Monday, November 09, 2020

From Ian:

Caroline Glick: Israel, the Sunnis and the return of a pro-Iran White House
President Donald Trump is the most pro-Israel president in history. President Barack Obama was the most anti-Israel president in history.

And now, the likeliest outcome of last week's presidential election is that Obama's vice president Joe Biden will be inaugurated on January 20 and Trump will depart the White House.

Trump is rightly exercising his right to cause a vote recount in Wisconsin and Georgia and suing to fight alleged voter fraud in Michigan and Pennsylvania. But to win the race at this point, Trump will need to win in Arizona and Georgia and either reverse the vote count in Wisconsin or Michigan or win the election in Pennsylvania. Trump owes it to his 71 million voters to ensure that the election results reflect the will of the voters. And so, he will exhaust all legal avenues. But the probability his efforts will win him the election is low.

The Israeli media grotesquely cheers the apparent defeat of Israel's best friend ever in the Oval Office and his replacement by the vice president of the most hostile US leader in history. While doing so the commentators soothingly insist Biden is a great friend to Israel.

While comforting, this claim is untrue, particularly in relation to Iran.

Biden is not known for his strong principles. Long a weathervane for popular opinion, Biden has changed his positions on everything from the politics of race to international trade to criminal justice to social security and Medicare. But while he has been quick to align his position on nearly all issues with the prevailing political winds, Biden has maintained allegiance to one, deeply controversial position throughout the years. That position is sympathy and support for the theocratic regime in Iran.

In the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks, Biden advocated giving $200 million to Iran to show America's good intentions to the Islamic world. During the Iraq War, Biden was one of the most powerful voices calling for the US to cut a deal with Iran which would essentially transform post-Saddam Iraq into an Iranian satrapy.

Biden was one of the chief advocates of nuclear appeasement towards Iran, both in the years preceding his ascendance to the vice presidency under Obama and throughout Obama's nuclear talks with Iran. Those talks, of course, led to the conclusion of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal that gave Iran an open path to a nuclear arsenal within a decade.

Since announcing his run for office, Biden – who was viciously critical of Trump's decision to abandon the nuclear deal – has pledged repeatedly that he will reinstate the US' commitment to the deal if elected, ensuring Iran acquires a nuclear arsenal.
v JPost Editorial: Israel's gov't needs to bond with Biden
From Israel’s point of view, the biggest immediate challenge is probably rebuilding a relationship over decades was founded on broad, US bipartisan support. Israel’s security – as an essential US ally as well as in its own right – cannot be dependent on the identity of the US president’s party: Republican or Democrat.

But the prime minister was not alone in his preference for Trump. A survey published by the Israel Democracy Institute found that the vast majority of Israeli Jews unequivocally favored Trump as a candidate “from the standpoint of Israel’s interests.”

It found that 42% of Israeli Jews believe that the US-Israel bond will weaken under Biden and only 7% think it will improve. (The figures for Arab Israelis were 24% and 16% respectively.)

“Presumably, this pronounced preference among the Jewish public for Trump to keep serving stems to a large extent from the assessment that Biden’s election would weaken US-Israeli relations and strengthen the relationship between Washington and the Palestinians,” the IDI survey concluded.

As these election results confirmed, American Jews overwhelmingly vote Democrat and Israel must always keep this in mind. It must also make an effort to maintain the bonds with the largest Jewish community in the Diaspora. Fortunately, also, despite the vocal pro-Palestinian progressive wing, the majority of elected Democrat officials traditionally support Israel.

While acknowledging with gratitude all that Trump has done for the Jewish state, including moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem, Israel cannot afford to ally itself with only one American political party.

“Let’s give each other a chance,” Biden said in his victory speech in Delaware, promising that as the 46th president of the US he would work to unify the country and heal rifts. “And to make progress, we have to stop treating our opponents as enemies,” he continued.

This message of unity and healing would be a good one for Netanyahu and the Israeli public to adopt, too.


Israel needs to watch out for Joe Biden's UN ambassador pick – opinion
US President-elect Joe Biden reflects the orthodoxy of the “two-state solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. He is a committed, enthusiastic proponent of this idea as a way forward in the Middle East.

There is a competing political paradigm – “racial-justice politics” – that has gained, if not dominance, at the very least great influence with liberal and left-wing thinkers in America. This new politics, with its ideological base anchored in postmodernism and neo-Marxism, is powered by intersectionality and identity politics.

