Thursday, January 28, 2021

From Ian:

David Singer: Biden declares Trump peace plan dead and buried
A Washington Post article in August 2020 summed up Biden and the Democrats position on Trump’s version of a two-state solution:

“The Democrats, led by presidential candidate Joe Biden, are determined to change course should they come to power. There are open discussions within the caucus about conditioning the billions in aid given to Israel on the basis of its actions. Biden and virtually every Democrat in Congress were vocal in their opposition to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s now-stalled plans to start annexing parts of the West Bank.”

Any attempt by Israel to extend its sovereignty unilaterally into any part of Judea and Samaria (aka 'West Bank') – incorrectly termed “annexation” – will assuredly be opposed by President Biden.

Trump’s Vision acknowledged the historic and biblical right of the Jewish people to reconstitute the Jewish National Home in the 'West Bank' – recognized and legally authorized by the 1922 League of Nations Mandate for Palestine - and preserved under article 80 of the United Nations Charter.

A jointly-appointed US-Israel Mapping Committee - headed by Friedman – had failed – after 11 months - to produce a detailed subdivision of the 'West Bank' embracing the concept of a two-state solution proposed by Trump - before Friedman’s retirement as Ambassador.

Closing the Embassy’s second Twitter page signals such a map will never be released under President Biden’s administration.

Biden has effectively declared Trump’s peace plan dead and buried.

Ambassador Dan Shapiro Comes Home to Joe Biden’s Washington
Shapiro’s party often appeared highly factionalized during much of his post-administration life in Israel, especially on the Middle East. Jake Sullivan and Ben Rhodes might have co-founded National Security Action, an anti-Trump foreign policy-focused political organization packed with former Obama administration officials, in which Shapiro sat on the advisory council. But they represent different poles of Democratic Party opinion on the region, and perhaps on the exercise of American power in general. Whether the party would embrace Shapiro’s brand of left-leaning pragmatism, or the more ideological stance embodied in Sen. Bernie Sanders, would depend on the outcome of the Democratic presidential primary, in which Shapiro was once again an early backer of the eventual winner.

By the time Biden was elected president, Shapiro had been discussing the Middle East with Tony Blinken and the former vice president’s foreign policy team for well over a year. Blinken and Shapiro are reportedly close and have known each other for over two decades, ever since they served together on the NSC at the end of Bill Clinton’s presidency. Blinken was later deputy national security adviser when Shapiro was on the NSC during Obama’s first term. Their career paths mirror one another’s—Blinken is not a professional diplomat but a former NSC hand who advised Biden while serving on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s staff in the early 2000s; similarly, Shapiro was a deputy chief of staff for a Democratic senator who went straight to a senior NSC position after being on the right side of a closely contested presidential primary.

During the 2020 race Shapiro “participated in strategy calls about policy, and about the Jewish and pro-Israel community,” according to Marc Stanley, a Dallas-based Democratic Party activist and fundraiser. Shapiro phone-banked and appeared in multiple Zoom events a week during the decisive phase of the race—in terms of Jewish outreach, the only figure within the campaign who seemed to outrank Shapiro was Doug Emhoff, the husband of vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris. At one virtual event during the stretch run of the race, Matt Nosanchuk, a former Obama liaison to the Jewish community, marveled that Shapiro was “available 24/6” for anything campaign-related, despite the time difference between the United States and Israel. At another event, attended by over 1,000 Jewish communal leaders, Shapiro was the speaker who handed things off to Biden himself, who then repeatedly stated that he would be leaning on Shapiro for help once he won the presidency.

“I don’t represent the Biden campaign,” Shapiro cautioned during a June 2020 conference call for Americans for Peace Now. Yet he spoke to Jewish audiences with a unique credibility about what his candidate was likely to do once elected. Biden, Shapiro said during that event, has a “deep, I would say very personal and emotional connection to Israel ... He calls himself a Zionist. There are not very many non-Jewish politicians who openly embrace that word.”

