July 18, 2022

In-Depth Issues:

Khamenei Adviser: Tehran "Capable of Building Nuclear Bomb" - Parisa Hafezi (Reuters)
    Kamal Kharrazi, a senior adviser to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, told Al Jazeera on Sunday:
    "In a few days we were able to enrich uranium up to 60% and we can easily produce 90%-enriched uranium....Iran has the technical means to produce a nuclear bomb."

Iran's Warships to Carry Armed Drones in New Threat to Region - Dion Nissenbaum (Wall Street Journal)
    Iran has put armed drones aboard its warships, creating a new threat for the U.S. and its allies in the Persian Gulf.
    Iranian state television on Friday showed warships and submarines launching drones at sea. It said the drones are able to fly for up to 24 hours and 600 miles.

70 Percent of Gas from Israel's Leviathan Field Goes to Egypt and Jordan - Pazit Ravina (Makor Rishon-Hebrew-8July2022)
    Yigal Landau, CEO of Ratio Oil Exploration Ltd., which holds a 15% stake in Israel's Leviathan gas field drilling rig, said in an interview, quoting Israel Energy Ministry experts:
    "In Israel's economic territorial waters...if there is more than 1,000 BCM (billion cubic meters) of natural gas in the area between the Karish, Leviathan, and Tamar fields, there is a similar amount in the ground still waiting to be found."
    "Currently, Leviathan is producing gas at the rate of 11 BCM per year, within a maximum capacity of 12. Nearly 70% of this gas goes to Egypt and Jordan, and the rest to Israel."
    There are plans to expand the capacity at Leviathan to 21 BCM by 2025.

Jewish Lives Matter: Human Rights and Anti-Semitism - Fiamma Nirenstein (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
    Award-winning journalist Fiamma Nirenstein asks why the May 2021 Gaza war, in which Hamas fired more than 3,000 rockets at Israel's civilian population, sparked a worldwide uproar of anti-Semitism as Israel was put in the dock for defending itself.
    Nirenstein traces the post-Holocaust emergence of a new, virulent, Israel-focused, anti-Semitism and challenges the human rights community to see Israel as a democracy compelled to fight back, and its enemies as aggressors bent on its destruction.
    The writer, former vice president of the Committee on Foreign Affairs in the Italian Chamber of Deputies, is a fellow of the Jerusalem Center.

U.S. Marines Integrate Iron Dome Interceptor and Launcher to Counter Cruise Missiles - Anna Ahronheim (Jerusalem Post)
    The U.S. Marine Corps carried out a series of tests using its Medium-Range Intercept Capability (MRIC) prototype together with Israel's Iron Dome Tamir interceptor and launcher.
    During the live-fire tests at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico on June 30, MRIC successfully hit several simultaneously-launched cruise missile targets from different directions and in different trajectories.
    "MRIC successfully hit each target using the Tamir missile," the Marines said.
    "Once again, the Iron Dome has proven its effectiveness and operational capabilities in combat scenarios," said Brig.-Gen. (res.) Pinhas Yungman, Executive Vice President of the Rafael Air & Missile Defense Division.
    "American troops operated the system which functioned at optimal effectiveness against a variety of threats."

