ISRAEL’S CHRISTIAN AWAKENING. This year has seen the rise of an independent voice for Israel's Christian community, which is increasingly trying to assert its separate identity. An informal grass-roots movement, prompted in part by the persecution of Christians elsewhere in the region since the Arab Spring, wants to cooperate more closely with Israeli Jewish society - which could mean a historic change in attitude toward the Jewish state. "Israel is my country, and I want to defend it," says Henry Zaher, an 18-year-old Christian from the village of Reineh. "The Jewish state is good for us." Of Israel's 8 million citizens, about 130,000 are Arabic-speaking Christians (mostly Greek Catholic and Greek Orthodox), and 1.3 million are Arab Muslims. Fear of being considered traitors often drove Christians in Israel to proclaim their full support for the Palestinian cause. But in mixed Muslim-Christian cities such as Nazareth, many Christians say they feel outnumbered and insecure. Rev. Gabriel Naddaf, 40, a former spokesman of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate in Jerusalem, backs greater Christian integration into the Jewish state and increasing the number of Christians joining the Israel Defense Forces. "Israel takes care of us, and if not Israel, who will defend us? We love this country, and we see the army as a first step in becoming more integrated with the state." (DAILY ALERT - Wall Street Journal)


WHY WE NEED TO HEAR THE PALESTINIANS RECOGNIZE A JEWISH STATE. Those who question why Netanyahu insists on receiving recognition of a Jewish state from the Palestinians do not understand the real reasons behind the all-out war they are waging. The Islamic world in general and the Palestinians in particular reject the very notion of the Jews as a nation or people, and because in their view Judaism is only a religion, the Jews do not deserve their own state. The Palestinians say: "There is indeed a state called Israel, which for lack of any other choice we were forced to recognize as an existing fact because it is stronger than us militarily and because it has an ally like America. But if the day comes when these basic variables change, we will know how to deal with this illegitimate state, which settled in our midst and which the nations of the world created at our expense to compensate the Jews for what they did to them in the Holocaust." Even if we reach an agreement with the Palestinians, this would not necessarily guarantee an end to the conflict. The recognition of Israel as the national homeland of the Jewish people is the real test for the Palestinians and whether they truly are serious about peace. The writer is a former Israeli ambassador to the U.S. (DAILY ALERT - Israel Hayom)


CHRISTMAS PROPAGANDA FROM PALESTINE. It's the time of year again when Palestinians and their supporters gear up to use Christianity's most popular holy day for their own political purposes. The PLO has just released a short animated clip that declares: "Palestine celebrates the birth of one of its own, Jesus Christ." "Jesus was a Palestinian" fantasies are part of the annual Palestinian Christmas propaganda routine. Yet practicing Christians who acknowledge history remember that at the first Christmas, Mary, Joseph, the innkeeper, the shepherds, and the baby were all Jewish. The fact that the historic Jesus was a Jew is merrily ignored by Palestinians, who don't seem the least bit embarrassed to press Jesus into the service of Palestinian nationalism - never mind that the declared goal of this nationalism is a state with Islam as the official religion. Can you imagine what would happen nowadays if Joseph tried to buy any property in Palestinian-controlled Bethlehem? Any Palestinian willing to sell to him would risk being sentenced to death for the crime of selling property to a Jew. The writer is a German-Israeli citizen with a PhD in contemporary history. (Jerusalem Post)


DEFENSE MINISTER YA’ALON: “WHOEVER REALLY WANTS PEACE NEEDS TO SPEAK ABOUT CO-EXISTENCE. Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon sent a message during a tour of the Jordan Valley last week: a military presence there is not enough, there have to be Israeli civilians living there as well. "My worldview is that in places where Jews don't live, there is no security....This reflects the correct security and political position regarding the Jordan Valley," Ya'alon said. According to the Defense Minister of the State of Israel, security and settlement go together as they have since the beginning of Zionism. "Whoever really wants peace needs to speak about co-existence and not about removing Jews and uprooting Jews as was done in Gaza. Today, 6,000 Palestinian workers make their living from the Jewish settlements in the Jordan Valley. What could be more peaceful than that? And we saw how in Gaza the removal of the settlements harmed the livelihood of 3,700 [Palestinian] families when Gush Katif was uprooted, and the 4,500 other families who depended on work in the Erez industrial zone." "Whoever claims that if we don't get out of the West Bank we will suffer from an economic boycott, I suggest that they consider the economic, security and strategic implications of rockets from the West Bank on Ben-Gurion airport and on Tel Aviv." (DAILY ALERT - Makor Rishon-Hebrew, 20 Dec 2013)


ISRAEL IS CAUGHT IN A TRAGIC SITUATION. Israel is caught in a tragic situation. It's surrounded by an Arab world that is largely hostile to its existence. No Arab leader has enough legitimacy to make peace. It is in a region marked by failed states, decentered radical Islam and rampant turmoil. Over the decades, Israelis have collectively adapted to their circumstances with some reasonable degree of success. They didn't recoil from the drama they were caught in. They are nothing if not critical of one another. The society moves forward on a great wave of fevered argument. The failure to deal with ambiguity is one of the great disorders of the age. It's a flight from reality. Often, good people, with high ideals take a dappled society in a tough situation, like Israel, and they want to judge it according to black and white legal abstractions. They find an error and call for blanket condemnation. As critics or pundits, it's worth keeping in mind what psychologists call the fundamental attribution error: don't blame character when the problem is the situation (DAILY ALERT - New York Times).


THE PALESTINIAN ‘REFUGEE’ DIVERSION. The vast majority of the millions of people who are called Palestinian "refugees" are descendants of the original refugees, and would not have been eligible to receive such a status had the conflict involved any other country but Israel. According to the guidelines of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, refugee status cannot be inherited from generation to generation. Only the Palestinian refugees, who have their own UN agency, UNRWA, can do so. According to UNRWA, anyone born in Gaza to parents who were born and lived their entire lives there, who were also born to parents who were born and lived their entire lives in Gaza, is still considered a refugee from "Palestine." Middle-class Palestinians living in Ramallah as citizens of the Palestinian Authority, who were also born to parents from Ramallah, are also labelled refugees. Instead of a mere tens of thousands of refugees, who indeed lost their homes during the war in 1948 and are still alive, there are today 5 million "refugees." Moreover, the use of the term "refugees" implies recognition of the idea of letting them return. The accurate term for most of these people is "descendants," who are not the same as refugees. The writer is a senior fellow with the Jewish People Policy Institute and a former member of the Knesset. (DAILY ALERT - Israel Hayom)


IDF SOLDIERS WARNED AGAINST CONTACT WITH MESSIANIC JEWS (1. part). The citizens of Israel woke up this week to a special early morning announcement by the Israeli Army on news broadcasts all across the country: The Ministry of Defense has ordered that all soldiers staying in Jerusalem over the Sabbath are not allowed to have any contact with members of the sect of Jews who preach faith in Yeshua (Jesus). Is faith in Yeshua such a threat to our national security that one of the most effective military organizations in the world feels the need to “protect” its soldiers from this “sect of Jews”? It all started when a small group of Messianic Jews visited a hostel for lone soldiers in Jerusalem over the Sabbath. The army provides the hostel for soldiers who have no family in Israel. On the weekends, when they are off base, they can stay at “Beit Hachayal,” or Soldiers’ House. A group of Messianic Israelis were visiting soldiers at this particular Beit Hachayal on the Sabbath and talking about their New Testament faith. Many soldiers enjoyed these visits, and some began reading the New Testament and other Messianic literature regularly. Soldiers were invited to visit with Messianics in their homes, where they were introduced to Messianic faith during Sabbath meals and Bible teachings. The Jewish believers had built up many friendships with management and staff of the hostel, who appreciated the positive impact the visits had on the lone soldiers. One of the soldiers even came to faith in the Yeshua. No one at the hostel, or in the IDF, were bothered one bit by this, not until an “anti-missionary” organization stirred up trouble (David Lazarus).


ISRAEL HAS REASON TO WORRY ABOUT EASTERN BORDER WITH JORDAN. A central issue that the Americans dealt with recently in the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks concerns the security arrangements in the Jordan Valley. Netanyahu has good reasons to be worried about Israel's eastern border, all surrounding the longevity of the Hashemite Kingdom in Jordan. Jordan now has to deal with a million and a half refugees from Iraq and Syria, a huge number of people for a population of six million, while containing the constant tension with the Palestinian population and the Muslim Brotherhood. This does not sound like a recipe for long-term stability, and it comes as no surprise that Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon are wary of the possibility that a hostile regime might rule Jordan in the future, despite today's current close military cooperation between the two states. The gaps between Israel and the Palestinians on core issues remain intact. But even more important is the huge gap in trust. (DAILY ALERT - Ha'aretz)


THE BEDOUIN PROBLEM AND THE SOLUTION. • Israel is interested in solving the matter of illegal Bedouin settlements through legal procedures. However, the problem is not only an issue of land. There are tremendous gaps between the Bedouin culture and a state culture. If the state desires to solve the problem at its root, it must take care of problems that are a result of tribal culture. •The state must behave toward its Bedouin citizens in the Negev exactly as it does toward citizens in Tel Aviv. If a citizen in Tel Aviv is forbidden to build illegally on state land, a citizen in the Negev should not be permitted. •A Bedouin girl must learn that, according to state law as well as Islamic law, she has the right to choose a life partner for herself, even if he is from another tribe, and that she can marry him with the condition that he not take another wife after her. •The educational system must provide the youth of the Bedouin sector with information and awareness regarding the genetic dangers associated with marriage between relatives. The writer (Mordechai Kedar) is director of the Center for the Study of the Middle East and Islam at Bar-Ilan University (DAILY ALERT - Middle East and Terrorism).


ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN ISSUE ISN’T AMERICA’S TOP MIDEAST PRIORITY ANYMORE. The U.S. may be heavily engaged in shepherding peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, but according to Anne Patterson, who has been nominated as the State Department's next top Middle East official, the issue just isn't a top priority for the U.S. any more. On Wednesday, Patterson agree with Vali Nasr, dean of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and a former Obama administration official, that the Israeli-Palestinian issue has moved away from its central place in U.S. policy toward the region. "It's certainly not the most urgent problem that we face now in the Middle East, but it's one that could have enormous long-term consequences," Patterson said. Nasr said, "It's good if we make any kind of progress [on the Israeli-Palestinian issue], but right now, as I said, the future of that region is being written in Syria, to some extent in this discussion of Iran, and when you have a country the size of Egypt - its future somewhat open to question - that really is much more important." (DAILY ALERT - Foreign Policy)


YA’ALON ON IRAN: AN UNCONVENTIONAL REGIME MUST NOT HAVE UNCONVENTIONAL ABILITIES. An unconventional regime, such as the Iranian regime, must not be allowed to have unconventional abilities, Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said Wednesday. "This regime must not have military nuclear ability. Even if they don't throw a [nuclear] bomb right away, it is obvious that under nuclear protection [the regime] will dare to do more." "The Iranian regime actually is...an extremist Islamic-Shi'ite regime focused on defeating Western society. It's not just about ruling in Iran, [it's also] disturbing us [Israel] with Hizbullah or the Palestinian Islamic Jihad." The defense minister said Israel supports diplomacy. "We never said the military option was the first option on the table. As someone who experienced wars I can tell you that in every decision I make, the use of force is the last option, but sometimes there is no choice." (Jerusalem Post)


U.S. STRATEGY IN THE MIDDLE EAST. The Middle East is not a region of overriding U.S. interest. The U.S. was prepared to expend much blood and treasure to put Europe and the Pacific rim on the track to peace and stability. It has never accorded the Middle East the same worth, and the usual approach has been to try to preserve U.S. interests in the region on the cheap. • The U.S. has four core interests in the Middle East: the free flow of oil, the security of Israel, countering terrorism, and preventing the spread of weapons of mass destruction - weapons that would allow Middle Eastern pathologies to spill over and endanger the world. • On occasion, some have tried to add the promotion of human rights or democracy to this short list of interests. When that has happened, it's lasted for a few years and then dropped off. • At no point has the U.S. believed that upholding core U.S. interests requires the exclusion of other powers. Europe, Russia, and China dish out aid, do business, sell arms, and support clients. The U.S. tolerates their presence, because its own presence is so dominant, and because considerable parts of the Middle East aren't worth the costs of competing. Americans want to go back to the good old days, when a few clever people in pinstripe suits and a few well-placed intel assets could keep the Middle East on the back burner where it belongs. The writer is President of Shalem College in Jerusalem (DAILY ALERT - Sandbox)


ISRAEL, JORDAN, PA SIGN READ SEA – DEAD SEA WATER PIPELINE DEAL. Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority will sign an agreement at the World Bank in Washington on Monday green-lighting the construction of a Red Sea-Dead Sea water pipeline, Yediot Ahronot reported. The Red Sea–Dead Sea Conduit will carry some 100 million cubic meters of water north annually, hopefully slowing down the process of the Dead Sea's drying up. As part of the project, a joint water purification plant will be built and Israelis, Jordanians and Palestinians will share the water. The entire pipeline will be laid in Jordan and construction will be completed within four to five years (DAILY ALERT - Ynet News).


MIDDLE EAST MESS ISN’T ABOUT SETTLEMENTS. In an interview in Politico, Zbigniew Brzezinski, who served as national security adviser to Jimmy Carter, appeared to worship at the Church of Linkage, which holds that Israel's settlement policy on the West Bank is the primary cause of Middle East instability and of the U.S.'s troubles in the Muslim world. Yet Israeli settlements did not provoke Iranian leaders to build the infrastructure of a nuclear weapons program. The Syrian civil war is not traceable to Israel's West Bank settlement policy. The region-wide schism between Sunni and Shia Muslims was not caused by settlements. Continued political instability and violence in Egypt was not triggered by settlements, nor was Libya's descent into gangsterism and chaos. The willingness of esteemed foreign-policy thinkers such as Brzezinski to scapegoat the Jewish state for problems it did not cause is myopic and dangerous. (DAILY ALERT - Bloomberg)


’BRAIN DRAIN’ BRINGS ISRAEL CLOSER TO THE WORLD. A new report from the Taub Center for Social Policy Studies shows that Israelis are disproportionately represented in academic institutions abroad. However, according to a report I recently co-authored for the UN Industrial Development Organization, "brain circulation" - the flip side of the dreaded brain drain - describes a country's connectedness, which directly influences its economic development. Skilled emigration is significantly and positively correlated with foreign investment in the country of departure. Regions that encourage open circulation of talent win the most. The real analysis of "brain drain" should take into account not only the costs of skilled nationals living abroad but also the benefits of diaspora networks. Israelis aren't the only ones playing in this field. Silicon Valley's Taiwanese and Indian engineering communities also show how this connectivity operates. The result is a global network between the sending and receiving country that enhances opportunities for both countries. The writer is Professor of Law at the University of San Diego and founding faculty member of the university's Center for Intellectual Property and Markets. (DAILY ALERT - Orly Lobel, Tablet)


The next 'Daily Journal' will be posted on December 7th, 2013.


ISRAEL’S CRITIQUE OF U.S. IRAN POLICY. •Israel's critique of U.S. Iran policy has three key aspects: 1.In terms of strategy, Israel worries that the administration quietly dropped its longtime insistence that Iran fulfill its UN Security Council obligation to suspend all enrichment activities and that an end to enrichment is no longer even a goal of these negotiations. 2.In terms of tactics, Israel cheers the administration's imposition of devastating sanctions on Iran but fears that the near-agreement in Geneva would have wasted the enormous leverage that sanctions have created in exchange for a deal that, at most, would cap Iran's progress without any rollback of Iran's uranium enrichment capabilities and no commitment to mothball the worrisome Arak plant, which could provide an alternative plutonium-based path to a nuclear weapon. 3.Operationally, Israel has complained that it was kept in the dark on details of the proposed Geneva deal, despite commitments from Washington to keep Jerusalem fully apprised. • It is patently disingenuous to ask Israel or domestic detractors of a "first step" deal to withhold their criticism until after the agreement is signed, which is the administration's position, since there would then be zero chance to affect an outcome already reached. • It didn't help matters that Washington and Jerusalem had a parallel crisis of confidence on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Secretary of State Kerry inexplicably lost his cool when Israel announced construction approval for new apartments in disputed territory, itself a political response to Palestinian jubilation at Israel's release from prison of 26 hardened terrorists. •90% of those apartments are to be built either in existing Jewish neighborhoods within Israel's capital, or on land on the "Israeli side" of the West Bank security barrier that is likely to end up in Israel's control in any agreement. •Kerry's surprisingly ferocious reaction was to lump all construction together and denounce it, publicly question Israel's commitment to peace, rhetorically ask whether Israel prefers a third intifada and wonder aloud whether Israel will ever get its troops out of the West Bank - troops that have worked with Palestinian security forces to fight terrorism and prevent the spread of Hamas influence. The writer is executive director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (DAILY ALERT - Politico).


NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT ‘IN AWE’ OF ISRAELI MEDICS IN PHILIPPINES. I've always been fascinated by how well the Israel Defense Forces delivers emergency response medical care in extremely poor conditions. My first experience with the IDF was in Haiti after the devastation of the earthquake there. They were remarkable then, triaging and treating patients in the midst of the devastation. As we walked up to the tent where incoming patients were being processed at the IDF's emergency response center, I saw the electronic medical records technology that I had first seen in Haiti. Each patient's medical record is created using a photograph to ensure accurate identification. As I left, I walked away in awe of this group of doctors: physician humanitarians, and medicine at its very best (DAILY ALERT - NBC News)


IDF IN PHILIPPINES: “WE ARE HERE TO HELP.” The Israel Defense Forces' 148-member disaster relief team arrived in northern Cebu province in the Philippines on Wednesday and immediately began attending to the local population's medical needs. The IDF said the field hospital "will [comprise] a children's department, a women's department, an ambulatory care department, and a general admission department, operated by IDF doctors, nurses, paramedics, pharmacists, mental health professionals, x-ray technician, and lab workers." (DAILY ALERT - Israel Hayom)


SINGLE-MINDED ISLAMIC JIHAD GROWS IN GAZA’S SHADOWS. Palestinian Islamic Jihad is quietly putting on muscle and has become the go-to group for both Iran and Syria. "Islamic Jihad is dangerous because to a degree it is uncontrollable," said Yoni Fighel, a retired Israeli army colonel and a senior researcher at the International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism in Herzliya. "It doesn't have to feed all the Palestinians in Gaza, so it can be much more flexible and independent (than Hamas)." A senior Israeli military official estimated that Islamic Jihad had 2-3,000 fighters. By comparison, Hamas had some 10,000 men to call on, with a further 10,000 in various police units. Islamic Jihad receives more than $50 million a year in Iranian funding, Israel says (Reuters).


CALMEST YEAR IN DECADE ON GAZA-ISRAEL FRONTIER. It has been one year since Israel and Hamas in Gaza engaged in an eight-day military exchange, with Hamas firing 1,500 rockets into Israel, reaching the outskirts of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv for the first time. Six Israelis were killed and 200 wounded. Israeli planes and artillery struck 1,500 targets in Gaza. Since then, Gaza has been calmer than at any time in the past decade, but neither side has lowered its guard. The director of Israel's Ministry of Strategic Affairs, Brig.-Gen. Yossi Kuperwasser, says that Hamas "is still a terrorist organization committed to the struggle and the destruction of Israel, committed to terrorist activities. And we have to continue to keep a very close eye on what's happening in Gaza on a daily basis" (DAILY ALERT - VOA News).


ISRAEL’S DEFENSE MINISTER: EASING SANCTIONS ON IRAN A ‘HISTORIC MISTAKE’. Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon told American Jewish leaders in Jerusalem that the international community is on the verge of a "historic mistake" if it eases the sanctions currently in place against Iran. "We see it happening in front of our eyes - we have lost the momentum of the sanctions," Ya'alon said. "We already see the stock market is rising, the ratio of the rial (Iranian currency) to the dollar has improved. The Chinese have also approached the Iranians to renew contracts that they lost [because of sanctions] in 2010." "If they have the capability to enrich uranium at all, they can enrich it from 3.5% to 90% in a couple of months." "Let's keep the current sanctions active. If we reach a comprehensive agreement in which they give up all the centrifuges and enrichment capability, this is the point at which sanctions might be eased - not a minute before." (DAILY ALERT - Media Line)


NETANYAHU: PROPOSED DEAL ALLOWS IRAN TO BECOME A THRESHOLD NUCLEAR NATION. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told "Face the Nation" on Sunday: •"Secretary Kerry said the right thing when he said that no deal is better than a bad deal. The deal...described to us by American sources...means that Iran maintains its capability to enrich material for nuclear bomb. It also maintains another route, the plutonium heavy water route, to make nuclear bombs. All Iran gives is a minor concession of taking 20%-enriched uranium and bringing it down to a lower enrichment but that they could cover with a few weeks, given the capabilities that they keep for enrichment." •"So Iran effectively becomes a threshold nuclear power nation, makes a minor concession and in exchange for that the P5+1, the international community, reverses the direction of sanctions, gives Iran several billion dollars worth in direct assistance, opens up petrochemicals, opens up gold, diamond, the automotive industries and other things. This is a huge change from the pressure that was applied on Iran through the effective sanctions regime, which brought them to the table in the first place." •"How many centrifuges are dismantled in this agreement? Not one. Zero. In other words, Iran maintains all capabilities. It built itself up in the face of international decisions and resolutions, it defied them, went right up to very close to the top and now it stays there. It doesn't bring down, dismantle one centrifuge, it continues to have the mountains of material which they can take in to the centrifuge to make atomic bombs." •"This is a country that has tens of thousands of people in the street chanting "death to America" the other day. This is a country that is participating as we speak in the mass slaughter of men, women, children, tens of thousands of them in Syria. This is a country that is fomenting terror on five continents. This is a country that pledges to destroy the State of Israel and subvert so many of the other countries." •"It's not only my concern that this is a bad deal, there are many, many Arab leaders in the region who are saying, this is a very bad deal for the region and for the world. And you know, when you have the Arabs and Israelis speaking in one voice, it doesn't happen very often; I think it's worth paying attention to us." (DAILY ALERT - CBS News)


GLOBAL ANTISEMITISM: Daniel Jonah Goldhagen's first book, Hitler's Willing Executioners (1996), had the blunt thesis: Inspired by a uniquely German "eliminationist anti-Semitism" inherited from the Middle Ages, ordinary Germans killed millions of Jews during the Holocaust because they wanted to. "Eliminationist anti-Semitism" is also the subject of Goldhagen's new book, The Devil That Never Dies, but now the entire world is in its grip, with the possible exception of the U.S. Goldhagen offers numerous examples of individuals - from human rights advocates and French ambassadors to any number of Muslim politicians - who openly advocate the elimination of the State of Israel and its people. Today it seems acceptable, even praiseworthy in many circles, to move from criticizing Israel to suggesting its disappearance. That move seldom occurs in our thinking about other nations, no matter when they were founded or how loathsome we find them. But many apparently express the wish that Israel would disappear, although it is (by Goldhagen's creative reckoning) the sixth-oldest continuous democracy in the world. In many parts of the Muslim world, surveys suggest that more than 95% of the population has a "very unfavorable" view of Jews. The one notable exception is among Muslims who are citizens of Israel, for whom the rate is 35%. (DAILY ALERT - Washington Post)


DEFENSE MINISTER YA’ALONG: PALESTINIAN CLAIMS DON’T END AT THE 1967 BORDERS. Regarding the prospect of solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said Thursday, "We are handling an open-ended and ongoing conflict, which from the Palestinian perspective does not end with the 1967 borders." Depicting Palestinian society as unwaveringly attached to Sheikh Munis and Majdal - the Arab names for the Israeli cities of Tel Aviv and Ashkelon - and Palestinian youth as educated to believe that Akko and Haifa are Palestinian ports, he said, "There's a situation here that does not have a solution now, but in the long term." "There are those who know and explain to us what the solution is, and they know how to reach it in a short period of time. There are some who say this conflict is only territorial, that it began in '67 and will end along the '67 lines, but I haven't heard any Palestinian leadership, including [Abbas], say that it is willing to consider any territorial concession as an end to the conflict and a culmination of claims, and to recognize Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people." (DAILY ALERT - Times of Israel)


THE UNITED STATES AND THE INDIVISIBILYT OF JERUSALEM. •The U.S. State Department has a favorite mantra: that Washington's policy on Jerusalem has not changed since the status of the city arose as part of the Partition Plan in the Truman era. This is quite inaccurate. •The Nixon administration's Rogers Plan for settling the Arab-Israeli dispute, while acknowledging a Jordanian interest in Jerusalem, also emphasized that Jerusalem should be "a unified city." •Each successive administration recognized that Jerusalem was never to be divided again. While various presidents have adopted different attitudes to the question of the status of east Jerusalem - some implying that Israeli sovereignty extended there, and others denying such sovereignty - all adhered firmly to the position that the city must remain united. •For its part, the U.S. Congress has declared by concurrent resolution that it: "(1) acknowledges that Jerusalem is and should remain the capital of the State of Israel;" "(2) strongly believes that Jerusalem must remain an undivided city in which the rights of every ethnic religious groups are protected." •Israel has maintained that under international law Israeli sovereignty extends over Jerusalem in its entirety. The promoter of the Oslo accords, Shimon Peres, declared: "We are very adamant about our position. Jerusalem will not be redivided. It will not be a Berlin." •Yitzhak Rabin stated categorically to the Knesset: "United Jerusalem will not be open to negotiation. It has been and will forever be the capital of the Jewish people, under Israeli sovereignty." The writer is a professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (Jerusalem Post).


