News Roundup for July 10, 2017

July 10, 2017

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Top News and Analysis

Israeli Soldier Wounded After Palestinian Attacks Soldiers Near West Bank Settlement, Haaretz

A Palestinian man attemped to run over a group of soldiers near the West Bank settlement of Tekoa on Monday when his car veered off and crashed into a pole. He then exited the car and tried stabbing the group, according to the Israeli army. The Palestinian man was shot and killed, and a soldier was moderately wounded.

Dahlan’s grand plans for Gaza’s revival threaten to sideline Abbas, Times of Israel

Avi Issacharoff writes, “There have been numerous reports in the Arab and Palestinian media recently about meetings being held in Egypt between Abbas’s political rival, Mohammad Dahlan, and the leaders of Gaza-based terrorist group Hamas….The package that Dahlan is offering is meant to achieve several goals that will serve the interests of all parties — except perhaps those of the PA and Fatah in the West Bank. If Hamas accepts Dahlan’s plan, the Strip’s economy will gain a substantial boost. A new power plant would provide residents with electricity all day, every day. Residents would be able to leave the Strip through the Egyptian border. Additionally, a free flow of goods would significantly lower prices. As for the interests of Egypt and the UAE, the deal would distance Hamas from Qatar and move it closer to the moderate Sunni axis. The new power station would be financed by the UAE and operated by Egypt. This, runs the theory, would encourage Hamas to be more disciplined and docile. If the plan is enacted, Dahlan would once again find himself in the center of the Gazan political arena, and would likely be regarded as the great savior of the Strip.”

Unesco Declares Hebron’s Core as Palestinian World Heritage Site, The New York Times

“Unesco, the United Nations cultural organization, declared the ancient and hotly contested core of Hebron in the Israeli-occupied West Bank as a Palestinian World Heritage site in danger on Friday, despite a concerted diplomatic effort by Israel and the United States to scuttle the decision. The Palestinian Authority administers most of Hebron, a predominantly Palestinian city, under the Oslo peace accords of the 1990s. But an enclave around the historic core remains under full Israeli military control and is also home to several hundred hard-core Jewish settlers. The area designated as a heritage site includes the Cave of the Patriarchs, an ancient shrine revered by Jews, Muslims and Christians as the burial place of the biblical patriarchs and matriarchs. Muslims refer to the imposing stone structure as the Ibrahimi Mosque, using the Arabic name for Abraham, who, according to the Bible, purchased the cave as a burial plot for his wife, Sarah. He is considered a prophet in Islam. The Unesco decision, made on Friday by secret ballot, was welcomed by Palestinians, who have lobbied for the move for years. But it was widely criticized by Israel and its allies, who accused Unesco of failing its mandate to foster cultural cooperation.”


Israel, Hamas in Intensive Talks Over Prisoner Swap, Palestinian Sources Say, Haaretz

Hamas and Israel are currently in the midst of intensive talks over a prisoner exchange, Palestinian sources have told Haaretz. According to the sources, the talks are being mediated by Egyptian intelligence officials and former senior Fatah figure Mohammed Dahlan. Security sources in Israel confirmed that some progress has been made in the indirect talks but dismissed reports in Arab media on the matter as too optimistic. The progress in the talks touches on an Egyptian initiative to significantly ease the siege on the Gaza Strip.

Trump’s peace envoy Greenblatt heading back to Israel, Times of Israel

President Trump’s special envoy to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, Jason Greenblatt, was due in Israel on Sunday night to advance the administration’s goal to restart negotiations. Greenblatt was set to meet with US Ambassador David Friedman after he arrives and with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday.

Netanyahu Reads From Genesis To Illustrate Claim To Hebron, Forward

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu read from the Bible during his weekly Cabinet meeting to illustrate the Jewish people’s and Israel’s connection to Hebron, two days after a UN committee passed a resolution calling the Cave of the Patriarchs there a Palestinian heritage.

