Chief U.S. Negotiator in Iran Nuclear Talks to Resign - David E. Sanger (New York Times)
The chief U.S. negotiator with Iran, Wendy Sherman, said on Wednesday
that she planned to resign as undersecretary of state for policy,
shortly after the June 30 deadline for the Iran nuclear talks.
With her departure, all the top officials who have negotiated with
Iran over the past two years will have left the administration, leaving
questions about who will coordinate the complex process of carrying out a
Tony Blair Resigns as Middle East Peace Envoy - David Barrett (Telegraph-UK)
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, has resigned from his
position as the Quartet's peace envoy to the Middle East after seven
See also Prime Minister Netanyahu Thanks Middle East Quartet Envoy Tony Blair (Prime Minister's Office)
Report: Syrian Regime Prepares Evacuation of
Key Military Base (NOW-Lebanon)
The Syrian regime is preparing the evacuation of a key military
base in Deir Ezzor after ISIS' victory in Palmyra cut ground routes to
the besieged city, Al-Araby al-Jadeed reported Monday.
Israel Weighs Allowing 1,500 Jordanians to Work in Eilat - Ariel Ben Solomon (Jerusalem Post)
Ayoub Kara, the acting Minister of Regional Cooperation, will visit
Jordan soon to finalize a deal that would allow 1,500 Jordanians to
work in Israel as day laborers.
The workers would mainly be employed in the Eilat area and would return home to Jordan every day.
2,000-Year-Old Jerusalem Aqueduct Uncovered (Times of Israel)
A section of Jerusalem's Lower Aqueduct, which brought water to
Jerusalem more than 2,000 years ago, was uncovered in the neighborhood
of Umm Tuba during the construction of a new sewer line, it was
announced last week.
The Israel Antiquities Authority excavated the area. Ya'akov Billig,
director of the excavation, said: "The Lower Aqueduct to Jerusalem,
which the Hasmonean kings constructed more than 2,000 years ago in order
to provide water to Jerusalem, operated intermittently until about one
hundred years ago."
The aqueduct begins at the Ein Eitam spring near Solomon's Pools south of Bethlehem and stretches 21 km. to Jerusalem.
Israel's First Jordanian PhD Wants to Bring Peace through Water - Renee Ghert-Zand (Times of Israel)
Amer Sweity, 34, an expert in desalination who conducts research at
Ben-Gurion University's Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research,
in March became the first Jordanian citizen to earn a doctoral degree
from an Israeli university.
Sweity's home country suffers from a severe water shortage.
In the Jordanian capital Amman, water flows to taps at home only once a
week. "And it's been like that for around 20 years," he said.
"Five desalination plants were built in Israel and that shifted everything for Israel in terms of water."
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- Report: Iran, North Korea Forging Ballistic, Nuclear Ties - John Irish
A seven-person North Korean Defense Ministry delegation visited a
military site near Tehran in April, the dissident National Council of
Resistance of Iran (NCRI) said Thursday. "The delegates included
nuclear experts, nuclear warhead experts, and experts in various
elements of ballistic missiles including guidance systems," NCRI said.
Another North Korean delegation was due to visit Iran in June.
- U.S. Intelligence: Iran Sending More Fighters to Yemen - Bill Gertz
The Iranian leadership earlier this month ordered militants from the
Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps' (IRGC) Quds Force, along with
Lebanese Hizbullah fighters, to Yemen to aid pro-Tehran rebels,
according to recent U.S. intelligence reports.
Estimates put the number of both Iranian and Iraqi Shi'ite forces
helping the Houthis in Yemen at around 5,000 people. On Sunday, Quds
Force Deputy Commander Brig. Gen. Esmail Ghani confirmed that the IRGC
is training the Houthis in Yemen. "The defenders of Yemen have been
trained under the banner of the Islamic Republic."
Middle East specialists said the influx of Iranian and Hizbullah
fighters is a troubling indicator of a growing Iranian threat to the
"It would effectively put the Quds force on the Saudi border and
potentially give Iran a naval and air presence near the Bab-el-Mandeb,
and the exit from the Red Sea to the Indian Ocean - a key trade route
for petroleum and all trade and U.S. naval movements through the Suez
Canal," said Anthony Cordesman, with the Center for Strategic and
Shahin Gobadi, a spokesman for the Iranian opposition group
Mojahedin Organization of Iran, said 50 tons of Iranian weapons was
sent from Mehrabad airport in Tehran to the Houthis in Sanaa last March
in four shipments disguised as humanitarian aid from the Iranian Red
(Washington Free Beacon)
- France Opposes Iran Nuclear Deal Without Military Site Checks
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said Wednesday that France would
oppose a nuclear deal with Iran if it did not allow inspections of
An agreement "will not be accepted by France if it is not clear that
verifications can be made at all Iranian facilities, including military
sites," Fabius told parliament.
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- U.S. Peace Negotiator Dennis Ross: What about Palestinian Responsibilities to Achieve Peace? - Gil Hoffman
Former U.S. peace negotiator Dennis Ross said Tuesday that President
Obama deserves credit for advancing Israel's security, but criticized
his approach on the issue of settlements in an interview with
the radio network VoiceofIsrael.com. "Insisting on a complete freeze,
including natural growth, established an objective that no Israeli
government had carried out," Ross said. "Creating a standard that
couldn't be achieved gave the Palestinians an excuse to sit back and do
nothing....I think it was a mistake, and it made it very difficult to do
very much on the peace process."
