Hard Questions, Tough Answers (May 7, 2018) - Iran, Iran, Iran

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Yossi Alpher is an independent security analyst. He is the former director of the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies at Tel Aviv University, a former senior official with the Mossad, and a former IDF intelligence officer. Views and positions expressed here are those of the writer, and do not necessarily represent APN's views and policy positions.

This week, Alpher discusses Defense Minister Liberman's comment that "Israel has three problems: Iran, Iran, Iran"; the sense of urgency; the Iranian nuclear archive; Netanyahu's presentation; the argument that Israel is trying to goad Iran into responding militarily from Syria, thereby inviting a strong Israeli offensive against the entire Iranian deployment there; where Trump and Putin fit in; the argument that the threat is exaggerated; and Iran's awareness of all the arguments against reacting now with force against Israel and endangering its presence in Syria.

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News Nosh: May 6, 2018

APN's daily news review from Israel
Sunday May 6, 2018
 
Number of the day:
44.
--Percentage of Jewish Israelis who support an Israeli strike on Iran nuclear facilities, according to a new poll.*

Front Page:
Haaretz
Yedioth Ahronoth
  • We are on the map - Giro D’Italia turned Israel into an international site
  • A dream come true // (singer) Ivri Lider
  • My heart fills with pride // Dani Sadeh (Yedioth’s tourism reporter)
  • Expose - From the Yarkon to Jerusalem - Next week the US embassy moves to the capital. Here’s how the embassy will look when it is completed in six years from now
  • Jump of hundreds of percents in use of pain killers
  • Big-small present - At age 50, (presenter) Michal Zuaretz hugs a daughter born to a surrogate in Israel
  • Six Hamas engineers were killed in an explosion in Gaza
Maariv This Week (Hebrew links only)
Israel Hayom
  • Victory round - Tens of millions across the world watched 175 Giro D’Italia competitors pedaling across the country
  • The overriding clause is the independence clause // Dror Eydar
  • Much more than the sport // Tal Brody
  • Jerusalem - After a year of terror, sharp rise of number of pupils visiting Israel
  • Ahead of the decision on the nuclear agreement: Netanyahu and Putin will meet this week
  • Following ‘Israel Hayom’ expose: Extensive support among the right-wing for the report to legalize settlement outposts
  • Mysterious explosion in Gaza; Hamas claims: “Israel responsible for the killing of six of our men”

News Summary:
Today’s Hebrew newspapers celebrated the great international PR Israel received from hosting the Giro D’Italia bike race, which began Friday in Jerusalem  (and one anti-Netanyahu protester got arrested for trying to hang a protest sign at the race), Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will be meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin shortly before US President Donald Trump makes his decision on whether to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal - and the Israeli newspapers had numerous reports on the subject, and six Hamas engineers were killed in a ‘mysterious’ explosion making top news, making much bigger headlines than the fact that 70 people were injured from live fire in the sixth Friday of the Gazan ‘March of Return’ protests. And unlike the headlines from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas 'anti-Semitic' speech, the papers buried the fact that Abbas apologized. Yedioth put it on the next to last page.

*Following the recent attacks in Syria and ahead of Trump’s decision on the Iran nuclear deal, Yedioth called the upcoming Putin-Netanyahu meeting in Moscow a ‘summit under high tension.’ Netanyahu will reportedly try to convince Putin to take into account Israeli interests and not supply Syria’s Bashar al-Assad with the S-300 advanced missile defense system. Meanwhile, European intel delegations have arrived tin Israel o examine the documents Israel purportedly took from Iran’s nuclear archives. A Russian official said his country would become one of Tehran's most important allies if US President Donald Trump goes against the position of the Western powers, who have proposed to improve a number of clauses in the Iran nuclear deal. Former secretary of state John Kerry Met with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif in a bid to save the nuclear deal that he helped make reality when in office. And the former research chief at the IDF’s Military Intelligence, IDF Maj. Gen. (res.) Amos Gilad said it would only help Iran if the US were to exit from the nuclear deal. He told Haaretz that an American commitment to the deal remained the least bad option. But Trump's lawyer and confidant Rudy Giuliani said Trump was "committed" to regime change in Iran, taking the Israeli line that it is "the only way to achieve peace in the Middle East." And The Observer reported that in May 2017, Trump hired an Israeli spy firm to get dirt on Obama's Iran deal negotiators. Another Iranian official said that Iran was determined to reject Trump’s demands for changes to the nuclear accord, calling it ‘bullying.’ An Israeli poll found that 44% of Jewish Israelis supported an Israeli strike on Iran's nuclear facilities, 31.1% oppose a strike and 24.7% have no opinion. (The poll has other interesting information, as well.)

