Friday, October 01, 2021

From Ian:

Caroline Glick: What is the '2-state solution' about?
A few hours before the House voted on the supplemental Iron Dome funding, Rep. Andy Levin, a progressive Jewish lawmaker from Michigan who voted in favor of the supplemental Iron Dome funding, submitted his own bill that related to the Palestinians and Israel. And Levin's bill is far more dangerous to Israel and to US-Israel relations than his fellow progressive lawmakers' nay vote on the Iron Dome.

The main purpose of Levin's bill, which is co-sponsored by 24 other members, (seven of whom are also Jewish), is to support the Palestinian terror against Israel, while adopting a laundry list of anti-Israel policies along the way.

Levin's bill includes an amendment to the Anti-Terrorism Act of 1987 that defines the PLO as a terrorist organization and bars the US from permitting the PLO to open offices in the US or from receiving assistance from the US so long as the PLO and its member organizations remain engaged in terrorism. Levin's bill would amend the law to provide the administration with the authority to permit the opening of a PLO office in Washington and to transfer funds to the PLO/Palestinian Authority even while the PLO and its member groups remain engaged in terrorism. Levin's bill enables the administration to sidestep the law simply by proclaiming that opening a PLO office in Washington and funding the PLO/PA is necessary to advance "diplomacy."

Whereas the 2018 Taylor Force Act bars the US from funding the PA so long as it pays salaries to terrorists and their families, Levin's bill would enable the administration to transfer funds directly to the PA even if it continues to pay salaries to terrorists and their families. Levin's bill empowers the secretary of state to authorize such funding simply by proclaiming that the PA is "reforming" its payment apparatus. As Palestinian Media Watch reported this week, the PA already believes that US funding will be restored despite the fact that nearly 10% of the PA budget goes towards paying salaries to terrorists and their families. A senior PA official said that reinstating US funding "is merely a problem of semantics." Levin's bill provides the semantic trick to restore funding.

Alongside its direct support for Palestinian terrorism, Levin's bill also includes multiple provisions whose purpose is to undermine and weaken Israel while subverting the US-Israel alliance. The Levin bill bars Israel from using weapons it receives from the US to defend itself in Judea, Samaria, Gaza and unified Jerusalem. It also discriminates against Israel in a manner that legitimizes the anti-Semitic Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment (BDS) campaign against the Jewish state. The Levin bill bars Israel from marking goods from Judea, Samaria and Gaza, "Made in Israel," instead, Israel is required to mark all such goods as made in the "West Bank/Gaza." Israel's scientific, agricultural and other cooperative agreements with the US will only apply to areas that Israel controlled in 1949. Israeli institutions and citizens beyond those areas will be boycotted.

Levin's bill requires the administration to cancel former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's 2019 determination that Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria are not illegal and delineate all Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria as illegal. Israeli neighborhoods built in Jerusalem since 1967 are also deemed illegal, as are Israeli actions to enforce building laws on illegal Palestinian construction in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem.

Arguably, the most significant aspect of Levin's pro-Palestinian terror bill is the name he gave it. Levin named his would-be federal law, "The Two-State Solution Act."
Israeli Foreign Minister Visits Bahrain, US Navy Base in Signal to Iran
Bahrain hosted the Israeli foreign minister on Thursday for the highest-level visit since the countries established ties last year and which included a tour of a US naval headquarters to signal common cause against Iran.

Landing in Manama on a plane daubed with an olive branch painting, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid met King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa and Crown Prince and Prime Minister Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa.

“His Majesty’s leadership and inspiration have led to true cooperation and our meeting outlined the path forward for our relationship,” Lapid said on Twitter.

Bahrain and Gulf neighbour United Arab Emirates normalized relations with Israel last year in a US-brokered deal known as the Abraham Accords that built on common commercial interests and worries about Iran. Sudan and Morocco followed suit.

“Our opportunities are shared. Our threats are also shared, and they aren’t far from here,” Lapid said in remarks to reporters, apparently alluding to Gulf power Iran.

Touring the Bahrain headquarters of the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet, which has faced off Iranian vessels amid tensions over Tehran’s regional aims, Lapid said: “Our three countries work together because we have similar interests in the region.”

