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THE WEEK AHEAD: On the verge of nuclear deal with Iran, looming agreement between Israel and Lebanon, Zionist Congress marks 125 years since Herzl ‘founded the Jewish State’ in Basel, Switzerland

Here are the stories we are watching...

Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister and Chief Nuclear Negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani meets with Deputy Secretary General of the European External Action Service, Enrique Mora, in Tehran, Iran, May 11, 2022. (Photo: Iran's Foreign Ministry/ WANA via Reuters)
  • Iran nuclear deal

  • Israel-Lebanon maritime agreement

  • First Zionist Congress anniversary

  • School year begins (or not)

IRAN NUCLEAR DEAL

After 16 months of negotiations, Iran and world powers started sending signals that a new nuclear deal might be just around the corner. It could be finalized as early as this week, according to the European Union’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell. Both Tehran and Washington have already reviewed each other’s comments on the EU’s final draft proposal and are waiting for further assessment.

The contents of the shaping deal have not been made public yet, but some media reports have painted a concerning picture for Israel based on leaks from the talks. Israel’s Mossad Chief David Barnea has reportedly slammed the United States in intelligence briefings for intending to “sign an agreement which it knows is a total lie.” He added that “the agreement will push Iran’s breakout time from one month to two-three months and will give Iran hundreds of billions of dollars which will pour into terror organizations.”

The Biden administration is also expected to face opposition in Congress to the potential restoration of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). “I intend to systematically fight the implementation of this catastrophic deal, and will work with my colleagues to ensure that it is blocked and eventually reversed in January 2025,” said Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas.

ISRAEL-LEBANON MARITIME AGREEMENT

Israel and Lebanon are expected to sign an agreement this week that will settle a long-time dispute over their maritime border. Lebanon accused Israel of infiltrating contested waters by positioning the Karish offshore gas field in the contested area. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah threatened to strike Israel if the dispute is not settled before September, which is when the extraction of oil and gas from Karish is set to begin. The IDF has been put on alert for a Hezbollah provocation.

The shaping agreement, according to reports, will include an Israeli compromise over part of the maritime territory deeper in the sea, in exchange for Lebanon giving up on a different area closer to shore. Critics of the deal in Israel say it will economically benefit Hezbollah, which is de-facto setting the tone in the unstable country.

FIRST ZIONIST CONGRESS ANNIVERSARY

“At Basel, I founded the Jewish State.” This famous sentence was declared by Theodor (Binyamin Ze'ev) Herzl, the visionary behind modern Zionism, 125 years ago. He then added: “If I said this out loud today, l would be greeted by universal laughter. In five years perhaps, and certainly in 50 years, everyone will perceive it.” And he was right.

The First Zionist Congress will mark its anniversary at the original location in the Swiss city of Basel on August 28-29 with more than 1,000 Jews and world dignitaries in attendance, including then-Israeli President Isaac Herzog. It was in Basel in 1897, and at subsequent Zionist congresses, that Herzl and delegates from various countries created the institutions that laid the foundation for the future State of Israel. They also strove to gain international recognition and support for a Jewish state.

SCHOOL YEAR BEGINS (OR NOT)

A looming teachers’ strike is threatening to delay the beginning of the school year in Israel set for Sept. 1. In recent weeks, the Teachers’ Union has launched a powerful battle against the Ministry of Finance in an attempt to improve what they consider to be poor working conditions and low salaries. Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman has presented a compromise proposal that includes benefits, bonuses and minimum wage regulations.

According to an OECD report, Israel stands out internationally for having a big gap in teachers’ salaries. Veteran teachers can make more than $7,700 per month, whereas starting teachers can make around $1,800 regardless of their skills and accomplishments. Under Israeli regulations, it is nearly impossible to fire a teacher. A high-ranking official, such as a minister, is required to sign off on the order.

This week we are also keeping an eye on these developing stories:

· ... Where was Hamas? Why the Gaza terror group did not participate in the last round of fighting

· ... Why did Israel reinstitute COVID testing at airport, albeit voluntary?

· ... Did Turkish President Erdoğan square off a warming of ties with Israel when he met with Abbas?

· ... Is the UAE creating tensions around the Abraham Accords by sending an Ambassador to Iran?

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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