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  DAILY ALERT Tuesday,
March 15, 2011

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In-Depth Issues:

Israeli Soldier in Gaza Captivity for Five Years (AP-Washington Post)
    Israeli activists held a nationwide protest to draw attention to the plight of IDF Sgt. Gilad Shalit, captured five years ago in a cross-border raid by Gaza militants.
    Gaza's Hamas rulers want the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners, including many convicted of murdering Israelis, in exchange for Shalit.

UN: Iran Has Intensified Crackdown, Executions - Stephanie Nebehay (Reuters)
    Iran has intensified its crackdown on opponents as well as executions of political prisoners and juvenile criminals, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Monday in a report.
    He also voiced concern at floggings, amputations and the continued sentencing of men and women to death by stoning for alleged adultery.
    Journalists, bloggers and lawyers have been arrested or had their work impeded, and allegations of torture and unfair trials are rife, he said.
    "The secretary-general has been deeply troubled by reports of increased executions, amputations, arbitrary arrest and detention, unfair trials and possible torture and ill-treatment of human rights activists, lawyers, journalists and opposition activists," the report said.

Posters for "Apartheid Week" (Elder of Ziyon)
    Salim Joubran, Israeli Supreme Court justice. Apartheid?
    Mira Awad, represented Israel at 2009 Eurovision song contest. Apartheid?
    Walid Badir, captain of HaPoel Tel Aviv soccer team. Apartheid?
    Rana Raslan, former Miss Israel. Apartheid?
    "I will never allow a single Israeli to live among us on Palestinian land" - Mahmoud Abbas, July 26, 2010. Now that's Apartheid.

Ottawa Slams Israeli Apartheid Week (National Post-Canada)
    Canadian Immigration Minister Jason Kenney issued a strongly worded statement Friday asking students to think twice before joining activities tied to Israeli Apartheid Week.
    The events are frequently "accompanied by anti-Semitic harassment, intimidation and bullying," Kenney said.
    Repeatedly singling out and condemning Israel year after year creates a "hateful environment" that "offends not only our sense of fairness, but also our core Canadian values of freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law."
    "Such scapegoating becomes yet another symptom of a worrying new acceptance of the vilification of Israel and of Jews around the world."
    See also Anti-Israel Group Denounces Canada as "Apartheid State" - Richard Klagsbrun (National Post-Canada)