Ukraine War Increases Immigration from Russia as Well as Ukraine - Judy Maltz (Ha'aretz)
    The Russian invasion led to a sharp increase in immigration to Israel from Ukraine. In the first six months of 2022, 11,906 Ukrainians immigrated to Israel - nearly four times the number in all of 2021.
    During the same period, the number of immigrants from Russia totaled 16,598, more than double the number who came in all of 2021.
    While Ukrainian aliyah peaked in March, immigration from Russia has averaged 3,500-4,500 every month.
    In the first six months of 2022, a total of 35,031 immigrants arrived in Israel, compared with 27,982 in all of 2021.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Israeli Prime Minister to U.S. President: Tell Arab Leaders Our Hand Is Outstretched for Peace
    Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid told President Joe Biden in Jerusalem on July 14: "Mr. President, you will meet with the leaders of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, and Iraq. I would like you to pass them all a message from us: Our hand is outstretched for peace. We are ready to share our technology and experience, ready for our people to meet and learn about one another, ready for our scientists to collaborate and our businesses to cooperate."  (White House)
  • Saudi Arabia to Open Airspace to All Airlines, including from Israel
    Saudi Arabia announced Thursday it would open its airspace to all air carriers, paving the way for more overflights to and from Israel.
        Israeli airlines flying to Thailand and India previously had to fly south over the Red Sea and around the Arabian Peninsula, which added two hours to every flight going east, as well as the unnecessary consumption of fuel. The Saudis will also permit direct charter flights from Israel for Muslims participating in the annual hajj pilgrimage to Mecca. (Reuters-Ha'aretz)
  • U.S. Announces $316 Million for Palestinians as Biden Visits West Bank - Alexander Ward
    President Joe Biden announced $316 million in support for the Palestinians on Thursday. $201 million is for UNRWA, the Palestinian refugee agency. A multi-year contribution of $100 million is for six eastern Jerusalem hospitals. $15 million is meant to ward off dwindling food supplies due to the war in Ukraine. The U.S. will also send $7 million in grant money to programs that promote Israeli-Palestinian collaboration and exchanges. (Politico)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • IDF Strikes Gaza after Rockets Fired at Israel - Yoav Zitun
    Palestinians in Gaza launched four rockets at Israeli communities on Saturday. One rocket was intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system and three others fell in open areas. In response, Israeli planes hit a Hamas rocket manufacturing site and an underground facility where rocket material was being made. (Ynet News)
        See also IDF: Gaza Airstrike Sets Back Hamas Rocket Production - Emanuel Fabian
    An Israeli airstrike in Gaza on Saturday targeted "one of the largest and most important sites in the Strip for the production of base materials for rockets by terror groups." IDF military spokesperson Ran Kochav told Ynet on Sunday that the IDF also struck "16 tons of explosives in an underground UAV production hall and facility." Channel 12 claimed that the missiles used in the strike were GBU-28 bunker buster bombs, able to penetrate fortified bunkers deep underground. (Times of Israel)
        See also Israel Cancels Expanded Work Permits for Gazans in Response to Rocket Fire (Xinhua-China)
  • Palestinian Driving Stolen Car Kills Israeli Policeman - Raanan Ben Tzur
    Israel Police Major Barak Meshulam, 29, a father of two, was struck and killed while standing at a checkpoint, by a Palestinian resident of Ramallah in the West Bank who was driving a stolen car. The assailant was apprehended. (Ynet News)
  • IDF: "Preparing a Military Option Against the Iranian Nuclear Program Is a Moral Obligation" - Emanuel Fabian
    IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi said Sunday: "Preparing the home front for war is a task that must be accelerated in the coming years, especially in light of the possibility that we will be required to act against the nuclear threat."
        "The IDF...must prepare for every development and every scenario. Preparing a military option against the Iranian nuclear program is a moral obligation and a national security order." Such preparation includes "a variety of operational plans, the allocation of many resources, the acquisition of appropriate weapons, intelligence and training."
        "Blocking Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon with diplomacy is preferred, but history has proven many times that diplomacy can fail or succeed for only a short period of time, followed by violation or betrayal."  (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Israeli Action Is More Important than Biden's Words - Maj.-Gen. (res.) Tamir Hayman
    U.S. President Joe Biden's declaration that Iran will never have a nuclear weapon is significant because it was said during ongoing nuclear talks, and therefore impacts those negotiations with Iran. Moreover, Biden used the word "never." President Trump emphasized that he could only commit to what happened on his watch.
        Although such a promise doesn't obligate future administrations, it can't be erased from the annals of Israeli-U.S. strategic relations and grants support to another player (i.e., Israel) if the U.S. doesn't fulfill its commitment at crunch time.
        If there is no deal and Iran's nuclear project is moving forward, Iran can become a nuclear threshold state. In theory, such a reality wouldn't contradict Biden's promise, as a threshold state does not possess nuclear capabilities. Yet Israel's national security position will have changed for the worse. And if Iran will openly break out toward a nuclear bomb, can we expect America to take immediate action to stop it? This is entirely uncertain.
        Israelis know that such a reality would be intolerable. A Middle East mired in a nuclear arms race, where some regimes rely on theological signals for their strategic decisions, is far more dangerous than the one we live in. Israel must develop independent capabilities for removing the nuclear threat, but it needs American backing.
        The writer, former head of IDF Military Intelligence, is managing director of the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University. (Israel Hayom)
  • Traveling to Israel Has Forced Biden to Confront the Iranian Nuclear Issue - Elliott Abrams
    As president, Joe Biden had only once, offhandedly, said Iran would not be permitted to get a nuclear weapon "on my watch." In last week's "Jerusalem Declaration," Biden said something specific: "The United States stresses [its] commitment never to allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon, and that it is prepared to use all elements of its national power to ensure that outcome."
        Previously, the administration had spoken of using only diplomatic and economic pressure on Iran, so "all elements of national power" is a more substantial threat. Traveling to Israel has forced Joe Biden to confront the Iranian nuclear weapons issue as he had never done before.
        Moreover, Biden's repetition of pledges to Israel that previous presidents have made is consequential because it is 2022, and the Democratic Party is drifting into an anti-Israel position. Biden's adherence to the support for Israel that used to characterize Democrats is a valuable antidote to recent trends.
        The writer is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. (National Review)
  • Israel's National Security Adviser: We Are Not Afraid to Differ with U.S. on Iran
    Israeli National Security Adviser Eyal Hulata says Israel isn't hesitating to air differences of opinion regarding how to counter the Iranian threat. Hulata told Channel 13: "President Biden has said the whole time that he prefers a diplomatic solution, but that in the absence of other solutions, he will use military force against Iran. I've heard the U.S. president say this, and one of his famous sayings is that 'powers don't bluff' - so this should be taken seriously."
        "We aren't afraid to tell the Americans that we think differently, or to even act in Iran. Israel will act as it sees fit. We've acted quite a lot in Iran over the past year, and the U.S. is backing us. We are acting with logic and responsibility, and everyone can see this isn't harming the relationship between the U.S. president and Israel - on the contrary."  (Times of Israel)
  • Biden Captures Israeli Hearts - Ben Caspit
    Last week, President Biden corrected the mistake (in Israeli eyes) of former President Obama, who dedicated his first visit to the Middle East in 2009 to Egypt and Saudi Arabia, skipping Israel. Judging by the wall-to-wall coverage of the visit, with analysts hailing all the moves and gestures of the American leader, Biden clearly captured the hearts of Israelis. Biden was warm, attentive and sometimes funny. His love for Israel is clearly authentic and inspires trust. He is not ashamed of it, taking pride in it. Israelis love it. (Al-Monitor)
        See also Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations Commends President Biden for Strengthening U.S.-Israel Relationship (Conference of Presidents)
  • New Initiative to Confront Crisis in Israel-American Black Relations - Israel Kasnett
    The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs has partnered with the Institute for Black Solidarity with Israel (IBSI) to fight the anti-Israel narrative that has swept across America. At a panel on July 11, attorney Olga Meshoe Washington, an IBSI board member, slammed Black Lives Matter (BLM) for turning black Americans against Israel and hijacking the claim of apartheid, racializing Israel's conflict with the Palestinians when, in fact, it has nothing to do with race. She added that critics of Israel should "look at...organizations such as the African National Congress, whose military wing was inspired by Israel," to understand the contribution the Jewish state has made.
        Dan Diker, who directs the Jerusalem Center's counter-political warfare program, noted that after the death of George Floyd in May 2020, "despite universal Jewish support for BLM, it failed to prevent a surge of anti-Semitic violence across the United States....BDS organizations have exploited simmering racial tensions by accusing Israel of complicity in Floyd's murder."
        IBSI CEO Pastor Dumisani Washington emphasized that "the vast majority of black Americans are not anti-Semitic, are not anti-Israel. They're actually for Israel. But this doesn't get talked about." He said Israel's enemies are "highly invested in tainting that relationship and using the black community to try and communicate a false message about Israel." He added that "even though the African National Congress is decidedly against the State of Israel, they do not speak for the vast majority of black South Africans who continue to enjoy relationships with the Jewish people in South Africa and continue to have a relationship with Israel."  (JNS)

