March 6, 2023
A project of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
Israel's Global Embassy for National Security and Applied Diplomacy
Dan Diker, President - Yechiel Leiter, Director General

In-Depth Issues:

Source: Secret Russia-Iran Nuclear Deal Would Transfer Uranium to Tehran's Illicit Weapons Program - Benjamin Weinthal (Fox News)
    Foreign intelligence sources told Fox News that Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed to return enriched uranium that it received from Iran.
    A major component of the 2015 nuclear deal was for Russia to warehouse Tehran's enriched uranium to prevent the regime from using it to construct an atomic bomb.

PA Moves to Stop Palestinian Armed Group in Tulkarm - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    Palestinian Authority security forces are working to prevent a new armed group from operating in the West Bank city of Tulkarm, a senior Palestinian official said on Monday.
    Armed groups consisting of a few hundred gunmen have been operating over the past year in Nablus and Jenin. At this stage, however, only a handful of gunmen have joined the Tulkarm Battalion.
    Unlike the situation in Nablus and Jenin, Palestinian security forces have moved quickly to stop the Tulkarm gang from establishing a foothold in the city.
    PA security officers raided the home of a suspected leader of the group, who managed to escape. Three other men who appeared in one of the group's videos were arrested by the PA in the past week.
    "We don't want to become like Jenin and Nablus," said Ala' al-Sharif, a Tulkarm shopkeeper. "The armed groups in the two cities have caused great damage to the economy. Thousands of Arab Israelis who used to do their shopping in Nablus and Jenin are now coming to Tulkarm because the situation here has been calm. The merchants in Nablus and Jenin are crying."
    However, in the past few days, dozens of residents of Tulkarm and the two nearby refugee camps took to the streets to protest the crackdown, accusing the PA of "betraying" the Palestinians.

Israel Threatens to Strike Hizbullah in Southern Syria - Riad al-Zein (Asharq Al-Awsat-UK)
    Israeli planes dropped leaflets in the governorates of Quneitra and Daraa in southern Syria, warning the Syrian army against sheltering Hizbullah.
    The leaflets read: "We will not accept the continued presence of Hizbullah at the Tel Al-Hara military base, and the continuation of cooperation in any way....Hizbullah continues to extend its arms in the region and its presence brings disaster and destruction....You will be the first to be harmed."

Countering Iran in Azerbaijan - Dr. Taras Kuzio (Geopoliticalmonitor-Canada)
    Iran poses an existential threat to Azerbaijan. This is seen in the recent unprovoked terrorist attack against the Azerbaijani embassy in Tehran, subversion by Iranian-backed extremists and special services, military intervention in the 2020 Second Karabakh War, military threats, and a burgeoning military alliance with Armenia.
    Iran does not recognize the existence of an Azerbaijani people, believing the region was unfairly taken from it by the USSR. The southern part of Azerbaijan, inhabited by 20-30 million Azerbaijanis, remained part of Iran.
    Iran's denial of Azerbaijani identity closely resembles Russia's denial of a Ukrainian state and a Ukrainian people.
    The writer is a professor of political science at the National University of Kyiv Mohyla Academy in Ukraine.

