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by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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  DAILY ALERT Thursday,
January 17, 2013

In-Depth Issues:

Israeli System to Protect Civilian Aircraft from Missile Attacks Passes Tests (AP)
    Israel's Elbit Systems on Wednesday said its C-MUSIC system to protect commercial passenger jets against shoulder-launched missiles has proved effective in a number of tests involving a Boeing 707 aircraft.
    Elbit says the new system can be applied to any aircraft. It integrates advanced fiber laser technology with a thermal camera to protect against missiles.

India Insures Iranian Oil Ship - Nidhi Verma (Reuters)
    A loophole in an Indian insurance scheme has allowed Iran's state-run oil tanker company NITC to charter a vessel insured by India's state-run firms, industry and shipping sources said on Tuesday.

Palestinians: Fatah's Armed Gangs Are Back - Khaled Abu Toameh (Gatestone Institute)
    After keeping a low profile for the past few years, Fatah's armed gangs have resurfaced in the West Bank.
    Their reappearance means either that the PA is really losing control, or that it is using the gunmen as a means of intimidating donor countries into resuming financial aid to the Palestinian government in the West Bank.
    In any event, to have Fatah gunmen once again roaming the West Bank proves that the PA's claims to have disbanded and disarmed the Aqsa Martyrs Brigades are untrue.
    The Brigades were responsible for hundreds of armed attacks against Israelis during the second intifada.

World Bank: Red Sea-Dead Sea Water Pipeline Is Feasible - Sharon Udasin (Jerusalem Post)
    An Israeli-Jordanian-PA plan to construct a 180-km. pipeline transporting water from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea and generating affordable hydroelectricity is feasible, a World Bank study has determined.
    While the estimated total cost of the project is $9.97 billion, direct economic benefits exceed the costs by some $1b.

Sea of Galilee at Highest Level since 2005 - Kobi Yeshayahou (Globes)
    The water level in the Sea of Galilee has risen 94 cm. since Jan. 4 due to winter rains.
    In addition, the Dead Sea's water level has risen by 10 cm., its first rise since 2003.

Israel to Reconstruct King Herod's Tomb - Michal Shmulovich (Times of Israel)
    A replica of the tomb of King Herod, the Judean king famous for renovating the Temple Mount and building Masada, will rise again at Herodion and, at 83 feet, will be visible from Jerusalem, Israel announced Monday.
    Herodion, a fortified royal palace built between 23 and 15 BCE, was destroyed in 70 CE during the Great Revolt against Rome.
    Reconstruction of Herod's Tomb is part of a larger government plan to refurbish some 300 biblical and national heritage sites.
    Hebrew University archaeology professor Ehud Netzer ascertained Herodion to be the biblical king's burial site in 2007.
    See also As Part of Israeli Landmarks Plan, Albert Einstein Museum to Be Built in Shape of Scientist's Brain - Shlomo Cesana (Israel Hayom)

