Monday, October 26, 2020

From Ian:

JPost Editorial: Sudan deal encourages other Arab states to follow suit - analysis
Intelligence Minister Eli Cohen added that a peace accord with Sudan strikes a blow to Iran’s aspirations of regional hegemony. “Sudan is an important country in the region, having previously served as a way station for weapons between Iran and Gaza,” Cohen said. “Taking it off the US list of state sponsors of terrorism enables us to sign another agreement and to develop several important tracks of cooperation that will greatly contribute to Israel.”

From Israel’s point of view, this is also an opportunity to discuss the repatriation of thousands of Sudanese migrants who have sought refuge here in recent years. But the two countries are also expected to negotiate several mutually beneficial cooperation agreements, including in agriculture and technology.

The US and Israel have pledged to help bring both investment and debt relief to Sudan. Washington is offering a billion-dollar aid package, while Israel will provide agritech to help boost its dire economic situation. For its part, Sudan – Africa’s third-largest country – has huge swaths of arable land.

But on the flip side, there is concern that such a major foreign policy move at a time of deep economic crisis in Sudan could upset the delicate balance between the military and civilian authority, which is why Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok is expected to push for his country’s transitional parliament to approve the deal first. The chairman of Sudan’s Sovereignty Council, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, is scheduled to hand over control of the council to Hamdok in 2022.

We should not ignore recent protests that have taken place in Khartoum against the normalization agreement with Israel, that have included the burning of Israeli flags. According to the Sudanese newspaper, Al-Intibaha, demonstrators chanted slogans against establishing relations and demanded that political parties who supported the step revise their position. At least two political factions in Sudan – the Popular Congress Party and the Sudanese Baath Party – issued statements condemning the decision to forge ties with Israel.

As the US heads to a critical election next week, we urge the new administration – whether under Trump or Biden – to continue pursuing the path of peace between Israel and Arab states. Perhaps the UAE, Bahrain and now Sudan can help to get the Palestinian leadership back to the negotiating table with Israel.

U.S. Assistance to the Palestinians Was "a Bridge to Nowhere"
"For some odd reason, prior administrations decided to indulge Palestinian fantasies about what could happen that were totally out of touch with reality."

"I spent most of yesterday in closed door meetings, with [U.S. Treasury] Secretary Mnuchin, Prime Minister Netanyahu, [and] the finance minister of the United Arab Emirates....I'm in the room and I'm seeing people that really, really want to advance the ball as far as it will go.....They were almost...tripping over each other to come up with more and more ideas about what could be done. The sky is truly the limit, and it's fun to watch, because...we don't need to police this or oversee it; they're doing that on their own."

"I think the Palestinians are sort of in one of those final stages of denial. It's hard to watch. It's completely self-defeating. There was a leadership problem. There was significant corruption at the top....I've traveled with Prime Minister Netanyahu to the United States. I've been on his plane a few times....He flies like a regular commercial passenger. And Mahmoud Abbas, where the Palestinian GDP per capita is maybe 1/15th that of Israel, he flies around in a $75 million Boeing business jet....You've got a lot of concentration of wealth among the upper elite and a lot of people are really unhappy about it."

"America has provided the Palestinians with more financial, humanitarian assistance per capita than any other place in the world by far. And we have given more money to the Palestinians compared to any other nation by a power of at least five compared to every other country. So, we've got nothing to apologize for in terms of our assistance to the Palestinians....It is a bridge to nowhere. The Palestinians want to take, but they're not willing to really engage in a serious way."

"We want to help the Palestinian people. By the way, the State of Israel wants to help the Palestinian people. It is in Israel's interest for the Palestinian people to be healthy, to be prosperous, to have hope and optimism about their lives....Enough of the histrionics. Enough of the tantrums. Just sit down and have civilized discussions on serious issues and there'll be progress."
Saudi politician: Palestinians need to 'think outside the box' on peace
Secretary-General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Yousef Al-Othaimeen told Sky News on Monday that Palestinians need to "think outside the box" in their search for an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

"One is required to think outside the box in search for peace. I do not think a reasonable person - whether Palestinian, Arab or Muslim - would refuse any initiative to resolve the [Palestinian] cause in any way," he said.

