Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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October 14, 2013

In-Depth Issues:

Poll: Israelis Doubt U.S. Will Prevent Iranian Nuclear Weapons (Tel Aviv University and the Israel Democracy Institute)
    A Peace Index survey conducted on Sep. 30-Oct. 1 asked: In light of U.S. behavior toward Iran, will President Obama fulfill his promise to prevent Iran's development of nuclear weapons?
    27% of Israeli Jews believed he will fulfill the promise, while 67% were not sure.
    14% said President Rouhani's speech at the UN indicated a real change in Iran's position, while 80% said it was just a change in rhetorical style.
    Asked who was more correct in assessing the danger Iran poses to the free world, Western leaders or Prime Minister Netanyahu, 14% of Israeli Jews said Western leaders, while 77% said Netanyahu was more correct.
    Asked about the chances that the talks between Israel and the Palestinians will eventually lead to a significant agreement, 14% said the chances were high, while 81% said they were low.

Iranian Caught in Brussels with Forged Israeli Passport - Yori Yalon (Israel Hayom)
    Three passengers were caught in September with forged Israeli passports at Brussels airport in Belgium, officials have said. One was an Iranian citizen.
    Seven Iranians tried to enter Vancouver, Canada, with forged Israeli passports in July.

Azerbaijan Jails Iranian over Israeli Embassy Plot (Daily Star-Lebanon)
    A court in Azerbaijan on Friday sentenced Iranian citizen Bahram Feyzi to 15 years in jail for plotting an attack on the Israeli embassy in Baku.
    Feyzi - who was found guilty of espionage - was accused of being an agent of the secret service of Iran.

Two Palestinians Confess to Jordan Valley Murder - Yoav Zitun (Ynet News)
    Two Palestinians from Deir Samet in the Hebron area, Uda Farid Taleb, 18, and Bashir Ahmed Uda Kharoub, 21, have confessed to the murder of Col. (res.) Sariya Ofer in the Jordan Valley on Friday.

