June 24, 2020

In-Depth Issues:

Surge in Coronavirus Cases in Israel Continues - Maayan Jaffe-Hoffman (Jerusalem Post)
    The number of new coronavirus patients in Israel surged by 504 on Tuesday.
    Currently, there are 5,335 patients, including 40 in serious condition, 27 of them on ventilators. The death toll is 308.
    The city of Elad and a number of neighborhoods in Tiberias have been designated as restricted zones.

Pro-Israel U.S. Think Tank Supports Jordan Valley Sovereignty - Ron Kampeas (JTA)
    The Jewish Institute for National Security of America (JINSA) is set to publish a study that supports Israel's sovereignty in the Jordan Valley.
    "As a security-focused policy organization, we wanted to look carefully and dispassionately at the issues, and have focused on applying sovereignty to the Jordan Valley, a sparsely populated but strategically important area comprising 15% of the West Bank, and reach a responsible answer to the question of whether the United States should support this move," said Michael Makovsky, JINSA's president.

Massive Explosions after Airstrikes at Army Bases in Syria (RT-Russia)
    Several military bases in central and southern Syria were targeted Tuesday night by air attacks that Damascus has blamed on Israel, Syrian state media have reported.
    Videos on social media show massive explosions illuminating the night. Judging by the volume of explosions, one of the targets appears to be an ammunition depot.
    Targeted locations include Salamiyah and Saburah in Hama province, as well as targets in As-Suwayda and Deir ez-Zor provinces.

Australia Takes a Stand Against Anti-Israel Bias - Evan Zlatkis (Australian Jewish News)
    Jewish communal leaders have lauded the Australian government's stance at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC), after it was the only country to vote against all five anti-Israel resolutions at the UNHRC's recent session.
    The UNHRC has a history of systemic bias against Israel, leading the Australian Mission to the UN to blast its "disproportionate focus."
    "Australia has been consistent in its principled opposition to biased and one-sided resolutions targeting Israel in multilateral forums," the mission said, adding that the resolutions "do nothing to contribute to lasting peace and stability for Israelis and Palestinians."

