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September 18, 2015

In-Depth Issues:

Netanyahu: Campaign in Congress Against Iran Deal Didn't Harm Israel-U.S. Ties (Prime Minister's Office)
    Prime Minister Netanyahu said Thursday:
    "I have heard for months from all kinds of experts and commentators who contended that the struggle which we led against the Iranian nuclear deal could lead to a cut-off, a collapse in relations with the United States."
    "I never understood why the sovereign State of Israel, which represents the Jewish People, cannot lead a fight against a nuclear agreement with a country that declares its intention to destroy us."
    "I think this is not only my right, it is my duty to point out these dangers, and this not only does not harm the State of Israel, it serves the State of Israel, because all parties in the United States, including those who supported the agreement, say, 'We certainly have to resist Iranian aggression; we certainly should strengthen the State of Israel.'"
    "Of course this is also reflected in the words spoken by President Obama and Secretary Kerry."
    See also Obama to Host Netanyahu at White House on Nov. 9 (White House)
    See also U.S., Israeli Defense Chiefs to Meet in Washington Next Month (Times of Israel)

Poll: 82 Percent of Syrians Say U.S. Created Islamic State - Sudarsan Raghavan (Washington Post)
    82% of Syrians believe the Islamic State was created by the U.S. and its allies, according to a survey of 1,365 Syrians conducted by UK-based ORB International from June 10 to July 2.
    49% said they opposed U.S.-coalition airstrikes, while 22% said IS is a positive influence.

Israel Allows Shipment of Diesel Fuel for Gaza Power Station - Daniel Siryoti (Israel Hayom)
    Israel on Wednesday authorized the delivery of half a million liters of diesel fuel needed to operate the electric power station in Gaza.

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What the Third Lebanon War Will Look Like - Ron Ben-Yishai (Ynet News)
    While Hizbullah is deeply submerged in the Syrian quagmire, over the past year its leadership has been preparing for the Third Lebanon War.
    The next war will begin with Hizbullah firing around 1,200 more accurate rockets a day, which will target civilians, military facilities, and essential services throughout Israel.
    Damage will be much smaller if the David's Sling missile defense system, designed to intercept missiles with a longer range than Iron Dome, is operative by then.
    Hizbullah special forces are also expected to cross into Israeli territory to conquer towns, kidnap hostages, and block major transportation arteries in the north.
    Hizbullah will also launch intensive barrages of mortal shells and short-range rockets to unleash mass death and destruction in Israeli border communities.
    Israel's response will be aimed at stopping Hizbullah's rocket fire and preventing infiltration into Israeli territory.
    There will be significant and speedy maneuvering of large IDF forces into Lebanese territory and thousands of targets will be hit throughout Lebanon for many days.
    The IDF is adding a defensive element through what is known as "the obstacle." This is an artificial cliff being dug in the mountain slopes next to border communities.

A Look at Zambia-Israel Ties (Times of Zambia)
    Foreign Affairs Minister Harry Kalaba re-opened Zambia's embassy in Israel early this month, the third African country to open an embassy in Israel after South Sudan and Rwanda.
    Kalaba said Zambia expects "cooperation and the strengthening of ties" over a wide range of fields, including economic, security, agriculture, and tourism.
    Many Jews came to Zambia from the Baltic states of the Russian Empire, now Lithuania and Latvia, in large numbers from the 1880s onwards as economic migrants, and refugees fleeing religious and political persecution.
    The first synagogue in Zambia (then called Northern Rhodesia) was established in Livingstone in 1910 and the foundation stone of the synagogue, now the Church of Christ, was laid in 1928.
    Livingstone's Jewish population was reinforced in the late 1930s by a new influx of German Jewish refugees from Nazism and there was an even larger influx of Polish, and mainly Christian, refugees during the Second World War.
    The Zambian Jewish community, at its height, numbered about 1,200 in an overall white population of 80,000.

