August 5, 2021

In-Depth Issues:

Tanker Crew Foiled Hijack Attempt by Iran's Commandos - David Rose (The Times-UK)
    Iranian navy commandos stormed the Asphalt Princess in the Arabian Sea on Tuesday and tried to divert it to Iran but were thwarted after the crew disabled the ship's engines.
    A source told The Times that a squad of heavily armed Iranians boarded the ship near the Strait of Hormuz but fled when U.S. and Omani warships approached the stricken vessel.

Iranian Petroleum Products Will Arrive in Lebanon Soon - Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Dr. Shimon Shapira (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
    Hizbullah representatives are currently in Tehran to complete discussions on transferring gasoline and diesel from Iran to Lebanon, in light of the Lebanese government's inability to resolve the country's fuel crisis.
    Hizbullah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah recently revealed that Hizbullah "will go to Iran...buy vessels full of petrol and fuel oil and bring them to Beirut port."
    The collapse of the Lebanese economy and paralysis of vital sectors of the country will thus lead to the breaking of sanctions imposed on the import of petroleum products from Iran.
    The writer, a senior researcher at the Jerusalem Center, served as military secretary to the prime minister.

Senator's Hold on U.S. Funding to Palestinians Remains in Place - Adam Lucente (Al-Monitor)
    Sen. Jim Risch of Idaho, the Ranking Member (senior Republican) on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has vowed to continue holding up $75 million in U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority because it provides payments to families of individuals who kill Israelis.
    "As long as there is any question that additional funds could fall into the hands of terrorists through Palestine's 'pay to slay' program, Senator Risch will exercise his right to hold them," a spokesperson said Thursday.
    President Biden restored U.S. funding to the Palestinians in April, after funding had been cut by the previous administration.
    A Senate "hold" is an informal practice whereby a senator can express opposition to an executive action, a request typically honored by the Senate majority leader.

PA, Qatar Reach Agreement on Transfer of Funds to Gaza (TPS-Ynet News)
    The Palestinian Authority and Qatar have reached an agreement on the transfer of Qatari aid money to Gaza, after Hamas accepted the involvement of the PA in the transfer process.
    The transfers include assistance to 100,000 beneficiaries from poor families as well as to 27,695 Hamas administration officials.

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Global Covid Death Toll a Million Higher than Reported, Israeli Study Finds - Nathan Jeffay (Times of Israel)
    Hebrew University researchers studied death rates in half the countries of the world to learn how much higher deaths were during the corona pandemic compared to previous years.
    In Russia, there were 110,000 confirmed coronavirus deaths, but there were 500,000 excess deaths.
    In Belarus there were 390 virus deaths but 5,700 excess deaths, and in Nicaragua there were 140 virus deaths but 7,000 excess deaths. In many countries, numbers are impacted by a lack of testing capacity.
    In the U.S., there were 590,000 virus deaths and 640,000 excess deaths.
    Israel is one of the few countries where the number of excess deaths is smaller than the number of recorded Covid-19 deaths: 5,000 versus 6,477.
    This may be because lockdowns and social distancing meant that influenza was hardly existent in Israel, though in a normal year it causes 2,000 deaths.

Israeli Blood Test Tells Covid Patients Their Chance of Deterioration - Nathan Jeffay (Times of Israel)
    The MeMed Covid-19 severity test, made in Israel, tells coronavirus-infected people within 15 minutes how likely they are to deteriorate to serious illness. The results are 86% accurate.
    The technology hinges on research the company has been conducting for a decade, tracking what specific protein levels in the blood indicate about the prospects for certain health conditions.
    An earlier "sniffles" test tells doctors whether a child has a bacterial infection that needs antibiotics or a viral infection that just needs chicken soup.

Tokyo Police Using Israeli Surveillance Balloons to Help Secure Olympic Games (JNS)
    SkyStar 180 tactical surveillance balloons are in use by Tokyo Police to help secure the Olympic games, the Israeli manufacturer RT announced last week.
    The systems are positioned at several locations, about 150 meters above the ground.
    High-quality video is transmitted in real time to the Tokyo Police command center.

