March 15, 2021

In-Depth Issues:

UAE Announces $10 Billion Investment Fund with Israel - Soraya Ebrahimi (The National-Abu Dhabi)
    Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have announced the establishment of a $10 billion fund aimed at boosting strategic sectors in Israel.
    Alongside Israel, the UAE will invest in energy, manufacturing, water, space, health care and agri-tech.
    See also UAE $10 Billion Israel Fund Will Stress Ports and Railways - Danny Zaken (Globes)
    Eilat port is one of the principle projects which will receive investment from the new $10 billion UAE strategic investment fund.
    The plan is to create a deep water port in the Gulf of Eilat/Aqaba, which will create a new shipping and railway trade route between the Persian Gulf and Europe.
    Sources tell Globes that most of the project will be financed by the Abu Dhabi Sovereign Fund.
    Another project for investment is a railway via Saudi Arabia and Jordan to Haifa Port.
    Israel's National Economic Council head Prof. Avi Simhon told Globes that the railway requires the completion of 300 km. - mainly in Jordan and Saudi Arabia.
    Simhon said these two project have immense geopolitical and economic significance and vast potential for Israel's economy.

Israeli Hospital to Treat Emirati Security Personnel - Ivan Levingston (Bloomberg)
    Doctors from Israel's Sheba Medical Center will fly to Dubai for face-to-face diagnostic consultations with an initial 350 diabetes patients in the UAE army, police and firefighting services, in cooperation with Dubai-based Al Tadawi Medical Center, said the head of Sheba's international division, Yoel Har-Even.
    Separately, Sheba will be sending physicians to train personnel at Medcare Women & Children Hospital in Dubai, in areas including fetal medicine.

Israel Vaccinates More than 50,000 Palestinian Workers - Rosie Scammell (The National-Abu Dhabi)
    More than 50,000 Palestinians with Israeli work permits have received their first coronavirus shot from medics from the Israeli police and emergency services.
    More than 115,000 Palestinians are eligible to receive the vaccine from Israeli authorities at checkpoints in the West Bank.
    "The vaccination of the Palestinian workers is a common interest for both parties," said Eyal Zevi, head of operations at COGAT, the Israeli defense ministry body responsible for Palestinian affairs.

Greece, Israel, Cyprus and France in Joint Naval Exercises - Patricia Claus (Greek Reporter)
    The navies of Greece, Israel, Cyprus and France are taking part in joint military exercises involving both naval vessels and helicopters, practicing anti-submarine warfare and search and rescue operations in the eastern Mediterranean.
    Israeli Navy Saar missile frigates and Dolphin submarines took part in the maneuvers.
    The exercise marked the first time that France participated.

Iran's "Allies" Are Now Working Against It (StrategyPage)
    As Iran continues to use Syria as a staging area for a direct attack on Israel, Iran's "allies" Russia, Turkey and Assad are now all working against it.
    Popular opinion in Iraq and Lebanon is now actively hostile towards Iran.
    Back home most Iranians see the cost of the Syrian War pushing more Iranians into poverty.
    Yet the religious dictatorship that has ruled Iran since the 1980s considers the destruction of Israel as worth any cost. The Iranian leadership believe they are on a mission from God.

Israel Brings Watergen to Columbia (Israel Embassy in Colombia)
    On March 5, Israel donated two Watergen devices to bring clean, safe, drinking water to the desert peninsula of La Guajira state in Colombia, home of the Wayuu people.