Inside the Democratic Party, it has garnered considerable authority and leverage. It has also made its way into mainstream American culture: From Hollywood to Twitter and Facebook, it is simply swimming in the American social and cultural mainstream.

Racial-justice politics has a particular Israel problem, and its Israel problem is expressed openly. It presents Israel through an ideological prism, arguing that it is a colonial enterprise, an outpost of Western imperialism in an overwhelmingly Muslim Middle East.

The prominence of the new political paradigm presents a difficult problem for President-elect Biden. Historically, he has rejected this reference system. But as president, he will feel intense pressure to please his left wing and gratify its convictions about Israel.

The question for Israel and today’s Israeli leaders is how well a President Biden manages the pressure coming from adherents of the new politics.

As the Democratic Party’s nominee, he was successful in rebuffing the new-politics radicals who wanted an anti-Israel statement in the 2020 Democratic Party Platform. His two-state views prevailed, and the platform calls for the creation of a “viable” Palestinian state and explicitly opposes “unilateral action” from either side.
Danny Danon on Biden Presidency's Effect on Middle East Politics

Dr. Michael Oren Discusses Iran Nuclear Deal and Biden Administration

President of Bahrain Journalists Association on Biden Win and Affect on Israel-Gulf Deals

Saudi Prince Turki: Biden Likely to Keep Trump's Pro-Israel Decisions
Former Saudi Arabian intelligence chief and ambassador to the U.S. Prince Turki Al-Faisal said Wednesday:

"I think Mr. Biden as president is not going to draw back from where Mr. Trump has driven America - whether it is on Jerusalem, on the Golan Heights, or on the so-called Abrahamic Accords."

"My concern about some Arab quarters, particularly my Palestinian friends and brothers, is if they expect that a President Biden is going to be different from Mr. Trump, I think they will be sorely disappointed."
MEMRI: Articles In Saudi Press: Biden Is Not A Replica Of Obama; Arab States Will Not Be Adversely Affected By His Victory
After Joe Biden was declared the winner of the U.S. presidential election, the Saudi press published articles downplaying the implications of his victory for the Arab states in general and for Saudi Arabia in particular.

During the presidential campaign, the Saudi press seemed to favor a victory by Donald Trump, mainly out of fear that Biden would reinstate Obama's policies, especially on the issues of Iran's nuclear dossier, the activity of Iranian militias in the Arab world, and the activity of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), which many Arab states have designated as terrorist. However, following Biden's victory, the writers tempered their position, arguing that, during the past four years, the Arab region and the world at large have undergone extensive changes, due to which Biden is unlikely to readopt Obama's policies. Among these changes they listed the diminished power of the MB in the Arab world, the European apprehensions regarding Iran's policy, and the normalization of relations between the Gulf states and Israel.

In support of their position, the writers also stated that the ties between the U.S. and its allies is not based on personal relations between leaders, but rather on institutions and mutual interests, and therefore Saudi-U.S. relations are not likely to suffer.

The following are translated excerpts from the articles:
Former Al-Sharq Al-Awsat Editor: Relations Between Countries Are Based On Interests
Senior Saudi journalist Tariq Al-Homayed, a former editor of the Al-Sharq Al-Awsat daily, wrote in his column in the Saudi government daily 'Okaz: "The relations between the U.S. and its allies are based on institutions, not on personal relations. There is security, military and economic cooperation, and there are [important] issues that cannot be disregarded…

"Biden is coming to a [Middle East] that has changed and is constantly changing. What some people forget… is that the real change in our region began during the Arab Spring, while Biden was vice president to Obama, not during the Trump era. [Another] point some people ignore is that, despite what is said about the [good] relations between Trump and the moderate Arab states, this did not prevent the Gulf boycott on Qatar, which occurred during Trump's term. [That is,] his administration was unable to persuade the Gulf states and Egypt to restore their relations with Qatar [when the latter] failed to fulfill its previous commitments…

"[But] the most troubling [question] regarding our region is how Biden will deal with Iran. Will he readdress the nuclear issue, and if so, how? In this respect, too, the region has changed, for Biden will find a firmer Israeli position on Iran, similar to the Gulf position, which underwent a change with the advent of the peace process between the UAE, Bahrain and Israel. Who knows, perhaps the peace camp will expand [even further] today, or with the arrival of the new tenant in the White House. Ultimately, interests will be the decisive factor, [for] such is the nature of politics…"[1]
Iraq fears return of Obama-era policies as pro-Iran factions hail Biden’s win
Iraq’s pro-Tehran factions have welcomed Joe Biden’s election as US president, alarming officials and activists in Baghdad who fear a US-Iran deescalation could empower hardliners in their own country.

