Tuesday, August 18, 2020

From Ian:

Benjamin Netanyahu: Ushering in a New Era of Peace
Last Thursday, together with President Donald Trump and Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, I declared the historic peace agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates. This is the first peace agreement between Israel and an Arab country in 26 years. It is different from its predecessors because it is based on two principles: “peace for peace” and “peace through strength.” Under this doctrine, Israel is not required to withdraw from any territory and together the two countries openly reap the fruits of a full peace: investments, trade, tourism, health, agriculture, environmental protection, and in many other fields, including defense, of course.

This peace was not achieved because Israel weakened itself by withdrawing to the 1967 lines. It was achieved because Israel strengthened itself by cultivating a free economy, military and technological strength, and by combining these two strengths to achieve unprecedented international influence.

This strong international position found expression in our willingness to take a stand against Iran’s aggression in the region and its efforts to attain nuclear weapons. The fact that we stood alone, and sometimes I had to stand alone against the whole world against Iran and the dangerous nuclear agreement with it, made a major impression on Arab leaders in the region.

A simple fact was proven anew: Strength attracts and weakness repels. In the Middle East, the strong survive and with strength, one makes peace. I have advanced the cultivation of Israel’s strength over the years and thereby the doctrine of “peace for peace” as well. I do this with leaders around the Arab and Islamic worlds.

This concept found public expression in my meeting with the president of Sudan about six months ago, in my meetings with senior Arab foreign ministers in the open meeting in Warsaw a year and a half ago, and in my open visit to Oman two years ago at the invitation of the late Sultan Qaboos. I can tell you that it found expression in a series of secret meetings, about which I shall not go into detail.

This doctrine stands in complete contradiction to the concept that held, up until a few days ago, that no Arab country would agree to make an official and open peace with Israel before a conclusion was achieved in the conflict with the Palestinians. In the Palestinians’ view, and in the view of many in the world who agreed with them, it would be impossible to achieve this peace with our capitulating to the Palestinians’ demands, including the uprooting of communities, the division of Jerusalem, and a withdrawal to the 1967 lines.

In effect, this mistaken concept gave the Palestinians a veto over achieving peace between Israel and Arab countries. It held Israel and the Arab world as hostages to the Palestinians’ most extreme demands, which put the State of Israel in genuine existential danger. Perhaps, in my view, the greatest danger was that more than a few Israelis agreed with the absurd conditions. No more. This concept of “peace through withdrawal and weakness” is gone from the world. It has been replaced by a different concept: Genuine peace, peace for peace, peace through strength. This is what we are advancing today.

I remind you that in the current agreement, not only has Israel not withdrawn from so much as one square meter, rather the Trump plan includes, at my request, the application of Israeli sovereignty over extensive territories in Judea and Samaria.
Khaled Abu Toameh: It's Official: Palestinians Join Iran-led Anti-Peace Camp
By holding a political protest at the compound of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, Palestinians are not only desecrating the sanctity of the site, but also sending a warning to citizens of UAE not to visit Jerusalem or the mosque, as many apparently hoped to do.

The Joint Statement of the United States, Israel, and the UAE on August 13 points out that according to President Donald J. Trump's Vision for Peace, "all Muslims who come in peace may visit and pray at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, and Jerusalem's other holy sites should remain open for peaceful worshippers of all faiths."

This warning shows that the Palestinians believe they have exclusive control over Islam's third-holiest site and are free to decide who can visit the site and who cannot. It is therefore the right time for Arabs and Muslims to step in to demand an end to Palestinian hegemony over the Al-Aqsa Mosque and other holy sites in Jerusalem.

By declaring war on the UAE, the Palestinian leadership has chosen to align itself with those who seek the elimination of Israel: Iran, Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah. The Palestinian leadership has again demonstrated its determination to act against the interests of its own people, who could have benefited from the UAE-Israel deal by seeking financial aid from the Arab countries and jobs in the Gulf states.
Destruction of Iranian Nuclear Facility Should Remind Democrats of Israel’s Unique Value as an Ally
An explosion at the Natanz nuclear complex on July 2 laid waste to the Iran Centrifuge Assembly Center (ICAC), a workshop designed to mass produce thousands of advanced centrifuges for enriching uranium. Satellite pictures strongly suggest that the blast's cause was a powerful bomb placed at a critical juncture inside the facility. Not implausibly, many experts pointed to Israel—not least because “a Middle Eastern intelligence official,” widely suspected to be Mossad chief Yossi Cohen, told the New York Times that Israel was, in fact, responsible. If true, it’s a potent reminder of Israel’s enormous value as a strategic partner of the United States, one that combines the will, capabilities, and tactical skill to confront the region’s most dangerous threats in ways that are largely unrivaled by any other American ally. The point may be particularly worth underscoring in the run up to the 2020 elections, especially for a Democratic Party where support for Israel has seemed increasingly under stress.

