News Digest — 7/6/22

‘Israel Will Not Sit Back,’ Lapid Tells Macron, Urging Global Action On Iran

Currently meeting with Emmanuel Macron in Paris, Prime Minister Yair Lapid stressed the imminent danger posed by Iran, insisting the world must take action.

Noting that France is one of the countries leading the negotiations on the nuclear deal, Lapid said:

“We may have disagreements about the content of the agreement, but we do not disagree on the facts.  The facts are that Iran is violating the agreement and continues to develop its nuclear program.”

“Iran is hiding information from the world, it is enriching uranium beyond the level it is allowed to, and it has removed all cameras from its nuclear sites.”

“Given all this, the world must respond.”

Lapid reminded Macron that already in 2018, the French president was the first world leader to talk about the need for a new deal with Iran – “a deal that is more efficient and better defined, a deal with no expiration date, a deal with coordinated international pressure that would prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear threshold state.”

“You were right then, and you are even more right today.  The current situation cannot continue as it is.  It will lead to a nuclear arms race in the Middle East, which would threaten world peace,” he said.

Lapid also pointed to Iran’s activities in other countries, such as the recent plan to murder Israeli tourists in Istanbul that was exposed and thwarted by Turkish intelligence.

Furthermore, he continued, “a few days ago, Iranian-made UAVs tried to attack an Israeli gas rig near the Lebanese coast.”

“These UAVs were sent by Hezbollah, a terrorist organization that threatens Lebanon’s stability, violates its sovereignty, pushes it towards a dangerous escalation with Israel, and harms the national interest of Lebanon – a country I know is dear to your heart.”

“Hezbollah is an Iranian proxy and has more than one hundred fifty thousand rockets in Lebanon, aimed at Israel.  It tries to attack us with Iranian rockets and UAVs.”

“Israel will not sit back and do nothing, given these repeated attacks,” he declared.



Jews Fear Being Trapped In Russia As Kremlin Orders Jewish Agency To Cease Operations Immediately

The Russian government has ordered the Jewish Agency, which helps resettle Jews from Russia and Ukraine in Israel, to immediately halt all of its operations in Russia, the Jerusalem Post reported on Tuesday (5th).

The order was given via letter from the Russian government to the NGO.  The Jewish Agency is reportedly weighing its options, with support from Israel’s Foreign Ministry and Prime Minister’s Office.

In a statement to the Post, the Jewish Agency said that “as part of the work of the… delegation in Russia, we are occasionally required to make certain adjustments deemed necessary by authorities.”

They added that “the contacts with the authorities take place continuously, with the aim of furthering our activities in accordance with the rules set by the competent bodies.  Even nowadays, such dialogues take place.”

The news rattled the Russian Jewish community.

“People have been feeling the Iron Curtain setting on them and they fear they won’t be able to escape the country,” a source from the Jewish community in Russia told the Post.

“A number of Jews have said that the Russian authorities are trying to arrest them and that they fear for their lives,” said the source.

Around 180,000 Jews live in Russia.

The order from the Russian government comes on the heels of deteriorating relations between Jerusalem and Moscow.

As Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky has reportedly slammed Israel for implementing Western-style sanctions on Russia, Russia has blasted Israel for “playing both sides.”

On Monday (4th), Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova released a statement harshly condemning Israel for its air strikes on Iranian assets in Syria. 

Further, a land dispute over a Russian Orthodox Church compound in Jerusalem has also sparked tensions, as Moscow demands that Israel immediately hand over ownership of the property.



Gantz: Iran Threatens The World Before It Threatens Israel

Defense Minister Benny Gantz spoke on Tuesday (5th) at the 26th Annual Economist Government Roundtable in Athens, and revealed satellite images of 4 Iranian warships patrolling the Red Sea in recent months, at a time when Iran is entrenching itself there.

“Today we can confirm that Iran is methodically basing itself in the Red Sea, with warships patrolling the southern region.  In the last few months, we have identified the most significant Iranian military presence in the area, in the past decade.  It is a direct threat to international trade, energy supply, and the global economy.  It is also a direct threat to peace and stability in the maritime arena, which may affect the Mediterranean and beyond,” Gantz said.

Gantz also referred to Iran’s recent satellite launcher test: “Just a week ago, Iran conducted yet another test of a satellite launcher from Semnan province.  This test demonstrates that the Iranian regime has the capabilities to develop intercontinental ballistic missiles that may reach as far as the center of Europe.  This is in addition to operational ballistic missiles and UAVs that can already reach the East Med.”

“In addition to its nuclear ambitions, Iran exports terror to Turkey, Europe, Latin America, Africa and the Middle East.  Iran is first a global challenge, then it is a regional challenge, and only lastly, it is a threat to the State of Israel,” he concluded.



