April 13, 2024
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April 13, 2024
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Saudi Concerns With American Policy

Al-Monitor.com—In the framework of overall relations with Gulf countries, Saudi Arabia considers the American proposal to transform the Gulf Cooperation Council into a security organization similar to NATO as one that conforms to its own aspirations for the council. But this proposal, which would have been a major triumph for Saudi policy in the Gulf, was rejected by smaller Gulf states that saw in it a strengthening of Saudi dominion over them. Riyadh’s opinion of the Iranian threat differs from Washington’s. Saudi Arabia considers the growing political influence of Iran in the Arab world a threat equal to that of nuclear weapons, while the U.S. prefers to differentiate between Iran’s nuclear capabilities and its cultural, political or even religious influence in the region. Riyadh also considers the growing Iranian influence a catalyst for its Shiite minority and an instigator for that minority to demand more political participation and religious equality in the kingdom. This, to Saudi Arabia, is a bigger threat to its security that any Iranian nuclear weapon.

Lev Tahor Leader Lied

The Toronto Star reports: Shai Fima, a young boy from New Milford who was kidnapped by Lev Tahor told a Canadian TV station that they paid him to lie on their behalf. He now claims he was indeed kidnapped by Lev Tahor. The decision to grant refugee status to Lev Tahor leader Rabbi Shlomo Helbrans was based, in part, on that testimony. Fima said he was paid $5,000 in 2003 to deny he was kidnapped and to say the leader was being unfairly persecuted. That video was part of Helbrans’ successful refugee application that claimed he was being targeted in Israel for his anti-Zionist beliefs. This fall, the group fled their home in Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts and resettled in Chatham, Ont., where a judge upheld the Quebec decision to remove children from their care. An appeal of that judgment is scheduled to be heard in Chatham on March 5.

MK Stern Threatens ‘Shadow’ Rabbinate

The Jerusalem Post reports that MK Elazar Stern (Hatnua) threatened to establish a “shadow rabbinate” if chief Rabbis David Lau and Yitzchak Yosef continue their opposition to his conversion bill. He told the Sochnut’s Board of Governors that if the rabbis won’t budge “We [will] establish new Orthodox institutions here in Israel.” His bill would allow as many as 30 local batei din to be in charge of the process in their towns, instead of in the four state-sponsored batei din. The bill recently passed its first reading in the Knesset. According to news reports, the rabbanut is worried its power would be reduced and standards would deteriorate, so they threatened to stop cooperating with the Knesset. Stern told the Post, “If [the chief rabbis] continue to object, we will do other kashrut certifications and other weddings and other conversions without them. It can be a shadow rabbinate… Every day that this law doesn’t pass causes assimilation here in Israel.”

Israel Sending Refugees to Uganda

The Jerusalem Post reports that 1,500 migrants will voluntarily leave Israel by end of month. Unnamed Israeli officials told reporters that 700 African “migrants” have already taken the $3,500 stipend and returned to their “home” countries in February so far, says Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar, while other reports say that 40 were headed to Uganda, which Ugandan officials refuse to confirm. Israeli authorities expect well over a thousand African migrants to voluntarily leave the country over the course of February. In January and December, 773 and 325 migrants returned home, according to Interior Ministry figures. Many are afraid to leave for Uganda, because they are not sure of their status and are afraid they will be deported to their home countries, the home countries they fled Israel says the relocations are done on a voluntary basis.

King Abdullah II: Jordan is Not the Alternative Homeland

Petra—His Majesty King Abdullah II, in a meeting with the Prime Minister, the President of the Senate, and the Speaker of the Lower House, the President of the Judicial Council, the President of the Constitutional Court, and members of the permanent offices of both chambers of the parliament, said he wanted to discuss the notion that many people have of calling Jordan the “alternative Palestinian homeland.” The King said that the group is guilty of sedition and had gotten an early start this year, and instead of naming names, he would rather focus on political and economic reform. The King affirmed that Jordan’s position is very strong and that Jordan is familiar with all the details of the negotiations related to final status issues, especially “Jerusalem, the refugees, borders, water and security.” He pointed out that Jordan helps all parties to support prospects for achieving peace in the Middle East.

Stifling Criticism of Israel Could Backfire

Haaretz reported that 1,800 Jewish leaders brainstormed a new program to engage young Diaspora Jews. Among their conclusions was that attempts to stifle criticism abroad of Israeli policies could backfire. “If you want to engage young people with this country, you have to teach them that it’s about wrestling as well as hugging Israel,” said Jewish Agency Director-General Alan Hoffmann in an interview with Haaretz. “If the message is that you can only hug Israel, you will lose these young people.” The forum was known as the “Government of Israel and World Jewry Joint Initiative.” Among its recommendations is that the government of Israel double its investment over the next five years in educational programs that target Jews abroad from 400 million shekels a year to 800 million shekels a year ($114 million – $228 million). According to the proposal, Jewish institutions and philanthropists abroad would contribute 2 shekels for every 1 shekel allocated by the Israeli government toward these programs.

Israel Bolstering Ties with China

JNS.org—A special delegation headed by Israeli National Security Council chief Yossi Cohen will leave for China in the coming weeks to hold a strategic dialogue with Chinese officials. Political sources say Israel cannot ignore China’s growing standing as a world power and the subsequent need to reinforce Jerusalem’s ties with Beijing. Israel maintains strategic dialogues with a number of key nations, including Germany, Britain, France, Italy, and Russia. These dialogues focus, first and foremost, on issues pertaining to defense and security, alongside fostering solid economic ties. Israel is barred from collaborating with China on defense matters due to various agreements it has with the U.S. and other key Western nations, and its ties with Beijing have so far been predominately based on bilateral trade.

Israel-Peru Ties Strengthened

JNS.org—Israeli President Shimon Peres recently welcomed Peruvian President Ollanta Humala to his home recently. Humala, visited Israel as part of a larger tour of the Middle East, and also met with Prime Minister Netanyahu. “Peru hopes to strengthen ties with countries in the Middle East, promoting areas of mutual interest to support development, environment conservation and intercultural dialogue while giving a boost to trade and investment ties and strengthening cooperation in key areas,” the Peruvian congress said in a statement ahead of the trip, according to the Jerusalem Post.

Palestinian Corruption May Hamper Creation of a PA State

TIP—A series of recent developments have refocused attention on links between weak Palestinian institutions and endemic Palestinian corruption, underlining decades-old worries that internal structural barriers that may hamper the creation of a viable Palestinian state. Analysts have long called attention to at least four fundamental dynamics that risk rendering any Palestinian state a failed state: a lack of political legitimacy for Palestinian governments, a lack of economic sustainability in either the West Bank or the Gaza Strip, the existence of rival governments in territories claimed by the Palestinians for a state, and the inability of Palestinian governments to check armed groups unconnected to those governments. Pressure is mounting on PA President Mahmoud Abbas to appoint a deputy president amid mounting accusations of corruption throughout 2013. Shin Bet head Yoram Cohen blasted the PA as a “corrupt” organization and assessed that a recent uptick in Palestinian violence stemmed from the lack of a “financial horizon” in the West Bank. The European Court of Auditors reported that roughly billions of euros of European assistance provided to the PA between 2008 and 2012 had been “misspent, squandered or lost to corruption.”


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