Monday, November 23, 2020

From Ian:

Netanyahu meets Saudi crown prince MBS, Pompeo in Saudi Arabia
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Mossad chief Yossi Cohen met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Neom, Saudi Arabia on Sunday, Israeli sources confirmed.

Netanyahu used a private plane belonging to businessman Udi Angel, which he has used for past diplomatic trips. The plane left Israel at 5 p.m. on Sunday and returned after midnight. The Israeli and Saudi sides discussed Iran and normalization, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing a Saudi source.

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan denied the meeting took place on Twitter, saying only Saudi and American officials were present.

Yet Education Minister Yoav Gallant confirmed the meeting, calling it an “amazing achievement” and “a matter of great importance” in an interview with Army Radio.

The trip was kept tightly under wraps as it was planned for over a month, with Netanyahu not informing Defense Minister Benny Gantz or Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi before it took place.
Pompeo made history
Instead, Pompeo's visit and his statements were correctives to these errors of judgment in reporting and commentary. Facts still matter. Pompeo's visit reminds the International community of a truth that every Israeli government since 1967 have attempted to convey to the world, unsuccessfully: Psagot and Petach Tikvah share the same legitimacy. The secretary's visit marks the first time that a United States administration has formally recognized the equality of Jewish sovereignty.

This US recognition of collective Jewish human rights parallels the principle of secure Jewish collective life that every Israeli government has recognized since the Jewish people's reestablishment of sovereignty in 1948. The International community had formally recognized those same rights to Jewish Sovereignty in 1920 at the international San Remo Conference. The principal powers of the League of Nations formalized San Remo's declarative recognition in 1922 of the Right of the Jewish People to "reconstitute their National Home In Palestine". The League of Nations further called for "close (Jewish) settlement" establishing and unanimously approving the Mandate for Palestine, that anchored the Jewish collective human right to collective freedom and sovereignty and ultimately led to Israel's Declaration of Independence and policy of every Israeli government Since 1967, sanctioning rights to Jewish community building on both sides of the 1949 armistice lines on state land.

The United States' top diplomat apparently did his legal and diplomatic homework. Apparently, he and his advisers studied the abovementioned international legal documents. His visit to Israel's Psagot winery and his accompany condemnations of BDS and anti-Semitic product labeling, reminiscent of the World War II-era, break the "glass ceiling" regarding formal US recognition of Israel's legal rights to sovereignty. US and Israel's alignment on Israel's rights to sovereignty safeguards the most fundamental Jewish collective human right today. Unfortunately, the cynical discrediting of Secretary Pompeo's alignment with the policy of all Israeli governments since 1967 reflects the lack of understanding of its critics rather than the well-reasoned positions of the current US State Department.
MEMRI: Saudi Journalist In Message To Iran Following Normalization Agreements With Israel: Iran, Not Israel, Is The Enemy Of The Arabs, Destabilizes The Region
In a September 23, 2020 column titled "Message to Iran, in Light of the Peace with Israel," Saudi journalist 'Abdallah Zayed reacted to Iran's harsh attack on the normalization agreements between the UAE, Bahrain and Israel. [1] Iran, he wrote, is forgetting that it is the one whose bullying and terrorist behavior is destabilizing the region and who has become the enemy of the Arabs. He added that Iran spouts slogans of liberating Jerusalem, but in practice it does nothing to realize that goal and, moreover, continues to occupy many Arab countries while pursuing the goal of renewing its lost Persian empire.

The following are translated excerpts from his article:[2] "The wailing, weeping, pain and sorrow of the of the government officials of Iran and its proxies have been steadily growing since the UAE and Bahrain signed a peace agreement with Israel. The spokesman of Iran's foreign ministry keeps repeating terms like 'Arab nobility' and 'Islamic values,' while the Iranian government keeps forgetting its [own] actions in the region and [the fact that it has] crossed many red lines, which have turned it into a blatant enemy [of the Arabs].

"The Iranians are forgetting that it is they who are in a state of hostility and actual war with the countries of the region. Who is occupying the [UAE's] Persian Gulf islands?[3] Who tried to precipitate a coup in Bahrain? Who conspired against Kuwait by employing terror cells? Who are the ones firing their missiles into Saudi Arabia? Who are the ones who sent their mercenaries to [fight in] Syria? Who founded the militias in Iraq? Who founded a terrorist party in Lebanon [i.e., Hizbullah]? Who is cultivating the [Houthi] mercenaries in Yemen to stage a coup against the legitimate government? The truth is that the one who did all this is not Israel but Iran.

