Mixed signals from the Middle East for a „New Middle East“ and around Iran, Israel and Saudi Arabia. It is striking that Iran and Hezbollah are currently very calm after previous threats and announcements of a “final battle” and also a “final Antifada” that would drive Israel and the USA out of the Middle East and destroy them. Apparently Biden is trying to make a kind of unofficial deal with Iran, not an official agreement. Sounds like some kind of secret treaty. Maybe the Chinese are also involved. Whether the Republicans and the Israelis will leave it as it is without comment and accept it? Especially during the election campaign? South Korea also seems to play an important role for Iran’s oil exports.
“Thaw in Tehran: USA and Iran exchange prisoners
September 19, 2023, 10:30 a.m
The prisoner exchange between the US and Tehran could serve as a kickstart for the bilateral relationship. But there is still resistance.
Foreign minister Eli Cohen and other Likud politicans in Israel are very confident. The Israel-Saudi pact could become a reality as early as 2024, perhaps then also the Western Silk Road of the India-Middle East-EU Economic Corridor with Italy, Israel and SA as “hubs”, which was pushed forward at the G20 summit by India, the USA, the EU and SA “ expanded to the UAE and other countries, perhaps include the Asia-Africa Economic Corridor, which India and Japan have already considered. That may still take some time, but leading Israeli goverment officials seem to be quite optimistic about a deal between Israel and Saudi Arabia:
“Saudi deal could be in place early 2024 – Israel FM
„The gaps can be bridged. It will take time. But there is progress,“ Foreign Minister Eli Cohen said of Israel-Saudi ties.
By REUTERS Published: SEPTEMBER 20, 2023 22:30
Updated: SEPTEMBER 21, 2023 12:50
Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said in a US television interview that his country was moving steadily closer to normalizing relations with Israel and also warned that if Iran gets a nuclear weapon, „we have to get one.“
„Every day we get closer,“ the crown prince told Fox News in wide-ranging remarks broadcast on Wednesday, when asked to characterize talks aimed at long-time foes Israel and Saudi Arabia reaching a landmark agreement to open diplomatic relations.
שימו לב: בן סלמאן אומר בריאיון לפוקס כי מתקיים משא ומתן טוב בעניין הנורמליזציה. אומר שזאת יוזמה של ביידן ואומר כי בסעודיה מקווים שזה יגיע למקום שזה יקל על החיים של הפלסטינים. בן סלמאן הכחיש את הדיווחים על הקפאת השיחות: „זה לא נכון“. ד“ש לאילאף
— roi kais • روعي كايس • רועי קייס (@kaisos1987) September 20, 2023
The conservative US network’s interview with the crown prince, widely known as MbS, comes as President Joe Biden’s administration presses ahead with an effort to broker historic ties between the two regional powerhouses, Washington’s top Middle East allies.
Israel-Saudi normalization possible by early 2024
On Thursday, Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen said on Army Radio that a deal could be in place early next year.
„The gaps can be bridged. It will take time. But there is progress,“ Cohen said. „I think there is certainly a likelihood that, in the first quarter of 2024, four or five months hence, we will be able to be at a point where the details (of a deal) are finalized.“
The normalization talks are the centerpiece of complex negotiations that also include discussions of US security guarantees and civilian nuclear help that Riyadh has sought, as well as possible Israeli concessions to the Palestinians.
„For us, the Palestinian issue is very important. We need to solve that part,“ MbS, Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler, said when asked what it would take to get a normalization agreement. „And we have a good negotiations strategy til now.“
„We got to see where we go. We hope that will reach a place that will ease the life of the Palestinians and get Israel as a player in the Middle East,“ he said, speaking in English.
MbS also voiced concern about the possibility that Iran, a mutual adversary of Saudi Arabia and Israel that the US wants to contain, could obtain a nuclear weapon. Tehran has denied seeking a nuclear bomb.
„That’s a bad move,“ he said. „If you use it, you got to have a big fight with the rest of the world.“
** BREAKING: Saudi Crown Prince on Iran’s Nukes ** In a jaw-dropping interview with Fox News, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince #Mohammad Bin Salman warns that if Iran acquires nuclear weapons, Saudi Arabia will follow suit. #NuclearThreat #SaudiArabia #IranNukes pic.twitter.com/xJ9DPEy2cn
— ChroniBuzz (@liv59224) September 20, 2023
Asked what would happen if Iran did get a nuclear bomb, MbS said: „If they get one, we have to get one, for security reasons and the balance of power in the Middle East. But we don’t want to see that.“
Potential benefits of mega-deal
While US officials insist any breakthrough is far away and steep obstacles remain, they privately tout the potential benefits of a regional mega-deal.
These include removing a possible flashpoint in the Arab-Israeli conflict, strengthening the bulwark against Iran and countering China’s inroads in the Gulf. Biden would also score a foreign policy win as he seeks re-election in November 2024.
The broadcast of the crown prince’s pre-taped comments came on the same day as a long-waited meeting between Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in which they pledged to work together toward Israeli-Saudi normalization, which could reshape the geopolitics of the Middle East.
Both leaders also said Iran could not be allowed to acquire a nuclear weapon.
MbS issued the stark warning to Tehran despite the two countries having agreed in Chinese-brokered talks in March to restore relations after years of hostility.
But he offered an olive branch to Iran, saying the two countries had made a „good start“ and he hoped it would continue.
Facing criticism from the US, MbS, whose country is the world’s top oil exporter, also defended OPEC+’s decision to cut oil output, saying it was based on market stability and not intended to help energy-dependent Russia in its war in Ukraine.