Israel to Open New Haifa Port in September - Zev Stub (Jerusalem Post)
    Israel's new Gulf Port of Haifa will begin operations on September 1 after 15 years of construction.
    "The opening of the Gulf port will revolutionize the entire economy. It is the newest port in the world, with the latest in port technology," said Yitzhak Blumenthal, CEO of the Israel Ports Company.
    Another new port in Ashdod is expected to be completed later this year. The openings come at a time when Israel's ports have been severely backed up.

Intel Israel Appoints Arab Vice President - Luke Tress (Times of Israel)
    Reda Masarwa, an Israeli Arab, has been appointed as a vice president of Intel Israel, the company announced.
    Masarwa, a graduate of Ben-Gurion University, has worked for Intel for 24 years, managing the construction of Intel chip plants, heading a team of 150 Intel engineers, and supervising over 2,000 engineers from outside the company.

Chinese University to Open Branch in Israel for Business Administration (Xinhua-China)
    China's University of International Business and Economics (UIBE) in Beijing will open a branch in Israel for undergraduate studies in business administration, Israel's Council for Higher Education (CHE) said.
    The university will open in Petah Tikva starting in October.
    Yediot Ahronot reported that Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Matan Vilnai, former Israeli ambassador to China, has been appointed president of the university branch.

Israel Has Doubled Its Share in the Gaming Industry - James Spiro (Calcalist)
    Google Israel's managing director, Barak Regev, said, "Pre-pandemic, around 6% of the global downloads [for the gaming industry] were attributed to Israeli gaming studios. Post-pandemic...we've doubled our market share - 12% of global downloads are attributed to gaming studios out of Israel. That's phenomenal."
    Mobile gaming makes up "a dominant" portion of the industry, with millions of people playing billions of hours of games on mobile devices.

Israeli Startups Raised $2.4 Billion in July (Globes)
    Israeli startups raised $2.4 billion in July 2021, the fifth consecutive month that Israeli startups raised $2 billion or more.
    Israeli tech companies have raised $14.3 billion in the first seven months of 2021, nearly 50% more than the record $10 billion raised in all of 2020.

