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by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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January 14, 2013

In-Depth Issues:

Report: Hamas Test-Fires Improved Long-Range Missiles - Daniel Siryoti and Lilach Shoval (Israel Hayom)
    Hamas is already preparing for the next clash with Israel. Palestinian media reported that Hamas recently test-fired two improved long-range missiles.
    The rockets were launched toward the Mediterranean Sea from a Hamas training base in Gaza located in what used to be Gush Katif (a former Jewish enclave).
    The rockets were reportedly manufactured and assembled in Gaza using Iranian know-how.

Israel Keeps Clear of Hagel Confirmation Fight (Reuters)
    When asked about the nomination for U.S. defense secretary of Chuck Hagel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Army Radio on Sunday:
    "I do not interfere in the political appointments of the U.S. president. It is his prerogative.... Congress decides and confirms, and we will work with whoever is chosen."

U.S. Report Says Iran Expanding Intelligence Operations in Golan Heights (UPI)
    Iran has signal intelligence-gathering stations in northern Syria and the Golan Heights to spy on Israel, a U.S. report says.
    See also Iran's Ministry of Intelligence and Security: A Profile (Library of Congress)

U.S. Objects to Planned Release of Lebanese Terrorist Who Killed U.S., Israeli Diplomats (Reuters-Ha'aretz)
    The U.S. objected on Friday to a French court's planned release of George Ibrahim Abdallah, sentenced to life imprisonment in 1987 for his role in the 1982 murders in Paris of U.S. military attache Charles Ray and Israeli diplomat Yacov Barsimantov, and the attempted murder of U.S. Consul General Robert Homme in Strasbourg in 1984.
    A French appeals court on Thursday granted conditional release to Abdallah, contingent on his being deported to Lebanon, a step in the hands of the French Foreign Ministry.

Attack on Egypt Police Patrol in Sinai, Seven Hurt (AFP-Al-Ahram-Egypt)
    An Egyptian police officer and six recruits protecting the cross-Sinai gas pipeline were wounded on Friday when gunmen attacked their patrol, security officials said.
    Since the fall of Mubarak, Sinai has been the scene of regular attacks by radical groups on the police and army.