MbS, asked about Russia’s military campaign, said the invasion of another country was „really bad“ but he appeared to stick to his position of not taking sides in the war.
Among the challenges the US faces in brokering a wide-ranging deal would be satisfying MbS’s demands. He is reported to be seeking a treaty committing the US to defend the kingdom if attacked, and also wants advanced weapons and assistance for a civilian nuclear program.
From the Israelis, MbS is pushing for significant concessions to the Palestinians to keep alive prospects for statehood in the occupied territories, something Biden is also pushing for but which Netanyahu’s far-right government has shown little willingness to grant.
There is a growing a sense of urgency in Washington over China’s effort to gain a strategic foothold in Saudi Arabia. The administration also seeks to further heal ties with Riyadh, which Biden once vowed to make a „pariah.“
But an upgraded US-Saudi security relationship would face resistance in the US Congress, where many are critical of MbS over the 2018 killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Riyadh’s intervention in Yemen and its role in high oil prices.
Asked about Khashoggi’s killing, MbS said he was reforming the kingdom’s security system to make sure this kind of „mistake“ does not happen again.
Iran stands against the normalization of ties
Iranian President Ibrahim Raisi condemned the possibility of Saudi-Israeli normalization in a press conference in New York on September 21, according to Israeli media reports.
„Normalization between Israel and Saudi Arabia would be a stab in the back of the Palestinians,“ Raisi said.
Jerusalem Post Staff contributed to this report.
Eli Cohen also promises that in the event of an Israel-SA deal, the breakthrough for the Abraham Accords would follow, 6-7 Muslim states would then recognize Israel and establish diplomatic relations, especially since Netanyahu is not only talking about peace with Saudi Arabia or Palestine , but also about peace with the Muslim world and peace between Judaism and Islam as Abrahamic religions. In Libya, Eli Cohen’s attempt to establish contacts with the UN-backed Muslim Brotherhood government via Italy failed, but now things could only get better.
‚Six or seven‘ Muslim nations to make peace with Israel after Saudis – FM
Eli Cohen: „It’s important to restate what the prime minister said, peace with Saudi Arabia is also peace between Jews and the Muslim world.“
By JERUSALEM POST STAFF Published: SEPTEMBER 22, 2023 18:35
Updated: SEPTEMBER 22, 2023 18:58
Six or seven Muslim nations will join Saudi Arabia in making peace with Israel following the conclusion of the long-sought normalization deal with the Saudis, Foreign Minister Eli Cohen revealed in an interview with KAN News on Friday afternoon.
Speaking directly after Netanyahu’s speech at the UN General Assembly in which he heralded the dawn of a „new Middle East,“ Cohen said that „it’s important to restate what the prime minister said, peace with Saudi Arabia is also peace between Jews and the Muslim world.
„Six or seven nations from Africa and Asia will join the peace deal with the Saudis,“ Cohen said.
„I’m telling you, I have met with several officials from Muslim nations with which Israel does not share formal ties.“
שר החוץ אלי כהן: „נפגשתי עם מדינות מוסלמיות משמעותיות שאין לנו קשרים איתן. עוד 7-6 מדינות מאפריקה ואסיה יצטרפו לשלום עם סעודיה“@SuleimanMas1 ו-@shemeshmicha , שליחי כאן חדשות עם פמליית רה“מ לאמריקה pic.twitter.com/1Ll0ic3Ao8
— כאן חדשות (@kann_news) September 22, 2023
Cohen causes diplomatic debacle with Libya
Last month, Cohen caused a diplomatic crisis by leaking his conversation with his Libyan counterpart Najla Mangoush. She was fired for holding that meeting, forced to flee her country, and is now under investigation.
After reports of the meeting broke, Libyans began rioting in the streets before Prime Minister Abdulhamid al-Dbeibeh said Libya „completely rejects“ any notion of Israeli normalization.
„I’m not talking about [Libya],“ Cohen remarked. „We will wait [with announcements], but more countries will join our peace circle, you will see.“
There is also an accompanying article in the Jerusalem Post, which once again discusses the Yom Kippur War in contrast to the last glorious war won in 1967, in which Israel in 1973 made mistakes and there were fears at the time that Israel would be magrinalized, perhaps even collapse, in terms of foreign policy would be isolated, but in retrospect this turned out to be so unjustified as it only made Israel more powerful and apparently the author sems to draw parallels that Israel, despite the current state crisis, through an Israel-SA deals and the following Abraham’s Accords could overcome Netanyahu’s internal and external crisis at the same time:
“Yom Kippur War: A bleak moment but pivotal turning point – opinion
At the end of 1973, Israelis were hurting, apprehensive, and unsure. Although the country had successfully resisted a powerful assault, there was no celebration, but a pervasive dispiritedness.
By MARK REGEV Published: SEPTEMBER 21, 2023 20:41
When the Arab armies attacked on Yom Kippur, October 6, 1973, Israel was caught off guard – surprised and stunned. Three weeks later, as the UN’s ceasefire came into effect, the IDF had turned the tide, successfully advancing into Egyptian and Syrian territory. But the impressive battlefield counteroffensive could not compensate for the initial debacle, for the some 2,800 IDF combat fatalities, or for the erosion of public confidence in Israel’s leadership. The war heralded a period of national despondency.
Within the first 24 hours of the conflict, Egyptian forces had forged the Suez Canal, swept through the Bar-Lev Line defenses, and had taken up positions on what had previously been Israeli-controlled territory. At war’s end, the IDF had crossed the Canal to the Egyptian side. But although it had surrounded Egypt’s Third Army, the IDF had not managed to expel it from the Sinai Peninsula.
