Sunday, August 16, 2020

From Ian:

Jared Kushner: The historic deal between Israel and the UAE shows Trump’s strategy is paying off
When President Trump took office, the Middle East was in a state of extreme turmoil, even by the low standards of a region long plagued by danger and violence. Islamic State terrorists controlled an area in Iraq and Syria approximately the size of Ohio. The peace process between Israel and the Arab world had stalled. Iran was spreading instability through proxy fighters in Yemen, Iraq and Syria.

It was to this region that President Trump took his first trip abroad as president. In Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, the president laid out his vision for a more peaceful, secure and prosperous Middle East. He described to the leaders of dozens of Arab and Muslim countries a region with vast potential, held hostage by extremism and the conflicts of the past.

President Trump recognized that, to tap this potential, the region required a strategic realignment. In the new Middle East, nations must chart their course based on shared interests and common values, not old hatreds and rivalries. The president also recognized that building this future would require altering a U.S. policy that for far too long had accepted these historic animosities and even nurtured them.

That’s why instead of rewarding America’s enemies, we pledged to draw our partners closer. Rather than lecturing America’s friends, we committed to taking forceful action against the evils of extremism and terror. Finally, we resolved to pursue these goals grounded in the realities of today, not the ghosts of the past.

Three-and-a-half years later, this strategic realignment continues to pay off. The Islamic State caliphate has been destroyed, its brutal leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi killed. Iran remains a pariah state but is more constrained than ever before. And thanks to the courageous leaders of Israel and the United Arab Emirates, the Middle East this week took a great step toward a future in which people of all faiths and ethnic backgrounds can live together in the spirit of cooperation and peace.

Ultimately, it is up to the people of the Middle East to decide the future they want for their children. The United States cannot and should not choose for them. But the remarkable progress over the past several years is clear evidence that the people of the Middle East are finally on a path to a very bright future. And today, more than ever, they can count on the United States’ support every step of the way.

Anwar Gargash: UAE minister of state for foreign affairs: The UAE's landmark deal with Israel is a step towards achieving a two-state solution
Since Israel’s inception, Arab nations have taken the position of refusing to recognise it because its establishment took place at the expense of Arab inhabitants of that land. But as the world has witnessed, this stance has yet to achieve any concrete progress or benefits for the Palestinian people. Indeed, over the years, several Arab states have realised that making peace with Israel, and ensuring that our Israeli neighbours feel secure in the region, is the best way to guarantee the rights of the Palestinian people, while also bringing benefits for the region as a whole. The UAE is now joining their number.

But this is not an entirely new step. The UAE and Israel have worked together before, most recently in the fight against Covid-19. We are a country that constantly looks towards the future. We recently launched the Arab world’s first mission to Mars. We have demonstrated an exemplary response to the ongoing pandemic. In light of this philosophy, we see peace and dialogue as the means to achieve a safer and stronger Middle East.

But this new agreement will by no means preclude our support of the Palestinian cause in line with the Arab consensus. There will be no embassy in Jerusalem until Jerusalem is also the capital of the future Palestinian state. We will continue to steadfastly defend the Palestinian right to statehood and dignity. And indeed, any and all progress on the matter must derive from direct dialogue between Palestine and Israel themselves. But this new deal will allow us to push ever harder for such an outcome.

We in the UAE are proud of this progress and look forward to the achievement of a more secure future for the Palestinian people, to the growth of our new partnership with Israel, and to the betterment of the region as a whole.
Qanta Ahmed: Israel-UAE agreement will likely lead more Arab nations to recognize Jewish state
Much credit for the Israel-UAE agreement and the earlier Israeli-Palestinian peace plan goes to Jared Kushner, President Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law. He and other U.S. officials have worked hard to establish personal friendships with Muslim leaders across the Middle East, which leads me to conclude that the agreement announced Thursday will be followed by the establishment of relations between Israel and more of its neighbors.

It is no surprise that the seven-member federation of the United Arab Emirates — now under the leadership of the crown prince of Abu Dhabi and commander in chief of the UAE’s formidable armed forces, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed — has become the first Muslim nation to normalize relations with Israel since Egypt and Jordan did so. His courage and long-term vision means Israel and the UAE will now have embassies in each other’s capitals.

Muslims will be able to fly directly from the UAE to Israel to pray at the third-holiest site of Islam –- the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.

Israelis will be able to visit, work and trade with the UAE — one of the most intensely forward-thinking regions in the world. They will be able to admire the remarkable Shaykh Bin Zayed Mosque, peruse the astonishing art the region has amassed and see the world’s preeminent Falcon hospital — a personal favorite of mine, as a physician.

Israelis and residents of the UAE will also be able to get to meet and know each other on a personal basis, establishing both friendships and professional relationships. The UAE is home to some of the most educated and empowered Muslim women in the region, including Maj. Mariam Al Mansouri the UAE’s first female fighter pilot, who led the first airstrike her country launched against ISIS. I’m sure she would get along well with Israeli military women I know.

All of us who are friends of peace between Israel and the Arab and Muslim world should now hope that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia follows the path of his neighbor and ally the UAE in establishing normalized relations with Israel.

It is in the self-interest of all Muslim nations— including the 16 remaining Arab nations that continue the boycott of Israel — to at long last accept the fact that the modern state of Israel exists and is here to stay.

Crown Prince Mohammed of the UAE has long been a behind-the-scenes source of wisdom, guidance and strategic policymaking for Crown Prince Mohammed of Saudi Arabia, and both nations have worked together in an intensely difficult time.

The neighboring countries have together dealt with the rise of the ISIS terrorist group; the deepening hostilities and undeclared open conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran; the rise of the terrorist group and Iranian proxy Hezbollah; the Syrian civil war; and the dangerous threat they face from Iran itself.

