January 23, 2023
A project of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
Israel's Global Embassy for National Security and Applied Diplomacy
Dan Diker, President - Yechiel Leiter, Director General

In-Depth Issues:

Palestinian Terrorists Received $100,000 for Murdering Israeli Soldier - Charles Bybelezer (JNS)
    Two Palestinian terrorists, Karim and Maher Younis, recently released from prison after serving 40-year terms for murdering IDF Cpl. Avraham Bromberg on the Golan Heights in 1980, each received $98,698 from the Palestinian Authority in compensation for the murder, according to Israeli NGO Palestinian Media Watch.

Debunking the Claim that New U.S. Embassy Site Is on "Palestinian Land" - Amb. Dore Gold (Jerusalem Post)
    Ha'aretz and the New York Times recently ran an article by Prof. Rashid Khalidi of Columbia University, calling on Washington to refrain from building a new embassy in Jerusalem "on land stolen by Israel."
    Khalidi reminds his readers that the land in Jerusalem on which he is focused was known as the Allenby Barracks.
    An aerial photograph of this area from 1917, before the British developed it, shows that it had no buildings and the land was barren. Indeed, the Ottoman Empire used it as an airstrip before World War I.
    The writer is former president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (20002022).

Hizbullah Builds 20 New Observation Posts along Israel-Lebanon Border - Yair Kraus (Ynet News)
    Hizbullah has built 20 observation and guard posts over the past year along Israel's border with Lebanon, Ynet learned Monday.
    According to UN Security Council Resolution 1701, following the 2006 Lebanon war, Hizbullah is forbidden from operating near the border fence.

Israel Seeks to Acquire 25 F-15 Fighters from the U.S. - Arie Egozi (Breaking Defense)
    The Israeli Ministry of Defense has officially requested 25 F-15 EX fighters from the U.S., and the Israel Air Force (IAF) is hoping to double the order.
    The IAF expressed an urgent need for more F-15s that can be loaded with some types of weapon systems developed in Israel that are tailored to destroy "hardened" targets, such as Iranian nuclear sites.
    According to Boeing, the F15-EX "carries more weapons than any other fighter in its class, and can launch hypersonic weapons up to 22 feet long and that weigh up to 7,000 pounds."

Iranian Currency Falls to Record Low (Reuters)
    Iran's currency fell to a record low of 447,000 rials to the U.S. dollar on Saturday.
    The rial has lost 29% of its value since nationwide protests began in September.

