News Digest — 4/29/21

Israel Must Not Stand Idly By – Danny Danon

The nuclear talks in Vienna feel like a flashback.  The US administration is yet again eager to join the dangerous Iranian nuclear deal and Israel is left to wage a rear-guard battle alone.

It seems that Washington will rejoin the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, in its original form, without any changes or additions to the way it was worded in 2015 during the Obama administration.

Iran is playing a sophisticated game and is winning.  Since the 2015 nuclear deal, not only has the Islamist regime enriched uranium to a mind-boggling 60%, but it is also threatening to go up to 90% unless the US returns to the agreement as is.

The US is taking this approach instead of preventing the Islamic regime from creating a nuclear bomb in the coming decades, instead of setting up proper supervision of nuclear sites and forcing Tehran to cease its support of terrorism in the Middle East.

There is no doubt that resolving the Iranian issue through diplomatic ways is a legitimate approach.  However, such negotiations must come from a position of strength.

The Trump administration increased pressure on Tehran and applied sanctions on its economy.  In a case like this, the weak side in the negotiations is flexible and conforms to the strong side.  The United States is the great superpower of the world.  It should be the dominant side.

Israel is in contact with Washington, trying to make a case against the US reentry into the nuclear deal.  However, it seems that Americans are intent on rejoining it.  That is my impression after talking to diplomats in the US and Europe.

Meanwhile, Israel is using different means in preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons.  It is something Israel does continually, and will do so, as long as the Iranian nuclear threat persists.

If the US does rejoin the nuclear deal, we cannot let it deter us.  When the world embraced Iran in 2015, Israel stood its ground and warned the international arena of the impending danger and that the Tehran government was a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

Just like we did then, we must also now assume the duty of standing up for the truth.  We shall not hesitate to tell the world that the Iranian nuclear agreement is a threat not only to Israel but to the entire world. The Jewish State, in turn, will do what is needed to protect its citizens.



Moment Of Truth: Israeli Police Call For Reinforcements, Fearing Renewed Arab Rioting

Israeli police are readying reinforcements ahead of what is expected to be a tense weekend in the Old City of Jerusalem, Israel Hayom reported Wednesday (28th).

“Hundreds of policemen, some of them reinforcements from other districts, will be deployed on Friday morning (30th) in the Temple Mount area and in the alleys of the Old City to maintain order and allow freedom of worship,” Israel Hayom reported.

Arabs have rioted since mid-April with most of the violence focused around the Damascus Gate.  Arabs said they were protesting the fact that Israeli police had set up barricades on steps near the gate to prevent people from congregating after Iftar, the traditional meal breaking the day-long fast that Muslims observe for a month during Ramadan.

Israeli police have since removed the barricades.

However, the barricades might just be a pretext as Arabs have a long history of violence during Ramadan.  They have clashed with police in Jerusalem many times, including 2019, 2017 and 2016.

Last weekend was particularly violent as Arabs rioted on Thursday, (22nd) Friday (23rd) and Saturday night (24th).  Late Friday (24th), dozens of Palestinians marched toward an entrance to the walled Old City of Jerusalem and threw rocks and other items at officers.

Israeli police have cracked down on the rioters in an attempt to regain control of the situation.  

On Sunday (25th), police said they had arrested 17 people suspected of involvement in the violent clashes between Arabs and Jews in Jerusalem that began on April 13, the start of Ramadan.

Senior police officials say that this Friday (30th) will be a “test” of whether the calm holds that began Tuesday (27th).  However, police intelligence estimates there is a chance of violence after Friday night (30th) prayers.

Assuming they pass Friday’s test, the next day police are concerned about is Jerusalem Day, which begins on the evening of May 9.  It is an Israeli national holiday and celebrates the reunification of the city after the Six Day War.  Israelis celebrate by typically marching through a heavily Arab part of the Old City in a large procession.  Again, the event will be heavily guarded.



Hamas Would Win PA Elections, New Poll Finds

Hamas would win by a landslide in the Gaza Strip if Palestinian Authority (PA) elections were held this week, The Jewish Press reported on Wednesday (28th).  The win would be similar to the last time elections were held in 2006.