Whether the capital that Shapiro has amassed with both Israeli and American Jewish audiences and decision-makers will be put toward a historic peace breakthrough with the Palestinians, or will simply cushion a series of conflicts and disappointments that will push Democrats further from Israel and Israel further from the United States, could end up depending on a single issue alone, one which Shapiro successfully insulated himself from during his ambassadorship: Iran.

Few people are in a position to know whether and in what fashion President Biden will try to reenter the Iran Nuclear Deal, the centerpiece of Obama’s second-term foreign policy, as he has repeatedly and publicly pledged to do. Until the new administration’s policy clarifies, no one knows whether President Biden will unilaterally lift sanctions and allow the Iranians to expand their fast-accelerating nuclear weapons program, or instead attempt to utilize the leverage the Trump administration has established over the Islamic Republic to create a breakthrough of a kind that both Iranians and Israelis might applaud. Shapiro is the only figure in the Biden Middle East policy world whom Israelis have known and lived beside for nearly a decade—when the time comes for attempting the near-impossible diplomatic balancing act of moving toward a new understanding with Tehran, Israelis and Americans might get to find out what Shapiro’s years in the Middle East have truly amounted to.
The Tikvah Podcast: Emmanuel Navon on Jewish Diplomacy from Abraham to Abba Eban
For much of its history, the Jewish people hasn’t had a state. The Israel described in the Hebrew Bible had emissaries and military power, and the modern state of Israel has a foreign ministry and an advanced military, yet there’s nearly 2,000 years of stateless history in between. Throughout that time, however, Jewish diplomacy has been constant. Even without a state, the Jewish people has integrated, separated, argued, and made amends with the other nations of the world. And, as a new book shows, there’s much to be learned from that long experience today, in the state of Israel and out.

On this week’s podcast, Mosaic editor Jonathan Silver speaks with Emmanuel Navon, the author of The Star and the Scepter: A Diplomatic History of Israel. Navon puts Israel’s diplomatic history in the context of the entire history of the Jews, beginning with the Hebrew Bible. In doing so, he and Silver try to dig up some eternal truths about the nature of the Jewish people.

Coronavirus: Numbers appear to trend downward as gov’t prepares to meet
If the bill increasing fines for violations of coronavirus restriction is not approved, Blue and White will not support the extension of the lockdown, a spokesperson for the party said Thursday.

The cabinet is supposed to meet later in the day to extend the current set of restrictions - including the complete closure of Israel’s borders – which are scheduled to expire on Sunday, January 31.

The proposed law has become the latest point of contention between Blue and White, Likud and the ultra-Orthodox parties. For days, Blue and White has demanded a society-wide increase in law enforcement before agreeing to convene the cabinet to discuss postponing the end of the current measures.

A watered down version of the bill was stalled on Wednesday in the Knesset Law Committee, which is headed by United Torah Judaism MK Yakov Asher.

The Likud moderated between Blue and White and haredim (ultra-Orthodox) on the bill, but Blue and White did not accept the Likud’s compromise proposals – to give a 48-hour warning to an institution ahead of its closure, requiring three violations for it to close, or limiting such decisions to high-ranking police officers.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu committed his party to backing the bill, but Blue and White officials accused the Likud of expressing support while deliberately preventing its passage.
Vaccine found 92% effective in Israel, in first controlled result outside trials
Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine is showing 92 percent effectiveness in Israel, according to the world’s first big controlled investigation on how it works outside of clinical tests.

Only 31 out of 163,000 Israelis vaccinated by Maccabi Healthcare Services caught coronavirus in their first 10 days of full-strength protection, its top vaccine statistics analyst, Anat Ekka Zohar, told The Times of Israel on Thursday.

In an equivalent sample of unvaccinated Israelis, some 6,437 were diagnosed in the same timeframe.

“This is very, very good news,” Ekka Zohar said. “It is the first study in the world that looks at such a large number of fully vaccinated patients.”

Pfizer achieved 95% efficacy in clinical trials, and doctors worldwide are looking to Israel with bated breath to see whether the vaccine comes close to that figure in real-world use.