Fitch Reaffirms Israel's A+ Rating - Guy Ben Simon (Globes)
    Fitch Ratings has affirmed Israel's long-term rating at "A+" with a stable outlook.
    After Israel's economy contracted 2.6% in 2020 due to the Covid crisis, the agency forecasts 5.1% growth in 2021 and 5.7% growth in 2022.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Israel Briefs Foreign Ambassadors on Iranian Drone Attack - Shira Rubin
    Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid met Wednesday with ambassadors of UN Security Council countries and provided detailed intelligence information proving that Iran struck an Israeli-operated oil tanker near Oman on July 29. (Washington Post)
        See also Israel Names Iran Revolutionary Guards UAV Commander as Responsible for Ship Attack
    Israeli Minister of Defense Benny Gantz told ambassadors of UN Security Council member countries on Wednesday: "Amir Ali Hajizadeh, Commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp's Air Force, is behind dozens of terror attacks in the region employing UAVs and missiles....The man who is directly responsible for the launch of suicide UAVs - his name is Saeed Ara Jani and he is the Head of the IRGC's UAV Command. The UAV Command conducted the attack on the Mercer Street. Saeed Ara Jani plans and provides the training and equipment to conduct terror attacks in the region."
        "Iran is responsible for dozens of terror attacks across the Middle East, while controlling its proxies in Yemen, Iraq and additional countries. Iran has violated all of the guidelines set in the JCPOA and is only around 10 weeks away from acquiring weapons-grade materials necessary for a nuclear weapon....It is time for diplomatic, economic and even military deeds - otherwise the attacks will continue. The Iranian people are not our enemy. The Iranian regime is threatening us and sparking a regional arms race."
        Foreign Minister Yair Lapid added: "This is an attack on the world's trade routes; this is an attack on freedom of movement. This is an international crime. So my question to you is: What is the international community going to do about it? Is there still such a thing as international law? And does the world have the ability and willpower to enforce the law? If the answer is 'yes,' the world should act now."  (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
  • UK Military Chief: "We Have Got to Restore Deterrence" Against Iran - Deborah Haynes
    After an Iranian attack on a tanker killed British security guard Adrian Underwood, Gen. Sir Nick Carter, the UK's military chief, told BBC Radio 4, "What we need to be doing fundamentally is calling out Iran for very reckless behavior. They made a big mistake on the attack they did against the Mercer Street vessel last week because, of course, that has very much internationalized the state of play in the Gulf."
        "Ultimately, we have got to restore deterrence because it is behavior like that which leads to escalation, and that could very easily lead to miscalculation and that would be very disastrous for all the peoples of the Gulf and the international community."  (Sky News-UK)
  • France Adopts New Laws to Combat Terrorism - Aurelien Breeden
    French lawmakers last month adopted two new laws to strengthen the government's ability to fight terrorism and Islamist extremism. One law gives France's security services more tools to keep track of suspected terrorists and surveil them online. The other aims to combat extremist ideas in French society by toughening conditions for home-schooling, tightening rules for associations seeking state subsidies, and giving authorities new powers to close places of worship seen as condoning hateful or violent ideas.
        "We are giving ourselves the means to fight against those who misuse religion to attack the values of the Republic," said Gerald Darmanin, France's interior minister. One article of the new law, added after the decapitation of a schoolteacher after videos criticizing him widely circulated on social media, criminalizes the act of publishing someone's private information online if there is clear intent to put them in harm's way. (New York Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel Calls on Security Council to Condemn, Sanction Iran over Strike on Tanker - Jacob Magid