Saudi Academic Calls For Islamic Religious Sanction For Normalization With Israel – Y. Yehoshua

It appears that Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman regards Israel not as an enemy but as a potential ally, and believes that forming ties with it can serve the kingdom’s economic political and security interests.  The informal contacts that have taken place between the countries in recent years, and the signing of the Abraham Accords between Israel and several Arab countries, chief of them the UAE, have somewhat eroded Israel’s demonic image in the eyes of the Saudi people, especially among the younger generation.

Intellectuals, journalists and social media activists in the kingdom have begun to openly express a tolerant and even positive attitude towards Israel, seeing peace with it as inevitable.  Many also direct harsh criticism at the Palestinians, who, they say, are not adopting a realistic policy conducive to resolving the conflict.

Yet Saudi Arabia – which is essentially a religious state and regards itself as the leader of the Islamic world – will find it difficult to form official relations with Israel without first establishing the legitimacy of this move from the perspective of shari’a (Islamic law).  Clerics opposed to the Abraham Accords have stated that normalization with Israel is an act of treason against Allah and against the Prophet Muhammad who fought the Jews.

However, religious rulings sanctioning ties with Israel were already issued in the 1990s by Sheik ‘Abd Al-’Aziz ibn Baz, who served as Saudi mufti from 1993 until his death in 1999.  Issued against the backdrop of the Oslo Accords between Israel and the Palestinians, the rulings stated that a country may sign a peace agreement with the Jews, i.e., with Israel, if such an agreement is deemed to be in the interest of its Muslim citizens.  Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman told Saudi TV in 2021 that it is always possible to employ independent judgment and interpret shari’a according to the spirit of the time and the place.

Writing in the Saudi state daily, Al-Jazirah on June 20, 2022, Dr. Khalid bin Muhammad Al-Yousuf, a senior lecturer on international law at the Imam Muhammad bin Saud Islamic University in Riyadh and the secretary-general of the university’s Supreme Council, argues that Israel is an existing reality just like any other world country.  Therefore, it must be treated according to the accepted norms of the international community.

Al-Yousuf called on Saudi clerics to formulate a new religious perception of international relations compatible with these new norms, which will enable the ruler of an Islamic state to employ independent judgment and form ties with Israel if he deems this to be in the interest of his country. 

The writer is Vice President for Research and Director of MEMRI Israel.



Israel To Invest Millions To Build Hospitals In Morocco

Rabat – Morocco’s Ministry of Health and the Israeli IMS Ovadia signed on Thursday (6/30) a memorandum of understanding for the construction of several hospitals in Morocco.

Morocco and Israel seek to “establish a model for social development based on the principles of equality, equity, and solidarity,” in accordance with the instructions of King Mohammed VI, the ministry said in a statement.

Under the agreement, the two countries also pledged to implement bilateral cooperation between the private sectors in Morocco and Israel, as well as promote investment and innovation in many areas, such as the health sector.

The IMS group is set to invest an estimated budget of $497 million for the design, construction, and equipment of Moroccan hospitals.

The investment program includes the construction of five hospitals with a capacity of 1,000 beds in the southern region of Fez Meknes, Draa Tafilalet, and Marrakech-Safi.

Israel repeatedly expressed its desire to also establish a network allowing Moroccan workers in the construction and nursing sectors to move to Israel for job opportunities.

On the Moroccan side, the leading pharmaceutical  company, Copper Pharma, has said that it is open to partnerships with Israeli companies in the pharmaceutical sector.

Morocco-Israel cooperation in the healthcare industry serves as an example of the mutual desire to deepen ties between the two countries.

In February, Morocco and Israel signed a trade and investment cooperation agreement aimed at, among other things, the creation of “qualified industrial zones” in Morocco.

After the two countries restored diplomatic relations in 2020 through the US-brokered Abraham Accords, companies on both sides expressed interest in establishing partnership deals with each other.

With its trade volume breaking records every year, Israel aims to increase bilateral trade with Morocco to $500 million or more, up from the current $130 million. 



Latvia Commemorates Jewish Genocide Memorial Day

Latvia commemorated the war crimes that took place during the Nazi era and the mass killing of its Jewish community on Monday, July 4, which was Jewish Genocide Memorial Day in the country, ngs.Ism.Iv  reported.

The Nazi occupation of Latvia in 1941 included atrocities in which Jews were mass-murdered in Riga, Daugavpils, Liepaja and smaller towns.

“Latvia mourns tens of thousands of Jews that have been murdered by Nazis and their collaborators in 1941.  The Holocaust is a stark reminder of dictators who are not stopped and defeated immediately.  Hate speech and totalitarian ideologies form the basis for such horrific crimes,” Minister of Foreign Affairs Edgars Rinkevics said.

The day was mourned with remembrance ceremonies, including at the site of the former Great Choral Synagogue in Riga, which was where one of the worst atrocities occurred.

Flowers were placed at the memorial by Latvian President Egils Levits, whose father’s family is Jewish.

“The remembrance of the Holocaust in Riga is getting stronger every year,” explained Riga Mayor Martins Stakis.

From 1941 to 1944, seventy five percent of Latvia’s pre-war population of 93,000 Jews were murdered.