Israel, Jordan, PA Sign Red Sea-Dead Sea Water Pipeline Deal - Nahum Barnea (Ynet News)
Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority will sign an agreement at the World Bank in Washington on Monday green-lighting the construction of a Red Sea-Dead Sea water pipeline, Yediot Ahronot reported.
The Red Sea–Dead Sea Conduit will carry some 100 million cubic meters of water north annually, hopefully slowing down the process of the Dead Sea's drying up.
As part of the project, a joint water purification plant will be built and Israelis, Jordanians and Palestinians will share the water.
The entire pipeline will be laid in Jordan and construction will be completed within four to five years.
Israel: New Dutch Container Scanner to Be Used on Exports to Europe, Not West Bank - Barak Ravid (Ha'aretz)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told visiting Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte on Sunday that while Israel was grateful for the Netherlands' donation of a container scanner for use at a Gaza crossing, it still could not allow exports from Gaza to the West Bank.
"The Dutch scanner... can facilitate right now the screening of goods that go out to European markets," but "we want to make sure that goods that go from...Gaza do not contain weapons or explosives that can reach the Palestinian Authority areas," Netanyahu said.
A dispute over the scanner evolved over the past two weeks after the Dutch Foreign Ministry asked that Jerusalem use the new scanner to allow the export of goods from Gaza to the West Bank. The Israel Defense Ministry considered and rejected the request.
Egypt: Sinai Terrorists Escape to Gaza - Roi Kais (Ynet News)
Tens of senior members of Jihad Ansar Beit al Maqdis, which operates in the Sinai Peninsula, escaped to Gaza and the Matrouh Governorate on the border with Libya, according to a report in Al-Masry Al-Youm.
Bomb on Syrian Border Targets IDF Patrol - Yaakov Lappin (Jerusalem Post)
An explosive device placed on the Syrian side of the border fence in the northern Golan Heights targeted a passing IDF patrol on the Israeli side of the border on Friday, the army said Saturday.
No soldiers were injured in the blast, but the rear window of the vehicle was damaged.
Palestinians Attack Israeli Police on Temple Mount - Daniel K. Eisenbud (Jerusalem Post)
Hundreds of Palestinians began throwing rocks at police on Friday near the Mugrabi Gate on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem following weekly prayers.
KKL-JNF to Distribute Christmas Trees (Jerusalem Post)
In keeping with its annual tradition, Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund will once again be distributing Christmas trees to local churches, monasteries, convents, embassies, foreign journalists and the general public as the holiday approaches.
KKL-JNF foresters grow Arizona cedars, the variety best suited to serve as attractive Christmas trees, in a special plot in Givat Yishayahu in central Israel.
The trees made available are three years old and around two meters high. Private individuals can buy a tree for $22.85.
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- Obama: A Verifiable, Diplomatic Solution for Iran Is Preferred
President Barack Obama told the Saban Forum at the Brookings Institution on Saturday:
"It is in America's national security interests, not just Israel's national interests or the region's national security interests, to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon....The best way for us to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapons is for a comprehensive, verifiable, diplomatic resolution, without taking any other options off the table if we fail to achieve that."
"It is important for us to test that proposition during the next six months, understanding that while we're talking, they're not secretly improving their position or changing circumstances on the ground inside of Iran. And if at the end of six months it turns out that we can't make a deal, we're no worse off, and in fact we have greater leverage with the international community to continue to apply sanctions and even strengthen them."
"Iran is engaging in a whole bunch of other behavior in the Middle East and around the world that is detrimental to the United States and detrimental to Israel. And we will continue to contest their efforts where they're engaging in terrorism, where they're being disruptive to our friends and our allies."
