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by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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November 26, 2012

In-Depth Issues:

In Egypt, Muslim Brotherhood President's Power Grab Unites Those Who Once Battled over Mubarak - Michael Birnbaum (Washington Post)
    With Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi's decision on Thursday to assume near-absolute power and with Islamists largely backing him, secularists of all stripes have mobilized in ways unimaginable just a week ago.
    They have joined in protesting Morsi's decision to remove the final check on his power by saying that courts do not have the right to review his decisions.

The Brotherhood's True Colors - Tariq Alhomayed (Asharq Al-Awsat-UK)
    In Egypt, the president has granted himself new powers not held by any ruler since the pharaohs.
    We have seen the pro-Brotherhood bloc suddenly emerge on some satellite channels, in newspapers, and on social networks.
    A wave of misinformation and incitement has spread to trigger chaos across the Gulf, with Brotherhood members and those allied with them trying to normalize the Muslim Brotherhood model in the Gulf, taking heart from what has happened in Egypt.
    In addition to the great incitement in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, Jordan was also targeted.
    Anyone who went to the trouble of reading one book about the Muslim Brotherhood would not have been shocked by what they have done.

Militants Bomb Egyptian Security Bases in Sinai - Tom Perry (Chicago Tribune-Reuters)
    A massive explosion partly destroyed the wall of an Egyptian security base being built for border guards in Rafah at the border with Gaza on Saturday.
    Further south, three workers were injured by a separate blast that damaged a compound being built in Quseima for a security agency guarding a pipeline that exports gas to Jordan, security sources said.

Egypt Denies U.S. Troops Will Be Stationed in Sinai to Monitor Gaza Ceasefire (Jerusalem Post)
    Egyptian military spokesman Mohamed Ahmed Ali on Saturday denied a report that U.S. forces would be deployed in Sinai as part of the ceasefire agreement between Israel and Hamas, the Egypt Independent reported.

Senior Gaza Terrorist Disguised Himself as Journalist (Israel Defense Forces)
    Muhammed Shamalah, commander of Hamas forces in southern Gaza and head of its militant training programs, was targeted by an Israeli air strike on Nov. 20 while driving a car clearly labeled "TV," indicating it to be a press vehicle, abusing the protection afforded to journalists.

    See also Photos: Life Under Rocket Fire - (Israel Defense Forces-Flickr)

