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Weeks ahead of President Joe Biden’s anticipated trip to the Middle East, the White House is elevating Hady Amr, who has served as deputy assistant secretary of state for Israeli and Palestinian affairs since January 2021, to the role of special envoy to the Palestinians.
Amr’s promotion comes as part of an effort by the administration to reset its relationship with Palestinian Authority leadership. Former President Donald Trump withdrew U.S. aid to the PA and shuttered the Jerusalem consulate that primarily served the Palestinians.
The Washington Institute for Near East Policy’s David Makovsky told Jewish Insider that Amr’s move “fits the vibe of this administration, which is to see what is possible in the field of Palestinian economics amid too many political constraints on the ground for political negotiations.”
Makovsky noted that the move, which he called “a good use of Hady’s talents,” will “free [Amr] from daily bureaucratic responsibilities.” And, Makovsky added, “amid deadlock between the U.S. and Israel over the idea of a U.S. consulate in Jerusalem, it provides an address for Palestinian affairs in Washington.”
The Biden administration has held off on plans to reopen the Jerusalem consulate, in part due to the lack of support from the Israeli government, which would have to greenlight any such move. The Israel Policy Forum’s chief policy officer, Michael Koplow, called Amr’s promotion “a strong signal that we intend to continue rebuilding the relationship and working with the Palestinian Authority to the extent that is allowed under U.S. law in the absence of cooperation from the Israeli government on reopening the Jerusalem consulate.”
Koplow suggested the PA “view this as a signal of a continuing U.S. commitment to solidify and routinize the diplomatic relationship, which is better for them than an alternative where the U.S. does little beyond repeatedly restating a desire to reopen the consulate.”
Still, skepticism remains about the degree to which Amr — or anyone serving in such a role — will be effective. “Hady is a nice man, but the problem with Israeli-Palestinian peace has nothing to do with the lack of a sufficiently elevated U.S. official,” American Enterprise Institute Senior Fellow Danielle Pletka told JI. “If peace processors were the missing link, we’d have had peace years ago. The problem is the Palestinians are not a ready partner for peace, and the Israelis are doing just fine without it.”
The personnel changes are happening on both sides of the Atlantic. Keren Hajioff, who previously served as Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s spokesperson for international media, has been tapped to be his senior advisor for foreign affairs.
In a first, Israel participates in Global Aerospace Summit in Abu Dhabi
Drawing executives from Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Airbus Defence and Space and Saab, the Global Aerospace Summit brings together industry leaders from around the world eager to foster cross-border cooperation and partnerships, Rebecca Anne Proctor reports for The Circuit. At last week’s conference, a three-day event held at the Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, the participation of one major aerospace company made summit history — for the first time, Israel’s leading aviation manufacturer, Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), took part in the conference.
Abraham Accords benefit: The presence of IAI, which produces aerial and aeronautic systems for both military and civilian use, broke new ground for Israel nearly two years after it signed normalization agreements with the UAE and several other Arab nations. “What is important is that we are in the UAE and this summit is a semi-historical event for us because we are attending it for the first time ever,” Sharon Biton, IAI’s vice president of marketing for the Middle East and North Africa, told The Circuit.
Taking off: IAI was one of the sponsors for the Global Aerospace Summit. With 15,000 employees, including 6,000 engineers, the company, according to Biton, is the largest high-tech firm in the Middle East. A leader in both the defense and commercial markets delivering state-of-the-art technologies in air, space, naval, cyber and homeland defense, IAI is fully owned by the Israeli government. It designs, produces, develops and maintains civil aircraft, drones, fighter aircraft, missile, avionics and space-based systems. In 2021, IAI reported annual sales of approximately $4.5 billion with an order backlog of $13.4 billion.
Making space: While IAI was the only Israeli company with a physical booth at the summit, several other Israeli individuals from the industry were present and participated in various panels, including one on “Cybersecurity in the Aerospace Sector,” which examined the most significant cyber security challenges facing the aerospace sector. It was led by Mohamed Al Kuwaiti, the head of cyber security for the UAE government, with speakers including Yigal Unna, former director general of the Israel National Cyber Directorate, and IAI’s Esti Peshin, the company’s vice president and general manager of its cyber division.
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Bonus: Israeli Economy and Industry Minister Orna Barbivay and UAE Minister of State for Foreign Trade Dr. Thani Al Zeyoudi signed a free trade agreement today. “Right now, we’re talking about trade – exports and imports,” said Sabah al-Binali, executive chairman of OurCrowd Arabia, a unit of the Israel crowdfunding platform, OurCrowd. ”The next step after that is that they expect to see more and more private joint ventures between the two markets, and we will hit full potential to the north of everything else once we see companies that have shareholders and executives that are both Israeli and Emirati working together.”
Arizona Senate GOP frontrunner lays out foreign policy views
Like most candidates in Arizona’s Republican Senate primary, Jim Lamon has emphasized his commitment to border security, “election integrity” and countering China. When it comes to Middle East foreign policy matters, the solar executive and Army veteran also generally aligns with his main GOP rivals in the Aug. 2 primary. But in a notable contrast, Lamon suggested to Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel in a questionnaire that he had not ruled out the possibility of cutting U.S. assistance to Israel, while expressing skepticism over international aid more broadly.