"No Israeli official has ever declared [with pride] that his country is occupying five Arab capitals.[4] Although Iran brandishes the slogan of resistance, although it has [a military force] called 'Qods [i.e., Jerusalem] Force'… and although it claims that its goal is to liberate Al-Aqsa, we have never seen the top Iranian officers [firing] a single bullet in retaliation for Israel's bombing of their bases in Syria. Israel sends planes and fires missiles, constantly bombs the [Iranians'] bases in different areas, yet Iran does not respond. When Russia intervened and ordered the Iranians to move their bases hundreds of kilometers away from the Israeli border, Iran did so, [despite] the intense humiliation.

"Doesn’t Iran claim that it now has a foothold in northern Israel, thanks to Hizbullah, which controls Lebanon, and also thanks to its presence in Syria?! Yet it hasn't liberated Al-Aqsa and Jerusalem, as it constantly calls [to do].

"The clear equation and the obvious [conclusion] is that Iran's real goal is to take over the Arab world and reestablish the obsolete Persian Empire in it. Simply put, that is the reason for the Iranian actions we are seeing on the ground. Is it Israel that is present [in Yemen], on Saudi Arabia's southern border? What does [Iran] want with Yemen? Is it Israel who is present north of Saudi Arabia, in Iraq? What does [Iran] want with Iraq? Is it Israel who is present east of Saudi Arabia, [in Bahrain]? What does [Iran] want with Bahrain?

Seth Frantzman: Netanyahu trip to Saudi Arabia shows importance of Israeli-Saudi ties
THE RESULT has been much closer visible work between Saudi Arabia and Egypt, as well as between the UAE, Bahrain, India, Jordan, Greece and Egypt and Israel. This network of countries is juxtaposed with the Iranian alliance that includes its proxies in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria and Yemen, and the Turkey-Qatar alliance that includes Hamas.

These countries work on opposite sides in Yemen, Iraq and Lebanon. Riyadh is a supporter of Sunnis in Lebanon and Iraq, for instance, but must seek to fight for their hearts and minds against Turkey. This is a global struggle that also involves Pakistan and Malaysia. And it also involves Israel.

That is why the Pompeo visit, fresh from meeting the Taliban in Afghanistan, the Saudi hosting of the G20, the Houthi missile fire and reports of Netanyahu’s trip are all part of the same story. Saudi Arabia appeared to be moving toward peace with Israel. That would open many doors. But there are questions in Riyadh about what will change next year under President-elect Joe Biden.

Biden has been critical of Saudi Arabia as well as of Turkey. US commentators critique the Riyadh-led war against the Houthis in Yemen. Major think tanks, some of which are warmer toward Iran or Qatar, seek to tarnish Saudi Arabia’s image. But at the G20 meeting Riyadh and Ankara appeared to be getting along better.

Many wonder what comes next. Closer Saudi-Israeli ties could be on the list. Riyadh has been flexible about flights and more openly supportive of the Abraham Accords. There is a role that Israel could play in the Saudi economy and cities like Neom if there were normalization. It could also mean a re-alignment of other issues from Iraq to Lebanon.

These are essential and important talks and Pompeo’s presence was key. Whether there will be a new groundbreaking announcement will be seen in the coming weeks.

Clearly the willingness to be more open about these types of meetings is part and parcel of a movement in a direction that has been paved by Abu Dhabi and its innovative approach to rapidly expanding ties. Flights begin on November 26 to Dubai, for instance. That is symbolic, as symbolic as the business jet that left Israel at five in the afternoon on Sunday and appeared headed to Neom.

Trump helped to create a safe space for these kinds of meetings. But as he leaves office, the countries must work together closely and create their own future that they will then present to the world.
Netanyahu, MBS close ranks against Iran ahead of Biden presidency
The meeting between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is a momentous occasion. It marks another milestone in the warming ties between Israel and Saudi Arabia, and a further closing of ranks in the region against Iranian aggression.

It is noteworthy that we even know the meeting took place. Saudi Arabia doesn’t have a free press at all. Israel has a military censor that can - and often does - block media from publishing stories that are matters of national security. The Prime Minister’s Office didn’t announce the trip, but no effort seems to have been made to hide the flight path Netanyahu and Mossad chief Yossi Cohen took from Israel to Neom, the Red Sea hi-tech Saudi city.