"The [Palestinian] cause has been going on for 70 years. We have tried wars, we have tried to throw Israel into the sea and we have tried many other things," the former Saudi Arabian minister said.

Othaimeen said that the goal of the Palestinian cause is a two-state solution, with east Jerusalem as its capital, and that a younger generation should not be afraid to try new approaches to get there.

Israel-Sudan Treaty Deals Blow to Iran, Terrorism
Unlike the peace deals with the UAE and Bahrain, the treaty with Sudan has little to offer from an economic standpoint. Sudan has nothing to export to Israel, and given the state of Khartoum's coffers, it is doubtful whether it can import much from Israel. Some business deals are on the horizon, mostly involving Israeli technologies in water, agriculture and food, to help bring Sudan into the 21st century.

The peace deal with Sudan goes beyond having declarative importance. Diplomatically, one less country will vote against Israel in international organizations and forums, and will no longer join efforts impose boycotts or sanctions on the Jewish state.

From an Arab-Muslim standpoint, the accord means another dent in the wall of opposition Israel faces in the Arab world. Sudan has now become the fifth Arab nation to recognize Israel.

Behind the scenes, a diplomatic battle is now being waged for Qatar's allegiances: The U.S. and Israel are trying to mediate rapprochement between Qatar and Saudi Arabia in an effort to pull Doha away from the radical Islamist axis, headed by Turkey.
How Sudan's wall of hostility crumbled
The normalization agreement between Israel and Sudan is a success story for both sides, where there are no losers, only winners. Sudan, as a result of this treaty, received an economic lifeline of expunged debts worth $60 billion and a horizon that includes returning to the family of nations after being removed from the list of state sponsors of terror. Israel received much more than a shorter flight route to South America: an optimistic forecast for the domino effect and the crumbling of another brick in the wall of Arab hostility.

Khir Allah, one of the more important writers and intellectuals in the Arab world, wrote on Sunday that Sudan's decision to normalize ties with Israel conveys a divorce from three obstructions that had suffocated this vast country and threatened to ruin it completely.

The first obstruction is the Islamic one. The lengthy period of time under the rule of the Mulsim Brotherhood and former tyrant Omar al-Bashir pushed Sudan toward religious fanaticism that included, among other things, providing refuge to al-Qaida and Osama Bin Laden, and providing military aid and training to Hamas and Hezbollah terrorists. Bashir's dismissal led to the abolishment of draconian, Islamic state-like laws, such as, for example, executions based on charges of heresy to Islam. Prohibitions on alcohol imports were lifted, and female circumcision was banned.

The second obstruction was the efforts of regional powers, Turkey and Iran, to turn Sudan into a forward operating base to help them expand their spheres of influence. Severing ties with Iran and resisting Turkey's efforts to build a base on the Red Sea paved the path toward relations with Israel.

The third obstruction was Israel's image as a cancerous tumor in the body of the Arab nation. An apartheid state, whose main preoccupation was massacring Palestinians and plotting the best way to demolish the al-Aqsa mosque on the Temple Mount. This negative image of Israel, which Bashir's regime cultivated, gradually evaporated after his overthrow. Sudan, encouraged by US President Donald Trump, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman, and UAE leader Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahyan, decided to alter course.

Khir Allah, the Arab author and intellectual, cautions that despite removing these obstructions, Sudan won't succeed on its path to democracy and economic growth if it fails to overcome its historic afflictions, namely the divisions, disagreements and conflicts between its political parties and numerous tribes -- which has always led to the rise of dictators and military strongmen.

Sudan confirms link: It agreed to Israel ties for terror delisting, economic aid
Sudan on Sunday confirmed that it had agreed to normalize ties with Israel in exchange for being removed from the US terror blacklist, acknowledging for the first time the existence of linkage between the two, which it had previously denied.

A statement from the cabinet of Khartoum’s transitional government highlighted the various economic benefits of the deal, which will include badly needed aid and access to global financial institutions, previously refused due to the terror listing.

