News Digest — 2/2/21

Kosovo Officially Forges Ties With Israel In Virtual Ceremony

Kosovo and Israel established diplomatic ties on Monday (1st) in a ceremony held digitally due to the pandemic lockdown.

Kosovo Foreign Minister Meliza Haradinaj-Stublla and her Israeli counterpart Gabi Ashkenazi held a virtual ceremony to sign the documents in their respective countries.

“Today we are making history.  We are establishing diplomatic relations between Israel and Kosovo,” Ashkenazi said.

“We mark a new chapter in the historical bond between our countries,” Hardinaj-Stublla responded in her speech.

With Monday’s (1st) agreement, Kosovo is to become just the third country after the U.S. and Guatemala to have its embassy located in Jerusalem.  It is also the first European or Muslim-majority country to do so.  Bowing to Palestinian pressure, most countries locate their embassies in Tel Aviv.

Israeli officials said Kosovo has already selected a location in central Jerusalem and is expected to open the embassy in the next two or three months.

The decision on mutual recognition between Kosovo and Israel was achieved last September as part of a summit at the White House when Kosovo Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic agreed to normalize economic ties in the presence of then-president Donald Trump.

The Trump administration recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in late 2017 and moved the US embassy there in May 2018.  Kosovo’s Parliament declared independence from Serbia in 2008, nine years after a US-led 78-day NATO airstrike campaign against Serbia to stop a bloody crackdown against ethnic Albanians in Kosovo.

Most Western nations have recognized Kosovo’s independence, but Serbia and its allies Russia and China have not.

Israel becomes the 117th country to recognize Kosovo, according to Haradinaj-Stublla.



Kushner, Friedman Nominated For Nobel Peace Prize

Former U.S. President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior advisor Jared Kushner, Trump’s special representative for international negotiations Avi Berkowitz, former U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, and former Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer have all been named candidates for the Nobel Peace Prize for their work on the historic Abraham Accords to normalize ties between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco.

The quartet was put forward for the prize by none other than acclaimed lawyer Professor Alan DershowitzDershowitz is known to have good ties with Trump and represented him in the first impeachment trial.

In his letter to the Nobel committee, Dershowitz wrote, “The Nobel Peace Prize is not for popularity.  Nor is it an assessment of what the international community may think of those who helped bring about peace.  It is an award for fulfilling the daunting criteria set out by Alfred Nobel in his will.”

Kushner said in response to his nomination that he was greatly honored.

The Nobel Peace Prize for 2021 will be awarded in October.



Terror Victim’s Husband Wants France To Know How The Palestinian Authority Uses Donations 

Approximately a month ago, Tal Menashe resident Esther Horgan was brutally murdered by a Palestinian man while out for a winter afternoon run in a grove near her home.  Now her husband Binyamin – like Esther , a French citizen – is working to convince the French government to make the money it sends to the Palestinian Authority conditional upon the PA stopping both the salaries it pays to terrorists and their families, and its anti-Israel incitement.

On Wednesday (3rd), Horgan is scheduled to take part in a Zoom meeting with French journalists and public officials organized by the Center for Near East Policy Research (CNEPR).  Horgan wants to pressure the French authorities to take action.

“We want to raise awareness among French speakers and the French authorities about the fact that the Palestinian Authority actively supports terrorism,” Horgan said.

“The goal is ultimately to stop the Palestinian Authority’s funding of terrorists, or at least establish closer oversight of the money that France and the EU sends to the PA.  The PA uses this money both to pay terrorists after the fact, and to fund incitement and violence.  This directly leads to murder,” Horgan added.

CNEPR Director David Bedein said, “We are setting up the ‘Israeli Public Council,’ which with the help of volunteers will work to achieve those goals, which Israel seems to be doing nothing about.”



Is Israel In Secret Contact With Syria? – Lt.-Col. (Res.) Dr. Mordechai Kedar

Reports have appeared about secret contacts between Israel and Syria.  On December 23, 2020, Israeli journalist Majdi Halabi, published an interview on the Arabic website Elaph with an officer of the IDF General Staff.  The officer said: “Assad brought the Iranians into Syria so they would solve the problem of ISIS and the civil war, but once ISIS was defeated…Iran, which was a big plus for Syria, turned into a burden for both Syria and Russia.”

The Syrians “need money to pay the Iranians to get out of Syria, and they want to solidify their regime.  Assad sees the reality, and he wants to forge ties with the Sunni axis so that he can pay his debts to Iran and get them out of Syria.  He sees that Israel can help him with the U.S. on the one hand and with the Gulf axis and the Sunni axis on the other.  The Russians, too, see us as a bridge to the U.S, to the Gulf, and to the Sunni axis.”

“Assad…is now prepared to talk with us so as to sure-up his rule, defray the financial debt to Iran, and create a situation of non-belligerency with Israel….The important thing is that there is a possibility of breaking up the radical axis – the Iranian axis.”

The writer, a senior research associate at the BESA Center, served for 25 years in IDF military intelligence.  (BESA Center for Strategic Studies- Bar-Ilan University)   



IDF Takes On 13 Nations In International Cyber-Defense Drill

Five teams representing various branches of the IDF recently completed a first-of-its-kind international competitive cyber drill in which they competed against nearly 60 teams from 13 other countries.

The competition, which was held last Thursday (1/28) under the auspices of the US Army’s Cyber Center of Excellence, pitted IDF personnel against each other, as well as the international teams.

With a focus on security and defense, the competition presented challenges designed to mimic real-time situations and check the teams’ ability to work under a time-crunch and cooperate.

The IDF noted that this was the first drill in which cyber defense teams from different branches of the military had worked together under the IDF’s Cyber Defense Directorate, established last year.  The goal of the new directorate is to unite all the IDF’s cyber defenses into a single, key defense element.

According to the IDF, the drill offered a challenging new training opportunity that could help keep the IDF’s cyber defense sharp.

However the IDF did not win.  The cyber laurels went to the team from Taiwan.



Israel To Honor Ethiopian Jews Who Perished In Sudan En Route To Israel

Following the normalization of ties between Israel and Sudan and the historic visit by Intelligence Services Minister Eli Cohen to the country last week, plans are in the works to commemorate the Ethiopian Jews who perished in the African country on their way to Israel.

Cohen said, “It is our national obligation to commemorate the memories of those members of the Ethiopian community who perished in Sudan while making aliyah to Israel.”

“Within the framework of the normalization deal that is currently in the works,” Cohen said, “We will act to allow families in Israel to bring their loved ones’ remains from Sudan to Israel, we will ensure the upkeep of the Jewish cemetery in Sudan, and we will act to establish a monument in their memory.”

Cohen thanked Deputy Public Security Minister Gadi Yevarkan, himself a member of Israel’s Ethiopian community, who he said had “worked on this subject and whose involvement was important for promoting the issue within the framework of the accord with Sudan.”

Yevarkan said, “This is important news for families and the Beta Israel community.  The State of Israel is committed to the memory of those who perished in Sudan, the elderly, women, and children, who gave their lives on the path to realizing the vision of the prophets, of a return to Zion.”