Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
Iran's Rouhani Vows to Back Syria 'Until the End of the Road' (Reuters) Assad Recruits Afghan Mercenaries to Fight ISIS - Tom Coghlan (Times - UK) Five Requirements for a Good Deal with Iran (AIPAC) Five Reasons Why Israel and India Can Be All-Weather Friends (Economic Times - India) Islamist Extremist Killed by Hamas Forces in Gaza as Tensions Soar - Adel Zaanoun (AP/Daily Star - Lebanon) Islamic State Reaps Profits from Pillaging Antiquities - Louisa Loveluck (Gulf News - Dubai)
Iran's Rouhani Vows to Back Syria 'Until the End of the Road' (Reuters)
Assad Recruits Afghan Mercenaries to Fight ISIS - Tom Coghlan (Times - UK)
Five Requirements for a Good Deal with Iran (AIPAC)
Five Reasons Why Israel and India Can Be All-Weather Friends (Economic Times - India)
Islamist Extremist Killed by Hamas Forces in Gaza as Tensions Soar - Adel Zaanoun (AP/Daily Star - Lebanon)
Islamic State Reaps Profits from Pillaging Antiquities - Louisa Loveluck (Gulf News - Dubai)
News Resources - North America and Europe:
President Obama took a step toward a tougher line with Israel in an interview released Tuesday, raising the possibility that the U.S. will allow a United Nations vote on issues related to the Palestinians if the two sides make no meaningful movement toward peace.
In an interview with an Israeli television station, Obama noted that his administration has “up until this point” quashed such efforts at the U.N. while insisting that the Israelis and Palestinians must negotiate a resolution. But he said it is a challenge for the U.S. to keep demanding that the Palestinians negotiate in good faith if no one believes the Israelis are doing the same.
“How do we move off what appears right now to be a hopeless situation and move it back towards a hopeful situation?” Obama asked in the interview. “That will require more than just words. That will require some actions. And that’s going to be hard work, though, because right now I think there’s not a lot of confidence in the process.”
“If, in fact, there’s no prospect of an actual peace process, if nobody believes there’s a peace process, then it becomes more difficult to argue with those who are concerned about settlement construction, those who are concerned about the current situation,” Obama said. “It’s more difficult for me to say to them, ‘Be patient and wait because we have a process here’ -- because all they need to do is to point to the statements that have been made saying there is no process.”
Obama’s critical tone toward Netanyahu, describing him as someone who is “predisposed” to “think perhaps that peace is naive,” appeared to return to the tough language that marked administration statements earlier this spring.
The apparent shift in tone seems “hard to understand,” said a Democratic strategist with close ties to the White House. Previous White House criticisms of the prime minister clearly strengthened Netanyahu electorally, he said.
Read transcript (Los Angeles Times)
When the family of Amir Hekmati, an Iranian-American Marine, learned he was taken prisoner in 2011, the State Department told them to keep quiet. Family members were told Amir would be in greater danger if they went to the media than if they remained discreet.
That silence now looks like a mistake. In testimony Tuesday before Congress, Sarah Hekmati, Amir's sister, said, "Our family learned later that our silence allowed Amir to suffer the worst torture imaginable." The Marine's torture was both physical and psychological. Amir's feet were beaten with cables. His kidneys were shocked with a Taser. He was drugged by his interrogators, who then forced him to suffer through withdrawal.
Other prisoners have not had even this much contact. Robert Levinson, a former FBI agent, has not been heard from since he was captured in 2007, according to testimony Tuesday from his son, Daniel Levinson. Ali Rezaian, the brother of Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian, said he last spoke to his brother in July, before Jason was arrested. Naghmeh Abedini has not been able to talk to her husband, the Christian pastor Saeed Abedini.
John Kerry is not offering to trade more favorable concessions to Iran in exchange for promises to release Rezaian, Hekmati, Abedini or Levinson. But U.S. diplomats have raised their cases on the sidelines of these talks with Iranian officials.
