Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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January 7, 2013

In-Depth Issues:

Poll: Spike in Palestinian Support for Military Operations Against Israel - Christa Case Bryant (Christian Science Monitor)
    Palestinian support for military operations against Israel has registered its most significant jump in 10 years, spurred by frustration over a peace process that has been essentially deadlocked for more than four years.
    51% of Palestinians support such operations, up from 29% in January 2011.
    Most Palestinians saw Hamas - which targeted Tel Aviv and Jerusalem with missiles for the first time - as victorious in the recent conflict.
    The poll by the Jerusalem Media and Communication Center, published Dec. 20, distinguishes between "military operations," such as firing missiles into Israel, and "armed struggle," which would include suicide bombings. There was also an uptick in support for armed struggle, albeit to a more modest 32%.
    See also Poll: Palestinians Believe Hamas Won in Gaza War (Jerusalem Media and Communication Center)
    71% of Palestinians consider Hamas the winning side during the recent war with Israel.
    79% said Israel targeted civilians during the war, while only 15% said Hamas hid among civilians during the war.
    90% of Palestinians were satisfied with Egypt's role, 73% with the Muslim Brotherhood, and 77% with Turkey.
    Dissatisfaction with the performance of Western countries ranged from 93% with the U.S., 83% with Britain and Germany, and 59% with the EU.
    74% thought rockets fired from Gaza towards Israel were helpful, up from 25% in April 2011.

Arafat and the Second Intifada - Elliott Abrams (Council on Foreign Relations)
    The PLO and Palestinian Authority have long denied that Yasser Arafat was behind the violent Palestinian uprising that followed on the failure of Camp David in 2000, instead calling the Second Intifada a spontaneous uprising.
    Now Arafat's widow, Suha, told Dubai TV in an interview in December:
    "Yasser Arafat had made a decision to launch the Intifada. Immediately after the failure of the Camp David [negotiations], I met him in Paris...and he said to me: 'You should remain in Paris.' I asked him why, and he said: 'Because I am going to start an Intifada.'"
    I recall a conversation five years ago with a PA official, whom I asked about a new intifada. He replied that such things do not start spontaneously. The last one started when the Palestinian leadership decided to start it.

