Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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  DAILY ALERT Thursday,
December 20, 2012

In-Depth Issues:

Poll: 76 Percent of Israelis Believe a Withdrawal to the 1967 Lines Will Not End the Conflict (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
    76% of Israelis (83% of Jews) believe that a withdrawal to the 1967 lines and a division of Jerusalem would not bring about an end to the conflict with the Palestinians, according to a survey of Israeli public opinion by the Dahaf Institute released Thursday by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.
    61% of the Jewish population believes that defensible borders are more important than peace for assuring Israel's security (up from 49% in 2005).
    78% of Jews indicated they would change their vote in the upcoming elections if the party they intended to support indicated that it was prepared to relinquish sovereignty in east Jerusalem.
    59% of Jews said the same about the Jordan Valley.

U.S. Proposes Boundary for Israel, Lebanon Maritime Gas Deposits - Nicholas Blanford (Christian Science Monitor)
    The U.S. has proposed a boundary between the maritime economic zones of Lebanon and Israel to help end a lingering dispute and open up oil and gas exploration in the eastern Mediterranean.
    "Both sides appear to be interested in an equitable solution," said a source familiar with the U.S. proposal.
    The boundary submitted by Israel to the UN lay some 10 miles northeast of Lebanon's proposed boundary, creating a 330 square mile overlap.

Iran Sidesteps Sanctions to Export its Fuel Oil - Humeyra Pamuk and Emma Farge (Reuters)
    Iran is becoming increasingly creative in dodging Western sanctions, managing to sell a rising volume of fuel oil to generate revenue equal to up to a third of its crude exports.
    "The National Iranian Oil Company has been very successful in finding new strategies to circumvent sanctions and sold its fuel oil to Asia in August and September. Now we think Middle Eastern buyers of Iranian fuel oil have reappeared," said Salar Moradi, oil analyst at FACTS Global Energy.