Meanwhile, six Hamas men were killed in what ‘Israel Hayom’ labeled a ‘mysterious’ explosion in central Gaza.  Hamas blamed Israel. [NOTE: On July 7, 2014, seven Hamas militants died in a ‘mysterious’ tunnel explosion in Khan Younis, which some reported was caused by an Israeli airstrike. Hamas responded by firing 40 rockets towards Israel. The following day, Israel launched Operation Protective Edge, the third Gaza War. - OH]


Gaza Quick Hits:
  • Palestinians Set Fires at Israel-Gaza Crossing; 70 Wounded by Israeli Fire in Border Protests - Gaza Health Ministry: Three wounded protesters in critical condition. IDF says protesters tried to breach border. 45 killed since protests started six weeks ago. (Haaretz)
  • For fear of assassination: Hamas will increase security around Ismail Haniyeh - According to a report in Asharq Al-Awsat, the Gaza terror organization has begun to reinforce the protection of visitors to Gaza. According to eyewitnesses, at least six jeeps accompany the convoy of Hamas Politburo Chief Ismail Haniyeh. (Maariv)
  • Video shows Palestinians from Gaza cut border fence, enter Israeli territory - Palestinians report six wounded, one seriously, by live fire at protests near border. Israeli army says it shot toward Palestinians who tried to damage fence. (Haaretz)
  • WATCH: Hamas fakes injuries, uses children in Gaza border protests - The IDF Spokesperson's Unit published a video from Gaza border protests that shows supposed casualty stand upright under cover of smoke, multiple children present, ushered by adults to shield them from IDF fire; Hamas 'creating false pretense, misleading international public opinion,' army accuses. (Ynet)
  • Straw bales set ablaze in latest incident of agricultural terrorism - Pile of straw set on fire at field in Kibbutz Afikim in the Jordan Valley, causing hundreds of thousands of shekels in damage; farmers call on Agriculture, Public Security ministries to take action. (Ynet)
  • As fields burn, IDF mulls using drones against incendiary kites - Palestinian demonstrators continue to launch kites fitted with firebombs from Gaza into Israel, sparking blazes near two kibbutzim. Army considers measures including using multi-rotor drones to intercept the kites or shooting at those launching them. (Israel Hayom)
  • Gaza border rioters take down 2 IDF drones on sixth week of protest - Israel's southern residents edgy about Palestinians' increased use of incendiary kites—a new primitive weapon that has so far eluded the IDF’s high tech capabilities. (Ynet)
  • Goldin family faces Gaza border riots with protest of their own - Stung by the Israeli government's continued unwillingness to use whatever means necessary to retrieve fallen Sgt. Hadar Goldin's remains from Hamas, and in light of the recently revealed Mossad operation in Iran and Gaza border protesters' derision, the Goldin family takes to the Gaza border to boost the campaign for Hadar's return. (Ynet)
  • A new solidarity flotilla on the way to the Gaza Strip, led by a Norwegian ship - The flotilla is planned to pass through ports in Sweden, Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands on its way to the Gaza coast. According to the plan, Israeli citizens who support the "lifting of the Israeli siege,” will board the ships at various stops. (Maariv)
 