    Israel's Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan on Tuesday called on the Security Council to condemn and sanction Iran in the wake of last week's deadly drone attack on a ship with ties to Israel off the coast of Oman. "The Security Council should not sit idly by in the face of such violations by Iran or by the terrorist organizations throughout the region that serve as its proxies," Erdan wrote to the Security Council president. "I call upon the Security Council to address this string of attacks with great urgency and unequivocally condemn and sanction Iran for these malign activities."  (Times of Israel)
  • Three Rockets Fired at Israel from Lebanon - Adi Hashmonai
    Three rockets were fired from Lebanon toward Israel on Wednesday, with two landing in Israeli territory. The IDF responded with artillery fire at Lebanese targets. Israel believes that Palestinians, not Hizbullah, were responsible. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Israel Air Force Strikes Lebanon Launch Sites after Rocket Fire - Yoav Zitun
    The Israel Air Force hit launch sites in south Lebanon early Thursday in response to rocket fire on northern Israel, in the first airstrikes targeting Lebanon in years, the IDF said. (Ynet News)
  • Israel Contends with Delta Variant of Coronavirus - Ido Efrati
    Israel recorded 3,430 new Covid-19 cases on Wednesday, while the number of people in serious condition climbed to 250 - the highest since mid-April, Israel's Health Ministry reported Thursday. There were 25,747 active cases, with the highest numbers reported in Netanya and greater Tel Aviv. (Ha'aretz-Israel Health Ministry)
        See also Israel to Require Travelers from U.S. to Quarantine - Shira Rubin
    Israel announced Tuesday it would require both vaccinated and unvaccinated Americans to quarantine for a week upon arrival to Israel, effective Aug. 11. (Washington Post)
  • Israel Supreme Court Offers "Protected Status" to Palestinians Facing Eviction in Jerusalem - Tovah Lazaroff
    Israel's Supreme Court on Monday encouraged four Palestinian families in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in eastern Jerusalem to accept a compromise deal that would nullify eviction orders and allow them to remain in their homes. As part of the deal, one member of each family would be granted lifetime protected tenancy on the property in exchange for annual rental payments of NIS 1,500 ($465).
        Judge Yitzhak Amit said, "We recommend it precisely because...you do not want anyone to be thrown out of their home." The families' previous refusal to pay a minimal amount of rent had led to the decision by two lower courts to evict them. There are an additional 24 families in their neighborhood who are in the midst of similar legal battles. The Israeli Nahalat Shimon Company owns the property that belonged to Jews prior to Israel's independence in 1948. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Israel Asks U.S. to Encourage Palestinians to Accept Jerusalem Property Compromise - Ben Samuels
    Israeli officials have asked the Biden administration to support the compromise suggested Monday by Israel's Supreme Court in the high-profile property case in eastern Jerusalem's Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood. "The compromise presented by the justices is good for the Palestinian residents at the site and could get them down from their tree," an Israeli diplomatic source said.
        Another Israeli source said the White House realizes that the decision is not in the hands of Israeli politicians but rather the judiciary, which he said is "independent."  (Ha'aretz)
  • New Israeli Budget Promises over $9 Billion for Arab Sector - Daniel Sonnenfeld
    On Aug. 2, the Israeli Cabinet approved a draft state budget containing $9.19 billion intended for Israel's minorities. $6.7 billion is dedicated to the next five-year plan for the Arab sector, compared with $3.3 billion in the last five-year plan approved in 2016. In addition, $780 million will be directed at fighting crime and violence in the Arab sector, as Israeli Arab politicians have sought. The Bedouin population will receive $1.6 billion, while $930 million will be directed at the Druze and Circassian minorities.
        Dr. Salim Brake, an expert on Arab society in Israel who teaches at the Open University, said, "This plan is unprecedented, and if it is realized, it will make a major difference for the Arab population." The new plan is intended to close the gaps in education, employment and financial prosperity. (Media Line)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:

    Ben & Jerry's Israel Boycott

  • An Open Letter to the Board of Directors of Ben and Jerry's - Amb. Alan Baker
    Your decision to end business in "Occupied Palestinian Territory" is based on what you perceive to be the notion that "a majority of the international community, including the United Nations, deems to be an illegal occupation." But this premise is patently inaccurate since it relies on non-obligatory UN General Assembly resolutions adopted by an automatic and political majority that cannot claim to determine the legality or illegality of Israel's presence in the territory.
        Your decision ignores the fact that the Palestinians themselves and Israel have agreed in the internationally-sanctioned Oslo Accords to divide the governance of the territories between them, pending completion of their mutual negotiation on the permanent status of the territories. Thus, your reasoning for ending business in these areas is based on a false premise and runs counter to the Palestinians' own wishes and legal obligations in the Oslo Accords.
        The writer, former legal counsel to Israel's foreign ministry and former ambassador to Canada, heads the international law program at the Jerusalem Center. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Unilever's Letter on Ben and Jerry's BDS Activity - Richard Goldberg, Orde Kittrie, and David May
    Unilever CEO Alan Jope sent a letter to major Jewish organizations in the U.S. and UK on July 27, 2021, in an effort to defend the company's decision to terminate its Ben & Jerry's licensee in Israel in a manner consistent with the global boycott (BDS) campaign to isolate the Jewish state. While Unilever wants to blame the Ben & Jerry's "independent Board," Unilever reportedly is the sole shareholder and owner of Ben & Jerry's and made a conscious choice to implement a boycott of Israel.
        U.S. federal law defines the "boycott of, divestment from, and sanctions against Israel" to include actions that "are politically motivated and are intended to penalize or otherwise limit commercial relations specifically with Israel or persons doing business in Israel or in any territory controlled by Israel." The Ben & Jerry's decision also violates the laws of the State of Israel: The Prohibition of Discrimination in Products Law and the prohibition of boycotting various areas of the country.
        The decision also might run afoul of 33 U.S. state anti-boycott laws, resolutions, and executive orders. Unless Unilever reverses its decision, the company will likely be added to state-based prohibited company lists in the months ahead. (Foundation for Defense of Democracies )
  • Ben and Jerry's Decision Is Anti-Semitic - Alan Dershowitz
    Ben & Jerry's continues to sell their products in many of the most repressive countries in the world - countries that murder dissidents, imprison journalists, enslave women, exploit children and occupy other people's land. So why does it single out only parts of Israel and the disputed territories for a boycott? Thomas Friedman, a frequent critic of Israel, put it very well: "Singling out Israel for opprobrium and international sanction out of all proportion to any other party in the Middle East is anti-Semitic, and not saying so is dishonest."
        The reality is that no country in the world today that is faced with threats comparable to those faced by Israel can boast a better record of human rights, compliance with the rule of law, and concern for the lives of enemy civilians. Israel's record is far from perfect, but it is better than most and better than any other country in the Middle East. Yet, Ben & Jerry's continues to sell to other countries with far worse records.
        Israel's continuing control over the disputed territory is largely a function of Palestinian refusal to accept generous Israeli offers to end the military occupation that began in 1967. Under international law, military occupations are justified so long as peace is not accepted.
        The writer is a professor emeritus at Harvard Law School. (New York Daily News)

