June 4, 2020

In-Depth Issues:

UN Envoy: "There Is No Middle East Peace Process" - Ruth Eglash (Washington Post)
    Bulgarian-born Nickolay Mladenov, the UN special coordinator for Middle East peace, said in an interview:
    "The title on my business card is completely wrong. I mean, there is no Middle East peace process. Most of our work now is preventive diplomacy, preventing war."
    Political relations between Israel and the Palestinians are stalled. The Palestinian leadership refuses to meet with U.S. officials. Israelis are suspicious of European motives, and other potential intermediaries, like the Russians, are focused elsewhere.

Israel Donates Medical Aid to Philippines to Fight Coronavirus (Algemeiner)
    Israel donated a large shipment of medical supplies to the Philippines on Tuesday that included medical gloves, surgical masks, medical gowns, N95 filtered face masks, face shields and non-contact thermometers.

Attitudes toward Israel Changing in Iranian and Arab Social Media - Benjamin Kerstein (Algemeiner)
    Officials from the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs' Digital Diplomacy Department discussed Israel's use of digital diplomacy at an online briefing on Wednesday.
    Director of New Media in Persian Sharona Avginsaz said the MFA's Persian-language Instagram page currently has 500,000 followers. Instagram is the only major platform not banned by the Tehran regime.
    Director of New Media in Arabic Yonathan Gonen said, "We reach 12 million people every week....If we see the comments from people today in the Arab world, Israel is no longer the big problem."

The Iranian Revolutionary Guards' Intelligence Headquarters in Damascus - Gareth Browne (The National-Abu Dhabi)
    A towering building along Damascus' airport road known as "The Glass House" is the Islamic Revolutionary Guard's intelligence headquarters in Syria.
    The building also contains a medical intensive care unit and a control room with banks of screens broadcasting live feeds from Iranian drones in the skies above Syria.

