Friday, August 28, 2020

From Ian:

Arab countries aren't waiting for the Palestinians
A few days ago, Sheikh Muhammad Hussein, the mufti of the Palestinian Authority and Jerusalem, published a fatwa (religious ruling) stating that Muslims in the United Arab Emirates were forbidden to visit Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Who has ever heard of a fatwa like that? Who will enforce it? Whom is it supposed to deter? Will Arab states seeking to follow in the Emirates' footsteps be put off from normalizing relations with Israel out of fear that Mohammed Hussein will issue a similar fatwa for their own citizens?

The Palestinians' relations with Arab countries aren't an ongoing love story. The Palestinians weren't prepared to accept any solution that allowed Jews in western Israel any sovereign territory whatsoever and dragged the Arab countries into joining their opposition to the UN Partition Plan in November 1947.

During the War of Independence, Arab countries sent forces which, other than the Jordanians (whose real goal was to capture the territory earmarked for a Palestinian state for Jordan), comprised only a sliver of those countries' military power.

The Arab countries themselves did take in Arab refugees from Palestine, some of who we ran off and some of whom we expelled, but only Jordan granted them citizenship. All the others kept them as second-class citizens. In 1948, Egypt, under the auspices of the Arab league, set up in the Gaza Strip the ridiculous "All-Palestine Government," whereas Arab state exploited the Palestinian problem for their domestic and international needs.

The Palestinian expectation that the Arab countries would fight us and clear the way for the 1948 refugees to return was pathetic, and the Palestinian leadership's destructive transition to the use of terrorism in the late 1960s stemmed from a no less pathetic desire to take the fate of the Palestinians into their own hands and bring about the solution they desired, by themselves.

The expectation that Arab states would, at least, provide continual diplomatic backing for the Palestinians took a blow in the Camp David Accords, and when Anwar Sadat rose to power in Egypt. The country's need for peace with Israel (to get the Sinai Peninsula back, and because it wanted security and economic ties with the US), prompted Sadat to avoid the standard precondition that there would be no peace unless a Palestinian state was established. The Palestinians managed to initiate an Arab boycott of Egypt, and have the country expelled from the Arab League, but neither lasted for long.
Beat Nasrallah at his own game
One must ask: Where do the UN, EU, and ICC stand on what was surely a catastrophe foretold in Beirut?

Hezbollah has been consistently involved in attempts to obtain and store ammonium nitrate for the purpose of carrying out terrorist attacks against Jewish and Israeli targets. From the 1994 terrorist attack on the Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, to ammonium nitrate repositories discovered in London and Cyprus, to the Mossad intelligence agency's warnings to the German government about three tons of ammonium nitrate hidden in a warehouse in Berlin, – information that led Germany to outlaw Hezbollah.

If anything, the UN-backed tribunal's decision on convict only one Hezbollah operatives in the 2005 assassination of beloved Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri has enhanced the Lebanese people's understanding that this is a brutal terrorist group that, despite professing to be "the defender of Lebanon," is actually hurting it.

The verdict infuriated many in Lebanon, who know that Hezbollah planned and executed Hariri's murder on the behest of Iran and Syria. The tribunal, served with thousands of documents and pieces of evidence, was wary of setting that fact in stone.

Israel must use the simmering unrest in Lebanon to deal Hezbollah a crippling blow in terms of psychological warfare. Not one bullet needs to be fired. This is also our moral duty vis-à-vis civilians being used as human shields by living in very close proximity to chemical warehouses and missile depots.

Militarily speaking, the value of the intelligence Israel holds is lower than the impact it could have on Lebanese public opinion, especially when the voices asserting that Hezbollah is dooming the Lebanese people to death and destruction are growing louder.



Netanyahu’s grand strategy on peace, security vindicated with UAE deal
Netanyahu’s proactive diplomacy has enabled Israel to operate in Syria (according mostly to foreign sources), with the tacit agreement of both Russia and the US, taking their respective interests into account. John Bolton, President Trump’s former national security advisor, notes in his book how Russian President Vladimir Putin told him, asking that the message be conveyed to Trump, that “Russia has no interest in an Iranian presence in Syria, and in any event, gains no advantage from it.” On the contrary, it creates problems, and “he had spoken about it with Netanyahu.”