Quick Hits:
  •  U.S. Embassy Move to Jerusalem 'Will Come at a Price,' Israeli Defense Chief Says - Avigdor Lieberman says 'historic, important and dramatic' decision to move U.S. embassy to Jerusalem will have a price that is 'worth paying.' (Haaretz)
  • Israel presents: How to legalize West Bank settlements built on private Palestinian land - Committee presents unprecedented recommendations to legalize thousands of homes built on privately-owned Palestinian land in West Bank settlements. (Haaretz+)
  • Gov’t Film Grants Reform Would Give More to Artists in Settlements, 'Periphery' - Panel expected to submit recommendations, including new regional foundations, to culture minister for approval. (Haaretz+)
  • Israel's top court: To visit Gaza family, Jerusalem cancer patient must prove her elderly mother can't travel - State says criteria for Israelis' entry to Gaza doesn't apply to Sa'ad Hassona, a permanent resident who wasn't seen her family in over a decade. (Haaretz+)
  • Rights group loses volunteer slots for urging IDF insubordination - After controversial human rights group B'Tselem urges IDF soldiers to refuse orders to shoot "unarmed demonstrators" on the Gaza border, national service program suspends the organization's eligibility for volunteers, saying campaign violated the law. (Israel Hayom)
  • Israeli Ministers Set to Approve Legislation to Curtail Top Court's Power - The PM won't use his veto power to postpone a vote on the bill, which would allow the Knesset to override the court's rulings, but instead seeks a compromise. (Haaretz+ and Ynet)
  • Thousands attend weekly anti-corruption protest in Tel Aviv, warn against 'Turkish-style democracy' - Protesters attend weekly rally, focusing on override power vote bill to circumvent High Court in reenacting laws struck down by it; anti-democratic measures being taken, they allege, while attention is shifted through PM Netanyahu's 'warmongering.' (Ynet)
  • 'Sad Day for Democracy': Israeli Writers Outraged at Conviction of Palestinian Poet Dareen Tatour - 'What’s more surprising is that there are still people in Israel who expect a fair trial for Palestinians ... as if Israel were still a democracy.’ (Haaretz+)
  • Arab employee claims he was fired for speaking Arabic - 21-year-old Hillal Assi from Kfar Bara says recordings prove he was discriminated against for speaking Arabic in shoe store's premises ‘in front of Jewish customers’; store chain rejects racism accusations. (Ynet)
  • Birthright co-founder says 'angry' with Israel: Netanyahu widening already dire rift with Diaspora - Jewish billionaire philanthropist Charles Bronfman suggests establishing 'reverse AIPAC' in Jerusalem with Israeli and North American groups. (Haaretz+)
  • In Facebook video, Netanyahu falsely accuses Israeli media of ignoring visit by Japan's Abe - 'Did you hear anything about it in the media?' Netanyahu asks, despite the fact that most Israeli outlets – including Haaretz – reported on the meeting. (Haaretz)
  • Abbas apologizes to 'Jewish people' for offensive comments, condemning Holocaust and anti-Semitism - ‘I have great respect for Judaism,’ said Abbas. ’Abbas is a pathetic Holocaust denier – his apology is not accepted,' Lieberman fires back. Palestinian president suggested historical persecution of Jews in Europe was caused by involvement in money-lending. (Haaretz, Maariv, Israel Hayom and Ynet)
  • Kuwait blocks U.S. Request to Condemn at UN Security Council Abbas's Remarks About Jews - Kuwait City oppo ses condemnation of the Palestinian leader, saying he already apologized and that it was one-sided; US Ambassador Haley says Security Council's failure to respond to Abbas comments 'further undermines the UN's credibility.' (Haaretz and Ynet)
  • Israeli officials reject PA leader's apology for anti-Semitic rant - Defense Minister Lieberman: Abbas should be treated as the wretched Holocaust denier he is, apology "not accepted.” (Israel Hayom)
  • Abbas re-elected as chairman of PLO exec committee - Concluding the four-day Palestinian National Council meeting in Ramallah, which was boycotted by Hamas, the 82 year old consolidates position by removing rivals from committee Friday, but leaves Israeli leaders fuming after a he made a series of anti-Semitic remarks. (Agencies, Ynet)
  • The Palestinian National Council called for reconsidering commitments to Israel - The central Palestinian body referred to relations with Israel, called for an economic boycott of "occupation products,” and reiterated its opposition to the Trump Declaration on Jerusalem. (Maariv)
  • Israel withdraws candidacy for UN Security Council seat - Israel's exit leaves just Germany or Belgium as candidates for seats at the council. (Haaretz)
  • Hamas engineer's assassins used fake Serbia, Montenegro passports, weapons found, Malaysia police say - Police say it has located the perpetrators' getaway car and the gun used in the killing of Fadi al-Batsh, a member of Hamas. (Haaretz and Ynet)
  • Exceeding Her Authority, Justice Minister Warned State Prosecutor Not to Fight ex-PM Olmert's Release - As a result, State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan changed his position and did not oppose a reduced prison sentence for ex-PM Ehud Olmert. (Haaretz+)
  • Olmert withdrew his request to erase his criminal record - because he discovered that Justice Minister would refuse - According to officials involved in the details, the former prime minister discovered that the justice minister  Shaked intends to oppose his request for pardon, and realized that he might be humiliated. (Maariv)
  • Alibaba founder tells Israeli students: 'Doesn't matter where you grew up, it's what you do' - Before receiving an honorary doctorate from Tel Aviv University, Jack Ma, the richest man in China, talks with students about education, success, growth and his company and reveals considering opening offices in Israel. (Ynet)
  • Rare coin from ancient Jewish Bar Kokhba revolt discovered in cave - The coin is believed to have been minted between the third and fourth year of the Bar Kokhba revolt. (NOTE: Coin found in the West Bank. - OH] (136-134 CE). (JPost)
  • Israel's Rabbinical Courts May Soon Have Unprecedented Power Over non-Israeli Jews - Government pushing bill that would punish foreign Jewish men who refuse to grant a divorce and would also apply to some Israelis married outside of the rabbinate. (Haaretz+)
  • Lebanon Votes in First General Election for Nine Years - Coalition consisting of major parties expected to form after vote, which is seen as unlikely to result in major changes. (Agencies, Haaretz)
  • 'Alternative for Germany party makes anti-Semitism presentable' - Official tasked with fighting anti-Semitism says far-right opposition party is challenging consensus in Germany about how to deal with Nazi past • Felix Klein says he encourages Muslim groups across Germany to take on the fight against anti-Semitism. (Israel Hayom)


