January 4, 2021

In-Depth Issues:

UAE Said to Nab Iranian Terror Cell that Planned to Target Israelis (Jerusalem Post)
    UAE intelligence agencies have arrested an Iranian squad in Dubai and Abu Dhabi on suspicion of plotting to carry out attacks against Israelis.

New Video: Conspiracies, Jews, and the Jewish State (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
    The Corona conspiracy is the modern version of the ancient blood libel.
    This time it's the Jewish state that stands falsely accused of engineering the Corona pandemic, infecting Palestinians, and spreading the virus in an effort to control the world.
    Combating the new anti-Semitism is not merely an option, it's a moral imperative.
    It takes global leadership, political action, and diplomatic initiative, but most of all it requires moral clarity and courage.

    See also Media Promotes Lie that Israel Denies Vaccine to Palestinians - Lahav Harkov (Jerusalem Post)
    AP, PBS, and the Guardian, among others, have been spreading the libel that Israel is denying the Palestinians Covid-19 vaccines.
    Yet, as the Guardian story admits, the Palestinian Authority has not asked for help from Israel.
    As the Jerusalem Post reported two weeks ago, "The Palestinians do not expect Israel to sell them, or purchase on their behalf, the vaccine from any country....The Palestinians will soon receive nearly four million Russian-made vaccines against Covid-19."

Israel Delivers Second Iron Dome Defense System to U.S. Army - Udi Shaham (Jerusalem Post)
    Israel delivered the second of two Iron Dome Defense System batteries to the U.S. Army over the weekend, the Defense Ministry said on Sunday. The first battery was delivered in September.
    In live-fire tests last month, the Iron Dome system intercepted a cruise missile for the first time.

Report: Where Erdogan Hides His Secret Wealth (Asharq Al-Awsat-UK)
    Turkish President Erdogan has stashed some of his wealth in cash and gold in multiple walk-in vaults he had custom made for the basement of a villa in his family compound in Istanbul, two witnesses told Nordic Monitor.

France Gives $10 Million to Palestinian Group that Promotes Israel Boycott - Cnaan Liphshiz (JTA)
    The French government has allocated $10 million to a Palestinian organization that is a leading promoter of the boycott Israel movement, although promoting that boycott is illegal in France.
    The French Development Agency (AFD) last year gave 8 million euros to the NGO Development Center (NDC), a group behind the 2008 "Palestinian NGO Code of Conduct," which rejects "any normalization activities" with Israel.

