December 22, 2022

In-Depth Issues:

The EU's Secret Palestinian Building Plan for Area C - Dan Diker (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
    The EU's secret Palestinian building plan for Area C is an egregious violation of the Oslo Accords and disqualifies Europe as a fair and professional mediating body in the Middle East conflict.
    The EU plan violates Israel's legal rights as affirmed by the Oslo Accords and reveals a pro-PLO bias.
    The writer is President of the Jerusalem Center.

    See also Secret Document Reveals EU Plans to Help Palestinian Takeover of Area C (JNS)
    A document composed by the EU mission in eastern Jerusalem and defined as secret, exposes the EU's intention to help Palestinians gain control over Area C of Judea and Samaria, which under the Oslo Accords is fully under Israeli control, Israel's Channel 13 revealed on Monday.
    The document calls for mapping the territory in order to prove Palestinian rights to the land and monitoring Israeli archaeological activity.
    It also recommends strengthening Palestinian infrastructure in Area C and supporting Palestinians with legal aid.

    See also Ex-Israeli Military Officers Call EU's Area C Policy "Hostile and Aggressive" (i24News)
    The Israel Defense and Security Forum (IDSF), which includes 16,000 former military, security, and police officers, wrote an open letter to Dimiter Tzantchev, head of the EU delegation to Israel, on Wednesday, calling the revelation that the EU is working on a Palestinian takeover of Area C of the West Bank "an act of blatant hostility and aggression."
    They wrote, "According to our professional understanding of national security, the dominant terrain of Judea and Samaria in Area C is key strategic terrain that controls or can threaten most of the modern State of Israel's infrastructure and strategic assets."

    See also Knesset Members Protest EU Plans in West Bank - Lazar Berman (Times of Israel)
    In a letter to top EU officials, dozens of Knesset members called a leaked EU document formulating a new program to protect Palestinian claims in the West Bank an "extremely grave breach" of the EU-Israel relationship.
    "The document completely ignores our people's historical affinity to our homeland," the letter said, highlighting its call to monitor Israeli archaeological activities at Jewish heritage sites. "This singular call has but one goal: to subvert the deep and indestructible bond between the Jewish people and its country and homeland."
    The document "leaves no room for doubt as to the one-sidedness and animosity of the EU toward the State of Israel and the Jewish people."
    It called on the EU to halt illegal construction in areas under Israeli control, stop activities that damage heritage sites and nature in the West Bank, and desist from funding NGOs that seek to delegitimize Israel.

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Israel Gives 17 Electricity Generators to Ukraine (Times of Israel)
    Israel donated 17 generators to Ukraine to provide electricity to hospitals and water infrastructure in the southeastern Kherson region, which has been largely plunged into darkness by Russian bombardment, Israel's embassy in Kyiv said Tuesday.

Abraham Accords, Contact with Israelis, Remain Unpopular in Egypt - Mohamed Abdelaziz (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
    According to a new Egyptian public opinion poll, 82% see the Abraham Accords between Israel and four Arab states as at least "somewhat" negative, while only 12% viewed its effects as positive.
    The Egyptian public also shows very little support for "normalization" with Israelis. Only 11% agree that "people who want to have business or sports contacts with Israelis should be allowed to do so."

Video: Fatah Fighters Train in Urban Combat in Jenin (MEMRI-TV)
    On Dec. 18, 2022, a video of Fatah fighters training in the West Bank city of Jenin was posted on the Fedayeen Twitter account.
    In the video, masked Fatah members in full military gear carry out urban combat exercises.

Romania to Buy Israeli-British Watchkeeper Drones for $410 Million - Jaroslaw Adamowski (Defense News)
    Romania has signed a framework agreement with Israel's Elbit Systems to buy up to seven Watchkeeper X drones for up to $410 million, as numerous Eastern European countries are accelerating their acquisitions of unmanned aircraft in the aftermath of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
    As part of the agreement, the Romanian defense industry will secure domestic manufacturing and servicing capacities for the drones.
    Watchkeeper, based on the Elbit Hermes 450 drone, is manufactured by U-TacS, a joint venture of Elbit Systems and Thales UK.