Baghdad has long been caught in a tug-of-war for influence between its two main allies Washington and Tehran, made even more tense by outgoing US President Donald Trump’s “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran since 2018.

Iraqi factions supported by Tehran are hoping Biden could roll back Trump’s policies, which included bombing hardline groups and slapping sanctions on pro-Iran figures.

“Trump’s era was a very negative one, a period of demolition,” said Mohammad Mohyi, spokesman for Kataeb Hezbollah, a hardline pro-Iran faction in Iraq.

“We hope the new administration will resolve this, by ending the crisis and withdrawing its troops,” he told AFP.

He slammed Trump for “the greatest crime” in January: killing Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani and top Iraqi commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, who had a key role in founding Kataeb Hezbollah, in a drone strike in Baghdad.

Outraged by that targeted attack, Iraq’s parliament voted to oust all foreign troops from the country. Trump fired back with threats of crippling sanctions on Iraq.

Many hope there could be change.


NYTs: Israeli Entrepreneurs Welcomed in Dubai
More than two dozen Israeli high-tech executives turned up in Dubai recently, six weeks after the Emirates and Bahrain signed agreements to normalize relations with Israel and open up embassies. The rancor of more than seven decades of Arab-Israeli conflict seemed to melt away in a matter of days.

Emirati investor Mohamed Mandeel, CEO of Abu Dhabi's Royal Strategic Partners group, said he felt a sense of kinship with the Israelis. He recounted how he had taken a DNA test and found a match for his rare Babylonian gene in Tel Aviv. "If we set aside the religious ideologies and 70 years fueled by conflict, wars and the media, we end up with human beings," he said. "We share the same food, the same DNA, the same look," and he described the Israelis as "cousins."

The Israelis said the encounter felt like a dream come true, unlike any they had experienced in the Arab world before, and different from Israel's decades-old "cold peace" with Egypt and Jordan.
First direct tourist flight from Tel Aviv to Dubai takes off
The first tourist flight directly from Tel Aviv to Dubai took off on Sunday from Ben-Gurion Airport, after an Israeli and an Emirati businessman joined together to organize a charter flight through the Dubai-based airline carrier flydubai.

Some 174 businessmen and tourists flew on flight FZ8194 over Saudi airspace in the historic flight, according to Makor Rishon.

The flight included government officials, representatives of the flight and tourism industries and Israeli businessmen, according to IAS. The tour was organized and tickets were sold within three days by Emirati businessman Jacob Saba and the Israeli Gaya Tours company.

The tour package cost about $2,000 and includes a flight and four night stay at Hyatt hotels, which will provide kosher breakfasts for the first time.

"The mission to carry out the first flight was not simple," said Saba. "But we proved that nothing's impossible. If we decide to do something and invest in it, it's possible. This flight came to be because of a decision and faith in ourselves and God."

Flydubai announced on Saturday that, starting November 26, 14 flights a week between the United Arab Emirates and Israel will be made available for passengers to visit the Emirates from Israel and vice-a-versa – two a day.


Optimism over Pfizer vaccine bodes well for Israel’s COVID shot, experts say
Excitement over test results from Pfizer’s vaccine are buoying hopes for Israel’s own coronavirus injection, as the two immunizations target the same protein in SARS-CoV-2.

Pfizer said on Monday that early indications suggest its shots may be 90 percent effective at preventing COVID-19, citing interim analysis from an independent data monitoring board.

Meanwhile, trials for Israel’s first vaccine, developed by a state institute, are just getting underway, with the first patients injected last week. Experts say that, like many of the vaccines being developed, including Pfizer’s, Israel’s targets the spike protein.

“This gives cause for optimism regarding the Israeli vaccine,” Ran Taube, a virologist from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, told The Times of Israel. “It gives some indication this is the right approach.”