Israeli Startups Raised over $900 Million in December (Globes)
    Israeli tech companies, which raised a record $8.3 billion in 2019, raised over $10.6 billion in 2020, including over $900 million in December.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Iran Plans 20 Percent Uranium Enrichment "as Soon as Possible" - Jon Gambrell
    Ali Akbar Salehi, head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, said Saturday his agency plans to enrich uranium up to 20% at its underground Fordo nuclear facility "as soon as possible." The International Atomic Energy Agency acknowledged Iran had informed its inspectors of the decision. (AP-Washington Post)
        See also 20 Percent Enrichment Is a Major Step toward a Nuclear Bomb - Yonah Jeremy Bob
    Although 90% uranium enrichment is required for a nuclear weapon, Israeli intelligence officials and nuclear weapons experts say that the jump from 5% to 20% enrichment is significant because it is harder to get from 5% to 20% than it is to get from 20% to 90%. (Jerusalem Post)
  • U.S. Votes Against UN Budget over "Anti-Israel" Measures, Lack of Iran Action - Adam Shaw
    The U.S. on Thursday voted against the UN's 2021 program budget "that reflects...a shameful legacy of hate, anti-Semitism, and anti-Israel bias," UN Ambassador Kelly Craft said. "We stand by our principles, stand up for what is right, and never accept consensus for consensus' sake." Israel also voted against the budget.
        Reasons for the U.S. vote included funding for an event commemorating the 2001 Durban Declaration and Program of Action (DDPA) which was "poisoned by anti-Semitism and anti-Israel bias." The Bush administration walked out of the 2001 conference.
        Craft also cited the UN's decision not to implement the snapback mechanism of sanctions against Iran after the U.S. triggered the mechanism in August. She noted, "The majority have found themselves in an uncomfortable position of underwriting terrorism, chaos, and conflict. We refuse to be members of that club." The budget was approved by 167-2. The U.S. had asked for a rollcall vote. (Fox News)
  • Hamas Arrests Palestinian for Taking Down Banner of Iran's Soleimani in Gaza - Yaghoub Fazeli
    Hamas on Thursday arrested Majdi al-Maghribi in Gaza for tearing down a banner of slain Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani. Al-Maghribi had urged Gazans in a Facebook post on Wednesday to remove banners of Soleimani and posted a video of himself tearing down the banner. A man filming the torn banner can be heard describing Soleimani as the "killer of Syrians and Iraqis." Several other Soleimani banners have also been taken down and vandalized.
        Israeli military spokesman Avichay Adraee commented on Twitter in Arabic, "A question to the people in Gaza: Do you expect Arabs to sympathize with you and your cause when they see you erecting statues of the killers of Syrians, Iraqis, Yemenis and the Lebanese?"  (Al-Arabiya)
        See also Palestinians View Late Iranian General as War Criminal - Hazem Balousha (Arab News-Saudi Arabia)
        See also Lebanese Decry Hizbullah's Erection of Soleimani Posters, Monuments - Rawad Taha
    The installation of many billboards showing slain Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani in the Hizbullah-controlled areas of Lebanon has sparked criticism by Lebanese who took to social media to protest Iran's influence in the country. (Al-Arabiya)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israeli Woman Seriously Hurt in West Bank Rock Attack - Tovah Lazaroff
    Rivka Teitel, 40, was in serious condition Sunday after being struck in the head by rocks thrown by Palestinians. Two of her children who were in the car were not injured. Israeli soldiers apprehended a number of suspects from the village of Deir Nizam in the West Bank. There were 1,500 rock-throwing incidents by Palestinians towards Israeli vehicles in 2020, the IDF said. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Coronavirus in Israel: Rising Cases amidst Massive Vaccination Campaign
    The Israel Health Ministry said Monday that 5,135 new coronavirus cases were diagnosed on Sunday. 731 patients are in serious condition, of whom 201 are ventilated. The official death toll has reached 3,416.
        At the same time,134,226 people received vaccinations on Sunday. Health Minister Yuli Edelstein said Monday that 1,224,000 Israelis have received the first dose of the shot, including medical personnel as well as over 45% of those over 60, who make up nearly 80% of the serious cases. (Ynet News-Times of Israel-Ha'aretz)
  • IDF Sees Record Number of Israeli Arab Volunteers - Yoav Zitun
    More than 1,000 Israeli Arabs volunteered to serve in the IDF in the past year, more than twice that of previous years, the military's Manpower Directorate said Sunday. They include Muslims from Taibe, Qalansuwa and eastern Jerusalem, Bedouin from the Galilee, and Christian Arabs from the north. 450 new soldiers enlisted as scouts and fighters in the Bedouin patrol unit, while dozens more have joined infantry brigades and others are serving in the Border Police.
        4,000 possible volunteers expressed their interest online in joining the IDF this year. 700 were from Arab countries such as Lebanon and Syria and had to be declined due to security considerations. "We could not believe the demand," the IDF said. This year also saw a new willingness to enlist by Druze in the Golan Heights. (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Vaccination Miracle Brings Israel Back to Its Roots - Daniel Gordis
    At the vaccination station at a large Jerusalem sports arena, a small army of nurses and medical techs injected one person after another with utter efficiency. We were reminded of the old Israel, the Israel that knows how to show our national resilience when facing a mortal enemy.
        This is still a country that when a little kid is crying outside without an adult in obvious proximity, people scoop him or her up and wait for someone to show. These past few weeks have evoked once again that Israel that sees itself as a family.
        I was momentarily confused as we waited the required 15 minutes after the shot, as staff members walked around handing out copies of little booklets: games for children. "What on earth are these for?" I wondered. "There isn't a kid in sight. We're all over 60." And then it struck me, as people happily and gratefully took copies of the booklet - and then asked for another copy or two. The booklets weren't for us - they were for our grandchildren.
        There are still moments here when we recognize that this is not a country like any other. It is a country that was founded to give sanctuary to a particular people that desperately needed it, one that has weathered more in seven decades than most countries do in centuries, and that has produced a sort of familial resilience that can't be replicated anywhere else. The writer is senior vice president at Shalem College in Jerusalem. (Bloomberg)
  • Israeli International Law Experts Challenge ICC on Gaza "Occupation" - Yonah Jeremy Bob
    Israeli Deputy Attorney-General (International Law) Roy Schondorf and IDF International Law Division chief Col. Eran Shamir-Borer have published an article in the journal Iyunei Mishpat (Legal Studies) challenging the International Criminal Court prosecution that says that Israel still illegally occupies Gaza, from which it withdrew in 2005.
        They argue that to be considered an "occupier," a country cannot merely have aspects of functional power over a territory. Rather, it must have at a minimum "effective control," which traditionally has required boots on the ground and, at the very least, involvement in running the day-to-day affairs of the territory and its population. Israel has zero involvement in running affairs in Gaza, which are run by Hamas. When Israel facilitates food, economic and medical aid to Gaza, it is on a voluntary humanitarian basis. (Jerusalem Post)

  • The security challenges that the Moroccans face primarily emanate from the area of the former Spanish colony of the Western Sahara, where an insurgency campaign is being waged by guerrillas from the Polisario front against the Moroccan security forces, with the support of Algeria. Morocco had valid claims to this disputed territory; many tribes in the area had been historically linked to the Moroccan monarchy.
  • It was clear that the Polisario, far from being a national liberation movement deserving global backing, were emerging as an organization linked to the terrorist network Iran had established across the Middle East and Africa. The Western powers did not have to send their air forces to North Africa, but they could deny the Polisario their diplomatic goals.
  • After Syria hosted Iranian proxy forces in large numbers, the U.S. issued a proclamation in March 2019 recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights. After the Polisario decided to work with Iran, an equivalent move of recognizing Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara made perfect sense.
  • It was a strategy that was working. Already Bahrain, Jordan, and the UAE all had spoken about opening up consulates on the territory of the Western Sahara.
  • South Africa's president, Cyril Ramaphosa, distanced his country from Polisario claims. This was significant given the fact that South Africa, besides being the most powerful country in Africa, also held the presidency of the African Union.
  • If the U.S. wished to reinforce political moderation across the region and weaken the axis of extremism, then reinforcing Morocco's position on the Sahara issue was a wise approach to follow.

    The writer, former director-general of the Israel Foreign Ministry and ambassador to the UN, is president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

        See also Morocco Takes Small Steps toward Normalization with Israel
    Morocco is taking slow steps toward normalizing ties with Israel until President-elect Joe Biden determines his stance regarding the sovereignty of Morocco over the Western Sahara, according to Israeli diplomatic sources. Until then, Rabat will limit new moves to reopening its liaison office in Tel Aviv, which was closed in 2000. (Asharq Al-Awsat-UK)

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