NETANYAHU: PALESTINIANS CONTINUING TO CREATE ARTIFICIAL CRISES. At a meeting with Secretary of State Kerry in Jerusalem on Wednesday, Prime Minister Netanyahu said: •"I believe that it's possible with intense pressure because of the sanctions regime led in large part by the United States to get Iran to fully dismantle its nuclear weapons program, and that's really what we're seeking. A full, peaceful, complete dismantling of Iran's nuclear weapons capability, end of all enrichment, end of all centrifuges, end of the plutonium reactor. If this is achieved, I'd welcome it." •"I'd be very worried with any partial deals that enable Iran to maintain those capabilities but begin to reduce sanctions because I think this could undermine the longevity and durability of the sanctions regime." •"Israel wants peace with the Palestinians....We abide scrupulously by the terms of the agreement and the understandings with which we launched the negotiations. I'm concerned about their progress because I see the Palestinians continuing with incitement, continuing to create artificial crises, continue to avoid, run away from the historic decisions that are needed to make a genuine peace." •"I hope that your visit will help steer them back to a place where we could achieve the historical peace that we seek and that our people need" (DAILY ALERT - Prime Minister's Office).


SUPPORT ISRAEL, OPPOSE U.S. INVOLVEMENT IN PEACE TALKS. A new ADL survey of the American public found continuing strong public support for Israel. 76% said Israel can be counted on as a strong U.S. ally, while 64% said they believe Israel is serious in reaching a peace agreement with the Palestinians. Three times as many Americans - 48-16 - expressed sympathy for Israel than for the Palestinians. 62% of Americans said that peace between Israelis and Palestinians should be achieved by them with minimal U.S. involvement. 29% said peace could not happen without U.S. leadership. 50% (vs. 41%) support U.S. military action, if necessary, to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, and 46% (vs. 42%) believe sanctions against Iran should remain until they give up their weapons program. If Israel attacked Iran to stop its nuclear program, 40% said the U.S. should support Israel, 48% said the U.S. should be neutral, and 9% said the U.S. should oppose it. At the same time, 81% could not trust Iran when it says it will not develop nuclear weapons, and 74% did not believe Iran will abide by its public commitment not to develop nuclear weapons. (DAILY ALERT - Anti-Defamation League)


NEW GAZA TEXTBOOKS FOCUS ON RESISTANCE. The Hamas-run government in Gaza has introduced amended textbooks for grades 8, 9 and 10, adding lessons about various methods of Palestinian resistance. In the new 8th grade textbook, a chapter focuses on details about rockets fired into Israel from Gaza. Grade 9's textbook covers Gaza's militant response to Israel's Operation Cast Lead (2008-09) and Operation Pillar of Defense (2012). Another chapter is dedicated to the cross-border military operation by three Palestinian groups in 2006 as a result of which Israel agreed to release 1,024 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for Israeli prisoner Gilad Shalit. The textbook also includes a chapter on non-negotiable Palestinian principles such as the right of return and the importance of Jerusalem as the capital of a future state. (DAILY ALERT - Maan News-PA)


ISRAEL TO UN: ABBAS’ INCITEMENT ‘POISONING THE NEXT GENERATION’. Israeli Ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor filed a complaint Wednesday at the UN about Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' condolence letter to the family of terrorist Mohamed Aatzi, who was responsible for the November 2012 bus bombing in Tel Aviv. Prosor said: "Terrorism begins when its perpetrators are indoctrinated with words and thoughts of hate." Abbas' letter was "just the most recent example of the incitement poisoning the next generation....Palestinian children are being taught hate instead of peace; violence instead of tolerance; and martyrdom instead of mutual understanding." (DAILY ALERT - Israel Hayom)


SETTLEMENTS AREN’T THE PROBLEM. •The U.S., UN and PA - among others - castigated the Israeli government's decision this week to move forward with building plans for 1,500 residential units beyond the 1949 armistice line. •Israeli building is not an obstacle to peace. Most of the announced projects are slated for places such as Ma'ale Adumim, Betar Illit and eastern Jerusalem. In any two-state solution that would conceivably receive broad Israeli support, these places would remain part of the Jewish state. • For U.S. administrations at least since the Clinton era, the notion that Israel must retreat to the 1949 armistice lines and that east Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria - the cradle of Jewish history - must be made judenrein is hardly a given. •The 2000 Clinton parameters, President George W. Bush's 2004 letter to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, negotiations Prime Minister Ehud Olmert conducted in 2008, all were based on the principle that Israel would retain major settlement blocs in any two-state solution. •The idea that Jewish settlements are "an obstacle to peace" is based on the morally repugnant premise - supported by the international community - that the very presence of Jews in these territories is an affront to the Palestinians, while in Israel there are 1.6 million Arabs with Israeli citizenship. • The real obstacle to peace remains Palestinians' rejection of the very idea of a uniquely Jewish state. To this day Palestinians deny the Jewish people's ties to the Land of Israel; they refuse to see the Jews as a distinct people that has a right to its own state. Peace will come the day that the Palestinian people recognize the Jewish people's right to national self-determination in its historical homeland. Blaming settlements misses the point (Jerusalem Post).


A CULTURAL GULF BETWEEN ISRAEL AND PALESTINE. The gathering at the PA government compound in Ramallah was festive as people welcomed the convicted terrorist murderers who were set free by Israel this week as part of the deal that got the Palestinians to agree to peace talks. PA leader Mahmoud Abbas proudly held their hands aloft in a victory gesture. By contrast, the mood in Israel was somber as the relatives of the people who had been killed mourned anew. This "emotional gulf" is indicative of a vast cultural divide between these two peoples that explains the absence of peace. The Palestinian president did his utmost to identify his political fortunes with people who had stabbed, shot, and blown up Jews in cold blood. As long as the Palestinians honor murderers, there is no reason to believe they are willing to end the conflict. (DAILY ALERT - Commentary)


POLL: MOST ISRAELIS REJECT JORDAN VALLEY WITHDRAWAL BY IDF. 63% of Israelis (74% of Israeli Jews) oppose Israel withdrawing from the Jordan Valley, even if international forces take on responsibility for Israel's security along the West Bank, a recent poll by Mina Tzemach of Midgam for the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs revealed. The U.S. has proposed that international forces be installed in the Jordan Valley as part of an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement. Jerusalem Center president Dore Gold said the likely explanation of the results involved the UN's historical inability to defend Israel's borders, such as prior to the Six-Day War in 1967. UN forces in Lebanon also failed to prevent the First and Second Lebanon Wars and Hizbullah's rearmament. The poll also showed that over 70% of Israelis were against dividing Jerusalem and transferring the Temple Mount to the Palestinians (Jerusalem Post).


PEACE DEMANDS PALESTINIANS RECOGNIZE ISRAEL AS ‘JEWISH STATE’. The territory intended for the Palestinian state was the "formative territory" of the Jewish people, where Jewish civilization took shape, where Jewish peoplehood was cast and where the "Book of Books" was composed and recorded. The historical and cultural relationship between Judea and Samaria and the Jewish people is not the same as the relationship between Algeria and the French or between Gibraltar and the British. While Israel has been called on to recognize the Palestinian right to self-determination and the realization of a Palestinian state, the leaders of Palestinian society refuse to recognize the Jewish people's right to national self-determination. In other words, they refuse to give up Palestinian national rights in the territory of the State of Israel. Thus, the "two-state" vision of Palestinian diplomacy consists of a Palestinian state free of any Jewish presence, alongside a binational, Jewish-Palestinian Israeli state. The Palestinians recognize the Jewish people as a religion but not as a nation with the right to self-determination. This is the Rubicon that Palestinian leaders must cross, and they must bring their people with them. Only the recognition of Israel as the national state of the Jewish people, alongside recognition of a Palestinian national state, can achieve a historic compromise that satisfies the demands of both peoples. The writer served as Israeli Cabinet secretary from 2009 until 2013. (DAILY ALERT - Al-Monitor)


REPORT: PALESTINIANS MAKE STIFF DEMANDS FOR PEACE DEAL. The PA demands that any land swap with Israel as part of a peace deal not exceed 1.9% of the West Bank, according to details leaked to Israel TV Channel 2 by a Palestinian official on Sunday. The Palestinians are also insisting that they gain control over water, and control at the Dead Sea and border crossings; that a Palestinian state be able to sign agreements with other states; that Israel release all Palestinian prisoners; and that all Palestinian refugees and their descendants be granted the right to choose to live in Israel or the Palestinian territories as part of a final agreement. According to the report, Israel has demanded that any peace deal provide Israel with territorial contiguity, that there be an IDF presence in the Jordan Valley for a prescribed period of time, and that, in addition to border adjustments covered by the land swaps, further land be annexed by Israel to cover the major settlement blocs in return for financial compensation to the Palestinians. (DAILY ALERT - Times of Israel)


ISRA-AID. The Israeli aid organization IsraAid has provided almost $100,000 in nutritional and hygienic assistance to refugees displaced by the Syrian civil war. The ironic dimension is that the Israeli aid workers and their Jordanian counterparts find it necessary to remove the word "Jewish" from the aid packages. The recipients, after all, are Syrians. They are not like the thousands of Haitians, Filipinos, Peruvians, Sri Lankans, Somalians, Japanese and even Americans (victims of Hurricane Sandy, the Oklahoma tornado and Boulder floods) whom IsraAid has helped in recent years. They are citizens of an Arab state that has been in a state of war with Israel since it was born. In these Syrian refugee camps, no reward - not even a word of thanks - is expected. We can think of no nobler example of selflessness, of human compassion, than this latest of IsraAid's operations (DAILY ALERT - Intermountain Jewish News-Denver)


DID THE BALFOUR DECLARATION LAUNCH THE JEWISH RETURN TO ISRAEL? Last year, former Palestinian minister Nabil Shaath wrote an article in the Daily Telegraph attacking Britain for issuing the Balfour Declaration, its famous statement of support for the establishment in the Land of Israel of a national home for the Jewish people. Shaath called the declaration, issued on November 2, 1917, the beginning of "British imperialism" in Palestine. For Shaath, there was no Jewish history in Palestine that needed to be acknowledged. The rise of the Jewish national home, in short, was seen as the product of external manipulations by outside powers, like Britain, and not the result of any authentic yearning of the Jews themselves. What became the Balfour Declaration went through a number of drafts. The original language of the declaration that was approved by the British Foreign Office and Prime Minister Lloyd George on September 19, 1917, specifically stated that Britain accepted the principle that "Palestine should be reconstituted as the national home of the Jewish people." Use of the term "reconstitute" meant that the land was once their homeland before and should now be restored to them. It meant that the Jews had historical rights. This original formula had been approved by President Woodrow Wilson. In any case, the Balfour Declaration was basically a statement of British policy; it did not establish legal rights. This first occurred with the meeting of the victorious allied powers at San Remo, Italy, in 1920, where they adopted the Balfour Declaration in an international agreement. Then in 1922, 51 members of the League of Nations approved the document for the Palestine Mandate, which stated: "recognition has thereby been given to the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and to the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country." The Balfour Declaration reflected a historical trend that was already underway, but it did not launch the Jewish return to the Land of Israel. The writer, a former Israeli ambassador to the UN, is president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. (DAILY ALERT - Israel Hayom)


YA’ALONG: “ISRAEL WILL NOT ACCEPT DEAL THAT ALLOWS IRAN TO ENRICH URANIUM.” •Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Wednesday that Iran is Israel's single greatest security challenge. "Some people will be seduced by the regime's charm offensive and relent. This is a regime that for the last 20 years we have witnessed how well it knows how to lie, cheat and mislead the West." • "Iran's supreme leader...has been forced to make several concessions on Iran's nuclear program, but Iran's intention is not to give up its nuclear option. They are working toward retaining an independent enrichment capability. This is not acceptable to us, because this is a way to mislead and cheat as they have done in the past." •"Our position is that in order to ease the sanctions it is necessary to demand from the Iranians to give up their independent enrichment capability, the plutonium capability that they developed recently and to give up the [enriched uranium] material they have accumulated." •"We hope that the diplomatic channel, along with sanctions, will [stop Iran's nuclear program]. But ultimately we need to be prepared to defend ourselves, by ourselves, as we always say." (DAILY ALERT - Israel Hayom)


FORMER BRITISH FOREIGN SECRETARY PEDDLES ‘JEWISH CONTROL’ TROPE IN PARLIAMENT. Former Israeli Knesset Member Einat Wilf wrote on her Facebook page Tuesday: "I nearly fell off my rickety British chair today when former UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw spoke at the Round Table Global Diplomatic Forum in the British House of Commons. Listing the greatest obstacles to peace, he said 'unlimited' funds available to Jewish organizations and AIPAC in the U.S. are used to control and divert American policy in the region and that Germany's 'obsession' with defending Israel were the problem." The trope about Jewish money and control is recognized as anti-Semitism by the European Monitoring Center on Racism and Xenophobia's Working Definition: "Making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or the power of Jews as a collective - such as, especially but not exclusively, the myth about a world Jewish conspiracy or of Jews controlling the media, economy, government or other societal institutions." (DAILY ALERT - Trending Central)


THE IDIOCY OF THE CULTURAL BOYCOTT OF ISRAEL (by Ray Hanania). The extremists, who are a minority faction in our Arab community, step in and bully the mainstream Arabs into silence. Arabs are afraid to stand up to the extremists who often direct their hate and anger against Arabs even more than they do against Israel. It's better to not say anything, the moderates mistakenly conclude, than to stand up to the fanatics. That's why the fanatics hate me so much. I reject their failed leadership and their absence of commonsense strategies to achieve a Palestinian state. And I reject their idiotic mob mentality that denounces anyone who does anything in Israel. For years they loved me when I criticized Israel but kept my mouth shut about their extremist fanaticism that enabled violence. The Arabs are failures at fighting for Palestinian rights. Their emotion overcomes logic and reason so they are incapable of being effective. They can't establish a Palestinian state because they are consumed with destroying Israel. (Saudi Gazette)


WHY JORDAN RELIES ON ISRAEL TO SECURE THE JORDAN VALLEY. •A report last week in Maariv that fundamental disagreement between Palestinian and Israeli negotiators over the future of the Jordan Valley may soon collapse peace talks comes as no surprise to Middle East observers. •Former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin insisted on Israeli sovereignty in the Jordan Valley in order to defend Israel's main airport and coastal cities. Rabin declared to the Knesset in October 1995, as it endorsed the Oslo II interim accords, that "the security border for defending the State of Israel will be in the Jordan Valley, in the widest sense of that concept." •Since 1967 Israeli governments have been guided by the security doctrine of "defensible borders," that depends on the Jordan Valley and the rising 900-meter Judea-Samaria hill ridge as Israel's front line of defense against conventional assaults and terror attacks from the east. •Without an Israeli presence along the border, jihadi groups from Iraq and Syria would be attracted to cross into Jordan and then to Palestinian territory. •King Abdullah II has publicly supported the establishment of a Palestinian sovereign state in the West Bank. However, the king and his security echelons are mindful of the Palestinians' "checkered" security record, and have reason to be concerned. A common Palestinian-Jordanian border would likely increase Palestinian irredentism towards the East Bank, which has been a major Jordanian concern since "Black September" in 1970, when Syrian-backed Palestinian insurgents threatened the Hashemite Kingdom. •Jordanian security concerns may help explain why various senior Jordanian officials have told their Israeli counterparts regularly over the past decade that if a Palestinian state is established, it must be demilitarized, and the Palestinian leadership must agree that Israeli and Jordanian security forces will be the only two armies between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. The writer served as secretary-general of the World Jewish Congress from 2011 to 2013 (Jerusalem Post).


ISRAEL WAS NEVER AMERICA’S CLIENT. As matters have gotten worse for America in the Arab world, the U.S.-Israel relationship has only grown stronger. Israel's formidable capacity, steadfast support from the U.S., and stunning Arab incapacity have created a situation where Israel is stronger and more secure than it's ever been. Iran's nuclear pretentions remain an acute challenge, and an unresolved Palestinian problem holds longer-term worries. But the notion that the Jewish state is the Middle East's sitting duck has been an illusion for some time now. Israel is a dynamic, resilient, and sovereign nation, and the U.S. needs to realize that, even while the Israelis take our interests into account, their own matter more - particularly when it comes to their security and weapons of mass destruction. Where you stand in life is partly a result of where you sit, and as the small power with little margin for error, Israel is going to make its own decisions on the threats it faces and act unilaterally if necessary to deal with them. Israel was never America's client. On the contrary, we helped enable and empower its independence of action. If Israel acts militarily against Iran because diplomacy can't address its concerns on the nuclear issue, it will be another indication that, as much as we would like to shape what goes on the Middle East, we really can't. We don't live there, and we are clearly unable or unwilling to dictate to those who do. The writer is a distinguished scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. (DAILY ALERT - Foreign Policy)


NO BRAIN DRAIN – ISRAEL SIMPLY HAS TOO MANY BRAINS. The way research in the exact sciences is conducted nowadays, researchers are attracted to clusters of scientists working in their area of interest regardless of national boundaries. It is not easy for Israel to compete with the ample resources available for research and facilities at American universities and it is natural that many talented Israeli scientists are drawn to research groups engaged in their areas of interest in the U.S. The fact that percentage-wise the number of Israeli scientists at American universities is the largest only indicates that the Israeli educational system graduates each year a very large number of highly talented and proficient scientists (DAILY ALERT - Ha'aretz)


NETANYAHU: IRAN THE MAIN OBSTACLE TO PEACE WITH PALESTINIANS. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday: "Iran is a large empire. Its offshoots are arrayed throughout the Middle East. It sends them against us. It is in de facto control of Syria, it controls Lebanon, it controls half the Palestinians through Hamas." Iran's leaders "have no interest in compromise or an agreement," Netanyahu added. "They have the power to control any territory we withdraw from. Their goal is to remove us from here." "We want a real, sustainable peace, not a temporary one. This peace will have to take into account the real forces that surround us: Iran, Hizbullah, Hamas, [Islamic] Jihad, al-Qaeda." "If we don't secure the areas from which we withdraw, there won't be peace." (DAILY ALERT - Times of Israel)


APPEASEMENT WON’T REDUCE THE PERIL OF A NUCLEAR IRAN. •Ayatollah Khamenei wants to build and maintain a nuclear weapons capability - not to construct an atomic device immediately, but to have the technical ability to do so at a moment of his choosing. Such a capability might include the ability to produce weapons-grade uranium, the ability to produce plutonium, and the ability to launch missiles capable of travelling long distances with heavy payloads. •Iran has already mastered the technical ability to enrich uranium beyond the lower levels suitable for electricity generation. So the large and growing stockpile of low-enriched uranium at its Natanz facility presents no less of a danger than the smaller stockpile of medium-enriched uranium at Fordow. •With the installation of advanced centrifuges at Natanz, Iran could agree to suspend all enrichment at the Fordow facility and still be in a position to produce weapons-grade uranium without detection by the middle of next year. •According to official U.S. estimates, Iran could flight-test an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching both sides of the Atlantic by 2015. •Seven years ago, the Security Council ordered Iran to halt its entire nuclear program. We should not change course now and reward the Islamic Republic for agreeing to do something far less. •My colleagues in the U.S. Senate and I will not be fooled by hollow declarations of "peace for our time." We will not accept any level of uranium enrichment on Iranian soil. We will not accept an Iranian plutonium reactor. And unless we see Iran take immediate steps to comply with all its Security Council obligations, we will move forward with a new round of sanctions targeting all remaining Iranian revenue and reserves (DAILY ALERT, 15.10.2013 - Telegraph-UK)


NETANYAHU URGES BRITAIN AND FRANCE NOT TO EASE SANCTIONS ON IRAN. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu phoned British Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Francois Hollande to urge them not to ease sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program, an Israeli official said on Saturday. "Until Iran dismantles its military nuclear program, sanctions must not be eased - on the contrary. Only the pressure brought Iran to this point, and only the continuation of pressure and its strengthening can bring them to dismantle their nuclear program," Netanyahu was quoted as saying. Western diplomats have played down any suggestion Iran's new openness will result in an immediate loosening of sanctions. But they are also hoping that talks on Oct. 15-16 between six world powers and Iran will deliver an opportunity to make progress on ending the dispute. (DAILY ALERT - Reuters)


NETANYAHU TRIES TO CONVINCE EUROPE NOT TO EASE IRAN SANCTIONS. On Thursday, Prime Minister Netanyahu gave interviews to several leading media outlets in France, Britain and Germany to urge European countries to stop Iran's race for a nuclear bomb while it's still possible. His message was: The Iranian regime is currently smiling and saying, "Let me continue enriching uranium, let me keep my plutonium plants, and I'll give you tactical concessions, cosmetic concessions, and you'll ease the sanctions." But if the sanctions are eased, the sanctions will collapse, Netanyahu continued. They'll get everything they want. It's important to stress that this isn't just an Israeli issue; this issue also affects you. Just about every country in the Arab world agrees with our position. (DAILY ALERT - Ha'aretz)


THE EXITEMENT OF BEING A MATYR FOR ALLAH. For 20 years I studied and interviewed Islamist jihad fighters imprisoned in Israeli jails, examining their inner worlds and discovering the obsessive thoughts leading them to carry out terrorist attacks. They were addicted to fantasizing about an alternative reality, describing their compulsions in metaphors similar to those used by obsessive gamblers and drug addicts. They felt completely controlled and manipulated by the concept of jihad. The overwhelming desire of many Muslim adolescent boys, even those educated in the West or who are converts to Islam, is excitement. To that end they stream into confrontation zones like Afghanistan, Pakistan, Chechnya, Libya, Iraq, Africa, and Syria to experience the excitement and promise of being a martyr for the sake of Allah as the ultimate in self-realization. IDF Lt. Col. (res.) Dr. Anat Berko conducts research for Israel's National Security Council and is a research fellow at the International Policy Institute for Counterterrorism at the Interdisciplinary Center in Israel (Investigative Project on Terrorism).


