February 14, 2022

In-Depth Issues:

Israel to Sell Missile Defense System to Morocco in $500 Million Deal - Danny Zaken (Globes)
    Israel Aerospace Industries will provide the Moroccan army with the Barak MX air and missile defense system in a $500 million deal.
    Morocco has already purchased Heron UAVs from IAI, as well as robot patrol vehicles from Elbit Systems and drone interceptors from Skylock.

Israeli Cyber Security Firm to Help Emirati Bank Detect Financial Crime - Alexander Cornwell (Reuters)
    Israel technology firm ThetaRay will license a financial crime detection tool that monitors transactions for UAE bank Mashreq, the companies said on Monday.
    The tool uses artificial intelligence to identify financial cyber threats like money laundering or fraud.

Israel Donates Covid Antigen Tests to Philippines (Manila Times-Philippines)
    The Israel Ministry of Defense on Feb. 9 donated 16,000 antigen test kits to the Philippine Department of National Defense (DND) to help its fight against Covid-19.
    In 2021, Israel donated personal protective equipment to DND and the Philippine National Police.
    Moreover, two Israeli delegations of medical experts have assisted the country's national vaccination campaign and shared infection control protocols.

Palestinians Know the PA Depends on Security Coordination with Israel - Jack Khoury (Ha'aretz)
    The highlight of the meeting last week of the Palestinian Central Council, which met for the first time in four years, was a supposedly dramatic statement on freezing security ties with Israel and the agreements signed with it, including recognition of Israel.
    However, as a senior official from Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah party said, "Every child in the West Bank knows that without security coordination there's no PA."

Egypt Increases Export of East Mediterranean Gas to Europe - Dania Saadi (S&P Global)
    Egypt, which has substantial domestic gas production and is also supplied with Israeli gas from the Leviathan field in the Mediterranean, exported 6.64 million mt./year of liquefied natural gas (LNG) in 2021, a 10-year high.
    Egyptian LNG exports to Europe in 2021 reached 2.04 million mt., compared with just 270,000 mt. in 2020.

