June 23, 2020

In-Depth Issues:

Spike in Coronavirus Cases in Israel (Times of Israel)
    377 new Covid-19 cases were confirmed in Israel in the past 24 hours, the biggest daily increase since April, it was reported Tuesday morning.
    There are now 5,127 active coronavirus patients in the country, more than double the number on June 7.
    27 people were on ventilators, and 307 have died.
    See also Coronavirus Spreading Again in Israel - Nathan Jeffay (Times of Israel)
    The peak number of active cases in Israel was 9,808 on April 15.
    While the current spike is dominated by light cases, hospitalizations are climbing. Two weeks ago there were 109 patients in hospital wards, a week ago the figure was 133, and now it is 205.
    See also Where Is the Coronavirus Spreading in Israel? - Maayan Jaffe-Hoffman (Jerusalem Post)
    The cities with the most coronavirus cases discovered in the last three days are Jerusalem (29), Bnei Brak (27), Bat Yam (23), Tel Aviv (23), Petah Tikva (17), Ashdod (15), Haifa (14), Elad (13), and Rahat, Tiberius and Beersheba with eight each.

PA Reports Highest Daily Increase in Coronavirus Cases - Aaron Boxerman (Times of Israel)
    142 new coronavirus cases have been confirmed in the West Bank, the highest single-day increase since the start of the pandemic, Palestinian Authority spokesperson Ibrahim Milhim said Monday.
    Hebron has emerged as the epicenter of the outbreak, registering over 200 cases in the last two days.

India Increases Surveillance on Northern Front with Israeli Heron Drones - Shishir Gupta (Hindustan Times-India)
    After recent fighting on the Indo-Chinese border, India has increased technical drone surveillance of the area.
    While the army has been given clearance at the highest levels to acquire more drones, the Israeli Heron medium-altitude, long-endurance drone currently being used by the National Technical Research Organization (NTRO) is providing technical surveillance of the area.
    India is also looking to acquire armed drones.