ISRAEL EXPRESSES DISMAY AT CUTBACK OF U.S. AID TO EGYPT. Officials and experts in Israel responded on Wednesday with a mixture of disappointment and alarm to the news that the U.S. planned to reduce its military aid to Egypt. One Israeli official said the U.S. is playing with fire. "You cannot disassemble the [Israel-Egypt] peace treaty and take out this part or that part....This is not just about Israel. This is about America's standing in the Arab world." Israeli officials say that security cooperation between Israel and Egypt under Gen. Sisi, the Egyptian military leader who removed Morsi, has grown closer than ever. After Morsi's ouster, Israel asked Washington not to cut aid to Egypt. (DAILY ALERT - New York Times)


THE ROOT OF THE ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN CONFLICT. From Prime Minister Netanyahu's address at Bar-Ilan University on October 6, 2013: • The Israeli-Palestinian conflict started in 1921 on the day on which the Palestinian Arabs attacked the immigration hostel in Jaffa. Many Jews were killed in this attack, including the well-known writer Y.H. Brenner. This attack was not about territory or settlements; it was against Jewish immigration to the Land of Israel. •Later there were more attacks: In 1929, the ancient Jewish community in Hebron was brutally slaughtered. It had existed there nearly uninterrupted for close to 4,000 years. After that, there were repeated and methodical attacks against the Jewish community in Israel in 1936 and in 1939. •Later on there was the Partition Plan of 1947, wherein it was proposed that there be an Arab state - they didn't say Palestinian state - and a Jewish state. The Jews agreed, the Arabs refused. • Even before 1967, for 19 years, the Arabs had us in a chokehold with the sole goal of uprooting us, of extinguishing our lives. What was that about? There were no territories then either. There was no occupation, unless Tel Aviv is considered occupied. • The root of the conflict was and remains that which has been repeated for over 90 years - the profound objection by the hard core of Palestinians to the right of the Jewish people to its own country in the Land of Israel. •An essential condition for reaching a genuine resolution remains the reversal of the refusal to recognize the right of the Jews to a nation-state of their own in the land of their ancestors (DAILY ALERT - Prime Minister's Office)


NETANYAHU: ISRAEL AND U.S. IN FULL AGREEMENT ON NEED TO PREVENT NUCLEAR IRAN. Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke at Bar-Ilan University on October 6, 2013: • "Iran's goal is to take over the entire Middle East and beyond, and to destroy the State of Israel. This is not speculation, this is the goal. Israel and the U.S. are in full agreement as to the need to prevent Iran from achieving nuclear weapons." •"The President of Iran stated a few days ago at the UN that Iran is interested in nuclear capability only for civilian purposes. I don't believe him, but if you want to test his statement, you must ask the Iranian regime a simple question: If you only want nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, why do you insist on centrifuges to enrich uranium and plutonium reactors which are not needed to produce nuclear energy for peaceful purposes?" •"In my speech here four years ago I said that the solution is a demilitarized Palestinian state, with very clear security arrangements, not international forces. But the Palestinians must recognize the Jewish state. We are prepared to recognize their nation-state, but they must also make concessions - first and foremost relinquish the dream of the right of return." •"We will not accept recognition of the Jewish people or a binational state that will later be overrun with refugees. Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people. Only when they recognize our right to live here in our nation-state will peace be possible” (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs).


NETANYAHU, AT UN, URGES WARINESS OF IRAN. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the UN General Assembly Tuesday to view Iran's latest diplomatic charm offensive with distrust and warned that Israel would act alone, if necessary, to prevent Tehran from developing a nuclear weapon. He said Tehran has repeatedly employed diplomatic outreach in the past to disguise its plans to build a nuclear bomb. White House press secretary Jay Carney said after Netanyahu's speech: "The important measuring stick when it comes to pursuing this diplomatic opening with Iran is action - what actions are being taken by Iran that demonstrate that they are interested in fulfilling their obligations to the international community." (Washington Post)


HOW THE EU FUNDS SETTLEMENTS IN OCCUPIED TERRITORY IN NORTHERN CYPRUS. The EU claims it has an obligation to keep its money from going to Israeli entities in the territories. Yet the EU provides substantial direct financial assistance to settlements in occupied territory - in Turkish-occupied Northern Cyprus. The EU's official policy is that the Turkish occupation is illegitimate and it does not recognize the Turkish government in Northern Cyprus. Nonetheless, the EU maintains an entire separate program to direct funds to Northern Cyprus. Pursuant to a 2006 regulation adopted by the EU to "end the isolation of the Turkish Cypriot community," it allocated 259 million euros over five years, and now provides an annual 28 million euro allocation for scholarships for students, developing the private sector, infrastructure improvements, and funding to upgrade "cultural heritage" sites. The EU is doing exactly what its claims international law prohibits in the case of Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Indeed, the EU maintains an office in Northern Cyprus to oversee its over 1,000 grant contracts whose primary and intended beneficiaries are Turkish settlers. The writer is a professor at Northwestern University School of Law. (Kohelet Policy Forum)


IRAN’S MESSENGER HAS CHANGED; ITS MESSAGE HAS NOT. We remain sceptical about Tehran's intentions. Iranian leaders are skilled negotiators with expertise in delay tactics and obfuscation. As Rouhani returns home, diplomacy remains our hope and goal. But our resolve to prevent Iran from achieving a nuclear weapons capability remains unchanged. We believe that four strategic elements are necessary to achieve a resolution of this issue: an explicit and continuing message that the U.S. will not allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapons capability, a sincere demonstration of openness to negotiations by Iran, the maintenance and toughening of sanctions and a convincing threat of the use of force. There can be a deal only when Iran's actions align with its rhetoric. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) chairs the Foreign Relations Committee. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is a senior member of the Armed Services Committee. (DAILY ALERT - Washington Post)


PRESIDENT OBAMA, PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU MEET IN WASHINGTON. After meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu at the White House on Monday, President Obama said: "It is imperative that Iran not possess a nuclear weapon. That is important for American security; it is important for Israeli security; it's important for world security....And given the statements and actions from the Iranian regime in the past - the threats against Israel, the acts against Israel - it is absolutely clear that words are not sufficient, that we have to have actions that give the international community confidence that, in fact, they are meeting their international obligations fully, and that they are not in a position to have a nuclear weapon." "We enter into these negotiations [with Iran] very clear-eyed. They will not be easy. And anything that we do will require the highest standards of verification....We take no options off the table, including military options, in terms of making sure that we do not have nuclear weapons in Iran that would destabilize the region and potentially threaten the United States of America." Prime Minister Netanyahu said: "The most important challenge is preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons. I appreciate...the statement you made that Iran's conciliatory words have to be matched by real actions - transparent, verifiable, meaningful actions. Iran is committed to Israel's destruction. So for Israel, the ultimate test of a future agreement with Iran is whether or not Iran dismantles its military nuclear program" (DAILY ALERT - White House).


THE HOLES IN IRANIAN PRESIDENT ROUHANI’S CHARM OFFENSIVE. Iranian President Rouhani wrote in the Washington Post that Iran's "peaceful nuclear energy program" was for "generating nuclear power" and "diversifying" Iran's energy resources. Yet a U.S. State Department study showed that Iran had enough oil and gas to supply the country for at least 200 years. Then there is the question of why Iran insisted that it must enrich its own uranium by itself. Tehran actually had only one working reactor for producing electricity at Bushehr, which used uranium fuel that was supplied by Russia. So why spend billions on enrichment plants at Natanz and Fordo? Finland, Spain, South Korea, and Sweden all import enriched uranium rather than build an uneconomical enrichment infrastructure. When Iran began to enrich uranium in June 2010 to the 20% level, its spokesmen argued that this was for the small Tehran Research Reactor to manufacture medical isotopes. While a year later, Iran had enough 20%-enriched uranium to meet its demand for medical isotopes for at least seven years, it continued to produce more 20%-enriched uranium. In a highly classified briefing in February 2008 given to ambassadors to the IAEA in Vienna, Iranian documents detailed how to design a warhead for the Iranian Shahab-3 ballistic missile. An IAEA report from May 2011 detailed a military research program that was based on "the removal of the conventional high explosive payload from the warhead of the Shahab-3 missile and replacing it with a spherical nuclear payload." The writer, a former Israeli ambassador to the UN, is president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (DAILY ALERT – ISRAEL HA’YOM).


DESPITE APOLOGY, TURKEY BLOCKING ISRAEL-NATO COOPERATION. Six months after Israel's apology to Turkey for the Mavi Marmara incident, Ankara continues to completely block any NATO cooperation with Israel, Greece's Ambassador Spiros Lampridis told the Jerusalem Post. Turkey has adamantly opposed Israeli involvement in any NATO programs, he said, including joint exercises, intelligence exchanges, and research and technological development programs. "We were hoping that after the arrangement between Netanyahu and Erdogan in the spring, Turkey would pull back a little and allow some of the programs," he said. "But there is nothing." Lampridis said he was surprised by the continued Turkish opposition, especially since every week hundreds of Turkish trucks arrive via ferry to Haifa, carrying millions of dollars worth of goods to Jordan and onward to the Gulf. (Jerusalem Post)


ISRAELI MINISTER: ABBAS UN-SPEACH ’WAS NOT A SPEECH OF PEACE’. Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz, responding to PA President Abbas' UN speech, said "the speech was not a speech of peace. Instead of condemning terror, it condemns those who struggle against terror....Instead of recognizing Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state, he speaks about the establishment of Israel as a tragedy." Steinitz accused the Palestinian leader of "lying to the world when he said that in 1948 and in 1967, Israel attacked the Palestinians when in fact, the opposite was true." Steinitz, who was not present for Abbas' speech Thursday, rejected accusations that the Israeli delegation had boycotted the address, saying that the Jewish holiday of Simhat Torah had taken precedence (Times of Israel).


ISRAEL PROTESTS TO U.S. OVER ’PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY INCITEMENT’. In the wake of Palestinians killing two IDF soldiers in separate incidents this weekend, Israel complained to the U.S. on Monday that the Palestinian Authority had failed to stop violence and incitement against its citizens. A senior Israeli official said the PA had not done enough to prevent the sniper fire that killed a soldier in Hebron. A senior Israeli security official said the PA is not effectively dealing with terror, and that all recent actions to prevent terror attacks have been at the hands of the IDF. The PA's arrests are cosmetic and those arrested do not stand trial, he added. (Jerusalem Post)


REASONS NOT TO TRUST IRAN ON NUKES. Rouhani obviously looks moderate when compared to Ahmadinejad, a Holocaust-denying lunatic. However, Rouhani hasn't indicated that Iran is open to reversing course on its nuclear program. He has actually said that the regime will not even talk about suspending uranium enrichment. Former CIA officer and Iran expert Reuel Marc Gerecht said of Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei: "He would disgrace himself before God and his praetorians, the Revolutionary Guards" if he were to give up his nuclear ambitions in exchange for an easing of sanctions. "He has invested everything in the nuclear program. It is the core of the Islamic Republic's defense against America." The Obama administration should test Iran immediately. But these negotiations should be time-limited, and sanctions shouldn't be lifted prematurely - the sanctions are what brought the crisis to this point (DAILY ALERT - Bloomberg).


• THE BIG PROBLEM IN JERUSALEM ISN’T THE JEWS. The New York Times tells us that troublemaking Jews are breaking the rules on Jerusalem's Temple Mount where they are making coexistence, if not peace, that much more difficult. With increasing numbers of Jews wanting to visit the site and perhaps even surreptitiously utter a prayer, the conceit of the Times piece appears to be that this is just one more instance in which Israelis are giving their Arab neighbors a hard time. • However, the Jews are not the problem in Jerusalem. The dispute isn't really about who controls the Temple Mount but about the Muslim effort to deny the Jewish history that is literally under their feet. Were it just a question of sharing sacred space, reasonable compromises that would give full Muslim autonomy over their holy sites while allowing Jewish prayer at the spiritual center of Judaism would be possible. • Yet as long as the official position of both the Muslim Wakf religious authority, which has been allowed by Israel to govern the place since the 1967 Six-Day War, and the Palestinian Authority is that the Temples never existed and that Jews have no rights to their ancient capital, that will constitute the real obstacle to peace. • As with other sacred sites to which Muslims lay claim, their position is not one in which they are prepared to share or guarantee equal access. The Muslim view of the Temple Mount is that they want it Jew-free, the same way they envision a Palestinian state. It is in that same spirit that the Wakf has committed what many respected Israeli archeologists consider a program of vandalism on the Mount with unknown quantities of antiquities being trashed. In the face of their intransigence and the fact that such intolerance is mainstream Palestinian opinion rather than the view of a few extremists, the desire of many Jews to visit a place that is the historic center of their faith (the Western Wall is, after all, merely the vestige of the Temple's outer enclosure) doesn't seem quite so crazy (DAILY ALERT).


ISRAELI NUCLEAR CHIEF WARNS OF IRANIAN ‘DECEPTION’. The head of the Israel Atomic Energy Commission, Shaul Chorev, told the annual meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna on Wednesday: "The picture that the Iranian representatives are portraying regarding openness and transparency of their nuclear program...stands in sharp contradiction with Iran's actual actions and the facts on the ground." The issue was not whether Iran has "modified its diplomatic vocabulary...but whether it is addressing seriously and in a timely manner outstanding issues that have remained unresolved for too long." Chorev castigated Iran for "deception and concealment, creating a false impression about the status of its engagement with the agency...with a view to buy more time in Iran's daily inching forward in every aspect of its nuclear military program." (Times of Israel)


FACISM AND ISRAEL (3. Teil). Passover was a sacrifice effective for gentiles and Jews, or in the language of the Bible, “both for the stranger and the native of the land” (Num. 9:14). The scapegoat, on the other hand, was effective only for Israel. Translating this to political reality, gentile nations can form the partnership type of nationalism that post-Zionist like Sternhell support. Israel, however, can’t escape being an organic nation, or else it is something other than true Israel. This difference sheds light also on the nature of the Church. Though organic in its own way, the Church nevertheless does not have its own scapegoat that atones for the sins of the Church as a whole. Rather, the church as understood in the New Testament shares the status of the stranger in the midst of Israel, and as such can partake of the Passover Lamb. The High Court of Justice’s decision will not take the biblical position since its secular values will not allow it to legitimize what liberal thinkers like Sternhell view as Fascism. Sadly, Sternhell’s assault on Im Tirtzu is a direct challenge to the legitimacy of the existence of the Jewish State, and it is gaining ground all over the world. And yet, as every previous attempt to rob Israel of its uniqueness has failed, the faithful should remain hopeful that delegitimizing the existence of Israel as a Jewish state today will also meet an unsuccessful end (Israel Heute).


FACISM AND ISRAEL (1. PART) For the last two years the Israeli High Court of Justice has tried to decide whether or not the grassroots right-wing group Im Tirtzu is a fascist organization. Im Tirtzu are the first two words in Theodor Herzl’s immortal sentence “If you will it [im tirtzu], it is no fantasy” found in his book Altneuland (1902) that, in the form of a novel, outlined the vision for a Jewish state in the Land of Israel. Im Tirtzu was established in 2006, after the Second Lebanon War, and its aim is the renewal of the Zionist discourse, Zionist thinking and Zionist ideology, to ensure the future of the Jewish nation and of the State of Israel. Today, Im Tirtzu is probably the most effective organ in the battle against extreme post-Zionist Israeli organizations. One of the expert witnesses in this case is Zeev Sternhell (pictured left), a post-Zionist and one of the world’s foremost experts on Fascism. He is also a recipient of the prestigious Israel Prize. As an expert on Fascism, Sternhell’s case rests on his definition of Fascism as organic nationalism. Among other things, he said in an affidavit submitted to the court that Im Tirtzu sees the Jewish nation in Israel as “a complete whole … just as the human body is not the sum-total of body parts, but a complete organism.” This, writes Sternhell, is a reactionary position that stands in opposition to progress, which is moving toward a democratic state that is not based on nationality. In simple terms, Sternhell believes that a Jewish state is an outdated idea, while Im Tirtzu still holds on to the old Jewish notion of Israel as an organic nation. Sternhell sees the state as a partnership between individuals. Im Tirtzu sees the individuals as inseparable parts of a whole (Israel Heute).


FACISM AND ISRAEL (2. PART). What is so interesting about this case is that it brings to the surface one of the most fundamental biblical differences between Israel and the nations that can be seen in two special kinds of sacrifices, relevant also for the understanding of the concept of “church” in the New Testament: Communal sacrifice and partnership sacrifice. The only biblical communal sacrifice is the scapegoat of the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur). Unlike any other, this sacrifice is the only one said to atone for the sins of Israel as a whole: “Aaron shall lay both his hands on the head of the live goat, confess over it all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions, concerning all their sins, putting them on the head of the goat, and shall send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a suitable man; The goat shall bear on itself all their iniquities” (Lev. 16:21-22). This sacrifice is absolutely unique for Israel, and treats the nation not as a collective of individuals, but as one organic unity. Partnership sacrifice can be seen in the Passover Lamb. A single lamb was shared by a number of people and was effective only to the participants who bought the lamb and ate from it. As the Bible makes clear, individual Israelites who do not participate in this sacrifice are judged as being cut off from the nation: “The man who is clean and is not on a journey, and ceases to keep the Passover, that same person shall be cut off from among his people, because he did not bring the offering of the LORD at its appointed time; that man shall bear his sin” (Num. 9:13). The Bible therefore makes the distinction between each and every individual’s sin and Israel’s sin (Israel Heute).


AMERICA, SYRIA AND ISRAEL. Israelis got a preview this past week of what the Middle East would look like during a possible Iran crisis, and they didn't like what they saw. What Israelis found alarming was the way Mr. Obama shifted the burden of decision. Every one of his Syrian maneuvers was viewed as a dry run for his conduct in a likely future crisis over Iran's nuclear drive. Israelis always imagined they would go to Mr. Obama with a crucial piece of highly sensitive intelligence on Iranian progress, and he would make good on his promise to block Iran with a swift presidential decision. So his punt to Congress over what John Kerry called an "unbelievably small" strike left Israelis rubbing their eyes. If this is now standard operating procedure in Washington, can Israel afford to wait if action against Iran becomes urgent? The Syrian episode has shown how dead-set both Congress and U.S. public opinion are against U.S. military action in the Middle East. Bottom line: The chance that Israel may need to act first against Iran has gone up. The writer is president of Shalem College in Jerusalem. (Wall Street Journal).




ISRAEL CAUTIOUSLY OPTIMISTIC ON EGYPT.The Muslim Brotherhood had stepped back from everything to do with Israel. Once Morsi was elected president, he transferred responsibility for Israel to the army. Having recognized their limitations - the Brotherhood could never maintain direct contact with Israel because of a religious prohibition - they gave former Defense Minister Mohammed Hussein Tantawi, and later Gen. Abdul Fatah al-Sisi, total freedom when it came to managing affairs with Israel. As strange as it may sound, security relations between Israel and Egypt improved significantly during this period. Security collaboration was tightened, and the Egyptians were seen taking vigorous action in response to intelligence they received from Israel - two phenomena that didn't exist in the past. Senior defense official and Israeli envoy to Egypt Gen. Amos Gilad continued flying to Cairo, where he received considerable respect from his colleagues. There was a logical explanation for this. Under Mubarak, the Egyptian government was afraid of being portrayed as doing Israel's bidding, fearing harsh criticism from the Muslim Brotherhood. Suddenly, the Muslim Brotherhood was in power, so that fear dissipated and was replaced by a relationship driven by issues (DAILY ALERT).


POLL: PALESTINIANS OPPOSE MUTUAL RECOGNITION OF ISRAELI AND PALESTINIANS NATIONAL IDENTITY. 57% of the Israeli public supports mutual recognition of Israeli and Palestinian national identity, while 37% opposes it. Among Palestinians, 42% support and 56% oppose this step, according to a recent poll conducted jointly by the Truman Institute at Hebrew University and the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research in Ramallah. 62% of Israelis support a two-state solution while 33% oppose it; among Palestinians, 53% support and 46% oppose a two-state solution. The majority of Israelis (68%) and Palestinians (69%) view the chances for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state next to Israel in the next five years as low or non-existent (DAILY ALERT - Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research-PA)


CHAOS IN MIDDLE EAST GROWS AS THE U.S. FOCUSES ON ISRAEL. Secretary of State John Kerry wrapped up a busy round of shuttle diplomacy, laboring to revive peace negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians. Yet administration officials no longer argue, as they did early in President Obama's first term, that creating a Palestinian state is the key to improving the standing of the U.S. in the Middle East. Sallai Meridor, a former Israeli ambassador to the U.S., said most Israelis would rank Syria, Iran, Egypt and Jordan above the Palestinians in terms of "importance and urgency." "Were you to ask people in the leadership of both Israel and the Palestinians whether they thought resolving the conflict now, given the developments in the region, is feasible, most people would tell you it's quite unlikely," Meridor said. Moreover, a preoccupied Egypt would leave the PA without crucial political support. "Abbas would say that to reach a deal, you need Arab support from Saudi Arabia and Egypt," said Ghaith al-Omari, the executive director of the American Task Force on Palestine. "With all the chaos, you might not get that." (DAILY ALERT - New York Times)


BUILDING IN JERUSALEM WON’T PREVENT PEACE. The permits for constructing 69 apartments in the Har Homa neighborhood of Jerusalem was treated as a big deal in Friday's New York Times, which was quick to compare it to the 2010 episode in which the Obama administration picked a fight with Netanyahu over a routine announcement about a housing start in a 40-year-old Jewish neighborhood in Jerusalem. The administration claimed it was an "insult" to Vice President Joe Biden, who happened to be passing through the city at the time. The Palestinian claim that any building in parts of Jerusalem that were once illegally occupied by Jordan from 1949 to 1967 - and during which Jews were banned from even worshiping at the Western Wall - is an obstacle to peace simply doesn't make any sense. Even under a peace plan proposed by Netanyahu's predecessor Ehud Olmert, Israel would retain Har Homa and other Jewish neighborhoods of Jerusalem. What does it matter to the Palestinians how many Jews live in the areas they won't get? The Palestinians want Jews out of Har Homa for the same reason they want them out of most other parts of the country, since what they desire is a Palestinian state free of Jews. Treating building even in those areas that no one thinks would be handed over to the Palestinians under any circumstance as off limits is not about making peace. It's about delegitimizing Israel (DAILY ALERT - Commentary).