Israel can be a natural ally to Arab nations against these threats. Let’s hope and pray that the announcement by President Trump establishing ties between Israel and the UAE is followed by more such agreements with Arab and Muslim nations. That would serve America’s best interests and the best interests of all the countries following the road to peace and cooperation.

Netanyahu to Fox News: I have been talking to other Arab leaders
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Fox News on Sunday that he has been speaking with leaders from Arab countries in addition to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) following the American-mediated peace deal announced last week between the two countries.

He stated that he spoke with political leaders in Oman and "other countries," and that the key to such discussions is discretion.

"We are making history, and we are changing history," Netanyahu claimed. "It is good for the United States and it is good for Israel."
Fox News anchor Eric Shawn praised the deal with the UAE and said that it is impressive that The Jerusalem Post is now accessible in the country. [The Post was already accessible in the country for some time.]

"This is peace of the strong and I think peace of the hopeful for the future," Netanyahu said.

He later spoke about the current regional tensions surrounding Iran and stated, "Iran is committing murder... throughout the Middle East. It's everywhere, sowing mayhem."
Even Without Diplomatic Ties, Here’s How 200 Israeli Companies Are Already Doing Business in the UAE
Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) still have no official diplomatic ties, but unofficially, an extensive financial relationship between the two is an open secret. According to the Manufacturers Association of Israel, about 200 Israeli companies are already exporting products to the UAE. These companies come from different industries, most prominently in the fields of medical equipment, telecommunications, and national security.

The trade between the two countries is done through subsidiaries that emerge in a third country, normally in the US or Europe, making it difficult to get an accurate picture of the extent of Israeli export to the UAE. The goods exported are finished products that need no routine maintenance — which could not be provided without direct ties between the countries — or such that can be fully maintained by the client once purchased.

Once ties are established, under the agreement to establish a diplomatic relationship between the two countries announced by US President Donald Trump on Thursday, the Manufacturers Association of Israel believes that it will be easier for Israeli companies to export directly to the UAE. This would mean companies would no longer be dependent on conduit companies in a third country and will have the option to provide ongoing support for their products.

“We are certain this agreement will expand the until-now unofficial commercial ties with the UAE and allow the export of additional products, such as medicine, whose country of origin must be clearly marked,” Ron Tomer, president of the Manufacturers Association of Israel, told Calcalist in an interview.

But not just manufacturers who already work with the UAE. Various Israeli startups also have ties with the Persian Gulf country.

Israel's Foreign Affairs Min: Israel and the United Arab Emirates: Limitless Opportunities
Full diplomatic ties between Israel and the UAE will create economic, technological, and medical opportunities for both nations, benefiting the entire region, helping secure a brighter and more prosperous future for all.

Dave Sharma Australian MP: UAE deal gives Israel long overdue legitimacy
Aware that the United States will no longer always be prepared to underwrite security in the Middle East, as the conflict in Syria has shown, the agreement demonstrates a greater degree of self reliance and strategic maturity.

From Europe to the Indo-Pacific, Washington expects its allies around the world to do more of the heavy lifting to underpin stability. The same is true in the Middle East.

The Palestinians should welcome this deal as it in fact makes a two-state solution more likely and helps the Palestinian national cause.

As part of the agreement, the UAE insisted that Israel take off the table the option of unilateral annexation of land in the West Bank.

This threatened move by Israel would, if carried out, have rendered a future Palestinian state unviable and so would have dealt a mortal blow to the two-state solution.

Beyond this, though, the deal adds measurably to Israel’s sense of security and legitimacy in the region. Diplomatic recognition from the Arab world is a prized strategic asset for Israel.

Only an Israel that feels secure and confident of its place in the region, and that no longer faces existential threats, will be able to make the difficult territorial, security and political compromises necessary to create a Palestinian state.

Efforts towards a durable peace in the Middle East tend to move at a glacial pace – but every so often, the tectonic plates shift and the region takes a quantum leap forward. The UAE agreement with Israel is one such moment.
NYTs: Shifting Dynamics of the Mideast Pushed Israel and U.A.E. Together
Finally, as Iranian-sponsored proxy forces grew more powerful across the region — in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen — the Gulf states increasingly saw Iran as their greatest threat. And the 2015 Iran nuclear deal persuaded them that Washington was not committed to destroying Iran’s nuclear ambitions or keeping Iran pinned down by sanctions.

Israel, by contrast, was unwavering in its campaign against Iran. And according to Yaakov Amidror, Mr. Netanyahu’s former national security adviser, the Gulf countries were hearing from Egypt and Jordan about Israel’s helpfulness and reliability on vital matters of national security.

Demographic changes in the Gulf states also reordered their priorities, forcing a focus on creating jobs for their young people more than standing up for the Palestinians. And Gulf leaders admired Israel’s economy and tech sector.

If the agreement with the U.A.E. holds, it would be the first flowering of the redemption Mr. Netanyahu has been promising Israelis for 11 years.

His hope is that other countries will follow suit. On Friday, Jared Kushner, President Trump’s senior adviser, said that normalized relations with Saudi Arabia were “an inevitability.” On Saturday, Israel’s intelligence minister, Eli Cohen, predicted that Sudan would open full relations with Israel by the end of the year.

But analysts question whether many of the 19 Arab states that do not have ties with Israel will follow the Emirates’ lead.

Although passion for the Palestinian cause no longer unites Arabs across the region in the way it used to, Israel remains deeply unpopular in the Arab world, where many see it as a usurper of Arab lands that illegally occupies the West Bank and, with Egypt, enforces a punishing blockade of the Gaza Strip.

UAE blasts ‘unacceptable and inciting’ threats by Rouhani over Israel accord
The United Arab Emirate’s foreign ministry said Sunday it had summoned Iran’s charge d’affaires in the country for a dressing down over Tehran’s threats and belligerent statements toward Abu Dhabi following the UAE’s announcement of normalization of ties with Israel.

