Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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  DAILY ALERT Thursday,
August 20, 2015

In-Depth Issues:

Hamas Naval Commandos Planning Israel Attack - Yoav Zitun (Ynet News)
    Intensive training and advanced equipment are turning Hamas naval commandos into a dangerous new weapon with potential to strike along Israel's coast with little warning, according to recent IDF assessments.
    During the 2014 Gaza war, four Hamas commandos infiltrated from the sea at Ziqim beach and were active for 40 minutes before being killed.
    Officials say the diving equipment they used was the most advanced in the world and was produced in a Western country.
    Assessments suggest that Hamas still has dozens of the systems that allow operatives to breathe underwater for as long as four hours.
    Meanwhile, Hamas is said to have doubled the size of its naval commando unit in the last year.
    In response, an advanced military system has been deployed beneath the waves, designed to detect suspicious movement.
    A similar system has been deployed in northern Israel to counter the threat from Hizbullah, and the Red Sea near Eilat is due to receive the system as well.

New Iranian Video Imagines a Muslim Invasion of Jerusalem (Daily Mail-UK)
    At the beginning of the video, four groups of soldiers appear, showing their unit patches: the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), the Iraqi Shi'ite Badr militia (supported by Iran), Hizbullah (Lebanon), and the al-Qassam Brigades (Hamas).

Israel Urges UN to Investigate Official for Misconduct - Edith M. Lederer (AP)
    Israeli Ambassador Ron Prosor met Carmen Lapointe, the head of the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services, last month and called for a disciplinary hearing against Rima Khalaf, a Jordanian who heads the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia.
    A letter from Prosor to Lapointe obtained Wednesday said, "Ms. Khalaf has abused her position in order to promote an anti-Israel agenda, in a flagrant violation of UN obligations and principles."
    Examples include her support for the June 29 "illegal and provocative attempt" to break Israel's naval blockade of Gaza, a July 7 reference which equated "terrorism with a fight for 'justice'," and "a hate fueled report" on Arab integration in March 2014 "that once again promotes anti-Israel incitement by blaming Israel for shortcomings in the Arab world."

