September 26, 2023
A project of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
Israel's Global Embassy for National Security and Applied Diplomacy

In-Depth Issues:

"Six or Seven" Muslim Nations to Make Peace with Israel after Saudis (Jerusalem Post)
    Foreign Minister Eli Cohen told Israel's Channel 11 on Friday that "peace with Saudi Arabia means peace with the greater Muslim world."
    "There are at least another six or seven countries that I have met with - significant Muslim countries with which we do not have relations - that are interested."

Poll: Israelis Value Saudi Normalization, but Hesitant to Make Concessions (Jerusalem Post)
    The Israel Democracy Institute's latest Israel Voice Index survey found that 57% of Israelis view a normalization agreement with Saudi Arabia as important, with Jewish Israelis more likely to see significance than did Arab Israelis.
    At the same time, 57% say Israel cannot agree to Saudi Arabia acquiring "nuclear capabilities for civilian purposes."

Israel Congratulates Saudi Arabia on National Day (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
    Israel offered its congratulations to Saudi Arabia on the kingdom's national day on Saturday.
    "We offer our sincere congratulations and blessings to the king, government and people of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia - on the occasion of the 93rd national day."
    "May Allah bring you good and blessings, security and prosperity, with our wishes for an atmosphere of peace, cooperation and good neighborliness."

Israel Is Not an Apartheid State, Says Former South African Defense Minister - Zvika Klein (Jerusalem Post)
    Israel cannot be compared to an apartheid state, former anti-apartheid activist Mosiuoa Lekota, who served time in prison alongside Nelson Mandela and later served for nine years as South Africa's defense minister, said in an interview with the South African Friends of Israel podcast earlier in September.
    "I was in Israel, my brother," Lekota said. "In Israel, you won't find the same divisions between Jews and non-Jews that we used to witness during apartheid. There are no segregated buses for different ethnic groups, like Jews and Arabs."
    In Israel he was surprised to find that "in the parliament, there are Arabs who are members of parliament, and they were all sitting together."
    Referring to South Africa's stance on Israel, he stated, "I can never be convinced that it's better for this country [South Africa] to favor one side over the other."

PA: Jews Are "Criminal Infidels" Who "Defile" Muslim Holy Sites - Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik (Palestinian Media Watch)
    In a televised sermon on the eve of the Jewish New Year, PA Minister of Religious Affairs Hatem Al-Bakri preached that "criminal" Jewish "infidels" would "defile" Muslim holy sites.
    A Fatah spokesperson stated that the Jews have always "secretly plotted" to harm the Al-Aqsa Mosque and warned that they are now planning to destroy it.
    The Islamic religious leadership in Jerusalem has exhorted Palestinians to take action to prevent Jews from "defiling" Muslim sites.

CNN Distorts the Recent Violence in Israel - David Litman (CAMERA)
    A CNN article on Sept. 20 titled "Six Palestinians Killed by Israeli Military" fails to mention that the Palestinians were members of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, both U.S.-designated terrorist organizations.
    The authors reference a "video [which] appeared to show a mosque minaret in the camp taking direct fire." They omit that the same video clearly shows a firebomb being thrown from the minaret.
    The article then goes on to describe those Palestinians who "throw explosive devices" and "shoot weapons" at the Gaza-Israel border as "demonstrators" engaged in a "protest."

