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  DAILY ALERT Thursday,
June 9, 2011

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In-Depth Issues:

U.S. Seeks Help from Egypt in Recapturing Terrorists at Large - Eli Lake (Washington Times)
    The Obama administration is engaged in a quiet and largely fruitless effort to persuade Egypt's security services to arrest scores of terrorists who were released or escaped from prison during the country's recent revolution.
    Daniel Benjamin, U.S. ambassador at large for counterterrorism, last month provided the military council in charge of Egypt with a list of about two dozen terrorists thought to be at large.
    The U.S. list includes Rifa Ahmed Taha, one of the original signatories of Osama bin Laden's declaration of war against the U.S. and, until his 2001 rendition and detention in Egypt, a senior leader of the Egyptian Islamic Group, the organization responsible for the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center.
    Also on the list is Mohammed Omar Abdel-Rahman, the son of Omar Abdel-Rahman, who is serving a life sentence in a federal prison for plotting bombings of New York City tunnels in the 1990s.
    Also on the list are Shawky Salama Mostafa and Mohammed Hassan Mahmoud, who are connected to al-Qaeda and were captured by U.S. forces in 1998 in Albania but sent to Egypt for trial.

Demographic Realities and Peace - Spengler (Asia Times-Hong Kong)
    President Barack Obama was misinformed when he told AIPAC on May 22 that "the number of Palestinians living west of the Jordan River is growing rapidly and fundamentally reshaping the demographic realities of both Israel and the Palestinian territories."
    In fact, Palestinian fertility on the West Bank has already converged on the Israeli fertility rate of three children per woman, if we believe the Palestine Ministry of Health rather than the PA Statistics Bureau.
    Around 80,000 Palestinian men are employed by one or another of the "security forces" in Gaza and the West Bank. The actual number of men aged 20 to 40 in the territories is probably around 400,000, which means that one in five has a job carrying a gun. Taking unemployment into account, that implies that one in three Palestinian men with a full-time job is a gunman.
    The top school for Palestinian computer science students is Ariel University in Samaria, in the midst of a Jewish settlement. The education that young Arabs receive at the settlers' university on the West Bank is better than anything available among Israel's Arab neighbors. In a quiet way, the settlers of Samaria may do more for peace than the diplomats.