The destruction of the ICAC was a significant blow to Iran’s nuclear program. Once deployed, the advanced centrifuges being assembled there would have dramatically reduced the time required to produce enough highly-enriched uranium (HEU) not just for one nuclear bomb, but for a small arsenal. Their mass production would also have made it much easier for Iran to divert a critical number of advanced centrifuges to a covert site, where any rapid breakout to develop nuclear weapons could proceed in secret. With a single exquisitely executed act of sabotage, cloaked in mystery, and avoiding the attendant risks of war associated with an overt military strike, those powerful Iranian cards have now been swept from the table—at least for the time being. Estimates are that the explosion could have set back Iran’s centrifuge program by up to two years.

That’s not to say that the danger has been eliminated, far from it. Deep underground, at a different facility in Natanz and at another in Fordow, several thousand older centrifuges, known as IR-1s, continue to churn outgrowing quantities of enriched uranium under the gaze of inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Over the last year, in response to the re-imposition of crippling U.S. sanctions following the Trump administration’s withdrawal from the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), or the Iran nuclear deal, Iran has slowly but surely begun violating several of the deal’s restrictions—including on enrichment levels, stockpiles of low-enriched uranium, and research and development on advanced centrifuges. Roughly 1000 next-generation IR-2m centrifuges that were dismantled under the JCPOA could also be available for re-installation, leaving Iran’s breakout time for producing sufficient HEU for one nuclear bomb as low as 3 to 4 months—significantly less than the JCPOA’s 12-month target.

Nevertheless, there’s no question that the risks from Iran’s nuclear program are significantly more manageable without the looming danger posed by the thousands of far more powerful centrifuges that the ICAC was set to produce. The facility’s destruction has almost certainly bought those determined to contain the Iranian nuclear threat important time and space that, before the explosion, were rapidly dwindling in the face of Iran’s JCPOA violations.

Europe Must Put Aside Its Outdated Thinking on Israel
Yet, for decades the Palestinians drove the Arab train when it came to Israel. No longer. Impatience with the Palestinians and their political dysfunction has grown in recent years, driven by a realization that every Israeli offer for a deal has been spurned or ignored by Palestinian leaders in the past 20 years, if not longer.

So why continue to be held hostage to Palestinian leaders unwilling to say “yes” to a two-state agreement, when Israel has so much to offer and the regional stakes are so high? And in any case, perhaps it is enlightened Arab leaders who can talk sense to the Palestinians, and even change the Israeli calculus on such issues as annexation and, ultimately, even a peace accord, since the reverse Palestinian-led course has led nowhere.

And third, if Europe, unlike the US today, wants to continue to insist that the Palestinian issue is front and center to an understanding of Middle East dynamics, that the Palestinian record of rejectionism is essentially irrelevant, that Iran can be managed from Brussels, or, by the way, that Hezbollah can be divided into fictitious “military” and “political” wings, as the EU indefensibly did in 2013 at French insistence, then it will continue to be sidelined, while a new balance of forces emerges in the Middle East.

Europe has much to offer, most especially its remarkable experience of postwar peace-building and integration that today is the EU. It could perhaps one day serve as a model for other regions with a long history of conflict and animosity.

But that won’t happen unless Europe sheds some of its archaic thinking about the Middle East, acknowledges and embraces the new dynamics at work as reflected in the UAE-Israel deal (and others to follow?), takes a fresh look at its own complex relationship with Israel, and ends its “low expectations” policy toward the Palestinians.

As Europe’s most powerful and influential country, and the current holder of the EU Presidency, Germany is in a unique position to show leadership, vision, and courage. If not now, when?
The UAE Deal Shows Middle East Peace Doesn’t Depend on the ‘Palestinians’
The big lie that peace in the region could only come from a ‘Palestinian’ state was a scam that diplomats, leaders, and experts bought into and on which they built our relationship with Israel.

The agreement between the UAE and Israel showed that the experts were once again wrong.

We were told for generations that the region was one more negotiating session between whichever Islamic terrorist leader was running things in Ramallah and whichever Israeli prime minister had cobbled together a democratic coalition in Jerusalem away from peace.

The big lie died with a single Trump tweet announcing the deal between Israel and the UAE.

The generals, the diplomats, the pundits, and the professors, some of whom had really been working for Islamic oil states all along, had sold America and the world a big lie.

The big lie depended on a myth that was part antisemitic and part philosemitic, by turns orientalist and anti-imperialist, that everything in the region revolved around Israel. All it took to puncture that myth was the Iraq War, and the rise of Iran, the Muslim Brotherhood, and ISIS.

Few of the experts and politicians still repeat the nonsense about the path to peace lying through Israel. What was once a deep thought has become an awkward embarassment when confronting the inescapable reality of a region riven with deep religious and ethnic fractures that generate terrorism, tear apart countries, and are exploited by the region’s major powers.

The ‘Palestinians’, a bunch of Marxist-Islamist militias who base their terrorist campaigns around the nonsensical claim that 20th century Arab settlers are the biblical Caannites, are one of dozens of terrorist factions dotting the region, while being propped up by Islamic states.
Israel-UAE Peace: Does Trump Deserve Nobel Prize?

Israel-UAE Deal: From Delicate Diplomatic Dance to Shock Announcement
The announcement that Israel and the United Arab Emirates will be normalizing relations and signing a peace agreement may have taken many by surprise but it was actually the result of years of groundwork.

