August 7, 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:

No Deal with Saudi Arabia before 2024 U.S. Elections - Majdi Halabi (Israel Hayom)
    There has been a flurry of reports on a possible normalization deal between Saudi Arabia and Israel under American auspices.
    Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is unlikely to modify his terms for a deal with Israel at this point. What's more, it appears that when it comes to handling the "Israeli" portfolio vis-a-vis the Americans, it is King Salman who is calling the shots.
    Saudi Arabia today is courted by practically every world power - from China and rich southeast Asian powers to Russia and the EU, as well as by the UK. The current Biden administration is of little interest to the royal palace, sources in Riyadh say.
    They add that the kingdom will wait until the outcome of the 2024 U.S. election is clear before deciding on what's next.
    The writer is the Israel affairs correspondent for the London-based Arabic-language news website Elaph.

U.S. Presses Israel to Help the Palestinian Authority Financially - Shirit Avitan Cohen (Israel Hayom)
    Israel's Diplomatic-Security Cabinet met on Sunday and discussed a request made by the Biden administration to help the Palestinian Authority financially.
    The forum decided to suspend debt collection from Ramallah for another year.
    Ministers were presented with a host of other steps that would prevent the PA from collapsing financially, including the transfer of tax revenue Israel collects on its behalf, expanding the Taraqomia Industrial Zone, and expanding the operating hours of the Allenby Crossing from Jordan. Some of the measures were approved.

Hamas Gunmen Foil Economic Protests in Gaza - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    Hamas security forces and militiamen on Friday foiled an attempt by Palestinian activists to launch large-scale demonstrations in Gaza to protest economic hardship.
    The Hamas men, many in civilian clothes, blocked squares and streets and conducted thorough searches on passersby to thwart the planned protests.
    A group representing the protesters, Al-Hirak al-Sha'bi (Popular Action), said Saturday that Hamas used "hundreds of vehicles, placed all their units and soldiers on high alert, blocked roads, and imposed a curfew in scenes unwitnessed in Gaza for many years. This proves that our revolution is succeeding."
    Mohammed al-Aklouk, a Hamas-affiliated preacher, said the protests in Gaza are aimed at undermining the "Jihad (holy war) project" against Israel.

Why Jenin Is a Hotbed of Terror - Dean Shmuel Elmas (Globes)
    Reichman University Institute for Counter Terrorism senior researcher Dr. Michael Barak notes that in contrast to other major Palestinian cities, Jenin has no significant traditional clan structure.
    When there is no clan authority, the Palestinian Authority has no one to turn to, to reduce terrorist activity.
    Estimates are that hundreds of Islamic Jihad activists operate in the Jenin area and enjoy the support of 25% of the population.
    Dozens of Hamas activists also operate in the same area and they have support of 20% of Jenin's residents.

Hamas Sentences Seven Palestinians to Death for Collaborating with Israel - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    A Hamas military court in Gaza on Sunday issued death sentences by hanging against seven Palestinians accused of "collaboration" with Israel. Two other Palestinians were sentenced to life in prison at hard labor on the same charge.
    Hamas said they provided Israeli security forces with information about armed groups and the location of tunnels and rockets in Gaza.
    The crackdown reflects Hamas' growing concern over Israel's intelligence capabilities in Gaza.

