September 7, 2023
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In-Depth Issues:

Israel Opens Embassy in Bahrain - Tovah Lazaroff (Jerusalem Post)
    Israel's Foreign Minister Eli Cohen and Bahrain's Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid Alzayani inaugurated the Israeli Embassy in Manama, Bahrain, on Monday.

Saudi Arabia Denies Entry Visas for Israeli Ministers to UNESCO Conference - Mansour Al-Maswari (Albawaba-Jordan)
    Saudi Arabia has declined to issue entry visas for Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen and Education Minister Yoav Kish, preventing them from attending an upcoming UNESCO conference in Riyadh, Israel's Channel 13 reported.

Irish Deputy Prime Minister Tells Abbas: Elections Must Be Held Soon - Conor Gallagher (Irish Times)
    Irish Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheal Martin "made it clear" to PA President Mahmoud Abbas that elections should be held soon in the Palestinian territories, during a meeting in Ramallah on Wednesday.
    "The last democratic elections within Palestinian territory was 2006. That means people in their early 30s have not voted for their representatives for the Palestinian Authority. That is not good and not acceptable," Martin said.
    Regarding Hamas, the de facto government in Gaza, Martin said it must completely give up violence before Ireland and the EU will engage with it.
    It is Irish and EU policy not to deal directly with Hamas, which has been designated a terrorist organization.

Israel to Deduct from PA Funds to Pay Electricity Debt - Shirit Avitan Cohen (Israel Hayom)
    Over the past three decades, the Palestinian Authority has accumulated a debt to the Israel Electric Company of two billion shekels.
    A law enacted following the Oslo Accords allows Israel to deduct funds destined for the PA to offset its debt.
    Israel's Finance Ministry has announced it will begin deducting millions of shekels monthly to pay down the debt to the IEC.

Abbas' Fatah Party Brags about Security Officer Terrorists - Nan Jacques Zilberdik (Palestinian Media Watch)
    Fatah recently published a poster showing 30 "Martyrs of the Palestinian Security Forces" who were killed while attacking Israelis.
    Fatah has bragged that they are PA Police and security officers by day and terrorists by night.
    These are the very security forces who have been funded and trained by Western donors to fight terror.
    A recent video shows photos of 24 armed terrorists who were salaried members of the PA Security Forces.
    Fatah has bragged that "more than 355 of our prisoners are from the Palestinian [PA] Security Forces - in other words, the PA's soldiers."

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Palestinian Authority Media Present Slain Terrorists as Innocent Children - S. Schneidmann (MEMRI)
    Palestinian Authority media often present young Palestinians who were killed by Israeli security forces while carrying out armed operations against Israelis as innocent children who were executed in cold blood, obscuring the fact that they were members of terror organizations.
    Yet, unlike the PA media, the organizations to which these individuals belonged, as well as their family members, stress that they were killed while carrying out attacks, and present them as jihad fighters and heroes who died in battle.
    Thus, while the PA media post photos showing a teen in civilian clothing, the terror organizations' media present photos of the same individual in which he is armed and wears a headband bearing the name of his organization.

Jordan Downs Drug-Laden Drone from Syria in 9th Incident This Year (Al Jazeera)
    Jordan's armed forces have brought down a drone carrying crystal meth from Syria, the military said Monday.
    Last month, the Jordanian army shot down three drones carrying narcotics from Syria.
    Jordan is a main transit route to the Gulf states for the Syrian-made amphetamine Captagon.

Israel Sells Trophy Active Protection System to UK - Yoav Zitun (Ynet News)
    Israel's Rafael Advanced Defense Systems announced it had signed an initial 20 million pound contract to supply the Trophy Active Protection System to the British military for their Challenger 3 main battle tank and other vehicles.
    In a series of live fire tests conducted in 2022, the Trophy system intercepted well over 90% of threats targeting a Challenger 3 tank.
    Rafael has sold the system to the U.S., Germany and Norway, and it has been in use by the IDF for over a decade.
    The Trophy system has succeeded in thwarting incoming fire from various weapons over 7,000 times.