This tells us that the participants wanted people to find out about the meeting, and, in light of the timing, they are broadcasting a message to one person in particular: US President-elect Joe Biden.

They are telling Biden what they want and need to happen under his leadership, while still under the safe umbrella of support from the Trump administration.

Senior State Dept. official says Saudis enthusiastic about Israel ties
Many Saudis are looking forward to normalization with Israel, US Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs R. Clarke Cooper said in Jerusalem on Monday.

Cooper accompanied Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to Saudi Arabia at the weekend and said “the interest in the pursuit of normalization with the State of Israel is one that is shared across different types of populations and constituencies across Arab states,” including the business, hi-tech and defense sectors.

“We’ve seen this expressed in the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, these people-to-spoke aspects going above and beyond what governments probably anticipated. It was a welcome response – but one also being observed in other capitals,” he said.

In Riyadh specifically, Cooper said ties with Israel go hand-in-hand with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s “Vision 2030,” an aggressive reform program for the next 10 years in Saudi Arabia.

“Looking at the future and what they want for their children, and what they want from the Abraham Accords are not exclusive,” he said.
Despite confirmation by Saudi advisers, Riyadh FM denies prince met Netanyahu
Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister on Monday denied widespread reports that Riyadh’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held talks Sunday along with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Iran and normalization, claiming that no Israeli officials had been there.

A Saudi government adviser earlier confirmed the meeting and the trip by the Israeli leader to Saudi Arabia on Sunday night to The Wall Street Journal, saying that the meeting, which had lasted several hours, focused on Iran and the establishment of diplomatic ties between Riyadh and Jerusalem, but did not yield substantial agreements.

Israel’s Education Minister Yoav Gallant also confirmed the trip, calling it “an amazing achievement.”

According to the Ynet news site, which quoted two officials involved in the talks, the Saudi crown prince did not object to the meeting being publicized. The meeting was also attended by Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency chief Yossi Cohen, an Israeli official told Hebrew-language media.

However, Prince Faisal bin Farhan denied that Netanyahu or any other officials from the Jewish state had taken part in a meeting with the crown prince, in a tweet issued many hours after the reports started circulating.

“I have seen press reports about a purported meeting between HRH the Crown Prince and Israeli officials during the recent visit by @SecPompeo. No such meeting occurred. The only officials present were American and Saudi,” he wrote.
Israel said to send first official delegation to Sudan
Israel’s first ever official delegation to Sudan reportedly took off from Ben Gurion Airport Monday on its way to Khartoum for talks between the two countries on the normalization deal announced last month.

The delegation is made up of a small group of government officials and will prepare the groundwork for a larger visit of higher-level Israeli officials in the coming weeks, the Ynet news site reported.

On October 23, US President Donald Trump announced that Sudan would start normalizing ties with Israel, with the two countries set to sign deals covering agriculture, trade, aviation and migration.

Sudan’s Foreign Ministry said at the time that Sudanese and Israeli officials would meet in the following weeks to discuss a package of cooperation deals to “achieve the mutual interests of the two peoples.”

The normalization deal came after Trump said he was moving to remove Sudan from the list of state sponsors of terrorism. The delisting opened the door for Sudan to get international loans and aid, which it needs 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.
Biden tipped to name Tony Blinken as secretary of state
US President-elect Joe Biden has chosen long-time foreign affairs adviser Antony Blinken to be his secretary of state, Bloomberg reported Sunday.

Biden’s Chief of Staff Ron Klain said the first Cabinet picks are coming Tuesday and planning is underway for a pandemic-modified inauguration in January as his team moves forward despite roadblocks from the Trump administration.

Bloomberg, citing three people familiar with the matter, said the first pick would be Blinken, who worked as Biden’s national security adviser in the Obama administration.

He also served as deputy NSA to the president and deputy secretary of state during the Obama administration.

Bloomberg also reported that Jake Sullivan, a former top aide to Hillary Clinton, is likely to be named Biden’s national security adviser. Diplomat Linda Thomas-Greenfield is expected to be named the US ambassador to the United Nations, according to the report.

In a recent interview with The Times of Israel, Blinken, who is Jewish and the stepson of a Holocaust survivor, highlighted the incoming administration’s commitment to Israel’s security and said it could review a massive arms deal to the UAE as part of preserving Israel’s Quantitative Military Edge.

