Daily Briefing: WEDNESDAY’S “NEWS OF THE WEEK IN REVIEW” (February 5,2020)

Abdel Fattah al-Burhan meeting with Vladimir Putin in Sochi (Source: Wikipedia)

“I think this is the first agreement that we have seen now in almost 30 years of peacemaking that actually reflects realities on the ground and it is not an expression of a wish. … In a real peace agreement, the Palestinian state … can’t have control over electromagnetic space. It can’t have the ability to sign defense treaties with foreign powers. In a real-world, Jerusalem is not going to be re-divided. … Whereas previous peace agreements assumed the notion of a Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders – that would involve uprooting thousands and thousands of Israelis any peace process that is predicated or advanced upon Palestinian approval is doomed to failure. In order to succeed, this process had to be aimed at two principal customers …  the Israeli public, particularly the Israeli Center, and the Sunni Arab world. I think those are the customers of this deal. The Palestinians are invited to it, but their participation, certainly on the level of Abu Mazen [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas] and the Palestinian leadership, is not critical,” – Ambassador Minister Michael Oren told Medialine as regards President Trump’s peace deal.  (TheMedialine, Feb. 4, 2020)


The United States has a military presence all over the world. We have a presence in Germany, Japan, South Korea, Philippines, I mean…none of those countries consider themselves occupied by the United States and certainly don’t consider ourselves to be occupiers,” – said US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman.  He rejected any notion that Israel’s security dominance in the envisaged Palestinian state under President Donald Trump’s so-called “deal of the century” is tantamount to occupation. (EU Observer, Jan. 30, 2020)


“The fact that the High Rep of the EU, Josep Borrell, chose to use threatening language towards Israel, so shortly after he assumed office & only hours after his meetings in Iran, is regrettable &, to say the least, odd. Pursuing such policies & conduct is the best way to ensure that the EU’s role in any [peace] process will be minimized,” — tweeted Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Lior Haiat.  Articulating the position of the EU regarding the Trump peace plan, Borrell had stated, “To build a just and lasting peace, the unresolved final status issues must be decided through direct negotiations between both parties,” and that steps by Israel to annex Palestinian territory, “if implemented, could not pass unchallenged.” (Algemeiner, Feb. 4, 2020)


“You [Iranians] want to liberate Jerusalem? And what will you do with it? You will join it to what? [an apparent reference to Iran’s boasts to include it in its developing empire – HF] Will you join it to Baghdad, which the world defines … as the filthiest capital in the world? Will you join it to Beirut, which has become the biggest garbage dump in the Middle East? … Will you join it to Damascus, where people are dying of hunger? …The Arab world tells you: ‘If you want to liberate Jerusalem for me, I don’t want you to.’ I took a survey yesterday – no one wants you to liberate Jerusalem or Palestine for them!” – Feisal Al-Kassam, an Iranian diplomat and Al Jazeera show host told Iran’s Tamir Muswai while interviewing him. (United With Israel, Jan. 17, 2020)


Israel is making a big return to Africa, and Africa has already returned to Israel. These are important ties politically, economically and in terms of security,” – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said before he headed to Uganda.  He added that he hopes to have good news for the State of Israel by the end of the day, referring to the possible opening of Uganda’s embassy in Jerusalem.  (WIN, Feb. 3, 2020)


Sanders is an extremely, perhaps uniquely, risky nominee. His vulnerabilities are enormous and untested. No party nomination, with the possible exception of Barry Goldwater in 1964, has put forth a presidential nominee with the level of downside risk exposure as a Sanders-led ticket would bring. To nominate Sanders would be insane,” – writes political analyst Jonathan Chait. (Intelligencer, Jan. 28, 2020)





ISRAEL AND SUDAN SET TO BEGIN NORMALIZING TIES, AFTER LEADERS MEET IN UGANDA (Entebbe) –– Israel and Sudan have agreed to move towards forging normal relations for the first time, Israeli officials said after the leaders of the two former foes met in Uganda. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held talks with Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, head of Sudan’s sovereign council, in the city of Entebbe in central Uganda. (Algemeiner, Feb. 3, 2020)