But there are warning signs, particularly in case there should be a change of administrations in the US, and though the Democratic candidate, Joe Biden, has welcomed the Israel-UAE peace treaty and is a proven friend of Israel and Netanyahu, his party’s platform relative to Iran states that a Democratic administration would oppose Iranian regime change as part of its policy, would call for “de-escalation” with Tehran, and put an emphasis on a return to Obama’s nuclear agreement.

The direction is clear: canceling the sanctions and limitations on Iran imposed by the Trump administration and restoring Obama-style “diplomacy.” Such a trajectory, in the absence of pressure and means of enforcement, could quickly turn into appeasement.

On the other hand, the new peace treaty and its positive ramifications may give Israel, if correctly handled, an opening to solve the differences with the Democrats’ centrists, who in spite of the left-wing elements trying to increase their influence on the party’s policies, are still the majority.

A Democratic win is not assured, but even if Trump gets another four years in the White House, an important objective for Israel should be rehabilitating support for it on both sides of the American political divide. The American Jewish community, which plays a not insignificant role in the Democratic Party in more ways than one, must also be part of this supremely important task.
The UAE-Israel deal is a paradigm shift for the Middle East
When Israel and the United Arab Emirates announced formal relations two weeks ago, it was a major symbolic shift in the reigning paradigms about Israel’s place in the region.

From the Khartoum Resolution’s “three noes” – no peace, no recognition and no negotiations – to the 2002 Arab Peace Plan, most Arab states said they didn’t want anything to do with Israel until the Palestinians’ problems are solved to their satisfaction.

This is the source of the “linkage theory,” the argument that if Israeli-Palestinian peace is achieved, all the Middle East’s other conflicts will end, with the subtext being that Israel is somehow at fault for all of the region’s problems. If only Israel would once again give up a huge chunk of land – after successfully making peace in that way with Egypt and unsuccessfully with the Palestinians in Gaza – then there would be peace in the Middle East and we could all sing “Kumbaya.”

Much of the foreign policy establishment went along with this theory as though it made sense. Year after year, Palestinian recalcitrance was bolstered by Western money pouring into their institutions with little to no demands on them, the perennial victims, along with warnings that Israel was isolating itself. Israel continues to be a monthly item on the UN Security Council’s agenda, even in relatively calm times, as though the conflict with the Palestinians were the most important problem in the world.

But over the decades, plenty of issues have cropped up in the region that have almost nothing to do with Israel.

As White House Senior Advisor Jared Kushner said last week, “Israel is always a convenient scapegoat... [but it] is not the main issue in the region.”

Iran, not Israel, shot missiles into Saudi Arabia. Iran, not Israel, sent its proxies into Yemen, Syria and Lebanon, destabilizing them, Kushner pointed out.
The F-35 saga: What the pundits are keeping from you
In an attempt to spoil the celebrations about peace with the United Arab Emirates, opponents of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made up a new story last week, and are claiming that Bibi has given the Americans a nod to sells F-35 fighter jets to the UAE. In effect, we are to understand, he hasn't secured any historic achievement, but once again sold off Israel's security.

Well, you can fool some of the people some of the time, but you can't fool all of the people all of the time.

Let's start with a little background. The American weapons industry is one of the strongest, richest, and most powerful lobbies in the world. It is so strong that American administrations are afraid of it, and cover up its failures. Because it is so critical to the US economy, presidents and legislators have always helped sell advanced weaponry to the world, including Arab countries. Israel has objected, to no avail.

In 1980, for example, the US sold Egypt the F-16 fighter jet, the most advanced in the world at the time. Egypt was our biggest enemy. Only seven years earlier, in the 1973 Yom Kippur War, it had done serious damage to our air force. Israel had signed a peace treaty with Egypt only a year before the sale, and it hadn't even been implemented. Still, it was clear to leaders in Israel and Washington that the risk – which was much greater than the case of the UAE – was worth it. So what is all the current fuss about?

Let's move on. Saudi Arabia, which is even closer geographically to Israel than the UAE is, has been operating F-15s for 40 years already, even though the Saudis led the vanguard of hatred for Israel in the Arab world. Israel knew about those planes and ignored them because there was nothing to be done. None of the people clutching their pearls now expressed any worry about the Saudi planes back then.

Again, in the 1980s, the US sold Saudi Arabia its AWACS early warning aircraft. With our supporters in Washington, Israel campaigned to stop the deal but failed miserably. Not only did the Saudis receive the aircraft, which controls the skies of the Middle East, but Israel – who had also requested it – was turned down. Where were commentators Nahum Barnea and Amnon Abramovich?
Bank Leumi, UAE bank, negotiating partnership amid normalization
Israel's Bank Leumi has been negotiating a partnership with an unnamed bank in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), according to a Calcalist report on Wednesday, citing Shmulik Arbel, First Executive Vice President and head of the corporate and commercial section of the bank.

