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Weekly Newsletter
May 22, 2020
In this issue:
  • Thousands of Israeli websites hacked
  • Abbas announced end to agreement with Israel and US
  • New Israeli Government ends 508 days of deadlock

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Thousands of Israeli websites hacked

Thousands of Israeli websites were hacked yesterday with their content replaced with a video showing the “destruction of Israel”.

Full video showing the “destruction of Israel”

  • The cyberattack, claimed by a group called Hackers of Saviour, is not thought to be related to Iran or its recent cyber exchange with Israel. The hackers, most likely from Gaza, Turkey and North Africa, operated through a Facebook group set up on 11 April with 9 members. The unsophisticated attack carried out site defacement. The hackers took advantage of a familiar weakness in the WordPress server in which they entered the Israeli company uPress who hosted the attacked sites.
  • The Facebook group admin “Haloo Looya” boasted his success on the page, saying: “Our big surprise done. You can see each news all over the world!”
  • uPress said in a statement that it is working with Israel’s National Cyber Security Authority to retrieve the website’s original content.
  • The cyberattack came one day ahead of the Iranian Quds Day. Last week, the National Cyber Security Authority warned of potential cyberattacks ahead of Quds Day, in which rallies are held across the country and aim to show support for the Palestinians.
  • Iran’s parliament on Monday unanimously passed legislation banning “any cooperation” with Israel — specifically including the use of Israeli computer hardware and software — as a crime against God. Earlier this week, Supreme Leader called for a “final solution” to the Israel problem, and for arming the West Bank, “just as Gaza,” in order to expedite it.
  • Yesterday’s cyberattack follows a major cyber exchange between Israel and Iran: 
    • In late April, Israeli media attributed a recent cyberattack on Israeli water infrastructure to Iran. The attack, according to intelligence officials, attempted to introduce chlorine and other chemicals into the drinking water, but failed and did not do palpable damage.
    • On 7 May, Israel reportedly carried out a sophisticated cyberattack on the Iranian Shahid Rajaee port, causing widespread chaos.
    • Cyberattacks between Israel and Iran is not a new development. However, the targeting of Israel’s national water infrastructure represented a serious escalation by Iran.
Abbas announced end to agreement with Israel and US

Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas has declared an end to agreements with the United States and Israel over the potential annexation of parts of the West Bank.

  • In a speech to Palestinian leaders in Ramallah Tuesday night, he said: “The Palestine Liberation Organisation and the State of Palestine are absolved, as of today, of all the agreements and understandings with the American and Israeli governments and of all the obligations based on these understandings and agreements, including the security ones … the Israeli occupation authority, as of today, has to shoulder all responsibilities and obligations in front of the international community as an occupying power over the territory of the occupied state of Palestine, with all its consequences and repercussions based on international law and international humanitarian law.”
  • Abbas added: “We hold the American administration fully responsible for the oppression befalling the Palestinian people and we consider it a primary partner with the Israeli occupation government in all its aggressive and unfair decisions and measures against our people.”
  • At the swearing in ceremony of the new government on Sunday, Prime Minister Netanyahu reiterated that now is the time to annex the Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Israel’s new Foreign Minister, Gabi Ashkenazi, related to the Trump plan in his opening address, saying, “The plan will be advanced responsibly, in full coordination with the United States and maintaining all of the State of Israel’s peace agreements and strategic interests.”
  • The new Israeli coalition agreement states that Israel can move annexation to a vote beginning on July 1, but notes the need to “engage in dialogue” with the international community “with the aim of preserving security and strategic interests including regional security, preserving existing peace agreements and working towards future peace agreements.”
  • The US administration has recently signalled that annexation must be carried out in the framework of President Donald Trump’s peace initiative, which includes provisions for Palestinian independence.
  • Abbas has made similar threats several times in the past, so it remains to be seen if and how his latest comments will be implemented.
New Israeli Government ends 508 days of deadlock

Israel’s new government of 34 ministers was sworn in on Sunday following three national elections and 508 days since the end of the 34th government. The Knesset approved the new coalition by a vote of 73 to 46.

The ministers of Israel’s 35th government

  • Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was sworn in for his fourth consecutive term and his fifth time overall. For the first time in Israeli history, Blue and White leader Benny Gantz was sworn in as “alternate prime minister and future prime minister”. He will also serve as Minister of Defence for the first 18 months.
  • Following the ceremony, the new government held its first cabinet meeting in the Knesset’s ceremonial Chagall Hall so that ministers could sit separately and conform to social distancing measures. Netanyahu outlined the new government’s priorities, primarily to deal with the coronavirus: “So long as the virus is here and there is no vaccine, it can come back overnight.” The second priority would be to pass a budget and revive the economy. The third issue would be preventing Iran’s entrenchment in Syria and their nuclear project. The fourth was fighting the allegations of war crimes in the International Criminal Court (ICC), which Netanyahu described as a “rare strategic threat to Israel”. The fifth was the annexation of settlements and the Jordan Valley with US approval. Netanyahu said: “These regions are the cradle of the Jewish people. It is time to extend Israel’s law over them. This step won’t bring us further away from peace, it will get us closer. The truth is, and everyone knows it, that the hundreds of thousands of settlers in Judea and Samaria will always stay put in any future deal.”
  • The Knesset also elected a new speaker, Yariv Levin from Likud, who committed to serve all sectors of the population, but warned of growing intervention in legislation by the Supreme Court.
  • The new government has been heavily criticised for being bloated and expensive, particularly at a time of economic hardship and a million newly unemployed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Netanyahu defended the largest government in Israel’s history by explaining that the alternative, another election, would have cost even more.
  • The swearing-in of the new government took place one week before Netanyahu’s trial for bribery, fraud and breach of trust. It is due to begin on 24 May, after the original start date was delayed due to the coronavirus outbreak.
  • The new government has until August to pass a budget. It is expected to include cuts in public spending as well as possible rise in taxes. According to the rotation agreement, Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz will take over on 17 November 2021.
AFL- American Friends of Likud
10:17 AM - May 21, 2020

"Ten measures of beauty were bestowed upon the world; nine were taken by Jerusalem and one by the rest of the world." - (Talmud). Happy Yom Yerushlayaim! (Jerusalem Day)

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