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  DAILY ALERT Thursday,
June 16, 2011

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Power Dynamics Inside Hamas: The Increasing Weight of the Gaza Leadership - Lt. Col. (ret.) Jonathan D. Halevi (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
    The recent overt confrontation between Mahmoud al-Zahar, the Minister of Foreign Affairs in Gaza, and Damascus-based Hamas political bureau leader Khaled Mashaal reflects underground currents feeding the tension within the Hamas leadership in Gaza and Syria.
    Al-Zahar is demanding that Hamas-Gaza be given more weight in decision-making, while the Hamas leadership abroad contends that the center of power should remain outside of Palestine.
    Since the Israeli disengagement from Gaza in 2005, the Hamas government has gained significant political and economic power that has weakened the dependence of Hamas-Gaza on the Hamas leadership abroad. In addition, Hamas' main military forces are stationed in Gaza.
    The current main interest of Mashaal and his colleagues is to promote reconciliation with Fatah in order to pave the way for Hamas to join the PLO and take over the organization that is recognized internationally as the sole representative of the Palestinian people.

Arab Spring Fractures Muslim Brotherhood Alliances - Nicholas Noe and Walid Raad (Bloomberg)
    Much of the commentary in the Arabic media in recent days has focused on the realignments taking place across the Middle East as a result of the various Arab uprisings.
    Ammar Nehmeh wrote in the Beirut-based As-Safir that Hizbullah is now discovering that its long honeymoon with the Muslim Brotherhood is ending.
    With the fall of some key pro-Western dictators, the Sunni Muslim Brotherhood's antagonism towards non-Arab, Shiite Iran and its ally, Shiite Hizbullah, has grown more pronounced.