The report comes amid the recent UAE-Israel normalization agreement that has opened both countries to relations in a variety of areas, from security collaboration to trade.

“We, at Leumi, believe there is a golden opportunity for collaborations here and we intend to be an active party,” said Arbel in a comment to the Calcalist. The report noted that Bank Leumi is seeking to aid Israeli businesses in establishing a presence in the UAE, in collaboration with the Emirati bank.

“We started negotiations over the past few days with one of the leading banks in Dubai, to form a partnership that would assist the clients of each of the banks,” Arbel added.

When asked about the significance business ties that can come from collaboration, Arbel told the Calcalist “that in light of the current crisis, the importance of normalizing the relationship between Israel and the UAE becomes even greater," while also suggesting that the normalization agreement represents a highly important breakthrough in the regional status quo for Israel's economic interests.

Arbel also added that it might influence other countries to follow suit.
UAE hits back at Israel deal critics: 'Nothing but fear and hate'
The United Arab Emirates' US embassy hit back at the critics of its recent deal with Israel, taking to Twitter to slam Iran, Turkey, Qatar, Hamas and Hezbollah, among others, for their negativity.

In a series of Tweets posted to the UAE Embassy US account, the Gulf state accused its critics of speaking "nothing but fear and hate," adding "their rants say something about what kind of world they want to see."

The Tweets were illustrated with examples of some of the criticism the deal has drawn from states and organizations in the Middle East. Among them was a quote by the Turkish Foreign Ministry which commented that "the consciences of the peoples of the region will never forgive the
hypocritical behavior of the UAE, which betrayed the Palestinian cause."

Similarly, the Iranian Foreign Ministry had said: "The Islamic Republic of Iran considers Abu Dhabi's shameful move to normalize relations with the fake, illegitimate and anti-humane Zionist regime as a dangerous measure. ... The Emirati government and the other governments siding with it must accept responsibility for all of the consequences of this move."

But the UAE pushed back, accusing the critical voices of not being interested in coexistence and regional stability.

The UAE's criticism was ot limited to governments and paramilitary organizations. Media outlets also came in for rebuke, among them Al Jazeera English, which the UAE described as a "Qatar State-Controlled News Service."


El Al plane listed for historic Israel-UAE trip with dialing code flight numbers
Israel has listed an El Al flight taking off Monday for Abu Dhabi, which would be the country’s first commercial passenger flight to the United Arab Emirates after the two countries agreed to a US-brokered deal to normalize relations.

The website of the Israel Airports Authority listed the flight on Friday.

It said the flight would be numbered LY971, a nod to the UAE’s international calling code number. A return flight to Ben Gurion International Airport on Tuesday will be numbered LY972, Israel’s international calling code.

Authorities in Israel and the UAE did not immediately acknowledge the flight. The US Embassy in Abu Dhabi did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Among those set to be on the flight are White House senior adviser Jared Kushner and several other senior Trump administration officials, who are scheduled to arrive in Israel over the weekend.


MEMRI: Emirati Writers Praise Israel's Innovation And Scientific Achievements, Call To Benefit From Its Experience
Following the normalization agreement between the UAE and Israel, writers in the Emirati media praised Israel's scientific and technological achievements and called on the Arabs to learn and benefit from its experience. In an August 19, 2020 article in the daily Al-Bayan, attorney and media figure Dr. Yousuf Al-Sharif described Israel as a country that, since its founding, has dealt with many difficult challenges on its own, and at the same time managed to attain impressive achievements in the domains of military technology, counterterrorism, industry, agriculture and irrigation. Learning from this experience, he said, can help the Arabs to enhance their security and counterterrorism capabilities, and to develop advanced industries as a way of resolving their unemployment problem.

Manahel Thabet, an information economy expert of Yemeni origin who resides in Dubai, made similar arguments in an Al-Bayan article from August 21, 2020, in which she enumerated Israel's scientific achievements and described it as a world leader in research and technology. Welcoming a deal that has been signed by an Emirati technology company and an Israeli one following the normalization agreement,[1] she expressed hope that many additional deals will be signed, providing "a golden opportunity to overcome the scientific stagnation that has afflicted the Arabs since the 12th century."

