News Digest — 8/18/23

Iranian FM In Saudi Arabia: We Continue To Support Palestine

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian took advantage of his official visit to Saudi Arabia on Thursday (17th) to reiterate the Islamic Republic’s support for the “Palestinian cause, i24News reported.

Standing alongside Saudi Arabia’s Prince Faisal, Amir-Abdollahian described the Israeli-Palestinian Arab conflict as “the most important issue in the Islamic world.”

“We continue to support Palestine,” he stressed, adding, “There is no doubt that the Zionist regime will continue its efforts to divide the Muslim world and the region.  We follow the movements of the Zionist regime with insight and vigilance.”

Amir-Abdollahian’s visit to Saudi Arabia follows a China-brokered deal reached in March, and in which Iran and Saudi Arabia agreed to normalize relations after seven years.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry officially announced in June that it would reopen its diplomatic missions in Saudi Arabia in the wake of the agreement.

The Iranian Foreign Minister’s visit also comes amid speculations that Israel and Saudi Arabia could sign a normalization agreement soon.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has made clear that his goal is to achieve a peace agreement with Saudi Arabia that would “effectively end the Arab-Israeli conflict.”

Despite Saudi denials of any contacts with Israel,The Wall Street Journal reported recently that the United States and Saudi Arabia have agreed on the broad outlines of a deal for Saudi Arabia to recognize Israel in exchange for concessions to the Palestinian Arabs. 

Saudi officials have repeatedly said that a Palestinian state with eastern Jerusalem as its capital is a prerequisite for Saudi Arabia 

normalizing ties with Israel.

The U.S. announced a year ago that two agreements considered to be significant steps on the path toward normalization between Israel and Saudi Arabia are: A deal concerning the removal of multinational forces from the Red Sea islands of Sanafir and Tiran, and the opening of Saudi airspace for all Israeli flights.



11 Families Make Aliyah From France To Samaria

Eleven families have recently made Aliyah from France to the hills of Samaria.  So far, 120 families have participated in the Aliyah project of the Samaria Regional Council.

The new immigrants were brought to a housing complex prepared especially for them in Yakir, where they were greeted by Samaria Regional Council chairman Yossi Dagan, Rabbi Aharon Cohen and community leader Elhanan Sabati, who affixed the immigrants mezuzahs to their doorposts.

Yossi Dagan welcomed the new immigrants and said: “The number of families wishing to immigrate to Samaria is constantly increasing and we are ready to receive them.  We are preparing the ground to receive hundreds of thousands of immigrants from France and to make Samaria a home for French immigrants.  These immigrants will become part of the mainstay of Samaria, they will forget that they were immigrants and will absorb the next immigrants who follow them.  As far as we are concerned, they are already part of the  Samaria family of pioneers.”

Rabbi Aharon Cohen added: “These days residents of Yakir were privileged to take in immigrant families from France.  The entire settlement shares in their reception out of a sense of immense feeling that we get to witness the fulfillment of the Biblical prophecies.”

Elhanan Sabati concluded: “The residents of the settlement have prepared the ground with great love – I’m sure you will be successfully absorbed and will become part of the wonderful Yakir community.”



Africa Eyes Israel Agtech To Boost Yield, Food Security, Bi-lateral Ties

Africa aims to leverage Israel’s advanced agricultural technology to enhance its organic produce yield.  This surplus could be marketed to both Israel and global markets, simultaneously strengthening domestic food security, according to Segun Olusegun Olanipekun, president of the African leadership Summit (ALS).

Earlier this month Olanipekun, headed a delegation to Israel comprising over 50 African leaders including politicians and business people.  The primary objective was to explore the potential of harnessing Israeli innovation.

“We want to seize the opportunity and build this highway,” said Olanipekun, also the CEO and founder of the African Israel Chamber of Commerce (AICC)

The delegation participated in a multi-day business summit as part of a collaboration with Mountain View Consulting Agency and the Heartland Initiative. The events were hosted at the Azrieli Towers in Tel Aviv and the Ramada Hotel Queen of Sheba Conference Hall, along with several site visits.

The participants came from various corners of Africa, including South Africa, Nigeria, Botswana, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, Ghana, Kenya, and Angola.

Olanipekun launched the AICC 10 years ago, hosting its first summit in 2013 in Jerusalem.  The goal is to “build a highway” between Africa and Israel so that Africa can better benefit from the Start-up nation.

“We have observed the start-up culture, the way Israel uses entrepreneurs  to unlock the Israeli economy, and we want to see that in different parts of Africa,” Olanipekun explained.

The group tries to visit Israel every two years so African leaders can experience what is happening in the Holy Land, firsthand.  It also allows them to meet with potential partners and close deals.

Historically, these trips have benefited companies operating in the energy and agriculture sectors.  Additionally, they have fostered valuable connections between Israeli officials and their African counterparts.

Overseeing these efforts is Yonathan Ben Yisrael, the driving force behind the Heartland Initiative, a US-based public policy platform.  The initiative is tasked with identifying prospective companies within relative domains for collaboration with their African counterparts. 

Olanipekun emphasized that now is the time for establishing a more balanced and reciprocal relationship, including Israeli companies visiting Africa.

“We want to create a platform where people can come to Africa and mentor those who want to be entrepreneurs like you are in Israel,” Olanipekun said, adding that he does not want to see “Israeli tech helicoptered into Africa” but instead “adapted to meet the country’s unique needs.”

Ben Yisrael said he hopes to bring a first delegation of around 20 business leaders and senior officials to Africa in the coming months.