To Fight ISIS, U.S. Risks Empowering Hizbullah - Akbar Shahid Ahmed and Jessica Schulberg (Huffington Post)
    More than $1 billion in U.S. military equipment began flowing to the Lebanese military over the last year, much of it paid for by Saudi Arabia, in order to counter the threat of Islamic State.
    But it's a dangerous bet that risks the equipment ending up with Hizbullah - a key ally of Iran.
    Congress, wary of Hizbullah, has halted aid to the Lebanese military several times over the issue.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • UN to Let Iran Inspect Its Own Nuclear Work Site - George Jahn
    Iran will be allowed to use its own inspectors to investigate the Parchin nuclear site it has been accused of using to develop nuclear arms, operating under a secret agreement with the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency that normally carries out such work, according to a document seen by AP. The Parchin agreement was worked out between the IAEA and Iran, and the world powers were not party to it.
        Olli Heinonen, who was in charge of the Iran probe as deputy IAEA director general from 2005 to 2010, said he could think of no similar concession with any other country. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) responded: "Trusting Iran to inspect its own nuclear site and report to the UN in an open and transparent way is remarkably naive and incredibly reckless. This revelation only reinforces the deep-seated concerns the American people have about the agreement."  (AP)
        See also IAEA Says Access to Iran's Parchin Military Site Meets Its Demands (Reuters)
        See also Why the IAEA-Iran Side Deal Is Important - Armin Rosen
    In the IAEA investigation of the military dimensions of Iran's nuclear program, Iran will be allowed to use its own experts to inspect Parchin, a military facility where detonators for a nuclear bomb may have been tested in 2003. But experts believe that any evidence of nuclear-weapons activity at Parchin was wiped from the site years ago.
        Aaron Stein of the Royal United Services Institute has noted that the AP story on the IAEA-Iran side deal is important for what it suggests about the overall effectiveness of the international effort to investigate the extent of Iran's nuclear weaponization work, since the IAEA was "using Iranian language" in framing how disclosure issues would be settled. (Business Insider)
  • U.S. Concerned about Russian Arms Sales to Iran - Barbara Starr
    U.S. officials are concerned that Russia is moving ahead with plans to sell Iran an advanced S-300 air defense system that could undercut Washington's ability to challenge Tehran's airspace. "We've been making very clearly our objections to any sale of this missile system to Iran, as I said, for quite some time, and we'll continue to monitor it closely," State Department spokesman John Kirby said on Tuesday.
        Michael O'Hanlon, a defense policy expert with the Brookings Institution, said that if Iran is outfitted with the Russian missile defense system, "The airspace will be more tense. It will be filled up with more radar beams if you will - invisible, and yet ever present, and they will be...radar signals that we can't easily stop or evade."  (CNN)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israeli Soldier Wounded in Bomb Attack near Jerusalem - Itay Blumenthal and Rotem Elizera
    An Israeli soldier was wounded by an explosive device thrown near a security checkpoint south of Jerusalem on Wednesday. (Ynet News)
  • Hamas Captures Dolphin It Claims Was Spying for Israel
    Hamas claims to have captured a dolphin off the Gaza coast equipped with "spying equipment" including cameras, Israel Army Radio reported Wednesday. (Times of Israel)
        See also Palestinians: Suspicious Dolphin Capable of Firing Arrows - Liad Osmo and Roi Kais
    The Palestinian paper Al-Quds reported that Hamas militants grew wary of the dolphin due to its "suspicious movements." It also reported that the dolphin was outfitted with a device capable of firing arrows with the capability of wounding or even killing a human. (Ynet News)
  • Poll: Half of Jerusalem Arabs Want to Be Israelis
    52% of Palestinians living in Jerusalem told pollsters they would prefer "Israeli citizenship with equal rights," while 42% prefer to be Palestinian citizens when a Palestinian state is established, Israel Channel 2 TV reported Wednesday. A similar poll in 2010 found that 1/3 of east Jerusalem Arabs preferred Israeli citizenship to Palestinian. Almost 40% said Jews "have rights to the land, together with Palestinians."  (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Iran's Secret Self-Inspections - Editorial
    AP reports that Iran will be allowed to use its own inspectors at the secret Parchin nuclear site under its secret side agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency. The IAEA has sought access to Parchin for more than a decade, and U.S. officials have said the deal requires Iran to come clean about Parchin. Now, the country that lied for years about its nuclear weapons program will be trusted to come clean about those lies.
        The news raises further doubts about a nuclear pact that is already leaking credibility. Unfettered access to Parchin is crucial to understanding Iran's past nuclear work. Without understanding how close Iran has come to getting the bomb, it's impossible to know if Iran really is a year or more away from having the bomb. (Wall Street Journal)
  • How to Get a Better Deal with Iran - Mark Dubowitz
    The Iran nuclear deal is a ticking time bomb. Its key provisions sunset too quickly, and it grants Iran too much leverage to engage in nuclear blackmail. Congress needs to do what it has done dozens of times in the past including during the Cold War in requiring changes to key U.S.-Soviet arms control agreements: Demand a better deal.
        Congress has required amendments to more than 200 treaties before receiving Senate consent. During the Cold War, Democratic senators like Henry Jackson withstood pressure from Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger who insisted that the deals they negotiated go unchanged. This all happened at a time when Moscow had thousands of nuclear-tipped missiles aimed at America.
        The U.S. will never again have the kind of powerful secondary sanctions leverage that it has today. Congress now has an opportunity to ensure that we maintain and use that power to defuse the ticking time bomb by making critical amendments to the Iran deal that lower the risk of a future war. The writer is executive director of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. (Foreign Policy)
  • ISIS Gains from the West's Weakness - Maj.-Gen. (res.) Giora Eiland
    ISIS is not a terrorist organization of the al-Qaeda variety, whose members hide among the civilian population. It is a real army whose fighters travel in broad daylight, driving easily identifiable trucks. When ISIS conquered Ramadi in Iraq, thousands of its fighters drove into the city during the day in open trucks. This kind of enemy should be easy pickings for any Western military capable of finding these targets and bombing them from the air. But the West has not yet chosen to create a system that will efficiently handle this threat. The writer is a former head of Israel's National Security Council. (Ynet News)

The Iran Nuclear Deal: The U.S. Changed the Objective - Emily B. Landau and Shimon Stein (Institute for National Security Studies)

  • The problem Israel and many of its neighbors have faced is that the P5+1 have not perceived a permanent halt to Iran's nuclear drive as in their interest to the same degree that Israel does; and yet, it is Israel and these other Middle East states that will be the first to suffer the consequences of the P5+1 failure to produce a good deal.
  • Accordingly, the longer-term security calculations of the strong powers have taken a dangerous backseat to their short-term desire to remove this issue from the agenda.
  • In this frustrating environment for Israel, in which it does not have a formal role, what were its real options? For Netanyahu, it was always about maintaining awareness of the danger in policymaking circles and in terms of wider public perceptions. In this respect, he probably did more than any one leader to put the Iranian nuclear issue on the global agenda in a manner that could not be ignored and keep it there for a long time.
  • Then during the course of 2014-2015, the Obama administration's position on the ultimate goal of the negotiation seems to have shifted, from largely dismantling Iran's nuclear program to trying to manage it. It is when Obama's speech to an AIPAC gathering promising that his policy is one of prevention, not containment, began to ring hollow.
  • Once the objective of the negotiators changed, it was clear that Israel would not endorse the new direction. It also became clear that Israel and the U.S. would be on a collision course, unless Israel agreed to adjust its own objectives and undercut its steadfast position that an Iranian nuclear weapon must be prevented through dismantlement and verification.

    Emily Landau directs the Arms Control and Regional Security Project at INSS, where former Israeli ambassador Shimon Stein is a senior research fellow.

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