Obama, Netanyahu, AIPAC and the Jews
But this only points us toward a much deeper issue: whether Obama, intentionally or not, fostered an atmosphere of systemic antisemitism in his administration. Because even if we, once again, give him the benefit of the doubt, it is very clear — though usually not publicly stated — that there were powerful antisemitic elements within the Obama White House.

It is remarkable to me, in fact, that no one I know of has remarked on a passage in former Israeli Ambassador to the US Michael Oren’s memoir Ally in which Oren reveals that, during Israel’s 2014 war with Hamas, White House officials were blaming Israel for the ensuing Muslim pogroms against European Jews. This is monstrous racism under any definition, but it is also more than that — it points to an atmosphere of antisemitism capable of holding Jews responsible for antisemitic violence without the slightest sense of cognitive dissonance. Such an atmosphere must be at the very least tolerated by those who, like Obama, ought to know better.

The inevitable response to this is that Obama and his people were merely “criticizing Israel” or “opposing Israeli policies.” Putting aside the fact that this is self-congratulatory goysplaining, it is clear that, given the current zeitgeist, it is a very bizarre argument. Much of the left is, after all, willing to see racism almost everywhere, including in themselves, leading to some remarkable examples of public self-flagellation. Yet they often seem hellbent on claiming antisemitism does not exist. They say, in effect, that everything is race and nothing is antisemitism. And denial of antisemitism, even if only by the simple dismissal or gaslighting of Jews who raise the issue, is endemic to antisemitism itself. Antisemites, after all, always believe they are simply telling the truth.

The case of Obama, however, is not really a question of personal antisemitism or lack thereof. Most Jews know that while not all non-Jews are antisemitic, almost all of them do have stereotypes and prejudices that they project onto Jews. That they are, in other words, ignorant. You hope that non-Jews can be educated. But Obama and his people always, to a man, refused to be educated. Obama knew that there were Jews who had concerns about him, and he was never interested in finding out why. It was far easier to simply blame Netanyahu and be done with it. And this must, at the very least, be admitted to and discussed openly. What the debate over Obama and the Jews requires is not so much outrage as something like an honest reckoning.

Israel-Lebanon Maritime Border Talks Stall
Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz and Lebanese President Michel Aoun traded barbs Sunday after the US-mediated negotiations between the two countries on their disputed maritime border stalled.

Steinitz said that the Lebanese government has “changed its mind seven times” with regard to its position on the origins of the prospective border. “Its current position contradicts not only its previous stance but also Syria’s position on the matter,” he said, warning that Lebanon’s inflexibility would spell the end of the negotiations.

Aoun later called Steinitz’s claims “baseless,” saying that “Lebanon’s position on the matter stands.”
Number of corona deaths exceeds 2,800
Some 745 new coronavirus cases were diagnosed in Israel Sunday, bringing the overall case tally to 329,403, the Health Ministry said Sunday.

As of Sunday, 2,806 Israelis have succumbed to COVID-19, while 318,141patients have recovered from it.

Ministry data showed a slight downturn in the rate of positive tests, dipping down to 2.3% from 2.8% on Sunday. The positivity rate remains above the lowest points noted since the resurgence of the pandemic, which were recorded last week and ranged from 1.4% to 1.8%.

Meanwhile, Health Ministry data showed that travel was taking a toll on the number of Israelis testing positive for coronavirus.

The ministry found that nearly 20% of Israelis who returned from Turkey in October tested positive for COVID.

Turkey remained a popular tourist destination for Israelis, despite the country's high coronavirus infection rate.
Israeli-Palestinian “security cooperation”—myth or reality?
The Palestinian Authority announced with great fanfare last week that it is resuming “security cooperation” with Israel. But did anybody even notice it had stopped?

The news media and assorted “experts” are all pointing to the PA’s announcement as a major Palestinian Authority “concession” for which Israel is supposed to be eternally grateful. In fact, already the drums are beating for Israel to “reciprocate” by making some concession of its own.

For those who hadn’t noticed, PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas (now in the 14 th year of a 4-year term) declared an end to the “cooperation” six months ago, on May 18, 2020, to protest an Israeli policy decision that he imagined was going to be taken, but never was.

So, I thought it would be interesting to compare the number of Israelis killed or injured in Palestinian Arab terrorist attacks during the past six months of “no cooperation” to the preceding six months of “cooperation.” The statistics are available on the websites of the Israeli Foreign Ministry ( and the Israeli Security Services, or Shin Beit (

During these six months without “cooperation,” one Israeli was murdered, and 16 were injured, in Arab terrorist attacks. You can hear all the J Street and Jewish Voices for Peace types crowing, “See? One dead and sixteen injured! Look how bad things got because there was no cooperation!”