U.S. OFFICIAL SEEKS NEW WAYS TO GUARANTEE ISRAEL’S SECURITY. Retired U.S. Marine Gen. John R. Allen, who is serving as a special adviser to both Secretary of State Kerry and Defense Secretary Hagel, has been seeking to identify Israel's potential security gaps and remedy what Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had complained were outdated or incomplete assurances of cooperation and equipment from the U.S., officials said. Allen and his Israeli counterparts are seeking "effective, innovative and feasible options that could be proposed to political leaders," said a senior Obama administration official, who provided the first detailed account of Allen's mandate and progress. Addressing Israel's concerns about security threats coming from an independent Palestinian state next door at the front end of negotiations is the underlying premise of Allen's work. Israel's intelligence minister, Yuval Steinitz, who participated in meetings with Allen, said that Israel "had very bad experiences, even with massive deployments of UN forces. We can't trust only technology and international troops." Steinitz emphasized that Israel, "for real security," would need to maintain control of the Jordan Valley, as well as the air and sea space around any future Palestinian state, "for decades." (Washington Post)


NETANYAHU: WITHOUT SECURITY, ANY PEACE WILL UNRAVEL. At a ceremony in Jerusalem commemorating the 109th anniversary of the death of the father of Zionism, Theodor Herzl, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday: "Peace is founded on security, not goodwill. Without security we will not be able to defend ourselves and any peace we have will unravel." "We remain faithful to Herzl's vision: to establish here an exemplary state, a modern state, a state that is rooted in our land, the Land of Israel, but also a state that above all is able to give the Jews what was lost to them in their years of exile - the ability to defend themselves, by themselves, against any threat." "The tarnishing of Israel, the description of us as rejecters of peace, as pursuers of war, as a dark state that aspires to conquest, rather than as an enlightened state that fights like no other democracy in the world, a state that fights like no other state in the world in the most enlightened way imaginable against the desires to destroy it. All the charges against us are overdone, exaggerated and absurd, but they still take hold." (DAILY ALERT - Israel Hayom)


TURKEY YET TO FULFILL ITS SIDE OF RECONCILIATION DEAL WITH ISRAEL. Despite Israel's apology to Turkey three months ago over the Mavi Marmara incident, Ankara has yet to fulfill any of its commitments as part of the reconciliation agreement brokered by President Obama, Yediot Ahronot reported Wednesday. Turkey was to normalize diplomatic relations, including an exchange of ambassadors, and was to terminate all legal proceedings against IDF soldiers involved in the raid. However, the Turks now say they cannot guarantee that IDF soldiers and officers would not be prosecuted. Israel had agreed to pay $5 million in restitution, while Ankara demanded $40 million. During talks held over the past few days the Turks have agreed to receive $24 million from Israel, while the Israeli side raised its offer to $14 million. (Ynet News)


Gaza Illustrates Palestinian Statehood • With all the talk about the need to create a Palestinian state for the sake of justice or even to assure that Israel remains a Jewish state, Gaza provides a daily clinic on the consequences of more Israeli territorial withdrawals. Gaza is for all intents and purposes already an independent Palestinian state in all but name. • When Israel withdrew every last soldier or settler from Gaza in 2005, there was hope that it would provide a chance for the Palestinians to show that they truly could govern themselves. • But from the first day after the withdrawal - when mobs burned abandoned synagogues and tore down the greenhouses that had been given to the Palestinians to use - what has happened in Gaza is an illustration of what the world could expect if an independent Palestinian state ever actually comes to pass. • So long as violent groups dedicated to the destruction of the Jewish state dominate the political culture of the Palestinians, the prospect of the West Bank becoming another Gaza makes the high-flown rhetoric about the two-state solution look naive at best. • Anyone who wants to know why Israelis are skeptical about a Palestinian state in the West Bank need only look at Gaza (DAILY ALERT – COMMENTARY).


THE JUDEA AND SAMARIA ACCOUNT. It is possible to narrow the debate on the future of the West Bank. The settlement blocs (12%) will not go to the Palestinians. Areas A and B, about 40%, will not be settled by Israelis. That leaves 48% from Area C in which 100,000 settlers live. Over this territory there is a serious debate that crosses political camps in Israel. But as opposed to the public discourse, this has no similarity to the struggle in the '90s over the question of the entire Land of Israel. Twenty years after signing the Oslo Agreements, at least we should argue over the correct question. (DAILY ALERT - Yediot Ahronot-Hebrew, 26June2013)


ISRAEL FURIOUS AT UN REPORT CHARGING TORTURE OF PALESTINIAN CHILDREN. The UN Committee on the Rights of Children stated in its periodic review of Israel's record, released on Thursday: "The Committee expresses its deepest concern about the reported practice of torture and ill-treatment of Palestinian children arrested, prosecuted and detained by the military and the police." Israel countered that the findings are "not based on any direct investigation on the ground, only on documents gathered from secondary sources." Yigal Palmor, spokesman for the Israeli Foreign Ministry, described the report's allegations that Israel did not comply with requests for information as a "bold, scandalous lie." "The [committee] were fully informed that instructions have indeed been issued and that the use of children as human shields is totally forbidden. Yet the authors pretend there never was any such communication by Israel," Palmor said. (DAILY ALERT - Telegraph-UK)


SYRIA SPILLOVER VIOLENCE THREATENS CEASE-FIRE WITH ISRAEL. In a rare opportunity, we were invited to an Israeli air base in the north of the country. As it turned out, just as the crew arrived, a deafening siren sounded and pilots raced to their aircraft. Within a few moments, F-16 aircraft thundered down the runway. "It's the kind of thing happening more and more," one of the uniformed escorts explained. "We have for 40 years been training for this exact moment. And we are ready for anything," said a pilot identified as "Major L." "We are searching for peace, but preparing for war." "We don't know what will come the day after Assad," explained "Commander M." "It could be that weapons that are pointed internally in Syria at the moment might be pointed at us in the future and that's what we need to be ready for." For the past several days, Israeli troops, sailors and airmen have been taking part in a massive military exercise in the north. We're told it's a routine war game. But the message is clear. At the airbase, the F-16s we watched take off a few minutes earlier soon safely returned. A false alarm, this time. (DAILY ALERT - NBC News)


YOUNG OFFICER FIXES IDF SATELLITE. It was revealed on Wednesday that a young IDF officer developed a unique model that saved Israel's vital Ofek 5 satellite and put it back into operation, saving the state nearly NIS 500 million. "The satellite Ofek 5, which was in space for many years and supplied good intelligence, just started sputtering and provided pictures in rapidly deteriorating quality until they were nearly unusable," recalled Col. (res.) Shai Gilboa. Major Yanki devised a theory which determined the cause of the fault and proved it in the lab, after which the engineers on the ground changed the cameras' focus. "To our surprise, it fixed the camera” (Ynet News).


NEW IRANIAN PRESIENT TIED TO BOMBING OF ARGENTINIAN JEWIS CENTER. Iranian President-elect Hassan Rowhani was on the special Iranian government committee that plotted the 1994 bombing of the Jewish community center in Buenos Aires which killed 85 and wounded hundreds more, according to an indictment by the Argentine government prosecutor investigating the case. Former Iranian intelligence official Abolghasem Mesbahi testified that the decision to launch the attack was made within a special operations committee connected to the powerful Supreme National Security Council in August 1993. Rowhani, who was then serving as secretary of the Council, was a member of the special committee (DAILY ALERT).


ISRAELI PERSPECTIVES ON SYRIA. Recent developments confirm that nearly 40 years of quiet on the Syria border are about to end. From the Israeli side of the border on the Golan Heights you can see the fighting inside Syria with your own eyes. I still believe that there are sufficient insurgent forces not connected to jihadists or Islamists, and that weapons should be provided to them. Every day that goes by with the West continuing to be passive helps radicalize the conflict. It empowers Islamists at the expense of non-Islamists, and it highlights the asymmetry between the active role being played by Russia, Hizbullah and Iran in support of Assad, and the passive role being played by the West in countering Assad. I am not advocating military intervention by the West, but I would still support providing weapons to carefully vetted non-Islamist forces. The fact that Hizbullah is so invested in the war in Syria has some advantages for Israel. Hizbullah is almost totally focused on Syria rather than Israel, they are losing people there, and their involvement triggers a lot of criticism in the Sunni Arab street and in Lebanon itself, where they are under a lot of pressure. Sheikh Qardawi, the spiritual leader of the Sunni world, recently stated publicly that Hizbullah is worse than Jews and Christians. (DAILY ALERT - BICOM)


BEHIND IRAN’S ’MODERTATE’ NEW LEADER. So this is what democracy looks like in a theocratic dictatorship. Iran's presidential campaign season kicked off last month when an unelected body of 12 Islamic jurists disqualified more than 600 candidates. Women were automatically out; so were Iranian Christians, Jews and even Sunni Muslims. The rest were purged for possessing insufficient revolutionary zeal. Regime loyalist Hassan Rowhani, 64, a former nuclear negotiator and security apparatchik, served for 16 years as secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council. During his tenure, Rowhani led the crackdown on a 1999 student uprising and helped the regime evade Western scrutiny of its nuclear-weapons program. During the campaign, he boasted of how during his tenure as negotiator Iran didn't suspend enrichment - on the contrary, "we completed the program" (DAILY ALERT - Wall Street Journal).


JERUSALEM INCREASINGLY UPSET BY EU. Israel is expected to tell visiting EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton on Thursday that the EU's "obsessive" focus on settlements is "undermining" efforts to restart peace negotiations by giving the Palestinians the impression that no matter what they do, European diplomatic fire will always be aimed at Israel, one Israeli official said. Ashton will be told that this policy is "undermining" U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's initiative to restart the negotiations, and that the EU needs to back his efforts by making clear to the Palestinians that they do not have a blank check (Jerusalem Post).


U.S. HOUSE COMMITTEE TRIPLES MISSILE FUNDING TO ISRAEL. The U.S. House of Representatives Armed Service Committee tripled President Barack Obama's request for missile defense collaboration with Israel and sought to include the United States in Iron Dome development. The increase in the National Defense Authorization Act from $96 million to $284 million referred from the committee in a 59-2 vote June 6 to the full House includes an additional $15 million in funding for Iron Dome, the short range anti-missile program. The stipulation in that increase, in an amendment proposed by Rep. Joe Heck (R-Nev.), is that it "may be obligated or expended for enhancing the capability for producing the Iron Dome short-range rocket defense program in the United States." (JTA/Jerusalem Post)


AT AUSCHWITZ, NETANYAHU VOWS ISRAEL WILL DO EVERYTHING TO PREVENT ANOTHER HOLOCAUST. Speaking at the place symbolizing the suffering of Jews during World War II, Israel's prime minister warned on Thursday that Israel will do everything to prevent another Holocaust and to defend itself against any threat. Benjamin Netanyahu spoke during the inauguration of a new pavilion at the former Nazi death camp of Auschwitz. "From here, the place that attests to the desire to destroy us, I, the prime minister of Israel, the state of the Jewish people, say to all the nations of the world: The state of Israel will do whatever is necessary to prevent another Holocaust. We must not be complacent in the face of threats of annihilation. We must not bury our heads in the sand or allow others to do the work for us," Netanyahu said, not naming the threat but apparently meaning Iran and its nuclear program. Speaking alongside Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk on Wednesday, Netanyahu accused Iran of planning another Holocaust: "This is a regime that is building nuclear weapons with the expressed purpose to annihilate Israel's 6 million Jews. We will not allow this to happen. We will never allow another Holocaust." (DAILY ALERT - Ha'aretz)


GAS ADDS ENERGY TO ISRAELI DIPLOMACY. Israeli foreign policy, dominated by conflict with its neighbors, may be entering a new era as the country turns into a natural-gas producer. "This a new age for Israel," said David Wurmser, director of Washington-based Delphi Global Analysis Group. "While the quantities are still modest in global terms, Israel could strategically leverage marginal amounts of gas for major impact if it utilizes them correctly." "The gas could be a geopolitical game changer for Israel, if it makes the right decision," Gal Luft, senior adviser to the United States Energy Security Council in Washington, said on a visit to Israel last week. "That decision is whether it tries to become a minor player in the global liquefied natural gas market, or a big fish in a smaller pond by exporting to regional isolated markets." (DAILY ALERT - Bloomberg)


ISRAEL ACCELERATES CYBERSECURITY KNOW-HOW AS EARLY AS 10TH GRADE. • Amid a rapid rise in cyber attacks on Israel, the state is accelerating efforts to recruit and develop the cyber expertise it needs to keep pace with emerging threats in the Middle East and beyond. • With double the number of scientists and engineers per capita compared to the U.S. and 10 times more active-duty soldiers relative to its total population, Israel already has impressive human capital in scientific fields such as cybersecurity. But now it is also tapping everything from high school classrooms to venture capital firms to extract cream-of-the-crop cyber experts, hone their skills and ideas, and fund their development. • Israel's model, though tailor-made for its unique size and capabilities, offers potential lessons for other countries looking to improve their cybersecurity game. • Some American experts say Israel may be zeroed in to an even greater degree than the U.S. on developing cyber Top Guns with the ability to write and modify computer code, spot software vulnerabilities, move clandestinely inside networks, and manipulate systems, rather than just develop cybersecurity policy. • "What Israel has done is focus much more heavily on technical skills and leave the political work to the politicians," says Alan Paller of the SANS Institute, who examined Israeli cybersecurity strategy as part of the US Department of Homeland Security's Task Force on CyberSkills last summer. "Their skill level [per capita] . outdoes everyone, even China," he adds, despite China's "massive program" for developing skilled cyber experts. • Israel achieved a top-3 ranking in preparedness for cyberattacks in a 2012 report (PDF) by security technology company McAfee, along with Finland and Sweden and ahead of the U.S., China, and Russia. • The IDF sends select soldiers to universities such as Ben Gurion for specialized training, especially in the sciences. But given the urgent need for talent, the IDF launched a special program three years ago to identify exceptionally qualified high school students and begin their cybersecurity training as early as 10th grade. Currently 200 students are enrolled in the program, but graduates have so outperformed their peers in the IDF that commanders are clamoring for more (DAILY ALERT - Christian Science Monitor)


ABBAS REJECTED NETANYAHU OFFER TO FREE 50 PRE-OSLO PRISONERS FOR NEW TALKS. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last year offered to free 50 Palestinian security prisoners who have been held since before the Oslo Accords of the early 1990s, in a bid to get Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to come back to the peace table. Abbas rejected the offer. Today, a senior Palestinian official told The Times of Israel, the Palestinians might agree to renew talks with Israel if Netanyahu releases all 107 of the pre-Oslo veterans still in jail, most of whom have blood on their hands. It is understood that the Israeli security establishment has no objections on security grounds to the release of the 107 pre-Oslo veterans. The Prime Minister's Office had no comment on the matter (DAILY ALERT - Times of Israel).


SYKES-PICOT AND ISRAEL. • The political order artificially constructed in the Middle East by the 1916 Sykes-Picot Agreement is disintegrating. As the Syrian civil war rages, the borders drawn nearly a century ago are becoming blurred. • Syria is gradually splintering into three different entities: one region along the coast is loyal to the Alawite regime of President Bashar Assad; another yet-to-be-determined swath of territory might fall under the control of Sunni opposition forces; and a Kurdish enclave with ties to northern Iran and Kurdish groups in Turkey is also emerging. • Meanwhile, Iraq's territorial integrity is also in danger of being compromised. The changing balance of power might have ramifications for Jordan, where Beduin tribes rule over a Palestinian majority. • The breakdown of the old Sykes-Picot political order is also testing Israel's border with Syria along the Golan Heights. • Israel nearly opened fire on pro-Assad forces during fighting Thursday in Quneitra. Syria had moved five tanks and five armored personnel carriers into the demilitarized zone on the Golan Heights separating Syria and Israel, to remove rebel forces that had taken over the Syrian-Israel border crossing. • In response, the IDF relayed a message to the Syrian army via the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), warning that it would take action if the Syrian tanks remained in the demilitarized zone. • The battles spooked UN peacekeepers, and at least one country - Austria - has announced it will pull its soldiers out of the mission. • Still, Israel is not relying on an international contingent to protect its border, nor should it. In fact, the potential disintegration of UNDOF is proof that Israel cannot rely on international forces for its security. • And this realization has important implications, as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry continues to spearhead efforts for a negotiated peace between Israel and the Palestinians. Israel cannot, for instance, agree to replace IDF troops with an international force in the Jordan Valley (Jerusalem Post).


SYRIAN FIGHTING REACHES ISRAEL’S BORDER. On Thursday, fighting between the Syrian army and rebels took place only a few dozen meters from IDF soldiers securing the Quneitra border crossing between Israel and Syria on the Golan Heights. Dozens of mortar and tank shells were fired, with two mortars landing in Israeli territory. Dozens of Syrians arrived at the border crossing and requested entry into Israel. However, after the IDF decided the Syrian side of the Quneitra crossing was no longer dangerous, the group was sent back to Syria. The fighting on the Syrian side has led to a number of wildfires that spread to the border area between the two countries. Israeli firefighters are at the scene, while the IDF has instructed Israeli farmers to stay away from their land near the border. The IDF has bolstered its forces in the Golan and has declared the border area a closed military zone. (DAILY ALERT - Ynet News)


ISRAEL RUSHING TO COMPLETE GOLAN FENCE. Concerned that the Syrian civil war, jihadist terrorists or Lebanese Hizbullah fighters will spill into Israel, the country's military engineers are rushing to complete a new "smart fence" in the Golan Heights. Israel is replacing an old fence - so low that a goat could hop over it - with a steel barricade featuring concertina and razor wire, touch sensors, motion detectors, infrared cameras and ground radar. The 45-mile fence is to be finished in the coming months. "These obstacles work. Maybe they are ugly, maybe they are not nice, but they do what they are supposed to do," said Col. Yonathan Bransky, deputy commander of the Israel Defense Forces division that patrols the Gaza perimeter and the Sinai fence (DAILY ALERT - Washington Post).


MANIPULATING INTERNATIONAL LAW AS PART OF ANTI-ISRAELI ’LAWFARE’. - Israel's record of compliance with international law is remarkably strong. In a long series of decisions, the Israeli High Court has ordered the Israeli government, army, and security services to change policies that, in the court's view, were in violation of customary international law. The court has even intervened in actual combat situations. • Perhaps because Israel's detractors are aware of this reality, they have undertaken a process of manipulating international law in a way that invents rules that are applied only to Israel and not to other states or in other situations. • Israel's detractors invented a new international legal concept called "illegal occupation." In an armed conflict, international law clearly permits military occupation. The UN Security Council has never declared Israeli occupation to be illegal. U.S. occupation of Iraq after the Second Gulf War was universally considered a legal act. • It is often presented manipulatively as a legal axiom that the Green Line already has the status of a legally binding border. By signing a peace agreement, Israel and Jordan have now mutually acknowledged the termination of the Armistice Agreement and its demarcation line. The validity of an armistice line expires with the expiration of the armistice. Therefore, formally, there is no longer any legal validity to the Green Line. • By any accepted legal standard, Gaza is not under Israeli occupation. International law requires that, for an area to be considered as under occupation, the territory must be "actually placed under the authority of the hostile army." Again, there appears to be a unique definition of "occupation" applicable only to Israel. The essence of any legal system is that law applies equally to all. Devising tailor-made rules of international law for application only where Israel is concerned undermines international law and can have an insidious and corrosive effect on the rule of law in general. The writer is professor of international law at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and former legal adviser to the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)


ISRAEL OPPOSES INTERNATIONAL FORCES AS PART OF PEACE DEAL. International Relations Minister Yuval Steinitz made clear Tuesday that Jerusalem would oppose any attempt to introduce international forces into any peace deal. "Some people are speaking about international forces, maybe [in] the Jordan Valley or the hills and border areas, that will take care of Israel's future security," he said at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, adding that he would "vehemently" oppose any deployment of international forces instead of the IDF. "The Palestinians should be able to control their lives, and we should be able to control our security in our own hands. For us, security means survivability, and we have had very negative experiences with international forces so far." He pointed to two examples in the last decade in which international forces failed to provide Israel with security as promised. The massive UNIFIL force that entered southern Lebanon following the Second Lebanon War in 2006 was unable to prevent tens of thousands of missiles from reaching Hizbullah. In Gaza, where the Palestinian Authority, Egypt and the EU all had security personnel in place following Israel's 2005 disengagement, they failed to prevent Hamas' takeover of the territory and the introduction of thousands of missiles there. These two negative experiences with international forces "cannot repeat in the West Bank." The only demilitarization Israel could trust would be "supervised and enforced by Israeli forces." He called for "a total demilitarization of the Palestinian state, and our [Israel's] capacity to preserve, control and secure this demilitarization, come what may" (Jerusalem Post).


ISRAEL: PALESTINIANS LOOKING FOR EXCUSES TO AVOID PEACE TALKS. "We consider the recent decision of the Israeli government to build a thousand homes in east Jerusalem as effectively destroying the efforts of Kerry," top Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat charged on Thursday. But Israel said the construction plans were not new and accused the Palestinians of seeking a pretext to avoid a resumption of direct talks. Ofir Gendelman, a spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said, "The Palestinians recycle old claims which are based on false information. They run to the media to avoid discussing outstanding issues." He called for them to "resume peace talks immediately." (DAILY ALERT - AFP)


POLITICAL REALITY TV IN RAMALLAH. The political changes sweeping the Middle East are giving birth to a new genre: political reality TV. Palestinians haven't had presidential elections since 2005, due to the conflict between Hamas and Fatah. But now broadcasters are offering wannabe politicians a viable path to a political career - on air, at least, with a program called "al-Rais" ("The President"). The contestants, all under 35, are grilled by a panel of judges and challenged to complete tasks meant to shed light on their ability to handle high office. Last week, for example, the contestants had to officially greet a visiting president during a mock state visit, and were judged on their knowledge of protocol and etiquette. Suddenly, there was a staged assassination attempt. While gunshots rang out, the key to completing the challenge was to display steady nerves. Raed Othman, director of the independent Ma'an network which broadcasts the program in the West Bank, explains, "We haven't had elections for 8 years." Now, viewers can vote every week in front of their TV sets until a winner is chosen at the end of June. The victor will win a car, and be named as a youth ambassador for Palestine. Othman says interest in "al-Rais" is off the charts. "Thousands have applied already," he boasts. (DAILY ALERT - Foreign Policy)


ISRAEL TRACKS EVERY MISSILE FIRED IN THE SYRIAN CIVIL WAR. Israel tracks every heavy missile fired in the Syrian civil war, keen to study Damascus' combat doctrines and deployments and ready to fend off an attack on its turf, Col. Zvika Haimovich of Israel's air defense corps said Thursday. "Syria's [missile] batteries are in a high state of operability, ready to fire at short notice. All it would take is a few degrees' change in the flight path to endanger us," he said. Syrian opposition activists say Assad's army has fired dozens of Scud-type missiles at rebel-held areas in the last six months (Daily Alert - Reuters).