According to state news agency WAM, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s speech in which he said the UAE had committed a “treacherous act” and faces a “dangerous future,” contained “unacceptable and inciting” threats against the Gulf nation.

Noting that similar threats had also been made by Iran’s foreign ministry, the Revolutionary Guards and other Iranian officials, Abu Dhabi said such comments “carry serious repercussions for security and stability in the Gulf region.”

It said it considered such statements “interference in internal affairs and an attack on sovereignty,” adding that “relations between countries, agreements and treaties are a sovereign matter.”

Earlier Sunday the chief of staff of Iran’s armed forces said Tehran’s attitude to the UAE in the Persian Gulf will change following the normalization pact with Israel, warning that Tehran will hold Abu Dhabi responsible for any damage to its national security, the Reuters news agency reported.

“Tehran’s approach to the UAE will change,” Mohammad Bagheri said. “If something happens in the Persian Gulf region and if our national security is damaged, however small, we will hold the UAE responsible for that and we will not tolerate it.”
Khaled Abu Toameh: Did Mohammed Dahlan help orchestrate Israel-UAE deal?
Will last week’s agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates relations pave the way for the return of deposed Fatah operative Mohammed Dahlan to the Palestinian political arena?

And did Dahlan, who reportedly serves as a special adviser to UAE Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, help broker the deal between Abu Dhabi and Jerusalem?

Palestinian officials in Ramallah on Sunday said they had no doubt that Dahlan, 58, played a major role in convincing bin Zayed to strike the deal with Israel. Dahlan may use the deal to return to the Palestinian political stage and improve his chances of succeeding PA President Mahmoud Abbas, the officials said.

Born in the Khan Yunis refugee camp in the Gaza Strip, Dahlan helped establish the Fatah Youth Movement in the Gaza Strip in the early 1980s. He was later arrested by the IDF and spent several years in Israeli prison for his involvement in security-related offenses.

After the signing of the Oslo Accord in 1993, Dahlan was appointed as the first commander of the PA Preventive Security Force in the Gaza Strip.

In July 2007, Dahlan resigned from his post as national security adviser to Abbas after Hamas violently seized control of the Gaza Strip. Many Fatah leaders hold him responsible for the quick collapse of the PA security forces in the Gaza Strip.

Dahlan moved to the West Bank, where he began establishing power bases, especially among Fatah cadres in several refugee camps, much to the dismay of Abbas and other senior Fatah officials.

In 2011, he was expelled from Fatah after falling out with Abbas and his two sons. PA security forces raided his home in Ramallah, confiscated documents and arrested some of his private guards and assistants.
Settler chiefs say PM betrayed them, is ‘adopting rhetoric of extreme left’
Leaders of the settlement movement on Sunday accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of betraying them in pursuit of ties with Gulf states, following his announcement that he was putting annexation of portions of the West Bank on hold, in exchange for full formal relations with the United Arab Emirates.

Meanwhile Netanyahu dismissed their criticism as being unserious, provoking further anger.

In an interview with Radio Jerusalem on Sunday morning, Samaria Regional Council chief Yossi Dagan accused Netanyahu of “a stab in the back,” saying that he was “disappointed, hurt and angry” by the prime minister’s decision to go back on his promise to apply sovereignty to parts of the territories.

There is a “limit to deception and there is a limit to cynicism,” he said.

Israel and the UAE reached a historic agreement on Thursday to set up full diplomatic relations between the two countries, the third such deal the Jewish state has struck with an Arab country, after Egypt and Jordan. As part of that deal, Israel agreed to suspend West Bank annexation plans.

Dagan said that the settlement movement had stuck by Netanyahu despite his support for the 2005 disengagement, his withdrawal from the majority of Hebron in the 1990s, and his 2009-2010 settlement freeze, but that reneging on his annexation guarantee was a “step too far.”
Ex-Dubai police chief who blamed Mossad for killing Hamas man praises new ties
A former senior UAE police official who alleged that the Mossad killed a senior Hamas operative in a Dubai hotel, has come out publicly in favor of his country’s normalization of relations with Israel, in his first appearance in Israeli media.

In an interview with Channel 12 on Saturday, Lt. Gen. Dhahi Khalfan Tamim, deputy head of Dubai Police and General Security, said that “the agreement is very important.” Tamim, who is also known both for his support for rapprochement with Israel and for a strange anti-Semitic twitter rant, said: “The choice of peace is the strategy that dominates the Middle East today, which is full of tensions and wars and hatred between countries.”

Israel and the United Arab Emirates reached a historic agreement on Thursday to establish full diplomatic relations, the third such deal the Jewish state has struck with an Arab state after Egypt and Jordan.

Israeli and UAE delegations will meet in the coming weeks to sign bilateral agreements regarding investment, tourism, direct flights, security and the establishment of reciprocal embassies, a White House announcement said.
The Tel Aviv Municipality building is lit up in the colors of the United Arab Emirates flag on August 13, 2020. (Jack Guez/AFP)

The deal, which was hailed as “historic” by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and a “huge breakthrough” by US President Donald Trump, may be the first of several, according to presidential son-in-law and senior Trump adviser Jared Kushner, who called it an “icebreaker.”

Dubai Is Poised to Gain From Travel Opening With Israel
Dubai is likely to benefit the most in aviation from the United Arab Emirates’ historic deal to normalize relations with Israel, gaining a new stream of travelers that can help the Gulf travel hub bounce back from the coronavirus crisis that has decimated air traffic.

The agreement announced Thursday sets aside decades of enmity between the UAE and Israel, opening ties through air travel, tourism, investment, security and telecommunications. Delegations from the two countries are set to meet soon to work out the details.

The opening will give the UAE’s biggest carriers -- Emirates and Etihad -- an opportunity to feed Israeli passengers through their airport hubs in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, respectively, connecting to destinations farther east and west. Currently, Royal Jordanian and Turkish Airlines are the only carriers in the Middle East that fly to Israel.