Finland Buys Missiles from Israel - Eyal Boguslavsky (Israel Defense)
    The Finnish Defense Ministry announced last week a deal with an unnamed Israeli defense company for long-range 122mm missiles, worth 70 million euros.

Israel's Rafael to Supply Anti-Drone System to Asian Navy (JNS)
    Israel's Rafael Advanced Defense Systems has signed a multi-million dollar contract to supply its Typhoon Mk30-C naval defense system to an Asian country.
    Rafael has installed more than 750 naval remote control weapons systems.

Watch the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra Play Hatikvah in Abu Dhabi (Office of the President of Israel)
    On Tuesday the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra played a concert in Abu Dhabi, the IPO's first performance in an Arab country since Israel's independence.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Biden: Iran Nuclear Deal Is "Dead" - Barak Ravid
    President Biden said on Nov. 4 that the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran is "dead," but stressed the U.S. won't formally announce it, according to a new video that surfaced on social media on Monday. (Axios)
        See also State Department: Return to Iran Deal Is Not on the Agenda
    U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price said Tuesday: "We've made the point for several months now that the JCPOA is not on the agenda. It hasn't been on the agenda for some time. Of course, there have been instances where we thought we are on the precipice of a mutual return to compliance with the JCPOA, only to find the Iranians turning their backs on a deal that was on the table, a deal that had otherwise been approved by all."
        "Since September, certainly our focus has been on standing up for the fundamental freedoms of the Iranian people and countering Iran's deepening military partnership with Russia and its support for Russia as Moscow wages its brutal invasion of Ukraine."  (State Department)
  • U.S. Arrests Six ISIS Operatives in Helicopter Raids in Syria
    U.S. Central Command said Tuesday its forces conducted three helicopter raids in eastern Syria over the past 48 hours, resulting in the detention of six ISIS operatives, including al-Zubaydi, an Islamic State Syria Province senior official involved in the planning and facilitation of ISIS attacks in Syria. (CENTCOM)
  • Israel Targets Hizbullah Weapons Warehouse near Damascus Airport
    Israeli attacks near Damascus International Airport early Tuesday destroyed a Hizbullah weapons warehouse. Two gunmen likely belonging to Hizbullah were killed. (Syrian Observatory for Human Rights-UK)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel to Retain Body of Palestinian Terrorist in Effort to Return Israeli Remains and Captives Held in Gaza - Yonah Jeremy Bob
    Israel will hold onto the body of Nasser Abu Hamid, 51, one of the founders of Fatah's al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, who died of cancer on Tuesday while serving seven life sentences, Defense Minister Benny Gantz announced on Wednesday. Abu Hamid was convicted based on his admitting responsibility for attacks in which seven Israelis were murdered and on 12 charges of attempted murder. He had previously been found guilty of murdering five Palestinians who collaborated with Israel in 1990. He also participated in the infamous Ramallah lynch of two Israeli reservists in 2000.
        Gantz is hoping to achieve a deal with the Palestinians to return the bodies of Lt. Hadar Goldin and Sgt. Oron Shaul who were killed in 2014, as well as two captured Israeli civilians, Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed. Gantz said the decision was made on the recommendation of security officials and "in accordance with the cabinet's decision on the matter of holding bodies for the purpose of repatriating Israeli captives and the missing."  (Jerusalem Post-Ha'aretz)
        See also Pope Meets Families of Israelis Held Captive by Hamas in Gaza - Lazar Berman (Times of Israel)
  • U.S. Defends Israel over Deportation of Palestinian Lawyer to France - Ben Samuels
    The U.S. on Monday defended Israel's decision to deport Palestinian lawyer Salah Hammouri to France. State Department spokesperson Ned Price said, "We have heard the statements from the Israeli Government that this was a decision made out of concern for Israel's security....We of course have serious concerns about any broader practice of revocation of residency and deportation from east Jerusalem. But I would hasten to add that does not appear to be what is happening here."
        Hammouri was previously convicted of planning a terror attack on Sephardi Chief Rabbi Ovadia Yosef in 2005, and served seven years in prison before his release in a prisoner exchange. (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel Nabs Hamas Member over Shooting Attack - Emanuel Fabian
    Israeli security forces on Wednesday arrested Mujahid al-Talfiti, 25, a member of Hamas who was involved in a shooting attack on an Israeli motorist near Nablus on Friday, the Israel Security Agency said. Al-Talfiti had been formerly jailed in Israel for terror activities. (Times of Israel)
  • Palestinians in Samaria Damage Jewish Heritage Site - Hanan Greenwood
    In recent days, dozens of Palestinians have descended on Samaria National Park, located in Area C (which is under full Israeli control), to carry out "repair works" in which they deliberately destroyed antiquities, in a move organized by the Palestinian Authority. The park contains important historical remnants from the First Temple Era, which are attributed to the capital of Samaria from the time of King Ahab of Israel. (Israel Hayom)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:


  • Increased Iranian Terrorist Activities: Emphasis on Israeli and Jewish Targets - Yoram Schweitzer, Anat Shapira and Sima Shine
    Over the past two years, 13 terrorist attacks by Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) against Israeli and Jewish targets were publicly revealed and foiled on four continents. In addition, attempts to attack former senior officials in the U.S. and Iranian opposition targets in New York and London were thwarted. Prominent in these events is the use of assassins and squads composed of foreign citizens with local assistance, which allows Iran plausible deniability.
        The fact that Iran has failed in its many attempts to carry out terrorist attacks against Israeli and Jewish targets abroad will not lessen its resolve, and these efforts will continue in the future. (Institute for National Security Studies)

  • Palestinians

  • Returning the Palestinians to Center Stage Undermines Stability in the Middle East - Col. (res.) Prof. Gabi Siboni and Dr. Kobi Michael
    Two former American diplomats, writing in the Washington Post on Nov. 29, called on President Biden to take measures against the incoming Netanyahu government and called on him to warn the four Abraham Accords countries that if they do not return the Palestinian issue to the agenda, the U.S. will take action against them. The writers were so worried about the inability of the people in Israel to take care of their state's future that they felt compelled to act to save the Jewish state despite itself.
        Beyond the arrogance of their approach, it amounts to a blatant violation of avoiding interference in the internal affairs of a foreign country - one that is also an ally - and a rejection of the results of a democratic process (the only one that exists in the entire Middle East).
        Despite the collapse of the paradigm that claimed the solution to the Palestinian problem is the key for Arab states normalizing relations with Israel, the writers nevertheless insist on resurrecting the failed paradigm that for generations gave the Palestinians veto power over any progress on normalization with the Arab world.
        The writers' obsession with the Palestinian issue is strange because they ignore the decline of the power of the Palestinian Authority and the widespread rot in Palestinian politics. They do not understand the depth of Palestinian society's crisis and the PA's inability to contribute to stability in the region.
        Col. (res.) Prof. Gabi Siboni was director of the military and strategic affairs program and the cyber research program at the Institute for National Security Studies (2006-2020), where Dr. Kobi Michael is a senior researcher. (Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security)
  • Will Mahmoud Abbas and PA Leaders Face ICC Prosecution for Murder? - Yoni Ben Menachem
    Palestinian human rights activist Nizar Banat was brutally murdered in Hebron by Palestinian Authority security personnel on June 24, 2021, because of his criticism of the corruption in the PA and its leader. The family recently appealed to the International Criminal Court in The Hague, demanding an investigation into the circumstances of Banat's murder.
        The 14 defendants accused in the murder were released from custody and the Palestinian Authority has been trying for a year and a half to delay their trial. Until the start of the trial, the PA tried to reach a compensation settlement with the family in exchange for canceling the trial. It offered them a large sum of money and jobs in the PA, but all its offers were rejected.
        The murder of Nizar Banat was intended to send a clear message to all the political opponents of PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, who will continue to forcefully suppress his critics and opponents, just like the other dictatorial rulers in the Arab world. There is no difference between them. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • The Apartheid Libel to Destroy Israel - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Allegations that Israel is an apartheid state are part of an ongoing campaign of incitement waged by Palestinians and anti-Semites around the world to invalidate the State of Israel and vilify Jews. The campaign emboldens the radicals among the Palestinians, including the Iranian-backed Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), whose declared goal is to eliminate Israel and replace it with an Islamist state. They are happy to see non-Arabs and non-Muslims - and even ostensible human rights organizations - join their jihad (holy war) to destroy Israel. (Gatestone Institute)
  • The Extremists the Biden Administration Does Not See - Bassam Tawil
    Many in Washington remain obsessed with Israel and refuse to see any wrongdoing on the Palestinian side. The streets of the West Bank and Gaza are full of armed terrorists who openly state their intention to kill Jews. The real extremists are the Palestinian leaders who encourage their young men and women to kill Jews. The real extremists are those who are responsible for firing rockets at Israeli cities from Gaza. The real extremists are those who do not believe in the right of Israel to exist and work non-stop to destroy it. (Gatestone Institute)

