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Prepared for the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
Updated: 35 min 10 sec ago

PA Launches Military Operation to Regain Control of Jenin

Sun, 11/21/2021 - 16:00
(Ynet News) Elior Levy - The Palestinian Authority launched an extensive military operation in Jenin on Friday to regain control of the area. Armed militias affiliated with Islamic Jihad, al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, and Hamas recently marched openly in the city, proclaiming their control.

Fitch Reaffirms Israel's A+ Credit Rating

Sun, 11/21/2021 - 16:00
(Times of Israel) Ricky Ben-David - Fitch Ratings on Nov. 11 reaffirmed Israel's A+ rating with a stable outlook. Fitch said the improvement in Israel's finances in 2021 has been "driven by the strong economic rebound, the gradual withdrawal of pandemic support measures, and particularly buoyant fiscal revenue from high-tech sectors."

Ex-Mossad Chief: It's Not Too Late to Stop Iran from Getting Nuclear Weapons

Sun, 11/21/2021 - 16:00
(Ha'aretz) Aluf Benn - Yossi Cohen, the former head of Mossad, Israel's national intelligence agency, oversaw an operation in 2018 to obtain Iran's nuclear archive. "We had shown the Americans and the world that Iran lied all the way to the [nuclear] deal," Cohen said Sunday. "Iran wasn't coming clean on many issues that were hidden from the world." With regard to operations that the Mossad reportedly conducted deep inside Iran, Cohen said: "You can damage and slow down their capabilities. Everything that we, according to foreign press reports, did in Iran was to make sure that they keep enough of a distance in terms of capabilities." However, he added, the main problem remains Iran's leaders' intentions, which cannot be changed by clandestine activities. Despite some assessments that it is now too late to stop Iran from becoming a nuclear threshold state, Cohen said that "it's never too late....I assume it's going to be complicated militarily, operationally, but I don't think it's impossible. I think that if the State of Israel will decide to get rid of this program, we will have to do it."

Iran Developing Air Defense Systems to Challenge U.S., Israel

Sun, 11/21/2021 - 16:00
(JNS) Yaakov Lappin - Lt.-Col. (ret.) Michael Segall - a senior researcher at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and an expert on Iranian military strategy and tactics - published a report in August that documented recent developments in Iran's Bavar 373 air-defense system, which the Islamic Republic touted as a "substantial upgrade" from the Russian-made S-300 system. Segall told JNS that Iran could deploy its domestically produced surface-to-air missile batteries in the Persian Gulf, close to islands near the UAE that are subject to long-standing territorial disputes. Such systems could be operated against American forces, said Segall, noting that the Iranians "fly unmanned aerial vehicles over U.S. battle carrier groups in the Persian Gulf all of the time. They could combine these UAVs with surface-to-air missile systems." Iran is also believed to be seeking to smuggle such systems into Syria in order to challenge Israeli Air Force strikes as it continues attempts to transfer weapons and build military bases there.

Hamas Supporters Are Terrorist Sympathizers. The UK Is Right to Punish Them

Sun, 11/21/2021 - 16:00
(Telegraph-UK) Ian Austin - Home Secretary Priti Patel's decision to ban Hamas in its entirety should be welcomed by all those who oppose terrorism. Hamas is not - as some of its sympathizers intimate - a legitimate campaign for Palestinian rights. It is an armed group of genocidal terrorists that wants to wipe Israel off the map and murder both the Jews and Arabs who live there. It has subjected the poor people of Gaza to a brutal dictatorship ever since it seized power in a bloody coup 15 years ago. The group is opposed not just to the idea of any sort of peace process with Israel but rejects the very existence of the Jewish state in the first place. In fact, its founding charter contains disgusting racist language calling for the death of all Jews worldwide. Funded by Iran, it presents an existential threat to the Middle East's only democracy. Earlier this year, Hamas provoked a conflict with Israel by firing thousands of rockets indiscriminately at Israeli civilians. Had it not been for the country's Iron Dome missile defense system, thousands would have been slaughtered. Several of their missiles misfired and killed Palestinians. The UK decision will mean that showing support for Hamas could result in imprisonment under the Terrorism Act. That will prevent the group raising funds here. Moreover, it will deal with some of the disgusting anti-Semitic racism we have seen on British streets during the recent conflict, like pro-Palestinian demonstrators wearing the Hamas-style headband traditionally worn by its suicide bombers. The decision is showing that the supporters of anti-Semitic terror will not be tolerated on the streets of Britain. Lord Austin is a former Labour MP and chairs the anti-extremism campaign Mainstream.

