February 8, 2021

In-Depth Issues:

Iran Engaged in Undeclared Nuclear Activity, New Evidence by UN Inspectors Shows - Laurence Norman (Wall Street Journal)
    UN inspectors have found new evidence of undeclared nuclear activities in Iran, according to three diplomats.
    Samples taken from two sites during IAEA inspections in the fall contained traces of radioactive material that could indicate Iran has undertaken work on nuclear weapons.
    "The discovery of radioactive material at these sites would indicate that Iran does indeed have undeclared nuclear material, despite its denials," said David Albright, a former weapons inspector and president of the Institute for Science and International Security in Washington.

Report: Ethiopia Arrests Iranian Cell Planning Attack on UAE Embassy (Times of Israel)
    Israel's Channel 11 reported Thursday that Ethiopian authorities have arrested 16 suspects who were planning an attack against the United Arab Emirates embassy in Addis Ababa.
    Israeli officials said Iran was behind the attempt. The Iranian cell also planned an attack against the UAE embassy in Sudan.

U.S. to End Support for Offensive Operations in Yemen (White House)
    President Biden on Thursday outlined his foreign policy plans at the State Department, saying: "We are ending all American support for offensive operations in the war in Yemen, including relevant arms sales."
    "At the same time, Saudi Arabia faces missile attacks, UAV strikes, and other threats from Iranian-supplied forces in multiple countries. We're going to continue to support and help Saudi Arabia defend its sovereignty and its territorial integrity and its people."
    See also U.S. Reverses Terrorist Designation for Iran-Backed Houthis in Yemen - Andrew Jose (Daily Caller)
    The U.S. will revoke the terrorist designation of the Iran-backed Houthi militia in Yemen, the Biden administration announced Friday.
    The official name of the Houthi movement is Ansar Allah, whose slogan in Arabic reads: "Death to America! Death to Israel! A curse upon the Jews! Victory for Islam!"

U.S. Moves to Rejoin UN Human Rights Council - Katie Rogers (New York Times)
    The Biden administration will move on Monday to rejoin the UN Human Rights Council, nearly three years after President Trump withdrew the U.S. from it, a senior State Department official said on Sunday.
    The official said, "We know that the council has the potential to be an important forum for those fighting tyranny and injustice around the world. By being present at the table, we seek to reform it and ensure it can live up to that potential."
    Last week, 40 members of the House of Representatives urged Biden to rethink rejoining, saying the council was "disproportionately targeting" Israel over other members.
    "Israel is the only country to be a permanent item on the council's agenda," the letter read. "This past year, the 43rd Human Rights Council Session adopted five resolutions condemning Israel, and only one each targeting Iran, Syria and North Korea."

Sudan Hosts Forum to Support Normalization with Israel - Bahram Abdel Moneim (Anadolu-Turkey)
    A forum was held in Khartoum on Saturday to support the normalization of relations between Sudan and Israel.
    Organizers said the aim was to "enhance tolerance and social peace in Sudan, promote national and human values, and call for peaceful coexistence."

