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Israel and Palestinian Territories in September 2023

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Israel and Palestinian Territories in September 2023

September 1,2023

  1. Israeli Soldier Killed in Truck Attack (Jerusalem Post). An IDF soldier was killed and five others injured in a truck-ramming attack at the Maccabim checkpoint on Route 443. The deceased was identified as Sergeant Maxim Mulchanov from Ukraine.
  2. Iran Alleges Israeli Sabotage Plot (Jerusalem Post). Iran accuses Israel of a foiled plot targeting its defense and missile production.
  3. Israel Summons Belgian Ambassador (Times of Israel). Israel summoned Belgium’s ambassador over comments by Belgian Minister Caroline Gennez that Israel is wiping out Palestinian villages.
  4. Hamas May Resume Gaza Border Protests (Times of Israel). Hamas is reportedly considering restarting regular protests along the Israel-Gaza border, signaling the group’s capability to resume hostile activities.
  5. Palestinian Terror Groups Plotting Attacks on Israelis and Jews Abroad: Security Alert (i24). Israeli authorities warn of Palestinian terror groups Hamas and PIJ planning attacks abroad to boost bargaining power against Israel. Kidnapping Israelis is a focus. Backed by Iran, these groups seek anti-Israel goals. Global threat includes radicalized individuals. Alert comes before Jewish High Holidays, with increased Israeli travel, and encompasses non-Iranian Islamist threats.

September 5 ,2023

Netanyahu Urges Deportation Following Tel Aviv Eritrean Riots; 160+ Injured

Violent protests erupted in Tel Aviv involving Eritrean pro-government and anti-government groups, leading to over 170 injuries. Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened a task force and advocated for immediate deportation of involved Eritreans, terming them “a threat to Israel’s character.” A ministerial committee approved administrative detentions for easier arrests. Opposition leader Yair Lapid criticized the government’s approach. NGOs and international observers denounced the excessive use of force by the police. The incident has intensified the national debate on asylum seekers, judicial reforms, and Israel’s migration policies. Similar protests have occurred worldwide.

Domestic Dynamics & Detentions

Israel witnessed a spike in administrative detentions of Palestinians, totaling 1,264 in one week. National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir aims to toughen measures on Palestinian prisoners. Amid this, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh ascribed violence in Arab communities to the “Zionist occupation,” causing tensions. The IDF raises concerns about armored vehicles being unprepared for Iran-funded IED attacks in the West Bank.

Military Enhancement

Israel’s Defense Minister requested 25 additional F-35 aircraft, valued at $ 3 billion, to bolster security against Iranian proxies.

Diplomacy & Expanding Horizons

Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen officially opened an embassy in Manama, marking three years since Israel normalized relations with the Gulf kingdom. Concurrently, the head of the Moroccan Council of Advisors is visiting Israel this week.

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife visited Cyprus for two days, meeting the Cypriot President and Greek PM. Discussions addressed disputes over the ownership and profits of the “Aphrodite” gas field.

September 6 ,2023

  1. Netanyahu Refutes Resignation Rumors Tied to Israel-Saudi Deal (Jerusalem Post). Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denies reports suggesting he will resign in exchange for a U.S.-backed normalization deal with Saudi Arabia and a plea deal in his criminal trials. The reports claim his resignation would be due to his inability to govern under Israel’s current political conditions.
  2. Two Israelis Arrested for Smuggling Arms for Palestinian Islamic Jihad (Jerusalem Post). Two Israeli citizens from Tulkarm were arrested for smuggling firearms and explosives from Jordan for Palestinian Islamic Jihad, according to Israel’s Shin Bet. One of the arrested is known for connections to terrorist operatives.
  3. Bank of Israel Holds Rate at 4.75%, Signals Future Hikes (Central Banking). The Bank of Israel has maintained its interest rate at 4.75% for the second consecutive meeting, but hinted at possible future increases. The announcement comes amid rumors that Governor Amir Yaron will not seek reappointment, which the bank denies.
  4. UN Cautions Israel Against Mass Deporting Eritreans After Tel Aviv Riots (The National News). The UN has urged Israel to refrain from mass deportations of Eritreans following weekend riots in Tel Aviv. Over 200 people were injured in clashes between anti-government protesters and regime supporters. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu had earlier vowed to take “harsh measures” including immediate deportations.
  5. Saudi Arabia Denies Visas to Israeli Ministers for UNESCO Conference (New Arab). Saudi Arabia has reportedly refused visas to Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen and Education Minister Yoav Kisch for a UNESCO conference in Riyadh. The denial comes despite ongoing U.S.-Israel efforts to normalize ties with Saudi Arabia. U.S. officials advised that inviting Israeli ministers at this stage would complicate matters for Saudi Arabia.

