ז' בניסן תשע"ח / Friday, Mar. 23 '18

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  1. 'Bolton is a great choice for NSA and a true friend of Israel'
  2. ANALYSIS: Striking Iran
  3. Confidant of Saudi royal family appeals to Israelis - in Hebrew
  4. Did Israel secretly airlift Yemenite Jews to Israel?
  5. Jerusalem mayor hints at 'important decision' next week
  6. PA demands Ambassador Friedman be added to 'global terror list'
  7. Bolton vows to be 'honest broker', take on bureaucracy
  8. Understandng the Trump tax plan

1. 'Bolton is a great choice for NSA and a true friend of Israel'

by Uzi Baruch

Senior Israeli officials applauded President Trump’s selection of former United States Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton to replace outgoing National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster, noting Bolton’s strong support for Israel and his opposition to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal

On Thursday, President Donald Trump announced via Twitter that National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster would be replaced next month with former Ambassador John Bolton.

“I am pleased to announce that, effective 4/9/18, @AmbJohnBolton will be my new National Security Advisor. I am very thankful for the service of General H.R. McMaster who has done an outstanding job & will always remain my friend. There will be an official contact handover on 4/9.”

On Friday, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Jewish Home) congratulated Bolton on the appointment, hailing the former ambassador as a ‘true friend of Israel’, and said the move showed the Trump administration backed the Jewish state.

“President Trump continues to appoint true friends of Israel to senior positions,” the Justice Minister said Friday morning.

“John Bolton is one of the most obvious examples. It is an excellent choice. Bolton is very experienced and thinks outside of the box. The Trump administration is increasingly showing itself to be the most supportive [administration] of Israel ever.”

Education Minister and Jewish Home chief Naftali Bennett tweeted his support for Bolton's appointment, writing "Great appointment of Amb. John Bolton, an extraordinary security expert, experienced diplomat and a stalwart friend of Israel. Good luck John!"


Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Danny Danon, also responded to the appointment, calling Bolton a “true friend of Israel going back many years, someone with a great deal of knowledge about the inner workings of the government.”

Bolton, a long-time supporter of Israel, criticized the signing of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with Iran and has lobbied for the US to abandon the agreement since. The former ambassador last year declared the two-state solution dead, and slammed Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas as having 'no legitimacy'.

“We have reached the end of the illusion that began in 1964 with the establishment of the PLO, which created a feeling that it is the Palestinian alternative, and the issue here is not in the borders but in the nature of the state that will be alongside Israel which will be a state of terror, so it should not be," Bolton said during a 2017 ceremony marking the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem.


2. ANALYSIS: Striking Iran

by Yochanan Visser

Yochanan Visser is an independent journalist/analyst who worked for many years as Middle East correspondent for Western Journalism.com in Arizona and was a frequent publicist for the main Dutch paper De Volkskrant. He authored a book in the Dutch language about the cognitive war against Israel and now lives in Gush Etzion. He writes a twice weekly analysis of current issues for Arutz Sheva.

On Wednesday, Israel finally officially admitted that in September 2007, it had bombed Syria’s al-Khibar nuclear facility near the eastern Syrian city of Deir ez-Zur on the banks of the Euphrates River.

Many analysts focused on the specifics of the IAF raid on al-Khibar which was bombed to smithereens with four F15I warplanes, while four F16I jets loaded with electronic warfare equipment jammed Syrian and Lebanese telecommunication and Syria’s air defenses.

Many of these specifics had already been revealed by Israeli investigative reporter Ronen Bergman in his 2008 book “The Secret War with Iran”.

However, the timing of the disclosure suggests Israel could be gearing up for another military strike against a nuclear program in a Middle Eastern country.

Yisrael Katz, Israel’s minister of intelligence, seemed to hint at such an operation when he said that the Jewish state would not allow "those threatening our existence to have nuclear weapons. Syria then and Iran today."

His statement coincided with a Reuters report that dealt with certain developments in the United States where president Donald Trump has indicated he will soon nix the Obama administration brokered nuclear deal (JCPOA) with Iran.

Trump apparently doesn’t believe in a fix of the deal now that the European countries which negotiated the Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action seem unwilling to impose new biting sanctions on Iran.

