June 11, 2020

In-Depth Issues:

IDF Thwarted Iranian Cyberattack - Yoav Limor (Israel Hayom)
    Several months ago, the IDF's elite technological C4i Directorate identified attempted Iranian cyberattacks on the army's supply chain that connects to civilian services for gas, food, and other crucial supplies.
    The Cyber Defense Unit, part of C4i, identified the attack and for several days carried out a covert operation intended to expose the attackers and foil their plan.

Syrian Druze Protesters Call for Assad's Overthrow - Suleiman Al-Khalidi (Reuters)
    Hundreds of Syrians in the mainly Druze city of Sweida took to the streets for a fourth day on Wednesday, protesting worsening economic conditions and demanding the downfall of Syrian President Assad.
    Syria's currency hit a record 3,000 Syrian pounds to the dollar earlier this week in a rapidly accelerating free-fall.
    Protests since Sunday have also called for an end to rampant corruption and the pullout of Iranian militias and Russian troops.

PA Threatening Not to Pay Its Civil Servants in Effort to Pressure Israel (Times of Israel)
    A senior Palestinian official said that the PA is threatening not to pay its civil servants in the West Bank and Gaza next month in an attempt to pressure Israel to abandon its plans to apply Israeli law in parts of the West Bank, Israel's Channel 11 reported Wednesday.

Israel Donates Wheelchairs to Coronavirus-Battered Ecuador (Jerusalem Post)
    Israel last week donated a shipment of wheelchairs to Ecuador to help in the recovery of patients with Covid-19.

