June 18, 2020

In-Depth Issues:

Jordanian Official: We Won't Damage Security Ties with Israel for Palestinians - Daniel Siryoti (Israel Hayom)
    A senior Jordanian official in Amman told Israel Hayom on Wednesday: "The Palestinian interest is obviously important to us, but what's more acute from our perspective is Jordan's national and security interest."
    "Any framework that will keep the Palestinians in the West Bank and not create a geographical connection between the independent Palestinian state and the Hashemite Kingdom is acceptable to us."
    "We won't accept the presence of an international military force on Jordan's western border and certainly won't accept the presence of a Palestinian military force responsible for safeguarding the kingdom's western border."
    "This is also the reason for our objection in the past to the diplomatic initiative spearheaded by Secretary of State John Kerry during the Obama administration, who wanted to transfer most of the Jordan Valley to the Palestinians, and proposed various and odd technological tools to preserve Jordan and Israel's security interests."
    "From the perspective of the Jordanian security interest, we prefer an IDF presence west of the kingdom in the Jordan Valley over any other alternative."
    "We have no interest or intention of damaging our security relations with Israel on behalf of the Palestinians."
    "I don't see that any Arab leader is ruining relations with the Trump administration for the Palestinians."

Turkish Jews Badly Hit by Coronavirus - Dean Shmuel Elmas (Israel Hayom)
    15 members of the Turkish Jewish community, which now numbers 17,000, have died from the coronavirus pandemic, a death rate 16 times higher than their proportion in Turkey's population.

More F-35 Stealth Fighter Jets Headed to Israel - Anna Ahronheim (Jerusalem Post)
    Four F-35i Adir stealth fighter jets will land in Israel in August, with another three arriving in November, bringing the total to 27 out of the 50 on order from the U.S.
    One of the planes will be an experimental F-35i that will act as a testbed for integrating unique Israeli technology.
    The Israel Air Force has used the stealth fighter on operational missions since 2018. "The IAF knows how to use the planes unlike any other air force," a source in the Air Force said Wednesday.
    The jets can operate undetected deep inside enemy territory and evade advanced missile defense systems.
    The plane operates a massive array of sensors and the most advanced electronic warfare capabilities ever put on an aircraft, and it is capable of intercepting airborne threats such as cruise missiles.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Europeans Seek Limited Extension of Iran Arms Embargo - Laurence Norman
    As the U.S. seeks to extend a five-year ban on conventional-arms trade with Iran, set to expire on October 18, European diplomats are trying to forge a compromise by proposing a limited extension of the arms embargo on Tehran. The compromise pursued by French, German and British diplomats aims to constrain enough of the potential arms trade with Iran to satisfy the U.S. while limiting the scope or duration of the arms ban to placate Russia and China, at least to the point where they would abstain in a Security Council vote. The idea is to allow some arms purchases by Iran while keeping key weapons systems out of Tehran's hands. (Wall Street Journal)
        See also U.S.: Any Extension of Iran Arms Embargo Should Be Open-Ended
    The U.S. believes an arms embargo on Iran should be extended indefinitely without a fixed date, Brian Hook, U.S. Special Envoy for Iran, told the Council on Foreign Relations on Tuesday. (Reuters-New York Times)
  • U.S. Hits Syria's Elite with New Economic and Travel Sanctions
    The U.S. State Department on Wednesday sanctioned 39 Syrian individuals, including President Bashar Assad, his wife, Asma, and his inner circle including members of the extended Assad family, senior military leaders and business executives. The penalties also target non-Syrians who do business with them. Asma Assad was described as "one of Syria's most notorious war profiteers."
        Separately, the Treasury Department announced sanctions on 24 individuals, companies and government agencies that "are actively supporting the corrupt reconstruction efforts" of Assad. The sanctions are the result of the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act, named after the pseudonym of a Syrian policeman who turned over photographs of thousands of victims of torture by the Assad government. (AP-New York Times)
        See also Israel Welcomes New U.S. Sanctions on Syria
    Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi welcomed the Caesar Act legislation expanding sanctions on Syria that came into force on Wednesday, saying: "Assad is responsible and accountable for what happens in Syria and must pay a price for the continued presence of Iran and Hizbullah in his country."  (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Coronavirus in Israel: 257 New Cases
    The Israel Health Ministry reported Thursday morning on 257 new Covid-19 cases over the past 24 hours. There are 4,092 active cases, including 148 people being treated at hospitals. The death toll is 303 and 32 people are on ventilators. (Times of Israel)
  • EU Nixes Grant to Palestinian NGO that Refused to Sign Anti-Terror Clause - Raphael Ahren
    The EU for the first time has canceled a grant to a Palestinian nonprofit for refusing to sign a clause that would obligate it to ensure no terrorist organizations benefit from the funded programs. The Badil Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights had secured a 1.7 million euro grant for a project to expose alleged Israeli human rights violations and "international crimes" in Jerusalem. The EU informed the group on Friday that due to its refusal to sign the "General conditions applicable to European Union-financed grant contracts," it was obligated to "consider your application no longer valid." (Times of Israel)
  • Israel Thwarts Weapons Smuggling into Gaza - Anna Ahronheim
    The Israeli Navy and Israel Security Agency thwarted an attempt to smuggle weapons into Gaza from northern Sinai several weeks ago, the IDF Spokesperson said Wednesday. The vessel being used to smuggle weapons was intercepted and two terrorist operatives on board were arrested. One detainee, senior smuggler Mahmoud Bakir, was indicted in the Beersheba District Court on June 4. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Whistleblower Exposes Palestinian Authority Corruption - Yoni Ben Menachem
    On June 11, 2020, the Palestinian Center for Communications news agency and the Hamas-affiliated Shehab News Agency released a video of Yasser Jadallah, former director of President Mahmoud Abbas' Political Department in the PA, who described how funds given to the PA from international organizations were transferred to personal accounts.
        Jadallah claimed that funds listed by the Palestinian Ministry of Finance under the heading "EU assistance and Arab states" were mostly transferred to the Palestinian presidency and from there to secret accounts with fictitious names, including accounts with the names of Abbas' grandchildren.
        Jadallah has sought political asylum in Belgium and said he forwarded all the material he had on PA corruption to the EU and Belgian authorities. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • No Place for Hamas if Palestinians Are to Achieve Statehood - Ray Hanania
    While activists are demanding that the Palestinian Authority and Hamas unite, the fact is there can never be a moment when Palestinians allow Hamas to be an accepted part of a future government. Hamas is a terrorist organization that has used violence not only to kill innocent people because of their religion or their politics, but also to destroy the Oslo Accords and the peace process. Hamas has used violence to undermine any Israeli movement to embrace compromise with the Palestinians.
        Why do the extremists want the conflict to continue? It is because continued conflict fuels the perception of them being leaders. There will never be a Palestinian state as long as some Palestinians continue to cling to the hate and violence of Hamas. And there will never be hope if the advocates of violence are given a voice in a future Palestinian leadership. (Arab News-Saudi Arabia)

