctions Violations - Mengqi Sun
    The U.S. charged an Iranian online financial services company, Payment24, and two of its senior executives, Seyed Sajjad Shahidian and Vahid Vali, with conspiracy to commit offenses against the U.S., money laundering, identity theft and wire fraud, according to an indictment unsealed Monday in federal court in Minnesota. Prosecutors alleged that Payment24 primarily helped Iranian citizens circumvent U.S. sanctions to conduct transactions with U.S.-based businesses from 2009 to November 2018. The U.S. has broad sanctions on Iran, prohibiting exports of U.S. goods, technology or services to Iran. (Wall Street Journal)
        See also Founder and CEO of Iranian Financial Services Firm Extradited from UK (U.S. Department of Justice)
  • In Stunning Reversal, Turkey Emerges as Libya Kingmaker - Declan Walsh
    A string of victories by Turkish-backed forces in western Libya this week dealt a heavy blow to the ambitions of strongman Khalifa Hifter and signaled the arrival of Turkey as a potentially decisive force in the Middle East's biggest proxy war. Libyan fighters backed by Turkish firepower on Monday captured a major airbase west of Tripoli, using drones to destroy newly arrived Russian air defense batteries.
        Over a year ago, Hifter began an offensive to capture Tripoli and appeared to have the upper hand. But on Wednesday, soldiers loyal to the government in Tripoli paraded through central Libya with a captured air defense system, built by Russia and financed by the UAE, in a pointed humiliation of Hifter's powerful foreign backers. Yet Turkey's dramatic gains were by no means conclusive. Fathi Bashagha, the Tripoli government's interior minister, told Bloomberg on Thursday that eight Soviet-era jets, escorted by two newer Russian fighter jets, had flown from a base in Syria to boost Hifter. (New York Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel Confirms that Palestinian Authority Is Ending Security Coordination - Avi Issacharoff
    Israeli sources confirmed Thursday that the Palestinian Authority is halting cooperation with Israel over its plans to extend sovereignty to parts of the West Bank. For years, PA leader Mahmoud Abbas has made similar threats but never followed through. (Times of Israel)
        See also PA Halts Security Coordination with CIA - Jack Khoury
    Sources at the IDF Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories confirmed that a message was sent by the PA to Israel on halting security coordination. The PA also notified the CIA it is halting security coordination with Israel and the U.S., according to Saeb Erekat, the chairman of the PLO executive committee.
        Palestinian sources told Ha'aretz that Palestinian security forces began withdrawing Thursday evening from Area B of the West Bank, after being posted there in coordination with Israel to enforce coronavirus restrictions among the area's Palestinian population. (Ha'aretz)
  • Cutting Security Ties, Abbas Risks Everything - Avi Issacharoff
    This time, Abbas has really halted security coordination with Israel. The Palestinian security forces rely to a large degree on this coordination. Israel has on a number of occasions passed information to the Palestinian forces on plans by Hamas or some other group to take action against the PA, or even to harm its leader.
        The PA also needs coordination with Israel in order to ensure freedom of movement in the West Bank for senior officials and forces, and to move weapons or military vehicles around. Without this coordination, the PA security forces will be weakened, and opposition forces will gain strength.