Israel Teams with Google to Launch Digital Library of 5,000 Dead Sea Scroll Images (AP-Washington Post)
    Israel on Tuesday put 5,000 fragments of the ancient Dead Sea scrolls online in a partnership with Google.
    The digital library includes texts like the Book of Deuteronomy, which includes the Ten Commandments, and a portion of the first chapter of the Book of Genesis, dated to the first century BCE.
    View the scrolls.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • UN Confirms Hizbullah Fighting for Assad in Syria - Nick Cumming-Bruce
    Syria's civil war has evolved from a battle over political change into a conflict that is "overtly sectarian," pulling fighters from across the Middle East and North Africa into the fray, a UN-appointed panel led by Brazilian Paulo Pinheiro said Thursday. "Entire communities are at risk of being forced out of the country or killed inside the country," it said.
        Lebanon's Shiite group Hizbullah had confirmed its members were fighting for the Assad government, the panel said, and it was investigating reports that Iraqi Shiites had also entered Syria. Iran had also confirmed that members of its Revolutionary Guards Corps are providing the Assad regime with support. (New York Times)
  • Rebels Seize Towns in Central Syria - Mariam Karouny
    Syrian rebels have captured at least six towns in the central province of Hama. Qassem Saadeddine, a member of the rebel military command, said most of the rural western part of Hama province was under the control of the rebels. Assad's opponents already hold much of the northern provinces of Aleppo and Idlib, and are fighting to advance from the southern Damascus suburbs towards the heart of the capital. (Reuters)
  • House Votes to Squeeze Iran's Western Hemisphere Activities - Pete Kasperowicz
    The U.S. House of Representatives voted Tuesday to require the State Department to come up with a plan for thwarting Iran's activities in the Western Hemisphere. "Iran's Ahmadinejad made two trips to Latin America this year in an attempt to garner support from his fellow tyrants - the Castro brothers in Cuba, Ortega in Nicaragua, Correa in Ecuador, Chavez in Venezuela, and Morales in Bolivia," said House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.).
        "According to a U.S. intelligence analyst, these diplomatic meetings are simply fronts for Iran to carry out its nefarious activities in the region, and a potential platform to increase the presence of Quds force operatives, a designated foreign terrorist organization and an arm of Iran's Revolutionary Guard."  (The Hill)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Netanyahu: "All Israeli Governments Have Built in Jerusalem" - Raphael Ahren and Gabe Fisher
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday reiterated Israel's right to build in the eastern neighborhoods of Jerusalem, notwithstanding global outcries. Speaking to ambassadors of Asian countries on the balcony of Jerusalem's King David Hotel, overlooking the walls of the Old City, Netanyahu said: "The walls of Jerusalem that you see behind us represent the capital of the Jewish people for 3,000 years."
        "Imagine that you would limit construction in your own capital. It doesn't make sense...we are committed to our capital; we're committed to peace; and we're going to build in Jerusalem for all its residents. This is something that has been done by all previous governments."  (Times of Israel)
        See also U.S. Blocks UN Condemnation of Jerusalem Construction - Yori Yalon
    The U.S. on Wednesday torpedoed a UN Security Council condemnation against Israel over recently approved plans to build hundreds of new housing units in Jerusalem, Israel Radio reported. State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said on Tuesday that the U.S. would not support a proposal for a Security Council resolution. (Israel Hayom)
  • Israeli Court Indicts Palestinian Bus Bomber - Yaniv Kubovich
    The Tel Aviv District Court on Wednesday indicted Mohammed Mafarja, a Palestinian residing in Israel as part of the family reunification plan, who planted a bomb on a Tel Aviv bus on Nov. 21, wounding 28 people. Other Palestinians arrested for participating in the bombing, who were linked to Hamas and Islamic Jihad, were from the West Bank village of Beit Lakiya. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Terrorist Practiced Tel Aviv Bus Bombing - Eli Senyor (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • How Prominent Will Israeli-Palestinian Peacemaking Be in Obama's Second Term? - Ron Kampeas
    The Obama administration does not seem eager to wade back into the Israeli-Palestinian morass - preferring to keep it on the back burner. David Makovsky, director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy's Project on the Middle East Peace Process, dismissed suggestions that Obama would ramp up pressure on Israel over the peace process in his second term.
        "Obama's going to want to use his replenished political capital carefully," he said. Between tough negotiations with the Republicans on fiscal issues and foreign policy challenges looming - including Iran's nuclear program and tumult in the Middle East - Obama is not going to make Israeli-Palestinian issues a priority. Moreover, Makovsky suggested, "right now there's no grand deal to be done between Israelis and Palestinians."
        Steve Rosen, a former foreign policy director of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, said, "I think Obama no longer buys the catechism that we are this close to an agreement and all we need is presidential involvement." Israel's ambassador to the U.S., Michael Oren, said that the two countries were in agreement that the fault for the lack of negotiations belongs to the Palestinians. (JTA)
  • The Real Obstacle to Peace - Jonathan S. Tobin
    Building in Jerusalem as well as in the E1 area wouldn't prevent a two-state solution were the Palestinians inclined to negotiate with Israel to get one. The building within Jerusalem's city limits in Jewish neighborhoods that were built decades ago, such as Ramat Shlomo and Gilo, are in places that no one envisions being given to the Palestinians even in the most generous offer possible. The same is true of the new Givat Hamatos project. As for the E1 area in between the city and the suburb of Ma'ale Adumim, it, too, is in an area that Israel has always intended to keep.
        The Europeans know very well that it wouldn't make the slightest bit of difference to a two-state solution if Israel built 100,000 new homes in these places or none at all. These countries continue to ignore the fact that it is the Palestinians who refuse to negotiate.
        Were Israel building new towns deep inside the West Bank, it could be credibly argued that such plans would prevent the creation of a Palestinian state in the West Bank. But why would that be true of building in existing Jewish neighborhoods? The problem here is not just that what Israel is doing is no obstacle to peace. It is that by joining in condemnations of building inside Jerusalem, President Obama and the Europeans are encouraging the Palestinians to believe that they will someday force the Jewish state to give up not just the West Bank but its capital too. (Commentary)
  • Proportionality and Self-Defense - Allen Z. Hertz
    The doctrine of proportionality does not require some sort of a balance between Israeli and Hamas dead. International law does not require the Israeli government to sit back and accept the firing of rockets at Israel civilians and soldiers, just because measures to prevent that firing would likely result in some collateral civilian injury.
        The Israeli government has to opt for some Hamas deaths (civilian and military) from Israeli preventive measures to prevent some Israeli deaths (civilian and military) resulting from Hamas missiles hitting Israel. Any other decision would irrationally privilege the lives of Arabs in Gaza over those of civilians and soldiers in Israel.
        A state has a moral and legal right to use force in self-defense, even though that recourse to force is likely to cause some collateral civilian injury and death. With respect to Gaza, the Israeli government acts not by way of retaliation or punishment, but for prevention, to stop the launching of Hamas missiles and thus prevent more Israeli civilians and soldiers from being killed. The writer was senior adviser in the Privy Council Office serving Canada's prime minister and the federal cabinet. (Jerusalem Post)

Israel to UN: What about Israel's Contiguity? - Yitzhak Benhorin (Ynet News)

Responding to criticism by European countries at the UN of construction plans in Jerusalem neighborhoods, Israeli UN Ambassador Ron Prosor said:

  • "This week, Assad began to use Scud missiles to escalate the mass murder of his people, Syrian jet fighters bombed a mosque in a refugee camp killing dozens of Palestinians, and a giant Hizbullah arms warehouse exploded 300 meters from a school in a densely populated village in southern Lebanon."
  • "Among all the pressing issues in the Middle East, what was singled out as the most urgent at this podium? Surprise, surprise...early plans to build homes in the Jewish people's ancient capital of Jerusalem."
  • Prosor stressed that all new construction announced by the Israeli government will take place in Jerusalem and in settlement blocs that will be part of Israel in any future peace agreement with the Palestinians.
  • "I can't understand how people conclude that a Palestinian state cannot exist if there is contiguity between Ma'ale Adumim and Jerusalem. These are the same people who stand up and speak about a contiguous state between Gaza and the West Bank, areas divided by more than 60 km. And these same people don't seem to mind that connecting Gaza and the West Bank would cut Israel in two."
  • Prosor then held up a large map of the area and asked, "What about Israel's contiguity? What about Jewish contiguity?"

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