TRUMP PLAN IS DEATH CERTIFICATE FOR ABBAS’ POLITICAL CAREER, SAYS PALESTINIAN OFFICIAL (Ramallah) –– One source told TPS that the Deal of the Century peace plan is nothing but an “American impeachment letter to Abbas” and the Arab League summit that convened over the weekend in Cairo to discuss the plan is essentially “a respectable farewell ceremony” to the PA’s chairman. (United With Israel, Feb. 3, 2020)


ABBAS WARNS IN HANDWRITTEN NOTE TO NETANYAHU THAT US PLAN VOIDS OSLO ACCORDS (Ramallah) — A delegation led by P.A. Civil Affairs Minister Hussein al-Sheikh met with Israeli Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon and delivered a handwritten letter from Mahmoud Abbas.  Al-Sheikh announced that the P.A. views the U.S. peace plan as a voiding of the Clinton-era Oslo Accords, freeing the P.A. from all its commitments to Israel under those agreements, including security cooperation. (JNS, Jan. 30, 2020)


RUSSIA COMES OUT AGAINST TRUMP PLAN: ‘IT CONTRADICTS UN DECISIONS’ (Moscow) — Russia has issued its first official pronouncement on the Trump administration’s deal of the century. Dmitri Peskov, Kremlin press secretary, said, “The plan doesn’t stand in line with the decision of the United Nations and earlier agreements.” (WIN, Feb. 2, 2020)


ABBAS CHASTIZED FOR CLAIMING ISRAELI ETHIOPIANS, RUSSIANS NOT REALLY JEWS (Ramallah) — Israeli leaders had harsh words for Palestinian Authority (PA) head Mahmoud Abbas who stated during an Arab League meeting held in Cairo that convened to discuss President Donald Trump’s Deal of the Century peace plan that “they want me to recognize a Jewish state? Most immigrants from Russia are not Jews. They paid money to say they were Jewish. The percentage of Jews among Ethiopian immigrants is also low.” (WIN, Feb. 2, 2020)


KUSHNER TO EGYPTIAN TV: PEACE PLAN SEEKS TO CURB SETTLEMENTS, PAVE WAY FOR PALESTINIAN STATE (Cairo) — In an interview aired over the weekend by Egyptian TV, White House senior adviser Jared Kushner said that the U.S. Mideast peace plan’s primary goal is to enable the establishment of a Palestinian state and to keep in check Israeli settlement expansion in Judea and Samaria. “The plan seeks to curb the expansion of the settlements, to allow the feasibility of a Palestinian state,” Kushner said during the interview as quoted by Kan news. (WIN, Feb. 2, 2020)


ISRAEL SLAMS UNRWA HEAD FOR ATTACKING TRUMP PEACE PLAN (Jerusalem) — The Israeli Foreign Ministry slammed Christian Saunders, the head of the UN’s Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA for attacking US President Donald Trump’s recently-unveiled peace initiative, calling the criticism “unacceptable” and contrary to UN values. The interim commissioner-general of UNRWA had called the plan “unsettling” for Palestinians The Trump plan stipulates that once Israel and the Palestinians reached an agreement, UNRWA would be disbanded and Palestinian refugee status would be considered null and void. (Algemeiner, Feb. 3, 2020)


UK CAUTIONS ISRAEL: ‘UNILATERAL MOVES WOULD BE DAMAGING (London) –– After highlighting an initially positive view of the Israeli-Palestinian peace plan presented by President Donald Trump, Britain is now cautioning Israel against using the plan to move ahead with extending Israeli sovereignty to parts of Judea and Samaria. “Any such unilateral moves would be damaging to renewed efforts to re-start peace negotiations, and contrary to international law,” said UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab. (WIN, Feb. 2, 2020)