        PA security forces have been extensively involved in thwarting terror attacks in recent years, and are generally credited with stopping 1/3 to 1/4 of attempted attacks. (Times of Israel)
        See also Palestinian Official Reassures Israel Some Cooperation Still On
    A senior Palestinian official on Thursday conveyed to Israel that, despite the announcement of a severance in ties by PA President Abbas, at least some aspects of security cooperation will continue. Israel's Channel 12 reported that the senior Palestinian official sent messages to Israel saying that the Palestinian security services will continue to do their best to foil terror attacks against Israel. The official vowed that terror groups will not be permitted to act freely in areas under PA control. (Times of Israel)
  • Status Report: Coronavirus in Israel - Maayan Jaffe-Hoffman
    As of Thursday evening, there were 2,680 active cases of coronavirus in Israel, including 36 people on ventilators. 279 people have died. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israel Remembers Ethiopian Jews Who Died Trying to Reach Israel - Paul Shindman
    At the annual ceremony on Thursday at the Israeli national cemetery on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem, President Reuven Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu joined Ethiopian Jewish community leaders to remember the 4,000 Jews who perished in the 1980s as they tried to reach Israel. 140,000 Ethiopian Jews live in Israel today. (World Israel News)
        See also 119 Immigrants from Ethiopia Arrive in Israel
    119 immigrants from Ethiopia arrived in Israel on Thursday, greeted by Ethiopian-born Immigration Absorption Minister Pnina Tamano-Shata. (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Jordanian Army Doesn't Want to See Palestinian Security Forces on the Border - Ariel Kahana
    A source close to the Jordanian monarchy said that King Abdullah's recent warning of a "massive conflict" with Israel if it declares sovereignty in parts of Judea and Samaria was primarily intended to appease public opinion at home. The majority of Jordan's population is of Palestinian origin.
        The Jordanian source said the Jordanian army is happy with its long-time cooperation with the IDF along the countries' shared border and under no circumstances wants to see Palestinian security forces on the border instead. He added that the Jordanian government knows the Palestinians cannot be trusted and in fact welcomes measures that will strengthen Israel at the Palestinian Authority's expense. At the same time, the source said, "To say such things [publicly] is to cross a red line that could end in prison."  (Israel Hayom)
        See also Can Jordan Revoke Its Peace Treaty with Israel? - Amb. Alan Baker (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Hizbullah's Military Deployment along Israel's Border Increases the Risks of Escalation - Brig.-Gen. (res.) Assaf Orion
    Since the end of the Second Lebanon War in 2006, Hizbullah's capabilities have strengthened both quantitatively and qualitatively, and its rocket arsenal has increased more than ten-fold. Hizbullah's military deployment and operations in southern Lebanon and along Israel's border entail significant risks of escalation, and these demand concerted and consistent efforts to contain them and roll them back. The writer served as head of the Strategic Division in the Planning Directorate of the IDF General Staff (2010-2015). (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)
  • By Refusing to Negotiate, Palestinian Losses Will Continue to Grow - Jonathan S. Tobin
    On May 15, as they do every year, Palestinian Arabs relive the sorrow of 1948. Their narrative is integral to their identity. Their yearly vow to reverse the verdict of history is so deeply embedded that it has made it impossible for any of their leaders to even consider formally giving it up.
        The Palestinians are the only refugee population out of the hundreds of millions who were rendered homeless throughout the world since 1945 that has refused to be resettled. Under no circumstances will they ever concede that the fault for the catastrophe that befell them was largely their own.
        The Palestinian Arabs could have compromised and gotten a state. But they refused to accept anything less than their maximal demands and, as the years went by, their options in terms of territory and support from the rest of the Arab world dwindled. Not even after Israel repeatedly offered the Palestinian Authority a state would they agree to end their century-old war. At any point, the Palestinians could have accepted one of the deals offered them.
        The lesson of the nakba is the folly of maximalism, in which by seeking everything, they consistently wind up with nothing. If all you care about is preserving a victim status, the price of intransigence will continue to rise. (JNS)
  • Palestinians Still Don't Have a Free Press - Khaled Abu Toameh
    The Palestinian Authority is ignoring calls to lift a ban on dozens of news websites and social media channels that were blocked more than six months ago. The Palestinians still do not have a free and independent media.
        The number of Palestinian journalists targeted by the PA may have dropped, but it is obvious that most of these practice self-censorship. That is why most Palestinian journalists living in PA-controlled areas rarely, if ever, report on issues that reflect negatively on Palestinian leaders. The only freedom of expression they are allowed is to heap praise on Palestinian leaders while bashing Israel on a daily basis. (Gatestone Institute)
  • The Dynamic of Greek-Israeli Ties - Dora Bakoyannis and Ram Aviram
    During 2019, in pre-coronavirus times, more than 700,000 Israelis visited Greece. Greek and Israeli military forces held joint exercises. Greek Prime Minister Konstantinos Mitsotakis finally established full diplomatic relations with Israel on May 21, 1990, acting to put an end to almost four decades of "lost time" in ties between the two old nations. "Greek public opinion at the time was staunchly pro-Arab and anti-Israel," said his son, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, the current prime minister of Greece.