Prof. Eyal Leshem, infectious diseases specialist at Sheba Medical Center, told The Times of Israel that people should be excited by the strong result, and not concerned by the 3% shortfall. “This is a very high figure, well within the standard deviation we would expect,” said Leshem.

Maccabi figures released earlier this week indicated that vaccination is working very well, but lacked a control group that made it hard to extract an accurate effectiveness rate.

Now, Maccabi has analyzed a control group of Israelis with similar age and health profiles of vaccinees, composed entirely of people haven’t been infected or received shots.

This allowed Maccabi to calculate its real-world effectiveness rate. It used complex calculations, similar to those used by Pfizer in trials, to compare vaccines and the control group and determine the extent to which the vaccine appears to be preventing infection.

“This is very exciting,” said Ekka Zohar. “It’s a very high level of efficiency and we are seeing a very low percentage of coronavirus among the patients who have taken both shots.”
Just 0.04% of Israelis caught COVID-19 after two shots of Pfizer vaccine
A total of 371 out of 715,425 Israelis who are at least a week after receiving two doses of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine have contracted the virus, a rate of around 0.04%, with 16 being sent to the hospital, according to a Health Ministry report released Thursday. Immunity to COVID-19 is supposed to kick in a week after receiving the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine.

According to the studies conducted by Pfizer, the vaccine had an efficacy of about 95% – which is considered very high. The Israeli data appear to confirm the inoculation’s effectiveness, showing even more promising results.

Later in the date, the Maccabi health fund – one of the four in Israel – released the first results about the vaccination campaign on its members, which the organization also compared the data of a control group who did not get inoculated.

Some 248,000 Maccabi members were already a week after the second shot as of Thursday. Of those, just 66 got infected with the virus, the majority of them over the age of 55 and about half of them with pre-existing conditions. All those infected experienced only a mild form of the disease and none was hospitalized.

Over the same period of time, 8,250 new cases of COVID-19 emerged in the control group of about 900,000 people with a diverse health profile. Those who were not inoculated were therefore 11 times more likely to get the disease than those who were immunized, showing a 92% effectiveness.

US Mission to the UN: At the UN, the U.S. Outlines President Biden's Approach to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
Acting U.S. Ambassador to the UN Richard Mills shared with the Security Council on Tuesday "some of the contours of the U.S. approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict under President Biden. Under the new administration, the policy of the United States will be to support a mutually agreed two-state solution, one in which Israel lives in peace and security alongside a viable Palestinian state."

"The United States will urge Israel's government and the Palestinian Authority to avoid unilateral steps that make a two-state solution more difficult, such as annexation of territory, settlement activity, demolitions, incitement to violence, and providing compensation for individuals imprisoned for acts of terrorism."

"President Biden has been clear in his intent to restore U.S. assistance programs that support economic development and humanitarian aid for the Palestinian people and to take steps to re-open diplomatic missions that were closed."

"At the same time...the United States will continue its longstanding policy of opposing one-sided resolutions and other actions in international bodies that unfairly single out Israel."

"The Biden Administration welcomes the recent normalization agreements between Israel and UN Member States in the Arab world, as well as Muslim-majority countries....The United States will continue to urge other countries to normalize relations with Israel, and we will look for other opportunities to expand cooperation between erstwhile adversaries."

"Yet, we recognize that Arab-Israeli normalization is not a substitute for Israeli-Palestinian peace. The conflict between Israelis and Palestinians may not be the major fault line in the Middle East, but its resolution nevertheless would significantly benefit the region as a whole."
US Temporarily Halts Arms Sales to UAE, Saudi Arabia
The Biden administration has temporarily halted US arms sales to the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, according to media reports, citing US officials.

The $23 billion US sale of 50 F-35 fighter jets to the United Arab Emirates, which was reached after the UAE normalized ties with Israel, is currently under review by the administration, which has not made a decision as to whether the sale will actually occur.

The US State Department called the temporary hold “a routine administrative action,” as new administrations usually review significant arms sales.

