“Schlaglicht Israel” offers an insight into internal Israeli debates and reflects selected, political events that affect daily life in Israel. It appears every two weeks and summarizes articles that appeared in the Israeli daily press.
Main topics covered in this Publication:
- Three Terrorist Attacks in Quick Succession
- Historical Summit in Sde Boker
- Israel Insists on Neutrality
- Selection of Articles
Are we headed for another security escalation?
Tuesday’s horrific terrorist attack in Beersheba is one of the gravest in five years. The eight-minute killing spree saw the terrorist – a Bedouin Israeli – kill four people and wound two others. (…) defense officials maintained that Abu Qi’an acted alone but the Shin Bet will have to answer a few questions, chiefly over whether he could have been stopped prior to embarking on a murderous rampage at the heart of one of Israel’s largest cities. (…) as the situation on the ground is already volatile, the main concern now is of a slew of copycat attacks, especially in the age of social media, where footage of the attack has gone viral instantaneously. The concern over copycat attacks is compounded by other issues that could trigger a security escalation, including the erosion in the Palestinian Authority’s status, the dire economic situation in the territories, and the overall frustration the Palestinians feel toward their leaders. What the defense establishment finds most troubling is the attempts by Hamas to orchestrate terrorist attack in Judea and Samaria and Jerusalem. (…) Therefore, on top of their operations and vigilance on the ground, security forces will be required make it clear to Hamas in Gaza that it will not allow it to escalate the situation in Judea and Samaria, Jerusalem and possibly at the heart of Israel – especially if it expects goodwill gestures to continue.
Lilach Shoval, IHY, 23.03.22
The end justifies the means
Hamas in Gaza last week marked the 18th anniversary of the assassination of founder and spiritual leader Ahmed Yassin. His elimination on March 22, 2004 – three years into the Second Intifada – came too late for the 430 Israelis killed and 2,260 who were wounded in the 780 terrorist attacks Hamas carried out during those years under Yassin’s leadership and sometimes, even direct orders. Yassin was arrested, tried and imprisoned in Israel twice, and twice he was released without serving his full sentence: first as part of the Jibril deal in 1985, in which Israel released 1,150 Palestinian terrorists, and then in 1997, following the Mossad’s failed assassination attempt on Khaled Mashaal’s in Jordan. Yassin was assassinated as part of a wide-scale operation Israel wages against Hamas leaders. A month after his elimination, his successor, Abdel Aziz al-Rantisi, suffered the same fate. These hits were denounced worldwide (…). The Israeli policy was adopted by the United States, as evidenced by the assassination of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden in 2011, which dealt a crippling blow to the terrorist group from which it did not recover (…). The elimination of a terrorist leader is not the appearance of everything not can this policy alone serve as the exclusive answer, but it is an important element in the war on terror and a prover and effective way to undermine it and prevent – even temporarily – new terrorist attacks. (…) targeted assassinations are a necessity, a move that harms terrorism and weakens it, and most importantly – spares lives. (…)
Eyal Zisser, IHY, 27.03.22
Shin Bet leaves an open house for Islamic State terrorists
(…) in Hadera, much like in Be’er Sheva, it seems that the aggressors had a previous terrorist background and were linked to the Islamic State. (…) this is starting to look like a scandal on the part of the Shin Bet, which failed to turn resources against terrorist sleeper cells working from within Israel. (…) the latest attack wasn’t spontaneous, it was premeditated. The terrorists were armed to the teeth and well-trained — and the Shin Bet still missed them. In its defense, the Shin Bet’s purview is the West Bank rather than Israeli Arabs, but still, it must do better. We tend to look at last May’s intercommunal violence as a wake-up call for the State of Israel in regards to a potential multi-front conflict, especially vis-à-vis our Arab citizens, but the Shin Bet did not particularly excel in giving us a forewarning about the impending events, nor did it during the riots. The organization is admittedly limited in its capabilities, but it seems like it did not learn its lesson from last year’s happenings, and certainly not when it comes to whom it is supposed to be monitoring. (…) Despite its exceptional performance against terrorism in the West Bank, (…) the organization has failed time and time again when it comes to Israeli Arabs — and this requires a rude awakening. (…)
Yossi Yehushua, YED, 28.03.22
Israel’s mission for the foreseeable future: Halt terrorism