“The revocation of Sudan from the terrorist list allows the country to deal with the international financial institutions and the full benefitting from the development grants and international aid,” a statement from the cabinet said, according to the Sudan News Agency.

The Council of Ministers also underlined that the deal will allow the country to reenter the international banking system, the report said.

The ministers said the agreement to speak to Israel about normalizing ties came after a year of “hard negotiations,” with the US, in which Washington insisted on linking the delisting to Israel, a stance Khartoum rejected.
PM Netanyahu: Israel to send $5M in food aid to Sudan
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that Israel will send $5 million in food aid to Sudan just days after Khartoum announced the normalization of ties with the Jewish state.

"We are looking forward to a warm peace and are sending $5 million worth of wheat immediately to our new friends in Sudan," the Prime Minister's Office said in a tweet. "Israel will be working closely with the USA to assist Sudan's transition."

Sudanese and Israeli officials are slated to meet in the coming weeks to discuss a package of cooperation deals to "achieve the mutual interests of the two peoples," Sudan's Foreign Ministry confirmed.

The ministry statement said the deals would cover agriculture, trade, aviation and migration, but did not provide details on the timing or location of the meetings.

The normalization deal came with another pledge by Trump to remove Sudan from the list of state sponsors of terrorism. The US has linked delisting Sudan to the deal to normalize ties with the Jewish state.

Both deals would open the door for Sudan to get international loans and aid. Sudan needs these to revive its battered economy and rescue its transition to democracy, following a popular uprising last year that led the military to overthrow longtime autocrat Omar al-Bashir.
Peace is from Allah
Sudan, which has recently joined the list of Muslim countries seeking peace with Israel, may have introduced an official separation of religion and state about a month ago, but it is still a religious state, where the law is based on Sharia.

The Sudanese population is very religious, and clerics have considerable clout over public life. The struggle between senior Sudanese clerics over normalization with Israel is part of the country's "agony of peace": The official Sudanese Fatwa Council issued a ruling stating that Islam forbids establishing relations with the Jewish state and in response, one of the country's top clerics issued a counter-fatwa stating that, as Islam favors "sulha" or "peace," there is no ban on relations with Israel, and these are even desirable if they serve the Sudanese interest.

The more significant drama took place in Saudi Arabia, which is governed by Sharia law, and its legislators are members of the Shura Council, the sages, and they have great sway over the public sphere.

When the Imam of the Great Mosque of Mecca, one of the top clerics not only in Saudi Arabia but in the entire Muslim world, said in a Friday sermon some time ago that Islam is a religion of peace that welcomes relations with Jews and the Jewish religion, he rattled the Muslim world to its core.

any interpreted his statement as one greenlighting Riyadh's future rapprochement with Jerusalem. In addition, in recent days, Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman has been steadily appointing moderate clerics to the Shura Council, including one who has been leading normalization with Jews and Israelis for several years.

Clerics play a key role in the running of the states that have recently stuck peace with Israel. Without them, even if normalization is achieved, it cannot evolve into warm and close relations – something that was once fantasy and now seem more real than ever.

New venture seeks to pave way for Israeli businesses in UAE
With Israeli companies’ interest in doing business in the United Arab Emirates increasing following the signing of a peace deal between the two countries, Virtuzone, a firm that helps companies set up businesses in the UAE, has formed a joint venture with Apex Holdings, the owner and operator of a number of businesses in the UAE focusing on Israel-UAE trade.

The new joint venture, “Virtuzone Israel,” aims to help Israeli entrepreneurs and companies to access the UAE market, using Virtuzone’s business support services. These services include company registration, jurisdiction selection, bookkeeping, work permits, visas, VAT handling and related essential services for onshore and offshore companies operating in the UAE.

“With our long track-record of registering over 40,000 UAE-domiciled companies and our partnership with Apex Holdings, we are uniquely positioned to help Israeli companies enter the UAE market and to provide the support services they will need for a seamless arrival,” said Virtuzone chairman and co-founder Neil Petch. “We’ve created a dedicated team who understands Israeli business culture and will help support their move to the UAE, which has its own set of unique laws and regulations that foreign corporations will be best served by the right local advisor.”

