August 30, 2021

In-Depth Issues:

Poll: 72.8 Percent of Israelis Oppose Reopening U.S. Consulate for Palestinians in Jerusalem (Middle East Monitor-UK)
    72.8% of Israelis oppose the reopening of a U.S. consulate in Jerusalem as the de facto mission for Palestinians, according to a poll commissioned by former Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat, today a member of the Knesset.

Palestinians: No Return to Peace Talks under U.S. Leadership - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    The Palestinians are opposed to a return to the peace negotiations with Israel under the leadership of the U.S., senior Palestinian official Azzam al-Ahmed said Thursday.
    "The Palestinians will not accept a situation where the U.S. alone is in charge of the peace process in the Middle East," Ahmed told the PA's Palestine TV.
    He insisted that any future peace talks be held on the basis of an international peace conference with the participation of the Quartet (the U.S., EU, Russia and the UN), Jordan, Egypt, South Africa and China.

Iran Reinforces Aerial Defenses around Its Nuclear Facilities - Lt.-Col. (ret.) Michael Segall (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
    In parallel with reports of Israel's preparations for a possible attack on Iran, Iranian military air defense commander Brig.-Gen. Alireza Sabahifard said Iran was expanding its air defense system.
    Deputy Defense Minister Mahdi Farahi said Iran would soon launch a more advanced version of the Iranian-built Bavar-373 air defense system, which is reportedly capable of identifying 300 targets simultaneously.

Palestinian Faction Leader: Iran's Soleimani Supervised Palestinian Weapons Development (MEMRI-TV)
    Talal Naji, Secretary-General of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC), told Iran's Al-Alam TV on August 11, 2021:
    "The Islamic Republic [of Iran] has made a great contribution and invested a lot of effort in developing the military capabilities of the Palestinian resistance through training, developing weapons, and teaching our comrades among the Palestinian people in Gaza and the West Bank how to manufacture weapons and rockets."
    "Even in transporting weapons, Iran made an effort to support us in transporting weapons by way of sea....General Qasem Soleimani...said: 'We sent ten ships full of weapons.'"

The Iranian Shadow Fleet and Its Secret Alliance with China - Dr. Eyal Pinko (i24news)
    The Iranian tanker fleet, with 143 tankers, is bypassing U.S. sanctions to deliver oil secretly to China, North Korea, Russia, Syria, Lebanon and Venezuela.
    Iran is China's main oil supplier and, in return, China has transferred technological knowledge and production lines of weapons, aircraft and missiles to Iran.
    The writer, president at the International Institute for Migration and Security Research, served in the Israeli Navy for 23 years.

Israel's Leviathan Gas Field Scales Up Production - Ed Reed (Energy Voice)
    Delek Drilling reported that it expected to produce 10.8 billion cubic meters from its Leviathan gas field in 2021, up from its forecast of 10.2 bcm.
    Sales to Egypt increased from from 0.4 bcm to 1.6 bcm in the last quarter.
    Exports to Jordan and Egypt accounted for 53% of Leviathan's sales in the first half of the year.

Israeli Paralympic Swimmer Wins Gold (Times of Israel)
    Israeli Paralympic swimmer Mark Malyar, 21, won a gold medal on Friday in the Tokyo Games, breaking a world record in the process.
    Malyar, born with cerebral palsy, won the men's 200-meter individual medley final.
    See also Paralympics 2021: Israel Rises to 7 Medals, 4 Gold (Jerusalem Post)
    See also The Jewish Doctor Who Founded the Paralympics - Evelyn Frick (Alma-JTA)

