May 8, 2018

In-Depth Issues:

Iran Is Vulnerable in a Conflict with Israel - Hillel Frisch (Jerusalem Post)
    Iran exports 90% of its oil and gas from Kharg on the Persian Gulf. The port of Bandar Abbas is responsible for 90% of its container trade.
    One can safely assume that the Israeli air force has given much consideration to addressing these two major points of Iranian vulnerability.
    Iran's proxy Hizbullah suffered hundreds of deaths in the 2006 confrontation with Israel and has experienced even greater losses in the civil war in Syria.
    Hizbullah draws its ranks from a small community of less than two million people. Demographic data shows that the birth rate of Shi'ites in Lebanon has plummeted to below replacement rate, which impacts on the pool of new recruits.
    The writer is a professor of political and Middle East studies at Bar-Ilan University.

Iran Has No Interest in Leaving the Nuclear Deal - Emily B. Landau (Ha'aretz)
    Iran has no interest in leaving what is a pretty good deal - from their perspective.
    It legitimizes their enrichment program, lets them work on advanced centrifuges and missiles, has inspections that do not cover military facilities in any significant manner, has an unconditional expiration date, and includes significant sanctions relief.
    The writer heads the Arms Control and Regional Security Program at the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS).
    See also It Was Never the Iran Nuclear Deal or War - Emily B. Landau interviewed by Esther Solomon (Ha'aretz)
    Dr. Emily Landau doesn't buy the doomsday scenarios for the day after Trump's likely exit from the Iran deal.
    "We'll be in a new chapter of this ongoing nuclear crisis," she says. But she warns that time-wasting benefits only Tehran: "The situation regarding Iran needs to be turned around. Now."

Israeli Flavor and Fragrance Company Frutarom Sold for $7 Billion - Kobi Yeshayahou (Globes)
    U.S.-based International Flavors & Fragrances announced Monday that it will acquire Israel's Frutarom for $7.1 billion, in the second-largest sale of an Israeli company after Mobileye.