Who Are the Arabs of Jerusalem? - Peggy Cidor (Jerusalem Post)
    Jerusalem Arabs numbered 70,000 on the eve of the Six-Day War (according to a Jordanian census from 1966) and today, they are 380,000, while 120,000 live in the neighborhoods under Jerusalem Municipality jurisdiction but beyond the security fence.
    Prof. Itzhak Reiter, an expert on Islam and the Middle East at Ashkelon Academic College, describes the different parts of Arab society in the city.
    "About 50% of the present Arab residents of Jerusalem originally came from Hebron and...took over and developed their careers at the expense of the old locals, like the Nusseibeh, the Nashashibi and the El Khatib families."
    Another group are educated Israeli Arabs who moved to Jerusalem from villages in the Galilee. The Christian community has shrunk to 13,000.
    Inside the Muslim population there are Sufis, identified with a mystical approach to Islam, as well as Salafists, who are much more extremist both in religious and political terms.
    There are also those identified with Hamas, which is quite strong in eastern Jerusalem, and those identified with Fatah and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S., Israel Discuss Expanding Cooperation on Iran - Nazir Magally
    Israel's National Security Adviser Eyal Hulata met with his U.S. counterpart, Jake Sullivan, in Washington last week to deepen strategic coordination on Iran's nuclear program. Hulata stressed that Israel "is trying to expand interest in Iran's nuclear file so that it includes other issues related to Iranian arms in the region and hegemony schemes." He said that he and Sullivan have almost daily conversations by phone.
        "It is no secret that Israel and the United States do not agree on the Iranian issue, especially when it comes to the nuclear deal," said Hulata. "There is a danger that after returning to the deal and lifting sanctions, the U.S. will lose the tools that would allow it to impose a longer and stronger agreement on Iran."  (Asharq Al-Awsat-UK)
  • Sudan's Top General Lauds Recent Ties with Former Foe Israel - Samy Magdy
    Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, head of Sudan's ruling Sovereign Council, told state-run TV on Saturday that an exchange of intelligence with Israel has enabled Sudan to dismantle militant groups that "could have undermined the security of Sudan and the region." Burhan said it is legitimate for Sudanese security and intelligence agencies to have ties and exchange visits with Israel, though he insisted his country's relations with Israel are not of a political nature. (AP-Washington Post)
  • Dutch Plan to Reveal University Ties to Israel and Jews "Reeks of Anti-Semitism" - Felix Pope
    Dutch university staff have been ordered to reveal ties to Israeli and Jewish bodies - a move Holland's Chief Rabbi Binyomim Jacobs says "reeks of anti-Semitism." Administrators at a dozen universities in the Netherlands are now compiling information on links to Israeli and Jewish organizations. The list of bodies includes Jewish communal organizations, among them the Central Jewish Board of the Netherlands, the Anti-Defamation League, and the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance.
        The Chief Rabbi said: "The clear inference is that some shadowy Zionist/Jewish cabal is operating in the Dutch university system....It reminds us that most mayors cooperated during the [Nazi] occupation to pass on the names of their Jewish citizens to the Germans."  (Jewish Chronicle-UK)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel's Mossad Helped Foil 12 Attack Plots on Israelis in Turkey over Past Two Years
    The Mossad has helped foil 12 plots to carry out terror attacks on Israelis in Turkey over the past two years, Channel 12 reported Saturday. The Mossad has strengthened ties with Turkey's National Intelligence Organization (MIT) in recent years, despite the strained diplomatic relations between the countries. Most of the plots were linked to the Islamic State and targeted businesspeople. (Times of Israel)
        See also Turkey, Israel Foil Iranian Assassination Attempt on Israeli Businessman - Sarah Ben-Nun
    Turkish and Israeli intelligence forces came together to foil an assassination attempt on Israeli businessman Yair Geller in Turkey, Turkish media reported Friday. A team of nine tracked Geller and took photos of him in his home. The cell was run by Yassin Tahermkandi, 53, an Iran-based intelligence officer, and Saleh Mushtag Bhighus, 44, his Turkish counterpart. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Three Palestinians Indicted for Murdering Israeli - Yaniv Kubovich
    An Israeli military court on Thursday indicted three Palestinians for the murder of Yehuda Dimentman in December near the evacuated West Bank community of Homesh. The mother of two of the attackers will also be charged with failing to prevent an attack, giving shelter to a criminal, arms dealing and incitement.
        According to the indictments, the Palestinians deliberately planned to murder Jewish civilians, and two of them had also made plans to hide the body after the attack. The mother knew of the plan in advance and, after the attack, praised her sons' actions in the media.
        On Dec. 10, two of the Palestinians came to a lookout post at Homesh junction and waited for a passing car, while the third waited in the escape vehicle. When Dimentman's car drove by, each of the gunmen fired 20 bullets, killing him and wounding two others. (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Israel Remains Suspicious as Erdogan Signals Thaw in Relations - Aykan Erdemir
    A surprising thaw seems to be afoot between Israel and Turkey, former close partners whose relations nosedived under Turkish President Erdogan. The Turkish leader's growing isolation in the Eastern Mediterranean and economic woes at home are forcing him to reach out to his sworn enemy. Israel is treading carefully, given Erdogan's frequent anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli vitriol.
        High on the list of Israel's concerns is Erdogan's unwavering support for Hamas. Ankara has granted Turkish citizenship and passports to senior Hamas operatives. The Turkish government also condemned the Abraham Accords that normalized relations between Israel and several of its erstwhile Arab adversaries. Given Erdogan's poisoning of relations with Israel over the last two decades, it will take time and effort to rebuild trust.
        The writer, senior director of the Turkey program at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, is a former member of the Turkish parliament. (Foreign Policy)
  • Egypt Steps Up Gaza Role - Fares Akram
    Egyptian flags and billboards praising President el-Sissi have sprung up across Gaza as Egypt has sent crews to clear rubble and is promising to build vast new apartment complexes. "Gaza is a reminder to everybody, effectively, that you can't really do anything without Egypt," said Hafsa Halawa, an expert on Egypt at the Middle East Institute in Washington. Egypt is now subsidizing the construction of three towns that are to house 300,000 residents, according to Naji Sarhan, deputy director of the Hamas-run Housing Ministry.
        The Egyptian presence is palpable. Nearly every week, Egyptian delegations visit Gaza to inspect the work. Egyptian flags and banners of Egyptian companies flutter atop bulldozers, trucks and utility poles. Dozens of Egyptian workers sleep at a makeshift hostel in a Gaza City school. Five days a week, Egyptian trucks filled with construction materials flow into Gaza through the Rafah crossing.
        The growing Egyptian role gives Cairo a powerful tool to enforce Hamas' compliance with the truce with Israel. It can close Rafah whenever it wants. Israel's current government has taken steps to improve living conditions, including issuing 10,000 permits for Gazans to work inside Israel. (AP-Washington Post)
  • Arabs Divided by a Tug of War between Iran and Israel - Saleem Quna
    Today, the 22 Arab states in the Arab League have adopted different approaches to their relationships versus Iran and Israel. Israel managed to reach separate peace accords first with Egypt, the PLO and Jordan during the third quarter of the last century. More recently, Israel succeeded in making significant breakthroughs in some Arab countries intimidated by Iran's regional schemes.
        After the signing of the Abraham Accords, the anticipated honeymoon between those states and Israel has been unfolding in full swing and in multiple colors! Israel gradually managed to move its status from being a main adversary or intruder to that of a neutral entity, then to a friend who could end up as an ally and defender of the Gulf States, who feel the heat of the Iranian overall menacing strategy! (Albawaba-Jordan)
  • The Harvard Hummus Protests - Carine Hajjar
    Harvard students from the group Harvard Out of Occupied Palestine (HOOP) are demanding that Sabra hummus be taken out of dining halls because of ties to the Israel Defense Forces. The Strauss Group, which co-owns Sabra with PepsiCo, is the largest food company in Israel. It sends food and care packages to the Golani Brigade in the IDF. Since Israel practices universal conscription, donating food to the IDF is an unsurprising form of corporate charity.
        As a former Harvard student, I had Israeli classmates who served in the IDF. These are students who are being told their country does not deserve to exist. And in the case of students who served, they are being labeled murderers for serving their country. The Harvard Israel Initiative (HII) responded to HOOP: "We stand against any attempt to single out the State of Israel and uphold the right of the Golani Brigade - a unit dedicated to combatting terror groups, including Hamas and Hizbullah - to defend Israel from those who wish to annihilate it."  (National Review)

