News Digest — 9/9/20

Israel, UAE To Sign Peace Deal At White House On September 15

Israel and the United Arab Emirates will sign their historic deal normalizing relations at a White House ceremony on September 15, US officials said on Tuesday (8th).  The ceremony comes just a month after the agreement to establish full diplomatic relations was announced on August 13.

The officials said that senior delegations from both countries will likely be led by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Emirati Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the brother of the UAE crown prince.  The officials, who were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity, said the ceremony would either be on the South Lawn, the Rose Garden or inside depending on the weather.

The historic deal delivered a key foreign policy victory to US President Donald Trump, and reflected a changing Middle East in which shared concerns about archenemy Iran have largely overtaken traditional Arab support for the Palestinians.

The initial announcement, August 13, was followed by the first direct commercial flight between Israel and the UAE, the establishment of telephone links and the commitment to cooperate in numerous areas.

The UAE has also ended the country’s boycott of Israel, which now allows trade and commerce between the oil-rich Emirates and Israel, home to a thriving tech start-up ecosystem.

The Palestinians have rejected the deal.



Netanyahu, Chad Official Discuss Exchange Of Envoys

Israel and a Chadian envoy discussed a possible upgrading of relations on Tuesday (8th) that would include a mutual exchange of ambassadors, the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement.

Chadian President Idriss Deby visited Israel in 2018 to start a process of reviving ties that the African country severed in 1972.  Israel has cast the process as part of an outreach to the Arab and Muslim world.

That process now includes the announcement last month of a normalization deal with the United Arab Emirates.

In Tuesday’s talks, a Chadian delegation led by Abdelkarim Deby, the president’s son, and Netanyahu discussed “appointing ambassadors and opening diplomatic missions, including (by Chad) in Jerusalem,” a statement by the prime minister’s office said.

According to the statement, the delegation – which included Chad’s intelligence chief – also discussed bilateral cooperation on counter-terrorism and other matters.

In a separate statement, Israeli Intelligence Minister Eli Cohen said Netanyahu’s government would send a business delegation to develop possible mineral projects in Chad.



Gulf Cooperation Council Demands Apology From Palestinian Factions

From the moment US President Donald Trump announced the peace treaty between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, Palestinian factions launched a bellicose campaign against Abu Dhabi.

A response to the Palestinian campaign of vilification was quick to follow.  On Monday, (7th) the Kuwaiti director-general of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf, originally known as the Gulf Cooperation Council, Nayef Al Hajraf demanded an apology from the Palestinian leadership for its incitement against the organization.

The GCC comprises the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar.

“I condemn the irresponsible language that included incitement and threats,” al Hajraf said in response to speeches by Palestinian factional leaders during a joint summit last Thursday (3rd).

“It’s unfortunate that the Palestinians are making a mistake and that they have doubts about the GCC’s historic stance alongside them.  I call on their leaders, the participants of the summit, and yes, Palestinian Authority (PA) leader Mahmoud Abbas, to apologize for their provocative declarations,” said al Hajraf.

“To emphasize, mere lip service will not appease the GCC,” al Hajraf said, “the organization wants a formal apology on Palestinian television stations in Ramallah.”



Israeli Drone That Gives First Person View Into Buildings Catches US Army’s Interest

The US military is launching a pilot program to give American troops a new Israeli drone that lets the operator see what’s happening as if he was riding on the drone itself, the Ministry of Defense announced Tuesday (8th).

Developed by the Israeli high-tech company XTEND, the Skylord drone equips the soldier operating it with goggles that show the drone’s view as it’s flying.

The drone itself is small and similar to readily available hobby drones, but the Skylord is equipped with advanced first person view (FPV) technology.

Wearing the goggles allow the soldier to see what the camera mounted on the drone sees, and the aircraft is small and nimble enough to be flown down hallways and into rooms where terrorists or enemy troops can be hiding.

XTEND says the system can be used for identifying hostile targets and has been deployed with the IDF, where the company claims that it has been used in over 2500 successful interceptions on the Gaza border, including knocking airborne incendiary balloons out of the sky.

The Ministry of Defense said the system was developed in a joint program with the Combating Terrorism Technical Support Office (CTTSO) of the US Department of Defense and is being deployed in the field.

“An operational pilot program has been launched employing Skylord drones in the defense of US military forces,” the ministry tweeted.

“This is the first step towards the widespread deployment of smart systems to US military forces, enabling them to perform complex tasks in the modern battlefield,” the ministry said, adding that the joint program “highlights the crucial and extraordinary relations between the US and Israeli defense establishments.”

Using the drone saves the soldiers from direct exposure and risk in locating enemy troops or terrorists.  It’s as if they have an extra soldier they can send directly into harm’s way.  Once located, troops can more safely engage the enemy.

“This joint activity implements novel technological capabilities taken from the field of AR [augmented reality] and from the world of gaming,” said Lt. Col. Menachem Landau who heads drone research at the Defense Ministry.

XTEND CEO Aviv Shapira said he was thrilled to be moving to the pilot stage with the American military and getting “the opportunity to deploy our systems in operational missions – and to protect the lives of both US and IDF combat soldiers.



Amazon Caught Selling T-Shirts With Yellow ‘Juden’ Star

Yet more Holocaust-themed merchandise has been discovered for sale on the online retail giant Amazon.  This time, it was Amazon in Britain ( that was forced to remove items that made light of the Holocaust – in this case, T-shirts printed with yellow Stars of David bearing the word “Juden,” the type of badges Jews under Nazi occupation were forced to sew onto their clothing leading up to the Holocaust.

Despite the offense caused, the shirts were actually marketed as “remembrance gifts” and a way to “honor” Holocaust victims.

The UK Jewish news site The JC which broke the story, quoted an Amazon official who said that “all sellers on its platform must respect Amazon’s guidelines,” and that “the shirts had been removed from the site.”

“The Holocaust was not something to create merchandise for profit, it was the systematic murder of 6 million Jewish men, women and children,” Chief Executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust Karen Pollock told The JC.

In February of this year, Amazon ( pulled German children’s books from the 1930s that served as propaganda to disseminate Nazi anti-Semitism.

Last year, Amazon ( stopped sales of a line of clothing printed with the image of a Holocaust victim kneeling before a Nazi firing squad.