Features:
Gideon Levy - The heartbreaking reason this Palestinian joined the Gaza border protests
A young father of two is hospitalized with serious injuries after being shot by Israeli soldiers during a Gaza border rally. In 2014, the IDF destroyed his home, and he was left with nothing. (Gideon Levy, Haaretz+)
The Jewish-Romani connection: Are Gypsies descendants of tribe of Simeon?
Israeli scholar creates Jewish-Gypsy Forum after discovering biblical link between Jews and Romani people. Since publishing his research findings, he says, he has been contacted by thousands of members of the Romani community, and hundreds have been flocking to Israel for meetings with the forum members. (Yaniv Pohoryles, Yedioth/Ynet)
Forget Paul Newman, this Italian port tells the real story of the Exodus
While the docks are being redeveloped, locals tell the story of the partisans who helped the Holocaust survivors and whose descendants are battling to build a memorial. (Rosie Whitehouse (La Spezia, Italy for Haaretz+)
Making water from air: Why is Netanyahu doing PR for this Israeli startup
What lies behind Prime Minister Netanyahu’s apparent support for the Mirilashvili family’s Water-Gen company, and is there any connection between that and the favorable coverage he gets from Channel 20, which the family owns? ■ Investigation. (Gur Megiddo, Haaretz+)
Moshe Dayan in drag? An artist explores the true meaning of romantic love
Ruth Patir’s video project shows the former defense minister wearing the dresses designed by his first wife’s fashion house – and somehow provides a lesson for us all. (Maya Asheri, Haaretz+)