Palestinians Reviving Armed Units in West Bank Refugee Camps (Economist-UK)
    After 65 years, "people don't even dream any more" of returning to their old homes. "It's been too long," says Mahmoud Subuh, a psychologist in Balata, on the edge of Nablus in the West Bank.
    PA security chiefs have joined Israel in seeing the camps as nests of gun-runners, drug-traffickers and car thieves. The PA's security men have teamed with Israel to step up raids on the camps. The PA's forces, which have been trained by Americans, are persona non grata in the camps.
    The head of one of the camps' "popular committees" near Ramallah says young members are reviving the tanzim armed units that waged the Second Intifada against Israel from 2000 until 2005.
    Privately, Palestinian leaders in Abbas' orbit have toyed with admitting that, even if there is a deal with Israel, the refugees and their offspring will never return en masse to their old homes in Israel.
    There are only 60,000 alive of those who fled in 1948.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Iran Rejects West's Demand to Ship Out Uranium Stockpiles - Yeganeh Torbati and Fredrik Dahl
    Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi on Sunday rejected the West's demand to send sensitive nuclear material out of the country, ahead of renewed negotiations in Geneva on Tuesday. Western officials want Iran to ship out uranium enriched to a fissile concentration of 20%, a short technical step away from weapons-grade material. Israel demands the total removal of Tehran's enriched uranium stockpiles along with a dismantling of its enrichment facilities.
        Cliff Kupchan, a Middle East analyst at risk consultancy Eurasia Group, said, "It is sobering that a lead Iranian negotiator is setting red lines so early. These are going to be tough talks." R. Scott Kemp, an assistant professor of nuclear science at MIT, said that merely capping Iran's nuclear program was unlikely to provide enough confidence in the West. "Some rollback of the really the only path to confidence and stability."
        David Albright, of the Institute for Science and International Security, said earlier this month: "Any future nuclear agreement must include a limit on the number and type of centrifuges Iran can install."  (Reuters)
  • Iran's Revolutionary Guard Leader Calls Approach to U.S. a "Mistake" - Michael Rubin
    In an interview Sunday, Mohammad Ali Jafari, the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, made clear that the IRGC opposes any rapprochement with the U.S., according to Iran's Fars News Agency. Jafari said, "Creating such moods is contrary to the words of the late imam [Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Republic] and the supreme leader [Ali Khamenei] and is a big mistake....The imam never said such a thing and never had a compromising stance toward America."
        Jafari said that certain people had misinterpreted and "misused" the leader's remark on the importance of "heroic flexibility" in dealing with adversaries. These people wrongly think that "restoring relations with America will eliminate problems and sanctions." He added that "the people, the Guards Corps, and the Basij are vigilant and follow the path of the Islamic system."  (Commentary)
  • Netanyahu Urges Britain and France Not to Ease Sanctions on Iran
    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu phoned British Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Francois Hollande to urge them not to ease sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program, an Israeli official said on Saturday. "Until Iran dismantles its military nuclear program, sanctions must not be eased - on the contrary. Only the pressure brought Iran to this point, and only the continuation of pressure and its strengthening can bring them to dismantle their nuclear program," Netanyahu was quoted as saying.
        Western diplomats have played down any suggestion Iran's new openness will result in an immediate loosening of sanctions. But they are also hoping that talks on Oct. 15-16 between six world powers and Iran will deliver an opportunity to make progress on ending the dispute. (Reuters)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • IDF Uncovers Hamas Terrorist Tunnel from Gaza to Israel - Yoav Zitun
    IDF forces uncovered a 1.8 km. tunnel on Thursday from Absan village in Gaza to Israel's Kibbutz Ein Hashlosha. According to the IDF, the tunnel was aimed at serving Hamas in the next round of violence against the IDF. In 2006, seven Gaza terrorists used a tunnel to infiltrate Israel and abduct IDF soldier Gilad Shalit. It is believed that additional terror tunnels connecting Gaza and Israel have yet to be exposed. (Ynet News)
        See also Leak Leads to Discovery of Mega-Tunnel from Gaza - Gili Cohen
    The terrorist tunnel was discovered not by chance, but based on a lead, Israeli army officials said Sunday. They believe that diggers spent one and a half years constructing the tunnel, which was completed only two months ago. The tunnel was built entirely of concrete. Its sides and floor were tiled with concrete slabs, and its ceiling was made of concrete arches, a job which took 800 tons of concrete and 25,000 concrete slabs.
        The tunnel was 22 meters deep and contains an electrical system of 220 volts and a telephone line. Two exit points, several hundred meters away from each other, were located inside Israeli territory. An officer said that because of the near-industrial way in which the tunnel had been constructed, a battalion of combat soldiers could easily pass through it.
        Southern Command head Maj. Gen. Sami Turgeman said, "Instead of taking care of the population and building schools, industry and employment, [Hamas] is spending the money on terrorist tunnels."  (Ha'aretz)
        See also Photos, Diagram of Hamas Tunnel into Israel - Yoav Zitun (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Iran's Commitment to Disarmament Must Be Tested Before Sanctions Are Lifted - Editorial
    A year ago, Iran's growing stockpile of uranium enriched to 20% appeared to be the most dangerous piece of its nuclear infrastructure, because that material could be quickly converted to bomb-grade. The enrichment takes place in an underground facility that has little plausible use other than for weapons production. A freeze or shutdown of that plant and the securing of the material already produced, if accepted by Tehran even six months ago, would have eased the threat that Iran could race to produce a bomb sometime soon.
        Since then, however, Iran has begun installing a new generation of centrifuges at its largest enrichment plant, in Natanz. Because they can process uranium far more quickly, these new machines create a threat of an Iranian nuclear breakout beyond that posed by the 20% stockpile. Meanwhile, a new reactor based on heavy-water technology, in Arak, is due for completion next year and would allow Iran to produce plutonium that could be used in bombs.
        Any accord with Iran, even an interim arrangement, must take these new facts into account. No sanctions relief should be granted unless Iran takes steps that decisively push back its potential time frame for producing the core of a nuclear warhead. That means that the advanced centrifuges and the Arak reactor must now be part of any deal. (Washington Post)
  • Israel Doubts Ability of Diplomacy to Block Iranian Nuclear Weapons - Maj. Gen. (res.) Amos Gilad
    All leading intelligence services now agree that Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has long been determined to put his country in a position where it could develop nuclear weapons at will. Iran is now at that point.
        Today, sanctions have proven more effective than some would have imagined. In response, Tehran has once again made a strategic decision to delay the nuclear project, hoping to stop the momentum of the sanctions while preserving the ability to develop a nuclear weapon "in due time." Israel supports any initiative to remove Iran's nuclear capabilities, including the current U.S. diplomatic initiative. Yet it is doubtful whether any diplomatic efforts can accomplish that goal.
        The U.S. goes into this round of negotiations with deep awareness of the intelligence picture and wide consensus that the issues at stake represent a strategic threat to U.S. interests. For Israel, an Iranian nuclear weapon is an intolerable threat. The U.S. is fully committed to preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons - not for Israel's sake, but because it is a threat to U.S. national security. Maj.-Gen. (res.) Amos Gilad is director of the Political-Military Affairs Bureau at the Israel Defense Ministry. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy )
  • Iran Threat Leads Gulf States to Strategic Convergence with Israel - Lee Smith
    Relations between Israel and the Gulf Arab states, especially Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, have never been warmer. This strategic convergence has been a long time in the making. Dore Gold, president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and Israel's former ambassador to the UN, explains the larger context:
        "Going back to the late 1990s, Saudi Arabia was the primary funder of Hamas....But by 2005, Iran had replaced Saudi Arabia as the primary funder of Hamas, and leading members of the royal family, like Prince Nayef, repudiated the Muslim Brotherhood. This represented a huge shift in Saudi policy, which narrowed the degree of conflict it had with Israel."
        "The GCC countries face a situation very similar to Israel. Israel is encircled by Iranian-supported insurgencies - Hizbullah to the north, and Hamas to the south. In comparison, the GCC faces an Iranian-backed insurgency in Yemen, an Iranian-backed Shia government running Saudi Arabia's northern neighbor Iraq, while Bahrain's opposition is supported by Tehran, an arrangement that has implications for the Shia community in Saudi Arabia's eastern province."  (Weekly Standard)

Iran Wants the Bomb - and Sanctions Relief - Reuel Marc Gerecht and Mark Dubowitz (Washington Post)

  • Defecting Iranian nuclear engineers told U.S. officials in the late 1980s that the Iranian nuclear program was designed exclusively for nuclear weapons. Everything Western intelligence services have tracked since then matches those early revelations.
  • Yet the West expects supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei, the Revolutionary Guards and President Rouhani - who had a not-insignificant role in developing Iran's nuclear program in the 1990s - to admit that the U.S. (the "Great Satan") has now defeated their nuclear aspirations.
  • Iranian leaders probably are entering negotiations to see whether Tehran can have the bomb and sanctions relief.
  • The administration and Congress would be wise to hit Tehran with more sanctions immediately. The U.S. shouldn't be fooled by false divisions within the regime.
  • Abandoning the long quest for atomic weapons would be an extraordinary humiliation for Iran's ruling class. That isn't going to happen unless Iran's supreme leader knows with certainty that the Islamic order is finished if he doesn't abandon the bomb.

    Reuel Marc Gerecht, a former Iranian targets officer in the CIA's Clandestine Service, is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Mark Dubowitz is the foundation's executive director.

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