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. Senate Votes 97-3 to Keep U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem - Ron Kampeas
    The U.S. Senate on Thursday voted 97-3 to keep the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem. The three opposing votes were Senators Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Tom Carper (D-Del.). (JTA)
  • ICC Rules It Has Jurisdiction to Examine Possible Israel War Crimes - Isabel Kershner
    The International Criminal Court on Friday determined that it has jurisdiction over the territories occupied by Israel in 1967, despite Israel's insistence to the contrary, opening the way for an inquiry into allegations of Israeli, and Palestinian, war crimes in the region. The ruling came six years after the office of the court's chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, began a preliminary investigation of Israeli actions in the territories, including the Gaza war of 2014.
        Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, "The court ignores real war crimes and instead persecutes the State of Israel, a state with a firm democratic regime, which sanctifies the rule of law, and is not a member of the court." He later accused the court of "pure anti-Semitism" while it "refuses to investigate brutal dictatorships like Iran and Syria, who commit horrific atrocities almost daily."  (New York Times)
        See also Text: Decision of the ICC on the "Situation in the State of Palestine" (ICC)
        See also Text: Judge Peter Kovacs' Partly Dissenting Opinion on the ICC Ruling (ICC)
        See also below Observations: Israel Rejects the ICC Decision regarding Its Jurisdiction on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
  • U.S. Opposes International Criminal Court Attempts to Affirm Territorial Jurisdiction over the Palestinian Situation
    State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said Friday: "The International Criminal Court (ICC) issued a decision claiming jurisdiction in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza....As we made clear when the Palestinians purported to join the Rome Statute in 2015, we do not believe the Palestinians qualify as a sovereign state, and therefore are not qualified to obtain membership as a state, or participate as a state in international organizations, entities, or conferences, including the ICC."
        "We have serious concerns about the ICC's attempts to exercise its jurisdiction over Israeli personnel. The United States has always taken the position that the court's jurisdiction should be reserved for countries that consent to it, or that are referred by the UN Security Council."  (U.S. State Department)
  • Canada Does Not Recognize a Palestinian State or Its Accession to the International Criminal Court
    Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs Marc Garneau said Sunday: "The creation of a Palestinian state can only be achieved through direct negotiations between the parties. Until such negotiations succeed, Canada's longstanding position remains that it does not recognize a Palestinian state and therefore does not recognize its accession to international treaties, including the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court."  (Government of Canada)
  • Jewish Leaders Denounce ICC Ruling
    The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations said on Saturday night: "We reject the unjustified assertion of jurisdiction by judges at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in cases brought by the Palestinian Authority. This politically and ideologically motivated attempt by the ICC to impose itself into matters that are well beyond its mandate violates its purpose, distorts international law, and undermines its own legitimacy as an unbiased judicial forum."
        "The Palestinian Authority has further obstructed the path to peace by continuing to flout the agreed upon basis for negotiations. In appealing to the ICC, Palestinian leaders are attempting to dictate a political end through judicial means and thereby avoid negotiations."  (Conference of Presidents)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Coronavirus in Israel: New Cases Decline - Yaron Druckman
    The Israel Health Ministry said Monday there were 4,557 new Covid-19 cases diagnosed on Sunday. 1,102 patients are in serious condition, of whom 300 are ventilated. The number of hospitalized patients aged 49 and under continues to increase, and now stands at 174 - 16.9% of all hospitalizations. (Ynet News)
        See also 69 Percent of 60+ in Israel Have Been Fully Vaccinated
    According to Israel Health Ministry data released Sunday, 92.8% of those 60 and over have either received the first vaccine dose or had been infected and recovered from Covid-19. Some 69% of those 60 and over received the second dose more than a week ago, effectively making them immune to the virus. (Times of Israel)
  • Israel Approves $9 Billion Purchase of Aircraft, Arms from U.S.
    An Israeli ministerial committee on Sunday approved a major arms deal with the U.S. to supply the Israeli Air Force with F-35 and F-16 fighter jets, troop-carrying helicopters, refueling planes and arms to the tune of $9 billion. Much of the funding will come from U.S. aid to Israel, but the deal will necessitate loans from American banks, the interest of which will cost the Israeli government $60 million. (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • The International Criminal Court's Flawed Decision to Recognize ICC Jurisdiction over the Territories - Alan Baker
    It is both tragic and ironic that the State of Israel, one of the founding fathers of the vision of creating an independent International Criminal Court after the unimaginable atrocities committed against the Jewish People during the Holocaust, has now become the target of that very court, based on Palestinian political manipulation.