Commentary/Analysis:
Yes, Iran lied about its nuclear capabilities. But so did Israel (Avner Cohen, Haaretz+) Netanyahu’s arrogant theatricals exposed Israel's lack of current incriminating evidence on Iran – and Israel's hypocrisy about its own nuclear capabilities.
Netanyahu is leading us to a Masada-style national suicide (MK Dov Khenin, Haaretz+) The right politics can pull the world back from the brink of disaster and open a horizon toward a safer place.
Israeli monarchy: Netanyahu has taken another step in turning us from citizens to subjects (Ben Caspit, Maariv) The new law by which the prime minister and defense minister alone can decide to go to war is nothing less than a scandal.
What's behind Netanyahu's move to grant himself power to declare war? (Yossi Verter, Haaretz+) Netanyahu finally scored an intelligence 'win' with the Iranian nuclear archive – and he used every trick in the book to make sure foreign news networks tuned in
Our hearts are burning (Avner Yona, Israel Hayom) For us in the Gaza periphery, it's always something – tunnels, bombs, snipers. Now the Palestinians are using kites to attack our fields, and by the time the fire truck arrives, the crops are lost.
Terror of Poetry (Haaretz Editorial) It's inconceivable for Dareen Tatour's poem's challenge to a policy of oppression and occupation to be considered incitement to terror.
The end of the peace process (Dr. Reuven Berko, Israel Hayom) Israel has no one to talk to on the Palestinian side. Only a solution that is forced upon the Palestinians will stabilize the region.
A.B. Yehoshua, Don't Give Up on the Two-state Solution in Our Name (Stav Shaffir, Haaretz+) Yehoshua’s plan for escaping the despair – establishing a binational federation – is the mirror image of the right thing to do.
Exonerate, Apologize and Compensate (Friday Haaretz Editorial) The state must investigate the conduct of senior officials, given the growing suspicion that they falsely accused a man, Yakoub Abu Al-Kiyan, who was shot to death by policemen.
'Court-override Bill' Does No Such Thing (Israel Harel, Haaretz+) Despite what detractors say, a proposed law is meant to rein in the judicial branch’s excessive eagerness to undermine the independence of the legislative branch.
Swaying the world in favor of good (Shlomo Cesana, Israel Hayom) The unveiling of secret Iranian materials this week was meant to convince the American public to support U.S. President Donald Trump's withdrawal from the nuclear agreement. Now that there is a strong U.S. leader, PM Netanyahu hopes Europe will help combat the ayatollahs.
Israel hopes Trump scrapping nuclear deal could ultimately lead to Iran regime change (Amos Harel, Haaretz) Israel is being cautious, enabling operations to remain below the threshold of war even though it knows it might be subjected to retaliation at some point.
Netanyahu provided Trump with another legitimacy to withdraw from the nuclear agreement (Alon Ben David, Maariv) The prime minister's presentation was intended for the American public, and it did the job there. Thanks to the presentation, Netanyahu managed to earn more points as someone who appears to be a full partner of the US president.
Don't Ridicule Netanyahu's 'Iran Lied' Speech (Yitzhak Laor, Haaretz+) Ridicule only obscures the fact that he's openly trying to help the Trump administration jump-start a mega war with Iran.
The Revolutionary Guards and the Israeli journalists have a common enemy, they call him Binyamin Netanyahu (Kalman Liebeskind, Maariv) It was difficult to distinguish, after the disclosure of the nuclear documents, between Zarif's reactions, and those of our media. It seems that there are those who are prepared for Israel to go up in Iranian flames if only they will be assured that Netanyahu will be burned first.
The sleeping Iranian beast (Dror Eydar, Israel Hayom) This week's dramatic unveiling of damning confidential Iranian material put the Iranian leadership in an uncomfortable position in the eyes of the world and Iran's own citizens • But it was Israel's own commentators who rushed to undercut the impact.
'Democtator' Netanyahu and his lonely war on the Iran nuclear deal (Chemi Shalev, Haaretz+) His decision to battle Obama’s agreement and to enlist Trump to scuttle it was made without challenge or opposition.