The following are translated excerpts from the two articles:
Emirati Media Figure Dr. Yousuf Al-Sharif: We Must Learn The Secret Of Israel's Success And Endurance Amid Many Threats

Attorney and media figure Dr. Yousuf Al-Sharif wrote in his article, titled "What Can We Learn from Israel?": "In a courageous political and diplomatic move, our country, the UAE, the land of peace and security, signed a historic agreement for peace with Israel and [the establishment of] bilateral ties [with it] in many domains. We have much to learn from the Israeli experience in many areas. What experience [am I referring to] and what can we learn from Israel?

"In the 70 years since it declared its independence, Israel has faced many challenges: the challenges of establishing a state in the circumstances [that prevailed at the time] and of maintaining its security amid this historic conflict. This is experience we can benefit from and study in depth, putting aside our emotions and sympathy for one side at the expense of the other. The fact is that Israel has excelled at [maintaining its security]. Some may attribute this to the fact that, as the 'spoiled child' of the U.S., it receives advanced weapons from that country, but that is not the only reason. Israel has strategic military and defense plans that allowed it to stand fast throughout this period, despite [all] the wars it openly waged, [both] directly and indirectly, which almost threatened its existence. We should benefit from this experience and plumb the secrets that led to its [successful] outcomes.




It's not too late to push Trump's 'Peace to Prosperity' plan – opinion
As the discussion about potential political divides continues to grow, the necessary universal steps seem to grow as well. The unity government was established to combat COVID-19, but must also play a role in securing Israel’s future and the human rights of all. Identifying the opportunity alongside the pandemic challenge, this government must act and set Israel on a course of security, stability and prosperity. The agreement with UAE highlights ability to advance prosperity to peace.

In sharp contrast to past peace efforts with the Palestinians, this new plan presents a pathway to achieve parameters that will lead to something realistic and long-lasting. It focuses on the Palestinian people and their needs, prioritizing them above Palestinian leadership – whether in terms of human rights, anti-corruption, or criminal justice. While some may brand the plan’s magnifying glass on gross Palestinian violations as “pro-Israel,” the reality is that it is also “pro-Palestinian” – it is not a zero-sum game. When it comes to systemic incitement of youth, corruption and human rights violations, everyone loses.

COVID-19 and the economy can only be remedied by dealing with the facts as they are, not as we wish them to be. The same is true regarding conflict resolution. The necessity of recognizing that the half a million Israelis living beyond the 1949 armistice lines are not the obstacle to peace and are not going anywhere is paramount. The quicker Israel can resolve the ambiguity of our intentions, the more clarity Israel will bring to the conflict.

The “Vision for Peace” recalibrates the approach to the peace process to one that is about creating peace, and puts the Palestinians on a path toward a state, as opposed to past efforts that were about creating a Palestinian state but that may not have resulted in long-lasting peace. Empowering the people, and not their leadership, and giving the people agency for their own future is what is so important and unique in this plan, and is what has the potential to create a genuine paradigm shift in Israeli-Palestinian relations. The agreement with the UAE is a case study for what is possible, and how.

The past decades of misplaced compassion given to a rejectionist Palestinian leadership that continues to commit gross human rights violations have been a huge disservice to both the Israeli and the Palestinian peoples. It is only when double standards are exposed and when leaders are held genuinely accountable that the culture of impunity can end, enabling real change.

This is also the lesson that Israeli leaders must take to heart in this particular context, when it comes hopefully acting on – or perhaps sadly ignoring – the “Peace to Prosperity” vision.
A harsher approach needed to surmount Palestinian rejectionism – opinion
British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab showed up in Jerusalem this week to pressure Israel and the Palestinians (“both sides”) to renew negotiations toward a two-state solution “based on international parameters.”

Translation: Raab was here to pressure Israel to yield to a stale formula based on maximal Palestinian demands alongside minimal regard for Israeli security needs and national-historic claims; a discredited formula involving the uprooting of settlements, withdrawals from most of Judea and Samaria, and a division of Jerusalem.

Raab’s mission was a blast from the irrelevant past, as if Palestinian rejectionism and Iranian-backed jihadism of the last decade had not made such proposals passé, as if the Trump administration’s wiser peace initiative had not been launched, and as if the UAE had not recently announced its intention to develop full diplomatic relations with Israel. It was an obvious dismissal of the Palestinian Authority’s strategy of boycotting and criminalizing Israel, as if Israel needed to be prodded to engage in serious and realistic negotiations with the Palestinians.

