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  DAILY ALERT Wednesday,
April 24, 2013

In-Depth Issues:

U.S. Asks for UN Official's Resignation for Comments on Boston Blasts (Press Trust of India)
    The U.S. has demanded the resignation of senior UN human rights official Richard Falk for his comments on the Boston bombings, which he blamed on American policy in the Middle East.
    "The United States completely rejects the provocative and offensive commentary by Richard Falk, UN Special Rapporteur for the Palestinian Territories, regarding the recent terrorist attack in Boston, Massachusetts," Erin Pelton, the U.S. spokesman at the UN, said in a statement.
    "The U.S. had previously called for Falk's resignation for his numerous outrageous statements, and these comments underscore once more the absurdity of his service as a UN Special Rapporteur."
    Falk wrote on "As long as Tel Aviv has the compliant ear of the American political establishment, those who wish for peace and justice in the world should not rest easy," and implied that the Boston terror attack was a justified response to U.S. policies in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq.
    See also Anti-Semitism, Anti-Americanism Are UN Human Rights Council Official's Job Description - Anne Bayefsky (Fox News)

Leading Sunni Cleric Refuses to Sit with Jews - Ariel Ben Solomon (Jerusalem Post)
    Yousuf al-Qaradawi, chairman of the International Union of Muslim Scholars and one of the most important Sunni clerics in the world, boycotted an interfaith conference hosted by the international union in Doha, Qatar, on Tuesday because of the presence of Jewish participants, according to the country's Al Arab daily.
    "I decided not to participate so I would not sit with Jews on the same platform," said Qaradawi.

Israel to Allow UNESCO Team into Jerusalem (Times of Israel)
    Israel has agreed to allow a mission from UNESCO to visit the Old City of Jerusalem next month.
    Israel announced Tuesday that it also has agreed to take part in a meeting of experts in Paris next month focused on the Mughrabi Bridge, a wooden walkway that leads to the Temple Mount.
    Since the Palestinians were admitted to UNESCO in 2011, over U.S. objections, the organization has lost $80 million per year in U.S. contributions.
    See also The Mughrabi Gate to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem: The Urgent Need for a Permanent Access Bridge - Nadav Shragai (ICA-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

