July 17, 2019

In-Depth Issues:

Iran Denies It Is Willing to Negotiate over Missile Program - David E. Sanger (New York Times)
    A spokesman for Iran's foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, said Tuesday that Iran's missiles "are absolutely and under no condition negotiable with anyone or any country, period."
    When Zarif repeated past demands on Sunday that if the U.S. "wants to talk about missiles, it should stop selling weapons, including missiles, to regional states," this was taken as evidence that Iran was willing to negotiate over its missile program.
    Philip Gordon, a Middle East official in the Obama administration who helped to negotiate the 2015 accord, said, "even if both sides overcame the obstacles to talks, there's no sign that Iran is remotely willing to accept the sort of deal the administration has said would be its bottom line."

Portugal Suspends Visas for Iranians, Cites Security Reasons (Reuters-VOA News)
    Portugal has suspended the issuance of entry visas for Iranian nationals for security reasons, Foreign Minister Augusto Santos Silva said Tuesday.

Photos: 9,000-Year-Old Stone Age Town Found in Israel (BBC News)
    Archaeologists in Israel have uncovered a 9,000-year-old settlement from the Neolithic period located 3 miles west of Jerusalem.
    Thousands of pieces of tools, jewelry, figurines, seeds and other objects have been found at the site that may have once housed 3,000 residents.
    See also Vast, Developed 9,000-Year-Old Town Found near Jerusalem - Amanda Borschel-Dan (Times of Israel)

Israel Shoring Up Gaza Border Defenses - Benjamin Kerstein (Algemeiner)
    The IDF is shoring up defenses along the Gaza border. According to Israeli news site Walla, 40 km. of the underground barrier intended to block attack tunnels has been completed, more than half its planned length.
    In addition, 12 km. of the new, above-ground fence has been built. Sources in the IDF Southern Command said that construction was proceeding faster than expected.
    The IDF is also building large dirt mounds along the border to block cross-border attacks with anti-tank missiles, such as one which killed an Israeli motorist near the border earlier this year.
    See also Israel to Plant Trees near Gaza Border Homes to Thwart Anti-Tank Missile Attacks (Times of Israel)

Australian Students Taught that Israel Demolishes Arab Homes Because Owners Are Muslim - Rebecca Urban (The Australian)
    The Australian Council for Health, Physical Education and Recreation has recalled a sample exam paper for Year 12 students that claimed that Israel has persecuted Arabs by demolishing their homes because "they don't follow the Jewish religion."
    Mount Scopus Memorial College principal Rabbi James Kennard said he immediately lodged a complaint. "It's an utter falsehood," he said. "It creates a negative impression of Israel, which is actually a center of religious tolerance."