The same old Iran (Yoav Limor, Israel Hayom)Israel's release of secret Iranian documents proving its nefarious nuclear intentions has not convinced world powers to nix the 2015 deal. Still, with a U.S. exit looming, Iran's dire economic state can and should be leveraged  into revising the accord.
Might It Be That Netanyahu Is Right? (Nehemia Shtrasler, Haaretz+) A new accord is needed, one that will prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons forever. Our survival depends on it.
Netanyahu and Lieberman are playing with fire if they think of adopting the Trump plan (Nadav Haetzni, Maariv) The silence of the prime minister and the defense minister regarding the publication in Maariv of Trump’s peace plan (transferring control of some E. Jerusalem neighborhoods to the Palestinians - OH) raises questions: The government leadership must have made it clear publicly that there is no chance for such a disastrous plan.
From left and right, why is a league of haters descending on the ADL? (Debra Nussbaum Cohen, Haaretz+) Founded to fight anti-Semitism and racism, the Anti-Defamation League has absorbed criticism before. But the vicious tone of recent attacks - and their radically different political origins - are new.
Not every infiltration from Gaza is a failure: The IDF learns to evade Hamas's traps (Tal Lev-Ram, Maariv) In Gaza, the images of infiltration into Israeli territory will be broadcast many more times this month. We in Israel do not have to join this mayhem. This is a tactical event - no less and no more.
It is hard to remain indifferent: the lies of Abu Mazen's speech (Sefi Gabay, Maariv) It is difficult to remain indifferent to the Palestinian Authority Chairman’s denials and anti-Semitic remarks, whether intentionally or as a result of ignorance. Such as: The Jews of the Arab countries did not experience suffering and pogroms by the ruling authorities.
Dear Occupiers, Sorry if We Hurt Your Feelings (Gideon Levy, Haaretz+) Not one Israeli statesman today intends to apologize for the Nakba – not for the ethnic cleansing, nor for the exiling. But Abbas had no choice but to apologize for his Holocaust remark.
The ability to ignore Palestinian anti-Semitism was impaired, and not only because of Abu Mazen's speech (Meir Uziel, Maariv) I also very much want to believe that there is no connection between Palestinian thought of today and the murderous anti-Semitism of the Palestinian Mufti, but it is hard to accept the explanation that the PLO's Palestinians are renouncing their Nazi past.
Abbas' Holocaust Revisionism Shows His Moral Failure. But His Political Failures Are Much Worse (Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz+) Once a weak, dogmatic Holocaust revisionist autocrat, always a weak, dogmatic Holocaust revisionist autocrat. Palestinians deserve a better leader – and Israel’s moral well-being and security depends on it too.
Scent of anti-Semitism in Abbas' Speech Doesn't Change His Support for Two States (Amira Hass, Haaretz+) The president's speech before the Palestinian National Council reflected his authoritarian style and habit not to listen to criticism.
Look who finally woke up (Amnon Lord, Israel Hayom) It seems the Middle East is finally being broadcast to Manhattan, and someone at The New York Times is, at long last, starting to pay attention.
The face of Israel: a culture of ‘you can depend on me,’ a lack of taking responsibility and (almost) national grief (Shay Lahav, Maariv) Social Involvement, Secular-Religious Battles and Coexistence: The tragedy (of the ten youth killed on a hike organized by a pre-military academy) in Nahal Tsafit and the subsequent reactions were the essence of contemporary Israeliness. For bad, but also for good.
Why the world ignores Israel’s bad behavior (David Rosenberg, Haaretz+) Human rights are increasingly being shrugged off, but the world is ignoring the Palestinian plight because it wants Israeli technology.
Is Hezbollah headed for victory? (Itzhak Levanon, Israel Hayom) A worrying trend ahead of the Lebanese elections seems to indicate that Hezbollah and its allies may win an unprecedented victory, setting off significant changes in Lebanon.
Lebanese Head to the Polls Today to Decide: Will the Country Be Iranian or Arab (Zvi Bar'el, Haaretz+) Sunday’s election will be the first in Lebanon since 2009, following years during which the main political parties failed to reach understandings regarding the election system.
Prepared for APN by Orly Halpern, independent freelance journalist based in Jerusalem.