September 7,2023

  1. Israel to Withhold Funds from PA for Electricity Debt (Times of Israel). Israel’s Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich announced plans to withhold money from the Palestinian Authority (PA) to offset its debt to the Israel Electric Corporation. The move has been criticized by the PA as a “declaration of financial war.” Israel collects taxes on behalf of the PA, contributing to 65% of its annual budget. The debt is said to be around $525 million. The decision has sparked warnings about the potential collapse of the cash-strapped PA.
  2. Israel and Indonesia Engage in Covert Talks to Normalize Relations (Middle East Monitor). Israeli officials are in confidential talks with Indonesia to improve diplomatic ties, according to Israel’s Yedioth Ahronoth. Normalization could occur after Indonesia’s presidential elections in February 2024. Current President Joko Widodo, who can’t run for a third term, has maintained a hostile stance towards Israel.

September 8,2023

  1. Israel Faces Economic Downturn Amid Judicial Crisis (Times Of Israel). Israel’s economy is facing a series of challenges, as foreign direct investment plunged 34% to $2.6 billion in Q1 2023, compared to quarterly averages in 2020 and 2022. The volume of “exit” transactions, such as mergers and acquisitions, also saw an 80% decline to $56 million during the same period. Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich stated that although Israel’s economy is relatively robust on a global scale, inflation remains a concern. Adding to the economic uncertainty, the shekel recently hit its lowest value since March 2020, falling to 3.84 against a strengthening dollar, amid growing concerns over proposed judicial reforms and their potential impact on democracy and investment.
  2. PA Sets Terms for Saudi-Israel Talks as Israel Legalizes West Bank Outposts (New Arab, Times of Israel, BBC). The Palestinian Authority (PA) has stipulated conditions for its participation in Saudi-Israel normalization talks, demanding governance over certain West Bank areas and a halt to Israeli settlements. Concurrently, Israel has legalized three West Bank outposts, a move that satisfies far-right elements but is contentious internationally. Both developments come amid domestic pressures: U.S. President Biden seeks gains for the Palestinians to appease his party, while Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman must consider public sentiment against Israel.

September 11,2023

  1. Palestinians Attempt Seventh Rocket Launch towards Israel in Months (Times Of Israel,  Al Sharq Al Awsat). The “Ayyash Brigade” made its seventh missile attempt at the Ram On settlement in the West Bank, with Israeli forces confirming a “failed attempt.” While these attempts haven’t posed a real threat, Israel’s security concerns are growing ahead of Jewish holidays, preparing for potential escalations and multi-front confrontations. Palestinian prisoners planning a hunger strike add to rising tensions.
  2. Mossad Chief Warns Iran of Strike in Tehran’s Heart (Al Sharq Al Awsat, Al Jazeera ). David Barnea, the head of Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency, has issued a stark warning to Iran. He stated that any attacks on Israelis or Jews would lead to operations “in the heart of Tehran.” Israel has thwarted 27 Iranian-led plots against Israelis worldwide in the past year. Barnea emphasized the need for a “united front” against Iran, commended the U.S. for Gulf navigation efforts, and pointed out that Iran’s growing confidence, partly due to Russian arms deals, has fueled its global terrorism sponsorship.
  3. Mossad’s Book on Ashraf Marwan Ahead of October War Anniversary (Al Hadath). Mossad’s book, “One Day, When Talking Is Permissible,” exposes Ashraf Marwan’s role in providing vital information to Israel ahead of the 1973 October War. The book challenges Egypt’s perception of him as a hero and double agent, revealing his collaboration with Mossad from 1970. This release precedes the war’s 50th anniversary by a month.