U.S. Vets' Wheelchairs Can Go Down Stairs with Israeli Tech - Abigail Klein Leichman (Israel21c)
    Wheelchair-bound U.S. army veterans will be among the first users of the revolutionary Acrobat Wheel created by Israeli company SoftWheel to increase their mobility significantly.
    Riders can go over rocky or uneven terrain, get down a curb or down stairs due to a patented suspension mechanism in the wheel.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • UN Nuclear Conference Votes Down Anti-Israel Resolution
    An Arab bid to pressure Israel over its assumed nuclear arsenal failed on Thursday after Washington and other powers united to reject it at the UN atomic watchdog's annual gathering. 61 countries voted against the Arab-drafted resolution, 43 in favor and 33 abstained. With a larger number of "no" votes than a similar vote last year, the Israeli prime minister's office described the rejection of the motion as a "great victory." Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he had told world leaders before the vote: "There is no room for a debate of this sort while the main problem in the Middle East is Iran's attempts to arm itself with nuclear weapons and its clear declarations of its intention to destroy the State of Israel."  (Reuters)
  • Khamenei Threatens "Criminal America" in New Video
    On Sept. 13, the office of Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei shared a video titled "If Any War Happens..." in which Khamenei warns: "Criminal America will be the side that will leave the war arena defeated." The video opens with President Obama stating that the U.S. will not have a problem "knocking out [Iran's] military with speed and dispatch if we choose to."
        In response, Khamenei advises the Americans to "use their experiences [in the Middle East] correctly," as images play in the background: a swift boat attack on an American aircraft carrier, photos of the advanced American RQ-170 drone that Iran brought down on its soil, a photo of Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah against a backdrop of a missile flying the Hizbullah flag, photos from the 2006 Lebanon war, Khamenei delivering a speech to Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards, Iranian missiles being launched and striking ships, bodies of American soldiers returning from Iraq, and a photo of Khamenei leading Iran's top military echelon. (MEMRI)
        See also Iran Leader Warns Against U.S. Infiltration
    Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei warned Revolutionary Guards commanders on Wednesday to be on alert for "political and cultural" infiltration by the United States. "Enemy means global arrogance, the ultimate symbol of which is the United States." The enemies "are waiting for a time when the nation and system fall asleep, for example in 10 years when I may not be here, to realize their objectives. But the nation and the authorities won't let that happen."  (AFP)
  • Netanyahu, Putin to Discuss Russia's Role in Syria Next Week - Andrew Blake
    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin are expected to meet in Moscow next week to discuss the Kremlin's expanding role in Syria's civil war. The Prime Minister's Office said: "Prime Minister Netanyahu will present the threats posed to Israel as a result of the increased flow of advanced war material to the Syrian arena and the transfer of deadly weapons to Hizbullah and other terror organizations."  (Washington Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Arabs Attack and Burn Bus in Jerusalem - Yair Ettinger and Gili Cohen
    Palestinians pelted a Jerusalem city bus with rocks as it was driving through east Jerusalem's Ras al-Amud neighborhood on Thursday night. The driver fled and when he returned with the police, they found the bus on fire. In another incident Thursday night, a bus driver was lightly wounded by shattered glass after rocks were thrown at his vehicle near the Hizma checkpoint north of Jerusalem. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Israeli Vehicle Overturns after Firebomb Attack in West Bank; Driver Unharmed - Stuart Winer
    Two Palestinian men hurled firebombs at an Israeli car in the West Bank on Thursday night, causing the driver to lose control of the vehicle and overturn, but she was not harmed. Israeli security forces shot one of the perpetrators, and a second man was arrested. The incident occurred near the Palestinian village of Bayt Furik, close to Nablus. (Times of Israel)
  • Israel Seeks to Allay Jordan Concerns over Temple Mount Violence - Barak Ravid
    Israel has been passing messages to Jordan to calm tensions amid the recent escalation at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Senior officials in Jerusalem said that Israel told Jordan it has no intention of making any change to the status quo at the holy site, and said that the Palestinians are spreading lies on this issue. Along with these messages, Israeli officials demanded that Jordan also take steps to stop the violence on the Temple Mount through representatives of the Waqf, or Muslim religious trust. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Video: Islamist Violence on Temple Mount in Jerusalem During Jewish New Year (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
        See also below Observations - Prosor: "When the Palestinians Set the Temple Mount Ablaze, Mahmoud Abbas Fuels the Fire, and the Security Council Fans the Flames" (Israel UN Mission)
  • Foreign Ministry: "Israel Has Many New Friends in the World" - Herb Keinon
    Foreign Ministry Director-General Dore Gold told the Jerusalem Post: "A mistaken impression exists that Israel is facing a new level of diplomatic isolation, but when you sit in the office of the director-general of the Foreign Ministry, you quickly understand that is simply not true." Israel's relations in Asia are opening up, with growing ties with India, China, Japan and Vietnam. Moreover, "the Arab world is interested in talking to Israel," Gold says. "Israel has many new friends in the world."
        He also notes that Europeans, who are facing a massive influx of migrants, "are beginning to think much more seriously about their need to have defensible borders for Europe."  (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):