Israeli planes are barred from flying over most of the Mideast airspace

Dubai in particular could benefit, as its airport offers daily flights to more than 250 destinations, said Anne Correa, vice president for airline and airport services at aviation consulting firm Morten Beyer & Agnew.

Traffic at Dubai International Airport collapsed during the peak of the coronavirus pandemic. The airport recorded the same amount of traffic for the entire month of May that it would normally see in about four hours.
Gabi Ashkenazi, UAE counterpart launch phone link between countries
Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi and his counterpart in the United Arab Emirates Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al Nahyan had the first phone call between the countries after the UAE unblocked Israeli numbers on Sunday, in a further step towards fully normalized ties.

Hend Al-Otaiba, a UAE spokeswoman tweeted that the foreign ministers "inaugurated a phone link between the United Arab Emirates and the State of Israel following the historic Peace Accord signed by the two countries Friday."

The White House announced that the longstanding secret relations between Israel and the UAE were becoming open and official on Thursday night, in what was called the "Abraham Accord," the first diplomatic agreement between Israel and an Arab state since 1994 and the third ever. There has been a flurry of activity in the two countries since then.

The phone link between the UAE and Israel was set up on Sunday, meaning that calls from Israel were no longer blocked in the Emirates.
In addition, the UAE unblocked some Israeli news sites.

Communications Minister Yoaz Hendel praised the UAE for unblocking calls from Israel, saying that "many economic opportunities are now open and these trust-building steps are important for promoting the states' interests. Salam Aleikum."
Emirati, Israeli companies sign R&D agreement to fight COVID-19
The Emirates company APEX National Investment has announced the signing of a strategic commercial agreement with the Israeli TeraGroup to develop research and studies on the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

The agreement was signed by Khalifa Yousef Khouri, Chairman of APEX National Investment, and Oren Sadiv, Chairman & CEO of TeraGroup at a press conference held at the headquarters of Al Qudra Holding in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. The conference was attended by Ido Berniker, a representative from First Capital Group, and a number of dignitaries and officials from the two companies, in addition to representatives of the Emirati and Israeli media.

Commenting on this agreement, Khalifa Yousef Khouri, said: "We are delighted with this cooperation with TeraGroup, which is considered the first business to inaugurate trade, economy and effective partnerships between the Emirati and Israeli business sectors, for the benefit of serving humanity by strengthening research and studies on the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)."

TeraGroup’s Oren Sadiv commented: "We are thrilled with our agreement with APEX National Investment and hope that we will achieve the objectives outlined in this agreement, which in turn will benefit everyone economically, specifically in these exceptional circumstances with the spread of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) around the world."

Ido Berniker, a representative from First Capital Group, said: "I would like to thank H.E. Khalifa Yousef Khouri and Mr. Oren Sadiv and we are pleased with the signing of this commercial agreement between APEX National Investment, which specializes in investments and scientific fields in Abu Dhabi, and TeraGroup, a global leader in Terahertz field. At First Capital Group, we are very keen on bringing companies specialized in sciences and inventions together to establish commercial and investment partnerships with Emirati companies, such as APEX National Investment."
Former Dubai police chief: Choosing peace is the new Middle East strategy
In a historic, first-of-its-kind interview, former Dubai police chief Col. Dhahi Khalfan Tamim, who investigated the assignation of senior Hamas member Mahmoud Al-Mabhouh back in 2010, spoke on Saturday about the normalization agreement between Israel and United Arab Emirates.

"The agreement is very important, Co. Tamim told N12. "Choosing peace is the strategy governing the Middle East today, which is fed up with wars, tensions, and hatred between countries."

He spoke about the alleged Mossad operation that was carried out in Dubai to assassinate Al-Mabhouh, who helped establish the Izz ad-Din-Qassam Brigades, Hamas's armed branch.

"As for Al-Mabhouh, his elimination in the Emirates, and in Dubai in particular, was a strategic mistake made by the Mossad because they thought that they wouldn't be discovered," he continued.

Tamim told the news outlet that the reason he still objects to the alleged Mossad operation is that he is against any kind of terror action or crime.
Abbas trashes UAE deal in call with Macron, says no one speaks for Palestinians
In a phone call with French President Emmanuel Macron on Sunday, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas angrily condemned the United Arab Emirates’ normalization agreement with Israel, saying no country had the right to speak on behalf of the Palestinians.

Jerusalem and Abu Dhabi announced the deal on Thursday, marking the third peace agreement between Israel and an Arab country since its founding in 1948, after Egypt and Jordan. In exchange, Israel has agreed to hold off on annexation of portions of the West Bank.

The UAE cited the latter decision is a major achievement in support of the Palestinians, a claim Palestinians have utterly rejected.

Arab countries have for decades conditioned normalization with Israel on a peace deal with the Palestinians, and last week’s announcement appeared to mark a shift in that approach, drawing anger from the Palestinian leadership. More Arab countries are reported to be considering formalizing ties.

In a tweet, Macron said he told Abbas “of my determination to work for peace in the Middle East,” and said the resumption of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks “remains a priority.”

Macron also voiced his backing for the normalization of ties between Israel and the UAE, which has been blasted by the PA as a “despicable decision” and a betrayal.
PMW: Palestinian leadership condemns as “treason” and “knife in the back” the Israel-UAE peace agreement
Responding to the historic peace agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, the Palestinian leadership has once again clarified that “normalization” of relations with Israel is equivalent to “treason.”