  • In 1936, the British government appointed a royal commission of inquiry headed by Lord Peel, which decided to carve this land into two sovereign nations. The Jews agreed in principle, while the Arab side refused again and again. In 1947 the Arab leadership refused the UN partition plan. Then in the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, the Arabs in the land of Israel brought disaster down upon themselves. But things did not have to be that way.
  • In 1944 in a document titled "To our Arab neighbors," then-Etzel leader and future prime minister Menachem Begin portrayed a different possibility. He explained to the Arabs:
  • "We do not see you as an enemy. We want to see you as good neighbors. We did not come to destroy you or expel you from the lands you live on. The land of Israel has enough room for you, your sons and your grandsons and the millions of Jews that have no life but in this land. The Hebrew government will grant you full civil rights. Hebrew and Arabic will be the languages of the land. There will be no discrimination between Arabs and Jews for governmental or public work."
  • "The Muslim holy sites will be overseen by your representatives. The Hebrew government will grant education to all....No more will there be epidemics in our towns and villages. Work pay will be lifted to European standards. Agriculture will be developed. Houses will be built instead of tents. Water and electricity will reach every household. The Hebrew state will be a shared home for all, and peace and understanding will be between it and all independent Arab nations."
  • "If you want, and do not give your ears to agitators, peace and friendship between our two peoples can be eternal. Together we shall build this holy land. Together we shall gain from its fruits and treasures. Together we will develop its agriculture and industry. Together we will forward our sovereign peoples into a world of justice, freedom, wealth and dignity. To our Arab neighbors, we reach our hand out to you in peace and fraternity. Do not reject it!"

    The writer is a veteran Israeli journalist and historian.