Iran has made significant progress in high levels of uranium enrichment, uranium metal production and in operating advanced centrifuges.
Iran’s nuclear program poses a very serious threat to Israel, Prof. Manuel Trajtenberg, the head of the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS), told President Isaac Herzog on Tuesday.
Trajtenberg, accompanied by a team of researchers, was presenting the annual INSS report on the main challenges confronting Israel, along with recommendations for strategic positions that Israel should take in relation to these challenges.
There is a sense that nuclear talks conducted with Iran in Vienna by American and European representatives will not lead to anything, because Tehran is accumulating more vital knowledge and experience in order to produce nuclear armaments, according to the INSS assessment.
Iran has made significant progress in high levels of uranium enrichment, uranium metal production and in operating advanced centrifuges.The political, economic and social collapse of Lebanon, and the ongoing divisions in Syria have enabled Iran to penetrate deeper into the area with the capability to strike directly into the heart of Israel.
Despite the difficult straits in which it finds itself, and the massive criticism to which it is subjected, Hezbollah is conserving its strength for possible conflict with Israel.
There is an additional problem of Russia and Iran competing for influence in Syria.
Israel must understand that so long as President Bashar Assad remains in power in Syria, there is no hope of Iran leaving this part of the region, Herzog was informed.
The Palestinian issue has become a peripheral matter on the international agenda. The INSS believes that it is important to strengthen the Palestinian Authority and to reach an understanding with Hamas for a prolonged ceasefire in order to bring some semblance of stability to the Gaza Strip.
With regard to Israel’s relations with the current US administration, key issues include the influence that Israel can exert on America’s negotiations with Iran, and what alternatives there are in the event that the JCPOA deal is renewed, or alternately, if the negotiations break down.
Contrary to the policy of the Trump administration, President Joe Biden’s administration has elected to renew relations with the Palestinian Authority.
However, the legitimacy of the PA is in peril. Elections scheduled for May were canceled in April, causing tensions among Palestinian Arabs and between Arabs and Jews, particularly in relation to a Jewish presence on the Temple Mount.
The assessment also stresses the importance of finding a modus vivendi with the Biden administration; and closer to home, mending fences with Jordan.
Other issues included China’s position in the world, the implications of the coronavirus pandemic and the new variants; the violent altercations in cities where there are mixed populations of Jews and Arabs; the internal social crisis in which there are huge gaps between different sectors of Israeli society; Israel’s new government, the approval of a national budget and the political crisis which is still simmering.
The report is evidence of the magnitude of the national challenges confronting Israel in areas of national security, socio-economics and more, said Herzog, adding that he was extremely impressed by the depth of the analyses. He suggested that the report be studied by the nation’s decision makers.
Meanwhile he is attempting to defuse some of the political tensions by meeting with leaders and other prominent figures of the various political parties in the Knesset.
Among those he’s met with over the past week are Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, Regional Cooperation Minister Esawi Frej and United Torah Judaism MKs Ya’acov Litzman and Moshe Gafni.