Why the King of Jordan’s Visit to Washington Matters—to Israel and to the U.S.

Yesterday, King Abdullah II of Jordan met with President Biden—the latter’s first meeting with an Arab head of state since taking office. Writing in advance of the visit, Ghaith al-Omari and Ben Fishman discuss the problems currently facing the kingdom, America’s priorities, and how all this relates to Israel:

Externally, Jordan is facing challenges on all of its borders. To the north, the Syrian conflict has flooded the kingdom with refugees, cut off an important trade route, and threatened to bring Iran—directly or through its proxies—to its frontier. To the east, attempts to deepen relations with Iraq (whether bilaterally or through a trilateral process with Egypt) have produced diplomatic progress but few concrete economic dividends. To the west, a weak and fickle Palestinian Authority remains a source of concern, and relations with Israel’s leadership were extremely negative under the former prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu, causing civil and diplomatic affairs to suffer greatly (though security ties remained strong). And to the south, King Abdullah’s relations with the Saudi crown prince Mohammad bin Salman are tepid at best.

[But] Israel’s new prime minister Naftali Bennett and its foreign minister Yair Lapid have placed early emphasis on revitalizing the relationship with Amman. On July 8, Lapid and the Jordanian foreign minister Ayman Safadi signed an important deal that will increase water sales to the kingdom (after the collapse of the long-negotiated Red Sea-Dead Sea Conveyance Project) and expand Jordanian trade to the West Bank. The United States should applaud this momentum and encourage other areas of cooperation, including healthcare, energy, the environment, and grassroots initiatives.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Israeli Security, Jordan, Joseph Biden, King Abdullah, Naftali Bennett, U.S. Foreign policy

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