Research and Briefings
In This Week’s Informed...
• Conservative parliamentarians criticise ‘anti-peace’ BDS movement
• Senior advisor to PM leads high-tech delegation to Israel
• Fatah, Hamas agree to form unity government within 3 months
• Natural gas discoveries in Israel continue apace
• Israeli doctors save Syrian girl’s life
• Islamist group takes responsibility for mortar fire on Mount Hermon
Conservative parliamentarians criticise ‘anti-peace’ BDS movement
• Conservative parliamentarians Pauline Latham MP and Charles Tannock MEP have united in criticising the BDS campaign against Israel and restated the British Government’s opposition to the boycott movement.
• The Conservative parliamentarians were responding to the revelation that a British-funded institute in Jerusalem recently hosted a BDS event.
• It has emerged that, the Kenyon Institute, also known as the British School of Archaeology, hosted an event in March titled “The emergence of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement” – a campaign led by radical anti-Israel BDS activists – at its East Jerusalem headquarters.
• The institute is funded by the British Academy which in turn is funded by the British Government and questions have been raised as to why British taxpayers have ultimately funded the controversial event.
• The department reportedly provides 91% of the Academy's income - a total of £27m ($41m) in 2011/12.
• The event was a further source of controversy when it was revealed that a UN staff member, Ray Dolphin, had circulated details of the anti-Israel event in an official email to co-workers.
• Pauline Latham MP, a member of the International Development Select Committee, restated the British Government’s opposition to the boycott movement: “The British Government has been very clear that it does not support the boycott movement”.
• The Conservative MP for Mid Derbyshire labelled the BDS movement a “fringe campaign that is inherently anti-peace, perpetuating divisions between Israelis and Palestinians and doing nothing to bring the two sides together in a compromising way”.
• The Conservative MP stressed: “The government should not be directly or indirectly funding the BDS movement and I hope that after further investigation this will come to an end”.
• Mrs Latham urged the taxpayer-funded British Academy to “ascertain how exactly its partners are spending their funding donations”.
• Charles Tannock, a Member of the European Parliament, told The Jerusalem Post: “I totally oppose the promotion, by a UK taxpayer-funded organisation such as the British Academy, of events which aim to promote a ‘campaigning boycott, divestment and sanctions’ anti- Israel event which is aimed at sanctioning a close friend of the UK and a democracy such as Israel”.
• Dr. Tannock said it was “equally unacceptable a UN official should be promoting this event through his official email address suggesting possible UN endorsement of this message”.
• The event was led by speaker Suzanne Morrison, a PhD candidate at the London School of Economics (LSE) and a supporter of the BDS campaign.
• For Morrison, an academic boycott of Israel is a “top priority in the BDS movement.”
Senior advisor to PM leads high-tech delegation to Israel
• Prime Minister David Cameron’s senior policy advisor, Rohan Silva, is leading a high-level business delegation to visit Israel this weekend.
• Rohan Silva is leading the four-day visit alongside the UK’s largest retail companies, ranging from high-street supermarket chains to internationally-renowned luxury brands.
• The trip has been designed to show British businesses the wide range of cutting-edge retail-technologies that are on offer in Israel and enable them to explore potential business prospects.
• While in Israel, Mr Silva and representatives of the British corporations will be meeting with over 20 Israeli companies to witness the very best and latest solutions on offer in retail-technology, including mobile payments, augmented reality, consumer engagement and big data.
• The delegation will be visiting several incubators and innovation hubs, such as the eBay Social Centre, the Google Campus in Tel Aviv, Microsoft’s R&D centre and the JVP Media Lab.
• Throughout the four-day visit, delegates will have the opportunity to network with over 100 of Israel’s leading technologists and innovators, from companies such as Retalix, Zooz, Sisense, Clicktale and Zollo.
• Mr Silva said the tour “will not only help to create new jobs and innovations in the UK, but it will also help to strengthen the economic ties between the UK and Israel”.