Amid the new wave of terrorism striking Israel, including the shooting in Bnei Brak on Tuesday that claimed five lives, the government’s main mission for the foreseeable future can be summed up in two words: halt terrorism. (…) The attacks are believed to have been carried out primarily by supporters of the Islamic State terrorist group, which is in itself a new development. (…) Israel should: Continue to boost security forces and keep them on high alert as well as tighten security at checkpoints and in urban centers throughout the country, especially as Muslims approach their month-long holiday of Ramadan that starts next week. Work together with the PA and friendly countries in the region to gather intelligence on ISIS operatives and other terrorist organizations in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Demolish the homes of the terrorists as a punitive measure to deter future attacks. Demand that the PA stop its so-called “Martyrs Fund,” which pays monthly cash stipends to the families of Palestinian terrorists killed, wounded or imprisoned. Urge all citizens to be vigilant, particularly at sites that are vulnerable to terrorist attacks – markets, malls, synagogues, cafés and other places where crowds gather – as well as on public transportation throughout the country. (…) Israelis are known to be the most resilient of people, and this is the time for that resilience, strength and standing together. It’s also a time for us all to put politics aside and support the government and security forces in all they are doing to halt terrorism. (…)
Editorial, JPO, 30.03.22
The top priority – take control of the situation
There are moments when a country has to stop and rethink its path. Change direction. Move from defense to offense. (…) The series of terrorist attacks in the space of this past week requires Israel to think outside the box. (…) The lack of any direct connection between the attacks is irrelevant in light of how close they were to one another. Israel is under a terrorist assault from multiple fronts, inside and out. One attack leads to another, and one terrorist inspires another. (…) Naturally, a series of attacks creates the sense that Israel has lost control and its security forces are helpless. (…) cool heads and judicious decisions are needed (…). Israel cannot evade the need to launch a comprehensive wave of arrests and confiscation of illegal guns in the Arab sector as a way of thwarting attacks and creating deterrence. When it comes to the Palestinians, Israel will need to deploy more forces to prevent terrorist attacks, while trying to maintain a certain degree of normalcy during Ramadan. (…) Israel needs to regain control and instate deterrence. It must call up forces, display a military presence, operate everywhere, at all times, to give the enemy – and the Israeli public – the sense that the government is in Jerusalem and not in the hands of anyone who grabs a gun and plots an attack. (…) Just like 20 years ago, Israel must act again, forcefully, to defend the home.
Yoav Limor, IHY, 30.03.22
Israel’s mishandling of terror wave might lead to a third intifada
(…) what started as lone-wolf terror sprees by Israeli Arabs in the past week, have now evolved into a deadly and ongoing wave of copycat attacks, sometimes perpetrated by Palestinians from the territories. (…) It seems that these past relatively terror-free years have rendered us somewhat complacent, if not utterly comatose. (…) Now the ball is in Israel’s court: any wrong, emotional and hasty move could take us back to the dark days of countless suicide bombings within the Green Line. This will allow the Islamist Salafist movements and the Hamas terrorist group to realize their main goal: igniting the third intifada. (…) The black hole that is the chronic misunderstanding of these attacks is an invitation for similar incidents. When extremists are ready to die for their beliefs, and every second household in Umm al-Fahm has at least one weapon in its closet, anything can happen. (…) When you have no clear target, all you can really do is spray and pray. This year, Israel was preparing for Ramadan via a series of preemptive actions meant to placate those in the three most likely flashpoints: (…) In prisons, Israel lifted some of the restrictions imposed after the escape of six security prisoners from Gilboa Prison last year (…). In Jerusalem, the level of friction with the Palestinian population was reduced, while the contested neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah in East Jerusalem was effectively removed from the limelight; Israel has also allowed virtually any Palestinian without any security restrictions to reach the Temple Mount during Ramadan. In Gaza and the West Bank, Israel has opened its gates to a vast amount of Palestinian workers – (…) numbers not seen here since the Second Intifada in 2000s. (…) Now, Israel will have to decide whether all these gestures of goodwill towards the Palestinians should continue, or whether it will return to a policy of closures and restrictions.