  • Other Issues

  • Israel's Jordan Policy Misrepresented in the Press - Dore Gold
    Anyone who has been in public life can find himself misrepresented in the press, but sometimes there are broader implications. When Fareed Zakaria interviewed Jordan's King Abdullah on CNN on July 25, Zakaria said, "Dore Gold, an influential adviser to prime minister Netanyahu, recently said Jordan needs to start thinking of itself as the Palestinian state." Whether he realized it or not, Zakaria was feeding into a long-held fear in Jordan that Israel was scheming to solve the Palestinian problem at Jordan's expense.
        The problem was that I never uttered the words that were attributed to me. Having been a diplomatic envoy to Jordan in the 1990s, I knew how careful a representative of the Israeli government had to be when it came to this subject.
        The writer is president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also CNN Apologizes for Misquote
    CNN news anchor Fareed Zakaria apologized to Israel's former Foreign Ministry director-general Dr. Dore Gold on Sunday. In discussing the idea that Jordan would become the de-facto Palestine state, Zakaria said, "I said the idea had been recently mentioned by long-time Israeli diplomat Dore Gold. I was wrong. Many have talked about that concept, but not Ambassador Gold. I apologize for that error."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • An Olympic Truce - Hanna Gerber
    As I was flipping through the various Olympic channels, my eye caught the blue and white stripes of the Israeli flag alongside the bright green image of the Saudi Arabian flag. As I watched Israeli athlete Raz Hershko compete against Saudi athlete Tahani Al-Qahtani in judo, I was struck by the significance of the match as these two powerful young women put aside any adverse politics.
        Historically, sports have consistently bridged people of different nationalities, religions, sexes and colors. To this day, sports are used to bring together Israeli and Arab children in an open, neutral and friendly environment. Sports have a way of stripping down biased tendencies and allowing people to connect on a basic person-to-person level.
        The Abraham Accords marked the beginning of a warm peace between two nationalities. Across the Middle East, brave individuals have decided that it is time to start building bridges and connect with people from different religions, countries and races. (Arab News-Saudi Arabia)
        See also Israeli Judoka Lauds "Brave" Saudi Opponent - Rebecca Anne Proctor (Arab News-Saudi Arabia)
  • Is Russia Recalibrating Its Coordination with Israel in Syria? - Anton Mardasov
    Russian media claims of a change in Russian policy regarding Israeli airstrikes in Syria are largely limited to Russian Defense Ministry claims of success in repelling Israeli missiles with Russian-made air defense systems. Israeli security officials said the Russian rhetoric is little more than a tactical ruse and are contradicted by images of targets hit by Israeli missiles in Damascus and Aleppo.
        The real effectiveness of the Russian air defense systems deployed to Syria is relatively low. Russian security blogger Yuri Lyamin told Al-Monitor: "To strike targets deep into Syria's territory, Israel utilizes Lebanese airspace or uses Jordan and eastern Syrian airspace that, for all practical purposes, remains under U.S. control....The IDF's capabilities allow it to deploy attack tactics that overwhelm Syrian air defenses."
        Israel lacks depth for its strategic defenses and therefore needs to adopt preventive measures to limit possible threats. This caution is the reason the Israeli army continues to conduct airstrikes in Syrian territory.
        The writer is an expert at the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC). (Al-Monitor)
  • Why South Africa Is Wrong to Condemn Israel's Observer Status at the African Union - Rowan Polovin
    Israel's inclusion as an observer at the African Union is an important gesture. Israel has diplomatic relations with 46 of the 54 sovereign countries in Africa, including the ground-breaking normalization agreements with Sudan and Morocco in the past year. By opposing the move, South Africa is losing many opportunities to harness Israeli solutions for many of the problems our country faces today, including power generation, water and sanitation. Other African states are actively co-operating with Israel to bring these benefits to millions of poor citizens.
        Israel has already installed solar generation in many African countries, including Malawi, Uganda and Tanzania, providing light to schools and enabling refrigeration of food and medicine. Israel's drip irrigation technologies help African farmers increase crop yields. Israeli-designed water purification systems help make water drinkable.
        The South African government is irrationally obsessed with the Israel issue. The Palestinians live under the rule of despotic leaders and yet our government has no words of criticism about the well-documented abuse of their own populations to maintain political power and, in the case of Hamas, advance the nefarious agenda of destroying Israel. South Africa remains silent about virtually every human rights abuse the world over, yet cannot contain itself when it comes to the only democratic state in the Middle East.
        The writer is national chair of the South African Zionist Federation. (Business Day-South Africa)
  • The IRGC in the Age of New Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi
    Ayatollah Ebrahim Raisi, 60, who assumed Iran's presidency on August 5, is expected to further empower the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) with key ministerial and bureaucratic positions in his new government. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, 82, the supreme leader of the Islamic Republic, is seen to be laying the ground for his successor who, according to all signs so far, will be Raisi.
        By expanding the IRGC's power, Raisi is seeking to consolidate his support base for when the moment comes to select Khamenei's successor. Raisi is fully aware that he will need the IRGC's backing - not least because anti-regime dissent is surging in Iran and the IRGC is Khamenei's iron fist. (Tony Blair Institute for Global Change)
  • Palestinians Rewrite History to Refute the Jewish Connection to Israel
    On June 29 and 30, 2021, the Ramallah branch of al-Quds Open University held a conference sponsored by PA President Mahmoud Abbas as part of a program on "Deconstructing the Zionist Narrative." PA Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh reiterated the Palestinian claim that no connections exist between the Hebrews, the Israelis and the Jews, and that today's Jews are actually Khazars, a Turkic-speaking tribe which converted to Judaism in the 6th century CE. Other speakers stressed that the Jews had no links to Jerusalem.
        The objectives of the Palestinians are to deny the existence of the Jewish people and its historical connections to the Land of Israel, foster hatred for Israel and the Jews, and sabotage any chance of significant dialogue between Israel and the Palestinians. In his opening speech, Abbas boasted that international world opinion was gradually moving towards an acceptance of the Palestinian narrative. (Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center)