Gulf States Embrace Israel - and Hebrew - Judit Neurink (Deutsche Welle-Germany)
    Since the UAE signed the Abraham Accords with Israel last September, thousands of Israeli businesspeople and tourists have flocked to Dubai.
    At the same time, the demand for Hebrew courses went through the roof, says director Josh Samet of the Educational Hebrew Institute (EHI) in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
    Students range from those who want to study in Israel to businesspeople, church ministers, doctors, lawyers, tour guides, and even members of the royal family.
    For most Arabic speakers, Hebrew is not too hard to learn, as many words and grammar rules are similar.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Iran-Backed Houthi Rebels in Yemen Ramp Up Strikes on Saudi Arabia - Siobhan O'Grady
    Yemeni rebels have dramatically ramped up attacks on targets inside Saudi Arabia over the past month. Since mid-February, Yemen's Houthi rebels, backed by Iran, have claimed responsibility for sending dozens of missiles and armed drones into Saudi Arabia on at least 13 days. Saudi Arabia leads a coalition of forces supporting the internationally recognized government in Yemen.
        According to Ian Williams, a fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies who has researched Houthi missile operations, the increasing attacks may actually make it more difficult for the Saudis to extract themselves from the conflict. "It makes it much harder for Saudi Arabia to quit Yemen, knowing that you have this hostile force there with these missiles capable of firing into their territory."  (Washington Post)
        See also Continued Houthi Strikes Threaten Saudi Oil and the Global Economic Recovery - Michael Knights (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • South Africa: Chief Justice Mogoeng Rejects Judicial Conduct Committee Finding - Des Erasmus
    Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng had been ordered by the Judicial Conduct Committee (JCC) to apologize and retract comments he made about South Africa's relationship with Israel in June 2020. He was supplied with a scripted version of what he should say. He said Sunday that God had given him "rock-solid grounds" to appeal the findings of the JCC and called its decision "narrow-minded, flawed and superficial."
        "If I get to the point where there is a judgment that says, 'You must say you hate Israel and the Jews,' I would rather cease to be Chief Justice...because my God has instructed me to love and not to hate. I hate evil deeds, I don't hate anybody."
        "I was found guilty of four counts of misconduct. And the question is, why? It is because under instruction of the Lord I accepted an invitation from the Chief Rabbi of South Africa to share a platform with him on a Jerusalem Post webinar."  (Daily Maverick-South Africa)
  • Kosovo Announces Opening of Embassy in Jerusalem - Daniel Uria
    Muslim-majority Kosovo on Sunday announced the opening of an embassy in Jerusalem. Ines Demiri, Kosovo's Charge d'Affaires to Israel, called it a "truly proud and historic moment." The move was in exchange for Israel recognizing Kosovo, which has now been recognized by much of the Western world. (UPI-Al Jazeera)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Czech Prime Minister Opens Embassy Office in Jerusalem - Lazar Berman
    The Czech Republic opened the Jerusalem office of its embassy Thursday at a ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis. "The Czech Republic will have a full-fledged diplomatic mission here in Jerusalem. It will deal with...politics, economic cooperation, consular agenda, and other topics," said Babis. The Czech Republic is the second EU member, after Hungary, to open a diplomatic mission in the city. (Times of Israel)
  • Jordan Working to Ease Tensions after Cancellation of Jordanian Prince's Visit to Al Aqsa - Ehud Yaari
    The cancellation of the visit by Crown Prince of Jordan Hussein bin Abdullah to the Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem on Wednesday, after he had arrived at the Allenby Bridge with his bodyguards, caused a momentary crisis between Jordan and Israel. The Jordanian government is now seeking to ease tensions over the incident. The Jordanians are aware of the fact that they depend on Israel for increasing supplies of water and natural gas.
        Ongoing issues between the two countries include Israel's shelving of the plan to build a pipeline to bring water from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea. Jordan is also concerned about its shrinking status with regard to the Al Aqsa mosque, in light of growing competition from Turkey, the Islamic Movement in Israel, and elements of Fatah.
        Jordanians also fear that Israel plans to send thousands of West Bank Palestinians eastward into Jordan at the first opportunity, and they refuse to believe Israeli assurances in this regard. They also fear that normalization between Israel and the Saudis will lead to a Saudi foothold in Jerusalem.
        The writer, a fellow with The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, is a veteran commentator for Israeli television. (N12-Hebrew)
  • Gazan Infiltrator with Grenades Caught by Israeli Troops
    Israeli troops on Friday arrested an armed Palestinian man who crossed into Israel from Gaza with three grenades, which he left along the border barrier, the IDF said. (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • On Iran, the U.S. Should Continue to Play the Strong Hand It Was Dealt - Jared Kushner
