‘You’ll see interesting things’: US hints at new Arab-Israel ties during Biden trip

Senior US diplomat tells Congressional panel to be prepared for developments during upcoming Mideast visit; US also said planning ‘roadmap for Israeli normalization with Riyadh’

By JACOB MAGID and AFPToday, 1:33 am 

After meeting for the Negev Summit, Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid al-Zayani, left, Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, Israel’s Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Morocco’s Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita, and United Arab Emirates’ Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, pose for a photograph Monday, March 28, 2022, in Sde Boker, Israel. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, Pool)

A senior American official hinted Wednesday that more Arab nations are looking to make gestures to improve relations with Israel as US President Joe Biden readies to visit the region next month.

Biden will travel from July 13 to 16 to Israel, the West Bank, and to a regional meeting in Saudi Arabia, which former US president Donald Trump assiduously courted in hopes the kingdom home to Islam’s holiest sites would recognize the Jewish state.

US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Barbara Leaf said that the Biden administration was encouraging greater cooperation between Israel and the Arab nations with which it has relations.State of Jerusalem: The MaqdasyinKeep Watching

“We are working, in the space that is not in the public domain, with a couple of other countries. And I think you’ll see some interesting things around the time of the president’s visit,” she told a congressional subcommittee.

Asked to elaborate, Leaf said, “I really wouldn’t want to step on the president’s toes.”

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The United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco became in 2020 the first Arab states in decades to normalize relations with Israel as part of the so-called Abraham Accords which Trump considered a signature foreign policy achievement. Sudan also signaled a willingness to normalize ties, but that has been largely frozen amid unrest in the African nation.

Then-US ambassador to the UAE Barbara Leaf. (Tech. Sgt. Anthony Nelson Jr./US Air Force)

Leaf said that the UAE-Israel relationship “is going like gangbusters” but that the Biden administration also wanted to encourage broader cooperation.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken joined his counterparts from Israel, the UAE, Morocco, Bahrain and Egypt in a March meeting in Israel’s Negev desert.

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Leaf said that the United States wanted the event to be an annual one and to include the Palestinian Authority and Jordan — the only other Arab nation that recognizes Israel but which has seen rising tensions over the status of Jerusalem.

The meetings aim to deepen cooperation in areas including water, tourism, health and food security, Leaf said.

Israel has also found common cause with Gulf Arab states in their tense relationships with Iran’s Shiite clerical state.

Separately Wednesday, the Axios news site reported that the White House is working on a “roadmap for normalization” between Israel and Saudi Arabia. The plan was revealed during a briefing with think tank experts last week, four sources familiar with the matter said.

US President Joe Biden and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. (Collage/AP)

Little additional details were provided to those present, but the US officials briefing the meeting clarified that an agreement between Israel and Saudi Arabia would not be reached during Biden’s Mideast trip.

Another source told Axios that the Biden administration was pursuing a gradual process that would take time.

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A senior Israeli official told the news site that while no major breakthrough was likely during Biden’s trip, a smaller agreement that would see Israeli airlines using Saudi airspace for flights to India and China was on the verge of being reached.

Also on Wednesday, Channel 12 aired an interview with a senior Saudi Arabian journalist said to be close with the country’s leaders, who claimed the Gulf state could normalize ties with Israel, even without American mediation.

“In my opinion, there is no need for the US president to be a meditator between Tel Aviv and other countries,” said Mubarak al-Ati, the director of Saudi Arabia’s official al-Ekhbariya Radio in a video aired on Channel 12

“The negotiating tables are open, and we can talk openly,” al-Ati said, mentioning recent remarks by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman who said Israel could be a “potential ally” of Riyadh.

“Nothing is stopping relations with Israel… and I think all the signs show that Israel can be part of Saudi Arabia’s network of connections,” he added

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For Lapid, a battle against the odds to thwart Netanyahu’s comeback

He’ll have about four months in transitional office to establish his credentials — to show that a PM can both protect Israel from its enemies and champion unity at home

David Horovitz

By DAVID HOROVITZ Today, 3:27 pm 

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu in the Knesset on November 8, 2021. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

An earlier version of this Editor’s Note was sent out Wednesday in ToI’s weekly update email to members of the Times of Israel Community. To receive these Editor’s Notes as they’re released, join the ToI Community here.

Provided Naftali Bennett and Yair Lapid can engineer the demise of their government more efficiently than they held it together, the Knesset will next week pass the final readings of legislation to dissolve itself and set new elections for this fall — marking the fifth time the Israeli electorate has been dragged to the polling stations since April 2019.

Snap surveys published Tuesday night on Israel’s three main television channels ostensibly showed that, as with the previous occasions, election five will meet the definition of insanity (dubiously) attributed to Albert Einstein: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.Keep Watching

Four times from 2019 to 2021, the Israeli public elected a Knesset from which no stable, long-lasting and fully functional governing coalition emerged. And Tuesday night’s surveys were generally presented as showing that the current Knesset “blocs” — the eight parties in the outgoing Bennett-Lapid coalition, and the four parties in the Benjamin Netanyahu-led opposition — will again be “deadlocked,” with neither capable of mustering a Knesset majority, and the Joint List, a mainly Arab alliance, holding the balance of power between them.

Lazy or deliberate, this is a misreading of the electorate’s preferences. What all three surveys showed, in fact, is a sharp rise in support for the Netanyahu-led bloc — constituting Likud, the soaring far-right Religious Zionism party, and the Shas and United Torah Judaism parties. In the March 2021 elections, those four parties managed 52 seats between them. Sixteen months later, the three TV surveys put them at 59-60 seats — on the cusp of a Knesset majority.

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Furthermore, it is by no means clear that Bennett’s Yamina should be automatically counted in the anti-Netanyahu bloc. Bennett himself did not rule out sitting with Netanyahu last year; quite the reverse, he publicly signed a pledge two days before the elections not to sit in a government led by Lapid and reliant on the support of Mansour Abbas’s Ra’am party. Even two weeks later, after the results were in, he declared that “the will of the people” was for “the establishment of a stable right-wing, nationalist government.”

Bennett may or may not lead Yamina into the next elections. His long-time ally Ayelet Shaked might do so. Whoever leads it might want to maintain a certain ambiguity about its preferred coalition partners in order to maximize its diminishing appeal. (Yamina is polling at a weak 4-5 seats, barely above the Knesset threshold, at potential risk of extinction.) Whatever the case, while New Hope’s Gideon Sa’ar, Yisrael Beytenu’s Avigdor Liberman and Blue and White’s Benny Gantz have all this week made publicly clear that they will continue to resist Netanyahu’s return as prime minister, nothing similarly definitive can be said of Yamina.

Israeli prime minister Naftali Bennett, Minister of Foreign Affairs Yair Lapid and Minister of Defense Benny Gantz seen in the Knesset on June 20, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

While the pundits talk of ongoing deadlock, therefore, Netanyahu’s delighted anticipation that he is on the way back to the Prime Minister’s Residence on Jerusalem’s Balfour Street after Bennett’s immensely irritating interruption is understandable — and the latest polls will have done nothing to dent that confidence.

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But while Bennett opted never to make his home at Balfour Street, there will be another prime ministerial resident for at least the next few months: interim prime minister Lapid. He will hold the reins of power, under a coalition agreement honored by Bennett, from the moment the Knesset dissolves, through the elections, and until a new governing coalition is sworn in.

Lapid is now a 10-year veteran politician, conciliatory and quietly effective. It was he who put together the country’s most implausible coalition, and his own 17-strong Yesh Atid party (rising in the polls) has remained unstintingly loyal to him and to it (in contrast to Bennett’s broken Yamina).

Lapid has twice put aside his prime ministerial ambitions — in partnering in 2019 with Gantz (who broke their alliance in 2020 to enter a predictably ill-fated coalition alliance with Netanyahu), and in ushering Bennett into power last year. He forwent his own speech during the raucous Knesset session last June when Bennett was sworn in to lead the government he had painstakingly assembled. He barely spoke on Monday when Bennett announced its demise.

Now Lapid is about to have his moment, and to take on the against-all-odds challenge of turning a brief premiership into a lengthy and substantial one.

Former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Likud) smiles ahead of a preliminary vote to dissolve the Knesset for new elections, on June 22, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Netanyahu will gleefully seek to discredit Lapid as a lightweight and, as he did with Bennett, as a danger to Israel’s security. He will attempt to stain Lapid as the proven partner of Ra’am, which the former prime minister repeatedly demonizes as a supporter of terrorism even though he, too, sought to forge an alliance with it. He will argue that Lapid’s only path to electoral victory lies in coopting the still more unpalatable Joint List.

Lapid will counter that his and Bennett’s coalition sought to restore respect and harmony to Israeli politics; that it worked to heal the economy, tackle terrorism, and maintain warm ties with the US while deepening the partnership to thwart Iran. That, unlike Netanyahu, it put the national interest ahead of the personal.

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Proud though Lapid may be of the outgoing coalition’s achievements, its failure to hold together will be depicted by Netanyahu as a debacle. Furious though he and Bennett may be at the relentless pressure Netanyahu exerted on its members, the fact is that Netanyahu succeeded — that Yamina fell apart, and the unreliability of other coalition members accelerated its demise.

Understated by nature, Lapid will need to run a bold campaign if he is to thwart Netanyahu’s comeback. He’ll need to credibly explain why he and his allies regard Netanyahu as a genuine danger to Israeli democracy. He’ll need to highlight that  Netanyahu is the man who mainstreamed Itamar Ben Gvir and his incendiary anti-Arab pyromania, and that a Netanyahu government will be toxic with Ben Gvir’s extremism. He’ll need to effectively debate Netanyahu one-on-one, or show Netanyahu unwilling to face him.

He’ll need to maximize the fact of his incumbency; this will be the first time in five that Netanyahu is running for prime minister from the opposition. As interim PM, Lapid will host high-profile visitors, starting next month with US President Joe Biden, be able to make resonant foreign trips, and seek to advance toward warmed relations with other regional players.

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid speaks at a conference organized by the Israel Democracy Institute in Jerusalem on June 21, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

He’ll have about four months in transitional office to establish his credibility as a permanent prime minister — to show that a leader can be both competent and magnanimous, resolute and empathetic, and that commitments to the country’s internal unity and to a fierce defense against its enemies are not mutually exclusive.

Four months, and multiple limitations on what he is allowed to do as an interim premier.

Four months to reverse what the polls are really showing.