Israel Signals Confidence in Its Relationship with Biden

Sun, 11/21/2021 - 16:00
(The Hill) Laura Kelly - Israeli officials are feeling confident about where they stand in Washington nearly one year into the Biden administration. Biden has largely sought consensus with Israel, firmly supporting Israel during its war with Hamas in May, and backing off demands related to the Palestinians, despite vocal opposition among progressives in his party. "We respect the president, we respect the administration," Israeli Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked said in an interview with The Hill in Washington this week. "There are specific issues in which we don't think the same, but in general, we are working together." Overall, the U.S.-Israel relationship is one of the strongest - if not the strongest - partnerships among American allies. Israel's current government is outspoken in its opposition to the nuclear deal with Iran but has worked more closely with Biden to project a united front, an effort to increase pressure on Iran to rein in its nuclear ambitions. The administration has "coordinated with the Israelis every step of the way," said Aaron David Miller, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace who has served as a Middle East negotiator. According to Miller, "Biden learned from Obama, you do not confront the Israelis on the Iranian and the Palestinian issue at the same time. Obama did and it turned out to be a disaster. So you don't do that."

Does a Palestinian "Right of Return" Exist in International Law?

Sun, 11/21/2021 - 16:00
(Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs) Amb. Alan Baker and Lea Bilke - On Nov. 9, 2021, the Fourth (Special Political) Committee of the UN General Assembly adopted by a 160-1 vote a draft resolution on Palestinian refugees. The U.S. abstained, although all previous administrations, apart from the Obama administration, had voted against this resolution. In 1999, the U.S. representative (representing the Clinton administration) stated, "This delegation could not support unbalanced resolutions which attempted to prejudge the outcome of negotiations; lasting peace would come from agreements reached among the parties themselves, not from any action taken by the Committee." The international media pounced on the latest change in the U.S. voting pattern, erroneously claiming that it signified "support by the Biden administration for a right of return for Palestinian refugees to sovereign Israel." In fact, the U.S. vote-change signifies no such thing, and the resolution does not mention any right of return for Palestinian refugees. Several international legal and political documents try to tackle the question of return of refugees, but they do not establish any right of return for Palestinian refugees. UN General Assembly Resolution 194 states that "refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so," but no resolution of the General Assembly has the capacity to determine laws or establish rights. The term "should" underlines that this is solely a recommendation. Moreover, a "right of return" does not appear in resolutions of the UN Security Council, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), or in Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process documentation. Alan Baker, former legal counsel to Israel's foreign ministry, heads the international law program at the Jerusalem Center. Lea Bilke is a law student at the Free University of Berlin in Germany.

Iran's Chief Negotiator: Purpose of Vienna Talks Is to Remove Sanctions on Iran, Not the Nuclear Issue

Wed, 11/17/2021 - 16:00
(Press TV-Iran) Iran's top negotiator, Ali Baqeri-Kani, said on Nov. 11 that the upcoming talks will not be about the nuclear issue, which has already been resolved, but will rather focus on removing all sanctions imposed by the U.S. Tehran insists that all sanctions must first be removed in a verifiable manner before the Islamic Republic reverses the "remedial measures" that Tehran took in response to the U.S. withdrawal from the JCPOA.

Israel Tells U.S. Envoy Iran Is Using Nuclear Talks to Buy Time

Wed, 11/17/2021 - 16:00
(Ha'aretz) Jonathan Lis - Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid told U.S. special envoy on Iran Robert Malley on Monday that Israel believes Tehran's willingness to revive nuclear talks is a ploy to buy time in order to develop a nuclear weapon. A new round of negotiations will be held in Vienna starting on Nov. 29.

U.S. Floats Interim Iran Nuclear Deal

Wed, 11/17/2021 - 16:00
(Axios) Barak Ravid - U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan raised with his Israeli counterpart, Eyal Hulata, the idea of an interim agreement with Iran. According to U.S. sources, the idea was that in exchange for a freeze from Iran (for example, on enriching uranium to 60%), the U.S. and its allies could release some frozen Iranian funds or provide sanctions waivers on humanitarian goods. Hulata told Sullivan he thought it wasn't a good idea and stressed the Israeli concern that any interim deal will become a permanent agreement that allows Iran to maintain its nuclear infrastructure and uranium stockpile, an Israeli official said.