September 12,2023

  1. Israel Vows Action Against Iran’s Uranium Enrichment Above 60% (Jerusalem Post). Israel’s National Security Advisor, Tzachi Hanegbi, declared at the World Summit on Counter-Terrorism that Israel would respond if Iran enriched uranium beyond 60%, considering it evidence of nuclear weapons pursuit. Hanegbi emphasized that there would be no choice but to act if such enrichment occurred, with global recognition.
  2. UK foreign minister to warn of Iran threat on visit to Israel (Reuters).  British Foreign Minister James Cleverly is visiting Israel and the Palestinian territories to promote renewed dialogue for a two-state solution and address regional security threats, including those posed by Iran. Cleverly will meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh. In a speech at an international security conference, he will condemn Iran for supporting militant groups like Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, accusing it of enabling terrorism.
  3. Iranian Hackers Break Into Networks of More Than 30 Companies in Israel (Ynet). Iranian hackers have breached the networks of over 30 Israeli companies, as reported by cybersecurity firm ESET. A company in Brazil and another in the United Arab Emirates were also targeted. The affected Israeli firms operate across diverse sectors, including insurance, medicine, industry, communications, IT, technology, retail, automotive, law, financial services, architecture, and civil engineering.
  4. Family of EU Diplomat Detained in Iran Appeals for His Immediate Release (Times of Israel). The family of Johan Floderus, a Swedish EU diplomat imprisoned in Iran for over 500 days, marked his 33rd birthday by pleading for his swift release. Flowers was arrested at Tehran’s airport on April 17, 2022, while returning from a trip. He had been working for the EU delegation to Afghanistan in Brussels. The family released a picture from his sole video call with them. Flowers remains in Tehran’s Evin prison.
  5. PM Netanyahu Lauds US-Led Transport Corridor as Historic Cooperation Project (Times Of Israel). Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu commends the newly unveiled US-supported initiative to construct a rail and freight corridor connecting India, the Middle East, Israel, and Europe. Described as the “largest cooperation project in our history,” it aims to boost economic growth, political cooperation, trade, energy transfer, and digital connectivity.

September 13,2023

  1. US Provides Armored Vehicles and Weapons to Palestinian Authority for West Bank Security (Sharq al Awsat, Al Monitor, Times Of Israel). The United States has delivered armored vehicles and weaponry to the Palestinian Authority, supported by Israel, aiming to address escalating violence in the West Bank. Concurrently, military sources reveal Iran’s alarming establishment of airports in Lebanon and Syria for Marches. Mossad chief David Barnea’s stark warning to Iran, along with pointed criticism of Russia and the United States, adds further complexity to the Middle East’s volatile landscape.
  2. IDF Introduces ‘Spark’ Drone to Enhance Air Force Capabilities (The Jerusalem Post). The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) unveiled the new “Spark” UAV, part of the “Storm Clouds” UAV array, during a ceremony at the Hatzor Air Force Base. The 144th UAV Squadron received the drone, marking its transition from an Israeli Air Force (IAF) combat squadron with aircraft like “Nesher,” “Kfir,” and “Netz” to operating advanced drones.
  3. Israeli Supreme Court Holds ‘Historic’ Session on Controversial Law (Al Sharq Al Awsat). The Israeli Supreme Court is convening to discuss the controversial “removing the reason for reasonableness” law, which limits the court’s power to intervene in government decisions deemed unreasonable. The law was approved by the Israeli Knesset in July as part of a series of “judicial amendments.” Justice Minister Yariv Levin criticized the session, highlighting concerns about its impact on democracy and the Knesset’s authority.
  4. Palestinian Resistance Conducts Military Drills in Gaza during Israeli Threats (Tasnim News). Palestinian resistance factions have launched extensive military exercises in Gaza, named “al-Rukn al-Shadid 4,” in response to threats from the Israeli administration. The drills, involving various units and neighborhoods within Gaza, aim to prepare for potential hostilities and concluded at 11 a.m. local time.
  5. Syrian Engineer in Hezbollah Project Killed by Israel, Defense Tensions Rise (Iran International). A Syrian engineer working on a Hezbollah air force project was killed in an Israeli strike in Damascus. The project, supported by Iran, adds to escalating tensions in the region. Meanwhile, Israel’s Defense Minister Yoav Galant accused Iran of building an airport in southern Lebanon for anti-Israeli attacks. These developments highlight increasing military and intelligence activities among Syria, Iran, and Israel.