Preferring to perpetuate the state of animosity between Israel, its neighbors, the Middle East, and other Muslim countries, the Palestinian leadership does not only reject making peace with Israel but also expects other countries to ignore the benefits they could reap from peaceful and normalized relations:

”The [PA] leadership expressed its rejection of what the UAE state carried out as treason against Jerusalem, the Al-Aqsa Mosque, and the Palestinian cause, and recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and demanded that it immediately recant this embarrassing statement. It also emphasized its rejection of the exchange of freezing illegal annexation for the UAE’s normalization and using the Palestinian cause as cover for this.”
[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Aug. 14, 2020]

Instead, the PA leadership characterizes the deal as a “knife in the back” as the cartoon above illustrates. Abbas’ deputy Chairman of the Fatah Movement Mahmoud Al-Aloul said this explicitly, also stating that the UAE peace agreement is “treason”:
“Fatah Movement Deputy Chairman [and Fatah Central Committee member] Mahmoud Al-Aloul… explained that the agreement that was achieved constitutes a knife in the back of Palestine and treason against Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa Mosque.”
[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Aug. 16, 2020]

PA official Ibrahim Ramadan who is the District Governor of Nablus went further and implicitly urged Palestinians to take to violence when he called for “peaceful popular resistance” - a term Palestinian Media Watch has shown is used by Palestinians to also refer to violence and terror:
Seth Frantzman: Why Lebanon won’t make peace with Israel so long as Hezbollah is around
Lebanese President Michel Aoun made a cryptic comment over the weekend when asked about Lebanon and Israel making peace. “That depends,” Asia Times quoted him as saying. “We have problems with Israel, and we have to resolve them first.”

This was taken to mean that such a peace was possible. It isn’t.

Discussions about countries making peace with Israel come in the wake of the United Arab Emirates agreeing to normalize relations with the Jewish state. For Lebanon, things are much more complex than for the Gulf monarchies. Beirut’s complex politics mitigate against any peace because most of the groups in the country would have to be on board with the concept, and key players are not.

Aoun is a Christian former general who holds the presidency thanks to a deal with Iranian-backed Hezbollah. The presidency is reserved for Christians, but the Christian community, in general, has not been linked in alliance with Hezbollah over the years.

Aoun changed all that by dividing the Christian community, which is made up of a diverse plethora of groups including Maronites, Orthodox, Armenians and others. He chose Hezbollah for a variety of reasons, but it illustrates the increasing stranglehold the terrorist group has on Lebanon.

As long as Hezbollah remains in Lebanon with its massive terrorist army, there will be no peace with Israel. Hezbollah has only increased in power in recent years. In the 1980s and ’90s, it was a terrorist group posing as an insurgency “resisting” Israel. When Israel left in 2000, it reinvented itself, occupying southern Lebanon as a de facto state within a state.
Seth Frantzman: Five countries that could be next to make peace with Israel
In the wake of the normalization of relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, there are rumors that several other states could be next to sign an agreement with Israel. While there are hurdles to normalizing relations with some states in the Middle East, there are others who view the UAE decision as a trial balloon and will react positively based on how the next weeks and months play out between Jerusalem and Abu Dhabi.

What follows is a list of some countries that reports suggest may be in line to normalize relations.

Bahrain was long thought to be the first country in the Gulf that might normalize relations with Israel. The small kingdom has often made relatively positive comments about Israel over the years and appeared open to the Trump administration’s “Deal of the Century” by hosting discussions about the economic aspects of it. Bahrain has welcomed the UAE deal with Israel, and initial reports indicated it was working on normalizing relations after the UAE. Last December, media reports in the Gulf noted that Bahrain was reaching out to Israel.

In May, Bahrain shut down a symposium aimed at supporting a boycott of Israel. Last year, Jerusalem Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar visited Bahrain and met King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa in Manama, the capital. Also last year, Bahraini Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed al-Khalifa supported Israel’s right to defend itself against Iran’s threats. “Iran is the one who declared war on us,” he said. The Kingdom made similar statements in 2018.

Bahrainis participated in a bike race in Israel in 2018. Israel Katz, foreign minister at the time, met his counterpart, Khalifa, in Washington in 2019. Bahrain has a small Jewish community and has reached out to the Simon Wiesenthal Center in California.

Bahrain’s hurdles not only include Iran’s threats to try and stir up protests among the Shi'ite community in the country, but also that the country faced protests in the 2011 Arab Spring. As such, it appeared wiser for it to let the UAE to move first regarding relations with Israel.
'Jerusalem's Arab residents are still in denial'
Many residents of east Jerusalem are still in denial over the coronavirus and that explains the high rate of infected cases in the Arab neighborhoods.

In the past month, the number of east Jerusalem residents who tested positive for the disease was estimated at more than 100 a day. According to Israeli and Palestinian health officials, today there are more than 4,000 confirmed coronavirus cases in the city’s Arab neighborhoods.

“Many residents are not abiding by the health regulations, and that’s a serious problem,” said Maher Barakat, a nurse at one of the private medical clinics in east Jerusalem. “You find many people who would tell you that the whole coronavirus issue is fake. Others claim that the health rules to stem the spread of the disease are extremely exaggerated and unnecessary.”

An east Jerusalem physician from August Victoria Hospital said that failure to abide by social distancing rules, as well as the absence of enforcement, remains the major problem for the Arab residents of the city. “A few weeks ago, we celebrated Eid al-Adha and many people acted as if there was not coronavirus,” he told The Jerusalem Post. “Many families were visiting each other at home, some without face masks. Inside most of the neighborhoods and villages [in east Jerusalem], you still see many people without masks.”

While most east Jerusalem residents seemed to take seriously the threat of the coronavirus during the first wave of infections, many are now ignoring the epidemic despite daily warnings by Israeli and Palestinian health officials.
Kuwait says it’ll be ‘last to normalize’ with Israel, will stand by Palestinians
Kuwaiti officials rejected the possibility of normalizing ties with Israel on Sunday, telling a local newspaper that despite warming ties between the Gulf states and Jerusalem, it had no interest in changing its longstanding regional policies.

“Our stance on Israel has not changed, following the UAE normalization agreement, and we will be the last to normalize relations,” the al-Qabas newspaper cited the unnamed senior officials as stating.