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Biden Administration to Allow Israelis to Travel to the U.S. without a Visa - Matthew Lee
    U.S. officials say Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas is set to announce Israel's entry into the Visa Waiver Program on Thursday after receiving a recommendation from Secretary of State Antony Blinken. The program currently allows citizens of 40 mostly European and Asian countries to travel to the U.S. for three months without visas. Under the waiver program, Israelis will be able to travel to the U.S. for business or leisure by registering with the Electronic System for Travel Authorization.
        In recent months, Israel has moved to adjust its entry requirements for Palestinian Americans, including allowing them to fly in and out of Ben-Gurion International Airport instead of having to travel through Jordan or Egypt. (AP)
  • Experts Urge Biden Not to Allow Saudis to Enrich Uranium for Israel Deal
    On Sept. 21, a bipartisan group of Middle East regional and nuclear nonproliferation experts urged President Biden "to reject the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia's request for uranium enrichment as part of or separate from a normalization agreement between Saudi Arabia and Israel.... Enrichment could bring Saudi Arabia to the brink of acquiring nuclear arms, and U.S. policy should prohibit it....An enrichment facility operated by Americans inside Saudi Arabia...poses an unacceptable proliferation risk."
        The experts included David Albright, founder and president of the Institute for Science and International Security; Ilan Berman, senior vice president, American Foreign Policy Council; Mark Dubowitz, chief executive, Foundation for Defense of Democracies; Olli Heinonen, former deputy director general and head of the Department of Safeguards, IAEA; IDF Brig.-Gen. (res.) Jacob Nagel, former acting national security advisor and head of Israel's National Security Council; and Jonathan Schanzer, former intelligence analyst, U.S. Department of the Treasury. (Foundation for Defense of Democracies)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Two Palestinian Terrorists Killed, IDF Soldier Wounded in Tulkarm Firefight - Matthias Inbar
    IDF troops carried out an anti-terrorist raid inside the Nur Shams refugee camp near the West Bank city of Tulkarm early Sunday. During a firefight between Palestinian gunmen and Israeli soldiers, two terrorists were killed and an IDF soldier was wounded. Troops uncovered a large number of explosive devices and dismantled an "operational command center."  (i24News)
  • Israel Arrests 8 Palestinian University Students Planning Terror Attack - Einav Halabi
    Israeli security forces said Sunday they had apprehended eight students hiding at the Bir Zeit University near Ramallah who were set to launch an imminent terror attack. The students were conscripted by Hamas in Gaza and supplied with weapons and ammunition. (Ynet News)
  • Israel Strikes Hamas Posts in Gaza amid Violent Rioting on Border
    Palestinians in Gaza continued violent rioting along the border with Israel on Sunday. An explosive device was thrown at soldiers adjacent to the border and Palestinians have returned to launching incendiary devices tied to helium balloons into Israel to start fires. Three such fires were brought under control by firefighters. In response, Israel used drones to strike two military posts belonging to Hamas in areas where the riots were taking place.
        Since the rioting began, Israel on Sept. 15 shut the Erez Crossing with Gaza, affecting 17,000 Gazans who have permits to enter Israel for work. (Times of Israel)
        See also Border Police Sniper Shoots Palestinian Gunman during Gaza Border Riots - Emanuel Fabian
    A Palestinian gunman who opened fire at Israeli forces during rioting on Israel's border with Gaza on Thursday was shot and seriously wounded by a Border Police sniper who returned fire. Police published two video clips showing the exchange of fire. (Times of Israel)
  • Palestinian Stabs Security Guard at Jerusalem Light Rail Stop - Emanuel Fabian
    A Palestinian from eastern Jerusalem wounded an Israeli security guard in a stabbing attack at the Givat Hamivtar light rail station in Jerusalem on Thursday before being shot by another security guard. The wounded guard was stabbed in his hand as he fought with the assailant.
        Earlier Thursday, an Israeli security guard was injured by a Palestinian from eastern Jerusalem in a car-ramming attack at the Kalandiya checkpoint north of Jerusalem. (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Supporting a Saudi-U.S. Defense Pact; Rejecting Nuclearization - Meir Ben Shabbat
    Israel should not be opposed to a U.S.-Saudi defense alliance. Jerusalem has a vested interest in bolstering the U.S. commitment to its allies in the region, and therefore it should support such a development. As for providing advanced U.S. weapon systems to Saudi Arabia, Israel should condition its support on having Washington take steps to cement its qualitative edge.
        There is a big dilemma when it comes to Saudi Arabia's demand for U.S. support in setting up a civilian nuclear program, which would include the ability to enrich uranium. Proposals will be put forward for various arrangements that would ensure that the U.S. keeps control over a Saudi nuclear program in a way that would prevent it from having military dimensions. But it would not be enough to assuage Israel's fears or prevent a nuclear arms race in the region.