Saudi Arabia Drastically Limits Hajj Pilgrimage to Prevent Viral Spread - Ben Hubbard (New York Times)
    Saudi Arabia announced on Monday that the 2020 hajj pilgrimage, scheduled to take place next month, would welcome "very limited numbers" of pilgrims in order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
    Only pilgrims from Saudi Arabia and others who are already inside the kingdom will be able to participate. Last year, 1.86 million pilgrims came from outside Saudi Arabia to perform the hajj.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Saudi Capital under Missile, Drone Attack from Iran-Backed Houthis in Yemen - Farah Elbahrawy
    Saudi Arabia came under a missile and drone attack from Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen that targeted the capital, Riyadh, and other cities, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Monday. The Houthis have attacked the kingdom with missiles and drones multiple times. (Bloomberg)
  • PA Preventing Palestinians from Receiving Medical Treatment outside of Gaza - Hazem Balousha
    More than 2 years ago, the PA decided to stop medical referrals of Gaza patients to Israeli hospitals and their treatment was transferred instead to Palestinian hospitals in Jerusalem and the West Bank. But after President Mahmoud Abbas' decision on May 20 to dissolve all agreements with Israel, Palestinian patients are no longer able to obtain exit permits for treatment outside Gaza, since the Palestinian Authority office responsible for coordinating patient travel with Israel has stopped working. (Arab News-Saudi Arabia)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israeli Envoy Slams UN Human Rights Council's "Systematic Mechanism of Discrimination" - Ariel Kahana
    Israel's Ambassador to UN headquarters in Geneva, Aviva Raz Shechter, on Sunday accused the UN Human Rights Council of unfairly targeting Israel and attempting to foster "institutionalized anti-Semitism" through the notorious Agenda Item 7, the only permanent item on the Council's agenda against a particular country. It requires Israel's record on human rights to be debated in practically every meeting of the council.
        Accusing the UNHRC of aiding and abetting Palestinian recalcitrance in accepting any peace plan, Shechter said: "The United Nations called for the creation of two states in November 1947. The UN resolution was accepted by the Jewish side and rejected by the Arab side. The Arab effort to deny and destroy the Jewish State started immediately - and for some, has never ceased."
        "But the fact is - demonstrated over and over at the UN Human Rights Council and across the UN system - Palestinian leadership and its representatives prefer victimhood to peace, PR stunts to truth, blame games to taking responsibility either for what has been or what could be."  (Israel Hayom)
        See also UN Human Rights Council Adopts 3 Pro-Palestinian Resolutions (Xinhua-China)
  • Israel's National Cyber Directorate Tasked with Protecting Water System after Iranian Hack Attack
    Israel's National Cyber Directorate is taking responsibility for protecting the country's water system after Iran tried to hack the system earlier this year, Channel 12 reported Monday. In addition to the advanced water monitoring systems in place, at the Eshkol water purification site in Beersheba, a dozen aquariums filled with drinking water have several fish swimming around inside. "The control room watches them all the time," said Ortal Shlafman, a water quality engineer, using them as the proverbial canary in the coal mine. (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Iran's Other Nuclear Violations - Editorial
    The media barely noticed, but the world on Friday called out Iran for blocking nuclear inspections unrelated to the 2015 nuclear deal. Iran has been a party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons since 1970. As a signatory, it has committed to use nuclear material and technology only for peaceful purposes - and to cooperate with inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency. On Friday the IAEA board of governors demanded that Tehran provide "prompt access to the locations specified by the Agency."
        "While everyone was staring at the JCPOA [the 2015 deal], new safeguards problems have arisen in a very different lane," U.S. Assistant Secretary for International Security and Nonproliferation Christopher Ford noted. "It is the first time ever by any country anywhere that a government has rejected and refused to comply with its obligations under the IAEA's Additional Protocol."
        France, Germany and the UK introduced the rebuke, which passed 25-2 with seven abstentions. Their role here shows a trans-Atlantic consensus around the nature of the Iranian regime, despite disagreements about how to contain it. The IAEA has often given public cover to Iran's noncompliance and the agency's shift is welcome. The next step should be an IAEA referral to the UN Security Council, and U.S.-Europe cooperation on sanctions. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Palestinian Views on War and Peace with Israel - David Pollock
    In recent years, Palestinians in both Gaza and the West Bank/East Jerusalem have generally become both more pessimistic and less reconciled to the prospect of peace with Israel. In recent years, popular backing for a two-state solution has become a minority view, while in earlier years the division was 60-40 in favor. Messaging from both Fatah and Hamas emphasizes their claim to "all of historic Palestine" - meaning the end of Israel as a separate state.
        At the same time, majorities increasingly say that a two-state solution should not mean the end of conflict with Israel. Rather, 60% would opt to continue the struggle to "liberate all of historic Palestine." The same proportion also says that any compromise with Israel should be only temporary. Moreover, large majorities deny that Jews have any connection or rights to any land in historic Palestine.
        Majorities support specific forms of economic cooperation with Israel even now. Majorities even support resuming negotiations with Israel without preconditions. And they opposed their own governments' diplomatic boycott of Washington and preemptive rejection of the U.S. peace plan. The public is split over continuing bonus payments to prisoners, rather than united behind this policy, as Palestinian officials claim. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)

  • Israel is expected to apply its civilian law to roughly half of Area C of Judea and Samaria (the West Bank), which it governs under a power-sharing agreement made with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) 25 years ago. Area C is where almost half-a-million Israelis reside alongside a much smaller number of Palestinians.
  • After 53 years, military rule of the affected areas will end and residents' needs will be better met under ordinary civilian governance. Residents will no longer be subject to the antiquated mix of Ottoman, Mandatory British, Jordanian and military rules that confound even the simplest transactions.
  • Opponents note that international law forbids annexation justified by conquest of sovereign territory of another state. These critics assume the PLO is a state, though it meets none of the conditions of international law, erase the history of the League of Nations designating the West Bank for a Jewish homeland, pretend the PLO received sovereign title of the West Bank from Jordan's illegal conquest and annexation of the territory in 1948, and misinterpret Israel's application of its civilian law to part of Area C as an attempt to gain sovereignty over another country's territory.
  • A Palestinian state and a peace agreement are still possible, but not inevitable, whether Israel applies its law to part of Area C or not. The Palestinians need to end their maximalism and 11-year boycott of negotiations, stop funding terrorism, accept the right of the Jewish people to their state, and get ready for some hard compromises.
  • If the Palestinians are ready, they will find an Israel that is ready for peace, and a U.S. administration eager to broker the "deal of the century."

    The writer, a professor of law at the University of San Diego and Bar-Ilan University, is a senior fellow at the Kohelet Policy Forum in Jerusalem.