The officials emphasized their country’s support for the Palestinians and asserted that any rapprochement would have to meet with their approval.

“The Kuwaiti position is consistent with its decades-old foreign policy approach in support of the Palestinian cause, as it is the premier Arab issue,” the officials said, according to a translation published by Reuters, adding that only “what the Palestinians accept” would be acceptable to Kuwait.A man reads a copy of UAE-based The National newspaper, with a headline about the UAE-Israel agreement and Israel’s suspension of annexation moves, near the Burj Khalifa, the tallest structure and building in the world, in Dubai on August 14, 2020. (Giuseppe Cacace/AFP)

Kuwait’s rejection of closer ties to Jerusalem came three days after Israel and the UAE on Thursday announced an agreement to establish full diplomatic relations, marking the third such deal Israel has struck with an Arab state after Egypt and Jordan.
MSNBC, CNN mostly ignore Trump's major Israel-UAE peace deal during prime time
The most-watched programs on MSNBC and CNN offered little coverage on Thursday night of the Trump administration's brokered peace agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as part of an ongoing pattern of avoiding news stories favorable to President Trump and unfavorable to Joe Biden and Democrats.

There was absolutely no mention of the major Middle East peace deal on MSNBC's "All In with Chris Hayes," which has been guest-hosted this week by anchor Ali Velshi, "The Rachel Maddow Show" and "The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell." The liberal network's 11 p.m. program "The 11th Hour with Brian Williams" did report on the foreign policy achievement.

Meanwhile, CNN anchor Anderson Cooper, who served as a presidential debate moderator during the 2016 election, completely avoided the subject despite having two full hours on air while filling in on colleague Chris Cuomo's timeslot.

"CNN Tonight" anchor Don Lemon, who regularly has two full hours every weeknight, spent roughly two minutes on the agreement but used it to mock Trump after National Security Advisor Robert O'Brien suggested the president should be nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.

"Oh my gosh, you cannot write this stuff," Lemon chuckled. "That's exactly what the president wanted to hear. As you may know, he really wants a Nobel Peace Prize."

"Wonder why he wants a Nobel Prize so badly... Oh, you know who has one, right? President Barack Obama!" the CNN anchor boasted.

Both networks' 7 p.m. shows did not mention the peace agreement, according to transcript searches.
Israel-UAE Deal May Strike a Blow Against China’s Belt and Road Ambitions
Analysis of the historic peace deal between Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) tends to focus on Iran and Turkey as the big losers. They were certainly the loudest complainers.

A more quietly disappointed loser could be China, which has major ambitions for the Middle East under its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

The big risk for China is that the UAE could demonstrate Israel is a better business partner for infrastructure development, with few strings attached. The UAE is currently a BRI partner, with some $3.4 billion in deals under the initiative, and Israel has a piece of the action, too. China went on the record welcoming the accord with Israel as a means of increasing “regional peace and stability,” but the shifting geopolitical landscape in the Middle East could lead to reduced demand for Chinese industry, and the Chinese Communist Party leverage that comes with it.

Beijing has some very heavy bets on the most unstable and un-peaceful actors in the Middle East. China is looking for a big piece of Syrian postwar reconstruction, it is working on a major partnership with Iran, and it is looking to pull Turkey more firmly into its orbit.

Every unhappy party listed in analyses of the Israel-UAE deal is a space on the Middle Eastern game table where China has a big stack of chips. A typical example from Thomas Friedman at the New York Times called the deal an “earthquake” and listed the “big geopolitical losers” as “Iran and all of its proxies: Hezbollah, the Iraqi militias, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the Houthis in Yemen and Turkey.” That is also a fairly concise list of China’s big current and prospective Middle Eastern clients:

PreOccupiedTerritory: Israelis Can’t Wait To Spread Obnoxious Tourist Reputation To UAE, Oman, Bahrain (satire)
Word of the developing diplomatic and commercial ties between Israel and several of the Persian Gulf states has sparked excitement among the Jewish state’s seasoned overseas travelers concerning the prospect of bringing to those countries for the first time the character of the loud, rude, self-centered sabra.

Israelis who relish their role of getting angry at chocolate distribution during flights; cutting ahead of people who have waited in line already; paying no attention to the volume of their public conversations; and other manifestations of entitled, inconsiderate tourist mentalities, voiced anticipation today of the opportunity that awaits them to bestow the experience of confronting such caricatures upon the residents of, and fellow visitors to, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Bahrain, and other Arab and Muslim countries with whom Israel is expected to establish formal ties in the next few weeks.

Following the announcement Thursday that the UAE and Israel will establish full diplomatic and commercial relations, reports emerged of other states in the region that intend to follow the same path, in a new diplomatic phenomenon that sees what at least one commentator has called “unapologetic normalization” – a departure from the previous paradigm in which such ties with Israel occurred in the shadow of the unresolved conflict with the Palestinians, and in which any such ties appeared contingent on progress on the Palestinian front. The emerging new pattern instead relegates the Palestinian issue to secondary status at best, even as the UAE stressed that the agreement to establish ties rests on Israeli abandonment of plans to implement formal annexation of disputed areas. With the Palestinian question out of the way, Israeli travelers took to focusing on what they do best while out of the country: making themselves and their countrymen look like spoiled, whiny, provincial ingrates.
Honest Reporting: Hamas Arson Terror
IDF aircraft bombed several sites belonging to the Hamas terrorist group in the Gaza Strip for the fifth night in a row, amid heightened tensions along the shared border sparked by the renewed flying of incendiary devices from the Palestinian enclave into Israel.

The incendiary devices — primarily balloons with flammable or explosive materials attached to them — have over the past week caused dozens of fires that destroyed Israeli agricultural land.

Meanwhile, it seems that Hamas may also be reinstating weekly protests along the frontier, with the IDF confirming that demonstrators on Saturday night “burned tires, hurled explosive devices and grenades towards the security fence and attempted to approach it.”