Iran's New Anti-Israel Legislation - Ofira Seliktar and Farhad Rezaei (BESA Center for Strategic Studies-Bar-Ilan University)
    Iran's Majlis recently passed a law that seeks to criminalize all interaction with the "Zionist enemy."
    The ban covers all commercial, academic, and cultural activities, and criminalizes all indirect forms of interaction as well.
    Included in the ban are hardware and software developed in Israel or by companies that have production branches in Israel.
    This provision will be daunting to implement, since many IT giants, including IBM, Apple, and Google, have research facilities in Israel.
    Check Point, Mobileye, and numerous other platforms that were developed in Israel are used in many software products.
    Should Iran actually apply this clause of the law, it will end up in the digital equivalent of the Stone Age.
    Organizers of anti-Israel events at which Israeli flags are routinely burned complained that because the bill outlaws the manufacture of Israeli flags, they will now be forced to import these items.
    Ofira Seliktar is professor emerita at Gratz College in Pennsylvania.
    Farhad Rezaei teaches political science at York University in Toronto.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Expert: Accusations that Israel Is to Blame for U.S. Police Brutality Are Untrue and Anti-Semitic - Benjamin Kerstein
    Former assistant FBI director Steven L. Pomerantz is head of the Law Enforcement Exchange Program at the Jewish Institute for National Security of America (JINSA), one of the most successful exchange programs between American and Israeli law enforcement personnel. He told Algemeiner on Wednesday that the program, which brings U.S. police officers to Israel to study counter-terrorism methods, "began as a direct result of 9/11 at the specific request of senior law enforcement officers" and included "no hands-on training and no tactical training."
        Pomerantz said "recent programs have included subjects such as improving relations between law enforcement agencies and minority communities, and recruiting in minority communities." He added that some officials "have stated that their communities are safer places because of what they learned in Israel."
        He saw attacks on such programs as an "opportunistic" move on the part of "individuals and organizations hostile to Israel and involved in the larger BDS movement," adding that "there is certainly an element of anti-Semitism in this effort."  (Algemeiner)
  • Palestinians Again Refuse Planeload of Virus Aid from UAE
    The Palestinian Authority refused Wednesday a planeload of medical supplies from the United Arab Emirates to help fight the coronavirus since it was coordinated with Israel rather than with them. The Etihad Airways flight, which landed in Israel on Tuesday, was the second delivery of humanitarian aid by the UAE that the Palestinians have turned down. While a May 19 Etihad flight carrying aid to Palestinians was unmarked, Tuesday was the first time an Etihad aircraft landed in Israel bearing its logo. (AFP-Barron's)
        See also Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine Condemns UAE-Israel "Normalization" - Mahmoud Barakat (Anadolu-Turkey)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel Must Retain Security Control in West Bank, Netanyahu Tells German Foreign Minister
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told visiting German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas on Wednesday in Jerusalem that Israel's vital interests - such as the need for complete security control west of the Jordan River - must be upheld in any future agreement. He also said that any realistic plan must recognize the reality of Israeli settlement on the ground and not foster the illusion of uprooting people from their homes. The two also discussed halting financing for NGOs that are active against Israel. (Prime Minister's Office)
  • Coronavirus Cases in Israel Continue to Rise
    Israel's Health Ministry on Wednesday said 175 new coronavirus cases were confirmed in the past 24 hours, compared with 148 the previous day, as Israel continued to experience a significant rise in infections. There are currently 2,869 active patients, after the number had dipped below 2,000 last month. 300 people have died and 22 are on ventilators. Health officials conducted 14,817 coronavirus tests on Tuesday. (Times of Israel)
        See also Tel Aviv Emerges as New Coronavirus Hotspot - Amir Alon
    Tel Aviv has emerged as a new coronavirus hotspot. The Education Ministry on Thursday said that out of the children infected with Covid-19 in the Tel Aviv-Jaffa Municipality, all but one were children of foreign migrants living in south Tel Aviv as well as children in Jaffa from predominantly Arab schools. (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Palestinian Leadership Fails to Rally Public Against Israel - Jack Khoury
    On Monday, Palestinian factions organized a demonstration in Ramallah against Israel's plans to apply Israeli law in parts of the West Bank. Fatah and the Palestinian security forces were asked to recruit people to attend, but barely 200 people showed up. The sparse crowd provided a clear indication of what the Palestinian leadership now faces. The crisis of confidence between the leadership and the public has deepened so much that the public can no longer back its leadership. The masses will not take to the streets over Israel, but would over the economic crisis.
        "It's not that Palestinians have forgone their dream....It's just that Palestinians have gotten to a situation in which they no longer believe in anyone," a longtime Fatah member remarked. "The disconnect between the leadership and the public is worsening." Under President Abbas' leadership, the Palestinian public is not interested in returning to the days of the intifada, and nonviolent struggle is also far removed from reality. Fatah would have a hard time mobilizing support for protests. (Ha'aretz)
  • Europeans Pushing to Boycott Israel over Annexation Should Think Twice - Richard Goldberg
    Some European governments are reportedly pushing the EU for a tough response against Israel, including economic sanctions, if it extends Israeli law in parts of the West Bank. European governments should reject these ideas - not just because they're wrong, but also because they carry significant risks for European companies and economies.
        Israel is a democratic ally that enjoys strong relations with Europe, including in trade and tourism. It aligns with Europe in the post-World War II international order more than any other Middle Eastern country. That some European governments would threaten sanctions against Israel while refusing to impose sanctions on Iran and Hizbullah is disappointing.
        3/5 of the 50 U.S. states have already adopted laws prohibiting boycotts of Israel. The potential financial impact of divestment by U.S. states on European businesses and economies is substantial. A review of public investment funds in U.S. states with divestment laws revealed holdings of international equities amounting to $170 billion, much of it in European companies.
        Major European companies such as Denmark's Danske Bank and the Dutch pension fund PGGM were blacklisted by the state of Illinois as Israel boycotters. Airbnb decided in 2018 to boycott listings in Israeli towns in the West Bank, but reversed its decision after Illinois, Texas, and Florida took steps to blacklist Airbnb from future investment. Airbnb was also forced to settle multiple lawsuits in the U.S. alleging that the company was engaging in discriminatory practices, given that it did not apply its policy to all disputed territories.
        The U.S. has federal laws, too, that were adopted in response to the Arab League's boycott of Israel to deter state-sponsored boycotts of Israel. Sanctions on Israel should be off the table.
        The writer, a senior advisor at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, was the U.S. National Security Council's Director for Countering Iranian Weapons of Mass Destruction from 2019 to 2020. (Foreign Policy)

  • The Palestinian leadership's refusal to even consider the U.S. peace plan, despite the considerable political, economic and financial benefits that it offered them, threatens to undermine any possible return to genuine negotiations.
  • Their refusal undermines the commitment by PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat in the name of the Palestinian people, in his September 9, 1993, letter to Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, according to which: "The PLO commits itself to the Middle East peace process, and to a peaceful resolution of the conflict between the two sides, and declares that all outstanding issues relating to permanent status will be resolved through negotiations."
  • The Palestinian refusal should logically have generated considerable international condemnation of the Palestinian leadership. Yet the UN, the EU, international leaders and the international media have refrained from criticizing or condemning the Palestinian refusal to cooperate in a plan intended to restore peace negotiations. To the contrary, they encouraged the Palestinian leadership in its determination to undermine the plan.
  • The international community and specifically the European states, after having turned a blind eye to the Palestinian boycott of the peace plan, are not really in the position to criticize and condemn Israel for considering ways to realize those components of the plan that are ultimately intended to apply to Israel.
  • The Palestinian leadership cannot exercise an indefinite right of veto over peace negotiations. Had they used political wisdom from the start and welcomed the plan as a basis for negotiation, then the issue of the unilateral application of sovereignty by Israel over parts of the West Bank would most likely not have arisen.

    The writer, who served as legal adviser to Israel's Foreign Ministry and as Israel's ambassador to Canada, presently heads the International Law Program and Global Law Forum at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

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