Radiocarbon Dating Confirms Origins of Wilson's Arch at Jerusalem's Temple Mount (American Association for the Advancement of Science)
    Radiocarbon dating has confirmed the time of construction of Wilson's Arch at Jerusalem's Temple Mount, according to a study published on June 3, 2020, in the journal PLOS ONE by Johanna Regev from the Weizmann Institute of Science.
    Regev and her colleagues conducted radiocarbon dating of 33 construction material samples directly at the site (generally charred organic matter, like seeds or sticks, present in mortar) and found that the structure was constructed between 20 BCE and 20 CE, during the reign of Herod the Great.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Suspension of Security Coordination with Israel Limits PA Operations in West Bank - Kifah Zboun
    The Palestinian Authority has lost its ability to operate in more than 2/3 of the West Bank after President Mahmoud Abbas' decision to end security coordination with Israel. In addition to operating in Area A, which is subject to Palestinian civil and security control, the PA was operating in Areas B and C with Israeli coordination, allowing Palestinian forces to make arrests and cordon off inter-Palestinian disputes.
        Israel's Channel 11 confirmed that Israel had informed the PA that without security coordination, its officials and security personnel would not be allowed to move outside Area A. The decision might also affect the movement of President Abbas. (Asharq Al-Awsat-UK)
  • Assad's Forces Move South - Bassam Barabandi
    At the beginning of May, the Assad regime dispatched major military reinforcements to the city of Daraa in southern Syria amid reports of a military operation to be carried out with Iranian backing. In response, a new uprising broke out in Daraa, suggesting that Iranian and other affiliated militias would face heavy resistance.
        On July 31, 2018, with official Russian sponsorship and guarantees, Daraa residents and the regime had reached an agreement that ended military operations in the province. Russia sent dozens of military police as observers to ensure the implementation of the agreement. Now, two years after the deal, the Syrian regime is trying to disavow these agreements and is attempting to regain Daraa province by force. Moscow appears to have become a spectator rather than a guarantor.
        Meanwhile, Iran has continued to build up allied forces and expand its military bases in the south and has taken no note of what the Russians do or say in terms of agreements with the Israelis and Americans. Iran has set up Shia Military Brigade 313, headed by Ibrahim Merji and based in Izra', which is linked to the IRGC. It is composed of 1,200 fighters and is designed to help Iran impose its control over Syria's southern border to threaten Israel. The writer is a former Syrian diplomat. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Palestinian Authority Refuses Tax Transfers from Israel - Aaron Boxerman
    The Palestinian Authority on Wednesday said it will no longer accept tax revenue transfers from Israel as it pushes to end coordination with Israel. In 2019, tax revenues transferred to the PA by Israel accounted for 60% of the Palestinian budget.
        The PA lacks an international port of entry, meaning all goods entering and exiting the West Bank must pass through Israel. According to the 1994 Paris Protocol, Israel is responsible for levying taxes on imports and exports before transferring the funds to the PA.
        The PA's decision also calls into question a recent NIS 800 million loan by Israel to the PA to help it weather the financial damage of the coronavirus crisis. (Times of Israel)
  • Intelligence Report Exposes Anti-Semitism among German Muslim Groups - Benjamin Weinthal
    A previously classified German intelligence report on Wednesday revealed widespread anti-Semitism among Muslim organizations in the country, Suddeutsche Zeitung reported. The Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), the equivalent to the Israel Security Agency, noted that a Syrian teacher in Solingen declared during a lesson on June 4, 2018, that "all Jews belong in the gas chamber." 700 cases of anti-Semitic events with a suspected Islamist background were included in the report.
        The head of BfV, Thomas Haldenwang, said hostility to Jews is "represented by practically all noteworthy Islamist organizations that are active in Germany." The report documented 20 anti-Semitic acts of violence by Muslim perpetrators. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Washington's Interests in the Middle East Lie in Building Israeli Power - Michael S. Doran
    For the two-state solution to become viable, Hamas must collapse, Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank must craft a shared vision of the future, and then they must march in lockstep toward a compromise with Israel. The number of stars that must align for this vision to become reality is too great to count.
        Yet for a quarter century, U.S. leaders have stubbornly insisted on treating the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as if it were ripe for settlement. Between 1993 and 2017, three presidents and dozens of their senior aides invested thousands of hours in pursuit of a permanent peace agreement. No other diplomatic goal has received this level of sustained attention. The meager fruits of this work do not justify the massive investment.
        More than ever before, Washington's interests lie in building Israeli power to shore up the battered U.S. regional security structure, not in tearing it down in the pursuit of a peace fantasy. It is the responsibility of Palestinian leaders, whose politics remain riddled with irredentism, to prove that their nationalism can promote international peace and stability. The onus is once again on Israel's rivals to demonstrate that their aspirations serve U.S. interests.
        The writer, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, served as Senior Director for the Near East and North Africa at the National Security Council and as U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense. (Foreign Affairs)
  • The Real Palestinian Tragedy Remains Their Policy of All or Nothing - Prof. Eyal Zisser
    The U.S. peace plan offers a coherent, well-ordered worldview about how Israel can ensure calm regarding security issues, economic stability, and also a shared future and coexistence for Israelis and Palestinians living west of the Jordan River. In contrast to the past, this plan does not come with meaningless bombastic declarations about a historic breakthrough.
        What it does is lay down the path for a long, slow, and exhausting journey in the right direction - a journey at the end of which both sides will realize some of their goals and be able to coexist in peace. It appears that this time, the Arab world and some of the Palestinians themselves aren't rushing to join Abbas' war for the umpteenth time.
        The real Palestinian tragedy remains their policy of all or nothing. Their lack of ability to correctly read the map of the region, along with their inability to reach a compromise, have been hallmarks of the Palestinian movement. A compromise like this one might not fulfill everyone's dreams, but it could promote their interests much better than the path of violence to which the Palestinians still adhere. The Palestinians have tried violence countless times in the past, and every time, this path has brought disaster down upon their own heads. The writer is a lecturer in the Middle East History Department at Tel Aviv University. (Israel Hayom)

The Abyss that Divides the Israeli Leadership from the PA Leadership - Lt.-Col. (res.) Maurice Hirsch (Jerusalem Post)
  • On June 1, 2001, as scores of Israeli teenagers went to the popular Dolphinarium nightclub on the Tel Aviv beach, a Palestinian terrorist blew himself up, murdering 21 kids and injuring over a hundred more. The Palestinian Authority declared the suicide bomber to be a "martyr."
  • Becoming a "martyr" represents the highest religious achievement that can be attained by a Muslim. His death is celebrated as a "wedding" in which the "martyr" marries 72 dark-eyed virgins in paradise. A video clip often broadcast on official PA TV declares that "Life is insignificant....God, grant us martyrdom."
  • PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas is directly responsible for paying monthly cash rewards to the families of dead terrorists and to imprisoned terrorists. In 2010, he approved a salary hike for terrorist prisoners including a 300% rise - from NIS 4,000 per month to NIS 12,000 per month - for prisoners who serve more than 30 years in prison for murder. In 2007, 2009 and 2013, Abbas approved a hike in the monthly allowances paid to the families of dead terrorists, including suicide bombers.
  • Raed Al-Houtari, who sent the suicide bomber to the Dolphinarium, was arrested in 2003 and sentenced to 22 consecutive life sentences. Al-Houtari has so far received $215,761, and he will continue to receive a monthly salary from the PA for the rest of his life because he is a mass murderer.
  • The PA leadership sanctifies death, murder and hatred. The Israeli leadership prioritizes life and is even willing to help those who hate us, as it did by granting a NIS 800 million loan to the PA during the coronavirus crisis.

    The writer, head of legal strategies for Palestinian Media Watch, served for 19 years in the IDF Military Advocate General Corps, including as Director of the Military Prosecution in Judea and Samaria.

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