Prepared for the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
Updated: 18 min 37 sec ago
(Washington Post) Abby Phillip and Dan Lamothe -
The White House warned Syrian President Assad on Monday that his regime would pay a "heavy price" if it carried out another chemical attack this year. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said, "The United States has identified potential preparations for another chemical weapons attack by the Assad regime that would likely result in the mass murder of civilians, including innocent children. The activities are similar to preparations the regime made before its April 4, 2017, chemical weapons attack."
(Bloomberg) Gwen Ackerman -
Israel and the U.S. are starting a high-level partnership to create a bulwark against increasingly sophisticated cyber attackers who target critical national infrastructure. Israel will send representatives from the Israel Security Agency, the foreign affairs, justice and defense ministries, and the military. The aim will be to find and stop cyber attackers "before they reach critical infrastructure, and identify ways to hold bad actors accountable," Tom Bossert, President Trump's homeland security and counterterrorism adviser, said Monday in Tel Aviv.
(Times of Israel) The Israel Security Agency has used cybertechnology to prevent more than 2,000 terror attacks since the beginning of 2016, agency head Nadav Argaman told a conference at Tel Aviv University on Tuesday. He said Israeli intelligence agencies have also passed on information to stop terrorists elsewhere in the world. He noted that groundbreaking cybertechnology has helped to protect against lone-wolf attacks that would have been unpreventable using traditional intelligence means.
He added that hackers who attempt to attack Israel are in for a surprise. "We are not only defending but also attacking hackers in the world. Hackers who operate against Israel around the world find they experience unexpected problems....We learn the patterns of activities of the enemy and know how to surprise him with counterattacks in many different ways."
(London Evening Standard-UK) Robert Fox -
The pattern of individual "lone wolf" assaults in Israel matches those in the UK, France, Germany and Belgium. Many are carried out by one or two individuals, armed with knives and crashing into crowds or bus queues with hijacked vehicles. Israel is undergoing a continuous update of its counter-terror strategy, involving public awareness, new police and counter-terrorist force tactics and improved surveillance.
The commander at the IDF Counter-Terrorist Training School noted that in Israel a bystander would draw a weapon and shoot the perpetrator. "We have 30,000 civilians bearing arms, which they are permitted to do after military service."
(Asharq Al-Awsat-UK) Kifah Ziboun -
PLO Secretary Saeb Erakat has said that discussions between Palestinian and U.S. officials will take a long time before the political process can be launched in the region. Erakat confirmed that there are "large" discrepancies between the stances of the two sides over the resumption of the peace process. Palestinian and American officials are set to meet again in Washington in July.
Palestinian official Wassef Abou Youssef told Asharq Al-Awsat: "The U.S. officials are not honest mediators, but they are completely biased to Israel and its interests. They cater to it above all else."
(Anadolu-Turkey) UN observers stationed in the Golan Heights were almost struck by stray fire from across the Syrian border, the Israeli army said Monday. "Searches conducted in the area revealed bullet holes from heavy machine gun fire in a UN Disengagement Force post located next to the border."
(Jewish Chronicle-UK) Daniel Sugarman -
Britain's High Court ruled last week against guidance issued by the Department for Communities and Local Government last September that prevented local governments from taking part in boycotts of companies doing business with Israel. The judge, Sir Ross Cranston, said this element of guidance was beyond the statutory powers of the Communities Department. The Palestine Solidarity Campaign, which had brought the case, hailed the ruling as a "triumph" for the boycott movement.
(Ynet News) Elior Levy -
The Israeli Air Force attacked two Hamas targets on Tuesday in Gaza in response to rocket fire at Israel on Monday.
(Israel Hayom) Itsik Saban and Shlomi Diaz -
The growing number of terrorist attacks near Damascus Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem has prompted the Public Security Ministry to present a new plan to revolutionize counterterrorism measures in the area. Damascus Gate has been the scene of 32 terrorist attacks over the past two and a half years.