Poland to Spend $100 Million on Israeli Long-Range Spike Antitank Missiles - Tim Martin (Breaking Defense)
    Poland's Minister of Defense Mariusz Blaszczak announced Thursday that the country will acquire "several hundred" Spike LR (Long Range) antitank guided missiles (ATGM) to be produced by Mesko, part of the PGZ state armaments group.
    The Spike family of anti-tank missiles were developed by Israel's Rafael Advanced Defense Systems. Rafael said the announcement is valued at $100 million.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. May Put Armed Troops on Commercial Ships in Strait of Hormuz to Stop Iran Seizures - Lolita C. Baldor
    The U.S. military is considering putting armed personnel on commercial ships traveling through the Strait of Hormuz to stop Iran from seizing and harassing civilian vessels, American officials said Thursday. Brig.-Gen. Pat Ryder noted that additional ships, aircraft and Marines have been deployed to the Gulf region, making it easier to respond more quickly to any Iranian provocations. He said the U.S. aims to ensure "the Strait of Hormuz remains open, there's freedom of navigation, and that we're deterring any type of malign activity."
        White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said, "The Strait of Hormuz is a vital seaway that has a huge impact on seaborne trade around the world. It's a critical chokepoint in the maritime world. And we have seen threats by Iran to affect that chokepoint."  (AP-Washington Post)
  • Iran "Now Biggest Threat to UK" - Caroline Wheeler
    Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps is the biggest threat to Britain's national security, Home Secretary Suella Braverman believes, amid fresh evidence of its reach into Britain. Intelligence reports say Iranian spies are attempting to recruit members of organized crime gangs to target regime opponents. A source close to the home secretary said, "They are getting much more aggressive and their appetite is increasing."
        MI5 warned last year that Tehran had been behind ten murder and kidnap plots and in February this year the Metropolitan Police said it had risen to 15. (Sunday Times-UK)
        See also Iran's Islamic Armed Forces Tell Students in UK to Wage War on Jews - Charlie Parker
    Students have been told to fight in an "apocalyptic war" against Iran's enemies in extremist seminars given by Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) chiefs. The Islamic Students Association of Britain is accused of hosting senior commanders of the regime's paramilitary group, who have spouted antisemitism and fundamentalist propaganda. In one talk, Saeed Ghasemi, a former IRGC commander, told students the Holocaust was "fake" and urged them to join "the beautiful list of soldiers" who would fight and kill Jews. (The Times-UK)
  • "Tomorrow's Martyrs": Inside a Palestinian Militant Cell in the West Bank - Steve Hendrix
    The Washington Post spent time in July at Nablus' Balata refugee camp, as well as Jenin and Askar refugee camps, which have turned into outposts of armed anarchy. Zoufi, 37, commands 15 fighters of the Balata branch of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, listed as a terrorist group by Israel and the U.S. He was active in the second intifada as a teenager and served six years in Israeli prison for shooting and wounding an Israeli. He was released in 2008 and joined a branch of the Palestinian Authority security services, but found he could make more money at building sites in Israel. He bought his M16 for $20,000 with the money he earned working construction in Tel Aviv.
        Israel accuses Palestinian officials of letting militants operate freely and of allowing thousands of smuggled or homemade weapons to flood the West Bank. An Israeli military official said the recent terror wave is being driven by the feebleness of the PA, social media fervor, and the availability of illegal weapons. The Israel Defense Forces have made more than 1,340 arrests there this year. The Lions' Den cell in Nablus has been all but demolished by IDF raids and arrests. (Washington Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Palestinian Gunman Kills Israeli Security Officer in Tel Aviv - Emanuel Fabian
    Chen Amir, 42, a municipal patrol officer, was killed by a Palestinian shooter in Tel Aviv on Saturday evening. The gunman, from Palestinian Islamic Jihad, was killed by the officer's colleague. The two security officers approached the Palestinian man in the Nachalat Binyamin neighborhood at a time when dozens of restaurants, cafes, and bars were packed. The Palestinian, Kamel Abu Bakr, 22, pulled out a handgun and opened fire, hitting Amir, a married father of three. Abu Bakr had been wanted by Israeli security forces and had been hiding in the Jenin refugee camp for the past six months.
        Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Amir "stopped with his own body a major attack and saved many lives."  (Times of Israel)
        See also Widow of Officer Killed in Tel Aviv: "Always Knew He'd Be First to Confront an Attacker"
    Vered Amir, the widow of Chen Amir, killed in a Tel Aviv terrorist attack on Saturday, said Sunday, "I always knew he'd be the first to [engage an assailant]. In all the previous terrorist attacks, he was always the first to run and search and help. He has a closet full of thank you certificates. He saved lives, he saved people."  (Times of Israel)
  • Tel Aviv Attacker Was Wanted Terrorist - Yoav Zitun
    Kamel Abu Bakr, who murdered security patrolman Chen Amir in Tel Aviv on Saturday, was a member of the "Jenin Brigade" and was implicated in a gunfire attack on IDF units in the West Bank six months ago. He featured prominently on the Israel Security Agency's watchlist. He was a known figure in the Jenin refugee camp and his terrorist act surprised none of those who knew him. Following the attack, residents of the Jenin refugee camp erupted in jubilation, leading to a parade that was promptly halted by Palestinian security officials. (Ynet News)
  • Israel Kills Three Palestinian Terrorists on Their Way to an Attack - Emanuel Fabian
    Three Palestinian gunmen en route to carry out a terror attack were ambushed and killed by Israeli forces near the West Bank city of Jenin on Sunday. The gunmen were Naif Abu Suias, Lu'ayy Abu Na'asa and Baraa Ahmed Qurum. IDF spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said the cell was heading to carry out a drive-by shooting attack against Israeli civilians near Mevo Dotan, and that the forces had "removed a real and immediate threat....This is a targeted and surgical operation in which intelligence is the main enabler, together with very fast flexibility of the IDF and the operational units."  (Times of Israel)
  • IDF Detains More than 100 Palestinian Terrorists - Hanan Greenwood
    More than 100 Palestinian terrorists have been detained in recent IDF operations in Judea and Samaria. Over the past week, at least three cells were eliminated before they could perpetrate attacks, and since the start of 2023 more than 750 weapons have been seized. (Israel Hayom)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Palestinian Leader Lauded by Western Press Provided Money and Explosives to Suicide Bomber - Stephen M. Flatow
    A glowing feature article about PA official Hussein al-Sheikh by Adam Rasgon of the New Yorker and Aaron Boxerman of the New York Times appeared in Foreign Policy on July 31. Yet it failed to mention al-Sheikh's involvement in a Palestinian suicide bombing attack on King George Street in the heart of Jerusalem on March 21, 2002. Five people were murdered, and more than 100 were injured. The explosion hurled U.S. citizen Alan Bauer 20 feet into the air. Two screws packed into the bomb ripped through his left arm. His son, Jonathan, 7, suffered severe shrapnel wounds and underwent numerous operations to remove nails and screws from his head, including one that was lodged in his brain. He was left with permanent injuries.
        After the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, the military arm of the Fatah movement, openly claimed responsibility for the bombing, the U.S. State Department finally put the group on its official list of terrorist organizations.
        The family of a young couple, Gadi and Tzipi Shemesh, who were killed in the bombing, filed a suit against the PA. In 2018, the Jerusalem District Court ruled that the PA was responsible for the bombing, citing testimony provided by Israeli intelligence officials. According to the court's ruling, one of those named by the officials was "senior Fatah official Hussein al-Sheikh, who met the suicide bomber and two other operatives, and gave them money and two hand grenades to carry out the bombing." According to American and Israeli law, this makes al-Sheikh equally guilty of multiple murders. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israel's Larger Purpose - David Harris
    In his Aug. 1 column, Max Boot said his larger outlook toward Israel has been changed by the policies of Israel's current government. Yet Israel's larger purpose remains to allow Jews to live as a majority population in one country on Earth, continue the millennia-long connection between the ancient land and the Jewish people, and control their own destiny, including immigration.
        Families like Mr. Boot's were able to leave the Soviet Union in the 1970s because they declared their intention to live in Israel. Without that declaration, their exit might well have been blocked. The same Israel that helped them leave, even though Mr. Boot's family ended up heading for the U.S. after arrival in the West, is the same Israel that today is providing a sanctuary to Jews fleeing tyranny in the Russian Federation, war against Ukraine, and rising antisemitism in Europe and elsewhere - while continuing to be the most progressive nation in the Middle East and a staunch U.S. ally.
        The rebirth of a Jewish state in 1948, after 1,878 years of forced exile, was an extraordinary event in world history. 75 years later, it remains extraordinary.
        The writer was chief executive of the American Jewish Committee from 1990 to 2022. (Washington Post)
  • America Should Not Condition Foreign Aid to Israel - Spike Anderson
    In July, I joined 1,000 Jewish community leaders for a briefing hosted by the Union for Reform Judaism following the Knesset's passage of the "reasonableness" bill. Among the presenters was Rabbi Gilad Kariv, a current Knesset member from the Labor Party and the first Reform rabbi to serve in the Knesset. When he was asked, "Should America condition foreign aid to Israel?" his message was clear. "Leave the foreign aid aside. We are not allowed to forget the existential threats....We need to understand that there are a few red lines that we cannot cross. Conditioning foreign aid is one of those bright red lines."
        This is a critical distinction for pro-Israel Americans to internalize. The security challenges facing Israel are dire, and conditioning the aid that protects Israelis from those threats will only put them in greater danger.
        Those who wake up each day plotting Israel's destruction want to exploit every perceived weakness in its security to attack and harm Israelis. They are growing in military might and they are right on Israel's doorstep. Cynically targeting the lifesaving aid that protects Israelis from terrorism is not a pro-Israel response. It's a poison pill.
        The writer is the senior rabbi at Temple Emanuel in Atlanta, Georgia. (Times of Israel)