• Mr Silva has said he is “looking forward to helping forge new connections between our leading retailers and cutting edge Israeli technology companies”.
• The trip has been organised by the Trade and Economic Office at the Embassy of Israel in London and the UK Israel Tech Hub at the British Embassy in Tel Aviv, in partnership with The Israel Export Institute and UK Israel Business
Fatah, Hamas agree to form unity government within 3 months
• Rival Palestinian political factions Fatah and Hamas agreed a timeline on Tuesday to form a national unity government within three months.
• The announcement was made in Cairo following discussions between Fatah and Hamas representatives under the auspices of the Egyptian authorities.
• A national unity government, if it comes to fruition, would end a six-year rift between the rival Islamist and secular parties.
• Senior Hamas official Moussa Abu Marzouk said following the talks that the two groups have agreed to reconcile and form a unity government in the coming months.
• Fatah official Azzam al-Ahmed said both sides agreed on a timetable that begins with creating laws to govern elections for the Palestine National Council and the Palestinian Legislative Council. • According to the agreement, Fatah and Hamas representatives will continue to hold discussions until they reach agreement on the formation of a new Palestinian government and set a date for elections for the presidency, the Palestinian Legislative Council and the Palestine National Council (the PLO’s parliament-in-exile).
• Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will head the new government, as stipulated in the Doha Accord that was signed between the two parties last year.
• President Abbas is expected to issue a decree to form the proposed government and hold new elections within three months.
• It is understood that the exact composition of a prospective unity government was not discussed during the meeting.
• Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said in April that he would renew consultations with the Hamas movement, after the resignation of Prime Minster Salam Fayyad, who had served since 2007.
• The resignation of Fayyad in April opens up the possibility of a joint government; Hamas had never recognized his authority, instead pushing forward their own Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh.
• The national unity government announcement is not the first time that the two parties had announced an agreement to end their differences.
• Over the past few years, Fatah and Hamas have reached a number of such agreements that were never implemented.
• Hamas and Fatah have been at loggerheads since the violent Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip in June 2007 following Hamas’s success in national elections the year before.
• The two parties signed a reconciliation deal in 2011 which was meant to have paved the way for legislative and presidential elections within 12 months, but it has yet to be implemented and the particulars of the agreement remain undefined.
• The two parties are split on issues regarding the Palestine National Council, the PLO parliament, and legislative and presidential elections in the Palestinian territories.
• Israel has said it will not deal with a government that includes an unreformed Hamas; the terror group remains formally committed to the destruction of Israel.
Natural gas discoveries in Israel continue apace
• A significant new off-shore natural gas discovery was made in Israel in recent weeks at the Karish 1 drilling platform, off the coast of Nahariya.
• According to discoveries made at the site 45 miles from Haifa, the Karish deposit could contain as much as two trillion cubic feet of natural gas, about one-fourth of the amount of gas contained in Tamar.
• Energy and Water Minister Silvan Shalom lauded the announcement as “praiseworthy”, adding that the discovery would help Israel develop its energy market and economy.
• The Energy Minister said: “Increasing the supply of natural gas in the deposits will allow us to supply more natural gas to the local market and increase the natural revenue, which will be utilised by investing in education, welfare, health, the Negev and the Galilee, and the citizens of Israel”.
• While official analyses of the drilling results will be conducted by Netherland, Sewell – Oil & Gas Engineering Consulting Services (NSAI) and published within the next two months, the Delek Group and its partners are stressing that there is likely a sizable gas presence in the well, which is located within the Alon C basin.
• Preliminary estimates reveal that Karish 1 probably contains about 57 billion cubic meters of gas.
• Karish 1 is owned in part by business magnate Yitzhak Tshuva, who is also the controlling shareholder of the offshore Tamar field, which was discovered in 2009 and holds an estimated 8.5 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.
• The announcement comes mere weeks after Israel begun pumping gas from the major offshore Tamar gas field, as Israel made another landmark stride towards energy independence.