Raab showed no inclination to take advantage of recent developments to put pressure where it belongs: on the side that began the conflict and that can end it, on the Palestinians.

Remember, it was PA dictator Mahmoud Abbas who walked away from negotiations with prime minister Ehud Olmert in 2008; Abbas who refused peace talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu even after Netanyahu froze settlement construction in 2009; and Abbas who left US secretary of state John Kerry out in the cold in 2014. Earlier this year, Abbas declared “1,000 No’s” to the new American peace plan.
Lithuanian FM: The Palestinians must condemn terrorism
Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius was one of the friendlier representatives with whom Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi met while in Germany this week.

Only recently, Lithuania agreed to Israel's request that it not allow Hezbollah operatives to enter its borders. Three years ago, Linkevičius organized an invitation for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – who at that time was also acting foreign minister – to meet with European foreign ministers, breaking a long-term impasse between Brussels and Jerusalem.

Currently, Linkevičius is dealing other problems, namely the ongoing crisis in Belarus. Speaking to Israel Hayom, Linkevičius said he believed that change in Belarus was possible, and that the EU should cut ties with the current regime in Minsk.

"People in Belarus deserve to live a normal life," he said, adding that while a flourishing democracy might be slow to arrive, it was impossible not to hold members of the recent regime responsible for events in that country.

"The least we can do – the Lithuanians, the EU, and other countries – is to say that a leadership like that is unacceptable."

When asked why the EU did not appear delighted at the news that Israel and the United Arab Emirates were normalizing relations, Linkevičius said, "It's a step in the right direction."

Generally speaking, the foreign minister said, Lithuania wanted to see dialogue between Israel and the Arab world, but right now realized that the Palestinians were not "thrilled."

Lithuania hopes that the Palestinians will understand that dialogue between Israel and the Arabs is a good thing, he added.
Locals clash with Hassidic Jews trying to reach pilgrimage site in Uman, Ukraine
(Screencapture/Kan)
Dozens of locals clashed Friday with Hassidic Jews trying to enter Uman, Ukraine for an annual pilgrimage before a ban on foreign nationals entering the country goes into effect.

Videos posted to social media showed angry crowds confronting the pilgrims before dawn Friday, pushing and shoving them as they try to prevent them from entering apartments they had rented.

The confrontation, in which residents yell in Ukrainian at the Jews to get out and tell them they are acting dangerously.

Israel’s Kan national broadcaster also reported that the demonstrators prevented the pilgrims from setting up “an illegal camp” in the city where they planned to sleep before police intervened to separate the two sides.

The confrontation occurred at the site of a half-completed residential building whose construction has been stalled due to a dispute between the owners and the construction workers. Police at the scene told the Jews they could stay in Uman, but not in the building itself. In the video, a man can be seen pleading with police, in English, to let the pilgrims enter the building, saying repeatedly, “It’s my house.”

The city usually sees tens of thousands of Hasidic Jews visit the gravesite of Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav for the Rosh Hashanah holiday, which this year begins on the evening of September 18.
France to try suspects in Hypercacher supermarket, Charlie Hebdo killings
Fourteen suspected accomplices to the French Islamist militants behind the 2015 attacks on the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine and a Jewish supermarket in Paris will go on trial next Wednesday.

Seventeen people were killed during three days of bloodshed that marked the beginning of a wave of Islamist violence that was to leave scores more dead.

On January 7, 2015, brothers Said and Cherif Kouachi went on a gun rampage in the offices of Charlie Hebdo, a weekly whose cartoons on race, religion and politics tested the limits of what society would accept in the name of free speech. They killed 12 people.

The following day, Amedy Coulibaly, an acquaintance of Cherif Kouachi killed a female police officer. On January 9 he killed four Jewish men at a kosher supermarket in eastern Paris.

The three attackers were killed by police in separate standoffs.

In a video recording, Coulibaly said the attacks were coordinated and carried out in the name of Islamic State. The Yemen-based al Qaeda in the Arabic Peninsula claimed the Charlie Hebdo attack.
With over 2,000 daily virus cases, Israel’s death toll reaches 891
The Health Ministry said Friday that 2,068 people tested positive for the coronavirus on Thursday, with 10,777 new cases found in total over the course of the week.

The daily infection rate was the highest seen in Israel since the end of July.