Israel-Linked Firm to Build Desalination Plant in Mexico (Israel21c)
    Fluence Corp. will build a $48 million, 5.8 million gallon/day seawater desalination plant to serve more than 100,000 residents in Baja California, a region the Mexican government has declared in drought since 2014.
    Fluence was established a year ago through the merger of Israeli company Emefcy, which devised a breakthrough wastewater treatment system, with RWL Water.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Iran Resists U.S. Demands Before Trump's Decision on Nuclear Pact - Asa Fitch and Margherita Stancati
    Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said his country would fiercely resist efforts to contain its regional influence as President Donald Trump weighs withdrawing from the nuclear deal. In a defiant speech on Monday, Rouhani rejected limits on Iran's ballistic missile program and on its interference across the Middle East. Trump said on Monday he would announce on Tuesday whether to reimpose restrictions on Iran and pull the U.S. out of the nuclear deal. (Wall Street Journal)
  • New U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem: A Stone Plaque and $400,000 in Renovations, for Now - Loveday Morris and Ruth Eglash
    For all the fanfare surrounding the opening of the new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem this coming Monday, the move, including building modifications and additional security, cost under $400,000, a U.S. official said. But the move is deeply symbolic, upending the decades-old U.S. policy of withholding recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital until the final status of the city is worked out in a peace agreement between Israelis and Palestinians.
        The building, which currently provides U.S. consular services such as passport renewals for U.S. citizens and visa applications, was opened in 2010. The embassy in Tel Aviv has 850 staff members, and it won't be until a new embassy is finished in seven to 10 years that a significant number of employees would move to the new location. (Washington Post)
  • Hizbullah Allies Gain in Lebanon Vote - Tom Perry
    Hizbullah and its political allies made significant gains in Lebanon's parliamentary election on Sunday, official results showed, underlining Tehran's growing regional clout. The number of Hizbullah MPs was little changed, but candidates supported by the group or allied to it gained in major cities. Western-backed Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri lost over a third of his seats with 21 MPs, down from 33. The staunchly anti-Hizbullah Lebanese Forces, a Christian party, nearly doubled its representation to 15. (Reuters)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel Will Hold Iran Reponsible for Missile Fire from Syria - Herb Keinon
    Amid intelligence reports Sunday that Iran is planning a missile strike against Israel from Syria, former Israeli national security adviser Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Yaakov Amidror said the reports were a signal to Tehran that Israel knows of these plans and will hold it responsible for its actions. Amidror said it was important to reveal Iran's intentions beforehand, in order to rob the Iranians of deniability. "It is clear that if Israel is attacked by any missiles, we know - and they know that we know - that this is the Iranians, and the consequences will be directed towards the Iranians."
        Amidror said that if the Iranians attack Israel - as they did three months ago when attempting to fly a drone with explosives into the country - "there will be consequences, such as a counterattack by Israel on Iranian interests." The Iranians "will have to pay" if they attack Israel. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Incendiary Balloons from Gaza Set Fire to Israeli Fields - Matan Tzuri
    Incendiary helium balloons released from Gaza on Monday caused fires in seven locations in Israel. One balloon set a wheat field ablaze near Kibbutz Mefalsim. Another caused a fire in the Be'eri Forest. Farmers estimate the damage to their fields that caught fire near harvest time at hundreds of thousands of shekels. (Ynet News)
  • Knesset Advances Bill Freezing PA Funding over Terror Payouts - Raoul Wootliff
    Israel's Knesset on Monday approved on a 55-14 vote the first reading of a bill allowing the government to hold up money to the Palestinian Authority over its payments to convicted terrorists. The measure, which would cut hundreds of millions of shekels from tax revenues transferred to the PA, is similar to the Taylor Force Act in the U.S. (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • The Issue is Iran, Not the Deal - Michael Ledeen
    The passionate debate over the Iran deal is secondary to the central issue. The President needs to decide what to do about Iran. The Islamic Republic is at war with us. Two successive supreme leaders have led their people in chants of "death to America," and have armed, trained, funded and led IRGC and Hizbullah forces worldwide - along with proxies that killed and kidnapped Americans throughout the Middle East and east Africa. The war started in 1979 and is very much in force today. The writer is a scholar at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. (PJ Media)
  • The Iranian Regime Lied about a Fatwa Banning Nuclear Weapons - Yigal Carmon and A. Savyon
    Israel's exposure of Iran's military nuclear program reveals that all the Iranian regime officials who claimed that Islam bans the development, manufacture and use of nuclear weapons lied in this matter. All the statements about a fatwa that bans this are a lie. Iranian regime officials have never hesitated to lie about matters that pertain to the tenets of the Islamic faith in order to promote Iran's military program unhindered.
        For the Islamic Revolution regime, the goal of obtaining nuclear weapons supersedes any religious value, and therefore any Western attitude which regards the Iranian regime as motivated by religious values is misguided. Y. Carmon is the president and founder of MEMRI; A. Savyon is director of MEMRI's Iran media project. (MEMRI)
  • The U.S. Embassy Prepares to Move to Jerusalem - Nadav Shragai
    The transfer of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem is another nail in the coffin of UN Resolution 181 of November 29, 1947, which called for the internationalization of Jerusalem. The embassy transfer is primarily recognition of the reality that already exists: Jerusalem is the capital of Israel.
        Israel's first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, insisted on declaring Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and transferring the main government offices and institutions to the city. In a telegram that he sent to Foreign Minister Moshe Sharett on December 4, 1949, Ben-Gurion wrote: "The State of Israel will not be satisfied in any way with a foreign government in Jewish Jerusalem and its severance from the country. If we are presented with a choice of either leaving Jerusalem or the United Nations, we would prefer to leave the United Nations."
        The writer, a senior researcher at the Jerusalem Center, is a journalist and commentator who has documented the dispute over Jerusalem for 30 years. (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
        See also Road Signs Pointing to U.S. Embassy Go Up in Jerusalem (AP)

What Was New about the Iranian Nuclear Archive? - Maj. Gen. (ret.) Yaakov Amidror (Israel Hayom)
  • The Iranian nuclear archive proved that Iran's nuclear program definitely existed. This is no longer just a claim that can be disputed. The unveiling also discredited the claim that Iran's ballistic missile program was not intended to carry nuclear warheads. The Iranians themselves admit they planned to build nuclear warheads and install them on missiles.
  • Thanks to the secret files, it is now clear that there is a massive gap between what the Iranians declared they had done and what they actually did in reality. Even those who believed Iran was lying were not aware of the extent. No inspection mechanism matched the reality revealed in the secret documents.
  • Had the signatories of the 2015 nuclear accord known what we know now, the details of the agreement would certainly have been different, especially the procedures governing monitoring and inspection, because the starting point regarding Iran's capability would have been different.
  • The most basic new discovery is that Iran safeguarded all its nuclear documents so that once the deal expires, it could pick up where it left off with research and production aimed at building nuclear weapons.
  • This raises questions about other features of the nuclear program that we did not know to ask about. No one knew the archive existed before Israeli intelligence agents located it. What else is Iran hiding? After this unveiling, it is no longer an option to ignore Israel's warnings about Iran.