While the two countries were never in direct military conflict with one another, the UAE did not officially recognize the existence of the State of Israel. The Gulf state did not allow Israeli citizens to enter its borders and no Israeli aircraft were allowed to fly through UAE airspace. Israel did not place similar restrictions on the UAE, but Abu Dhabi nevertheless did not permit its citizens to travel to Israel.

2009: The Enemy of My Enemy
Iran’s nuclear aspirations first brought the two countries together. The United Arab Emirates is a Sunni Muslim state and its leaders fear Iran’s desire to establish a Shiite caliphate in the Middle East.

In 2009, the UAE and Israeli ambassadors to the United States joined forces in a bid to force the White House to adopt a tough stance regarding Iran. While they failed to prevent the Obama administration from signing the nuclear deal — formally called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPA) — with Tehran, this partnership laid the foundation for future cooperation between the nations.

On January 16, 2010, history was made when Uzi Landau, Israel’s then-minister of national infrastructure, became the highest-ranking Knesset member ever to visit the UAE. But significant gaps still existed, evidenced by the UAE’s decision to reject Israeli tennis player Shahar Pe’er’s request for a visa to compete in the Dubai Tennis Championships. The tournament director, Salah Tahlik, suggested that the move was not anti-Israel, per say, but made out of concern that Pe’er’s participation would generate internal backlash.
Exclusive Interview with Dr. Ali Al-Noaimi on UAE-Israel Peace Deal

Netanyahu to UAE TV on annexation: Top priority now is expanding circle of peace
Four days after the normalization deal between Israel and the United Arab Emirates was announced, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave an unprecedented interview on Monday to the Abu Dhabi-based Sky News Arabia, in which expressed confidence that other Arab states would follow suit.

Regarding his plan to annex parts of the West Bank, he said that the Trump Administration had asked him to suspend it temporarily, and that the top priority at present was expanding the circle of peace.

“Well, this was an American request, for a moment, to suspend the application of Israeli law, and we agreed,” he said. “The Americans told us that they wanted to expand the framework of peace, and that is our highest priority right now: expanding the circle of peace.”

Netanyahu was speaking English but the conversation was dubbed into Arabic, and no English transcript was made available.

US presidential adviser Jared Kushner told reporters Monday that the US would not consent to annexation “for some time.” “Israel has agreed with us that they will not move forward without our consent,” Kushner said. “We do not plan to give our consent for some time, as right now the focus has to be on getting this new peace agreement implemented.”

Praising the UAE for taking the step, Netanyahu said he believes that other Arab countries will follow suit and also sign deals with Israel.

Netanyahu said both countries would benefit “greatly from the deal,” adding that Israel plans to import from “free zones” in the United Arab Emirates — areas in which foreign companies can operate under light regulation and where foreign investors are allowed to take full ownership in companies.
Israel Opposes Any F-35 Sale to UAE Despite Their Warming Ties
Israel would oppose any US F-35 warplane sales to the United Arab Emirates despite forging relations with the Gulf power, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday, citing a need to maintain Israeli military superiority in the region.

The statement followed a report in Israel‘s Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper that the Trump administration planned a “giant” F-35 deal with the UAE as part of the Gulf country’s US-brokered move last week to normalize ties with Israel.

The US Embassy in Jerusalem and representatives of the UAE government did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Under understandings dating back decades, Washington has refrained from Middle East arms sales that could blunt Israel‘s “qualitative military edge” (QME). This has applied to the F-35, denied to Arab states, while Israel has bought and deployed it.

“In the talks (on the UAE normalization deal), Israel did not change its consistent positions against the sale to any country in the Middle East of weapons and defense technologies that could tip the (military) balance,” Netanyahu’s office said.

This opposition includes any proposed F-35 sale, it added.

The Trump administration has signaled that the UAE could clinch unspecified new US arms sales after last Thursday’s normalization announcement.
Sudanese Foreign Ministry says it looks forward to peace with Israel
Sudan and Israel sent each other messages of peace and reconciliation on Monday, leading to speculation that the countries could be on the verge of normalizing ties and establishing formal diplomatic relations.

The Sudanese Foreign Ministry spokesperson told Sky News Arabia that Sudan looks forward to a peace agreement with Israel. His words followed the announcement last week of a pending peace deal between the Israel and the United Arab Emirates.

"There is no reason for the continuation of hostility between Sudan and Israel," the spokesman said. "We do not deny the existence of contacts between the two countries."

Both Israel and Sudan would benefit from such an agreement, the spokesman said.

Prime Minister Netanyahu immediately responded, saying: "Israel, Sudan and the entire region will benefit from the peace agreement and together they can build a better future for all the peoples of the region. We will do everything necessary to make this vision a reality."

Netanyahu lauded the courageous decision to promote peace between Israel and Sudan made by Lt.- Gen. Abdel Fatah Abdeirahman al-Burhan, who chairs the Sudanese Sovereignty Council.
Kuwait’s anti-Israel rhetoric in spotlight after UAE deal
On the surface there’s no reason why Kuwait, the kingdom at the end of the Persian Gulf, would be a leading critic of Israel.
Not only does it have no historical connection to Israel, either positive or negative, it is also far away from the Jewish state.

