News Digest — 7/14/21

UAE Inaugurates Embassy In Tel Aviv

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) opened its embassy in Israel on Wednesday (14th), with Israel’s president attending the flag-raising ceremony. 

The embassy is situated in the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange building and its opening followed the inauguration of Israel’s embassy in the UAE last month.

The UAE’s ambassador to Israel, Mohamed Al Khaja, raised his country’s flag outside the Stock Exchange building, with President Isaac Herzog at his side.

“Opening the embassy is an important milestone on our path to peace, prosperity and security in the Middle East,” said Herzog during the ceremony.  “Seeing the UAE flag proudly hoisted in Tel Aviv seemed like a distant dream a year and a half ago, while now it seems natural and legitimate.”

The UAE ambassador to Israel said: “The peoples of the region want a stable and prosperous Middle East.  It is time for new approaches and thinking of a new and better way for the future of the region.  It is our hope that the opening of the embassy will mark an important milestone in relations between the countries.” 



The First IAF International Drone Exercise

The Israeli Air Force launched an international drone exercise on Monday (12th), hosting pilots from five other countries, the IDF’s Spokesperson’s Unit said, adding the exercise has “strategic importance” because of close ties the IAF maintains with foreign counterparts.

“Blue Guardian” is the first international drone-focused military exercise ever held.  Aviation teams from the United States, Britain, Germany, Italy and France have joined the IAF for the drill, which will stretch across two weeks and see drones flying primarily over the Palmachim Airbase in central Israel.

The foreign pilots will have the chance to Fly IAF Hermes-450 unmanned aerial vehicles, the military said.

The exercise will see the teams “simulate various scenarios, including ground troop support, reconnaissance, and intelligence collection missions and cooperation with various forces in the air,” the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said in a statement.

“Israel is a pioneer in the field of UAVs,” IAF Commander Maj. Gen. Amikam Norkin said Tuesday (13th).

“This exercise presents a platform for mutual study and growth.  The exercise has national importance and influence in establishing the air force on the international level.”



European Envoys Boycotted U.S. Embassy Event Because It’s In Jerusalem

The French and German ambassadors to Israel boycotted the U.S. Embassy’s annual Independence Day celebration because the two European countries do not recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Ynet reported on Tuesday (13th).

French Amb. Eric Danon and German Amb. Dr. Susanne Wasum-Rainer reportedly opposed attending, saying the embassy is located beyond the Green Line.

The celebration held on July 7, was attended by British and Romanian envoys.  The embassies of Canada, Australia, Guatemala, Honduras, Norway and Kosovo also sent representatives.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion and other Israeli dignitaries attended as well.  The prime minister gave brief remarks.

Currently, the United States, Honduras, Guatemala and Kosovo are the only countries with embassies in Jerusalem while Malawi and Equatorial Guinea announced plans to follow suit.  All the other embassies are in the Tel Aviv area, though Turkey and a number of European countries maintain consulates or lower level missions in the capital.

The European Union and much of the world refuses to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, saying the city’s status must be agreed upon in a final Israel-Palestinian peace settlement.

The Partition Plan of 1949 approved by the UN proposed to make Jerusalem an international zone, but in 1949, David Ben-Gurion unilaterally declared Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.  He argued that Israel was no longer bound by the Partition Plan because the UN made no effort to enforce it during the War of Independence.

Ynet said the French embassy did not respond to a request for comment, while the German embassy said that “our position on the issue of Jerusalem has not changed.”

The embassy did not hold a celebration last year because of the COVID pandemic.



Report: UN Gave $40 Million To Terror-Supporting Palestinian NGOs

A report from Zionist watchdog group “Im Tirtzu” revealed Tuesday (13th) that some $40 million in funding from the UN was funneled to Palestinian NGOs that support terror and BDS, from 2016 to 2020.

All the 19 Palestinian NGOs that received UN funding support BDS, and eight of them have clear ties to Hamas or the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) terror groups, the report said.