Alex Fishman, YED, 30.03.22
Death to the Arabs’
It was unfortunately predictable that, following the terrorist attacks on Israel’s civilian population this past week, unruly mobs will take to the streets calling for “Death to the Arabs.” They were encouraged by Knesset Members, who seek to derive political advantage from the sense of anger and insecurity generated by such events. (…) None of them mentioned that two of the victims of the recent terror attacks were Arabs. (…) When Theresienstadt concentration camp was liberated and some of the inmates wanted to kill the Nazi guards who were then helpless, it was the Reform rabbi, Dr. Leo Baeck, who stopped them (…). Israel in indebted to its Arab citizens who contribute so much to our country. It was high time that their representatives should be part of our government. We cannot allow the political agendas of those who want to overthrow it to take advantage of the recent terrorist attacks to discredit them.
Michael Boyden, TOI, 31.03.22
Terror is the only way open to the Palestinians
The way of terror is the only way open to the Palestinians to fight for their future. The way of terror is the only way for them to remind Israel, the Arab states and the world of their existence. They have no other way. Israel has taught them this. If they don’t use violence, everyone will forget about them. (…) Look what happens to Gaza between the rocket barrages. Who pays any attention to it? Who cares about it? Everyone already wants to forget about the Palestinians’ existence. People are tired of hearing about Palestinian suffering, and the quiet makes this possible. Only when the bullets fly, the knives strike and the rockets boom do people remember that there is another people here with a terrible problem that must be resolved. (…) The Palestinians were relatively quiet for months, as they suffered violence and buried their dead and lost their lands, homes and last shreds of dignity. And what did they get in return? An Israeli government that declares that the issue of their fate will not be discussed anytime in the near future because it is not comfortable for the government in its current composition. (…) The terror attacks are the punishment, the sin is the arrogance and the feeling that nothing is that urgent. Israel is in an uncomfortable situation now. (…) Terrorism must be fought, of course. No country can allow its people to live in fear and danger. (…)
Gideon Levy, HAA, 31.03.22
2. Historical Summit in Sde Boker
Negev Summit sees Israel enter new era
(…) Four top representatives of Arab states gathering together at Sde Boker, with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Israel’s Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, demonstrates an immense shift in the Middle Eastern sands. (…) The Negev Summit, hosted by Lapid and attended by his counterparts, the foreign ministers of the US, Egypt, the UAE, Bahrain and Morocco, goes a stage further in recognizing the Jewish state, normalizing ties, and strengthening relations. Although physically absent, Saudi Arabia – with which Israel does not have diplomatic relations – will definitely be following the event, as will other countries, particularly Jordan, with which Jerusalem has had full diplomatic ties since 1994. The meeting is another expression of the new age that began when Israel signed the Abraham Accords with the UAE, Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan in 2020. (…) to a certain extent, the summit is another sign of the “dehyphenation” between Israel and the diplomatic process with the Palestinians. There are more pressing concerns in the region than the Palestinian issue. Europe and the US might be slow in recognizing or acknowledging this, but countries in the Middle East are well aware of it. Chief among the current concerns is Iran (…). Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is also very much on the agenda, as its impact is also being felt in this region. Both the energy crisis and the expected shortages of wheat and other commodities are of immediate concern. (…) A meeting in Israel that includes top diplomats from four Arab countries would have been unimaginable just a couple of years ago. Israel is firmly on the diplomatic map. Against the backdrop of the Iranian threat and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which brought about the parley, the Negev Summit itself provides welcome room for optimism.
