DEBKAfile Special Report March 20, 2013
President Barack Obama was greeted on his arrival in Israel midday Wednesday, March 20 with unprecedented ceremonial honors and fanfare. However, the omens augured major differences with his hosts. In the 48 hours before his arrival, Syria for the first time bombed targets inside Lebanon and fired a chemical warhead at Aleppo. While Israel is acutely concerned by this escalation just across its frontiers, the Obama administration withheld a practical response. The two governments are also divided on the handling of Iran’s nuclear program.
DEBKAfile Special Report March 18, 2013
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu slotted two Likud stalwarts, Silvan Shalom and Yuval Steinitz, into his last two vacant cabinet posts in time to present his third government to the Knesset Monday, March 18. In the final reckoning, Netanyahu retains ultimate decision-making power for security, foreign relations, national strategy, intelligence and Palestinians, along with Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon. Yaalon opposes Israeli military action against Iran without US cooperation. But he and the cabinet offer short shrift for the Palestinians and sympathy for the pro-settlement lobby.
DEBKAfile Special Report March 15, 2013
After weeks of tough haggling, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s third government was in the bag Friday, March 15, with deals signed with two political newcomers, Yair Lapid (centrist Yesh Atid – Future) and Naftali Bennett (pro-settlement Habayit Hayehudi – Jewish Home). At their insistence, the ultra-Orthodox Jewish parties were excluded for the first time in a decade and their traditional draft exemptions and welfare subsidies ended. Netanyahu’s Likud Beitenu holds seven portfolios including Defense which former chief of staff Moshe Yaalon takes over from Ehud Barak.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report March 7, 2013
Feeling betrayed by the US concessions to Iran at Kazakhstan, Binyamin Netanyahu appoints new defense minister for leading potential solo strike to preempt a nuclear Iran.
DEBKAfile Special Report March 1, 2013
Grave concern was voiced in Jerusalem over the upbeat Western-Iranian accounts issuing Thursday, Feb. 28 about the “positive and “constructive” six-power talks with Iran ending in Almati, Kazakhstan Wednesday. debkafile: In contrast to Israel’s categorical resistance to the continued operation of the underground plant at Fordo, the US delegation proposed keeping it open except for suspending 20-percent uranium enrichment. Washington is seen as trying to lighten the Iranian cloud hanging over President Barack Obama’s talks in Israel on March 20.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report February 23, 2013
The White House was unmoved by the IAEA finding that Iran had installed 180 advanced centrifuges at Natanz to speed enrichment and commented Thursday, Feb. 21 that “a diplomatic solution is still possible” for Iran’s nuclear program. debkafile: Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is calling in a debt from the US president: He respected Barack’s Obama’s campaign for reelection and gave up Iran’s “October surprise. Now he expects the US president not to upset his push to get his handpicked choice elected as Iran’s next president.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report February 15, 2013
Jerusalem is unhappy about Obama’s new appointments to his Middle East desks. They are uniformly anti-interventionist, anti-military engagement and unsympathetic to Israel’s security concerns.
DEBKAfile Special Report February 11, 2013
A secret US Pentagon study “casts doubt on whether the multibillion-dollar missile defense system planned for Europe can ever protect the US from Iranian ballistic missiles...” Clearly, the missile shield against Iran, which aroused ire in Moscow, is about to fall under the axe of US defense budget cuts. debkafile: Scrapping it will leave Israel and Turkey undefended against Iranian missile attack. But if Tehran can put a satellite in orbit of 36,000 kilometers above earth, as Ahmadinejad boasts, America is just as exposed.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report February 8, 2013
Obama’s preoccupation with Iran and Syria was signaled by his green light for Israel’s air strike in Syria and the announcement of his coming visit to Israel for consultation with Binyamin Netanyahu on those subjects, leaving the peace process with the Palestinians for a later date. This change of face was effected by the combined effort of Clinton, Kerry and Donilon.
DEBKAfile Special Report February 7, 2013
Iran’s Ali Khamenei closed the door on the direct nuclear talks offered by Vice President Joe Biden, arguing, Thursday, Feb. 7, that they “would solve nothing” because, "You are holding a gun against Iran.” debkafile: He was reacting both to the new sanctions the US imposed Wednesday and to President Barack Obama’s forthcoming visit to Israel to confer with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Iran and Syria. The US has cancelled the departure of a second aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf due to budget cutbacks.
