June 15, 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:

Israel's Rafael Developing Anti-Hypersonic Missile - Yonah Jeremy Bob (Jerusalem Post)
    Rafael Advanced Defense Systems on Wednesday announced that it is developing a system to shoot down hypersonic missiles, dubbed "Sky Sonic."
    Rafael CEO Yoav Har Even said, "We decided three years ago before the public started talking about it...we identified this as the next thing which must have a solution."

Israel Targeted Weapons Depots of Iranian Militias in Syria (Syrian Observer-Turkey)
    Syria's SANA state news agency reported Israeli strikes on Wednesday targeting multiple locations in Damascus including near its airport.
    The strikes targeted weapons depots belonging to Iranian militias, causing significant destruction.
    In the Kiswah region, southwest of the capital, the shelling hit air defense batteries and a Hizbullah ammunition depot.

Israel Worries U.S. Weapons for Ukraine Are Ending Up in Iran's Hands - Tom O'Connor (Newsweek)
    Israel is concerned that weapons provided by the U.S. and other Western nations to Ukraine will end up in the hands of Israel's foes in the Middle East, including Iran.
    A high-ranking IDF commander told Newsweek that the diversion of weapons, such as the Javelin shoulder-fired anti-tank missile system, was being monitored.
    Israel was concerned that Iran "can research capabilities, and then learn how to manufacture them."
    "The other problem is that we are very worried that some of these capabilities are going to fall into Hizbullah and Hamas' hands....We see the signs [of diversion], and this is very, very troubling."
    The Israeli commander noted that some of the U.S. small arms seized in Afghanistan have already been observed in the hands of Palestinian groups operating in Gaza.

Israel to Provide Aid to Ukrainian Dam Collapse Victims (Jerusalem Post)
    Israel's Foreign Ministry donated hundreds of thousands of liters of water and over 10 tons of food to the victims of the destruction of Ukraine's Nova Kakhovka dam, the ministry announced on Monday.
    The donated supplies will be delivered through volunteer organizations that work with the Israeli Embassy in Kyiv. The supplies were purchased in Ukraine in order to shorten delivery times and help the Ukrainian economy.

Islamic Jihad Leader Meets Ayatollah Khamenei in Tehran - Syed Zafar Mehdi (Anadolu-Turkey)
    Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei met in Tehran on Wednesday with the leader of Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Ziyad al-Nakhalah.
    Referring to the fighting between Israel and PIJ in May, Khamenei said, "I congratulate Islamic Jihad's victory in Gaza's recent battle."
    He noted that the "growing power" of Palestinian groups "is the key to bringing the Zionist enemy to its knees."

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Palestinian Authority, Fatah Glorify Egyptian Border Guard Who Killed Three Israeli Soldiers (MEMRI)
    After the June 3, 2023, shooting of three Israeli soldiers on the Israel-Egypt border by an Egyptian border guard, the PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida wrote in an editorial that the attack proved that peace and normalization agreements with Israel have not caused the Arab masses to forget their hatred for that country.
    Social media accounts affiliated with Fatah, the ruling party in the PA, likewise posted many messages glorifying the perpetrator.
    Mourning tents to honor the "martyr" were set up in Nablus and the Jenin district.

Chinese Businesses Look to New Frontiers in Middle East - Stephen Kalin (Wall Street Journal)
    On Sunday, several thousand Chinese businesspeople gathered in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, for the first Arab-China Business Conference to explore investment opportunities in energy, mining, infrastructure, manufacturing and tech sectors.
    The Saudis and their smaller Persian Gulf neighbors are trying to bind China closer and, in the process, hedge against their dependence on the U.S.
    U.S. officials have warned the Saudis and Emiratis that close security relations with China would hurt ties with Washington, but have largely not objected to business dealings.

Islamic Jihad Begins Military Summer Camp for Palestinian Youth - Joe Truzman (Long War Journal)
    Islamic Jihad summer military training camps for Palestinian youth in Gaza started on June 12.
    They are primarily used to indoctrinate jihadist ideology, including the armed struggle against Israel.

With 100,000 Immigrants in 17 Months, Aliyah to Israel Is at a 30-Year High (Jerusalem Post)
    Since the beginning of 2022, over 100,000 new immigrants have moved to Israel, marking the highest number in three decades, said Avichai Kahana, Director General at the Ministry of Aliyah and Integration, on Monday.
    "Over 60,000 came from Russia, 20,000 from Ukraine, and another 20,000 from all over the world," Kahana said.