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If exports from Ukraine are blockaded, the world will starve. That can be known in advance – Snyder

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Intercepted fears of russian occupiers: Colonel Grandma and shelling 24/7

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Saudi crown prince visits Turkey as countries normalise ties • FRANCE 24 English

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Al Jazeera: Saudi Arabia’s MBS visits Turkey as countries normalise ties

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Erdogan needs his enemy’s money today

After holding him personally responsible for the death of Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi Arabian journalist, in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkish president Erdogan welcomed today in Ankara the Saudi crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman. Politics are not about ideology but rather about interests. Ask president Biden.

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Lebanon, Syria and Egypt have signed an agreement to transfer gas from Egypt to Lebanon via Syria.

One thing worth noting: Egypt has hardly enough gas for its own consumption thus the gas to be exported is the one it buys from Israel. So in reality Lebanon will get Israeli gas that will travel via Egypt, Jordan and Syria.
They could’ve gotten a cheaper deal if they had peace with israel and had it come directly from their southern neighbors

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Amid political upheaval, US says Biden to visit Israel next month as planned

Lapid now expected to greet American leader as interim PM; US envoy reiterates visit has nothing to do with who is premier

By JACOB MAGID 20 June 2022, 11:49 pm

Then-finance minister Yair Lapid meets with Then-US vice president Joe Biden in Washington, DC, in 2013. (courtesy/ File)

US Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides confirmed Monday that President Joe Biden’s trip to Israel will go forward as planned, despite the political turmoil in Israel.

The envoy spoke to The Times of Israel shortly after Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid announced that they would be submitting legislation next week to dissolve the Knesset and that the latter would replace the former as interim premier before elections in the fall.

If the legislation is passed as expected, Lapid will be prime minister when Biden lands in Israel on July 13 for his first visit as president.Keep Watching

Bennett appeared to hint at this development in a briefing with reporters earlier Monday. Asked whether he’d still prime minister by the time Biden arrives given the fragility of his coalition, Bennett paused for several seconds before responding, “I don’t know. I really don’t know.”

Nides’ comments were consistent with what Biden officials have insisted for weeks — that the president’s visit would go forward regardless of the political situation in Israel.

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“We have a strategic relationship with Israel that goes beyond any one government. The president looks forward to the visit next month,” a spokesperson for the US embassy in Israel said in a Monday statement, declining to comment further on the prospects of a fifth Knesset election in roughly five years.

Biden is scheduled to spend two days in Israel and the West Bank before stopping in Saudi Arabia to participate in the annual meeting of the GCC+3 with the leaders of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait, Iraq, Egypt, and Jordan.

An Israeli official told The Times of Israel last week that Biden would meet with Bennett, Lapid, President Isaac Herzog, and Defense Minister Benny Gantz. While Bennett will only be assuming the role of alternate prime minister next month if the Knesset is indeed dissolved, he will likely still meet Biden in some capacity given his senior role in the government, a source familiar with the matter speculated.

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It has also been traditional for US presidents to meet with the head of the opposition, particularly during an election cycle. This would mean a potential sit-down between Biden and former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who have a long rapport, though one with no shortage of disputes. Summarizing their relationship in a 2014 speech, Biden recalled signing a picture for Netanyahu years earlier on which he wrote, “Bibi I don’t agree with a damn thing you say, but I love you.”

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Israel keeping US out of loop on alleged covert attacks in Iran — report

Sources tell CNN that US not informed about Israel’s efforts against Iran’s nuclear program, including assassination of IRGC Colonel Khodaei

By TOI STAFF21 June 2022, 10:36 pm

Mourners gather around the coffin of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards colonel Sayyad Khodaei during a funeral procession at Imam Hussein square in the capital Tehran, on May 24, 2022. (Atta Kenare/AFP)

Israel is keeping the US in the dark as it steps up alleged covert operations against Iran’s nuclear program, according to a report Tuesday.

The report from CNN, citing multiple sources, would appear to crack the veneer of close communication and cooperation between Israel and the US regarding efforts against Iran’s nuclear program, and may underline US concerns surrounding Israel’s more aggressive campaign, which has been blamed for a number of high profile killings recently.

According to the sources, the Biden administration has generally refrained from interfering in the alleged targeted assassinations and sabotage activities. Israel does not let the US know about actions ahead of time, and rarely acknowledges them afterward in closed-door conversations.Keep Watching

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The network cited a US official who said that Israel was behind the assassination of Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps Colonel Hassan Sayyad Khodaei last month.

CNN said it spoke to a US official and other sources privy to US intelligence, but did not specify whether they were American, Israeli, or from another country.

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Tensions between Israel and Iran have intensified in recent weeks, after the assassination of a top Iranian officer in Tehran last month that it blames on Israel and a number of other deaths of security and scientific personnel in Iran.

Earlier Tuesday, the state-run IRNA news agency quoted the prosecutor of Iran’s southeastern Sistan and Baluchistan province as alleging that three people arrested in April, on suspicion of working with Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency, wanted to kill Iranian nuclear scientists.

It’s unclear why the three would have been in Sistan and Baluchistan, which has no nuclear sites. The restive province that borders Afghanistan and Pakistan faces sporadic attacks from armed insurgent groups.

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A day earlier, an IRGC brigadier general acknowledged that a May explosion at a weapons development facility in Parchin which killed an engineer came from “industrial sabotage.”

In this photo made available by the US Navy, a boat of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy (IRGCN) operates in close proximity to the patrol coastal ship USS Sirocco (PC 6) and expeditionary fast transport USNS Choctaw County (T-EPF 2) in the Strait of Hormuz, Monday, June 20, 2022. (US Navy via AP)

Tensions have also spiked amid flailing multi-party talks over Iran’s nuclear program.

“The situation with Iran is getting very hot,” an official told CNN, referencing Iran’s recent decision to dismantle several monitoring cameras at one of its nuclear sites in addition to the spate of attacks carried out by Israel.

On Monday, Iranian ships came within 50 years of a pair of US Navy vessels in the Strait of Hormuz. The Navy told The Associated Press that this marked the second so-called “unsafe and unprofessional” incident it had with Iran in recent months.

A US official told CNN that US President Joe Biden’s July trip to the Mideast will focus on assuring allies that the administration is taking the Iranian threat seriously.

“We are committed to consulting closely with our regional partners regarding US policy on Iran, and in broad terms, we support dialogue among the countries in the region on issues of regional security and stability,” said a spokesperson for the White House National Security Council.

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Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi, second right, listens to an explanation while viewing an advanced centrifuge at an exhibition of Iran’s nuclear achievements in Tehran, Iran on April 9, 2022. (Iran President’s Office)

The US plans to expand economic sanctions and enforcement measures against Iran if talks to revive the nuclear deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action fall through, sources familiar with the matter told CNN, adding that the administration has been seeking to build a coalition of countries in the Mideast — including Israel and the Gulf states — that will work together to combat Iran.

The hope in Washington is that this coalition will take some of the pressure off the US to act against Iran, CNN said.

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The Insane Energy Policies of the Biden Administration

Published 1 week ago 

on June 15, 2022

By Richard E. Caroll

With the projected loss of over 5 million barrels of oil a day due to sanctions against Russia, as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the world faces an artificial energy crisis.  This crisis will throw the world’s economy into turmoil, and possibly throw the world into a prolonged economic slump. 

With the United States now relaxing sanctions against Venezuela in order to increase oil flow into the world energy market, and going hat in hand to the right wing Saudi Arabian government, the past policies of the United States are in a state of disarray.  By appealing to right wing governments in Saudi Arabia and Venezuela, the Biden Administration is allowing these governments to benefit from the Russia-Ukraine War, and punishing the American people by refusing to develop the ample supplies of shale oil that is in the United States.

What is glaringly absent from the Biden Administration’s energy policies is ignoring, and refusing to allow oil companies to develop the massive oil shale deposits in the Green River Formation.   The Green River Formation contains up to 4.3 trillion barrels of shale oil, which could be easily developed, and at a cost far below the average cost of developing either the current shale oil fields or the normal method of extracting oil from other traditional oil fields.

With the Biden Administration freezing oil drilling on federal land, the energy policy by the Biden Administration is quite literally insane.

The Green River Formation

The Green River Formation is located at the Green River in western Colorado, eastern Utah, and southwestern Wyoming.

The energy resources of the Green River Formation are not a true oil, but a form of pre-oil called kerogen. Kerogen is insoluble in water and in other organic solvents such as benzene or alcohol. However, when the kerogen is heated under pressure it breaks down into recoverable gaseous and liquid substances resembling petroleum. It is possible to break down this substance into synthetic oil.

Unlike normal processes of extracting shale oil called fracking, a process called pyrolysis is used. Pyrolysis occurs in the absence or near absence of oxygen. The rate of pyrolysis increases with temperature. “Pyrolysis transforms organic materials into their gaseous components, a solid residue of carbon and ash, and a liquid called pyrolytic oil (or bio-oil). Pyrolysis has two primary methods for removing contaminants from a substance: destruction and removal.”

The Hydraulic Fracturing Method

Hydraulic fracturing is used to recover oil and natural gas in oil shale deposits, where traditional oil drilling methods are not capable of recovering the oil in the rock strata. Hydraulic fracturing is also known as “fracking.” In order to recover the oil using fracking, a well is drilled into the rock strata containing the recoverable oil and natural gas. Then water, sand, and chemicals are injected into the well under high water pressure to continue to fracture the rock strata.

This then forces the oil and natural gas out of the well and is recovered into holding containers for further processing.

A huge amount of water is used during the fracking process. This is called the water cost. In a normal fracking procedure, between 1.5 to 9.7 million gallons of water are used to complete the fracking process for just one well. The water used during fracking becomes too polluted to be able to be used for human consumption. While the water used in fracking can be treated to return it to a potable status, the cost of doing so is so high, that typically the contaminated water is pumped into an underground chamber and removed from the rainwater cycle.

The technology to develop the Green River Formation does not use typical fracturing methods, so the water cost for the extraction is minimal. Because of the dramatically lower water cost, the breakeven point for extracting the kerogen is much less than traditional fracking.

The Green River Formation is a national security issue

The economic and political consequences of Russia invading Ukraine are now becoming clear.

One of the more obvious consequences has been the rapid rise in the price of oil. As of June 13,  the spot price of oil was $121.60 a barrel. Despite pleas from the Biden administration to Saudi Arabia to increase oil production, the Saudis have refused to do so. The United Arab Emirates appears to be siding with the Saudis and have also declined to raise oil production.

The Saudis are unhappy with the Biden administration’s efforts to renegotiate the Iran nuclear deal. They are also convinced that they have more in common with Russia in the current international environment. The Saudis are also angered by the pullback of support by the United States for its war in Yemen. This would appear to be the death knell of the agreement between the United States and Saudi Arabia where the U.S. guaranteed the national security of Saudi Arabia, while the Saudis guaranteed a steady supply of oil.