Israel Air Force prepares to train with Luftwaffe over Germany for first time
The Israeli Air Force will take part in its first ever exercise in Germany on Monday, flying dozens of sorties with the Luftwaffe and other NATO countries’ air forces, over the course of two weeks, the military said.

This will be the only international exercise to which the IAF will send aircraft this year, in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

“This exercise has great strategic importance and has immense influence on the air force, the IDF, and the State of Israel. Israeli-German relations and the arrival of Israeli Air Force planes on German soil is a historic event,” the IAF said.

On Tuesday, the IAF is also scheduled to perform a flyover with the German Air Force, flying over the Dachau concentration camp, in memory of the Holocaust, as well as over the outskirts of Munich, to commemorate the murder of 11 Israeli athletes in the 1972 Olympics, the military said.

Though the Israeli Air Force has performed flybys over former Nazi concentration camps before, this will be the first time that the German Luftwaffe will participate.

We will be “flying side by side with the Israeli Air Force for the first time in our history,” Ingo Gerhartz, chief of the German Air Force, told the German press agency dpa last Thursday.
Islamist firebrand preacher Raed Salah begins prison term for inciting terror
Sheikh Raed Salah, the firebrand leader of an outlawed Islamist group, began on Sunday a term of 28 months in prison for inciting terror and membership in an illegal organization.

Salah, the leader of the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement, was convicted by the Haifa Magistrate’s Court in November after he spoke out in support of a terror attack on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount that left two police officers dead and inflamed regional tensions.

The preacher briefly addressed the hundreds of supporters gathered outside Kishon prison on Sunday, saying: “Every Muslim and Arab in the world is proud of you — I do not respect the court’s decision.”

Last month the Haifa District Court rejected Salah’s appeal and upheld the conviction.

Former MK Jamal Zahalka told the Walla news site that Sunday’s jailing was part of an ongoing witch hunt.

“It is clear that this is another milestone in his political persecution. The [Northern Branch of the] Islamic Movement has been outlawed, now the right to speak is also outlawed,” Zahalka said.

As Israeli restrictions tighten, Gaza’s sole power plant to shut down on Tuesday
Gaza’s only power plant will shut down on Tuesday because of a lack of diesel fuel, the Hamas-run Gaza Energy Authority said in a statement.

Following Gaza-based terror groups’ launching of hundreds of explosive and incendiary devices attached to bundles of balloons into Israel in recent days, as well as several rockets, Israel shuttered the Kerem Shalom goods crossing, also halting diesel fuel, which the power plant needs to function, from entering.

The policy aims to pressure the Hamas terror group into halting the balloon attacks.

The plant’s shutdown will drastically reduce the meager supply of electricity which Gaza residents receive. The Gaza plant provides roughly a third of the Gaza Strip’s barely-adequate electricity supply, with the remainder provided by the Israel Electric Corporation.

Blackouts are already a regular feature of life in the Gaza Strip: On a good day, electricity is available for around 12 hours. The Gaza Energy Authority estimates that the electricity deficit will increase to 75% without a functioning Gaza power station, meaning Gazans could see their already-slim electricity rations plunge to as low as four hours a day.

This is not the first electricity clash the Gaza Strip has witnessed in recent years. In 2017, Hamas and the Palestinian Authority engaged in a protracted struggle during which the embattled coastal enclave witnessed similarly drastic power cuts.

Clashes between Gaza groups and Israel saw a brief lull in recent months due to the coronavirus pandemic. But the situation inside Gaza has deteriorated dramatically in recent months, with already sky-high 50 percent unemployment climbing to 60%. The Qatari government sent a few rounds of aid in the early stages of the pandemic, but is reportedly dragging its feet on sending more.
Amid ongoing cross-border fire, Gantz pledges no quiet in Gaza until south quiet
Following weekend exchanges of fire between the Israel Defense Forces and Hamas, Defense Minister Benny Gantz pledged that Israel would not cease striking targets in the Gaza Strip, warning that until there is peace in the south, “there will be no quiet in Gaza.”

In a statement released Sunday morning, following consultations with IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi, Gantz warned that “every explosive balloon or rocket landing in Israel and violating its sovereignty holds one return address: Hamas.”

“By launching rockets and explosive balloons, the heads of Hamas are undermining the interests of the residents of Gaza and impairing their ability to live in dignity and security.

The IDF will respond forcefully to any violation of sovereignty until complete quiet is restored in the south. If Sderot isn’t quiet, Gaza won’t be either,” he said.

Hamas, meanwhile, blamed Israel for the violence along the Gaza border, accusing the IDF of committing war crimes, after the launching of explosive balloons from the Gaza Strip escalated into airstrikes and rocket attacks.

“Israel’s attack on protesters and the wounding of several of them with live ammunition is a crime,” the terrorist group said in a statement carried on the Palestinian website Dunya al-Watan early Sunday morning. “Israel bears full responsibility for this escalation.”
Instagram account shares anonymous stories of Jew-hatred on US college campuses
A graduate student’s Jewish facial features mocked. A classmate saying Jews play the “minority card” to get into college. Swastikas drawn on the doors of Jewish students’ dorm rooms.

These are some of the stories shared on a new Instagram account, Jewish on Campus, which collects the anonymous anecdotes of Jewish students across the country who have experienced anti-Semitism in college.

Since it was created in early July, the page has garnered nearly 13,000 followers with more than 130 stories posted, recounting everything from a professor who teaches anti-Semitic canards to a mezuzuah repeatedly being ripped off a dorm room’s doorframe.

The page’s creators say they want to “provide a safe space for Jews of all backgrounds to speak up against anti-Semitism on college campuses,” conveying the breadth of anti-Jewish sentiment on campuses nationwide and showing that colleges and universities have not done enough to address it.