        As for the Palestinian issue, this could result in Israel being asked to make concessions that it cannot realistically make. The main criteria under which Israel has to formulate its stand is reversibility: Israel must not agree to concessions that are irreversible (or that the price of reversing them is too steep).
        The more the proposed draft of a U.S.-Israel defense pact bolsters Israel's deterrence, guarantees its freedom of operation and its ability to defend itself by itself while increasing the U.S. commitment to bolstering Israeli military capabilities and its qualitative edge, and if it all deepens the bipartisan commitment toward the Jewish state, then the Israeli stance will lean more toward a "yes."
        The writer, head of the Misgav Institute for National Security & Zionist Strategy, served as Israel's national security advisor and head of the National Security Council after 30 years in the Israel Security Agency. (Israel Hayom)
  • Is an Israel-U.S. Defense Pact in Israel's Best Interests? - Editorial
    The idea of a U.S.-Israel mutual defense treaty is enjoying a renaissance. Although the idea of a defense pact that would obligate the U.S. to come to Israel's defense in case of an existential threat is enticing, it is something Jerusalem needs to consider very carefully because, along with the advantages, there are also drawbacks.
        The most obvious benefit is its message to Iran and other enemies of Israel. If such a treaty is ratified by a Senate supermajority, it locks U.S. commitments into a permanent framework.
        However, such a treaty could potentially reduce Israel's freedom of action and mean that Israel would need U.S. permission to act militarily. Paradoxically, a deal intended to deter Israel's enemies could actually diminish deterrence by tying Israel's hands, particularly when it comes to Iran. Moreover, a mutual defense pact might potentially draw Israel into conflicts that would imperil its relations with other countries and undermine other Israeli interests.
        Finally, such a pact conflicts with the key Zionist principle of self-reliance. Would such a pact be so superior to the current understandings with the U.S.? (Jerusalem Post)
  • A Protest Gone Too Far - Liat Collins
    Prime Minister Netanyahu was not in New York to discuss Israel's domestic judicial system but to discuss the Iranian threat, Palestinian terrorism, expanding normalization in the Arab world - particularly to Saudi Arabia - and to promote economic and other ties.
        The theatrics of the demonstrators who followed him there have a lasting impact on the credibility and respectability of Israel in the global arena, no matter who is leading the government. There has long been an unwritten agreement among Israelis that protests at home are legitimate but you don't wash your dirty laundry in public abroad.
        As the Jerusalem Post's Herb Keinon put it: "Do supporters of Israel - do Israelis abroad, or American Jews - really not want the world to believe Netanyahu when he presents intelligence information regarding Iran's nuclear progress?"
        Those who try to look for the positive make the point that the demonstrations show the world how passionately Israelis care about democracy and human rights. But we're long past that stage. Calling on the U.S. administration to "save Israel from itself" is a brazen call for foreign intervention. (Jerusalem Post)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the UN General Assembly on Friday:
  • "I've long sought to make peace with the Palestinians. But I also believe that we must not give the Palestinians a veto over new peace treaties with Arab states. The Palestinians could greatly benefit from a broader peace. They should be part of the process, but they should not have a veto over the process."
  • "I also believe that making peace with more Arab states would actually increase the prospects of making peace between Israel and the Palestinians. See, the Palestinians are only 2% of the Arab world....So when the Palestinians see that most of the Arab world has reconciled itself to the Jewish state, they too will be more likely to abandon the fantasy of destroying Israel and finally embrace a path of genuine peace with it."
  • "I believe that we are at the cusp of an even more dramatic breakthrough: an historic peace with Saudi Arabia. Such a peace...will encourage a broader reconciliation between Judaism and Islam, between Jerusalem and Mecca, between the descendants of Isaac and the descendants of Ishmael."
  • "The fanatics ruling Iran will do everything they can to thwart this historic peace. Iran continues to spend billions to arm its terror proxies. It continues to extend its terror tentacles in the Middle East, Europe, Asia, South America, even North America....Iran continues to threaten international shipping lanes, hold foreign nationals for ransom, and engage in nuclear blackmail."
  • "Eight years ago, the Western powers promised that if Iran violated the nuclear deal, the sanctions would be snapped back. Well, Iran is violating the deal. But the sanctions have not been snapped back....Sanctions must be snapped back and, above all, Iran must face a credible military threat."

        See also Video: Prime Minister Netanyahu Addresses the UN General Assembly (PBS-YouTube)

        See also Netanyahu's UN Speech Was Broadcast in Saudi Arabia - Tovah Lazaroff
    In an unprecedented move, Saudi Arabia broadcast Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's speech to the UN in which he spoke about how the two countries were on the cusp of normalizing ties, the Israeli leader said Saturday. Netanyahu added that during his visit to New York he had met with 20 heads of state who sought to strengthen their ties with Israel. (Jerusalem Post)

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