“When we speak about peace, we need to remember that peace must be protected from those who would harm it,” he added, according to his office.


Iran: Lapid’s visit leaves stain on Bahrain’s rulers that won’t be erased
Iran said Friday that the visit by Foreign Minister Yair Lapid to Bahrain this week left a stain on the reputation of the Gulf state’s rulers that “will not be erased.”

Lapid on Thursday officially opened Israel’s embassy in Manama and met with top-ranking officials, a year after the two countries agreed to normalize diplomatic relations and in the first public visit by an Israeli minister since the agreement.

“We condemn any scheme that bolsters Israel’s destructive presence in the region,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said in a statement reported by the official IRNA news agency and cited by the Reuters news agency.

“It is unfortunate that Bahrain’s rulers ignore the Zionist regime’s daily crimes against the oppressed but resilient people of Palestine,” Khatibzadeh said.

“This stain will not be erased from the reputation of Bahrain’s rulers. The people of the region will continue to oppose the process of normalization of ties with the Zionist regime,” he said.


NGO Monitor: UN Recycled Palestinian Water Report
On September 23, 2021, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) issued a report on “The allocation of water resources in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem” to be presented to the Human Rights Council during the notorious Agenda Item 7 debate. The document, which purports to summarize Israeli government policy on an issue that requires constant Israeli-Palestinian cooperation, contains no official Israeli government information; instead, it is based solely on Palestinian Authority, UN, and NGO sources pushing a Palestinian narrative that politicizes water in order to further the PA’s nationalistic strategic aims.

No official Israeli sources
The UN authors acknowledge that their report is incomplete and one-sided. They claim that the absence of Israeli data and perspectives is due to a lack of engagement from Israeli authorities. However, information submitted by NGO Monitor more than a month prior to UNHRC’s publication was ignored and not included. Notably, NGO Monitor’s submission was based on independent, and largely open-source research – research that the UN clearly did not bother to conduct in violation of credible reporting standards.

NGO Monitor’s submission provided current data on water allocations mandated by the Oslo Accords; information on detailed efforts by Israel to improve Palestinian water infrastructure; and examples of the misuse of water and environmental damage caused by Palestinian non-cooperation and illegal activity.

Conversely, the UN report makes outlandish claims based on weak sourcing. For instance, the assertion that the Israeli town of Ma’ale Adumim enjoys greater access to water than Palestinian communities is based on a caption and an unsourced claim in a 2017 Amnesty International publication.

Similarly, the allegation that Israel’s water carrier, Mekorot, gives Israeli settlements preferential access to water is attributed to other unsourced materials. It does not appear that OHCHR made any effort to contact Mekorot in drafting this document.

Embracing Palestinian politicization of natural resources
A central aspect of the OHCHR report is its politicized and misleading treatment of the Oslo-established Joint Water Committee (JWC).

The Oslo framework established the JWC as the primary bilateral tool for managing water issues. Consisting of equal representation of Israelis and Palestinians, the JWC is responsible for managing the allocation of water and approving all water and sanitation projects in the West Bank.

However, from 2010-2017, the PA boycotted this body, due to its refusal to advance water infrastructure projects that would in any way benefit Israeli settlements. Thus, instead of adhering to the agreement and prioritizing the environment and health – which would entail compromise and working with Israeli officials to jointly manage water planning – the PA politicized the issue (for more on this topic, see here).

Absurdly, OHCHR justifies this approach, amplifying PA complaints that its representatives were expected to approve settlement projects alongside projects serving Palestinian areas. As the JWC is a creation of Oslo, which incorporates the existence of Israeli settlements, this rejection of the JWC is fundamentally a repudiation of the cooperative framework. It should be noted that the Oslo Accords are internationally guaranteed by the UN and thus, OHCHR is undermining the UN and its legal obligations with this publication.
Analysis of Palestinian Water Issues and Israel’s Role
Flood libel
There is a Palestinian conspiracy theory, circulated speciously by NGOs, that Israel intentionally floods Palestinian farmlands along the Gaza-Israel border to “undermine the activities of Palestinian farmers.” A 2021 report by Al Mezan claims that Israel uses dams and floodgates to “redirect the flow of natural water away from the Gaza Strip,” and that when the dams are at risk of overflowing, Israel “open[s] their gates-without prior warning- resulting in sudden flows of water into Palestinian farmlands in the ARA, causing huge damages not only to crops but also to houses as well as other properties.”

