June 6, 2018

In-Depth Issues:

Moscow Links Southern Syria Battle to Iran's Withdrawal - Saeed Abdelrazek and Atef Abdul Latif (Asharq Al-Awsat-UK)
    Moscow confirmed on Monday that its jets would not provide air cover to Syrian regime forces in their upcoming battle in southwestern Syria along the Israeli border if Iran-linked militias are allowed to participate in it.
    Political sources in Tel Aviv said Russian-Israeli talks led to an understanding to allow Assad's forces to deploy at Israel's border in exchange for the withdrawal of Iranian fighters from Syria.

Argentina Cancels Israel Soccer Match following Palestinian Pressure (Times of Israel)
    In the face of intense Palestinian pressure, Argentina has decided to pull out of a soccer match against Israel, a senior source at Argentina's Football Federation told AP on Tuesday.
    The game was highly anticipated in Israel, with tickets selling out in 20 minutes.
    Following the news, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Argentine President Mauricio Macri to urge him to intercede to forestall the cancellation. Macri told Netanyahu that he had no control over the team's decision.

Economic Protests in Jordan - Dr. James M. Dorsey (BESA Center for Strategic Studies-Bar-Ilan University)
    Large numbers of middle-class Jordanian demonstrators who saw their livelihoods threatened by price and tax hikes recently took to the streets.
    The proposed tax hikes were in line with the terms of a three-year, $723 million dollar loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that Jordan secured in 2016.
    In Jordan, the replacement this week of Prime Minister Al-Mulki failed to put an end to the protests. Protesters are no longer pacified by cosmetic changes.
    Without doubt, King Abdullah's willingness and ability to implement change are being put to the test.

Robert Kennedy's 1948 Reports from Palestine - Lenny Ben-David (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
    June 6, 2018, marks the 50th anniversary of the death of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, brother of slain U.S. President John F. Kennedy and former U.S. Attorney General, who was the leading Democratic candidate for president in 1968.
    His Palestinian assassin, Sirhan Sirhan, said he killed Kennedy due to his vocal support for Israel.
    In April 1948, Robert Kennedy, then 22, traveled to Palestine to report on the conflict there for the Boston Post. Read his four dispatches from the scene.