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Iran Caught Smuggling Nuclear Materials Out of U.S. - Adam Kredo
    Behzad Pourghannad, an Iranian national, was arrested in May 2017 in Germany for plotting to smuggle carbon fiber from America to Iran. He was extradited to the U.S. on Monday, and on Tuesday the Justice Department unsealed an indictment against him and two other Iranians who remain at large. "Pourghannad is alleged to have sought to procure for Iran large amounts of carbon fiber - a commodity that can be used in the enrichment of uranium," said Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers.
        "Iran remains determined to acquire U.S. technology with military applications, and the FBI is just as determined to stop such illegal activity," said Assistant Director John Brown of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division. "We take Iran's actions extremely seriously and will work with our partners to defeat them."  (Washington Free Beacon-U.S. Department of Justice)
  • Israel Security Agency Rejects Plan to Bring Gaza Workers into Israel
    The Israel Security Agency (ISA) believes a plan to allow 5,000 Palestinians from Gaza to work in Israeli border communities should be conditioned on a positive response from Hamas, such as a pledge to abandon the war against Israel.
        The ISA is fully confident that Hamas will exploit the entry of a large number of workers to push some of them to carry out operations against Israel. Therefore, the agency demands a commitment from Hamas not to do so, and to stop the "return" marches at the border as proof of goodwill. The ISA also favors the entry of Palestinian workers into an industrial zone located on the border, and not to Israeli towns. (Asharq Al-Awsat-UK)
  • India Wants to Replace Its Russian Air-to-Air Missiles with Israeli Missiles - Vishnu Som
    In two years, the Indian Air Force's frontline Sukhoi-30 fighters may be re-armed with Israeli Derby air-to-air missiles after the jet's Russian-made R-77 missiles were found wanting in air combat operations on Feb. 27. Retaliating for the Indian Air Force strike on the Jaish-e-Mohammed training facility in Balakot on Feb. 26, the Pakistan Air Force aggressively positioned 24 fighters near the Line of Control (LoC). A handful of these jets managed to cross the LoC to fire precision-guided glide bombs toward Indian military positions.
        The Pakistani planes surprised the Indian planes "by launching air-to-air missiles from inside Pakistan-occupied Kashmir," says Sameer Joshi. Pakistan's U.S.-made AMRAAM air-to-air missiles effectively outranged India's Russian R-77s. Indian Air Force sources told NDTV that the Russian missiles do not match their advertised range. To meet its requirements, India is looking at the I-Derby variant of the Israeli missile, though integrating the missile into the Russian fighter will be a challenge and will require Israeli expertise. (NDTV-India)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Hizbullah Preventing Start of Lebanon-Israel Maritime Border Talks - Herb Keinon
    Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri is pushing for talks to begin between Israel and Lebanon over demarcating their maritime border, but is facing resistance from Hizbullah, which has decided to stop the negotiations. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israel Identifies Commander of Hizbullah Precision Missile Project
    Majed Naveed, 54, is the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Air Force engineer commanding Hizbullah's precision missile project in Lebanon. Naveed is in charge of three sites in Beirut, and two others in southern Lebanon and the Beka'a Valley, where engineers are working to convert Hizbullah's current stock of surface-to-surface missiles into precision-guided missiles, i24News revealed Tuesday. (i24News)
  • EU to Invest Millions in Israeli Start-ups - Yasmin Yablonko
    The European Commission will invest up to 15 million euros in Israeli companies for commercialization purposes such as sales and marketing of a finished product, in exchange for shares. The finance will be granted under a new pilot program within the Horizon 2020 research and development funding framework. (Globes)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Time to Intensify Pressure on Iran and the IAEA - Jacob Nagel and Tzvi Kahn
    As Iran's economic plight grows increasingly dire, the regime may have concluded that it cannot risk waiting another year and a half to outlast President Trump. Consequently, the regime adopted a new strategy of nuclear and military brinksmanship aimed at testing U.S. resolve, strengthening Iranian deterrence, and blackmailing the U.S. and Europe to gain sanctions relief.
        America must not be intimidated. Instead, it should intensify its maximum pressure campaign and increase sanctions on Iran even further. In so doing, Washington can present Ayatollah Khamenei with a choice: Either renegotiate the nuclear deal, on our terms, or risk the collapse of Iran's economy and possibly your regime.
        America should urge the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN body tasked with monitoring Iran's nuclear program, to strengthen its inspections of suspicious sites where Iran previously engaged in illicit nuclear activity, and to publish its findings. The Iran nuclear archive obtained by Israel identifies additional nuclear facilities, equipment, and activities previously unknown to the IAEA. The archive suggests that covert nuclear activity, especially in the weaponization arena, may continue today.
        Brig.-Gen. (res.) Jacob Nagel, a visiting fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, headed Israel's National Security Council. Tzvi Kahn is a senior Iran analyst at FDD. (The Hill)
  • Israel and Korea Are Having a Moment - Gilad Cohen
    Israeli President Reuven Rivlin's visit this week to South Korea, at the head of an Israeli business delegation, underscores the significant upgrade in relations between the two countries. The economy of the Republic of Korea, with 50 million people, is ranked 11th in the world. It is the world's largest shipbuilder, third largest electronic products manufacturer, and second-largest semiconductor manufacturer.
        Israel can contribute to Korea through its innovation, high-tech and unique knowledge, but can also learn from Korea's excellence, precision and sophistication as one of the world's great economic and technological powers. The writer is Deputy Director General for Asia and the Pacific at the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs. (Times of Israel)
  • The Hamas March to Destroy Israel - Khaled Abu Toameh
    On July 12, the weekly Palestinian protests along the Gaza-Israel border were held under the banner of "No to negotiations [with Israel], no to reconciliation and no to recognizing the [Israeli] entity." By choosing this banner, the organizers of the "Great March of Return" have again proven that the demonstrations are not about improving Palestinian living conditions or easing restrictions on Gaza. Instead, the message is: "We don't recognize Israel's right to exist and therefore we will never negotiate or make peace with it."
        At the same time, Israel and Hamas are conducting indirect talks, under the auspices of Egypt and the UN, on ways to reach a truce. (Gatestone Institute)

  • International law on the issue of a new country's borders is fairly clear, and is applied almost across the board. But where Israel is concerned, and where the status of Jerusalem is concerned, what the UN claims international law says is not what it does say.
  • A cascade of UN resolutions has described as an "occupation" Israel's presence in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank): territories taken, or rather retaken, from Jordan in the defensive Six-Day War of June 1967. In fact, these UN resolutions contradict well-established and broadly applied rules for determining the borders of newly created countries.
  • Not everything that is passed off as international law qualifies as international law. The UN General Assembly has, by the UN's own Charter, no power to make any binding decisions whatsoever. The Security Council does have real power, but far less than is commonly assumed.
  • The Security Council is emphatically not an international legislature: it does not have the power to rewrite international law, let alone to make a special law for a particular country. Nor is it an international court: it cannot make binding determinations about the content of international law.
  • It is free to offer up, as recommendations, its opinions about the content of international law and its application to particular cases. But others, including Israel, remain free to test the validity of these claims.
  • If the principles endorsed by the Security Council in the case of Israel contradict international law as it applies to other countries, they do not become more valid by dint of a vote in the Security Council.

    The writer is a professor at George Mason University School of Law and a scholar at the Kohelet Policy Forum in Jerusalem.