Israeli Women Soldiers Have "Right Stuff" for Border Watch - Dan Williams (Reuters)
    When it comes to keeping the peace on the border with Egypt, women IDF soldiers are valued perhaps even more than their male counterparts.
    "It is no accident that so many women are in field intelligence - with all due respect to the men, women bring a special capability," said Major Oshrat Bachar.
    Retired Brig.-Gen. Ruth Yaron said that at draft age, women tended to be better suited for the patient vigilance required of surveillance.
    Women make up 55% of Israel's field intelligence corps, compared to just 33% of the armed forces overall.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Assad Still Confident He Can Control Syria - Liz Sly
    Syrian President Bashar al-Assad remains confident that he can ride out the maelstrom engulfing his country, according to Syrians familiar with the thinking of the regime. Although Assad isn't winning the fight against the rebels, he isn't losing, either - at least not yet, or by enough of a margin to make him feel he needs to abandon his efforts to crush the rebellion by force and embark on negotiations that would end his hold on power and expose his loyalists to the threat of revenge. (Washington Post)
        See also Syrian Defections Suggest Military Morale Being Drained - Carol Morello (Washington Post)
  • A Trail of Bullet Casings Leads from Africa's Wars Back to Iran - C. J. Chivers
    The first clues appeared in Kenya, Uganda and what is now South Sudan. A British arms researcher surveying ammunition used by government forces and civilian militias in 2006 found Kalashnikov rifle cartridges he had not seen before. Similar ammunition turned up in 2009 in Guinea. A group of independent arms-trafficking researchers found the source of the mystery cartridges to be Iran.
        For the past several years, Iran's state-manufactured ammunition has been distributed through secretive networks to a long list of combatants, including in regions under UN arms embargoes. Iranian cartridges have been found in the Ivory Coast, the Democratic Republic of Congo, with the Taliban in Afghanistan and groups affiliated with Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb in Niger. (New York Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Netanyahu: Nobody Will Block E-1 Corridor between Jerusalem and Ma'ale Adumim - Barak Ravid
    Israeli security forces on Sunday cleared 100 Palestinian activists from a protest encampment in the E-1 corridor east of Jerusalem, an area slated to be the Ma'ale Adumim city neighborhood of Mevaseret Adumim. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he had ordered the immediate evacuation of the protestors, saying, "We will not let anyone harm the contiguity between Jerusalem and Ma'ale Adumim."  (Ha'aretz)
        See also Protecting the Contiguity of Israel: The E-1 Area and the Link Between Jerusalem and Ma'ale Adumim - Nadav Shragai (ICA-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • EU Working on New Mideast Peace Plan - Itamar Eichner
    The European Union is working on a detailed plan meant to restart Israeli-Palestinian negotiations and establish an independent Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders with east Jerusalem as its capital, Yediot Ahronot quoted Israeli diplomatic sources as saying. The plan will likely include a demand to freeze settlement construction. The initiative is promoted by the British and French foreign ministers, and has the support of Germany.
        "There is great movement behind the scenes," a senior Israeli official said. "The Europeans can't force Israel to enter into an agreement, but they can certainly put us in an awkward position. They are drafting a document which will present the principles of the future peace accord, putting it on the table as a challenge. It is likely the Palestinians will accept it and that Israel will have some difficulty. It will drive us into the corner."
        Meanwhile the Palestinians are trying to initiate a special UN Security Council meeting on Jan. 23, a day after the Israeli elections, to discuss settlement construction and particularly Israel's area E1 construction plan. Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon met with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon over the weekend and expressed Israel's objection to the discussion. (Ynet News)
  • Sen. Rand Paul: Building in Jerusalem None of U.S.'s Business - Herb Keinon
    It is "none of our business" whether Israel builds new neighborhoods in east Jerusalem or withdraws from the Golan Heights, and the U.S. should not tell Israel how to defend itself, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said Saturday at the end of a week-long visit to the country. Paul is known for his advocacy of slashing U.S. foreign aid. "We have to reassess who to give aid to, and when we do reassess that, I would begin with countries that are burning our flag and chanting 'Death to America.' No one is accusing Israel of that."
        Paul noted that Netanyahu in a 1996 speech to Congress advocated Israel gradually weaning itself off of American aid. This would benefit Israel and its defense industry, because it would not have to buy all its weaponry from the U.S., and a curtailment of U.S. foreign aid would also mean less money for arms for Israel's neighbors. (Jerusalem Post)
  • IDF Arrests Palestinian Who Fired at Kibbutz Migdal Oz - Itamar Fleishman
    IDF forces arrested a Palestinian who fired at a security post in Kibbutz Migdal Oz in Gush Etzion. (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • The Shadow of Conflict in Israel - Daniel S. Mariaschin
    What about the traumatized Israeli children who face incessant rocket attacks from Hamas terrorists in Gaza? The Washington Post's Jan. 6 news article "In Gaza, a Childhood Shadowed by Conflict" devoted not a single word to the thousands of rockets and mortars Hamas has fired at Israelis since Hamas took control of Gaza in 2005.
        War didn't just strike again, as the Post describes the November conflict. Israel endured days of rocket attacks on its citizens until it began a defensive response to the onslaught. More than 1 million Israelis sought safety in bomb shelters from the Hamas rockets, and the Israeli population lives in fear of the next round of Hamas attacks. But readers wouldn't know that from this story.
        Since its founding, Hamas has called for Israel's destruction. The Palestinians have refused for years to sit down with Israel to negotiate a peace deal. The writer is executive vice president of B'nai B'rith International. (Washington Post)
  • Things the U.S. Should Do in the Middle East - Michael Rubin
    If Obama wishes to convince the Iranians that his patience is not infinite, he should remove the two U.S. aircraft carriers which normally ply the Persian Gulf and redeploy them in the northern Indian Ocean. As Iran's generals know, the Persian Gulf is both narrow and shallow. Aircraft carriers have limited maneuverability in such tight corridors, can have trouble acquiring the wind speed to launch planes, and are vulnerable to swarming Iranian speedboats.
        Keep the U.S. destroyers and cruisers in the contested waters, but removing the carriers would enable the U.S. to strike at Iran, while keeping our most valuable platforms secure. Only such a move will convince Tehran that the time for defiance has ended.
        The Palestinians have received more aid per capita than any other people. If Singapore can thrive, so too can Gaza. Yet, as the two decade anniversary of the Oslo Accord nears, Palestinians have little to show for it. The problem is not Israel, but rather endemic corruption and a leadership that has promoted terror more than development; and incitement over education.
        As not only Hamas but also Fatah turn their backs on the agreements Arafat made to form the Palestinian Authority, they both demonstrate that they consider agreements ephemeral, not permanent. The writer is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and senior lecturer at the Naval Postgraduate School. (CNN)
  • Worries about a "Failed State" in Syria - David Ignatius
    An intelligence report provided to the State Department last week by Syrian sources working with the Free Syrian Army (FSA) describes the situation in the area from Aleppo to the Turkish border, where Assad's army has largely disappeared. The report draws a picture of disorganized fighters, greedy arms peddlers and profiteering warlords.
        "There are hundreds of small groups (10-20 fighters) spread all over the area of Aleppo," notes the report. "The FSA has [been] transformed into disorganized rebel groups, infiltrated by large numbers of criminals.... Warlords are a reality on the ground now."
        This security vacuum appears to have helped Jabhat al-Nusra, which is allied with al-Qaeda. The group is benefiting not just from its prowess on the battlefield but from its refusal to engage in looting and other predatory behavior. If this trend continues, "the extremist groups will turn into the 'savior' for Syrian people from the warlords."  (Washington Post)

Striving for an Illusion-Free Middle East Peace - Shlomo Avineri (Ha'aretz)

  • This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Oslo Accords. The establishment of the Palestinian Authority marked the beginning of Israel's realization that it could not control an occupied Palestinian population forever. It also opened the path that would lead us to a Palestinian state that could co-exist alongside Israel. But the Oslo Accords, two decades later, have not yielded their pledged fruits.
  • Repeating the slogan of "it's time to get back to the negotiating table" simply isn't enough. The question that must now be faced, head-on, is this: Why have negotiations failed until now?
  • The Kadima Olmert-Livni government held intensive negotiations with the PA for two years and both sides came to the table with good will and a real readiness to reach an agreement. But as the discussions wore on, it was clear that even between the most moderate of Israeli and Palestinian positions, a wide gulf existed on core issues.
  • On the topics of borders, settlements, Jerusalem, refugees and Israel's security demands, the two sides couldn't hatch a compromise. It wasn't an issue of not enough time. There was simply too much distance between the two sides.
  • The proposal to solve the Jerusalem issue by creating a fictive non-sovereign area or by placing the Old City under the jurisdiction of the international community is as delusory an idea today as it was in the past.
  • The idea that simply engaging in negotiations will automatically foster a peace agreement is a fantasy, proven baseless by the experience of the past 20 years. The time has come for creative thinking, rather than grasping at straws.

    The writer, professor of political science at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, was director-general of Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs under Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

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