January 26, 2021

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07/14 Links Pt1: David Friedman: Israel will always be a Jewish state; Dershowitz: Beinart’s Final Solution: End Israel as Nation-State of the Jewish People


From Ian:

David Friedman: Israel will always be a Jewish state
The insanity of Beinart’s position is that he believes a bi-national state, which will destroy Israel, is the appropriate outcome that should result from the failure of the two-state solution. But why has that solution failed? Because the Palestinian leadership has refused offer after offer, because it pays terrorists to kill Israelis, because it incites hatred against Jews, and because it is deeply unpopular, corrupt and cruel to its own people. Beinart’s solution: let’s reward the Palestinian leadership for its malfeasance and give them control of not just Judea and Samaria but potentially all of Israel itself!

The two-state solution is not dead, it has just morphed from an unattainable illusion to a pragmatic and realistic plan to end a century-old conflict. President Trump’s Vision for Peace proposes an achievable means for the Palestinians to self-govern within the bulk of Judea and Samaria without jeopardizing Israel’s security.

The Palestinian people have the opportunity today for real independence and to put an end, once and for all, to the hatred and violence that has impeded their advancement. The world stands by with an offer of massive financial assistance in the form of investment, not handouts, so that legitimate Palestinian aspirations may be realized. Sadly, the Palestinian leadership appears poised to miss this opportunity just as it has missed every other opportunity since 1947.

The answer to the Palestinian leadership’s antisemitic prejudice and bad faith rejection is not Israel’s disappearance. Israel’s existence as a Jewish state is every bit as just and compelling today as it was at the time of its founding in 1948. The State of Israel is the culmination of 2000 years of Jewish prayer and sacrifice; it is the restoration of an ancient people, a valley of dry bones come back to life in the words of the prophet Ezekiel. It will always be a Jewish state.

Alan Dershowitz: Beinart’s Final Solution: End Israel as Nation-State of the Jewish People

Beinart arrogantly rejects democracy and the polls that show most Israelis and Palestinians are opposed to his proposed one-state solution. He has it exactly backwards when he argues that only “Palestinian and Jewish hardliners” resist his one-state solution. In reality, it is only hardliners who want one state: many Muslim hardliners want one Palestinian state “from the river to the see,” and some Jewish hardliners want a Jewish state in all of biblical Israel.

Beinart rejects these democratic preferences.

Beinart’s attempt to destroy the nation-state of the Jewish people would undo decades of sacrifice and hard work by Zionists since the middle of the 19th century. Despite its imperfections, Israel is a wonder to the world. It has given more to humankind—scientifically, medically, technologically, literarily and in so many other areas—in the 72 years of its existence than have the overwhelming majority of far-older countries throughout their entire histories. No nation faced with the threats comparable to those faced by Israel—including terrorism, rocket and terror tunnels attacks as well as Iranian aggression—has ever had a better record of human rights, compliance with the rule of law and concern for enemy civilians than has Israel.

In a world with so many Islamic, Christian and other religious and national states, why does Beinart believe there is no room for one nation-state of the Jewish people capable of protecting its citizens from aggression, capable of welcoming oppressed Jews from around the world and dedicated to equal rights for all of its citizens?

Beinart’s nasty and ignorant article belongs in the waste basket of history. He has lost all claim to speak for any segment of the pro-Israel and Jewish communities by siding with those who would end the existence of the only nation-state of the Jewish people.

Fortunately, Beinart’s anti-Israel arguments are likely to be accepted only by left-wing Jews who are embarrassed by Israel’s strength and determination to protect the Jewish people against a repeat of history’s tragedies. It was this history that led to the widespread acceptance of Zionism and the formation of the democratic Jewish nation-state.

The citizens of Israel—both Jewish and Muslim—will be the ones to decide on the appropriate solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict. They overwhelmingly support a two-state solution, and they overwhelmingly reject Beinart’s Final Solution. If the Palestinians want to have input in these decisions, they will have to come to the table and negotiate. Their fate and the fate of their Israeli neighbors will not be decided on the op-ed pages of The New York Times. It will be decided on the ground by direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.