  • Other Issues

  • Hanukkah Is a Time to Celebrate the Power of Jewish Self-Determination - Asaf Zamir
    Hanukkah is really a celebration of military victory. Two thousand years ago, Seleucid Greek invaders banned Jewish education and ritual, and massacred countless innocent Jews for attempting to resist. In response, Jewish priest Judah Maccabee inspired and led a grassroots revolt, expelling the invaders, rededicating the temple in Jerusalem and renewing traditional Jewish ways of life.
        For over two millennia, Jews have come together during the year's darkest nights to commemorate this restoration of Jewish sovereignty in the holy land. We celebrate the right to live as proud individual Jews, and our right to do so as a people in our national historic homeland.
        People who attack Jews attack Israel, and people who attack Israel attack Jews. Every time Israel is dragged through the mud in the media, attacks on Jews in New York and London spike to record levels. Those who really want to stand with Jews must stand with Israel, and those who want to stand with Israel must stand with Jews.
        The writer is Consul General of Israel in New York. (Forward)
  • Myths on Changing Israel's "Law of Return" - Eugene Kontorovich
    Israel's new government is considering reforming the "grandparent clause" in the Law of Return, originally adopted in 1950. It allows anyone who is Jewish or has a Jewish parent to receive citizenship upon immigration. In 1970 that law was broadened to include people with only one Jewish grandparent, and it is that amendment that is being debated.
        One common myth is that the amendment would change Israel's definition of who is a Jew. This is simply not true. The 1970 amendment does not define the patrilineal grandchildren of Jews as "Jews," but rather specifically as non-Jews who are nevertheless included in the Law of Return.
        Another myth is that the amendment would be an insult to American Jews, or dampen American aliyah. This is baseless. Tens of thousands of Jews have made aliyah from the U.S. in the past decade - and only 67 did so under the grandparent clause. One could count on one hand the number of Americans affected annually - well under 1%.
        The grandparent provision is frequently justified as allowing anyone who was persecuted by the Nazis to find refuge in Israel - the notorious Nuremberg Laws treated anyone with a Jewish grandparent as Jewish. However, this justification has outlived its purpose nearly a century after Nuremberg. To keep that definition now would be to allow Hitler to dictate Israel's aliyah policy forever.
        The writer is a professor at George Mason University Law School and a scholar at the Kohelet Policy Forum in Jerusalem. (Times of Israel)

