September 13, 2021

In-Depth Issues:

Israel Says Iran Is Spearheading Regional Drone Attacks - Anna Ahronheim (Jerusalem Post)
    Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz said Sunday that Iran is training militias from Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon, and Syria at the Kashan airbase north of Isfahan and is teaching them how to operate and manufacture advanced Iranian drones.
    The Houthis in Yemen and Shiite militias in Iraq have dozens of advanced UAVs that they have used against Saudi Arabia or American forces in the region. Iranian drones can reach a range of 1,700 km.
    In the coming years, hundreds of these UAVs will be in Syria and there are constant attempts to smuggle advanced UAVs to Hizbullah in Lebanon.
    Iran is also attempting to transfer the know-how for UAV production to Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Gaza.

MI5: UK Has Foiled 31 Terror Plots in the Last Four Years - Lauren Turner (BBC News)
    31 late-stage terror plots have been foiled in the UK in the past four years, including 6 during the pandemic, the head of MI5, Ken McCallum, has said.
    He said they were largely Islamic extremist plots, but a "growing number" were planned by right-wing terrorists.
    "We need to be vigilant both for the increase in inspired terrorism, which has become a real trend for us to deal with over the last five to 10 years, alongside the potential regrowth of al-Qaeda-style directed plots."

Biden Officials Pushed Abbas to Shelve ICC Probe Against Israel - Jacob Magid (Times of Israel)
    Senior officials in the Biden administration have privately pressed Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to walk back his effort to have Israel tried for war crimes at the International Criminal Court (ICC), a Middle Eastern diplomatic official told the Times of Israel on Thursday.
    The Biden administration, like the previous one, maintains that the court does not have jurisdiction to adjudicate the case because Israel, like the U.S., is not a signatory to the Rome Statute that established the ICC.
    Moreover, Washington maintains that there is no Palestinian sovereign state and therefore it shouldn't be granted membership at the ICC, nor be allowed to delegate jurisdiction to the court.
    However, its unclear what authority Abbas has at this point to roll back the process, once a decision to open an investigation has already been made by the court.

EU Commission Directorate Condemns Anti-Semitism in Palestinian Textbooks - Michael Starr (Jerusalem Post)
    Henrike Trautmann, whose directorate oversees all EU aid to the Palestinian education sector, condemned anti-Semitic and violent content in Palestinian textbooks in a meeting of the EU Parliament's Working Group Against Anti-Semitism on Thursday.
    In a review of a recently released study on Palestinian Authority textbooks, Trautmann said: "It is very clear that the study does reveal the existence of very deeply problematic content...changes to the curriculum are essential."
    "Full compliance of all educational material with UNESCO standards of peace, tolerance, coexistence and non-violence must be ensured, as must any reference of an anti-Semitic nature be addressed and taken out. It's totally clear that even a little bit of anti-Semitism is not ok."

Judo Federation Bans Algerian Who Refused to Face Israeli - Ali Iveson (insidethegames)
    Algerian judoka Fethi Nourine, who withdrew from the Tokyo 2020 Olympics to avoid facing an Israeli opponent, and his coach Amar Benikhlef have been banned from the sport for 10 years by an International Judo Federation (IJF) disciplinary commission.

Israel's Diamond Industry Grows in 2021 - Zev Stub (Jerusalem Post)
    Israel's Economy and Industry Ministry said Sunday that during the first two quarters of 2021, polished diamond exports rose 71% to $2.37 billion.
    Ofir Gur, Supervisor of Diamonds at the ministry, said, "The Israeli industry is benefiting from the rally that the global diamond industry is experiencing."