With the world upended because of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and the need for Europe to have steady oil and natural gas supplies, it is essential that the United States tap its vast oil shale reserves in the Green River Formation. This would help stabilize the energy security of the United States and its European allies. It would also make the United States 100% energy secure and free the United States from the cauldron of Middle East politics.

It should be noted here that this type of action by the United States would not be adding to the use of fossil fuels in the world. The exploitation of the Green River Formation would simply be displacing the use of fossil fuels from other sources of oil.

The cost of extracting this energy source cannot be accurately estimated. However, since the current technology available consumes less water because of the volatilization of water effect, the water cost is minimal, and so the breakeven cost of extracting a barrel of oil is significantly less than conventional fracking methods.

Reuters has estimated that the breakeven point for shale oil produced by fracking is $50. As noted above, fracking has a high-water cost. Since the current technology has a much lower water cost, it can be safely estimated to have a breakeven point of between $25 to $35 per barrel. If economies of scale are used, the cost could fall to as low as $15 to $25 a barrel.

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Russia pushes further into eastern Ukraine | DW News

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Ukraine Attacks Crimean Oil Rig | Russian Military Does Brutal Counterattack

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UKRAINE JUST ATTACKED THE AREA OF OCCUPIED CRIMEA AND SET STOLEN OIL RIGS ON FIRE || 2022

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Russian TV explains a plan to attack Baltic States

9,922 views Jan 26, 2022 Russian so-called journalist Korotchenko on the Russian state media explains how the Russian Federation can attack Baltic region and all three Baltic States.

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Dozens of Russian warships entered the Baltic Sea to intimidate!

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Russia Conducts Baltic Sea Missile Exercise as Tensions Rise With Lithuania

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Amir Tsarfati: Breaking News: Israels government collapsed. Nearly world war in Europe!

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Israel Government COLLAPSES; Bibi Set to Return? Russia TARGETS Israel at UN | Watchman Newscast

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Why Does Russia Own This Old Piece of Germany?

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Gen. Keane: This is going to be the tipping point

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Ukrainians Are Bombing Russians with Custom Drones | Super Users

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Ukraine expects ‘greater hostile activity from Russia’ | DW News

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Ukrainian Troops are Deploying Vog 17 on the Drone and Attacking Russian Positions

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20 June: Horrible Day for Ukraine. High Casualties | War in Ukraine Explained

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Putin has ‘strategically lost Ukraine war’, says Head of UK armed forces

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Incredible fiasco in Russian army: Audio recordings of colonels shocked to Putin!

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How a 15-year-old Ukrainian drone pilot helped destroy a Russian army column

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Moscow FUMES over EU blockade of Kaliningrad

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Can Europe Afford for Turkey Not to Be in NATO?

Published 1 week ago 

on June 13, 2022

By Richard E. Caroll

Image credit: NATO

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has united NATO in ways not seen since the Cold War.  At the same time, it has highlighted fissures in NATO, in particular the relationship between Europe and Turkey.   While the current issue confronting NATO and Turkey is the entry of Sweden and Finland into the NATO alliance, the reluctance by Europe to admit Turkey into the European Union, alongside the one-sided Seville Map detailing the Exclusive Economic Zone of Greece which gave the Aegean Sea to Greece and denied Turkey the right to develop its share of the enormous riches of the Eastern Mediterranean.

The European Union has dragged its feet in allowing Turkey to join the European Union.  The European Union, since Turkey made a formal application to join the European Union, has made one excuse after another as to why Turkey’s application was not processed.  In 2016, the European Union formally froze Turkey’s application with the excuse of democratic backsliding.  One has to wonder if democratic backsliding also pertains to the increasingly authoritarian governments of Hungary and Poland.

Turkey has the second largest army in the NATO alliance, and anchors NATO’s southern borders.  Turkey officially joined NATO in February 1952.  Additionally, Turkey is a barrier between Europe and the Middle East, yet Western Europe has treated Turkey as a pariah nation.  Refusing to process Turkey’s application to join the European Union has been a slap in the face to an ally which has guarded Europe’s southern border since 1952.

To add insult to injury, when Turkey tried to assert its rights to develop mineral resources inside of a 12-mile limit from its shores, it was stymied by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

Turkey is hemmed in her home waters because of a great many Greek islands, many of which are uninhabited.  The dispute between Greece and Turkey is rather straightforward, with Greece claiming the Aegean Sea as its own.  Disputes of this kind should, according to the UNCLOS, be resolved through diplomacy

…” The rules of international law that need to be applied to the dispute are more or less clear. Articles 74 and 83 of the Law of the Sea Convention on the delimitation of the Exclusive Economic Zone and the Continental Shelf encourage the parties “to achieve an equitable solution”, but are silent as to the method with which to reach that goal. However, the existing jurisprudence on the matter sheds light on this question. The ICJ expressed the view in its Gulf of Maine judgment (1984) that delimitation is not a unilateral act. It requires the agreement of all interested parties. Without an agreement, unilateral acts or claims have no legal value. Similarly, bilateral agreements between Turkey and Libya or Greece and Egypt have a binding effect only on the states that signed them, but have no legal effect on other coastal states. 

Yet when Turkey sent a survey ship into the eastern Mediterranean, France and Italy sent naval vessels and aircraft to support Greece’s position in the Aegean Sea, and forced Turkey to abandon her attempts to develop the rich natural gas fields that Turkey believes it has a right to.

The underlying reason that Greece has claimed the Aegean Sea as within its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) is the Seville Map.  Funded by the European Union, in 2003 the Seville Map granted total mineral rights to Greece and denies Turkey’s right to exploit the mineral riches in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea

The Kurdish Problem

Since 1978, the PKK has sought to obtain an independent Kurdish state.  It was in 1984 that the PKK began an insurgency against the Turkish government.  The ongoing conflict has resulted in over 40,000 deaths.  While there have been numerous attempts to dampen the violence between the PKK and Turkey, following the 2016 coup attempt, President Ergodan cracked down and escalated air strikes against the insurgent stronghold in southeastern Turkey.

Sweden has welcomed and given sanctuary to members of the PKK, and one member of the PKK, Amineh Kakabaveh is actually a member of the Swedish Parliament.

Turkey wants Sweden to cut its links to Kurdish groups and to end the arms embargo Sweden has placed on Turkey.  Internal Swedish politics has stymied the Swedish Prime Minister, Magdalena Andersson, from obtaining the political support she needs to meet Turkey’s demands.  The Kurdish member of Sweden’s Parliament is the deciding vote to keep Prime Minister Andersson’s government in the majority.

Turkey has made clear that unless the question of Sweden’s support of PKK refugees is settled, that Turkey will never agree to allow Sweden to become a NATO member.

Turkey’s Natural Resources

Turkey has substantial natural resources within her borders.  The top three natural resources are chromite, bauxite, and copper.  In addition Turkey has natural resources of iron, manganese, lead, zinc, antimony, asbestos, pyrites, sulfur, and mercury.  

Turkey’s agricultural resources is ranked among the top 10% in world agriculture production.  Turkey grows wheat, sugar beets, milk, poultry, cotton, potatoes, and tomatoes.  Turkey is also the world’s top producer of apricots and hazelnuts.

Turkey’s GDP for 2020 was $720.1 billion.  Turkey’s GDP did decline in 2021, but this was more the result of the Covid-19 virus than anything else.

Turkey has a military which numbers 355,000 active duty members with 380,000 army reservists.  Its Navy consists of 16 frigates, 10 corvettes, 35 patrol boats, 11 minesweepers, and 12 submarines.

The Turkish Air Force consists of 206 fighter aircraft, 80 transport aircraft, 276 training aircraft, along with 497 helicopters.

Turkey’s National Security Needs

The last five years has seen Turkey face significant and serious national security issues.  Due to international changes, and the slow but steady decline of American interests in the Middle East, Turkey has increased her security posture significantly.  Turkey has had to contend with the escalating threats from regional conflicts in Iraq and Syria which has spilled over into Turkey’s political borders.  There have been increased terrorist attacks by the PKK, Daesh, and the Gulenist Terror Group.

In a statement by President Ergodan in May of 2022, President Ergodan expressed dis-satisfaction with the failure of NATO to support the national security needs of Turkey.

In a speech on May 23rd, 2022, President Ergodan expressed Turkey’s frustration at the continuing support of the PKK by Sweden.  In his remarks…”At a time when the alliance solidarity must be kept at the highest level, the policy of making up excuses must be abandoned and Turkey’s rightful expectations, especially regarding sanctions and support in the fight against terror, must be met.”

As Turkey has been at odds now with several NATO members, Greece, France, and Italy,  it must be asked whether or not NATO is filling the national security needs of Turkey.  Turkey does have other options…

A Possible Russia-Turkey Alliance?

As mentioned before, Turkey faces terrorist threats from Syria, where the PKK has established bases where terrorist training is provided, and from where terrorist activities originate.  It has been reported that an offshoot of the PKK, the YPG, have been forcing children to join their ranks by force.

The PKK launches the majority of its terrorist attacks against Turkey.  Turkey also faces threats from Iran.  While Turkey’s relations with Iran have been cool, and correct, there have not been any adversarial relationship until recently.

With Turkey involved in a brush fire war in northern Syria, forces from Turkey and Iran have been bumping up against each other.  Indeed, Turkey recently warned against Iran attempting to create Shia states close to the Turkish border.  And with Turkey seeking a rapprochement with Israel, relations between the two sides will only deteriorate.

Russia is in a unique position to assist Turkey with its military in Syria.  Russia could put pressure on the PKK, and eliminate the threat the PKK against Turkey. 

Turkey could assist Russia in facilitating the transit of Russian ships through the Dardanelles Straights, allowing Russian grain and Russian oil to be exported to countries who have not condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The Russian navy would once again have access to the Mediterranean Sea, and could support Turkey in her claim to a fair portion of the natural minerals and resources in the Eastern Mediterranean.

NATO and the European Union Need to Re-evaluate Their

Treatment of Turkey

If NATO is going to retain Turkey as an effective member of NATO, and help protect the southern flank of Europe, Europe needs to re-evaluate how Turkey is treated. 

A continuation of the process of Turkey’s accession into the European Union would be a step in the right direction.

Allowing Turkey access to the rich natural gas fields in the Eastern Mediterranean would be another step that should also be taken.

At the end of the day, NATO and Europe need to reconsider how they have treated Turkey.  Unless they do so, they may lose their southern border security, with the Turkish resources, and military being aligned with the interests of Russia.

