June 16, 2020

In-Depth Issues:

Report: Israel Provided Argentina with Intelligence Proving that Iran Orchestrated the 1994 AMIA Terrorist Bombing in Buenos Aires (Times of Israel)
    Israel's Mossad provided the intelligence information that enabled Argentine prosecutor Alberto Nisman to prove that Iran orchestrated the 1994 AMIA terrorist bombing in Buenos Aires, Israel's Channel 12 reported Thursday.
    Ex-Mossad agent Uzi Shaya said he gave Nisman incriminating information on former Argentine president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner's efforts to cover up Iran's role in the blast, in a sequence of events that ultimately led to Nisman's murder.
    Nisman identified the suicide bomber who blew up the AMIA Jewish center as Hizbullah operative Ibrahim Berro, and traced the commissioning of the blast to a 1993 meeting of the Iranian leadership's "Committee for Special Operations."
    Nisman's allegations led to issuing international arrest warrants against some of the Iranians for the worst terror attack in Argentina's history.
    The Israeli report said the Mossad identified the perpetrators and the orchestrators of the blast, and made the information available to Nisman.
    Shaya said he gave Nisman documents incriminating Kirchner - showing transfers of millions of euros from a major Iranian bank to accounts held by her family members in Cyprus, the Seychelles and the Cayman Islands.
    This occurred 10 days before Nisman was assassinated - the day before he was to testify to an Argentine congressional panel on then-President Kirchner's role in covering up Iran's responsibility for the attack. Kirchner is today Argentina's vice president.