In the North, Syria’s opening gambit allowed its forces to break through on the Golan Heights. Like the Egyptians, the Syrian attackers outnumbered and outgunned the Israeli defenders. But by the time the ceasefire was declared, the Syrians had been driven out of the Golan and the IDF had pushed forward to a mere 40 kilometers from Damascus.
Israel’s initial failures stemmed from hubris. Its dramatic triumph in the June 1967 Six Day War – which saw the IDF take the Old City of Jerusalem and the West Bank from Jordan, Gaza and Sinai from Egypt, and the Golan Heights from Syria – had bred a detrimental cockiness.
Too many in Israel believed that after suffering such a crushing defeat, the Arabs would not dare launch a new war – one that they couldn’t possibly hope to win. However, Israelis were convinced that if their enemies irrationally chose to initiate another round of fighting, Israel’s newfound territorial depth would serve as a defensive buffer until the IDF fully mobilized and expeditiously delivered another 1967-style knockout.
Yom Kippur War: An act caused by Israel’s own mistakes
But the 1973 attack wasn’t an act of Arab folly but rather Israel’s blunder – and Jerusalem’s mistakes were both strategic and tactical. The 1967 victory had been achieved thanks to Israel’s preemptive strike, through the supremacy of its air force and the prowess of its armored columns. But in 1973, it was the Arabs who surprised Israel, while Soviet-supplied surface-to-air and anti-tank missiles altered the battlefield in ways that challenged the IDF.
There was also the intelligence fiasco, which, despite all the Egyptian and Syrian preparations for war, caused the IDF to classify an Arab attack as a “low probability” scenario. That erroneous assessment was only revised just before the outbreak of hostilities and, even then, still got wrong the hour of the impending assault. For a nation that prided itself on the excellence of its intelligence gathering, this was a bitter blow.
Jerusalem also failed to plan for the potent efficacy of the Arab oil embargo which leveraged international dependency on Middle Eastern petroleum in a manner that led many purported friends to abandon Israel.
AMERICA’S TRANSATLANTIC NATO allies refused to allow for the refueling on their territory of US planes airlifting vital military supplies to Israel. This took place while the Soviets were expediting the transfer of munitions to their Arab partners.Across Africa, country after country broke off diplomatic relations with Israel, and in Asia, the pro-American Japanese nearly did the same.
All this contributed to an increasing dependence on the US, which remained Israel’s almost singular friend. But with Egypt’s postwar reorientation to the West and the newfound global power of the Arab oil exporters, many in Israel were skeptical about the long-term sustainability of American support.
Altogether, Israel was struck by a series of harsh blows, first and foremost the terrible number of combat casualties. And in contrast to the sense of strength and opportunity that followed the 1967 triumph, the Yom Kippur War ended with Israelis experiencing a combination of military vulnerability, diplomatic isolation, and economic austerity.
Faith in the national leadership dropped. A protest movement engulfed the country calling for the resignation of those in government deemed responsible for the war’s failures. Angry demonstrators shouted “murderer” at defense minister Moshe Dayan.
There was a growing public discussion on emigration, about Israelis departing for greener pastures abroad. A joke was told that the last person to depart should remember to turn off the lights. This sentiment prompted prime minister Yitzhak Rabin’s 1976 description of the emigrants as a “fallout of weaklings.”
Yet, if the Yom Kippur War was a turning point, it wasn’t as bleak as it appeared at the time.
The war ended with direct Egypt-Israel military-to-military talks. These were the harbinger of a dialogue that led to disengagement agreements and ultimately to the 1979 peace treaty – Israel’s first with an Arab country.
In the decades since, Israel has normalized relations with Jordan and Morocco, both of whom sent forces to fight the IDF in 1973 – the former to the Syrian front, the latter in support of Egypt.
And of the Arab petroleum producers who weaponized oil against Israel, the 2020 Abraham Accords saw agreements reached with the UAE and Bahrain. Today, there is even talk of a breakthrough with Saudi Arabia.
If in 1973 Israelis worried that petroleum gave their enemies a colossal advantage, it wasn’t to last. The global energy market has changed in ways that have diminished Arab ascendancy. Simultaneously, Israeli technological innovation has made the Jewish state a sought-after partner. (In the 21st century, is technology not competing with fossil fuels for being the number one driver of economic growth?)
In contrast to the diplomatic isolation of 1973, Israel has returned to Africa, augmented its ties across Asia, and built strong partnerships in Europe – as was seen in the recent $3.5 billion deal for the supply of the Arrow-3 missile defense system to Germany.
Furthermore, those who forecasted an inevitable decline in American support for Israel have, thus far, been wrong in their doomsday predictions. Over the past five decades, the trajectory of Israel-US ties has been indisputably positive, despite all the bumps along the road.
At the end of 1973, Israelis were hurting, apprehensive, and unsure. Although the country had successfully resisted a powerful assault, there was no celebration, but rather a pervasive dispiritedness.
We know today that the postwar gloominess, though certainly understandable, was unjustified in historical terms. Perhaps this fact can give Israelis a measure of succor as we deal with today’s seemingly existential divisions.
The writer, formerly an adviser to the prime minister, is chair of the Abba Eban Institute for Diplomacy at Reichman University. Connect with him on LinkedIn, @Ambassador Mark Regev.
