When It Comes to Israel, Will the European Union’s Bark Match Its Bite?

More than once since assuming office last December, Josep Borrell, the Spanish politician who serves as the EU’s foreign minister, has formally called upon the Jewish state to “abide by international law.” He has specifically exhorted Israel not to extend its sovereignty over the West Bank, occasionally warning that the EU will exact punishment should that happen. Yet it remains unclear whether the European Union would really follow through on these threats, and whether those countries more friendly to Jerusalem would block such an action. Lahav Harkov takes stock:

Hungary’s current government views itself as aligned with President Trump in many ways, and has enthusiastically backed the American peace plan, including [the extension of Israeli law to parts of the West Bank], and in that way is unique even among the more pro-American EU member states. Austria and the Czech Republic are both deeply pro-Israel with almost no political opposition to their governments’ policies toward the Jewish state. Even if Israel moves forward with sovereignty, at least one, if not all, of the friendlier countries is likely to veto economic sanctions.

If the vast majority of Israel’s biggest trading partner were to oppose trade, it would leave Israel in an uncomfortable position, but one country’s objection is enough to salvage the situation. Individual countries cannot ban trade. Trade policy is set by the EU as a whole and not by individual or subgroups of member states. However, next year the EU will launch Horizon Europe, a 100 billion-euro scientific research initiative, on which Israeli science and innovation are very dependent. A single country can veto Israel’s participation in the program. Or individual countries can ban research cooperation with Israel.

There has also been some talk of withdrawal from the 2013 Open Skies Agreement, which allows for direct flights between Israel and any airport in the EU.

Moving forward, if Israel wants to strengthen its position in the EU and not just be dependent on one, two, or three countries, one European diplomat recommended that Israel work harder to foster closer ties with other pro-American EU member states. The Baltic states are particularly vulnerable to Russian intervention and have been victims of repeated cyberattacks, and thus tend to be more aligned with the U.S., and could use Israel’s cybersecurity expertise.

Read more at Jerusalem Post

More about: Austria, Baltic states, Czech Republic, European Union, Hungary, Israel diplomacy

While Israel Is Distracted on Two Fronts, Iran Is on the Verge of Building Nuclear Weapons

Iran recently announced its plans to install over 1,000 new advanced centrifuges at its Fordow nuclear facility. Once they are up and running, the Institute for Science and International Security assesses, Fordow will be able to produce enough highly enriched uranium for three nuclear bombs in a mere ten days. The U.S. has remained indifferent. Jacob Nagel writes:

For more than two decades, Iran has continued its efforts to enhance its nuclear-weapons capability—mainly by enriching uranium—causing Israel and the world to concentrate on the fissile material. The International Atomic Energy Agency recently confirmed that Iran has a huge stockpile of uranium enriched to 60 percent, as well as more enriched to 20 percent, and the IAEA board of governors adopted the E3 (France, Germany, UK) proposed resolution to censure Iran for the violations and lack of cooperation with the agency. The Biden administration tried to block it, but joined the resolution when it understood its efforts to block it had failed.

To clarify, enrichment of uranium above 20 percent is unnecessary for most civilian purposes, and transforming 20-percent-enriched uranium to the 90-percent-enriched product necessary for producing weapons is a relatively small step. Washington’s reluctance even to express concern about this development appears to stem from an unwillingness to acknowledge the failures of President Obama’s nuclear policy. Worse, writes Nagel, it is turning a blind eye to efforts at weaponization. But Israel has no such luxury:

Israel must adopt a totally new approach, concentrating mainly on two main efforts: [halting] Iran’s weaponization actions and weakening the regime hoping it will lead to its replacement. Israel should continue the fight against Iran’s enrichment facilities (especially against the new deep underground facility being built near Natanz) and uranium stockpiles, but it should not be the only goal, and for sure not the priority.

The biggest danger threatening Israel’s existence remains the nuclear program. It would be better to confront this threat with Washington, but Israel also must be fully prepared to do it alone.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Joseph Biden, U.S. Foreign policy