Yossi Kuperwasser: ‘The unilateral application of Israeli sovereignty is necessary to move the peace process forward’: An Open Letter to Boris Johnson

The Jewish and democratic character of Israel is not going to change as a result of applying sovereignty on parts of the disputed territories.

One of the arguments raised in order to deter Israel from applying its law and sovereignty (and previously against sticking to the status quo) is that it will inevitably lead to changing its identity as a Jewish and democratic state, and thus forcing it to decide whether to retain its Jewish identity on the expense of becoming undemocratic, or remain democratic but then lose its Jewish majority and identity. This line of thinking assumes that if Israel does not accept a Palestinian state over most of the areas it has controlled since 1967, the PA will eventually collapse and Israel will have to add to its citizenship the Palestinians living today under the PA, making the ‘One State’ option the only viable option, which will present a heavy economic burden for Israel’s economy.

Clearly, this sequence of events is completely baseless. Under no circumstances is Israel going to make the Palestinians living in the PA its citizens. Israel has no intention to rule them and I doubt if the PA really intends to dissolve itself. Its existence is considered to be the most important achievement of the Palestinian national movement, and it is the basis for the continuation of the Palestinian struggle, the source of funding necessary for financing the struggle and for enjoying economic benefits, and in Palestinian eyes it is actually the Palestinian state in the making. It is within this entity that the Palestinians have the capability to vote and decide their fate. Whether they actually use this capability is up to them (unfortunately their leadership has not given them this opportunity since 2006). Even if the PA decides to cease to exist, surprisingly, the Palestinians will still enjoy some sort of autonomous self-rule. The Israeli application of sovereignty on parts of the disputed territory is going to change almost nothing for the Palestinians living in the area controlled by the PA. On the other hand, if the Palestinians were to sit at the negotiation table to discuss the peace plan and were prepared to adopt a realistic narrative that focuses on improving their situation politically and economically, they may have a much better future in a state of their own.

To sum up Mr Prime Minister, I call upon you to think it over once again. By echoing the old and failed paradigm you make little difference (Israel listens to you but there is little that we don’t know in your message). By adopting a new paradigm and calling upon the Palestinians to change course, you can make much difference and help us and the Palestinians finally make a move towards better future to all of us. Believe me, as an Israeli there is nothing I want more than peace that will guarantee Israel’s security and prosperity, preserve its Jewish and democratic identity and its exemplifying morality. Israel that you will be always proud of and admire. Even if we don’t agree, I deeply appreciate your friendship and caring and as you know Israelis and me among them love Britain in spite of the disagreements we may have from time to time.

In the end of the day the Israeli decision is going to be affected by several restraining factors, among them the American position, which is not clear at this point, and the American time constraint, the need to focus now on fighting the new wave of Covid-19 in Israel and the PA, the level of unity and support at home for the move (there seems to be a clear majority to support it in the Knesset but it is important that the Blue and White party, who comprises a part of the unity government and supports the move in principle, will support it in practice) and the evaluation of the immediate risks and whether they are worth taken. It is hard to say with all these factors what is going to be Israel’s decision, but still, British support is going to be very important in the long run.

And by the way, I hope that the UK will adopt a harsher policy towards Iran as well.

In this window of opportunity, Israel should seek victory over annexation

However, using the same arguments coupled with an Israeli government that seeks to put down permanent markers on the Israel-Palestinian conflict, perhaps it is time to reassess what it can and should do in this limited golden window.

While the application of sovereignty can become a defining moment in the conflict, it is not paradigm-changing.

The territories that Israel seeks to annex are already controlled by Israel and hold hundreds of thousands of Israeli citizens who are not likely to be moved from their homes in the foreseeable future. The application of sovereignty might change the legal status of these territories, but it will not change one iota the reality on the ground.

The Israeli citizens that live in the settlements will suddenly live in sovereign Israeli territory, but they are currently bound by Israeli laws as individuals, so no wave of the magic annexation wand will change this reality. While it might make it more difficult to relinquish these territories in the future, there is no ironclad legal obstruction to doing so.

