August 21, 2023
A project of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
Israel's Global Embassy for National Security and Applied Diplomacy
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In-Depth Issues:

How U.S. Marines Could Prevent Iranian Harassment of Commercial Ships - Irene Loewenson (Marine Corps Times)
    More than 100 Marines already have gotten training and are prepared to be put on commercial vessels transiting the Strait of Hormuz, which links the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, the U.S. Naval Institute reported Friday.
    "You will not get on a commercial vessel that has a contingent of Marines on board," Marine Lt.-Gen. (ret.) Dave Beydler said Tuesday.
    They can fend off attacks with their counter-drone and counter-air capabilities. And with their communications capabilities, they could quickly alert the Navy if threats emerge.
    Navy Adm. (ret.) James Stavridis, former supreme allied commander of NATO, wrote Friday that the Marines' jam-proof communications would be their most important asset.

Hamas Begins to Establish a Rocket Production Infrastructure in Jenin - Yoni Ben Menachem (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
    Hamas leader Saleh al-Arouri has been working to set up a terrorist network in northern Samaria dedicated to producing and launching rockets toward Israel.
    Seven locally-produced rockets have been launched recently, symbolizing Hamas' intent.
    The Israel Security Agency predicts that it is only a matter of time before advanced technological knowledge for rocket production is transferred from Gaza to Judea and Samaria.
    A substantial Israeli intelligence effort is underway to locate those involved in rocket production.

Egyptian Intelligence Officials Visit Israel to Discuss Security, Economic Cooperation (Al-Araby Al-Jadeed-UK)
    An Egyptian intelligence delegation, including a top intelligence agency official and a North Sinai security chief, traveled to Israel last week to discuss security issues and economic cooperation.
    They discussed new measures agreed upon in the aftermath of the killing of three Israeli soldiers by an Egyptian conscript in March.
    They also discussed energy cooperation and reconstruction in Gaza.

Poll: In Gaza, Half Are Open to Normalizing Ties with Israel Were Saudi Arabia to Do So - Catherine Cleveland and David Pollock (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
    According to a poll conducted with the Palestine Center for Public Opinion in July 2023, 50% of Gazans would support normalizing relations with Israel were Riyadh to do so.
    At the same time, 65% of West Bank residents reject this proposal.
    47% of Gazans say the Abraham Accords have had at least a somewhat positive impact, versus 29% of West Bankers.
    42% of Gazans agree that "I hope someday we can be friends with Israelis, since we are all human beings after all."
    In the West Bank, the corresponding figure is just 30%.
    At the same time, 63% of Palestinians in eastern Jerusalem, whose residents have daily contact with Israelis, agree at least "somewhat" to possible friendship with Israelis someday.

Tel Aviv Light Rail Opens (Israel Hayom)
    The Tel Aviv Light Rail began running on Friday.
    The 24-km. (15-mile) Red Line has 34 stations, including 10 underground stops, and runs from Bat Yam through Jaffa, Tel Aviv, Bnei Brak and Ramat Gan to Petach Tikvah.
    Half of the route goes through an underground tunnel.