  • Israel's Barak Calls for Greater American Support for Israeli Defense after Iran Deal - Luca F. Schroeder
    Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak spoke on Thursday at Harvard University about the need for closer U.S.-Israel political and military cooperation in the wake of the Iran nuclear deal. He said it was time for Israel to "request or expect that the American administration find a way to equip Israel with the tools to carry out an independent operation, if the need arise [sic], against the...Iranian nuclear program." Barak said the U.S. and Israel should work together to decide what would constitute a significant violation of the nuclear deal by Iran, and what kinds of violations should bring sanctions or even a military option back on the table.
        Barak said the Iran deal gives a sense of legitimacy to the Iranian government and, more importantly, has diminished global authority to "block any other third-grade players who wants to turn into a threshold nuclear power."
        Asked about the Islamic State (ISIS), Barak advised not overestimating the group's military strength. "There are 30 or 40 thousand people basically driving Toyota pickups with one or two of the '70s machine guns - they don't have a single artillery battalion, attack helicopters, a drone, or jet fighter," he said. "They were trained by Saddam Hussein officers - this is the same army that couldn't take over Iran for eight years." However, "every passing week that ISIS is still on its them a huger [sic] prestige and ignites the imagination of young Muslims."  (Harvard Crimson)
  • Hoenlein: Iran Deal Changes Israel's Security Situation - Stewart Ain
    As Congress concludes its review of the Iran deal, Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, said he hopes that "partisanship can now be put aside so we can work together to assure the best possible outcome." Discussing President Obama's promise to provide Israel with advanced military weapons to ensure that it maintains its qualitative military edge in the region, Hoenlein said, "I think there has to be assistance to Israel because its security situation has changed, and all countries in the region are threatened" by Iran. He was referring to an estimated $56 billion Iran would receive once it complies with the terms of the agreement over the next six to nine months.
        "If Iran is empowered and uses those funds to promote terrorism and violations of human rights, builds its missile capacity and makes aggressive efforts to undermine governments in the area like Yemen, as it has done in Iraq and Syria and along the Israeli border, those are things we will have to be looking at," Hoenlein said. (New York Jewish Week)

  • Other Issues

  • Israeli Strategic Challenges and Opportunities in the New Year - Maj. Gen. (ret.) Yaakov Amidror
    The most prominent change in the global theater is the growing feeling within the international community that the United States is slowly backing away from its role as the free world's leader. As a result, countries that in the past were wary of antagonizing the U.S. for fear of retaliation are now seeing its reluctance to intervene globally as their chance to improve their position and to aggressively promote their interest.
        Iran has made it perfectly clear that what little has changed in its nuclear policies will not affect other areas, and that it will continue to support Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime, and arm Hizbullah and Hamas. It remains committed to eradicating the "Zionist entity," as well as to establish its hegemony over the "Shiite Crescent," stretching from Tehran through Baghdad to Damascus and Beirut.
        Despite President Obama's determination to annihilate Islamic State, and some partial coalition successes against IS, overall the effort thus far has proven ineffective. Various terrorist groups in Nigeria, the Sinai Peninsula, Asia and Libya have affiliated themselves with Islamic State this year, allowing it to gain momentum, and fueling its desire to expand. The writer served as National Security Adviser to the Prime Minister, head of the National Security Council, and head of the research division of IDF Intelligence. (Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies-Bar-Ilan University)
  • Hamas Steps Up Recruitment of Fighters to Meet Shortage - Hazem Balousha
    Almost daily in most regions in the Gaza Strip, Hamas' al-Qassam Brigades militants perform military parades. Masked militants hold light weapons and miniature versions of missiles and aircraft that the Brigades claim to have developed and manufactured locally and used in their confrontation with Israel. Large signs in the main cities praise Hamas' military capabilities during the latest war. Sculptures of missiles and aircraft are placed in key squares. Al-Qassam organized military training camps for boys and young men, dubbed the "vanguards of liberation camps," during the students' midterm break in January and during their summer vacation in August.
        A well-informed source in the Hamas leadership discussed its recruiting strategy with Al-Monitor: "Few young men are attracted through mosques and the preaching department, but through al-Qassam Brigades summer camps and other popular activities, attracting young men became faster and more effective. Al-Qassam Brigades need fighters, not preachers, since there is a shortage in fighters as a result of successive wars. This shortage must not only be compensated for, but rather the number of fighters must be increased."
        Another source in the al-Qassam Brigades' leadership said: "The decline in the number of fighters is not only due to wars and military confrontations, but there is also the time factor. Members are getting older and are no longer physically fit to serve as fighters on the front lines. We are in dire need of younger fighters. Summer camps are a very suitable place to get to know young people and practically test their abilities, physical strength and desire to become militants."  (Al-Monitor)
  • A Modern-Day Yellow Star - Dan Margalit
    The European Parliament last week endorsed the labeling of products from Israeli settlements. The EU has gone out of its way to distract itself from dealing with the onslaught of Muslim migrants by putting the mark of Cain on settlement industries that provide livelihoods to many Palestinians.
        The product labeling effort is a disgraceful form of boycott. The naive among us believe it is just a way of differentiating between what is produced within the 1967 Green Line and what is manufactured beyond that line. However, European supermarket managers will have no patience for figuring out the difference between Tel Aviv and Ariel. They will just forgo Israeli products altogether and order similar products from other countries, which will adversely affect all Israeli exports.
        The EU labeling effort is a blatantly anti-Israeli initiative. Europe has decided once again to single out Jews through a disgraceful form of boycott. The labeling efforts led by EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini are the 2015 version of the yellow Star of David introduced in Nazi Germany. (Israel Hayom)
  • The Islamic State's Rules for Its Christian Subjects - Col. (ret.) Dr. Jacques Neriah
    The Islamic State has formulated a "covenant" in which it defines the rights and duties of the non-Muslim population, mainly of Christian faith, living in its boundaries. In return for their right to live safely under Islamic state rule, the Christians commit not to build or renovate their town's churches or convents. Prayers must be conducted in such a way that Muslims will not hear them nor shall they hear sounds of bells from their churches. Christians should refrain from appearing in public with artifacts of worship. Christians are due to revere Islam and Muslims. Every adult Christian is to pay, in two installments yearly, the jizya (Arabic per-capita tax) in the amount of four dinars of gold.
        According to the Syrian Observatory of Human Rights, the Islamic State received the full amount of the jizya from the Christian community remaining in Alkaryatayn 24 hours after it stormed the town and after presenting to the Christians one of three choices: Pay the jizya, convert to Islam, or leave town. Most Christians left town. In August 2015, the Islamic State destroyed the Mar Elyan Monastery in Alkaryatayn, one of the oldest Christian historical shrines in the Middle East. The writer, a special analyst at the Jerusalem Center, was formerly Foreign Policy Advisor to Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Deputy Head for Assessment of Israeli Military Intelligence. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