    The roots of the Arab-Israeli conflict stretch back to when Arab leaders refused to accept the creation of the State of Israel after World War II and spent 70 years vilifying it and using it to divert attention from domestic shortcomings. But today, Muslims are posting pictures of peaceful visits to the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, blowing a hole in the propaganda that the holy site is under attack.
        The Abraham Accords exposed the conflict as nothing more than a real-estate dispute between Israelis and Palestinians that need not hold up Israel's relations with the broader Arab world. It will ultimately be resolved when both sides agree on an arbitrary boundary line.
        While many were troubled by the Biden team's opening offer to work with Europe and rejoin the Iran deal, I saw it as a smart diplomatic move. The Biden administration called Iran's bluff. It revealed to the Europeans that the JCPOA is dead and only a new framework can bring stability for the future. When Iran asked for a reward merely for initiating negotiations, President Biden did the right thing and refused.
        America holds a strong hand. Iran is feigning strength, but its economic situation is dire and it has no ability to sustain conflict or survive indefinitely under current sanctions. America should be patient and insist that any deal include real nuclear inspections and an end to Iran's funding of foreign militias. The writer was a senior adviser to President Trump. (Wall Street Journal)
  • U.S. Leaks Are Behind Report of Israeli Attacks on Iranian Ships - Daniel Sonnenfeld
    The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that Israel had attacked at least a dozen Iranian ships since 2019. Dr. Yoel Guzansky, a senior researcher at Tel Aviv University's Institute for National Security Studies, stresses that these reports lack confirmation and Israel hasn't taken responsibility for the events.
        Guzansky said: "These leaks, which point a finger at Israel, are intended to limit Israel's maneuvering room....It's clear that these are American leaks, and their aim is obvious - it is an attempt to signal to the Iranians....It is just one of those confidence-building measures used by the Americans in their relations with the Iranians."
        "If the administration is willing to leak a thing like this, that can harm Israel in a variety of ways, then there's a message here for Israel from the administration, which isn't positive."  (Media Line)
  • Video: Lebanon on the Edge - Sara El-Yafi
    Sara El-Yafi, the granddaughter of former Lebanese Prime Minister Abdallah El-Yafi, told France24 on March 10 that the crisis in Lebanon "is getting worse by the second." The Lebanese pound "has lost 85% of its value and the Central Bank's reserves are drying up....The country with the highest trade deficit in the world is Lebanon."
        "In 2019, the unemployment rate was 11%. It is currently over 40%. The inflation rate is more than 100%....50% of the population is below the poverty line."  (France24)
  • The Price of Empowering Iran - Mohammed Khalid Alyahya
    Since the Biden administration's decision to reverse the designation of Yemen's Houthi militia as a foreign terrorist organization (FTO) on Feb. 12, drones and ballistic missiles have targeted Saudi Arabia 48 times. It is a fallacy to understand the region's politics as a contest between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Seen from Tehran, the central contest in the region is between the American alliance system and Iran's self-styled "resistance alliance."
        Biden's misconception leads to a number of erroneous ideas: that the U.S. can play a neutral, mediating role between Riyadh and Tehran; that by distancing itself from Saudi Arabia, it creates opportunities for regional stability and understanding; and that it is the Saudi role in Yemen - and not the Iranian role - that has perpetuated the conflict in that country.
        Iran has waged a forty-year war to spread its control across the region - not to compete with Saudi Arabia, but to undermine the American alliance system. Iran's network of terrorist groups in the region chant, "death to America," not "death to Saudi Arabia."
        Iran's attacks on Saudi Arabian civilian infrastructure, via its proxies in Yemen and Iraq, are reactions to U.S. policy - not Saudi Arabian policy. Appeasing Iran, and punishing U.S. allies, will come at the expense of the entire region. The writer is the editor-in-chief of AlArabiya.net-English. (Independent-UK)
  • Saudi Arabia Is an Indispensable Middle East Ally for the U.S. - Jason D. Greenblatt
    Based on my nearly three years at the White House working on Middle East-related matters, I believe the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and its leadership - especially His Royal Highness Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman - are allies, friends and partners in many U.S. regional interests.
        Based on my extensive experience with the crown prince and those who work closely with him, the crown prince serving in a leadership role would greatly benefit the people of Saudi Arabia, the U.S. and our other allies in the region - including our most important regional ally, Israel. The Saudis that I am meeting recognize what the crown prince is trying to achieve and support his efforts, his dream and his vision.
        I am a proud, outspoken supporter of Israel. Yet, I am able to continue to have deep and meaningful ties with the people of Saudi Arabia and others in the region because we all understand that while we may disagree on certain major issues, we have so much more in common, and we want to build a better future for all.
        The writer served as President Trump's White House envoy to the Middle East for nearly three years. (Newsweek)