However, in the wake of the UAE decision to normalize relations with Israel, Kuwait has appeared to be the coldest toward Israel of all states in the Gulf.

Kuwait has indicated it would be the last country to normalize relations with Israel, according to a report on Sunday in the Al-Qabas daily newspaper.

Clearly, Kuwait feels pressure to comment after the Abu Dhabi decision. It is known that Oman and Bahrain are more keen on relations with Israel and that Qatar holds discussions with Israel in the context of funding Gaza. This leaves Kuwait as an exception.

The explanation for Kuwait’s exceptionalism is complex. In the 1960s and 70s, many Palestinians moved to Kuwait, and the country played a formative role in their life.

Later when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait the Palestinians supported him, seeing him as the region’s most anti-Israel leader.
Mossad chief meets with UAE security head in Abu Dhabi
Mossad intelligence agency director Yossi Cohen met Tuesday with United Arab Emirates National Security Adviser Tahnoun bin Zayed in Abu Dhabi, an official Emirati news agency said, as the countries moved to pave the way toward normalized ties.

Cohen, who arrived Monday, was a key player in the historic agreement between Israel and the UAE, and became the first senior Israeli official to travel to Abu Dhabi since the deal was announced Thursday.

Cohen discussed “cooperation in the fields of security” and regional developments with Bin Zayed reported the official WAM news agency.

According to the statement, the two sides also discussed collaboration to fight the novel coronavirus, as well as “opening new horizons of cooperation between the two countries in various fields.”

Bin Zayed also praised Cohen’s role in fostering the burgeoning ties, “which contributed to the success of the peace treaty between the UAE and Israel,” the statement on WAM said.

There was no statement from Israel on Cohen’s talks.
'A warm peace': Jews in the UAE thrilled about normalization
In contrast to Israel's peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan, after which the Arab side remained obstinate about not building bridges between their people and the Israelis, the agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates to normalize relations is already different.

Israel's Foreign Ministry conducted an online poll among residents of the Gulf States, and 44% of Emiratis responded that they would like to visit Israel to see the country's Islamic holy sites.

Attorney Ross Kriel, 55, head of the oldest Jewish community in the UAE, is astonished at how fast warm ties are developing between Israel and the UAE.

"Only a week ago, the things happening today were still a dream, like seeing the Israelis and Emirati flags flying side by side on the front pages of local newspapers," Kriel says.

"It's going to be a warm peace," he adds.

Some 3,000 Jews currently live and work in the UAE, including several dozen Israelis who hold second citizenships. Most of them live in Dubai or in Abu Dhabi.

Kriel's own community was established 12 years ago. There are two younger Jewish communities in the Emirates, including one comprised of Chabad members. The community synagogue is located in the Kriel family's villa, not far from the famous Burj al Arab Hotel.
Israel, UAE teams may join forces to grow strawberries, blueberries in desert
Arieli Capital, an investment firm that operates innovation centers in Israel and around the world, and a regional council in the Negev desert in Israel, said they are in talks with officials in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to promote desert agriculture projects.

Discussions began before Israel and the UAE announced a normalization agreement between the two counties on August 16, the parties said in a statement on Tuesday.

The talks have been taking place with UAE representatives who contacted the parties in Israel. Several meetings on the subject have taken place in Europe with Eran Doron, head of the Ramat Negev Regional Council, and representatives from the Center for Experimental Desert Agriculture in Ramat Negev.

“Technology and innovation will become the bridge that connects the Israeli and UAE ecosystems and communities,” said Eric Bentov, a partner at Arieli Capital. “The discussions are a game changing opportunity to unlock the social and economic potential of the Middle Eastern countries.”

Palestinians to boycott Dubai Expo world fair over ties with Israel
The Palestinians will boycott next year’s world fair in Dubai over the United Arab Emirates’ opening of diplomatic relations with Israel, Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh announced Monday.

“In protest of the #UAE’s decision to normalize relations with Israel, the occupying power, the Cabinet decided to cancel #Palestine’s participation in #DubaiExpo2020, planned to open in October 2021,” Shtayyeh wrote on his official Twitter account.

The fractured Palestinian leadership — from the Palestinian Authority led by Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank to Hamas in the Gaza Strip — is united in its opposition to the UAE-Israel deal announced Thursday by US President Donald Trump.

PA President Abbas called an emergency meeting in response to the agreement, and the PA recalled its ambassador to the UAE in protest over the deal.

Palestinian terror groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad also denounced the agreement, which was mediated by the United States.

PreOccupiedTerritory: NGOs Suddenly Notice UAE Authoritarian After Nation Forms Ties With Israel (satire)
Human rights groups reacted to last week’s sudden announcement of diplomatic and commercial ties between Israel and the United Arab Emirates by finding it important, out of the blue, that the latter country relies on dictatorial, repressive, and abusive policies to exert political and civil control, a fact that had passed without much attention among those groups during the last several decades, when a constructive relationship between Israel and Persian Gulf Arab states was not under public consideration.

Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and various other organizations took a sudden detailed interest over the weekend in the state of Gulf state human and civil rights following the Trump administration’s announcement heralding the establishment of UAE-Israel commercial and diplomatic ties, an interest that has merited little more than passing mention in each of the organization’s annual reports on such issues outside Israel and the territory under Israeli control.

“Whoa, hold up, that’s not a democratic country,” remarked Human Rights Watch director Ken Roth, as if noticing the fact for the first time. “Israel is of course establishing ties with dictatorial regimes, which comes as no surprise. Of course, much of the international community wants Israel to be all nice to the Palestinian government, which boasts much of the same dictatorial, authoritarian, repressive character, but we’re confident the mainstream media will continue to ignore that.”
Former US envoy Jason Greenblatt says still supports, expects sovereignty
Although former US special envoy to the Middle East Jason Greenblatt said he supports the Abraham Accords, he told Army Radio on Tuesday morning that he still “supports the application of Israeli sovereignty” over Judea and Samaria.

"I think it's important to look at the word that was chosen by the three parties and the official statement, which is the word 'suspend,’” Greenblatt said. “As you know, I am myself a big proponent of recognizing Israel's sovereignty and application of Israeli law.”

Greenblatt stressed that he still believes the areas of West Bank are not occupied – “never occupied Palestinian territories,” he said, “which is wrong.”

He made his comments only days after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and UAE Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Zayed agreed to move toward normalizing relations, with the help of US President Donald Trump and the American administration.

The deal is part of the US “Peace for Prosperity” plan, which Greenblatt originally helped orchestrate.

Since the Abraham Accord was revealed, the US administration, through senior adviser Jared Kushner, has stressed that annexation has been tabled for now, while Netanyahu has insisted that it is still on the table.

Greenblatt told the radio that he supports the agreement because he believes that Israel "needs to fight this fight slowly."

Palestine, not Israel, will carry the cost of its rejectionist policies
It’s been said of Palestinian leaders that they never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity. History seems to be proving the statement correct with the Palestinian response to the peace agreement between the United Arab Emirates and Israel last week. While Israelis and Emiratis are celebrating the historic agreement that benefits both sides, Palestinian leaders are furious, and launching somewhat futile diplomatic efforts to ensure other Arab states do not follow suit.

This temper-tantrum policy from the Palestinian Authority is nothing new, particularly in recent years with the increased pressure on the PA from President Trump.

In response to the defunding of UNRWA and freezing aid to the Palestinians, the PA issued threats on the danger of such a move, stating that it was “harming peace” in peace negotiations that they refuse to have. After President Trump moved the US Embassy to Jerusalem, the Palestinian leadership issued threat after threat of diplomatic action and warned there would be immense bloodshed over the move.

In the end, nothing happened. More recently, in response to the “Deal of the Century,” the Palestinians again issued threats and attempted to lobby against the United States and Israel, insisting the Oslo Accords were “over.” The Palestinians have threatened to cut off ties with the United States, to end security cooperation with Israel, and other overly dramatic reactions to being held accountable for their own corruption. After all the threats, nothing changed.
The Dahlan enigma: One Palestinian leader isn’t condemning the Israel-UAE deal
Prominent figures in Palestinian politics condemned the normalization agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates as a betrayal. The PA itself called the deal “despicable” and demanded it be reversed. Said Saeb Erekat, the veteran Palestinian negotiator, “I never expected this poison dagger to come from an Arab country.”

But there was no such condemnation from Mohammad Dahlan, the former Fatah chief and preventive security head in Gaza and an ex-PA security minister, who has lived in the Emirates since he was expelled from the West Bank in 2011 following a bitter and bloody political dispute with the current Palestinian Authority leadership.

Dahlan is widely seen as a serious rival and potential successor to long-ruling Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

If Palestinian opinion polling is any indication, Dahlan is not nearly as popular as other challengers to Mahmoud Abbas, receiving only six percent in one election survey — far behind other potential successors such as Tanzim’s Marwan Barghouti and Hamas’s Ismail Haniyeh.

But Dahlan has both a loyal following in the Gaza Strip, where he was born, and a rising regional patron: the UAE. Since settling there in 2011, Dahlan has become an important adviser to the Emirates’ leader, Mohammed Bin Zayed al-Nahyan.

After the Emirates announced normalization with Israel, the Democratic Reform Current, the Dahlan-affiliated movement within Fatah, released a carefully worded statement saying that it had “followed the [agreement] with extreme interest.” The pro-Dahlan faction’s position could be parsed as tentative praise or strategic neutrality — but certainly not condemnation.
What does Kamala Harris’s nomination for vice president mean for Israel?
With regard to Biden’s intention to return to the 2015 Iran deal that Trump withdrew from in May 2018, Gilboa said that, if elected, while “Biden will call the shots on Iran,” this will be “a challenge for Israel” because although Harris didn’t vote for the deal (she wasn’t in the Senate then), she has said that America should return to negotiations and come up with a revised deal.

Gilboa noted that “Iran wants the Democrats to win because it thinks it can get a better deal. Based on the Obama experience, this is not far-fetched.”

He also noted that since Biden “selected Harris from the mainstream branch of the party,” he would have to “compensate the progressives in other places,” such as in cabinet positions.