  • Weekend Features

  • The IDF at the Forefront of Artificial Intelligence - Anna Ahronheim
    Maj. M., a senior officer in the IDF's C4I Directorate (command, control, communications, computers, and intelligence), said that since 2005, the digital revolution has "allowed us to acquire a lot more intelligence with a lot more velocity," enabling the IDF to use artificial intelligence (AI) to significantly increase its target bank.
        In May, the IDF relied heavily on AI to gather targets belonging to Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad and strike them. "For the first time, a multidisciplinary center was created that produces hundreds of targets relevant to developments in the fighting, allowing the military to continue to fight as long as it needs to with more and more new targets," a senior officer said.
        In the north opposite Hizbullah, the IDF's target bank in the Northern Command is 20 times larger than in the 2006 war, with thousands of targets ready to be attacked, including headquarters, strategic assets and weapons storehouses.
        Dr. Irit Idan, executive VP for R&D for Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, explained how AI is used in the Windbreaker tank defense system: "A rocket is launched toward a tank from a short distance and the system needs to identify the launch, what kind of rocket was launched, and destroy it within a few seconds. No human brain can do that in the few seconds that you have between the launch and the hit."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Guardian Falsely Claims Israeli Town Was Built on Palestinian Land - Adam Levick
    The Guardian on July 23 claimed that the Israeli community of Efrat, 20 km. south of Jerusalem, was located on land that once belonged to four Palestinian villages. In fact, the town, which today has 11,500 residents, is built on land predominantly owned and populated by Jews since decades prior to 1948. Gush Etzion (the Etzion Bloc) has been recognized in past Israeli-Palestinian negotiations as an area that would remain part of Israel in any future peace agreement.
        Mayor Oded Revivi confirmed that Efrat was built on state land and some private Jewish land. When it was declared state land by Israeli authorities in the 1970s, this was based on a thorough review of land registries during Ottoman, British and Jordanian control of the territory.
        Revivi stressed that when the town was built, they were extremely careful to avoid building on any private Palestinian land. When the founders of the community discovered some small parcels that, the records showed, did belong to Palestinians, they were careful to build around it. As the town is not surrounded by a fence, the small amount of privately owned land is accessible to the Palestinian owners. He added that there haven't been any legal claims in decades.
        Thus, the construction of Efrat didn't involve the illegal seizure of private Palestinian land, and it didn't involve the displacement of any Palestinians or the destruction of any Palestinian homes. (CAMERA-UK)

Israel Enters the Arab World - Dore Gold (SAPIR: A Journal of Jewish Conversations)
  • When Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the U.S. Congress in 2015 to make the case against the Iran nuclear deal, many Arab heads of state heard him lay out the evidence for Iran's plans for increased control of the Middle East and found themselves nodding in agreement.
  • With hindsight, Netanyahu's controversial appearance looks like the catalyst that accelerated rapprochement between Israel and many Arab states. It set the stage for the Abraham Accords in 2020, which formalized new normalization agreements between Israel and key Arab states.
  • Iranian aggression - more than any peace plan or blueprint for economic cooperation - became the glue that was binding Israel and some of its former adversaries.
  • The Israeli prime minister explained how four Arab capitals - Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut, and Sanaa - had fallen under Iranian domination. "If Iran's aggression is left unchecked," he warned, "more will surely follow." In fact, Iranian media at the time was predicting the imminent fall of Saudi Arabia.
  • Without having planned it, Israel's diplomatic campaign against the Iran deal opened its door to the Arab world. Communication channels soon opened between Arab states and Israel, even in the absence of formal agreements. Israel has achieved a level of integration with a large part of the Arab world that would have been unthinkable not long ago.
  • The threat Israel and many Arab states face is the same. Tehran likes to remind its people that the Arab states had once been part of its territory, and that those lands must one day be returned to Iran. A common threat, to adapt a phrase, is a terrible thing to waste. The time to move this improbable, promising, and essential alliance forward is now.

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

    Register here to join a live discussion of this article with Ambassador Gold and Bret Stephens on Monday, August 16th at 12:00 PM ET.

        See also Israel in Contact with Most Arab Countries, including Iraq - Lazar Berman
    "Over the last twenty years, the Foreign Ministry was always in touch with almost all the players in the Arab World," Haim Regev, the outgoing director of the Foreign Ministry’s Middle East Division, said Tuesday. While the list of covert contacts does not include Lebanon, Syria, and Yemen, it does extend to Baghdad, he said. (Times of Israel)
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