        Using legal acrobatics, the majority of judges of the Pre-Trial Chamber insist on attributing elements of statehood and sovereignty to a Palestinian entity that is distinctly, and by all international standards, not a state. Such entity has no sovereign territory, and thus, even according to the Statute of the ICC, cannot be the subject of the Court's jurisdiction. The Palestinians have absolutely no standing in the court and the decision defies all legal logic.
        What was intended to be an apolitical juridical body, devoid of political pressure and influence, has now permitted itself to become one more Israel-bashing body at the disposal of those elements in the international community seeking to undermine Israel's legitimacy.
        The writer, former legal adviser and deputy director-general of Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, heads the International Law Program at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. (Times of Israel)
  • ICC Investigation into Israeli "War Crimes" an Immoral Decision - Editorial
    The International Criminal Court at The Hague made a terrible decision on Friday in announcing that it had legal justification to open a war crimes investigation against Israel. What makes the court's decision ridiculous is that it puts Israel on equal footing with terrorist groups like Hamas and Islamic Jihad. These groups intentionally target civilians with rockets, while Israel acts to defend itself.
        The restraint Israel has shown over the years in the face of these rocket attacks should be applauded, not undermined with an immoral war crimes charge. Moreover, building homes in Shiloh or Beit El - the cradle of the Jewish people - is not a war crime. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Implications of the ICC Ruling for Israel - Maayan Jaffe-Hoffman
    Israel Democracy Institute vice president of research Prof. Yuval Shany responded to the ICC ruling that it has jurisdiction to investigate Israelis for actions in Gaza, the West Bank and east Jerusalem. "We have a long way to go before the investigations mature into indictments against specific individuals and arrest warrants. By then the prosecution will also have to formulate a position on whether IDF internal investigations are sufficient to prevent the prosecution of soldiers." Citing a similar ICC case involving the actions of British soldiers in Iraq, he said it was likely that the IDF's own investigations "will prevent proceedings against IDF soldiers."  (Jerusalem Post)
        See also On the Decision by the ICC in The Hague - Prof. Yuval Shany (Israel Democracy Institute)
  • U.S. Should Hold the ICC and Palestinian Leaders Accountable - David Milstein
    The Feb. 5 ruling of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to open an investigation focused on false allegations of Israeli "war crimes" is the latest development in the Palestinian Authority's diplomatic lawfare campaign against Israel. In response, Washington should take action to impose consequences on the ICC and the Palestinian leadership.
        The previous U.S. administration had asserted that "any attempt by the ICC to investigate, arrest, detain or prosecute any United States personnel without the consent of the United States, or of personnel of countries that are United States allies and who are not parties to the Rome Statute or have not otherwise consented to ICC jurisdiction, constitutes an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States." It imposed sanctions on ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda for launching an illegitimate investigation into alleged "war crimes" by U.S. forces in Afghanistan.
        The PLO office in Washington was closed in compliance with the law that prohibits a PLO office unless the president can certify that the Palestinian leadership is not supporting ICC actions against Israel. Unfortunately, the new administration is working to amend the law that a PLO office in Washington would provide jurisdiction for U.S. courts to hold the PLO and PA accountable in cases where they have already been found liable for supporting terrorism against U.S. citizens. Congress should not change the law and stand with American victims of Palestinian terrorism.
        The writer served as Special Assistant to the U.S. Ambassador to Israel. (JNS)

  • Israel rejects the decision of the International Criminal Court (ICC) on jurisdiction in the Palestinian case. Israel is not a Party to the ICC and has not consented to its jurisdiction.
  • Only sovereign States can delegate jurisdiction to the Court, and there is not, nor has there ever been, a Palestinian state.
  • The Court in The Hague was established to confront mass atrocities that deeply shock the conscience of humanity; not to pursue democratic states with independent and effective legal systems.
  • By this decision, the Court has violated its mandate and allowed itself to be dragged into a political conflict, making misguided determinations on issues over which it has no authority, and which the parties themselves have agreed must be resolved by direct negotiations.
  • With this decision, the Court has contributed to the polarization between the parties, distancing them further from the very dialogue that is so necessary to resolve the conflict between them.
  • This unwarranted intervention by a foreign court effectively rewards the Palestinian refusal to return to negotiations, plays into the hands of extremists, and turns the Court into a tool of anti-Israel propaganda.

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