October 20, 2022

In-Depth Issues:

U.S. Says Talks to Revive Iran Nuclear Deal No Longer on Agenda (Iran International)
    U.S. Special Envoy for Iran Robert Malley told CNN on Monday that "Right now the talks on revival of the JCPOA (Iran nuclear deal) are not on the U.S. agenda."
    "Iran has taken a position in those talks for the past two months which is simply inconsistent with a return to the deal."

A Month without any Israeli Airstrikes in Syria - Yossi Yehushua (Ynet News)
    The last reported airstrike in Syria attributed to Israel took place on Sep. 17, more than a month ago.
    Israeli officials say there is no policy change and that coordination with the Russians in Syria continues.

Hamas Leader Holds "Warm" Meeting with Syria's Assad - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    Senior Hamas official Khalil al-Hayya said on Wednesday that he and representatives of Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine met in Damascus with Syrian President Bashar Assad in the first such meeting since the start of the Syrian civil war, paving the way for the restoration of relations between Hamas and Syria.

UK Owns Land in Jerusalem Earmarked for Future Embassy - Dania Akkad (Middle East Eye-UK)
    The British government holds a plot of land in Jerusalem earmarked for decades as the site of a future embassy in Israel.
    The site in the Talpiot neighborhood, known as the Orange Plot, was retained by the British government as part of a 1960s agreement with Israel.
    "The Israelis assume, no doubt, that we wish to use the site in the event of our transferring the Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem," Alan Goodison, a Foreign and Commonwealth Office official, wrote in July 1964. "This is, of course, true."
    The lease on the site was renewed for 40 years in 2007.
    A visit to the plot on Monday found an area of empty scrubland between Hanoch Albek Street and Shmuel Lupo Street, adjacent to a proposed site for a new U.S. embassy.

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Can Middle East Gas Meet European Demand? (Economist-UK)
    Europe desperately needs new gas resources to replace supplies from Russia that have been disrupted since its invasion of Ukraine.
    Nine of the 20 countries with the largest proven gas reserves are in the Middle East, but there is little capacity to transport it from the eastern Mediterranean to Europe.
    To bring the gas to Greece, and perhaps onwards to Italy, would require the world's longest undersea pipeline and take the better part of a decade to finish.
    That leaves liquefaction. Egypt has two LNG plants on its Mediterranean coast and has been importing gas from Israel in order to re-export it.
    Yet even running at full tilt, its LNG plants can supply only 2% of Europe's total demand (and 6% of what it used to import from Russia).

Reuters Retracts Award for Palestinian over Pro-Hitler Comments (Jerusalem Post)
    The Thomson Reuters Foundation has rescinded its award in international journalism to Palestinian freelance journalist Shatha Hammad after discovering social media posts in which she praised Adolf Hitler.
    Media watchdog HonestReporting found that in 2014, Hammad posted a comment on Facebook that said, "Me and Hitler are friends. We...share the same ideology, such as the extermination of the Jews."
    HonestReporting CEO Jacki Alexander said, "This is about relegating unrepentant antisemites to the fringes of society and not rewarding them with international recognition."

ADL Finds 359 Anti-Israel Incidents on U.S. Campuses (Anti-Defamation League)
    359 anti-Israel incidents were reported on U.S. college and university campuses nationwide during the 2021-22 academic year, according to a new report from ADL.
    The report provides a snapshot of the growing radical movement to place opposition to Israel and Zionism as core elements of collegiate life or as a requirement for full acceptance in the campus community.
    See also Report: Anti-Israel Activism on U.S. Campuses, 2021-2022 (ADL Center on Extremism)

Report: Israel 5th-Most Educated Country in the World (i24News)
    Israel is the fifth-most educated country globally, with roughly half of the Jewish state's citizens achieving a post-secondary degree, according to the education search platform Erudera.