On Wednesday (16th), Kenya News Agency reported that the country’s Nakuru county government sought Israeli waste recycling companies to invest in curricular economical solutions for zero waste.

Kenya already plans to inaugurate its first “Zion Forest,” (to include a minimum of 5,000 trees) in Machakos County next month to celebrate Israel’s 75th anniversary and 60 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Kenya, like Israel, has a semi-arid climate, making it challenging to plant.  In 2017, Kenya and KKL-JNF signed a memorandum of understanding to work on growth initiatives.

Olainipekun told the Jerusalem Post that the signing of the Abraham Accords with the United Arab Emirates, Morocco and Bahrain has made it easier for Africa to have normal relations with Israel.

Moreover, he said, he believes that Africa’s growing Christian community can help find common ground with Israelis because they believe in the same God.

“The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is our God,” he said.  “For over 2,000 years, we have had a history of hostility between Jews and Christians.  Now, it is time to find common ground and forge ties that can bless the whole world.”

“We need to be committed to building bridges, not fences,” he said.  “The future belongs to Israel and Africa.”



Uruguay To Open Diplomatic Office In Jerusalem

Uruguay will open a diplomatic office for innovation in Jerusalem, Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced on Wednesday (16th)

The news comes a day after the ministry confirmed that Paraguay would return its embassy to Jerusalem by the end of the year, and is the latest sign of the growing ties between Israel and Latin America.

“Uruguay is one of Israel’s important friends in Latin America, and the president’s decision to open an innovation office in Jerusalem will advance the ties between our two countries,” said Foreign Minister Eli Cohen.

Israel’s top diplomat met with President of Uruguay Luis Lacalle Pou and his Uruguayan counterpart Francisco Bustillo in the Uruguayan capital of Montevideo on Wednesday (16th), the first such visit by an Israeli foreign minister to the Latin American country in the last four decades.

Cohen invited the Uruguayan president to Jerusalem to inaugurate the new office, which will work to promote cooperation in the field of innovation, according to the ministry.  The office is slated to open soon.

During his meetings in Uruguay, the Israeli foreign minister discussed Iranian encroachment in Latin America and the need to prevent the Islamic republic from obtaining nuclear weapons.

He also raised the issue of increasing the limitations on meat imports from Uruguay, as a way to reduce the high cost of living in Israel.

Cohen was in the region for this week’s inauguration of the Paraguayan President Santiago Pena

Uruguay has a long history of friendship with Israel, dating back to its role in support of the establishment of the Jewish State at the United Nations in 1947.

During the 1970s Uruguay had an embassy in Jerusalem, but in 1980 moved it out of the capital to the Tel Aviv suburb of Herzliya on the heels of a similar move at the time by Venezuela, citing “concern for the special situation of the holy city for the three great religions.”

Four countries currently have their embassies in Israel’s capital: the United States, Kosovo, Guatemala and Honduras.  Including Paraguay, there will soon be five.



What Happened In Burqa?  – Akiva Van Koningsveld

A visit to the desolate open area between the small Jewish farming community of Oz Zion and Burqa, where Palestinian Kosai Ma’atan, 19, died on August 4, seems to tell an entirely different story than the prevailing narrative.  The US State Department has repeatedly referred to the incident as a “terror attack” by Israelis.

According to multiple Israeli witnesses, a large crowd of Arabs from Burqa confronted a lone Jewish shepherd grazing his flock.  “Suddenly, a mass of 30 or 40 people began to surround me from all directions and throw stones at me,” the young shepherd said Thursday (17th).  “I called the guys here in the Oz Zion area.  They came very quickly.”   Yet as sunset approached, between 80 and 120 more Arab villagers arrived at the scene, the shepherd related, and initiated a ‘crazy attack’ using wooden and iron bars.”

Israeli Yehiel Indore, 22, has said that he fired a warning shot but was then surrounded, and he only shot to kill in self-defense after he was struck in the head by a rock.  Indore said he never experienced “such severe danger to life” during his IDF service.  “We tried to escape the whole time but they attacked us from several directions.”  TikTok videos shared by Palestinian accounts show local Palestinians brandishing wooden clubs.

As to claims that the Jewish group sought the confrontation, a spokesperson for the Binyamin Regional Council explained that Burqa is not visible from the site of the confrontation.  The site is in Area C, under full Israeli control, and Israelis are allowed to be here without restrictions.  The Arab rioters had to hike approximately 550 to 765 yards uphill from Area B Before encountering the shepherd.



The Palestinians Never Meant To Make Peace With Israel – Pinhas Inbari

The Oslo peace process with the Palestinians differed significantly from the two peace agreements that Israel signed with Jordan and Egypt.  Egypt and Jordan sincerely wanted to make peace with Israel, seeking to improve their economies and their international status, and to stabilize the common borders.  Arafat’s innovation was to make the “peace process” a tool for continuing the struggle, including the armed struggle.

In his most recent address to the UN, PA leader Mahmoud Abbas set Israel’s borders at the 1947 lines, essentially burying those of 1967.  He had in mind the return of the Palestinian refugees to their original homes.  It was believed by Israel and the West that the 1967 lines constituted the basis for the peace agreement.  However, the Palestinians had a different objective, centered on realizing the right of return within Israel itself.

A look at Arafat’s statements makes clear that, from the start, he had no intention of making peace with israel.  In his conception, the Palestinian people would inherit Israel’s legitimacy and replace Israel.  His gaze was directed not at Jericho, Nablus, and Ramallah but at Jerusalem and Israel itself.  Moreover, for Arafat the conflict was not just national but also religious, with the Nakba seen as a blow to Islam.