ISRAEL: PALESTINIANS LOOKING FOR EXCUSES TO AVOID PEACE TALKS. "We consider the recent decision of the Israeli government to build a thousand homes in east Jerusalem as effectively destroying the efforts of Kerry," top Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat charged on Thursday. But Israel said the construction plans were not new and accused the Palestinians of seeking a pretext to avoid a resumption of direct talks. Ofir Gendelman, a spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said, "The Palestinians recycle old claims which are based on false information. They run to the media to avoid discussing outstanding issues." He called for them to "resume peace talks immediately." (DAILY ALERT - AFP)


WORLD’S OLDEST TORAH FOUND AT WORLD’S OLDEST UNIVERSITY. The world's oldest Torah, the holy book of the Jewish faith, has been discovered in the archives of Bologna University, which was founded in 1088. The scroll, written in Hebrew, is 118 ft. long and 25 inches wide and consists of the first five books of the Jewish Bible. It had been wrongly dated to the 17th century by a librarian who studied it in 1889, but it now transpires that it is more than 800 years old. Leading experts "all agreed that it dated to the 12th or 13th centuries. One scholar believed it could even date back to the 11th century," said Mauro Perani, the university's professor of Hebrew who made the discovery. Carbon dating tests dated the text to between 1155 and 1225 (DAILY ALERT - Telegraph-UK)


LIVNI: ABBAS NOT IDEAL PEACE PARTNER. Tzipi Livni, Israel's chief peace negotiator, has expressed doubts over the ability of Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian leader, to deliver an agreement. Addressing foreign diplomats and journalists, Livni - who also serves as justice minister in Benjamin Netanyahu's cabinet - likened any agreement with Abbas to a signed check on an empty bank account because he does not control Gaza, which is run by the Islamist Hamas movement. She also acknowledged doubts over Abbas' legitimacy in the West Bank - which his Fatah movement controls - because he has not held elections for several years. "A legitimate question is with whom we are going to sign an agreement," Livni said in Jerusalem. "The Gaza Strip is being controlled by Hamas. They are not part of the peace. They are not willing...to accept Israel's right to exist, to renounce terrorism and to accept all the agreements between Israel and the Palestinians. And on the other side, we have Abu Mazen [Abbas], for many years without elections on the Palestinian side, without any possibility to change anything in Gaza, even if he wants to. So what's the use of signing an agreement?" The only solution was a "dual strategy" of reaching an agreement combined with an international effort to isolate and delegitimize Hamas, Livni said. (DAILY ALERT - Telegraph-UK)


A NEW ROAD MAP TO MIDDLE EAST PEACE? Secretary of State John Kerry has made a restart of the peace process a personal priority. It appears that he's seeking agreement on basic parameters - the borders for a Palestinian state and an understanding about Israel's security requirements - that would allow negotiations to begin in earnest. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wants a clear U.S. commitment that any Palestinian state will be demilitarized and won't become a base for launching attacks on Israel. Diplomatic observers say Kerry is surprisingly close to getting the parties back to the table. (DAILY ALERT - Washington Post)


ISRAEL KEY TO GERMAN DECISION FOR HIZBULLAH TERROR LABEL. Israeli diplomats traveled recently to Berlin and presented court documents showing Hizbullah's role in terrorism within the European Union. The meticulous documentation collected by Israeli officials played a critical role in changing attitudes among German foreign ministry officials who were reluctant to include Hizbullah in the EU's terror list. Die Welt reported that the Israeli file contained three decades of German court verdicts covering Hizbullah. "The Israelis took over the role of doing the homework for the federal government," wrote the paper's foreign-policy editor. The Israelis presented a wide range of illicit and terrorist Hizbullah activity in Germany, including recent administrative court rulings expelling Hizbullah members from Germany. (Jerusalem Post)


CONVINCING KERRY THAT ISRAEL IS NOT THE OBSTACLE TO PEACE. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Jerusalem on Thursday to jumpstart Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, but anyone watching knows that not a soul is interested. The Middle East is boiling over in Syria and Lebanon. Really, who's going to invest the time to negotiate with PA President Mahmoud Abbas? The Middle East is having a heart attack, and Kerry has come to treat a bruised shoulder. Up until the latest round of violence, the widely accepted mantra stated that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was the main cause of the region's problems. Given the current circumstances, though, no one would rush to back that claim. On the one hand, there's no choice but to administer first aid to the negotiations. On the other hand, the world should treat Prime Minister Netanyahu as it did former Prime Minister Olmert: the international community did not demand that Olmert stop construction in settlements (Israel Hayom).


BRITAIN, GERMANY AND FRANCE SEEK TO PUT HIZBULLAH MILITARY WING ON TERROR LIST. Britain, Germany and France have thrown their weight behind a push for the EU to designate Hizbullah's "military wing" as a terrorist organization. Still, many experts question the strategy of simply taking aim at Hizbullah's military wing, arguing that it is impossible to separate the political organization from the group's large armed militia. Moreover, if only the so-called military wing is blacklisted, the group might still be able to raise money in Europe under the banner of politics. An Israeli official noted that "Hizbullah itself does not make any distinction between the political wing and the military wing, so why should anybody else?...The whole organization is centered around terror - it's one big military wing." (New York Times)


ISRAEL’S INTERESTS IN SYRIA. Syria under Assad has been the most stable ally of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the Middle East. Iran is the greatest strategic challenge to Israel's national security, particularly because of its quest for nuclear weapons. Iran is Israel's arch-enemy and therefore weakening it should be Israel's first priority in its foreign policy. The fall of Assad would be a great blow to Iran's ambitions for Mideast dominance. It is in Israel's interests that Iranian influence in the region be rolled back. Ascribing moderation to the Assad family because it has kept the Golan Heights border quiet is somewhat misleading. During all those years, Syria did not hesitate to bleed Israel via its proxies in Lebanon, Hizbullah and radical Palestinian groups. Moreover, the "moderate" Assad tried to develop a nuclear option with the aid of North Korea and Iran. The most significant result of the Arab upheavals in recent years is the weakening of the Arab state, which has increased the power differential between Israel and its neighbors. Jerusalem cannot choose its neighbors and their regimes; it can only minimize their abilities to harm Israel. Therefore, Israel's interests are very clear: stay out of the domestic struggles in Syria, and destroy any enemy military capabilities there that have a significant potential for harming Israelis. The writer, a professor of political studies at Bar-Ilan University, is director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies. (BESA Center for Strategic Studies-Bar-Ilan University)


ASSAD REGIME CLAIMS RESPONSIBILITY FOR FIRING AT ISRAEL. The Syrian government took responsibility for firing at Israeli forces on Tuesday. At approximately 1 a.m., Syrian forces fired at IDF troops patrolling near Tel Fares in the central Golan Heights. No one was wounded, but an army jeep was damaged. Syrian state TV reported Tuesday that the Syrian army destroyed an armored IDF vehicle. Senior IDF officials said the claim was fabricated. Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said, "We do not and will not allow any Syrian fire to enter our territory. Last night a Syrian army target was destroyed as a result of such fire." (DAILY ALERT - Ha'aretz)


WHEN PEACE TREATIES CLASH WITH POPULAR SENTIMENT IN ISRAEL’S ARAB NEIGBORS. The newly elected lower house of the Jordanian parliament last week asked the government to expel Israeli Ambassador Daniel Nevo, and to recall Jordan's ambassador to Israel, Walid Obeidat. Neither of those things is going to happen, but the political dynamics of the process are intriguing. The lower house that was elected last November, in a vote boycotted by the Muslim Brotherhood's party, was thought to be dominated by pro-government tribal interests, and thus would be little more than a rubber stamp body. The old formula of Arab governments issuing statements condemning Israeli actions, writing to the UN, or asking the Arab League sub-committee on agricultural exports to meet in emergency session is unlikely to suffice in emerging new conditions where Arab citizens expect their views to shape government policies (ISRAEL ALERT - Daily Star-Lebanon)


LIVINI: ISRAEL CAN’T REACH PEACE WITH HAMAS. There is no chance that Israel could reach a peace agreement with Hamas, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni told Army Radio Saturday evening. Livni was referring to remarks by Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan on Friday that Fatah-Hamas reconciliation is imperative to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. She said, "Hamas represents an Islamic ideology that does not recognize Israel's existence. Hamas prefers to isolate itself rather than to say that Israel has the right to exist or to renounce violence." (Jerusalem Post)


NO SOLUTION IN BOYCOTTING ISRAEL. Prof. Stephen Hawking's stand is dangerous because it violates the cardinal virtues of scientific discourse that emerged with the Enlightenment: that the rational pursuit of knowledge, unencumbered by political or religious prejudice, betters all mankind in the end. That the free pursuit of truth is more likely to undermine ignorance and oppression than strengthen it. And that ending national and religious enmities is better achieved by academics meeting and co-operating, than by keeping them apart. Israel was not founded by religious "colonizers" but by left-wing socialists. Certainly, many Jews came to Israel from abroad, fleeing the pogroms of Europe. But they also came fleeing pogroms in North Africa, Iraq and Iran. If anyone is naive in this debate, it is those who think the abolition of Israel will result in a secular, democratic Palestine with free universities teaching the theory of evolution to women students. The Church of Scotland has blundered into the Israel-Palestine issue with great big muddy boots. A report destined for this month's General Assembly says that the Bible does not promise the Jewish people a home in the Holy Land; that the Old Testament promise "I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession" was actually "metaphorical." (DAILY ALERT - Scotsman-UK)


PALESTINIANS CURB ISRAELI REPORTERS’ ACCESS TO WEST BANK. Palestinians gathered in Ramallah in the West Bank on Wednesday to commemorate the day they call al-Naqba, or the catastrophe, when the State of Israel was born in 1948. The day unfolded according to the script. At the checkpoints, Palestinian teenagers threw rocks at Israeli soldiers, who answered with tear gas. Except that today there are fewer journalists from Israel covering these events. Palestinian journalists are waging a campaign to make it harder for Israeli reporters to cover stories in the West Bank. Now, members of the shrinking Israeli press corps that regularly covers Palestinian affairs face being ejected from news conferences and questioned by Palestinian security forces. Palestinian journalists who are friendly with their Israeli colleagues are labeled "collaborators." (DAILY ALERT - Washington Post)


1,500-YEAR-OLD MOSAIC DISCOVERED IN SOUTHERN ISRAEL. A magnificent 1,500-year-old mosaic floor has been uncovered by archeologists near Kibbutz Beit Kama in southern Israel in a Byzantine-era village unearthed prior to construction of a highway, the Israel Antiquities Authority announced Sunday. The village, which thrived from the 4th through 6th centuries CE, was discovered under the fields of the kibbutz. The colorful mosaic includes geometric motifs and features wine containers in the corners, as well as a pair of peacocks and a pair of doves pecking at grapes on grapevines (DAILY ALERT - Ha'aretz)


ISRAELI HEART SURGEONS SAVE SYRIAN GIRL. A four-year-old girl from Syria underwent successful lifesaving heart surgery at Wolfson Medical Center in Holon on Monday as part of its voluntary Save a Child's Heart (SACH) program. SACH, founded by the late pediatric heart surgeon Dr. Amiram Cohen, has treated more than 3,000 children from 44 developing nations at no charge (Jerusalem Post).


ISRAELI TRAUMA EXPERTS TRAIN BOSTON LOCALS TO DEAL WITH TERROR ATTACKS. Talia Levanon, director of the Israel Trauma Coalition, and a team from Israel spent last week in the Boston area sharing their expertise in training sessions about recovery, resilience and crisis planning with educators, first-responders, parents, community leaders, and health professionals. "We bring with us methods developed in Israel of a community approach, as opposed to only an individual approach, as we view this as something that impacted an entire community, and in doing so hopefully help the individual cope better as well." They have taken their knowledge abroad in the past, including to Japan after the 2011 tsunami and to hospitals in India. (DAILY ALERT - Ha'aretz)


EGYPT’S MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD RALLIES AGAINST ISRAEL. Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood staged an anti-Israel rally in Cairo on Friday, the first such protest since the 2011 uprising. Emerging from weekly services at Al-Azhar mosque - the centuries-old seat of Sunni Muslim learning - demonstrators chanted, "the people want the destruction of Israel," in protest of recent Israeli airstrikes in Syria and the detention of a Palestinian Muslim cleric. At one point, leading Brotherhood member Mohammed el-Beltagy took the microphone and shouted: "we will repeat it over and over, Israel is our enemy." One organizer whipped up the crowd in a chant urging the army to launch a war against Israel to "liberate Palestine...from the sons of monkeys and pigs." (DAILY ALERT - AP)


WHY DIDN’T THE 1967 BORDERS BRING PEACE? As Israelis celebrate the 46th anniversary of the re-unification of Jerusalem, their capital city, that was made possible by the Six-Day War of 1967, it's appropriate to ask why peace did not reign in the Middle East prior to the war, since there is an assumption that merely recreating the situation that existed before that war will bring about peace. It is necessary to remind those who harp on "1967" as the only possible solution that when there was not a single Jew living in the West Bank or east Jerusalem, there was no peace. Indeed, prior to that war, when the area now dubbed the "occupied territories" was in the possession of Jordan and Egypt, the focus of the Arab and Muslim world was not on the creation of a Palestinian state but on ending Jewish sovereignty over the territory of pre-1967 Israel. Those parts of Jerusalem that were illegally occupied by the Jordanians did not constitute a Palestinian capital. Nor was Egyptian-occupied Gaza considered part of a Palestinian state. Until there is a sea change in Arab opinion about Israel, and Palestinians come to terms with the permanence of the Jewish return to the land, arguing that just forcing Israel to give up the territory it won in a war of self-defense will solve the conflict is not only illogical; it's a demand for national suicide. The Palestinians and most of their supporters have never come to terms with the legitimacy of a Jewish state no matter where its borders were drawn. (DAILY ALERT - Commentary)


LEADING ISLAMIC CLERIC REJECTS ISRAEL’S EXISTENCE. Prominent Islamic scholar Yusuf al-Qaradawi declared Thursday in Gaza that Israel has no right to exist and voiced his support for rocket fire on Israel. "This land has never once been a Jewish land. Palestine is for the Arab Islamic nation," said Qaradawi, a Qatar-based cleric famous for his popular TV show and widely respected in the Muslim world. Qaradawi arrived in Gaza on Wednesday to an enthusiastic welcome by Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh and his ministers (DAILY ALERT).


THE ARAB SPRING BROUGHT VARIETIES OF ANARCHY. The Arab Spring has indeed been consequential in awakening populations from passivity. But this merely precludes dictatorial rule, even while these countries' fundamental conditions continue to preclude democracy. Only varieties of anarchy remain. Tunisia would seem to have the preconditions for democratic governance. Yet it is now ruled by an ineffectual Islamist party that is plainly incapable of restarting the economy and cannot or will not protect secular institutions from Salafi attacks. Libya is a tapestry of heterogeneity that devolves into a multitude of rival tribes, some of which are locked in blood feuds. In Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood won the elections, while a Salafi movement that seeks to import Saudi extremism grabbed some 20% of the vote. The writer is a senior associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. (DAILY ALERT - Foreign Policy)


JERUSALEM MAYOR SEES ONE JERUSALEM, UNDEVIDED, OPEN TO ALL, CONTROLLED BY ISRAEL. In an interview, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said: "When Jews came to the Land of Israel, each tribe had a piece of the territory, except Jerusalem. It was not divided among the tribes. For a thousand years, it was managed as a city that all people came to, and they felt, 'Wow, the city belongs to me as much as it belongs to the other tribes.' And Jews and non-Jews alike that used to come to Jerusalem felt respect...for people different from them." "Not one city in the world that was ever divided stayed functional....The vast majority of the Arab residents in Jerusalem do not want the city divided." (DAILY ALERT - Times of Israel)


THE TRUTH BEHIND WEST BANK CHECKPOINTS. Security checkpoints are used to prevent terror attacks before would-be Palestinian attackers have a chance to enter Israel. The number of checkpoints in the West Bank was reduced from 40 in July 2008 to just 12 in October 2012. Furthermore, these checkpoints are only used some of the time and the frequency of checks is dependent on the security threat at the time. The main roads linking Palestinian cities are freely accessible and free of security controls. A Palestinian civilian can travel from Jenin in the northern West Bank to Bethlehem, south of Jerusalem, without encountering a single military checkpoint. The checkpoints have proven to be effective barriers against weapons smuggling. In 2012, there were 475 attempts to smuggle weapons into Israel and 1,147 attempts to enter Israel with forged ID cards. In addition, dozens of people were arrested in possession of explosives. Thus, the ongoing presence of these checkpoints remains necessary. (DAILY ALERT - Israel Defense Forces)


AN IMPROVED ARAB PEACE INITIATIVE? The Arab Peace Initiative, which was adopted at the Beirut summit in 2002, returned to the diplomatic discourse after an April 29 visit to Washington by an Arab League delegation. The Palestinian Authority confirms that there is nothing new in the formula of minor land swaps. Hamas, for its part, stresses that the entire territory of Palestine belongs to the Palestinian people. Thus, the assessment of a change in the Arab League's position was premature. The Qatari prime minister's declaration was basically tactical, aimed at putting the ball back in Israel's court, pushing Israel into a corner. Moreover, the U.S. was looking for a peg, however artificial, on which to hang diplomatic activity that gives an impression of advancing the peace process. The writer is a former advisor to the Policy Planning Division of the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)


ISRAELI CHECKPOINTS DON’T STOP ELECTIONS. It is claimed that it is impossible for the Palestinians to hold new elections in the future so long as Israel maintains checkpoints in the West Bank. Yet the Palestinians know that were it not for the continued power struggle between Hamas and Fatah, they would have had free elections several years ago. The Palestinians also know that Israeli checkpoints have nothing to do with restricting freedom of expression and voting. They are fully aware that the checkpoints are there to stop terror attacks and not democracy or reforms. In January 2006, despite Israeli security measures and checkpoints, Palestinians had free and democratic elections for the presidency and parliament, with Hamas winning the parliamentary election. Since then, Palestinians have held different elections for various bodies in the West Bank, including municipalities, university campuses and professional unions. There have never been any complaints from Palestinians about Israeli attempts to obstruct or prevent these elections. (DAILY ALERT - Gatestone Institute)


MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD-HAMAS REVELATIONS. New revelations throw a startling light on how the Muslim Brotherhood worked hand-in-hand with Hamas during the mass demonstrations that brought about the fall of Hosni Mubarak's regime. According to Al-Masry Al-Youm, quoting a high-ranking security source, Egyptian homeland security head Khaled Tharwet gave Khairat el-Shater - no. 2 in the Brotherhood's supreme guidance office - transcripts of five phone calls between Brotherhood members and Hamas leaders intercepted during January 2011. The Brotherhood wanted Hamas to put added pressure on security forces by contributing to the general turmoil. Another goal was to secure the release of extremists imprisoned in Wadi Natrun prison - most notably Mohamed Morsi, who was to become Egypt's president a year later. From the transcripts, it appears that the Brotherhood knew in advance about the protests which erupted on Jan. 25 - and participated in the planning. In a call on Feb. 2, when the mass protests are reaching a paroxysm, an agitated Brotherhood member asks a Hamas official, "Where are you, I don't see any of your people." The official replies, "Don't worry, we are behind the museum [the Egyptian Museum on Tahrir Square] with our slingshots at the ready." On Feb. 11, after the resignation of Mubarak, a senior Brotherhood member tells the Hamas official, "You have helped us and we owe you." These conversations put a whole new slant on the revolution narrative. Far from having waited a number of days before joining the protests, the Brotherhood participated from the very beginning. Hamas terrorists, too, were right there in Tahrir Square, agitating and taking part in attacks on public institutions. Egyptians are increasingly uneasy about the links between the Brotherhood and Hamas. The latest revelations add fuel to the fire. The writer, a fellow of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, is a former ambassador to Romania, Egypt and Sweden (Jerusalem Post).


HAMAS MILITARY WING SECURING BORDERS WITH ISRAEL. Fighters from the Al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, have replaced policemen on the borders of Gaza in an effort to prevent the firing of rockets at Israel. A number of Salafist groups hostile to Hamas recently fired several rockets at Israel. According to a Palestinian source, Israel sent messages through Egyptian mediators to Hamas emphasizing the need to stop the firing of rockets, saying anything short of this would result in a large-scale attack on Gaza. The Al-Qassam Brigades have set up roadblocks and have begun searching cars and travelers in areas near the border. The brigade was also deployed in areas far from the border that were used in the past to fire rockets at Israel. The Hamas government has also been carrying out a campaign of arrests among Salafist jihadists. (DAILY ALERT - Asharq Al-Awsat-UK)


BRITISH TV FINDS BOOM, NOT BOMBS, IN GAZA. Seyi Rhodes of Channel Four, who traveled to Gaza in February to film a documentary about Gaza which aired Friday, has said the local population would not recognize the portrayal of the area in much of the UK media. "Before I started researching, I thought the region was destitute - people living literally hand-to-mouth on aid." In fact, he found "a growing wealth gap," with new apartments being sold for up to $3 million to wealthy Palestinians with money from abroad or from jobs with the Hamas government. Rhodes said the experience confounded his expectations. "Most of these people live their lives with the same concerns as you and me...getting on the housing ladder, educating your children. People didn't even talk about Israel unless I brought it up." (DAILY ALERT - Jewish Chronicle-UK)


ISRAEL WARY QUIET ON SYRIAN FRONT ABOUT TO END. The Israeli military is preparing for the worst - a power vacuum in Syria in which rogue groups could get their hands on the country's large stockpile of chemical weapons. In many ways, a new era has already begun. The Syrian villages along the border change hands between the military and the rebels in daily battles. Their mortar shells and bullets frequently land on the Israeli side, in some cases narrowly missing soldiers and civilians. Israeli officials say the military's present deployment on the Golan Heights is its most robust since 1973, with a new border fence, 6 meters (20 feet) tall, topped with barbed wire and bristling with sophisticated anti-infiltration devices. "Syria is not a regular place...it is the biggest warehouse for weapons on earth," warned Gal Hirsch, a reserve Israeli brigadier general who is involved in the military's strategic planning and operations. "The fighting in Syria gives [Hizbullah] an opportunity to open a new front against Israel," said Hirsch. "We must be ready for turbulence. We must be ready for Iranian involvement inside Syria. We must be ready to be able to fight against radical fundamentalist activities that will come from Syria, and that is what we are doing." (DAILY ALERT - AP)


MILITANT GROUP SOUGHT TO MAKE SINAI AN ’ISLAMIC EMIRATE’. Egyptian military prosecutors are questioning 11 men arrested last week after attempting to bomb a military installation in the northern Sinai city of Rafah. Members of the group - which includes six Egyptians, three Palestinians and two Lebanese - were found in possession of automatic weapons, remote-control explosive devices, satellite telephones, and maps of Sinai showing military zones. During questioning, members of the "New Jihadist" cell said they were not affiliated with any foreign organization. They said the group was formed with the aim of driving the Egyptian military and UN peacekeeping forces out of Sinai and declaring the territory an "Islamic emirate." (DAILY ALERT - Al-Ahram-Egypt)


• HAMAS LOSING POPULARITY AMONG EGYPTIANS. According to Moussa Abu Marzouq, deputy-director of Hamas' political bureau, Omar Suleiman, the former director of the Egyptian General Intelligence service, was a "patriot who assisted and aided the Palestinian resistance." Since last year's election of Muslim Brotherhood President Mohamed Morsi, relations between Egypt and Hamas can be described as a "strategic embrace," with both groups sharing similar origins. Yet those who follow Egyptian public opinion can easily detect a harshly negative tone towards the Palestinian factions, especially Hamas. According to some opinion polls, many Egyptians believe Hamas has become a burden on Egypt. A long list of accusations has been made against Hamas, including the security threat represented by the underground tunnels between Gaza and Egypt. Maj.-Gen. Alaa Ezzeddin, former director of the Egyptian Armed Forces Strategic Studies Department, said, "There is the problem of the tunnels, which is now being dealt with....We do not want to work against the Palestinian cause, but we must bring matters under control, which is what we are doing now." (DAILY ALERT - Al Ahram-Egypt)


ISRAEL TO THE UN: THE PREREQUISITES FOR PEACE. Amb. Ron Prosor (Mission of Israel to the UN). Israeli UN Ambassador Ron Prosor told the UN Security Council on Wednesday: • Peace must be built on a foundation of education for tolerance and coexistence. Under the Palestinian Authority, students learn history from textbooks that glorify terrorists. They learn geography from atlases that erase Israel from the map. Gaza kindergarten graduations feature "terrorist dress-up." Five-year-olds stage plays that glorify jihadists and suicide bombers. • Month after month this Council meets to discuss what is wrong in the Middle East. Where are the concerned voices in this debate for all the hate being taught to Palestinian children? Where are the cries denouncing the incitement that poisons the wells of peace? • Peace must be built on a clear recognition that Israel is the nation state of the Jewish people. Since King David laid the cornerstone for his palace in Jerusalem three thousand years ago, Jews have lived continuously in the Land of Israel. • Israel is committed to two states for two peoples. In 1947, we readily accepted the UN's plan to create two states in the region, an Arab state and a Jewish state. Sixty-five years later, you still never hear Palestinian leaders speak about two states for two peoples. • These days the cities and communities of southern Israel remain under fire from terrorists in Gaza. This is despite the fact that there has not been a single Israeli settlement in Gaza since 2005. Israeli citizens want real assurances for their security. The situation in Gaza provides us with a valuable lesson concerning any future arrangement in the West Bank.