Jerusalem Arab Bus Driver Charged with Spying for Hizbullah - Gabe Fisher (Times of Israel)
    Issam Hashem Mashahara, 38, a bus driver living in east Jerusalem, was indicted on Sunday for spying on behalf of Hizbullah.
    In June Mashahara traveled to Lebanon with his wife via Jordan. While in Beirut, he initiated contact with Hizbullah.
    Mashahara gave Hizbullah information on possible targets in Jerusalem, including the residence of the prime minister.
    He received encryption software to enable him to keep in contact with the organization via Facebook.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Hamas Says It Won't Stop Gaza Weapons Production, Smuggling
    Hamas will not stop arming itself because only a strong arsenal, not negotiations, can extract concessions from Israel, Moussa Abu Marzouk, the No. 2 in the Islamic militant group, told AP on Saturday. However, an Israeli security official said last week that Israel would likely link a significant easing of the blockade to Hamas' willingness to stop smuggling weapons into Gaza and producing them there. (AP-Washington Post)
        See also Hamas TV Airs "Death to Israel!" Music Video Day After Agreeing to Ceasefire - Daniel Halper (Weekly Standard)
  • Hamas Claim Complicates Talk of Truce with Israel - Jodi Rudoren
    Confusion continued Saturday over the status of cease-fire talks Egypt is conducting between Hamas and Israel, as the Hamas prime minister announced progress regarding restrictions on the movements of fishermen and farmers in the border area, which the Israeli prime minister's office denied.
        Mark Regev, a spokesman for Prime Minister Netanyahu, said Saturday that "nothing has changed on the ground or at sea until it is agreed to by Israel and Egypt." "The arrangements negotiated with Egypt led to an immediate cessation of hostile activities. All other factors will be negotiated in an expeditious manner directly with the Egyptians."
        "Hamas is definitely trying to score points here," said Mkhaimar Abusada, a political scientist at Al Azhar University in Gaza City. "Hamas is trying to say that the cease-fire is in the interest of Hamas and is in the interest of the Palestinians." Abusada noted that Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar told a news conference that Gaza militants had shot down seven Israeli aircraft during the conflict, something Abusada called "a big lie." "We know this didn't happen, so this is part of raising morale, part of playing with the emotions of Palestinians."  (New York Times)
  • Syrian Rebels Making Advances - Liz Sly
    Syrian rebels are making significant advances. In the past week, the rebels have seized five important military facilities, capturing sizable quantities of weaponry. The gains underscore the steadily growing effectiveness of the rebel force. It is no longer possible to describe the war in Syria as a stalemate, said Jeffrey White, a defense fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. "The war is turning against the regime, and it's turning at a faster rate than we had seen before."
        Videos released after the capture last week of Base 46, a major facility to the west of Aleppo, showed fighters acquiring tanks, armored personnel carriers, artillery and surface-to-air missiles as well as large quantities of ammunition. The advances are boosting confidence among rebel fighters that they will soon be able to topple Assad without the international assistance they have long sought. The rebels' current strategy is to focus on seizing the bases from which the bombardments and air raids are launched, before turning their attention to the cities, said Free Syrian Army spokesman Louay Miqdad. (Washington Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel's David's Sling Defense System Intercepts Mid-Range Missile in First Trial - Gili Cohen
    Israel's David's Sling defense system (also known as Magic Wand) has successfully intercepted a test-fired mid-range missile in its first trial. David's Sling will be used in defense against mid- and long-range rockets, with capabilities between that of the Iron Dome - which can intercept missiles up to 75 km. - and the Arrow, which can intercept long-range ballistic missiles. The system is scheduled to be operational by 2015. (Ha'aretz)
        See also U.S.-Israel Missile System Scores First Intercept - Barbara Opall-Rome
    The jointly funded David's Sling Weapon System (DSWS) was developed by state-owned Rafael Ltd. and the U.S.' Raytheon Missile Systems. Unlike the Rafael-developed Iron Dome interceptor, which is based on the firm's proven Python air-to-air missiles, the David's Sling interceptor - known in the U.S. as Stunner - is an entirely new design. It has a distinctive dolphin-shaped head and has no warhead or proximity fuse since it is designed to destroy targets through the sheer force of impact. (Defense News)
  • In Keeping Gaza Truce with Israel, Hamas Shows It Has Much More to Lose - Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff
    On Friday, a group of Palestinian demonstrators tried to push through the Gaza border fence east of Khan Yunis, ignoring the warnings of Israel Defense Forces soldiers. The soldiers eventually opened fire; a 21-year-old Palestinian was killed and 20 more rioters were wounded. The Palestinian media and senior members of Islamic Jihad argued that Israel had violated the cease-fire. But there was no return fire into Israel in retaliation. Hamas sent policemen to forcibly break up the demonstration. (Ha'aretz)
  • Who Won in Gaza? - Barry Rubin
    I'm amused by those who think that Hamas won the recent conflict. Winning has to mean something real, not just bragging to reassure oneself. Hamas' goal was to be able to attack Israel as much as it wanted without significant retaliation. Israel's goal was to force Hamas to the lowest possible level of attacks and to make such attacks as ineffective as possible.
        Hamas' survival was not some victory, it is guaranteed in effect by the international and regional order. However, the amount of regional support Hamas received during the recent war was remarkably low, and the Arab street didn't do much.
        As for Egypt, while the Muslim Brotherhood regime is 100% pro-Hamas, it isn't going to be dictated to by its much smaller brother. There will be times when Cairo gives Hamas full backing, but this wasn't one of them. Perhaps the better way to put it is that Israel won the battle but the war goes on, as indeed it has for our entire lifetimes. The writer is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Lessons from Gaza - Jackson Diehl
    The most important outcome of the latest Gaza crisis is the consolidation of a new Islamist front as Israel's principal Arab counterpart, adversary and potential interlocutor. It comprises not just Hamas but the allied, Muslim Brotherhood-led government of Egypt, with Turkey and Qatar as supporting partners. As a simple, pragmatic matter, "uprooting" Hamas is no longer an option. Not only does Hamas have the support of the region's richest and most powerful governments, but it is preferable to the most obvious Gazan alternative, which is jihadist movements even more closely tied to Iran.
        Yet the new Islamic front is far weaker than the post-truce celebrations in Gaza suggest. Hamas once again demonstrated that it lacks the means to do more than frighten or inconvenience Israelis. Meanwhile, much of Hamas' governing infrastructure has been destroyed.
        It's reasonable to forecast that the Islamists will grow still weaker in the next several years. In Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood will be blamed for its inevitable failure to meet post-revolutionary expectations. At the same time, this Gaza episode may finally finish off the stubbornly persistent notion that Israel should negotiate a peace settlement with the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority without Hamas' involvement. (Washington Post)
  • Will the Cease-Fire Last? - Matthew Levitt
    Without significant diplomatic follow-up, the cease-fire in Gaza that Egypt brokered with American help will likely last only as long as it takes Hamas to rearm. Egypt will almost certainly be unwilling to stem the torrent of weapons flowing across its territory into Gaza.
         Hamas underwent a significant change in April 2012, when hardliners dominated in secret elections for the Hamas Shura Council and Political Bureau in Gaza. Under this new, more militant political leadership, Hamas leaders gave greater weight to acts of "resistance" against Israel over their responsibility to effectively govern Gaza. The writer is a senior fellow and director of the Program on Counterterrorism and Intelligence at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. (Daily Beast)
  • The Status of "Palestine" at the UN - Oded Eran and Robbie Sabel
    Rather than having to negotiate the question of statehood with Israel, the Palestinians hope to acquire this status at the UN on Nov. 29, supported widely by the international community, without the need to negotiate with Israel or concede anything to Israel. In a speech on Nov. 11, Mahmoud Abbas explained that the appeal to the UN is aimed in part to remove the basis for Israel's claim that the territory of the West Bank is contested, and to establish that it is occupied territory.
        If Palestine were to accept the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court at The Hague, it would mean that all Palestinians, including presumably those of Gaza, who would commit a war crime in the future could find themselves subject to the jurisdiction of the Court. It is noteworthy that no Arab states, other than Jordan and recently Tunisia, have accepted the jurisdiction of the Court.
        Dr. Oded Eran, Director of INSS, was Israel's Ambassador to Jordan and to the EU and Head of Israel's negotiations team with the Palestinians, 1999-2000. Prof. Robbie Sabel teaches international law at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and was the Legal Advisor of the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs. (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)
        See also The Palestinians at the UN and the International Criminal Court - Alan Baker (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