Several lawmakers said they would not support a nuclear deal with Iran if Americans were still detained. (Bloomberg View)
On May 13, when International Atomic Energy Agency head Yukiya Amano said that the agency expects Iran would permit inspections of military sites as part of a comprehensive nuclear deal, conservative Iranian media outlets reacted harshly, vowing that Iran would not allow such a thing.
The five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany (P5+1) had reportedly presented Iran a list of names of nuclear scientists to be questioned by the IAEA. In an interview with Iranian TV on May 30, Ali Shamkhani, secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC), added a twist to the controversy when he said that his name was “first” on the list of those the P5+1 had requested to interview. (Al Monitor)
Top-level Obama administration envoys met secretly last week for the first time with Yemen’s Houthi rebels and pressed for a cease-fire in their country and the release of Americans detained by the group, according to U.S. and Arab officials.
U.S. officials said the State Department notified Saudi Arabia before the meeting in Oman, in recognition of what Mideast analysts said was a political and diplomatic risk by the Obama administration. One Saudi spokesman in Washington said he was unaware of the meeting.
Saudi Arabia also views its airstrikes against Houthi rebels as a campaign against Iran, which has armed and trained Houthi military units. (Wall Street Journal)
The UK’s National Union of Students passed a motion Tuesday to join worldwide efforts to boycott Israel over what it called Israel’s violations of Palestinian human rights. The NUC’s Executive Council passed the motion dubbed “Justice for Palestine,” with 19 members voting in favor, 12 against and three abstaining.
An Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesperson said the decision had “little practical implications, since this body has already voiced anti-Israel opinions in the past.” In the wake of the vote, the British Government restated its firm opposition to calls to boycott Israel. (Times of Israel)
See also Netanyahu: British Student Union that Now Boycotts Israel, Refused to Boycott ISIS - Herb Keinon (Jerusalem Post)
A year has gone by since the abduction and murder by Hamas terrorists of Israeli teenagers Eyal Yifrach, Gil-Ad Shaer and Naftali Frenkel; and the anniversary will be marked Wednesday evening with the awarding of the Jerusalem Unity Prize named in memory of the three.
A joint initiative of Jerusalem's mayor, the non-profit organization founded in memory of the three teenagers and the Gesher NGO, the ceremony and prizes come to celebrate and honor organizations and individuals involved in building unity among the Jewish people in Israel and the Diaspora. (Ynet)
State Department spokesperson Marie Harf said U.S. officials were “totally perplexed” by a New York Times story Tuesday on Iran’s 20 percent increase in nuclear fuel over the past 18 months. Would the increased stockpiles complicate the current negotiations?
“Not at all. Our team read that story this morning and was quite frankly perplexed because the main contentions of it are totally inaccurate,” Harf said. "The notion in the story that western officials or U.S. officials involved were unaware of this issue or not understanding of what this entails is just absurd,” Harf said. “Under the JPOA (Joint Plan of Action), Iran can fluctuate its numbers in terms of their stockpile. They can go up and down as long as at the end of fixed date they are back down below a number.”
The Institute for Science and International Security analyzed the question of whether Iran could meet its obligations regarding five percent low enriched uranium, and authors David Albright and Serene Kelleher-Vergantini assessed that “Iran has fallen behind in its pledge to convert its newly produced LEU hexafluoride into oxide form. There are legitimate questions about whether Iran can produce all the requisite LEU oxide." (Washington Free Beacon)
The near-term fall of the regime of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria was forecast Wednesday by Ehud Ya’ari, the highly respected Arab affairs analyst for Israel’s Channel Two.
“It can happen very suddenly,” he said on his channel’s main news program. “Unless Iran does what it hasn’t done so far—send in their own forces in significant numbers—Assad is finished,” said Ya’ari, who closely monitors events in the Arab world and is normally cautious in his projections. “Assad no longer has enough troops to move around.” (Washington Free Beacon)
Paying Tehran’s Bills. Sanctions Relief Will Only Empower Iran - Lee Smith (Weekly Standard)
Unsubscribe from Daily Alert.