Bar-Ilan University immunologist Cyrille Cohen, a member of a Health Ministry advisory committee that deals with coronavirus vaccines, said that “it’s a vote of confidence for Israel’s vaccine. And also, it’s good news as Moderna’s vaccine, which Israel is well placed to receive, and which is also in the midst of testing, targets the same protein.”
Israel launches corona testing site at airport, en route to opening skies
The “Check2Fly” coronavirus testing lab at Ben-Gurion Airport's Terminal 3 was inaugurated with an event Monday that was attended by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Transportation Minister Miri Regev and Health Minister Yuli Edelstein.

Check2Fly is a joint project of Omega, a coronavirus testing company, and Haifa’s Rambam Health Care Campus, with standard test results delivered within 14 hours for about NIS 45. Rapid results will be available in about four hours for around NIS 135.

The prime minister joked with staff and technicians at the testing site, turning down the opportunity to be tested on the spot – he is tested regularly – saying, in English, “I gave at the office.” A staff member told the prime minister that 20,000 people a day could be tested, both travelers leaving Israel and entering the country, and described how tests would be taken to a lab and how the results would be returned. One technician wore a mask that had slipped off his nose and the prime minister admonished him to put it back on properly.

Speaking about when Israel would enter stage three of a withdrawal from lockdown regulations, he said: “We will decide today or tomorrow – and if the rate of infection is increasing, we won’t go to the third stage... If the morbidity goes up, it goes up like – excuse me – a plane or missile goes up into the sky, and then it destroys the economy, and it exacts a high toll on people’s lives and health.”
As street shops reopen, Health Ministry warns COVID-19 transmission rising
Israel is unlikely to take further steps to lift the restrictions put in place to limit the spread of the coronavirus in the immediate future, a senior Health Ministry official said on Sunday.

Speaking at a press conference, Sharon Alroy-Preis, who heads the ministry's Public Health Services department, warned that as the government continued to ease restrictions, the transmission of the virus was on the rise, albeit below the level registered before the nationwide lockdown was implemented in mid-September.

For Israel to enter the next stage in rolling back the restrictions, the number of new daily cases must drop below 500, she said.

The warning came as street shops reopened across Israel after some two months of closure. Alroy-Preis warned that it would be at least a week before officials would be able to assess the full impact of the reopening.

On Saturday, Israel saw 208 new infections, a low figure the result of scaled-back testing carried out over the weekend.

There are currently 8,219 people infected with the coronavirus in Israel, 144 of whom are on ventilators. While a total of 319,515 people have contracted the virus, some 308,622 have recovered thus far. Israel has recorded 2,674 deaths since the outbreak of the pandemic.
Israel delivers first MMR radars to US Army for Iron Dome batteries
Israel has delivered the first Multi-Mission Radars manufactured by ELTA Systems to the US Army as part of the procurement of two Iron Dome missile-defense batteries.

The MMR was delivered to the US Army by the Israel Missile Defense Organization (IMDO) in the Defense Ministry’s Directorate of Defense R&D (DDR&D).

In August 2019, the US Army purchased two off-the-shelf batteries from Rafael Advanced Defense Systems. They included 12 launchers, two sensors, two battlement management centers and 240 interceptors.

The batteries also contain the MMR radars produced by ELTA, a subsidiary of Israel Aerospace Industries, and a command and control system developed by mPrest.

The first battery was officially handed to the US Army on September 30. The second battery is expected to be delivered in the near future within the framework of the agreement.

The purchase was made to fill its short-term needs for an Indirect Fire Protection Capability (IPC) until a permanent solution to the problem is put in place to best protect ground maneuvering troops against an increasingly wide range of aerial threats, including short-range projectiles.
Do These Arab-Israeli Knesset Members Want Peace?
Israel’s recent normalization of relations with the UAE and Bahrain changed the rules of the game in the region. The winners so far are Israel and Gulf Arab states. The losers are the Palestinian Authority, Turkey, Qatar, and Iran.

But external actors like Turkey and Iran are not the only opponents of Israel’s recent normalization of relations with the UAE and Bahrain. There are also opponents to the new peace inside Israel. Arab-Israeli Knesset members who are supposed to look after the interests of Israel’s Arab-Israeli citizens voted unanimously against the UAE and Bahrain accords.

That vote will not be soon forgotten. It brings another such vote to mind. In 2016, the Arab-Israeli Knesset members and their leader, MK Ayman Odeh, refused to attend the funeral of the Israeli president who cared the most about the interests of Arab-Israeli citizens: Shimon Peres. Even Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas attended. In fact, he cried at the funeral, while Arab-Israeli Knesset members did not even bother to show up for the funeral of their own president.