Lebanese Prosecution Sues Anti-Hizbullah Shiite Cleric for "Meeting Israelis"  (Naharnet-Lebanon)
    The public prosecutor's office in Mount Lebanon on Tuesday filed a lawsuit against anti-Hizbullah Shiite cleric Sayyed Ali al-Amin for "meeting Israeli officials in Bahrain, attacking the resistance and its martyrs on a permanent basis, inciting strife between sects, sowing discord and sedition, and violating the Sharia laws," the National News Agency said.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Iran Ready for Talks if U.S. Apologizes and Compensates Tehran over Nuclear Pact
    Iran would be open to talks with the U.S. if Washington apologizes for exiting the 2015 nuclear deal and compensates Tehran, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Wednesday. Earlier this month, President Donald Trump repeated Washington's call for a new deal with Tehran aimed at putting stricter limits on Tehran's nuclear work, curbing its ballistic missile program, and ending its decades of regional proxy wars. (Reuters-New York Times)
  • The Battle Inside the EU over Israel - Robin Emmott
    A Reuters examination based on internal documents and interviews with more than two dozen diplomats shows there is no clear EU strategy to respond in a meaningful way if Israel applies civilian law to West Bank Jewish communities. An Israeli official noted that Europe and Israel shared many partnerships in various fields and, "in our view, partners should not threaten each other or speak above each other's heads."
        A senior EU diplomat acknowledged that the bloc will almost certainly fail to reach the unanimity required for joint action. A group of at least eight smaller EU states, led by Luxembourg, is attempting to take on Israel. They include Belgium, Ireland, Portugal, Slovenia, Sweden, Malta and Finland, EU diplomats say. Ranged against them are Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Austria, Greece, Latvia, Cyprus and Poland, all of which have shown themselves ready to defend Israel's interests. (Reuters)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Defense Minister Gantz: Israel Will Not Wait for the Palestinians - Yoav Zitun
    Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Tuesday said that though he is willing to enter direct talks with the Palestinians, Israel "will not wait forever," indicating that he could back the application of Israeli civilian law in parts of the West Bank. "The Palestinians continue to reject dialogue. We might have to advance without them," he said. "We won't take Palestinians into our territory, we won't harm human rights or the right of movement, we'll work in coordination with regional countries and we're in contact with them, [and] we won't endanger the peace agreements," he said. (Ynet News)
        Gantz added that the U.S. peace plan is "the first to look at what's happening on the ground in a realistic way....We need to not only manage the conflict but also shape it. We will work to reduce as much as possible the danger of turning the State of Israel into a binational state, while making sure that Israel remains in control of its security."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Palestinian Attacks Israeli Border Police in West Bank Car-Ramming - Yoav Zitun
    A Palestinian man tried to ram his car into Border Police officers at a checkpoint near Abu Dis, outside of Jerusalem, on Tuesday. A Border Police officer was lightly hurt in the incident. The driver was shot and killed. He was named as Ahmad Erekat, 27, a relative of senior PA official Saeb Erekat. (Ynet News)
        See also IDF Soldiers Thwart Palestinians Throwing Firebombs near West Bank Community
    Israel Defense Force soldiers opened fire on a group of Palestinians who were throwing firebombs near the West Bank community of Beit El late Tuesday, wounding one of them, the army said. A second man was arrested after a chase. (Times of Israel)
  • European Parliamentarians Call for Investigation into EU Funding of Palestinian Terror - Donna Rachel Edmunds
    European parliamentarians in Brussels on Tuesday called for a thorough investigation into how European taxpayers' money is ending up in the hands of Palestinian terrorists. During a meeting of the EU Parliamentary Israel Allies Caucus, Itamar Marcus, director of Palestinian Media Watch (PMW), discussed two loopholes in EU anti-terror laws and regulations that allow the funneling of EU money to terror organizations.
        The EU donates hundreds of millions of euros to the Palestinian Authority annually. Approximately 50 million euros each quarter are passed on by the PA to the PLO, which in turn finances organizations such as the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. Marcus said, "The EU is giving money to the PA, which almost every day carries out activities supporting terrorism. If the PA were to conduct such activities in Brussels, the perpetrators would end up in jail."
        Caucus chair Bert-Jan Ruissen, a Dutch MEP, called for a thorough investigation and full implementation of existing EU and international laws prohibiting terror financing, adding, "It is very bizarre that this route is not prohibited."  (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • ISIS in Sinai: A Persistent Threat for Egypt - Allison McManus
    On May 30, ISIS-affiliated militants in northern Sinai carried out an IED attack on an Egyptian military convoy, killing a lieutenant colonel. Two weeks later, militants tortured and killed a Bedouin elder, tying the man to a pole and setting off explosives, the latest in retributive violence against pro-government tribes. Even after nearly six years of sustained activity from the Egyptian Armed Forces, with help from Israeli forces, Wilayat Sinai remains an active threat, claiming 234 attacks in the past 12 months, with nearly 600 civilian and security force casualties.
        While the vast majority of attacks remain concentrated in the eastern Sinai near the Gazan border, this year at least 10 attacks have taken place in the area around Bir al-Abd to the west, on the routes toward the Suez Canal.
        The Egyptian military has enlisted the help of locals in Sinai, providing arms and financial resources. Small, army-backed militias are present across the province, operating alongside the Egyptian military or independently. Ramailat, Sawarka, and Tarabin tribesmen have most visibly and actively supported the military's efforts and have been those most targeted by Wilayat Sinai in retaliation.
        The Multinational Force of Observers in Sinai operates well outside of ISIS' area of operations, particularly since 2016, when it closed its northern outpost and moved its forces south.
        The writer, a senior fellow at the Center for Global Policy, served for six years as the research director for the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy, where she ran the Egypt Security Watch project. (Center for Global Policy)
  • Freeing Terrorists Leads to More Victims - Nadav Shragai
    According to estimates from Israel's defense and security establishment, about half of the 14,000 terrorists whom Israel granted early release over the past 35 years resumed their terrorist activity. Many of the 1,027 who were freed in exchange for captive soldier Gilad Shalit also went on to commit more attacks. Hundreds of Israelis have been murdered and 3,500 wounded in attacks committed by these former prisoners.
        Lt.-Col. (res.) Maurice Hirsch, who until four years ago served as the IDF's chief military prosecutor for Judea and Samaria, said, "The terrorists you release today will sooner or later return to murdering Jews. A lot of the freed terrorists are out there in Gaza or the world, committing terrorism, leading terrorist activity, and up to their necks in terrorism. The entire chain of command of Hamas in Gaza, and this is well known, is comprised of terrorists released in the Shalit deal."
        The Jibril Deal of 1985 freed 1,150 terrorists who became the backbone of the First Intifada. According to a sample the Defense Ministry ran on 238 of those prisoners, 114 were confirmed to have gone back to terrorism. Half or more of the 7,000 terrorists released following the Oslo Accords took part in the Second Intifada. (Israel Hayom)

Don't Buy the "Annexation" Hype - Prof. Eugene Kontorovich (Wall Street Journal)
  • Applying Israeli civilian law to West Bank settlements wouldn't preclude peace or violate Palestinian rights. It is widely described as an Israeli "annexation." But annexation has a precise meaning in international law: the forcible incorporation by one state of the territory of another state.
  • The land to which Israel seeks to apply its laws isn't legally the territory of any other state. Neither the U.S. nor the European Union recognizes the existence of a Palestinian state, and Israel's sovereign claim to the territory is superior to any other country's.
  • Over the past 53 years, Jews have returned to Judea and Samaria, territories from which they had been ethnically cleansed by the Jordanians in 1949. After five decades of Palestinian rejectionism, it is hard to argue that the legal regulation of these communities must remain in limbo until a far-off peace deal is signed.
  • Past peace efforts have been based on the morally repugnant and impractical assumption that the creation of a Palestinian state must be preceded by the expulsion of all Jews from its territory.
  • The application of Israeli law wouldn't affect the treatment of Palestinians. In the West Bank, they would continue to be governed by the Palestinian Authority.
  • The Israeli move may help bring the Palestinians to the table, as it would show Palestinian leaders that turning down negotiations weakens their hand.

    The writer is director of the Center for the Middle East and International Law at George Mason University Scalia Law School.