“They want as many positions as possible on domestic affairs,” said Gilboa, emphasizing that “they care less about foreign affairs,” which Biden would dominate.

Gilboa predicted that either the position of Secretary of State, Ambassador to the United Nations, Secretary of Defense or of the National Security Council “will go to the radicals.”

The question will be how Biden divides the positions between the progressives and the mainstream.

Gilboa said that if Biden appoints one of the progressives to a position important for Israel, “then it could be a problem” since “that person might be influential on Iran.”

He predicted that “it is very likely Biden would immediately try to negotiate with Iran and would remove at least some of the sanctions. Based on experience, this is not going to be a better agreement and will likely be worse.”
McCollum Introduces Bill Prohibiting US Recognition of Israeli Annexation
Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.) introduced a bill on Friday that would prohibit the United States from recognizing Israel’s application of sovereignty over, or what she has clearly stated as annexation of, the West Bank.

The Israeli Annexation Non-Recognition Act would also prohibit US assistance to areas where Israel has applied sovereignty.

It is co-sponsored by Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Andre Carson (D-Ind.) and Mark Pocan (D-Wis.).

“I want Palestinians and Israelis to have their human rights respected, their right to self-determination realized, and a future with peace, security, equality and justice,” said McCollum in a statement.

“Annexation is antithetical to these goals and will fuel instability, injustice and an abhorrent system of apartheid. This is an intolerable outcome for Palestinians, Israelis and Americans,” she said. “I reject Israeli annexation. I condemn annexation. And I will work to ensure the US does not support, defend or legitimize any plan to illegally annex Palestinian lands.”

As part of a historic US-brokered peace agreement last week to normalize relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, the former agreed to temporarily suspend applying sovereignty to parts of the West Bank, also known as Judea and Samaria.
US envoy to combat antisemitism urges Houthis to release Yemeni Jew
Elan Carr, America's special envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism, urged the Iranian regime-backed Houthi movement on Monday to release an illegally imprisoned member of Yemen’s tiny Jewish community.

“The Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen have a record of persecuting religious minorities. Levi Salem Musa Marhabi, a member of Yemen’s small Jewish community, has endured 4 years in prison despite a legal order for his release. We join in calling for his immediate release,” wrote Carr on Twitter.

The Houthi movement has waged a civil war in Yemen since 2015 to seize the country. The official slogan of the Houthi movement (Ansar Allah – God's supporters) reads "Allah is Greater, Death to America, Death to Israel, Curse on the Jews, Victory to Islam.”

According to a report in Ami Magazine, “In May 2016, a group of dazed but ecstatic Yemenite Jews arrived in Israel after a long trip that was the culmination of over two years of planning. Among their possessions was a very rare deerskin Sefer Torah, claimed by some to be 800 years old. The successful aliyah of this family angered the Yemeni authorities and their Iranian backers, and a young Jewish Yemenite named Levi Marhabi was arrested on suspicion of aiding the Jews’ departure with the scroll, which they consider a ‘national Yemeni treasure."'
Israel, Ukraine urge Hasidic pilgrims not to visit Uman for Rosh Hashanah
Israel and Ukraine have called on Israelis not to travel to Uman next month for the annual Rosh Hashanah pilgrimage to the gravesite of a prominent Hasidic rabbi due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, but won’t block the option completely.

“The epidemiological situation in Ukraine and Israel as well as in the world in general, unfortunately, does not allow us to traditionally commemorate the holiday this year,” the countries said Tuesday in a joint statement released by the Prime Minister’s Office.

The statement added: “We urge all pilgrims who have planned or are planning to take part in this year’s Rosh Hashanah celebrations in Ukraine to refrain from visiting the city of Uman due to the threatening epidemiological situation.”

Jerusalem and Kyiv stressed to any Israelis who do choose to visit that social distancing guidelines would be strictly enforced at any public gatherings.

“We hope for understanding and sincerely believe that next year we will be able to celebrate Rosh Hashanah and other holidays together and without any restrictions,” the statement said.

Earlier reports had suggested that the government could block Israelis from visiting Uman altogether.
FDD: Tensions in Gaza and on Israel’s Northern Border – What Next?
Even as protestors take to the streets to vent their anger at Hezbollah, the group’s military posture vis-à-vis Israel has not changed. If anything, Hezbollah’s leadership may mistakenly believe that Israel would not reciprocate, due to the delicate political situation in Lebanon after the explosion

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his cabinet seek to disabuse Hezbollah of this notion and have reiterated Israel’s longstanding policies. First, Israel has zero tolerance for Iranian or Hezbollah military forces on Syrian soil. Moreover, Israel has zero tolerance for Hezbollah’s terrorist activity anywhere on Israel’s northern border. Finally, Israel has declared zero tolerance for advanced weapon systems, such as precision-guided munitions, in the hands of Hezbollah. The IDF continues to vow that there will be a harsh response if Hezbollah crosses any of these red lines.