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • The IAEA's NPT Safeguards Report: Iran Continues to Stonewall Investigations - Andrea Stricker, David Albright, and Sarah Burkhard
    The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards report of Sep. 7, 2021, presents a picture of near total Iranian stonewalling of the IAEA's investigation into Iran's undeclared nuclear material and activities. "The lack of progress in clarifying the Agency's questions concerning the correctness and completeness of Iran's safeguards declarations seriously affects the ability of the Agency to provide assurance of the peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear program."
        "More than one year later, Iran has still not provided the necessary explanations for the presence of the nuclear material particles at any of the three locations (Locations 1, 3 and 4) where the Agency has conducted complementary accesses. Nor has Iran answered the Agency's questions with regard to the other undeclared location (Location 2), or clarified the current location of natural uranium in the form of a metal disc."  (Institute for Science and International Security)
  • Iran to Allow New Memory Cards in Nuclear Site Cameras, Averting IAEA Showdown - Nasser Karimi and Jon Gambrell
    Iran agreed Sunday to allow international inspectors to install new memory cards into surveillance cameras at its sensitive nuclear sites, potentially averting a diplomatic showdown with the International Atomic Energy Agency. The IAEA told member states last week that its verification and monitoring activities have been "seriously undermined" since February by Iran's refusal to let inspectors access their monitoring equipment.
        Tehran holds all camera recordings at its sites. "The memory cards are sealed and kept in Iran," said Mohammad Eslami of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran. (AP-Washington Post)
  • Hizbullah Tightens Its Grip on Sinking Lebanon - Dana Khraiche
    Hizbullah in Lebanon has taken on more functions of a state hollowed out by an imploding economy and sectarian feuding. By offering food, cash and medical services amid widespread poverty in this once-middle class nation, the Shiite Muslim group has become a lifeline for many.
        But the gap between the lives of many Lebanese and well-heeled Hizbullah supporters is starting to chafe. Hizbullah fighters have grown richer during the crisis because they're paid in dollars. The lowest-ranking fighters earn more than 15 times the minimum wage. (Bloomberg)
        See also Lebanon to Receive $1.135 Billion from IMF
    Lebanon's finance ministry said Monday the central bank would receive $1.135 billion on Sept. 16 in International Monetary Fund Special Drawing Rights (SDRs), the IMF's reserve currency. After a year of political deadlock, Lebanese leaders finally agreed on a new government on Friday, opening the way to a resumption of talks with the IMF. (Reuters)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israeli Police Recapture Four of Six Escaped Palestinian Prisoners
    Five days after six Palestinian security prisoners escaped from a high-security jail in northern Israel, police captured two of the fugitives in Nazareth on Friday. Hours later, two others were apprehended in the town of Shibli-Umm al-Ghanam. In both cases, Arab Israelis reported the fugitives to authorities, aiding in their capture. (Times of Israel)
        See also Fugitives Begged for Ride from Arab Town to West Bank, But Were Denied - Emanuel Fabian
    After breaking out of prison, the six Palestinian fugitives headed on foot for the Arab town of Na'ura, 7 km. away, where they begged several residents to drive them to Jenin in the West Bank but were refused, Hebrew media reported Sunday, citing details from the interrogation of the escapees who were recaptured. (Times of Israel)
        See also Palestinians "Pained" by Capture of Escaped Prisoners - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Manhunt Continues for Two Remaining Palestinian Prisoners - Josh Breiner
    Israeli officials have redirected the focus of the manhunt for the two Palestinian prisoners who remain at large. Defense officials believe that one crossed into the West Bank, while the other is still in Israeli territory. (Ha'aretz)
  • Third Straight Night of Palestinian Rocket Fire from Gaza - Almog Ben Zikri
    Palestinians in Gaza fired rockets at Israel for the third straight night on Saturday. In response, the IDF targeted Hamas weapon storage rooms, training grounds, and entrances to underground tunnels early Sunday. (Ha'aretz)
  • Israeli Soldiers Foil Palestinian Stabbing Attack in West Bank - Yoav Zitun
    A Palestinian assailant, Muhammad Bilu, 27, from Beit Fajjar, who attempted to stab IDF soldiers at Gush Etzion junction on Monday, was shot and injured, the IDF said. (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Ideological Fatigue among West Bank Palestinians - Maj.-Gen. Tamir Yadai interviewed by Yoav Limor
    Maj.-Gen. Tamir Yadai, completing his tenure as head of IDF Central Command, told Israel Hayom in an interview: "The Palestinian Authority is in a deep ideological crisis. Their core argument that any diplomatic agreement in the Middle East must pass through Ramallah has been eroded by the Abraham Accords. Its domestic legitimacy vis-a-vis the Palestinian public also no longer leans on ideology, but on daily functionality....Fatah is divided and plagued by internal rivalries; Hamas, on the other hand, has built up a top-level organizational and political infrastructure, which it aims to use in the future as the basis for a military infrastructure."
        "In Judea and Samaria, there is fatigue with ideological struggles. People want to live, especially the 1.2 million young people in the West Bank who are in no hurry to die a martyr's death for either Hamas or Fatah's ideologies."
        The standard of living in Judea and Samaria is reasonable, he explains. "Go into any mall in Ramallah or Nablus and you will see for yourself. In Jenin, you can't find a table at a cafe. In Rawabi, prices are like those in Kfar Saba. People have a life. You can travel from Jenin to Hebron and not see one roadblock along the way....When the average Palestinian sees what is happening in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Egypt, Libya, Gaza, they don't really want to be there."  (Israel Hayom)
  • Israel Improving Services for Jerusalem Arabs - Nir Hasson
    Changes are taking place in relations between Jerusalem's 360,000 Palestinian residents and the Israeli authorities. The penetration of Israeli government authorities into Palestinian neighborhoods is having a powerful effect on daily life, and is altering the entrenched order and the worldviews of Jewish Israelis and Palestinians alike.
        A new master plan was approved for the village of Isawiya, new schools are being built in other neighborhoods, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem is teeming with Palestinian students, and the sanitation situation has improved. In the Beit Hanina neighborhood, the magnificent, well-equipped Alpha School has been built, boasting computer and laboratory facilities, which will teach the Israeli curriculum. A new public park has been built opposite Herod's Gate in the Old City, and in many places pirate garbage dumps and the smoke that arose from them have disappeared.
        Locals can use the Rav-Kav smart card on public transportation in eastern Jerusalem, signs with street names are proliferating, and there has been an increase in the number of playgrounds in the eastern neighborhoods. (Ha'aretz)
  • The New Haifa Bayport Terminal: Are U.S. Concerns over China Justified? - Galia Lavi and Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Assaf Orion
    Sep. 1, 2021, marked the start of operations in Haifa of the SIPG Bayport Terminal, owned by the Chinese company Shanghai International Port Group. A 2011 report on the cost of living and competition in Israel found that the productivity at Israel's outdated seaports was 15-25% lower than elsewhere in the Mediterranean, imposing unnecessary annual costs of hundreds of millions of shekels on the Israeli consumer.
        Israel's outdated ports lack adequate container capacity and are unsuitable for huge container ships. Some cargo must be moved from a large ship to a smaller ship that is able to anchor in Israel. In response, the Israeli government decided to construct two new private container terminals near Haifa and Ashdod to operate alongside the existing ports.
        Some in the U.S. argue that Bayport's management by a Chinese state-owned company is a provocative symbol of treacherous cooperation with America's arch-rival. The fact is that the port operator is a private Israeli company, indeed owned by a Chinese company, yet most of its employees are Israelis, apart from a few Chinese management staff. Bayport is subject to Israeli law, and in emergencies must operate according to the instructions of the Israeli security authorities.
        The port's eight cranes, made by the Chinese company ZPMC, are technology-rich machines equipped with sensors and communications, raising concerns that they could be used for espionage. ZPMC manufactures 70% of these advanced cranes in the world. This year, ZPMC cranes were purchased by ports in San Francisco and South Carolina.
        According to reports, the subject of China never came up in the Aug. 27 meeting between President Biden and Prime Minister Bennett. Israel signed the contract for the Bayport terminal in 2015, before Washington's official declaration in 2017 of the era of Great Power Competition with Beijing. A considerable part of the criticism of Israel derives from judging past decisions according to present conditions, and from echoing unexamined claims.
        Galia Lavi is a research fellow and coordinator of the Israel-China program at INSS, where Assaf Orion is a senior research fellow. (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)
  • Burlington Rabbis to Oppose BDS at City Council Vote - Rabbis Amy Small, Jan Salzman, David Edleson, and Yitzchok Raskin
    We represent the four synagogues in the Burlington area. Ahead of the upcoming city council meeting, we feel compelled to immediately show our solidarity as religious leaders in strongly opposing the upcoming resolution that is misleading, supports the Boycott, Divest and Sanctions movement, desires to delegitimize Israel, and will result in further divisiveness in our small community and state.
        While the resolution title is "Calling for Justice and a Peaceful End to the Palestine and Israel Conflict," the content of the resolution indicates a one-sided effort to position Israel as the sole impediment to peace and security in the region. This we cannot support. The BDS movement has one guiding purpose - the elimination of the State of Israel. President Biden, former President Obama, governors from all 50 states, and every mainstream Jewish organization have rejected BDS. (VTDigger-Vermont)