Israel Reports Record $12.5 Billion Defense Exports, 24 Percent to Arab Partners (Reuters)
    Israel exported a record $12.556 billion in defense products in 2022, with new Arab partners under the Abraham Accords, accounting for 24% of the business, the Defense Ministry said Tuesday.
    Drones accounted for 25% of 2022 exports and missiles, rockets or air defense systems for 19%.
    Asia accounted for 30% of Israeli defense exports, Europe for 29%, and North America for 11%.

Intel Israel Registers Record $8.7 Billion in Exports in 2022 (Calcalist)
    Semiconductor giant Intel Israel posted record exports of $8.7 billion in 2022, constituting 5.5% of all Israeli high-tech exports.
    Intel directly employs 11,700 employees in Israel at its three R&D centers - in Haifa, Petah Tikva, and Jerusalem - as well as at its manufacturing center in Kiryat Gat.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. Seeks Informal Nuclear Agreement with Iran - Michael Crowley
    The Biden administration has been negotiating quietly with Iran to limit Tehran's nuclear program in an effort to ease tensions and reduce the risk of a military confrontation with the Islamic Republic. The U.S. goal is to reach an informal, unwritten agreement, as Iran builds up a stockpile of highly enriched uranium close to bomb-grade purity, supplies Russia with drones for use in Ukraine, and brutally cracks down on domestic political protests.
        Under a new agreement, Iran would not enrich uranium beyond 60% purity, halt lethal attacks on American contractors in Syria and Iraq by its proxies, expand its cooperation with international nuclear inspectors, and refrain from selling ballistic missiles to Russia. In return, Iran expects the U.S. to unfreeze billions of dollars in Iranian assets, whose use would be limited to humanitarian purposes. (New York Times)
        See also Netanyahu: U.S. Determined to Reach Limited Nuclear Deal with Iran - Lahav Harkov
    The U.S. is determined to reach a "mini-deal" with Iran, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Tuesday. The deal, negotiated in recent weeks via Oman, would entail Tehran curbing its nuclear enrichment at 60% in exchange for the U.S. allowing Iraq to pay over $10 billion it owes Iran for gas and electricity and for South Korea to pay $7 billion for oil imports. The informality of the deal is a way for the Biden administration to avoid Congressional review. Netanyahu added, "Over 90% of [Israel's] security problems come from Iran and its proxies."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Bipartisan Group in House Urges Administration to Oppose International Court of Justice Moves Against Israel - Marc Rod
    A bipartisan group of 35 House lawmakers urged Secretary of State Tony Blinken on Tuesday to "submit a strong brief to the ICJ [International Court of Justice] opposing an advisory opinion against Israel." Their letter reads, "This is but the latest in a series of escalating attacks on Israel in the UN system, initiated by the Palestinian Authority, to unfairly and disproportionately single out the Jewish State. We urge you to vigorously support Israel as it defends itself against this proceeding."
        They added that the ICJ investigation, and the UN's focus on Israel, are detrimental to the cause of peace and "[distract] attention and resources from grave human rights abuses and violations of international law committed by UN members such as Iran, China, Myanmar, and Russia." They said the U.S. brief should defend Israel's right to self-defense and the merits of a negotiated two-state solution. (Jewish Insider)
  • Germany Releases Funds for Purchasing Israel's Arrow-3 Missile Defense System
    German lawmakers released advance payments of up to 560 million euros on Wednesday ahead of a planned purchase of the Israel-built Arrow-3 missile defense system for almost 4 billion euros ($4.3 billion) in total, a member of the budget committee said. The German air force is supposed to take delivery of Arrow-3 by the fourth quarter of 2025. (Reuters)