DEBKAfile Special Report February 6, 2013
President Barack Obama is not coming to Israel to advance new proposals or break the peace talks deadlock with the Palestinians, the White House said Wednesday night, Feb. 6. US ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro said earlier he was coming for consultation on major issues: preventing a nuclear Iran and the collapse of the Assad regime in Syria. debkafile: The visit strengthens Netanyahu’s hand in coalition negotiations, especially after the close rapport between Washington and Jerusalem on Israel’s military action in Syria.
DEBKAfile Special Report February 5, 2013
As Israeli parties haggle over a new government coalition, Bashar Assad, backed by Iran and Moscow, sits firmly in the saddle and plays hardball with the Syrian opposition. Former military intelligence chief Asher Yadlin says Iran can “achieve nuclear breakout in four to six months.” Ahmadinejad invites Egypt to join Syria, Hizballah and a nuclear Iran for an unbeatable coalition to “solve the Palestinian question” and wipe Israel off the map so that he can pray on Temple Mount, Jerusalem.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report January 27, 2013
Tehran is looking seriously at a limited Syrian-Lebanese clash of arms with Israel – possibly using Bashar Assad’s chemical weapons as a trigger, debkafile discloses. Israel reacted to this news by announcing Sunday, Jan. 27, the deployment of Iron Dome anti-missile batteries in northern Israel and Haifa port. A clash would serve Tehran by sidetracking Israel from striking Iran’s nuclear facilities and help spin out its nuclear talks with the Six Powers. Israel has got plans ready for current military challenges.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report January 25, 2013
The shakeup produced by Israel’s national elections has produced more than a new breed of political leaders and lawmakers. If the effect is sustained, it will break up traditional party frameworks and bring a new generation to power.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report January 25, 2013
One of the new arrivals to Israeli politics, Yair Lapid and his Future (Yesh Atid) party, have kicked off the bargaining for joining Binyamin Netanyahu’s next government armed with a substantial shopping list for jobs and other demands. debkafile: He wants the foreign ministry for himself, the right to veto the prime minister’s choice of defense minister in case it is Avigdor Lieberman, and three more portfolios. Naftali Bennett wants Religious Affairs. Both Lapid and Bennett put Netanyahu in a tough spot.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report January 23, 2013
Binyamin Netanyahu may keep responsibility for defense in his next cabinet, naming Yair Shamir (of Israel Beitenu) minister in the defense ministry, debkafile discloses. This would end outgoing Vice Prime Minister Moshe Yaalon’s expectation of defense in the post-election lineup. As an alternative, Ehud Barak would be retained as a non-political expert. After his stunning election showing, Yair Lapid is in line for Vice Prime Minister plus a key cabinet post, possibly foreign affairs. Naftali Bennett is in line for an economic portfolio.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Analysis January 23, 2013
Even after losing one-third of his party’s support in the Tuesday election, no figure aside from Binyamin Netanyahu can form Israel’s next government. But he cannot do this without a deal with Yair Lapid’s fledgling Future and concessions on key economic, budget, security and other policy changes. If they agree on guidelines, other parties will fall in line behind them. The newcomers lack background in government. But long experience didn’t prevent Netanyahu from making serious mistakes in the last year or two.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report January 23, 2013
The bloc Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s Likud formed with Israeli Beitenu polled a disappointing 31 seats (in the 120-member Knesset) in Tuesday, Jan. 22, general election, according to 99 percent count of ballots.. The big winner is a newcomer to Israeli politics, centrist ex-journalist Yair Lapid, with 19 seats, who managed to push Shelly Yacimovich’s veteran Labor party down to third place with only 15 seats. Bennett and Shas – 11 each. Left-of-center with Arab parties could garner a bloc of 60 if Lapid joined.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report January 18, 2013
Obama’s harsh words for Netanyahu enhance his domestic popularity and the size of his victory at the polls next week. The plethora of new parties and faces challenging him suffer from lack of experience, coherence and clarity of message.
DEBKAfile Special Report January 15, 2013
After US intelligence admitted it cannot detect or stop a Syrian chemical attack, US experts now estimate that Iran will not be able to produce enough weapon-grade uranium for one or bombs before mid-2014 “without detection by the West.” debkafile: Barack Obama is preparing the world for the “surprise” of an Iranian nuclear test. The new, delayed dateline, moreover, is based on a false supposition. Already today, Iran has acquired or produced enough enriched uranium to build five nuclear bombs.