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Israel Intercepts Ship Laden with Gaza-Bound Weapons
    Israeli commandos intercepted a ship in the Mediterranean Sea Tuesday carrying weapons bound for Gaza militants, the Israel Defense Forces said. The cargo vessel "Victoria" was stopped about 200 miles west of Israel's coast. The ship initially departed from Latakia in Syria, proceeded to Mersin in Turkey, and then headed for Egypt. The crew didn't resist and the vessel was brought to the Israeli port of Ashdod for inspection. (CNN)
        See also Israel Seizes Boat Carrying Arms for Hamas (Ha'aretz)
        See also Israel's Interception of Arms Ships
    Since 2001, there have been repeated attempts to smuggle weapons under the guise of legitimate commerce. (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
  • Saudi Troops Intervene to Shore Up Bahrain's Monarchy - Michael Birnbaum and Karen DeYoung
    More than 1,000 troops from Saudi Arabia and at least 600 more from the United Arab Emirates were sent to Bahrain as part of an intervention authorized by the Gulf Cooperation Council on Sunday in response to a direct request from Bahrain. The extraordinary intervention was aimed at helping the country's Sunni monarchy bring an end to weeks of Shiite-led protests. Citizen-run checkpoints now dot Bahrain, witnesses said. (Washington Post)
        See also Iran Calls Saudi Troops in Bahrain "Unacceptable" - Ethan Bronner and Michael Slackman
    A day after Saudi Arabia’s military rolled into Bahrain, the Iranian government branded the move "unacceptable" on Tuesday, threatening to escalate a local political conflict into a regional showdown with Iran. (New York Times)
  • Libyan Forces Gain Control of More Rebel-Held Territory - Liz Sly and Tara Bahrampour
    Libya's government said it had taken over the oil terminal of Brega on Sunday, three days after the capture of the Ras Lanuf oil port 77 miles further west, following heavy bombardment. (Washington Post)
        See also Libyan Rebels Fear Other Regimes Are Supporting Gaddafi - Graeme Smith
    Omar Hariri, military head of the Libyan Provisional Transitional National Council, said he's concerned about reports that Col. Gaddafi hired Algerian pilots for bombing raids on Libyan targets. Former pilots say they're seeing a disturbing number of Algerian military flights to airstrips controlled by Gaddafi. The council also fears that a Syrian ship loaded with weapons has sailed for Tripoli. The regimes in Algeria and Syria have denied such allegations. (Globe and Mail-Canada)
        See also Gaddafi's Private Jet Ferrying Weapons from Belarus? - Bruno Waterfield and Richard Spencer
    Gaddafi's private jet, a French-built Dassault Falcon, has been flying in and out of Belarus on suspected sanctions-busting missions to shift assets or buy weapons. Hugh Griffiths, of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), suggested that the plane had carried hard assets, such as diamonds, to buy weaponry. On Feb. 15, an Ilyushin 76, carrying a 40-ton cargo, flew from the Baranovitji military base in Belarus to Sebha, a key Gaddafi base in southern Libya. "The aircraft came from a dedicated military base that only handles stockpiled weaponry and military equipment and landed at Gaddafi's key military logistics base," said Griffiths. (Telegraph-UK)
        See also Gaddafi Rout of Libya Rebels Saps Their Morale - Dan Murphy (Christian Science Monitor)
        See also With Gaddafi's Forces on the Move, Benghazi Rebels Brace for Death - Nancy A. Youssef (McClatchy)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel Doubts West's Ability to Solve Conflicts - Rebecca Anna Stoil
    Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Monday that the Palestinians are trying to avoid entering direct talks with Israel and prefer indirect negotiations through the international community. "The West does not succeed in solving conflicts in the world. If they can solve the problem in Kashmir, then we will allow them to help us with the Israeli-Palestinian problem," he said. "Thus far, the international community has not upheld any agreement that it signed with Israel - for example, Resolution 1701 regarding south Lebanon is not being carried out."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israeli Cameras Recording Japanese Nuclear Core - Yaakov Lappin
    Hi-tech security cameras installed by an Israeli defense firm are recording events at the troubled core at Japan's Fukushima nuclear power plant. Magna BSP, which specializes in stereoscopic sensory and thermal imaging cameras, had been contracted to place cameras around the plant's core that has been experiencing explosions and overheating. The thermal cameras also had the ability to detect the presence of radioactive clouds in the air. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israel Paying Pensions to Gazans Who Worked in Israel - Akiva Eldar
    Israel has started transferring pension payments to Gaza residents who once worked in Israel. Israel recently deposited 1.6 million shekels in the Bank of Palestine in Ramallah, which was then forwarded to the bank accounts of 92 beneficiaries in Gaza who used to work in Israeli hospitals. Money had been deducted from their wages for their pension funds, as required by law. A similar arrangement last year transferred 20 million shekels in disability allocations to 360 beneficiaries in Gaza. (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • An Israeli Peace Plan - Elliot Jager
    German Chancellor Angela Merkel scolded Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: "You haven't made a single step to advance peace." Not a single step? Not Netanyahu's dramatic 2009 appeal to the Palestinians and the Arab nations to begin negotiating a two-state solution with no prior conditions? Not the lifting of 400 security checkpoints in the West Bank (including near Itamar), the ten-month moratorium on most settlement building, the willingness to extend the freeze another three months? All of these have failed to move Mahmoud Abbas an inch away from his refusal to end his two-year boycott of negotiations, but Israel is blamed for the impasse.
        Given the almost certain fact that any Netanyahu peace offering would be dead on arrival - indeed, no sooner had Netanyahu's office leaked the possibility of Israel's recognizing a Palestinian state within temporary borders than Abbas utterly rejected the idea - is this really the time to present a new Israeli peace plan? Arguably, the plan that most needs to be articulated is one that places security and defensible borders first; all else is secondary. (Jewish Ideas Daily)
  • Are Israeli Settlers Human? - Bret Stephens
    As one who has long entertained doubts about the wisdom and viability of much of the settlement enterprise, I find myself cheering Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for announcing, in the wake of the Fogel family massacre, the construction of hundreds of additional homes in the settlements. Israel's consistent mistake since the peace process began nearly 18 years ago was to suppose that conspicuous displays of reasonableness and moderation would beget likewise on the other side. The reality has been closer to the opposite.
        For 60 years, no nation has been held to such stringent moral account, or such ceaseless international hectoring, as Israel. And no people has been held to so slight an account as the Palestinians. Palestinians have grown accustomed to the waiver the rest of the world has consistently granted them over the years no matter what they do. (Wall Street Journal)
  • The Palestinian Authority, Still Celebrating Terrorism - Noah Pollak
    The Israeli government has begun to compile an "incitement index," measuring recent official Palestinian celebrations of terrorism, such as naming a town square in honor of Dalal Mughrabi, a leader of the Coastal Road Massacre in 1978, in which close to 40 Israeli civilians were burned alive in a hijacked bus; or holding a soccer tournament in honor of Wafa Idris, a Fatah suicide bomber who used a Palestinian ambulance to enter Israel.
        The index documents the incontrovertible fact that the Palestinian Authority is very much still in the terrorism game - all while funded by the U.S. and European governments. Isn't it time for Congress to hold hearings on the use of U.S. funds by the Palestinian Authority to promote terrorism? (Commentary)

After the Itamar Massacre - Robert Satloff (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)

  • For almost two years, Obama administration efforts were characterized by an obsessive desire to condition the resumption of negotiations on a total freeze on Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank (and, at times, in Jerusalem too). Although, since autumn, the administration has corrected itself and stopped insisting on a settlement freeze, it hasn't replaced that policy with one based on actually trying to convince the parties to return to the table. In this case, that would be the Palestinians, who refuse to negotiate the future disposition of the territory they seek for their own.
  • Ironically, despite the PA's current refusal to negotiate, the administration appears to believe that Israel is primarily responsible for the absence of diplomacy. Hence, the president's widely reported statement to Jewish leaders earlier this month questioning whether Israeli leaders truly want peace.
  • One of the most important lessons of the Arab revolutions of 2011 is that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict may be very important to Israelis and Palestinians, but it does not motivate much political action elsewhere in the region. However, even with Libya burning, Bahrain in turmoil, and uncertainty reigning in Cairo, Tunis, and Sanaa, the Obama administration is sending strong signals that it expects Israel to jumpstart the peace process with a new initiative in coming weeks.
  • From an American perspective, now is the moment for the U.S. to project the strength of its partnership with Israel, as part of a strategy to reaffirm allies in the region at this time of momentous change. One place to begin would be clarity from the administration about the need to resume Israeli-Palestinian direct negotiations now, before ideas of internationalizing the conflict or declaring U.S. or Quartet-defined terms for negotiation fully take hold.

    The writer is executive director of The Washington Institute.

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