Trump’s stance is partly based on Iran’s refusal to grant the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) access to military sites, such as Parchin, where Iran is suspected of having conducted nuclear related activities.

U.S. “officials and lawmakers are nearly unanimous in their prediction that, if the United States and European partners are unable to agree on changes to the Iran nuclear deal, Trump will make good on his promise to scuttle U.S. participation in the deal,“ Reuters reported.

“It’s possible that we will sign a supplemental agreement with (Britain, France and Germany), but we need to plan for the possibility that we won’t reach an agreement, and that’s the purpose of contingency planning,” a senior US official told Reuters.

Trump has to decide on continuing US certification of the JCPOA before May 12th and chances are high he will withdraw from the deal, which he has labeled a “very bad” and “disastrous” agreement.

There have been three meetings with the European powers to secure fixes of the JCPOA, but “significant gaps remain” Israel Project CEO Omri Ceren wrote in an email to Arutz Sheva Tuesday.

Another indication Trump will scuttle the nuclear deal with the Islamic Republic came from a Voice of America report which indicated Trump will defy his top army brass in dealing with the growing Iranian threat.

“A lot of bad things are happening in Iran,” Trump told reporters this week before adding "the deal is coming up in one month, and you will see what happens.”

In this respect, it is also worth noting that Trump just fired his Secretary of State Rex Tillerson who wanted the U.S. to continue certifying the JCPOA because he thinks Iran is acting in compliance with the deal.

Tillerson’s replacement CIA head Mike Pompeo was one of the U.S. lawmakers who fought the JCPOA tooth and nail.

Pompeo, together with senator Tom Cotton, exposed serious flaws in the JCPOA and revealed the existence of secret side deals which were hidden from the public ahead of the implementation of the JCPOA.

If Trump decides to quit the deal, it will give Israel the opportunity to reintroduce the so-called military option based on the so-called ‘Begin doctrine’ which prevents Israel’s enemies from obtaining nuclear weapons at all costs.

At the beginning of January, the Israeli security cabinet conducted a series of meetings that dealt with the ‘growing Iranian threat’ and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said after disclosure of information on the al-Khibar raid that Israel will “prevent its enemies from arming themselves with nuclear weapons.”

Netanyahu didn’t mention Iran specifically and there could be a reason for it.

Also on Wednesday, the Washington-based Institute For Science And International Security (ISIS) prematurely released a report dealing with a secret underground facility in Qusayr in the Qalamoun Mountains in west Syria, near the Lebanese border.

The report stated that while “evidence remains inconclusive” there is reason to believe that Syria, apparently with help from North Korea and Iran, built a new underground nuclear facility in Qusayr.

The authors of the report released the report immediately after Israel lifted the ban on reporting about the al-Khibar operation and said new satellite images “were consistent” with claims made in a 2015 Der Spiegel report about the new secret nuclear facility.

At the time, Der Spiegel claimed that Qusayr housed a new nuclear facility and that 8,000 fuel rods were stored at the site, where three building concealed entrances to tunnels.

ISIS now reports that the site was located close to an underground aquifer which could be used for the cooling of a nuclear reactor.

The investigators, including former IAEA inspector David Albright, also observed that efforts had been made to camouflage large amounts of excavated limestone earth which had been covered with brown earth on a nearby terraced hill.

The terraces now look like farming plots as the images published together with the report showed.

The four authors, furthermore, confirmed the Qusayr site was connected to the power grid and that a security checkpoint has been erected near a wellhead.

One satellite image (8) furthermore showed a mobile drill rig, which is used to construct underground facilities.

The construction of “an enrichment plant would require extensive foreign assistance, likely from North Korea or possibly from Iran, since there is no available evidence of Syria buying the necessary equipment and materials from abroad,” the report concluded while making the case for IAEA inspections of Qusayr after the war in Syria concludes.

And here lies the rub, there could be no time left to wait for future IAEA inspections of Qusayr.

Based on the Der Spiegel report, I conducted my own investigation in 2015 and found evidence of Hezbollah’s and Iranian involvement in managing the underground facility in Qusayr.

The site had been brought under the control of Hezbollah and the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps during fierce fighting with the former Al Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra.

Quds commander Qassem Soleimani was the one who oversaw the offensive.

