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  DAILY ALERT Thursday,
July 28, 2011

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Poll: Sharp Drop in Iran's Popularity in Arab World - Natasha Mozgovaya (Ha'aretz)
    Iran's popularity in the Arab world has sharply dropped in the past decade, according to a new poll by the Arab American Institute presented in Washington on Wednesday.
    The poll, conducted in June in Morocco, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates, shows that majorities in all countries but Lebanon saw Iran as influencing the region negatively.
    "It really was rather shocking," said the director of the Arab American Institute, Dr. James Zogby. "Even a couple of years ago, people would say, 'Oh, Arab leaders are against Iran, but their people aren't.'"
    In 2006, Iran's positive rating stood at 68-82%, while today it stands at 6% in Saudi Arabia, 14% in Morocco, 22% in the UAE, 23% in Jordan, and 37% in Egypt.

Three Polls: Muslim Brotherhood Is Unpopular in Egypt - Max Fisher (Atlantic Monthly)
    Journalists seem to take the Muslim Brotherhood's coming dominance as inevitable, but does the group actually have that kind of popular support?
    For most of Egypt's modern history, we've never had a way to know because political restrictions made polling so difficult.
    But with President Hosni Mubarak gone, major polling firms have been able to survey support for the Brotherhood among the Egyptian public three times now: in February by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (15% support), in May by Gallup (15%), and in July by Newsweek (17%).

Archaeologists Uncover Ancient City of Shechem in West Bank (AP-Huffington Post)
    Dutch and Palestinian archaeologists are preparing to open the site of the ancient city of Shechem, in the West Bank city of Nablus, to the public as an archaeological park next year.
    Shechem, positioned in a pass between the mountains of Gerizim and Eibal, was an important regional center more than 3,500 years ago.
    As the existing remains show, it lay within fortifications of massive stones, was entered through monumental gates and centered on a temple with walls five yards (meters) thick.
    The city appears often in the biblical narrative. The patriarch Abraham, for example, was passing near Shechem when God promised to give the land of Canaan to his descendants in the Book of Genesis.
    See also Excavations Done at Former Israelite Capital Shechem - Oren Kessler (Jerusalem Post)