"Israel cannot contract out its security. In light of the history that the people of Israel understand all too well, they have to make sure that they are making their own assessments about what they need to do to protect themselves. And we respect that." (U.S. State Department)
See also Obama Puts Odds of Iran Nuclear Deal at 50-50, or Worse (AP)
- Iran Presses Ahead with Uranium Enrichment Technology
Iran is moving ahead with testing more efficient uranium enrichment technology, a spokesman for its atomic energy agency said on Saturday. Spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi said that initial testing on a new generation of more sophisticated centrifuges had been completed, underlining Iran's determination to keep refining uranium. "The production of a new generation of centrifuges is in line with the (Iranian atomic energy) agency's approach of upgrading the quality of enrichment machines and increasing the rate of production," he said.
See also Iran's President: Nuclear Deal Has Helped Economy
Iran's President Hassan Rouhani said Sunday that last month's nuclear deal with world powers has already boosted the country's economy. Rouhani told parliament, "Economic activities have been shifted to the stock exchange from gold, hard currency and real estate." (AP-Washington Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- U.S. Security Proposal Includes Israeli Military Presence in Jordan Valley - Barak Ravid
The American proposal for security arrangements under a future peace accord between Israel and the Palestinians includes an Israeli military presence deployed along the Jordan River for several years after the establishment of a Palestinian state, senior Israeli officials said. According to the plan, the presence of Israeli forces in the Jordan Valley will be reduced in accordance with the security situation.
A senior Israeli official said the Americans adopted the Israeli position that an agreement concerning security arrangements be a condition to going forward with the negotiations. Moreover, the American proposal stipulates that the Palestinian state will be demilitarized of heavy weaponry.
Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon objects to the removal of IDF forces from most of the West Bank, except for the Jordan Valley. Ya'alon thinks the reliance on technological systems for intelligence and early warning is inadequate and that at least for the foreseeable future, the Israeli military must continue to preserve its complete freedom of action in all areas of the future Palestinian state to prevent terror attacks. In addition, Ya'alon objects to any Palestinian presence in the border crossings with Jordan.
- Defense Minister Ya'alon: We Have No Partner for Two-State Solution - Yaakov Lappin
Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said Saturday evening, "As someone who supported [the] Oslo [peace process], I'm learning that on the other side we have no partner for two states for two people."
"There is no one on the other side, and hasn't been since the dawn of Zionism, a leadership that is prepared to recognize our right to exist as a nation-state for the Jewish nation, and to recognize an agreement as the end of the conflict and the end to demands. We won't talk about an inch, about a millimeter of territory, if we don't see that we have a partner who talks about recognition, about the end of the conflict, and about giving up the right of return. We will not implement the [Palestinian] doctrine of stages."
He said he would be convinced that a partner exists on the other side "the moment they stop teaching their children to put on bomb belts and explode against us, when the State of Israel appears in text books, and when Tel Aviv, which they consider to be a settlement, appears on the map." The IDF and its freedom of operation in the West Bank is what is protecting the Palestinian Authority from extremist Islamism, Ya'alon added. (Jerusalem Post)
- Toward a Sustainable Nuclear Deal with Iran - Michael Eisenstadt
Diplomats from Iran and the P5+1 will meet in Vienna to discuss implementation of the first-step nuclear agreement reached in Geneva on Nov. 24.
While the White House fact sheet on the "first-step understandings" with Tehran mentions the regime's "acknowledgement" that it must resolve "questions concerning the possible military dimensions of [its] nuclear program," including "activities at Parchin," the actual text of the agreement does not go as far.
Tehran's most important goal is to win the war of narratives. This means emphasizing that Iran has an inalienable right to enrich; that it has not sought to develop nuclear weapons; that such allegations are part of an American-Zionist conspiracy to unjustly smear the Islamic Republic, keep it weak and isolated, and impede scientific development in the Muslim world; and that demands for intrusive inspections and restrictions on its nuclear program reflect a discriminatory double standard.
Tehran reportedly wants monitoring and restrictions to last no longer than three to five years. Yet such measures should not expire automatically on some specific date - they should be lifted based on Iran's performance, and only with the P5+1's unanimous consent. That decision should also be linked to major changes in Iran's behavior abroad, particularly its support for violent extremist and terrorist groups.
