News Digest — 9/25/20

Israel Braces For Stringent Lockdown As Daily Corona Case Tally Exceeds 7,500

Israelis on Friday (25th) braced for a strict nationwide lockdown imposed by the government in an attempt to curb the coronavirus pandemic from spiraling further out of control.

The Health Ministry said that between Thursday (24th) and Friday (25th), 7,755 new cases were diagnosed, bringing the overall number of coronavirus cases recorded since the pandemic hit Israel in mid-March to 215,273.

So far, 1,378 COVID-19 patients have died while 152,837 Israelis have recovered from the virus.

Lawmakers continued to deliberate the sweeping new restrictions set to go into effect at 2 p.m. on Friday (25th), with synagogue prayers on Yom Kippur and restrictions on demonstrations dominating the debate.

Health Ministry Director Professor Hezi Levy told Israel Hayom that the decision to shutter the economy until at least October 11 was not politically motivated.

“How can it be political if we are seeing so many patients hospitalized in serious condition?

He said, “Anyone who thinks that 50,000-60,000 patients being treated both in the community and in hospitals, isn’t an economic blow is mistaken.  We are in the midst of a difficult event.  All countries are considering a lockdown.”

Meanwhile, Yom Kippur, Judaism’s holiest day of the year arrives at sundown Sunday (27th) and ends Monday evening (28th). 



Netanyahu To Meet Sudan’s Leader In Uganda, Report Says

An unconfirmed news report Thursday (24th) said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will fly to Uganda in the coming days to meet the Sudanese leader, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, to discuss the establishment of diplomatic relations.

Speculation has run rampant about the deal over the past weeks and gained momentum after US Ambassador to the United Nations Kelly Craft said on Wednesday (23rd) that another country will recognize Israel “in the next day or two.”

“News of an upcoming meeting for a ‘second time’ between al-Burhan and Netanyahu within days, in Uganda,” tweeted Qatar-based journalist Sara Elareifi.

In an interview with the Arabic language channel of Israel’s i24News, sources close to Sudan’s ruling Sovereignty Council said the new Sudanese-Israeli Friendship Association will be inaugurated in the Sudanese capital of Khartoum on Saturday (26th).  That announcement is a start of a normalization process between the two countries, i24 reported.

The sources said General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the leader of Sudan’s transitional Sovereign Council, is “likely to meet in the coming days” with Netanyahu in Uganda in what would be their second meeting this year after the two met in Uganda in February.

In August, Sudan’s Foreign Ministry spokesman revealed in a news interview that the African nation was getting ready to sign an agreement with Israel to establish formal diplomatic relations.

After Israel signed the historic peace deals with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain last week in Washington, President Donald Trump told reporters that up to nine more countries were expected to establish diplomatic relations with Israel.

The report of the possible Israel-Sudan meeting comes as the Trump administration is apparently expecting to remove Sudan from its list of countries that support terror.



Fatah, Hamas Say They’ve Agreed To Hold Palestinian Elections In Coming Months

After reconciliation talks in Istanbul earlier this week, the Fatah and Hamas movements said Thursday (24th) they had agreed to hold general Palestinian elections within the next six months.

Similar announcements of planned elections have fallen through in the past, largely due to long-running conflicts between Fatah and Hamas.  If the vote goes forward, however, it would be the first Palestinian election in fourteen years.

Fatah Secretary General Jibril Rajoub, who led Fatah’s delegation to the Turkish capital, said in a statement that the proposal would be submitted to a joint meeting of Palestinian faction heads within a week.

Under the proposal, elections would first be held for the Palestinian Legislature, then for the Palestinian Authority Leadership, and finally for the Central Council for the Palestinian Liberation Organization.

The Fatah-led Palestinian Authority controls the West Bank, while the Hamas terror group rules the Gaza Strip.

Palestinian legislative elections have not been held since 2006, when a Hamas victory over Fatah led to a bloody struggle for control of the Gaza Strip.  Hamas expelled Fatah to the West Bank in 2007, after which the Palestinian Legislative Council ceased to function.

Several rounds of reconciliation talks in different Arab capitals have failed to end the split between the two movements, which remain divided by ideological disputes and a violent history.



Intel: Iran, Turkey, Palestinians Speaking Against Peace

Gulf Arab countries are moving toward normalization with Israel, but Iran, Turkey and the Palestinians are “speaking against peace,” Intelligence Minister Eli Cohen said at the Jerusalem Post Annual Conference on Thursday (24th).