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Have Europeans been profoundly deceived?

Published 5 days ago 

on June 17, 2022

By Eric Zuesse

During the period from 28 April to 11 May of 2022, the European Council on Foreign Relations polled 8,172 respondents who were in ten European countries, on the question “Who is mainly responsible for the outbreak of the war in Ukraine?” and here were the options that were presented:

“Russia”

“Ukraine, the EU, or the US”

“None of these”

“Don’t know”

And these were the poll’s results, which the ECFR published on June 15th:

all surveyed countries

73% Russia

15% Ukraine, the EU, or the US

Finland

90% Russia

5% Ukraine, the EU, or the US

Great Britain

83% Russia

5% Ukraine, the EU, or the US

Poland

83% Russia

10% Ukraine, the EU, or the US

Sweden

83% Russia

10% Ukraine, the EU, or the US

Portugal

81% Russia

9% Ukraine, the EU, or the US

Spain

76% Russia

14% Ukraine, the EU, or the US

Germany

66% Russia

20% Ukraine, the EU, or the US

France

62% Russia

18% Ukraine, the EU, or the US

Romania

58% Russia

21% Ukraine, the EU, or the US

Italy

56% Russia

27% Ukraine, the EU, or the US

Here is the actual historical evidence regarding the question that was polled:

coup occurred in Ukraine during February 2014 under the cover of pro-EU demonstrations that the U.S. Government had been organizing ever since at least June 2011, which U.S. coup even top officials in the EU didn’t know about until they found out about it on 26 February 2014, right after this illegal coup had been successfully completed, and which coup shocked them to discover, but they kept silent about it instead of exposing it to the world. (This coup was subsequently called “the most blatant coup in history”, by the head of the ‘private CIA’ firm Stratfor.)

The main evidence of the coup was a phone-conversation on 27 January 2014 between U.S. President Barack Obama’s appointee to plan and run the coup, Victoria Nuland, speaking to Obama’s appointed Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt in Kiev, in which Nuland selected whom for Pyatt to get appointed to lead the post-coup Ukraine. Here is that phone-conversation, and here is its transcript along with explanations (to enable understanding of whom she was referring to in it, and why).

The second main evidence displayed that it was a specifically U.S. Government coup (and that the EU were merely America’s vassal-nations who didn’t know about it until it was already over) was a phone-conversation between the EU’s Foreign-Affairs chief, Catherine Ashton, and her investigator in Ukraine reporting to her from Kiev on 26 February 2014, to tell her what he had found had actually happened there, Urmas Paet. Here is that phone-conversation, and here is its transcript along with explanations (to enable understanding of what he was telling her, and of what her response to it indicated — that though it was a disappointment to her, she wouldn’t let the fact that it had been a coup affect EU policies).

And here is yet more evidence. It indicates that the main purpose of the coup was for the U.S. ultimately to place its nuclear missiles on Ukraine’s border a mere five-minute-missile-flight-distance away from being able to nuke Moscow in order to prevent Russia from being able to retaliate against a planned blitz-U.S. nuclear attack. And it also documents that a more immediate U.S. goal was to steal Russia’s major naval base, which is in Crimea, and to turn it into a U.S. naval base. But Russia was able to block that part of the plan. However, the main objective, to place U.S. missiles five minutes away from Moscow, remains unwavering.

On 17 December 2021, Russia delivered to both the U.S. Government and its NATO anti-Russian alliance Russia’s red-line demands to stop further aggressing against Russia; and, on 7 January 2022, both America and its NATO finally and clearly said no to those demands (which were basically for U.S./NATO finally to honor its verbal commitments on the basis of which Mikhail Gorbachev had ended the Soviet Union in 1991). On February 24th, Russia invaded Ukraine, in order to prevent U.S. nuclear missiles from ever being posted in Ukraine, just five minutes away, at the nearest place anywhere, to Moscow on Russia’s borders.

This was like the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, but this time with America posing the unacceptable nuclear threat (not the Soviet Union) — and just five minutes away (instead of being 30 minutes away). 

The U.S., and its “Special Relationship” partner UK, are now trying to replace NATO by an alliance of only rabidly anti-Russian countries that border on Russia, in order for the U.S. to become allowed to place its missiles in Ukraine, so as to checkmate Russia and make it, too, become a part of the U.S. empire. 

Does all of this evidence prove that Europeans have been profoundly deceived? How can it not? Have not even the most stringent of standards for a criminal conviction been met in this particular case? In addition, there have been participants in the coup who have publicly admitted that it was a coup (even though they didn’t know what the top of it had been). What more evidence could possibly be needed in order to conclude that Europeans have been profoundly deceived?

So, please spread this article (with its linked-to evidences) to all of your European friends and acquaintances, so that they too will know.

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Kaliningrad is at the center of a dispute between Russia and Lithuania | DW News

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Russia warns Lithuania of ‘serious’ consequences over rail blockade

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JEWISH JOURNAL: Biden’s First Mideast Trip

Even given the recent upheaval in the Israeli government, his time in Israel will be the least important part of the trip. 

mp
Dan Schnur

June 22, 2022

Then US Vice President Joe Biden meets with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on a visit to Israel in March 2016. (US Embassy Tel Aviv) Meet with PM Benjamin Netanyahu

In a few weeks, Joe Biden will be traveling to the Middle East for the first time as president. Even given the recent upheaval in the Israeli government, his time in Israel will be the least important part of the trip. 

There is certainly political value in Biden’s separate meetings with interim Prime Minister Yair Lapid and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. But the American president’s two days in Israel will mainly serve as a prelude to the main event, when he moves on to Saudi Arabia.

The primary benefit of Biden’s time with Lapid will be to show his support for the outgoing coalition that Lapid and now-former prime minister Naftali Bennett taped together last year. Biden’s approach to Israeli domestic politics can be roughly summarized as “anyone-but-Bibi”, so publicly demonstrating the strength of his relationship with Lapid to Israeli voters can serve both to bolster their new leader and marginalize Netanyahu at the same time.

Similarly, Biden and Abbas are not expected to achieve any breakthroughs when they get together the next day. This event is also mainly about geopolitical positioning and messaging. Just as Biden wants Israelis to understand that he is a close ally to their leader, the president’s goal in Bethlehem will be to reassure the Palestinian people that he will pursue a more even-handed approach in the region than the Trump Administration.

Once those two communications goals have been achieved, Biden will not only move from Israel to Saudi Arabia but from symbolism to substance. This is where the president’s trip will really start to matter.

The most obvious and urgent task for Biden with the Saudis is to convince them to start pumping more oil. 

The most obvious and urgent task for Biden with the Saudis is to convince them to start pumping more oil. The war in Ukraine has created a worldwide energy crisis and Biden’s first appeals to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman earlier this spring to increase Saudi output were completely ignored. Over the past few months, senior White House and Cabinet officials have dramatically stepped up their outreach to Riyadh, resulting in some additional oil being made available to world markets. But as Russia and Ukraine settle in for a prolonged conflict, the only way to persuade Saudi Arabia to release enough additional oil to offset Russia’s resources will require Biden and the Crown Prince to meet face-to-face. Given the harsh criticism that Biden has leveled against MBS in the past, that reconciliation will be very awkward – and very necessary.

But in addition to the urgent need for gulf oil, this leg of Biden’s trip is substantively important for many other reasons as well. The war in Ukraine will end at some point, but the long-term complications of Middle East politics would become much easier to navigate with enhanced cooperation from the Saudis. The most important step would be for Saudi Arabia to join the Abraham Accord agreements that Israel has achieved with four other Gulf states to normalize relations and to cooperate more closely on economic, cultural and security matters. This in turn would not only strengthen Israel’s standing in the Middle East, but would enhance the largely unofficial coordination between the Saudis, the Israelis and the U.S. toward their shared goal of containing Iran.

Long after the Ukraine war has ended, and long after today’s sky-high gasoline prices are an unpleasant memory, the threat that Iran poses to Israel, to the Middle East and to the world will remain. Earlier this year, Saudi Arabia and Israel participated in American-led naval exercises in the region, a joint effort that was surely noted by Iran’s leaders. But publicly acknowledging and formalizing the partnership between the two countries would send an even stronger message to Tehran.

Biden seems to be willing to sacrifice some personal dignity to be able to repair his relationship with MBS. He might not have taken that step if it were not for the energy emergency that the Russia-Ukraine war has created. But even if cheaper gasoline is the immediate motivation, an officially recognized collaborative effort between Israel and Saudi Arabia against Iran would be an even more consequential outcome of his first trip to the Middle East.


Dan Schnur is a Professor at the University of California – Berkeley, USC and Pepperdine. Join Dan for his weekly webinar “Politics in the Time of Coronavirus” (www/lawac.org) on Tuesdays at 5 PM.

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IRAN FRON PAGE: Analyst: Biden using Saudi trip as platform to win 2nd term

ByIFP Editorial Staff

June 22, 2022

US President Joe Biden

US President Joe Biden, who as a presidential candidate had vowed to make Saudi Arabia a “pariah”, is pursuing a multi-pronged agenda by embarking on a controversial trip to the kingdom, an Iranian political analyst says.

During his trip next month, Biden is expected to demand support from Riyadh to improve the energy market in the US in order to bolster his much-needed popularity rate for the next presidential election, Amir Ali Abolfath told the Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA).

As American consumers feel the pinch of rising energy prices, Biden has called on US allies including Saudi Arabia to increase production.

Iran’s influence in the region and wooing the Saudi kingdom to normalize ties with Israel under the so-called Abraham Accord are the other goals Biden is expected to push, according to Abolfath.

Although Biden is under heavy criticism for ignoring the bleak human rights record in Saudi Arabia, with the brutal assassination of dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and the Saudi-led devastating war on Yemen, the prospects for completely reaching the goals are dim, the analyst said.

As a presidential candidate, Biden vowed to punish the kingdom for the murder of Khashoggi.

Abolfath stressed Riyadh and Washington have always been so dependent on each other that regardless of the political developments in the world, their relationship has remained unaffected, explaining the US supports Saudi Arabia with military equipment and Riyadh in return manages the energy markets.

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The Abraham Accords and the Changing Shape of the Middle East

by Dennis Ross

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

One question I often get is how are the Abraham Accords changing the Middle East?  It is a fair and logical question, but there is a more important one to ask:  how did the region change so the Abraham Accords became possible?  And, what does that change tell us about where the region is headed?  

