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by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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  DAILY ALERT Wednesday,
October 17, 2012

In-Depth Issues:

Former Jordanian Crown Prince: The West Bank Is Part of Jordan (MEMRI)
    The Jordanian website reported on a speech by Prince Hassan bin Talal, Jordanian crown prince between 1965 and 1999, to Palestinians from Nablus on Oct. 9.
    "Prince Hassan stressed that the West Bank is part of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, which included both banks of the [Jordan] River" and added that Hassan "did not personally oppose the two-state solution, but that this solution is irrelevant at the current stage."
    He added that even if the two-state solution does not materialize, there are other options. According to Hassan, "both sides, Arab and Israeli, no longer speak of a political solution to the Palestinian problem."
    He implied that even the Oslo Accords had met their end, and said that Arab losses from the Accords are estimated at $12 billion.
    The report added: "The attendees understood that Prince [Hassan] is working to reunite both banks of the [Jordan] River, and commended him for it."
    Prince Hassan later added: "The unity that existed between the west and east banks for 17 years...was arguably one of the best attempts at unity that ever occurred in the Arab [world]."

Hamas Minister Urges Palestinians to Kidnap More IDF Soldiers - Michal Shmulovich (Times of Israel)
    One year after Gilad Shalit was freed from captivity in Gaza, Hamas Minister Attala Abu al-Sabah on Thursday called on the group's military wing to kidnap more Israeli soldiers as bargaining chips to free Palestinian prisoners.
    He also called on the Palestinian Authority to fulfill its role in abducting Israeli soldiers, calling it a "religious imperative."

Iranians Are Beginning to Panic Amid Rising Costs (DPA-Gulf Times-Qatar)
    Iranians are beginning to panic about the deteriorating economic situation.
    Pensioner Kamal G., 73, purchased a kilogram of minced meat for over 200,000 rials ($16), more than double what he paid two months ago. Chicken moved out of his price range a couple of weeks ago.
    "Soon I will be spreading atomic energy on my bread," he says.