“In the previous week, we saw a new Middle East, new peace agreements, and I am sure there will be more to follow,” he said via videoconference.  “We see a dramatic change in the Middle East.  We see a coalition of peace – with Israel, the UAE, with Bahrain, with Egypt and more countries that will come under the umbrella of the US.”

All of this proved US President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s view “that if you are strong in our neighborhood, you are able to have such an achievement as the peace agreement,” Cohen said.

“On the other hand, we see Iran, Turkey and the Palestinians publicly condemning the normalization trend,” he added.

Nevertheless, Cohen said the deals foreshadowed a new era.

“Prior peace deals were with Egypt and Jordan, with which Israel has borders and had fought wars.  Now we have an agreement with a country with which we don’t have a border… I believe more countries from the Gulf will join the trend, as well as more African countries,” he added.

“They understand that the threat is not Israel; it’s Iran,” he said.  We saw what Iran did to Saudi Arabia… .”

Addressing the threat from Iran, Cohen said: “Iran never gave up trying to achieve a nuclear weapon… Iran is the No. 1 financier of terror.  The places where Iran is involved are suffering, including proxies such as Hezbollah in Lebanon, Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Gaza, the Houthis in Yemen and Shiite militias in Syria.”

“I want to thank President Trump and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for continuing the arms embargo on Iran,” he concluded.



Why Other Arabs Resent Palestinians – Lt. Col. Dr. Mordechai Kedar   

While many Arabs and Muslims hate Israel, a good many hate the Palestinians just as much.  Many of the Palestinian Arabs are not originally Palestinian at all.  They are immigrants that came to the Land of Israel from all over the Arab world during the British Mandate in order to find employment in the cities and on farms the Jews had built.  “Why,” ask the other Arabs, “should they get preferential treatment over those who remained in their original countries?”

At the end of the 1948 Israeli War of Independence, the politics in the Arab world began to center on Israel and the “Palestinian problem,” the solution to which was to be achieved by eliminating Israel.  In order to succeed in that mission, the Arab “refugees” were kept in camps and not absorbed into other Arab countries.  They were provided with food, education and medical care without charge, even as other Arabs had to work to provide food, education, and medical care for their own families.  “Refugees” would often sell some of their free foodstuffs to their non-refugee neighbors and make a tidy profit.

Over the years the Palestinian Arabs were given billions of dollars by the nations of the world, so that the yearly per capita income in the PA is several times greater than that of the Arabs in Egypt, Sudan, Algeria, Syria, Iraq, Libya and Yemen.

Much of the Arab and Muslim world is convinced that the Palestinians do not in fact want a state of their own.  After all, if that state were established, the world would cease its steady donations and Palestinian Arabs would have to work just like everyone else.

The writer, a senior research associate at the BESA Center, served for 25 years in the IDF military intelligence. (BESA Center for Strategic Studies – Bar-Ilan University



Kibbutz Startup’s Sugarcane Packaging Can Help End Plastic Pollution

The amount of plastic waste flowing into the ocean could triple by 2040, choking our already strained ecosystem.  But an Israeli food-tech startup based at Kibbutz Gan Shmuel has an answer – packaging made from sugarcane waste.

SupraPulp packaging from W-Cycle is plastic free, fully compostable, safe, and durable enough to be used for greasy, wet, or hot food.  Moreover, food packaged in SupraPulp can be frozen and reheated – even in a microwave.

The green packaging solution, manufactured from “bagasse,” the dry, pulpy fibrous matter that remains after sugarcane or sorghum stalks are crushed to extract their juice, is all oil and water resistant, which helps to avoid absorption or leakage.

Once used, Suprapulp can be disposed of as organic waste.

According to W-Cycle co-founder and CEO Lior Itai, the sugar-based wrapping can be thrown away exactly the way people toss away plastic wrappers.

This food-grade, compostable packaging is a one-to-one replacement for its plastic counterpart.  There are other compostable solutions on the market, but SupraPulp has game-changing functionality consumers need when they want to heat, freeze, or microwave convenience food products.  Plus SupraPulp trays have a luxury look and feel, compared to plastic, aluminum, or bio-plastic containers,” Itai explained.

W-Cycle CTO Joseph Siani stated, “With this product, we can put an end to plastic pollution.”