September 14,2023

  1. Israeli Airstrike on Syrian Port in Tartus (Jerusalem Post). Israeli Air Force reportedly launched an airstrike on Tartus port in western Syria, as per Syrian media. Syrian air defenses were activated, intercepting most of the missiles. Specific target locations were undisclosed. Syrian casualties: two soldiers killed, six wounded, per Reuters citing Syrian state media.
  2. Iran Warns Israel Amid Mossad Threat (Al Monitor).  Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman, Nasser Kanani, responded to Mossad’s warning, stating that Iran won’t hesitate to retaliate against Israel’s actions. The tension between the two nations escalates as Mossad’s director, David Barnea, accuses Iran of a global “terror” campaign against Israelis and Jewish targets, cautioning that any harm to Israeli citizens could lead to strikes against Tehran’s leadership.
  3. Azerbaijan Conducts Missile Test Amid Rising Nagorno-Karabakh Tensions (Haaretz). Azerbaijan’s armed forces recently conducted extensive air defense exercises, featuring the Israeli-made Barak-8 ER air defense system, which successfully intercepted a simulated ballistic missile. Israel’s longstanding strategic alliance with Azerbaijan includes the sale of substantial weaponry, while Azerbaijan reportedly provides Israel with oil and access to Iran. This development coincides with heightened tensions in the Nagorno-Karabakh region.

September 15,2023

  1. Israel and Greece Conduct Successful Joint Air Force Exercise (The Jerusalem Post). Israeli and Greek fighter pilots carried out a joint drill involving long-range flights, successfully hitting all targets despite challenging weather conditions.
  2. Israel and US Eager for Diplomatic Relations with Saudi Arabia (The National News). Israel’s ambassador to the US, Michael Herzog, sees a current opportunity to establish diplomatic ties with Saudi Arabia, and both the US and Israeli governments are interested, with signs of Saudi receptivity.
  3. Israel Finds 16 Tons of Missile Material from Turkiye to Gaza (Al Sharq Al Awsat). Israeli Customs found 16 tons of missile-making materials in a shipment from Turkiye to Gaza, initially labeled as gypsum bags. Hamas denies the claim, calling it fabricated.
  4. Israeli Elbit Systems Unveils Automatic Mortar System in London (Jerusalem Post). Elbit Systems showcased its Crossbow Next Generation Turreted Mortar System at a London conference. This automatic mortar system, developed under an IDF contract, can fire ten rounds per minute and is compatible with NATO ammunition requirements. It can be integrated into various platforms, including wheeled vehicles and stationary setups.

September 18,2023

  1. Complex Diplomatic Moves Shape Israel-MENA Relations: Talks with Saudi, Erdogan, African Leaders, and Rising Tensions in Palestine (Arabi 21, Times of Israel, Nabd, New Arab, Jordan News, i24). The arrest of individuals advocating Israeli-Saudi normalization casts doubt on ongoing talks between the nations. Amid this, Netanyahu plans unscheduled talks with Erdogan and seeks African allies after setbacks in U.S. diplomacy. Palestine enhances ties with Colombia as Saudi Arabia places Israeli talks on hold over Palestinian issues. Rising tensions prompted an Israeli drone strike in Gaza and renewed calls for Intifada from Hamas and PFLP.