Palestinian Compliance with the Oslo Accords: A Legal Overview - Amb. Alan Baker (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • The exchange of letters between Israel's Prime Minister Rabin and the PLO's Chairman Arafat, dated September 9, 1993, contains mutual declarations of recognition, reciprocal commitments to negotiate peace, and Palestinian declarations that "all outstanding issues relating to the permanent status will be resolved through negotiations" and "the PLO renounces the use of terrorism and other acts of violence."
  • The Oslo Accords constitute the sole valid source of legal authority for the relationship between Israel and the Palestinians. They are the only authoritative legal source for the very existence of the Palestinian Authority. They were countersigned and witnessed by the U.S., Russia, the EU, Egypt, and Norway, and subsequently endorsed by the UN in several resolutions.
  • Since the Oslo Accords remain the only valid, agreed, legal source of authority for the division of control, powers, and responsibilities between the Palestinians and Israel over various parts of the territories, pending the outcome of negotiations on their permanent status, Palestinian attempts in the UN General Assembly or through international judicial bodies to achieve some international acknowledgment that Israel is an "occupying power" are legally flawed and substantively wrong.
  • Indeed, Palestinian actions in the international community violate the very integrity of the Accords.
  • The continued advocating of terror, financing terrorists, and incitement to violence are incompatible with the Oslo Accords and specifically with Palestinian commitments to prevent terror and punish violators.

    The writer, who heads the Global Law Forum at the Jerusalem Center, served as legal adviser and deputy director-general of Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and participated in the negotiation and drafting of the Oslo Accords with the Palestinians. This article is part of the Center's new "Oslo at 30" compendium.

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