The state sponsor of both Hezbollah and Hamas is, of course, Iran. The Islamic Republic could dispatch either group to attack Israel at any time. But Tehran appears to be treading carefully as it waits to see whether a possible removal of President Donald Trump from the White House could alter the “maximum pressure” policy that has sent Iran’s economy into a tailspin. Those economic woes have been compounded by the COVID-19 crisis and the resulting global recession.

The Iranians would probably prefer to keep Hezbollah’s weapons arsenal intact for a future conflict with Israel. But Hamas is less of a strategic asset. It is for this reason that the IDF is keeping a close eye on its southern border. From the IDF’s perspective, all of Iran’s proxies should fear a conflict.

Israel is now actively weighing its options to negate the various attacks coming out of Gaza – from rockets and riots to explosive balloons. Egypt could play an important role and has sent a delegation to Gaza to mediate. UN envoy Nickolay Mladenov is also looking to play a role. Should they fail, Israel would once again be on its own. Even with tensions rising on its northern front, the IDF may have no choice but to reestablish deterrence and quiet by military means.
Border guard moderately hurt in Old City stabbing; assailant shot dead
A Border Police officer was moderately wounded in an apparent stabbing attack in Jerusalem’s Old City on Monday night, officials said.

The assailant — later identified by Palestinian officials as Ashraf Hassan Atallah Halasa, 30 — was shot dead by other officers at the scene, police said.

A woman who was standing nearby was apparently hit by a ricochet and lightly injured. She was taken to a hospital for treatment, police said.

“An assailant approached a police force… whipped out a knife and used it to stab a Border Police officer and injure him moderately,” police said.

Police later released footage of the incident, showing Halasa taking out the knife and stabbing the officer in the upper chest. The border guard, along with other officers at the scene, opened fire at the assailant, killing him.

Medics said the border guard, 19, sustained a number of stab wounds and was taken to Jerusalem’s Hadassah Hospital Mount Scopus for treatment.

“We gave him life-saving medical treatment, including stopping the bleeding, bandaging him, and giving him medication, and we took him quickly to the hospital in moderate, stable condition,” a Magen David Adom medic said.

A Hadassah spokesperson said the officer sustained stab wounds to the chest. “He is stable and fully conscious,” she said.

Erdan reveals Hezbollah’s route into Israel
Intelligence material sent to UN Security Council members by Israeli Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan shows the route Hezbollah terrorists took when infiltrating Israel last month.

The photo, made public for the first time on Monday, shows evidence of the five terrorists crossing from Lebanon to the area of Mount Dov via the Blue Line, the border between the countries. The IDF thwarted the attack and there were no Israeli casualties.

This is contrary to Hezbollah secretary-general Hassan Nasrallah’s claim that the terrorist group's members did not cross into Israel.
Erdan said that "Hezbollah's terrorist operations, which violate Security Council resolutions, could lead to disaster and wreak havoc on Lebanon."

Regarding the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, the ambassador said that “the role of the UNIFIL force is to prevent these operations and to prevent Hezbollah from turning southern Lebanon into its own terrorist base,” he said. “If UNIFIL is unable to fulfill this mission, then its existence should be in doubt."
Prosecution Won’t Investigate Breaking the Silence Despite Its Gathering Classified Security Information
Israel’s State Prosecution on Monday informed the High Court of justice that, according to IDF sources, the NGO Breaking the Silence may hold sensitive information classified as “confidential ” and even “top secret.” The Prosecution added that despite this, it stands behind the decision not to open an investigation against BtS.

The State Prosecution was responding to a petition filed by the group Ad Kan (Up to Here) with the HCJ requesting that it order the Attorney General to launch an investigation against BtS for collecting sensitive information about the IDF.

The Ad Kan petition was joined by senior military commanders who support the request to investigate BtS’s gathering of military information. The petition was accompanied by opinions from senior IDF Intelligence officials, who indicated the serious problems arising from BtS interrogations of IDF soldiers, suggesting “The organization uses an intelligence gathering method to gather information and intelligence about the IDF, its capabilities and activities. The information in the possession of the organization is valuable to the enemies of the State of Israel, and may be accessible to these hostile parties due to the methods of its storage.”
Israeli soldiers detain BtS provocateurs in the Jewish settlement of Mitzpe Yair, near Hebron, August 31, 2018. / Wisam Hashlamoun/Flash90

The State Prosecution pointed to a precedent from 1993, when no investigation was launched against PLO chairman Yasser Arafat so as not to infringe on the Oslo peace negotiations which were on the table at the time. In that, the Prosecution compared the importance of BtS to the importance of the head of the Palestinian Authority, and the Oslo peace accords to the subversive activities of BtS.
'Terror tunnel' dating back to 1948 unearthed in Safed
Work to upgrade the entrance to the old city of Safed has unearthed a tunnel that experts are certain local Arabs dug during the 1948 War of Independence, intending to use it to blow up Ashtam Building, an old commercial structure that served as the important outpost and weapons stockpile protecting the city's Jews.

At that time, Jews were in a small minority in Safed compared to the number of Arab residents in the city's Muslim Quarter.

"This is the only attack tunnel we know of from the time of the War of Independence [other than the sewers used by the Haganah forces in Jerusalem], and also the first attack tunnel in the history of modern Israel," says Dr. Nissan Sharifi, a researcher on the history of Safed.