ANARCHY IN SINAI AND NO SOLUTION IN SIGHT. While Israeli radars tracked the Grad missiles launched from Sinai at Eilat, their interception by the Iron Dome anti-missile system likely would have taken place in Egyptian airspace and, at this stage, Israel is unwilling to violate its neighbor's sovereignty. There is another conflict brewing in Sinai between the Bedouin and the Muslim Brotherhood. The former supreme guide of the Brotherhood, Muhammad Mehdi Akef, told the Kuwait daily Al Jarida last week that all Bedouin are collaborators: One third collaborate with state security services, another third with army intelligence, and the final third spies for Israel. Hundreds of angry Bedouin demonstrated in front of Brotherhood headquarters in Sinai, threatening to turn it to rubble unless Akef apologized. It can hardly be expected that Bedouin will help the central government fight terror, considering so many of them earn their livelihoods by smuggling drugs, people or arms on behalf of those terror groups. The writer is a former ambassador to Egypt (Jerusalem Post).


DOUBTS FAIL TO DENT CONFIDENCE IN ISRAEL’S IRON DOME. The U.S. is preparing to increase its investment in Iron Dome, the missile defense system said by Israel to have shot down nearly 90% of the rockets fired at it from Gaza last November - the clearest possible indication that the U.S. government has not been troubled by recent attempts to cast doubt on how well the system works. • Uzi Rubin, a rocket scientist and former head of the national missile defense program, said, "You can't fool all the people all the time....This is not the first time that Iron Dome is working, it's the sixth time out. And every time it's working, losses go down, damage goes down and it's obvious for everyone to see....It's working and people feel safe and rightly so." • Defense writer Amos Harel, no tame mouthpiece for Israel's military establishment, is inclined to side with the government against its critics. "I think these people [the critics] are mostly against the idea of interceptive rocket systems and they're trying to find an argument after it's already been proved that the system is working," he says. • "It reminds me of those people who argue NASA never landed on the moon and faked the whole thing at Universal Studios" (BBC News).


IDF: DON’T LET THE QUIET FOOL YOU. "Don't let the quiet fool you," Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz warned on the eve of Memorial Day last week. Two days later, members of the General Staff noted that, on the one hand, things are extraordinarily quiet as compared with the past 13 years, and the number of Israelis killed in terrorist activity is, relatively, very low. On the other hand, the instability along Israel's borders makes it difficult for intelligence analysts to predict where or when the next conflict might arise. Palestinian Prisoners Day, which was marked on the day after Israel's Independence Day, went by without any serious violence and with limited participation in rallies and demonstrations, in striking contrast to the numerous confrontations in the West Bank two weeks ago. There was a reason for the quiet: Just as the Palestinian Authority leadership encouraged demonstrations earlier in the month, this time it held them back. Detailed directives to this effect were transmitted to the security units and were strictly enforced at the grass-roots level. (Ha'aretz)


ISRAEL-TURKEY RECONCILIATION STILL REMOTE. The apology made by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu will not put an end to tensions with the Turkish government or avert future conflicts. Even if all the Turkish preconditions regarding compensation and the Gaza blockade are met, the problems will not end and tension will increase. Given the unpredictability of Turkish-Israeli relations, it may not be wise for Israeli companies, or even others wishing to sell Israeli natural gas, to use Turkey as a transit route to Europe - and become totally dependent on its government. Until 2009, Israeli pilots trained over the remote eastern and hilly terrain of Turkey. Since the deterioration in bilateral relations, however, Israel has moved such pilot training primarily to Greece. Stronger relations between Israel, Greece and Cyprus will not be viewed positively in Ankara. The writer, a former Israeli ambassador to Jordan and the EU, is a senior researcher at the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University. (National Interest)


BEHIND THE ROCKET ATTACKS FROM SINAI. This week rockets were fired from Sinai at Eilat. Terror groups in Gaza prefer to have the Salafist groups launch rockets from Sinai and not directly from Gaza to prevent criticism from Egypt. Egypt is pressuring Hamas to fully abide by the understandings reached with Israel - under Egypt's mediation - following the fighting in November. Hamas complies, since it is highly dependent on Egypt. However, rebellious organizations, mainly Salafist, still fire rockets at Israel. These attacks are followed by Hamas arrests of members of these organizations. This is the reason Salafist and Jihadist leaders in Gaza are increasing their pressure on their members in Sinai to launch attacks on Israel. Egypt's army and security forces are trying to fight the armed terror groups in Sinai, as well as curtail the smuggling of arms to Gaza. So far they have not been very successful. Egypt has managed to more or less maintain the rule of law in the area of Sinai's east coast, where the Bedouin Tarabin tribe wants to make sure that tourism is not hurt, but in central Sinai, Egyptian forces are all but helpless. The rocket attack on Eilat this week apparently emanated from central Sinai. Israel and Egypt may have to reach a secret agreement in order to stop the terror emanating from Sinai. (Ynet News)


ISRAELI ARMY CHIEF: ISRAEL CAPABLE OF ATTACKING IRAN ON ITS OWN. Israel's chief of staff, Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz, said Tuesday that the country's military was capable of attacking Iran on its own without foreign support. Asked in an interview if the military could wage attacks on Iran "alone" - without the support of countries such as the U.S. - Gantz replied: "Yes, absolutely." "We have our plans and forecasts.... If the time comes we'll decide" whether to take military action. In a separate interview on Tuesday, Gantz said the possibility of an Israeli strike on Iran was not imminent, and that sanctions imposed by the international community should be given priority to halt Tehran's nuclear drive. "Iran has the means to obtain nuclear capability before the end of the year, but this does not mean it'll get there." "Sanctions, isolation and continued pressure" on Tehran must intensify. (DAILY ALERT - AFP)


THE SYRIAN OPPOSITION AND ISRAEL. Israel and the Syrian opposition share some important mutual enemies, namely Hizbullah and Iran. This convergence of interests provides an opening for America to quietly strike a deal between Israel and the leadership of the Syrian opposition to keep extremist groups like Hizbullah and Jabhat al-Nusra and other affiliates of al-Qaeda far away from the Israeli frontier. Over the past 18 months, my colleagues and I have traveled extensively in the region and conducted interviews with hundreds of armed and unarmed Syrian opposition leaders and activists. Three surveys we conducted for the firm Pechter Polls revealed intense animosity toward both Iran and Hizbullah. The writer is a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. (DAILY ALERT - New York Times)


PA PRIME MINISTER FAYYAD’S RESIGNATION IS BAD NEWS FOR PALESTINIANS AND ISRAEL. The resignation of PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad lays bare the collapse of the hope that Palestinian nationalism would be refocused on development and coexistence rather than violence. It dooms the Palestinians to a choice between the incompetent cadres of Fatah or the bloody Islamist tyranny of Hamas. Without Fayyad (or someone like him), there is no pretense of a state living in peace with Israel, rather than a kleptocracy run by terrorists. It is also a guarantee that the terms of any peace deal signed with the Palestinians will not be observed. Fayyad's tragedy was not just that both Fatah and Hamas wanted to be rid of him, but that he had virtually no support among ordinary Palestinians. (New York Post)


PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY BUDGETS NEARLY $1 BILLION FOR DEFENSE. The Palestinian Authority's new budget for 2013 allocates almost $1b., about 28% of the total, for defense, compared to 16% for education and 10% for medical services. This includes paying the salaries of 95% of "defense employees" in Hamas-ruled Gaza. Almost $60 million, or 4% of the Palestinian budget, is spent on payments to the families of Palestinian Arab terrorists incarcerated in Israeli prisons. The most murderous long-term terrorists pass on a salary to their relatives which is higher than what their prison guards are making. The writer is director of Shurat HaDin-Israel Law Center, which represents terror victims in lawsuits against terror groups, their leaders and state backers. (Jerusalem Post)


BLESSED ARE THE PEACEMAKERS. Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has outlined further steps Israel needed to take in order to restore full diplomatic ties, including a complete lifting of economic restrictions on Gaza. No more restrictions on imports of weapons? Rockets? Material for innocent Katyushas? There will be plenty of time before President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry will be able to see the real face of Turkish triumphalism over the Israeli apology and, subsequently, the forced and fake detente. Erdogan does not hide the fact that he accepts Israel's right to exist "only within the pre-1967 borders." We all know that the Americans are hoping for a miracle - in which the mildly-Islamist Erdogan should be able to persuade the not-so-mildly-Islamist Hamas to metamorphose into an entity living in the realm of reason. For that mission to be accomplished, perhaps the Americans must first find someone who should be able to persuade Erdogan to metamorphose into a political figure living in the realm of reason. (DAILY ALERT - Hurriyet-Turkey)


BLESSED ARE THE PEACEMAKERS. Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has outlined further steps Israel needed to take in order to restore full diplomatic ties, including a complete lifting of economic restrictions on Gaza. No more restrictions on imports of weapons? Rockets? Material for innocent Katyushas? There will be plenty of time before President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry will be able to see the real face of Turkish triumphalism over the Israeli apology and, subsequently, the forced and fake detente. Erdogan does not hide the fact that he accepts Israel's right to exist "only within the pre-1967 borders." We all know that the Americans are hoping for a miracle - in which the mildly-Islamist Erdogan should be able to persuade the not-so-mildly-Islamist Hamas to metamorphose into an entity living in the realm of reason. For that mission to be accomplished, perhaps the Americans must first find someone who should be able to persuade Erdogan to metamorphose into a political figure living in the realm of reason. (DAILY ALERT - Hurriyet-Turkey)


ISRAEL TO U.S.: CONFLICT WITH PALESTINIANS IS NOT PRIMARILY OVER TERRITORY. A senior Israeli official involved in the talks held in Jerusalem with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said that Israel opposes Kerry's proposal to resume negotiations with the PA on the basis of discussing border and security issues alone. The official said that Kerry "thinks that the conflict is primarily over territory...and that is wrong." "Israel opposes placing the issues of borders and security at the preliminary stage of negotiations, and we said this to Kerry. On this issue, there is full consent among all the ministers dealing with the Palestinian subject, including Tzipi Livni." Israel demands that if negotiations are to be resumed, they will need to address, in parallel, all core issues of the final settlement - including recognition of Israel as a Jewish state and a solution to the refugee problem. "If the discussion commences with talks about borders and security, Israel will only give, and will get almost nothing in return," the official said. "When we get to the issues where the Palestinians will need to give something up - like the right of return - we won't have any bargaining chips left." In addition, Israel also opposes making significant gestures toward the Palestinians before the resumption of negotiations. Off the table are any moves such as releasing prisoners, transferring weapons to the PA's security services, and the promotion of economic projects that would require the transfer of land to Palestinian control. "There is no problem with setting up sewage treatment plants, schools or roads in Area C. But if we're talking about transferring land through economic projects, then we're not ready to do so. If negotiations are renewed, we will be willing to perform many gestures and steps, but they will take place as part of a process that is already underway." (DAILY ALERT - Ha'aretz)


REAL PASSPORTS, FAKE DRIVERS’ LICENSES – HOW HIZBULLAH SLOWLY INFILTRATED EUROPE. On March 28, a Cyprus court condemned a Swedish-Lebanese man, Hossam Taleb Yaacoub, 24, to four years in prison for helping plan attacks against Israelis. The Hizbullah member was a scout, tasked with monitoring the comings and goings of Israeli tourists on the island, in order to organize a terrorist attack. Cyprus police said he was particularly meticulous, taking notes on flight schedules, bus license plates, the numbers of security guards, hotels, and kosher restaurants. "Taking advantage of the leniency of some European capitals, Hizbullah has strengthened its network in Europe, recruiting and positioning agents all across the continent. Bi-nationals with ties with Lebanon have the ideal profile," says Matthew Levitt of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. It was the same for the men who operated in Bulgaria: one was Canadian, the other Australian. Both had entered the country legally and rented cars and booked hotel rooms with fake U.S. drivers' licenses. "The documents were made by a forger in Lebanon, known by our colleagues from Western intelligence services," explained Bulgaria's organized crime czar, Stanimir Florov. Money transfers from Lebanon, as well as a photo on which relatives of one of the terrorists posed with high-ranking Hizbullah militants, convinced Bulgarian officials that all the tracks lead back to Beirut. Counter-terrorism experts also noted a "professionalization" of Hizbullah agents abroad. They used fake IDs, spoke foreign languages, used coded communications, and maintained secrecy between members, explained a European police official. (DAILY ALERT - Le Temps-Switzerland)


U.S.-ISRAEL MILITARY RELATIONS: AN ISRAELI PERSPECTIVE. • The United States defense establishment is a major partner in Israel's strategic balance and a pillar of its defensive shield. Israel has contributed to American tactics and weapons systems. At the same time, no American soldier has ever fought in a battle in which Israel was fighting with its Arab neighbors. • The U.S. and Israel use the same hardware and their armies and soldiers are continually involved in battle. The level of research and development both in the area of hardware and training, as well as in drawing lessons-learned from active combat, allows the two armies to mutually benefit. • Joint military cooperation in the area of missile defense serves as the most recent example. The U.S. stands to benefit immensely from Israel's rocket defense R&D efforts. Both the Iron Dome (operational) and David's Sling (soon to become operational) systems offer capabilities that no other country in the world has. The Arrow III exo-atmospheric interceptor, to be fielded in 2015, will provide Washington with key insights into a system that, according to senior U.S. Missile Defense Agency officials, "will be more capable than anything the United States has on the drawing board." • The location of Israel in the Middle East, the ongoing confrontation with regional terror groups with links to terror organizations from outside the region, together with the importation of weapons systems from sources hostile to both Israel and the U.S., makes U.S.-Israel intelligence sharing essential. • Furthermore, the thousands of Israeli and American soldiers who come together at military schools, training facilities, joint exercises, and military industrial plants, create a human bridge. The writer, a senior researcher at the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University, served twice at the Embassy of Israel in Washington. (inFocus Quarterly)


REPORT: ANTI-SEMITISM WORLDWIDE UP BY 30 % IN 2012. A new report published Sunday, the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day in Israel, noted a 30% increase in anti-Semitic violence and vandalism worldwide in 2012. The report, by Tel Aviv University's Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry, said the past year had seen "an alarming rise in the number of terrorist attacks and attempted attacks against Jewish targets, and an escalation in violent incidents against Jews worldwide." 686 anti-Semitic incidents took place in 2012, compared with 526 in 2011. There were 273 cases involving physical assaults against Jews, 50 involving firearms. 190 synagogues, Jewish monuments and tombstones were vandalized in 2012, as were 200 buildings in Jewish communities worldwide. France experienced the highest rise in anti-Semitic incidents. Neo-Nazi parties have become legal and hold parliament seats in Hungary, Ukraine and Greece. (Israel Hayom)


HACKERS FAIL IN CYBER-ATTACK TARGETING ISRAEL. A weekend cyber-attack campaign targeting Israeli government websites failed to cause serious disruption, Yitzhak Ben Yisrael, of the government's National Cyber Bureau, said Sunday. "So far it is as was expected, there is hardly any real damage," he said. "Anonymous doesn't have the skills to damage the country's vital infrastructure....It wants to create noise in the media." Shlomi Dolev, an expert on network security at Ben-Gurion University, said Israel is well prepared to deal with the attacks. "It is good training for our experts." (DAILY ALERT - AP)


WHEN WILL THE PRESS STOP REFERRING TO JEWS TO AS ‘ILLEGAL’? The Associated Press will no longer use the term "illegal immigrant" to describe those who migrate to a country in violation of their immigration laws, AP's executive vice president announced Tuesday. Its style guide will no longer permit the use of "illegal" to describe a person - only an action. We wonder whether serious news organizations will similarly drop the loaded and value-laden term "illegal settler" to characterize Jews who, consistent with the parameters of the Mandate for Palestine, live beyond the 1949 armistice lines. A Google search using the words "illegal Israeli settlers" turns up 727,000 hits, and included references to many mainstream publications. The writer is managing editor of CiF Watch, an affiliate of the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA). (DAILY ALERT - Algemeiner)


WHEN WILL THE PRESS STOP REFERRING TO JEWS TO AS ‘ILLEGAL’? The Associated Press will no longer use the term "illegal immigrant" to describe those who migrate to a country in violation of their immigration laws, AP's executive vice president announced Tuesday. Its style guide will no longer permit the use of "illegal" to describe a person - only an action. We wonder whether serious news organizations will similarly drop the loaded and value-laden term "illegal settler" to characterize Jews who, consistent with the parameters of the Mandate for Palestine, live beyond the 1949 armistice lines. A Google search using the words "illegal Israeli settlers" turns up 727,000 hits, and included references to many mainstream publications. The writer is managing editor of CiF Watch, an affiliate of the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA). (DAILY ALERT - Algemeiner)


GERMANY MUST HAVE ISRAEL’S BACK. Germany bears a special historical and moral responsibility to support Israel against an Iranian threat. First, Israel's leaders and the Israeli public view the Iranian peril primarily through the prism of the Holocaust. Proponents of a military strike on Iran often point to the Shoah as ultimate proof that Tehran's threats to destroy the State of Israel must be taken seriously. Second, ever since she became the first German chancellor to address the Knesset, in 2008, Angela Merkel has repeatedly declared that "Israel's security is part of Germany's raison d'etre" and that it can "never be negotiable." What's missing, however, is a broader debate - both in public and among top German officials - about what Berlin should do if diplomacy fails and Israel is compelled to take military action against the Iranian nuclear threat. Germany's first priority should be to offer Israel civil and military assistance to defend against potential counterattacks. Finally, Germany needs to marshal its full political and economic weight to maintain a tough international sanctions regime against Tehran. Mr. zu Guttenberg is a former German defense minister, now at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Mr. Gartzke teaches at Georgetown University's BMW Center for German and European Studies. (Wall Street Journal Europe)


TURKISH TRUCKS PASS THROUGH ISRAEL TO REACH THE GULF. With the ongoing Syrian crisis, Turkish trucks carrying containers have not been able to get to the Gulf. Iraq was not safe and then Syria became unsafe too. The unrest in Port Said and the continuing security problems in Sinai after the fall of Mubarak did not allow Turkish containers to follow the Iskenderun-Port Said-Sinai-Aqaba route. However, thanks to a private Turkish-Israeli-Jordanian initiative, the Israeli government has allowed Turkish trucks to enter Israel from Haifa and then travel to Jordan. This is a cheaper and safer route. Today, about a hundred trucks a week use this route. The potential is for around 500 trucks per week. (DAILY ALERT - Hurriyet-Turkey)


ISRAEL JEWISH POPULATION PASSES 6 MILLION. Israel's population reached eight million over Passover, Yediot Ahronot reported Thursday, with six million Jews, 1.6 million Arabs, and 350,000 non-Arab Christians and others, mostly relatives of immigrants from the former USSR. There are 5.5 million Jews in the U.S., 500,000 in France, 380,000 in Canada, and 290,000 in Britain. "In the world today there are 13,800,000 Jews," said Professor Sergio Della Pergola, an expert on Jewish demography from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, who collected the data. (Ynet News)


PALESTINIANS REALIZE DOWNSIDES OF FOREIGN AID BOOM. Palestinians are among the largest per capita consumers of foreign aid worldwide. While desperately needed, the billions of dollars flooding in from overseas since 1994 have also caused economic productivity to plummet by flooding Palestinian markets with imported goods. A recent World Bank report asserts that foreign aid has caused long-term damage to the Palestinian economy. In cosmopolitan Ramallah, a construction boom and cappuccino-fueled culture of luxury cars and inflated real estate suggest an economic upswing. But experts warn that the growth is fostered largely by foreign donations to the PA, and the profusion of NGOs setting up shop in the de-facto capital has created a bubble - hollow and unsustainable. (Christian Science Monitor)


SOME ARAB LEADERS HAVE TAKEN RISKS FOR PEACE – AND PAID WITH THEIR LIVES. Meeting with King Abdullah II in Jordan last Friday, President Obama was gracious enough to mention the monarch's great-grandfather, King Abdullah I, assassinated in 1951, who "gave his life in the name of peace." To Western ears, that sounded like a tribute. To Arab and Muslim ears, it may have sounded like a warning. Imagine you are Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority. You know that making peace with Israel will bring you the praise of British prime ministers and American presidents. Perhaps you understand that peace would be in the best interest of your people. But you also are keenly aware that serious peacemaking will place you and members of your family in severe peril. Egypt's President Anwar Sadat made peace with Israel in 1979. Two years later, he was assassinated in accord with a fatwa written by Omar Abdel Rahman, the "Blind Sheikh," who would go on to be convicted for his role in the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center. Since becoming president of Egypt, Mohamed Morsi, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, has been calling for the Blind Sheikh's release. The assassination of Lebanese president Bashir Gemayel in September 1982 was related to the fact that just two weeks earlier he had agreed to start the process of establishing diplomatic relations with Israel. The writer is president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. (Israel Hayom)


The next ’Daily Journal’ will be posted on April 1st, 2013.