“The department is temporarily pausing the implementation of some pending US defense transfers and sales under Foreign Military Sales and Direct Commercial Sales to allow incoming leadership an opportunity to review,” said the department. “This is a routine administrative action typical to most any transition and demonstrates the administration’s commitment to transparency and good governance, as well as ensuring US arms sales meet our strategic objectives of building stronger, interoperable and more capable security partners.”

Biden administration officials have repeatedly expressed criticism over the F-35 sale and arms sales to Saudi Arabia with the latter using American arms in its war in Yemen.
Netanyahu says US freeze of F-35 sale to UAE won’t dent normalization
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday that the decision by US President Joe Biden’s administration to temporarily suspend its sale of F-35 fighter jets to the United Arab Emirates — a deal clinched after the Gulf state agreed to forge ties with Israel — won’t harm the new diplomatic ties between Jerusalem and Abu Dhabi.

“It won’t affect them, we’ve passed the point of no return,” Netanyahu said in response to a question on the US move, during a brief press conference broadcast on his Facebook page.

“Everyone understood that this was a historic step and that there were enormous benefits here,” he said of the deal. “It’s somewhere else already. I think it’s going to move forward.”

On Wednesday, the Biden administration announced that it had put a temporary hold on several major foreign arms sales initiated by former US president Donald Trump, including the deal to provide 50 F-35 advanced fighter jets to the UAE, which was fast-tracked by Washington after Abu Dhabi agreed to normalize relations with Israel.

In addition to the massive $23 billion transfer of stealth F-35s to the UAE, another deal being paused is the planned major sale of munitions to Saudi Arabia. Both sales were harshly criticized by Democrats in Congress.
Daniel Greenfield: Biden Admin Returns to Bashing Israel
The Biden administration marked a sharp departure from the pro-Israel policies of the Trump administration.

Richard Mills, nominated as the Deputy UN Ambassador, quickly got back to the usual program of pushing a fake "peace" with the terrorists and bashing Israel.

"Under the new administration, the policy of the United States will be to support a mutually agreed two-state solution, one in which Israel lives in peace and security alongside a viable Palestinian state. This vision, as I know we have just heard, though under serious stress, remains the best way to ensure Israel’s future as a democratic and Jewish state, while upholding the Palestinian people’s legitimate aspirations for a state of their own and to live with dignity and security," Mills declared at the UN Security Council.

All of these are generic talking points for the same disastrous attempt to create a terrorist state that has killed thousands of people and terrorized Israel.

Then Mills shifted to more tangible policy prescriptions. "Israeli and Palestinian politics are fraught, and trust between the two sides is at a nadir. However, these realities do not relieve Member States of the responsibility of trying to preserve the viability of a two-state solution. Nor should they distract from the imperative of improving conditions on the ground, particularly the humanitarian crisis in Gaza."

What this means, translated from the diplomatese, is that the US and UN members have to "preserve the viability of a two-state solution" by pressuring Israel and fighting against Israel's attempts to stabilize its territorial and security situation. It also means opposing Jews living in parts of Israel claimed by Islamic terrorists.

That's actual apartheid and segregation.

Islamist Convicted of Beheading US Journalist Daniel Pearl to Go Free, Victim’s Family in ‘Shock’
Pakistan’s Supreme Court on Thursday ordered the release of an Islamist convicted of beheading US journalist Daniel Pearl, a decision that has left his family in “complete shock,” lawyers said.

Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, who was the main suspect in the 2002 kidnapping and murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Pearl, was released by a panel of three judges.

“By a majority of two to one, they have acquitted all the accused persons and ordered their release,” a provincial advocate general, Salman Talibuddin, told Reuters.

It was not immediately clear whether “acquittal” meant a finding of not guilty, or that they had merely finished their jail terms.

Sheikh has served 18 years in jail and a life sentence is usually a maximum 14 years.

Pearl, 38, was investigating Islamist militants in Karachi after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States when he was kidnapped.

His case grabbed headlines globally after a video of his beheading emerged weeks after he was abducted.

Sheikh and three co-accused are to be released if they are not required in any other cases, the head of the court panel, Justice Mushir Alam, said.

