News Digest — 10/19/22

Gantz Reaffirms Israel Will Not Sell Weapons To Ukraine

Defense Minister Benny Gantz reaffirmed Tuesday evening (18th) that Israel does not intend to sell arms to Ukraine to fend off the Russian invasion of the country hours after the Ukrainian foreign minister said Kyiv would appeal for military help from Jerusalem.

“I want to make it clear that we did not sell weapons to Ukraine.  We gave them medical and humanitarian aid.  It should be clear, we didn’t sell them weapons,” he told conservative broadcaster Kol Chai Radio.

Gantz’s remarks come a day after Russia’s former president and current deputy chairman of the country’s Security Council Dmitry Medvedev said that “Israel appears to be getting ready to supply weapons to the Kyiv regime,” a move he dubbed as “very reckless.”

This warning apparently followed a Twitter post by Diaspora Affairs Minister Nachman Shai in which he said “the time has come for Ukraine to receive military aid [from Israel] as well, just as the US and NATO countries provide,” following reports Iran is preparing to transfer surface-to-surface ballistic missiles to Russia.

Meanwhile, opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday (18th) voted “rare support” for the policies of the Israeli government in regard to the Russo-Ukrainian war.

In an interview with MSNBC to promote his new book, Netanyahu was asked about claims Israel has not done enough to support Ukraine.

“I’m the opposition leader and in two weeks I’ll replace this government, I hope – although nothing is guaranteed – but on this one, I think they’re taking a prudent policy…” he said.

In his answer, Netanyahu mentioned Israel’s accepting many refugees from Ukraine, “Jews and non-Jews” as he put it, the construction of a field hospital in Ukraine at the beginning of the war and additional humanitarian aid provided by Israel to Kyiv.

As for selling weapons systems to Ukraine, Netanyahu said that “there’s always a possibility, and this happens time and again, that weapons that we supplied in one battlefield, end up in Iranian hands used against us.”

While Israel has condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine and provided Kyiv with humanitarian relief, it has stopped short of also providing military support citing concern for continued cooperation with Moscow over next-door Syria.

Meanwhile, Ynet learned on Tuesday (18th) that Prime Minister Lapid will hold a phone conversation with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on Thursday (20th) in which Kyiv’s top diplomat will present his country’s official request for military support.

Earlier Tuesday (18th), Kuleba said that Kyiv would send an official note to Israel seeking immediate air defense supplies and cooperation as Ukraine faces a series of suicide drone attacks by Russia.  The Ukrainians claim the “kamikaze” drones were supplied to Moscow by Iran.

Kuleba also added that he was submitting a proposal to President Volodymyr Zelensky to formally cut diplomatic ties with Tehran.

An Israeli security official told Ynet that he does not believe that such a move would work out in the near future despite Israel’s sympathy with the plight of the Ukrainian people and the desire to help them.



Hamas Officials To Visit Syria For First Time Since 2012

“A Hamas delegation is expected to arrive in Syria on Wednesday (19th) in the first visit of its kind in 10 years,” Hazem Qassem, a spokesperson for the Gaza-based group announced on Tuesday (18th).

The delegation will be headed by Khalil al Hayya, a senior Hamas official who heads the group’s Bureau for Arab and Islamic Relations, Qassem said.

The visit marks the resumption of relations between Hamas and Syria after the crisis that erupted between the two sides shortly after the beginning of the Syrian civil war.

The crisis was triggered by Hamas’ refusal to support the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad in the conflict with the opposition parties.

Several Hamas leaders left Syria for Qatar and the Syrian authorities closed the group’s offices in Damascus.

Last month, Hamas announced its intention to restore its relations with Syria “to serve the interests of our people and their just causes, particularly the Palestinian causes, in light of regional and international developments.”

Hamas stressed its support for the “unity of Syria’s people and territory, as well as its security and stability.”  It also expressed appreciation for the role of the Syrian leadership and people in supporting the Palestinians.

The Hamas announcement which has been criticized by Syrian opposition groups and Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated groups and figures in the Arab world, paved the way for reconciliation between the group and the Syrian regime.

In addition to the Hamas delegation, representatives of several other radical Palestinian factions, including the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), and the Palestinian Liberation Front are also scheduled to participate in the meetings with Syrian officials in Damascus.

Palestinian sources said that the faction representatives will also hold talks with Assad during their stay in the Syrian capital.