Intercepted radio traffic between a high-ranking Hezbollah operative and Ibrahim Othman, the head of the Syrian Atomic Energy Commission, furthermore revealed that Qusayr was indeed a nuclear site.

The Hezbollah commander referred to Qusayr as “the atomic factory” while members of the Free Syrian Army reported that Iranian officers were supervising the nuclear site and that Assad’s regime was only a cover-up for the Iranian activities there.

Jennifer Dyer, an American weapon expert, said at the time that Qusayr could be a plant where yellowcake is converted to UF4 and is metalized into fuel rods for a reactor. But it also could be a plutonium facility.

Under the JCPOA Iran was obliged to halt activities at its plutonium facility in Arak but the agreement said nothing about similar activities at other sites in Iran or abroad.

Since Iran has now effectively taken-over Syria and has been caught trying to acquire components for a heavy water reactor such as Arak, the Israeli warnings could be related to what is happening in Qusayr.

After all, as Netanyahu stated this week, Israel will prevent its enemies from obtaining nuclear weapons.

3. Confidant of Saudi royal family appeals to Israelis - in Hebrew

by David Rosenberg


A Saudi Arabian journalist and historian with ties to the Saudi royal family has released a video message aimed at Israelis – and delivered in Hebrew.

Last week, the kingdom made headlines when Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman told CBS that his country was prepared to pursue nuclear weapons if Iran is successful in obtaining an atomic arsenal.

“Saudi Arabia does not want to acquire any nuclear bomb, but without a doubt if Iran developed a nuclear bomb, we will follow suit as soon as possible,” the Crown Prince told CBS.

The Saudi kingdom earlier this year declared its intentions to pursue a non-military nuclear program, with plans to build 16 nuclear power plants over the next quarter century, in a bid to modernize the country’s infrastructure and reduce its own consumption of gasoline, freeing up more for export.

The Saudi leader also compared the Iranian regime to Nazi Germany, warning that Iran’s supreme leader, Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, threatens the entire Middle East.

“He wants to create his own project in the Middle East very much like Hitler who wanted to expand at the time. Many countries around the world and in Europe did not realize how dangerous Hitler was until what happened, happened. I don't want to see the same events happening in the Middle East.”

The comments drew headlines across the Middle East, including in Israel, which has in the past taken action to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons in the region, bombing an Iraqi nuclear reactor in 1981, and a Syrian facility in 2007.

Following the reports, however, a Saudi journalist with ties to the royal family, Louai a-Sharif, released a video statement aimed at Israelis and delivered in Hebrew.

In the video statement, a-Sharif says that any potential nuclear weapons program in his country would be pursued only as a matter of self-defense, suggesting – while refusing to specify it by name – that Iran, not Israel, would be the target of a potential Saudi atomic weapons program.

"In the name of the merciful and compassionate God, after Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's meeting and his comments on the development of a nuclear weapon, some Israeli journalists attempted to incite Bibi, Binyamin Netanyahu, against Saudi Arabia, and tried to claim that there is now a nuclear threat from Saudi Arabia,” said a-Sharif in Hebrew.

"I'd like to say here to the Jewish people: Has Saudi Arabia ever threatened its neighbors? The answer is, no. Does Saudi Arabia have any aspirations for territorial expansion in the region? The answer is, no.

"Prince Mohammed's speech was referring to self-defense against those who present a threat to their neighbors and who look to expand their territory in the region.

"Jewish people: read the news carefully!"

Saudi Arabia has no formal relations with the Jewish state, and has refused to recognize its establishment 70 years ago.

In recent years, however, there has been increased cooperation between the two countries due to their shared concerns over Iran’s nuclear ambitions and growing influence in the region.

Earlier this month, Air India confirmed that the Saudi government had approved the first-ever air route over its airspace for a flight to Israel.

Observers hailed the opening of the new line between Tel Aviv and New Delhi as the first tacit public acknowledgement of the State of Israel by the Saudi government.

4. Did Israel secretly airlift Yemenite Jews to Israel?

by Tzvi Lev

The Arabic media outlet Al-Khaleej Al-Jadeed has reported that Israel covertly airlifted over 400 Yemenite Jews in February who had been caught in the crossfire between the Yemenite government and the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in the ongoing civil war.