The process to release them can take several days.
Arab List's collapse marks revolution no one expected
Now that the Islamic Movement has said it is leaving the Joint Arab List, we can officially declare: After increasing the number of its mandates yet losing much of its influence, the Joint List is finished.

Ra'am, headed by MK Mansour Abbas, is splintering the Joint Arab List amid its clash with Hadash over who the next faction chairman will be, but also over questions of loyalty to Islamic values and mainly over the party's cooperation with the current elected government.

What's interesting is that over the past 24 hours, MK Ahmad Tibi has maintained contact with MK Abbas and both of them spoke for hours before the representatives of the four Arab parties comprising the Joint Arab List faction met. This could be seen as an indication that the Islamic Movement's resignation from the Joint List is not the last one.

The acute political and personal crises afflicting the Joint List these past two years, the lack of coordination and the stark contrast of character between the faction's various components have led to the dismal approval ratings. From the ill-fated recommendation of Benny Gantz to form the coalition after the last election, to the public and discreet negotiations between the Islamic Movement and senior Likud officials, the Arab public is flashing warning signals to the Arab leaders of the faction's four parties. This is clearly discernible in recent polls, which point to the Joint Arab List assuredly losing around one-third of its parliamentary power.

Now, when it appears that at least two Arab lists will run in the next election, Arab representation in the next Knesset likely won't reach 10 MKs. With that, however, the split can be of benefit in crystallizing the competition between the two parties, and allow each party the space to maneuver in terms of the pragmatic and effective dialogue it chooses to pursue with the individual tabbed to form the next coalition. Ten MKs who conduct smart negotiations with the future coalition can have a far greater impact than 15 MKs working on the political fringes as opposition within the opposition.
PMW: Israel vaccinates imprisoned terrorists against the Coronavirus and the PA spreads libels
While the State of Israel has begun to vaccinate the Palestinian terrorists being held in ‎the Israeli prisons against the Coronavirus – and is doing so even before millions of ‎Israeli citizens have been vaccinated – the PA, for its part, is using the event to once ‎again raise the recurring libel that Israel is conducting medical experiments on the ‎terrorists.‎

The PA’s claims that Israel is neglecting the imprisoned terrorists, both medically and in ‎other ways, and conducting medical experiments on them are nothing new. This is a ‎libel renewed regularly by the PA, and intensifies whenever a terrorist dies of an ‎illness in prison.‎

It goes without saying that there is no basis to these claims.‎

The vaccination of the terrorist prisoners against the Coronavirus is no different. Ever ‎since the vaccine arrived in Israel, the PA and its agents have been demanding that ‎Israel not only vaccinate the terrorist prisoners but also agree to international ‎supervision over the process due to baseless concern that Israel will take advantage of ‎the vaccination to conduct “medical experiments.” ‎

The Prisoners’ Club - which is funded by the PA - demanded that Israel and the Israeli ‎Prison Service subjugate themselves to “a neutral medical committee that will ‎supervise the vaccination of the prisoners and the necessary procedures”:‎
“There are still concerns among the prisoners regarding the vaccine, especially ‎in light of the long historical experience on everything regarding the policy of ‎the occupation’s Israeli Prison Service against the prisoners, including the ‎policy of medical neglect (slow murder) [parentheses in source] and the use of ‎their bodies for experiments.”‎
[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Jan. 21, 2021]‎
Arab Medical Apartheid - Where Is the Outrage?
Lebanese citizens have launched an online campaign that says that they have the right to be vaccinated before any foreigner living in the country. The term "foreigner" mainly refers to the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians living in Lebanon.

The campaign, which is being condemned by Palestinians and others as "racist" and "discriminatory," has evidently failed to attract the attention of all those individuals and organizations who are making false, libelous accusations against Israel. They do not care about this racist campaign because an Arab country, and not Israel, is discriminating against Arabs (the Palestinians).