The ministry reported eight more coronavirus deaths since Thursday evening, taking the total to 891.

Of the 20,444 active cases in Israel, 426 patients were in serious condition with 118 of them on ventilators, and 178 people were in moderate condition. The remainder had mild or no symptoms.

There have now been 111,493 cases of the coronavirus in Israel since the start of the pandemic.

The new figures came as testing levels appeared to remain at high levels, passing the 30,000 mark for the third day in a row on Thursday, with 36,372 carried out returning a positive rate of 5.9%.

Ministers are expected on Sunday to discuss coronavirus czar Ronni Gamzu’s “traffic light” plan, which last week they refused for a third time to approve, reportedly due to opposition from ultra-Orthodox ministers who oppose restrictions that could shutter synagogues in high-infection areas.
Israeli researcher: End of coronavirus peak only weeks away
A researcher from Ben-Gurion University has predicted that the coronavirus infection rate in Israel will start to decline within the next three weeks, but that as many as 1,400 Israelis will be dead by the end of September.

The death toll on Friday, August 28, was 891.

Speaking to The Jerusalem Post, Prof. Mark Last, a member of the Department of Software and Information Systems Engineering at BGU and director of the university's Data Science Research Center, said that a further lockdown is not necessary if the current restrictions are maintained and there are no unusual spreading events.

Last has been analyzing the data on COVID-19 attributed deaths reported by the Health Ministry on a daily basis since March. He also used data from serological screenings that estimate the total number of infected, rather than just confirmed cases.

He presented his findings at the AIME 2020: International Conference on Artificial Intelligence in Medicine on Wednesday, August 26.

“There are several indications that when the entire population is susceptible, meaning there is no immunity at all, but the population observes
social distancing, then the reproduction number (R) is somewhere between 1.1 and 1.2 - closer to 1.2,” Last explained.
IDF strikes Gaza after 6 rockets fired towards southern Israel
IDF forces struck targets in the Gaza Strip belonging to the Hamas terrorist group early Friday morning in response to six rockets that were fired from Gaza towards southern Israel through the night.

The IDF Spokesperson Unit's said on Friday morning that, "The attack was carried out in response to rocket fire from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory early in the morning.

"The IDF takes all terrorist activity against Israeli territory very seriously and is prepared and ready to act as much as necessary against attempts to harm Israeli citizens and their sovereignty. The terrorist organization Hamas bears responsibility for what is happening in and out of the Gaza Strip, and will bear the consequences of terrorist acts against Israeli citizens."

The rockets came shortly after the IDF struck targets in response to the continued launch of incendiary and explosive balloons.

Sirens sounded on Friday morning in the towns of Nahal Oz and Alumim.

Underground infrastructure and military positions belonging to Hamas were targeted in the strikes by tanks and IAF aircraft, according to the IDF Spokespersons Unit.

A number of incendiary and explosive balloon landed in southern Israel on Thursday, sparking at least 26 fires throughout the area.




Israel’s Top Court Rules for Removal of Settler Homes From Privately‐Owned Palestinian Land
Israel‘s Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that a cluster of homes in a West Bank settlement outpost was built on privately‐owned Palestinian land and must therefore be removed.

Accepting a petition by Palestinian plaintiffs, Israel‘s top court overturned a 2018 District Court ruling which had broken judicial ground by recognizing the Mitzpe Kramim settlers’ claim to the land, despite it being owned by Palestinians.

The District Court had declared the settlers the legal owners, finding that Israeli authorities were unaware the land was privately owned when they originally mapped out the area.

That ruling was based on an Israeli law which states that transactions with legal faults could be valid if they were conducted in “good faith.”

Established 20 years ago on a hilltop overlooking the Jordan Valley, Mitzpe Kramim is home to about 40 families, most of whom live on Palestinian-owned plots and say they received Israeli authorities’ approval to set up there.

But the Supreme Court said that the Israeli authorities had not acted in good faith by “turning a blind eye to the many warning signs given over many years” which showed the plots were actually owned by Palestinians.
Hamas: ‘We will exact a heavy price from anyone who lays siege to Gaza’
The Hamas terror group warned on Friday morning that it would exact a “heavy price” from anyone who threatened the Gaza Strip, after overnight violence saw a volley of rockets launched toward southern Israel and two rounds of airstrikes on the enclave.

“Whoever lays siege to our people will pay a heavy price in their security and stability,” said Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum, according to Channel 12 news.