Prosor: "When the Palestinians Set the Temple Mount Ablaze, Mahmoud Abbas Fuels the Fire, and the Security Council Fans the Flames" (Israel UN Mission)

Israel's Ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor said Thursday:

  • "This past Sunday, as Jews around the world prepared to celebrate the Jewish New Year, Palestinian terrorists once again used the holiday season to instigate riots on the Temple Mount and to launch terror attacks, which lead to the murder of an Israeli citizen, Alexander Lebelovitch. Instead of condemning these acts, Mahmoud Abbas has chosen, once again, to fuel the fire in the most shameful manner....Only yesterday, he declared: 'We cannot allow the filthy feet of the Jews to desecrate Al-Aqsa.' This rhetoric is obscene and dangerous."
  • Responding to the Security Council statement on the topic, released Thursday, Ambassador Prosor said: "This statement, which only uses the Arabic name for the Temple Mount, affirms the right of Muslims to be present and to pray at the compound, but completely ignores the Palestinian violence, the deep connection of the Jewish People to the Temple Mount, and the right of all to visit the site. Instead of calming tensions, the Council sides with those who are trying to set the region on fire. When the Palestinians set the Temple Mount ablaze, Mahmoud Abbas fuels the fire, and the Security Council fans the flames, it is a recipe for a regional explosion."
    See also Palestinian Violence on the Temple Mount (Israel UN Mission)

In a letter to the UN Secretary General and the Security Council, Israeli Ambassador Ron Prosor said Thursday:
  • "Once again, radical Islamic operatives have used the occasion of a Jewish holiday to stage provocations and instigate violence on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. These groups have a long track-record of attacking Jews on their holiest days, at their holiest place."
  • "The operatives prepared for this violent confrontation by stockpiling rocks, planks, wooden sheets and fireworks. They also prepared lethal weapons such as Molotov firebombs and explosive devices in advance of the calculated provocation. When Israeli police entered the area to maintain order, and ensure free access, the operatives unleashed their attack. The violent attacks continued for three consecutive days, throughout the Jewish festival, as the masked operatives threw rocks, firebombs, and firecrackers at the police, who responded with non-lethal riot dispersal measures."
  • "I wish to emphasize that these three days of Palestinian violence on the Temple Mount were not provoked by any Israeli activity. I would also like to make it clear that at no point did Israeli police forces enter the mosque. All damage sustained at the mosque was a direct result of the activities of the militants."
  • "We would expect Palestinians and the Arab world to condemn such profanation of holy sites, but their silence on this matter is deafening."
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