According to the report, Israeli commandos landed in Yemen and directed the local Jewish community into helicopters, flew them out of Yemen, and transferred them onto airplanes in a neighboring Arab country. The Jews were then flown to Israel and sworn to secrecy due to the sensitive nature of the operation.

The report cited what it claimed was an IDF officer saying that "I can not give details about this rescue, but it is the authority of the defense and foreign ministries, and our mission is only to absorb and rehabilitate new immigrants, to provide them with sources of work and to teach them the Hebrew language".

A Foreign Ministry spokesperson told the haredi Behadrei Haredim website that "the report is unknown to us".

The vast majority of Yemenite Jews fled violence in the country in the 1950s following the rebirth of the Jewish state of Israel. A full 850,000 Jewish refugees were forced out of Arab countries in those years, losing most of their possessions in the process.

In 2016, Israel successfully completed a secret operation to rescue some of Yemen's last remaining Jews in an effort masterminded by Druze Communication Minister Ayoub Kara in conjunction with the US State Department.

Though the fighting in Yemen is primarily between the Saudi-backed government and the Iran-backed Houthi jihadists, it has been particularly hard on the country's dwindling Jewish population. The Jewish Agency says that it has rescued about 200 Jews from Yemen over the past few years.

5. Jerusalem mayor hints at 'important decision' next week

by David Rosenberg

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat hinted Friday morning that he will announce a “major decision” next week, just days after he reportedly ruled out the possibility of a third term as mayor of the capital.

On Tuesday, Hadashot TV reported that Barkat would not seek reelection as mayor, fueling speculation that the former Kadima party member, who later joined the Likud, is preparing for a Knesset run.

In response to Tuesday’s report, Barkat’s office said, “Nothing has changed. Barkat intends to approve Jerusalem's highest budget ever this coming Thursday, thanks to the support he has raised from the government ministries. As promised, after the approval of the budget he will announce his decision."

Municipal elections are held in Israel every five years, with the next election scheduled for October 30th, 2018.

In 2008, Barkat defeated United Torah Judaism candidate Meir Porush 53% to 43%. In October 2013, Barkat was reelected, brushing off Likud-backed challenger Moshe Lion 52% to 45%.

On Friday, Barkat released a somewhat cryptic message via Twitter, hinting that he was poised to make a “major decision” next week.

The message included a photograph of the mayor praying at the Western Wall.

“After a successful end to the difficult budget battle for the city, and ahead of a major decision next week, [I’m] praying at the Western Wall. What power and strength this place has! Shabbat Shalom!”

Barkat is widely expected to launch a primary bid for a place on the Likud party’s next Knesset list. While the mayor is unlikely to challenge Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for leadership of the party, recordings of closed-door meetings with Barkat suggest he may be seeking a senior position within the party, enabling him to lead the Likud if Netanyahu should retire.

6. PA demands Ambassador Friedman be added to 'global terror list'

by David Rosenberg

The Palestinian Authority has called for the American ambassador to Israel to be placed on an international terror watch list, days after PA chief Mahmoud Abbas called the ambassador a “son of a dog”.

PA officials ramped up their rhetoric against US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman on Thursday, with the PA’s Information Ministry publishing a report calling for Friedman to be added to a “global terror list”.

The Palestinian Authority has targeted Ambassador Friedman this week, after the ambassador criticized the PA for refusing to condemn a series of terrorist attacks that left three Israeli Jews dead in Jerusalem and Samaria.

“Tragedy in Israel,” tweeted Friedman. “2 young soldiers, Netanel Kahalani and Ziv Daos, murdered in the North, and father of 4, Adiel Kolman, murdered in Jerusalem, by Palestinian terrorists.”

“Such brutality and no condemnation from the PA! I pray for the families and the wounded – so much sadness.”

Mahmoud Abbas responded by calling Friedman a “son of a dog”.

The United States legitimizes settlements," Abbas said during a meeting of senior PA leaders in Ramallah. "That's what American officials do, and at their head, in Tel Aviv, is David Friedman. He said, 'They're building on their own land.' The son of a dog, they're building on their own land? He himself is a settler, and his entire family are settlers."

Following Abbas’ verbal assault, Ambassador Friedman suggested the comments were anti-Semitic.

