October 15, 2020

In-Depth Issues:

Majority Support for Ties with Israel in Saudi Arabia, UAE, Jordan and Egypt - Neta Bar and Daniel Siryoti (Israel Hayom)
    According to a survey by U.S.-based Zogby Analytics and reported by Sky News Arabia, 59% of Jordanians and Saudis, along with 58% of Egyptians and 56% of the residents of the UAE, support normalization with Israel.
    61% of Palestinians oppose normalization.

Report: Sudan to Normalize Ties with Israel (i24News)
    The Sudanese Sovereignty Council has decided to normalize the country's ties with Israel, sources close to the Sudanese leadership told i24News on Wednesday.
    The prospect of normalizing ties with Israel is apparently backed by the military leadership more than the civilian component on the council.

Facebook Bans Holocaust Denial (Facebook)
    Monika Bickert, Facebook's VP of Content Policy, said Monday: "Today we are updating our hate speech policy to prohibit any content that denies or distorts the Holocaust."
    "We recently banned anti-Semitic stereotypes about the collective power of Jews that often depicts them running the world or its major institutions." 
    See also Twitter to Remove Posts Denying the Holocaust - Kurt Wagner (Bloomberg)
    Twitter will remove posts that deny the Holocaust for violating its hateful conduct policy, according to a company spokeswoman.
    "Attempts to deny or diminish" violent events, including the Holocaust, would be removed based on the company's policy.

Jordan's New Government Indicates a Change in Emphasis - Pinhas Inbari (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
    The new Jordanian prime minister, Dr. Bisher Khasawneh, sworn in on Oct. 12, who was the king's political adviser, has reportedly held extensive talks with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman over the past six months.
    It was also reported that he has a close connection to Jared Kushner, President Trump's Middle East Peace Plan architect, as well as special ties to Egyptian President al-Sisi.
    In Saudi Arabia, the government has begun the evacuation of 20,000 people from the al-Huwaytat tribe from territory along the Red Sea coast in Hijaz province to construct NEOM, Prince Mohammed bin Salman's ambitious plan for a future city based on hi-tech and tourism.
    Human rights advocates claim the evacuation so far has been abusive and violent.
    The al-Huwaytat tribe is a large tribe that established the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan with the help of Great Britain.
    Today, members of the tribe in Jordan are worried about the fate of their brothers in Hijaz.
    In presenting his government, Prime Minister Khasawneh laid out 12 planks for his government's platform. The Palestinian issue and the "Hashemite Custodianship of Jerusalem's Islamic and Christian holy sites" were only the 11th item.
    The writer, a veteran Arab affairs correspondent, is a fellow at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

Follow the Jerusalem Center on:

U.S., Israeli F-35s in 3rd Joint Exercise in 2020 (Israeli Air Force)
    On Monday, the "Enduring Lightning 3" exercise took place between Israeli and U.S. F-35 fighter jets.
    The IAF's "Red Squadron," that specializes in enemy simulation, took part in the exercise as aggressors.
    See also Exercise Brings Together U.S., Israeli Air Forces (U.S. Air Force)
    The opportunity to once again train alongside the IAF provides an immeasurable experience for the U.S. F-35s, said Lt.-Col. Stephen Redmond, commander of the 421st EFS squadron that operates the F-35A Lightning II.
    "Our young officers...build relationships with Israeli fighter pilots that they will keep for the duration of their careers."

PA Grand Mufti: Islamic Law Requires Muslims to Wage Jihad Against Israel - Nan Jacques Zilberdik and Itamar Marcus (Palestinian Media Watch)
    The Palestinian Authority-appointed Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Muhammad Hussein, told official PA TV on Sep. 18, 2020:
    "The texts clearly say that if an inch of the Muslims' lands [i.e., including all of Israel] is stolen, Jihad becomes a personal religious commandment for everyone who is capable of it. This is the Shari'ah law."

Hizbullah Networks in Venezuela - Joseph M. Humire (Atlantic Council)
    Hizbullah has helped to turn Venezuela into a hub for the convergence of transnational organized crime and international terrorism.
    Hizbullah operates clandestine networks of clans in Venezuela with financiers, fixers, and facilitators connected to the Maduro regime.