Iran Hostage Crisis Insider Reviews Hollywood Thriller "Argo" - Gary Sick (Al-Monitor)
    The American embassy in Tehran was attacked and its residents imprisoned almost 33 years ago, Nov. 4, 1979.
    Six Americans who hid out in the Canadian embassy after evading capture were later smuggled out of Iran.
    In this Hollywood treatment of their story, the CIA shepherded the six through the airport on January 28, 1980, in the guise of a Canadian film crew exploring sites for a sci-fi thriller named "Argo."
    The writer served on the National Security Council staff under Presidents Ford, Carter and Reagan. He was the principal White House aide for Iran during the hostage crisis.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Accusations Mount of Hizbullah Fighting in Syria - Nicholas Blanford
    Hussein, a former irrigation engineer, today heads a small unit of the Free Syrian Army's Jusiyah Martyrs' Brigade. Nearly two weeks ago, Hizbullah held a prominent funeral for Ali Nassif, a senior commander who died "while performing his jihadi duties." Hussein claims that Nassif was deliberately targeted for assassination. "We waited for him to emerge from a school which they use as a command post. When we saw a black Grand Cherokee with tinted windows leave the school, we guessed it was him and hit it with an RPG."
        He and other members of the Jusiyah Martyrs' Brigade claim that their most formidable foes in Syria are not Syrian Army soldiers, but battle-hardened veteran Hizbullah fighters. "The regime's soldiers are cowards against us. But we fear the Hizbullah men," says Hussein.
        He encountered some Hizbullah fighters on the road and approached them with bottles of water, pretending to be a supportive civilian. "None of them were under 35 years old. They were very professional and tough fighters. You can tell they are superior fighters from the way they move in battle and how they fight," he says. (Christian Science Monitor)
  • Israel Asks UN to Block Ship Headed for Gaza
    Israel's UN envoy Ron Prosor asked the UN to try to persuade a Swedish ship carrying rights activists not to try to break the blockade of Gaza. "I call on the Secretary-General, the Security Council, and all responsible members of the international community to take immediate action to end this provocation," Prosor said in a letter Tuesday to UN chief Ban Ki-moon. The Estelle, which left Naples on Saturday with 17 activists, was expected to arrive near Gaza in about a week.
        He said the rights activists should instead head for Syria to deliver goods much-needed to address the humanitarian crisis there. He noted, however: "They understand that it is much easier to face news cameras in Tel Aviv than bullets in Damascus."
        Proser added that the Gaza blockade was solely for security purposes, saying: "There is not a single civilian good that cannot enter Gaza." Israel says the blockade - imposed in June 2006 - is necessary to prevent weapons from entering Gaza, which is run by the Islamist movement Hamas. (AFP)
  • Qatar Earmarks $254 Million for Construction in Gaza - Nidal al-Mughrabi
    Qatar on Tuesday launched a $254 million plan to rebuild and modernize Gaza, starting with a highway that will run the Strip's length. The Qatar project will renew three main roads, establish a new town, build a hospital and residential buildings and overhaul the infrastructure. Hamas' ties to Shi'ite Muslim Iran have loosened over the past year and it has grown closer to the Sunni Muslim Brotherhood which now governs Egypt and the conservative Arab Gulf state of Qatar. (Reuters)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Abbas on Facebook: Israel Is Our Occupied Land - Eli Bardenstein
    Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas denied the existence of Israel and attacked the two-state solution in a posting on his formal Facebook page on Oct. 13. Discussing his intention to request recognition of Palestine as a non-member state in the UN General Assembly, he wrote: "The recognition (by the UN) won't liberate the land the day after, but it will prove our right according to which our land is occupied and not disputed." Abbas explicitly emphasized that he is not just referring to the West Bank, but rather "the point applies to all the territories that Israel occupied before June 1967."  (Maariv-Hebrew, 17Oct12)
  • Palestinians in Gaza Fire Missile at Israel Air Force Helicopter - Amos Harel
    A Strela (SA-7) anti-aircraft missile was fired at an Israeli helicopter over Gaza for the first time last week, the Israel Defense Forces has confirmed. For years the IAF has imposed certain restrictions on its aircraft on the assumption that anti-aircraft missiles have made their way into Gaza. The supply of low-altitude, shoulder-fired missiles in Gaza has increased dramatically since the collapse of the Gaddafi regime in Libya. (Ha'aretz)
  • Palestinian Rocket Explodes near House South of Ashkelon - Neri Brenner
    A Kassam rocket fired by Palestinians in Gaza on Tuesday evening exploded in the yard of a private house near Ashkelon. "We were very lucky, the rocket landed three or four meters from the house but exploded in the sand, so no damage was done," a local resident said. (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Will Iran Weather the Economic Storm? - Patrick Clawson
    The conventional wisdom that the collapse of the Iranian rial will have disastrous consequences for the Islamic Republic has it wrong. Propping up the rial hurt domestic producers. The rial's collapse means that Iranian firms may finally have a fighting chance against their foreign competitors. The wise policy would be to encourage the rial to fall even further.
        The falling rial benefits the government more than anyone else. With each dollar of exported oil now worth more rials, the government's rial revenue rises, offsetting at least in part the lower volume of exports.
        Twice before, the Islamic Republic of Iran faced serious foreign exchange problems, arguably as bad as the current one. Yet difficult economic times did not bring a change in Iranian security policy. The record suggests tempering one's optimism that economic pressure will bring Iran to change its adventurist nuclear stance. The writer is director of research at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. (Foreign Policy)
        See also Diplomat: Western Officials See Iran's Economy Imploding Quickly - Paul Richter
    Western governments believe that Iran's economy is imploding so quickly that it could essentially collapse next spring under the combined pressure of international sanctions, an oil embargo and internal mismanagement by officials in Tehran, said a European diplomat in Washington. Western government experts estimate that Iran will run out of foreign exchange reserves in six months to a year.
        Mark Dubowitz, executive director of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, said an economic meltdown would need to occur at least six months before Iran reaches the nuclear threshold. That would allow time for the economic shock to "cascade through the political system, and convince the leadership they need to change course....These guys are hard core revolutionaries."  (Los Angeles Times)
  • Egypt's Islamist Revival Most Evident at Grass Roots - Abigail Hauslohner
    A rising religiosity has taken Egypt by storm since Mubarak's fall. Islamists dominate the assembly tasked with drafting Egypt's new constitution. But it is outside the halls of government - in the streets, mosques, schools and courts - where Egypt's Islamist revival is redefining the rights and responsibilities of ordinary citizens. (Washington Post)
  • Inspired by the "Arab Spring": Saudi Arabia's Volatile Shiite Minority - Yoel Guzansky
    The eastern province of Saudi Arabia, home to the kingdom's Shiite minority, has seen protests since July, sparked by the arrest and injury of Nemer al-Nemer, a popular Shiite cleric. Nemer was known for his outspoken anti-royal family remarks; he called for toppling the House of Saud and for independence for the eastern province. He also apparently instructed his followers to celebrate the death of Crown Prince Nayef in June. The Saudi Wahhabi sect questions the Shiites' Muslim legitimacy and Arab ancestry.
        Al-Alam, Iran's Arabic-language TV station - highly popular among Saudi Shiites - repeatedly calls for demonstrations, underscoring the Saudi fear about Iran's intent to upset the kingdom's stability. In reality, the Shiites in Saudi Arabia, numbering about 2 million (10% of the population), were never close to threatening the kingdom's stability, and most are far from identifying ideologically with the Iranian religious establishment. (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)

Netanyahu: Sanctions Haven't Yet Rolled Back the Iranian Nuclear Program (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told a meeting of European Union ambassadors on Tuesday:

  • "I want to commend the EU for the tough sanctions that were adopted yesterday against the greatest threat to peace in our time, and that is the tough sanctions against Iran."
  • While "these sanctions are hitting the Iranian economy hard, they haven't yet rolled back the Iranian program. We'll know that they're achieving their goal when the centrifuges stop spinning and when the Iranian nuclear program is rolled back."
  • "This is a goal that is shared by anyone who wants to guarantee the security and peace of the world, not only in the Middle East, but throughout the world."

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