The sources said that Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah and Iran played a major role in brokering the reconciliation between Hamas and Syria.  The Hamas-Syria rapprochement is seen in the context of Iran’s efforts to bolster the anti-Israel “axis of resistance.”



Committee Approves Appointment of Herzi Halevi As Chief of Staff

The Advisory Committee for Senior Appointments for Public Service on Tuesday afternoon (18th) approved the appointment of Maj.-Gen. Herzi Halevi to the position of IDF Chief of Staff.

Though the approval paves the way for Halevi to replace current Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi, who is set to retire in January, his candidacy still needs to be brought to the government for approval.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz said he welcomed the approval by the committee and said that he would try to hold the vote during the upcoming cabinet meeting this Sunday (23rd).  He added that Israel is “faced with various challenges” and that the “IDF needs stability” and “continuous force-building and continuous presence of those with vast experience.”

“I have no doubt that Maj.-Gen. Herzi Halevi will continue the processes led by Chief of Staff Kochavi and will continue to advance the readiness of the IDF and the defense capabilities of Israel,” Gantz said.

The 54-year-old Halevi was drafted in 1985 into the Paratroopers Brigade and later served in the elite Sayeret Matkal General Staff Reconnaissance Unit before beginning to command it in 2001.  He became the Deputy Chief of the General Staff in July 2021.   

Halevi was tapped by Gantz as the 23rd Chief of Staff of the IDF in September.

Halevi holds a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and business administration from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and a master’s degree in national resource management from the National Defense College in the United States.

Halevi is a married father of four who lives in the West bank settlement of Kfar HaOranim.



Palestinians Laud Australia’s Stance Of Canceling Jerusalem As Israel’s Capital  

The Palestinians on Tuesday (18th) welcomed Australia’s decision to cancel its recognition of West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

The Palestinian Authority Foreign Affairs Ministry praised the decision, calling it a “positive correction of Australia’s position.”

The ministry also praised Canberra’s call for implementing the two-state solution.  It urged the Australian government to go a step further and recognize a Palestinian state.

PLO Secretary-General Hussein al-Sheik also lauded the Australian announcement on Jerusalem, saying it was in “accordance with “international legitimacy.”

Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad also welcomed the Australian decision, describing it as a “victory for the Palestinian cause and narrative.” 



Hysteria Greets UK Prime Minister Truss’ Proposed Embassy Move To Jerusalem – Melanie Phillips

→ Prime Minister Liz Truss has said she wants to move the British embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.  When former US President Donald Trump similarly proposed moving the American embassy, critics predicted the outcome of such a move would be Armageddon.  The entire Arab world would rise up in fury.  The relocation of the embassy would destroy the cause of peace.

→ None of this occurred.  Instead, the precise opposite took place.  The embassy was moved in May 2018.  In September 2020, the historic Abraham Accords were signed between Israel and the Gulf states, a development that did more to advance the cause of peace between Israel and the Arabs than anything else in the previous century.

→ Yet Truss’ aspiration has provoked similar hysteria in Britain.  The foreign policy establishment, along with the usual Israel-bashing suspects, have gone into meltdown, as if the whole experience of the US embassy move never happened.

→ The real reason for the objection is the foreign policy establishment’s obsessional and misguided belief that Israel isn’t entitled to claim Jerusalem at all.  This is because, in the 1947 Partition Plan, Jerusalem was designated as a corpus separatum under a special international regime to be administered by the UN.  But the idea that this status for Jerusalem is currently authoritative is absurd, because the entire Partition Plan was rejected by the Arabs.

→ As international law professor Eugene Kontorovich has written, the key doctrine under international law that determines the borders of a state is uti possidetis juris (“as you possess under law”).  According to this principle, Israel’s borders at the moment of independence were the borders of Mandatory Palestine – which included all of Jerusalem as well as Judea and Samaria.  He wrote that the Partition Plan, rejected by the Arabs, “was never implemented and did not in fact result in a partition of the Mandate.”

→ The only reason this century-old conflict continues is that the Palestinian Arabs have repudiated the two-state solution.  They have refused repeated offers of a state of their own, because their goal is not a Palestinian state but the eradication of the Israeli one.  Britain and other western countries have refused to recognize the Palestinians’ real agenda, providing them instead with funding, training and diplomatic recognition.

→ In other words, Britain and the rest of the West have incentivized, rewarded and perpetuated the war against Israel.  Moving the embassy would be signaling an end to the shameful British capitulation to the Palestinians’ lies and blackmail.

The writer is a columnist for The Times – UK.