YES, EUROPE, HIZBULLAH IS A TERROR GROUP. Winston Churchill understood about Europe's appeasers that "Each one hopes that if he feeds the crocodile enough, the crocodile will eat him last." They thought the best way to confront the threat posed by Nazi Germany was to avoid confronting it. "All of them hope that the storm will pass before their turn comes to be devoured." Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff said of Hizbullah in 2008, "they make al-Qaeda look like a minor-league team." In 2002, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage argued that "Hizbullah may be the A-team of terrorists and maybe al-Qaeda is actually the B-team." So what can explain the European reluctance to blacklist Hizbullah as a terrorist organization and shut down its fundraising and logistical operations? "There's the overall fear if we're too noisy about this, Hizbullah might strike again," said Sylke Tempel, the editor-in-chief of the German foreign affairs magazine Internationale Politik. (DAILY ALERT - Boston Globe)


PALESTINIANS TO HAGEL: “WE DON’T NEED U.S. TROOPS HERE.” Palestinians repeated this week their opposition to the idea of deploying a U.S.-led international force in the West Bank and Gaza. "We will not agree to the presence of any foreign forces in our territories," spokesmen for various Palestinian groups said. "Such forces, especially if they are led by the U.S., would be viewed as an occupying power." The Palestinians were commenting on a 2009 report that resurfaced this week, entitled, "A Last Chance for a Two-State Israel-Palestine Agreement," co-authored by then-Sen. Chuck Hagel, who was confirmed this week as U.S. Secretary of Defense, that talks about deploying a "U.S.-led multinational force." Any foreign military intervention in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will only complicate matters and pave the way for Muslim fundamentalists from all around the world to fight against the American "infidels" and their Arab "collaborators." (DAILY ALERT - Gatestone Institute)


THE PA PROMOTES TERROR, THE UK PAYS FOR IT. A culture of hate has wormed its way into the very fibre of Palestinian society. Incitement is pervasive in Palestinian school textbooks, on television programs and at cultural and sporting events. Palestinians have been consistently and unremittingly taught to hate Jews, Israel and the West, with maps replacing the State of Israel with "Palestine," images of children carrying weapons, and cultural events named in honour of notorious Palestinian terrorists. The PA financially rewards terrorism by paying a monthly salary to Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons convicted of terror offenses. The more horrific your terrorist activity and the more Israelis you killed, the larger your salary. These payments are partly funded by the British taxpayer since they come from the PA's general budget, into which the UK contributes more than £30 million each year. What chance does a faltering peace process stand if one of the parties makes it official policy to circulate material denouncing their supposed peace partner? Ultimately, incitement amounts to the abuse of Palestinian children. No peace agreement will be able to guarantee peace if a generation of Palestinians is growing up indoctrinated to hate Israel. We must insist, as policy, that the PA ends the indoctrination of its youth with views that jeopardize a future of peaceful coexistence. The writer, a British Conservative MP, is a member of Conservative Friends of Israel. (DAILY ALERT - Times of Israel)


ISRAEL: IRAN JUST BUYING TIME IN KAZAKHSTAN TALKS. Israeli officials were "skeptical in the extreme" that the current round of talks in Kazakhstan would lead to any progress in halting Iran's nuclear work. "The Iranian strategy is clear: to draw out diplomacy and continue to engage, but in parallel to continue enriching uranium," one official said. "They are engaged in a consistent strategy to draw out the talks. Their ultimate goal is to keep talking, and one day to surprise the world with nuclear tests." He said diplomacy has so far not been effective, sanctions are not working, and the Iranians are galloping ahead despite diplomatic pressure. Jerusalem, the official said, believes the pressure has to be dramatically upgraded, coupled with convincing the Iranians that there is a credible military option. He said the international community must also clearly state what the "or else" part of the "stop the bomb or else" equation is. (Jerusalem Post)


PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY ORCHESTRATING WEST BANK UNREST. The current unrest in the territories is being orchestrated, to a large extent, by the Palestinian Authority. Fatah, which is the PA's political base, fears losing its dominance over the West Bank, so it must appear to be just as militant as Hamas in Gaza. The reason the unrest has intensified recently is that the Palestinians want to create an explosive situation ahead of President Obama's upcoming visit to the region. Abbas is interested in creating an atmosphere that will force Netanyahu and Obama to discuss the Palestinian demands. At the same time, memories of the second intifada are restraining the street. Most of the rioters are young people who were children during the second intifada. Most of those who remember the events of that period are not rushing to the streets. For now, the unrest has yet to develop into a popular uprising. At the same time, the IDF is much better prepared to effectively deal with the rioters. (DAILY ALERT - Ynet News)


ISRAEL DEMANDS PA CURB PROTESTS. Israel on Sunday demanded the Palestinian Authority stem a surge of anti-Israeli protests ahead of U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to the region next month. "Israel has conveyed to the Palestinian Authority an unequivocal demand to calm the territory," an Israeli government official said. In the latest clashes, hundreds of Palestinian protesters, in several towns and villages in the West Bank, hurled stones at Israeli soldiers, who responded with tear gas and stun grenades. Amos Gilad, a senior Israeli Defense Ministry official, questioned whether the protests were just a tactical move by the Palestinians to draw international attention before Obama's visit to Israel, the West Bank and Jordan. However, he told Israel Radio: "Things can get out of control." (Reuters-Ynet News)


PRISONER PROTESTS MARK PA EFFORT TO START A ‘POPULAR INTIFADA’. With little prospect of success on the reconciliation front with Hamas, and on the verge of bankruptcy, the Palestinian Authority has been instrumental in orchestrating the escalating series of popular demonstrations in recent weeks, held in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. On Thursday, thousands of Palestinians demonstrated at the Beitunia military checkpoint near the Ofer Prison outside Ramallah. "The PA is incessantly searching for issues to mobilize the public," said Hillel Frisch of Bar-Ilan University's BESA Center. "If it weren't prisoners, the PA would find another issue. This is a highly planned, top-down mobilization." PA President Mahmoud Abbas has praised the protests and Samer Issawi's hunger strike, calling them "an honorable example of our people's struggle for freedom and independence." Yet, Frisch said, the protest movement lacks two essential components for success: an effective organizational framework and middle-ranking commanders. "Violence can flare," Frisch said, "but without organization and middle command it won't persist." Shalom Harari, a former adviser on Arab affairs at Israel's Defense Ministry, added, "The Arab World and the West are beginning to forget the Palestinian issue. So the PA has decided to employ a policy of 'soft violence,' which isn't necessarily so soft." (DAILY ALERT - Times of Israel)


PALESTINIANS PLAN VIOLENCE TO FORCE THE U.S. TO EXTRACT CONCESSIONS FROM ISRAEL.Palestinians Plan Violence to Force the U.S. to Extract Concessions from Israel. There are many signs that the Palestinian Authority is seeking to escalate tensions in the West Bank ahead of U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to the region next month. Some PA officials in Ramallah believe that a "mini-intifada" would serve the Palestinians' interests, hoping that scenes of daily clashes between Israeli soldiers and Palestinians will prompt Obama to exert pressure on the Israeli government to make far-reaching concessions. Now the PA is using the issue of Palestinian prisoners as an excuse to call for street protests and clashes. Before that, the PA used the issue of settlements as an excuse for protests. Before that, the PA leadership encouraged Palestinians to protest against Israeli "plans" to destroy the Aqsa Mosque. (DAILY ALERT - Gatestone Institute)


IDF TRAINS FOR SUBTERRANEAN WARFARE WITH HIZBULLAH. Reconnaissance soldiers from the IDF's Engineering Corps recently completed an intensive series of subterranean warfare drills to prepare them for a potential clash with Hizbullah in southern Lebanon. Hizbullah has dug a maze of tunnels and placed its command and control centers in underground bunkers. The training focused on how to approach the tunnels quietly and quickly, enter them, and eliminate terrorists, while scanning all underground areas methodically. The Engineering Corps's Reconnaissance Unit specializes in dealing with mines, explosives, breaking into structures, camouflage, lookouts and urban combat. (Jerusalem Post)


WHAT IS REALLY BLOCKING THE PEACE PROCESS? Today, it is clearer than ever that neither Hamas nor Fatah is interested in achieving unity - each for its own reasons. For Hamas, ending the dispute means the Islamist movement would have to cede exclusive control over Gaza - an area that has been turned into a semi-independent Islamic emirate over the past five years. For Fatah, unity with Hamas means paving the way for the Islamist movement to extend its control to the West Bank - something Abbas and his supporters are afraid of and cannot afford. Obama and the rest of the international community need to understand that the Palestinians already have two separate entities - with social, political and religious observance and ideologies that totally conflict. By the way, Fatah's public endorsement of the two-state solution does not necessarily mean it has abandoned the phased plan - namely, take whatever you can now and fight in the future to get the rest. Even if Mahmoud Abbas agrees to return to the negotiating table with Israel, it is obvious that any agreement he reaches will be automatically rejected by the radicals. (DAILY ALERT - Gatestone Institute)


WHY EUROPE WON’T NAME TERRORISTS. Under pressure from Washington, Europe is finally edging toward calling Hizbullah - one of the world's leading terrorist organizations - a terrorist organization. Some in Paris and Berlin say that Hizbullah is part of Lebanon's legitimate political-party structure. Yet the Shiite group and its allies managed to gain majorities in Lebanon's parliament only after assassinating Christian or Sunni opponents. But the Europeans also have more practical reasons to avoid confrontation with Hizbullah. France, Italy and others sent thousands of troops for the UN mission deployed in southern Lebanon after the 2006 Israeli-Hizbullah war. Upsetting the terrorists could lead to major confrontations that would endanger these soldiers. (DAILY ALERT - New York Post)


THE GRAND UNIVERSAL ILLUSION. Prof. Richard Landes explains what he calls cognitive egocentrism. "The act of empathy can often become an act of projecting onto another 'what I would feel if I were in their shoes,' rather than an attempt to understand how the person with whom one is empathizing has reacted to their situation, how they read and interpret events." People do this sort of thing all the time. We also do it to foreign people, and they do it to us. In early predictions about the Arab Spring, Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood was routinely described in the Western press as a party of mainstream religious conservatives who deeply believed in democracy and free markets, as if they were Egypt's version of the Republicans in the U.S. Likewise, the kids in Tahrir Square were seen as Egypt's Democrats. Both assumptions were outrageously wide of reality. There's not much we can do to prevent foreign people from projecting their psychology onto us, but we should at least resist doing the same thing to them. (DAILY ALERT - World Affairs)


WITH OBAMA TRIP LOOMING, NEW REALISM LIMITS OPTIONS. Ahead of President Obama's first official visit to Israel, a dramatically altered Middle East climate may relieve much of the international pressure that past presidents felt to become involved in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. At home, the subject of U.S. involvement has become so toxic that few politicians of either party see much point in actively supporting it. Supporters of a more active U.S. role do not get much help from a Palestinian Authority with weak, vacillating leaders and no realistic plan for dealing with the split that has left Gaza in the hands of Hamas. Under the Obama administration, a new realism has crept into U.S. foreign policy that seems to eschew grand but inevitably futile and costly gestures. The Washington foreign policy establishment is weary after years of fruitless peacemaking, and is increasingly refocused on dramatic changes in other parts of the Middle East and around the world. Support for Israel remains strong across the Washington political spectrum, but interest in helping Israel reach a peace agreement with its neighbors has gone deep underground. In a dramatically changed world, "linkage" is more historical relic than current reality. Fanciful notions that solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will be the key to solving all the region's problems, and that Washington is the only force capable of doing it, have all but evaporated. European leaders continue to express sympathy for the Palestinians and anger about Israeli policies, and have threatened to fill with their own initiatives what they see as the vacuum caused by the U.S. retreat from active involvement. But few analysts see that as much more than posturing by leaders dealing with their own crises. (DAILY ALERT - New York Jewish Week)


JERUSALEM MAYOR: NO DEVIDED CITY HAS EVER WORKED. Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat told a delegation from the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations Thursday: "We need to look at the realities and recognize that no split city has ever worked.... Ideologically and practically, Jerusalem cannot and will not be divided." Responding to increasing international pressure to freeze construction in east Jerusalem, Barkat said such moves would harm the interests of all Jerusalemites - including those living in the eastern portions of the city. "When we build, we are building for everyone, including infrastructural projects and schools in east Jerusalem," the mayor said. (DAILY ALERT - Times of Israel)


IS JERUSALEM REALLY NEGOTIABLE? JERUSALEM’S PLACE IN THE PEACE PROCESS. On August 21, 2012, PA leader Mahmoud Abbas, referring to "the alleged [Jewish] Temple" in Jerusalem, stated that "there will be no peace, security, or stability unless the occupation, its settlements and settlers will be evacuated from our holy city and the eternal capital of our state." This statement basically denies any Jewish linkage or right to Jerusalem. It was uttered by the head of the Palestinian Authority who is considered in the international community to be moderate. This study analyzes the various international instruments making reference to Jerusalem, and lists proposals published over the years for solving the issue. The writer is former Legal Adviser to Israel's Foreign Ministry and former Ambassador of Israel to Canada. (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)


PALESTINE’S DEMOCRATIC DEFICIT. Last week, Palestinian activist Anas Awwad, 26, was sentenced in absentia by a West Bank court to one year in prison for "extending his tongue" against PA President Mahmoud Abbas on Facebook. From the top down, a culture of repression reigns in the Palestinian Authority. Abbas' term ended four years ago, but he has clung to power as an unelected autocrat for nearly half a decade. A good indicator of how committed a government is to upholding peace with its neighbors is its commitment to protecting the human rights of its own citizens. Nations that disregard the freedoms of their own people are not likely to care much about maintaining peace with their historic enemies. Palestinian human rights, in other words, are key to the peace process. Rather than continuing to give Abbas a free pass, the West should roundly criticize crackdowns on dissidents and stand firmly with Palestinian democrats. A positive first step would be linking Western economic aid to the PA's respect for free speech. The writer is executive director of Advancing Human Rights. (New York Times)


BLAMING ’EL YAHUD’. Hassan Banna, who founded the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood in 1928, offered his services to Hitler with the onset of World War II, while asking him to help Egypt in its fight against the British and the Jews. The clandestine terror organization he set up passed along information on the movements of British forces. Under former president Hosni Mubarak, incitement went on in the media and in the mosques, though they were under state control. It was an unwritten rule that no item presenting Israel and/or the Jews in a favorable light could be aired. Israeli cities were called "settlements" wherever they were; reports would describe "a fedayeen operation in the Haifa settlement," referring to a city in the heart of Israel. Israelis are usually called "el Yahud," the Jews. Editorials in the Egyptian media routinely accuse Jews of treacherous actions such as "infiltrating into Africa to incite Africans against Egypt." A recurrent theme is making the Jews responsible for the ongoing struggle between Egypt and upper Nile countries regarding the distribution of the river's waters. The writer, a fellow of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, is a former ambassador to Romania, Egypt and Sweden. (Jerusalem Post)


AS SYRIA CRUMBLES, ISRAEL PREPARES FOR INSTABILITY. Although the turmoil in Syria diminishes the risk of war with the Syrian army, it highlights the risk of confrontation with hostile nonstate actors. Israel would not mourn Assad's departure. He is a linchpin of the radical Iran-Hizbullah axis and a staunch rival of Israel. His fall would deal a major blow to Tehran, significantly weaken Hizbullah, and dismantle the trilateral axis. At the same time, Israel is particularly troubled by the increasing weight of Islamists in the opposition, the growing number of foreign jihadists, and the West's continued passivity about supporting non-Islamist opposition forces. In private, Israeli officials have criticized the West for playing a passive role in the crisis while Iran, Hizbullah, and even Russia actively support the regime. Such passivity has helped empower Islamists and jihadists, enabling them to radicalize the conflict. IDF Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Michael Herzog served as senior military aide, advisor, and chief of staff to four Israeli defense ministers and participated in peace negotiations with Syria. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)


BARACK OBAMA’S VISIT TO ISRAEL ‘WILL FOCUS ON IRAN, NOT PEACE TALKS’. President Obama will arrive in Israel with a public agenda of restarting the Middle East peace talks, but his private discussions will be dominated by the issue of preventing a nuclear Iran, Israeli officials have told the Daily Telegraph. "The peace process may be the subject that is initially emphasized in public but there are other issues on the table that must be addressed before the summer," one diplomat said, alluding to Israel's spring deadline for Iran to stop enriching uranium. "The deal they will have done may be on the subject of war, not of peace." Israeli officials also said Prime Minister Netanyahu would look for reassurances that the U.S. would prevent Syria's extensive stocks of chemical weapons - nicknamed "Arms R' Us" by Israeli intelligence - from falling into the hands of al-Qaeda or Hizbullah. "There are currently bigger and much more urgent issues to address than the Palestinian-Israeli conflict," one Israeli official said. (Telegraph-UK)


KNOW YOUR ENEMY. Israel is a small state but stronger than the Arab world. Just browse some Internet sites and observe the number of pages Israel has posted with both Arabic and Hebrew-language support. Look at the number of Israeli newspapers and magazines with Arabic-language versions. The spokesman of the Israeli ministry of defense is a thirty-year-old man who speaks Arabic fluently. During every Islamic religious occasion he tweets the Israeli army's congratulations to Muslims and says "may you have a happy Eid, may your fast be accepted and may your pilgrimage be blessed." The Arabs have been preoccupied with rage and blind hatred since 1967. During this time, Israel has managed to build eight public universities and 200 museums that receive nearly 4 million tourists a year. It has also become a rival to the U.S. in the programming and software industry. Israel's annual GDP is $240 billion. Annual U.S. aid does not exceed 1.5% of this figure. We must understand the Israelis to know how we compare. Wars cannot be won by sentiments of hatred alone; otherwise the Arabs would have dominated the world long ago. Know your enemy so as not to suffer greater losses. This is all that I am saying. The writer is an assistant professor at King Saud University in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (DAILY ALERT - Asharq Alawsat-UK)


BRUSSELS’ HIZBULLAH EXCUSES ARE RUNNING OUT. How could adding Hizbullah to the EU's terror list possibly be the wrong thing to do? Over the past 30 years, the "Party of God" has murdered hundreds of people around the world and therefore has long belonged on the EU's terror list. In recent years Hizbullah has been able to raise funds, recruit new members and even send operatives from Europe to Israel for attacks there, but refrained from carrying out attacks in Europe. Leaving the Burgas bombing unsanctioned would send the message that it is OK to carry out terror attacks, even in Europe - as long as the victims are Israelis. Hizbullah is the single most destabilizing factor in Lebanon, constituting a state within a state, with its own army. The group is using Lebanon's population as human shields by hiding weapons in or near residential structures. Its support for the Assad regime is, by itself, reason to blacklist it. Weakening Hizbullah would advance the EU's policy goals in the Middle East: It would be a blow to Assad's regime and would increase the chances of seeing a truly democratic Lebanon emerge. It would also be a blow against Iran and the rejectionist forces that work against Israeli-Palestinian peace. The writer is director of the AJC Transatlantic Institute in Brussels. (DAILY ALERT - Wall Street Journal-Europe)


EU MUST RESPOND TO HIZBULLAH’S ATTACK ON BULGARIA. Leaders of the European Union must decide whether to allow a terrorist attack on EU territory to go unpunished or to sanction a movement that is both an Iranian proxy and the dominant party in the Lebanese government. The Burgas attack was not an isolated incident but part of a campaign of terrorism against Israeli, U.S. and Gulf state targets by Hizbullah and the Quds Force of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps. The U.S., which long ago designated Hizbullah as a terrorist organization, has been pressing European leaders to do the same so that the group's funds in European banks and other financial assets can be targeted. Several governments, led by France, worry that sanctions could subject European peacekeepers in southern Lebanon to reprisals. Inaction would mean accepting that Europe can be a free-fire zone for Iran and its proxies (DAILY ALERT - Washington Post).


ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN SCHOOL BOOK STUDY IS STRONGLY MISLEADING. A U.S.-funded study that faulted both Palestinian and Israeli textbooks attempts to create an artificial and inaccurate balance between the two. The study provides a highly-distorted depiction of the PA's systematic efforts to educate and indoctrinate Palestinian children to hate, violence and non-acceptance of Israel's existence. • Official PA and PLO educational platforms, including formal and informal educational frameworks, summer camps, children's magazines, television programs, and cultural events, systematically promote the following messages: 1. The dispute with Israel is not over territory, but over the legitimacy of Israel's very existence (let alone Israel's existence as a Jewish state). 2. The ultimate goal is to eliminate the Jewish state and reclaim the historic Land of Palestine. 3. Jews/Zionists/Israelis possess demonic characteristics. 4. All forms of struggle - including terrorism - are legitimate in pursuit of the ultimate goal. Terrorists are national heroes and role models. • The Palestinian educational system contains no curriculum promoting a lasting peace and co-existence between a Palestinian and an Israeli state. In contrast, the Israeli educational system clearly promotes a culture of peace. As long as Palestinian children are taught that terror is legitimate and Israel's existence is not, a viable Israeli-Palestinian peace will remain beyond reach (Israel Ministry of Strategic Affairs).


SYRIAN REBELS SLAM ASSAD FOR NOT RESPONDING TO ISRAELI RAID. On Friday, Syria's opposition coalition criticized the Assad government for not defending the country against the Israeli air raid, saying the Syrian army is too busy shelling civilian areas in Syria. The opposition group promised the Syrian people it would use political and diplomatic means to halt such attacks and said it would establish a "deterrent force" to guard against any such future attacks. Many among the opposition leaders are Syrian and Arab nationalists fiercely opposed to Israel. The umbrella group is dominated by members of the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood, which is known for its enmity to Israel. Kamal Labwani, a prominent Syrian dissident and member of the Syrian National Coalition, said that "unlike Assad, we know who the real enemy is....The first thing we would do is ask UN peacekeepers on the Golan to leave, and we will free occupied Syrian territory." (DAILY ALERT - AP)


WELCOME TO THE NEW ARAB WORLD – WHERE NO ONE REALLY CARES MUCH ABOUT ISRAEL. For the populations of Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria, it as if the Israeli menace were merely an engrossing film that suddenly has come to an abrupt finale. The house lights have come on, and the viewers' minds are returning to the real-life internal problems that have been festering in their autocratic societies for generations. While the Western press has spotlighted President Mohamed Morsi's views on Israel, and Jews in general, the whole subject of confronting the Zionists is non-existent as an Egyptian national priority. In the May 2012 presidential debate between former Arab League secretary-general Amr Moussa and Islamist Abdel Moneim Abul Fotouh, four and half hours passed before the word "Israel" was even mentioned. The Arab Spring has destroyed the cynical Arab political game of funneling all of their population's accumulated hate and frustration at Israel and the Jews. I haven't the slightest doubt that anti-Semitism remains rife in these Arab societies, and that solidarity with the Palestinians will continue to guide their posturing at times of war. But current upheavals show that ordinary Arabs now increasingly view Israel as a sideshow. Amid all the death and chaos, that counts as good news. (DAILY ALERT - National Post-Canada)


ISRAEL ARRESTS CELL PLOTTING TO KIDNAP IDF SOLDIER. Israeli security forces arrested 20 Palestinian Hamas members in the Hebron area who planned to kidnap an IDF soldier, the Israel Security Agency announced Thursday. Nabil Muhammad Awada, 32, from Dura, who has served time in an Israeli prison for terrorist activities, acted as the cell's chief. Mahmoud Abu Warada, 34, from Fawwar, provided weapons to the cell members. "Large numbers of weapons have been seized in the investigation," the ISA said. Tarek Garaib, 35, from Tarqumia, was in touch with Husaam Badran, a Hamas operative based in Qatar, who was released in the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange (Jerusalem Post).


HAMAS’ TALIBANIZATION OF GAZA. Al-Aqsa University in Gaza has decided to force female students to dress in accordance with Islamic teachings. All female students are required to wear the hijab or niqab which cover their heads and faces. This latest measure is part of a Hamas campaign aimed at "inculcating [Islamic] values and virtues," Hamas officials explained. Hamas also announced a ban on low-waist trousers, Western-style haircuts and tight gowns. In recent years Hamas has banned women from smoking a waterpipe in public places, forced female lawyers to wear the hijab during court appearances, and prohibited boutiques from using female model mannequins. Hamas is well aware that its campaign enjoys the support and sympathy of most Palestinians, not only in Gaza but also in the West Bank. Just last week, arsonists torched three restaurants in the West Bank town of Bir Zeit, a secular stronghold, after accusing the owners of selling alcohol and allowing young men and women to sit together. What is happening in Gaza is one of the by-products of the Arab Spring, which has seen the rise of Islamists to power. Foreign activists who continue to arrive in Gaza to voice solidarity with Hamas need to know that they are complicit in the effort to establish a repressive and brutal entity that has no respect for freedoms and despises Western culture and values. (DAILY ALERT - Gatestone Institute)


The Peace Process After the Israeli Election - Shlomo Avineri (Foreign Affairs) • In the late 2000s, under Ehud Olmert, Israel negotiated with the Palestinian Authority for more than two years. But as soon as negotiators moved from their ritualistic opening positions to the core issues of the conflict - borders, the fate of the Jewish settlers in the West Bank, Jerusalem, the Palestinian refugee problem, and Israel's security concerns - it became clear that the gaps between the most moderate Israeli positions and the most moderate Palestinian positions were too wide to be easily bridged. That has not changed. • Hamas' continued control of Gaza means that even an agreement reached between Israel and the Palestinian Authority would not mean an end to the conflict. • The current turmoil in the Arab world bodes ill for the peace process, as an Egypt ruled by the Muslim Brotherhood and a Syria embroiled in a bloody civil war do not encourage even moderate Israelis to take risks with the Palestinians. • This means that Israel's next government should take a fresh look at what is feasible, with an eye toward the lessons from similar conflicts such as those in Cyprus, Bosnia, Kosovo, and Kashmir. None of these conflicts has been fully settled, but they have been gradually tempered. In each case, a complex set of partial agreements, conflict-management measures, unilateral decisions, and confidence-building strategies has generally kept bloodshed at bay. • Such an approach would mean moving ahead slowly, step by step, which would make it easier for both sides to sell such piecemeal progress to their constituencies, since they would not have to cross any of their fundamental and ideological redlines. More modest aims are the only realistic way to push Israeli-Palestinian relations away from the dangers of confrontation and toward some modicum of reconciliation. Everything else has already failed. The writer, professor of political science at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, served as director-general of Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the cabinet of former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.


ISRAELI TROOPS SWAP GUNS FOR COMPUTERS AS CYBER ATTACKS RISE. At an army base outside Tel Aviv, soldiers of Israel's cyber defense team sit in front of screens of scrolling computer code, ready to pounce on virtual enemies and deflect attacks. "Cyber has three dimensions: intelligence, defense and offense," said Amos Yadlin, the former military intelligence chief who now heads the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University. Israeli government networks are among the most highly attacked in the world, with daily assaults numbering in the tens of thousands, the Soufan Group, a New York-based security adviser, said in a Jan. 14 report (Daily Alert).