Israel Today has reported on the ways in which Arab-Israeli Knesset members are failing to work in the interests of the Arab citizens of Israel who elected them and whom they are meant to represent. Rather, they are working for the interests of the PA. Arab Knesset members are taking advantage of their position to advance the Palestinian issue — an issue in which most Arab countries have lost interest — at their own constituents’ expense. Only naïve Europeans continue to donate to the Palestinians. The Arab states have stopped donating, as they know their money is siphoned off to senior PA officials.
Katz vows to deduct PA tax funds over terrorists’ salaries
The government of Israel will once again freeze part of the funds it transfers to the Palestinian Authority due to the PA’s continued policy of paying monthly stipends to terrorists and their families, Finance Minister Israel Katz’s office said on Monday.

Katz’s office said “the policy is clear: To deduct from the PA’s funds the equivalent of its support transferred to terrorists and the families of terrorists who committed acts of terror against Jews.

“There is no plan to change this policy, which is based on Israeli and American law,” Katz said.

Katz’s statement is a reversal of former finance minister Moshe Kahlon’s decision in May to give the Palestinians an NIS 800 million loan that effectively returned all the tax and tariff funds Israel deducted since the Knesset passed the Pay for Slay Law in 2018.

That law requires the government to deduct the funds the PA pays terrorists and their families each month from their taxes and tariffs. The Defense Ministry must present a report on the PA’s terrorist salaries each year, which totaled NIS 517.4m. in 2019.

The PA decided to stop accepting money collected by Israel in May, in anticipation of Israel applying sovereignty to parts of the West Bank in accordance with US President Donald Trump’s peace plan. As such, the deductions are not currently relevant, but there have been reports in recent weeks that they plan take the funds again.
Amid cash crunch, UNRWA says it will cut salaries if it doesn’t raise $70m
The UN agency for Palestinian refugees said Monday it needs to raise $70 million by the end of the month or it will not be able to pay the full salaries of thousands of employees through the end of the year.

The UN Relief and Works Agency, known as UNRWA, said it has notified its entire workforce of 28,000 that it will be forced to defer their salaries for the rest of the year. The agency said most of the workers affected are refugees themselves and the cuts will impact employees in countries across the Middle East.

“If additional funding is not pledged in the next weeks, UNRWA will be forced to defer partial salaries to all staff,” said the agency’s commissioner-general, Philippe Lazzarini. “I am deeply saddened to know that the earned salaries of our fearless, resilient social, sanitation and health-care workers on the front lines and our teachers working to ensure students’ education continue during this emergency health crisis are at risk.”

The agency said in a statement that its funding had run out on Monday and that the cuts would be “major.” Tamara Alrifai, a spokeswoman, said it was not immediately known how severe the cuts would be.

UNRWA was established to aid the 700,000 Palestinians who fled or were forced from their homes during Israel’s War of Independence in 1948. It provides education, health care, food and other assistance to some 5.5 million refugees and their descendants in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, as well as Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. Alrifai said those services would not be affected by the cash crunch.
Hamas recruits West Bank minors to carry out attacks in Israel
Hamas has been recruiting minors living in the West Bank to carry out terrorist attacks against IDF soldiers and Israeli civilians, the Shin Bet security agency, revealed on Monday.

According to available details, two Palestinian minors, one of them 16 years old, were arrested by the Shin Bet in October. When questioned, they admitted to being recruited by the terrorist group ruling the Gaza Strip to carry out terrorist attacks.

The teens said they were contacted with instructions on social media, saying the online exchanges were "frequent and over several months," the Shin Bet said.

The Israel Security Agency identified their handler as Bilal Kardi, a known operative from the cyber unit operated by the Izzadin al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas military wing.