Israel's Elbit Awarded $200 Million Contract by European Country for Counter-Fire Solutions (Globes)
    Israel's Elbit Systems announced Tuesday it has been awarded two contracts by a European country worth $200 million to supply artillery command and control and Hostile Fire Counter Attack (HFCA) solutions.
    The HFCA solution will allow the customer to detect the source of enemy fire and destroy it.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Mahmoud Abbas Quotes Hitler - Editorial
    On Aug. 24, Mahmoud Abbas, the President of the Palestinian Authority, told the Fatah Revolutionary Council: "The truth that we should clarify to the world is that European Jews are not Semites. They have nothing to do with Semitism." He cited the Khazar hypothesis, which speculates that Ashkenazi Jews aren't descended from the Holy Land, hailing instead from the medieval Tatar kingdom. This has been discredited by a century of scholarship. But its usefulness in denying the Jewish connection to the Land of Israel has made it a mainstream claim among Palestinians.
        Abbas kept going. "They say that Hitler killed the Jews for being Jews, and that Europe hated the Jews because they were Jews. Not true." Europeans "fought against these people because of their role in society, which had to do with usury, money and so on. Even Hitler said he fought the Jews because they were dealing with usury and money. This was not about Semitism and anti-Semitism."
        If you wonder why the Oslo peace process hit a dead end and stayed there, consider that Abbas and Fatah have been described for decades as "moderates." Abbas' predecessor, Yasser Arafat, once stunned President Clinton's negotiators by denying even that Jerusalem had been the site of the Jewish Temple. There's a reason Arab-Israeli negotiations have moved past the Palestinian veto. (Wall Street Journal)
        See also Abbas: Britain and America Are Our Enemy
    In his speech on Aug. 24, Mahmoud Abbas said: "America was a partner to the Balfour Declaration. Who invented that [Jewish] state? It was Britain and America - not just Britain....The U.S....forced the League of Nations to include the Balfour Declaration in its covenant. I am saying this so that we know who we should accuse of being our enemy."  (MEMRI)
        See also Israel, Germany Blast Palestinian Leader's Latest Antisemitic Rant (Foundation for Defense of Democracies)
  • IAEA: Iran Falls Short of Nuclear Commitments - Francois Murphy
    Iran's stock of uranium enriched to up to 60% purity, close to weapons grade, continues to grow, and there has been no progress in talks with Tehran on explaining uranium traces at undeclared sites, two reports by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said on Monday. Iran's stock of uranium enriched to 60% - 121.6 kg. - is almost three times the 42 kg. that, if enriched further, is needed to produce a nuclear bomb. (Reuters)
  • Fighting between Rival U.S.-Backed Groups in Syria Could Undermine War against Islamic State - Bassem Mroue
    Weeklong clashes between rival U.S.-backed militias in eastern Syria, where 900 American troops are deployed, could be an opportunity for Islamic State to reemerge. The clashes involve the Syrian Democratic Forces, dominated by Kurdish fighters, and the Arab-led Deir el-Zour Military Council. The trigger was the Aug. 27 arrest by the SDF of the council's commander Ahmad Khbeil. The SDF accused Khbeil of criminal activity, corruption, and of opening up contacts with the Damascus government and Iranian-backed militias.