Furthermore, there is also an article about Black September, which is intended to show that Palestinian terror cannot defeat Israel, but has exactly the opposite effect, in fact it established Israel as a regional great power for the USA and the world. Possibly this also means that some Israelis believe that if the Palestinians were to commit terror to the annexation of the West Bank or if Iran and Hamas were to respond with attacks or a “final Antifada” or a “final battle”, then again only Isarel would react similar and be on the road to victory, similar to Dabiel Pipes, who introduced his Victory Strategy to the IDF, which states that only if the Palestinians get a decisive and final defeat and Israel achieves a decisive victory , peace can prevail in the Middle East, as they would then have to submit and surrender unconditionally, insofar as they do not emigrate to Jordan along with the Jordanian solution, which Sharon also preferred at times, as would the Muslim states then sustainbly give in, which would then no longer be able to play the Palestinian card and would have to make peace with Israel:
“Recalling black September: The forgotten Palestinian defeat – opinion
The Munich Massacre, the September 11 attacks and the September PFLP attack all show that terrorism will not end support for the state of Israel.
By MARK REGEV Published: SEPTEMBER 15, 2023 08:24
Updated: SEPTEMBER 17, 2023 20:47
Black September will forever be associated with the massacre of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympic Games.
But the name of the terrorist group responsible for that atrocity stems from a Palestinian defeat two years earlier, one that impacted Israel and the Middle East, and even elevated Cold War tensions between the Soviet Union and the United States.
The Munich Olympics were planned to showcase the new postwar democratic West Germany (the previous games on German soil – the 1936 Berlin Olympics – had been hosted by Adolf Hitler). But the Bonn government’s hopes to present to the world a very different Germany were to be stymied.
Before dawn on September 5, eight Palestinians from the Black September organization, established in 1971 as the elite strike force of Yasser Arafat’s Fatah movement, scaled the fence surrounding the Olympic Village. Disguised as athletes and using stolen keys, they forced their way into the quarters of Israel’s Olympic team, initiating a 20-hour hostage saga that ended with a botched German attempt to free the hostages and 11 Israeli athletes dead – nine of them murdered while bound and gagged.
The “Munich Massacre” played out in full view of the assembled international media. Even though the coverage depicted the terrorists’ bloodthirsty behavior, it nonetheless helped propel the Palestinian issue to the forefront of the global agenda.
Ironically, the name “Black September” did not originate from an event associated with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but rather from the intra-Arab confrontation that erupted in Jordan in September 1970.
In the aftermath of the 1967 Six Day War, Jordan – now smaller in size with the loss of Jerusalem’s Old City and the West Bank – became the primary base from which Palestinian fedayeen struck against “the Zionist entity.” Israeli communities along the border lived in constant fear of a terrorist infiltration or Katyusha rocket fire.
My wife grew up in one such frontier community – Kibbutz Tel Katzir in the Jordan Valley. As a baby, she was continually rushed by her mother to the children’s bomb shelter whenever the security situation demanded.
These fedayeen attacks generated IDF reprisal raids, which in turn heightened the risk of a larger Israel-Jordan confrontation.
BUT IT wasn’t just Israelis whom the armed Palestinian groups were threatening. The fedayeen acted in Jordan as a state within a state, independent from the Hashemite government and challenging its authority.
Radical Palestinians called for the overthrow of the “reactionary” Jordanian monarchy, declaring the kingdom an illegitimate creation of British imperialism in what was part of historic Palestine. Amid the soaring violence, there were two separate assassination attempts against Jordan’s King Hussein.
Matters were to spiral out of control when, on September 6, 1970, the Marxist “Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine” (PFLP) hijacked Western airliners to the Dawson’s Field airstrip near the city of Zarqa. Ultimately, a TWA Boeing 707, a BOAC VC10, and a Swissair DC-8 were all forced to land at the PFLP’s self-proclaimed “Revolutionary Airport.”
The September 11 attacks
On September 11, most of the 310 passenger-hostages from the three aircraft were transferred to Amman and released, but the PFLP refused to free the flight crews and 56 Jewish captives. (At the end of the month they were exchanged for prisoners held in European jails.)
On September 12, the PFLP blew up the three aircraft, producing dramatic images that appeared on the front pages of newspapers worldwide.
This incident was the final straw for the embattled Jordanian monarch. He declared martial law on September 16 and sent his army to confront Palestinian strongholds across his kingdom the following day.
Then the domestic Jordanian crisis escalated into a Cold War emergency. On September 18, more than 300 Soviet-supplied Syrian tanks, specially marked with Palestinian insignia, invaded Jordan from the North in support of the insurgents. This, while in eastern Jordan, an Iraqi armored division was stationed, having been there since the Six Day War.
Syria and Iraq were Soviet allies, while Jordan was solidly in the Western camp. Washington could not sit idly by as a key Arab partner succumbed to a hostile takeover.
In response to King Hussein’s urgent appeals for help, Washington beefed up the Sixth Fleet’s presence in the eastern Mediterranean. But while the US flexed its muscles, it was preoccupied with the Vietnam War.
Unenthusiastic about being sucked into an additional military intervention, the Nixon administration turned to Israel for assistance. Golda Meir’s government agreed to help, but not before receiving an American commitment to protect it from a possible Soviet counterstrike.
The IDF mobilized on the Golan Heights as if ready to move against Syria, and the Israel Air Force flew menacingly over the Syrian armor columns in Jordan.
Damascus got the message, as did Baghdad. On September 22, the Syrians started to withdraw from Jordan, while the Iraqis remained passive. Without outside intervention on behalf of the insurgents, the Jordanian army decisively defeated the fedayeen. (Arafat was to make the exaggerated claim that Hussein’s forces killed 25,000 Palestinians.)