Israel Aerospace to Produce Wings for Lockheed's F-35 Planes (Reuters)
    State-owned Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) signed a contract with Lockheed Martin to produce wings for the F-35 fighter aircraft with potential sales reaching $2.5 billion.
    IAI will begin delivering the F-35 wings in 2015. The contract's duration is for about 10-15 years, IAI said on Tuesday.
    "This agreement represents an important milestone for IAI and ensures its involvement in the world's most advanced fighter aircraft," said Joseph Weiss, chief executive of IAI.
    IAI already produces wings for Lockheed Martin's F-16 and the U.S. Air Force T-38 aircraft.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Syria Overshadows Iran during Hagel's Visit to Israel
    On Chuck Hagel's inaugural visit to Israel as U.S. defense secretary, Syria surpassed Iran as the security threat of greatest urgency to the U.S.' closest Mideast ally. Israeli leaders see Iran's nuclear ambitions as a threat to their country's very existence, given Tehran's vow to wipe it off the map. But Syria overshadowed Iran during Hagel's three days in Israel, due to widespread concern that its stockpiles of chemical weapons could pose a threat to Israel and other neighbors if they fell into the hands of extremists.
        That explains, in part, why Hagel repeatedly stressed Israel's right to defend itself and to decide on its own, if necessary, whether and when to attack Iran. He gave less emphasis than usual to Washington's wish that diplomacy and sanctions be given more time to persuade Iran to change course.
        Israel's new defense minister, Moshe Yaalon, said on Monday, "By one way or another, the military nuclear project of Iran should be stopped. Having said that, we believe that the military option, which is well discussed, should be the last resort anyhow....There are other tools to be used and to be exhausted, whether it is diplomacy, economic sanctions, or even more support of the opposition in Iran."  (AP-Washington Post)
  • U.S. Still Evaluating Claims that Syrian Government Used Chemical Weapons - Anne Gearan and William Booth
    U.S. officials said Tuesday they are still evaluating whether the Syrian regime has employed chemical weapons, a step that President Obama has said could trigger direct U.S. involvement in Syria's civil war.
        Two senior Israeli military officials asserted Tuesday that forces loyal to Assad deployed chemical weapons in several incidents that killed dozens of rebel fighters. The officials said their evidence - including photographs that show victims foaming at the mouth - made them "nearly 100%" certain. A senior Israeli military officer said a "sarin-type" chemical appears to have been dispersed in five cases. France and Britain have made similar assertions.
        Israel is chiefly concerned that Lebanon-based Hizbullah could obtain chemical weapons from Syria and use them against Israel. (Washington Post)
        See also Syrian Doctor's Facebook Video Proof that Assad Used Chemicals in Aleppo - Damien McElroy
    Niazi Habash, a British-trained doctor who treated the victims from an attack in Aleppo on April 13 that killed 3 people and injured at least 15, said they showed symptoms of exposure to chemicals, including breathing difficulties, foaming at the mouth and pinprick pupils.
        Witnesses said the victims displayed the symptoms after a regime aircraft dropped containers that exploded and scattered their contents across a wide area of Sheikh Massoud, a Kurdish neighborhood whose residents recently defected from the regime to join the rebels. Dr. Habash administered doses of atropine, the recognized antidote for chemical weapons, to treat the injured, but two infants and an adult woman died of respiratory failure.
        This is the fourth credible report of chemical weapons being used in a Syrian attack in recent months. Experts said the effects in the video appeared similar to those suffered by Syrian villagers in Khan al-Assad, near Aleppo, last month. (Telegraph-UK)
        See also Kerry: NATO Needs Plan for Syrian Chemical Weapons - Matthew Lee and Don Melvin
    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry urged NATO on Tuesday to prepare for the possible use of chemical weapons by Syria. NATO officials say, however, there is virtually no chance the alliance will intervene in Syria's civil war. (AP)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Former IDF Military Intelligence Head: Iran Will Cross Nuclear "Red Line" by Summer - Gili Cohen
    Maj. Gen. (ret.) Amos Yadlin, the former director of IDF Military Intelligence, said Tuesday regarding the Iranian nuclear threat, "We are headed toward a collision course by the end of this year." By this summer, the Iranians will certainly cross the "red line" drawn by Prime Minister Netanyahu during his speech last year at the UN, Yadlin told a conference at Tel Aviv University's Institute for National Security Studies, which he now heads.
        Yadlin added that he believes Israel is capable of attacking Iran's nuclear facilities without outside assistance, and that Israel can withstand the repercussions of such action. He said Iran could reach a "breakthrough" within two months.
        Yadlin said the U.S. prefers the diplomatic track, but if the Iranians choose to forge ahead with their nuclear program, "the Americans will have to stand behind what the president said, or change their policy." However, "Israel will, in fact, be the first to have to reach a decision. It is not party to the negotiations [between Iran and the world powers]. At the Iranians' current rate of production, even to those who today are saying they won't cross the red line - there is no doubt that by the summer they will cross it."
        He said the Iranians have already enriched enough uranium at 3.5% to create six atomic bombs and enough uranium at 20% to nearly manufacture a bomb from that as well. (Ha'aretz)
  • Palestinian Murderer Gets Two Life Sentences - Yonah Jeremy Bob
    The Judea Military Court sentenced Waal al-Arjeh to two life sentences plus 58 years on Tuesday for the murder of Asher Palmer, 25, and his infant son, Yonatan, in 2011, killed when Arjeh threw a stone through the windshield of their car. "It was thrown from an oncoming vehicle that was traveling in the opposite direction," said the Palmer family's lawyer, Adrian Agassi, a former IDF military court judge. "At that velocity, it was like shooting a bullet."
        Arjeh, who had worked for the Palestinian Authority security forces, was the ringleader of a gang that developed this method of killing Jews, Agassi said. They had tried it many times before, and Arjeh had "carried out more attacks" after the deaths of Asher and Yonatan.
        Asher's father, Michael Palmer, said that Asher and Yonatan's lives "were taken by people who did not know them, who had never even seen them, for the simple reason that they were Jews."  (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Who Murdered Asher and Yonatan? - Michael Palmer (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Israel's Top Cop Offers U.S. Terrorism Advice - Siobhan Gorman
    Israel Police Commissioner Yochanan Danino arrived in the U.S. two days after the terrorist attack on the Boston Marathon as part of a long-scheduled U.S. trip and told U.S. officials: "It's very hard to deal with this kind of terrorism." The attacks appear not to be connected to a foreign terrorist organization, which meant foreign-intelligence clues would be of little help. "When it's individuals, you never know where it's going to come from."
        Still, he has been offering his U.S. counterparts three pieces of advice. First, make the homegrown or lone-wolf terrorist threat a high priority in counterterrorism strategies. Second, bolster surveillance technology, especially advanced camera systems like the one used by the New York Police Department that identifies suspicious behavior, like a person leaving a bag unattended for too long, and alerts officials of the anomalous behavior. However, all technology would have to be in line with privacy laws.
        Third, step up public education and awareness. In Israel, he said, the public is highly sensitized to activities that might reveal a bombing in the works, and they are quick to alert the authorities. He cautioned, though, that for a lone-wolf-type terrorist, "Every single case has a totally different story."  (Wall Street Journal)
  • Anarchy in Sinai and No Solution in Sight - Zvi Mazel
    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)

Debating Next Steps on Iran - Michael Singh (Foreign Policy)

  • The failure of the latest round of negotiations over Iran's nuclear program will likely bring calls for changes in the American approach. One such proposal - focusing on strengthening the U.S. "diplomatic track" with Iran - was put forward recently by The Iran Project, a group of distinguished former U.S. officials. There is much in the report with which I agree. However, I would differ with the report on the way forward on Iran policy.
  • Both Iran's nuclear ambitions and its hostility toward the West are elements of a strategy to advance the regime's interests, as it conceives them. For a strategic shift to occur, the regime must be convinced that this strategy is no longer tenable.
  • Far from compelling the regime to rethink its strategy, however, the current Western approach is likely seen in Tehran as vindicating it. U.S. policies at the negotiating table and across the region - a reduction in our military posture, our inaction in Syria, and our continually improving nuclear offers - are interpreted as successes by the regime and perceived by it as indications not of good will but of desperation or decline.
  • The U.S. objective, therefore, should be to reverse this dynamic. Such an approach would require a firmer posture in the nuclear arena - refraining from further improvements to our offer, setting red lines for Iran's nuclear program, taking steps to enhance the credibility of the U.S. military threat, and leaving open for now the question of whether we will hold further talks.
  • The regime should come to believe that a confrontational, rather than cooperative, approach to its own security will come at a price, exacted by the U.S. and our allies. There are a number of ways to send this message - pushing back against Iranian support for terrorism, greater support for the Iranian opposition - but the most important way to do so is through greater involvement in Syria, where Iran has much at stake.
  • None of these steps exclude continued or even intensified diplomacy. But the goal of all of these actions should be the same. A strategic shift by Iran - from a zero-sum policy of confrontation to one of cooperation - would benefit the U.S. and the region whether or not a formal nuclear agreement is reached. A nuclear agreement without such a shift, however, will prove a hollow achievement.

    The writer is managing director of The Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

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