In September, Israel signed separate bilateral normalization agreements with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, dubbed the Abraham Accords, paving the way for companies to openly forge cooperation ties, some of which already existed but were kept under wraps due to political sensitivities. US President Donald Trump said Friday that Sudan has also agreed to make peace with Israel, making it the third Arab state to normalize ties as part of US-brokered deals since August.

As one of the Middle East’s largest economies, the UAE offers significant tax benefits to businesses, including 0% tax on corporate and personal income. It also offers high business infrastructure and a strategic geographic position for businesses in Israel that want to expand their reach to Middle Eastern and Asian markets. Direct flights from Tel Aviv to Dubai will only take around three hours.
UAE-based Israeli businessman Koen said bidding $50 million for Israir Airlines
A Dubai-based company is offering to buy Israir Airlines, one of Israel’s largest carriers and tourism companies, for some NIS 170 million ($50 million), a person familiar with the matter told The Times of Israel, after NY Koen Group confirmed in a statement that negotiations for the airline have commenced.

Talks were held in Dubai last week between Israir representatives Assaf Zur, chief financial officer, and Avivit Peleg, vice president, Leisure Groups Purchasing and Operations, and Naum Koen, the Jewish businessman who is the owner of NY Koen Group.

“We’re currently reviewing details regarding corporate objectives and the financial state of Israir,” said Koen in the statement. “Both NY Koen Group and Israir are excited about the future potential of this purchase and are eager to have the details finalized quickly.”

The acquisition of Israir, the biggest tour operator and third-biggest airline in Israel, would extend the operations of NY Koen Group, the statement said. The group operates Aero Private Jet, which offers business and leisure VIP flights and has access to over 7,000 planes and 4,000 airports worldwide, the statement said. The company has been in operation since 2003 as a quality provider of luxury aviation.
Hadassah head: In negotiations with UAE to open hospital in Dubai
Hadassah-University Medical Center is in negotiations with leaders in Dubai about opening a hub and even potentially relocating some its top doctors, nurses and management to the United Arab Emirates, Prof. Zeev Rotstein, the head of Hadassah told The Jerusalem Post.

Rotstein was in the UAE last week as part of the first-ever Abraham Accords Business Summit, which was led by US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

During the visit, delegation members split by industries, from food and technology to security defense and health. Rotstein was the only physician on this mission, though he acknowledged that many other hospital heads have already been to the UAE to explore opportunities. During the trip, he said he met with members of the private sector, as well as government representatives.

“They want us in the Emirates, they appreciate us, they want to benefit from our abilities,” Rotstein said, noting that some of the best medical centers, such as the Mayo Clinic, have a presence in the country. “For us, this is really a testament to our services and a vote of confidence.” He added that the UAE is “very open and free” and that they treated the Israeli delegation with warmth and respect.
Celebrating peace, Israeli and UAE soccer teams to hold friendly match in Abu Dhabi
Maccabi Haifa FC announced on Sunday a cooperation agreement with the United Arab Emirates' Al-Ain FC and the two teams are expected to meet for a friendly match in Abu Dhabi.

"I am happy to inform you that our club has been invited to hold a friendly soccer match called the 'Game of Peace', in Abu Dhabi," said Maccabi Haifa owner Yaakov Shachar.

"We informed them that we would be happy to play against them in Abu Dhabi and host them in our city, Haifa. Their positive and happy response has just been received and the date for the game will be set later, according to the two clubs' schedules,” Shachar added.

"I have always believed it was possible to develop friendly relations through sports. We will sign a memorandum of understanding between the two clubs In a matter of days to create a relationship that will include collaborations on both the sporting and business side."
Normalization: Oman may be next to forge ties with Israel

Israeli Minister Says Qatar Could Get F-35s ‘Sooner or Later’
An Israeli Cabinet minister said on Sunday that a US sale of advanced F-35 warplanes to Qatar could be possible despite Israel’s objections to such a deal given the Gulf state’s links to Iran and Palestinian terror group Hamas.

“I have no doubt that if they (Qatar) want it and are willing to pay, sooner or later they will get it,” Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz, who sits in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s security Cabinet, told Ynet TV.