The 1970 Black September crisis became an inflection point in Israel-US ties. Israel demonstrated that it could augment American power in the Middle East. If Washington had once felt a moral obligation to assist a sister democracy, it now saw Israel as a strategic asset, with the relationship upgraded into a de facto (and later a de jure) military alliance.
Encapsulating this shift, senator Jesse Helms, a conservative Republican who was initially lukewarm on Israel, was to coin the phrase that the Jewish state is “America’s aircraft carrier in the Middle East.”
POSTSCRIPT: WHILE Israel’s civilian and military leadership supported helping King Hussein defeat his enemies, there were dissenting voices.
Perhaps most prominent among them was IDF general Ariel Sharon – later Israel’s prime minister (2001-2006). Then head of the Southern Command, Sharon saw strategic advantage for Israel if the Palestinians achieved statehood in the East Bank, where they were a demographic majority, believing that such a development could help facilitate an Israeli-Palestinian arrangement over the West Bank.
Quite naturally, the Jordanian leadership abhorred his “Jordan is Palestine” approach. But the realities created by Jordan’s 1994 peace treaty with Israel necessitated letting bygones be bygones, and Amman’s antipathy toward Sharon over his Black September position was to wane.
In the late 1990s, as minister of national infrastructure and minister of foreign affairs in Benjamin Netanyahu’s first government, Sharon forged close working relations with the Jordanians. Importantly for them, he facilitated the transfer of hundreds of millions of cubic meters of water to their arid kingdom.
The writer, formerly an adviser to the prime minister, is chair of the Abba Eban Institute for Diplomacy at Reichman University. Connect with him on LinkedIn, @Ambassador Mark Regev.
The PLO or Palestinian Authority in the West Bank has so far turned a blind eye to this and reduced its demands for Palestine to have its own state, especially since Hamas rules in Gaza, although there are protests that it sees as US-Zionist PLO cooperation to overthrow them, just as Iran and Hamas hope to overthrow Abbas and the PLO in the West Bank
“Abbas softens demands on Israel, paving way for Saudi peace deal
By TOVAH LAZAROFF Published: SEPTEMBER 21, 2023 20:40
Updated: SEPTEMBER 22, 2023 23:28
Saudi Arabia has outlined a set of demands regarding the Palestinian issue, which may pose a complex challenge.”
But Netanyahu has once again given Hamas and Iran and Islamic Jihad arguments in his UN speech with his new map of Israel, which envisages a no-state solution for Palestine, and rather wants to annex the West Bank and Area C for Israel. Shas‘ successor Ben G’vir in the government says he would let the Israel-SA deal collapse if Netanyahu made any concessions. Perhaps this would only be possible in the event of a Netanyahu-Gantz coalition with an amnesty for Bibi’s trial, but Bibi apparently hopes that such a foreign policy breakthrough will unite all Israelis who would then forget and stop their protests against his new dictatorship justice reform and the transformation of Israel into an authoritarian state and would subordinate themselves. In terms of domestic politics, he is further polarizing because he is the first Prime Minister not to take part in the previously cross-party memorial event for the murder of Rabin, who was murdered after the incitement by the Likud at the time by using Nazi pictures of Rabin and emotionalizing hate speeches by a right-wing radical who shared Ben G’vir’s and Smotrich´s views:
“Netanyahu to boycott Rabin memorial ceremony in first for prime minister – report
This will mark the first time a sitting prime minister has chosen not to attend the Rabin memorial ceremony.
By JERUSALEM POST STAFF Published: SEPTEMBER 19, 2023 12:54
Updated: SEPTEMBER 19, 2023 14:10
In terms of foreign policy, he also escalates with his UN speech with a map that claims the PLO’s West Bank is part of Israel. It remains unclear whether he wants a partial Greater Israel that annexes the West Bank, an expulsion of the Palestinians into the remaining areas and then maybe also a Jordanian solution, like the one Arie Sharon and not only him had in mind. How far can the PLO and Saudi Arabia agree without experiencing outrage from the Palestinians, who will then have to bury all two-state solutions, while Hamas and Iran will then portray themselves as the real representative of Palestinian interests and try to torpedo the whole thing.
“Netanyahu under fire for using Greater Land of Israel map at UN
Netanyahu used the map to illustrate a new era of peace in the Middle East that would include the Palestinians, but critics say he sent the opposite message.
By TOVAH LAZAROFF Published: SEPTEMBER 22, 2023 21:44
Updated: SEPTEMBER 23, 2023 00:43
Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the 78th Session of the UN General Assembly in New York City, US, September 22, 2023 (photo credit: REUTERS/BRENDAN MCDERMID) Advertisement
Prime Minister Netanyahu is under fire on social media for holding up a map at the United Nations General Assembly plenum on Friday that placed the West Bank and Gaza within the boundaries of sovereign Israel.
“No greater insult to every foundational principle of the UN than seeing Netanyahu display before the UNGA a “map of Israel” that straddles the entire land from the river to the sea,” the Palestinian Authority’s representative to Germany Laith Arafeh posted on X, formerly Twitter.
With this map Netanyahu negates “Palestine and its people” while “attempting to spin the audience with rhetoric about “peace” in the region, all the while entrenching the longest ongoing belligerent occupation in today’s world,” Arafeh said.
“But as H.E. President Mahmoud Abbas already responded yesterday: “Delusional are those who think peace in the region is possible without the realization of the full legitimate rights of the Palestinian people,” he added.
Netanyahu held up two maps at the UN during his speech. The first was intended to represent the geography of 1948, showing how Israel was alone in the Middle East and had no allies.
Israel was highlighted in green for effect.