The two minors were reportedly expecting a delivery of weapons, ammunition, uniforms and money with which they were to carry out shooting attacks. They were also ordered to attempt the abduction of Israeli soldiers or civilians.
MEMRI: Palestinian Writers: Our Leadership's Attacks On Normalization With Israel Harm Our Cause
Following the normalization of relations between Sudan and Israel, senior Palestinian officials continued to lambaste the leaders of the Arab countries that have normalized their relations with Israel and to warn other countries against following their example.[1] For instance, on October 24, 2020, Fatah Central Committee member 'Abbas Zaki said that if Saudi Arabia normalized its relations with Israel, "there will no longer be a Kaaba or a Prophet's Mosque [in Medina], and [Saudi Arabia's] future will be dark." Following the publication of this statement, the spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud 'Abbas hurried to clarify that it did not present the official position of the Palestinian leadership.[2]

The sharp responses of Palestinian leaders to the normalization between Arab countries and Israel, like those of 'Abbas Zaki, drew criticism from Palestinian writers,[3] such as Ziad Abu Zayyad, 'Abd Al-Majid Sweilam and Nabil 'Amru. They wrote that the rhetoric of curses, profanity and threats creates hostility between the Palestinians and the Arab countries and even encourages normalization with Israel instead of discouraging it. They argued that, instead of attacking the Arabs, the Palestinians should focus on healing the divisions among themselves and on renewing the activity of the Palestinian democratic institutions by holding elections, as a means to achieve their goal: the establishment of an independent Palestinian state within the 1967 borders, with Jerusalem as its capital.

The following are translated excerpts from their articles:
Former Palestinian Minister Ziad Abu Zayyad: The Normalization Train Will Not Stop; We Are Losing The Support Of The Arab Peoples


Former Palestinian MP and Palestinian Authority (PA) Minister for Jerusalem Affairs Ziad Abu Zayyad published several articles criticizing the harsh Palestinian attacks on the Arab countries which have normalized their relations with Israel.[4] In a recent article in the daily Al-Quds he claimed that this kind of rhetoric is a serious political error and could actually encourage normalization with Israel. He wrote, "Like others, I followed the official Palestinian reactions to the first official public normalization [agreement] between the UAE and Israel as well as the responses that came later [to normalization] with Bahrain and then with Sudan. It is my impression that we are trapped in a cycle of [Palestinian] reaction [to normalization], and it may be said that its results are negative and it will not lead to any positive change in the positions of the countries that are traveling the normalization train, which is like an armored vehicle that the U.S. is driving, [while] Israel controls its radar, as it collects more [Arab] passengers along the way, with the threat of the carrot and stick approach. This train will not stop, on the contrary, according to all the signs, additional Arab passengers will board it, ultimately leading to the total disappearance of the Arab [political] element, which customarily hid behind the fig leaf called the Arab Peace Initiative.
PMW: “Teach your children: the Zionist entity will come to an end” says Egyptian MP and PA TV host
Although Israel signed a peace treaty with Egypt decades ago, one Egyptian member of Parliament rejects outright Israel's right to exist. Talking to viewers during a news broadcast on official PA TV (where he also hosts his own program), Mustafa Bakri demonized Israel, assuring viewers that Israel will be destroyed, or in his words – that “the Zionist entity will come to an end.” These ideologies he recommended that viewers teach their children:

Egyptian MP and official PA TV host Mustafa Bakri: “[I say to] every Arab person: Teach your children that Palestine is Arab, that Jerusalem is Arab, and that the enemy who occupied this land will not be able to continue doing so. Teach your children that the settlements are a satanic act whose fundamental goal is to destroy the land and take control of it… Teach your children that regardless of what happens, the Zionist entity will come to an end.”

[Official PA TV News, Oct. 30, 2020]


This Egyptian MP’s message isn’t at all different from the PA’s message to Palestinians in general. Palestinian Media Watch has documented that Palestinian kids are taught this exact message. The popular PA TV children’s host Walaa Al-Battat even recorded a music video in which she promises that Israel “will disappear.”


Trump administration plans "flood" of sanctions on Iran by Jan. 20
The Trump administration, in coordination with Israel and several Gulf states, is pushing a plan to slap a long string of new sanctions on Iran in the 10 weeks left until Joe Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20, two Israeli sources briefed on the effort told me.

Driving the news: The Trump administration’s envoy for Iran Elliott Abrams arrived in Israel on Sunday and met Prime Minister Netanyahu and National Security adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat to discuss the sanctions plan.

- Abrams will meet on Monday with Minister of Defense Benny Gantz and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi to brief them on the plan.
- Abrams didn’t respond to a request for comment.


Why it matters: The Trump administration believes such a “flood” of sanctions will increase pressure on the Iranians and make it harder for the Biden administration to revive the 2015 nuclear deal, the Israeli sources told me.

Behind the scenes: In the last several weeks, the Trump administration — with the encouragement and assistance of part of the Israeli diplomatic and security establishment — has prepared a “target bank” of Iranian entities that will be sanctioned.