This claim, however, has been proven demonstrably false. In 2015, Al Jazeera and Agence France Presse (AFP) were forced to retract stories that repeated the allegation after it became clear that there are no such dams in all of southern Israel that can be opened. A 2015 AFP news report shows that the “dam” in question is, in fact, a short step that is barely one meter high.

Armed Conflict
NGO falsehoods related to water also appear following episodes of armed conflict between Israel and Palestinian groups in Gaza. For instance, after the May 2021 conflict, Al Mezan alleged that Israel “targeted, damaged, and destroyed water well systems, water networks, and municipal facilities in the Gaza Strip” (emphasis added). Al-Haq also accused Israel of “targeting [] water and sanitation infrastructure” (emphasis added). However, there is no evidence to suggest that Israel intentionally targeted water infrastructure and that the damage caused was anything other the result of legitimate military strikes.

Indeed, these Palestinian NGOs discussed the effects of Israeli strikes in isolation, ignoring evidence of collateral damage resulting from Hamas co-locating its military installations near civilian infrastructure. For instance, Al Haq referred to a strike from May 12. However, cross-referencing details provided by another NGO, Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, reveals the presence of legitimate military targets:

“Around the same time, Israeli warplanes launched 20 missiles within minutes at al- Madares Street, a military site belonging to the Palestinian armed groups and a municipality park; all of them are in the same area. As a result, the area sustained wide destruction, including the street, the electricity and water supply network, and the municipality park”.
Kamala, and a cavalcade of dunces
Speaking of which…can you believe Kamala Harris is vice-president of the United States? She got the job even though she was the least popular of all the 2020 Democrat candidates.

She scored the lowest on the likability scale, so, given Biden’s habit to do everything backwards, maybe that is why he picked her to be his running mate.

Turned out to be Contrary Joe’s first poke in the eye against Americans.

Then, seeing that she knows nothing or cares nothing about our Border, he chose her to serve as our Immigration Czar.

We are still waiting for her to do anything about the flood of migrants…except giggle. That’s her style when she gets stumped, which is often.

“No,” she could have snapped back. “On equal rights for all, Israel is a light unto the nations.” Nor does this chic grooving out of California Dreamin’ know anything about foreign affairs. On Israel, she is either flatly prejudiced or plainly ignorant.

When a student at George Mason University accused Israel of “ethnic genocide,” here was Kamala’s chance to feature some worldly smarts and set the record straight.

Instead, going Progressive all the way, she sided with the student, saying, “Your truth cannot be suppressed.”

Disappointing…but predictable…given the absurdities we’ve come to expect from her and the other masters of our universe.


Cleanup in Aisle 2: VP Harris Turns to Top Democratic Strategist for Help on Israeli Genocide Fiasco
So Melman went to war right away, and issued a statement saying, “We were pleased Vice President Harris’s senior staff reached out to us today to confirm what we already knew: Her ‘commitment to Israel’s security is unwavering.’”

Correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t that nodding scene a show of a little wavering? I’m just saying. We’re not expecting VP Harris to sing Hatikvah, we only wished she were able to tell that barely coherent student that she was wrong, that’s all, instead of reassuring her that “this is about the fact that your voice, your perspective, your experience, your truth, should not be suppressed and it must be heard, right? And one of the things we’re fighting for in a democracy, right?”

Not at all. Especially when Kamala’s only defense of the Jewish State was to say: “The point that you are making about policy that relates to Middle East policy, foreign policy, we still have healthy debates in our country about what is the right path, and nobody’s voice should be suppressed on that.”

In other words, the jury is still out on just how many Arab babies those Jews are killing, there’s no right answer.

According to Mellman, Harris’ senior staff reassured him that the vice president “strongly disagrees with the George Mason student’s characterization of Israel.”

Could have fooled me. I mean, we all so the video, “strongly disagrees” wasn’t in it.

But Mellman, forever the professional mercenary, is trying to put that kerfuffle away by saying stuff like: “The Biden-Harris Administration, as well as President Biden and Vice President Harris personally, have exemplary pro-Israel records, for which we are immensely grateful.”

