September 5, 2022

In-Depth Issues:

Israel and Germany Hold First Strategic Dialogue (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
    The first-ever Germany-Israel Strategic Dialogue was held in Jerusalem between senior national security officials from Israel and Germany on September 1-2. It was presided over by the national security advisors and directors-general of the foreign ministries of Germany and Israel, the Director-General of the Israeli Ministry of Defense, the Director of the Mossad, the Director of the Israeli Security Agency, and their German counterparts.
  The participants discussed a wide range of issues related to national security. The Israeli participants presented the danger posed in Israel's view by a return to the nuclear agreement with Iran.

Maj. Gen. Herzi Halevi Named Next IDF Chief of Staff - Elisha Ben Kimon, Itamar Eichner (Ynet News)
    Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Sunday named Herzl (Herzi) Halevi as the new chief of the military staff to replace Aviv Kochavi. He takes office in January.
  Today, Halevi serves as the deputy chief of staff under Kochavi and, before that, headed the IDF southern command. He had also served as commander of the IDF's special forces unit. Gantz decided that Halevi comes to the job with a rich and diverse experience and a proven ability as a commander, shown over his many years of service in the field and the general staff.

Hamas Executes 5 Palestinians in Gaza, including 2 for 'Collaborating' with Israel (Times of Israel and AFP)
    Hamas announced on Sunday that it had executed five Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, including two for "collaboration" with Israel. "Three others were executed in criminal cases."
  One of the two was a resident of Khan Younis in the south of the Gaza Strip. He was convicted of supplying Israel in 1991 with "information on men of the resistance, their residence, and the location of rocket launchpads," Hamas said. The second was condemned for supplying Israel in 2001 with intelligence "that led to the targeting and martyrdom of citizens" by Israeli forces.

Turkish Warship Docks in Israel, First Time in over a Decade (I24News/YNet News)
    For the first time in over a decade, a Turkish warship docked in an Israeli port on Saturday, a sign of both the rapprochement between the two countries and Israel's close alliance with NATO.
  Turkish destroyer F-247 TCG Kemalreis, which sailed into the Haifa port along with the U.S. Navy ship USS Forrest Sherman, is part of a NATO drill. The Jewish state fully cooperates with and supports NATO, an Israeli army spokesperson said.

Iran Arrested Baha'i Members and Accuses Them of Spying for Israel (Times of Israel)
    Iranian intelligence said a dozen members of the Baha'i religious group were arrested because they were spying for Israel, according to Iranian media reports.
  The General Intelligence Department of Mazandaran Province in the north of the country claimed in a statement that two of those arrested were "trained" at the Baha'i center in Haifa, Israel, the religious group's global center. It said they formed a network of spies throughout Mazandaran.
  Although the statement referred to just 12 suspects, the Baha'i International Community, which represents members of the faith, said that 14 people in total were detained -- 13 of them youths.

Israel Reportedly Set to Release Investigation Findings on Shireen Abu Akleh's Death - Jacob Magid (Times of Israel)
    The upcoming report is said to be in the works due to White House pressure, including the recent visit by the assistant secretary of state, almost four months after the journalist was shot dead.

Ken Burns Explores America's Inaction During the Holocaust - Joseph Berger (The New York Times)
    Ken Burns' documentary, "The U.S. and the Holocaust," examines the reasons behind the United States' inadequate response to Germany's persecution of Jews.
  Premiering on Sept. 18 and airing over three nights on PBS, "The U.S. and the Holocaust" aims to upend other longstanding historical assumptions as well, and also draw a thematic line connecting past tragedies and current struggles.

"Inside Look" of "The U.S. and the Holocaust" A Preview (WGCU and YouTube)
    "The U.S. and the Holocaust" is directed by Ken Burns, Lynn Novick, and Sarah Botstein. Telescript by Geoffrey C. Ward.