The writer is director of The Washington Institute's Military and Security Studies Program.
(Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
- U.S. and Iran See Nuclear Deal Differently - Jonathan Schanzer
After initially celebrating a diplomatic success, Iran is now reportedly lashing out at the U.S. for releasing a modified version of the Geneva agreement that does not reflect its interpretation. As it stands now, the Geneva agreement looks less solid than previously believed. Rather large gaps remain on core issues. Both sides have at least a month to iron out the details; the agreement will not be implemented before late December or early January.
The writer is vice president for research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
- West Bank Security Arrangements Suggested by Americans Are Irrelevant in Salafi Era - Guy Bechor
A new force is growing in the territories, the Salafi movement. Two huge demonstrations by the movement in central West Bank cities were attended by tens of thousands carrying black al-Qaeda flags. They hate the Palestinian Authority more than they hate Israel, and they hate Hamas too. Their proclaimed aspiration is to establish an Islamic caliphate all across the Middle East.
Just imagine the West Bank without the permanent presence of the IDF. Within several days the territory will turn into Salafiland.
The "security arrangements" the Americans are talking about may have been relevant for the 1980s, but the Salafi Spring changed everything. Salafi gangs - al-Qaeda terrorists - have turned into one of the main threats to Israel. Using shoulder-fired missiles, they can bring Ben-Gurion Airport to a standstill.
Would the Americans be willing to place the White House under the threat of missiles? Then why are they suggesting that Israel do that with the Salafi storm raging all over the region? The writer heads the Middle East Division at the Lauder School of Government at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya.
Netanyahu: International Community Must Demand a Change in Iran's Policy toward Israel (Prime Minister's Office)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the Saban Forum of the Brookings Institution on Sunday via video:
- "The Middle East is undergoing great turmoil, great violence, great instability. But in this turbulence, the special bond between Israel and the United States is the crucial anchor of stability....I want to thank President Obama for his commitment to our strong alliance. He has repeatedly said that Israel must have the right to defend itself, by itself against all threats....On President Obama's watch, defense, security and intelligence cooperation between the United States and Israel has reached new heights."
- "We can have different perspectives. I understand that the United States is a global power with global responsibilities. And President Obama understands that the Jewish state is a beleaguered democracy in a hostile region, threatened like no other country on earth."
- "The core of this conflict has never been borders and settlements. It is about one thing: The persistent refusal to accept the Jewish state in any border. The real key to peace is Palestinian recognition of the right of the Jewish people to national self-determination in this part of the world. This conflict didn't begin because we denied the right of the Palestinian people to a state of their own. We agreed to that in 1937....And in the 20 years since the Oslo accords, every time we've offered a historic peace with a Palestinian state next to a Jewish state, the Palestinians still refused."
- "Any kind of peace...must withstand the forces of terrorism and the ravaging forces of radicalism and all the forces backed by Iran and others that will try to unravel the peace....So there must be iron-clad security arrangements to protect the peace, arrangements that allow Israel to defend itself by itself against any possible threats. And those security arrangements must be based on Israel's own forces. There is no substitute for that."
- "Our best efforts to reach Palestinian-Israeli peace will come to nothing if Iran succeeds in building atomic bombs. A nuclear-armed Iran would give even greater backing to the radical and terrorist elements in the region....This same regime supplies its terrorist proxies, Hizbullah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad, with thousands of rockets, rockets that are aimed at Israeli civilians, rockets that are precision-guided munitions that are increasingly lethal and deadly. This is a regime committed to our destruction. And I believe there must be an unequivocal demand alongside the negotiations in Geneva for a change in Iranian policy."
- "We share President Obama's preference to see Iran's nuclear weapons program end through diplomacy. But for diplomacy to succeed, it must be coupled with powerful sanctions and a credible military threat....We should not assume that more and tougher sanctions won't lead to a better deal."
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