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Islamic State Affiliate Suspected in Kabul Airport Attack - Sune Engel Rasmussen
    U.S. officials attributed attacks on Thursday that killed more than 100 people at Kabul airport in Afghanistan, including 13 U.S. servicemen and 28 Taliban members, to Islamic State's regional affiliate, ISIS Khorasan, who are enemies of the Taliban. (Wall Street Journal)
        See also The Hidden War between the Taliban and ISIS - Alan Cullison
    When Taliban fighters seized Kabul, they took control of the prison and killed nine members of the Islamic State in Afghanistan terror group, known as ISIS-K. The Taliban sought to regain control of Afghanistan and had no interest in helping Islamist groups outside the country, while ISIS-K had a global agenda. (Wall Street Journal)
        See also U.S. Launches Strike on ISIS-K - Adam Nossiter (New York Times)
        See also U.S. Shoots Down Rockets Aimed at Kabul Airport - Eric Schmitt
    The U.S. military shot down rockets aimed at Kabul airport on Monday. A U.S. official said the rockets were brought down by a counter-rocket system after five were fired at the airport. (New York Times)
  • Parole Recommended for Robert Kennedy Assassin Sirhan Sirhan - Tom Jackman
    A California parole board voted Friday to release Sirhan B. Sirhan, 77, convicted of the assassination of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy in 1968. At his trial, prosecutors said Sirhan, a Palestinian, had developed hatred for Kennedy because of the senator's support for Israel. On Friday night, six of the nine surviving Kennedy children issued a statement strongly condemning the decision, and promising to challenge it "every step of the way."  (Washington Post)
        See also In Assassinating My Father, Sirhan Committed a Crime Against America. He Must Not Be Released - Maxwell Taylor Kennedy
    On behalf of my mother and all Americans whose lives were altered by this appalling crime, I condemn this unwarranted recommendation [to parole Sirhan Sirhan]. Justice is not served by releasing a confessed political assassin, a first-degree murderer, who is serving a life sentence for his role in a crime against America.
        He killed my father for supporting Israel and the mere thought of Sirhan returning to Palestine, where he may be cheered for his crime, is sickening. I commit myself to doing everything within my power to stop his release. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Palestinians Have Vaccines But Hesitate to Take Them - Adam Rasgon
    Palestinian authorities in the West Bank and Gaza now have received millions of Covid-19 vaccine doses, but they are facing a challenge: persuading a majority of the public to get the shots. Meanwhile, the number of new cases jumped significantly over the past week and reached the highest single-day figures in months, as hospitalizations tripled in the last two weeks. But only 37% of West Bank residents and 18% in Gaza have received at least one dose, due to disinformation and conspiracy theories.
        Since the Palestinians began receiving international shipments in February, they have received 2.8 million doses, according to the World Health Organization, enough to fully vaccinate most of the eligible population, and are in the process of receiving or negotiating deals for another 4.6 million doses. (New York Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel Presented Biden with New Iran Strategy - Lahav Harkov
    During his visit to the White House on Friday, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett's biggest goal was to get the U.S. and Israel aligned on Iran. "We are going to discuss the threat from Iran and our commitment to ensure Iran never develops a nuclear weapon," Biden said. Diplomatic sources have called Bennett's approach to Iran, "death by 1,000 cuts."  (Jerusalem Post)
        See also The Bennett-Biden Summit and the Iranian Nuclear Threat - Eldad Shavit and Sima Shine
    A strategy to deal with Iran via "death by a thousand cuts" means a long line of small operations on a variety of levels as a substitute for one widespread military attack. (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)
        See also below Observations - Prime Minister Bennett to President Biden: "We're in the Toughest Neighborhood in the World" (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
  • Israeli Official: White House Not Optimistic about Iran Deal - Lazar Berman
    The atmosphere in the White House is "not optimistic" about returning to a nuclear deal with Iran, said a senior Israeli official after Israeli Prime Minister Bennett met with U.S. President Biden on Friday. The official stressed that the fate of the agreement depends on Iran. A return to the deal looked increasingly unlikely as Iran has moved further away from its obligations and as hardline president Ebrahim Raisi has taken office in Tehran.
        Biden and his staff surprised their Israeli guests by the attention they gave to the Iranian threat and how important it was to them, the Israeli official said. (Times of Israel)
        See also Ex-Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro Joins State Department's Iran Team - Barak Ravid (Axios)
  • U.S., Israel Discuss Rebuilding of Gaza - Jonathan Lis
    The U.S. has demanded the rebuilding of Gaza. Israeli Prime Minister Bennett has conditioned Israel's agreement on three steps: No more rockets fired from Gaza at Israel; ending the smuggling of missiles into Gaza; and ending the crisis of the Israeli civilians and bodies of soldiers held captive by Hamas in Gaza. An Israeli diplomatic sources said that if these conditions are fulfilled, "the sky is the limit."
        Three months ago, senior PA officials gave a list of political demands to the U.S. government that can be implemented without public negotiations. The list includes recommendations on improving the Palestinian economy and bettering their quality of life. Israel has advanced some of these steps, issuing thousands of building permits in Palestinian locales and 15,000 additional permits to allow Palestinians to work in Israel. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Israeli Defense Minister Gantz Meets with PA President Abbas in Ramallah - Tovah Lazaroff
    Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz said he met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Sunday "to discuss security-policy, civilian and economic issues. I told Chairman Abbas that Israel seeks to take measures that will strengthen the PA's economy."
        It's the first time in a decade that such a high level, face-to-face, public conversation on policy has taken place between Abbas and an Israeli official. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Hamas, Islamic Jihad Blast Abbas over Meeting with Gantz - Jack Khoury (Ha'aretz)
  • Coronavirus in Israel: Surge of Delta Wave Continues
    The Israel Health Ministry on Monday announced there were 6,576 new cases identified on Sunday, following 7,201 on Saturday and 8,579 on Friday. Of the 79,625 active coronavirus cases, 731 were in serious condition, with 160 on ventilators. 8 people died on Sunday, the lowest daily fatality rate for nearly three weeks. At the same time, every day another 100 Covid patients become seriously ill. (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • U.S. Credibility Will Weather Afghanistan - Dennis Ross
    With its withdrawal from Afghanistan, not since the fall of Saigon in 1975 has the U.S. been so vulnerable to fundamental questions about America's reliability. Vietnam was undoubtedly a debacle, but it did not spell the end of American leadership on the world stage, nor did it lead others to believe they could not depend on the U.S.
        Nor did the Iran hostage crisis during the Carter administration, or the loss of 241 Marines in the 1983 Beirut barracks bombing under President Reagan, even though the U.S. withdrew all forces from Lebanon within a few months and never retaliated for the bombing. During the Clinton administration, the U.S. never retaliated after terrorists bombed the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia, killing 19 U.S. airmen. Each of these examples damaged American credibility worldwide, but countries continued to ask for U.S. support.
        The reality will remain: America is the most powerful country in the world, and its allies will need its help to combat direct threats.
        The writer, who served in senior national security positions for four presidents, is counselor at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. (New York Times)
  • Is the Gaza Security Perimeter Defunct? - Amb. Alan Baker
    The ease with which an armed Hamas terrorist was able to approach Israel's defensive barrier and shoot a border policeman at close range raises many serious questions. One of the central security elements of the 1995 Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement ("Oslo II") was the creation of a "Delimiting Line" separating Gaza from Israel, with a "Security Perimeter" adjacent to that line, within Gaza, hundreds of meters wide.
        Following Hamas' violent takeover of Gaza in 2007, this essential component of the security arrangements relating to Gaza appear to have been replaced by a glaring security vacuum along the perimeter line with Israel. Hamas has utilized and abused this same security perimeter, turning it into a zone in which they sponsor, encourage, and organize periodic mass, violent demonstrations and as a staging area for attempted infiltrations. The question arises whether Hamas should be required to commit to reviving the security perimeter in the same format as appears in the interim agreement.
        The author, former legal adviser to the Israel Foreign Ministry, heads the International Law Program at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israeli Analyst: Iran Entrenching Itself on Israel's Border with Syria - Benjamin Kerstein
    Veteran Israeli analyst Ehud Yaari wrote Sunday on the N12 website that Iran is steadily entrenching itself in the Syrian Golan region along the border with Israel. In southern Syria, the Syrian army along with Hizbullah and Iran-backed militias are besieging the city of Daraa, one of the last redoubts of the anti-Assad rebellion.
        Jordan's King Abdullah has expressed a willingness to renew ties with Assad, but does not want a Hizbullah-Iranian presence on his border. Abdullah is well aware that the Syrian regular army in the region is now essentially controlled by Iran and Hizbullah. (Algemeiner)

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett met with U.S. President Joe Biden at the White House on Friday and said:
  • "We cannot lose sight for even one moment that we're in the toughest neighborhood in the world. We've got ISIS on our southern border. Hizbullah on our northern border, Islamic Jihad, Hamas, Iranian militias that surround us."
  • "All of them want to kill us, kill Israelis. They all want to annihilate the Jewish state. And that's why Israel always has to be overwhelmingly stronger than any of our enemies, and indeed, of all our enemies combined."
  • "Iran is the world's number one exporter of terror, instability and human rights violations....We have got to stop them, and we both agree about that. So we have developed a comprehensive strategy."
  • "The first goal is to stop Iran's regional aggression and start rolling it back....The second is to permanently keep Iran away from ever being able to break out to a nuclear weapon."
  • "Israel never has and never will ask America to send troops to defend it. That's our job. We will never outsource our security. It's our responsibility to take care of our fate."
  • "But we do thank you for the tools and the backing you've been and are giving us."

    See also President Biden Meets with Prime Minister Bennett of Israel (White House)

Daily Alert is published every Monday and Thursday.
Unsubscribe from Daily Alert.