Editorial, JPO, 27.03.22
A new regional role for Israel, as Washington shows signs of stepping back
(…) In another step in Israel’s integration in the region, four Arab foreign ministers are convening with their Israeli counterpart, and the meeting’s location, Sde Boker, matters. The Negev kibbutz is a site in a desert region that is most associated with David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s iconic Zionist leader and founding premier. (…) The fact that the Arab countries would attend the meeting is a testament to Israel’s increasing centrality in the region. Yet it is also a testament to the fact that part of Israel’s strength – not all of it to be sure – is its relationship with Washington. All the participants at the Negev Summit have their own grievances against the Biden administration, but none of them sees Israel as a substitute for the US superpower. It is fascinating that each of the Arab states attending the summit views Israel as a country that could either improve its own standing in Washington or sees Israel as able to supplement what the respective countries are not getting from the US. (…) Arabs notice that it is Israel that is willing to be kinetic against Iran, whether it is pushing back against Iran and proxies in Syria, in Iraq, and even inside Iran itself. (…) Israel does not have the same relationship with Riyadh that the US does, yet it does have significant contacts, and one must imagine that Israel is sharing intelligence with the kingdom, against the Houthis. In short, these Gulf countries tend to see the region through foreign and domestic threats coming from Iran and Houthis. They perceive Israel as seeing the region through a similar lens. (…) Ben-Gurion would have been proud that, given Arab perception that the US is engaged in retrenching in the Mideast, it is Israel being welcomed by key Arab states, expanding its regional profile and at least partly filling that void.
David Makovsky, TOI, 28.03.22
Normalization won’t make Palestinians disappear
(…) various Arab countries today have common interests with Israel that are unrelated to the Palestinian issue (…). This (…) doesn’t mean that the Palestinians are disappearing. (…) Therefore, the enhanced normalization between Arab countries and Israel doesn’t mean we can now ignore the Palestinians, but rather, that the burden of finding a solution now weighs on us more than ever. Why should an Emirati citizen (…) care about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict more than the Israeli and the Palestinian? The interest in solving it was and remains, first and foremost, ours. This childish fantasy, that open normalization with the Arab world will make the Palestinians evaporate, was addressed by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who reminded us of what most Israelis would rather forget: The Abraham Accords are not “a substitute for progress between the Palestinians and Israelis.” (…)Tightening relations with the Arab world can also be an opportunity in the Palestinian arena, but it depends mostly on us and them, not on public opinion in Bahrain.
Noa Landau, HAA, 29.03.22
The Negev Summit shows just how much things have changed
(…) America’s strength in the region has weakened in the eyes of leaders in the region. The longstanding backing that Washington has given the Sunni axis (Saudi Arabia, Gulf states, Egypt, and Jordan) has eroded. The hands-off policy that began during the days of President Barack Obama continued into the Trump presidency. The current White House occupant has also adopted a minimalist posture that is reluctant of any military or political engagement, as is clearly demonstrated in the Ukrainian crisis. (…) The other change is the boosted regional standing Israel has enjoyed as of late. The summit in the Negev between Israel’s Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and four of his counterparts from the Arab world is the culmination of the peace process that began in 2020 with the Abraham Accords. The summit underscores the degree to which the Gulf states have acknowledged the benefits of these agreements, especially in that Israel is seen as a bridge to the US, offers advanced technology, and allows for collaboration on a host of issues. With every day that goes by, Israel is seen as less of a foreign entity, and their desire to bolster ties only increases. (…) About a decade ago the region was divided between the “good” and the “bad” actors, but today these terms are no longer valid. In this era of regional turbulence, everyone wants stability, calm, and prosperity. (…)
Gadi Hitman, IHY, 29.03.22
3. Israel Insists on Neutrality
Israel is closing the gates to Ukrainian refugees to spite the left