“My hope is to make more students heard on campus,” said Zohar Levy, a student at Stanford University and outreach coordinator for Jewish on Campus. “We are here to tell a story.”
In WWII, an anti-Semitic Canada kept Jewish ‘enemy aliens’ in barbed wire camps
The town of Sherbrooke, located about two hours east of Montreal, is a pleasant place to visit, especially in the temperate summer. There is a waterfall, and a promenade around a lake. In a nearby park, walkways have been built through the swamp to give city-dwellers a chance to enjoy birdsong and admire waterlilies. The town’s small history museum has recently reopened — with hand sanitizer and masked tour guides.

But nothing in the museum informs visitors about a bizarre part of Sherbrooke’s history: a camp where German and Austrian Jews were held as prisoners during World War II.

In 1940, biochemist Reinhart Pariser was a student in his early 20s at the University of Cambridge in England when one day police knocked on his door and gave him 10 minutes to pack, his son, David Pariser, told The Times of Israel.

He was put on a boat crammed with German Jews and German Nazis — both labeled by the British as “enemy aliens.” Some boats went to Australia, others to Canada; he ended up on the Canadian boat by sheer coincidence.

According to Pariser, who heard the story from his father, the German soldiers were housed on the upper deck, protected by the Geneva Convention for the treatment of prisoners of war. The approximately 1,000 Jews were locked in the ship’s bottom compartment. Some got hammocks, others had to sleep on the metal floor. There were no toilets there, not even a bucket. On the third day of the transatlantic journey, dysentery started raging among the men.
After 76 years, victims of Nazi massacre in Italy identified through DNA testing
When David Reicher was three months old, his father left the house and never came back. Now, after 76 years, Reicher, an Israeli citizen born in Italy in 1943, has finally learned his father’s fate.

Marian Reicher, a Polish Jew, was among the 335 civilians murdered in the Fosse Ardeatine massacre on March 24, 1944. The indiscriminate mass killings, which targeted Jews and Gentiles of all ages, from all professions, and socioeconomic groups, were carried out by the Nazis as a reprisal for a partisan bomb attack on an SS regiment the day before which killed 33 SS police.

Marian was among the eight victims of the massacre that until recently had still not been identified. But in April of this year, Reicher received a phone call from Alessandro Veltri, the army general in charge of the General Commissariat for Honors to the Fallen, an agency serving directly under the Defense Minister. Reicher’s DNA, it was revealed, matched one of the unidentified victims buried in the Fosse Ardeatine quarries, where the group had been shot point blank, execution-style, to save ammunition.

Finally knowing what happened to his father was a great relief for Reicher.

“It was a very happy day for me,” Reicher told The Times of Israel. “I’m sorry that my mother and sister, who died years ago, could not know my father’s fate.”

The identification was made thanks to the forensic investigations unit of the Carabinieri military police. In 2009, the unit archived biological data from the unidentified victims’ remains to be later compared with samples from surviving family members.

“It’s very important for Holocaust survivors to know what happened to their relatives,” said Reicher. “Maybe some of them may still be alive, [and] every year on the day of a deceased relative’s death, Jews light a candle in their memory.
Omer Adam set to perform in UAE after normalization deal signed
Israeli singer Omer Adam is set to perform in the UAE after Israel signed a historic normalization deal with the country last week, according to The Jerusalem Post's sister publication Maariv.

Adam received a message from Hamad Bin Khalifa, one of the leaders of the UAE, inviting him to visit the country and talks are ongoing for him to perform a private concert in the UAE.

A few months ago, the Israeli star posted a video congratulating UAE leaders for providing aid to the country's local Jewish community. Since then, residents of the UAE have posted videos of them listening to Adam's songs.

Ofer Menachem, Adam's public relations manager, stated that "contacts are being made ahead of a meeting between Omer and the leader in the UAE and a unique performance." Menachem added that Omer's video made a "very, very positive echo" in the UAE and that the singer had received a "personal invitation" to visit the country, according to Maariv.
Synagogues adapting for High Holy Days in the era of COVID-19
As the Jewish High Holy Days approach and with Israel’s COVID-19 outbreak still not under control, synagogues around the country are now planning for the spiritual high-point of the Jewish calendar at a time when the number of people who can attend services is going to be severely limited.

The High Holy Days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are the holiest and most spiritually significant time of the Jewish year, characterized by lengthy prayer services in synagogues attended by the biggest crowds of the year, including those who do frequently attend services.

But with the maximum number of people in an indoor space currently limited to 20, and only 30 in an outdoors space, prayer services during the upcoming holidays are going to look very different than usual.

And further complicating matters is the uncertainty about what kind of restrictions will be in place when the High Holy Days finally arrive.
The government has been trying to avoid a total shutdown of the economy for some time, but if cases do not decline sufficiently, and if the government fears a spike in infections due to social mingling during the holidays, it is conceivable that more stringent social distancing measures may be put in place.

Despite these concerns, synagogues across the denominational spectrum are still working hard to have plans in place for prayer services on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.
Jewish Agency: Israel to have 250,000 olim over next five years
The Jewish Agency estimates that Israel, will see an influx of a quarter of a million immigrants over the next five years, based on the dramatic increase in interest in aliyah witnessed in the months since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This estimate was presented to President Reuven Rivlin during a visit to Ulpan Etzion, a Hebrew-language school in Jerusalem run by the Jewish Agency, on Sunday.

Since the global health crisis began, the Jewish Agency and other organizations involved in aliyah have witnessed a massive spike in the number of people making contact to inquire about aliyah and in the number of people opening aliyah files.

The new assessment takes into account these new trends, as well as information received from Jewish Agency officials on the ground around the Jewish world, and bearing in mind that in 2019, a relatively normal year for aliyah, there were around 35,000 new immigrants.

Bearing that in mind, the Jewish Agency believes that 50,000 new immigrants over the next five years is a realistic figure.
Theodor Herzl: The Founder of Modern Zionism

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