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Abbas Calls for "Popular Resistance" in Support of Palestinian UN Bid - Tom Perry and Ali Sawafta
    President Mahmoud Abbas, addressing a Palestine Liberation Organization meeting on Wednesday, urged "popular resistance" against Israel inspired by the Arab Spring to back a diplomatic offensive at the UN. "In this coming period, we want mass action, organized and coordinated in every place," Abbas said. Abbas' comments in Ramallah marked the first time he had openly urged popular activism in support of the UN initiative. (Reuters)
  • U.S. to Oppose Palestinian Recognition at UN - Margaret Besheer
    The U.S. has made clear it will oppose a possible Palestinian bid for state recognition at the UN this September. U.S. Deputy UN Ambassador Rosemary DiCarlo told the UN Security Council: "Let there be no doubt: symbolic actions to isolate Israel at the United Nations in September will not create an independent Palestinian state. The United States will not support unilateral campaigns at the United Nations in September or any other time."
        The U.S. is one of five veto-wielding permanent members of the Security Council. Without a recommendation by the Security Council, a state cannot be admitted to the UN. DiCarlo said there are no "short-cuts" to a two-state solution. She said a viable and sustainable peace can only be achieved through mutual agreement between the Palestinians and Israelis on outstanding issues. (VOA News)
        See also Abbas: U.S. Rejection of Statehood Plan Unclear - Khaled Abu Toameh
    The Palestinian Authority leadership hasn't yet heard from the U.S. administration that Washington is opposed to the plan to ask the UN to recognize a Palestinian state on the pre-1967 lines, PA President Mahmoud Abbas said on Wednesday. (Jerusalem Post)
  • U.S.: "Change Is Coming to Syria" - Lee Smith
    Assistant Secretary of State Jeffrey D. Feltman told the House Committee on Foreign Affairs Wednesday that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad isn't going to survive the 5-month long uprising against his regime. "He can't win this," said Feltman, which now seems to be the administration's official assessment. Assad is going down. (Weekly Standard)
        See also Tough Bipartisan Questioning by Congress of U.S. Policy on Syria - Paul Richter
    Republican and Democratic members of a House panel complain that the effort to calibrate a message on Syria has failed to make it clear the U.S. stands with protesters against an oppressive regime. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Protesters Sweep through Syrian City in Nightly Defiance - Roula Hajjar
    YouTube footage of a mass evening protest in Dair Alzour on Monday shows protesters clapping in unison to the slogan that has become the catchphrase of the Arab world, "The people want to overthrow the regime." Despite brutal security measures, Syrian anti-regime protesters have remained intent on taking to the streets and voicing their demands. "Night demonstrations are growing larger," said Hamad Jilat, a resident of Dair Alzour. (Los Angeles Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel Sees Lebanon Bombing as Warning to UNIFIL - Yaakov Katz
    The bombing of a UNIFIL convoy in southern Lebanon on Tuesday was likely aimed at sending a message to the peacekeeping force to scale back its operations against Hizbullah, Israeli defense officials said on Wednesday. According to UNIFIL's current rules of engagement, the force is not allowed to enter Lebanese villages to search for Hizbullah arms caches unless it coordinates the operation with the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF). Israel has been lobbying countries which contribute to UNIFIL - particularly Spain, Italy and France - to get the UN to issue new rules of engagement that will enable UNIFIL to search Lebanese villages without prior coordination with the LAF. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Senior Israeli Diplomat: UN Often Sympathetic to Israel Behind the Scenes - Shlomo Shamir
    Discussions and negotiations taking place behind-the-scenes in the UN Security Council are often sympathetic to Israeli positions on critical issues relating to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, according to Amir Weissbrod, a senior Israeli diplomat and top adviser to the Israeli delegation in the UN. Moreover, the dramatic events of the Arab Spring have caused many to rethink the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as the main source of instability in the Middle East.
        There is also a general behind-the-scenes consensus regarding the Palestinian right of return. Weissbrod says that in nearly every meeting, representatives have come to fully understand the Israeli refusal to agree to the right of return. (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Before UN Diplomatic Showdown, a Palestinian Budget Crisis - Ethan Bronner
    The Palestinian Authority is mired in a severe economic crisis, leading many in Ramallah to a sense of foreboding and despair. More than 150,000 state employees, whose salaries support a million people, had their wages cut in half this month. Palestinian banks have lent the government more than $1 billion and do not want to lend more. The immediate cause of the crisis is the failure of foreign - especially Arab - donors to fulfill promises of aid. This week, Saudi Arabia announced a $30 million donation to the PA. By contrast, the Saudis just gave Jordan $1 billion on the heels of an earlier $400 million.
        A top Israeli military official complained that the PA had chosen politics over development in recent decisions, notably in its handling of West Bank projects to be financed by Turkey, France and Japan. All have failed to materialize, he said, because of disagreements between the PA and Israel over who would control the land on which the projects would rise. (New York Times)
        See also Will the Arab League Pay for Palestine? - Elliott Abrams
    Because donors are not meeting their pledges, the PA is nearly broke and cannot meet its payroll. As PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad has candidly pointed out, the U.S., EU, and Israel are meeting their commitments. It is solely because Arab states are not paying up. With crude oil in the area of $100 a barrel, the oil-rich Gulf states have the money. And that being the case, this is a far better test than speeches and UN votes of just how committed to Palestinian progress they really are. (Council on Foreign Relations)
  • Hizbullah: Party of Fraud - Matthew Levitt
    A series of international investigations into Hizbullah's criminal activities over the past several years has revealed a sophisticated, organized, global crime network bringing in tens of millions of dollars in profit each year. In Miami last October, a group of businessmen pled guilty to attempting to ship electronics to a shopping center in South America that the U.S. Treasury Department designated as a Hizbullah front. In Philadelphia in 2009, ten individuals were charged with conspiring to provide material support for Hizbullah through trafficking counterfeit goods.
        Since the early 1990s, Hizbullah has operated with a guaranteed annual contribution of at least $100 million a year from Tehran. Early last decade, Iran doubled that investment to more than $200 million a year. But according to Israeli intelligence, economic pressures forced Tehran to slash its annual budget for Hizbullah by 40% in early 2009. (Foreign Policy)
        See also Hizbullah, Taliban Operatives Face Drug Charges in U.S. (Reuters)

An Independent Palestine Couldn't Pay Its Own Bills - Lawrence Solomon (National Post-Canada)

  • Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain, the five countries whose financial obligations burden the EU, may soon be joined by another that the EU may unwittingly be taking on - Palestine.
  • If Palestine declares statehood this September, the EU would be implicitly assuming an open-ended financial burden for the country since, without Israeli good will, a Palestinian state couldn't support itself.
  • Almost two-thirds of Palestinian government net income - about $1.5 billion per year - comes from tax collected on the Palestinians' behalf and remitted to them by Israel. The continuation of this revenue stream depends on good relations between a sovereign Palestine and Israel.
  • In addition, 87% of Palestinian exports now go to Israel, making the Palestinian economy dependent on good relations with its neighbor. Furthermore, one-seventh of the total Palestinian workforce, constituting one-quarter of the total Palestinian payroll, work in Israeli settlements, which the PA seeks to ban.
  • Palestine without Israel has no viable economy. If Europe, through its encouragement of a premature Palestine, breaks the Palestinian economy, it could own it.

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