The Palestinians will continue to claim these territories despite their new situation, just as they still seek half of Jerusalem – which was already annexed in 1980 – frequently violently and at the cost of Israeli lives.

TO ENSURE this window is properly utilized, Israel should be seeking an end to the conflict with a victory over enduring Palestinian rejectionism.

It is clear to all honest watchers of this conflict that it has never been about territory, borders, settlements or Jerusalem. It began over 100 years ago, before the establishment of the State of Israel and before a single Israeli stepped foot over the Green Line in 1967.

Netanyahu aide said to admit US in no mood for annexation, so PM won’t go ahead

Knesset Speaker Yariv Levin has acknowledged in private conversations that no attention is currently being given in Washington to Israeli plans to annex up to 30 percent of the West Bank, according to a Tuesday Army Radio report.

As a result, Levin reportedly said, the controversial move will likely have to be placed on the back burner as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will not move forward without coordinating with the Trump administration.

The US administration’s attention is elsewhere, the report claimed Levin had said, and “it is not listening” when it comes to annexation.

The White House has said repeatedly that it is up to Israel to decide on annexation, but has yet to give a definitive answer as to whether it is prepared to support and recognize the unilateral annexation now of part or all of the 30% of the West Bank allocated to Israel in its peace plan.

While similar comments have been made in recent weeks by Likud officials who have acknowledged that the spiraling pandemic has forced the attention of world leaders to turn to other issues, Levin is one of only a handful of Israeli officials who have been deeply involved in talks with American officials regarding the Trump plan’s implementation and ramifications.

Levin also sits on the seven-member joint US-Israeli mapping committee that has been tasked with drawing up the exact parameters for annexation that Washington will be willing to accept. The committee’s progress has been slowed by the pandemic, with Netanyahu telling settler leaders and even Defense Minister Benny Gantz that the maps have yet to be finalized.

Khaled Abu Toameh: Palestinians: Abbas Signs His Own Death Warrant

By courting Hamas, Abbas and Fatah are emboldening an Islamist movement that seeks to extend its control from the Gaza Strip to the West Bank. Hamas’s declared goal is to replace Israel with an Iranian-style Islamist state.

Abbas may also be using his renewed ties with Hamas as a way of pressuring the international community into providing him with more financial aid.

Hamas evidently wants to use the West Bank as a launching pad for carrying out terrorist attacks against Israel.

Hamas also does not appear to be headed towards recognizing Israel’s right to exist. As such, Abbas seems to be handing Hamas the noose that eventually will be tied around his own neck.

Palestinians said arrested after backing annexation in Israeli TV report

The Palestinian Authority has arrested several people who said they would favor Israeli annexation of parts of the West Bank, corroborating sources said, though Ramallah denies holding them.

In an Israeli television report aired in early June, several Palestinians in the West Bank are heard expressing the hope of becoming Israelis if annexation under a US-Israeli plan moves forward.

The comments by those interviewed directly contradict the Palestinian Authority’s total opposition to any West Bank annexation moves, a view shared by an overwhelming majority of the Palestinian public, according to surveys.

The Palestinians featured in the program were captured by hidden camera and their identities were concealed in the broadcast through blurred faces and distorted voices.

“I want an Israeli identity card,” one Palestinian is heard saying. Another stated that he didn’t see “Israelis as enemies — their government is the enemy.” And a third said he “chose Israel” and wasn’t afraid to speak out publicly.

The prominent Israeli journalist who made the report, Chanel 13’s Tzvi Yehezkeli, said at least six people who spoke out in favor of annexation were subsequently arrested by the PA’s security services.

“I was surprised to see that even though I’ve blurred the faces of all the people I filmed and distorted their voices, the Authority has reached and arrested (some) of them, it’s just amazing,” he told AFP.

PMW: France adopts PA’s terror-supporting political demands including call to free mass murderers

In a meeting with PLO Executive Committee Secretary and PLO Chief Negotiator Saeb Erekat, French Consul-General, René Troccaz, defined “his country’s” positions, which include support for the PA’s radical political demands, such as the call to release all terrorist Palestinian prisoners including mass murderers. In addition, the French Consul-General said France supports conditioning any Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement on flooding Israel with millions of Palestinian refugees, which would lead to the end of Israel as a Jewish state.

