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Week in Review: Israel, PA Sign Cooperation Agreements; Iran Still Cheating on Nuclear Deal

Israel, PA Sign Cooperation Agreements

Israel and the Palestinian Authority signed two U.S.-mediated deals this week, both of which should improve the quality of life of Palestinians.

Israeli and Palestinian officials on Monday signed one of the agreements at a ceremony inaugurating the PA’s first-ever electricity substation. While Israel will, for now, continue to sell power to the substation, the PA will be in charge of distributing it to the areas under its rule. In the coming years, the PA should have three more substations and a power generation plant online, allowing it to produce energy independently of Israel.

Jason Greenblatt, the administration’s special envoy for international negotiations, who arrived in Israel this week, said the deal “sets the stage for further agreement on broader electricity cooperation,” and represents “important progress” towards Washington’s goal of boosting the Palestinian economy and improving “prospects for a just, secure, and lasting peace.”

Two days later, Greenblatt was on hand for the signing of an agreement for Israel to supply the PA with 33 million cubic meters of desalinated water, 10 million cubic meters of which will be transferred to the Gaza Strip. He was flanked by Israeli Regional Cooperation Minister Tzachi Hanegbi and PA Water Authority head Mazen Ghuneim.

While these measures have not yet led to new peace talks, and there are no guarantees that they will, they are expected to improve living conditions in the Palestinian territories and potentially bolster cooperation in other realms.

Last month, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair said that the world needs to break away from the existing “theology” of Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking. He said peace talks should be part of a regional effort and include moderate Arab states.

Iran Still Cheating on Nuclear Deal

German intelligence agencies warned in their latest annual reports that, despite the 2015 nuclear deal, Iran is still seeking “products and scientific know-how for the field of developing weapons of mass destruction as well [as] missile technology,” Benjamin Weinthal reported last week.

Weinthal’s reporting on similar German intelligence reports from 2016 prompted then-Wall Street Journal columnist Bret Stephens to observe, “Mr. Obama says Iran is honoring the nuclear deal, but German intelligence tells us Tehran is violating it more aggressively than ever.”

A year has passed, and now the predictions of the deal’s critics are looking more and more accurate. Iran has used the billions freed up by the deal to expand its war machine and further destabilize the Middle East. The terrible carnage in Syria is largely a function of Iran’s newfound wealth.

This week’s news comes as the White House appears ready to once again certify that Iran is compliance with the deal. On Tuesday, Senators Marco Rubio (R – Fla.), Tom Cotton (R – Ark.), David Perdue (R – Ga.), and Ted Cruz (R – Texas). wrote to the administration, saying, “as we near the end of another 90-day review period, U.S. interests would be best served by a sober accounting of Iran’s [nuclear deal] violations as well as the regime’s aggressive and destabilizing behavior.”

Citing unnamed critics of the deal, The Weekly Standard reported that the real battle over recertification will actually happen in mid-October, before the next recertification deadline, after the administration’s inter-agency review of the deal will have concluded.

Radiohead, Hamas Reject Anti-Israel Boycotts

In separate incidents, both the popular British rock band Radiohead and the Islamist terrorist group Hamas showed that they reject anti-Israel boycotts.

Radiohead lead singer Thom Yorke took to Twitter on Tuesday to reiterate the band’s plans to play in Israel next week, despite opposition from pro-Palestinian activists. “Music, art and academia is about crossing borders not building them, about open minds not closed ones, about shared humanity, dialogue and freedom of expression,” he wrote.

Yorke also flipped off anti-Israel protesters who descended on the band’s recent Glasgow concert with Palestinian flags.

The singer explained in June that the situation between Israel and the Palestinians is complicated and that he resents being lectured by anti-Israel boycotters, calling it “patronizing.”

Yorke’s defense of Radiohead’s intent to play in Israel echoes that of J. J. Burnel, bassist for the British band The Stranglers, who in November rejected pressure from Pink Floyd co-founder and BDS advocate Roger Waters to boycott Israel. Burnel called Waters “pretty ignorant,” described the decades-old conflict as “complicated,” and added, “If my neighbors told me that they would kick me here out back into the sea, I would kind of get quite defensive.”