The plan includes the deployment of license plate capture cameras; a network of "smart" closed-circuit TV cameras equipped with facial recognition software to identify suspects in real time; placing fortified security posts in strategic locations; and setting up a lighting system to simulate daylight. The plan includes metal detectors and fences to direct pedestrian traffic. "The goal is to minimize terrorist attacks in the area as much as possible, while also minimizing any interference with the fabric of life," a senior officer with the Jerusalem District Police said.
(Ynet News) Ben-Dror Yemini -
About a year ago, the Ramallah-based Popular Art Center staged a musical performance titled "No to laying down guns." The European Union funds the center as part of a special project for "increasing Palestinian public awareness of EU core values."
The Women's Center for Legal Aid and Counseling (WCLAC) receives 2.5 million euros. One of its senior employees, Manal Tamimi, propagates anti-Semitic cartoons, often defines Israel as a Nazi state, and her tweets include content such as "I do hate Israel, I do hate Zionism, I wish a third intifada coming soon and people rise up and kill all these Zionist settlers everywhere."
The EU would not dare fund such organizations as the Stop the War Coalition in Britain or Code Pink in America. But they do donate to such organizations in Israel. That is a double standard in all its glory. This article wouldn't have been written had Europe been funding bodies that advance peace and reconciliation.
(Hudson Institute) Michael Doran -
It is a fallacy that Israeli intransigence is the key stumbling block in Arab-Israeli relations, and that, therefore, Israeli concessions are the key factor that will create the conditions for a solution. The Israeli withdrawals from Lebanon in 2000 and Gaza in 2005 should have dispelled this idea forever. Rather than having a calming effect, however, those withdrawals only served to increase the bloodlust of Hizbullah and Hamas.
Any withdrawal from territory on the West Bank, therefore, must come with ironclad guarantees of Israeli security. Given the unsettled state of the region in general, the advances of the Iranian alliance in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Yemen, the persistence of al-Qaeda and ISIS, and the split among the Palestinians between Hamas and Fatah, no Israeli government could take severe risks with respect to Israeli security on the West Bank and still hope to remain in power.
Israelis are already intensely aware that in a very short period of time they might find themselves peering across the Golan Heights at Iranian soldiers ensconced in Syria. How can the world ask them to take steps that could potentially lead to the Iranian penetration of the West Bank as well?
The writer, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, was a senior director at the National Security Council in the George W. Bush administration. These remarks are from his address at the UN Security Council on June 20, 2017.
(Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs) Dore Gold -
It's very common to say, "Israel must withdraw to the 1967 borders" - but there are no 1967 borders. The lines Israel inherited from the 1948 war are based on an armistice agreement that states that these are not final borders but cease-fire lines. In 1967 Israel engaged in a war of self-defense and could not be forced to withdraw to the pre-war lines from which it had been attacked.
UN Security Council Resolution 242 of November 1967 did not call for an Israeli withdrawal to the pre-war lines. British Ambassador Lord Caradon said at the time: "I know the 1967 line, and it's a rotten line. You couldn't have a worse line for a permanent international boundary. It's where the troops happened to be on a certain night in 1948. It's got no relation to the needs of the situation." According to Lord Caradon, an Israeli withdrawal to the 1949 armistice line would not produce a stable diplomatic solution.
It is unfathomable today for most Israelis to put the country back in the position of being as vulnerable as it was 50 years ago. The writer, president of the Jerusalem Center, served as Israel's ambassador to the UN and director general of the Foreign Ministry.
(Weekly Standard) Elliott Abrams -
Among Israelis and Palestinians, there's little optimism about renewed American efforts to negotiate a comprehensive Israeli-Palestinian peace deal. The Trump administration is operating under the assumption that there is no harm in trying, but that conclusion is wrong, as round after round of terrorism should attest.
To begin with, it is always harmful for the U.S. to fail. When a president devotes himself to any project and fails to pull it off, his influence and that of the U.S. are diminished. With U.S. influence on the wane in recent years, devoting significant effort to a goal that is unlikely to be attained looks like a misplaced priority.
What's more, the U.S. has been championing the "peace process" since 1991. What this produces is cynicism about peace talks and about peace. Many Israelis see it as a shield protecting Palestinian malfeasance.