Israel, in fact, has vaccinated more Palestinians than any Arab country.... Given that tens of thousands of Arab Israelis and residents of east Jerusalem have received the vaccine without any problem, means that Israel is the only country that actually has so far given the vaccine to Palestinians.
PA Government and Ministry of Education instructs students to resist and rise up– riots and violence
Official PA TV host: "How are you in Palestine acting to broaden the popular struggle and increase it in order to hurt the Israeli occupation?…

Waed Karram, young Palestinian from Bethlehem: When there is about to be a demonstration, we don’t wait to gather [the youth] in the street… in order to bring them. An announcement goes out from the [PA] Ministry of Education that tomorrow after 12:00 a.m. or after the fourth lesson the school day ends, and these school students need to go from this area towards the points of friction [with Israelis] in order to resist and rise up in order to have their say before the occupier. Therefore, these ways of directing the [school] students – and the university students of course, not just the school students – to these points [of friction] is so that [the students] will understand… that the decision to resist is not just an individual decision, but rather it comes from the PA in general, from the government ministries, and from the [Ministry of] Education."

[Official PA TV, From Beirut, March 26, 2020]

PreOccupiedTerritory: Society That Kept Jews Down For 1400 Years Obviously The Underdog (satire)
Leaders of various military and paramilitary groups across the Levant and beyond restated their longstanding contention this week that their culture, which dominated the region for more than a thousand years and continues to hold sway over religious and ethnic minorities in its midst, cannot measure up to the abilities and resources of one such minority that spent all that time under the dominant culture’s boot.

High ranking figures in Hezbollah, Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the Islamic State, Al Qaeda, Iran, Houthi rebels in Yemen, and various other organizations throughout the Middle East emphasized their inferior military position to the Jews of the Holy Land, whose tiny population of under eight million Jews evidently far outnumbers the hundreds of millions of Muslims in the region. They also invoked the vast disparity in natural resources between the sides, with Israel having no crude oil in its territory and the surrounding countries holding the lion’s share of that black gold; Israel’s enemies in the region, which ruled over the Jews in their midst for so long and often oppressed them, have struggled to overcome that disparity, even losing territory to the Jewish State through numerous attempts to annihilate it.

“The world must intervene, for we find ourselves in an inferior position,” pleaded Hassan Nasrallah of Hezbollah, whose movement has hundreds of thousands of rockets pointed at Israeli population centers. “Muslims only control 99.2% of North Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia, with Jews in control of the entire remainder. Without international intervention, we face an uphill battle to reclaim that area for Islamic rule. Our allies in Iran have stepped up to help, but without the decisive action of more parties, the struggle will continue to be fruitless. Well, as fruitless as killing random Jews has always been; there’s always the sadistic ego rush. But the point is we’re the underdogs here. We poor Muslims have never fared well against an enemy with such superior numbers and martial experience.”
The Iranians Know Israel Means Business
IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi has ordered the Israel Defense Forces to come up with plans for possible offensive action against Iran to prevent the Iranians from acquiring a nuclear weapon, making Israel's fervent opposition to a return to the nuclear deal perfectly clear to the White House.

Iran's clear preference to return to the deal and its energetic efforts to this end are proof that Kochavi was correct in his analysis that a return to the deal is good for Tehran and threatens regional and global peace as well as Israel's security.

Despite their claims otherwise, the Iranians are likely taking Kochavi's remarks very seriously indeed.
New US Secretary of State Stands by Demand Iran Return to Nuclear Deal Before US Does
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday stuck to his stance that Tehran must resume complying with the Iran nuclear deal before Washington, which left the pact under former President Donald Trump, would do so.

Making his first public comments on Iran as the chief US diplomat, Blinken reiterated President Joe Biden’s policy “that if Iran comes back into full compliance with its obligations under the JCPOA, the United States would do the same thing.”

The nuclear deal, formally called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), was struck by Iran and six major powers in 2015 and committed Iran to restricting its nuclear program in return for sanctions relief from the United States and others.

Trump abandoned the deal in 2018 and reimposed US sanctions, leading Iran to begin violating its terms.

If Iran returns to the deal, Washington would seek to build what Blinken called a “longer and stronger agreement” that would deal with other “deeply problematic” issues.