‘Last on the cut list’: “Every foreign aid dollar spent must be in the interests of the American taxpayer, and American security,” he told JI. “Anything that does not meet that standard should be eliminated, but Israel would likely be the last on the cut list.” Lamon did not elaborate on any instances that would necessitate reducing aid to Israel in his questionnaire, and his campaign did not make him available for an interview with JI.
MOU and Iron Dome: Lamon, who described Israel as “the most trusted ally in the region,” said he is in favor of U.S. funding for Israel that is guaranteed in a 10-year memorandum of understanding between the two countries, as well as supplemental funding for Israel’s Iron Dome missile-defense system. “Promises made in the form of the ten-year MOU between Israel and the United States must be kept,” he said. “Israel is an important, live-fire proving ground of the Iron Dome and other technologies.”
Dealing with Iran: Elsewhere in the questionnaire, Lamon argued against reentering a nuclear agreement with Iran, stating that the Islamic republic “cannot be trusted to abide by the rules of a nuclear energy deal.” He also opposed the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement targeting Israel, arguing that far-left supporters of BDS are furthering what he characterized as an antisemitic agenda.
Blind eye: But Lamon shied away from criticizing members of his own party who have been accused of espousing antisemitic tropes, including GOP lawmakers in Arizona. “I am a strong supporter of Israel,” Lamon averred, “and its sovereign right to defend its borders and secure the country for its citizens.”
Fourteen books to read this summer
In the latest installment of a series exploring new and upcoming books, Jewish Insider’s Melissa Weiss previews top titles coming out this summer.
The Latecomer: A Novel, by Jean Hanff Korelitz (May 31): In her latest novel, Korelitz conjures up the world of the fictitious Oppenheimer family — parents Salo and Johanna, and triplets Harrison, Lewyn and Sally — and upends their world when Johanna decides to have a fourth child as her first three leave for college.
The Arc of a Covenant: The United States, Israel, and the Fate of the Jewish People, by Walter Russell Mead (July 5): The American Interest’s editor-at-large looks at the modern historical ties between the U.S. and Israel, as well as support for — and opposition to — the State of Israel from the American Jewish community, and how those relationships were observed and utilized by the broader foreign policy establishment.
Invisible Storm: A Soldier’s Memoir of Politics and PTSD, by Jason Kander (July 5): Once floated as a potential presidential candidate, the former Army intelligence officer withdrew from the political arena to address mental health issues resulting from his time in Afghanistan. The Democrat, who served as Missouri secretary of state and as state representative, chronicles his political rise and personal challenges in his revealing second memoir.
Breaking History: A White House Memoir, by Jared Kushner (Aug. 9): One of the key architects of what are considered to be the Trump administration’s greatest foreign policy successes, Kushner expands on the Oval Office debates over international relations, deals and negotiations, culminating in the normalization agreements between Israel and five Arab countries in the final months of the Trump administration.
🗳️ East Side vs. West Side:The New York Times’ Nicholas Fandos looks at the member-on-member primary in New York’s 12th Congressional District, where longtime Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Jerry Nadler (D-NY) are battling each other — and a third candidate — to represent the newly drawn Manhattan seat. “Mr. Nadler plans to pitch himself to voters as a more principled progressive. He trumpets his role in Mr. Trump’s impeachments and frequently points out that he and Ms. Maloney were on opposite sides on the Iraq War (she voted for, he voted against), the Patriot Act (she was for, he was against) and the Iran nuclear deal (he voted for, she against)… Both candidates played down differences between their sides of Manhattan, pointing to common interests and shared cultural institutions. But they clearly have work to do to convince voters. Asked if she had a favorite West Side retreat, Ms. Maloney mentioned street corner booksellers (‘It’s sort of European’), ‘the cultural institutions’ and ‘the passion for social action.’ But reaching for the name of a restaurant beloved by generations of New Yorkers, she fumbled. ‘There’s a deli over there; it’s called Grassroots,’ Ms. Maloney said tentatively, only to be quickly interrupted by an aide reminding her that she meant Barney Greengrass. ‘You’ve gone a million times,’ the aide said.” [NYTimes]
Around the Web
💸 PAC Push: A new PAC backed by Bakari Sellers and a group of Black and Jewish business leaders plans to spend more than $1 million to boost Detroit City Clerk Janice Winfrey in her effort to unseat Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI).
🌲 Beaver Ballot: Progressive Jamie McLeod-Skinner was declared the winner over Blue Dog Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-OR) in Oregon’s 5th Congressional District Democratic primary and will go on to face Republican Lori Chavez-DeRemer in November.
❓ Questionable Comments: A Republican congressional candidate in California looking to unseat Rep. Young Kim (R-CA) alleged that the American Jewish community “is very well organized in the United States and they control a lot of politicians.”
