October 18, 2022

In-Depth Issues:

Russia Attacks Kyiv with Iranian-Made Kamikaze Drones - Victoria Butenko (CNN)
    At least four people were killed when Russia launched a barrage of Iranian-made "kamikaze" drone attacks in Kyiv on Monday.
    Ukraine Interior Minister Denys Monastyrskyi said that security forces were able to shoot down 36 of 42 drones.
    See also Iranian Instructors Help Russia Launch Drones to Attack Ukraine - Michael Starr (Jerusalem Post)
    Iranian instructors are overseeing Russian forces launching kamikaze drones from within annexed Ukrainian territory, the Ukrainian National Resistance Center claimed on Wednesday.
    "The Russians took Iranian instructors to the territory of the temporarily occupied Kherson Region and Crimea to launch Shahed-136 kamikaze drones."
    "They teach the Russians how to use kamikaze drones, and directly monitor the launch of drones on Ukrainian civilian targets."
    "As we can see, Iran helps the aggressor not only with equipment but also with people."
    See also U.S. Accuses Iran of Lying over Use of Its Drones in Ukraine (Reuters)
    The White House said on Monday that Iran is lying when it says Iranian drones are not being used by Russia to launch attacks against Ukraine.
    Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said there is "extensive proof of their use by Russia against both military and civilian targets there."
    See also U.S. Says Iran Supplying Drones to Russia Violates UN Resolution (Reuters)
    U.S. State Department spokesman Vedant Patel said on Monday:
    "Our French and British allies publicly offered the assessment that Iran's supply of these UAVs (for) Russia is a violation of UN Security Council Resolution 2231. This is something that we agree with."

Qatari Sheikh Urges Ties with Israel (Times of Israel)
    Qatari Sheikh Hamad Al Suwaidi called Thursday for normalization with the Jewish state in an interview with Israeli media.
    Qatar does not recognize Israel and supports Hamas, but it is allowing Israelis to visit the country for the FIFA World Cup soccer tourney beginning in November.
    Suwaidi told Israel's Channel 11 in an interview that Israelis should feel welcome in Qatar and that he wants to visit Tel Aviv, calling for full normalization between the countries.
    "We can't banish Israel and Israel can't leave. People need to be realistic," he said.

PA Steps Up Pressure on Gunmen to Avoid IDF Operation in Nablus - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    The Palestinian Authority is making an effort to prevent a major IDF operation against gunmen of the Lions' Den militia in Nablus, a Palestinian official in Ramallah said on Saturday.
    The PA wants the gunmen to lay down their weapons and hand themselves over to the Palestinian security forces. "We believe that it's not too late to find a solution to the issue of the Lions' Den," the official said. "It's our duty to spare our people more bloodshed."
    See also Work Permits Revoked for 164 Relatives of Nablus Terrorists - Emanuel Fabian (Times of Israel)
    The Israel Defense Ministry's Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) said Sunday it had revoked entry permits to Israel from 164 family members of Palestinian "terror elements" in the West Bank city of Nablus.
    In the past year, more than 2,500 work permits belonging to family members of Palestinian terrorists have been revoked.
    Maj.-Gen. Ghassan Alian, head of COGAT, said: "The terrorists... should know that their identity is well known to the security system and that the path of terror they choose will also affect their families, who will not be able to continue earning a living in Israel."

PA Attacks on Palestinians - Motasem A Dalloul (Middle East Monitor-UK)
    On Sep. 20, 2022, the Palestinian Authority security services arrested Musab Shtayyeh and Ameed Tabila in the West Bank city of Nablus.
    The PA then violently cracked down on popular protests against the arrest of the two men, killing a Palestinian man and injuring 15 others.
    The PA security services followed with a new arrest campaign in Nablus and arrested more than 12 Palestinians for their involvement in anti-PA protests.
    On Sunday, Musab Shtayyeh was transferred to hospital following the deterioration of his health due to mistreatment. "Musab Shtayyeh was tortured by the PA security services which detain him in Jericho Prison," said his lawyer, Mustafa Shatat.
    Arab Reporters for Investigative Journalism (ARIJ) documented 2,600 political detentions carried out by the PA in the West Bank between 2015 and 2021. At least 60% were harshly tortured.

