July 6, 2020

In-Depth Issues:

Israel Launches Ofek 16 Reconnaissance Satellite (i24News)
    A new advanced Israeli reconnaissance satellite took off, reached earth orbit, and sent its first data transmissions on Monday, Israel's Defense Ministry announced.
    Ofek 16 was launched on a Shavit rocket manufactured by Israel Aerospace Industries.
    Defense Minister Benny Gantz stressed that technological and intelligence advantage was crucial for Israel's security and that only 12 other countries were capable of launching satellites.

Iran Registers Another Victory in Iraq - Yoni Ben Menachem (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
    Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi has caved to the threats of pro-Iranian militias and on June 29, 2020, allowed the release of 14 terrorist operatives who launched rocket attacks on U.S. targets in the country.
    Kadhimi had promised Americans a month ago in the first round of Iraqi-U.S. strategic talks to stop the attacks on U.S. military in Iraq.
    As soon as they were freed, the 14 went to the center of Baghdad to celebrate, where they trampled images of Kadhimi and set fire to Israeli and U.S. flags.
    The obvious conclusion is that the pro-Iranian militias can effectively veto any political decision that they do not approve.

Iran's Support of Proxies in Iraq Disrupted by Coronavirus and Sanctions (Reuters)
    Iran's financial support for Shi'ite proxy paramilitary groups in Iraq has been drastically cut in recent months, said three Iraqi paramilitary group commanders.
    Since the coronavirus hit earlier this year, Iran has reduced its monthly payments to each of the four top militia groups in Iraq to $2-3 million from $4.5-5 million.

Israel Appoints First Bedouin Ambassador - Lahav Harkov (Jerusalem Post)
    The Foreign Ministry on Sunday appointed Ishmael Khaldi as Israel's first Bedouin ambassador, to represent the country in Eritrea.
    He previously served as Israel's vice-consul to San Francisco and at Israel's embassy in the UK.

Palestinian Authority Schools Edit Out Christians and Jews from Textbooks - George Goss (Providence)
    76% of Palestinian Christians gave the Palestinian Authority failing marks for how schools teach the history of Christians, according to a recent survey commissioned by The Philos Project.
    Christians are a dwindling minority, accounting for a mere 1% of the Palestinian population in the West Bank and Gaza.
    "The history that we learn [in school] starts with the Islamic conquest of the land. Anything before will focus on the pre-Israelite era," said Khalil Sayegh, a Christian from Gaza and Philos Advocacy Fellow. "This leads to Palestinian Christians looking like foreigners."
    "Crusader," "infidel," and "foreigner" are all epithets Sayegh experienced in grade school.
    In the survey, 43% of Palestinian Christians said that they feel most Muslims do not want them in the land. 2/3 say they have little trust in the PA government; trust in the judiciary peaks at 16%, and confidence in the police stands at 22%.
    See also Public Opinion Poll of Palestinian Christians - 2020 - Khalil Shikaki (Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research)