POLL: ‘DEAL OF THE CENTURY’ WILL NOT HELP NETANYAHU IN NEXT ELECTION (Jerusalem) — Despite the favorable response to President Donald Trump’s “Deal of the Century” and the successful release of Israeli backpacker Naama Issachar from a Russian prison, a new poll, conducted by the Maagar Mochot Institute, found that the right-wing and religious bloc would receive 56 Knesset seats compared to 57 seats for the left-wing and Arab bloc. According to the poll, if elections were held today, Netanyahu’s chief rival Benny Gantz’s Blue and White party would win one more Knesset seat (34) than it did in the last election, and Netanyahu’s Likud party would drop one seat (31). A coalition of 61 seats is the minimum requirement to form a government. (WIN, Jan. 31, 2020)


NETANYAHU TRYING TO GET POLLARD TO ISRAEL BEFORE ELECTION, REPORT SAYS (Jerusalem) — The premier is trying to set up a scenario in which former spy Jonathan Pollard would “land on the tarmac at Ben Gurion Airport a week before the March 2” parliamentary election. In 1987, the former U.S. intelligence analyst was convicted in a plea agreement of passing Israel critical classified information that the American government had been withholding from its ally. The court then rejected the agreement and gave Pollard a life sentence — the only American to have received such a harsh punishment for giving over secret information to a U.S. ally. (WIN, Jan. 29, 2020)


FORMER IDF COMBAT TRAINING CHIEF: HAMAS, HEZBOLLAH ARE BETTER FIGHTERS THAN OUR ELITE UNITS (Jerusalem) -Benny Amidror, the former chief of the IDF’s Combat Training Department said that Hamas and Hezbollah terrorists are “higher quality” fighters than those of elite units in the IDF because they “serve longer than our mandatory service soldiers and practice more than IDF soldiers.” He also said that terrorists have a new “fighting spirit” that hadn’t existed before. (WIN, Feb. 4, 2020)


ISRAEL PICKS EDEN ALENE, 19, AS ITS 2020 EUROVISION REPRESENTATIVE (Jerusalem) — Alene, who won the reality show “The Next Star” that determines the representative, will be the first singer of Ethiopian origin to represent Israel in the annual international extravaganza. With her powerful voice and mix of influences, Eden — whose final performance was of Beyonce’s “Halo” — will bring a fresh and contemporary combination of sounds and styles to this year’s Eurovision in Rotterdam. (Times of Israel, Feb. 5, 2020)


VYING FOR SEATS AT WORLD ZIONIST CONGRESS, LIBERAL NEWCOMERS LIKE PETER BEINART HOPE TO BLOCK ISRAELI SETTLEMENTS FUNDING (Washington) – Liberal writer Peter Beinart, J Street president Jeremy Ben-Ami, and Sheila Katz, the CEO of the National Council of Jewish Women are some of the candidates seeking seats in the 38th World Zionist Congress, the legislative authority of a 120-year-old Zionist organization that helps determine the fate of $1 billion in spending on Jewish causes. Elections, which are open to Jews 18 and over anywhere in the world, are held every five years. The next ones will be held between Jan. 21 and March 11. The candidates hope to steer funding away from Jewish settlement expansion in the West Bank and toward causes like expanding rights for women and minorities. The second paragraph of the group’s platform notes its opposition to “the current policy of permanent occupation and annexation,” which it calls “unjust” and a threat to Israeli democracy. Voters can vote online at https://azm.org/elections. (JTA, Dec. 24, 2019)



SPACE MEDICINE: ISRAEL, ITALY TO LAUNCH JOINT MISSION CONDUCTING ZERO GRAVITY EXPERIMENTS (Jerusalem) — Israel and Italy are to jointly carry out a space mission to be launched at the end of March for the purpose of carrying out medical experiments that have the potential to produce a breakthrough. The launching of the unmanned satellite is one of the manifestations of closer ties that have been developing between the two countries. (WIN, Feb. 3, 2020)