(…) Everyone involved with immigration to Israel knows that at least two-thirds of the immigrants eligible to live in Israel under the Law of Return are not Jewish. (…) Here’s the riddle: Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked and her supporters vehemently oppose raising the quota for refugees not eligible to come to Israel under the Law of Return from 5,000 to 20,000. This marginal addition of people, some of whom will obviously leave when the war is over, endangers the future of the Jewish state. (…) Those who favor raising the quota are leftists, Hellenists, in favor of “a state of all its citizens.” On the other side, the proud patriots stand ready to take in tens of thousands of non-Jews who have a connection, no matter how faint, to Judaism. And in this case they would be taken in not as refugees but as citizens, with immigrants’ benefits and passports – forever. That is, a few-thousand more non-Jewish Ukrainians who manage – because of a lack of enforcement – to stay here under the temporary status of refugees after the war is over will endanger the Jewish state. On the other hand, a few more tens of thousands of non-Jewish Ukrainians who stay here as citizens with full rights and who received funding in the billions will strengthen the Jewish state. (…)
Raviv Drucker, HAA, 16.03.22
Iron Dome and beyond: Israel can, and must, save lives in Ukraine
Throughout Ukraine, civilians increasingly become the main victims of Russia’s military tactics. Ukraine’s cities are targeted by missile attacks, artillery, rockets, and air strikes. (…) Unfortunately, the Ukrainian military is equipped with aging, predominantly Soviet-era air defense systems that do not provide adequate protection against more modern ballistic weapons and artillery. The country is simply incapable of effectively countering Russian civilian victimization tactics. (…) One Western country has the capacity, both military and civilian, to help Ukraine to protect civilians. This country is Israel. (…) the country also has deep expertise in protecting civilians from missile and artillery threats. (…) Since the Iron Dome’s deployment 11 years ago, it has been credited with minimizing the impact of rockets fired from Gaza Strip by saving lives, reducing damage to infrastructure, and providing a general sense of security to Israeli civilians. (…) Israel has already sold the Iron Dome to several countries, including Azerbaijan, which uses it for protection against Russia-made missiles. Israel is even willing to provide the Iron Dome to the United Arab Emirates. This begs the question of why the Iron Dome, or any other component of Israel’s response structure has not been deployed in Ukraine, despite the latter’s repeated requests. Israel is treading a fine line when it comes to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Initially, the government had been reluctant to openly criticize Russia’s aggression, but ultimately voted to condemn it in the UN General Assembly – in no small part due to U.S. pressure. In practice, however, Israel sought to remain ‘neutral,’ (…) Israel is concerned that any fallout with Russia will curtail its ability to act against Iranian targets in Syria, an important security interest. Second, a conflict with Moscow might endanger the Jewish community in Russia. (…) Israel’s concerns are valid, but the country’s unique ability to help Ukraine save civilians lives outweighs them. (…) helping Ukraine to save civilians lives is simply the right thing to do. (…)
Eugene Finkel, Anna Getmansky, HAA, 20.03.22
Ukraine: Gains for China, worries for Israel
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine looks like another chapter in the rise of China and the waning of the US. As for Israel, its interests do not justify its ambivalence. (…). In geo-political terms, there will be three tendencies to monitor carefully: Turkey under Erdogan will continue to try to mend relations with Israel and the Gulf states. All the countries of the Middle East will struggle to come to an acceptable accommodation with Chinese economic and political expansionism. Finally, and by far the most important, the insane (…) desire of the Biden administration to reach a new agreement with Iran, even worse than the original “deal” of 2015, will threaten the Middle East in general and the Gulf states and Israel in particular, with an almost-certain nuclear Iran and one empowered to continue and increase its support for terrorist groups such as Hamas, Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad, among others. Clearly, this is the most important issue to be faced by Israel in the post-war period, along with increased grain prices. The somewhat ambiguous position taken by the Israeli government in the face of the clearly unprovoked and illegal attack by Russia on Ukraine can be explained, if not justified, by the desire of Israel not to overturn the tacit agreement whereby Russia does not interfere with Israeli air attacks on Iranian targets in Syria. Nevertheless (…) nothing can justify the lack of a full-throated condemnation of the Russian aggression and support of the incredibly brave Ukrainian people in their resistance, as well as their wholly admirable president. The conflict between morality and reality is sometimes a difficult one to deal with, and this is certainly one such case, but when the issue arises the only justifiable decision is to do that which is morally appropriate. (…)