  • China Willing to Help Foster Palestinian Peacemaking with Israel - Joe Cash
    China is willing to play a positive role to help the Palestinians achieve internal reconciliation and promote peace talks with Israel, Chinese President Xi Jinping told Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Beijing on Wednesday. "We have always firmly supported the just cause of the Palestinian people," Xi told Abbas at a welcoming ceremony at Beijing's Great Hall of the People. Xi and Abbas announced the two sides had agreed to establish a strategic partnership. (Reuters)
        See also China, Palestinian Authority "Strategic Partnership" Is a Finger in the Eye of the U.S. - Jonathan Schanzer
    The Palestinian decision to align itself with China amidst an uptick in great power competition and a surge of diplomatic activity by China in the Middle East is a finger in the eye of the Biden administration. This is a litmus test for the Biden White House, which has been an advocate for the Palestinian cause. There must be consequences for Mahmoud Abbas if the goal is to sustain the U.S.-led regional order.
        The writer is senior vice president for research at FDD. (Foundation for Defense of Democracies)
        See also below Commentary: Palestinians Enjoy China-Funded Projects (Xinhua-China)
  • Pro-Palestinian Activist Sentenced to 18 Months for Attack on Jewish Man in New York - Kyle Schnitzer
    A Manhattan court sentenced Waseem Awawdeh, 24, to 18 months in prison for attacking Joseph Borgen, 31, during a clash between Israeli and Palestinian supporters on May 20, 2021. Awawdeh was one of five assailants who punched, kicked, pepper-sprayed and beat Borgen with crutches, causing injuries, including a concussion. Another attacker, Faisal Elezzi, pleaded guilty in April and was sentenced to three years of probation and mandatory anti-bias programming. The three remaining defendants - Mohammed Othman, Mohammed Said Othman and Mahmoud Musa - are to stand trial in August.
        In his victim impact statement, Borgen asked the court, "Why is he getting a break? I really can't fathom why he's getting a [plea] deal....What kind of message does this send - to everybody, to all victims of hate crime? Not just Jewish people but anyone who is a victim of a hate crime. You can say you won't do it again, get arrested while on bail, do whatever you want, and you know what? We'll give you a slap on the wrist - it's okay!"  (New York Post-Times of Israel)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Four Israeli Soldiers, One Civilian Injured in Palestinian Drive-By Shooting Attacks Tuesday
    Five Israelis, including four soldiers, were wounded in two drive-by shooting attacks near Mevo Dotan in the northern West Bank on Tuesday. (Jerusalem Post)
  • 2023 Israel Defense Prize Awarded to 4 Outstanding Projects
    Israeli President Isaac Herzog and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant awarded the 2023 Israel Defense Prize to four projects developed by the Israel Defense Forces, the Israel Security Agency, the Mossad, and the defense industries. This year's awarded projects included a cutting-edge cyber defense system that ensures the IDF's security and operational freedom.
        Herzog said, "Your invaluable contributions to Israel's national strength are truly remarkable. Through your accomplishments, inventions, developments, and outstanding achievements, the security of our beloved nation is safeguarded, ensuring our ability to defend ourselves independently. It is thanks to these endeavors, and to each and every one of you, that we possess a country capable of confronting any threat, vanquishing any adversary, and deterring and overwhelming potential challenges." He compared the awarded projects to the technological advancements found in works of science fiction. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:


  • Iran Wants to Make a Deal the U.S. Must Refuse - Bobby Ghosh
    Iran's supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, is signaling a willingness to make a new nuclear deal with the West, but on terms that would allow the Islamic Republic to maintain its nuclear threat. The U.S. shouldn't fall for the trap. Rather, President Biden's administration should step up implementation of existing economic sanctions, and rally European allies to impose even tighter restraints on the regime in Tehran.
        Since Biden's election, the Iranians have accelerated their enrichment activity as well as the development of missiles and military drones, the better to threaten their neighbors and menace international shipping in the Persian Gulf. They also increased funding and training for a network of proxy militias and terrorist groups across the Middle East. These programs were aided by the administration's lax implementation of existing sanctions, which allowed the regime to export record quantities of oil. (Bloomberg-Washington Post)

  • Palestinian Arabs

  • Palestinians Enjoy China-Funded Projects
    Palestinian officials and locals in Ramallah say China-funded projects have positively facilitated daily life in the city. In 2018, the Ramallah municipality established a massive China-funded ring road to ease traffic woes. "The project, funded with over $8 million, is going to pave nine roads over 7.5 km. in length," said Odai al-Hindi, director of the projects department in Ramallah, adding, "the construction took about 14 months." "In the past, we had to spend more than 45 minutes to go to hospital if there is no traffic jam, but now we can reach there in five minutes," said Ahmed Ghabatra, a local resident.
        China also funded a school for male students in Ein Mesbah in 2021. "The school was modern, as it is equipped with smart classrooms and laboratories, integrated sound systems, smart lighting systems, and energy-saving solar energy units," al-Hindi said, adding that all facilities are accessible for people with disabilities. He expressed sincere gratitude to the Chinese government and people for funding the ring road and the school. (Xinhua-China)
  • Young Palestinians Increasingly Reject a Two-State Solution - Yousef Eldin
    Many Palestinians under 30 say they have little faith in the Palestinian leadership and increasingly reject a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, data from the West Bank-based Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research shows.
        "Today, the youth discontent is driven to a large extent by the lack of legitimacy that they see in the political system. So we have a president who, for the last 14 years, has been ruling without electoral legitimacy," explains Dr. Khalil Shikaki, the director of the center. "Our political system is largely authoritarian; it is largely a one-man show. In theory, we have a constitution, but in reality, we're not observing our constitution."
        At the same time, support for armed confrontation is highest among those 18-29, with 56% supporting a return to an intifada, or uprising, against Israel, according to a March poll. (BBC News)

  • Other Issues

  • Israel-Egypt Relations after the Border Attack - Brig.-Gen. (res.) Amir Avivi
    This month's killing of three IDF soldiers near the Egyptian border was not the first time Egyptian border police crossed the border and assaulted Israeli soldiers. In 2009 I served as the brigade commander in charge of that specific area of the border and investigated a similar assault which fortunately ended without Israeli casualties.
        In August 2011, six Israeli civilians and two Israeli soldiers were killed in an ambush along the border by a squad of Egyptian and Palestinian terrorists. In August 2012, a group of radical Palestinians massacred 16 Egyptian soldiers near Rafah and used an Egyptian Fahed armored vehicle to breach the border and cross into Israel, aiming for the nearest Israeli community. The APC was eventually stopped by IAF helicopters and UAVs.
        We must acknowledge the reality on the other side of the border with Egypt. Over half of the Egyptian population openly identifies with the Muslim Brotherhood and Egyptian society remains extremely hostile towards Israel, even after more than 40 years of peace. Egyptian culture and media are rife with antisemitic tropes and hatred towards Israel.
        Despite our best efforts and tremendous assistance to the Egyptian military in its counter-terrorism efforts in Sinai, Egypt still isn't behaving like the partner in peace we are worthy of - not along the border, not in educating its population, and not in the way it allows the uninterrupted flow of weapons from Sinai to terrorists in Gaza through the tunnel highways under Rafah. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also IDF Releases Findings on Egypt Border Attack (i24News)
  • Poll: Jordanian Sentiment Against Israel Remains Strong - Faris Almaari
    Despite being officially at peace with Israel for almost three decades, 84% of Jordanians across all age groups oppose having business deals with Israeli companies even if it would help their economy, according to a public opinion poll conducted in March/April. 76% agreed that "in case of an earthquake or other natural disaster, as we just saw in Syria and Turkey, Arab countries should refuse any humanitarian aid from Israel."
        60% of Jordanians view Hamas firing missiles at Israel at least somewhat positively. Only 12% perceive the Abraham Accords positively. Just 13% believe the U.S. should prioritize doing "more to help counter the threats we face from Iran." 69% oppose Arab cooperation with Israel to combat Iran. Despite Iran's nuclear ambitions, 59% oppose the idea of an Arab country acquiring a nuclear bomb to counter Iran.
        78% of Jordanians agree that "in the war going on now between Russia and Ukraine, the best outcome would be a Russian victory, including the annexation of significant Ukrainian territory to Russia."  (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • Amnesty's New Israel Report Goes to War with Reality - Tom Rogan
    Amnesty International's new report on Israel's May conflict with Palestinian Islamic Jihad, released Monday, misreads both the laws of war and the nature of the battles. The report offers stunning disinterest in the cause for this outbreak of violence - PIJ's launching of dozens of rockets against Israel and its escalating terrorist plots. It was only in response to those actions that the IDF air force was deployed. Rewriting history, Amnesty declares that Israel began the conflict. (Washington Examiner)