Legislative Round-Up: May 4, 2018

Produced by the Foundation for Middle East Peace in cooperation with Americans for Peace Now, where the Legislative Round-Up was conceived

  1. Bills, Resolutions & Letters
  2. Hearings & Markups
  3. On the Record

Shameless plug: Curious about what a Trump plan for Israeli-Palestinian peace might entail? He’s already issued the blueprint - read my analysis here.

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PeaceCast #40: Palestinian Security Forces

Why does the Palestinian Authority continue its security collaboration with Israel even today, when Israeli-Palestinian political relations are at an all-time low? What is the nature of this cooperation? Who are the Palestinian security forces? How sustainable is their law-enforcement and counter-terrorism assignment? How long can they continue collaborating with Israel at the absence of any progress toward a political accord between Israel and the Palestinians?

Our current episode addresses these questions with the help of two experts, Ghaith al-Omari and Neri Zilber, who just published a report on this topic.

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News Nosh: May 3, 2018

APN's daily news review from Israel
Thursday May 3, 2018
 
Quote of the day:
"If, heaven forbid, a tragic incident took place during which policemen shot to death a Jewish driver in the course of the eviction of the [Jewish] Givat Amal neighborhood, for example, Nitzan would not have allowed himself to conclude the investigation with the bottom line leaving a big question mark about the possibility that this wasn't about a victim but about a murderer."
--Haaretz reporter Gidi Weitz writes that the fact that the State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan closed the Umm al-Hiran Case, in which a Border Policeman was run over and killed by a Bedouin man who was shot to death, when he was mistakenly perceived as a threat, according to the Shin Bet, and the State Prosecutor did not clear the Bedouin math teacher, Yakoub al-Qiyan, of the Police Chief's accusations of guilt, was only because the Bedouin was a 'fourth class citizen.'*
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Action Alert: Tell Your Senators to Support Humanitarian Relief for Gaza

Urge your senators to sign the letter, being circulated by Senator Bernie Sanders, that calls for action by the Trump Administration to alleviate the humanitarian disaster in Gaza. The crisis in Gaza not only makes life virtually unlivable for the two million residents of the Gaza Strip; it also endangers Israeli security by creating a breeding ground for the radicalization of Gaza’s residents.

The letter, addressed to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, calls on the Trump Administration to:

  • restore US funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA)
  • encourage easing of restriction on movement of people, goods, and equipment in and out of Gaza, especially for water projects and health essentials
  • ensure greater electricity flow into energy-starved Gaza
  • pursue proposals to build Gaza’s economy, including the proposed Gaza Seaport

More than this is needed to address the situation in Gaza. In particular, Secretary Pompeo and the Trump Administration should take steps to bring about a political solution which would facilitate an end to the Israeli and Egyptian siege on Gaza. This letter is, at least, a positive and necessary step – and one that should be entirely uncontroversial.

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Sen. Sanders Letter on The Humanitarian Crisis in Gaza

The Honorable Mike Pompeo
Secretary of State
Department of State
Washington, DC 20520

Dear  Secretary Pompeo:

We write regarding the urgent need to alleviate the ongoing humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip. The territory’s lack of power, clean water, adequate

medical care and other necessities not only exacerbates the hardships faced by Gaza’s population, but redounds to the benefit of extremist groups who use this deprivation and despair to incite violence against Israel.

A 2012 UN report predicted that, if current trends continued, Gaza would become unlivable. A follow-up report last year said that that day might have already come. According to the Israeli human rights group B’tselem, “The coastal aquifer, which Gaza relies on as its primary water source, has been polluted by over-pumping and wastewater contamination. As a result, 96.2% of the water pumped from the aquifer and supplied for domestic use in Gaza is unsafe to drink.” According to Oxfam, this water pollution is among the factors causing a dramatic increase in kidney problems among Gaza’s population.