Tens of Thousands in New York Cheer Israel's Anniversary - Shiryn Solny (JNS)
    The 54th annual "Celebrate Israel" parade in New York City on Sunday drew tens of thousands of people to Manhattan's Fifth Avenue to view the five-hour procession.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. Warns Allies on Business Ties to Iran - Jeff Seldin
    U.S. allies and partners will face "very significant risks" if they continue to do business with Iran, Sigal Mandelker, U.S. Undersecretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, warned Tuesday. "The Iranian regime will deceive your companies, undermine the integrity of your financial systems and put your institutions at risk of our powerful sanctions, all to fund terrorism, human rights abuses and terrorist groups like Hizbullah, Hamas and the Houthis....To our allies and partners around the world, we ask that you add your voices to ours in condemning Iran's deceptive, exploitive and destructive practices."  (VOA News)
        See also Iran's Systematic Efforts to Undermine the International Financial System - Sigal Mandelker
    We continue to see Iran use deceptive tactics including front and shell companies to exploit markets in numerous countries to fund its nefarious activities. Iran's deceitful tactics include forging documents, obfuscating data, and hiding illicit activities under official cover of government entities. (U.S. Treasury Department)
  • U.S. Companies Wind Down Iran Business after Nuclear Deal Pullout - Asa Fitch and Ian Talley
    Dozens of major American companies are preparing to pull out of Iran as the Trump administration closes a legal window that has allowed firms to operate there. At least 17 U.S.-listed companies did business with Iran using foreign subsidiaries after the Iran nuclear deal went into effect in 2016. (Wall Street Journal)
        See also European Investment Bank Balks at EU Plan to Work in Iran - Alissa de Carbonnel and Robin Emmott
    The European Investment Bank, the EU's lending arm, has balked at an EU proposal to do business in Iran to help offset U.S. sanctions and save the nuclear deal. European Commissioners are expected on Wednesday to endorse encouraging the EIB to support investments in Iran in response to Iran's demands that they show proof of their commitment to the nuclear deal. "The bank is unhappy with the Commission proposal because the bank raises funds on U.S. markets," said one EU diplomat.
        Former Obama administration official Richard Nephew said, "Europe and the U.S. are so integrated that it is implausible that the Europeans will be able to use current institutions to engage in transactions with Iran."  (Reuters)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • IDF: Gaza Medic Killed on Border Wasn't Intentionally Shot by Soldiers - Yaniv Kubovich
    Israeli soldiers did not fire directly at Razan al-Najjar, a Palestinian medic who was killed on Friday on the Gaza border, a preliminary military investigation found. Soldiers opened fire at rioters and not directly at Najjar. (Ha'aretz)
  • PA Told France that Gaza Border Clashes Were Financed by Iran - Tamar Pileggi
    The Palestinian Authority informed the French government last month that Iran was financing the violent protests along the Gaza border, Israel's Channel 10 reported Tuesday. "Iran is fully financing and pushing the Hamas demonstrations," Salman al-Harfi, the Palestinian ambassador to France, told a government official. (Times of Israel)
  • Gazan Burning-Kite Attacks Spark Fires, JNF to Sue Hamas for Environmental Damage - Tamara Zieve
    Incendiary kites launched from Gaza sparked fires in 10 locations in Israel on Tuesday. Jewish National Fund World Chairman Daniel Atar said Tuesday, "It is inconceivable that the international community would allow Hamas not to be held accountable and pay for its criminal acts; not only against the citizens of the State of Israel, but also against nature and the environment which have been severely hurt by this criminal environmental terrorism." In the past few months, 697 acres of JNF forests have been burned. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Slowly, Steadily Benjamin Netanyahu Is Winning Allies in His Struggle with Tehran - Anshel Pfeffer
    For Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, Washington's withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal was the culmination of years of lobbying. His efforts are also being rewarded in Russia, which is now supporting Israel's demands that Iranian forces be kept away from Israel's border on the Golan Heights and has remained silent as Israel launched air-strikes on Iranian bases deep within Syria.
        "With Trump's pulling out of the Iran deal and Putin supporting us now in Syria, 80% of the work has been done," said a senior cabinet minister in Jerusalem this week. "But every bit of pressure counts. We have to bring the Iranians to the point where they give up on their plans both in Syria and their nuclear program."
        Israeli officials believe that any European attempt to defy American sanctions on Iran by financing future business deals with the Islamic Republic will fail. In recent weeks, a growing list of European companies have announced they are winding up their dealings with Iran. (The Times-UK)
  • South African Radio Personality Sides with Israel on Gaza - Jenna Etheridge
    Radio personality Gareth Cliff has courted controversy by declaring that Israel is entitled to protect itself from Palestinians "clearly hellbent on violence." "I looked at what was going on over there and I have done quite a lot of reading with quite a lot of the news articles from around the world and this claim that Israel shot demonstrators is just a blatant lie. It's an absolute falsehood," Cliff said. "This was an attempt to invade a sovereign nation and border communities to indiscriminately slaughter civilians."
        Cliff claimed that a successful "border breach" would have resulted in "real carnage on both sides." He said thousands of people would have streamed through the fence "and there would have been fires set, communities would have engaged in war. What must Israel do? Let it happen? Let their citizens be killed by a bunch of people who are clearly hellbent on violence? Tell me how that's an equal situation for both sides. It really isn't."  (News24-South Africa)
        See also Was Gareth Cliff Right about Israel? - Ivo Vegter
    Gareth Cliff was right. The Gaza "protest" was in fact an orchestrated attack on the Israeli border. Given the violent history of Hamas, which includes rocket attacks against Israeli towns and civilians, it comes as no surprise that the Israeli defense forces took the threat of incursion seriously, and responded with force. (Daily Maverick-South Africa)

  • Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu traveled to Europe this week to meet the leaders of Germany, France, and Britain, who support the Iranian nuclear deal.
  • Netanyahu went to Europe to address all of Iran's activities: its ballistic missile development, its meddling in the region and entrenchment in Syria, and its activities in Gaza through Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
  • He wants to convince the Europeans not to walk out of the deal but rather to use the issue as leverage to pressure the Iranians on the ballistic missile issue and on their activities in the region.
  • In his news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Netanyahu said, "The real question we have to confront is what do we do about Iran's aggression."
  • During his news conference with French President Emmanuel Macron, he said, "I did not ask President Macron to leave the deal. I think that economic realities are going to decide this matter."
  • "What I focused on is to stop Iranian aggression in the region and, specifically, Israel's goal, which I think should be shared by all those who seek peace and prosperity in the Middle East: a reconstructed Syria. And a precursor to that is that Iran leaves Syria, all of Syria." 

        See also Israel Wants Iran Out of All of Syria - Borzou Daragahi
    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned last week that Israel would strike against any attempt by Iran to "establish itself militarily" in Syria, "not just opposite the Golan Heights, but any place in Syria." Former Israeli UN envoy Dore Gold said, "From a clear military standpoint, Israel wants Iran out of Syria. That means Syria within its boundaries."  (Foreign Policy)