  • Weekend Features

  • Immigration to Israel Hits 23-Year High, Driven by Russian Invasion of Ukraine - Judah Ari Gross
    Over 70,000 people immigrated to Israel in 2022, the highest number in over two decades, according to figures released by the Jewish Agency on Thursday. 37,364 arrived from Russia, 14,680 from Ukraine, and 1,993 from Belarus. 3,500 came from North America, 2,049 from France, 1,500 from Ethiopia, 985 from Argentina, 526 from the UK, 426 from South Africa and 356 from Brazil. Smaller numbers immigrated from another 85 countries. (Times of Israel)
  • Kibbutz Children Discover 2,000-Year-Old Oil Lamp
    Fourth-grade students at Kibbutz Parod in the northern Galilee recently found a complete 2,000-year-old oil lamp made of clay in the ground. The Israel Antiquities Authority confirmed its age. The director of education at the IAA, Einat Ambar-Armon, said the area of Parod in ancient times was a large Jewish village. "The lamp that was revealed is a typical lamp for the Jewish settlement in the early Roman period....This is a special discovery. It is quite rare to find just a whole lamp like this."  (Times of Israel)
  • Ex-Concentration Camp Secretary Convicted for Role in 10,500 Murders - Paul Kirby
    In what may be the last Nazi trial, Irmgard Furchner, 97, a former secretary who worked for the commander of the Stutthof Concentration Camp, has been convicted of complicity in the murders of 10,505 people during the Holocaust. She was given a two-year suspended jail term. The judge agreed she was fully aware of what was going on at the camp. At Stutthof, located near the Polish city of Gdansk, a variety of methods were used to murder detainees and thousands died in gas chambers there from June 1944. (BBC News)
  • In World War II, German Generals Knew about the Annihilation of Jews - Ayelett Shani
    Avner Gershony is a doctoral student at the University of Haifa. His dissertation deals with the stories of nine top Wehrmacht generals during the last year and a half of World War II. British intelligence recorded conversations of German officers who were taken prisoner and brought to an estate in London, which was completely wired with eavesdropping devices. The transcripts were inaccessible until 1996.
        These generals are veteran army personnel who were already officers during World War I. They are not a product of Nazi education. Yet there is really not a great difference between the ambitions of the kaiser or of the Second Reich (1871-1919), and those of the Third Reich. The worldview of these generals is imperialistic. Hitler's ambitions suit them: to expand to the east, to raise Germany to the status of a superpower. As long as Hitler was winning, they had no problem with him.
        They were all antisemites in their worldview. They simply believed totally in the anti-Jewish propaganda. We can glean from their conversations that they were fully aware of what was happening on the ground. They speak openly about the annihilation of Jews, about the murder of local populations in the East. They knew everything. Some of them were even responsible for it.
        There's a conversation in which one of them, an amateur photographer, recalls having been invited by his comrade to view executions of Jews. He tells him with the height of nonchalance: Listen, we usually shoot them in the morning, but if you come, we'll do it around noon. There's another general, who oversaw the murders, and he actually describes how children are taken and shot in the back of the neck.  (Ha'aretz)

  • Preparing for any potential war against Iran, the Biden administration has formally elevated Israel in military planning with its 2021 shift of Israel to U.S. Central Command, responsible for the Middle East, from its previous assignment as part of European Command. For the Pentagon, Israel is the most prized military and intelligence partner in the Middle East, with its vast combat experience and advanced technologies.
  • "Israel is coming out of the closet, allowed now to openly cooperate with the [U.S.] military, while at the same time being denied access to another closet," says a senior intelligence official, referring to the world of American intelligence. The official says that for some things, such as targeting, exchanges are part of the new military alliance. Israel is a world military leader and an expert in many forms of modern warfare, including air and missile defense, directed energy weapons such as lasers, and unmanned systems.
  • But where U.S.-Israeli interests might diverge, such as uncovering secrets about Israel's own nuclear arsenal, the U.S. has redoubled its collection efforts. The CIA is responsible for collecting information on the Israeli leadership. The U.S. armed forces are responsible for military intelligence on Israel's technology, capabilities and plans. Within the military, the NSA eavesdrops on Israeli communications - while also cooperating with its Israeli counterparts, who in turn spy on its Arab neighbors and Iran.
  • About 1,000 qualified Hebrew linguists in the U.S. government work on questions related to Israel. About 1/3 work in intelligence collection and analysis specifically related to spying on Israel. The NSA - responsible for signals intelligence - currently has 250 Hebrew linguists who translate secure Israel government dispatches, military communications, and targeted cell phone traffic. By 2025, according to intelligence sources, the number of qualified military Hebrew linguists is programmed to double, partly to service the increased cooperation.
  • Israel is a difficult country to spy on because of its technical expertise and its routine focus on "operational security." It practices good communications and cybersecurity discipline and uses sophisticated cryptography in coding its messages. Much of the U.S. intelligence collection effort consequently is focused on micro-targeting of individuals (i.e., their cell phones, computers and other devices).
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