October 26, 2020

In-Depth Issues:

Israel Will Not Oppose U.S. F-35 Sale to UAE - Jacob Magid (Times of Israel)
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced Friday that he would not oppose the U.S. sale of "certain weapon systems" to the UAE, an apparent reference to F-35 stealth fighter jets.
    Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz returned to Israel on Friday from meetings with U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper and briefed Netanyahu on deals reached for the "procurement of advanced weapon systems that will significantly upgrade Israel's military capabilities, maintain its security and its military advantage in the region, as well as its qualitative military edge in the coming decades."

Ceasefire Accord Reached in Libyan Civil War - Nick Cumming-Bruce (New York Times)
    Libya's two main warring factions - the Government of National Accord, based in the capital Tripoli, and the Libyan National Army led by Khalifa Haftar, based in the country's east - signed a permanent cease-fire agreement at the UN in Geneva on Friday.
    It called for the withdrawal of all foreign forces and mercenaries within three months, to be monitored by the UN.
    The latest agreement comes after Haftar's forces were forced to retreat in June from their positions around Tripoli, which they had sought to capture for 15 months.

Hamas Is Very Concerned about Israel's Normalization with Sudan - Yoni Ben-Menachem (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
    In light of Hamas' extensive activity in Sudan in the past, the organization fears that the normalization agreement between Israel and Sudan will tighten Sudanese security officials' monitoring of Hamas operatives in the country.
    Hamas activists still have a presence in the country and are assisted by Muslim Brotherhood activists and opposition figures.

Hamas Uses Secret Cyberwar Base in Turkey to Target Enemies - Anshel Pfeffer (The Times-UK)
    Hamas has set up a secret headquarters in Istanbul for cyberwarfare and counter-intelligence operations, Western intelligence services have learned.
    The unit is directed by Samakh Saraj, a senior Hamas member based in Gaza who reports directly to the movement's leader, Yahya Sinwar.

Hizbullah, Rebel Groups Still Active in Southern Syria - Amos Harel (Ha'aretz)
    An attack last week attributed to Israel was reported on the Syrian border, in the area of Quneitra in the Golan Heights. The attack was aimed at a position being used in tandem by the First Corps of the Syrian army and the local Hizbullah command.
    Despite the return of control of the area to Syrian President Assad in 2018, every month 50 to 60 deaths are recorded in incidents between the Syrian army and local rebel groups.
    The large rebel organizations that operated in the area in the past have been dismantled, but new local organizations have sprung up for self-defense.
    "The truth is that there are no civilians left in southern Syria," says a security source in Israel. "In every home there is heavy weaponry, which is intended for survival, for protecting the family."