Israel Tests Needle-Free Alternative to Amniocentesis - Nathan Jeffay (Times of Israel)
    Israeli scientists are holding trials on a new method of screening for fetuses and say it could provide all the information received from amniocentesis without the risks.
    Prof. Noam Shomron, who heads Tel Aviv University's functional genomics lab, said his method involves taking a regular blood sample rather than using a needle to extract amniotic fluid, which carries a risk of miscarriage.
    He said the new technique can be performed four weeks earlier than amniocentesis and provides as much information on the risks of numerous syndromes, diseases and disorders.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Iran Accused of Violating UN Ban on Drone Transfers - Edith M. Lederer
    Ukraine accused Iran of violating a UN Security Council ban on the transfer of drones capable of flying 300 km. and invited UN experts to inspect Iranian-origin drones used by Russia against civilian targets. Britain, France and the U.S. requested a closed meeting of the UN Security Council on Wednesday to discuss Iran's sale of hundreds of drones to Russia.
        France's UN Ambassador Nicolas De Riviere said, "there is no one in the world that believes any more [Kremlin spokesman Dmitry] Peskov's statements" that the drones were "Russian equipment." De Riviere said Peskov "has been lying from the very beginning" when he said on Feb. 23 - the day before Russia's invasion - that Russia will never invade Ukraine. "And now he will tell us that Russia never bought Iranian drones. So, I think (his) credibility is zero."  (AP-Washington Post)
        See also EU to Sanction Iran for Supplying Russia with Drones to Attack Ukraine - Emily Rauhala
    The EU is preparing to sanction Iran for supplying Russia with drones used to strike targets in Ukraine, with an eye toward having the measures formally adopted Thursday, according to two EU diplomats. There is broad support for the sanctions, the diplomats said, despite some fears that taking a tough stand could further diminish hopes of resurrecting the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
        At a meeting last week, senior NATO and Western officials confirmed that Russia was using Iranian-made drones to hit Ukrainian targets. Iran has denied it is supplying Russia with drones for use in Ukraine. (Washington Post)
  • Iran Shifts Tactics to Crack Down on Protests - Benoit Faucon
    As protests in Iran enter a second month, authorities are using plainclothes security officers, digital surveillance and drones to target the demonstrations. Security forces have used live ammunition and tear gas to disperse large crowds, leaving hundreds dead and injured. In response, protesters have moved away from big gatherings in favor of pop-up demonstrations in a shift that has given the movement staying power.
        Saeid Golkar, an authority on Iran's security services who teaches at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, said using tracking apps and other forms of technological surveillance allows authorities to identify the most active protesters. By sending in plainclothes officers they can deny any responsibility for beating or shooting at protesters, videos of which have circulated on social media. (Wall Street Journal)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Palestinian Gunman Who Killed Israeli Soldier Dies during Second Attack - Josh Breiner
    Udai Tamimi, the Palestinian who killed Israeli soldier Noa Lazar at a checkpoint on Oct. 8, fired at security guards near Ma'ale Adumim on Wednesday and was shot dead by return fire. Tamimi had been the subject of a manhunt for more than ten days. Palestinian groups throughout the West Bank, including the ruling Fatah party, announced a general strike on Wednesday to mourn Tamimi's death. (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel Unveils Fresh Aid Package for Ukraine, without Weapons - Yoav Zitun
    Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz announced on Wednesday a new humanitarian aid package for Ukraine. "We'll continue to support and stand by Ukraine, NATO and the West, but we won't send weapons to Kyiv. We send humanitarian aid to Ukraine and provide lifesaving and defensive systems. We will continue to support Ukraine within our limits as we have done so far."
        Gantz revealed that the aid package would include the construction of a smart missile defense alert system similar to the one that exists in Israel. "This system will have advantages in saving civilian lives and concentrating the alerts and sirens in relevant areas."  (Ynet News)
        See also How Can Israel Help Ukraine without Sending Military Equipment? - Seth J. Frantzman
    Russia has threatened that if Israel supplies arms to Ukraine, this will destroy relations with Moscow. Sending sensitive, expensive and advanced Israeli air defenses to Ukraine may be difficult, in part because of their cost and also due to concerns about them falling into Russia's hands, or provoking Moscow to retaliate in Syria.
        Meanwhile, Russia is increasingly using Iranian drones to strike Ukraine, and Iran may be readying to supply missiles to Russia as well. Israel has confronted Iranian weapons trafficking in the region in the past and could aid Ukraine by advising on how to stop the drones before they end up in Russia's hands. Israel's knowledge of the drone threat can relate to detection; details about drone flight paths and radar signatures; or other methods that help air defenders.
        Iran's supply of drones to Russia illustrates how the threat to Israel is now a threat that is expanding to the borders of Europe. Israel can aid Ukraine in dealing with these threats without sending expensive, complex, advanced military hardware - the kind of hardware that Western countries are often careful about exporting. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Fearing Russia's Response, Israel Opposes Selling Defensive Weapons to Ukraine - Yaniv Kubovich
    The Israeli defense establishment is opposed to any transfer of weapons systems to Ukraine, even for defensive purposes. Defense officials say the argument that defensive systems aren't equivalent to offensive ones is likely to boomerang on Israel, because it might lead the Russians to adopt the same logic in the Middle East and start supplying their own advanced aerial defense systems, like the S-300 and S-400, to Iran and Syria. Moscow could argue that these systems are merely meant to protect other Mideast countries against Israeli airstrikes.
        The Israeli air force's uncontested control over the region's airspace is seen by defense officials as a strategic asset. Consequently, several officials said anything that could undermine Israel's aerial superiority would be a strategic blow to the Israel Defense Forces. Defense officials also worry that aerial defense systems supplied to Ukraine could hit Russian planes and kill Russian air crews. In 2018, when a Syrian aerial defense system downed of a Russian spy plane, killing 15 Russian soldiers, Russian President Vladimir Putin blamed Israel.
        For now, defense officials said, Washington understands the sensitive situation Israel is in and isn't pressuring it to give Ukraine military aid.
        Defense officials also said the Iron Dome antimissile system is strategically important for Israel, so there's no scenario in which Israel would give such systems to Ukraine at the expense of its own aerial defense. Moreover, Iron Dome isn't suited to Ukraine's needs, defense officials say, as it is designed for comparatively short-range interception. (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:


  • Former Prime Minister Netanyahu: "Iran Cheats, You Can Sign 100 Agreements with Them, It Doesn't Mean Anything" - Judy Woodruff
    Former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in an interview on Wednesday: "Do you want Iran to have nuclear weapons and threaten the entire world, chanting 'Death to America' and 'America the Great Satan'? Not a good idea. The [proposed Iran] deal doesn't stop it."
        "I sent the Mossad to the heart of Tehran to pilfer the secret atomic archives of Iran....And when we looked at it, we could see that they were cheating. They had, as early as 2003, a secret plan to build...five atomic bombs, Hiroshima-style bombs....Iran cheats. And, look, there is no way to stop them. You can sign 100 agreements with them....It doesn't mean anything."
        "Iran is...a radical Islamic regime that is fundamentally opposed to our free way of life, our free societies....that's only going to be stopped not by any agreement. It's going to be stopped by the combination of crippling economic sanctions and a credible military option."
        "The agreements...merely pave Iran's path to the bomb with gold, with hundreds of billions of dollars that they use both to accelerate their nuclear program and also to foment terrorism and aggression throughout the Middle East and the world. You want to stop Iran, stop it now. Stop it before they have nuclear weapons, because, once they do, you're not going to be able to."  (PBS)
  • Lax U.S. Sanctions Enforcement Drives Iran's Increasing Oil Exports - Claire Jungman and Jerry Canto
    Ship-tracking data and research shows how the Biden administration eased the pressure on Iran due to lax enforcement of sanctions on Iranian oil exports. On July 26, 2022, Iran's economy minister reported a 580% increase in income on sales from oil and gas condensate between March 2022 and July 2022, compared with that period last year.
        Comparing Iran's revenue calculations in 2020 and 2021, it is clear that the Biden administration has allowed Iran to substantially increase revenue via oil exports to China. There was a 116% increase in barrels of Iranian oil exported to China in 2021. In 2020, under President Trump, the Iranian regime sold $6.6 billion of oil to China. In 2021, during President Biden's first year, Iran sold $23.1 billion of oil to China. While some of this is due to the rising price of oil, at 2021 prices, Iran made an estimated $8.8 billion on the increase in exports.
        Oil export revenue spikes translate into the growth of money allocated to Iranian terror proxies, which in turn has led to an increase in attacks by these proxies. Iran's proxies and military - let alone its nuclear and ballistic missile program - directly benefit from sanctions relief. (United Against Nuclear Iran)
  • Iran: Freedom-Lovers Win a Round - Amir Taheri
    Participants in the uprising in Iran insist that they are on the path to achieving regime change. They cite a number of reasons. This is the first time that a national uprising isn't about any particular grievance that could be rectified by the regime. The regime has been unable to regain control of the public space with the speed and efficiency it did on other occasions since 1979. Iranian freedom-lovers have won a decisive round, but much remains to be done before they secure final victory.
        The writer was the executive editor-in-chief of the daily Kayhan in Iran from 1972 to 1979. (Gatestone Institute)