Netanyahu unveils ’new Middle East,‘ but without Palestinians
The second map, which portrayed the year 2023 had seven countries in Green, including Israel and Saudi Arabia. It was meant to illustrate how Israel now had friends in the region and how a normalization deal with Saudi Arabia would expand that.
But the map that Netanyahu used, includes all the territory the Palestinians believe should be part of the borders of their future state. This includes the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem. The latter is under Israeli sovereignty, but the West Bank is outside those sovereign borders. It is divided into three sections Areas A and B which is under the governmental auspices of the Palestinian Authority and Area C, which is under IDF military and civilian rule. The Israeli Right including members of Netanyahu’s government wants to annex Area C. Israel had agreed to suspend annexation plans in exchange for the Abraham Accords.
Netanyahu used the map to illustrate a new era of peace in the Middle East that would include the Palestinians, but his critics said the map sent the opposite message.
Americans for Peace Now CEO Hadar Susskind posted on X that “Netanyahu is returning to his government of fascists, felons, and fundamentalists, which in both action and words contradicts his bogus rhetoric of peace.”
“His map of Greater Israel is perhaps the only honest part of his speech today,” Susskind wrote.
It’s not the only map fiasco of Netanyahu’s trip. According to Ariel Kahana of Yisrael HaYom, Netanyahu had asked for a map of the world to be placed in the room where he met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Tuesday.
But the map Israel Consulate General in New York brought him, was from the 1960s when the Soviet Union controlled eastern Europe and did not even include Ukraine as an independent country. The mistake was discovered only once the map was in the room and was not used.
What is now interesting is that all the US talks with Iran, Saudi Arabia and Israel are also linked to considerations of US military treaties including security against Iran or even a nuclear Iran. In the case of Israel, it is already being discussed whether it would be advantageous or disadvantageous if Israel would rely on the USA or on its own and not make Israel dependent and non-sovereign:
“Is an Israel-US defense pact in the Jewish state’s best interests? – editorial
Would such a pact be so superior to the current understandings with the US as to warrant giving up the IDF’s freedom of action and possibly limiting Israel’s military options?
By JPOST EDITORIAL Published: SEPTEMBER 22, 2023 05:56
An idea that has been kicking around since the early 1950s is enjoying a renaissance due to talk of a grand US-Saudi-Israel deal: a US-Israel mutual defense treaty.
The Saudis, in their quest for security assurances from the US as a condition for normalizing ties with Israel, are reportedly keen on a mutual defense treaty with the US themselves.
Since the Saudis want this, there is now talk of Washington signing a similar pact with Jerusalem. Indeed, this issue has reportedly been discussed extensively between senior Israeli and US officials in recent weeks.
Although the idea of a defense pact that would obligate the US to come to Israel’s defense in case of an existential threat is enticing, it is something Jerusalem needs to consider very carefully because, along with the advantages, there are also drawbacks.
The pros and cons of an Israel-US defense pact
First, let us address the benefits.
The most obvious benefit of such a pact is its message to Iran and other enemies of the Jewish state. As Senator Lindsey Graham, who has been pushing this idea for years, said in 2019, the message is simple: “If you are intending to destroy Israel, you have to go through us, and it will not turn out well for you.”
The second significant benefit is that it locks US commitments to Israel into a permanent framework. If such a treaty is ratified by a Senate supermajority, then it will make no difference whether the US president and administration are pro- or anti-Israel; the US will be treaty-bound to uphold Israel’s security.
What could possibly be wrong with that?
Well, for starters, such a treaty could potentially reduce Israel’s freedom of action, as such a pact would mean that Israel would need US permission to act militarily since such action could entangle its new defense partner – the US. Paradoxically, a deal intended to deter Israel’s enemies by bolstering deterrence and broadcasting that the US has Israel’s back could actually diminish deterrence by tying Israel’s hands.
Such a pact could seriously restrain Israel when it comes to Iran. An alliance with the US might be seen as an alternative to independent Israeli action, raising questions as to why Jerusalem should act on its own if the US is committed to coming to its defense.
Secondly, entering such a pact could lead to a reduction in the military assistance that the US provides Israel, which includes $3.8 billion in military aid annually, along with extensive research and development cooperation. Critics may argue that if Washington is treaty-bound to defend Israel, there’s less need to provide billions of dollars in military assistance.
Thirdly, the commitment to come to one another’s defense would go both ways, potentially drawing Israel into conflicts that would imperil Israel’s relations with various key countries and undermine other Israeli interests, including the well-being of Jewish communities.
Finally, such a pact conflicts with a key Zionist principle that goes to the core of Israel’s identity: self-reliance against any threat. Throughout its history, Israel has never asked foreign powers to fight its wars; it has only requested the equipment needed to defend itself, by itself. It has never wanted foreign fighters to fight on its behalf.
While David Ben-Gurion was keen on Israel joining NATO or forging a special partnership with the US in the early 1950s, Washington was uninterested, fearful that this would alienate the Arab nations and push them closer to Moscow during the Cold War.
In 1989, Israel’s relationship with the US was elevated to the status of Major non-NATO Ally, granting enhanced access to procurement and intelligence and affording military-to-military cooperation rivaling that of NATO nations.
In 2008, Congress mandated that any arms sales to the Middle East not harm Israel’s Qualitative Military Edge.
Israel’s status was upgraded even further in 2013 when Congress passed a law defining Israel as a strategic partner, allowing for the stockpiling and pre-positioning of US weapons in Israel, not only for American use but also for Israel’s in times of emergency.