One group which receives tens of thousands of dollars in funding from the UN, “Al Haq,” calls itself a human rights organization.

According to the report, Al Haq has ties to the PFLP, supports the Palestinian Authority’s pay-for-slay policy, which pays salaries to imprisoned terrorists and their families, and is a member of the Palestinian NGO Network (PNGO), which refused to sign an anti-terror pledge.

Another group that received over $1 million in funding, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR), has extensive ties to both Hamas and PFLP.

“Their names are innocuous and mislead people into thinking they promote human rights, but in reality they peddle malicious anti-Israel agendas,” said Eytan Meir, director of external relations and development for Im Tirtzu.

The report also charged that the UN is perpetuating a culture of obfuscation when it comes to how such funding is actually distributed.

In reports, the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) often omits “implementing partners” – namely, the bodies who are responsible for actually carrying out the tasks for which the funding was granted.

This means that radical organizations can be given funding, without accountability to ensure funds are used properly, or the name of the organization being officially recorded.

Because the US is responsible for a large portion – 22 percent – of the UN’s core funding, the country is in a unique position to cut off cash to terror-supporting Palestinian NGOs.

Citing the 2018 Taylor Force Act, which barred US funding for the PA as long as it pays salaries to terrorists, Im Tirtzu suggested that a similar policy be adopted barring the UN from Funding the PA for the same reason.

“A similar law can be implemented…which would stipulate that the US will halt its aid to the UN so long as it continues to fund propaganda organizations that have ties to terrorist groups, promote BDS, and lobby international bodies against Israel.”

“Such a law would require the UN to cut its funding of these organizations out of fear of losing funding from the US, its largest donor.”   



Ancient Coins Could Upend Theories About What Followed Roman Sack Of Jerusalem

An archaeological survey in the northeast of the Binyamin Region conducted by the Martin Szuz Department of Land of Israel Studies and Archaeology at Bar-Ilan University has turned up two rare coins at two adjacent sites.

One coin, discovered at Khirbet Jabaat, dates back to the Jewish revolt against the Romans and was minted in the year 67 CE,  One side of the coin bears a depiction of a grape leaf and the Hebrew inscription “Herut Zion” (Freedom for Zion), while the other side is imprinted with a cup and the inscription “Year Two.”  The coin is the latest Second Temple-Era find unearthed at this site, which includes mikvahs, secret tunnels, stone vessels, and burial caves.

The second coin, excavated at a site in the cliffs of Wadi Rashash, caused significant excitement among the archeologists.

Dr. Dvir Raviv, who is directing the survey, explained that the coin was the first tangible evidence that the area in question had been under the administrative control of Bar Kokhba, and might even testify to the existence of a Jewish community in the region until 134-135 CE, despite the prevailing belief that all Jewish communities to the north of Jerusalem were razed in the great revolt of the 7th decade CE and never resurrected.

One side of the coin from Wadi Rashash, which is believed to have been minted in 134-135 CE, is imprinted with a palm frond surrounded by a wreath, which itself is surrounded by the Hebrew inscription “LeHerut Yerushalayim” (To the Liberation of Jerusalem).  The other side depicts musical instruments, possibly a harp, and the name “Shimon” – the first name of the leader of the revolt against the Romans, Shimon Ben Kosevah, better known as Shimon Bar Kokhba.

The Binyamin Regional Council and the grassroots heritage preservation organization Shomrim al Hanetzach (Preserving Eternity) said in response to the discoveries that the area is full of archeological remains and antiquities, which are being robbed and destroyed by local Arabs.  The council and the organization called on the government to adopt a national emergency plan to save the sites.

Binyamin Regional Council chairman Yisrael Gantz said: “We have a national obligation to preserve these precious finds that tie us to this place.  The Israeli government must take responsibility for its heritage and prevent ethno-religious robberies and vandalism.