Video: Today, Saudi Arabia Is Part of the Solution - Amb. Dore Gold (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • We are now commemorating 20 years since the 9/11 attacks on the U.S. The vast majority of the terrorists who flew hijacked aircraft into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were from Saudi Arabia. At the time, Wahhabi charities, representing an extreme form of Islam, were moving enormous sums of funding from Saudi Arabia to organizations around the world.
  • I wrote a New York Times bestseller, Hatred's Kingdom, which presented evidence from captured documents on how Hamas was one of the recipients of this funding, as it conducted suicide bombings in major Israeli cities.
  • Fast forward to 2021. How much Saudi money is now going to Hamas? Zero. In fact, Saudi Arabia is not giving a dime to any of the terrorist organizations. Today, the main countries funding Hamas are the Islamic Republic of Iran and Qatar.
  • Back in 2001, the Muslim World League, headquartered in the Saudi Kingdom, was spreading the ideology that supported a new wave of global terror. Yet today, the same Muslim World League has issued the Charter of Mecca in 2019 based on interreligious tolerance rather than jihad. A year later its secretary-general took a delegation to Auschwitz.
  • Since Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) became crown prince in 2017, important reforms have reshaped key elements of Saudi Arabia. In 2020, he curbed the powers of the religious police who were harassing Saudi citizens and foreigners.
  • The way forward is for like-minded Saudis and Israelis to draw together. We need to create a consensus for the security of our nations to meet the challenge from Iran and its proxies, which seek to re-establish Persian power in the framework of a renewed Safavid Empire.

    The writer, former Director-General of the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Israeli Ambassador to the UN, is President of the Jerusalem Center.

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