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The Daily TIP: Netanyahu Makes Secret Visit to Oman, Meets with Sultan Qaboos bin Said

Posted by Tip Staff - October 29, 2018

Netanyahu Makes Secret Visit to Oman, Meets with Sultan Qaboos bin Said
At 35th Anniversary of Marine Barracks Bombing Trump Imposes New Sanctions on Hezbollah
Political, Tech Leaders Inaugurate the Peres Israeli Innovation Center
Tel Aviv University Student Develops Robot that Navigates in the Dark Using Sound

Netanyahu Makes Secret Visit to Oman, Meets with Sultan Qaboos bin Said

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a secret trip to Oman on Friday on a first official visit by an Israeli leader to the Gulf nation in over two decades, The Times of Israel reported. The meeting between the Israeli leader and Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said was hailed as groundbreaking and as a sign of warming ties between the Jewish state and the Sunni Arab world.

The Prime Minister’s Office confirmed on Friday afternoon that Netanyahu and his wife Sara, as well as Mossad intelligence agency director Yossi Cohen and several high-profile Israeli officials, had just returned from an “official diplomatic visit” to Muscat, where the Israeli leader discussed the peace process and regional developments with the Sultan.

In a statement, his office said the trip was aimed at “tightening relations with other nations in the region, while leveraging Israel’s strengths in security, technology and finance,” adding that the meeting was the result of “extensive” contacts between Israel and the Gulf nation.

The trip was praised by Dan Shapiro, former United States Ambassador to Israel under President Barak Obama, as a promising development. “Netanyahu's visit to Oman, and the Omanis' willingness to make it public, is positive: a useful opening for regional dialogue and an overt sign of mostly quiet strategic convergence between Gulf states and Israel,” Shapiro said. “Lots of work ahead to fully build on these gains. But it's good.”

Netanyahu’s visit comes as Israel’s Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev, for the first time, arrived in the United Arab Emirates today, where she is scheduled to attend the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam Judo tournament. Israel and the Gulf emirate have no official diplomatic relations. However, the UAE has recently been pursuing a policy of normalization with the Jewish State.

At 35th Anniversary of Marine Barracks Bombing Trump Imposes New Sanctions on Hezbollah

President Donald Trump signed a recently passed bill that imposed new sanctions on the Lebanese Iran-backed terrorist group, Hezbollah, at a ceremony at the White House commemorating the 35th anniversary of the Marine barracks bombing in Beirut, Fox News reported Thursday.

"At 6:22 a.m., the terrorist detonated the equivalent of 1,200 pounds, commonly known as 12,000 pounds — that’s a lot, and it’s terrible — of explosives, killing 3 American soldiers, 18 American sailors, and 220 United States Marines. That was a horrible moment," Trump recalled in his remarks.

"Minutes later, another truck bomb took the lives of 58 French paratroopers. It was the single deadliest day for the Marines since Iwo Jima."

The president continued, "The attack was carried out by Hezbollah, which Iran was instrumental in founding a year earlier to advance its radical agenda, and remain its main patron today. And we are doing a big number on Iran today, in case you haven’t noticed."

The legislation allows international law enforcement agencies, such as Interpol, to target the terrorist group’s global financing network. An estimated 20 to 30 percent—or between $200 and $300 million per year—of Hezbollah’s $1 billion annual budget comes from sources other than the Iranian regime.

Fox reported that Iran's economy is projected to shrink by 3.6 percent next year, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Before sanctions had been reimposed, the IMF had expected the Islamic Republic's economy to grow by 4 percent.

Even as Trump promised to reimpose all of the sanctions that had been in place before the nuclear deal, The Wall Street Journal reported that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is considering allowing Swift — a service that facilitates cross-border transfers of cash — to remain connected to Iranian banks.

Political, Tech Leaders Inaugurate the Peres Israeli Innovation Center

A group of political and technology leaders attended the inauguration of the Israeli Innovation Center at the Peres Center of Peace, The Times of Israel reported Thursday.

Among the high-profile dignitaries from the worlds of politics and technology included Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu; China’s Vice President Wang Qishan; the founder of Chinese internet giant Alibaba, Jack Ma; former Google CEO and founder of the Innovation Endeavors hedge fund, Eric Schmidt; and Facebook Senior Vice President David Marcus. Israeli innovators who attended included Gil Shwed of Check Point Software Technologies, Mobileye CEO Amnon Shashua, IBM VP Aya Soffer.

Two years after his death, former Israeli President Shimon Peres made an appearance at the event as a hologram delivering a pre-recorded "spiritual will" to all those attending.

“My vision for the Israeli Innovation Center, established here within the Peres Center for Peace and Innovation, is to serve as a window to the future. A place for dreams. A place that expresses the desire to leave the next generation with a better and brighter future,” Peres explained.

The former Israeli president explained that the goal of the Innovation Center was to "tell the extraordinary and inspiring story of the State of Israel as the ‘innovation nation.’" He said that he hoped that the center would serve as a place for "cooperation and coexistence between all sectors of Israeli society, and a link between Israel and the world."

The Innovation Center, which takes up four floors in the Peres Center, highlights many of the key events that helped define Israel as the Startup Nation. The displays will include mockups of the most famous inventions, and holographic images of the entrepreneurs explaining their inventions.

Tel Aviv University Student Develops Robot that Navigates in the Dark Using Sound

If bats frighten you, you’ll want to steer clear of Tel Aviv University graduate student Itamar Eliakim’s latest invention: an autonomous robot that navigates in the dark like a bat.

“Robat” doesn’t fly like its biological inspiration, but scoots on the ground on four wheels. The similarities come into play when the Robat finds itself in new territory. Like a bat, it uses echolocation to map its environment based only on sound.

Scientists have long known that bats emit sounds that are reflected by objects in their surroundings. The bats use this echo information to “see” in the dark. But applying echolocation as the basis for a robot has rarely been tried until now.

Robat is equipped with an ultrasonic speaker that produces frequency-modulated chirps at a rate typically used by bats, as well as two ultrasonic microphones that serve as the robot’s ears. The Robat then classifies the borders and shapes of the objects it encounters with its artificial neural network.

The result is a rich, accurate map of its environment while avoiding obstacles. If Robat reaches a dead end, for example, it can use its classification abilities to determine whether it is blocked by a solid wall or by a plant through which it could pass.

Eliakim says Robat demonstrates “the great potential of using sound in future robotic applications.”

Eliakim’s findings were published in the science journal PLOS Computational Biology. Funding came in part from the Israel Ministry of Science, Technology and Space. Prof. Yossi Yovel of TAU’s School of Zoology and Dr. Gabor Kosa of TAU’s School of Mechanical Engineering serve as Eliakim’s advisers.

(via Israel21c)

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