Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
CIA Director: "Very, Very Strong Relationship between United States and Israel" - Bob Schieffer (CBS Face the Nation) "Absurd": Anti-Israel Group Wins Key Designation from UN Panel over U.S. Objections (Fox News) Cyprus : Lebanese Bomb Suspect Linked to Hizbullah Chief (Ya Libnan - Lebanon) Iraq Lost 2,300 Humvee Armored Vehicles in Mosul (AFP/Al Arabiya) U.S. Approves $130 Million Sale of Precision Guided Bombs to the United Arab Emirates (U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency)
CIA Director: "Very, Very Strong Relationship between United States and Israel" - Bob Schieffer (CBS Face the Nation)
"Absurd": Anti-Israel Group Wins Key Designation from UN Panel over U.S. Objections (Fox News)
Cyprus : Lebanese Bomb Suspect Linked to Hizbullah Chief (Ya Libnan - Lebanon)
Iraq Lost 2,300 Humvee Armored Vehicles in Mosul (AFP/Al Arabiya)
U.S. Approves $130 Million Sale of Precision Guided Bombs to the United Arab Emirates (U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency)
News Resources - North America and Europe:
With only one month left before a deadline to complete a nuclear deal with Iran, international inspectors have reported that Tehran’s stockpile of nuclear fuel increased about 20 percent over the last 18 months of negotiations, partially undercutting the Obama administration’s contention that the Iranian program had been “frozen” during that period.
The extent to which Iran’s stockpile has increased was documented in a report issued Friday by the International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN organization that monitors compliance with nuclear treaties.
The overall increase in Iran’s stockpile poses a major diplomatic and political challenge for President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry. The administration will have to convince Congress and America’s allies that Iran will shrink its stockpile by 96 percent in a matter of months after a deal is signed, even while it continues to produce new material and has demonstrated little success in reducing its current stockpile. (New York Times)
U.S. President Barack Obama told Israeli journalist Ilana Dayan that the forthcoming agreement between the world powers and Iran is the best way to ensure that Tehran does not obtain nuclear weapons. "I can I think demonstrate, not based on any hope but on facts and evidence and analysis that the best way to prevent Iran from having a nuclear weapon is a verifiable tough agreement," he said.
According to Obama, an American military strike on Iran's nuclear facilities would not dismantle Tehran's nuclear program. (Ha'aretz)
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said a possible nuclear deal with Iran risks sparking a nuclear arms race in the Middle East unless the agreement grants international inspectors access to Iranian military sites and other secret facilities. Mr. Fabius insisted the ability to inspect such sites be part of a final agreement with Iran to ensure Tehran doesn’t covertly try to build a nuclear weapon.
“The best agreement, if you cannot verify it, it’s useless,” said Mr. Fabius. At times, Mr. Fabius has taken a harder line than officials in Washington, warning in 2013 that the West risked being suckered into a “fool’s game.” (Wall Street Journal)
Major General Qassem Soleimani, the commanding officer of Qods Force, the special operations branch of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps, has reportedly been photographed in Iraq’s Anbar province alongside Shiite militiamen. Soleimani was also photographed in Baghdad with Popular Mobilization Committee chief Abu Mahdi al Muhandis, and Imam Ali Brigade leader Shebl al Zaydi.
Muhandis is a former commander in the Badr Organization who was listed by the US government as Specially Designated Global Terrorist in July 2009. (Long War Journal)
Fierce battles raged between Islamic State and rebel fighters in Syria’s Aleppo province on Monday, the day after the militant group seized villages close to the Turkish border and came within seven miles of the main highway connecting Syria’s largest city to Turkey. The highway is the main supply route for aid and weapons coming from Turkey. (Wall Street Journal)
See also While Nobody Was Looking, the Islamic State Launched a New, Deadly Offensive - Liz Sly
The Islamic State's surprise assault in the Aleppo province opened a new front in the multi-pronged war being waged by the extremist group across Iraq and Syria, and it underscored IS' capacity to catch its enemies off guard. The U.S. Embassy in Syria issued a tweet “Reports indicate that the [Assad] regime is making air strikes in support of ISIL’s advance on Aleppo.” (Washington Post)
Last summer’s war with Hamas in Gaza presented a case of dueling narratives that Israel is still fighting to this day, Amb. Dore Gold told a press briefing at his Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (JCPA) think tank on Monday.
“Part of Israel’s challenge in all these conflicts is when ideas and conclusions are asserted even though they can’t be checked, they become the lingua franca on the nature of the conflict,” he explained. “These are the type of issues that helped form a narrative about the war that are certainly affecting Israel’s position up until this point in time.”
The JCPA monograph, The Gaza War 2014: The War Israel Did Not Want and the Disaster it Averted, was presented to reporters at the press conference in Jerusalem. (Jerusalem Post)
Syrian Druze near the Israeli border are under threat from the Islamic State as the Assad regime withdraws its forces from the area, according to Druze sources. The heads of the Israeli Druze community raised their concerns for their brethren in Syria in meetings with senior Israeli security officials.
Israel is closely following developments in case Druze residents flee to Israel because of the jihadist threat. (Jerusalem Post)
The PA President Mahmud Abbas recently turned 80 and is known to be an industrious smoker. His successor by law is the speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council, Hamas official Aziz Duwaik. Duwaik is currently imprisoned in Israel, but even if he were free, there would be no chance of a parliamentary speaker from Hamas taking the reins of power in the Palestinian Authority.
The Palestinian parliament has not met in over seven years, and Abbas himself is now a decade into a four-year presidential term that began in 2005. Laws regulating transitions of political power are thus irrelevant: Abbas rules by presidential decree in the West Bank; Hamas rules by the gun in the Gaza Strip.
Abbas has been leading the Palestinian Authority for a decade now, nearly equal in time to Arafat. In this period, Abbas has ensured that no new leaders would come to the fore as realistic successors. The Palestinian Authority cannot afford a leadership crisis if Abbas were to leave office; it already finds itself divided between Gaza and the West Bank, hamstrung by a moribund peace process, and facing growing discontent in the streets and refugee camps.
A Palestinian state requires many things in order to be viable: economic opportunity, territorial contiguity, natural resources, and working institutions. For a people intent on attaining self-determination, it behooves the Palestinians, as well as the international community, to ensure a smooth transition process after Abbas. (Washington Institute)
The Palestinians’ failure to get Israel expelled from Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) is no cause for Israeli complacency. The reason that the Palestinian attempt failed has less to do with Israeli diplomacy, and more to do with intra-Arab rifts.
Behind the intra-Arab rift stands tension between Qatar on the one hand, and Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf States on the other. The latter view Qatar’s hosting of the World Cup in Doha in 2022 as an effort to promote the Muslim Brotherhood’s agenda on the world stage.
Qatar has earmarked Jibril Rajoub, the head of the Palestinian Football Association, Fatah activist and former head of the Palestinian Preventive Security Force, to succeed Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas once he steps down. Rajoub, for his part, maintains close ties with Hamas in Gaza. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
A Critique of Obama's Understanding of Israel by an Israeli General - Jeffrey Goldberg (Atlantic)
After I posted an interview with President Obama late last month, I received a comprehensive response from Yossi Kuperwasser, a former Israeli general and intelligence expert who served until recently as director general of the Ministry of Strategic Affairs. His viewpoint, which is more-or-less a mainstream Israeli viewpoint, deserves airing:
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