• irvsafdieh

Peace to Prosperity, Hezb-hola, From Thin Air


Palestinian Authority Boycotting US-Led Bahrain Summit

RTE News, June 25th 2019

Recap:

President Donald Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner along with global finance chiefs are attending an economic conference in Bahrain aimed at bettering the lives of Palestinians and hopefully paving a path to peace in the region. Neither the Israeli nor Palestinian governments will be in attendance [1].

The Context:

  • The economic proposal covers 179 projects to be funded by grants, subsidized loans and private capital investments totaling $50 billion over 10 years [2]. The plan includes projects worth $6.3 billion for Palestinians in Lebanon, as well as $27.5 billion in the West Bank and Gaza [3].

  • The Palestinian Authority (PA) boycotted the summit dismissing it as " nonsense [4]” while Israel's ambassador to the United Nations, Danny Danon, criticized the PA for its closemindedness.

  • Analysts questioned the summit’s efficacy being that it only addresses economic and not diplomatic issues between Israelis and Palestinians. [5] The PA’s long-standing position is that normalization of ties between itself and Israel can only occur once a Palestinian state is established [6]. Israel is hesitant to offer unilateral concessions based on previous rejections and decades of terrorism. Yossi Beilin – a key architect of the Oslo Accords - said releasing the economic chapter of the peace plan before the diplomatic one was “putting the second act before the first [7].”

  • The PA is under increased financial pressure as it refuses to accept tax revenue collected by Israel on its behalf since Israel deducts money earmarked for families of terrorists. The Arab League has renewed a pledge to pay the PA $100 million a month to stabilize its finances although the sum hardly makes a dent in the PA’s expenditures.

  • Bahrain invited six Israeli media outlets to cover the summit – the first time Israeli journalists have been allowed in the country since 1994 [8].

Conversation Points:

  • Does the peace process need a new approach?

  • Will first offering an economic plan affect the viability of a diplomatic plan to follow?

  • Who is most affected by the PA’s decision to reject financial support?

Hezbollah Operating in Venezuela, Maduro’s ex-Security Chief Says

Times of Israel, June 25th 2019

Recap:

Former Venezuelan Security Chief Manuel Ricardo Cristopher Figuera fled his homeland after a failed coup and shed new light on Hezbollah’s entrenchment in the country.

Context:

  • Hezbollah has long maintained a presence in the semi-lawless region where Argentina, Paraguay, and Brazil converge. Beyond the Tri-Border Area, Hezbollah is well-entrenched in Venezuela, where the Shiite terrorist group has long worked to establish a vast infrastructure for its criminal activities, including drug trafficking, money laundering and illicit smuggling [9].

  • Hezbollah uses its role in the South American drug trade to finance its military buildup against Israel in Lebanon. The group serves as a middleman in the global drug route from South America to West Africa and Europe, moving hundreds of tons of cocaine through Belgium and Germany.

  • US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo confirmed that Hezbollah maintains “active cells” in Venezuela which are funded by Iran [10] and “very difficult” to thwart [11]. Iran provides Hezbollah roughly $700 million annually [12].

  • In 2015, a Hezbollah explosive cache containing three tons of ammonium nitrate was found at four locations in north London. Other caches planted by Hezbollah cells were discovered in Cyprus, Thailand and other European countries.

Conversation Points:

  • Would Hezbollah have the means to support its terrorist activities without its involvement in the drug trade?

  • Is Hezbollah as valuable to Iran without its Latin American foothold?

  • Does Venezuela’s state of affairs make it susceptible to Hezbollah’s influence?

Israeli Technology Selected to Fight Severe Drought in South Africa

Zachary Keyser, Jerusalem Post, June 24th 2019

Recap:

Watergen, an Israeli company that specializes in manufacturing water treatment technology, was chosen by World Vision South Africa to implement its system into communities suffering from severe droughts.

The Context:

  • World Vision South Africa won the 2018 Bill Ford Better World Challenge, which gives non-profit organizations around the world the opportunity to address critical humanitarian problems in their communities [13].

  • Founded in 2009, Watergen provides a water-from-air solution that uses humidity to create clean and fresh drinking water. Watergen was named one of the World Economic Forum’s top technology pioneers in 2018 [14].

  • World Vision will use Watergen’s atmospheric water generator to supply water to fifty early-childhood development centers, seventy-nine schools, four health clinics and 3,400 individual South African households. Each unit contains an internal water treatment system and can produce up to 900 liters of pure, safe-drinking water per day. It requires no infrastructure to operate aside from a diesel generator [15].

Conversation Points:

  • What explains Israel’s technological prowess in water?

Notes:

  1. US-led Bahrain meeting on Palestine: All the latest updates, Al Jazeera, June 25th 2019

  2. Jared Kushner, US peace team face credibility test in Bahrain, Jeremy Diamond, CNN, June 24, 2019

  3. US-led Bahrain meeting on Palestine: All the latest updates, Al Jazeera, June 25th 2019

  4. Ibid.

  5. Ibid.

  6. Bahrain Workshop to Open Amid Low Expectations, Herb Keinon, Jerusalem Post, June 25th, 2019

  7. Ibid.

  8. Ibid.

  9. Hezbollah Is in Venezuela to Stay, COLIN P. CLARKE, Foreign Policy, FEBRUARY 9th 2019

  10. Ibid.

  11. Pompeo: Hezbollah using Venezuela drug trafficking to ‘make payroll’. Joel Gehrke, Washington Examiner, June 11th 2019

  12. Hezbollah Is in Venezuela to Stay, COLIN P. CLARKE, Foreign Policy, FEBRUARY 9th 2019

  13. Israeli Technology by Watergen Selected to Fight Severe Drought in South Africa, Breaking Israel News, June 24th 2019

  14. Ibid.

  15. Ibid.