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Mysterious Explosion and Fire Damage Iranian Nuclear Enrichment Facility at Natanz - David E. Sanger
    A fire at Iran's main nuclear-fuel production site on Thursday caused extensive damage to a factory producing a new generation of centrifuges. A Middle Eastern intelligence official said the blast was caused by an explosive device planted inside the facility at Natanz. A series of unexplained fires have broken out in recent days at other facilities related to the nuclear program. (New York Times)
        See also Iran Admits Serious Damage to Natanz Nuclear Site - Farnaz Fassihi
    A fire at Iran's main nuclear fuel enrichment site caused significant damage, setting back the country's nuclear program by months, the government acknowledged on Sunday. "It's possible that this incident will slow down the development and expansion of advanced centrifuges," Behrouz Kamalvandi, spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, said Sunday. "There were advanced equipment and precision measurement devices at this site that were either destroyed or damaged." A Middle Eastern intelligence official said Israel was responsible for the attack. (New York Times)
        See also Incident at Nuclear Facility a Message to Iran
    Israel's Channel 13 military analyst Alon Ben-David said the explosion at the Natanz nuclear facility has delayed Tehran's efforts to enhance its uranium enrichment capacity. "The facility, where Iran develops its more advanced centrifuges, took a substantial hit; the explosion destroyed the lab. Those were centrifuges that were supposed to be installed underground at the Natanz facility; they were intended to replace the old centrifuges and produce a lot more enriched uranium a lot more quickly."
        Israeli military analyst Ron Ben-Yishai said that by using the new generation of centrifuges, Iran could have acquired a nuclear bomb with staggering speed. "Tehran has received and understood the message.... Stop building new, faster centrifuges and stop developing long-range missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads," he said. (Radio Farda)
  • Explosion Reported at Secret Iranian Nuclear Facility in Parchin - Arie Egozi
    An attack using a "kinetic cyber" weapon caused extensive damage to an important Iranian nuclear facility, Israeli experts said. Sources said a huge blast on Friday destroyed big parts of a secret facility in Parchin associated with Iran's nuclear program. Iranian officials claimed that the blast was caused by a gas leak. The explosion caused heavy damage to the Shahid Bakeri Industrial Group, which makes solid-propellant rockets, according to one analyst. Israel has denied any connection to the explosion in the secret facility. (Breaking Defense)
  • EU Says Iran Has Triggered Nuclear Deal Dispute Mechanism - Lorne Cook
    EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said Friday that he has received a letter from Iran that triggers the dispute mechanism in the 2015 nuclear deal, citing concerns that Britain, France and Germany are not living up to their side of the agreement. On Jan. 15, the European countries triggered the accord's dispute resolution mechanism themselves, but later suspended the action. (AP-Washington Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Coronavirus Cases in Israel Continue to Rise
    As of Monday morning, there are 11,856 active coronavirus cases in Israel, including 89 in serious condition, with 32 who are intubated. 332 people have died. On Sunday, 817 people tested positive for coronavirus. 332 patients are currently being treated in hospital. (Ynet News)
        See also Over 30,000 Israelis Ordered into Quarantine as Coronavirus Digital Tracking Resumes - Josh Breiner
    The Israel Health Ministry sent messages on Thursday and Friday instructing more than 30,000 people to self-quarantine after the Israel Security Agency's digital tracking system reported that they had been in close proximity to confirmed coronavirus patients. The Knesset on Wednesday passed legislation restoring the tracking system. (Ha'aretz)
  • Palestinian Authority Reports 528 New Coronavirus Cases in West Bank - Aaron Boxerman
    The Palestinian Authority Heath Ministry on Saturday reported 528 new coronavirus cases over the past day, making a total of 3,360 currently active cases. The majority of active infections, 2,749, were in the Hebron district. Bethlehem has 238 cases, followed by Nablus with 180. (Times of Israel)
  • Abbas Has Partnered with Hamas - David Horovitz
    At a joint press conference on Thursday, Fatah's Jibril Rajoub and Hamas' Saleh al-Arouri vowed to work together to resist Israeli sovereignty moves and "topple" the U.S. peace proposal. Here was one of PA President Abbas' most senior colleagues, grandly declaring that Fatah was henceforth partnering with Hamas, ready to work in "100% harmony" with an Islamist terror organization committed to the destruction of Israel.
        The media event was a stinging blow to the lingering hopes of those who insistently regard Abbas as a potential peace partner with whom Israel might be able to reach a dependable peace agreement. It was confirmation for the consensus view in Israel that it dare not risk relinquishing adjacent territory to the Palestinians under his rule.
        The Fatah-Hamas pledge of partnership by Rajoub and al-Arouri, who has a $5 million U.S. bounty on his head, was approved in advance by Abbas and it was shown on both PA and Hamas TV. (Times of Israel)
        See also Fatah and Hamas Hold Joint Press Conference - a Qatari Statement of Intentions - Pinhas Inbari (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Palestinians Fire Rockets at Israel from Gaza - Yaniv Kubovich
    Palestinians in Gaza fired three rockets at Israel on Sunday. One rocket was intercepted by Israeli air defense and Israel responded with airstrikes on Hamas targets. It was the third such incident in a month. (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Don't Call It Annexation - Amb. Danny Danon
    The continued use of the term "annexation" effectively denies the Jewish people the right to exercise sovereignty over our homeland and actually makes peace an ever more remote possibility. There is no peace accord between Israel and the Palestinians because the Palestinian Authority leadership refuses to acknowledge the Jewish people's indigenous claim to the Land of Israel.
        The Palestinians contend that the Jews are European colonists and must be expelled, like the British, French, Ottomans, and other colonial powers. Those who use the term "annexation" subscribe, in whole or in part, to this Palestinian narrative. However, as former prime minister Menachem Begin once stated, "You can annex foreign territory. You cannot annex your own country."
        Israel's historical claim to this territory dates back over three millennia. Ever since Moses led the Israelites to the Promised Land after the Exodus from Egypt, Jews have lived and exercised sovereignty in Israel. The return of the Jewish people and the creation of the State of Israel is not a story of a foreign people colonizing a foreign land, but one of a native people reuniting with their brothers and sisters in their ancient homeland. The writer is Israel's ambassador to the UN. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israeli Diplomat: How Is a Failed Palestinian State Good for the Palestinians?
    Israel's former ambassador to the UK, Mark Regev, told the BBC in an interview: "Any peace has to be based on reality. You can have a two-state illusion. It might look nice on a piece of paper but it will never be implemented. A real solution has to take into account the realities on the ground and, first and foremost, you have to build peace on security because we know that peace that can't be defended won't endure. It can't survive."
        "If a future Palestinian state's going to be just another failed Middle Eastern state, if it's going to look like Iraq or Syria or Yemen or Libya - which unfortunately there are signs that is going to be the case - how is that good for peace, how is that good for Israel?
        "More importantly, how is that going to be good for the Palestinians?... Is it a Palestinian state that is peaceful, democratic and one that wants to live with Israel side-by-side, or is it going to be a superior platform to continue the struggle against Israel? These are the questions that have to be asked."  (BBC News)

The Jewish People's Rights - Nadav Shragai (Israel Hayom)
  • A fundamental principle which is so lacking in the current discourse about sovereignty was highlighted by Israeli poet Naomi Shemer writing in Ma'ariv in December 1975.
  • "The Land of Israel belongs to the Jewish people...regardless of conditions or temporary ownership of territory, regardless of the essence of a passing rule or a question such as how many Jews are living in the Land of Israel at any given moment."
  • That, if you will, is the unwritten constitution of the State of Israel, the one that begins with "Go from your country...to the land that I will show you" (Genesis 12:1) and continues on to "the hope that is 2,000 years old" and the genetic code of "If I forget thee, O Jerusalem."
  • Even the League of Nations recognized that genome 100 years ago as "the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine" and "the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country" and the Jewish right to "settle in any place in the west of Palestine, between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea."
  • Security is important but doesn't come before everything else. David Ben-Gurion didn't address the question when he insisted on holding onto far-flung settlements in the Jerusalem hills and in the Negev and the western Galilee.
  • We might be here today because of might, but even before that, because we have a right to be.

    The writer, a fellow of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, has documented Jerusalem for Ha'aretz and Israel Hayom for over thirty years.