Daily TIP

Foreign Ministry chief: Israel consults with Sunni Arab states on security issues, shared regional interests

Posted by Tip Staff - August 08, 2016


 

Israel has been consulting with Sunni Arab countries on ways to counter terrorism and the rise of Iran, Dore Gold, the director-general of the Israeli Foreign Ministry, said in an interview with the Financial Times on Monday. “The Sunni Arab states increasingly see the Middle East through the same prism as Israel,” Gold explained.
Several events in recent months have demonstrated Israel's burgeoning relationships with Arab countries, particularly Saudi Arabia. Anwar Eshki, a former general who has served in senior positions in the Saudi military and foreign ministry, visited Israel last month as part of a delegation of Saudi academics and businessmen. The group met with Gold; IDF Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories; and opposition Knesset members, including Yair Lapid, the chairman of the Yesh Atid party. Additionally, former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror and former Saudi intelligence chief Prince Turki al-Faisal engaged in a public discussion on regional issues at an event at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy in May. Although the two former officials differed on the Mideast peace process, both emphasized the threat posed by Iran. That same month, officials from Israel and Saudi Arabia revealed that representatives from their countries had been engaging in secret meetings since 2014 to discuss Iran’s threat to the region.
Israel's ties with Egypt also have continually improved. Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry visited Israel last month to offer his government’s assistance in restarting peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians. Shoukry’s visit marked the first time an Egyptian foreign minister had visited Israel since 2007, and highlighted the closer ties that have been forged in the last few years under the leadership of Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. Also last month, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin attended a reception at Egypt’s embassy in Tel Aviv in honor of Egypt’s National Day. The two countries have increased military and intelligence cooperation in order to combat ISIS' Sinai affiliate and Hamas. Egypt has shut down underground tunnels between Sinai and Gaza in order to prevent the smuggling of weapons and fighters between the two groups. ISIS in Sinai perpetrated major attacks against Egypt, and both Egyptian and Israeli intelligence agencies have noted that Hamas and ISIS cooperate extensively. Hamas has trained ISIS militants and provided them with medical care.

 

The allegations that the Gaza director of the charity World Vision siphoned tens of millions of dollars to the terrorist group Hamas represents a “profound betrayal of trust,” one of the United Nations’ top officials dealing with Palestinian affairs said in a statement Monday.
The Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security agency, announced on Thursday that Mohammed el-Halabi had embezzled aid money to help Hamas purchase weapons, build terror tunnels, and even give bonuses to terrorists. Robert Piper, the UN Coordinator for Humanitarian Aid and Development Activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, said that the allegations “raise serious concerns for humanitarian organizations working in Gaza. Redirecting relief away from its intended beneficiaries would be a profound betrayal of the trust put in a senior manager by his employer and by the organization’s donors.”
If the charges are found to be true, “these actions deserve unreserved condemnation; Gaza’s demoralized and vulnerable citizens deserve so much better.”
Former Shin Bet director Avi Dichter, now the head of the Knesset’s influential Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, said Monday that the problem of aid organizations funneling money to Hamas is widespread, but the world remains “naive” to the seriousness of the problem.
World Vision is “only a small example,” Dichter said in an interview with Israel Radio. He added that World Vision and other similar organizations “know very well that they are funding Hamas.”
The  fact that the donating world, which is recruited to help refugees and the needy, doesn’t understand that its cash is being pumped for terror uses… it is a naive world to the point of being hideous.

The United Nations and “enlightened countries,” Dichter said, “fall into the trap set for them by Hamas and Islamic Jihad,” one that “plays out year after year after year.” As an example, Dichter noted that United Nations Relief and Works Agency, the agency whose sole purpose is to help Palestinian refugees, has some 30,000 clerks responsible for five million people. “It is clear that the number of UNRWA clerks who are working for Hamas is close to 100 percent,” he charged.
Australia became the first country to react to the Shin Bet’s charges, announcing last Friday that it would suspend its donations to World Vision until Israel’s investigation is complete. Germany has also announced that it was suspending its donations to the group.
Columbia University professor Rashid Khalidi has noted that “humanitarian and charitable institutions throughout Palestine employ personnel regardless of sectarian or political affiliation and offer services on a similar basis. Thus, UNRWA, NGO-run and public hospitals and clinics, for example, employ members of different political groups such as Fatah, the PFLP [Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine], Hamas, and Islamic Jihad, without reference to their belonging to a specific group.”
For more on the issue of corruption in the Palestinian aid sector, read The Real Palestinian Refugee Crisis, written by Asaf Romirowsky for the May 2014 issue of The Tower. (via TheTower.org)

 
The dulcet voices of the women in Jaffa’s Rana Choir give the impression of perfect harmony. The 10 Arab and 10 Jewish singers do have a strong bond, yet their views are hardly monolithic. “It’s not easy; we don’t all agree about everything all the time,” says Lubna Rifi, 40, an Arab Muslim resident of Jaffa who joined the group last year. “It’s challenging to hear other opinions and try to understand the other person’s point of view. But at least you are seeing the picture from their side and they are seeing it from your side,” she says. “In this amazing choir we are doing something to change our difficult reality.” Rana (“singing” in both Hebrew and Arabic) was founded as Shirana in 2008 at the Arab-Jewish Community Center in Jaffa. In early 2016, founder-conductor Mika Danny and artistic director Idan Toledano took the group under the umbrella of the Inspiration Global School for Art, Leadership and Social Changeand shortened the name. "I was always involved in political activities and demonstrations, and then I moved to Jaffa 13 years ago and there I felt I had a real chance to do something meaningful using my profession of music,” says Danny, 60, a voice teacher and composer. She felt that a choir could provide a pivotal point for interaction between Muslim, Christian and Jewish residents of Jaffa, officially part of the Tel Aviv municipality. “The power of music is immense,” Danny tells ISRAEL21c. “Making music together, especially singing, immediately creates intimacy and non-verbal communication. You have to listen carefully to those standing to your left and right to synchronize with them. You develop a team spirit as you perform together and want to succeed.” (via Israel21c)

 


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