NASA to Launch Israeli Astrophysics Research Mission - Jeff Foust (Space News)
    The U.S. and Israel are finalizing an agreement that would see NASA launch an Israeli astrophysics research mission.
    Called Ultrasat, the mission was developed by Israel's Weizmann Institute of Science with support from the Israel Space Agency and German research center DESY.
    James Rhoads, NASA project scientist for Ultrasat, told the American Astronomical Society on Jan. 11 that NASA will likely fly Ultrasat as a secondary payload on a commercial geostationary (GEO) launch.
    Ultrasat will carry an ultraviolet telescope with a wide field of view. The spacecraft is being built by Israel Aerospace Industries, with DESY providing the ultraviolet camera.
    Its mission is to look for ultraviolet signatures from gravitational-wave events, such as mergers involving neutron stars, and to study supernova explosions.
    Those goals match well with NASA's own research priorities.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Israeli PM Netanyahu Defends Sanctions Imposed on Palestinian Authority - Mark Weiss
    "The latest moves by the Palestinians in the international arena are an attack on Israel and obligate us to respond," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at a meeting on Thursday in Jerusalem with visiting U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan. The U.S. has condemned the PA's successful effort at the UN to have the International Court of Justice in The Hague examine Israeli policy in the West Bank, but it also criticized the sanctions Israel imposed in response. (Irish Times)
        See also below Observations: The Palestinian Terror Authority - Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser and Or Yissachar (JNS-Israel Hayom)
  • In Reversal, Harvard Offers Fellowship to Advocate Critical of Israel - Susan Svrluga
    The Harvard Kennedy School backtracked Thursday, offering a fellowship to Kenneth Roth, the former executive director of Human Rights Watch, after he was denied a fellowship by the school's dean, Douglas Elmendorf, because of his critical views on Israel. On Thursday, Elmendorf wrote that he now believed his decision had been an error and that the school would extend a fellowship offer to Roth.
        Natalie L. Kahn, a senior at Harvard, wrote an opinion piece defending the dean's original veto in the Harvard Crimson last week. "Not everyone is entitled to a fellowship purely in the name of free speech," she wrote. "Our campus discourse about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict should be nuanced and informative. Whining about not being able to add yet another voice to the anti-Israel echo chamber will not achieve that goal."  (Washington Post)
        See also Harvard Surrenders to the Antisemites - Jonathan S. Tobin (JNS)
  • Fuel Crisis Plunges Syria into Darkness - Sarah Dadouch
    Extended electricity cuts have sunk most of Syria into a near-constant blackout. In Damascus, some neighborhoods receive as little as 15 minutes of power every 24 hours. With gasoline also in short supply, main thoroughfares are often devoid of traffic. Most Syrians rely on generators for electricity, but those also require fuel. (Washington Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Netanyahu: U.S. Has Genuine Desire to Reach Understandings on Iran
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the Israeli Cabinet on Sunday: "Last Thursday, I met with U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan.... Our talks focused on the regional security challenges, especially Iran, as well as ways for cooperation between us against this common threat."
        "I must say that regarding the meetings, I was impressed that there is a genuine and mutual desire to reach understandings on this issue, which is of decisive importance to the security of the state. The discussions on the issue will be held between Jerusalem and Washington in the coming weeks."  (Prime Minister's Office)
  • Israel Raises $2 Billion in Government Bonds as Demand Totaled $12 Billion - Sharon Wrobel
    Israel's Finance Ministry said it sold $2 billion of ten-year bonds to fund key environmental objectives as demand amounted to $12 billion. More than 200 investors in 35 countries, including the U.S., UK, Germany, and the UAE, participated in the international bond offering. "The results of the issuance indicate confidence in the Israeli economy on the part of major global investors," said Senior Deputy Accountant General Gil Cohen. (Times of Israel)
  • Survey: Most Ukrainians Consider Israel Supportive and a Friend - Itamar Eichner
    A survey conducted at the request of the Israeli embassy in Ukraine reveals that 52% of Ukrainians consider Israel a friendly country that supports them, while only 12% disagree. 64% expressed support for Israel in its conflict with Iran. 53% reported that they think Ukraine and Israel are similar in their resilience. 60% of Ukrainians feel solidarity with Israelis, whom they see as victims of Palestinian aggression. (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Time for Israel's Supreme Court to Be More Like that of the U.S. - Amb. David Friedman
    Having practiced law in the U.S. for more than 35 years, I undoubtedly am biased in my belief that America has the world's premier judicial system. Our Supreme Court has enormous power, but also has very limited jurisdiction. The Supreme Court was given the extraordinary power to overturn an act of Congress, but only if that act violated the Constitution (and never because the law in question violated the justices' personal sensibilities). U.S. Supreme Court judges are appointed by presidents and subject to confirmation by the U.S. Senate.
        It's time for Israel's Supreme Court to be more like that of the U.S. Those who believe that the Israeli Supreme Court has too much power are certainly not outside the mainstream of judicial thought. Israeli Supreme Court judges are selected by a committee, the majority of whom are not politically accountable, and the Supreme Court itself even has veto power over new judicial appointments. Because Israel lacks a constitution, there is no text that prevents judges from deciding matters based upon personal views and philosophies.
        Those who claim that limiting the power of the Israeli Supreme Court is an attack on democracy are wrong - it is the Knesset, not the Court, that reflects the democratic will of the Israeli people. In numerous parliamentary democracies such as the UK, the Supreme Court only may interpret but not overturn a law of the parliament. Indeed, prior to 1992, the Israeli Supreme Court did not consider itself to have the power to overrule acts of the Knesset.
        The intellectual dishonesty permeating many of the arguments against judicial reform is quite harmful and the shrill rhetoric is breeding internal disunity and external embarrassment.
        The writer is a former U.S. ambassador to Israel. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israel's Judicial Reform "Controversy" Is Much Ado about Nothing - Josh Hammer
    There is simply no other country on Earth that attracts such disproportionate, and often vehement, disparagement from its would-be moral superiors as Israel. The current hullabaloo takes the form of the roiling debate over the new Israeli government's proposed judicial reform package. Newspaper editorial boards from Washington, D.C., to Brussels have condemned the reforms in no uncertain terms.
        There is no substantive basis whatsoever for these performative shrieks of hysteria. The government's reform package is just and proper, as a matter of both political theory and comparative constitutional law. It would primarily make it easier for the Knesset to override Supreme Court rulings by a certain threshold, and amend the current practice wherein justices essentially choose their very own successors. The first reform reflects the British model of governance, while the second would bring Israel in line with the American model.
        This is all incredibly standard, straightforward and noncontroversial. The result, if the reforms are passed, would be a more democratic State of Israel.
        The writer is opinion editor of Newsweek and a research fellow with the Edmund Burke Foundation. (American Spectator)
  • Who's Threatening Israeli Democracy? - Editorial
    Israel's Supreme Court has more power than America's but without the democratic checks. Israel's court strikes down laws that it finds merely "unreasonable," which can cover most anything. Israel's court even has a veto on the appointment of new justices, in contrast to the U.S. where the President and Senate share the appointment power. The wisdom of the reform proposals varies, but it isn't "antidemocratic" to think Israel's Supreme Court needs democratic checks on its power. (Wall Street Journal)
        See also Israel's Supreme Court Claims a Veto on Political Appointments - Eugene Kontorovich
    Israel's Supreme Court last week invalidated the ministerial appointment of Aryeh Deri, leader of one party in the new governing coalition. The Knesset had specifically passed a law authorizing someone in Deri's situation (he had pleaded guilty to criminal charges) to hold cabinet office, but the court said it would be "unreasonable" for him to be a minister - a kind of impeachment by judiciary.
        No judiciary in the world has as far-reaching powers over government as Israel's. The court assumed these powers in recent decades without authorization from lawmakers or a national consensus, and there is no reason they should be unalterable. The reform proposals wouldn't undermine judicial independence and would make the Israeli court more like its American counterpart.
        The writer is a professor at George Mason University Law School and a scholar at the Kohelet Policy Forum in Jerusalem. (Wall Street Journal)