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Sudan and Israel Agree to Normalize Ties - Anne Gearan
    Sudan and Israel have agreed to begin normalizing relations, President Trump and leaders of both nations said Friday, marking the third such accord brokered by the White House since August. The deal does not immediately entail full diplomatic relations, but it is an agreement to start discussions over normalization with an initial focus on economic matters. Trump said "at least five" more countries are in line to normalize relations with Israel under U.S. auspices. (Washington Post)
        See also Declaration of Normalization between Israel and Sudan - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
    Prime Minister Netanyahu said Friday: "Today we announce another dramatic breakthrough for peace, another Arab state joining the circle of peace. This time, it is normalization between Israel and Sudan....Today Khartoum has said, 'Yes to peace with Israel, yes to recognition of Israel and yes to normalization with Israel.'...The skies of Sudan are open to Israel today. This allows for direct and shorter flights between Israel and Africa and South America."  (Prime Minister's Office)
        See also U.S. Announces Normalization of Relations between Sudan and Israel (White House)
  • Israel Sees Warming Ties with Sudan as Symbolic Progress in Hostile Region - David M. Halbfinger and Ronen Bergman
    Dore Gold, a former director-general of Israel's foreign ministry with extensive experience in Africa, said that Israel and Sudan now were like-minded in wanting to deny Iran, which he said once had effective control of Port Sudan, a strategic presence in the Red Sea. Beyond that, he said, "I think there's a cumulative impact every time you get another country, especially one of the largest in Africa, both in population and geographic expanse."
        In 1948, troops from Sudan were among the Arab armies Israel fought against in its war of independence, and Sudan sent a contingent of troops to aid Egyptian forces in the 1967 war with Israel. (New York Times)
  • U.S. Jewish Groups Welcome Israel-Sudan Peace Announcement
    "We applaud the beginning of the process of normalizing relations between the State of Israel and the Republic of Sudan, which deserves universal support by all who seek peace in the Middle East," declared the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. "Sudan is the third Arab country to make peace with Israel in the past two months, the significance of which cannot be overstated, as these landmark diplomatic agreements represent the dawn of a new age for the relationship between the Jewish state and the Muslim world."  (Algemeiner)
        See also Egypt's Sisi Welcomes Sudan-Israel Agreement (Al-Ahram-Egypt)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Netanyahu: Reconciliation with the Arab World Will Lead to a Realistic Peace
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the Israeli Cabinet on Sunday: "We have brought three peace agreements in six weeks....There is a change here in the concept that says the only way to reach normalization and peace agreements with the Arab world is to do things that would endanger the security of Israel, would pull us back to the indefensible 1967 lines, would uproot over 100,000 Jews and would divide Jerusalem."
        "I have always believed that there is another way and that way would, in the end, bring us to reconciliation with considerable parts of the Arab world, and in the end, to a change and sobering up among the Palestinians, to making a realistic peace with them - and not a peace that would endanger our very existence."  (Prime Minister's Office)
  • Coronavirus in Israel: Downward Trend Continues
    The Israeli Health Ministry on Monday said it had logged fewer than 1,000 new coronavirus cases over the past two days, continuing a downward trend. Israel has 13,911 active cases, with 506 patients in serious condition, including 206 on ventilators. The death toll has reached 2,397.
        In early October there were 1,700 patients in hospitals, with nearly 900 in serious condition. Now there are 969 people in hospitals. There were 46,370 active cases at the start of lockdown on Sep. 18. (Times of Israel)
  • Israel Extends Multi-Billion Dollar Aid Plan for Israeli-Arab Towns - Aaron Boxerman
    The Israeli Cabinet voted on Sunday to extend by a year a multi-billion dollar program aimed at closing the gaps between Jewish and Arab communities in Israel. The plan, initiated in 2015, allocated $2.96 billion; the extension adds another $500 million. A new five-year-plan is set to be approved for 2022. (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • The Arab-Israeli Peace Cascade - Editorial
    Alumni of the previous U.S. administration were certain that a pro-Israel foreign policy would inflame the Arab world, and that Mideast progress depended on accommodating the regime in Iran. In fact, Israel is the region's chief source of stability and Iran its main source of terror and mayhem. The agreement by Sudan, a country of more than 40 million, to normalize Israel ties shows that the peace cascade goes beyond the Persian Gulf and could extend across the Arab world.
        Arab states still care about the Palestinian cause, but withholding recognition from the Jewish state has yielded little progress on a Palestinian state. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Israel-Sudan Treaty Deals Blow to Iran, Terrorism - Yoav Limor
    Unlike the peace deals with the UAE and Bahrain, the treaty with Sudan has little to offer from an economic standpoint. Sudan has nothing to export to Israel, and given the state of Khartoum's coffers, it is doubtful whether it can import much from Israel. Some business deals are on the horizon, mostly involving Israeli technologies in water, agriculture and food, to help bring Sudan into the 21st century.
        The peace deal with Sudan goes beyond having declarative importance. Diplomatically, one less country will vote against Israel in international organizations and forums, and will no longer join efforts impose boycotts or sanctions on the Jewish state.
        From an Arab-Muslim standpoint, the accord means another dent in the wall of opposition Israel faces in the Arab world. Sudan has now become the fifth Arab nation to recognize Israel.
        Behind the scenes, a diplomatic battle is now being waged for Qatar's allegiances: The U.S. and Israel are trying to mediate rapprochement between Qatar and Saudi Arabia in an effort to pull Doha away from the radical Islamist axis, headed by Turkey. (Israel Hayom)
        See also Israel to Send $5 Million of Wheat to Sudan (AFP-Al Arabiya)
  • Paris Realizes Threat of Muslim Brotherhood
    Until recently, France has been reluctant to deal with the radicalization of Muslims in the country. However, after the beheading of French teacher Samuel Paty, murdered for showing cartoons of the prophet Mohammed, the country seems to be recalculating its position.
        "Every time there was a terror attack, they were afraid to articulate the words: 'Islamic terror,' preferring to phrase it differently," said former Israeli ambassador to France Avi Pazner. "Youths frustrated with their lack of integration...started attending Islamic centers and mosques that have been offering them quite a different solution to their problems." That "solution" was political Islam, disseminated by the Muslim Brotherhood.
        In July, the French Senate produced a detailed report where it defined the Muslim Brotherhood as "the number one enemy of France" and suggested shutting down their most radical mosques, charities, sports clubs, and cultural centers. France has documented dozens of examples proving that Qatar has been injecting millions of dollars into the Muslim Brotherhood's mosques and centers which have now become a hub of incitement. (Sputnik-Russia)

U.S. Assistance to the Palestinians Was "a Bridge to Nowhere" - U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman interviewed by Felice Friedson (Medialine)
  • "For some odd reason, prior administrations decided to indulge Palestinian fantasies about what could happen that were totally out of touch with reality."
  • "I spent most of yesterday in closed door meetings, with [U.S. Treasury] Secretary Mnuchin, Prime Minister Netanyahu, [and] the finance minister of the United Arab Emirates....I'm in the room and I'm seeing people that really, really want to advance the ball as far as it will go.....They were almost...tripping over each other to come up with more and more ideas about what could be done. The sky is truly the limit, and it's fun to watch, because...we don't need to police this or oversee it; they're doing that on their own."
  • "I think the Palestinians are sort of in one of those final stages of denial. It's hard to watch. It's completely self-defeating. There was a leadership problem. There was significant corruption at the top....I've traveled with Prime Minister Netanyahu to the United States. I've been on his plane a few times....He flies like a regular commercial passenger. And Mahmoud Abbas, where the Palestinian GDP per capita is maybe 1/15th that of Israel, he flies around in a $75 million Boeing business jet....You've got a lot of concentration of wealth among the upper elite and a lot of people are really unhappy about it."
  • "America has provided the Palestinians with more financial, humanitarian assistance per capita than any other place in the world by far. And we have given more money to the Palestinians compared to any other nation by a power of at least five compared to every other country. So, we've got nothing to apologize for in terms of our assistance to the Palestinians....It is a bridge to nowhere. The Palestinians want to take, but they're not willing to really engage in a serious way."
  • "We want to help the Palestinian people. By the way, the State of Israel wants to help the Palestinian people. It is in Israel's interest for the Palestinian people to be healthy, to be prosperous, to have hope and optimism about their lives....Enough of the histrionics. Enough of the tantrums. Just sit down and have civilized discussions on serious issues and there'll be progress."

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