Not good enough. Because that outrageous video offered Jewish Democrats an opportunity to watch Kamala Harris in her natural environment, arguing with the crazy left of the DNC, and failing to apply all those nice notions about the “exemplary pro-Israel record” thing. If the VP can’t act like an honest and strong leader, come up to the podium and say, in her own voice, I messed up, I’m sorry, it won’t happen again, trust me – then we won’t trust her.
US Senator Rand Paul Blocks Swift Passage of Iron Dome Funding Bill
In the latest hurdle to Israel receiving $1 billion in funding to replenish its Iron Dome missile defense system after May’s Gaza conflict, Republican Senator Rand Paul from Kentucky has blocked swift passage of the bill, Politico reports.

The lawmaker is an opponent of US foreign aid and is insisting that the Iron Dome money be offset by redirecting financial assistance for Afghanistan.

“He proposed that we pay for the House bill with money that is going to go to the Taliban,” a spokeswoman for the Kentucky senator told Politico.

Paul is the lone senator refusing to “hotline” the bill after its passage in the US House of Representatives. The “hotline” process allows a bill to go directly to the Senate floor for a vote with the consent of all 100 senators.
UK’s Johnson reaffirms ‘unflinching’ support for Israel’s security
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he and his party stand with Israel and its security in Conservative Friends of Israel’s Informed Magazine, released on Friday.

"Under this government, the UK’s support for Israel’s security will be unflinching,” Johnson wrote in a letter to the pro-Israel group, saying that “the Conservative Party stands firmly with Israel.”

“We will always back Israel’s right to self-defense,” he added.

Johnson said the Abraham Accords, peace and normalization agreements between Israel and three Arab states, show that “progress in the Middle East is possible.”

"The recent sight of Israeli and Palestinian firefighters working together to tackle wildfires near Jerusalem was a small but welcome sign of hope - and the UK stands ready to support genuine advancement towards a more positive future for both Israelis and Palestinians," he wrote.

Johnson said he is proud that the UK-Israel relationship has gone “from strength to strength” under his government.


ASIO head backs Hamas terror listing
The head of Australia’s national security agency has backed listing the entirety of Palestinian group Hamas as a terrorist organisation.

ASIO director-general Mike Burgess told a parliamentary inquiry he did not have an issue with the listing of all of the group.

“Yes I would support it, but I am not the decision-maker,” Mr Burgess said.

“There is a difference between Hamas and people who consider themselves Palestinian. If they support Hamas, then they would be supporting a terrorist organisation.”

Currently, only Hamas’ military wing, the Izz al‑Din al‑Qassam Brigades, is listed as a terrorist organisation.

The whole organisation was previously listed as a terror group in 2014 but was removed from the list soon after.

The inquiry was examining whether the Hamas brigades, along with four other groups, be formally re-listed as a terrorist organisation.

The director-general said Hamas’ brigades were assessed by ASIO to threaten military and civilian targets in Israel.

“As a consequence, they remain a security concern to ASIO, and we support the listing,” Mr Burgess said.

“ASIO has assessed (the brigades) as a highly capable terror organisation that are committed to using terror tactics in targeting Israel.”

The listing of all of Hamas as a terrorist organisation would mean supporters of the group would be subject to counterterrorism laws.
Israel should make peace with Iraq through the Abraham Accords - opinion
The Constitution of The Republic of Iraq, formulated in 2005 and approved in a referendum by more than three-quarters of the people, stated that “Iraq shall observe the principles of good neighborliness... seek to settle disputes by peaceful means, establish relations on the basis of mutual interests and reciprocity, and respect its international obligations.”

That is why, as an Iraqi Jew, it was gratifying and in keeping with the spirit and the letter of the constitution that during a conference last week more than 300 prominent Iraqis called for their country to normalize ties with the State of Israel.

Those of us with long roots in the region, especially the Jews who have lived in what was variously called Babylon, Mesopotamia and Iraq for 2,500 years, have long sought a Middle East that is more tolerant, open and its various parts at peace with each other.