“We will not hesitate in our national mission and in our commitment to our people.” Barhoum said, adding that Hamas was committed to “protecting the people from all aggression and fighting the occupation if there is an escalation and the siege continues.”

Three fires were sparked in southern Israel on Friday, apparently caused by balloon-borne incendiary devices launched from the Gaza Strip.

Israel Defense Forces conducted a second round of airstrikes on Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip on Friday morning after terrorists in the enclave fired six rockets at southern Israel overnight, the military said.

The rockets appeared to strike open fields, causing neither injury nor damage. There were no immediate reports of Palestinian casualties.
Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Gaza threatens 'explosion' if blockade continues
Israel's decision to close the crossings to and from the Gaza Strip because of the recent escalation spike in arson balloon attacks and rocket fire from Gaza drew harsh words from terrorist organizations on Friday morning, after a series of IDF airstrikes hit a number of Hamas targets, including a weapons workshop.

The military arm of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad issued a statement stressing that "a continued delay in implementing the conditions having to do with lifting the 'siege' will lead to an explosion," and that Israel "would bear the responsibility."

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said on Friday that "What the resistance did today was part of a direct response to Israel's escalation 'on' Gaza and attacks on resistance sites. Israel has been warned against retaliation repeatedly, several times."

Barhoum went on to say that "This resistance response is confirmation that it will never hesitate to carry out its national obligation to its people and defend them against all aggression. We will fight the enemy if this escalation and blockade continues. Israel will be responsible for the ramifications of escalation and attacking resistance sites."

According to the Hamas representative, Israel was being "dismissive" of people's lives, given the spread of coronavirus in the Gaza Strip.

"The continued blockade and the worsening electricity crisis, and the stop of goods and fuel and supplies to Gaza are a crime against humanity that we cannot allow to continue or remain silent in the face of," Barhoum said.


UN votes on extending mandate of peacekeepers in southern Lebanon
The UN Security Council is voting on a resolution that would extend the mandate of the UN peacekeeping mission in southern Lebanon for a year but reduce its troop ceiling from 15,000 to 13,000 in response to US pressure.

The French-drafted resolution also makes another concession to the Trump administration and its close ally Israel. It calls on the Lebanese government to facilitate “prompt and full access” to sites requested by UN peacekeepers for investigation, including Hezbollah tunnels crossing the UN-drawn Blue Line between Lebanon and Israel.

The draft urges freedom of movement for UNIFIL and unimpeded access to all parts of the Blue Line, and condemns “in the strongest terms” all attempts to restrict UN troop movements and attacks on mission personnel.

The resolution, if approved, would give the United States a symbolic victory, but it would also almost certainly be welcomed by many countries that view UNIFIL as critical to maintaining peace in the volatile region and strongly support its current mandate which is largely maintained.

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres wrote to the council on July 29 recommending a 12-month renewal of UNIFIL’s mandate, stressing the importance of maintaining high troop strength.

While the resolution’s adoption would reduce the troop ceiling from 15,000 to 13,000, it would not require any cuts in the current peacekeeping force. That’s because UNIFIL’s current strength is about 10,250 troops, well below the ceiling.






Looming Middle East Arms Race Sparks Fear of Unprecedented Regional War
The impending expiration of an international weapons ban on Iran threatens to flood the Middle East with high-tech Russian and Chinese military equipment, a situation that senior Trump administration officials warn will spark an arms race and could ignite a massive regional war.

A United Nations ban on the sale of weapons to Iran is set to expire in mid-October despite a last-ditch effort by the Trump administration to renew it. Senior U.S. officials involved in regional discussions told the Washington Free Beacon that Israel and its traditional Arab foes are united in opposition to the arms embargo lifting.

Without the arms ban, Russia and China are poised to bolster their already close military alliances with Iran, selling the country stockpiles of advanced weapons that will be available to the Islamic Republic's terror proxy groups, including Hezbollah in Lebanon. Both countries have sold Tehran arms in the past—including aiding its nuclear endeavors—and have been clear in recent months about their desire to amplify the relationship. The Trump administration is trying to block this outcome by invoking a mechanism known as snapback that was written into the nuclear deal. Snapback would reapply a litany of international sanctions on Iran and also ensure the arms ban remains in place.