Israeli Air Force Evacuates Ill American from Mediterranean Cruise Ship - Emanuel Fabian (Times of Israel)
    The Israeli Air Force's search and rescue unit 669 evacuated an elderly American who suffered from heart problems from a cruise ship in the Mediterranean on Thursday and brought her to Haifa's Rambam Medical Center.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Meeting with Putin, Palestinian Leader Abbas Rules Out U.S. Role as Mediator - Tia Goldenberg
    Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday used an audience with Vladimir Putin to denounce the U.S., telling the Russian leader that he has no faith in Washington as a Mideast peace broker. "We don't trust the U.S. We don't accept the U.S., under any condition, (as) a single party in solving the Middle East problem," Abbas said.
        Israel and the Palestinians have not held substantive peace talks in more than a decade. President Joe Biden has restored funding to the Palestinians, but has not attempted to restart peace talks, focusing instead on boosting the Palestinian economy. (AP-Washington Post)
        See also White House "Deeply Disappointed" by Palestinian President's Remarks to Putin - Barak Ravid
    The White House is "deeply disappointed" Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas told Russian President Vladimir Putin that he mistrusts the Biden administration, a spokesperson for the U.S. National Security Council told Axios. Since assuming office, the Biden administration has sent hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to the Palestinians. Two U.S. sources told me Biden administration officials were furious and made it clear to Abbas' advisers. (Axios)
  • Iranian Protesters Defy Crackdown with Nationwide Demonstrations
    Protesters across Iran defied a nearly month-long crackdown on Saturday, chanting in the streets and in universities against the country's clerical leaders. Although the unrest does not appear close to toppling the system, the protests have widened into strikes that have closed shops and businesses, touched the vital energy sector and inspired brazen acts of dissent against Iran's religious rule.
        Human rights groups say more than 200 people have been killed in the crackdown, including teenage girls whose deaths have become a rallying cry for more demonstrations demanding the downfall of the Islamic Republic. State TV has reported at least 26 members of the security forces have been killed.
        In Tehran's Shariaty technical college, female students chanted, "So many years of crimes, death to this religious leadership," according to a video posted on social media. (Reuters)
        See also Iranian Forces Massacre Baluch Minority at Friday Prayers - Cora Engelbrecht
    On Sept. 30 in Zahedan, a city in southeastern Iran that is home to the predominantly Sunni Baluch minority, a small group of worshipers emerged from the Great Mosalla prayer complex to confront security forces posted at a police station across the street. The protesters chanted antigovernment slogans and threw rocks at the officers, prompting the security forces to fire indiscriminately into the crowd. As the demonstrators scattered, the gunshots stalked their retreat back toward the complex, where thousands were still praying.
        "They started shooting as people still had their heads bowed in prayer," said Jamshid, 28. Young men threw themselves in front of children and older people to shield them from the bullets.  66-96 people were killed over the course of the next several hours, according to human rights groups. In one video, analyzed by the New York Times, snipers in plain clothes are seen on the police station roof firing into the street. (New York Times)
        See also Iranian Protesters Decapitate Statue of Former Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini (Al-Araby Al-Jadeed-UK)
        See also Hizbullah, Iraqi Militia Help Iran Quash Protests - Anna Ahronhem
    Lebanese Hizbullah and Iraq's Has'd al-Shaabi militia have been seen helping Iran's Basiji forces crack down on protesters across the country. According to sources, plain-clothes men with Lebanese-accented Arabic were seen trying to suppress riots in various cities including Tehran. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Australia Reverses Recognition of Jerusalem as Israeli Capital - Matthew Knott
    The Australian government decided on Tuesday to no longer recognize West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel - in a messy and confusing way. The question of West Jerusalem had faded from attention in Australia over recent years and did not feature in the May election campaign.
        According to the government, an overeager public servant got ahead of themselves by updating the website to reflect the government's stated position on West Jerusalem. The problem was that the cabinet hadn't made a decision on the issue and the government hadn't announced any policy change. On Monday night, the government hurriedly assured reporters and anxious pro-Israel groups that Australia hadn't changed its position on recognizing West Jerusalem.
        That was true until a few hours later when the Albanese cabinet met in Canberra on Tuesday morning and agreed to reverse the Morrison government's 2018 stance on Jerusalem. (Sydney Morning Herald-Australia)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Palestinian Gunmen Shoot at Israeli in His Sukkah - Yaniv Kubovich
    Yonatan Nizri, 25, was injured by Palestinian gunfire on Friday night in Beit El while sitting in his sukkah with his family. Two Palestinian gunmen approached the community's perimeter fence and opened fire. Israeli forces shot dead one of the gunmen at the scene of the attack, Kays Emad Shahja'ia, 22, from Dayr Jarir, a Hamas member who had previously served time in Israeli prisons for involvement in terrorism. Israeli security forces later arrested Muhammed Odeh, 19, and two accomplices in Dayr Jarir. Weapons and military uniforms were found in his home. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Israeli Shooting Victim Describes "Miracle"
    Yonatan Nizri of Beit El described how the gunfire from two Palestinian terrorists narrowly missed hitting him, his wife, and his infant son. He was lightly injured by shrapnel. There were more than a dozen other people sitting in the sukkah when several bullets punched through the flimsy walls. "This could have ended completely differently, this was definitely a miracle," Nizri said, pointing to a bullet hole in the plastic chair he was sitting on at the time. (Times of Israel)
  • Palestinian Gunmen Fire at Israeli Community in West Bank, Hitting Two Homes - Emanuel Fabian
    Palestinian gunmen fired a hail of bullets Tuesday morning at the Israeli community of Shaked, located close to the security barrier, about 10 km. west of the Palestinian city of Jenin. The attack came hours after a nearby military post was targeted. (Times of Israel)