Search the Recent History of Israel and the Middle East

Send the Daily Alert to a Friend
    If you are viewing the email version of the Daily Alert and want to share it with friends, please click Forward in your email program and enter their address.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Israel Has "No Illusions" on Maritime Border Talks with Lebanon - Bilal Hussein
    Lebanon and Israel began indirect talks Wednesday at a UN post along the border over their disputed maritime boundary, with American officials mediating. They each claim 860 sq. km. of the Mediterranean Sea as being within their own exclusive economic zones.
        "We have no illusions. Our aim is not to create here some kind of normalization or some kind of peace process," said a senior official with Israel's energy ministry. "Our aim is very strict and limited and therefore hopefully achievable."  (AP)
        See also Lebanese Team Refuses to Talk to Israelis in Maritime Border Negotiations - Lahav Harkov (Jerusalem Post)
  • Two Americans Held Hostage by Iran-Backed Forces in Yemen Freed in Trade - Dion Nissenbaum
    Two Americans held hostage by Iran-backed Houthi militants in Yemen were freed on Wednesday as part of a U.S.-backed trade that returned 240 Houthi loyalists stuck in Oman. The deal secured freedom for Sandra Loli, an American humanitarian worker, and Mikael Gidada, a U.S. businessman. The pact also included the return of the remains of Bilal Fateen, a third American.
        Saudi officials said they reluctantly backed the deal, since it would permit three dozen Houthi militants trained on advanced drones and missiles to return to the battle zone. (Wall Street Journal)
  • U.S. Rebukes Turkey for "Calculated Provocation" in Eastern Mediterranean - Laura Kelly
    "The United States deplores Turkey's October 11 announcement of renewed Turkish survey activity in areas over which Greece asserts jurisdiction in the Eastern Mediterranean," State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said Tuesday. "We urge Turkey to end this calculated provocation" against NATO ally Greece. (The Hill)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • IDF Destroys Two Syrian Outposts in Demilitarized Zone - Tobias Siegal
    In a secret operation last week, IDF Special Forces crossed the border into the demilitarized zone between Israel and Syria and destroyed two outposts belonging to the Syrian army without being detected, N12 reported Tuesday. According to the 1974 disengagement agreement between Israel and Syria, only UN forces may operate in the zone. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Two IDF Soldiers Injured in West Bank - Judah Ari Gross
    Two Israeli soldiers were injured when an explosive device was thrown at them during an arrest raid in the Balata neighborhood of Nablus in the West Bank on Tuesday night. (Times of Israel)
  • Coronavirus in Israel: Number of Seriously Ill Has Dropped - Yaron Drukman
    The Israel Health Ministry on Thursday said that only 1,994 new coronavirus cases were confirmed on Wednesday, but the number of patients on ventilators rose to 253. Three weeks ago, daily infections were above 8,000. The number of seriously ill has dropped to 734, while the death toll has reached 2,099. There are currently 43,939 active cases.
        Israel has been under lockdown since mid-September. On Thursday, coronavirus czar Prof. Ronni Gamzu told Army Radio: "We appear to be reaching our goals and would be able to begin lifting some restrictions next week."  (Ynet News)
  • Israel Slams Elections to UN Human Rights Council - Jacob Magid
    After the UN General Assembly elected several countries widely criticized for their human rights records to the UN Human Rights Council - including China, Russia, Cuba and Pakistan, Israeli UN Ambassador Gilad Erdan said Tuesday, "Today's Human Rights Council elections prove once again that this council has nothing to do with protecting human rights and everything to do with violating them."
        "Since 2006, the council has adopted 90 resolutions condemning Israel - more than all the resolutions against Syria, North Korea and Iran, combined. The obsessive focus on Israel, along with its protection of oppressive, dictatorial regimes, shows that the Human Rights Council is in the business of white-washing the crimes of these countries."  (Times of Israel)
  • Palestinian Support for Two-State Solution Drops to 39 Percent - Tovah Lazaroff
    Palestinian support for the two-state solution has hit a nine-year low, dropping to 39% in the aftermath of the Israeli-UAE normalization deal, pollster Khalil Shikaki said Monday. In 2011, 55% of Palestinians favored two states; a decade earlier, support was over 70%. Support for a one-state solution has increased to its highest point - 37%. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Palestinians View Israel's Normalization with Gulf States as Major Regional Shift - Dr. Khalil Shikaki
    A poll conducted in the West Bank and Gaza on 9-12 September 2020 found that 63% of Palestinians view the normalization agreement between the UAE and Israel as a major event that represents a significant regional shift. 70% believe other Arab countries will sign similar agreements with Israel. 82% believe that Saudi Arabia will sign a similar agreement.