"Letting the arms embargo expire would set off an arms race in the Middle East," Brian Hook, who served as the administration’s top Iran envoy, told the Free Beacon following a fresh round of meetings this week with Israel and Gulf Arab leaders. "I have heard that repeatedly from Gulf leaders and Israel during this trip. The permanent members of the Security Council dismissed the request from all six Gulf nations and Israel to extend the arms embargo and add new sanctions on Iran. The council failed."

Hook vowed the United States would "do the right thing and restore U.N. sanctions on Iran—and that includes the arms embargo."
In Berlin, Israeli FM Ashkenazi Urges European Union to Back Renewal of Iran Arms Embargo
Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi took part in a group meeting in Berlin on Thursday of his European Union counterparts.

“I just finished a visit that was both important and significant for Israel’s foreign policy and our connection to the European Union, and would like to thank my friend, German FM @HeikoMaas for hosting me,” Ashkenazi tweeted later.

“I laid out Israel’s positions on a number of important issues relating to our security, Iran, #Hezbollah and Hamas,” he added. “I called on the EU to join the battle against the Iranian threat, particularly on the nuclear issue, renewing the arms embargo and outlawing Hezbollah.”

Ashkenazi further noted, “The agreement with the UAE was received with great enthusiasm by all EU foreign ministers.“

“Finally, we agreed to continue working together in the fields of innovation, R&D, academia and the fight against the corona virus,” he concluded.
U.S. Mulls Repercussions for Europe’s Alliance With Iran
Multiple European nations' diplomatic priorities may be on the line as the Trump administration examines a range of options to pressure these countries after their refusal to back the United States in its efforts to expand sanctions on Iran, according to current and former U.S. officials.

U.S. diplomats are seeking to force European allies to split with Iran and its allies, Russia and China. Multiple sources who spoke to the Washington Free Beacon outlined a range of European priorities the administration could leverage in this pressure campaign, including a free trade agreement sought by the British, increased coordination on Lebanon needed by the French, and a range of items the Germans have sought to revive ties with America. These sources spoke only on background about ongoing discussions in the administration about how to respond to Europe's intransigence on Iran.

Relations between the United States and its European allies are at historic lows following a failed vote at the United Nations Security Council earlier this month to indefinitely extend a ban on Iran's purchase of advanced weaponry. With the embargo set to lift in mid-October, the administration is now pushing to reimpose all sanctions on Tehran that were lifted under the nuclear deal—an effort that traditional allies France, Germany, and the United Kingdom publicly oppose. These European nations joined with Russia and China in opposing the United States.

Senior U.S. officials told the Free Beacon earlier this month that they are livid with Europe for abandoning America as it sought to extend the Iran weapons ban. The dispute spilled into public view on Tuesday, when U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Kelly Craft accused European allies of "standing in the company of terrorists." The administration shows no signs of backing down from the diplomatic fight, which is likely to elevate foreign policy issues in the lead up to the 2020 presidential election. U.S. ties to Europe have chilled in recent years due to the Trump administration's bid to pressure NATO allies into paying a greater share of the alliance's costs.


More German intel confirms Iran seeks tech for weapons of mass destruction
The domestic intelligence agency for the German state of Saarland added new weight to intelligence reports from its sister states that previously confirmed the Islamic Republic of Iran sought technology for weapons of mass destruction and missile carrier systems during time period of 2019.

The Jerusalem Post reviewed the 112-page intelligence report, which was released last week, titled “Overview of the situation” that addresses security threats faced by the small West German state Saarland.

“Iran, Pakistan and, to a lesser extent Syria, made efforts to procure goods and know-how for the further development of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems,” wrote the intelligence officials for the Saarland.

"Delivery system" is typically defined as the capability to launch missiles. Israel, the United States and many Gulf nations believe Iran’s clerical regime seeks to develop nuclear weapons.

The Post contacted the Saarland domestic intelligence agency regarding the nature of the illicit proliferation material that Iran sought in 2019. Katrin Thomas, the spokemwoman for the domestic intelligence agency wrote the the Post by email on Friday that "the Protection of the Constitution in Saarland does not pass on any information on the activities of groups or individuals.The Protection of the Constitution is the formal name of the Saarland domestic security service."

The report said that “The intelligence services of these countries are present with varying staffing levels at the respective official and semi-official representations in Germany and maintain so-called legal residencies there. This refers to the operational bases of a foreign intelligence service, disguised in an official (e.g. embassy, ​​consulate general) or semi-official (e.g. press agency, airline) representation in the host country as a starting point for intelligence activities.”




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