News Digest — 2/4/20

Kushner To Brief UN Security Council On Peace Plan

Just days before Palestinian Authority (PA) leader Mahmoud Abbas is to arrive in New York for a UN Security Council discussion on President Donald Trump’s ‘Deal of the Century,’ Trump senior adviser Jared Kushner is to brief the council on the U.S. plan behind closed doors, according to diplomatic sources cited by AFP.

Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and considered the main force in formulating the plan, is to bring the security council up to speed and receive feedback from the other 14 member countries, according to the report.

There is no indication whether Israel, which is not a member of the council, will attend.

As for the Abbas meeting that is to take place days later, Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon issued a statement on Saturday (1st), saying that “the Palestinian delegation is preparing a resolution that would condemn Trump’s plan, though it is likely to be vetoed by the United States.  According to the peace plan, the U.S. will veto any condemnation of the plan and prevent any attempt to impose sanctions on Israel.”

The Israeli ambassador’s office said that “Danon is currently meeting with his counterparts on the Security Council to enlist their support for the joint U.S.-Israeli action and to prevent support for any Palestinian declarations of protest.”

Tunisia, a non-permanent member of the council, reportedly would submit a resolution on behalf of the Palestinians.

Ambassador Danon vowed to work to ensure that the international community will “recognize the reality that Abbas is the only one objecting to peace at the council table.”



Israeli PM Meets Top Sudan Leader In Uganda

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday (3rd) he had met with Gen. Abdel- Fattah Burhan, the head of Sudan’s sovereign council, and that they had begun the process of normalization.

“We agreed to begin cooperation that will lead to normalization of relations between the two countries,” Netanyahu tweeted.  “History.”

In recent years Netanyahu has pushed to improve ties with African countries that have had cool relations with Israel over the conflict with the Palestinians.  Sudan is keen to escape the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism as it struggles to rebuild its economy following the popular uprising that toppled Omar al-Bashir last year.

Netanyahu arrived in Uganda on Monday (3rd) saying his country is “returning to Africa in a big way” and urging the East African country to open an embassy in Jerusalem.

Before departing Israel, Netanyahu spoke of “very important diplomatic, economic and security ties that will yet be told about.”  He said that at the end of his visit to the East African nation he hopes to “have very good news” for Israel.

The Israeli leader was welcomed by Uganda’s prime minister at the international airport in Entebbe, where Netanyahu’s brother Yonatan was fatally struck by a bullet as he led Israeli commandos in a daring mission to rescue hijacked Israeli passengers in 1976.  Israel’s success in the raid humiliated then-Ugandan President Idi Amin, under whose rule Israel closed its embassy in Uganda.

Netanyahu, who was accompanied by his wife Sara, held a meeting with Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and other officials.  In a news conference later on Monday (3rd), Netanyahu said he would open an embassy in Kampala, the Ugandan capital, if Museveni established one in Jerusalem.  The Ugandan leader responded by saying his government is studying the matter.

Israel has long-courted African support, in exchange for its expertise in security and other fields.  Israel wants African states to side with it at the UN General Assembly, which overwhelmingly recognized Palestine as a non-member observer state in 2012.

Reports in Israel in recent years have suggested it might normalize diplomatic relations with several Muslim countries in Africa.  Israel renewed diplomatic relations with Guinea in 2016. After Netanyahu visited Chad for a renewal of ties in 2019, it was reported that Israel was working to formalize ties with Sudan.



463,901 Jews Living In Judea And Samaria

The total number of Israelis living in Judea and Samaria rose to 463,901 by the end of 2019, according to a report released by the Yesha Council, the umbrella organization representing Israeli towns in the area.

By the close of 2019, fifty-two years since the area came under Israeli control during the 1967 Six Day War, the population in Judea and Samaria’s nearly 150 Israeli towns surpassed 450,000, rising to 463,901, with a total annual net growth rate of 3.4%.

While that figure is lower than the average growth rate in Judea and Samaria over the past decade (4.1%), it represents an increase over 2018 and marks the end of a decline in the Israeli growth rate in the area.

Since 2012, the annual growth rate in Judea and Samaria has declined, falling from 4.7% in 2012 to 3.0% in 2018.

In 2019, the Israeli population of Judea and Samaria rose by 15,229, compared to a rise of 12,964 in 2018.

Over the last decade, the population has increased by a total of 151,263, representing a 48% increase.

Four Israeli cities in Judea and Samaria – Modiin Illit, Beitar Illit, Maale Adumim, and Ariel – made up 43% of the total Israeli population in the area, with 202,177 residents total.

Last week, a separate report of the Israeli population in Judea and Samaria was released by former National Union MK Yaakov Katz.  Titled the “West Bank Jewish Population Stats” report, this study found there were 463,353 Israelis living in Judea and Samaria, as of January 1st, and included a breakdown of the population by region and town.



Palestinians Are The Only Stateless People Who Turned Down Repeated Offers Of Statehood – Steve Frank

Although the new U.S. Peace proposal is unlikely to achieve its purported goal, it is useful because it underscores certain facts.  The Palestinians never will accept the existence of a Jewish state in what they consider to be “historic Palestine,” which includes present-day Israel.  If there was any doubt about that, just listen to the Palestinians’ present-day chant for the “liberation of Palestine, from the river to the sea” (from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea, including both the West Bank and all of Israel).

The Encyclopedia of the Stateless Nations cites the claims for statehood of over 350 stateless peoples.  Many are ancient peoples who have had their own separate identities for centuries, including 45 million Kurds, 6 million Tibetans, 70 million Tamils in southern India, 30 million Igbos in Nigeria, 30 million Sikhs in India, 10 million Ahwazi Arabs in Iran, the Basques, and the Catalans.

The elevation of the Palestinian narrative is especially anomalous given that, unlike other stateless people, the stateless status of the Palestinians is largely self-inflicted.  They are the only stateless people who have turned down repeated offers of statehood and independence over the last hundred years.

They are also the only stateless people who have repeatedly and routinely turned to indiscriminate violence and terrorism in pursuit of their goals.  The Kurds, Tibetans and other stateless peoples have never turned their call for statehood into an excuse for murder.

The writer served for 30 years as an appellate lawyer with the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington.



Netanyahu’s New Plane Gets Anti-Missile Protection System

One more step towards operational acceptance of the new aircraft of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: the Boeing 767 that was assembled on the Israel Aerospace Industries line at Ben-Gurion Airport took off Thursday morning (1/30) for its third test flight.

Over the last few days, the Israeli-developed Infra-Red CounterMeasure Anti-Missile System, DIRCM, was installed onboard the aircraft indicating that the installation of most of the defense and avionic systems had already been completed.

Last week the DIRCM system was spotted onboard the official aircraft of the President of France Emmanuel Macron when arriving in Israel to attend the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp.

The system that was developed by Elbit Systems ISTAR division, integrates fiber laser with thermal detection technology generating strong counter signals that force heat-seeking missiles to divert off target.  The system detects missiles launched in a fraction of a second and directs a laser beam to the head of the missile.

Elbit Systems has secured NIS 2.5 billion in contracts to supply these systems in international markets.  The systems by Elbit are installed onboard fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters in 15 countries around the globe.

The DIRCM system was installed onboard the airplanes of the Israeli commercial airliners – El Al, Arkia, and Israir – by a directive of defense authorities following the failed attempt by Al Qaeda associated operatives in 2002 to shoot down an Arkia flight using two shoulder-fired missiles.

The new aircraft of the prime minister, that was named “Wing of Zion” conducted its first flight test in November 2019.