More at Stake than You Think in Gaza - Daniel Taub (Telegraph-UK)

  • Around the world, terrorist organizations have been watching Hamas and its fellow terrorist groups with close attention. In particular, they are keen to know whether, by adopting a deliberate strategy of embedding itself within the heart of the civilian population, Hamas has discovered the Achilles' heel of states confronting terrorist threats.
  • In hiding weapons in private homes and locating its rocket launchers and command centers among public buildings, Hamas is imitating tactics learned from Hizbullah. In its own conflict with Israel, Hizbullah entrenched its Katyushas and terrorist units within homes and villages in south Lebanon, confident that international outrage at civilian casualties would tie Israel's hands in responding.
  • Every country facing a terrorist threat has an interest in ensuring that the brutal tactics in play in Gaza are not seen to have succeeded. This means having the courage to stand firm and to engage in the unbearably difficult exercise of responding, proportionately but effectively, to terrorists wherever they may be.
  • If the negotiations do restart and the international community urges Israelis to make significant territorial withdrawals from the West Bank as part of a peace package, it should be aware that Israelis will naturally think back to the last time they were urged to pull out of land for peace, and the value of the reassurances they were given at that time.
  • When Israelis face rocket and missiles onslaught from territory they were urged to leave, the international community needs to stand by its assurance that Israel would be entitled to respond with the force and for the time necessary to protect its civilians.

    The writer is Israel's Ambassador to Britain.

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