West Bank Gets Israeli Power Boost as Gaza Endures Energy Crisis, US News and World Report

State-owned Israel Electric Corp [ISECO.UL] and the Palestinian Authority signed an agreement on Monday to boost Israeli electrical supply to the occupied West Bank, even as Gaza endures daily blackouts in a Palestinian political dispute. Under the deal, a new electrical substation was inaugurated near the West Bank city of Jenin. Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah and Israeli Energy Ministry Yuval Steinitz cut the red ribbon in a rare show of Israeli-Palestinian cooperation, three years after peace talks collapsed. The facility will transmit 60 megawatts of electricity purchased from the Israel Electric Corp (IEC), officials said.

Prominent Orthodox Rabbis From U.S. Among Those on Israeli Chief Rabbinate’s Blacklist, Haaretz

Israel’s Chief Rabbinate has published a blacklist of 160 rabbis from around the world, including many Orthodox rabbis, whose rulings on the question of “who is a Jew?” it does not recognize.

Among the prominent names in the new blacklist are Rabbi Avi Weiss, an Open Orthodox rabbi and the founder of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah in New York, and Rabbi Yehoshua Fass, the co-founder and executive director of Nefesh b’Nefesh, the organization that handles all immigration to Israel from North America.

Peretz, Gabbay jostle for votes as Labor race hits home stretch, Times of Israel

Labor Party leadership candidates Amir Peretz and Avi Gabbay on Sunday made their last-ditch efforts to persuade voters to support each of them, respectively, as the leadership race entered its final stretch. Some 52,000 Labor party members will be eligible to vote on Monday in the primary, with polls opening at 11 a.m. and closing at 9 p.m, after which the results are expected within the hour.

On Netanyahu’s Orders: Israel’s Foreign Ministry Retracts Criticism of anti-Semitism in Hungary and Strongly Attacks Soros, Haaretz

At the behest of the Prime Minister’s Office, the Foreign Ministry on Sunday retracted a statement issued the previous day by the Israeli ambassador to Hungary, which had called on Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and his party to halt a poster campaign against Jewish-American financier George Soros on the grounds that it was fueling anti-Semitism.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon issued a clarification that refrained from criticizing Orbán but also sharply criticized Soros himself, using claims similar to the ones being made against him by the Hungarian government.

Opinions and Analysis

Palestinians pinning their hopes on Sisi, Al-Monitor

Uri Savir reports, “The Palestinian leadership is placing its main hopes for a two-state solution process on Egypt. While Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is well-aware of the close relationship the Donald Trump administration has with Saudi King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Ramallah estimates that only Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has the operational capacity to create a pragmatic Arab coalition in coordination with Washington. This coalition would not only work to deter Iran’s nuclear and regional terror ambitions, but will also focus on advancing a peace process between Israel and the Palestinians. This was conveyed to Al-Monitor by a senior Palestinian Authority (PA) minister who also deals with security matters and has the ear of Abbas. This minister is also in contact with Egyptian intelligence officials.”

Syria Cease-fire: Israel Will Have to Live With Russian Dominance on Its Border, Haaretz

Zvi Bar’el observes, “In the Daraa area and particularly in the Suwayda province that borders the Golan Heights, Israel has allies, including the Druze, the Fursan al-Joulan militia and units of the Free Syrian Army. According to Arab pundits, these allies could serve as a foundation for the establishment of a southern Syrian army based on the model of the South Lebanon Army that Israel founded and supported. The purpose of these forces would be to prevent Hezbollah and other pro-Iranian militias from taking over in the area of the Syrian Golan Heights after the war against ISIS is over and U.S. troops leave the area. The working assumption in Israel is that the expected departure of the Americans will leave the stage completely open for Russia, which might then reach a compromise with Iran over the area’s control in accordance with their joint interest in keeping Assad in power. This is the source of Israel’s objection to solely Russia having control over monitoring in southern Syria, but it will have to live with the outcome that has been achieved so far.”

Netanyahu maneuvers to please Trump and settlers, Al-Monitor

Mazal Mualem writes, “So far, Netanyahu has managed to maneuver successfully. He can use the pressure applied to him by Bennett to show the Americans how complicated his situation is, given the demands of his right-wing coalition partners. At the same time, in dealing with the settlers, he uses Trump’s demand to restrain construction and explains why he must act responsibly. He really is a whiz at survival.”

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