Last year’s Abraham Accords were the first and important steps in a region where new alliances are being sought and embraced. Former enemies are moving forward in a warm embrace, enmity is replaced with fraternity, and all are benefiting from the newfound Jewish-Arab multilateralism in the region.

Even those nations that are not yet at the point of official recognition of the Jewish state, like Saudi Arabia and Oman, are putting aside past differences and working together behind the scenes and even on occasion openly.

The region is moving beyond the Arab-Israeli conflict in an unprecedented manner.

While Iraq is no longer the central power in the region, its history and geography make it an important player in the new Middle East. As the “Cradle of Civilization,” where mankind first began to read, write, create laws and live in cities under an organized government, it certainly has a symbolic status that no other country can match.
A cautionary tale about Arab-Israeli normalization
The conference organizer, Joseph Braude, an Arabic-speaking American of Iraqi Jewish descent, insists that the sheikh understood everything that was in the article and his speech. Al-Harden's son, who did not attend the conference but did drop his father off there, is also facing an arrest warrant if he returns to Anbar. Conference attendees are remaining in Erbil, which is part of the autonomous Kurdish region that broke away from Baghdad's control decades ago. But they know if they go home, they may die.

Iran dominates much of Iraqi society in part because of the ties between Iraqi Shiites and Tehran, but also because Iran became immeasurably strengthened by America's toppling of the Saddam Hussein regime, an unintended and unfortunate consequence of the 2003 invasion of the country.

As much as one might expect that Iran's Iraqi allies would do their utmost to oppose the expansion of the Abraham Accords, the saddest and the most disgraceful aspect of this story is the reaction of the Biden administration. While Washington has largely remained silent about these events, it was telling that the one American statement about it demonstrated just how thoroughly Iran has also intimidated the United States.

The International Coalition for Operation Inherent Resolve – the US-led force that has been fighting ISIS for eight years – did have something to say about the pro-normalization conference. In a tweet issued by the command's spokesman, US Army Col. Wayne Marotto, the force officially stated that it had been, "made aware of announcements … relating to the recent conference held in Erbil to discuss the normalization of ties with Israel. @Coalition had no prior knowledge of the event, nor do we have any affiliation with its participants."

In other words, the US military made it clear that its allies who had taken a stand in favor of peace with Israel were on their own. Rather than standing with the advocates of normalization, America was doing its best to appear indifferent to their fate even as other Iraqis, egged on by Iran, were demanding their blood.

Can we expect courageous Iraqis to stand up to Iranian influence and antisemitism when even America won't also do so? As Jewish News Syndicate recently reported in an interview with a pro-normalization former Iraqi legislator who had to flee the country for his life, many Iraqis would like to join those working with Israel against Iran. But so long as the Biden administration treats this cause as if it were radioactive, advocacy for peace will remain a perilous choice.


Record Number of Israel’s COVID Patients on ECMO Machines
Israel is treating 53 Covid patients on extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) machines, Channel 12 announced, setting a new record for the country.

ECMO machines are critical in treating severe COVID-19 cases as they support more functions than standard ventilators.

The devices provide crucial backup to a patient’s heart and lungs, and Israel is facing a shortage in hospitals.

On Thursday, Israel’s Health Ministry recorded 3,550 new cases of COVID-19, with the current positivity rate standing at 3.65 percent. Of those infected, 639 were classified as seriously ill, with 219 on ventilators.

The updated numbers mark a small decline in data recorded earlier this week. On Tuesday, 3,819 new cases were reported, with a positivity rate of 4.19 percent

Around 3,326,167 Israelis were completely inoculated with a third booster shot, a requirement for continued Green Pass eligibility.
Maccabi Haifa fans get antisemitic abuse at Berlin stadium built by Nazis
The first soccer game involving an Israeli team at the stadium built for the 1936 Olympics hosted by Nazi Germany was marred Thursday by antisemitic abuse aimed at visiting fans.

Maccabi Haifa’s trip to Berlin’s Olympiastadion for its Europa Conference League game against Union Berlin ended in a 3-0 defeat for the visitors in front of 23,324 fans. Nearly 1,000 were Maccabi supporters.

The youth branch of the local German-Israeli society said on Twitter that they were targeted by some of the home team’s fans as they attended the game in a mixed block.