Norman Bailey, GLO, 20.03.22
By boycotting Zelensky, Joint List shows how wrong it is
Once again, the Joint List, led by the Hadash Party, decided to be on the wrong side of history. Just before Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s address to the Knesset, the party announced that its members would not attend the virtual speech. (…) like a Communist Party, it seems like they feel the urge to align with out-of-date concepts and positions that could have been seen as reasonable in Israel at the beginning of the Cold War, but now are awkward and contradictory to their declared goal – to achieve peace. In October 2020, the party officially voted against the approval of the Abraham Accords – the peace agreements with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. In October 2016, the party boycotted the funeral of Israel’s former president Shimon Peres, who won a Nobel Peace Prize and was one of the initiators of the Oslo Accords. In March 2017, Hadash alongside Balad, the Palestinian-nationalist party in the Knesset, issued a cosponsored condemnation of the Gulf Cooperation Council decision to designated Hezbollah as a terrorist organization. In December that same year, while Syrian President Bashar Assad was using chemical gas against his own people during the war in Syria, Hadash put out a statement supporting him and commending him for regaining control over the city of Aleppo. (…) the situation is clear – there is one country that wants to be free; it wants to be part of the European Union and above all, it is fighting in the name of democracy. The other country – Russia – wants to regain the control it lost in the 1990s when the Soviet Union collapsed. (…) Only one of them is bombing schools, shelters and hospitals. (…) Why is the party that claims to be against “occupation” in one place now supporting occupation in another?
Editorial, JPO, 21.03.22
We shouldn’t be quick to condemn Russia-Ukraine Holocaust comparisons
(…) Comparing the current crisis to the Holocaust is occurring on both sides. (…) Setting aside whether the current war is in any way comparable to World War II, there is now the issue of whether such statements coming out of totalitarian states like Russia can even be authentically condemned. (…) Just look at Russia: peaceful protesters who dare oppose Putin are being arrested left and right. Freedom of speech is not a given right in these states. (…) How can the modern world expect the citizens of such a state to dare contradict their leaders and potentially risk their lives in the process? (…) The West would do well to exercise empathy toward those being harmed greatly by oppressive regimes. (…)
Editorial, JPO, 24.03.22
Zelenskyy’s Knesset speech completely missed the mark
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s first major mistake came on the 25th day of the horrific war imposed on his country by Russia. (…) His address glossed over all the important points. Instead, we heard artificial comparisons between Hitler’s “final solution” and Putin’s desire to defeat Ukraine and subjugate it to his totalitarian regime. (…) Zelenskyy’s comparisons were superfluous and detrimental – and mainly unnecessary. There is no reason to evoke the Jewish people’s tragic history in the Holocaust to explain that Putin’s tyrannical regime is currently perpetrating a terrible crime against a sovereign country. Noting the Ukrainian righteous among the nations who saved Jews from the Nazis also left a bitter taste, as it’s impossible to forget the many more other Ukrainians who gladly helped and joined the Nazis in slaughtering their Jewish neighbors. If the Ukrainian president really wanted to appeal to the sensitivities of Israelis and point to the similarities to his people, who are doggedly and courageously fighting for their independence against a diabolical enemy, then the obvious and correct comparison was right in front of him: Ukraine’s fight against Putin’s merciless onslaught is similar to Israel’s fight against Arab aggression. (…)
Ariel Bulshtein, IHY, 21.03.22
4. Selection of Articles
In new Iran nuclear deal, ‘groggers’ won’t help us deal with the problem
