March 14, 2019

In-Depth Issues:

Iranian Nuclear Archive Reveals Facility to Produce Weapon-Grade Uranium - David Albright, Frank Pabian, and Andrea Stricker (Institute for Science and International Security)
    A surprise in the Iranian nuclear archive seized by Israel in 2018 was a picture showing support facilities for a gas centrifuge enrichment plant being built to produce weapon-grade uranium as part of Iran's nuclear weapons program.
    Based on a document in the archive, the plant was expected to produce enough weapon-grade uranium for at least one or two nuclear weapons per year.

U.S. Says Iran Has Lost $10 Billion in Oil Revenue Due to Sanctions - Florence Tan (Reuters)
    Iran has lost $10 billion in revenue since U.S. sanctions in November have removed about 1.5 million barrels per day of Iranian crude from global markets, Brian Hook, the State Department's special representative on Iran, said Wednesday.

Satellite Images Back Report of New Iranian Missile Plant in Syria (Times of Israel)
    New satellite images give credence to reports that a new factory in Syria's northwest is a facility for the production of surface-to-surface missiles, Israeli intelligence-gathering firm ImageSat International said Wednesday.

U.S. I.D. Systems to Buy Israel's Pointer Telocation for $140 Million - Shoshanna Solomon (Times of Israel)
    U.S.-based I.D. Systems will buy Israel's Pointer Telocation for $140 million.
    Pointer Telocation's cloud-based software tracks vehicles at all times, for fleet management, insurance purposes, and stolen vehicle recovery.
    It also provides a roadside assistance service to motorists.

NASA to Include Israeli Radiation Suit in Orion Moon Mission (Calcalist)
    NASA is set to include a radiation suit manufactured by Israeli company StemRad in its upcoming Orion Exploration-Mission 1, scheduled for June 2020, a blog published by the European Space Agency reported last week.
    On the crewless mission, two dummies designed to record radiation levels, one donning StemRad's radiation suit, will be used to assess and compare the levels astronauts may be exposed to during a lunar mission.
    StemRad develops and manufactures wearable anti-radiation equipment for military, scientific and medical applications.