        Dora Bakoyannis is former minister of foreign affairs of Greece and Ram Aviram is former ambassador of Israel to Greece. (Ekathimerini-Greece)

  • Weekend Features

  • Jerusalem's Residents Come Together during Corona Crisis - Shai Doron
    As the corona crisis unfolded in Jerusalem, the civil society organizations so active in the city changed their priorities, programs and activities with only one aim: to make sure that no Jerusalemite was left alone.
        At the Jerusalem Foundation we had to change our direction overnight from major capital projects to supporting the city's most vulnerable populations: children with special needs, at-risk youth, children in women's shelters, people with disabilities, families who found themselves without money to buy food, and the elderly, the population most at risk.
        It was amazing to see situations that we couldn't have anticipated of strict Orthodox volunteers packing food baskets for Arabs so they could break their fast for Ramadan with a proper meal, and Arabs from eastern Jerusalem who volunteered to purchase medication for the elderly, from all sectors, who could not leave their homes. The writer is President of the Jerusalem Foundation. (Jewish Chronicle-UK)
  • The Coronavirus Pandemic as a "Transforming Event" - Joel Fishman
    Because of the scope of its devastation, the coronavirus pandemic may be considered a "transforming event" comparable to the 9/11 attack, although the damage wrought by this pandemic has been many times more severe in all respects. Further, the geopolitical rivalry looming in the background has been an added source of tension. The writer is a historian and fellow of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and former editor of the Jewish Political Studies Review. (Israel Journal of Foreign Affairs)
  • What Does Psychology Have to Say about a Coronavirus Exit Strategy? - Irwin J. Mansdorf
    Society needs to prepare to cope with the possibility that even while exiting and lifting restrictions, portions of society will need to continue living with them. Societies have experienced plagues, wars, natural disasters and upheavals throughout history. During each event, it was common to hear expressions such as "things will never be the same," but ultimately things were the same because human behavior stays the same. The writer is a fellow at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and an adjunct professor of psychology at Long Island University.  (Jerusalem Post)

Israel: The Settlements Are Not Illegal - Dr. Michael Calvo (Gatestone Institute)
  • The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), adopted by the UN General Assembly on September 13, 2007, by a 144-4 vote, recognized that indigenous people (also known as first people, aboriginal people or native people) have the right to the lands, territories and resources which they have traditionally owned, occupied or otherwise used or acquired (Art. 26.1).
  • The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights declared that "there is an international customary law norm which affirms the rights of indigenous peoples to their traditional lands." The African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights affirmed that land rights of indigenous people are protected and that these rights are "general principles of law."
  • According to international law, the Jews are the indigenous people of the lands referred to as Judea, Samaria, Palestine, Israel and the Holy Land, and therefore fulfill the criteria required by international law. The Jews are the ethnic group that was the original settler of Judea and Samaria 3,500 years ago.
  • The Treaty of Lausanne (1923), British Mandate for Palestine (1922), San Remo Resolution (1920), and Treaty of Sevres (1920) recognized and re-established the historical indigenous rights of the Jews to their land. The Jewish people's right to settle in their historic homeland and to establish their state there is thus a legal right anchored in international law.
  • Recent UN General Assembly resolutions stating that the settlement of Jews in Judea and Samaria is contrary to international law are no more than recommendations and have never led to amendments of existing binding treaties. UN Security Council resolutions stating that Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria are illegal are not binding, since only resolutions taken under Chapter VII of the UN Charter are binding.
  • Contending that Jewish communities in the West Bank are illegal and that declaring partial Israeli sovereignty is contrary to international law is a political, not a legal, position. Despite UN resolutions to the contrary, the establishment of Israeli civilian settlements in the West Bank is not inconsistent with international law.

    The writer, an expert in international law, was a member of the International Court of Arbitration representing Israel.
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