The Junges Forum Deutsch-Israelische Gesellschaft said they had beer thrown on them and were called “sh***y Jews” among other insults, and that one Union fan attempted to set alight an Israeli flag taken from a female supporter until he was stopped by civil police.

“There were also Union fans who spoke up against this behavior. We moved to the Maccabi block to be on the safe side,” the society said.

The stadium is usually used by Union’s city rival Hertha Berlin, but it has been taken over by Union for European competition this season as its own stadium in the eastern borough of Köpenick doesn’t have enough seating capacity to meet UEFA demands.
HRC Prompts Toronto Star Clarification IDF Killed 5 Palestinian Gunmen, Not Palestinians
On September 26, Israel Defense Force soldiers conducted a series of arrest raids against Hamas terrorists across the “west bank” which saw gun battles where five Hamas gunmen were killed and two Israeli soldiers were seriously wounded.

In covering the hostilities, the Toronto Star published the following misleading headlines to its print edition and website on September 26 and 27:


Importantly, readers view headlines 3:1 over seeing an article in its entirety and therefore, many Star readers were misled into thinking that Israel killed 5 Palestinians, all presumably innocent civilians and not combatants, whereas Israel contends they were all armed Hamas terrorists. At the very least call, the Star should have referred to the dead Palestinians as “gunmen” or “militants.” Contrary to what this headline implied, these were not simply innocent “Palestinians” who were killed by the IDF.

In sharp contrast, CBC News and Globe and Mail editors headlined this very same Associated Press report as follow by mentioning that the dead Palestinians were “gunmen” and “Hamas militants”:


Seth Frantzman: Turkey’s president bashes Biden admin as being 'arm-in-arm' with terrorists
Incendiary comments by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan slamming US officials as being linked to “terrorists” came after Turkey held high-level meetings with Moscow.

Turkey opposes the US role in eastern Syria, where the US helped the local Syrian Democratic Forces defeat ISIS. Ankara’s ruling party, which has backed extremists in northern Syria and has ethnically cleansed Kurds, Christians and Yazidis, has frequently bashed the US in the past.

Turkey singled out US White House Coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa Brett McGurk in the recent attack by Erdogan on the Biden administration. Turkey’s Daily Sabah, a pro-government daily, said Erdogan was “speaking to reporters on his way back from Sochi, where he met with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday.”

“McGurk supports terrorism and has almost become the PKK/YPG/PYD’s manager,” Erdogan was quoted as saying.

“It deeply disturbs me that this man is arm in arm with terrorists in an area where I’m fighting them,” he reportedly said.

The comments were reported in leading Turkish media, indicating that the ruling party wants the comments to be known widely.
Moshe (Bogie) Ya'alon: How to stop Iran from achieving a nuclear bomb - opinion
Thus, the Iranian regime should be brought to the same “bomb or regime survival” dilemma. But how exactly?

First, Israel should maintain strong coordination with the American government, as the current Israeli government – unlike the previous one – does.

While doing so, we must cease talking about returning to the old agreement, which was wrong and is no longer relevant. Gladly, it seems that US President Joe Biden’s administration begins to grasp this notion.

Moreover, the American administration must be convinced to restore the coalition Trump broke and concentrate its efforts in forming a three-tiered policy: (1) political isolation of the Iranian regime; (2) severe economic sanctions (primary, secondary and tertiary); (3) preparing a credible military option.

The challenge of forming a coalition is not a simple one; however, it is not impossible. Russia and China, too, were convinced back in 2010 it would better for them to partner with the pressure and sanction Iran. They must be convinced that the American administration is currently determined to execute a similar move and they should join it, otherwise, they will suffer a heavy economic price. The superficial discussion between a full-fledged military offensive or a nuclear Iran, is sinful to the point, in this sense.

