October 5, 2020

In-Depth Issues:

Israel Warns Advanced Cruise Missiles Could Fall into Hands of Armed Groups (Asharq Al-Awsat-UK)
    Israeli military leaders expressed concern on Sunday over the development of advanced cruise missiles that can fly at supersonic speeds, which can fall into the hands of armed groups.
    "The greatest fear comes from the proven fact that nearly all weapons that are made in China eventually end up in the Middle East," they said.

Israel's Newest Spy Satellite Declared Operational - Judah Ari Gross (Times of Israel)
    Israel's newest spy satellite, Ofek-16, was declared operational on Sunday, three months after it was launched into orbit from Israel, the Defense Ministry said.
    The satellite itself was manufactured by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), and the Shavit launcher missile was produced by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems.
    "Our network of satellites lets us watch the entire Middle East - and even a bit more than that," said Shlomi Sudari, the head of IAI's space program.

Israeli Professor Develops Fast Home Corona Test - Gali Weinreb (Globes)
    A miniaturized polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing device from Visby Medical, established in the U.S. by Israeli Prof. Adam de la Zerda, can accurately identify any bacterium or virus including the coronavirus.
    De la Zerda found a way to speed up the test and also miniaturize it to fit a personal handheld device.
    The test takes only half an hour to provide a negative result and is performed on the spot.
    Last week, the company received FDA approval for its Covid-19 test, and it hopes to receive similar approval soon for STD tests.
    The device is now moving into mass production.
    See also Israel Seeks Local Production of Fast Covid-19 Test Kits - Hagar Ravet (Calcalist)
    Hundreds of Visby Medical's Covid-19 test kits will arrive in Israel next week.
    They will first be used to test parliament members before they enter the Knesset and test laborers at the crossings before they enter Israel for employment.
    Minister of Science and Technology Yizhar Shai is seeking to reach an agreement to manufacture the kits in Israel.
    The cost of a single kit is currently $50, but local manufacturing will reduce this significantly.