Israel Police Names First Muslim Deputy Inspector-General - Omri Efraim (Ynet News)
    Jamal Hakroush on Wednesday became the first Muslim Israel Police officer to ascend to the rank of deputy inspector-general. He was recently nominated to the office of deputy chief of the Traffic Department.
    "I am proud of the Israel Police for choosing me based on my qualifications and nothing else," Hakroush said in an interview. "My religion and origin are facts I do not ignore, but I have never, in all my years of service, felt discriminated against or hurt by it."
    Hakroush began serving in the police force in 1978. He has previously served as district commander of two districts as well as the commander of three stations.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. Envoys Try to Renew Israeli-Palestinian Talks - Tia Goldenberg
    Senior U.S. diplomats Dennis Ross and David Hale have returned to the Middle East for an unannounced visit to try to find a way to restart Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. The first big challenge for the U.S. envoys is to find a formula for talks that would entice the Palestinians to drop their bid for unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state at the UN in September. (AP)
  • Turkish IHH Signals U-Turn on Gaza Plan - Fulya Ozerkan
    The Turkish IHH group appears to be backing away from its previous resolve to send a new aid flotilla to Gaza, saying Tuesday that it may cancel its plans. "We are reconsidering our plans. We cannot close our eyes to the developments on our doorstep," said Huseyin Oruc, a board member of the IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation and the spokesman for the new flotilla. "From our point of view, the developments in neighboring Syria are critically important."
        Earlier this month, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu urged the flotilla's organizers to see how the Egyptian opening of the Rafah border crossing with Gaza has affected the situation before heading there. That was the first time the government had suggested flotilla organizers should reconsider their plans. (Hurriyet-Turkey)
        See also French Flotilla Ship Won't Sail - Ronen Medzini
    The French Jewish community has succeeded in preventing one of the ships slated to participate in the flotilla to Gaza later this month from sailing from the port of Marseille. Pressure applied by parliament members and organizations on local insurance companies prevented the ship from docking in France. (Ynet News)
        See also Gaza Flotilla Set to Sail, With or Without Turkish IHH - Jack Khoury and Barak Ravid (Ha'aretz)
  • Al-Qaeda: No. 2 Al-Zawahri Succeeds Bin Laden - Hamza Hendawi
    Al-Qaeda's longtime No. 2 leader, Ayman al-Zawahri, 60, an Egyptian doctor who worked with Osama bin Laden for decades, has succeeded the slain terrorist as head of the global network, the group said Thursday. In a 2001 treatise, Zawahri set down the long-term strategy for the jihadi movement - to inflict "as many casualties as possible" on the Americans. "Pursuing the Americans and Jews is not an impossible task," he wrote. "Killing them is not impossible, whether by a bullet, a knife stab, a bomb or a strike with an iron bar."  (AP-ABC News)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Key Countries Will Stand with Israel at UN; Netanyahu Outlines Components of Peace Deal - Tovah Lazaroff, Gil Hoffman and Lahav Harkov
    Israel Foreign Ministry Director-General Rafi Barak held a conference call on Wednesday with Israeli diplomats to receive an update on their efforts to persuade their host countries to oppose Palestinian unilateral moves. A number of European countries said they would stand with Israel at the UN in September to oppose a unilaterally declared Palestinian state, including Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, America and Canada.
        At the Knesset on Wednesday, Prime Minister Netanyahu reiterated the points that Israel believes are necessary for a peace deal: "The settlement blocs will remain part of Israel in a final-status agreement." "Jerusalem will remain Israel's sovereign, united capital." The Palestinians would have to recognize that Israel is the national homeland of the Jewish people, and a peace deal would need to meet Israel's security requirements, including maintaining an Israeli military presence in the Jordan Valley. The final-status agreement must end all claims against Israel by the Palestinians. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Deputy Foreign Minister: Palestinian Momentum toward September Halted (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israel Marks Record Defense Exports in 2010 - Yaakov Katz
    Israeli defense exports reaching a record $7.2 billion in 2010, in comparison to $6.9b. in 2009, the Defense Ministry announced on Wednesday. Israel specializes in the development and production of unmanned aerial vehicles, mini satellites, command-and-control systems, armored vehicles and the refurbishment of various types of commercial and military aircraft. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Silence on Syria - Editorial
    It has been four weeks since President Obama said it would be "a top priority" of his administration to oppose violent repression and support democratic transitions across the Middle East, using "all of the diplomatic, economic and strategic tools at our disposal." He singled out Syria, where the regime of President Bashar al-Assad has gunned down hundreds of peaceful protesters, choosing what Mr. Obama called "the path of murder."
        The French government has adopted the position that the Assad regime has lost the legitimacy to govern Syria. But the Obama administration has not abandoned the notion that the dictator could still steer Syria to democracy - as ludicrous as that sounds. (Washington Post)
  • U.S.-Saudi Relations - Robert Satloff
    The false bravado of former Saudi ambassador to Washington Turki al-Faisal in a Washington Post op-ed is likely to be taken with greater seriousness than it deserves. In a sad and ultimately pathetic attempt to scare Washington into choosing between its partnerships with Israel and Saudi Arabia, Turki threatened a diplomatic apocalypse if President Obama follows through on his pledge to oppose a Palestinian end-around to negotiations via a UN resolution on statehood this autumn.
        Recent events, of course, suggest precisely the opposite. In last year's test run for this autumn's diplomatic crisis, there was no visible backlash from Riyadh after the Obama administration vetoed a UN Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlement activity.
        To be sure, U.S.-Saudi relations are in a funk - but that has much less to do with Riyadh's exasperation at Obama's alleged pro-Israel bias than with exasperation at what Saudis view as Washington's ill-conceived approach to political change in Arab states, coupled with their longstanding wish for American action to solve their Iranian problem (e.g., "cut off the head of the snake"). The notion that Riyadh would chuck what remains of its 70-year strategic relationship with Washington out of pique at one more U.S. veto of a bad idea at the UN is patently absurd. The writer is executive director of the Washington Institute. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • Abbas Has No Mandate - Khaled Abu Toameh
    As the Palestinian Authority continues to threaten to ask the UN in September to recognize a Palestinian state along the pre-1967 lines, someone needs to ask President Mahmoud Abbas whether he really has a mandate from his people to embark on such a step. Today, there is no Palestinian leader who has a mandate to make any concessions to Israel in return for peace - especially when it comes to explosive issues such as the future of Jerusalem or the "right of return" for Palestinian refugees. Abbas' term in office expired in early 2009 and since then Palestinians haven't been given a chance to choose a new president through free and democratic elections.
        Important and historic decisions, such as seeking UN recognition of a Palestinian state, are being taken without an open debate. PLO and Fatah officials who have come out against Abbas' decision to go to the UN in September are being accused by Fatah-run newspapers and web sites of being part of an "outside conspiracy" to undermine the Palestinian Authority. (Hudson Institute-New York)

The Dangers of Premature Recognition of a Palestinian State (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

  • In a few months, the Palestinian Authority is expected to violate its agreements with Israel and all the international frameworks for Mideast peace by seeking premature recognition of a Palestinian state in the UN in September.
  • Israel remains dedicated to direct negotiations as the only method of resolving the conflict. Meanwhile, the PA has long abandoned peace negotiations. Instead, the Palestinian leadership has embarked on the path of unilateral action, preferring to attempt to force their will on Israel through international pressure.
  • UN Security Council Resolutions 242, 338, 1850 and the Roadmap for peace all call for a mutually-negotiated and agreed resolution of the conflict. All reject unilateral actions.
  • A unilateral declaration of Palestinian statehood would intensify rather than end the conflict. Indeed, the Palestinians would no longer have any incentive to negotiate and compromise.
  • Premature recognition would also allow the Palestinians to continue to avoid the important step of mutual recognition, which includes Israel's right to exist as the nation-state of the Jewish people.
  • Finally, the PA currently fails to meet the established legal tests for statehood. It does not rule the territory in question.

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