The change did not happen overnight.  There are many critics of the Oslo process between Israel and the PLO, but Oslo began to change the context for the Sunni Arab states.  If the PLO, the embodiment of the Palestinian national movement could deal with Israel, it became more acceptable for them to do so as well.  True, the Madrid process initiated multilateral working groups a year earlier in 1992, and many Arab states took part in meetings that included Israelis in regional discussions on issues ranging from arms control to environment and water.  That surely helped, but Oslo provided an impetus to start quiet exploratory discussions on bilateral, not multilateral, cooperation between Israel and a number of Arab states.  As our lead negotiator on the Oslo and Arab-Israeli processes, I set up a number of discreet meetings between Israeli officials and their Gulf state counterparts in the 1990’s.  Most of the bilateral meetings involved security cooperation and built on intelligence contacts that Mossad had established over time, but the scope of these private discussions clearly expanded.

Security was the basis of these talks.  It was a foundational element, and it would become more prominent as the Gulf Arab states saw the threat from Iran grow more urgent.  Condoleezza Rice discovered this in 2007, when she decided to launch an ambitious initiative to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Her aim was to present the initiative to the leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council, fully expecting them to embrace and endorse her effort on the Palestinian issue.  To her surprise, the Saudi, Emirati, Bahraini, Qatari, Kuwait, and Omani leaders showed little interest in her initiative and instead made it clear that, in her words, they had three priorities: “Iran, Iran, and Iran.”Israel shared the same priority and the reality of a strong converging strategic threat perception fostered deeper security cooperation.

I, too, had an experience early in the Obama Administration that vividly demonstrated the convergence of interests between Israel and a Gulf state counterpart.  In February 2009, early in the Obama Administration, I had responsibility in the State Department for helping shape our policy toward Iran.  Yousef al-Otaiba—the UAE ambassador to the United States—asked if I could meet him for an informal discussion on our approach to Iran.  To make it informal, he asked that we meet neither at the State Department nor at his embassy, preferring to meet at a suite he had at the Ritz Carlton hotel.  I agreed and when I knocked on the door, Ambassador Otaiba greeted me with Salai Meridor standing next to him.  Here was the Israeli ambassador to America standing with the Emirati ambassador with the meeting being the message.  Without a word, they were conveying that the two of them saw Iran in the same way and the Administration needed to understand that they were working together and we should appreciate the nature of the threat and respond accordingly.

The so-called Arab Spring in 2011, something I prefer to call the Arab Awakening, further altered the landscape and the calculus of many Arab leaders about what was at stake for them in cooperation with Israel.  While warfare in Syria and Libya—and the removal of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt—produced upheaval domestically, the “awakening” of Arab populations symbolized a loss of fear.  Their frustration with a lack of the delivery of basic goods and services and effective governance helped bring them to the streets to confront different Arab governments.  Again, principally in the Gulf, there was a recognition that these governments had to find a way to be more responsive in meeting the economic needs of their people.  As an example, in Saudi Arabia, King Abdullah allocated massive funds to provide three-month bonuses and to produce more housing for the Saudi public.That was a near term response, but I also began to hear from different Arab leaders in the Gulf that they would need to deliver more at least economically.  Democracy might not be on the table but shaping the ability to deliver more economic goods in the face of new challenges became a necessity.  The information revolution put a premium on developing a digitally based economy, with the ability to use big data and innovate.  Digitally driven economies meant that cyber security became a critical need. Climate change produced drought and stressed water and food security.  (And, later with COVID, health security became a necessity.)

In all these areas, Israel could offer cutting- edge technologies.  On water and food security, Israel leads the world in drip irrigation, the use and recycling of waste-water (treating and re-using 90% of it), recapture of rain water, water-gen machines that pull humidity out of the atmosphere and create 1500 liters of drinking water per machine, the development of drought resistant crops, etc.3 Similarly, on cyber security and defense, Israel is a world leader—with some technologies like Pegasus being sought not just for its use in penetrating terrorist and criminal groups, but, unfortunately, by some states for domestic control purposes.4Given what Israel could offer, countries like the UAE and Bahrain began to move from discreet to public cooperation, with the Emirates actually inviting Israel to establish a diplomatic presence in 2015 in Abu Dhabi in the office of the International Renewable Energy Agency.  Following this, a variety of Israeli delegations (commercial and sport) began to visit the UAE.  By 2019, Israel was invited to set up its own pavilion at the Dubai 2020 Expo—something that would be delayed because of COVID but something that was offered to Israel well before the breakthrough on normalization would be announced by the Trump Administration in August 2020.  Bahrain and Morocco during this period also greatly expanded the invitations to Israeli delegations.  While the scope of Israeli cooperation with Saudi Arabia remained largely below the radar screen, it is noteworthy that even before the advent of the Abraham Accords, 500 Israeli companies were doing business throughout the Gulf States.5The fundamental point is that Arab leaders increasingly came to view cooperation with Israel as in their interests.  It may have begun exclusively in the security domain, with security cooperation becoming even more important as America’s Arab partners became increasingly convinced that the US was withdrawing from the region and was inherently less reliable.  As Arab officials told me, “Israel, unlike the US, isn’t going anywhere”—and, certainly as importantly, “Israel actually acts and doesn’t talk about it.” 

But as much as security concerns cemented a common interest, it is also the economic dimension that has added to Arab interests in their ties to Israel.  These security and economic interests are not ephemeral.  They also have affected the way the Emiratis, the Bahrainis, and the Saudis have come to see the Palestinians.  Their frustration with the Palestinians, especially their leadership, has become commonplace. In my trips to Saudi Arabia and the Emirates, state officials and prominent individuals assert their unwillingness to deny their country what is in its best interests for the sake of the Palestinians.  Bandar bin Sultan, the long-time Saudi ambassador, appeared for three nights on the al Arabiya network in August 2020 in a documentary in which he recited all the opportunities Palestinian leaders have missed to settle the conflict historically.6 Bandar said Saudi Arabia was right to support the Palestinian cause but was wrong to cover for all the mistakes Palestinian leaders have made.  He emphasized that Palestinian leaders have demonstrated that they are incapable of settling the conflict and Saudi Arabia can no longer afford to forego its own interests, given the very real challenges and threats it faces in the region. 

Does this mean the Palestinian issue has no resonance with Arab publics?  The short answer is no.  It remains an issue of basic justice in the eyes of many Arabs.  Moreover, socialization of hostile attitudes toward Israel over more than 70 years will not simply disappear, especially in Jordan and Egypt, where the general public remains largely hostile toward Israel.  In the Gulf, the attitudes are different.  The people there are more removed from the conflict and polling indicates that unlike in Egypt and Jordan where roughly 10% favor cooperation with Israel even if there is no peace between Israelis and Palestinians, the number in the Gulf States is around 40% favoring such cooperation.7 As the benefits from economic cooperation become more visible, one can expect this number to go up. 

Of course, Hamas will do all it can to try to provoke violence and an Israeli response in the one area that resonates with all Muslims.  Hamas and Iran understand that when Israeli security forces go into the al Aqsa mosque on the Haram al Sharif (the Temple Mount), this triggers deep anger throughout Arab countries toward Israel.  In April, during Ramadan, when Israeli police went into the al Aqsa mosque to stop those on the inside from continuing to throw stones and to fire off incendiary devices, the imagery of the Israeli police invading the mosque and violating the sanctuary triggered an emotional backlash. The provocation instigated by Hamas and its supporters largely did not register, but the response to it did.  All the Abraham Accord countries conveyed demarches to Israel, seeking that Israel stop all such actions and avoid changing the status quo on the Haram. That said, complaints and criticism of Israeli actions were ultimately limited and not sustained. 

But there should be no doubt that Hamas and Iran will try to exploit what they see as a vulnerability of those countries making peace with Israel.  If nothing else, they may believe this will keep the Abraham Accord countries—and those like Saudi Arabia that appear on the brink of doing more in public (and in private)—on the defensive.  Israel, for its own reasons, has an interest in trying to defuse tensions with the Palestinians and improve the day-to-day realities.  Making political progress is desirable, but given the divisions among the Palestinians and the political circumstances in Israel, the prospect of movements toward a political settlement seem distant now.  In such circumstances, for Arab states, the answer must be to show that the Abraham Accords are working and the benefits of peacemaking are very clear for all those who are normalizing.  The Emirates are already touting that trade with Israel is going to be $2 billion for this coming year, $5 billion next year, and will grow dramatically over the coming decade.8There is to be sure a larger point not just about the countries normalizing with Israel but about the region and two distinctly different pathways.  While there are gradations in-between, one pathway in the Middle East today joins a number of Sunni Arab governments working with Israel openly and privately; they are dealing not only with common security threats but also are seeking to build resilient, modern economies. (Clearly, the oil rich states have more means to succeed, but they are also actively working to change the character of education and social realities in their countries.)  The other pathway is Iran’s.  Its leaders tout the “axis of resistance.”  But it is really an axis of misery.  Where the Iranians have dominant influence the state is either failed, failing or paralyzed—simply look at Lebanon, Syria, Yemen, and Iraq for evidence.  Iran offers only the perpetuation of conflict—as it needs conflict to justify its brand of militias.  It ensures the absence of hope or possibility.  Its ideology is one that justifies a hold on power and little else—no wonder that in Iran the only ones who embrace the ideology are those in power. 

Certainly, one of the ways to compete with the Iranian axis is both to be able to blunt its threats and highlight the price it imposes on its people everywhere.  The Iranian model has few takers and for good reasons.  Over time, the Abraham Accord countries will expand and offer hope for a very different Middle East.  The Palestinians, too, can profit from their expansion if the Arab states reaching out to Israel also are prepared to ask Israel to take certain steps toward the Palestinians.  For example, if the Saudis were prepared to open a commercial, trade office in Tel Aviv, a politically significant move, they could ask Israel to stop building to the east of the security barrier—meaning Israel would build on 8 % of the West Bank but not on 92% of the territory.  Alternatively, the Palestinians, understanding they are not going to stop the normalizing process, could ask Arab states that are reaching out to Israel to help meet Palestinian practical needs.  In this connection, Palestinians have acute water needs, they could ask the Saudis to invest in water infrastructure in the West Bank—something that would require the Saudis to work directly with Israel to be able to do it.  It could produce a win-win-win outcome.

The point is that Arab outreach to Israel could actually be helpful either in breaking the stalemate between Israelis and Palestinians or at least ameliorating the conflict and changing its circumstances.  In other words, the Abraham Accords and their expansion represent a pathway for a hopeful Middle East whether one is addressing the need to compete with Iran or improve the prospects for Israelis and Palestinians.  It is profoundly in America’s interest to do all it can to promote the Accords so they both deepen the scope of cooperation among the countries of the region and widen the benefits for those who are now participating in them. 