Before jumping into a mutual defense pact, one important question needs to be asked: Would such a pact be so superior to the current understandings with the US as to warrant giving up the IDF’s freedom of action and possibly limiting Israel’s military options?
Parallel to the US-Iran negotiations, the discussions about a military treaty with US security guarantees for Saudi Arabia and Israel, there is now a fear among some US non-proliferation experts in the USA that Biden could provide the Saudis with nuclear technology for the development of nuclear weapons, as Trump has already done through the Iron Bridge program attempted during his term in office. In the view of the bipartsan experts this should not be done, even at the risk that China could then supply Saudi Arabia with nuclear technology and, in mutual deterrence with Iran, integrate it into the BRICS plus and the Silk Road BRI.
“27 experts urge Biden not to allow Saudis to enrich uranium for Israel deal
Ideologically diverse signatories, who include ex-Netanyahu adviser, say they support normalization, but warn such a program may bring Riyadh within reach of nuclear weapons
Over two dozen nuclear and Middle East experts on Thursday told US President Joe Biden not to permit Saudi Arabia to enrich uranium on its soil as part of a normalization deal with Israel.
The bipartisan group of 27 signatories wrote in a letter that they backed a potential deal between Jerusalem and Riyadh but expressed their belief that uranium enrichment was not necessary for a civil program, warning that such a process would bring the Saudis close to having offensive nuclear capabilities.
“We urge you to reject the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s request for uranium enrichment as part of or separate from a normalization agreement between Saudi Arabia and Israel,” they wrote, according to the Axios news site, which first reported on the letter.
Among the signatories are Jacob Nagel, a former national security adviser to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu; David Albright, a leading international nuclear expert; Olli Heinonen and Pierre Goldschmidt, former deputy director-generals of the International Atomic Energy Agency; as well as several US officials who served under Democratic and Republican presidents.
The letter was co-organized by a US conservative think tank with pro-Israel leanings, the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, and the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center, a nonprofit that advances understanding of nuclear proliferation issues.
The US is pushing Israel and Saudi Arabia to forge ties, and as part of the potential agreement, Riyadh is asking for a civilian nuclear program. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Wednesday warned against nuclear escalation in the region, but said that if Iran acquires a nuclear weapon, Saudi Arabia will need one also.
“It’s a useless effort, to reach a nuclear weapon, because you can’t use it,” he told Fox News. “If you use it, you’re going to have a big fight with the rest of the world.”
But, he added, “If they get one, we have to get one.”
According to a Thursday report in The Wall Street Journal, officials from Israel and the United States are working together on a plan that would potentially see the Gulf kingdom openly enrich uranium.
Unnamed Israeli and US officials told the paper that Netanyahu has told top nuclear and security experts in Israel to cooperate with US negotiators on a proposal for a “US-run uranium enrichment operation” in Saudi Arabia, as part of a potential normalization deal.
An unnamed senior Israel official told the newspaper that there would be “a lot” of safeguards on any potential program for uranium enrichment in Saudi Arabia.
Experts told the Journal that while there are potential remote shutdown mechanisms that could be put in place in a nuclear facility, or systems that could speed up centrifuges until they break, there were no guarantees such arrangements would be failsafe.
The report said that Biden has not yet agreed to the proposal, and noted that Washington officials are still looking at other alternatives.
While welcoming a potential deal, government critics have expressed concern over granting Riyadh a nuclear program, warning that allowing the Saudis to potentially develop a nuclear weapon would go against Israel’s nuclear strategy, and likely spark a nuclear arms race in the Middle East.
“The Saudi crown prince already spoke yesterday about the possibility of Saudi Arabia having nuclear weapons. All his life, Netanyahu fought precisely against such moves. These are the foundations of our nuclear strategy,” opposition leader Yair Lapid said Thursday.
“Strong democracies do not sacrifice their security interests for politics,” he warned. “It is dangerous and irresponsible. Israel must not agree to any type of uranium enrichment in Saudi Arabia.”
Both former prime minister Ehud Barak, an outspoken government critic, and Labor party leader Merav Michaeli also warned of consequences over the proposals in interviews Thursday.
Foreign Minister Eli Cohen dismissed the fears, saying there was no need to rush to judgment prematurely, in an interview with Army Radio.
“There are many details for that kind of agreement,” he said. “But Israel’s security takes precedence above everything. We want peace, but also security.”
He also stated that the last details could be finalized as early as the start of 2024.
“The gaps can be bridged,” Cohen told Army Radio. “It will take time. But there is progress.”
As part of the framework, Saudi Arabia is also asking the US for a major mutual defense pact and significant arms deals, as well as Israeli concessions to the Palestinians.
The non-proliferation experts from both parties fear that the proliferation treaty will be dissolved after Israel, India, Pakistan and North Korea have already acquired nuclear weapons through the UN Security Council’s nuclear club and that this could be the beginning of a nuclear arms race in the Middle East between Saudi Arabia, Iran, Turkey and perhaps Egypt and Algeria. As Trump didn’t care about with his Ironbride project and maybe Biden won´t either, maybe then Saudiarabia and other New Middle East countries don´t have to rely on China or Russia, which is already supplying Erdogan’s dreams of nuclear weapons with the first nuclear power plant for his neo-Ottoman empire.
“September 21, 2023 | Letter to President Biden
Letter on Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s request for uranium enrichment
September 21, 2023
President Joseph R. Biden, Jr.