The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Isn't about Race - Benny Morris (Wall Street Journal)
  • In the Six-Day War of 1967, Israel conquered the West Bank - which most Israelis refer to as Judea and Samaria - and East Jerusalem from Jordan. This territory was the heartland of the biblical kingdom of David and Solomon, and successive Israeli governments have been unable or unwilling to give it up. Since then, more than half a million Israelis have settled there, making an Israeli withdrawal inconceivable even if Palestinian leaders were sincerely willing to agree to peace in exchange.
  • Despite what the new Amnesty International report says, racism is not what underlies the Israeli-Arab relationship. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is essentially national, a struggle between two nations over the same tract of land.
  • The Amnesty report "charges" that Israelis define Israel as "the nation-state of the Jews." Of course, that definition is correct. The world is divided into nation-states and Israel is the Jews' nation-state, just as the 22 member states of the Arab League are Arab nation-states.
  • Many Israeli Arabs resent the fact that "their" Palestine has become a Jewish state. But most seem to have made their peace with life in Israel, appreciating the prosperity, the social and health benefits, and the freedom that the Jewish state guarantees. Most Israeli Arabs, to judge by opinion polls, aren't eager to be inducted into a Palestinian Arab state should one arise next door.
  • If that did happen, many, if not most, Israeli Jews would regard it as a mortal threat. After Israel completely withdrew from Gaza in 2005, Hamas took over and began to rain down rockets on Israel, eventually sending missiles flying toward Tel Aviv and Ben-Gurion International Airport.
  • Hamas would likely gain control of the West Bank if Israel withdrew, allowing it to bombard Israel's population centers. Hamas rule would allow Iran to install forces and weapons in the West Bank, as it has already done in Lebanon.

    The writer is professor emeritus of Middle Eastern Studies at Israel's Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.

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