Israel, China, USA
REPORT: CHINA CAUTIONS ISRAEL AGAINST ALLOWING US PRESSURE TO DICTATE RELATIONS: Senior Israeli Foreign Ministry sources said that one of China’s top diplomats last week warned Israel not to allow American pressure to harm relations with Beijing.
Liu Jianchao, the head of the Chinese Communist Party’s international affairs department, reportedly conveyed the message during a meeting with the Israeli ambassador to China, Irit Ben-Abba. American media described the overture as the most straightforward to date that Beijing has conveyed regarding the “U.S.-Israel-China triangle.” “This is a critical test point for the relations between China and Israel,” Liu reportedly said, adding: “The Jewish people have a lot in common with the Chinese people. There is no reason for us to hurt each other. If Israel hurts China because of external pressure, it will be making the wrong policy decision.” Liu specifically urged Israel to avoid being “dragged” into the U.S. position that China is perpetrating genocide in Xinjiang, according to the report. Israel ratified a resolution at the UN Human Rights Council in June, criticizing China’s conduct in the region, reportedly under pressure from Washington. (I365N / VFI News)
IRAN MUST ANSWER TO IAEA PROBE, US SAYS: Iran must respond to the International Atomic Energy Agency’s probe against it, US State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement that could complicate a quick conclusion of an Iran deal.
“Iran needs to answer the IAEA’s questions,” Price told reporters in Washington. “Our position [on this] is not going to change, regardless of where we express it, in the text of an understanding on a mutual return to full implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action [the Iran deal], in public or elsewhere,” he added. “We will not take one day longer than necessary to provide our response,” Price said, noting that the US would have accepted a text done in March, but Iran had rejected it. Price dismissed criticism against a return to the deal, noting that since the Trump administration exited the deal in 2018, the Iranian threat had grown rather than diminished. It is not possible to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions solely through economic sanctions, he said. (JPost / VFI News)
GANTZ WARNS HEZBOLLAH ATTACK ON ISRAELI GAS FIELD MAY TRIGGER WAR: Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Monday, August 22, warned Lebanon’s Hezbollah that any attack on its gas assets could spark war after the terror group threatened to “sever” Israel’s hands if it taps a disputed offshore field.
The warning came amid lengthy negotiations between the eastern Mediterranean neighbors, which do not have diplomatic relations, to settle a dispute over their maritime border. Tensions spiked in June when a production vessel chartered by Israel arrived near the Karish offshore gas field, which Lebanon claims is within contested waters. Last month, the Israeli military shot down four unarmed Hezbollah drones flying toward Karish. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said on August 9 that “the hand that reaches for any of this wealth will be severed” and over the weekend warned of an “escalation” if Lebanon’s demands aren’t met in the US-mediated maritime talks. (TOI / VFI News)
PALESTINIANS AND ISRAELIS BATTLE OVER JERUSALEM: Hours after Sunday morning’s, August 14, terrorist attack near the Western Wall, Israeli policemen again visited the home of Adnan Gheith, the Palestinian Authority “governor” of Jerusalem, in the village of Silwan.
This time, however, the police officers did not come to arrest Gheith, who had been released from detention days earlier. The purpose of the visit was to check whether the “governor” was complying with the terms of the house arrest imposed on him by the authorities due to his alleged illegal activities on behalf of the PA in the city. Since his appointment to the top job in 2018, Gheith, a senior official with the Palestinian ruling Fatah faction headed by PA President Mahmoud Abbas, has been detained at least 34 times by the Jerusalem Police. Gheith has also been served with a military order banning him from entering the West Bank or contacting senior representatives of the PA and Fatah. This means that the “governor,” who holds an Israeli-issued ID card in his capacity as a permanent resident of Jerusalem, is not able to report to work at the headquarters of the Jerusalem Governorate in the town of A-Ram, which is located outside the boundaries of the Jerusalem Municipality, north of the city. The crackdown on Gheith and the terrorist attack – which was carried out by another resident of Silwan, Amir Sidawii who allegedly shot eight people on a bus near King David’s Tomb – are seen by Palestinians in the context of the ongoing battle over Jerusalem with Israel. It is hard to find a resident of east Jerusalem who does not want to continue living under Israeli rule. Yet many feel that Israel does not want them in the city, while the PA is not doing enough to help them stay there. (JPost / VFI News)
ISRAEL AND LEBANON CLOSE TO AN AGREEMENT ON MARITIME BORDER DISPUTE: A final agreement in the maritime border negotiations between Israel and Lebanon over the dispute surrounding the Karish gas field could be signed as early as next month, Israeli officials assessed on Monday, August 22.
Russian state-owned media outlet reported last week that the two Middle East neighbors are closing in on an agreement that would see their maritime border clearly defined. According to the report, a Lebanese source confirmed that an agreement is very close, adding that they will soon announce it to US mediator Amos Hochstein. This is despite threats made recently by Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah. Energy Minister Karin Elharrar claimed earlier this month that Jerusalem made a serious offer to Beirut, hoping to successfully bring maritime border talks to an end. “I call on Lebanon to take what is a very significant step for them towards becoming a country that produces gas, in order to solve their economic and energy crisis,” Elharrar added. (JPost / VFI News)
MOMENTOUS CHANGES IN THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN RUSSIA AND SAUDI ARABIA — OPINION: On the sidelines of the St. Petersburg Economic Forum last June, Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said relations between the kingdom and Russia are as warm as the weather in Riyadh. This description summarizes the current state of strategic cooperation between the two countries. This state of affairs angers Riyadh’s strategic allies in the West, primarily, of course, the United States.
But it remains the best option for Saudi foreign policy in light of overall circumstances and the realities of the existing world order. Of course, everyone in the region and internationally is waiting to see the results and implications of US President Joe Biden’s visit to Saudi Arabia, last month. In particular, there were unspoken expectations or aspirations that Saudi Arabia might oblige its US partner by increasing oil production in isolation from its OPEC+ fellow members, although Riyadh has repeatedly stressed that this issue is not on the table. The strategic vision of oil-producing countries, both within and outside OPEC, particularly Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Russia, is certainly based on an objective view of markets and the need to maintain their stability and balance. This is critical for both exporters and consumers. Meanwhile, the US and its Atlantic allies are under tremendous domestic economic pressure from policies that they are responsible for. They want to subordinate the policies of oil producers to those policies and use that production to isolate and punish Russia. These are things that others have nothing to do with. (JPost / VFI News)
SEEKING TO WOO TV AND FILMMAKERS, ISRAEL OFFERS 30% REBATE TO SWEETEN THE DEAL: Local filmmakers and TV studios have been shooting award-winning movies and series in Israel for decades, taking advantage of the country’s desert vistas and ancient cities.
But it’s expensive to film in Israel, which may serve as a deterrent to foreign production companies. Now, the country is marketing itself as a location for international shoots with a 30 percent rebate incentive for foreign productions. Announced jointly by the ministries of culture and sports, foreign affairs, finance, and tourism earlier this month, the two-year incentive will offer reimbursement of up to NIS 16.6 million ($4.9 million) for film and TV series shot in Israel. “We know that Israel is known as an expensive country, but this is a country with great locations,” said Raz Frohlich, director general of the Culture and Sports Ministry. “You can access green hills, desert, history, and cities within short distances, and there’s plenty of English here. There’s lots of reasons to come here, but the [new] tax return is a big plus.” (TOI / VFI News)
The suggestions, opinions and scripture references made by VFI writers and editors are based on the best information received.
Blessings from Jerusalem,
Barry Segal with the Editorial Staff