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President,
As a bipartisan group of Middle East regional and nuclear nonproliferation experts, many of whom have served in both Democratic and Republican administrations, we urge you to reject the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s request for uranium enrichment as part of or separate from a normalization agreement between Saudi Arabia and Israel. Such an agreement could bring much needed stability to the region, building upon certain positive Saudi policies and encouraging further progress. However, Riyadh does not need uranium enrichment to produce peaceful nuclear energy. Enrichment could bring Saudi Arabia to the brink of acquiring nuclear arms, and U.S. policy should prohibit it.
Since the dawn of the atomic age, it has been a core U.S. national security priority to prevent the spread of uranium enrichment and plutonium reprocessing technologies, which could be used to make fuel for atomic weapons. America has pursued this policy even with potential nuclear cooperation partners that are close U.S. allies. Public reports indicate Riyadh has requested an enrichment facility operated by Americans inside Saudi Arabia, but this poses an unacceptable proliferation risk, particularly given Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s public comments on nuclear weapons.
Riyadh’s threats to choose China as a nuclear supplier are hardly reason to change this critical U.S. policy. Indeed, acquiescing to such threats amounts to a sign of weakness and could encourage similar efforts by other countries. The United States has multiple tools of leverage to persuade Riyadh not to choose China as a nuclear supplier and to disrupt cooperation on uranium enrichment.
At the same time, the United States should significantly intensify its efforts to roll back Iran’s uranium enrichment activities. Providing Saudi Arabia with the same latent capability would be counter-productive and could trigger a regional arms race.
Any nuclear cooperation agreement with Saudi Arabia must meet the highest nonproliferation standards, including the commitment made by the United Arab Emirates in 2009 to forgo enrichment and reprocessing technologies (also known as the “gold standard” of nonproliferation), and enhanced inspection and transparency measures through a strong Additional Protocol with the International Atomic Energy Agency.
We are confident you share our goal of preventing the spread of atomic weapons and the means to acquire them and urge you to uphold longstanding U.S. nonproliferation policy.
Anthony Ruggiero, Senior Director and Senior Fellow, Foundation for Defense of Democracies’ (FDD) Nonproliferation and Biodefense Program, and former Deputy Assistant to the President and National Security Council Senior Director for Counterproliferation and Biodefense (co-organizer)
Henry Sokolski, Executive Director, Nonproliferation Policy Education Center, and former Deputy for Nonproliferation Policy, U.S. Department of Defense (co-organizer)
Andrea Stricker, Deputy Director and Research Fellow, FDD’s Nonproliferation and Biodefense Program (co-organizer)
David Albright, Founder and President, Institute for Science and International Security
Ilan Berman, Senior Vice President, American Foreign Policy Council
Peter Bradford, former Commissioner, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, former Chair, New York Public Service Commission, and former Adjunct Professor of Nuclear Power and Public Policy, Yale School of the Environment and Vermont Law School
Susan F. Burk, former Special Representative of the President for Nuclear Nonproliferation
Sarah Burkhard, Senior Research Associate, Institute for Science and International Security
Thomas Countryman, Board Chair of the Arms Control Association and former Acting Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security
Mark Dubowitz, Chief Executive, FDD
Christopher Ford, Visiting Fellow, Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, Visiting Professor, Missouri State University’s Graduate School of Defense & Strategic Studies, and former Assistant Secretary of State for International Security and Nonproliferation
Torrey Froscher, former Chief of Analysis, Director of Central Intelligence Nonproliferation Center
Robert Gallucci, Professor, Georgetown University, and former Ambassador-at-Large and Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs
Pierre Goldschmidt, former Deputy Director General and the Head of the Department of Safeguards, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Thomas D. Grant, Fellow, Lauterpacht Centre for International Law at the University of Cambridge, Faculty Director and Executive Board Member, LITSAT Initiative at George Washington University, and former Senior Advisor for Strategic Planning, Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation, U.S. Department of State
Olli Heinonen, Distinguished Fellow, Stimson Center, and former Deputy Director General and the Head of the Department of Safeguards, IAEA
R. Scott Kemp, Associate Professor, Nuclear Science and Engineering, MIT, and former Science Advisor for Nonproliferation and Arms Control, U.S. Department of State
Daryl G. Kimball, Executive Director, Arms Control Association
Gregory D. Koblentz, Associate Professor, George Mason University
Valerie Lincy, Executive Director, Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control
Edwin S. Lyman, PhD, Director of Nuclear Power Safety, Union of Concerned Scientists
Jacob Nagel, Senior Fellow, FDD, Visiting Professor, Technion, Brigadier General (Res.), and former Acting National Security Advisor to Benjamin Netanyahu and head of Israel’s National Security Council
Yleem D.S. Poblete, Ph.D, former Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control, Verification and Compliance, and congressional negotiator on “gold standard” for U.S.-UAE and other nuclear cooperation agreements
Jonathan Schanzer, Senior Vice President, FDD, and former intelligence analyst, U.S. Department of the Treasury
Sharon Squassoni, Research Professor, George Washington University, and former U.S. Department of State and Arms Control and Disarmament Agency official
Behnam Ben Taleblu, Senior Fellow, FDD
Ambassador Jackie Wolcott, former U.S. representative to the IAEA
Henry Kissinger, despite having signed the Global Zero Initiative, took a more relaxed view of this, believing that if India and Pakistan both had nuclear weapons, this would not only appease both on the Kashmir issue, but could actually force them to cooperate. Seymour Hersh describes in his book “Israel Nuclear Power” that even during the Kennedy administration it was considered whether one should stick to nonproliferation or not allow and promote an Asian ring of nuclear Japan, Taiwan and India against China. At that time, however, this was rejected again. Nonproliferation forever or then also a nuclear Germany and Japan or Poland?