"Abu Mazen (Abbas) chose to respond. ... His response was to refer to me as the 'son of a dog.' Anti-Semitism, or political discourse? Not for me to judge. I'll leave that all up to you."

On Wednesday, the official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida carried an article bearing the headline, "[PA] Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates: Friedman's positions are anti-Semitic and racist and disqualify him."

But that apparently wasn’t enough for the PA’s Ministry of Information, which on Thursday released a report entitled: “Friedman, the Ambassador of Settlements and Lawyer of Extremism”, Israeli media outlets reported.

In the report, the PA accuses Friedman of pushing “ethnic cleansing”, and urged he be added to a “global terror list” – though no particular list was specified.

Former Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren (Kulanu), now an MK and Deputy Minister in the Netanyahu government, mocked the PA’s demand in a tweet early Friday morning, and suggested the US respond by deporting the PA envoy to Washington.

“Palestinian Authority demands that US Ambassador David Friedman be placed on the “global terror list.” Wouldn’t it be fitting if the PA’s Washington representative were placed on the first flight out of the country?”

7. Bolton vows to be 'honest broker', take on bureaucracy

by David Rosenberg

Former US Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton, who was recently tapped to serve as President Trump’s National Security Advisor, was mum Thursday night regarding the direction he believes policy will take in the White House following his appointment, but promised to serve as an “honest broker” for the president, and to spur recalcitrant bureaucrats to implement the administration’s decisions.

Earlier on Thursday, President Donald Trump announced via Twitter that National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster would be replaced next month with former Ambassador John Bolton.

“I am pleased to announce that, effective 4/9/18, @AmbJohnBolton will be my new National Security Advisor. I am very thankful for the service of General H.R. McMaster who has done an outstanding job & will always remain my friend. There will be an official contact handover on 4/9.”

Less than an hour after the announcement, Bolton told Fox News that he would “articulate” his views to the president, but would also serves as an “honest broker”, presenting Trump with all policy options and their various costs and benefits.

"I have my views. I'm sure I'll my chance to articulate them to the president. Some people don't like people who have substantive views, they're more processed-oriented. But if the government can't have a free interchange of ideas among the president's advisers, then I think the president is not well served."

"Different presidents have different approaches, different styles. But I think the consensus would be that the national security advisor... has two critical roles. One, that the president has the full range of options presented... [so that] the president has the chance to weigh the pluses and minuses of all the options being presented. I think that is sometimes described as an 'honest broker' role, and I think the national security advisor - if the president wants to hear his opinion, he'll give it as well."

Bolton also alluded to criticism leveled by President Trump and some of his supporters that elements within some government agencies, including the State Department and Department of Justice, were intentionally evading or even hampering implementation of the president’s policy goals – a phenomenon referred to by some as the “deep state”.

“Deep State Justice Dept must finally act,” Trump tweeted in January.

"The other side of the coin is that when the president makes a decision,” said Bolton, “the national security advisor...is one of the leading implementers of the decision, making sure that the bureaucracies out there get the decision and implement it. I've been in lots of bureaucracies and I've seen the way bureaucracies that don't like decisions sit on them."

An outspoken critic of the Iran nuclear deal, Bolton refused to elaborate on what policy changes he would advocate for inside the White House.

Fox News host Martha MacCallum noted following a wave of departures by President Trump’s original team of advisors, Secretary of Defense John Mattis appears to be the last senior official who backs maintaining the Iran nuclear deal.

“I’ve said what I’ve said about the Iran deal before,” said Bolton. “I’m not sure that I’ve ever met General Mattis, so I’m not going to opine on what his views are, what he’s said to the president in private or what discussions we may have the opportunity to have.”

Bolton was a staunch opponent of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), better known as the Iran nuclear deal, and in August 2017 outlined a plan for leaving the agreement, writing that the US “can no longer wait to eliminate the threat posed by Iran”.

The appointment of Bolton to replace McMaster comes is just the latest shake-up in the Trump administration. Last week, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was fired and CIA Director Mike Pompeo was named to replace him.

Like Bolton, Pompeo is a long-time critic of the JCPOA, and his appointment has been widely perceived as an indication the president plans to confront the Tehran regime over its nuclear ambitions in the coming months.

8. Understandng the Trump tax plan



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