Israeli Envoy Donates Blood for Victims of Greek Train Collision (Ekathimerini-Greece)
    Israel's ambassador to Greece, Noam Katz, on Thursday donated blood for the injured after the deadly train crash that has claimed the lives of 46 passengers.
    A passenger train carrying more than 350 people crashed head-on into a freight train on Tuesday.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S., Europe Split on Response to Iran's Near-Weapons-Grade Nuclear Enrichment - Laurence Norman
    Britain, France and Germany wanted to formally censure Iran for its production of near-weapons-grade uranium at an IAEA board of governors meeting next week, while the Biden administration is reluctant to do that, according to diplomats. European diplomats say the production of weapons-grade material could be the trigger to kill off the 2015 nuclear deal. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Tehran Poses as Much Danger to Britain as It Does to Israel - Dipesh Gadher
    Israel's Ambassador to Britain Tzipi Hotovely warned in an interview that the Tehran regime now poses as much of a danger to Britain as it does to Israel. Police and MI5 have foiled at least 15 plots to kidnap or assassinate opponents of Iran on British soil since the start of last year. Tom Tugendhat, the security minister, revealed last month that Tehran has been gathering intelligence on "UK-based Israeli and Jewish individuals" in preparation for "future lethal operations."
        Hotovely urged Britain to continue to bring diplomatic and economic pressure on the Iranian regime, which is also supplying drones to Russia for its war against Ukraine.  (Sunday Times-UK)
  • U.S. Decreased UN Budget for Inquiry on Israel - Marc Rod
    U.S. UN Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield told the House Appropriations Committee's Foreign Operations Subcommittee on March 1 that she and the State Department are "constantly" monitoring UNRWA to ensure that its facilities and materials are not used in support of terrorism. She also condemned actions and statements by Francesca Albanese, the UN special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories, who has compared Israel to the Nazis and appeared at conferences alongside members of terrorist groups.
        Thomas-Greenfield also noted that the U.S. had successfully worked to decrease the budget for the UN's Commission of Inquiry investigating Israel by a quarter and to reduce staffing for the inquiry. (Jewish Insider)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Netanyahu: We Will Prevent Our Enemies from Eliminating the State of the Jews
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the Israeli Cabinet on Sunday: "International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Rafael Grossi just said in Tehran that an Israeli attack on the Iranian nuclear facilities is against the law. Rafael Grossi is a worthy gentleman who said something unworthy. Against which law? Is Iran, which openly calls for our destruction, permitted to defend the destructive weapons that would slaughter us? Are we permitted to defend ourselves? It is clear that we are and it is clear that we will do so."
        "Nothing will deter us from defending our country and preventing our enemies from eliminating the state of the Jews. We are on the eve of Purim: 2,500 years ago an enemy arose in Persia who sought to destroy the Jews. They did not succeed then, neither will they succeed today."  (Prime Minister's Office)
  • Israeli Ambassador to U.S.: "Israel and America Are Much Closer on Iran Today"
    Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Herzog said Sunday that Israel and the U.S. are "much closer" to each other on the Iranian issue than in previous years and that a new nuclear agreement with Iran is currently "off the table." "We both agree that Iran is destabilizing the region and we have to push back against them."  (Ha'aretz)
  • Israeli Wounded in Drive-By Shooting Attack in Judea - Emanuel Fabian
    An Israeli man was injured Friday night when his car was targeted by Palestinian gunmen in the southern West Bank near Beit Hagai. The IDF said the attackers opened fire from a passing vehicle. (Times of Israel)
  • Palestinians Hurling Firebombs Stopped by IDF - Emanuel Fabian
    Palestinians launched fireworks at Israeli motorists in the West Bank on Thursday evening. IDF forces called to the scene were targeted with firebombs. In response, the IDF shot and killed one attacker and wounded two others. (Times of Israel)
  • Syrian Hizbullah Agent Indicted for Spying, Terrorism after Capture in Israel - Michael Starr
    A Syrian Hizbullah agent was indicted for espionage and terrorism after being caught by the IDF when he infiltrated Israeli territory on Jan. 27. Ayat Abdullah and Abed al-Rahman were recruited and paid by a Hizbullah operative to observe and report on troop strength, vehicle types and amount, and routes of IDF forces. Rahman was killed in an explosion in May 2022. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • As Mideast Tensions Rise, U.S. and Israel Practice Fighting Side-by-Side - Tom O'Connor
    From Feb. 19 through March 1, U.S. Marines trained alongside the Israel Defense Forces in simulated urban combat, in an exercise known as Intrepid Maven. IDF Lt.-Col. Gilad Pasternak, commander of the Israeli Training Battalion, said, "We were able to advance, to charge shoulder-by-shoulder with our allies, the Americans." He noted that the IDF "had the opportunity to train the Marines on the infrastructure of the IDF, including live-fire instructions on Israeli weapons," and that both sides were "able to learn operational lessons, also on the tactical level."
        The exercise addressed facing hidden explosives along with rocket and mortar fire, as well as efforts to detect the sources of such enemy operations. U.S. military personnel in both Iraq and Syria have faced rocket attacks attributed to militias aligned with Iran.
        U.S. Marine Corps Capt. Sean Styerwalt said, "It was great with us being able to work hand-in-hand with the IDF because the IDF has different tactics, techniques, and procedures....We were able to learn...from them and also, at the same time, be able to teach them some of our" methods. One final exercise involved a combined IDF-U.S. "red cell" unit playing the role of enemy combatants. (Newsweek)
  • Tony Blair: "The Mood within the Arab World towards Israel Has Changed Fundamentally" - Amir Tibon
    Britain's former prime minister Tony Blair said on Sunday, "The mood within the Arab world towards Israel has changed fundamentally." As countries such as the United Arab Emirates, Morocco and Saudi Arabia "are engaged in [a] process of modernization," both in terms of economic liberalization and growing religious tolerance, there has been a growing appreciation for Israel's openness and technological prowess, as well as its consistent opposition to Iran.
        Blair, a former envoy of the Quartet on the Middle East who heads the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, said young people in the region "look at Iran, and all the repression that's happening there, [and] they look at Israel. And they think, not just on security grounds, but on the grounds of the type of society they want to see: 'Why should they be hostile to Israel?'"
        Blair explained that "in recent years, myself, my institute, my office in Israel, have focused on how we bring about better relationships between Israel and the Arab nations. Because I think if the region as a whole moves in that direction of modernization and rapprochement, then you've got a much better opportunity at resolving the Palestinian issue as well."  (Ha'aretz)
  • The West Keeps Subsidizing the Palestinian Authority's Death Culture - Avi Benlolo
    Thousands of people attended Elan Ganeles' funeral last week in Israel. They came from every sphere of Israeli society, representing an incredible level of social cohesion around the denunciation of Palestinian terrorism. Ganeles, 27, was a proud American Jew who fell in love with Israel and served in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). He was murdered by a Palestinian terrorist for the crime of being Jewish, shot and killed as he was driving to a friend's wedding. Two days earlier, brothers Hallel Yaniv, 21, and Yagel Yaniv, 19, were murdered as they drove through the Palestinian town of Huwara, because they were Jewish.
        In the last year, 29 Israelis were murdered in terror attacks, while the IDF prevented an additional 2,200. Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas boasted that Palestinians perpetrated 7,200 attacks against Israeli targets in 2022.
        The PA invests a substantial share of its budget, and of its foreign aid, on inciting terrorism, on glorifying terrorism, and on financially rewarding terrorism. Apparently, it's perfectly okay to compensate terrorism despite this being a blatant violation of PA commitments to foreign donors, and in clear violation of U.S. and EU conditions on such foreign aid.
        The West is subsidizing the Palestinian Authority to destabilize Israel by inculcating generations of Palestinian children to be venerated as "martyrs" for mass murders. The very reason the current Israeli government was elected was because of increasing Palestinian terrorism.
        The writer is the founder and chairman of the Abraham Global Peace Initiative. (National Post-Canada)