According to the official PA daily, Troccaz presented France’s rejection of the Israeli intention to apply its civilian law to parts of Judea and Samaria, and called for the creation of a Palestinian state, the resolution of the Palestinian refugee situation, and the release of imprisoned terrorists:
“During a meeting between [PLO Executive Committee Secretary Saeb] Erekat and French Consul General René Troccaz, …the French consul general emphasized his country’s absolute rejection of [an Israeli] annexation, and demanded to cancel it and begin a credible peace process on the basis of international law, the international bodies, and the defined agreements and sources of authority in such a way that will guarantee the end of the occupation, the realization of the independence of the State of Palestine whose capital is East Jerusalem within the 1967 borders, the resolution of the permanent status issues – foremost among them the issue of the refugees based on [UN] Resolution 194 (see note below –Ed.), and the release of the prisoners.”
[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, July 3, 2020]

In other words, for France, in a peace agreement with the Palestinians, Israel must agree to a solution to the Palestinian refugee situation based on UN resolution 194. This is the same UN resolution that the PA quotes as guaranteeing the rights of over 5.5 million so-called “refugees” to flood Israel. Since Israel’s population is just over 9 million people, of whom 2 million are Israeli Arabs, in practice, what the French are suggesting is the destruction of Israel as a Jewish country.

Next, France believes that in order to achieve peace, Israel must agree to the “release of the prisoners.” These prisoners include mass murderers responsible for multiple terror attacks, such as Abdullah Barghouti, murderer of 67, Ibrahim Hamed, murderer of 54, and Hassan Salame, murderer of 44, and hundreds of other murderers.

It is unclear why France believes that the release of mass murderers is a prerequisite to Israeli-Palestinian peace. These terrorists slaughtered hundreds of civilians, many of whom held foreign citizenship. Demanding the release of terrorist murderers is not only a call to undermine justice, but is a direct expression of support for terrorists.

Close inspection of the French position reveals a worrying reality.

PreOccupiedTerritory: By ‘From The River To The Sea Palestine Will Be Free’ I Obviously Mean ‘The 1967 Lines’ by Saeb Erekat (satire)

Don’t believe the Zionist apologist distortions of the English language. Trust me, when we Palestinians repeat as we always have that only an Arab Muslim state is acceptable between the Jordan and Mediterranean, that is simple shorthand for wanting to restrict our territorial ambitions to the armistice lines of Israel and Jordan between 1949 and 1967. Whom are you going to believe, me or your lying comprehension of English?

Take the name of the body to which I have devoted my lie and career, the Palestine Liberation Organization. Judging by its terminology, history, behavior, and rhetoric, you might reach the erroneous conclusion that the Zionists would have you assume: that the PLO, established when Israel held no territory beyond that armistice line, and which attacked Israel, not the Jordanian kingdom that actually held that territory, aims to eliminate Israel. I ask you, how hard do you have to squint to see such a distorted view of our aims?

When we hijacked airplanes for Palestine, declared our intention to push the Jews into the sea, and pursued wholesale slaughter aimed at terrorizing Jews into submission or flight, we did so because we believe in two states living side by side in security and peace, as we have repeatedly affirmed when addressing English-speaking audiences. The fact that we say entirely opposed things when addressing our own Arabic-speaking audiences is a mere distraction. Obviously, our repeated refusals of peace offers indicates how serious we are about peace. I fail to see how one might reach a different conclusion.

16 months prison for not preventing Rina Shnerb murder

Ofer Military Court Vice President Lt. Col. Rani Amar today sentenced Issar Hatem Rashid Maruf to 16 months imprisonment, 12 months probation, and a fine of only NIS 6,000.

Maruf was convicted, as part of a plea bargain, of failing to prevent the attack in which Rina Shnerb was murdered at the Ein Dani spring near Dolev, and her father, Rabbi Eitan Shnerb, and brother Dvir were wounded.

