News Digest — 8/14/20

The Skies Open: These Are The Countries To Which Israel Can Fly

The Coronavirus Cabinet decided Thursday night (13th) that Israeli citizens will be able to fly to Greece, Croatia and Bulgaria, without the obligation of entering isolation when they land back in Israel.  The Cabinet will examine adding Cyprus and Hungary to the list in the coming days.

The ministers also confirmed that Israelis with European passports will not be required to isolate upon returning from some countries, including Hong Kong, Germany, Britain, Italy, Lithuania, New Zealand, Canada, Denmark and Austria – all which are green countries.

Israel is considered by the EU as a country at risk – ‘red’ – and therefore most countries still refuse to accept Israeli tourists into their territory.

Earlier, it was confirmed that Israelis will be allowed to enter four destinations in Greece, including the capital Athens, with the number arriving at each destination at 600 per week, as agreed by Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi and Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias.

Kan News reported that the four places Israelis are permitted to travel are Athens, Crete, Thessaloniki and Corfu.  The Israir and Aegean airlines will operate and direct the majority of flights.

At the entrance to the four destinations in Greece, tourists will be asked to undergo a coronavirus test, and will be transferred to isolation until the results are obtained.  If results are negative they will be released from isolation.

Israelis may also be required to undergo coronavirus testing before boarding flights in Israel.



Pompeo: The US State Department Praises Peace Agreement Signed Between Israel And The United Arab Emirates

“Thursday (13th) was an historic day and a significant step forward for peace in the Middle East.  After vigorous diplomatic outreach, President Trump, along with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Emirati Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Zayed, signed an agreement to fully formalize relations,” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement.

“This is a remarkable achievement for two of the world’s most forward leaning; technologically advanced states, and reflects their shared regional vision of an economically integrated region.  It also illustrates their commitment to confronting common threats, as small – but strong – nations,” Pompeo stated.

“The United States hopes that this brave step will be the first in a series of agreements that ends 72 years of hostilities in the region.  Although the peace treaties between Israel and Egypt and Jordan have not yet fulfilled their full potential, since the 1978 Camp David Accords and the 1994 Wadi Arava Agreement, we have witnessed significant economic development in Egypt and Jordan, an unmistakable dividend of peace.”

“Thursday’s (13th) normalization agreement between Israel and the Emirates holds similar potential and the promise for a better day for the entire region.  The United States congratulates Israel and the Emirates for their important achievement.  Blessed are the peacemakers. Mabruk and Mazel Tov,” Pompeo concluded.



Tel Aviv City Hall Lit Up With Flags Of Israel And United Arab Emirates Celebrating Diplomatic Ties

The city hall in Tel Aviv was lit up with the flags of Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Thursday (13th), after the two countries declared they would be establishing full diplomatic relations.

The gesture came as the UAE on Thursday (13th) became the third Arab country to agree to have full ties with Israel after Egypt and Jordan.

Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai, a member of the dovish Labor Party, congratulated Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the achievement of peace with the UAE, and also pausing plans to annex parts of the West Bank.

Tel Aviv city hall often lights up, showing national flags in a sign of solidarity in times of distress or tragedy.  Following terror attacks in the UK and the US, for example, it has displayed the Union Jack and Stars and Stripes.

This time the light display celebrates “peacemaking” – the positive new diplomatic relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates.



Why PA Arabs Prefer To Work For Israelis

Palestinian Arab workers still benefit significantly by being employed within Israel and in the Jewish towns of Judea and Samaria, according to an Arab professor of economics at An-Najah University, Palestinian Media Watch reported.

Economics Faculty Director Dr. Bakri Shtayyeh told PA TV that Palestinian Arab income has risen over the last 15 years by only two thirds of the price increases, causing a major drop in buying power for Palestinian Arabs.  However, for Palestinian Arabs employed in Israel and in the “settlements,” income has risen at more than twice the rate of price increases.  This means the buying power for Palestinian Arabs employed by Israelis has more than doubled.

During the interview on PA TV, Professor Bakri Shtayyeh said: “If we take the period between 2004 and 2019 – 15 years, the past 15 years – we see that the rate of prices has gone up for us in Palestine by 45%… Let’s talk now about the sectors.  The [Palestinian] workers in the private sector, the sector of laborers – their income went up by 30%, while the prices went up by 45%; therefore their buying power decreased.  As for the sector of [Palestinian] laborers in Israel and the settlements, their income went up by 95%, while the increase in prices was 45%.  Therefore their buying power increased very greatly.  The gap is clear, and the gap between the two sectors is widening.  As for the layer of Palestinian ‘public employees’ in the two sectors – civilian or military – their salaries went up by an average of 65%.  In other words, more than the percent of the increase in prices.”



Inside The Struggle Between Israel And Hezbollah – Brig.-Gen. Dr. Shimon Shapira

Hezbollah, with Iran’s help, is working to build long-range capabilities that will allow it to strike precise targets in the Israeli homefront.  Israel’s resolve is to prevent Hezbollah from gaining that capability.  Hezbollah has at least 28 missile-launch sites in populated areas of Beirut that are under its control.  These include private homes, medical centers, industrial zones, and offices.

Hezbollah is also building a capability to use special forces to seize lands in the Galilee.  According to a source close to Hezbollah, five battalions of Radwan special forces were set up and sent for commando training in Iran.  Each battalion has a thousand fighters, and each battalion was assigned a specific territory to take over in northern Israel.

Each battalion studied and became familiar with the special topographical conditions of the area it was responsible for and trained to conquer it.  While the war in Syria interrupted this plan, it also enabled the Radwan forces to accumulate highly valuable battle experience for the future.  This marks a basic change in Hezbollah’s approach to war, which had primarily built deterrent and defense capabilities and now is also dealing intensively with offense and with taking the next war to Israeli territory.

(The writer a senior research fellow at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, served as Military Secretary to Israeli Prime MInister Benjamin Netanyahu)



Destruction Of Iranian Nuclear Facility Should Remind US Of Israel’s Unique Value As An Ally – John Hannah

→ An explosion at the Natanz nuclear complex on July 2 laid waste to the Iran Centrifuge Assembly Center (ICAC), designed to mass-produce advanced centrifuges for enriching uranium.

→ “A Middle Eastern intelligence official,” widely suspected to be Mossad Chief Yossi Cohen, told the New York Times that Israel was responsible.

→ If true, it’s a potent reminder of Israel’s enormous value as a strategic partner of the US, one that combines the will, capabilities, and tactical skill to confront the region’s most dangerous threats in ways that are largely unrivaled by any other American ally.

→ The destruction of the ICAC was a significant blow to Iran’s nuclear program.  Once deployed, the advanced centrifuges would have dramatically reduced the time required to produce enough highly-enriched uranium for a small nuclear arsenal.

→ The ability to place an agent inside one of the crown jewels of the Iranian nuclear program, much less smuggle in a powerful bomb and detonate it at the point of maximum damage, is an absolutely stunning intelligence accomplishment. 

(The writer, senior counselor at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, served as national security advisor to former Vice President Dick Cheny)