  • The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) discovered uranium residue enriched to 84% in Iranian centrifuge cascades. Weapons-grade fissile material is typically characterized as enriched to 90%, but it is worth recalling that the U.S. atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945 was a weapon enriched to 80%.
  • The discovery should set off alarm bells. Iran has achieved the capacity to produce weapons-grade material very quickly. Creating weapons-grade fissile material is the most important element needed for bomb-making.
  • At its current pace, Iran could easily accumulate 10 bombs' worth of fissile material enriched to 60% by the end of this year. A senior defense official suggested it would take the Iranians less than two weeks to make such material weapons-grade.
  • The idea that Israel will sit back and not act against what its leaders view as an existential threat is an illusion. Israeli leaders from across the political spectrum share the prime minister's concerns about the quantity of bomb-making fissile material that Iran is accumulating and the hardening of its nuclear infrastructure, which will make it more and more difficult for Israel to destroy.
  • Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has already told U.S. officials that if nothing is done soon to stop the advance of the Iranian nuclear program, Israel will have no choice but to attack. Israel is not prepared to live with Iran getting a bomb.
  • To avoid a war with a threatening adversary, that adversary has to believe you will use force. A clear signal of a new American approach may now be essential not only to persuade the Iranians to stop their advance toward a nuclear weapon, but also to show China and Russia that the U.S. is capable of dealing with multiple threats at once and that it has the will to do so.

    The writer, who served in senior national security positions for four presidents, is counselor at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

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