"If one is going to raise questions on why we don't have peace at
this point, the criticism has to be directed toward both sides. It can't
be directed only toward the Israelis. There can't be questions only
about Israeli responsibilities when there's no reference to Palestinian
responsibilities." Ross noted that Israel had made three significant
efforts to pursue peace since 2000, and in each case the Palestinians
rejected or didn't respond to them.
- Netanyahu to EU: Don't Condemn Israeli Construction in Settlement Blocs - Shlomo Cesana and Daniel Siryoti
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu proposed resuming peace talks with the
Palestinians but with the initial focus on defining areas where Israel
could build housing without fear of condemnation, an official said
Tuesday following a meeting with EU foreign policy chief Federica
- IDF Deploys Mortar Shell Alert System along Gaza Border - Lilach Shoval
The IDF announced Tuesday the deployment of a tactical radar system
designed to warn residents of southern Israel of incoming mortar attacks
from Gaza. Last summer's Gaza war saw 2,580 mortar shells fired at
Israeli border communities. The Iron Dome defense system is not
effective against short-range mortar shells. The military hopes the new
system will afford local residents 15 seconds to get to safety.
In the future, the military will consider whether to deploy the
same system in communities along Israel's northern border. The IDF is
also developing a transportable mortar alert system to warn soldiers
gathering in staging areas near the border.
- Worrying Signals from Europe - Zalman Shoval
European dignitaries have begun arriving at an increased rate with
warnings that Israel must soon launch a "diplomatic initiative" to renew
negotiations with the Palestinian Authority or expect growing pressure.
A French proposal
treats the establishment of a Palestinian state as a foregone
conclusion and does not allow Israel any say over security limitations
to be placed on the Palestinians. It is difficult not to notice the
EU's undertone that it has decided to support the establishment of a
Palestinian state, even without any real negotiations and regardless of
Israel's positions on the matter.
In a fairer and more ethical world, it would be possible to expect
Europe, of all places, with all its history concerning the Jewish
people, to unite in an unwavering effort to combat anti-Semitism in its
new anti-Zionist and anti-Israel disguise, and to try curbing academic
and economic boycotts. In reality, it is actually considering measures
that would leave Israel alone in the face of its enemies' machinations.
The EU desires to unilaterally dictate formulas that do not take
Israel's most basic interests into consideration, all while adhering to
the Palestinians' most extreme demands.
The writer is a former Israeli ambassador to the U.S.
- Hizbullah's War in Syria - Abdulrahman Al-Rashed
Hizbullah is fighting in Syria alongside the Assad regime based on
promises made by Iran to Assad that they will use any means to defend
him. Hizbullah has thus become like mercenaries who are brought from
Iraq and Afghanistan to fight far away from home upon an Iranian
arrangement. As time passed and as more of Hizbullah's fighters died,
the group began to run out of excuses, the first of which being that it
is fighting in Syria to "defend sacred shrines."
It was later revealed that most of its fighters were meeting their ends
in areas far away from these shrines.
Hizbullah's war in Syria is an Iranian war, and a lost cause too.
Hizbullah's participation alongside the Iranians in this war will bring
about two disasters: the group will suffer untold human losses, more
numerous than the combined losses it suffered during its wars with
Israel throughout the past 30 years; moreover, this participation
alongside Iran will attract extremist groups to Lebanon and ignite a war
on its territory. The writer is general manager of Al-Arabiya television.
- The Disgraceful Drive to Kick Israel Out of FIFA - Editorial
Soccer brings people around the globe together more than any other
cultural force. But the Palestine Football Association is pushing to
kick Israel out of FIFA, the Federation Internationale de Football
Association. Any FIFA vote to bar Israel would be a statement of power
and prejudice, not justice - and would leave the sport open to endless
(New York Post)
As Showdown Time with Iran Draws Near, What Are the Real Choices? - Ephraim Asculai and Emily B. Landau (Jerusalem Post)
Knowledge of the military aspects of Iran's nuclear program is
essential for assessing Iran's potential to produce nuclear explosive
devices, and is therefore crucial for good and effective verification.
The Iranian leadership - which continues to harbor military nuclear
ambitions - is well aware of the importance of this issue, and has
therefore been emphatic in its rejection of inspections of secret
Unfortunately, the P5+1 gave up the option of including
ballistic missiles in the final deal, seemingly acquiescing to Iran's
claim that these delivery systems are "non-nuclear."
In the current dynamic, the pressure of sanctions began to be
eased before the final agreement was reached, which has only weakened
the hand of the P5+1.
Rather than calling Iran's bluff at the table, secure in the knowledge
that Iran would not leave because it seeks sanctions relief, the powers
began offering concessions. For Iran this attempt at "fair play" by the
U.S. only spelled weakness, and this was Iran's cue to harden its red
lines and demands.
As we move into the final stretch, there are two choices:
either giving in further to Iran's demands, or not reaching a deal. But
no matter what the nature of the remaining sticking points,
the closer the P5+1 feels they are to a deal, the more committed they
are to not pronouncing whatever they achieve to be a bad deal.
Unfortunately, this will amount to a well-orchestrated face-saving
will practically retain the option to invest in a clandestine operation
to produce the necessary fissile material for the core of a nuclear
explosive device, with the explosive part of this device already
achieved in military facilities that will not be prone to inspection.
Dr. Ephraim Asculai is a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS). Dr.
Emily B. Landau is director of the Arms Control and Regional Security program at INSS.