  • Palestinians

  • Israel Confronts the Palestinian Lion's Den Militia in the West Bank - Brig.-Gen. (res.) Udi Dekel
    September saw more than 34 shooting incidents in the West Bank, the highest number for over a decade. They included firing from afar at settlements, shooting at vehicles on the roads, shooting at IDF positions and bases, and live fire clashes with IDF forces operating in Palestinian cities and villages. The situation is compounded by the helplessness and lack of motivation on the part of the Palestinian security services to prevent attacks; the severe economic situation of young Palestinians who are not working in Israel; and the easy availability and wide distribution of weapons and ammunition.
        Most of the shooting incidents in the West Bank in recent weeks are attributed to the new Lion's Den militia, which includes dozens of armed activists that are former members of Fatah, Tanzim, Hamas, and Islamic Jihad. Some are sons of fathers in the Palestinian Authority security services. Lion's Den is apparently supported by funds from Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
        More than ten Lion's Den activists have been killed in clashes with IDF forces. At least 20 members of the group or their family members are being held by the PA, which seeks to persuade them to abandon the group and accept jobs in the PA security forces.
        The writer, former head of the Strategic Planning Division in the IDF General Staff, served as Managing Director of INSS for ten years. (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)

  • Other Issues

  • When Terrorists Hail Australia's Diplomacy, Call It a Dangerous Blunder - Josh Feldman
    On Tuesday, the Australian government confirmed it had reversed former Prime Minister Scott Morrison's 2018 recognition of West Jerusalem as Israel's capital. How exactly this will advance peace is anyone's guess. Australia's assertion that West Jerusalem's status remains undetermined is an ahistorical, patronizing insult to its only democratic ally in a volatile region.
        West Jerusalem has been under Israeli control since Israel's establishment in 1948, while Israel's parliament has sat in West Jerusalem since 1950. Every serious peace proposal has accepted Israel's control over West Jerusalem. That Jerusalem is the Jewish state's capital is unavoidable. So why is the Albanese government denying it?
        Australia's announcement, which was lauded by Palestinian leadership, will be correctly viewed as a free diplomatic victory and will further disincentivize Palestinians from returning to negotiations. Moreover, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad - both designated by Australia as terrorist organizations - hailed the move. That certainly tells us everything we need to know about an easily avoidable foreign policy blunder. (The Age-Australia)

  • Weekend Features

  • Israeli Officer Reveals Details of IDF's First Cyberattack - Yoav Zitun
    Since the 1990s, Lt. B. has been masterminding secret infiltrations into Israel's enemies' cyber systems, which grant the IDF access to valuable information, without risking troops and while remaining under the radar. For his ability to think outside of the box, he was awarded the Israel Defense Prize for "developing a system that has a creative technological solution to an operational problem of great importance."
        The enemy was in the midst of building an advanced missile arsenal, and developing an innovative cyber system that it was planning to use for military purposes. For two years, B. and his comrades in IDF Military Intelligence recreated the system the enemy had at hand at the time, running endless tests to make sure what they had developed was accurate. They searched for any point of weakness, a breach in the system.
        The IDF team entered the target's system in an operation that lasted only a few minutes. Since then, the tech gateway that B. and his team created has grown to be more advanced, and paved the way for other IDF cyber operations. (Ynet News)

The Beginning of the End of the Islamic Republic - Masih Alinejad (Foreign Affairs)
  • The current protests in Iran sound the death knell of the Islamic Republic. A wave of angry and bloody demonstrations, boycotts, work stoppages, and wildcat strikes have exhausted the country's security forces and spread to more than 100 cities.
  • The government endured major protests in 2009, 2017, and 2019, but these demonstrations are different. They embody the anger that Iranian women and young Iranians feel toward a regime that seeks to stifle their desires. And they promise to upend Iran's establishment.
  • It is said that revolutions devour their children, but in Iran the grandchildren are devouring the revolution.
  • Despite widespread censorship, Iran's Internet penetration rate (the percentage of the country's population that have access to the Internet) at the beginning of 2022 was 84%. Iranians have found ways to bypass censorship through the use of virtual private networks, or VPNs. Almost 80% of Iranians with Internet access have installed anti-filter and VPN software to evade censorship.
  • The U.S. government and its western European allies involved in the nuclear deal should halt negotiations with the Islamic Republic as long as Iranian authorities are suppressing the protests and throttling the Internet. The U.S. should introduce respect for human rights as a condition for continuing any negotiations. Congress should also refuse to release frozen Iranian funds in foreign banks, conditioning doing so on tangible improvement in Iran's treatment of its citizens.
  • If the U.S. were to revive the nuclear deal with Iran at this moment, it would strengthen an unpopular regime that is savagely crushing peaceful protests.

    In 2014, the writer launched a campaign against compulsory hijab laws in Iran. She is the author of The Wind in My Hair: My Fight for Freedom in Modern Iran.
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