        62% oppose the restoration of security coordination with Israel, but 50% support the restoration of civil and fiscal coordination. 63% do not believe the PA has in fact ended security coordination with Israel. 54% in the West Bank and 74% in Gaza want President Abbas to resign. (Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Corruption, Not Sanctions, Is Causing Medicine Shortages in Iran - Alireza Nader
    Iranian President Hassan Rouhani says new U.S. sanctions are part of a deliberate U.S. effort to cause shortages of food and medicine. Yet Health Minister Saeed Namaki explained that shortages are due to selling drugs on the black market, "hoarding medicines in warehouses, and distributing counterfeit drugs." The health minister also blasted "a highly complicated network" within the government responsible for systemic corruption and theft, including the hoarding of "millions of antiviral masks."
        In 2019, Rouhani's chief of staff admitted that more than $1 billion reserved for the import of medicine and essential goods had just "disappeared."  The writer is a senior fellow at FDD. (Foundation for Defense of Democracies)
  • Saudi Media Softens Tone on Normalization with Israel - Sarah Dadouch
    While Saudi Arabia has yet to comment officially on normalizing relations with Israel, last month the kingdom's English-language Arab News published an editorial welcoming the UAE's new ties with Israel. Last week, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the longest-serving Saudi ambassador to Washington, was also sharply critical of Palestinian leaders in an interview with Al-Arabiya.
        Elham Fakhro, a senior gulf analyst at the International Crisis Group, said the Saudi media is sending a clear signal about the country's position on normalization with Israel. "Overwhelmingly, the tone of the media was celebratory of the agreement." He added that the influential imam of Mecca's Grand Mosque has spoken recently about prophet Muhammad's friendly relations with Jews. "There is a concerted policy from the Saudi state to transform local perceptions of both Judaism and the State of Israel, possibly to pave the way for a future agreement," Fakhro said. (Washington Post)
  • Gulf Arabs Weary of Protesting for Palestine - Yaroslav Trofimov
    The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has long played a role in excusing injustices in Arab societies. This helps explain why many young people, especially in the Gulf states, are tired of sacrificing their interests to it.
        In the decade since the Arab Spring uprisings began in 2010, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been just one conflagration among many in the region, often overshadowed by far bloodier tragedies in Syria, Yemen and Libya. Former Jordanian foreign minister Marwan Muasher said: "The Arab Spring has meant that the Arab public and the Arab governments are more concerned about their domestic situation than they are with the Palestinian issue."
        Fawaz Gerges of the London School of Economics said: "Many Arab states, in particular in the Gulf, view Iran and Turkey as representing an existential threat - and certainly a greater threat to their interests than Israel."  (Wall Street Journal)
  • Lebanese Journalists: Lebanon Must Advance toward Peace with Israel
    In two recent articles on Saudi media, Lebanese journalists urged their country to follow the example of the UAE and Bahrain and advance towards peace with Israel. Shi'ite Lebanese journalist Nadim Koteich wrote a column titled "When Will There Be Peace between Israel and Lebanon?" in Asharq Al-Awsat on Sep. 15, saying that the only thing preventing peace between Lebanon and Israel is Hizbullah, whose survival depends on perpetuating the conflict with Israel.
        Writing in Al-Arabiya, Lebanese journalist Makram Rabah focused on the economic losses that may be inflicted on Lebanon by Israel's peace agreement with the UAE. While the Gulf states previously hired Lebanese experts to provide various services, now they may turn to Israelis instead. Stating that many Lebanese secretly long for peace with Israel, he concluded that "Beirut's refusal to readjust its policy toward Israel is neither smart nor constructive, and claiming neutrality while actually serving as a pawn in Iran's regional strategy is a losing game."  (MEMRI)
  • Abraham Accords Make BDS Look Out of Touch - Luke Akehurst
    The Abraham Accords are about Israel and Arab countries building peace together because it gives them the opportunity to improve prosperity and everyday life for everyone in the region. With key Arab states now formally embracing trade and diplomatic deals with Israel, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel looks ridiculous and out of touch with the reality of the region.
        The UAE and Bahrain are predominantly Muslim societies. This deal proves Israel can have good relationships with Muslim countries. The language about the mutual heritage of the three Abrahamic religions acknowledges that Jews are indigenous to the Middle East. The deal shows that beyond Palestinian intransigence, the rest of the Arab world has moved to seeing Israel as a permanent feature in the region. The writer is director of We Believe in Israel in the UK. (Jewish News-UK)