👰 Mazal Tov: Endeavor’s Ari Emanuel married fashion designer Sarah Staudinger in a ceremony in Saint-Tropez, France, officiated by Larry David.
🕵️ Crime Loop: An Israeli private detective reportedly used Indian hackers for surveillance efforts at the behest of Russian billionaires with ties to the Kremlin.
🚓 Hate Crime: French prosecutors are looking into whether the death of an 89-year-old man, who was found at the foot of his building in Lyon, France, earlier this month after falling from his 17th floor apartment, may have been motivated by the victim’s Jewish identity.
🚢 Gulf Seizure: The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps seized two Greek oil tankers in the Persian Gulf, apparent retaliation for the recent assistance Athens provided the U.S. in seizing oil on an Iranian tanker.
🇮🇷 Doc Dump: Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett published a trove of documents taken from Iran that he says provides proof that Tehran sought to mislead nuclear investigators.
☢️ Recent Report: In its quarterly report, the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog claimed that Iran has failed to provide answers to questions about three undeclared nuclear sites.
🛢️ Crude Nation: As oil prices rise worldwide, Iran reported a 60% increase in oil exports revenue in March to May 2022 from the same period last year.
🤝 Israel-Saudi Ties: Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid called potential normalization between Israel and Saudi Arabia “a long and cautious process” but said he believed such an outcome is attainable.
📈 Record-setting: More than 2,600 Jews visited the Temple Mount on Sunday to mark Jerusalem Day.
⚖️ Court Case: Al Jazeera announced that it plans to bring a case against Israel at the International Criminal Court following the death of journalist Shireen Abu Akleh in Jenin.
🚨 On Alert: Israel raised its risk warning for citizens traveling to Turkey, cautioning that Iran may seek to harm Israelis in the country.
🇸🇷 Coming Soon: Suriname will open an embassy in Jerusalem.
🧳 Cultural Crosscurrents: A Pakistani-American woman who received blowback for leading a recent delegation of Muslims and non-Muslims from Pakistan to Israel defended the trip as an opportunity to build bridges between the cultures.
💰 Delayed Date: After years of delay, Israel will open its sovereign wealth fund this week, now that the country’s tax revenues from natural gas and other resources have exceeded the legal threshold.
🕯️ Remembering: Margot Heuman, whose oral testimony provided a rare firsthand account of a same-sex relationship during the Holocaust, died at 94. Richard Berenson Stone, a former chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, died at 78. Filmmaker Heddy Honigmann, the Peru-born daughter of Holocaust survivors, died at 70.
Pic of the Day
In images released by Netflix, actor Bradley Cooper portrays Leonard Bernstein in an upcoming biopic of the famed maestro.
Food critic at Vogue magazine since 1989 and judge on “Iron Chef America,” he is the author of the 1996 award-winning book The Man Who Ate Everything, Jeffrey Steingarten turns 80…
Investment advisor working at Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles, Alfred Phillip Stern turns 89… Owner of one of the nation’s largest privately held industrial empires, Ira Leon Rennert turns 88… Professor at Yale University and the 2018 winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, William Dawbney Nordhaus turns 81… Founder and retired CEO of the Democratic Leadership Council, Alvin “Al” From turns 79… Author, political pundit and a correspondent for HBO’s “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel,” Bernie Goldberg turns 77… Comedian, actress and TV producer, Susie Essman turns 67… Founder and chairman of the Katz Group of Companies with operations in the pharmacy, sports (including the Edmonton Oilers), entertainment and real estate sectors, Daryl Katz turns 61… Reality television personality, best known for “The Millionaire Matchmaker” on Bravo TV, Patti Stanger turns 61… Jerusalem-born founder, chairman and CEO of CyberArk Software, Alon Nisim Cohen turns 54… Entrepreneur, best known as the co-founder of CryptoLogic, Andrew Rivkin turns 53…
Former Democratic mayor of Annapolis, Md., now director of policy at Shell Recharge, Joshua Jackson “Josh” Cohen turns 49… Assistant director of community outreach at the Board of Rabbis of Southern California, Melissa York… Israeli actress, singer and dancer, she played a Mossad agent in the espionage TV series “Tehran,” Liraz Charhi turns 44… Author of the “Money Stuff” column at Bloomberg Opinion, Matthew S. Levine… Freelance writer in Brooklyn, Sara Trappler Spielman… Attorney and NYT-best-selling author of the Mara Dyer and Shaw Confessions series, Michelle Hodkin… Head of public policy and regulatory affairs at Zoox, a robotics start-up based in Silicon Valley, Bert Eli Kaufman… Program director at public mobility firm Via in Tel Aviv, Zoe Goldfarb… Stephanie Oreck Weiss… Chief revenue officer at Grid, Brad E. Bosserman… Senior rabbi and executive director of Jewish life at D.C.’s Sixth & I, Aaron Potek… NYC-based politics editor for BuzzFeed News, Matt Berman… Amital Isaac… Brad Goldstein… Basketball player in Israel’s Premier League, Spencer Weisz turns 27…