Majority of Recent Ethiopian Immigrants to Israel are Christians, Allowed Entry to Unite Families - Zvika Klein (Jerusalem Post)
    2/3 of the immigrants from Ethiopia to Israel between 2020 and 2022 identified as Christians, according to official data.
    Out of more than 5,000 immigrants, 3,301 identified as Christians, while 1,773 identified as descendants of Jews. None were eligible for aliyah under the Law of Return.
    Their aliyah is considered a humanitarian act of family reunification.
    It is now assumed that many members of the "Jewish communities" in Ethiopia actually practice a different religion.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • IRGC Navy Intercepts U.S. Warships in Strait of Hormuz
    Iran's Revolutionary Guard has released a video on Saturday of its surveilling and following the U.S. Navy amphibious assault ship USS Bataan and destroyer USS Thomas Hudner in the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf on Aug. 17. The IRGC navy threatened to open fire from speedboats on U.S. helicopters flying above the ships. (Iran International)
  • Iran's Weapons Now Reach the Western Hemisphere - Joseph Humire
    After more than four decades of systematic penetration of Latin America, Iran is prepositioning military assets and armaments in the region. On July 20, Iranian state media reported on a new bilateral defense agreement between Bolivia and Iran. A few days later, Bolivia's defense minister confirmed that their agreement with Iran includes the transfer of drones. At the same time, Iran-made fast attack craft and anti-ship missiles were on full display at the Venezuelan Navy's bicentennial celebration.
        The writer is a Visiting Fellow at the Heritage Foundation. (1945)
  • Palestinian Police Struggle in Militant Hotbed - Isabel Debre
    Palestinian police have stepped up a campaign to restore order in the West Bank city of Jenin, long a bastion of crime adjacent to the militarized Jenin refugee camp. Palestinian authorities have deployed 1,000 new security officers from Mahmoud Abbas' presidential guard across the city and have set up checkpoints to catch criminals.
        Militants are lying low, rather than shooting in the air and showing off their M-16s in the streets. Police say they've seized scores of stolen cars, confiscated hundreds of narcotic pills, and arrested 364 criminals, including over a dozen wanted in cold murder cases. Authorities are preparing to inaugurate a local prison. But the law-and-order campaign does not extend to the Jenin refugee camp. (AP-Washington Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israeli Woman Killed, Man Seriously Wounded in Drive-By Terror Shooting near Hebron - Emanuel Fabian
    An Israeli woman was shot and killed and a man was seriously wounded in a Palestinian drive-by attack at the Beit Hagai junction south of Hebron on Monday. The vehicle was hit by at least 22 rounds. A 6-year-old girl who was in the car during the attack was unharmed. (Times of Israel)
  • Israeli Father and Son Murdered in Huwara Terror Attack - Matan Tzuri
    Aviad Nir, 28, and his father Silas (Shai) Nigreker, 60, from Ashdod, were shot and killed at a car wash in the Palestinian town of Huwara on Saturday. According to Palestinian reports, the Palestinian who shot the two made sure they were Jewish and not Israeli-Arabs before opening fire. (Ynet News)
        See also Huwara Victim's Widow: "Everyone in Huwara Knew Him" - Arnold Nataev
    Rina Stamker, partner of Silas (Shai) Nigerker who was killed on Saturday along with his son Aviad in a terror attack in Huwara, said, "He goes there all the time - I went with him several times. Everyone in Huwara knew him." Gabriel Stamker, Shai's stepson, said, "He's been going there for years. He has friends there. He used to get haircuts there and fix up his car [there]."  (Maariv-Jerusalem Post)
  • Palestinians Torch Car of Israeli Who Mistakenly Entered Arab Town - Emanuel Fabian
    An Israeli man was attacked and lightly hurt by Palestinians after mistakenly entering the West Bank town of Turmus Ayya on Sunday. His car was set on fire. (Times of Israel)
  • Israeli Cabinet Okays $843 Million Development Plan for Eastern Jerusalem
    The Israeli Cabinet on Sunday approved a five-year, NIS 3.2 billion ($843 million) plan for the development of Arab eastern Jerusalem, including infrastructure, housing, healthcare, education, public transportation, welfare and cultural programming. (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Saudi-Israeli Peace Is No Pipe Dream - Haisam Hassanein
    Riyadh is laying the foundation for peace with Israel. Diplomatic statements, positive local media coverage, tolerance toward people-to-people interactions, and changes in textbooks are all preparing the Saudi public for a potential normalization deal with the Jewish state.
        In Saudi-affiliated media, Israel and normalization are no longer taboo. The Saudi news network Al-Arabiya hosts Israelis to discuss issues unrelated to the Palestinians, as well as Arab commentators who shared favorable views of Gulf normalization with Jerusalem while demanding that the Palestinians give peace a chance. This month, the Jeddah-based daily Okaz published an article by a Syrian writer urging Palestinians to conclude peace with the Jewish state under the auspices of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman.
        The writer is an adjunct fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. (Washington Examiner)
        See also Saudi Lawyer Tells Israel TV that Palestinian Cause Has Been Exaggerated
    Saudi lawyer Badr Al-Saadoun told Israel Channel 11 TV that "Between 70 to 80% of Saudis are youths. Palestine is not their first cause, but Saudi Arabia is....Unfortunately, the Palestinians stained their reputation, but the educated generations are waiting for the strategic decision - peace."
        "My message to the Israeli brothers is that we have a culture and behavior different to that of the Palestinians who are hostile, disloyal and terrorists." He said there had been "exaggeration" about the Palestinian cause. (Middle East Monitor-UK)
  • A Limited Defense Treaty with the U.S. Would Be Counterproductive - Brig.-Gen. (res.) Jacob Nagel
    A "limited defense treaty" between the U.S. and Israel as part of a normalization agreement with Saudi Arabia contains many more cons than pros, especially when it might come at the expense of Israel's top priority concern: preventing an Iran nuclear bomb. According to published reports, Israeli Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer's recent meetings in Washington discussed such a "limited defense treaty."
        By raising a need for a treaty, Israel is conveying the message that it lacks confidence in its power and capability to defend itself by itself. A hostile president, in the future, could exploit the treaty against Israel. No matter what wording will be used, it will break the historical unwritten understanding that Israel does not want American soldiers coming to its rescue and dying on Israeli soil. Moreover, there is no such thing as a "limited treaty."
        Iran is going to behave aggressively in the region, with or without a treaty. American support for what Israel really needs exists without a treaty. Signing a treaty can only undermine U.S. support on key issues, on the grounds that if there is a treaty they are no longer needed, or at least they can be reduced and weakened: No need for a broader and longer new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU); no need for a better Qualitative Military Edge (QME); no need for a wider and sophisticated deployment of U.S. weapons systems in Israel; no need for wider and much more sensitive R&D and technology cooperation.
        The writer, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, is a former Israeli national security adviser to the prime minister and head of Israel's National Security Council. (Israel Hayom)
  • Why Palestinian Self-Government Is Unraveling under President Abbas - Taylor Luck
    Mohammed, a Chilean Palestinian, is the only visitor at the Yasser Arafat Museum and Mausoleum in Ramallah on a weekday afternoon. A few yards away, the Mukataa presidential compound is nearly just as empty. It's no coincidence. Arafat's successor, Mahmoud Abbas, whose elected mandate ended 14 years ago, has shut off the Mukataa and Palestinian Authority (PA), the institutional embodiments of Palestinian autonomy, to everyone but himself and his inner circle.
        Over the past 12 years, the president has ousted and exiled potential rivals, detained opposition figures, and quashed dissent, both within his Fatah movement that dominates the PA and across the West Bank. With the Palestinian parliament dissolved, judiciary sidelined, and his party hollowed out, Abbas and a handful of allies now rule the West Bank alone. The result, observers and Palestinians say, is a self-inflicted leadership crisis: The PA commands little popular support, and its control over territory is diminishing rapidly.
        Gaith al-Omari, an analyst and former PA official who worked with both Arafat and Abbas, says, "Today Palestinians are checking out; they feel they have no voice and that a small clique controls everything. There is a widespread sense of, 'This is not ours; why should we bother?'"
        The Palestinian Legislative Council has been shuttered since 2007. The PA has been unable to pay full salaries to its 130,000 employees for 20 months. With just 70-80% of their salaries, many disgruntled employees are sinking into debt or are abandoning their posts to work in Israel. (Christian Science Monitor)