News Resources - North America and Europe:
  • Israel Makes Final Push to Shape Restored Iran Nuclear Deal - Dov Lieber and Laurence Norman
    The Israeli government has in recent days broken with its quiet approach to diplomacy on the Iran deal negotiations. "This deal isn't a good deal. It was not a good deal when it was signed back in 2015. Today, the dangers it entails are even greater," said Mr. Lapid in a briefing to journalists last week.
      A U.S. official said Israel's election season was partly responsible for the more heated rhetoric coming from politicians there around the deal, which is broadly unpopular in Israel. The Biden administration has kept Israel closely informed about the negotiations, said people familiar with the discussions, allowing Israel to nudge privately against concessions and potentially heighten Washington's sensitivity to Israel's concerns, leading the U.S. to tread more carefully.
      U.S. officials say a restored deal would substantially curtail Iran's nuclear program, remove most of its stockpile of enriched uranium and oblige Iran to remove hundreds of advanced centrifuges that produce enriched uranium. It would increase Iran's breakout time -- how quickly it can produce enough nuclear fuel for one weapon -- to six to seven months compared with the current time span of a few weeks.
      Israeli officials say restoring the 2015 deal now is dangerous because Iran has made so much progress on its nuclear program since then. The agreement has sunset provisions that essentially allow Iran to enrich unlimited amounts of uranium by 2030. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Nuclear Talks in Peril as U.S. Calls Latest Iran Missive a Move "Backwards" - Nahal Toosi and Stephanie Liechtenstein
    Tehran has submitted its latest response in the ongoing negotiations to restore the Iran nuclear deal -- and the United States is slamming it as a "not at all encouraging" step "backwards."
      The negative reaction from the Biden administration -- as well as European sources -- suggests that a revival of the 2015 nuclear agreement is not imminent as some supporters of the deal had hoped, despite roughly a year and a half of talks. (Poliitico)
  • "Catastrophic" Iran Nuclear Deal Could Lift Sanctions on Killers of U.S. Marines in Lebanon - Benjamin Weinthal
    Leaked audio from the Iranian regime's parliament reveal the controversial nuclear agreement could enable Tehran to partially bypass U.S. congressional review of the atomic accord. That, according to one report, could mean the lifting of sanctions on Iran and senior officials involved in the mass murder of 241 American service personnel in 1983 in Beirut, Lebanon.
      The leaked audio included a briefing by Ali Bagheri-Kani, the lead Iranian negotiator to the nuclear talks in Vienna, to its parliament (Majlis) in Tehran earlier last week.
      Gabriel Noronha, a former special adviser for Iran in the U.S. State Department, analyzed Bagheri-Kani's briefing. Noronha wrote in a report that the proposed Iran deal is "designed to partially circumvent congressional review of the deal under the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act."
      According to the revelations in his report, the Biden administration agreed to lift U.S. Executive Order 13876, which targets the theocratic state's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and President Ebrahim Raisi, as well as the former Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Brig. Gen. Hossein Dehghan, Noronha noted. Dehghan was responsible for the 1983 bombing of a U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut. (Fox News)
  • In Letter to Biden Bipartisan Group of House Members Convey Concern with Reported Iran Deal - Dmitry Shapiro
    A bipartisan group of 50 members of the U.S. House of Representatives (including 34 Democrats) is calling for the Biden administration to consult Congress on a potential agreement to re-enter the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with Iran, expressing concerns over reported sanctions relief and the role of Russia.
      The House members were concerned with the weakening of effective terrorism-related sanctions on the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and allowing Russia to have a role in Iran's nuclear capabilities. (Jewish News Syndicate)
  • Ghost Hospitals Reveal Corruption in Palestinian Authority Health Sector - David Rose
    It is a tale of two ghost hospitals. The first containing state-of-the-art medical equipment but almost no doctors or patients. The other is a 50-acre hole in the ground. Both were high-prestige health projects, launched with loud fanfares by the Palestinian Authority; indeed, the gleaming edifice is named after its president, Mahmoud Abbas.
      But the two-year-old Mahmoud Abbas general hospital in Halhul, near Hebron, lies deserted, due to incompetence and corruption. And the Khaled Hasan Cancer Center in Surda, northeast of Ramallah -- intended as one of the finest cancer units in the Middle East -- will never arise from the hole in the ground. Here too, millions have been wasted.
      The ghost hospitals are grotesque symbols of the cronyism and wastage that dogs the PA health sector, which has soaked up more than 200 million pounds of British taxpayers' cash since 2008. (The Jewish Chronicle -- UK)
  • EU Foreign Affairs Committee Blasts UNRWA Chief over Palestinian Textbooks
    Members of the European Union's Parliament's influential Foreign Affairs Committee slammed United Nations Relief and Works Agency Commissioner General Philippe Lazzarini last week over the content of textbooks used by UNRWA schools.
      During a hearing on August 31, the Committee's members cited findings from the latest report by Israeli NGO IMPACT-se, which monitors Palestinian curricula to assess whether young people are being indoctrinated with hate. The report, published in July this year, examined UNRWA's self-produced educational materials and found that they promoted hatred, antisemitism, and the celebration of terrorism, bloodshed, and martyrdom. (Jewish News Syndicate)
News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:
  • Seven Injured as Soldiers' Bus Comes under Fire by Palestinian Gunmen in the Jordan Valley - Emanuel Fabian
    Shots were fired at a bus carrying Israeli soldiers on a major highway in the Jordan Valley on Sunday, injuring seven people, the military and medics said.