NETANYAHU: NO QUICK-FIX SOLUTIONS WITH PALESTINIANS. There are no "quick-fix solutions" with the Palestinians, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday told five visiting U.S. congressmen from the House Appropriations Committee, headed by Jack Kingston (R-Ga.). Netanyahu said he wanted to move ahead with the Palestinian Authority toward an agreement, but that the withdrawal from Gaza in 2005 and its aftermath showed that instant solutions were not possible. Regarding Iran, Netanyahu said that "sanctions alone will not be enough" to get Tehran to halt its nuclear program, and that the sanctions needed to be coupled with a credible military threat. If there were such a credible threat, and the Iranians understood it, then diplomacy could succeed. He said Iran's program must be halted at the uranium enrichment stage, and not when it entered the "weaponization" phase (Jerusalem Post).


NETANYAHU’S BACK (by Aaron David Miller. Before the Israeli elections in 1996, I quipped to my colleague Dennis Ross: There's no way Benjamin Netanyahu can win. 17 years later, Netanyahu has now served longer as Israeli prime minister than anyone other than David Ben-Gurion, and is about to begin coalition negotiations toward an unprecedented third term. The security issue is omnipresent. Take a look around. In Syria, Bashar al-Assad murders his own people; in Gaza, Hamas talks of pushing the Jews into the sea; in Egypt, President Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood espouse the worst kind of anti-Semitic tropes; and in Iran, the mullahs can't seem to open their mouths these days without muttering something about the evil Zionists. Most likely, the kind of peace process that will emerge over the next year is one that Netanyahu can support - a bottom-up approach with little focus on the identity issues such as Jerusalem and refugees. I'm also betting that the Obama team, bogged down with so many other issues, won't get terribly creative on the peace process and will play to Netanyahu's strengths - an interim, incremental process that steers clear of high-profile initiatives. Even if Obama decides to roll the dice, he needs an Arab or Palestinian partner to help him. And those are in very short supply. Cooperation on Iran between Washington and Jerusalem will be required if an agreement on the nuclear issue is to be reached or successful military action undertaken. Iran isn't Palestine, some localized shepherd's war even with regional resonance. The Iranian nuclear issue could have grave economic, military, financial, and political consequences for the entire Middle East and international community. The stakes are simply too high to accommodate huge policy differences or public rifts, let alone a breakdown in cooperation that compels the Israelis to take unilateral military action. The writer is a distinguished scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars (DAILY ALERT - Foreign Policy)


NO ISRAELIS KILLED BY WEST BANK TERROR IN 2012. For the first time since 1973, no Israelis were killed in terror attacks in the West Bank in 2012, according to a report published Thursday by the Israel Security Agency. However, in 2012 there were 578 terror attacks in the West Bank as opposed to 320 incidents in 2011. 10 Israelis were killed during security-related incidents in other parts of the country: 6 by rocket attacks, 2 by shooting, and 2 from terrorist attacks near the Israel-Egypt border. 2,327 rockets and 230 mortar shells were fired from Gaza in 2012. Also, 8 rockets were fired at Israel from Sinai. There were 11 attempts to fire anti-aircraft weaponry at IDF planes, compared to 1 such attempt in 2011. (Ha'aretz)


ISRAELI SETTLEMENTS’ LEGAL BASIS. The oft-used term "occupied Palestinian territories" has no basis whatsoever in law or fact. The territories are neither occupied nor are they Palestinian. No legal determination has ever been made as to their sovereignty, and by agreement between Israel and the PLO, they are no more than "disputed" pending a negotiated solution, with both sides claiming rights to the territory. Israel has nevertheless committed itself to negotiate the fate of the area with the Palestinians. As long as settlements do not violate local Palestinian private property rights, and as long as the issue of the fate of the areas remains a negotiating issue, there is no legal basis for preventing continued settlement, pending the outcome of the final status negotiations. The writer, legal adviser to the Israeli Foreign Ministry from 1996 to 2004, participated in the negotiation and drafting of agreements and peace treaties with Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and the Palestinians (DAILY ALERT - USA Today).


THE ISRAELI ELECTION: A VOTE FOR INTERNAL CHANGE. • The Israeli electorate went to the polls Tuesday and sent their leaders an unmistakable message: Change. Yair Lapid and Naftali Bennett, political novices, are the country's poster boys for change - and they did astonishingly well. The old guard took it on the chin. • However, the results show that the change the country is looking for is not necessarily a change in external policy, but changes within. A vote for a dramatic change in the country's diplomatic/security direction would have meant a torrent of voters for Livni, or Meretz, or even Kadima, all of which championed a different diplomatic position. • Lapid, Shelly Yacimovich and Bennett ran primarily on domestic matters: a more equitable distribution of the army and tax burdens, the cost-of-living issue, and inculcating Jewish and Zionist values. Voter turnout was over 66%, compared to 57.5% in the recent U.S. elections. • This engaged and concerned electorate is supremely aware of the external challenges it faces: from Iran, which calls for the country's destruction, to an Egypt with a president who calls Jews the descendants of apes and pigs, to an imploding Syria, to a Palestinian Authority that has done nothing to show it is interested in an end-of-conflict agreement. • But Israelis do not feel they can necessarily impact those issues. They realize that there are actors on the other side whom they are not going to be able to influence. The results bespeak a nation that has accepted the things it cannot change, and is now focusing on what it believes it can (Jerusalem Post).


RAISED ON HATRED. As a child growing up in a Muslim family, I constantly heard my mother, other relatives and neighbors wish for the death of Jews, who were considered our darkest enemy. Our religious tutors and the preachers in our mosques set aside extra time to pray for the destruction of Jews. Those Muslims who think of Jews as friends and fellow human beings with a right to their own state are a minority, and are under intense pressure to change their minds. Millions of Muslims have been conditioned to regard Jews not only as the enemies of Palestine but as the enemies of all Muslims, of God and of all humanity. In 2011, a Pew survey found that 95% of Jordanians, 94% of Egyptians and 95% of Lebanese hold a "very unfavorable" view of Jews. The writer is a fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School. (DAILY ALERT - New York Times)


U.S. SAYS EGYPTIAN STATEMENT ON JEWS, ISRAEL A GOOD FIRST STEP BUT NOT ENOUGH TO EASE CONCERNS. The Obama administration said Thursday that a statement issued by the Egyptian presidency is welcome but not enough to ease concerns about anti-Jewish and anti-Israel comments that Islamist president Mohammed Morsi made before he took office. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland made clear that the U.S. needs to see more than the statement from his office to be convinced he no longer holds to the earlier views (AP-Fox News).


PORTRAIT OF PALESTINIAN DEMOCRACY. This week Mahmoud Abbas began the ninth year of his four-year term of office, having originally taken office on January 15, 2005, after a quickie election held a few weeks after Yasser Arafat died in the ninth year of his own four-year term. Being elected Palestinian president means you never have to run again. Palestinian democracy has been a bit of a disappointment: each of the peace-partner presidents were offered a state on virtually all of the West Bank and Gaza, with a capital in Jerusalem, and each of them walked away. (DAILY ALERT - Commentary)


NETANYAHU RULES OUT DISMANTLING SETTLEMENT BLOCS. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the Jerusalem Post this week that a "real and fair" accord with the Palestinians cannot include driving masses of Jews from their homes in settlement blocs. "I think that there is recognition that ultimately there has to be a real and fair solution, and that certainly doesn't include driving out hundreds of thousands of Jews who live in the suburbs of Jerusalem, and in the suburbs of Tel Aviv, in the Ariel bloc," Netanyahu said. "I think that is unrealistic." Asked about an initiative by the Europeans to present a new peace plan, he said there would be "many initiatives," and "we'll have an important task in trying to tell the truth to the world." That truth, he explained, was that the settlement issue was not the core of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, nor was the Palestinian issue the core of instability in the Middle East. "The core of the conflict is the persistent refusal of the Palestinians to recognize the Jewish state in any boundary," he declared. "There is a common acceptance [in Israel] that the so-called settlement blocs will remain part of Israel in any settlement, and that's where the majority of construction is taking place," he noted. "I am confident that President Obama understands that only a sovereign Israeli government can determine what Israel's interests are," he added (Jerusalem Post).


DOES OBAMA KNOW BETTER THAN ISRAEL WHAT ITS INTERESTS ARE? The accusations that the White House used Jeffrey Goldberg's column to get even with Netanyahu are probably untrue. The president and his foreign policy team are probably aware that an American attempt to influence the vote in Israel would backfire. Obama is deeply unpopular in Israel and every time he has picked a fight with Netanyahu it has only strengthened the prime minister's standing at home. The assumption underlying Goldberg's article was that Netanyahu is isolating his country via policies that are not aimed at encouraging "Palestinian moderates." The decision to allow building in Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem and its suburbs that would be kept by Israel even if there were a two-state solution is seen by Obama and the Europeans as intolerable provocations that should be punished. But most Israelis see these issues very differently. Obama's evaluation of the situation via Goldberg shows that he is still focusing only on what Israel does and ignoring the reality of a Palestinian political culture that is incapable of accepting peace. If real peace were an option, no Israeli political leader would be able to resist accepting it. Pretending that such a choice is available to Israel is mere posturing, not a policy. (DAILY ALERT - Commentary)


PRESIDENT MORSI’S REPULSIVE COMMENTS. Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi's scurrilous comments from nearly three years ago about Zionists and Jews, which just came to light, have raised serious doubts about whether he can ever be the force for moderation and stability that is needed. That kind of pure bigotry is unacceptable anywhere, anytime. But it is even more offensive in public discourse, coming from someone who became the president of a major country. The sad truth is that defaming Jews is an all too standard feature of Egyptian, and Arab, discourse. Teaching children to hate and dehumanizing one's adversaries is just the kind of twisted mentality that fuels the conflicts that torment the region. (DAILY ALERT - New York Times)


OBAMA, ISRAELIS AND PALESTINIANS: MORE WORDS, LESS ACTION. In addressing the seemingly endless Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the second Obama administration enjoys the ironic advantage of exceedingly low expectations. The entire issue will probably have lower priority as compared with Obama's first term. Other, more urgent Mideast crises in Syria, Iran, Egypt and elsewhere, and the president's own perception of a pressing need for more "nation-building at home," make Palestinians and Israelis pale by comparison. Objecting to new Israeli construction in the West Bank is at best only half a strategy. To promote Israeli-Palestinian peace, the U.S. needs to pay at least as much attention to hate speech as to housing starts. The writers are fellows at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy. (DAILY ALERT - Atlantic)


REPORT: HAMAS TEST-FIRES IMPROVED LONG-RANGE MISSILES. Hamas is already preparing for the next clash with Israel. Palestinian media reported that Hamas recently test-fired two improved long-range missiles. The rockets were launched toward the Mediterranean Sea from a Hamas training base in Gaza located in what used to be Gush Katif (a former Jewish enclave). The rockets were reportedly manufactured and assembled in Gaza using Iranian know-how (DAILY ALERT - Israel Hayom)


ABBAS REINSTATES A RADICAL POLITICAL DOCTRINE. Mahmoud Abbas, chairman of the Palestinian Authority and leader of the PLO and the Fatah movement, presented a radical political doctrine in his speech on January 4, 2013, honoring the anniversary of Fatah's establishment. The messages Abbas conveys express the political and national vision that he bequeaths to the Palestinian people. In his speech Abbas avoids all mention of a historic compromise with Israel that would bring the conflict to an end. Nor does he mention the land-for-peace formula or the establishment of a Palestinian state beside Israel. Instead, Abbas chose to reemphasize that the Palestinian people remain on the path of struggle to realize "the dream of return" of the Palestinian refugees and their millions of descendants. Abbas pledged to continue the path of struggle of previous Palestinian leaders, mentioning the Mufti of Jerusalem, Hajj Amin al-Husseini, who forged a strategic alliance with Nazi Germany, and heads of Palestinian terror organizations who were directly responsible for the murder of thousands of Israeli civilians. All are equal and suitable partners in the Palestinian struggle, and their ideological platform, even if it is terrorist and/or radical-Islamist, is a source of inspiration for the Palestinian people. In honor of the anniversary of the founding of the Fatah movement, at the end of December the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, the military arm of Fatah, held parades of armed men in the city of Hebron, the town of Bani Na'im, and the Kalandia refugee camp just north of Jerusalem. In Hebron and Bani Na'im, scores of activists armed with assault rifles participated. Anyone who expected that Abbas would follow a more moderate course after the UN General Assembly resolution of November 29, 2012, upgrading the status of the PLO's Observer Mission to that of an observer state, was undoubtedly disappointed with Abbas' remarks. He was not preparing the Palestinian people for making peace, but rather reverting to rhetoric perpetuating and even escalating the conflict. The writer is a former advisor to the Policy Planning Division of the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs (DAILY ALERT - Israel Hayom).


WHO REALLY WANTS MIDEAST PEACE? As pollsters have found, Israelis dearly want peace. But they know they can't trust the Palestinian Authority. For more than four years, the PA avoided the negotiating table; then it went to the UN General Assembly to obtain nonmember observer-state status. In making his case before that body, PA President Mahmoud Abbas called Israel a racist, apartheid state that practices ethnic cleansing - hardly the words of someone eager for a peaceful two-state solution. Worst of all, Israelis know that even an agreement with the PA won't placate the Hamas regime in Gaza, which officially promotes anti-Semitism, preaches the destruction of Israel and views indiscriminate missile attacks on Israeli civilians as all in a day's work. The writer is the American Jewish Committee's director of publications. (DAILY ALERT - New York Post)


A HISTORIC SHIFT TOWARDS PALESTINIAN UNITY? Tens of thousands of Palestinians rally in Hamas-controlled Gaza to celebrate the anniversary of Fatah's founding. Thousands more in the Fatah-controlled West Bank cheer on Hamas. Could we be witnessing a historic shift toward Palestinian unity? Not likely. • Beginning with the 2000 intifada, Fatah began to split and smaller offshoots like the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades and Islamists began to run their own operations. Arafat's death in 2004, the corruption in Fatah, and the rising power of Hamas made a mockery of the idea of a unified Palestinian national movement. • Since Hamas' 2007 takeover of Gaza, there have been at least four unsuccessful efforts to restore Palestinian unity, but neither Hamas nor Fatah is really serious about doing so - even while all Palestinians say they desperately want them to succeed. Neither side has any real desire to pay the price for what a real merger would entail. • Hamas isn't going to give up the gun and recognize Israel - and Abbas knows that his international support will evaporate if he signs on to a hard-line program. There is no real consensus, and given Hamas' own timeline, no urgency to produce one. And now with friendly Islamists rising in the Arab world, there's less of a rush. • Bringing Hamas into the PLO or a unity government with its current positions intact will compel the U.S. to cut aid to the PA, make it impossible to get negotiations with Israel launched. John Kerry, who really does believe in diplomacy, will want to do something serious on the Israeli-Palestinian issue because he believes it's important, because others will urge him to, and because that's what secretaries of state are supposed to do. He won't open up a dialogue with Hamas, but he'll likely start talking to the Turks, Egyptians, and Qataris (all led by Islamists with influence in Gaza) about ways to influence Hamas. The writer is a distinguished scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. (DAILY ALERT - Foreign Policy)


ARAB SPRING’S SIDE EFFECTS: THREATS AGAINST ISRAEL. One of the side effects of the "Arab Spring" virus are the threats and insults directed at Israel. All of the Mideast's leaders - including both the "moderates" and the "extremists" - are threatening or cursing Israel, be it Ahmadinejad or Erdogan, the Muslim Brotherhood, the Syrian rebels, the Palestinian Authority and Jordan. But there is no connection between Israel and the dire economic and social situation in the Arab world; ethnic groups against ethnic groups; tribes against tribes; religions against religions; violence and blood. The new Arab leaders are well aware of Israel's military and economic strength. This is just another attempt to use Israel in order to direct Arab rage outward. The stability of the regimes should be measured according to the amount of threats they make against Israel. The weaker the ruler is, the more threats he will make. The writer heads the Middle East Division at the Lauder School of Government at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya. (Ynet News)


BROTHERHOOD VICTORIES LEAD MUSLIM CLERICS TO INTENSIFY INCITEMENT AGAINST JEWS. In the wake of the Arab Spring, the Ennahda party in Tunisia, an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, received 41% of the vote in the parliamentary elections and is now ruling the country - and suddenly there are worrying manifestations of anti-Semitism, led by religious figures. Al-Quds al-Arabi reported on Dec. 12 that Imam Sheikh Ahmed al-Suhayli in Rades delivered a lengthy tirade against the Jews: "O Allah, you know what those accursed Jews have done, the corruption they spread across the Earth.... Strike them so that there is not one of them left. Allah, make the men and women sterile. Bring down your wrath and your hatred on them." Al-Quds al-Arabi stressed that since the fall of the Ben Ali regime there had been a number of blatant attacks against Jews. Though the Tunisian government from time to time makes reassuring statements on the issue, it is obvious that Muslim clerics believe that a regime led by the Brotherhood will let them intensify their incitement against Jews. A similar phenomenon can be observed in Egypt, cradle of the Muslim Brotherhood. The writer, a Fellow of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, is a former ambassador to Romania, Egypt and Sweden. (Jerusalem Post)


EUROPEAN SETTLEMENTS AND DOUBLE STANDARDS. According to a BBC report, as many as 10,000 foreigners have bought up former Greek Cypriot properties in Northern Cyprus. But what of the legal status of the area? In 1974 the Turkish Army invaded Cyprus and took over 37% of the island, expelling tens of thousands of Greek Cypriots. Over the years, an estimated 160,000 "settlers" from Turkey moved into Northern Cyprus. In many cases, they and Turkish Cypriots sold properties that had been left behind by Greek Cypriot refugees to European buyers, including some 5,000 British citizens, despite its being a clear-cut case of an "occupied territory." Ironically, while the European Union releases harsh statements against Israel for any construction in West Bank settlements, it has nothing to say about tens of thousands of Turkish settlers that have moved into Northern Cyprus. Nor are European governments condemning their own citizens who build beach-front villas in territory under Turkish occupation. The writer, a former Israeli ambassador to the UN, is president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. (DAILY ALERT - Israel Hayom)


THE PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY’S INCONVENIENT TRUTHS. Here are examples of some of the inconvenient truths that the Palestinian leadership in the West Bank does not want others to know about: Over 100 senior PLO and Fatah officials hold Israeli-issued VIP cards that grant them various privileges denied to most Palestinians. Out of the 600 Christians from Gaza who visited the West Bank to celebrate Christmas, dozens have asked to move to Israel. Dozens of Christian families from east Jerusalem have moved to Jewish neighborhoods because they no longer feel comfortable living among Muslims. PA security forces in the West Bank continue to arrest journalists and bloggers who dare to criticize the Palestinian leadership. Tens of thousands of PA civil servants in Gaza have received salaries to stay at home and not work since 2007. More than 40,000 Palestinians have received permits to work in Israel, while another 15,000 work in Jewish settlements in spite of an official ban. (DAILY ALERT - Gatestone Institute)


IDF PREPARING HOSPITALS FOR CHEMICAL ATTACKS. The IDF Home Front Command is preparing all hospitals in Israel for a range of security threats, including large-scale missile attacks and chemical attacks, a senior military source said Wednesday. Exercises include training hospital staff to deal with "mega-mass casualty incidents." All 27 hospitals in Israel have undergone intensive chemical weapons drills, including surprise exercises. The hospitals undergo 25 emergency drills per year. According to Home Front Command evaluations, even in the event of wide-scale rocket attacks, a low casualty rate can be expected. The source noted that the 11,000 rockets fired from Gaza between 2000 and November 2012 (before the Gaza conflict) resulted in 22 casualties. (Jerusalem Post)


• OVERHEATED RHETORIC ON ISRAELI SETTLEMENTS. wo mistaken but widely held notions regarding Israeli-Palestinian peace are that the settlements are the principal obstacle to a deal and that further construction will make a Palestinian state impossible. • Following the 1993 Oslo accords, Prime Minister Netanyahu's government, like several before it, has limited building almost entirely to areas that both sides expect Israel to annex through territorial swaps in an eventual settlement. For example, the Jerusalem neighborhoods where new construction was announced last month were conceded to Israel by Palestinian negotiators in 2008. • Overall, the vast majority of the nearly 500,000 settlers in Jerusalem and the West Bank live in areas close to Israel's 1967 borders. Data compiled by the S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace show that more than 80% of them could be included in Israel if the country annexed just 4% of the West Bank. • Diplomats were most concerned by Netanyahu's decision to allow planning and zoning - but not yet construction - in a four-mile strip of territory known as E-1 that lies between Jerusalem and Ma'ale Adumim, a settlement with a population of more than 40,000. Israel wants to prevent Ma'ale Adumim - which will almost certainly be annexed to Israel in any peace deal - from being isolated. • This is a difficult issue that should be settled at the negotiating table, but Netanyahu's zoning approval is hardly the "almost fatal blow" to a two-state solution that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon described. The exaggerated rhetoric puts pressure on Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to make a "freeze" on the construction a condition for beginning peace talks, a demand which has prevented negotiations for most of the past four years. If Security Council members are really interested in progress toward Palestinian statehood, they will press Abbas to stop using settlements as an excuse for intransigence - and cool their own overheated rhetoric (DAILY ALERT - Washington Post).


ISRAEL’S IRON DOME SAVED PALESTINIAN LIVES, TOO. • A senior engineer with Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, the Israeli company that developed the Iron Dome missile defense system, said that during the conflict in November in Gaza, when the system shot down 421 short-range missiles headed for Israeli cities, after a few days of fighting Israel changed its tactical doctrine. • Iron Dome used to fire two interceptors at every rocket, in case the first missed. They quickly realized that was a waste. The system was good enough that if it wasn't possible on the first shot, the second wouldn't get it, either. He said as long as the equipment works, they expect to hit their target every time. • Every day of the conflict, military officers gave his company all of the data collected by Iron Dome computers and military radars for the last 24 hours. Rafael engineers would then work through the night, tweaking the software that controls Iron Dome. "The improvements were measurable," the engineer told me. "We did a little bit better every day." • He recounted how Israel added another battery of Iron Dome interceptors to Tel Aviv in the middle of the conflict, assembling the disparate components of the full battery in just two days. All previous batteries had taken two weeks to activate. • Because of Iron Dome, "we didn't have to invade Gaza....And all the interceptors we fired cost less than one day of ground fighting in Gaza." Hamas might not like to admit it, but Iron Dome saved Palestinian lives, too (DAILY ALERT - National Post-Canada).


ISRAEL REMAINS AN ISLAND OF STABILITY AMONG HOSTILE ISLAMIST MOVEMENTS. • At first, the awakening of the Arab nations - in an attempt to topple dictatorial regimes that had ruled for decades - was met with justified enthusiasm in the West. But one cannot ignore the instability, economic crises and disturbing rise of Islamic movements - all of which place a huge question mark over the hopes for dramatic changes in the Arab world. • For Israel, it will now be harder to attempt to reach peace agreements with Islamic regimes that derive their support from local public opinion (which is largely extremely hostile toward Israel). • On the other hand, Israel has certain advantages in the new situation that has been created during the Arab awakening. The conventional threat posed by the Syrian army and the potential of a similar threat from the Egyptian army (should there be a serious escalation in tensions between Jerusalem and Cairo) have almost completely vanished. • Hamas deliberately escalated its confrontation with Israel on the eve of Operation Pillar of Defense in November, with the assumption that it would be supported by the Muslim Brotherhood-led government in Cairo. However, that support was not forthcoming. Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood leader, Khairat al-Shater, even warned that his country would not allow Hamas to drag it into a war with Israel (Ha'aretz).

Copyright © Johny Noer - www.noer.info. All rights reserved.
Updated: 31. december 2013 15:55:29.