A few years after the War of Independence, the ground near Ashtam Building was leveled to build a parking area for tourist buses bringing visitors to the old city.

Workers employed on a recent refurbishment of the area uncovered the tunnel, and initially thought they had stumbled across an antiquity. They contacted the Israel Antiquities Authority, which began a rescue excavation, which turned up findings from the 16th century, the 19th century, a water cistern from the Ottoman Period, and the tunnel, which had been filled it at the end of the war and later paved over.

The IAA, as well as many Safed residents, were worried that the city would opt to re-cover the tunnel as part of its project to improve tourist facilities.

Binyamin Geiger, 96, who served as the commander of Safed during the war, said that "If the Arabs had managed to blow up Ashtam Building, it would have ended us. The tunnel was the biggest strategic threat to the outpost, which was the most important one for our defense, and if it had fallen then, they would have gone into the Jewish Quarter and killed all the Jews."

"It's really exciting for me that they found it, and I'm very worried it will be covered up again. We have to preserve it for the sake of future generations," Geiger said.

The tunnel, which became almost a myth for Safed residents, was described in various books published by commanders who served in Safed during the war, including Geiger.
Special Court convicts 1 of 5 Hezbollah members of killing ex-Lebanese PM
The Special Tribunal for Lebanon on Tuesday convicted one senior Hezbollah member in the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri in 2005, and acquitted three other Hezbollah officials.

Salim Ayyash was convicted, while Sassad Hassan Sabra and Hassan Habib Merhi and Hussein Hassab Oneissi were acquitted.

Regarding Mustafa Amine Badreddine - who was killed in 2016 and was a relative of the killed notorious Hezbollah commander Imad Mughniyeh – the court said there was strong evidence tying him to a “guilty” mobile telephone network, but that there was insufficient evidence of intent. Such as existed against Ayyash.

Also, the court said it did not need to convict or acquit Badreddine because he is dead.

Ultimately, part of the key to which defendants were convicted and which acquitted rested on highly complex cellphone "co-location" evidence linking "guilty" anonymous cell phones to personal cell phones of the defendants - eliminating potential alternate explanations.

Regarding Ayyash, the court found overwhelming evidence to link him to the “guilty” cell phones which had systematically followed Hariri and been present in areas where key aspects of the crime occurred. The court also found additional evidence to prove intent.

In contrast, while there was clear evidence that Oneissi and Badreddine were connected to the “guilty” cell phone network, there was missing evidence of intent and some other factual holes.

Regarding Sabra and Merhi, there was some evidence connecting them to the “guilty” cell phone network, but there were alternate explanations and variables which blocked proving their guilt to the high beyond a reasonable doubt standard even without needing to analyze the issue of intent.

Harari was assassinated in an audacious and horrific massive bombing on February 14, 2005 that also killed 21 others, injured hundreds and left the area covered in smoke and debris.

IAF lands in Germany for historic first joint drill
The Israeli Air Force (IAF) landed in Germany on Monday to hold a joint drill with the German Air Force for the first time, according to a statement by the IDF.

As part of the drill, the IAF will participate in a flyover over the Dachau Concentration Camp, in memory of the victims of the Holocaust, and over the Bavarian city of Fürstenfeldbruck near Munich, in memory of the 11 Israeli athletes and coaches who were killed by Palestinian terrorists at the 1972 Olympics.

The event will be broadcast live at 4 p.m. on IDF and IAF social media platforms.

IDF troops will also take part in an official memorial ceremony in Dachau attended by German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer on Tuesday.

The drill has great strategic importance, according to the statement, referring to the joint German-Israeli exercise and the arrival of IAF aircraft in Germany as a historic event.

The decision to carry out the drill at this time stems from the necessity of maintaining the IAF's capabilities through regular training and practicing in unfamiliar conditions and terrain, according to the statement. The drill is also meant to strengthen the close cooperation between the IAF and foreign air forces.

"This is history," the IDF Spokesperson's Unit tweeted.

In historic tribute, Israeli and German air forces fly over Dachau, Olympic site
German and Israeli Air Force jets flew over the former Nazi concentration camp Dachau on Tuesday in tribute to the Jews and others killed there in the Holocaust.

Two Israeli F-16s and two German Eurofighters escorted an Israeli Air Force Gulfstream G-550 carrying the commanders of both air forces over the camp memorial outside Munich, while a third Eurofighter filmed the formation from the sky.

They also flew over the nearby Fuerstenfeldbruck airfield to pay tribute to the 11 Israeli athletes killed during the Munich massacre attack during the 1972 Summer Olympics.

Two athletes were killed and another nine taken hostage by the Palestinian terror group Black September from the Olympic Village on September 5, 1972. During a botched rescue attempt at the airfield by German police, the other athletes, along with five of their captors and a West German police officer, were killed.

The Israeli aircraft are part of a group of six F-16s, two Gulfstreams and two Boeing 707 tanker jets that arrived in Germany on Monday for two weeks of exercises.

Operating out of a German air base in the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia, they will be conducting exercises with the German air force for the first week, and also planes from the Hungarian air force in the second week.

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