September 19,2023

  1. Former Defense Officials Alert US Senators: Netanyahu Undermining Israeli Military Strength (The Jerusalem Post). Former Israeli defense officials have warned members of the U.S. Senate’s Committee on Foreign Relations that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s judicial reform plan “harms Israel’s national strength by dismantling the IDF.” The warning came in a letter sent on Monday, as reported by N12. The same letter was also delivered to Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Chairman MK Yuli Edelstein.
  2. Gaza Closure Extended by Occupation Authorities: Global Calls to Hold Israel Accountable (Al Jazeera). Israeli authorities have extended the closure of the Beit Hanoun (Erez) crossing in the northern Gaza Strip by 24 hours, affecting the entry of Palestinian workers. The decision was made after a security assessment following demonstrations at various contact points in eastern Gaza, where six Palestinians were injured by Israeli forces. The crossing had been slated to reopen on Monday following the conclusion of Jewish holidays.
  3. Saudi-Sponsored EU Initiative Targets Israeli-Palestinian Peace Resolution (Times of Israel). Saudi Arabia, the EU, and the Arab League will unveil the “Peace Day Effort” at the UN General Assembly. The initiative aims to incentivize Israel and the Palestinian Authority to reach a peace agreement, offering a “Peace Supporting Package” upon signing an accord.

September 20,2023

  1. Israeli Intel Flags Imam Hussein Brigade as Emerging Threat (Al Sharq Al Awsat). Israeli military intelligence warns of the 1,000-member unit within the Iran-affiliated Imam Hussein Brigade, equipped with Iranian drones and missiles. Concerns also rise over weapon smuggling to Palestinian groups via Syria and Jordan.
  2. Saudi FM Reiterates Need for Independent Palestinian State in UN Peace Initiative (Times of Israel). Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan emphasized the necessity of an independent Palestinian state for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The statement was made during a UN General Assembly event aimed at reviving the peace process. The event, supported by the EU and Arab nations, plans to create a “Peace Supporting Package” for Israelis and Palestinians. Neither Israeli nor Palestinian officials were present, and Saudi-Israeli normalization efforts remain in question.
  3. Iran’s Raisi Rejects Israel Normalization, Denies Ukraine Drone Support (Times of Israel). Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi warns against normalization with Israel and denies aiding Russia in the Ukraine war. Speaking at the UN General Assembly, Raisi also criticized U.S. interference in the Middle East. The remarks come after the U.S. unlocked nearly $6 billion in frozen Iranian assets following a prisoner exchange.
  4. IDF Engages in Jenin Operation and Gazan Border Unrest Escalates (Arutz Sheva). IDF forces conducted operations in the Jenin “refugee camp,” targeting a senior Hamas operative and engaging in firefights. Meanwhile, tension along the Gaza-Israel border continues to rise, with one Palestinian killed and nine wounded. The IDF is investigating the fatality, suggesting he may have died from a self-inflicted explosive mishap. These developments come amidst the extension of the closure of the Erez crossing for Gazan workers.