The judge upheld the plea bargain, noting that “there is no disagreement that the facts of the indictment to which the defendant admitted indicate that a number of ‘warning signs’ were placed before him as to the chances of a fatal attack occurring.”

“However, other circumstances related to the commission of the offense must not be attributed to him. The defendant was not exposed to the detailed planning of the specifics of the attack or to the means used to carry it out,” the judge added.

Advocate Maurice Hirsch, representing the family members of Rina Shnerb, noted that the salary that Maruf received and continues to receive from the Palestinian Authority is higher than originally believed, as exposed in data revealed at the hearing.

Each month he is paid a salary of at least NIS 2,000 and upon his release he will receive a grant of $2,000, so that in total he will receive from the Palestinian Authority a cumulative amount of almost NIS 40,000, compared to his fine of only NIS 6,000.

Shira Shnerb, mother of Rina, told Arutz Sheva at the opening of the hearing: “We’re here because of the defendant who knew of an intent to murder and didn’t do what every person should do, which is to update and inform. It could be that if he had done that, we wouldn’t have been here.”

Yemen’s Houthis claim ‘bank of targets’ in Israel, UAE, Saudi Arabia

An intelligence official for the Houthi rebel group in Yemen claimed on Sunday that they have a “bank of vital and important targets” in Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.

Abdullah Yahya al-Hakim, the head of the Houthis’ Intelligence and Reconnaissance Authority, told the September 26 newspaper that the authority has managed to “thwart the psychological warfare directed” at Yemen, while also fighting the Saudi-led military coalition’s intelligence.

The intelligence head claimed that the Houthis have managed to conduct intelligence operations deep within Saudi and UAE territory and into their operations rooms, electronic warfare centers and encrypted communications systems.

Al-Hakim warned the coalition against targeting oil and economic installations in Houthi territory, saying “our arms are strong and long, capable of extending to all their oil and economic installations and destroy them completely.”

The Iranian Tasnim News Agency stated that the Houthis have missiles that may be able to reach as far as Eilat and could also target Israeli ships in the southern Red Sea. The news agency claimed that the Houthis have “nothing to lose by targeting Zionist positions.”

Palestinians call for resuming protests over Temple Mount building

Palestinians are threatening to resume protests over the continued closure of the Bab al-Rahma (Golden Gate or Gate of Mercy) building at al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem.

Last year, Palestinians reopened the building’s prayer hall to Muslim worshipers for the first time in 16 years, triggering a standoff with the Israeli security forces that ended in its re-closure.

Israeli authorities closed the site in 2003 on the grounds it was being used by the Islamic Movement in Israel’s northern branch and Hamas supporters for political activities.

Last week, the Jerusalem Police petitioned the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court requesting the extension of Bab al-Rahma, explaining that the move was necessary because of solid evidence that it was being used for Hamas activities and as a base for the terrorist group on the Temple Mount.

Sheikh Ikrima Sabri, head of the Supreme Islamic Authority and former mufti of Jerusalem, on Tuesday accused Israel of exploiting the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic to keep Bab al-Rahma closed to Muslim worshipers.

Sabri said that Israeli courts have no jurisdiction over al-Aqsa Mosque compound and claimed that Israel was planning to turn Bab al-Rahma into a synagogue. He called for “immediate action on the popular, local, regional and international levels” to prevent Israel from carrying out its purported scheme.

MEMRI: Palestinian Writer: Hebron Is The ‘Wuhan Of Palestine,’ With The Highest Percentage Of Coronavirus Cases In The World

On July 11, 2020, with the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the throes of the second wave of the pandemic, Abd Al-Nasser Al-Najjar, columnist for the Al-Ayyam daily, wrote that the coronavirus situation in the PA is far worse than depicted by the Palestinian media. Calling the PA negligent for its failure to tackle the Palestinian public’s widespread disregard for the emergency guidelines issued for the first wave, he went on to warn that the Palestinian Health Ministry is not properly set up for the mass testing required, that test results are provided much too late to do any good, and that the statistics it reports are not accurate. He added that without strong leadership “that is capable of making difficult decisions in real time and putting out the spreading fire,” the Palestinians will end up testing the herd immunity theory with their own lives, resulting in many deaths.