He did not name these but Biden has said they include Iran’s development of ballistic missiles and its support for proxy forces in countries such as Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen.
Israel’s wish list for a new Iran Deal: Stop enrichment before missiles
Ensuring US President Joe Biden’s administration works to fully and effectively prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon is the first priority for Israel, before the oft-discussed clauses to stop Tehran’s ballistic missile program and malign actions throughout the Middle East, senior Israeli officials involved in formulating Israel’s strategy said this week.

Israel will first work to discourage the US from opening its discussions with Iran with “compliance for compliance,” meaning that the US would rejoin the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and lift sanctions as a gesture in exchange for Iran complying with the agreement, a high-level government source said.

If the Biden administration enters into talks with Iran, Israel will seek to ensure the weak points of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the 2015 nuclear agreement between Iran and world powers, are left out of the new deal.

Those include removing the sunset clauses, which gradually removed sanctions and limitations on uranium enrichment, such that Iran would have been able to develop a nuclear weapon in 2030 under the terms of the JCPOA.

Another Israeli priority is “anywhere, anytime inspections” of Iran nuclear sites, as opposed to Tehran being forewarned as the deal currently requires.
HonestReporting Videos: Amid Iran Tensions, Israel Preparing For All Options
In rare public comments, IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi called on the United States to not rejoin the Iran nuclear deal. Kochavi said he instructed the army to ramp up preparations for possible military action against the Islamic Republic.

Meanwhile, Israeli government officials are preparing for their first official talks on Iran with the Biden Administration. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is seeking to coordinate with the White House on the issue.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken insisted that Iran first has to comply with the 2015 nuclear deal's terms before Washington would consider rejoining.

German Foreign Minister Blasts ‘Tehran’s Reckless Behavior’
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said, “Tehran’s reckless behavior in the past weeks served as a reminder why we must stop the country from ever acquiring a nuclear weapon. The best tool for doing so remains the JCPOA [the Iran nuclear deal]. Although it may be far from perfect, it does give us more transparency than we ever had before.”

Maas made the remarks at the 14th annual conference of Tel Aviv University’s Institute for National Security Studies, which was held virtually this week due to the pandemic.

“I agree with you that this is not enough. We must also address Iran’s dangerous missile program and its aggressive regional behavior, but tackling them will be much easier if we first control the nuclear threat through this JCPOA.

In his recorded remarks, Maas also spoke about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, saying, “We see how the chances of a two-state solution are diminishing with every act of or call for violence, but also with every new housing unit that is built in a West Bank settlement. That’s why we call for a stop of activities in Givat Hamatos.”

He said that “annexation must stay off the table no matter what the upcoming elections in Israel might bring.”
Iranian General: We Will Level Tel Aviv If Israel Makes Slightest Mistake
Iranian army spokesperson Brig. Gen. Abolfazl Shekarchi on Wednesday dismissed remarks made a day earlier by Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi as “psychological warfare” and warned that the “slightest mistake” by Israel would lead the Islamic Republic to “level Haifa and Tel Aviv.”

Kochavi on Tuesday said the IDF was preparing offensive contingencies against Iran and warned the Biden administration against rejoining the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

In an address to the Institute for National Security Studies, Kochavi said a return to the deal, even with some improvements, “is bad operationally and bad strategically.” He said allowing Iran to proceed with its nuclear program would be “an unacceptable threat and will lead to nuclear proliferation across the region.”

Shekarchi told Iran’s the semi-official Tasnim News Agency: “If we notice the slightest mistake on the part of the Zionist regime towards the regime of the Islamic Republic, we will strike both the missile bases, which, according to them, are intended to strike Iran, and in the shortest time will level Haifa and Tel Aviv to the ground.”

According to Shekarchi, Israel was “not yet aware” of all of Iran’s military capabilities.

Mahmoud Vaezi, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s chief of staff, also responded to Kochavi’s comments, saying, “Our people and people of the region are familiar with the language so far used by the Zionist regime’s officials, who talk more and seek to conduct psychological warfare.”


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