  • Antisemitism

  • New U.S. Strategy Mistakenly Places Islamophobia on a Par with Antisemitism - Col. (ret.) Yigal Carmon
    On May 25, 2023, the Biden administration published the first-ever U.S. National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism, that includes several instances of placing Islamophobia on a par with antisemitism. Hatred of Muslims is indeed a real phenomenon in the U.S.  However, antisemitism cannot be put together with Islamophobia.
        Antisemitism is manifested in action. In November 2022, FBI Director Christopher Wray said that 63% of religious hate crimes are motivated by antisemitism, despite the fact that Jews only comprise 2% of the U.S. population.
        Moreover, many Muslim clerics in America preach antisemitism and call for violence against Jews. The MEMRI archives contain dozens of videos of American imams calling for the annihilation of the Jews. Had those who authored the new strategy familiarized themselves with this reality, they would not have made the mistake of putting the victim and the victimizer together in a document dedicated to countering antisemitism.
        The writer, former counter-terrorism advisor to two Israeli prime ministers, is founder and president of the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI). (MEMRI)

  • Weekend Features

  • Facts about Israel Every American Needs to Know - Uri Pilichowski
    Israel is a calm and peaceful country. While the media covers the most sensationalist stories, there is little violence in Israel and statistically much more violence in any major American city.
        While Jews have been accused of being colonial impostors with no connection to the Land of Israel, historical records, archaeology and international consensus all demonstrate that the Jews have a 3,000-year connection to the land, long before Arabs immigrated there 1,300 years ago.
        Almost 3,000 years ago, King David, the king of the Jewish people, inaugurated the city of Jerusalem as the capital city of the Jewish people. No other people had ever established Jerusalem as their capital.
        Israelis aren't responsible for Palestinian mistakes and miscalculations. There are great inequalities between Israelis and Palestinians, caused largely by the Palestinians' poor political choices, including terrorism, rejecting peace deals, and intransigence.
        The narrative of Israeli oppression is a fable. Claims of a life of hardship are contradicted by the plethora of Arab-owned late model luxury cars and mansions spread throughout Judea and Samaria. Jobs in Israel and joint industrial zones are available to Arabs, and the health care and education available to Palestinian Arabs is among the highest rated in the Middle East. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Luxury Alongside Poverty in the Palestinian Authority (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

Israel Should Recognize Morocco's Territorial Integrity - Dr. Yechiel M. Leiter (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • As Israel seeks to expand the normalization process with additional countries on the African continent, it also must work to solidify and expand its existing Abraham Accords agreement with Morocco. This overriding interest brings into focus the need for Israel to act with clarity and determination in recognizing Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara.
  • Morocco's claims to Western Sahara have deep historical roots, dating back to the 11th century, and world powers had recognized it as an integral part of the country throughout the centuries. The U.S. recognized the sovereignty of the Kingdom of Morocco over the former Spanish colony in December 2020. The UAE, another key Abraham Accords partner, has led efforts to recognize Morocco's territorial integrity internationally, and dozens of countries have followed suit.
  • More than three-quarters of Western Sahara, an area larger than Great Britain, is controlled by Morocco, with the remainder under the domination of the Polisario Front. Approximately 650,000 people live in the area, two-thirds being Moroccan citizens. The remaining third are Sahrawis who identify with the Polisario.
  • Morocco shares a long border with Algeria, an ally of Iran, which directly threatens it militarily and through its support for Polisario separatism. Polisario headquarters are located in Algeria. Were the Polisario to achieve its goal, it would be an Algerian puppet state, contributing to strengthening an Iranian proxy.
  • The Iranian regime supplies the Polisario with antiaircraft missiles and drones through the services of Algeria and Hizbullah. Together with the IRGC, Hizbullah is also training Polisario fighters. The Polisario itself has provided cover for al-Qaeda and the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), a terrorist group that is active in the Sahel region.
  • The Russia-Ukraine war has led to major disruptions in global food production. A key input, fertilizer, requires phosphorus. A full 72% of the known phosphorous deposits are found in Morocco, and 7% are in Western Sahara. Allowing moderate Morocco to be surrounded by hostile and destabilizing Iranian proxies could potentially have great impact on food security worldwide.

    The writer is Director-General of the Jerusalem Center.

        See also Morocco's Battle against Islamic Jihadi Terrorism - Col. (ret.) Dr. Jacques Neriah (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
        See also Algeria Confronts Europe and the West over Gas and the Western Sahara - Amb. Dore Gold (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

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