The leaders of the U.S. and Israel adopted the following joint declaration in Jerusalem on July 14, 2022:
  • "Consistent with the...unshakeable U.S. commitment to Israel's security, and especially to the maintenance of its qualitative military edge, the United States reiterates its steadfast commitment to preserve and strengthen Israel's capability to deter its enemies and to defend itself by itself against any threat or combination of threats."
  • "The United States further reiterates that these commitments are bipartisan and sacrosanct, and that they are not only moral commitments, but also strategic commitments that are vitally important to the national security of the United States itself."
  • "The United States stresses that integral to this pledge is the commitment never to allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon, and that it is prepared to use all elements of its national power to ensure that outcome."
  • "The United States further affirms the commitment to work together with other partners to confront Iran's aggression and destabilizing activities, whether advanced directly or through proxies and terrorist organizations such as Hizbullah, Hamas, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad."
  • "The United States and Israel...firmly reject the BDS campaign."
  • "The two countries will use the tools at their disposal to fight every scourge and source of anti-Semitism and to respond whenever legitimate criticism crosses over into bigotry and hatred or attempts to undermine Israel's rightful and legitimate place among the family of nations."
    See also Biden: As Long as We're the United States, Israel Will Never Be Alone
President Joe Biden said at the President's Residence in Jerusalem on July 14: "My love for Israel is deep rooted. I was raised, as we say and you say, by a righteous Christian - my dad....Seeing Israel thrive, seeing the wildest dreams of Israel's founding fathers and mothers grow into a reality that Israeli children enjoy today, to me is close to miraculous."
    "As long as we're the United States, you will never, ever be alone....America's commitment to Israel's security remains ironclad. Today and in the future, that commitment is not about me or any other American president. It springs from the deep affinity and enduring connection between our peoples. And it is our responsibility as leaders to nurture that bond, to ensure that it grows stronger, deeper, and broader."  (White House)

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