- Abrams said in a closed briefing several days ago that the Trump administration wants to announce a new set of sanctions on Iran every week until Jan. 20, a source who was privy to the briefing told me.
- The Israeli sources told me the planned sanctions are not connected to the Iranian nuclear program — such sanctions are more likely to be canceled by a Biden administration and open the door to reviving the 2015 nuclear deal.
- Instead, the goal is to impose sanctions on Iran that are connected to its ballistic missile program, Iranian assistance to terror organizations and Iranian human rights violations.
BESA: Iran Behind the Scenes During the Second Israel-Lebanon War
This paper presents a new perspective on the reasons for the outbreak of the Second Lebanon War against Hezbollah in 2006.

Incidents of warming on Israel’s border with Lebanon vis-à-vis Hezbollah occasionally raise the question of whether Iran is also in the picture. This is a highly relevant question, as Tehran appears to have done its utmost behind the scenes to operate Hezbollah against Israel with the aim of diverting the attention of Western states away from the containment of Iran’s military nuclear program.

While Iran claims that its nuclear program is for “peaceful use” only, it has avoided declaring the initiation of nuclear projects to the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency). In so doing, it violated its commitment to the IAEA and acted contrary to the NPT (Non-Proliferation Treaty). Iran’s crisis with the IAEA and Western countries reached a peak in 2005, when it began to fear the possibility of US military action against it.

The thesis of this study, which states that Iran’s behind-the-scenes activities in the Second Lebanon War were intended to deter an attack on its nuclear program, relies heavily on statements made openly in the media by senior members of the Iranian leadership and Hezbollah.

As for what is happening today regarding the Iranian nuclear program and Hezbollah’s activities, there is a strong similarity between the current situation and the situation of the hostile quadrangle in 2006: Iran and Hezbollah against the US and Israel.
Iran faces suspension from FIDE over policy of 'in-your-face racism' directed at Israel
Iran's national chess federation faces being banned from international events over its "racist" policy on players competing against Israel.

A resolution tabled before FIDE’s upcoming General Assembly this week revealed the world governing body of chess is ramping up the pressure on chess chiefs in Iran to allow games to take place.

It follows a series of incidents where Iranian players have been drawn against Israelis and defaulted their games rather than face punishment from the hardline Islamic regime. In some cases, Iranians have pulled out of tournaments entirely because Israeli players were present.

The resolution states: “That failure of the Iranian Chess Federation to request their players compete against all countries in FIDE before the next GA, or any future boycott by an Iranian player, will automatically result in the Iranian Chess Federation’s suspension from all FIDE activities.”

It was tabled by the English Grandmaster Nigel Short, who is a FIDE vice president, and the English Chess Federation delegate Malcolm Pein. The two countrymen have put aside differences stemming from the 2018 FIDE presidential election to unite on the issue. English delegation lodges protest

Short and Pein's move comes after FIDE fired a public broadside at the ICF in June by publishing on its website correspondence between FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich and ICF officials.

It showed Dvorkovich had demanded the ICF halt its boycott of Israeli players. But after consulting the country’s hardline rulers, Iran’s chess chiefs responded by simply dodging the issue.
Biden Team Begins to Formulate Strategy for Iran Negotiations
The American team to be tasked with restarting talks with Iran includes Antony Blinken, former deputy secretary of state and deputy national security advisor under President Obama; Jack Sullivan, Biden's national security advisor during his tenure as vice president; and former undersecretary of defense for policy Michele Flournoy.

The Americans estimate that until the presidential elections in Iran in June 2021, no substantial agreement can be achieved.

The main objective during this initial phase is to reach an understanding with Tehran to freeze its ballistic missile development, end interventionist actions in the Middle East and halt its nuclear military activity. In return and once a new agreement is signed, Washington will lift the latest sanctions put in place in 2018 by President Trump.

After the Iranian elections, the U.S. will begin talks focusing on nuclear and regional issues with the intention of correcting weaknesses in the 2015 agreement. During this phase, sanctions will remain in place.

Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz stresses that any updated outline must not only include an end to Iranian nuclear development, but also an effective ban on its distribution of ballistic missiles to the region - including the rocket workshops in Lebanon - as well as an end to Iranian intervention against Israel in Lebanon and Syria and its activities in Yemen.





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The EU's hypocritical use of "international law" that only applies to Israel

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