Dennis Ross is the Counselor at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and also teaches at Georgetown University in the Center for Jewish Civilization.  He served in senior national security positions in the Reagan, Bush, Clinton, and Obama Administrations. 

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AMERICAS

Decoding Biden’s Saudi Arabia-Israel visit

Published 3 hours ago 

on June 22, 2022

By Tridivesh Singh Maini

biden-syria

Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz

US President Joe Biden’s Middle East Policy is likely to be influenced by US domestic politics over the next few months. First, the US President needs to keep domestic oil prices under the check in the run up to the US mid terms later this year, and in that context, the announcement by  Ministers of Saudi led OPEC along with its allies, earlier this month that OPEC+, will drill more oil is welcome news. During the ministerial meeting on June 2, 2022, Ministers of OPEC+ countries agreed on adding 6,48,000 barrels of oil daily in July and August as opposed to the earlier 4,32,000 barrels per day  . After the commencement of the Ukraine-Russia war, Biden had asked Saudi Arabia and UAE to drill more oil, but they had both declined.  The US President has denied that his visit, which has faced scathing criticism from not just human rights activists, but a number of democrat lawmakers, to Saudi Arabia in July 2022 has been prompted by the oil factor. Said Biden while commenting on his Saudi visit in July 2022:

    ‘The commitments from the Saudis don’t relate to anything having to do with energy. It happens to be a larger meeting taking place in Saudi Arabia.’

While oil is an important aspect, Biden is also keen to broker a deal between Saudi Arabia and Israel (the US President shall also be visiting Israel), along the lines of the Abraham Accords signed between UAE, Bahrain and Israel in 2020 with the US being a mediator (trade between UAE and Israel was estimated at USD 1.2 billion in 2021 and both countries also signed a Free Trade Agreement FTA in May 2022)

Senior officials from Saudi Arabia and Israel have been meeting in recent months. In 2020, former Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu visited Saudi Arabia to meet with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in 2020 for talks pertaining to advancing diplomatic relations. Apart from high level interactions between officials of Israel and Saudi Arabia, the last few months have been witness to visits by heads of Israeli tech companies to Saudi Arabia. Saudis have also invested USD 2 Billion venture in a private-equity fund, Affinity Partners, headed by Jared Kushner (son in law of former President Donald Trump who was also envoy to the Middle East during the Trump Administration). Saudi Arabia has also invested in Israeli start ups via a venture fund headed by Steven Mnuchin, Treasury sector in the Trump administration.

Israeli Foreign Minister, Yair Lapid while commenting on Biden’s Middle East visit said:

“The fact that the president’s going to fly directly from here to Saudi Arabia is probably signifying that there is a linkage between the visit and the ability to improve relations,” 

While Saudi Arabia has repeatedly stated that normalisation of ties with Israel will be subject to the addressal of the Palestinian issue, both Israel and Saudi Arabia view Iran as a common threat, and as discussed earlier are keen to strengthen economic ties.  Both countries could begin with direct commercial flights (last year an Israeli private jet landed in Saudi Arabia for the first time) and greater economic linkages

Any progress in Saudi Arabia-Israel ties with US backing could help Biden to prevent his popularity from sliding down any further since he could tout it as a foreign policy achievement. This would further bolster MBS’s image at home, and abroad and also help in strengthening Israeli PM Naftali Bennett’s image at home. Bennett is a right winger and while Israel has been critical of the Iran deal and taken a different stance on the Ukraine issue, he runs a coalition which consists of left leaning outfits as well as centrists which will prevent him from being as hawkish as his predecessor Benjamin Netanyahu. The next few months are likely to pose numerous challenges for the Biden Administration, it remains to be seen if his Middle East visit in July 2022 pans out.

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Al Arabiya: Egyptian trade delegation makes rare Israel visit

AFP

Published: 20 June ,2022: 06:24 PM GSTUpdated: 20 June ,2022: 06:41 PM GST

A delegation of Egyptian business leaders was in Israel on Monday, the first such visit in a decade, in a sign of “warming” ties between the two countries, Israeli officials said.

The trip was part of a trade agreement known as QIZ (Qualifying Industrial Zone), which was initiated in 1996 between Israel, Jordan, Egypt and the US to foster Middle East peace.

The deal allows Egypt to export some products to the US duty free, so long as they include 10.5 percent Israeli inputs.

The visiting Egyptian delegation includes executives from the textile and clothing industries, the Israeli foreign and economy ministries said in a joint statement.

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Israel’s Minister of Economy and Industry, Orna Barbivay, said the visit “will contribute to the promotion of shared interests for both countries.”

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett met Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in Sharm el-Sheikh in September 2021, the first visit to Egypt in over a decade by an Israeli head of government.

Egypt was the first Arab country in 1979 to sign a peace treaty with Israel, after decades of enmity. Jordan was the second, establishing full diplomatic relations with Israel in 1994.

Egypt now regularly serves as an intermediary between Israel and Palestinian leaders, notably from the Hamas group that rules Gaza and has no direct communication with the Jewish state.

Israeli-Egyptian relations have proven icy at times, especially during the one-year reign of Egypt’s former president Mohamed Morsi in 2012, but broad security cooperation has carried on under Sisi.

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Polls point to return of dreaded deadlock in next elections, unless alliances shift

Surveys aired by major TV networks show Likud at top but without enough allies for a government; nearly half of respondents to Channel 12 survey want Netanyahu back as PM

By MICHAEL HOROVITZ21 June 2022, 11:52 pm 

Workers hang an election campaign billboard for the Likud Party showing a portrait of its leader Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, lower right, and opposition party leader Yair Lapid, upper right, next to a billboard of the Yisrael Beitenu Party showing its leader Avigdor Lieberman, in Bnei Brak, Sunday, March. 14, 2021. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

As Israel braces for its fifth election since 2019, three separate TV polls aired Tuesday show that the two rival political blocs remain deadlocked, as they were in the previous four elections, although all showed the bloc of parties loyal to opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu faring significantly better than it did in the 2021 elections.

The polls predicted that neither the current coalition nor opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-religious bloc would receive a majority of 61 seats in the 120-member Knesset, assuming there are no changes in the constellation of parties and alliances in the coming months, an unlikely prospect. Outgoing Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, for instance, whose Yamina party is polling at 4-5 seats, at times indicated a willingness to sit in a Netanyahu-led government before his own coalition was finalized.

The surveys were aired a day after Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid announced that they would move to dissolve the Knesset, as multiple defections from parties in the ruling coalition rendered it unable to govern.State of Jerusalem: The MaqdasyinKeep Watching

The Kan public broadcaster predicted Netanyahu’s bloc would win 60 of the Knesset’s 120 seats, while the coalition parties would receive 54 if an election were held today.

Channel 12 news predicted a 59 to 56 split, while Channel 13 news predicted 59 to 55. The remainder of the seats would go to the majority Arab Joint List, which doesn’t support either bloc.

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In the March 2021 elections, Netanyahu’s bloc — Likud (30), Shas (8), United Torah Judaism (7) and Religious Zionism — mustered only 52 seats in total.

Tuesday’s polls all showed Likud as the top vote-getter, garnering 35-36 seats, compared to 20-22 seats for Lapid’s Yesh Atid, the next highest vote getter.PartiesSeatsMajor network polls June 21, 202235​3520​209​99​98​87​75​56​64​45​54​44​44​435​3522​227​79​98​87​76​65​54​45​54​44​44​436​3621​219​99​98​87​76​66​65​55​54​44​40​0Channel 12Channel 13KanLikudYesh AtidBlue and WhiteReligious ZionismShasUTJJoint ListLaborYaminaYisrael BeytenuRa’amNew HopeMeretz010203040Polls from Channel 12, 13 and Kan

Channel 12’s poll found the parties would win seats as follows: Likud, 35; Yesh Atid, 20; Blue and White, 9; Religious Zionism, 9; Shas, 8; United Torah Judaism, 7; Labor, 6; Joint List, 5; Yisrael Beytenu, 5; Ra’am, 4; Yamina, 4; Meretz, 4; New Hope, 4.

Channel 13’s poll gave Likud, 35; Yesh Atid, 22; Religious Zionism, 9; Shas, 8; United Torah Judaism, 7; Blue and White, 7; Joint List, 6; Labor, 5; Yisrael Beytenu, 5; Ra’am, 4; Yamina, 4; Meretz, 4; New Hope, 4.

And the Kan poll scored the parties like this: Likud, 36; Yesh Atid, 21; Blue and White, 9; Religious Zionism, 9; Shas, 8; United Torah Judaism, 7; Labor, 6; Joint List, 6; Yamina, 5; Yisrael Beytenu, 5; New Hope, 4, Ra’am 4. It showed Meretz falling below the Knesset threshold.

Such poll findings might prompt drive parties near the bottom of the tally to consider forming alliances in order to avoid falling below the electoral threshold of 3.25 percent.

Two of the polls found that most respondents prefer to go to elections rather than see an alternative government formed by Netanyahu in the current Knesset.

The Channel 12 poll found that 57% of respondents prefer elections to the 32% of those who want an alternative government with Netanyahu at the helm, while a poll aired by Kan found that 46% of respondents prefer the current course while 37% support the establishment of a new government under the opposition leader.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in the Knesset in Jerusalem on June 8, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Both Kan and Channel 12 found that most respondents preferred Netanyahu as prime minister.

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According to Kan, 48% of respondents believe the opposition leader should be PM, while 31% answered they prefer Lapid.

Channel 12 found that Netanyahu was the preferred leader for prime minister when polled against Bennett, Lapid, and Defense Minister Gantz. 47% of respondents believed he was more suited to the job, while 23% supported Bennett, and 31% supported Lapid. Against Gantz, 46% of respondents supported Netanyahu as prime minister, while 26% preferred the defense minister.

The Channel 13 poll asked respondents if they thought the current prime minister should resign from politics, with 51% answering that Bennett should resign, while 30% answered that he should remain.

The poll also ran a scenario of Bennett and Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar running together on a joint electoral list, which found it would only make a difference of 1 seat, with the Likud receiving 34 seats and a Yamina and New Hope partnership receiving 13.

If Yamina ran together with Yesh Atid, their list would receive 26 seats according to Channel 12 news, but New Hope would not pass the electoral threshold, thus awarding the Netanyahu bloc 60 seats.

Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar arrives for a cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem on June 12, 2022 (Yoav Ari Dudkevitch/Pool)

The Channel 12 poll surveyed 510 people. It was conducted by the Midgam Institute with a margin of error of 4.4%.

The Channel 13 study surveyed 701 people and was carried out by Professor Camil Fuchs with a 3.8% margin of error.

The Kan poll was carried out by the KANTAR institute with 550 respondents, and a margin of error of 2.4%.

