News Resources – In Depth Look at Israel and the Middle East

MiddleEastCountries Highlights: Israel Condemns new EU guidelines, China-Russian Block, Palestinian Response to Syria and Egypt, Iran Naval Strategy, Hizbullah updates.

 

  • Israel Condemns New EU Guidelines that Ban Cooperation Beyond Pre-1967 Lines
    Israel’s deputy foreign minister Zeev Elkin condemned a new EU directive banning dealings with Israeli settlements as counterproductive to peace talks. From 2014, Israeli authorities must guarantee that all EU funding and cooperation projects are conducted within Israel’s pre-1967 border and not in east Jerusalem, the West Bank or Golan Heights. (AP-Washington Post)
    See also EU Bars Cooperation with Jewish Settlements in West Bank – Barak Ravid
    The EU has published a binding directive to all 28 member states forbidding any funding, cooperation, awarding of scholarships, research funds or prizes to anyone residing in the Jewish settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem. The regulation, which goes into effect on Friday, requires that any agreement or contract signed by an EU country with Israel include a clause stating that the settlements are not part of the State of Israel. A senior Israeli official responded, “We are not ready to sign on this clause in our agreements with the European Union.”  (Ha’aretz)
    See also Israel: New EU Directive Shows “How Disconnected” Europe Has Become – Gavriel Fiske
    Regional Development Minister Silvan Shalom said the new EU directive underlined “how disconnected” Europe has become from the realities of the Middle East and that its policies proved Europe could not play an effective role in Israeli-Palestinian diplomacy. Officials questioned whether implementation of the EU directive would prove near-impossible, and ultimately have little effect on the ground. (Times of Israel)
  • Russia, China Block UN Condemnation of Iran Sanctions Violations – Louis Charbonneau
    Russia, backed by China, has refused to declare Iran’s missile tests last year a violation of UN sanctions, as a UN Panel of Experts on Iran had said was the case. That division effectively rules out any expansion of sanctions against Tehran over the missile tests for the time being, UN envoys said.
    A Chinese delegate said: “We are not in favor of increased new pressure or new sanctions against Iran.” U.S. Ambassador Rosemary DiCarlo said: “We’re disappointed that the (Iran sanctions) committee was unable in this case to state the obvious….There is nothing ambiguous about the ban imposed by the Security Council on such…missile launches.”  (Reuters-Chicago Tribune)

News Resources – Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israel Allows Two More Egyptian Infantry Battalions into Sinai – Avi Issacharoff and Ricky Ben-David
    Israel on Monday gave permission for Egypt to deploy two more infantry battalions in Sinai, raising Egyptian force levels to 11 infantry battalions, as well as a tank battalion and assault helicopters. The reinforcements are part of the first truly effective Egyptian operation against Sinai terror groups, an informed source in Jerusalem said Monday.
    Earlier Monday, at least three people were killed and 17 wounded in northern Sinai when terrorists fired rocket-propelled grenades at a bus carrying workers to a cement factory in El-Arish. (Times of Israel)
  • Palestinians Protest Against Normalization with Israel – Khaled Abu Toameh
    Palestinians demonstrated outside PLO headquarters in Ramallah on Monday, where they condemned recent meetings between PLO officials and Israeli politicians as a form of normalization with Israel. The protesters chanted, “Normalization is destructive.”  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Palestinian Convicted of Stabbing Murder of Israeli – Yonah Jeremy Bob
    The Samaria Military Court on Sunday convicted Salam al-Zaghal of the murder of Evyatar Borovsky, a father of five, at the Tapuah junction in the West Bank in April. In the attack, Zaghal came up from behind Borovsky, stabbed him in the chest and stomach, and stole his firearm. A Border Police officer who witnessed the attack opened fire on the terrorist and wounded him. (Jerusalem Post)

Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Arab Economic Aid Helps Egypt Avoid Reforms – Jonathan Tepperman
    Barely a week after Mohamed Morsi, Egypt’s (Qatari-backed) president, was ousted by the military, Saudi Arabia swooped in and blessed the new regime with a $5 billion check (followed promptly by the UAE and Kuwait, which together kicked in another $7 billion). However, this meddling is more likely to hurt than help. Egypt certainly needs outside aid, but the kind it’s getting seems sure to make things worse.
    After all, Morsi, despite his epic incompetence, managed to hold on as long as he did in large part thanks to $8 billion in aid he got from Qatar over his year-long tenure. Now the Saudis’ gift will similarly help his replacements stay afloat. But it will also allow the new government to avoid the painful but desperately needed spending reforms the International Monetary Fund was insisting on. The writer is managing editor of Foreign Affairs. (New York Times)
  • The U.S. Should Not Suspend Aid to Egypt’s Army – Aaron David Miller
    Beginning in the early 1980s, the U.S. cut a devil’s bargain with Hosni Mubarak’s (or Anwar Sadat’s) Egypt. In exchange for Egypt’s continuing its peace treaty with Israel and supporting other U.S. policies in the region, the U.S. gave Mubarak a broad pass on human rights and political reform and solidified the deal with aid. And now, when Egypt has a real chance to build a better political system over time, should the U.S. get tough with the only institution in Egypt that can guarantee some measure of stability during a critical moment?
    No matter how you try to rationalize it away, the Egyptian military removed a democratically elected government. But there’s also an Egyptian reality that matters more. This coup was energized not by a clique of power-crazed generals eager to govern Egypt, but by a wave of popular anger against the incompetent, exclusive Muslim Brotherhood, which was taking the country in the wrong direction. The military was following, not leading, the people’s desire for a do-over.
    The very last thing the U.S. needs right now is to be seen as punishing the Egyptian Army, because many Egyptians see its actions as an expression and agent of the popular will. By pressing the military, the U.S. is in effect opposing the public’s mandate. The writer is a distinguished scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. (Foreign Policy)
  • Iranian Naval and Maritime Strategy – Christopher Harmer
    Iran’s maritime forces, the Islamic Republic of Iran Navy (IRIN) and the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Navy (IRGCN), have taken a number of distinct actions that reflect Iran’s broad, strategic ambitions. First, Iran has reprioritized some of its local maritime exercises towards solidifying or expanding territorial claims in the Persian Gulf, Strait of Hormuz, and Caspian Sea. Second, IRIN has significantly increased its long-range deployments in support of strategic relationships with key partners.
    The writer, a senior naval analyst with the Middle East Security Project, served for twenty years as a career officer in the U.S. Navy, including as deputy director of future operations at the U.S. Navy Fifth Fleet in Bahrain. (Institute for the Study of War)