September 21,2023

  1. US, Libya Tackle Political Strains, Damage After Hurricane Daniel (Sharq al Awsat). US officials visit Tripoli to offer disaster relief and support for national unity following Hurricane Daniel, which led to extensive damage and loss of life in eastern Libya, particularly Derna. Meanwhile, Libya’s “stability” government faces allegations of politicizing the crisis and hindering aid efforts. Infrastructure and educational institutions in affected areas report severe damage, prompting both internal and international calls for coordinated relief and accountability. 
  2. King Mohammed VI Unveils $13 Billion, 5-Year Earthquake Rehabilitation Plan for Morocco (Al Yaoum 24). King Mohammed VI of Morocco has announced a 5-year, 120-billion dirham ($13 billion) plan aimed at reconstructing areas affected by the Al Haouz earthquake. Covering six regions and targeting 4.2 million people, the multi-sectoral program focuses on housing rehabilitation, infrastructure, social and economic development, and disaster preparedness. The King emphasized the importance of local input, environmental considerations, and exemplary governance, and pledged 2 billion dirhams from the Hassan II Fund for its financing.
  3. As Sudan Faces Unrest, Al-Burhan Takes UN Stage: A Move Toward Political Legitimacy? (Sudan Tribune). Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan attends the UN General Assembly, eyeing political legitimacy. Meanwhile, escalating clashes between the army and Rapid Support Forces grip Sudan. International stakeholders amplify calls for urgent action to alleviate the crisis.
  4. Egypt Gears Up for Presidential Elections: Key Details to Be Announced Soon (Al Hadath). Ahmed Bandari of Egypt’s National Elections Authority will announce the presidential election timetable on September 25. The authority emphasizes neutrality and judicial oversight. Various parties support the unannounced candidate, President El-Sisi.
  5. Egypt Accelerates Economic Growth with Multi-Sector Investments in Natural Gas, Tire Manufacturing, and Oil Exploration (Youm7). The Egyptian Council of Ministers has approved a series of economic initiatives to bolster various sectors. These include a golden license for a project to enhance natural gas production, a €1 billion investment in a tire factory in the Suez Canal Economic Zone, and a partnership between Shell and KUFPEC for oil and natural gas exploration in the Nile Delta.

September 22,2023

  1. Israel Reports GPS Jamming from Syria and Lebanon, Strikes Syrian Golan Heights Structures (Annahar). Israel faces increased GPS interference affecting Ben Gurion Airport, with suspicions pointing towards Syria and Lebanon as the source. The issue has escalated in recent months but has not jeopardized air safety, according to Israeli authorities. Meanwhile, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) launched tank strikes on two structures in the Syrian Golan Heights, citing violations of the 1974 Agreement on Disengagement. The IDF held the Syrian regime responsible for the violations and stressed it would not tolerate breaches of Israeli sovereignty. 
  2. Abbas Appeals to UN, Hamas Rejects Normalization, Israel Closes Erez Crossing (Al Hadath). Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas urged the UN to host a peace conference, stating no peace is possible without Palestinian rights. Hamas denounced any normalization efforts with Israel and cited concerns over Al-Aqsa Mosque. In response to violent border protests, Israel extended the closure of the Erez Crossing, affecting Gaza’s economy and humanitarian conditions.

September 25,2023

  1. Israeli Forces Dismantle Terrorist Command Center and Explosives Arsenal in Nur Shams (Jerusalem Post). Israeli forces raid Nur Shams, dismantling a terrorist command center and explosives. Two individuals, including a Hamas member, are killed and an IDF soldier is injured. Eight suspects linked to a Hamas cell are arrested, preventing an imminent attack.
  2. Israeli Army Arrests Hamas-Recruited Cells at Birzeit University in West Bank (Sharq Awsat). Israeli army arrests eight Hamas-recruited individuals at Birzeit University for planning attacks. An additional suspect is arrested nearby. Hamas responds, stating the arrests won’t deter student resistance and calls for immediate release.
  3. Saudi Delegation to Meet Palestinian President Amid Israel-Saudi Normalization Talks (Al Quds). Saudi delegation to meet Palestinian President Abbas amid Israel-Saudi normalization talks. The visit follows statements from the Saudi Crown Prince and Israeli PM on ongoing efforts. U.S. officials indicate full normalization is distant, requiring multiple conditions.