Despite Abbas Cutting Ties, Security Lines Remain Open between Israel, PA - Danny Zaken (Al-Monitor)
    Nearly a month after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announced the end of security cooperation with Israel, a new status quo is emerging.
    The current indirect cooperation includes continued security alerts from Israel to the Palestinian Authority and extra care taken to prevent friction between the two sides' security forces.
    A senior Palestinian security source told Al-Monitor: "We are determined to prevent violence and terror activities in our territory and we will protect any Israeli who enters Palestinian Authority areas."
    At the same time, any PA contact with Israel will not be made with the IDF but via international organizations, primarily the Red Cross.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • UN Atomic Watchdog Head Asks Iran for "Prompt Access" to Blocked Nuclear Sites - David Rising
    International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Mariano Grossi said Monday that Iran must provide inspectors access to sites where the country is thought to have stored or used undeclared nuclear material. Grossi told the agency's board in Vienna that for more than four months, "Iran has denied us access to two locations and that, for almost a year, it has not engaged in substantive discussions to clarify our questions related to possible undeclared nuclear material and nuclear-related activities."
        Israeli Intelligence Minister Eli Cohen said, "There is one conclusion: that Iran is violating the agreements. The IAEA must hand this over to the UN so that it can set sanctions against Iran."  (AP)
        See also Europeans Push for Iran Rebuke at IAEA over Inspections
    A draft resolution at the IAEA dated June 10, put forward by Britain, France and Germany, admonishes Iran over its ongoing refusal to give access to inspectors at sites suspected of activities that may have been part of a nuclear weapons program and asks Tehran to provide access to the specified locations. "The Europeans couldn't sit back and not do anything," a Western diplomat said after the IAEA issued reports rebuking Iran for denying it access to two sites. (Reuters)
  • U.S. Considers Withholding Aid to Jordan to Force Extradition - Matthew Lee
    The Trump administration is considering withholding aid to Jordan in a bid to secure the extradition of a woman convicted in Israel of a 2001 bombing that killed 15 people, including two American citizens. Ahlam Aref Ahmad Al-Tamimi is wanted by the U.S. on a charge of conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction against American nationals. Al-Tamimi, a Hamas activist who chose the target - the Sbarro restaurant in downtown Jerusalem - and guided the bomber there, is on the FBI's list of "most wanted terrorists."  (AP)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Coronavirus in Israel: 216 New Cases - Maayan Jaffe-Hoffman
    216 Israelis were diagnosed with coronavirus in the last day, the Israel Health Ministry announced Tuesday morning. There are 3,598 active cases in Israel, with 26 people intubated. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Palestinians in Gaza Fire Mortar at Israel, IDF Responds - Yoav Zitun
    Palestinians in Gaza fired a mortar shell at Israel that landed in an open area, the first in more than a month, the IDF reported Monday evening. In response, IDF aircraft and tanks attacked Hamas positions in Gaza. (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Israeli Expert: U.S. Peace Plan Says Palestinian Narrative Must Change to Give Peace a Chance - Israel Kasnett
    Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser, a senior intelligence and security expert, and a fellow at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, responded to concerns over the potential fallout from Israel's plan to apply sovereignty to parts of Judea and Samaria, including the Jordan Valley. He told the Jerusalem Press Club: "The Arab world, including Jordan, will make some noise, but they will not do much beyond that because they will not risk their relationship with Israel or this U.S. administration. They also know that Israel is not going anywhere."
        "The U.S. peace plan offers an opportunity to move forward. There is no peace process, and the reason is the Palestinians themselves. The Palestinian narrative rejects the idea that the Jewish people have any historical rights to this land....If we wait for the Palestinians to accept it, we will wait forever." For the first time, "the Palestinians are being told the truth." The Trump administration is telling the Palestinians, "'If you do not make a decision and continue to say no, you will pay a price.'"
        The U.S. plan "is the first peace proposal that is based on the understanding that the Palestinian narrative must change," he said. "If there is enough pressure from the international community and Arab countries, then we will have a chance to achieve peace. Israel is not doing anything that will harm the prospects for peace. Rather, Israel is doing something that will give peace a chance."  (JNS)
  • Israel and the Precision-Guided Missile Threat - Uzi Rubin
    Iran is currently converting all its older missiles into precision weapons, and is supplying its allies in the region with expertise and materials with which to build their own precision missile capabilities. Israel is anxious to frustrate Hizbullah's precision project because once it is achieved, Hizbullah's missiles will be able to paralyze any vital installation or terrorize any civilian population center in Israel.
        One of the biggest advantages of ground-launched missiles is their small footprint: their launchers are small, stealthy, and hard to find and destroy. Air power, by contrast, relies on huge air bases with long runways. The vulnerability of giant air bases to precision missile strikes was demonstrated during the January 2020 Iranian missile strike on the U.S.-operated Ein Assad air base in Iraq.
        Once Hizbullah is equipped with precision missiles, it could fire salvoes to paralyze Israel's air bases. Israel's defense systems will probably be able to destroy most incoming missiles, but not all of them. Israel should do everything in its power not only to prevent defeat by precision-guided missiles but to use them itself to defeat its enemies. The writer, founding director of the Israel Missile Defense Organization, which managed the Arrow program, is a senior research associate at the BESA Center. (BESA Center for Strategic Studies-Bar-Ilan University)

The Debate over the Future of the Territories - Amb. Dore Gold (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Why is the future of the West Bank such a critical issue for Israel? The first reason is the geo-strategic location of this territory. It is adjacent to Israel's coastal plain, where 70% of our population and 80% of our industrial capacity are located.
  • It was thought in the past that our territorial withdrawals would reduce the hostile intent of our adversaries, but we learned in the Gaza Disengagement in 2005 that withdrawal can actually increase the hostility on the other side. The number of rocket launches from Gaza into Israel mushroomed in the year after we pulled out - from 179 to 946.
  • The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) defines "annexation" as "a unilateral act of a state through which it proclaims its sovereignty over the territory of another state." But did the West Bank belong to "another state"? Only the UK and Pakistan recognized Jordanian sovereignty there after the end of the British Mandate.
  • According to the Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), annexation is a war crime. It is a subset of aggression. Back in 1967, when Israel captured the West Bank, it was plain as day that it was not an aggressor, but rather it was a victim of aggression and acting in self-defense.
  • Another fault in the current debate is to call this a "unilateral act." This is an American plan in which both sides gain. We get 30% of the West Bank, the Palestinians get 70%. It is not a unilateral gain for Israel. It is ultimately a territorial compromise.

    The writer, a former Israeli UN ambassador and director-general of the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, is president of the Jerusalem Center. This is adapted from his remarks to the AJC Global Forum 2020 on June 15, 2020.

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