MSNBC Corrects Report on Settlements, Oslo Accords (CAMERA)
    CAMERA on Friday prompted corrections at MSNBC after a "Morning Joe" broadcast contained basic factual errors.
    MSNBC's Keir Simmons stated on Sep. 28: "Over the past two decades over 600,000 Jewish settlers have built communities in parts of east Jerusalem and the West Bank, land promised to the Palestinians for a future state."
    But those disputed lands were not "promised" to a future Palestinian state, not in the Oslo Accords or anywhere else.
    As for 600,000 settlers building communities "over the past two decades" - this, too, is wrong.
    In fact, Israel has built only one new settlement in the last two decades.
    MSNBC concurred that corrections were necessary on both points.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Three Sudanese Political Groups Call to Normalize Relations with Israel
    Mubarak al-Faled, leader of the Umma Party, Abu al-Qasim Imam, chairman of the Sudan Liberation Movement - the Second Revolution, and Hameed Mohamed Hamid, a leading member of the Eastern Front, held a joint press conference in Khartoum on Wednesday to announce their position in favor of normalization with Israel. (Sudan Tribune)
        See also Sudanese General: "We Need Israel"
    Gen. Mohamed Hamdan Dogolo, deputy chairman of the Sovereign Council of Sudan, told Sudan24 on Friday: "Israel is a developed country. The whole world is working with Israel...for development, for agriculture - we need Israel." He said his country would likely establish ties with Jerusalem in the near future, "but it will be relations, not normalization."  (i24News)
  • Iranian Security Forces Expand Local Presence to Deter Dissent - Kyra Rauschenbach
    The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC)'s provincial guard deployed new Basij patrol teams throughout Tehran and Arab-majority Khuzestan province to preempt public gatherings in September following the execution of famous wrestler Navid Afkari for his participation in nationwide protests in November 2019. (American Enterprise Institute)
  • Germany Returns Artworks Looted by Nazis to French Jewish Family
    The German government Wednesday handed three works of art stolen during the Nazi occupation of France back to descendants of their original owner, Jewish lawyer Armand Dorville. They are among hundreds of looted items logged for return to owners or their descendants by German-Austrian collector Cornelius Gurlitt, who died in 2014. The Nazis engaged his father Hildebrand to sell items either stolen or confiscated from Jewish owners. (France 24)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel Posts Record Number of Covid-19 Hospitalizations - Yaron Druckman
    The Israel Health Ministry reported Sunday evening that 1,668 Covid-19 patients are receiving treatment in hospitals. 890 patients are in serious condition, among them 215 on ventilators. The death toll has reached 1,707. At the same time, the number of active cases dropped to 69,248. (Ynet News)
  • Turkey's Erdogan: "Jerusalem Is Our City" - Tobias Siegal
    President Erdogan told the Turkish parliament Thursday that "Jerusalem is our city," referring to the Ottoman Empire's rule, which lasted four centuries (1517-1917). "In this city, which we had to leave in tears during the First World War, it is still possible to come across traces of the Ottoman resistance. So Jerusalem is our city, a city from us." He noted that Jerusalem's walls that still stand today, as well as the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount, were restored by Ottoman Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent (1520-1566). (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Israel: Turkey Has Become a Destabilizing Force in the Middle East
    Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Sunday described Turkey and Iran as "denying promotion of peace and supporting regional aggression." Citing Turkey's actions in northern Syria and the Eastern Mediterranean, as well as its Libya intervention and contacts with Hamas, Gantz told a Zoom conference organized by the Arab Council for Regional Integration: "All of this pushes away from stability."  (Israel Hayom)
  • IDF: Video of Beirut "Workshop" Proves It's a Hizbullah Missile Factory - Judah Ari Gross
    The Israel Defense Forces on Friday countered a Hizbullah claim that a Beirut factory identified by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a missile production site was a civilian workshop, identifying the machinery in the facility as needed for the production of precision-guided munitions. In a video from a Hizbullah-led tour of the site, machines are shown that can be used to make engine casings, warheads, navigation parts, stabilizing fins, and engine parts.
        The IDF named the manager of the site as Hizbullah member Muhammad Kamil Fuad Rimal, 32. "He was active in the unit manufacturing precision-guided missiles in cooperation with Iranian forces. As part of his role, he visited Iran a number of times," the IDF said. (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • How Support for Israel Is an American Security Interest - Lahav Harkov
    Dr. Dore Gold, president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and former director-general of the Israeli Foreign Ministry, noted that the U.S. embassy move to Jerusalem and American efforts to have other countries follow suit "ultimately served American interests, because it shows that when America makes a commitment, it follows through."
        Gold recounted that the administration of George H.W. Bush pushed very hard in 1991, with "American diplomats operating 24/7," for the UN General Assembly to rescind the resolution that "Zionism is racism." Israel had recently adhered to the American request not to get involved in the Gulf War, and the U.S. saw it as a "natural security interest to make sure a reciprocal move would be made."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • A Brave New Dawn in Arab-Israeli Relations - Khalaf Ahmad Al-Habtoor
    Some of my fellow Arabs, who have no solution as to how to better the lives of Palestinians, instead prefer to hang on to the same old rhetoric and unrealistic scenarios that belong in the mid-20th century. I have been a supporter of the Palestinians all my life, but I'm a realist. I cannot remain stuck in some fantasyland and neither do I wait indefinitely for miracles.
        Like it or not, Israel exists as an economic powerhouse under the unwavering protective umbrella of the U.S. To imagine that boycotting Israeli goods will force the collapse of the state is infantile. The Palestinians, who still insist on the right of return for refugees who are in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and elsewhere, know full well that is never going to happen.
        There are 2 million Palestinians who have Israeli nationality. Most take pride in their Arab heritage, yet are content to call themselves Arab Israelis. It is beyond time for the Palestinians to quit blaming everyone else for the situation they find themselves in today.
        I would urge all Arab leaderships to bury old hatreds that have consumed their foreign policies for 72 years without bearing fruit. Join us in forging a peaceful Middle East, with new and exciting opportunities for all. The writer is a prominent UAE businessman and public figure. (Arab News-Saudi Arabia)
  • Erdogan's Plan to Take Over the Palestinian Authority - Khaled Abu Toameh
    On Sep. 21, PA President Abbas phoned Turkish President Erdogan and requested that Turkey send observers to monitor Palestinian elections. Abbas' request surprised many Palestinians and Arabs, especially in the wake of charges that Erdogan had forged the 2018 presidential and parliamentary elections in Turkey. Abbas, it seems, is confident that Erdogan's observers would rubber-stamp the results of any Palestinian election to ensure that the PA president emerges victorious.
        Yet if Erdogan is going to send Turkish observers to monitor the Palestinian elections, it is because he would like to help his friends in Hamas win the vote. By inviting Turkey to monitor the elections, Abbas is playing into the hands of Erdogan and Hamas. (Gatestone Institute)

A New Middle East, This Time for Real - U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman interviewed by Michael Tuchfeld and Hodaya Karish Hazoni (Makor Rishon-Hebrew, 2Oct2020)

U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman said in an interview published Friday:
  • "Before the Trump plan was presented, there was no meaning to the phrase ['two-state solution']. The perception was that a Palestinian state would be a threat to Israel, to Jordan and to the entire world."
  • "The plan that we published...grants the possibility of a Palestinian state only if they agree to cease terror and incitement, create the infrastructure for advancing human rights and freedom of religion, agree to have no army, accept Israel as a Jewish state, abandon the claim of a right of return for the refugees, and agree to live within borders in which all of the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria belong to the State of Israel."
  • "If all of these conditions are fulfilled, there will be a two-state solution.... We defined the two-state solution in a way that now has meaning."
  • Regarding the suspension of moves to extend Israeli law in parts of Judea and Samaria, Friedman said: "The U.S. came to the conclusion that a better opportunity for Israel had presented itself....We were all advancing in the direction of extending Israeli sovereignty, that was the direction. That is what the plan says; that is what we thought we were about to do."
  • "Later we all saw the opportunity for normalization, not just with the Emirates and Bahrain, but with additional nations. We all concluded that this was a unique opportunity with advantages for Israel, the U.S., the Arabs, and the world - and that we would prefer this option."
  • "I think the correct way to look at this is that we walked on the path to recognizing Israeli sovereignty, at least on parts of Judea and Samaria; there were various discussions on exactly which parts. And then we saw another opportunity, and we said, let's go in the direction that has opened up. That is what happened."

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