      The Israel Defense Forces said Palestinian gunmen opened fire at the bus near the settlement of Hamra, seriously wounding one soldier. Another five soldiers and the bus's civilian driver were hurt. The attack came amid rising violence in the West Bank.
      Two suspected gunmen were arrested shortly after by Israeli soldiers and police. The pair were named by Palestinian media as Muhammed and Walid Turkman, apparent relatives, and residents of the Jenin area in the northern West Bank. A third suspect fled, and a search has been launched to capture him. (Times of Israel)
  • Israeli President Departs for Germany to Attend Munich Memorial
    President Isaac Herzog and First Lady Michal Herzog departed Sunday morning for a state visit to Germany, where they will participate in the 50th anniversary memorial for the victims of the 1972 Munich Olympics massacre. The president will lead a delegation with the victims' families. (I24News/YNet News)
  • Mossad Chief Barnea Heads to Washington to Try and Halt the Iran Nuclear Deal - Mandi Kogosowski
    Mossad Director David Barnea departed for Washington D.C. on Monday, where he will hold a series of meetings with senior officials from the White House, CIA, Joint Chiefs of Staff, Pentagon, State Department, and other security agencies, and present Israel's stance regarding the resurrection of the Iranian nuclear deal.
      Barnea's visit is another one in the string of top Israeli officials fighting to stop the deal. Last week, Israel's Minister of Defense, Benny Gantz, and National Security Advisor, Eyal Hulata, both visited the U.S. Prime Minister Yair Lapid has held phone conversations with U.S. President Joe Biden and other world leaders. (Israel Defense)
  • Tempers Flare between Hamas, Islamic Jihad over Errant Rocket Compensation
    Hamas and Islamic Jihad held a meeting on Aug. 22 in Gaza City. Tension was high at the meeting, where Hamas called on Islamic Jihad to financially compensate the families of the civilian victims who were killed by its rockets that fell inside the Gaza Strip. Sources said that Islamic Jihad denied that any of its rockets fell inside Gaza and rejected any responsibility.
      An investigation team consisting of members of the Gaza ministries of interior and health collected evidence indicating that Palestinians were killed by locally made rockets. "The investigation team got their hands on rocket shrapnel and local missiles that fell in residential neighborhoods," a source added.
      Islamic Jihad's denial seems at least partially an effort to avoid paying financial compensation to the families of the victims, at a time when it is suffering from a stifling financial crisis. (Al- Monitor)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Israel and Saudi Arabia: No Longer Enemies But Not Quite Friends - Vivian Nereim and Daniel Avis
    Previously clandestine links between Saudi Arabia and Israel are increasingly visible as some of the Middle East's deep-seated rivalries cautiously give way to pragmatic economic and security ties. Saudi crown prince and de facto leader Mohammed bin Salman is seeking to accelerate his plans to overhaul an oil-reliant economy, while Israel is keen to build on 2020's diplomatic breakthroughs with smaller Gulf nations. "We do not view Israel as an enemy, but rather as a potential ally," Prince Mohammed said earlier this year.
      Israel and Gulf nations established largely hidden security ties over shared concerns, especially Iran. But it's primarily the strong economic motivation driving more visible relations now.
      The kingdom's religious and regional prominence dictates different political considerations than those of smaller neighbors. In this mixed atmosphere, Saudi officials maintain that a resolution between Israelis and Palestinians remains at the core of their policy.
      Normalization is "borderline offensive to keep talking about" and isn't a policy goal in and of itself, Princess Reema bint Bandar, Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the U.S., said in June. (Bloomberg)
  • The Biden Administration's Nuclear Deal Is the Biggest Gift to the World's 'Top State Sponsor of Terrorism' - Majid Rafizadeh
    Biden's new nuclear deal is the biggest gift that one could give to the world's "top state sponsor of terrorism": unlimited nuclear weapons; no inspections past, present, or future; the missiles to deliver them; enriched uranium to be held by Russia and returned to Iran or wherever they both decide; and "$100 billion per year to spread terror around the globe."
      The main beneficiaries of the increased revenues will most likely be the office of Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), and more importantly, the IRGC's elite branch, the Quds Force, which carries out extraterritorial operations to advance the revolutionary principles of the Islamic Republic abroad.
      Oil and gas revenues are crucial for the ruling mullahs: Iran reportedly has the second-largest natural gas reserves and the fourth-largest proven crude oil reserves after Saudi Arabia, Canada, and Venezuela. The sale of oil accounts for nearly 60% of the regime's total revenues and more than 80% of its export revenues.
      The writer is a board member of Harvard International Review and president of the International American Council on the Middle East. (Gatestone Institute)
  • Pentagon Announces Contract for Israeli KC-46s Refueling Aircraft but Has More Work To Do - Bradley Bowman and Ryan Brobst
    The Pentagon announced on Wednesday an up to $927 million foreign military sale contract with Boeing to provide Israel four KC-46A air refueling aircraft, with the first currently expected to arrive in 2025. Signing the contract this summer locks in Jerusalem's place in the queue for the aircraft and avoids delaying delivery by another year, but the Pentagon and Israeli Ministry of Defense should take several additional steps now to minimize the time between Israel's receipt of the aircraft and when they can be employed in combat operations.
      The Biden administration is wise to welcome an enhanced Israeli capability to strike Iran's nuclear program, understanding that the credible threat of such an attack provides the United States with additional coercive leverage when dealing with the Islamic Republic of Iran. Indeed, as then-Secretary of State George P. Shultz told an audience at Kansas State University in 1984, "Negotiations are a euphemism for capitulation if the shadow of power is not cast across the bargaining table." (FDD Analysis)