Israel Opposes Limited Deal with Iran

Wed, 11/17/2021 - 16:00
(Jerusalem Post) Lahav Harkov - Israel is concerned that the U.S. will agree to accept a deal with Iran that lifts sanctions in exchange for Iran not continuing to advance its nuclear progress, but not rolling back the steps it has taken in recent years beyond the original limits of the JCPOA. This would give Iran massive funds to do what it did last time it got economic relief - ignite proxy warfare throughout the region - and remain closer to the threshold of a nuclear weapon than ever before. It would relieve pressure on Iran without receiving almost anything in return. Israel has made clear to the U.S. its unequivocal opposition to such an outcome, a diplomatic source said.

UN Atomic Watchdog: Iran Further Raising Nuclear Stockpile

Wed, 11/17/2021 - 16:00
(AP) Kiyoko Metzler - The International Atomic Energy Agency said Wednesday that Iran has an estimated 17.7 kg. of uranium enriched to up to 60% fissile purity, an increase of almost 8 kg. since August. The agency said it is not able to verify Iran's exact stockpile due to the limitations that Tehran imposed on UN inspectors. The IAEA has been unable to access surveillance footage of Iranian nuclear sites or of online enrichment monitors and electronic seals since February. In a separate report Wednesday, IAEA chief Rafael Mariano Grossi said inspectors are "being subjected to excessively invasive physical searches by security officials at nuclear facilities in Iran."

Iran Resumes Production of Advanced Nuclear Program Parts

Wed, 11/17/2021 - 16:00
(Wall Street Journal) Laurence Norman - In August, Iran resumed production of equipment for advanced centrifuges at Karaj, a site the UN atomic energy agency has been unable to monitor or gain access to for months. Iran had stopped work at Karaj in June after a sabotage attack that Tehran blamed on Israel. Since the U.S. exited the nuclear deal in 2018, Iran has installed more than 1,000 more advanced centrifuges. That has helped reduce Iran's breakout time for producing enough nuclear fuel for one bomb to as little as a month. These centrifuges are installed at Iran's underground, heavily fortified, Fordow site. Western diplomats have warned that without a clear understanding of what material and equipment Iran has now, it is harder to reach an agreement that ensures effective, but temporary, restrictions on Iran's nuclear activities.

Iran-Backed Hackers Targeting U.S. with Ransomware Attacks

Wed, 11/17/2021 - 16:00
(Newsweek) Zoe Strozewski - The Iranian government is linked to hackers who have been targeting victims in the U.S. with ransomware attacks, according to an advisory released Wednesday by American, British and Australian officials. Iran has taken advantage of computer vulnerabilities in recent months to target entities in the transportation, health care and public health sectors. The Microsoft Threat Intelligence Center (MSTIC) said Tuesday that it has seen six different Iran-based groups deploying ransomware since last year.

Economic, Social Protests Against Hamas Flare Up Again in Gaza

Wed, 11/17/2021 - 16:00
(MEMRI) S. Schneidmann - On Nov. 6, 2021, amid reports about the drowning of Gazan migrants off the Turkish coast, the Facebook page of the "We Want to Live" campaign, first launched in 2019, posted a message addressed to Hamas leaders in Gaza, warning that if the situation does not improve, protests will break out in the streets. "Who will condemn the heroic Gazan leaders...who [drive] SUVs, whose residences have become like palaces." "O leaders of Gaza, the public can no longer stand the deprivation. The levels of poverty and unemployment, and the poor living conditions, are not statistics that allow you to whimper at the doors of the donors, [begging for] support that does not benefit the people or improve their lives. The ongoing conduct of the government in Gaza proves without a doubt that the leader in his ivory tower does not see the people, and that he is almost completely out of touch with their reality." Many Gazans on social media expressed solidarity with the "We Want to Live" campaign, voicing harsh criticism against Hamas and calling for its removal from power. A Nov. 10 report in the Hamas newspaper Filastin claimed that Israel was behind the Facebook campaign.

Israeli Couple Returns Home after Detention in Turkish Prison

Wed, 11/17/2021 - 16:00
(Ynet News) Mordi and Natali Oknin, an Israeli couple held by Turkey on suspicion of espionage, returned home on Thursday after they were released. The couple was arrested last week for taking photographs of President Erdogan's residence during a trip to Istanbul. Prime Minister Bennett and Foreign Minister Lapid said, "We thank the President of Turkey and his government for their cooperation."