Unless forfeiting basic interests, the State of Israel cannot accept a nuclear Iran, nor can the Middle East, Europe and the rest of the world. Unfortunately, in the past five years, different regimes and governments had postponed the “decision” to their successors instead of dealing with the challenge themselves. The government of Israel must discuss this urging matter with the American administration as soon as possible.
Iran’s New Interest in Nuclear Talks Is Nothing to Celebrate
Should Iran go on to become a nuclear state, it can be expected to extend a nuclear umbrella over its terrorist proxies. This development would boost its deterrence against America’s allies in the region, as they become encircled by increasingly confident and provocative Iranian proxies. Additionally, a nuclear Iran would very likely set off a nuclear arms race in the Middle East, with those same Sunni states seeking to attain their own nuclear deterrent against the radical Shiite regime in Tehran. Such a development would represent a drastic deterioration of regional security, but also of international stability, which is why attempts to present Iran as a regional concern are highly misleading.

Currently, senior Israeli defense and government officials appear to be holding a series of marathon talks with their American counterparts in an effort to quietly share Israel’s threat perception regarding the Iranian situation, and coordinate responses.

Such efforts may be receiving even quieter assistance from the Sunni Arab states who are badly threatened by Iran’s capabilities and intentions. According to one report by Israel’s Walla News, the Israeli-American talks are aimed at setting up a parallel “Plan B,” in case nuclear talks fail. Meanwhile, the Israeli military is accelerating strike capability preparations for Iran’s nuclear program, and has requested billions of shekels in extra budgeting to help those preparations along.

In a speech Monday to the UN General Assembly, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett affirmed Israel’s willingness to act if necessary.

“Iran’s nuclear program has hit a watershed moment, and so has our tolerance,” he said. “Words do not stop centrifuges from spinning. There are those in the world who seem to view Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons as an inevitable reality, or they’ve just become tired of hearing about it. Israel doesn’t have that privilege. We will not tire. We will not allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon.”

Referring to the recent protests against the regime in Iran, Bennett added that “Iran is much weaker, much more vulnerable than it seems.”

Last year, Israel fast-tracked the acquisition of a series of advanced weapons systems from the United States — weapons that could prove crucial in a confrontation with Iran, such as additional F-35 stealth fighter jets, new transport helicopters, and refuelers essential for long-range air operations.

Despite these preparations, the prospect of Israel having to face down Iran’s nuclear program alone, without the assistance of the US, would represent a strategic failure with serious consequences — one that the ongoing high level discussions can hopefully avert.
'War with Israel already started' says Iranian FM spokesman
"The war with Israel has already started," Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh told Maariv. "Israel has carried out attacks that were intended to destroy our nuclear program for peaceful purposes. It murdered nuclear scientists and harmed the Iranian people. Iran is accused of terrorism, but there is no good or bad terrorist. The whole crisis in the region is Israel's fault."

Khatibzadeh later claimed that Israel had "done everything" to thwart the nuclear talks in Vienna and to cause conflict between Iran and the world powers. He accused the United States of "soft terrorism" by holding up medicine and starving the people of his country.

The Iranian spokesman said that Iran's strategic decision to return to the seventh round of nuclear talks in Vienna had already been made and that its country had already announced this two weeks ago to the EU representative responsible for the talks.

Asked if he thought a return to the nuclear deal would prevent a military operation by Israel, the spokesman replied: "Israel has severely damaged our research and civilian system. There is talk of an Iranian nuclear threat, but Israel has hundreds of bombs, and it has never signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty."
Iran begins war games near tense Azerbaijan border, citing ‘Zionist’ presence
Iran’s national army began exercises on Friday near its border with Azerbaijan, state TV reported, putting on a display of military capabilities near a neighbor it is increasingly skeptical of for its ties to the West and Israel.

Artillery, drones and helicopters will participate in the drills, the report said, without elaborating on how long they would last or where exactly they would be held. Iran occasionally holds such events, saying it wants to assess combat readiness and demonstrate capabilities.

The exercises come amid escalating tensions along the border. Iran is wary of Azerbaijan in particular for its deep military cooperation with the Islamic Republic’s rival Israel, and on Thursday voiced its concerns to Azerbaijani ambassador in Tehran Ali Alizadeh.

“We do not tolerate the presence and activity against our national security of the Zionist regime, or Israel, next to our borders,” Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian said. “And we will carry out any necessary action in this regard.”

Ground forces commander Brigadier General Kioumars Heidari told state TV: “We respect good neighborly relations but we do not tolerate the presence of Zionist regime elements and Islamic State terrorists in the region.”











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