The Palestinian Terror Authority - Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser and Or Yissachar (JNS-Israel Hayom)
  • Traditionally, Israeli governments avoided confronting the Palestinian Authority over its breaches of the Oslo Accords, such as supporting terrorism, ongoing incitement, and unilateral activities in international fora.
  • Yet in retaliation for the PA's appeal to the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the new security cabinet impose a series of sanctions on the PA, signaling that the Israeli government will no longer look the other way when the PA unilaterally breaches its signed commitments and continues to fund, incentivize, and praise terrorism.
  • First, $40 million taken from PA tax revenue collected by Israel was used to compensate families of terror victims per a pending court order against the PA. Next, the cabinet decided to implement the Freezing Terror Funds Law, which deducts the amount of money the PA pays to terrorists and their families from funds designated for the PA.
  • In addition, VIP permits for PA officials who are leading the "lawfare" campaign against Israel were denied. Unjustified and unauthorized Palestinian construction plans for Area C of Judea and Samaria - which Oslo designated as under full Israeli control - were frozen. A series of NGOs operating under the guise of humanitarian aid organizations that served as shell companies for terror groups will be more closely scrutinized.
  • The PA continues to be a strategic threat to Israel's security. It has been involved in terrorism since it was established. PA payments to terrorists have been official policy for decades. The PA offers stipends of $400 to $3,500 monthly for every Palestinian terrorist who murders or attempts to murder innocent Israelis. These salaries are lifelong.
  • For the average Palestinian, this is like winning the lottery. A lifetime monthly salary of $3,500 is four times the average Palestinian wage and eight times higher than the minimum wage. A convicted terrorist makes five times more than teachers and engineers, and as much as a Palestinian supreme court judge.

    Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser is director of the Project on Regional Middle East Developments at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. Or Yissachar is Head of Research and Content for IDSF-Habithonistim.

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