The Oslo Disaster 30 Years On - Efraim Karsh (Israel Affairs)
  • Upon receiving the Nobel Peace Prize, Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres lauded the "Oslo peace process" between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization not only as the end of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict but as the harbinger of a "New Middle East." Viewed from a 30-year vantage point, the "Oslo peace process" stands as the worst calamity to have afflicted Israelis and Palestinians since the 1948 war.
  • By replacing Israel's control of West Bank and Gaza Palestinians with corrupt and repressive terrorist entities that indoctrinated their subjects with burning hatred of Jews and Israelis, as well as murdered some 2,000 Israelis and rained thousands of rockets on their population centers, the Oslo process has made the prospects for peace and reconciliation ever more remote.
  • For Palestinians, it has brought about regimes that have reversed their hesitant advent of civil society, shattered their socioeconomic well-being, and perpetuated the conflict, as their leaders lined their pockets. For Israel, it has established ineradicable terror entities on its doorstep, denting its military and strategic posture, and weakening its international standing.
  • The Oslo process had one major achievement that has gone virtually unnoticed. "As of today, there is a Palestinian state," said Ahmad Tibi, Yasser Arafat's Arab-Israeli advisor, a day after the January 1996 Palestinian Council elections. Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Yossi Beilin - chief architect of the Oslo process - proclaimed the elections to have irreversibly ended Israel's occupation of Palestinian-populated areas.
  • In one fell swoop, Israel effectively ended its 30-year-long control of the West Bank and Gaza's populace. Since then, 99% of the Palestinians in these territories have not lived under Israeli "occupation" but under Palestinian rule.
  • Yet, rather than use the end of occupation as a springboard for bilateral negotiations on the future of the largely unpopulated West Bank territories still under Israel's control (Area C), the Palestinians have sought to damage their "peace partner" at every turn. This is because the PLO viewed the Oslo Accords as a "Trojan Horse" (to use the words of PLO official Faisal Husseini) designed to promote the strategic goal of "Palestine from the [Jordan] river to the [Mediterranean] sea" - that is, in place of Israel.
  • As Arafat told a skeptical associate shortly before moving to Gaza (in 1994), "I know that you are opposed to the Oslo Accords, but you must always remember what I'm going to tell you. The day will come when you will see thousands of Jews fleeing Palestine....The Oslo Accords will help bring this about."
  • No sooner had Arafat made his triumphant entry to Gaza than he began constructing an extensive terrorist infrastructure in flagrant violation of the accords. He refused to disarm Hamas and Islamic Jihad as required and tacitly approved the murder of hundreds of Israelis by these terror groups. As a result, terrorism in the territories spiraled.

    The writer is emeritus professor of Middle East and Mediterranean studies at King's College London and former director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University.

        See also The Oslo Accords at 30: Lessons Learned
    Jerusalem Center scholars and analysts have written a series of articles evaluating Oslo's failures and assessing the possibilities for a change of direction. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

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