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by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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July 15, 2013

In-Depth Issues:

Netanyahu Phones Abbas for Ramadan, Wants to Restart Peace Talks - Barak Ravid (Ha'aretz)
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday on the occasion of Ramadan and told him, "I hope that we start negotiations. Its important." 
    See also Israel's National Library Exhibits 30 Ancient Koran Manuscripts to Celebrate Ramadan - Zach Pontz (Algemeiner)

In the Wake of Morsi's Fall, Sinai Is Becoming Even More Dangerous (Economist-UK)
    No sooner had Egypt's army booted out Mohamed Morsi from the presidency in Cairo than armed Islamists took over the governor's offices in El-Arish, the provincial capital in northern Sinai.
    Armed Islamist guards protected gatherings of militants in the town's main square who waved the black flags of Tawhid wal Jihad, which claims to be an al-Qaeda affiliate.
    One of the speakers was a man accused of bombing a tourist hotel in 2004 in Taba, close to Israel.
    Islamist fighters from Gaza allied to Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood are said to have formed a vanguard in Sinai.

Car Bombing in the Heart of Hizbullah Territory - Jonathan Spyer (Jerusalem Post)
    A car bomb exploded last Tuesday in the heart of the Dahiyeh section of south Beirut - home to the headquarters of Hizbullah and many of its most senior officials. At least 53 people were wounded and the bomb left a crater two meters deep.
    The bombing means that the Syrian civil war has finally arrived in the heart of Lebanon.
    See also Hizbullah's Suicide Bombing Tactics Come Back to Haunt It - Avi Issacharoff (Times of Israel)
    Hizbullah, which spearheaded the use of suicide bombers in the Middle East in the beginning of the 1980s, now has to cope with its Sunni enemies in Syria and Lebanon who are using the group's trademark tactics against it.
    Senior Hizbullah officials will now have to watch out not only for Israeli intelligence, but also for Sunni extremists wearing suicide vests or driving cars rigged with explosives.