(…) After months of negotiations, it appeared that the US was on the cusp of reentering the deal with Iran that President Donald Trump left in 2018. (…) Recent press reports have not been encouraging. The new deal, it has been suggested, would provide many concessions to Iran, including lifting sanctions on its oil and shipping, and removing the designation of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps as a foreign terrorist organization. (…) One dreads the possibility that a 2022 JCPOA may actually turn out to be “shorter and weaker” than the original deal, rather than the stated goal of longer and stronger. (…) A LONGER and stronger deal would oblige Iran to submit to “anytime, anywhere” inspections of its nuclear facilities and military installations by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). It would not allow Iran to cheat by delaying such inspections, giving it the ability to hide evidence of prohibited nuclear activities. A longer and stronger deal would also address a host of issues the JCPOA avoided, such as Iran’s ballistic missile program, its abysmal human rights record, sponsorship of international terrorism, support for the brutal Assad regime in Syria, and its use of proxies in conflicts in Lebanon, Yemen, Gaza and beyond. A longer and stronger deal would not be “front-loaded” and release to the Iranian government hundreds of billions of dollars in sanctions relief that could be readily deployed for these and other malevolent purposes. (…)
William Daroff, JPO, 17.03.22
Iran is on its way to a nuclear bomb and Israel is silent
(…) According to senior government sources, one of the reasons Israel is quiet is because its silence was a condition made by the Americans if Jerusalem wanted to receive regular updates from what was happening in Vienna. To get the information, Israel needed to tamp down its criticism – and the decision made was that knowing what was happening was crucial for Israel to potentially influence the outcome. The problem is that Israel does not seem to have influenced the deal at all. Instead, what we are about to see signed is a deal that will be remembered as the worst possible for Israel and the best possible for Iran. It is shorter and weaker than the original JCPOA signed in 2015 and will ultimately lead to Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon if and when it decides to. (…) the second reason for Israel’s quiet (…) is (…) a general resignation that a bad deal is coming and Israel cannot do anything to stop it. It is almost an acceptance of the fact that Iran is going to get a bomb. While this might be true, should Israel not at least try? Should our leaders not be warning the people of what is coming? (…) Bennett could fly next week to Europe and ask for meetings with leaders in Paris and London. He could get the leader of China on the phone or fly to Washington and demand a meeting with Biden. He and Lapid could also hit the airwaves and speak every day on another international news channel. (…) The resignation coming out of Jerusalem does not demonstrate strength; it shows weakness – and it should have Israelis concerned. (…) when that deal is signed, there will be little way to explain it except as a failure by the Israeli government. (…)
Yaakov Katz, JPO, 17.03.22
When Israeli gas stays in the ground, everybody loses
(…) Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (…) proposes laying a gas pipeline on the sea bottom from the Leviathan gas field to Turkey and from there to Europe. A pipeline to Turkey would stretch for 650 kilometers at a cost of $2 billion – much cheaper than a pipeline to Europe via Cyprus and Greece. The pipeline would supply gas for local consumption in Turkey and continue from there to Western Europe, which would enable Erdogan to collect hefty transit fees. Aside from the economic benefit, the pipeline also offers a strategic benefit. Erdogan does not want to be dependent upon Putin’s gas. Turkey is a member of NATO and Erdogan also wants the country to become part of the European Union. (…) both Turkey and Europe want gas from Israel, in order to reduce their dependence on Putin. And we have a large gas surplus in the Leviathan and the Karish and Tanin natural gas fields. (…) Europe’s need for gas, and the sharp rise in the price of gas (…) are creating the possibility of laying another natural gas pipeline via the sea to Egypt, where the gas would be liquified and transferred to Europe. That would be a most welcome development too. In any event, Israel has become a regional power à la natural gas. (…) It’s time to understand that if the cult of the gas charlatans had succeeded in its machinations and halted the development of the Leviathan gas field, today we’d be swamped by legal battles and wouldn’t have enough gas for our own consumption, let alone for export. (…)
Nehemia Shtrasler, HAA, 22.03.22
HAA = Haaretz
YED = Yedioth Ahronoth / Ynetnews
JPO = Jerusalem Post
IHY = Israel HaYom
TOI = Times of Israel
GLO = Globes
Published: April 2022.
Dr. Paul Pasch,
Head of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Israel