80% OF US JEWS SAY THEY ARE PRO-ISRAEL, STUDY FINDS (Washington) — The overwhelming majority of American Jews describe themselves as pro-Israel, and similar numbers say their attachment to Israel is as strong or stronger than it was five years ago, according to a new survey. The poll, conducted for the Ruderman Family Foundation by the Mellman Group on a sample of 2,500 US Jews, found that more than half of the respondents defined themselves as pro-Israel but also critical of Israeli policy. (Jerusalem Post, Feb. 4, 2020)


LOS ANGELES RECORDS STEEP RISE IN ANTISEMITIC ATTACKS AMID OVERALL INCREASE IN HATE CRIMES (Los Angeles) — Antisemitic hate crimes were up 60.5% over 2018 in the nation’s second-largest city, and represented the largest single category in 2019 — 69 of 322 total hate crimes reported by the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), according to its figures. The increase in attacks on Jews comes in the context of a 10-percent rise in overall hate crimes in Los Angeles during the last year. (Algemeiner, Jan. 24, 2020)


NETANYAHU ORDERS ISRAELI SCIENTISTS TO PRODUCE CORONAVIRUS VACCINE (Jerusalem) — PM Netanyahu assigned to the National Security Council the responsibility for coordinating preparations to deal with the virus. He instructed that there be minimal bureaucracy vis-à-vis required decisions in light of the situation. He instructed that the Biological Institute produce a vaccine against the virus and that a vaccination network be established in Israel. (Jewish Press, Feb. 2, 2020)


ZUCKERBERG TRUMPETS RETURN TO RELIGION AT UTAH CONFERENCE (Utah) –– Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says that he has become more religious over the last few years, reports Business Insider. The 35-year-old technology executive made his “rare public comments about his Jewish faith” during an on-stage interview at a conference taking place in Utah. He reportedly attributed his move closer to religion to becoming a father and the “challenges we’ve been through as a company.” (WIN, Feb. 2, 2020)


SIMON WIESENTHAL CENTER BESTOWS INTERNATIONAL LEADERSHIP AWARD TO JOURNALIST/AUTHOR SOUAD MEKHENNET (Los Angeles) – Souad Mekhennet was recognized for her diverse and courageous work as a journalist and author. Ms. Mekhennet uncovered the whereabouts of one of the most wanted Nazi war criminals, Dr. Aribert Heim, in the face of grave danger to her personal safety. She is the first person of Muslim descent to ever help solve the case of a most wanted Nazi war criminal. Mekhennet was able to do so through her courage and journalistic skill, smuggling out the Nazi doctor’s briefcase at great risk to her life and liberty. (SWC, Jan. 15, 2020)




WATCH: Apply Sovereignty Now, Don’t Wait For Americans, Says Former Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked:  i24 News, Feb. 3, 2020 Former Israeli Justice Minister and member of the Yemina party says that the “brave step” is to apply sovereignty nowi24NEWS reports.


Notable & Quotable: Max Singer on Truth and Mideast Peace:  WSJ, Jan. 31, 2020 — From “Refute Palestinian Lies to Promote Mideast Peace” by Max Singer, a founder of the Hudson Institute, The Wall Street Journal, Dec. 7, 2018. Singer died Jan. 23 at 88.


WATCH:  This is Why the Democrats Will Lose in November: Phil Schneider, Israel Unwired, Feb. 4, 2020 The line that will probably make or break the next election in the United States is the following line: “Are you better off today than you were 4 years ago?” If that answer is a resounding yes, then no matter what, Donald Trump will probably win reelection.


WATCH: Ted Cruz Rips Impeachment Case to Shreds: Obama Actually Did What Trump Was Impeached For:  Tyler O’Neil, PJ Media, Feb. 4, 2020 — On Tuesday, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) ripped up the House Democrats’ impeachment case against President Donald Trump, showing how former President Barack Obama’s administration committed both of the acts Democrats impeached Trump for — and did far worse.