“This is a supposition that we must take into account,” he said, arguing that the US administration “ultimately looks out for American interests,” especially in the face of rival stealth jets on offer from Russia and China.

Reuters reported on Oct. 7 that gas-rich Qatar had submitted a formal request to buy the F-35, a Lockheed Martin plane that has so far been supplied only to Israel in the region. Israel, with which Washington consults on such sales, said it would be opposed.

US officials have been open to selling the F-35 to the United Arab Emirates after it and Bahrain normalized relations with Israel on Sept. 15. But they have been tight-lipped on Qatar’s bid to buy the jet.

Successive US administrations have sought to preserve Israeli military superiority in the region. Steinitz noted, however, that there had been past US sales of advanced aircraft to Arab countries over Israeli objections.
Islamic State warns Saudi Arabia after allies normalize ties with Israel
How likely is it that followers of the Islamic State (ISIS) will heed its call on social media for attacks on Saudi oil pipelines and other infrastructure after the kingdom allowed planes en route to and from Israel to cross its territory?

The cryptic audio message on the Telegram messaging platform earlier this month called for retaliation for Saudi support for the United Arab Emirates’ and Bahrain’s normalization of ties with Israel.

While Middle East experts do not have a crystal ball, they are skeptical that this appeal will lead to something bigger. “ISIS is ‘whistling in the dark.’ They have lost their equipment and the services of their formerly numerous volunteers,” Dr. Oded Eran, a senior researcher at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv, told The Media Line.

He was referring to the war against Islamic State, in which it lost its last swathe of territory, in the Syrian town of Baghouz. In March 2019.

Brian G. Williams, an Islamic history professor at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, told The Media Line: “They have gone underground, operating a shadow war.”
Saudi business leaders call for boycott of ‘hostile’ Turkey
Political tensions between Turkey and Saudi Arabia are obstructing the movement of goods and putting a strain on trade relations between the two Sunni-Muslim regional powers.

Ties between Riyadh and Ankara have deteriorated over the past few years, with the countries on opposite sides of several regional conflicts.

Mohammed al-Bishi, a Saudi journalist specializing in economic affairs, told The Media Line that Turkey’s “aggressive regional policies” were behind the rising antipathy.

“This is a reaction to the hostile policies practiced by the Justice and Development Party [AKP, led by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan] in Iraq, Syria, Libya and now in Azerbaijan,” he said.

The antagonism reached its high point in late 2018 immediately after the murder of dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the kingdom’s Istanbul consulate.
What the Ramallah Lynchings Taught Us About Palestinian Incitement
Twenty years ago, on Oct. 12, 2000, two Israel Defense Forces reservists, Vadim Norzhich and Yosef Avrahami, accidentally entered the Palestinian Authority-controlled city of Ramallah in Judea-Samaria (aka the West Bank).

While in the custody of PA policemen, they were viciously stabbed and beaten to death, their bodies subsequently mutilated and dragged through the streets of Ramallah. These were images broadcast live around the world and seared into the minds of all those who witnessed them.

The most visceral image from that day was that of Aziz Salha proudly waving his blood-stained hands from the police station window.

This bestial murder, and the ghastly images surrounding it, have haunted a generation of Israelis who had supported the Oslo peace accords and witnessed, only a few months previously, then-Prime Minister Ehud Barak offer the Palestinian leadership a state with Jerusalem as its capital and control over the Temple Mount. The Palestinians rejected this offer out of hand, like all before and since.

At that moment, many Israelis understood that to perpetrate such a murder, and delight in it as thousands of onlookers did, flatly contradicted their belief that the Palestinian people truly wanted peace.

Unfortunately, the Palestinian policies of incitement and delegitimization that inspired the Ramallah lynchings continue to this day. Unfortunately, too, these hateful policies go virtually unreported by US and European mainstream media.

Yet the type of hate and loathing that creates such inexplicable rage, bloodshed, and murder continues intentionally and purposefully in daily Palestinian life.