Then I checked the numbers for the six months before Abbas’s dramatic announcement—six months when the PA supposedly was cooperating with Israeli security forces to combat terrorism. Well, guess what: One dead, 39 injured.

The number of Israelis harmed by Palestinian Arab terrorists during the “cooperation” months was more than twice the number who were harmed during the “no cooperation” months.
PMW: PA glorifies Arafat as man of war
Although former PLO/PA Chariman Yasser Arafat signed the Oslo Accords peace agreement with then Israeli PM Yitzhak Rabin and then Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres in 1993, and later received the Nobel Peace Prize together with the two Israelis, the PA never highlights this. In fact it seems this is deliberately ignored.

Instead, the PA adamantly wants Palestinians to admire Arafat as a man of war.

On the anniversary of his death earlier this month, the PA rebroadcast parts of Arafat's speeches, among them his call to Palestinians to die as "Martyrs" for "Palestine," and for "this blood" to "spread on the land… with burning and with fire":

Former PLO/PA Chairman Yasser Arafat: “You think that the blood of Abu Jihad and Abu Jihad’s murder can stop the revolution? Or that the murder of Yasser Arafat can stop the revolution? No! You are deluding yourselves, and this blood will spread on the land as it has spread on the Palestinian land – with burning and with fire…
Millions of Martyrs are marching to Jerusalem, millions of Martyrs are marching to Jerusalem.”
[Official PA TV, Nov. 10 (twice), 11 (twice), 2020]

This message was repeated by PA officials too, for example by Jerusalem District Governor Adnan Ghaith, who also repeated Arafat's slogan calling for martyrdom: "Millions of Martyrs are marching to Jerusalem." Ghaith said this ideology should be followed until the Palestinian people "achieve its firm and legal rights to liberate the land":

“Allah willing, one day, my children friends, our entire land will return to us” - PA TV host

Hamas Grantwriter Can’t Believe He Needs To Submit ANOTHER Proposal To EU For Rebuilding Attack Tunnels (satire)
Following the overnight destruction by the IDF of multiple terrorist infrastructure facilities, an administrative functionary at the movement’s headquarters in this Mediterranean coastal territory voiced his exasperation this morning that his superiors will now assign him yet again the task of drafting a set of documents aimed at convincing Belgian and Dutch governments, among others, to part with more Euros to rebuild the attack tunnels, training facilities, arms depots, and other sites demolished in the retaliatory strikes after a Gaza-launched rocket targeted the Israeli city of Ashkelon Saturday night.

Bassem Muhammad, 22, confessed his frustrated anticipation at the grant proposal assignment he expects in the next few days; the bilingual office worker at one of the many Hamas offices in this teeming city often puts his language and composition skills to work for his employer, in this case to detail how the Islamic Resistance Movement has used and will use European funding to continue attacking Israeli civilians, with such funding taking place behind the thin veneer of humanitarian assistance to the beleaguered territory of Gaza.

“I can see it coming,” grumbled Muhammad. “My boss will hand me a list of the sites Israel blew up the other night and say, ‘Here. These are the things we need rebuilt. This is how much it’ll cost to bring them back on line. Add ten percent overhead and administrative expenses and have that proposal on my desk by Friday.”
Germany accuses Iran of systematically breaking nuke deal, as top diplomats meet
The German, French and British foreign ministers were meeting Monday to discuss the future of the international agreement on Iran’s nuclear program amid hopes that the incoming US administration might help breathe new life into the accord, Germany’s Foreign Ministry said.

The three European powers have spearheaded efforts to keep alive the agreement, concluded in Vienna in 2015 and officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA. Russia and China also remain on board.

Ahead of the meeting, German Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Andrea Sasse said that Iran was systematically violating the 2015 accord.

“Together with our partners, we strongly call on Iran to stop violating the deal and return to fulfilling all its nuclear obligations completely,” she said.

US President-elect Joe Biden has said he hopes to return the US to the accord, in which Iran agreed to limit its nuclear activities in exchange for the lifting of international sanctions. Outgoing President Donald Trump withdrew the country from the agreement in 2018 and imposed crippling economic sanctions on Iran, which responded by publicly abandoning nuclear restrictions in the agreement.

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