Israel Is Not to Blame for the Failure of the Iran Nuclear Deal - Brig.-Gen. (res.) Prof. Jacob Nagel (Ynet News)
  • Israel fought tirelessly to explain every fault, loophole and danger in the 2015 Iran nuclear accord and did all it could to persuade the U.S. to quit the agreement. Netanyahu's presentation of the stolen Iranian nuclear archive was just the push needed to convince then-president Donald Trump that the whole accord was based on lies and deceit. Unfortunately, President Joe Biden's team is now working hard to return to this horrendous deal.
  • There are clear facts that show how the current situation differs from that of 2015. These facts include Iran's advancement of its nuclear program since 2018, as well as new findings shown in the archive leak and in reports from the UN over the past two years.
  • Iran has used every lifting of restrictions provided by the accord to push forward its uranium enrichment, bolster its technological capabilities, and produce advanced centrifuges.
  • Iran has acquired the advanced technological methods needed for quick production of weapons-grade materials, regardless of what the 2015 deal said. A return to the 2015 deal will allow Tehran to install new advanced infrastructure at its covert facilities and obtain enough enriched uranium needed for the bomb.
  • Findings today show that Iran's road to getting the bomb was far smoother than originally predicted. The IAEA's strict inspections were the single most viable and effective tool of the deal, but even these inspections ultimately proved to be useless.
  • As we predicted, the deal failed not because of Israel, but because the accord failed to achieve the very goals it set out to accomplish. It is clear that the old deal cannot achieve those goals now.

    The writer, former head of Israel's National Security Council (NSC), headed the Strategic and Defense Policy Directorate at the NSC from 2011 to 2015, where he led the Israeli experts team working with the countries that negotiated the Iran nuclear deal.

        See also Israeli Security Expert: We Have to Stop Iran's Race to the Bomb - Lahav Harkov
    Former acting national security adviser Jacob Nagel, a senior fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, said last week in a Jerusalem Post Zoomcast that any new agreement between world powers and Iran must stop Tehran from developing all the components of a nuclear bomb and address new information uncovered since the original Iran deal of 2015. "Everyone in the P5+1 says they don't want Iran to be nuclear, so we have to cut off their race to the bomb," Nagel said.
        He also pointed to Iran's nuclear archive, which Israel obtained in 2018. "Some say, 'no, it's [information] from before 2003, forget about it.' But the archive shows [Iran] didn't desert the idea to have a nuclear weapon. It's written in their handwriting that they want to design and test five warheads, each one 10 kilotons. That's five Hiroshimas." Iran still has all of the knowledge contained in those archives, Nagel explained. (Jerusalem Post)

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