Israelis, and even Jews generally, are continually seen as legitimate targets in the Palestinian education system, media, and religious institutions.
Explosive balloons reported in southern Israel
Explosive balloons were spotted over Sapir Academic College near Sderot on Monday, according to Israeli media. An explosive charge attached to the balloons reportedly detonated in the air, but the balloons continued to travel and are being tracked by security officials.

A balloon landed at the Amdocs Factory in Sderot shortly afterwards. It is unclear if this is the same balloon as the one spotted over Sapir College. Another balloon was found shortly afterwards in a field near the town of Saad in southern Israel.

Except for sporadic balloon launches in September, the launches had largely stopped since a ceasefire was reached between Hamas and Israel at the end of August after weeks of daily explosive and incendiary balloon launches and rocket fire.

In response to the balloon launches in August, Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister and Benny Gantz, warned that such launches would be met with "forceful" responses.

The reports of the balloons on Monday came as tensions rose between terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip and Israel, as the terrorist groups threatened action if the health condition of Maher al-Akhras, a PIJ operative hunger striking in Israel for about 92 days, becomes too dire or he dies.

Islamic Jihad’s Maher Akhras, Haaretz’s New Martyr
In the editorial, Haaretz defines the detainee, Maher Akhras, as someone whom “The state claims he is an activist in the Islamic Jihad organization – without presenting him with any evidence, as is acceptable in administrative detention cases.” Haaretz treats the state’s claim that he is a member of Islamic Jihad as suspect, and ignores publicly available indications that this is indeed the case.

In an extensive Op-Ed by Ilana Hammerman, Haaretz completely disregards the question of Akhras’ affiliation with Islamic Jihad, failing to even mention the state’s position that he is a member of an internationally designated terror organization.

Instead, Hammerman warns that Akhras “days are numbered if he is not immediately released” and casts him as a victim to “a reality that is entirely false” at the hands of “the embodiment of evil,” meaning the Israeli judicial system.

To recap, Haaretz makes three claims: 1) Administrative detentions have no place in a democracy; 2) They’re not subject to judicial review; and 3) It’s highly questionable whether Maher Akhras is indeed a terror operative.

All of the above are false.
There is “no Israeli culture” and “no such thing as an Israeli” - PA Minister of Culture PA: Murderers are “our glory, our honor… the heroes”

Prime Minister of Pakistan Claims Powerful ‘Israel Lobby’ Controls American Middle East Policy
The prime minister of Pakistan claimed in an interview over the weekend that “Israel’s lobby” in the United States controls Middle East policy and is collaborating with India to boost his most prominent rival.

Prime Minister Imran Khan told ARY News that “The Israeli and Indian lobbies work together in America. Israel’s lobby is the most powerful and that’s why America’s whole Middle East policy is controlled by Israel.”

Khan claimed that this Israel-India conspiracy is pressuring his government to give a National Reconciliation Ordinance – a grant of amnesty for various crimes – to his top rival Nawaz Sharif.

Khan, a former cricket star, is the founder and head of Tehreek-e-Insaf, an Islamist political party that took power in 2018 and installed Khan as prime minister.

Sharif, a former prime minister and wealthy businessman, is Khan’s longtime opponent and the two men have conducted a public rivalry for almost a decade.

In 2018, Pakistan’s supreme court banned Sharif from public office and he later received a 10-year prison sentence for corruption. A year later, he was released on bail and fled the country.
Iran's FM Zarif: Insulting Muslims is an abuse of free speech
Insulting Muslims is an "opportunistic" abuse of free speech, Iran's foreign minister said on Monday, in an apparent reference to remarks by French President Emmanuel Macron perceived to be critical of Islam. "Muslims are the primary victims of the 'cult of hatred,'" the minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, tweeted, without directly addressing Macron.

"Insulting 1.9B Muslims—& their sanctities—for the abhorrent crimes of such extremists is an opportunistic abuse of freedom of speech. It only fuels extremism," he added.

Macron, who led a tribute to a history teacher beheaded this month by a Chechen teenager for showing caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad in class, declared war on "Islamist separatism", which he believes is taking over some Muslim communities in France.

We have lots of ideas, but we need more resources to be even more effective. Please donate today to help get the message out and to help defend Israel.


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