        Khbeil's loyalists were joined by hundreds of Arab tribesmen in battles that left tribesmen in control of several villages outside the city of Deir el-Zour. At least 90 people have been killed and dozens wounded. (AP)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Two Hurt in Palestinian Stabbing Attack in Jerusalem - Gilad Cohen
    A Palestinian from eastern Jerusalem wielding a butcher knife seriously wounded an Israeli man in his 50s and lightly wounded a 17-year-old tourist on Wednesday at Jaffa Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem. The assailant was apprehended by security forces. (Ynet News)
  • Palestinians Detonate Large Explosive on Gaza Border in Latest Rioting - Emanuel Fabian
    Dozens of Palestinians rioted on the Gaza border with Israel on Tuesday, setting off a large explosive device and hurling grenades. (Times of Israel)
  • Palestinian Gunman Killed in Jordan Valley - Emanuel Fabian
    A Palestinian gunman attempted to carry out an attack at a rest stop in the Jordan Valley on Tuesday. The gunman was shot dead and a Border Police officer was hurt during an exchange of fire. (Times of Israel)
  • Palestinian Woman Attempts to Stab Israeli Police Officer in Jerusalem's Old City - Emanuel Fabian
    A Palestinian woman from the Jenin area attempted to stab an Israeli police officer in Jerusalem's Old City on Monday. However, the knife did not penetrate the protective vest he was wearing. The officer subdued the assailant without gunfire. (Times of Israel)
  • Israel Foils Attempt to Smuggle Explosives from Gaza to West Bank - Emanuel Fabian
    Israeli security guards at the Kerem Shalom Crossing with Gaza on Monday found several kilograms of "high-quality" explosives hidden in a shipment of clothes being exported from Gaza to Israel which were intended for terror activity in the West Bank. Following the incident, all exports of goods from Gaza were halted until further notice. (Times of Israel)
  • Two Arab Israelis Caught Smuggling Explosives for Islamic Jihad - Tzvi Joffre
    Two Arab Israelis were arrested on Aug. 3 at the Jordanian border with four handguns and four explosive devices in their possession. The Israel Security Agency said Tuesday that the two had been recruited by Palestinian Islamic Jihad operatives in the Jenin refugee camp. They were also found to be involved in transferring funds and weapons to terrorists in the Nur Shams refugee camp near Tulkarm. (Jerusalem Post)
  • PA Building Neighborhood on the Ruins of Joshua's Altar
    The Palestinian Authority has begun building a neighborhood on the site of Joshua's Altar on Mount Ebal in northern Samaria, Israel's Channel 12 reported. An inspector from the Samaria Regional Council on Sunday discovered that the PA has started paving roads as part of a project for 32 housing units on the ruins of the historic site, which is mentioned in the books of Deuteronomy and Joshua in the Hebrew Bible. The site, near Shechem (Nablus), is in Area B of Judea and Samaria per the Oslo Accords, which falls under PA administrative control and joint PA-Israeli security control.
        Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said in January that Israel would not allow Palestinians to damage the archaeological site. Israeli officials said in March that Palestinian road construction had damaged the ancient town of Sebastia, a major archaeological site, which served as the capital of the Kingdom of Israel nearly three millennia ago. (JNS)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:

    Palestinian Arabs

  • Will the Rocket Threat to Israel from Jenin Match the Threat from Gaza? - Dr. Uzi Rubin
    Recent Palestinian attacks against Israelis have included the attempted launching of rockets from the Jenin area toward Israeli communities. At present, the Jenin rockets are simple and can be quickly produced in any moderately equipped machine shop. The rocket fuselage is made of commercial-grade steel pipes that are widely available. The propellant can be produced from foodstuffs and fertilizers. The plans for simple launchers and instructions on "how to cook" simple propellants are available online.
        The evolution of rocket fire from Gaza may be seen in three periods. From 2001 to mid-2005 there were about 50 rockets per year. During this period, parts of Gaza were ruled by the Palestinian Authority, and the IDF had freedom of action in the Israeli-controlled regions. In the second stage between mid-2005 and mid-2007, the rate of fire doubled to about 200 rockets per year. This occurred between Israel's unilateral pullback from Gaza and the seizure of power there by the Hamas. The third period, commencing in mid-2007 and lasting to this day, overlaps with the absolute Hamas control of Gaza (in conjunction with Islamic Jihad). As soon as Hamas evicted the PA from Gaza, the rate of rocket fire made quantum leaps to hundreds and then thousands of rockets per year.
        Presently, the terrorist organizations' capabilities in the Jenin district are equivalent to Gaza's capabilities in the early 2000s. It stands to reason that the terrorist groups in Jenin will continue to manufacture and launch their local version of rockets in growing numbers, quality, and range - which eventually will cause damage and casualties in nearby Israeli communities. It also stands to reason that there will be attempts to smuggle completed Grad-equivalent rockets and launchers - shipped from Lebanon or Iran through Jordan to Jenin.
        Regarding concealed launching pits, storage sites, and tunnels now used in Gaza, the geological differences between Samaria and Gaza should be noted. Gaza sits on sandy soil, which facilitates underground digging. In contrast, Jenin and the other Samaria cities are on hard limestone rock. That makes underground digging more difficult but not impossible.
        In Gaza, the transition from home-produced rockets to imported military-grade rockets happened when the IDF had vacated the area. In contrast, the IDF maintains a significant presence in Samaria. It stands to reason that once smuggled military-grade rockets become known, the IDF will act energetically to block the smuggling routes and shut down depots and launching pits inside the Palestinian cities. In Gaza, the IDF had no boots on the ground to block the establishment of the Gaza Military Industries.
        The writer was founding director of the Israel Missile Defense Organization, which managed the Arrow program. (Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security)
  • Conference: Lessons Learned from the Oslo Accords - Debbie Mohnblatt
    On Sep. 4, the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and the Israel Defense and Security Forum (IDSF) held a conference in Jerusalem to explore the success of the Oslo Accords on their 30th anniversary. The agreement aimed to establish a path to peace between Israel and the Palestinians, but that goal remains elusive. Israeli MK Yuli Edelstein said that "the expectations were very high, but the reality turned out to be very different."
        Brig.-Gen. (res.) Amir Avivi, founder and chairman of the IDSF, noted that since the Oslo Accords, the number of civilians killed or injured has been tenfold compared to the entire period from 1948 to the signing of the Accords. "The biggest failure was really choosing to do business with a murderous terror organization like the PLO," he said. "We had local leadership in the Palestinian towns in Judea and Samaria, but we chose to go to an organization that was founded in 1964, before the Six-Day War, in order to liberate Palestine, meaning basically annihilate Israel."
        "We are talking about a peace agreement, and Arafat arrives while smuggling weapons and terrorists inside his car. And then he gave a speech full of hate saying that with blood, they're going to fight Israel, and I felt very uncomfortable. I felt that something was really wrong."  (Media Line-Ynet News)
  • The Palestinian Authority Thirty Years after Oslo - Neomi Neumann
    For many years now, the PA has been a foundering institution. The PA's weakness derives from manifold internal failures, including political stagnation, flawed governance, widespread corruption, an aversion to self-criticism, inadequate provision of public services, and a narrowing of Abbas' circle of advisors.
        However pronounced the public's dissatisfaction may be with Abbas and the PA's performance, it has not resulted in widespread protests or a significant increase in support for Hamas. According to a March 2023 poll, 51% of West Bank respondents believe that neither the PA nor Hamas deserves to represent the Palestinians.
        The writer formerly served as head of the research unit at the Israel Security Agency. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • Palestinian Authority Tries to Reassert Control over Its Own People - Shayndi Raice
    The Palestinian Authority is trying to reassert its grip on power and prevent its rivals and a range of militant groups from gaining influence. It has been dangerously weakened over the past year in the midst of a flood of illegal weapons into the area. In recent weeks, the PA has pursued a sometimes violent crackdown on militants and arrested hundreds of political rivals. Israel has said the PA hasn't done enough to crack down on militants who launch attacks against Israelis. (Wall Street Journal)