  • Weekend Features

  • Israeli Drone Company Plans Aerial-Supply Networks - Yaakov Lappin
    Israeli UAV producer Gadfin is the first company to receive an Israeli Civil Aviation Authority permit for urban airspace deliveries. It will initially offer hospitals, laboratories and a range of organizations the ability to send and receive supplies via drone, skipping over congested roads and reducing risk to sensitive, refrigerated packages.
        Gadfin's "Spirit One" drone can take packages weighing up to 15 kg. across 250 km. The aircraft are operated autonomously with almost no human intervention. It takes off vertically like a UAV before folding out wings and flying like a plane, and can stand up to strong winds.
        Gadfin CEO Eyal Regev, a former senior manager at Israel Aerospace Industries, foresees its use in providing essential services in remote Third World locations. In Africa, the needs include the ability to quickly transport basic medical supplies such as blood donations. "We are in touch with huge companies in Southeast Asia, including in Indonesia, which wants to connect its array of 13,000 islands," said Regev.
        In September, Gadfin announced an agreement with Italian energy giant ENEL to develop powerline inspection solutions and enable drone surveys of 800,000 km. of the company's voltage lines, starting in Brazil. (JNS)
  • The Egyptian Spy that Saved Israel in 1973 - Yossi Melman
    On Oct. 13, 1973, an Egyptian army officer working for Israeli intelligence transmitted a report that enabled the Israel Defense Forces to repulse a major Egyptian attack in Sinai and to prevent Israel's defeat in the Yom Kippur War. According to the report, the next day (Oct. 14) the Egyptian army would launch a massive new attack in order to advance its forces along the entire length of the front, beyond the line of the Sinai passes (Gidi and Mitla), in order to capture additional territory and to destroy as many IDF forces as possible.
        Based on this information, the IDF prepared in time, waited for the attack and then crushed a large part of the Egyptian force. On Oct. 14, the second largest tank battle in history was fought, with the participation of 1,500 tanks from both sides. The IDF repulsed the attack and the Egyptian Army lost 250 tanks in a single day. The success of the operation paved the way to the Israeli counterattack that led to the crossing of the Suez Canal and the end of the war. (Ha'aretz)
  • Yad Vashem Honors German Pastor for Standing Up for Jews - Christoph Strack
    Pastor Julius von Jan, 41, chose not to look away in silence when a wave of pogroms across Germany left hundreds of Jews dead on November 9, 1938 - Kristallnacht. The first concentration camps were in operation and the persecution of the Jews was systematic.
        Eight days after the pogroms, the Protestant pastor in Oberlenningen delivered a sermon saying that "temples that were holy have been burned down with impunity, strangers' property robbed or destroyed, men who loyally served our German nation and faithfully did their duty have been thrown into concentration camps just because they were members of another race!"
        Now, 82 years on from those words, Israel is honoring Julius von Jan as "Righteous Among the Nations" - one of the few non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews from Nazi persecution. His son, Richard von Jan, 86, accepted the honor on behalf of his father.
        The Protestant Church, which did not stand behind him in his resistance to persecution, did prevent him from being sent to a concentration camp. But von Jan was removed from his post as a pastor and was no longer allowed to show his face in Oberlenningen. He was beaten up and thrown into prison before later being sent to the Eastern Front, but survived the war and returned to again serve as pastor in the town. (Deutsche Welle-Germany)

Iran's "Breakout" Ability More Dangerous than Before - Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Iran keeps breaching its JCPOA commitments, attempting to secure the capability to produce enough enriched uranium for a nuclear device within a very short time.
  • News reports based on a restricted IAEA document extensively describe Iran's experimentation and development of advanced centrifuges of various types for uranium enrichment. One news account refers to Iran's intention to install, for the first time, advanced centrifuges that are now operating in the Pilot Fuel Enrichment Plant (PFEP) in Natanz, in underground enrichment Hall B.
  • The Chairman of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran declared on September 13, 2020, that his organization "activated an enrichment wing in the Fordow nuclear facility...in line with steps to reduce its commitments to the nuclear deal."
  • The amount of enriched uranium in Iran's possession and its current enrichment capacity will allow it to enrich the uranium to military grade and produce fissile material for two nuclear explosive devices.
  • All this is happening as Iran continues to develop long-range missiles that will allow it to launch nuclear weapons not only against Israel but also against targets in Europe.

    The writer, former head of the research division of IDF Military Intelligence, is a senior fellow at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.
Support Daily Alert
Daily Alert is the work of a team of expert analysts who find the most important and timely articles from around the world on Israel, the Middle East and U.S. policy. No wonder it is read by heads of government, leading journalists, and thousands of people who want to stay on top of the news. To continue to provide this service, Daily Alert requires your support. Please take a moment to click here and make your contribution through the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

Daily Alert is published every Monday and Thursday.
Unsubscribe from Daily Alert.