Moreover, when each successive American administration works for a comprehensive peace deal, it tends to neglect the many opportunities to make less dramatic but still consequential real-world progress. If the goal were instead to leave things better than we found them, every incremental bit of progress would be a victory.
That was the "bottom-up" approach taken by former Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, who thought Palestinian independence required building the institutions of a viable state first.
The writer, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, handled Middle East affairs at the U.S. National Security Council from 2001 to 2009.
(Press TV-Iran) Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told Muslim ambassadors in Tehran Monday on the occasion of Eid al-Fitr, "According to Islamic jurisprudence, when an enemy takes over Muslim lands, Jihad in any possible form becomes everyone's duty. Today the fight against the Zionist regime is obligatory and necessary for Muslims. Why do some evade this duty?" He added that "Palestine is the number one issue of the Islamic world, but some Islamic countries are acting in such a way as to have the Palestinian case ignored and forgotten."
(CNN) Salma Abdelaziz and Laura Smith-Spark -
Saudi security forces on Friday prevented an imminent attack on the Grand Mosque in Mecca, the country's Interior Ministry said. A suspect in the planned attack blew himself up in a nearby neighborhood when security forces surrounded a home where he was hiding.
(CNN) Alla Eshchenko -
Two Russian frigates and a submarine fired six cruise missiles on ISIS targets in Syria from the Mediterranean Sea, the Russian Defense Ministry said. The ministry said Turkey and Israel were informed about the missile launches.
(New York Times) Isabel Kershner -
As Israelis mark the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem in the June 1967 war, east Jerusalem's 320,000 Palestinians now make up 37% of the city's population. By now, half of Jerusalem Palestinians work in west Jerusalem, and below the surface, the mood of outright defiance seems to be shifting. More than 5,000 students in east Jerusalem high schools are now studying for the Israeli matriculation examination that eases enrollment in Israeli universities, up from about 1,000 in 2014. Palestinian families applying for Israeli citizenship rose to a record 1,081 in 2016, up from a few dozen in 2003.
East Jerusalem Palestinians were granted permanent residency status, making them free to move and work anywhere in Israel and eligible for Israeli social benefits. Palestinian and Jewish residents frequent some of the same city parks and shopping malls in west Jerusalem. While the Palestinian leadership in the West Bank demands a Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital, some of the city's Palestinians describe the Palestinian Authority as a corrupt and lawless "mafia," and want no part of it. "We have our rights here, where we live," said Ola Hedra, 35, an English teacher. "Not everything - but it's better than life under the Palestinian Authority."
(Israel Hayom) Daniel Siryoti -
In a meeting in Ramallah last week, U.S. envoys Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt asked PA President Abbas to cease paying stipends to the families of terrorists who are either jailed in Israel or were killed while carrying out terrorist attacks against Israelis. Kushner and Greenblatt entered the meeting with specific salary charts that had been prepared by Israel in advance.
Senior Palestinian officials told Israel Hayom that Abbas has no intention of suspending the payments. Instead, said one senior PA official, Abbas will dismantle the Palestinian Prisoners Society which makes the payments, while dozens of other NGOs will be established to replace it.
(Jerusalem Post) The IDF struck targets belonging to forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime on Sunday in response to the errant fire that hit northern Israel earlier in the day, the IDF confirmed. Sunday was the second day in a row that the Israeli-Syrian border has been affected by a spillover from the ongoing conflict in Syria.
On Saturday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel will not tolerate any violation of its security on any front. "We will not accept any kind of 'drizzle,' not of mortars, rockets, or spillover fire. We respond with force to every attack on our territory and against our citizens."
(Ynet News) Ron Ben-Yishai -
Syrian Islamist rebels near the Israeli-Syrian border on Saturday launched an offensive on the city of Baath, a town controlled by the Syrian army. The Syrian army, firing at the rebel forces, fired 10 mortar and tank shells that landed in open areas in Israel.
There were thousands of Israeli travelers in the Golan Heights when the Syrian mortars were fired, and they could have gotten hurt, which is why the Israeli response was unusually severe. The Syrian opposition says the Israeli attack was carried out by a helicopter and destroyed two tanks and a heavy machine gun post in the Quneitra area.