Israeli Startup Detects Food Contamination in Real-Time (PR Newswire)
    Israeli FoodTech startup Inspecto Ltd. has introduced a new device that detects chemical contamination in food in real-time.
    The portable scanner can detect contaminants at concentration levels as required by regulators, bringing lab testing to farmers, food manufacturers, and retailers without time-consuming, high-cost lab testing.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. Drops Reference to "Israeli-Occupied" Golan Heights
    The U.S. State Department changed its usual description of the Golan Heights from "Israeli-occupied" to "Israeli-controlled" in an annual global human rights report released on Wednesday. A separate section in the report on the West Bank and Gaza also did not refer to those territories as "occupied."  (Reuters)
  • Israel: UN Commission of Inquiry on Gaza Disregards Hamas
    Senior Israeli officials on Wednesday delivered a detailed critique of a UN probe that accused its soldiers of possible war crimes in Gaza. "For the [UN] commission, Hamas is completely absent from this report. They see no Hamas, they hear no Hamas," said one Israeli official. "Hamas has complete control of these events." The official insisted that troops were only allowed to use live rounds against those who posed "a real and imminent threat."  (AFP-Daily Mail-UK)
  • Senate Votes to End U.S. Support of Saudi-Led Yemen War - Karoun Demirjian
    The Senate voted 54 to 46 on Wednesday to end U.S. support for the Saudi-led military campaign in Yemen. The vote marks the second time in recent months that the Senate has rejected continued U.S. participation in Saudi Arabia's bombing campaign against Yemen's Houthi rebels, waged in the name of holding back Iran's expansion in the region. However, it is unlikely that Congress would have the two-thirds votes necessary in each chamber to override a presidential veto of the measure. (Washington Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel Asks UN Security Council to Act on Hizbullah Terrorists on Golan Border - Ben Bresky
    Israel issued a formal complaint to the UN Security Council on Wednesday over Hizbullah's operations along Israel's border with Syria. Israel's ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon, wrote to council members stating that Israel "will not ignore the conversion of Syria and Lebanon to a military front against us and will act with force against the aggression from Tehran," Hizbullah's backer. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Muslim Wakf to Start Renovating Golden Gate Site on Temple Mount in Jerusalem - Khaled Abu Toameh
    The Wakf Council announced on Wednesday that it will start "immediate renovation and reconstruction work" at the Golden Gate site on the Temple Mount, following understandings reached between Israel and Jordan to solve the crisis surrounding the site. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israel Arrests Palestinian Terror Cell near Jerusalem - Zack Evans
    Israeli Border Police arrested seven members of a terror cell operating from Kalandiya, north of Jerusalem, that had executed multiple attacks on the Kalandiya checkpoint with explosives and firebombs. As part of the operation, undercover forces stopped members of the cell in the act of committing terror attacks. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • The Myth of the Pro-Israel Lobby - Steve Israel
    What is missing from the argument about what really motivates most of my former House colleagues to support Israel is: What is good for the United States? Their responsibility is to protect American interests first and foremost.
        The vast majority of the Democrats and Republicans in Congress support Israel because it is a valuable ally that shares fundamental ideals in a volatile region of the world. Israel is not Turkey, which has veered from American interests, or Russia or China. So our lawmakers support measures like funding anti-missile systems or the $40 billion security package that will help protect aligned American and Israeli interests in the Middle East.
        Congress supports Israel not because of a lobbyist, but because stopping the influence of Hamas and Hizbullah is essential for the U.S. In a region where democracy is stifled and religious freedom prohibited, our lawmakers support Israel because it remains a democracy.
        The writer represented New York in Congress for 16 years and is now the director of the Institute of Politics and Global Affairs at Cornell University. (The Hill)
  • Jordan's King Abdullah: Walking a Fine Line between the Bedouin and the Palestinians - Daniel Siryoti
    While the Arab Spring skipped over the kingdom of Jordan, today there is a real existential threat to the royal family's continued rule. Although the Jordanians take every opportunity to announce that a solution to the Palestinian issue is their top priority, senior officials admit that a shared border between Jordan and a future Palestinian state would be the biggest threat to the stability of the kingdom.
        Middle East expert Pinhas Inbari, a senior research fellow at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, argues that the Islamic State is gaining a foothold within Jordan's borders, mostly at the kingdom's periphery. When the Islamic caliphate was at its height, the Bedouin religious leadership openly declared their loyalty to ISIS and called for the ouster of the royal family.
        In the past, in the time of King Hussein, the Bedouin tribes were blindly loyal to the Hashemite crown. But today the Bedouin tribes and clans seethe as they watch their Palestinian "guests" in Jordan flourishing and accumulating wealth and status. Moreover, the Muslim Brotherhood movement in Jordan is comprised mainly of Palestinians.
        According to Inbari, the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan has aligned itself with King Abdullah. When Salafist circles began criticizing this, senior members of the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan responded, "We have no desire or need to bring Jordan down to the state of Syria, Libya, or Yemen."
        At the same time, the king and his men take part in anti-Israel rhetoric, mostly when it comes to the issues of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount, out of a desire to calm any possible escalation at home that could portray Jordanian rulers as cooperating with Israel. (Israel Hayom)
  • The Middle East's Great Divide Is Not Sunni-Shiite - Hussein Agha and Robert Malley
    Sunni versus Shiite sectarianism is blamed for chaos, conflict, and extremism in the Middle East. But the vast majority of recent violence has occurred squarely inside the Sunni world.
        The region's most ferociously violent Sunni actor, the Islamic State, claims Sunnis as the overwhelming majority of its victims. The fierce battles for the Iraqi city of Mosul or the Syrian city of Raqqa pitted Sunni against Sunni. ISIS attacks in Egypt, Somalia, Libya, Nigeria, and elsewhere almost always have Sunnis as prey.
        Sunnis in the region still perceive Iran as a strategic threat. But the American belief that bellicose U.S. rhetoric can unite Sunni Arabs in an anti-Iranian alliance comes at a time when Sunni regimes are increasingly absorbed by the challenge posed by Turkey.
        Hussein Agha is a senior associate member of St. Antony's College, Oxford. Robert Malley, a former White House coordinator for the Middle East, North Africa, and the Gulf region under President Obama, is president and CEO of the International Crisis Group. (New Yorker)

The Palestinians Don't Have "a Veto on Progress" - U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman interviewed by Lahav Harkov (Washington Examiner)
  • Referring to the Trump administration's peace plan, U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman explained, "There ought to be a means to get at least closer to a point where the Palestinians have more control over their lives in a way that doesn't jeopardize Israel's security." The plan "will hopefully, if nothing else, provoke a serious discussion that hasn't taken place in a long time."
  • Friedman has sought out business leaders and other nonpolitical figures in the West Bank to understand ways to improve Palestinians' quality of life. "I'm happy to meet with Palestinians, even if they don't agree with me or like me. Their thoughts and perspectives make me smarter, thoughtful, and more creative."
  • He views the U.S. embassy move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem last year as a shift in the U.S. message, that "this is not a conflict where the Palestinians have a veto on progress. At some point...things will move forward with or without them. The U.S. is not going to ignore reality. We are not going to indulge the Palestinians in the fantasy that somehow Jerusalem can be disconnected from Israel or the Jewish people....The idea that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel is a fact...a reality, not a negotiation point," though its boundaries are negotiable.
  • "The idea that one could approach this conflict with a sense of neutrality...is pretty insulting to Israel. The reason Israel holds the territory it holds today, in simple terms, is because it kept getting attacked, wars kept getting fought, and Israel kept winning. The reason Israel hasn't given back all of it, and they gave back a lot, is because to give it away would be an existential risk to the country." Friedman said any other way of looking at the conflict is trying to make peace based on an "alternative reality."
  • "The biggest danger in this part of the world is to be consumed with wishful thinking. You should see a better future down the road, but you can't wish your way to that. You have to protect yourself along the way."