  • Weekend Features

  • Four 1,900-Year-Old Roman Swords Found in Judean Desert - Melanie Lidman
    Archaeologists have discovered four 1,900-year-old Roman swords in a small fissure in a cave in the Judean Desert near Ein Gedi National Park, near the Dead Sea. "We're talking about an extremely rare find, the likes of which have never been found in Israel," said Dr. Eitan Klein, a director of the Israel Antiquities Authority's Judean Desert Survey. "Four swords amazingly preserved, including the fine condition of the metal, the handles, and the scabbards."
        The cave is already well-known to archaeologists, as it contains a stalactite with a fragmentary ink inscription written in ancient Hebrew script characteristic of the First Temple period.
        Recently, Israel Antiquities Authority experts returned to the cave, where Dr. Asaf Gayer spotted an extremely well-preserved Roman pilum - a shafted weapon - in a deep, narrow crack in the rock. He also found pieces of carved wood in an adjacent niche that turned out to be parts of the swords' scabbards. The Judean Desert Archaeological Survey Team, which is conducting a comprehensive survey of the 800 caves in the Judean Desert to preserve archaeological remains before they are looted, was summoned.
        They discovered four swords, three of which were found with the blades still inside their scabbards. Researchers also found ornate handles made of wood and metal with leather strips nearby. The arid climate in the Judean Desert helps preserve fragile artifacts. Archaeologists believe the swords were likely hidden in the cave during the Bar Kochba revolt (132 to 135 CE), a Jewish rebellion against Roman rule in Judea led by rebel leader Simon Bar Kochba. (Times of Israel)
        See also Video: Rare Cache of Weapons from Roman Period Found in Judean Desert Cave (Israel Antiquities Authority)

Oslo at 30 - a Personal Perspective - Ehud Yaari (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • My entire career has been spent in the no man's land between Israelis and Palestinians. As a junior assistant at Defense Minister Gen. Moshe Dayan's office in the aftermath of the Six-Day War, I was a witness to a still unpublicized and short-lived initiative by Mossad operatives to explore the prospects of promoting the establishment of a Palestinian state sponsored by Israel.
  • Numerous conversations with local leaders, along with some businessmen and academics in the West Bank and Gaza, yielded an impression that Israel could prudently try to press forward in this direction. Yet by April 1968, Dayan decided to drop the experiment. He did not have confidence in the local leadership's ability to face both the radical Palestinian factions and President Nasser of Egypt's opposition.
  • In 1993, news of the Oslo agreement broke and I began calling my PLO contacts in Tunis. Mahmoud Abbas told me that the seven brigades of Fatah and the Palestinian Liberation Army would be deployed in the West Bank and Gaza during the first phase. Arafat was invited right from the start to impose full and exclusive control over the local Palestinian population. He was granted the armed forces, generous funding by international donors, and a free ticket to bring with him the PLO's culture of terror campaigns, corruption, and devotion to "liberate Palestine."
  • On Sep. 13, I was broadcasting on the only TV channel in Israel at the time, covering the White House signing ceremony. After an Oval Office interview, President Clinton asked me why I was so skeptical. My answer was that I had not heard from Arafat what I had heard years before from Sadat: "No more war, no more bloodshed!" It was clear to me then that Arafat signed the Oslo accords to gain a foothold in the land. He had never considered a long-term compromise, giving up the "right of return" or the "armed struggle." For him, it was no more than an armistice for a limited period.
  • The PA has become extremely unpopular among Palestinians and mainly operates as a patronage system to employ an ever-expanding public sector. The preservation of the PA as a potential partner for peace with Israel requires an ambitious reform, replacing the PLO old guard with true representatives of the local population. Only with new figures in leadership positions can the West Bank be prepared for whatever type of statehood with limited sovereignty may hopefully emerge from a potential fresh dialogue with Israel.
  • As Prime Minister Rabin came to realize that the PLO was not the best counterpart, so should we now: the PLO has degenerated since Oslo and lost its strength. There are strong - though mostly silent - forces within Palestinian society who are disenchanted with "armed struggle" and who believe that cooperation with Israel is their preferred course.

    The writer, a fellow with the Washington Institute, is a veteran commentator for Israeli television.
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