For Iran, It Is All about the Breakout Time - Ariel Kahana (Israel Hayom)
  • Over the past 18 months, the world has been watching the U.S. play a match of regional tennis: the nuclear talks with Iran. Tehran and the West have each been hitting the ball back and forth. We occasionally get news about the deal being "closer" or that the latest draft is "the final offer" and that it is "just a matter of days" or that "the window is closing." Both sides prefer this process to play itself out forever, very much like various inconclusive sporting events.
  • Iran is hardly the most pressing issue on the U.S. foreign policy docket. As for Iran, time is on its side, because a protracted process allows it to continue with the nuclear program. Enrichment levels have already reached 60% purity levels; Tehran's coffers from trade have been filling up, in part because of the rise in oil and fuel prices and Chinese consumption; and Russia has been buying Iranian arms.
  • The talks have allowed Iran to divert attention from what it really cares about: shortening the time it would take to reach a bomb -- the breakout time -- to zero. This means it would be ready to break toward a nuclear weapon once the talks collapse, and by the time the U.S. comes up with a Plan B, it will have already gotten a bomb.
  • For Iran, the never-ending tennis match is just a ruse for the real game. From what has been reported in the media, the breakout time currently stands at several weeks. One can assume that Iran will not be foolish enough to show their hand, holding some cards close to the chest. Thus, when the talks are history, they will break toward the bomb, and the U.S. will face an excruciating dilemma it had wanted to avoid all along: accepting a nuclear-armed Iran or a bloody war with the murderous regime in Tehran.