Israelis to Design San Diego Desalination Plant - Sharon Udasin (Jerusalem Post)
    IDE Americas Inc., a subsidiary of Israel's IDE Technologies Ltd, will be designing the biggest desalination project in the Western Hemisphere in the San Diego region, the company announced on Sunday.
    The company has worked in 400 plants in 40 countries over four decades.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Assad Vows to Fight On, Rejects Peace Efforts - Nour Malas
    Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, in his first address to the nation in six months, issued a defiant call to war to defend the country and rejected international peace efforts, proposing his own political plan that keeps him in power. He portrayed the conflict as a battle against external terrorists, singling out al-Qaeda for infiltrating the country, and denied it was a fight between the government and the opposition. (Wall Street Journal)
        See also Egypt's Morsi Backs Calls for Assad to Face War Crimes Trial
    Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi supports calls by people in Syria for President Bashar al-Assad to be tried for war crimes, he told CNN on Sunday. Morsi repeated his previous calls for Assad to leave power. (CNN)
        See also Syrian Lawyers Collect War-Crimes Testimony - Carol Morello (Washington Post)
  • New Iran Sanctions Target Industry - Joby Warrick
    New U.S. sanctions on Iran signed by President Obama last week are intended to deliver powerful blows against key industries ranging from shipping and ports-management to news media. The new law imposes sanctions against international companies that do business with Iranian firms in the targeted industrial sectors, and also seeks to block Iran from obtaining aluminum, steel, coal and other materials critical for construction and vehicle manufacturing. The new policies are designed to systematically attack and undercut Iran's major financial pillars and threaten the country with economic collapse, officials say. (Washington Post)
  • Fatah Rally Breaks Up in Fights in Gaza
    Fatah led tens of thousands of supporters Friday in a mass rally in Gaza, the first such gathering since Hamas seized power in 2007. While Friday's rally pointed to improving ties between Hamas and Fatah, officials cancelled the event halfway through after 20 people were injured and shoving matches erupted between separate Fatah factions.
        Witnesses said one pushing match was between supporters of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and partisans of Fatah's former Gaza security commander Mohammed Dahlan. One Fatah official said hundreds of Dahlan supporters jumped up on the stage and clashed with Abbas supporters. (Telegraph-UK)
        See also Palestinian Premier Blames Cash Crisis on Arab Donors
    The Palestinian government is in "extreme jeopardy" because of an unprecedented financial crisis, largely because Arab countries have failed to send hundreds of millions of dollars in promised aid, Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said Sunday. (AP-Washington Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel to Fortify Border Fence with Syria to Protect Against Jihadists
    As global jihadist forces have taken the place of the Syrian army across the northern border, Israel is determined to keep both infiltrators and terrorists out through the construction of a northern security fence, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the Cabinet on Sunday. "We intend to erect an identical fence [to the one on the Egyptian border]...along the Golan Heights. We know that on the other side of our border with Syria today, the Syrian army has moved away, and in its place, global jihadist forces have moved in."  (Israel Hayom)
  • PA Nabs Members of Group that Declared Intifada - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Palestinian Authority security forces in the West Bank have arrested members of a new terrorist group from Hebron, the Brigades of National Unity, who posted a video on YouTube last month that called for a third intifada. Sources in Hebron said that most of the masked men who appeared in the video were now being held by the PA's Preventive Security Force. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Palestinian Irresponsibility - Editorial
    The Palestinian Authority is currently embroiled in a largely self-inflicted financial crisis. Unfortunately, instead of taking responsible steps to remedy the situation, the PA has chosen a tried-and-true tactic - blaming Israel.
        As the Jerusalem Post's Palestinian affairs correspondent Khaled Abu Toameh has reported, Palestinians - particularly those living in refugee camps - have either avoided paying their electricity bills (as well as their water and municipality bills) or have been regularly stealing electricity. Apparently out of an inflated sense of entitlement, Palestinians believe the international community - particularly the Americans and the Europeans - should foot their bills.
        Instead of launching a more aggressive crackdown against Palestinians who don't pay their bills, the PA, with Prime Minister Salam Fayyad's backing, decided to cancel all outstanding electricity bills for Palestinians living in the West Bank. At the same time, Fayyad lashed out at Israel for daring to collect Palestinian debts to the Israel Electric Company.
        Just this weekend Fatah spent more than $1 million for celebrations marking the 48th anniversary of the "launching of the revolution" - a reference to the first armed attack carried out by Fatah against Israel.
        Instead of choosing a path of self-empowerment and accepting responsibility for their own fate, Fayyad and other Palestinian leaders have opted yet again for the well-traversed road of self-victimization. Apparently, Palestinian leaders in the West Bank believe they will succeed in deflecting growing anger and frustration on the Palestinian street and redirect it toward Israel. (Jerusalem Post)
  • European Settlements and Double Standards - Dore Gold
    According to a BBC report, as many as 10,000 foreigners have bought up former Greek Cypriot properties in Northern Cyprus. But what of the legal status of the area? In 1974 the Turkish Army invaded Cyprus and took over 37% of the island, expelling tens of thousands of Greek Cypriots.
        Over the years, an estimated 160,000 "settlers" from Turkey moved into Northern Cyprus. In many cases, they and Turkish Cypriots sold properties that had been left behind by Greek Cypriot refugees to European buyers, including some 5,000 British citizens, despite its being a clear-cut case of an "occupied territory."
        Ironically, while the European Union releases harsh statements against Israel for any construction in West Bank settlements, it has nothing to say about tens of thousands of Turkish settlers that have moved into Northern Cyprus. Nor are European governments condemning their own citizens who build beach-front villas in territory under Turkish occupation. The writer, a former Israeli ambassador to the UN, is president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. (Israel Hayom)
  • "Palestine:" A State in Name Only - David Frum
    Palestinian nationalism often seems a mirror-image of the Zionist project, but with one crucial difference: Over the half century before the foundation of the State of Israel, the Zionist movement built not only a proto-government and the elements of an army, but charitable institutions, educational institutions, even artistic institutions.
        When it came, that state did not have the boundaries its most ardent supporters would have wished for. Much of the Jewish homeland lay outside the Jewish state, and remains outside that state to this day. But the practice of realism defined the founding generation of the state as much as the ideal of self-reliance. They accepted less than they dreamed of in order to achieve at least something of what they aspired to. (National Post-Canada)

Wading into the Middle East Morass - Jackson Diehl (Washington Post)

  • On his second day in office in 2009, Barack Obama launched an ambitious effort to broker peace in the Middle East, ignoring warnings that neither Israelis nor Palestinians were ready for a deal. He was badly burned. Israelis and Palestinians never began substantial negotiations.
  • Four years later, the diplomatic landscape looks even more forbidding. Gaza remains firmly in the possession of the Hamas movement, which has not budged from its refusal to recognize Israel. The Palestinian Authority of Mahmoud Abbas appears to be crumbling.
  • Yet if Obama were to listen to his European counterparts, Arab leaders and even his incoming secretary of state, he would, once again, make the "peace process" a top priority in his second term.
  • In Washington, some of the loudest calls for Obama's reengagement come from the "realist" foreign policy camp. These folks have been arguing for years that it is time for the U.S. to recognize limits to its power. When it comes to Israel, however, the realists assume boundless U.S. strength.
  • The supposition seems to be that a U.S. too weak to force Bashar al-Assad out of Syria can compel Israel's advanced democracy and the leaderless Palestinians to accept compromises they have resisted for decades.
  • What's needed is a concerted but low-key policy that aims at creating conditions for a long-term solution but does not pretend that it can be delivered in the next year or two. Above all, Obama should accept the lesson of his first term: that making Middle East peace a presidential priority will not make it happen.

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