Israel Asks U.S. to Condition Aid to Lebanon on Restricting Hizbullah

Wed, 11/17/2021 - 16:00
(Ynet News) Itamar Eichner - Israeli officials on Tuesday told U.S. Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield that the administration should condition any American aid to Lebanon on restrictions on Iran-backed Hizbullah. Israel has requested that Hizbullah be removed from its northern frontier, that the Lebanese army act to stop the group's precise missile production program, and that weapons supplied to Hizbullah from Iran via Syria be prevented from crossing into Lebanon. Israeli officials also voiced concerns that U.S. weapons provided to the Lebanese army might find their way to Hizbullah and could be used against Israel.

Palestinians Fear "Civil War" amid Growing Anarchy

Wed, 11/17/2021 - 16:00
(Jerusalem Post) Khaled Abu Toameh - In the past few days, four universities in the West Bank were shuttered due to violent clashes on campuses between students and rival clans. Al-Quds University in Abu Dis, near Jerusalem, closed after masked gunmen opened fire at cars of students and lecturers in connection with a dispute over a parking lot near the university. Bir Zeit University, north of Ramallah, closed following violent clashes between students belonging to rival Fatah-affiliated groups. On Tuesday, Hebron University and the Palestine Polytechnic University in Hebron closed after violent brawls between students of feuding clans. In addition, more than 20 houses, businesses and shops were set alight, especially in Hebron, where masked gunmen belong to the Ja'bari and Al-Awaiwi/Abu Eisheh clans have been engaged in street fighting over the past week. "Every night, dozens of gunmen exchange gunfire in various parts of Hebron," said Hebron businessman Haitham Rajabi. "There is no presence of the Palestinian security forces on the streets."

Palestinian Human Rights Activist Sues over Ben and Jerry's Boycott, Saying It Promotes Hatred

Wed, 11/17/2021 - 16:00
(New York Post) Isabel Vincent - Palestinian human rights activist Bassem Eid filed a complaint with New York state's Division of Human Rights last month against Conopco Inc., the U.S. division of Unilever that owns Ben & Jerry's, charging that its boycott in the West Bank is "counterproductive to peace and creates only more hatred, enmity and polarization." Eid said the boycott will have an adverse effect on the people it is trying to help. "I, as a Palestinian, as well as many of my friends, family and other Palestinians, are regular shoppers at the Gush Etzion commercial center" in the West Bank. "This shopping area is the true realization of coexistence, as both Jews and Muslims from both Israel and the Palestinian-controlled territories...work and shop here." "The gangsters behind the BDS [movement] are causing a lot of damage to the Palestinians," said Eid in an interview. "I want to raise awareness among the U.S. judicial system about how much damage they are causing. If they poured all of the money they are spending on boycotts into building factories and creating jobs in the West Bank and Gaza, it would go a long way to truly helping Palestinians."

UNRWA Is a Nursery for Growing Palestinian Refugees

Wed, 11/17/2021 - 16:00
(Jerusalem Post) Itamar Marcus - Is funding UNRWA good for the Palestinians? Even if UNRWA fixed its schoolbooks and guaranteed that UNRWA schools will no longer hide terror tunnels, it will still remain possibly the most human rights abusing institution funded by the international community. Prior to the Trump administration, the U.S. was the largest donor to UNRWA. During the Obama administration, the U.S. gave UNRWA over $2 billion. During those years, the number of refugees increased by 700,000. The U.S. investment did not rehabilitate even one refugee. Moreover, the core UNRWA budget since Obama's first year has risen from $545 million to $806 million today. By refusing to resettle the original refugees, UNRWA turned a limited problem into permanent misery, including for the 5.5 million people who were born refugees. UNRWA is the real Palestinian Nakba (catastrophe). For all other refugees, the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) has helped resettle over 50 million refugees in the same period that UNRWA didn't resettle even one. UNRWA imposed refugee status on millions of children, some born 72 years ago, trampling their right to be born into freedom. Funding UNRWA is not only a waste of limited international resources but is funding an organization that is fundamentally a human rights abuser. It is not intended to help the refugees but to preserve them as refugees serving the PA's goals. The UNRWA infrastructure must be closed and its administration transferred to UNHCR - free of the dictates of the PA. UNHCR will be tasked with solving the problem instead of perpetuating the problem. UNHCR will use its billions to train them, create jobs and give them homes in the countries where they were born and lived their entire lives. Resettling these people is a human rights imperative.

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