Israeli Army Clears Soldiers Who Detained Child for Throwing Rock at Israeli Car - Robert Mackey (New York Times)
    Seven Israeli soldiers who detained a 5-year-old Palestinian boy for rock-throwing this week in the West Bank city of Hebron have been cleared of any wrongdoing by their superiors, after a review of video of the incident published on Thursday.
    Eytan Buchman, a spokesman for the Israeli military, said soldiers took the boy to his home, and then, with his parents, to a Palestinian police station.
    "This kid was throwing stones on the street," Buchman said. "He wasn't arrested. He was escorted to his parents. A huge difference."
    Buchman added that the army had reviewed the incident after an Israeli rights group publicized the video, and found the soldiers had conducted themselves correctly.
    See also Rocks Can Kill (Israel Defense Forces)
    Rock throwing is common in the West Bank and is a terror act, along with firebomb and booby-trapped tire throwing. These incidents happen daily.
    In the first three months of 2013 there were more than 1,195 rock-throwing incidents.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. to Seek Direct Nuclear Talks with Iran - Jay Solomon
    The Obama administration is preparing to communicate to Iran's president-elect Hassan Rohani its desire to hold direct negotiations in the coming weeks over Tehran's nuclear program, senior U.S. officials said. The P5+1 is hoping to schedule a new round of negotiations with Iran by September, U.S. and European officials said.
        Despite Rohani's accommodating rhetoric, Tehran has continued to expand its nuclear program in recent months. Iran has been installing and running more advanced IR-2 centrifuge machines, which are seen as capable of tripling Iran's production rate of nuclear fuel, drastically reducing the time it would need to break out and produce weapons-grade materials. A senior U.S. official on Friday said Iran's advance could force Washington to shorten the timeline for when it thinks Iran could produce a bomb. (Wall Street Journal)
        See also Netanyahu: Iran "Weeks Away" from Crossing Red Line - Herb Keinon
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told an American audience on CBS News' "Face the Nation" that regarding its 20% enriched uranium, Iran was just 60 kg. short of crossing his "red line." (Jerusalem Post)
        See also below Observations: Netanyahu on Iran Nukes: "I Won't Wait Until It's Too Late" - Bob Schieffer (CBS News)
  • U.S. Says Israel Airstrike Targeted Advanced Missiles that Russia Sold to Syria - Michael R. Gordon
    Israel carried out an air attack near Latakia, Syria, on July 5 that targeted advanced Yakhont antiship cruise missiles sold to the Syria government by Russia, American officials said Saturday. The missile represented a threat to Israel's naval forces and raised concerns that it might be provided to Hizbullah.
        Israeli officials have made it clear that Israel is prepared to carry out airstrikes to prevent sophisticated weapons from being diverted to Hizbullah. The Yakhont antiship missile system is far more sophisticated than the one fired by Hizbullah in July 2006 that seriously damaged an Israeli ship off the coast of Lebanon. (New York Times)
        See also Syria Denies Israel Involved in Arms Depot Strike - Ron Friedman and Joshua Davidovich
    Syrian officials on Saturday denied reports that Israel had been behind an attack on an arms depot in Latakia a week ago. Damascus blamed a technical error for the blasts, which left several soldiers dead. (Times of Israel)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel Tests Ballistic Missile - Gili Cohen
    Israel last week tested a ballistic missile. "[On Friday] Israel conducted a launch of the rocket propulsion system from the Palmahim base," the Defense Ministry said in a statement. The test might have been of an advanced Jericho missile, which reportedly has a range of about 7,000 kilometers and can carry a warhead weighing more than 1,000 kilograms. That would be the third test of a Jericho in the past five years.
        Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the cabinet Sunday, "Now, more than ever, given Iranian progress [in its nuclear program], it's important to intensify the economic sanctions and present a credible military option against Iran." Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said last week that following Iran's presidential election, Israel's policy remained to stop the Iranian nuclear program, "one way or another." "If the Iranian leadership exploits diplomatic talks to ease the economic sanctions but continues to enrich [uranium] - and the president-elect has written in his book about a 'talk and enrich strategy' - we will obviously not let this go by," Ya'alon said. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Test of Jericho Missile (Ynet News)
  • Terrorists Open Fire on Israel from Sinai Border - Asher Zeiger
    Two masked gunmen fired on Israeli soldiers from across the Egyptian border on Sunday evening, then escaped into the Sinai desert in an all-terrain vehicle. (Times of Israel)
        See also Egypt Deploys Tanks, Apache Helicopters Against Sinai Militants
    Unknown assailants in northern Sinai planted a mine in front of an army tank in the Al-Wahshi area of Sheikh Zuweid. No injuries were reported as the mine exploded on Friday. In the El-Goura area of Sheikh Zuweid, Egyptian Apache helicopters shot two cars, setting them on fire, eyewitnesses said. Three of the militants involved in Friday's attacks were identified as Palestinians. (Daily News-Egypt)
        See also Five Militants Killed in Egyptian Army Operation in Sinai
    Five gunmen were killed in northern Sinai on Friday as part of an ongoing military operation. Egyptian security sources said 37 suspected militants have been killed since June 30, and 42 others have been injured. On Saturday, Apache helicopters targeted a vehicle containing gunmen after an earlier attack on El-Arish airport. (MENA-Egypt)
        See also In Egypt's Sinai, Militants Intensify Attacks - Aya Batrawy
    Militant groups in Sinai have grown bolder, striking security forces almost daily and also turning on local Christians. Some are now openly vowing to drive the military out of the peninsula and establish an "Islamic emirate."
        Egyptian military intelligence officials said they are keeping a close watch on extremist brigades in Gaza close to Hamas. They said Israel has been providing intelligence on the groups' movements. (AP)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Trusting the U.S. to Keep Secrets - Alex Fishman
    Sources in the Pentagon who are selling Israeli secrets to the American media know that they are jeopardizing clear Israeli interests in the region and putting the lives of Israel's citizens in danger. When it happens once, it could be someone's slip of the tongue. When it happens twice - it's a work plan.
        On May 5, warehouses containing Hizbullah-bound Iranian Fateh-110 missiles were attacked in the Damascus area. Several hours after the bombing, American government officials rushed to point a finger at Israel as the country behind the attack. After May's leak the Americans apologized, explaining that it was the work of low-ranking officials, saying there was a commission of inquiry. Then on Friday, after an attack on a military base north of Latakia believed to contained Yakhont coastal missiles, the Americans once again pointed a finger at Israel as the country responsible. The American government, Israel's strategic partner, is being revealed as unreliable. (Ynet News)
        See also Eiland: U.S. Leaks on Attacks in Syria Problematic - Yoav Zitun
    Former Israel National Security Council head Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Giora Eiland said on Sunday, "Israel can attack many targets in Syria, but according to foreign reports it chooses quality targets, such as the Fateh-110 missile, as well as the SA-17 and Yakhont missiles, which can fall into the hands of extremist elements." Eiland said the attacks in Syria "are clean in that they do not leave fingerprints and are conducted in a way that does not allow the Syrians to photograph the plane or ship which attacked, and in a way that does not push (President Bashar) Assad into a corner." "The American leaks (regarding alleged Israeli operations in Syria) are problematic."  (Ynet News)
  • Egypt's Islamists Are Out But Not Down - Fouad Ajami
    Two fundamentalisms have clashed: the Muslim Brotherhood's religious calling and the secularists' belief in the supremacy of their social order. On one side are those who want to live by Islamic sharia law. On the other are those who want to keep faith at bay, play soccer in the streets, watch racy television shows, give their children a secular education and smoke hookahs in peace at coffeehouses late into the night.
        But the army, and those who hail its intervention as a gift of deliverance, can't wish the Muslim Brotherhood away. The dream of banishing political Islam from public life is illusory. The writer is a senior fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution. (Washington Post)
  • In Egypt, the Popularity of Islamism Shall Endure - Reuel Marc Gerecht
    Morsi, an incompetent, boring and inarticulate demagogue, will not return. But Egypt's enormous systemic problems remain. Mindful of recent Turkish history, senior officers will not allow vengeful Islamists to compete, win and neuter the army. However, Egypt's problems are now the responsibility of the military and Egyptian liberals. The odds are that they will fail abysmally, and in their failure, the Brotherhood and other Islamists will recapture the street. The writer, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, served in the CIA's Clandestine Service from 1985 to 1994, specializing in the Middle East. (Washington Post)