Also this week, Israel’s coordinator of government activities in the territories (COGAT) tweeted a picture of Hamas officials attending a meeting where Israeli-made refreshments were served. “A week after endorsing BDS, Hamas officials were photographed drinking Israeli products at a recent meeting. Stay thirsty Hamas,” COGAT wrote.

It isn’t at all clear that Hamas really rejects boycotts of Israel—in fact, as mentioned in the tweet, they recently endorsed the BDS campaign—but they certainly don’t seem to mind enjoying Israeli products in private.

Feature: The Impossible Question of Occupation

In the latest issue of The Tower Magazine, Benjamin Kerstein looks at the moral dilemma of the West Bank occupation, postulating that it could be the “iron wall” that Zionist leader Vladimir Jabotinsky wrote about—the barrier that would prevent the Arab armies from destroying Israel. He noted that had Israel not assumed control of the West Bank during the 1967 Six-Day War, the subsequent 1973 Yom Kippur War, in which Egypt and Syria launched a surprise attack against Israel on the Jewish people’s holiest day, could have been catastrophic.

“Had Israel been confined to its 1967 borders, Israelis realized, the attack could well have been successful,” Kerstein wrote. “At the very least, the number of casualties would have been horrifyingly larger than the already horrifyingly large figure. It was difficult to reach any other conclusion than that the occupation had, to some degree, saved the Jewish state.”

“Following the return of the Sinai to the Egyptians in exchange for peace in 1978, Israel did not agree to further withdrawals from the occupied territories until the Oslo Accords in 1993,” he added. “Israel, in short, took a risk, betting that peace would turn out to be a better guarantor of security than occupation. Israel, as everyone knows, lost the bet. Instead of making peace, the Palestinian Authority incited hatred in its schools, accumulated weapons, and launched a terrorist war in 2000 that ended up costing over 1,000 Israeli lives and traumatized another generation.”

As a result, Israel built the West Bank security barrier, minimizing the influx of terrorists into Israel—though not stemming the tide. “Even today, acts of terror are still committed by West Bank Arabs who enter Israel through one means or another, often when Israel loosens the occupation’s restrictions for a time,” Kertsein observed. “In short, weakening the occupation did not bring peace but a new era of war, devastating Israeli hopes that the occupation could be ended without endangering Israel’s security.”

The 2005 withdrawal of “disengagement” from Gaza further underscored this. “Israel gave the PA what it had supposedly always wanted—the complete removal of Israel’s civilian and military presence,” but this only resulted in the ascent of Hamas and three subsequent armed conflicts. “Ending the occupation, in other words, proved disastrous for both Israel and, ironically, for the Palestinians themselves,” Kerstein wrote.

Still, Kerstein argued that there are unquestionably valid arguments to be made against the occupation—including that “the domination by force of another people is immoral.”

“For someone who believes that national self-determination is an inalienable right, that individuals have the right to determine their own lives, and that freedom is one of the highest aspirations of man, it is undeniable that the domination by force of another people is immoral, he emphasized. “And it is immoral according to Israel’s own values as a Jewish, Zionist, and democratic state that embraces all of those beliefs.”

The occupation, it would seem, has forced Israel to face an impossible question: “What is more immoral, occupation or submission to genocide? Should the Jewish people give up their lives in order to resolve an abstract contradiction? Is morality a cult of human sacrifice?”

This Week’s Top Posts

• New Details Emerge About Hezbollah’s Iran-Built Weapons Factories in Lebanon

• Bernard-Henri Lévy: “A Free Kurdistan Would Be a Potent Force for Stability and Peace”

• Romanticizing Terror: How The New York Times Whitewashed Marwan Barghouti’s Bloody Crimes

Three Big Questions

Suaad Abd-Elhadi, a doctoral student at Hebrew University, recently won a prize for her innovative test to detect Parkinson’s disease. Yissum, the university’s technology transfer company, is looking into commercializing the test. Will members of the BDS campaign call for boycotts of the test, or would that only be the case if Abd-Elhadi was Jewish?

If critics of the nuclear deal with Iran were correct in their predictions that the deal would encourage Iran to further destabilize the Middle East, might they also have been correct in warning that the deal does not cut off all of Iran’s pathways to a nuclear weapon?

Did you ever think you’d see the headline, “Top UAE Official Slams Qatar-Owned Al-Jazeera for Anti-Semitism“?

[Photo: U.S. Embassy Tel Aviv / YouTube ]