The following are translated excerpts from his column:
“The night of Sunday, May 25, 2020, was packed with events… That night, I was in the city of Hebron. My journalist colleagues invited me to an iftar [Ramadan break-fast] feast at a restaurant. There, I asked a respected friend about the situation in the district, and about the lockdown. He said: ‘Things are out of control.’

“During the iftar I was informed about a mass march heading towards the district [headquarters] shouting slogans about fully opening up the city. To preserve the public order, the marchers’ demands were met, on condition that the cautionary guidelines were strictly followed. At that time, the mosques were full of worshippers, despite the Ministry of Religious Endowment’s instructions to pray at home. Also during the lockdown, some people took advantage of their situation – that is, parts of Hebron under Palestinian control and parts under occupation control – to avoid following the guidelines, and held Friday prayers in mosques under occupation control, with the participation of many people from the nearby neighborhoods.

“This is how it was in Hebron from the week before the end of Ramadan to the government’s [May 25] announcement of the lifting of the lockdown on condition that the rules ensuring caution were followed.

“With regard to prayers for the holiday [i.e. Eid Al-Fitr], however much we talk about [how openly the guidelines were flouted] it will never be an exaggeration.

“Where are the preventive measures, in light of the huge numbers of residents [who attended] weddings that were postponed, and funerals – suddenly and without warning undoing all the achievements of which the government was so proud, because we thought that we had accomplished what the great powers could not. Now these achievements seem like nothing more than a false hallucination. Today, Hebron is the ‘Wuhan of Palestine.’ The number of people infected in Hebron relative to the number of residents is perhaps the highest in the world. Gradually, we are hearing voices demanding government measures to stop the catastrophe, by means of quarantine and by means of [purchasing] ventilators and equipment for the hospitals, and we have started to quickly follow up after events in an attempt to control the spread of the pandemic. But the important question now is have we have lost control. Is this our last chance? No one has a satisfactory answer. Is the number of cases higher than the number published? Maybe, but there is no scientific proof of this.

Joe Truzman: Hamas calls for Hezbollah and Ansar Allah to ‘unite the ranks’ against Israel

In a letter delivered to Hezbollah’s Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah and Ansar Allah (also referred to as the Houthis,) Hamas’ politburo chief Ismail Haniyeh appealed to Axis of Resistance members for support against Israel’s planned annexation of certain areas of the West Bank.

In a report published by Hezbollah’s media relations department, the official representative of Hamas in Lebanon, Dr. Ahmed Abdel Hadi, recently met with Hezbollah’s Hassan Huballah to deliver a letter to Hassan Nasrallah.

In the letter, Haniyeh referred to the “dangers facing the Palestinian cause and the region as a result of these plans [annexation], and to unite the ranks and efforts to address these risks.”

The meeting between the two delegations also addressed the “latest situation in Palestine and the region” including the “Palestinian situation in Lebanon,” the report stated.

In a second letter sent to Ansar Allah’s political bureau, Haniyeh also appealed for support to resist the “dangerous Zionist escalation against the Palestinian people, their lands, rights, sanctities and efforts to annex the West Bank, Jerusalem and the Jordan Valley to the criminal Zionist entity.”

In response, Ansar Allah affirmed its support for the “resistance against the occupation.”

Additionally, the group reiterated its offer of exchanging Saudi prisoners of war for members of Hamas currently serving jail sentences in Saudi Arabia.

“An initiative has been presented by the leader, Abdul Malik Badr al Din al Houthi, may God protect him, regarding mujahideen prisoners of Hamas in the prisons of the Saudi regime, and our readiness to exchange them for a Saudi pilot and a number of other Saudi soldiers,” Ansar Allah stated.

Hamas is aware it is unlikely able to stop Israel from annexing areas of the West Bank, but it can make the process difficult to implement by launching acts of terrorism.

Eli Lake: Sabotage in Iran Is Preferable to a Deal With Iran

Whoever wins the U.S. presidency in November, there is a good chance he will try to negotiate a stronger nuclear deal with Iran in 2021. But events of the last few weeks show that there are better ways to frustrate the regime’s nuclear ambitions.