Poll: 3/4 of Palestinians Optimistic about the Future (JMCC-IMRA)
    75% of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza feel optimistic or very optimistic about the future, according to a poll by the Jerusalem Media & Communications Center conducted May 31-June 4.
    54% support a two-state solution, while 24% prefer a single bi-national state, and 2% an Islamic state.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Obama to Palestinians: Drop UN Statehood Bid
    At a joint press conference in Washington Tuesday with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, President Obama noted: "We agree that unilateral actions - such as Palestinians seeking a vote on statehood at the UN General Assembly - should be avoided....We want a Jewish state of Israel alongside an independent Palestinian state. Unilateral measures are not helping at all to bring about this cause."   (White House)
  • Iran Plans to Triple Its Uranium-Enrichment Capacity - Thomas Erdbrink
    Iran is moving its production of higher-enriched uranium to a mountain bunker, where it plans to triple output by using more advanced centrifuges, Iranian nuclear chief Fereydoun Abbasi told state television Wednesday. The new location, named Fordo, is dug deep into a mountain next to a military base near Qom. (Washington Post)
  • Syria Faces UN Security Council over Atomic-Weapon Work
    Syria faces a referral to the UN Security Council over a site, destroyed in a 2007 Israeli raid, that the U.S. says was a clandestine nuclear plant designed to build weapons. European nations joined the U.S. Wednesday at the International Atomic Energy Agency in seeking to report Syrian non-compliance with nuclear-safeguard agreements.
        There is "a history of concealment of Syria's nuclear activities," a draft resolution says. "The resulting absence of confidence that Syria's nuclear program is exclusively for peaceful purposes" has "given rise to concerns regarding the maintenance of international peace and security." A Security Council referral may result in UN-imposed sanctions on Syria. (Bloomberg)
        See also Europeans Face Vetoes of UN Measure Condemning Syrian Repression - Bill Varner
    Britain, France, Germany and Portugal urged the UN Security Council Thursday to adopt a resolution condemning the Syrian government's crackdown on protesters, and faced the prospect of Russian and Chinese vetoes. Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said his government could not support the measure "because we are not persuaded it can help establish dialogue, reach a political settlement and put an end to the violence."  (Bloomberg)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • PA May Delay Plans to Ask UN for Statehood in September - Khaled Abu Toameh and Herb Keinon
    The Palestinian Authority may postpone plans to ask the UN in September to recognize a Palestinian state along the pre-1967 lines, a senior PA official in Ramallah said on Wednesday. The official said that the PA leadership would discuss the possibility of postponing the move in return for American and international guarantees. An Israeli government source said the PA official's comments were possibly a response "to the fact that important players in the international community have said in clear terms that going to the UN is not a productive step."
        "We are under pressure from the Americans and some Europeans to postpone the plan to ask for UN recognition in September," the Palestinian official said. "They are even threatening to impose financial sanctions on us if we don't comply."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israel Complains to UN Over Syria's "Dangerous" Border Provocations - Barak Ravid
    The Israeli delegation to the UN has written to the UN chief and the president of the UN Security Council condemning Syria's "dangerous provocations" on its border with Israel on Sunday. The letter said that the Syrian government bears the responsibility for any harm caused to the individuals who tried to breach the border with Israel. (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Egypt: The Revolution Blows Up - Niall Ferguson
    Except for the oil exporting countries, the economic consequences of the Arab revolutionary wave have been almost entirely negative. In a report published last month, the Institute of International Finance predicted that growth in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Syria, and Tunisia will fall from 4.4% in 2010 to -0.5% this year. Egypt's economy will contract by 2.5%, Yemen's by 4%.
        Egypt's Central Agency for Statistics estimates that the economic losses incurred when the crowds thronged Tahrir Square were about $1.7 billion. Add to that the subsequent losses in revenue from tourism, the cost of ongoing disruption due to strikes, and the enforced return of more than a million migrant workers fleeing war-torn Libya.
        The big story, however, is capital flight. Rich Arabs do not trust this revolution and have been rushing to get their cash into safe havens. According to Reuters, the country's foreign-exchange reserves fell by as much as a third in the first three months of the year. Al-Hayat estimates that $30 billion has left Egypt since the onset of the Arab Spring. (Newsweek)
  • Syria Changes the Subject - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Syrian dictator Bashar Assad is now trying to direct the heat toward Israel. Facing growing protests in his country, Assad has decided to send Palestinians living in Syria to march on the border with Israel, even if that means that some of them could get killed or wounded by land mines or gunfire. Assad, of course, has never cared about the Palestinians. Assad wants the international community and media to focus their attention on the Israel-Syria border and not on the daily massacres that his regime has been perpetrating against Syrians. (Hudson Institute-New York)
        See also The Syrian Diversion - Editorial (Wall Street Journal)
        See also Palestinians' Deadly Strategy Doomed to Fail - John Lyons
    The new strategy of Palestinian refugees in Syria to try to break through the border with Israel is deadly and doomed to fail. What is meant to draw attention to the plight of Palestinian refugees in fact allows Israel to argue that it cannot agree to a Palestinian state while it has so much instability on its borders. (The Australian)
  • Undeserving Case for a Palestinian State - Salim Mansur
    In his recent plea in the New York Times for "The Long Overdue Palestinian State," PA President Mahmoud Abbas recalls the "nakba" (or catastrophe) of Palestinian loss in 1948. This is the preferred Arab narrative in which Palestinians are victims of Western powers and Zionist Jews through the agency of the UN. Palestinians cannot, and will not, acknowledge that what occurred in 1947-48 came about as a result of the catastrophic miscalculation on the part of their leadership and Arab states. Within a few hours of Israel's independence in May 1948, Arab armies invaded the Jewish state. Those who plan war and initiate it must know there are consequences both in victory and in defeat.
        What no one asks is why Palestinian rejection of the UN's 1947 plan and Arab aggression against Israel merit reward of the same more than six decades later? Why do 355 million Arabs need 22 states when there is only one China and one India with their respective population of more than a billion people in each state? The reason Palestinians will receive the General Assembly's undeserving support is due to the real, though unstated, institutionalized bigotry inside the world body that once voted Zionism as a form of racism. Against such bigotry there is no appeal for fairness. (Toronto Sun-Canada)

Why Israel Cannot Return to the 1949 Armistice Borders - Michael Oren (Foreign Policy)

  • On June 4, 1967, a half-million Arab soldiers and more than 5,000 tanks converged on Israel from every direction, including the West Bank, then part of Jordan. Their plans called for obliterating Israel's army, conquering the country, and killing large numbers of civilians. Iraqi President Abdul Rahman Arif said the Arab goal was to wipe Israel off the map. Many Israelis feverishly dug trenches and filled sandbags, while others secretly dug 10,000 graves for the presumed victims.
  • Israel's borders at the time were demarcated by the armistice lines established at the end of Israel's war of independence 18 years earlier. These lines left Israel a mere 9 miles wide at its most populous area. Enemy planes struck Israeli cities, including Hadera, Netanya, Kfar Saba, and the northern suburbs of Tel Aviv; and thousands of artillery shells fired from the West Bank pummeled greater Tel Aviv and West Jerusalem.
  • In six days, Israel repelled the incursions by Arab forces and established secure boundaries. Most significantly, Israel replaced the indefensible armistice lines by reuniting Jerusalem and capturing the West Bank from Jordan.
  • Israel remains committed to the vision of two states living side by side in peace. But peace is predicated on security and on our ability to defend ourselves if the peace breaks down. We need defensible borders to ensure that Israel will never again pose an attractive target for attack.

    The writer is Israel's Ambassador to the U.S.

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Today's issue of Daily Alert was prepared in Israel on Isru Chag.