As Israel Defense Forces officials warned earlier this year, the humanitarian crisis increases the chances of incidents at the border fence that can turn deadly. Israeli security officials also believe conditions in Gaza could worsen to the point of a total collapse of order in the territory, leading to all-out confrontation between and among various Gazan factions and Israel.

There is much blame to go around for the horrific conditions in Gaza. Hamas – due to its ongoing repression, corruption and insistence on pursuing a violent struggle against Israel – bears significant responsibility for the deteriorating situation. While Israel withdrew its forces from within Gaza in 2005, its continuing control of Gaza’s air, sea, and northern, southern, and eastern borders, and its restrictions on the freedom of movement of people, legitimate goods and equipment in and out of Gaza, have made the humanitarian situation worse. Egypt and the Palestinian Authority must also play a more constructive role.

The United States can help avoid further conflict and bloodshed by taking and encouraging steps to improve both the quality of life for Palestinians in Gaza as well as Israeli security. As a first step, the United States should restore its funding of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA). Israeli defense officials specifically stated that U.S. withholding of UNRWA funding could worsen the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and even spark an uprising in the territory.

The United States should also encourage the easing of restrictions on the movement of people, goods and equipment in and out of the territory, especially for materials and supplies related to critical infrastructure such as water projects, and health essentials such as medicine and hospital supplies. Multiple parties should also be engaged to ensure greater electricity flow into Gaza to meet the territory’s desperate need for energy.

The United States should also put its weight behind proposals to build Gaza’s economy through bold initiatives such as the proposed Gaza Seaport. Supported by a broad range of Israeli security and cabinet officials, the new port facility could boost Gaza’s economy by vastly improving the territory’s access to goods and markets worldwide. This access to regular commerce is critical to ensuring that Palestinians in Gaza can reduce their reliance on aid and build a sustainable future for themselves.

The political and security challenges in Gaza are formidable, but support for the basic human rights of its people must not be conditioned on progress on those fronts. For the sake of Israelis and Palestinians alike, the United States must act urgently to help relieve the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip. We stand ready to work with you on this important matter.

Sincerely

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News Nosh: May 2, 2018

APN's daily news review from Israel
Wednesday May 2, 2018
You Must Be Kidding: 
"Following the "nuclear show" of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, a Likud initiative began to appeal to Nobel peace laureates living in Israel to recommend Netanyahu for the Nobel Peace Prize for his struggle against the Iranian nuclear program."**
--Maariv's Arik Bender reports on Likud activists' latest effort.**
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Netanyahu’s Claims Are Cause for Alarm; JCPOA Is the Tool to Address Them

Following claims by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Iran is violating the terms of the multilateral deal designed to prevent it from obtaining nuclear weapons, Americans for Peace Now insists that diplomacy, inspections, and verification are more vital now than ever. If anything, Netanyahu’s revelations regarding the history of Iran’s nuclear program highlight how essential the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is, providing the international community with a tool to curb Iran’s ambitions to build nuclear weapons.

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Yossi Alpher is an independent security analyst. He is the former director of the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies at Tel Aviv University, a former senior official with the Mossad, and a former IDF intelligence officer. Views and positions expressed here are those of the writer, and do not necessarily represent APN's views and policy positions.

This week, Alpher discusses the dynamics between Israel and the Eritrean/Sudanese asylum seekers, and between Israel and the Gazan refugees; the legal and moral issues in the African asylum seeker crisis; Tom Friedman's quote in the NYT:"How can Israel turn them away? But how can Israel take them all, which will only invite more, and the supply is now endless?"; how Israel is responding differently than Europe to issues with African migrants and refugees; why the confrontation with Gaza is escalating even though the numbers of dead and wounded Palestinians are decreasing from week to week; other mid-May events; and the Iranian threat from Syria.

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