Both President Donald Trump and his Democratic rival, Joe Biden, favor talking with Iran. “I would rejoin the agreement and use our renewed commitment to diplomacy to work with our allies to strengthen and extend it,” Biden told the New York Times last winter. Trump, meanwhile, was on Twitter last month urging Iran to “make the Big deal.”

The logic of a deal goes like this: Except for war, the only sustainable way to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons is to reach an agreement with its leaders. That has been the basic assumption underlying U.S. nuclear policy on Iran for the last 20 years. With the right mix of carrots and sticks, the thinking goes, Iran will negotiate away a potential nuclear weapon.

But a nuclear deal with Iran would have to rely on a partnership with a regime that oppresses its citizens, preys on its neighbors, supports terrorism on three continents and has shown contempt for international law. And the alternative to a deal is not necessarily a costly and dangerous war. The West can delay and foil Iran’s nuclear ambitions by other means.

Since late June, explosions have rocked at least three Iranian military facilities. The latest appears to have targeted an underground research facility for chemical weapons. Earlier this month, a building at Iran’s Natanz centrifuge site burst into flames.

Much remains unknown about this latest spate of explosions. A relatively new group calling itself “Homeland Panthers” has claimed credit for the attack on Natanz. Iranian officials have blamed it on Israel. David Albright, the former nuclear inspector and founder of the Institute for Science and International Security, told me his organization — which has studied satellite imagery of the facility before and after the explosion — cannot rule out that it was an accident. But “it looks more like a deliberate act,” he said.

Mysterious fire erupts at Iranian petrochemical facility

A fire broke out at a facility belonging to the Shahid Tondgooyan Petrochemical Company in southwest Iran but was quickly contained, the country’s official IRNA news agency reported on Monday, citing a local official.

The fire was caused by an oil leak but did not lead to any casualties or financial damage, Mohsen Beyranvand, the governor of Mahshahr county said, according to IRNA.

Beyranvand described the fire as “minor” and said it was “put out in less than 10 minutes.”

Iran’s ILNA news agency said the incident began with a fire in eight of the gas tanks at the plant that led to an explosion. Firefighters prevented the fire from causing further explosions, it added.

Contradicting reports in other state-run media outlets, ILNA said the explosion caused extensive damage to the company and to a neighboring company but did not cause casualties.

The IRGC and Iranian police were said to be investigating the incident.

JCPA: Tightening Military Cooperation between Iran and Syria

Consequences of the Explosion at the Natanz Facility

The assassination of Qassem Soleimani, the explosion at the Natanz nuclear facility, and possibly the damage to its ballistic missile facility in Parchin represent a painful blow to Iran and its strategic ambitions in the region, according to Israeli intelligence assessments. According to the latest satellite imagery of the results from the explosion at the Natanz advanced centrifuge facility will delay the Iranian uranium enrichment program for some two years.

The Iranians see the blast as the result of close intelligence cooperation between Mossad Director Yossi Cohen and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who once served as CIA chief. The Iranians are awaiting an official report from Iran’s Supreme National Security Council on the official explanation for the explosion before responding.

The assessment by U.S. and Israeli intelligence is that Iran will try to respond without leaving any “fingerprints.” The response is expected to be before U.S. elections in November to avoid a strong response from President Trump and a tough Israeli response with strong American backing.

There are currently disputes in the Iranian leadership about the nature and timing of the Iranian response, all pending the decision of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

The scenarios for a possible Iranian response include:
Cyber-attacks on Israeli infrastructure systems.
Overseas attacks on Israeli or Jewish targets.
Rocket fire on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and on Iraqi bases hosting U.S. soldiers.
Firing rockets from Syrian territory towards Israel or launching drones by pro-Iranian militias or Hizbullah.

The military cooperation agreement signed between Iran and Syria is of great importance. There is no smoke without fire, and these two countries are preparing for escalation in the region.

Commentary Magazine Podcast (49:20): Throw Cronyism on the Pile

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