Observations:

Israel Has Launched Long-Shot Attacks Before – Daniel Nisman (Wall Street Journal)

  • Last week, Israel’s outgoing ambassador to the U.S., Michael Oren, compared Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s willingness to use military force to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons to the challenge faced by former Prime Minister Levi Eshkol in May 1967.
  • On June 5, 1967, Eshkol sent most of Israel’s air force into Egypt for a surprise preemptive attack, which left less than a dozen planes to defend the entire homeland. In the six days that followed, Israel defeated multiple threatening Arab armies, changing the face of the Middle East to this day.
  • Since the Six-Day War, successive Israeli leaders have signed off on daring operations after becoming convinced that even their staunchest allies would not come to their assistance. These include the 1976 hostage rescue in Entebbe, Uganda; the bombing of Saddam Hussein’s Osiraq nuclear reactor in 1981; and the attack to spoil Bashar al-Assad’s own nuclear ambitions in 2007, to name a few.
  • Netanyahu views Iran as an existential threat comparable to the Nazi Holocaust. Sources close to the prime minister assert that he keeps in his desk drawer World War II-era letters from the U.S. War Department, which decline requests to bomb gas chambers at Auschwitz.
  • On July 14, Netanyahu commenced a widespread public and back-channel diplomacy campaign to re-rally Israel’s allies to commit to both a convincing military threat and additional economic sanctions against Iran.
  • Many Israeli pundits, as well as Oren himself, have compared Netanyahu’s diplomatic push to Eshkol’s last-ditch efforts to convince Washington of the existential threats posed by Arab nations in the weeks before June 5, 1967.

In-Depth Issues:

U.S. Fears Iran Will Secretly Develop Nuclear Bomb – Shlomo Cesana (Israel Hayom)
The U.S. is concerned that Iran would be able to deceive the West and develop a nuclear weapon “under the radar,” and it is no longer certain that it would be able to learn of Ayatollah Khamenei’s intentions to that effect ahead of time.
A senior Western source told Israel Hayom on Sunday that Tehran’s accelerated uranium enrichment efforts and its multiple secret enrichment sites were cause for concern.


New Israeli Gas Field Contains Crude Oil – Hezi Sternlicht (Israel Hayom)
Israel’s new Karish offshore gas field northwest of Haifa has reserves of 12.7 million barrels of condensate – a crude oil used for fuel production – in addition to 1.8 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, it was announced Sunday.
The value of the condensate found in Karish is estimated at $1-1.3 billion.


Saudi Airlines Discriminates Against Israelis in U.S. – Beth Defalco (New York Post)
Saudi Arabian Airlines is discriminating against Israeli citizens by refusing to fly them from U.S. airports – even when passengers are simply looking to transfer in Saudi Arabia to another country.
The airline’s Web site asks for citizenship to book a ticket but has no option for anyone holding an Israeli passport.
“Israeli citizens are being discriminated against right here at JFK. It’s not only illegal; it’s an affront to who we are,” said New York City Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, who is demanding an end to the practice.
U.S. Federal law says an “air carrier or foreign air carrier may not subject a person in air transportation to discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex or ancestry.”


Hizbullah: An Interactive Report (Israel Defense Forces)
A terror organization has 60,000 rockets aimed at your country, putting the lives of every one of your citizens in danger.
What would you do?


Baptist Pastor in Bethlehem Recognizes Jewish Rights in Israel – Fran Waddams (Jerusalem Post)
During a recent visit I met Baptist Pastor Naim Khoury in Bethlehem. He insists that Palestinian Christians are obliged to love all their neighbors, Muslim and Jew, and that the Jews’ right to live unhindered on the land promised to them by God is clearly set out in the Bible.
As a result of his courage, Pastor Khoury is shunned by fellow Christians, his church has had its right to conduct marriages and baptisms withdrawn by the Palestinian Authority, his church has been bombed 14 times, and he was once shot.
Nevertheless, his Arab congregation numbers in the hundreds, the largest in the territories.
The writer is a leader in Anglican Friends of Israel.