September 27,2023

  1. Israel Sets Conditions for Reopening Erez Crossing to Gaza (YNET). Israel tells Hamas via UN envoy that the Erez Crossing will reopen for Palestinian laborers if border violence and incendiary balloon launches stop. The move is tied to Gaza’s economic stability and Israel is considering a Hamas request to increase the laborer quota, dependent on border peace.
  2. Historic Visit by Saudi Ambassador to Ramallah Focuses on Two-State Solution (Jerusalem Post). Nayef al-Sudairi, Saudi Arabia’s first ambassador to the Palestinian Authority, arrived in Ramallah, advocating a two-state solution as key to Israel relations. Plans for a consulate in east Jerusalem are pending Israeli approval. Sudairi will be based in Jordan, and the move aims to bolster Saudi-Palestinian ties.
  3. PA Sets Terms for Israel-Saudi Deal (Arabic Times of Israel). The Palestinian Authority demands Israel stop West Bank activities for any Saudi-Israeli normalization. In return, the PA would cease unilateral actions like international court cases. The PA seeks U.S. support and Saudi assurance on the Palestinian issue.
  4. Israeli Airstrikes Target Hamas in Gaza (Times of Israel). Following border clashes and incendiary balloons, the Israeli military hit two Hamas posts in Gaza. No Israeli soldiers were injured, but Hamas reports five Palestinians hurt.

September 28,2023

  1. U.S. Welcomes Israel into Visa Waiver Program, Citing Strengthened Strategic Partnership (JP). The United States has welcomed Israel as the 41st country to join the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), emphasizing the move as a milestone in U.S.-Israel relations. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas highlighted the benefits in people-to-people engagement, economic cooperation, and enhanced security for both nations.
  2. Pompeo Doubts Feasibility of Saudi-Israel Peace Deal Tied to Palestinian Statehood (JP). Former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo expressed skepticism about the possibility of a peace deal between Saudi Arabia and Israel if the establishment of a Palestinian state is a precondition. Pompeo, who played a key role in the Abraham Accords, told The Jerusalem Post that the current Palestinian leadership’s support for terrorism and financial ties with Iran make a two-state solution unlikely. His comments came a day after Saudi Arabia’s first ambassador to the Palestinian Authority, Nayef al-Sudairi, visited Ramallah and emphasized that a Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital is crucial for any agreement with Israel.

September 29,2023

  1. Israeli Tourism Minister’s Historic Visit to Saudi Arabia Sparks Hope for Diplomatic Ties Through Tourism (Skift). Israel’s Tourism Minister, Haim Katz, made a historic visit to Saudi Arabia, advocating for tourism as a means to normalize relations between the two nations. The visit aligns with ongoing U.S. negotiations to establish diplomatic ties between Israel and Saudi Arabia. Both Katz and his Saudi counterpart, Ahmed Al Khateeb, see tourism as a “bridge between nations.” However, past tourism data with other Gulf states like the UAE and Bahrain suggests that achieving significant tourism exchange may be challenging.
  2. Elon Musk and Israeli Prime Minister Discuss National AI Strategy in High-Profile Meeting (JP). Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Tesla CEO Elon Musk to discuss artificial intelligence (AI) and its impact on humanity. The meeting took place in San Jose and included a public livestream and a panel discussion with experts. Netanyahu emphasized the need for Israel to become a world leader in AI technology, similar to its standing in cybersecurity. The Prime Minister also addressed the topic of AI at the UN General Assembly, highlighting the need to maximize its benefits while controlling its negative consequences.
  3. Germany and Israel Ink Landmark $3.5 Billion Arrow 3 Missile Defense Deal (Al Jazeera). Germany has acquired Israel’s Arrow 3 hypersonic missile system in a historic $3.5 billion agreement, marking the largest-ever deal for Israel’s military industry. German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius emphasized the system’s role in future-proofing Germany’s air defense, especially in light of Russia’s actions in Ukraine. Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant highlighted the significance of the deal, coming just 80 years after the Holocaust, as a step toward a safer future. The Arrow 3 system is capable of providing protective cover for neighboring EU states and had to receive U.S. approval before the deal could be finalized.

 

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