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A bill to dissolve the Knesset is expected to come up for a preliminary vote on Wednesday but will likely only finish passing all required legislative hurdles to disband the Knesset next week.

Elections will likely be held toward the end of October, after the conclusion of the Jewish High Holidays.

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The Kingdom of Bahrain Declaration calls for religious tolerance and peaceful coexistence

Dispelling ignorance, the enemy of peace
The Kingdom of Bahrain Declaration calls for religious tolerance
and peaceful coexistence

By Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa – Tuesday, October 10, 2017
ANALYSIS/OPINION:
In the Kingdom of Bahrain, for centuries we have grown up with
neighbors of all faiths, all cultures and all ethnicities, so we are happy
and comfortable living in a multicultural, multifaith society, and we
recognize this diversity as a natural and normal way of life for us in
Bahrain.
Our noble ancestors began this Bahraini tradition of churches, synagogues and temples being built next to our mosques, so
there is no ignorance about others’ religious rites or practices. We all live together in peaceful coexistence in the spirit of mutual
respect and love, and we believe it is our duty to share this with the world. We believe “ignorance is the enemy of peace,” and
that true faith illuminates our path to peace. For this reason, we decided to compose the Kingdom of Bahrain Declaration,
calling for religious tolerance and peaceful coexistence throughout the entire world.
Some may nd this surprising, but not the hundreds of millions of peace-loving Muslims around the world. We composed the
declaration in consultation with Sunni and Shiite scholars, along with Christian clergy and Jewish rabbis, including our friend,
Rabbi Marvin Hier of Los Angeles’ Simon Wiesenthal Center.
As Bahrainis, we drew from our national heritage as a beacon of religious tolerance in the Arab world during a time when
religion has been too frequently used throughout the world as a divine sanction to spread hate and dissension.
Yet in Bahrain, religious diversity is a blessing to our people. We welcome our Catholic, Orthodox and evangelical church
communities. We are proud that our Hindu nationals can worship in a 200-year-old temple complete with their images, just
around the corner from the Sikh temple and the mosques.
We celebrate our small — but precious — Jewish community, who feel free to wear their yarmulke and worship in their own
synagogue, which, we are informed, is the only one in the Arabian Peninsula. In fact, our Jewish community plays a very active
role at the highest levels of society, including an ambassador from Bahrain to Washington in 2008, the rst Jewish diplomat to
the United States from an Arab country. We wanted to protect our religious pluralism for future generations, so we have
enshrined this in law, which guarantees everyone the right to worship unhindered in safety and to build their houses of
worship.
e Kingdom of Bahrain is stronger because of our diversity, and I believe our world will be more secure and more prosperous
when we learn to recognize the beauty of these dierences and how they can teach us many lessons, including the lesson of
religious tolerance. Religious freedom should not be viewed as a problem but rather a very real solution to many of our world’s
biggest challenges and especially terrorism, which knows no religion and threatens all peace-loving people.
We rmly believe this evil can only be eradicated by the power of true faith and love, and this is what compelled us to write
the Kingdom of Bahrain Declaration as a serious document calling for pluralism, which “unequivocally rejects” compelled
religious observance, and condemns acts of violence, abuse and incitement in the name of religion. For national leaders like
myself, the declaration makes it clear that “it is the responsibility of governments to respect and protect equally both religious
minorities and majorities,” and that there is no room for religious discrimination of any kind.
e Kingdom of Bahrain Declaration is a call for leaders and for the masses, and it calls upon clerics and clergy, rulers and
presidents, and regular citizens to “do all within our power to ensure that religious faith is a blessing to all mankind and the
foundation for peace in the world.”
In the Arab world, we need not fear religious pluralism, and the non-Arab world need not fear us. In fact, we need one another,
and we must meet one another along a path of mutual respect and love. Perhaps, only then will we nd the elusive path of peace
we seek.
It is our dearest wish that the Kingdom of Bahrain Declaration will inspire others to believe in their hearts that there is a better
way, and to do everything in their power to nd it. As the Holy Koran says, “It is not the eyes that turn blind, but it is the hearts
that turn blind.” (Al-Hajj 22:46).
May our faith in God and in our fellow man call us to persevere until together, we create a more peaceful world for our children
and their children.
• Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa is the King of Bahrain

“Ignorance is the Enemy of Peace, it is, therefore, our duty to learn, to share, and to live
together, by the Tenets of Faith in the spirit of mutual respect and love.”
-His Majesty King Hamad Bin Isa Al Khalifa – King of e Kingdom of Bahrain
‘For hundreds of years, dierent religious groups have lived harmoniously, side by side, in e Kingdom of Bahrain, fully practicing the tenets of their respective faiths
in blessed, peaceful coexistence with each other… We humbly oer the centuries old traditional Bahraini way of life as an example to inspire others….’
1.) RELIGIOUS FAITH AND EXPRESSION
We celebrate that religion has been amongst the greatest forces of good in our world, and has principally inspired people to share that same good with their fellow man. e
world community recognizes that Religious Faith and Expression are a basic inalienable right. However, now, as in certain times in the past, religion is too frequently used as
a divine sanction to spread hate and dissension. Rather than sustaining people through crisis, religion has been used to contribute to the crisis, and sometimes it has created
those crises. We begin to address this negativity by learning to dierentiate between healthy and unhealthy forms of religious teaching and activity. We recognize that this can
only be counteracted through Inter-Faith Dialogue, and the sharing of knowledge, thus leading to the positivity of enlightenment and understanding.
1/A) We declare that when extremist clergy preach hatred, violence and seek to sow the seeds of discord, that they are inciting the Desecration of the name of God.
2.) FREEDOM OF CHOICE
We recognize that God instructs us to exercise the Divine Gi of Freedom of Choice and therefore we declare that compelled religion cannot bring a person into a
meaningful relationship with God.
2/A) We therefore unequivocally reject compelled observance.
Furthermore, we declare that every individual has the freedom to practice their religion, providing that they do no harm to others, respect the laws of the land and accept
responsibility, spiritually and materially, for their choices.
3.) THE DETERMINATION OF GOD’S WILL
We acknowledge that religions may disagree with each other in interpreting God’s will, yet all enlightened religions reject invoking His name to legitimize violence against
innocent people. is is a clear desecration of His name, rather than a fulllment of His will.
3/A) We, therefore, declare that any act that is found morally repugnant by the vast majority of mankind and is insulting to our collective moral conscience cannot be part
of God’s revealed will. We call upon all good people of Faith to disown practices such as the sowing of terror, the encouragement of extremism and radicalization, suicide
bombing, promotion of sexual slavery, and the abuse of women and children.
4.) RELIGIOUS RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES
God expects more of those in positions of spiritual and temporal authority. People of all Faiths should be accorded the right to congregate to worship, educate, celebrate and
practice the requirements of their respective Faiths. It is the responsibility of governments to respect and protect equally, both religious minorities and majorities. Neither should
be subjected to threats, shame or incitement nor should they be discriminated against as a result of their Faith. ose in positions of authority must ensure that individuals who
leave their homes for their houses of worship can do so without fear of intimidation, violence or worse. Equally, all people of Faith and their communities have a special
responsibility to demonstrate to their neighbors that extremism is not holier than moderation.
4/A) We, therefore, declare that each of us has an active role to play in creating a fully inclusive environment that fosters mutual respect and cooperation.
5.) THE HOPE OF FAITH
We pledge to teach our children and demonstrate to them by example, that by performing simple acts of kindness and compassion we are acting upon God’s command that we
invoke His good into the world. We commit to working for a world where people of sincere belief join together to reject that which divides us and concentrate instead on
celebrating and expanding on that which unites us. In this way, we harness the enormous power of collective Faith to unite a world in peace, where religion is a blessing to all,
and for all, where the blessed spirit of mutual respect and love prevail.
5/A) It was from within this region the three Abrahamic Faiths emerged. Accordingly, their principles have made this region home to countless millions from across all the
worlds’ religions. erefore, we people who use religion, who teach religion and who are in positions of inuence, declare that we will do all within our power to ensure that
religious Faith is a blessing to all mankind and the foundation for peace in the world.
“Faith Illuminates our Path to Peace.”
-His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa ENDS
Manama, Kingdom of Bahrain, July 3rd 2017.

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What Arab King Built the Region’s Largest Church, and Why?

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President von der Leyen in Israel – Press statements with Naftali Bennett – very interesting!!!

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For first time in 10 years, Egyptian trade delegation arrives in Israel

 June 21, 2022

For first time in 10 years, Egyptian trade delegation arrives in Israel

(TPS)

Egyptian delegation meeting with Israeli government officials and businessmen, also visiting industrial plants.

By TPS

For the first time in approximately a decade, a delegation of senior Egyptian industrialists operating within the framework of the QIZ (Qualifying Industrial Zone) agreement between Israel, Egypt, and the US, arrived in Israel on Sunday for several days of meetings.

The Egyptian delegation includes 12 industrialists and businesspeople in the field of textiles and clothing who will meet with senior officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Economy and Industry, the Manufacturers Association, the Federation of Chambers of Commerce, and the Export Institute.

The delegation members will also visit industrial plants and meet with Israeli companies and businesspeople.

The visit of the Egyptian delegation was initiated by the Israeli Embassy in Cairo, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other official bodies “with the goal of increasing cooperation and trade volume between Israel and Egypt over the coming years,” the Foreign Ministry stated Monday.

The Qualified Industrial Zone (QIZ) is a preferential trade zone agreement signed in 2004 and facilitates the export of duty and tax-free products from Egypt to the US as long as the Egyptian product includes 10.5 percent worth of inputs originating from Israel.

The Egyptian delegation arrived after having visited a delegation of economic organizations from Israel at the QIZ Conference in Cairo at the end of May.

This visit is “another step in the warming economic-civilian ties with Egypt, which follow a government decision to promote tangible moves to increase trade with Egypt and remove bureaucratic barriers,” the Ministry noted.

Oded Yosef, Deputy Director-General of the Middle East Division at the Foreign Ministry, explained that economic cooperation “has always been a significant component in the promotion of relations, and the QIZ agreement has a special place in this. We expect that the visit will lead to the expansion of cooperation within the QIZ’s industrial areas, as well as to the expansion of economic, business, and commercial cooperation between the countries”.

Ohad Cohen, Head of the Foreign Trade Administration at the Ministry of Economy and Industry, further noted that the QIZ agreement “serves as a basic infrastructure for trade between Israel and Egypt. The market in Egypt is developing, and we welcome their willingness to visit as well as the Egyptian interest in Israeli industry, which represents a further warming of economic ties with Egypt, and we hope to expand cooperation between the countries.”

