In major UN speech, Netanyahu urges united Israeli-Arab front against regional Sunni and Shiite extremist blocs

 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday spoke at the opening of the United Nations General Assembly, giving a speech that the Jerusalem Post described as "vintage Netanyahu," and one that leaned heavily on what has become the consensus understanding of the Middle East as divided into three regional blocs. Video, audio, and a text transcript of the speech can be found here, here, and here respectively. The Israeli leader described a Middle East torn between Sunni extremism on one side, Shiite extremism on another, and the U.S.'s traditional Arab and Israeli allies on a third. Describing the camp of Sunni extremists - conventionally taken to include Turkey, Qatar, the Muslim Brotherhood, and various jihadist groups including Al Qaeda - Netanyahu described the Islamic State and the Palestinian terror group Hamas as being "branches of the same poisonous tree" and declared more specifically that the two groups "share a fanatical creed, which they both seek to impose well beyond the territory under their control." Turning toward the Shiite extremist camp - made up of Iran and its various regional proxies, including Hezbollah, Syria, and Iraq - Netanyahu pushed further, declaring that Tehran's drive toward nuclear weapons posed a strategic threat to the region of qualitatively greater magnitude than that posed by Sunni extremists such as ISIS. The Israeli leader also emphasized that while the two groups compete in particular theaters, they have been known to cooperate just as often: "for 50 days this past summer Hamas fired thousands of rockets at Israel, many of them supplied by Iran." The emphasis gestured toward a turn of phrase that has been circulating in Washington D.C. policy circles, under which Sunni and Shiite radicals are not so much enemies as competitors. Analysts have in recent months separately documented how Iranian proxies in Syria - up to and including the Assad regime - have cooperated with Sunni extremist groups to squeeze out moderates who would oppose both Sunni and Shiite radicals. Netanyahu sought to align Israel and the bloc of so-called Arab pragmatists - Egypt, Saudi Arabia, much of the rest of the Gulf, Jordan, and allied elements - opposite the extremist camps. The position is not a new one for Netanyahu - he flagged it in a major foreign policy address given earlier in September - but the Israeli leader has become increasingly explicit in attempting to consolidate potential alliances with Arab states threatened by Iranian proxies and by Sunni jihadist groups. During his Monday speech he doubled down on the vision, calling on Israel's neighbors to embrace a "fresh approach" to normalization and regional peace based on shared interests, one that would "take into account new realities and new roles and responsibilities for our Arab neighbors."

 

Intel recently got the go-ahead from Israel’s Finance and Economy Ministries to invest $6 billion in the remodeling of its chip manufacturing plant in Kiryat Gat. The leading PC chipmaker will receive a grant of $300 million and tax concessions in return. Although the high-tech company has not released a press statement regarding the deal, numerous reports suggest the large investment will be used to upgrade the Intel plant to be among the most advanced chip manufacturing facilities in the world. The company is expected to produce advanced 10 nanometer chips in Kiryat Gat. The chips are being hailed to power wearable technology and perceptual computing devices. According to reports, Intel will receive a grant of $300 million over five years from the Israeli government and will be eligible to pay a low corporate tax rate of only 5 percent for a 10-year period. Finance Minister Yair Lapid said the deal “provides additional proof of Israel’s capabilities in high-tech and innovation” and that “Intel’s investment is a strategic asset for Israel.” (via Israel21c)


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