• Natural gas from the Tamar field is expected to help meet Israel’s energy needs for the next 20 years, and will save the economy some NIS 13 billion ($3.5 billion) per year.
• In addition to Tamar, in 2010 an even larger deposit, Leviathan - which boasts an estimated 16-18 trillion cubic feet of gas - is expected to become operational in 2016, at which time Israel expects to begin exporting natural gas.
Times of Israel
Israeli doctors save Syrian girl’s life
• A four-year-old girl from Syria underwent successful life-saving heart surgery in Israel this week.
• The young child received the specialist heart surgery at Israel’s Wolfson Medical Center in Holon on Monday, as part of its voluntary Save a Child’s Heart activities.
• Upon her arrival, the girl was examined by the SACH medical team, who decided that she would undergo open-heart surgery as soon as possible – all of it free and supplied by volunteer medical staffers and raised funds.
• The operation was successful and the child is now recovering in the hospital’s paediatric intensive care unit.
• The child, whose identity is not being released to keep the family safe from extremists in her country, was referred to SACH by an American humanitarian organisation operating in Israel and Jordan.
• The girl was brought to Israel from Jordan where she and her mother were living as refugees of the current Syrian civil war.
• Surgeon, Dr. Lior Sasson, said that “without the surgery she could have died within a few months, maybe even weeks”.
• Dr. Sasson said: “It's uplifting to perform surgery on a child from a hostile country. We can show Syrians and the world we look for peace”.
• According to the child’s mother, doctors in Syria discovered the girl’s heart condition when the child was six months old, but proper medical care was not available.
• The mother said the warm welcome and treatment her daughter received overcame her original fear to visit Israel: “At first I feared the Syrian regime's response to our coming here. Naturally, I myself was also afraid to come to Israel. But the moment I arrived I felt at ease. The doctors treated me and my girl nicely”.
• SACH, founded by the late paediatric heart surgeon Dr. Amiram Cohen, has treated more than 3,000 children from 45 developing nations.
Islamist group takes responsibility for mortar fire on Mount Hermon
• A previously unknown armed Islamist group have taken responsibility for the firing of two mortar shells at Mount Hermon this week.
• Two mortar shells exploded on the mountain on Wednesday morning, in the first such attack since the outbreak of the Syrian uprising.
• There were no reported injuries or casualties in the attack, and the mountain was closed to hikers during part of the Shavuot holiday as a precaution.
• The self-described Abdul Qader Husseini Battalions of the Free Palestine movement posted a YouTube video purporting to show the group firing the rockets and claimed it has “attacked an observatory of the Zionist entity on the occupied Golan Heights”.
• The group said the attack marked “the anniversary of return, May 15, 2013, avenging the martyrs of return [who died] last year”.
• In its online positing, the group asserted: “We do not celebrate, but rather avenge our martyrs as we tell the Zionist enemy that this is a battle of score settling”.
• The group was likely referring to clashes between Israeli troops and Palestinian refugees in Syria on Nakba Day in 2011 that left 13 dead after the border fence was breached.
• Palestinians mark the Nakba, or catastrophe of the founding of Israel, every May 15.
• The new-terror organisations claim ran counter to the earlier Israeli belief that the shell fire was a result of fighting between Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime and the rebels, and not a planned attack on Israel.
• Israel has lodged a complaint with UNDOF, the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force, which oversees the buffer zone between Syria and Israel established by the Security Council in the wake of the Yom Kippur War.
• Mount Hermon is a mountain cluster that straddles the Lebanese-Syrian border and the Golan Heights and its ski resort is popular with tourists in Israel.
• Mortar shells fired from within Syria have landed in the Golan Heights several times in previous months, and Israel has often returned fire.
• Last Monday, two shells hit the Israeli Golan Heights near the town of Ramat Magshimim, but no injuries or damage was reported.
• The next day, another mortar hit the southern Golan Heights as a result of the spill over from fighting in Syria, again without casualties or harm caused during the incident.
Times of Israel