  • Two Bedouin Israelis Arrested for Helping Hamas - Emanuel Fabian
    Two Bedouin Israeli men - Sa'ad Abu Rakaik, 20, and Sameh al-Nabari, 21 - were arrested last month for helping funnel funds to Hamas in Gaza, the Israel Security Agency revealed Sunday. Al-Nabari was also instructed to conduct "additional security tasks" for Hamas. The ISA said Hamas is attempting "at all times to recruit Israeli citizens for the purpose of carrying out terror activities."  (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Drone Strikes in Ukraine a Cause for Israeli Concern - Ron Ben-Yishai
    The Iranian-made Shahed-136 "suicide" drones are effective and dangerous, especially when used against stationary and unarmored civilian targets. Carrying several dozen kg. of extremely destructive explosives, they are programmed to navigate to their target using a GPS system and then self-destruct. However, it is important to clarify that the suicide drone will not lead to groundbreaking outcomes on the battlefield.
        The Ukrainians have learned that they cannot stay at one place for more than several hours, even if remaining hidden. Therefore, Ukrainian artillery and tank forces arrive at a location, shoot, and immediately move on. They also activate electronic disruption systems, and shoot down the slow drones they detect. But if the Russians decide to activate the Shahed-136 in large swarms of dozens, instead of in pairs or groups of four, as they do today, the Ukrainians are in trouble.
        The war in Ukraine offers the perfect experimental platform for Iran. Operating their weaponry on the battlefield in Ukraine will enable the Iranians to refine their deadly drones and learn to make them immune to countermeasures that the West will develop. Sooner or later, Israel will have to confront a new and improved version of the Iranian arsenal. (Ynet News)
  • The Israel-Lebanon Gas Deal and U.S. Guarantees - Alex Traiman
    The Israel-Lebanon gas deal is said to include an American guarantee to protect Israeli interests should Lebanon and Hizbullah violate it. However, the U.S. openly acknowledges the agreement may be problematic down the road. In a background briefing by the White House on Tuesday, a senior administration official stated, "We expect that there may be other difficult moments as we implement this agreement moving forward."
        "No one can guarantee that opportunities for the future of Israel, for the security of Israel, and for the economic prosperity of Lebanon will still be there at a different time. And if there's any questions in the future of disagreement...the United States has assured both parties that it would use its best efforts through diplomatic means to see if it could help facilitate."
        But can Israel trust such guarantees. After the Israel-Lebanon War of 2006, the UNIFIL international force deployed in southern Lebanon following the Israeli withdrawal with a mandate "to ensure that its area of operations is not utilized for hostile activities of any kind." Yet despite UNIFIL's presence, Hizbullah has deployed over 150,000 missiles pointed at Israeli population centers, many of them long-range and precision-guided.
        Former U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman tweeted Wednesday that "All Israel is getting is a 'guarantee' from the U.S. What does that say, what is the nature of America's commitment, and why is that good for Israel or America? Remember, Bush's letter to Sharon was ripped up by HRC [Hillary Rodham Clinton] and the Budapest Memorandum was worthless." In 2004, then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon received a letter from President George W. Bush recognizing Israel's right to build in long-standing Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem and in "settlement blocs" crucial for Israel's security.
        Friedman also cited the "worthless" 1994 Budapest Memorandum, which committed "to respect the independence and sovereignty and the existing borders of Ukraine." This guarantee, signed by the U.S., UK and Russia, persuaded the Ukrainian government in Kyiv to give up the world's third largest nuclear arsenal.
        The writer is CEO and Jerusalem Bureau Chief of JNS. (JNS)
        See also Text of the American Guarantee in the Israel-Lebanon Gas Deal
    Section 4 A. states: "The Parties intend to resolve any differences concerning the interpretation and implementation of this Agreement through discussion facilitated by the United States. The Parties understand that the United States intends to exert its best efforts working with the Parties to help establish and maintain a positive and constructive atmosphere for conducting discussions and successfully resolving any differences as rapidly as possible."  (Ha'aretz)
  • Former U.S. Ambassador David Friedman: U.S. Security Guarantees in Gas Deal Could Create "Friction" - Ariel Kahana
    Former U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman discussed Israeli concessions in the Israel-Lebanon maritime deal in an interview with Israel Hayom. "Do you want to be perceived as potentially overpaying, giving added value to a terrorist group to protect yourself with regard to your sovereign territory? You can make a pretty strong argument that that sends a very dangerous message."
        "We were generally in agreement with Israel that this was going to be a very fair compromise for Israel, to give Lebanon 60% of the disputed territory and Israel would get 40%. Israel was prepared to do that, we thought that was extremely fair." He said he assumed the new Israeli concessions that resulted in the entire area being handed over to Lebanon were due to American pressure.
        "Our experience was that the 60-40 split would have been acceptable to the Lebanese government but was not acceptable to the Hizbullah proxies, and that is why the deal didn't get done [during the Trump years]....If the whole idea here is to show that Lebanon has its own identity independent of Hizbullah, this proves just the opposite, it proves Hizbullah was a major negotiating party and was the party that was successful in obtaining the added concessions."
        "I really could not understand the idea of what the American guarantee is to Israel....What exactly is America's commitment in the event that a future Lebanon walks away from this agreement, what is America going to do? Are they going to defend Israel if Lebanon attacks [the] Karish [gas field]? History tells us it [the guarantee] doesn't mean very much, and more importantly, why is Israel looking for American guarantees on things like this? The whole point of the Israeli national security strategy is that it defends itself by itself, and never seeks to have America fight its battles....[If] Israel is going to start making demands to the U.S. that the U.S. may or may not be willing to do, you create friction between two allies."  (Israel Hayom)