Egypt is considered a significant trading partner for Israel in the Middle East.

The volume of trade between the countries stood at $330 million in 2021. The spectrum of exports from Israel to Egypt primarily includes textiles and their associated products, a majority of 78%, chemicals and chemical industry products with 11%, and rubber and plastics at 8%, totaling $120 million.

Imports from Egypt include chemicals and chemical industry products at 32%, fresh agricultural produce, and food products at 27%, and machines and electrical and mechanical machinery at 17%, totaling $210 million.

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Muslims abuse Christian on Temple Mount

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Saudi Crown Prince Visits Jordan in Thaw in Ties

avatarby Reuters and Algemeiner Staff

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman descends from the plane upon his arrival in Amman, Jordan June 21, 2022. REUTERS/Alaa Al Sukhni

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman arrived on Tuesday in Jordan as ties thaw after years of frayed relations due to divergent views on regional conflicts and unfulfilled pledges of aid, officials said.

The first such visit in years by the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia comes at a time, officials say, when Jordan’s economy is struggling with the economic knock-on effects of the Ukraine war.

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“This is an opportunity for a new phase in Jordanian-Saudi ties and to continue a program of economic projects and new investments,” a senior Jordanian official told Reuters.

Business leaders and officials hope it will unblock at least $3 billion of investment projects that Saudi Arabia committed to in recent years but which never materialized.

Saudi Arabia, which once rescued Jordan with cash injections, had held off direct support, and officials said discussions would look at more ways to help Jordan’s economy, which has been battered by rising fuel prices and higher food imports. Jordan imports most of its energy needs.

Ties reached a low during former President Donald Trump’s term in office when staunch US ally Jordan felt that Riyadh’s strong ties with the previous American administration undermined Jordan’s pivotal role in Arab-Israel peace making.

Officials say Jordan’s economic strains have worsened with the end of Gulf grants and little extra funds by Western donors in the last few years to cope with sluggish growth and high unemployment.

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Biden Visit Will Have ‘Significant Implications’ for Region, Iran Front, Lapid Tells Blinken

avatarby Sharon Wrobel

Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid gives a press briefing at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem, April 24, 2022. Debbie Hill/Pool

Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid on Tuesday spoke to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to discuss President Joe Biden’s planned visit to the country next month, just a day after the government announced its decision to dissolve parliament to trigger new elections.

“The visit is an opportunity to emphasize the President’s deep personal connection to Israel, to America’s commitment to Israel’s security, and to strengthening Israel in the region,” Lapid tweeted after the phone call. “The visit will have significant implications for the region and the fight against Iran, as well as immense potential to significantly improve regional stability and security.”

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The call between the two lawmakers comes as Lapid is next week set to assume his role as caretaker prime minister during the transition period before the country’s fifth general election in less than four years, following Monday’s decision to dissolve Israel’s parliament.

Lapid is set to host Biden as prime minister during his visit to Israel on July 13. During a four-day visit to the Middle East, Biden is also scheduled to travel to the West Bank and meet with Palestinian Authority officials before embarking on a visit to Saudi Arabia.

Italyth Blinken his upcoming diplomatic visit to Turkey, updating him on joint activity with the Turkish government against terrorism and attempted attacks on Israelis in Istanbul. Lapid plans to visit Turkey on Thursday to meet with his Turkish counterpart Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu.

Israel last week raised the travel warning for Istanbul to Level 4, the highest level, and urged Israelis to return home immediately amid multiple warnings in recent weeks about Iranian attempts to attack Israelis in the Turkish capital. Turkish security forces have worked with Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency to secure places where Israeli tourists are residing, and are conducting a manhunt for Iranian terrorist cells.

US State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement that in the call to Lapid, Blinken “underscored our respect for democratic processes and reiterated our unwavering commitment to the strong US-Israel strategic relationship.”

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Israel to Allocate $1.8 Million to Preserve Heritage of Jewish Communities From Iran and Arab Countries

avatarby Sharon Wrobel

Yemenite Jews walking through a desert, near Aden, before being airlifted to Israel, November 1949. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

The Israeli government on Sunday approved the allocation of more than $1.8 million to document and preserve the history and heritage of Jewish communities from Arab countries and the Islamic Republic of Iran.

“For me, this is my legacy. We were all in Morocco. We were all in Europe. We have all been to Iraq and Ethiopia. We are all Jews,” said Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett. “This program is of very great importance – the preservation of the memory and heritage of a large part of our people.”

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It is estimated that more than 850,000 Jews were expelled and displaced out of Arab lands, including Iraq, Libya, Yemen; and from Iran in the 20th century, according to Israel’s Foreign Ministry. The proposal, led by Social Equality Minister Meirav Cohen and Culture and Sport Minister Chili Tropper aims to record the stories of Arab and Iranian Jewry and their communities who immigrated in the 1950s to ensure they become an integral part of modern Jewish history and are integrated into the curriculum of the education system.

“Unfortunately, in a country where about 50 percent of its citizens are from Arab countries and Iran or descendants of immigrants, the history and heritage of their Jewish communities has not been sufficiently passed on and their legacy is not properly instilled in the public discourse,” Cohen said. “This is a different generation of pioneers, whose life experience and contribution to the Zionist enterprise is not heard enough.”

“The proposal we brought to the government is a step on the path to fix this historical injustice,” she added.

Cohen lamented that high school graduates were not familiar with terms and personalities such as the Farhud, the pogrom against Iraqi Jewry, Operation Magic Carpet, the airlift of Yemenite Jews to Israel or Jewish Yemenite poet Rabbi Shalom Shabazi.

Following the budgetary allocation, the government instructed the Anu Museum of the Jewish People in Tel Aviv to urgently implement a program for an archive dedicated to the research and documentation of the heritage of Jewish communities in Arab countries and Iran. Part of the project is the establishment of a database of testimonies of immigrants from Arab countries.

“There is an urgency to this project in view of the advanced age of many of the immigrants from those communities,” said Tropper. “The project will be accessible to every home in Israel and it will help address the issue in the education system as well.”

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Iranian TV fabricates soccer legend Cristiano Ronaldo declaring his hatred of Israeli ‘assassins’

 June 21, 2022

Iranian TV fabricates soccer legend Cristiano Ronaldo declaring his hatred of Israeli ‘assassins’

Cristiano Ronaldo, April 16, 2022. (AP/Jon Super, File)

The report featured a false translation and a misleading photoshop meant to portray soccer star as anti-Israel.

By Shiryn Ghermezian, The Algemeiner

Iran’s state TV has falsely quoted Portuguese soccer legend, Cristiano Ronaldo, as saying that he dislikes Israeli soccer fans and calls them “assassins.”

During a report that aired on June 15, Iranian state television showed a video clip of the Manchester United striker speaking, falsely translating him as saying: “Israeli football fans, for me, are the most hated. I cannot tolerate them. I won’t exchange my shirts with assassins.”

However, Ronaldo never made those remarks, news outlet Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported on Monday.

Iran’s official broadcaster used footage from a 2016 video that Ronaldo recorded for Save The Children, the London-based humanitarian organization, Radio Free Europe reported. In the original English-language video, Ronaldo drew attention to the struggle Syrian children faced during that country’s brutal civil war.

“This is for the children of Syria,” Ronaldo said in the video. “We know that you have been suffering a lot. I am a very famous player. But you are the true heroes. Don’t lose your hope. The world is with you. We care about you. I am with you.”

Ronaldo was also dubbed as saying in the Iranian report: “If I say that I like the Quds occupying regime just one time, FIFA will select me as the player of the year.”

The report also featured what it claimed was footage of Ronaldo refusing to exchange shirts with an Israeli soccer player following a match on June 9. In reality, the player was Aron Gunnarsson, the captain of Iceland’s national soccer team, and the footage was from 2016, according to Radio Free Europe.

The report additionally included an image of Ronaldo holding a photoshopped sign that said, “All with Palestine.” The original image is of Ronaldo holding a sign that read, “All with Lorca,” referring to the 2011 deadly earthquake near the Spanish town of Lorca.

“They are practically lying to us with our own money,” cartoonist Payam Pourfallah said on Instagram, where he criticized the lies in the state TV report and also shared Ronaldo’s 2016 video in support of Syrian children.

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Human rights, oil and Biden’s shifting approach to Saudi Arabia

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Saudi crown prince to head to Egypt, Jordan before visit to Turkey

Meetings with Sissi and King Abdullah intended to coordinate positions on key issues ahead of joint summit with Biden next month

By AGENCIES18 June 2022, 10:14 pm

In this photo released by the Saudi Royal Palace, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, speaks during the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, December 14, 2021. (Bandar Aljaloud/Saudi Royal Palace via AP)

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman begins a regional tour Monday in Egypt that will also take him to Turkey to bolster regional ties, a Saudi diplomat told AFP.

After Cairo, Prince Mohammed, Saudi Arabia’s de facto leader, will travel to Jordan and then on to Turkey, the diplomat said.

During the tour, he will discuss “regional and international files and the future of international cooperation,” he said, adding that investment and energy deals are due to be signed.State of Jerusalem: The MaqdasyinKeep Watching

According to Saudi officials quoted by The Associated Press, the crown prince is scheduled to meet with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi in Sharm el-Sheikh on Monday, before meeting with Jordan’s King Abdullah in Amman on Tuesday.

The officials said the purpose of his meetings in Egypt and Jordan is to coordinate their positions on key issues ahead of a joint summit with US President Joe Biden in Jeddah next month that will also include Iraq’s prime minister.

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Turkish President Tayyip Recep Erdogan announced on Friday that Prince Mohammed would be visiting Turkey on June 22.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, left, and Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman speak after their meeting in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, early Friday, April 29, 2022. Prince Mohammed is due to visit Turkey next week. (Turkish Presidency via AP)

It would be the Saudi royal’s first visit to Turkey since the brutal killing of Saudi insider-turned-critic Jamal Khashoggi inside the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul, which shocked the world and dealt a heavy blow to ties between the regional rivals.

The visit, following one by Erdogan to Saudi Arabia in April, would seal efforts to heal ties between the two countries.

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The Saudi officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss details of the tour, told The Associated Press that Prince Mohammed will also discuss with officials in Turkey a number of regional and international issues, foremost of which is the Iranian nuclear file, efforts to end the war in Yemen, the repercussions of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on the region and ways to strengthen bilateral relations in energy and trade.

The Saudi diplomat said Prince Mohammed was also expected to visit Greece, Cyprus and Algeria, “probably in late July.”

The Saudi government has yet to confirm the crown prince’s upcoming trips.

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