The survey by the Atlas Center, translated by Abu Ali Express, finds Hamas taking nearly double the vote as Fatah, which controls the PA.

The results of the survey:

Hamas: 32.4%; Fatah: 17.2%.

The survey polled 1,056 people in Gaza between April 19 and April 22.

Fatah worries that Hamas is also more popular in areas under its control in Judea and Samaria.  A September 2020 opinion poll by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research showed the head of Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh, would win a majority of the public vote.

Sixty-two percent said they wanted Palestinian head Mahmoud Abbas out and were dissatisfied with the PA’s handling of just about everything ranging from the economy to the coronavirus.

Reports say it is likely that Fatah will delay legislative elections scheduled for May 22, fearing that Hamas will win.



European Parliament Condemns UNRWA Textbooks

The European Parliament on Wednesday (28th) adopted a resolution condemning the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) for teaching hate and violence in Palestinian Authority (PA) schools, i24NEWS reported.

The resolution expresses concern “about the hate speech and violence taught in Palestinian school textbooks and used in schools by UNRWA” and insists that financial aid be conditioned on the removal of educational materials that promote hatred and incitement to violence.

“This is a really important step in the fight to prevent UNRWA from inciting many thousands of children every school-day to violence, extremism and anti-Semitism,” said Marcus Sheff, CEO of IMPACT-se, a non-profit organization that monitors the content of school books.

The legislation passed despite lobbying efforts against it by UNRWA and the PA, including by PA cabinet leader Mohammad Shtayyeh, who appeared before the parliament’s Committee of Foreign Affairs a week before the vote.

Created in 1949, UNRWA supplies aid to more than three million of the five million registered “Palestinian refugees” in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and territories assigned to the Palestinian Authority.

However, it is also notorious for its anti-Israel activities.  During the 2014 Counterterrorism Operation Protective Edge, Hamas rockets were discovered inside a school building run by UNRWA.

Likewise, a booby-trapped UNRWA clinic was detonated, killing three IDF soldiers.  Aside from the massive amounts of explosives hidden in the walls of the clinic, it was revealed that it stood on top of dozens of terror tunnels showing how UNRWA is closely embedded with Hamas.

The US, which was previously UNRWA’s largest contributor, cut a full $300 million in funding to the agency in 2018, when Donald Trump was president.  However, the Biden administration recently announced it intends to resume aid to UNRWA as well as other aid to the Palestinian Authority which was suspended by the Trump administration because of its “pay for slay” policies.



Israel Fights Back As US State Department Issues Travel Warnings Despite Covid Success

Israel is fighting back and telling Americans it’s safe to visit Israel, a Tourism Ministry official told World Israel News Wednesday (28th), after the US State Department issued a travel advisory about “a high level of COVID-19” in Israel, a warning that appeared detached from reality.

On Tuesday (27th), the State Department actually lowered its travel alert for Israel from level 4 to level 3, but at the same time advised Americans to “reconsider travel” due to “a high level of COVID-19 in the country – even though Israel has been gaining accolades for its national vaccination campaign that has dropped infections to record low levels and allowed the economy to reopen.  

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is communicating with the State Department and CDC,” to try and get a correction, Eyal Carlin, the Ministry’s Tourism Commissioner for North America, told WIN just before boarding a flight to Los Angeles at Ben Gurion Airport.

The State Department advisory came the day before the Tourism Ministry announced the launch of a new global campaign to encourage foreign tourists who have been vaccinated or have recovered from the coronavirus to visit Israel.

Carlin said the ministry is working in the US to encourage Americans to visit Israel, talking to travel industry representatives, Christian leadership and Jewish organizations and forums.  A major campaign for tourism is also being launched in New York’s Times Square.

On Tuesday (27th), Tourism Minister Orit Farkash-Hacohen announced a campaign to encourage tourists from countries with high vaccination rates, including the US and Britain, to visit Israel.

“Israel today is a world leader in safety and health, and we will make sure every potential tourist knows this when planning their summer or winter vacation,” Farkash-Hacohen said.

“We cannot miss this opportunity – and, as minister of tourism, I won’t”

According to the CDC, 97 million Americans – almost 30% of the country – have already been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus and are eligible to visit Israel.  That number is expected to increase significantly by the summer travel season.