  • Prime Minister Liz Truss has said she wants to move the British embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. When former U.S. President Donald Trump similarly proposed moving the American embassy, critics predicted the outcome of such a move would be Armageddon. The entire Arab world would rise up in fury. The relocation of the embassy would destroy the cause of peace.
  • None of this occurred. Instead, the precise opposite took place. The embassy was moved in May 2018. In September 2020, the historic Abraham Accords were signed between Israel and the Gulf states, a development that did more to advance the cause of peace between Israel and the Arabs than anything else in the previous century.
  • Yet Truss' aspiration has provoked similar hysteria in Britain. The foreign policy establishment, along with the usual Israel-bashing suspects, have gone into meltdown, as if the whole experience of the U.S. embassy move never happened.
  • The real reason for the objection is the foreign policy establishment's obsessional and misguided belief that Israel isn't entitled to claim Jerusalem as its capital at all. This is because, in the 1947 Partition Plan, Jerusalem was designated as a corpus separatum under a special international regime to be administered by the UN. But the idea that this status for Jerusalem is currently authoritative is absurd, because the entire Partition Plan was rejected by the Arabs.
  • As international law professor Eugene Kontorovich has written, the key doctrine under international law that determines the borders of a state is uti possidetis juris ("as you possess under law"). According to this principle, Israel's borders at the moment of independence were the borders of Mandatory Palestine - which included all of Jerusalem as well as Judea and Samaria. He wrote that the Partition Plan, rejected by the Arabs, "was never implemented and did not in fact result in a partition of the Mandate."
  • The only reason this century-old conflict continues is that the Palestinian Arabs have repudiated the two-state solution. They have refused repeated offers of a state of their own, because their goal is not a Palestinian state but the eradication of the Israeli one. Britain and other Western countries have refused to recognize the Palestinians' real agenda, providing them instead with funding, training and diplomatic recognition.
  • In other words, Britain and the rest of the West have incentivized, rewarded and perpetuated the war against Israel. Moving the embassy would be signaling an end to the shameful British capitulation to the Palestinians' lies and blackmail.

    The writer is a columnist for The Times-UK.

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