Netanyahu on Iran Nukes: "I Won't Wait Until It's Too Late" - Bob Schieffer (CBS News)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told "Face the Nation" on Sunday:

  • Bob Schieffer: "You said last September that Iran would have the capability to build a nuclear weapon by this summer. It is summer, are they there yet?"
    Netanyahu: "I said if they continue to enrich at the same rate they will get there. They have taken heed of the red line that I sketched out at the UN. They're still approaching it." "They're building ICBMs to reach the American mainland within a few years. They're pursuing an alternate route of build a nuclear bomb....So they haven't yet reached it but they're getting closer to it. And they have to be stopped."
  • Netanyahu: "What really counts is what the Iranians do. And what they have to do is stop their nuclear program. They have to stop all enrichment of nuclear material, to take out enriched uranium, to shut down the illegal nuclear facility in Qom....You should ratchet up the sanctions and make it clear to Iran that they won't get away with it. And if sanctions don't work, then they have to know that you'll be prepared to take military action. That's the only thing that will get their attention."
  • "There is a new president in Iran....His strategy is, be a wolf in sheep's clothing. Smile and build a bomb. He brags about the fact that he talked to the Europeans while completing a nuclear conversion plant in Isfahan. So I think they can't be allowed to get away with it."
  • "You know, our clocks are ticking in a different pace. We're closer than the United States. We're more vulnerable. And therefore we'll have to address this question of how to stop Iran, perhaps before the United States does. But as the prime minister of Israel, I'm determined to do whatever is necessary to defend my country, the one and only Jewish state, from a regime that threatens us with renewed annihilation."
  • "So many things are happening in the Middle East, there are many important issues that we have to deal with, and I have a sense that there's no sense of urgency. And yet Iran is the most important, the most urgent matter of all....Because all the problems that we have, however important, will be dwarfed by this messianic, apocalyptic, extreme regime that would have atomic bombs."
  • Schieffer: "When will you make a decision on whether to attack Iran, because you have said, this will not stand?"
    Netanyahu: "Well, I can tell you I won't wait until it's too late."

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