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Prospects for Nuclear Talks with Iran Dim - Jason Rezaian and Joby Warrick
    Four weeks after agreeing in principle to nuclear talks, Iran has gone silent about its plans for the negotiations. Prospects for the talks have grown more uncertain after Iran declined to respond to at least two proposals for meeting dates, Western diplomats said. Hard-liners in Iran have spoken publicly against making any nuclear concessions, while a growing chorus of current and former officials has touted the need for a diplomatic end to what they see as the root cause of many of Iran's problems. (Washington Post)
        See also below Observations: Iranian Policy toward Direct Nuclear Talks with the U.S. - Lt.-Col. (ret.) Michael Segall (ICA-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Militants Seize Americans and Other Hostages in Algeria - Adam Nossiter and Scott Sayare
    The French military assault on Islamist extremists in Mali escalated on Wednesday when, in retribution, armed attackers seized an internationally managed natural gas field in neighboring Algeria and took at least 20 foreign hostages, including Americans. Algerian officials said at least two people, including a Briton, were killed in the assault, which began with an ambush on a bus trying to ferry gas-field workers to an airport. Hundreds of Algerian security forces surrounded the gas-field compound, creating a tense standoff. (New York Times)
  • Morsi Says His Slurs of Jews Were Taken Out of Context - David Kirkpatrick
    Yasser Ali, a spokesman for Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, said on Wednesday that inflammatory comments he made about Jews before taking office had been intended as criticism of Israeli policies but had been taken out of context. Ali said Morsi respected all monotheistic religions and religious freedom. (New York Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Court Approves Removal of Palestinian Tents from E-1 - Ofra Edelman
    Israel's High Court of Justice approved on Wednesday the removal of tents Palestinian activists had pitched in the E-1 area near Jerusalem. The court agreed with the government's argument that the tents could be a magnet for violent Palestinian protests, noting Tuesday's clashes when activists returned to the site and tried to reoccupy the tents. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Palestinian Authority Behind E-1 Protest Camp - Ofra Edelman
    Senior Palestinian Authority officials were involved in the creation of a Palestinian tent camp in the West Bank's E-1 corridor in an attempt to create a serious public disturbance, Israeli authorities stated in court on Wednesday. (Ha'aretz)
  • Palestinians Riot near Rachel's Tomb - Elior Levy
    Some 50 Palestinians rioted Wednesday near Rachel's Tomb between Jerusalem and Bethlehem. The rioters hurled rocks, 18 firebombs, and 9 pipe bombs at Israeli security forces guarding the holy site. (Ynet News)
  • Jewish Terrorist Convicted of Double Murder - Mitch Ginsburg and Adiv Sterman
    Jack Teitel, 40, an American-born Israeli Jew who killed two Palestinians and wounded two Israelis, was convicted Wednesday on two counts of first degree murder and a string of other hate crimes, including attempted murder and incitement to violence. In May 1997, Teitel stopped a taxi driven by Samir Akram Balbisi of east Jerusalem and shot him. Three months later he killed Issa Jabarin, 57. (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • What the "Jewish Lobby" Knows about Animus for Israel - Ruth R. Wisse
    Opposition to Israel camouflages a much more virulent hostility to America. The cause of the long-running Arab war against the Jewish homeland is not Israel, it is Arab leaders' need for war against a "foreign intruder." Opposition to Israel is the only glue of pan-Arabism and the strongest common bond of otherwise warring Muslim constituencies.
        Anti-Zionism is less about the Jews than about the larger aims of those aggressing against the Jews. Israel represents religious pluralism, individual rights and freedoms, liberal democracy, and Western ideas of progress. Jews and Israel are merely a convenient face or emblem for the huger bastions of those same ideals. Israel, the "little Satan," is a handier target than the "big Satan."
        The alignment between Israel and America is dictated by those who burn the flags of both countries on the same pyre. By contrast, those who lobby for Israel's protection axiomatically have America's back. The writer is a professor of Yiddish and comparative literature at Harvard. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Does Obama Know Better than Israel What Its Interests Are? - Jonathan S. Tobin
    The accusations that the White House used Jeffrey Goldberg's column to get even with Netanyahu are probably untrue. The president and his foreign policy team are probably aware that an American attempt to influence the vote in Israel would backfire. Obama is deeply unpopular in Israel and every time he has picked a fight with Netanyahu it has only strengthened the prime minister's standing at home.
        The assumption underlying Goldberg's article was that Netanyahu is isolating his country via policies that are not aimed at encouraging "Palestinian moderates." The decision to allow building in Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem and its suburbs that would be kept by Israel even if there were a two-state solution is seen by Obama and the Europeans as intolerable provocations that should be punished. But most Israelis see these issues very differently.
        Obama's evaluation of the situation via Goldberg shows that he is still focusing only on what Israel does and ignoring the reality of a Palestinian political culture that is incapable of accepting peace. If real peace were an option, no Israeli political leader would be able to resist accepting it. Pretending that such a choice is available to Israel is mere posturing, not a policy. (Commentary)
  • Iran Braces for Full Force of U.S. Sanctions - Roshanak Taghavi
    U.S. sanctions set to hit Tehran on Feb. 6 will formally regulate global banking constraints that Iranian banks and businesses have been facing, on an informal basis, for more than two years. The aim of the new measure is for Tehran's oil revenues to become largely "shackled" within any country buying oil from Iran.
        This means Iran's international oil customers - even those with U.S. waivers allowing them to purchase Iranian oil - will officially be at risk of being cut off from the U.S. banking system if they allow transfers of Iran's oil revenues back to Tehran's Central Bank.
        A considerable chunk of Tehran's oil revenues have already been tied up and locked in international bank accounts for more than two years because of U.S. sanctions legislation. As a result, roughly 80% of Iran's financial transactions have been re-channeled through banks in Turkey, South Korea, India, China, and Russia. "Those who are going to deal with Iran will keep doing so, but it's going to get harder to pay them," says Erich Ferrari, a Washington-based lawyer specializing in sanctions. (Christian Science Monitor)

Iranian Policy toward Direct Nuclear Talks with the U.S. - Lt.-Col. (ret.) Michael Segall (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

  • Different voices may be heard in Iran regarding direct talks with the United States. Khamenei and his spokesmen, including his representatives in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), firmly oppose such talks or engagement, claiming they hold no benefit in terms of the Iranian interest. On the other hand, elements within intelligence, the Majlis (parliament), and the IRGC maintain that under certain conditions direct talks could be held with the U.S.
  • This behavior is part of the Iranian tactic of projecting internal division in order to gain more time for promoting further components of the nuclear program and increasing Iran's bargaining power vis-a-vis the West. Meanwhile, Iran makes use of and interprets the voices in the West calling for compromise and continued adherence to using diplomatic channels to sustain its delaying tactics over a fresh round of nuclear talks with the 5+ 1 group.
  • The closer Iran gets to the June presidential elections, the harder it will be for its leadership to deal with the sensitive issue of direct contacts with the United States and to commit themselves to any sort of significant engagement with Washington.
  • One of the main reasons Tehran is against direct talks with the United States, at least at this stage, is the sense that Iran now senses and projects that it has the upper hand in the contest with the U.S. over regional hegemony and the reshaping of the Middle East according to Iran's Islamic revolutionary model.
  • In light of these facts, Iran regards military nuclear capability as its greatest prospective asset for countering the West in various domains, despite all the difficulties this entails.
  • Thus, Iran will not hasten to renew the dialogue with the United States, and will want to engage in such talks only from a position of strength.

    The writer, an expert on strategic issues with a focus on Iran, terrorism, and the Middle East, is a senior analyst at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and the Terrogence company.

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