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by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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  DAILY ALERT Wednesday,
February 20, 2013

In-Depth Issues:

Hizbullah Transporting Weaponry from Syria - Ali Hashem (Al Monitor)
    A Lebanese security source in Beirut candidly stated, "Hizbullah is concentrating nowadays on transporting as many weapons as they can before Assad falls."
    "This might be the last chance for both the regime in Syria and Hizbullah to transfer strategic weaponry and this might be the main reason behind the Israeli air strike two weeks ago."

North Korea Upgrades Egyptian Missiles (Strategy Page)
    American intelligence believes Egypt is again using Chinese and North Korea missile experts to improve Egyptian ballistic missiles.
    Recently, North Korea was suspected of flying in ballistic missile parts to Egypt.
    Egypt is believed to have over 50 North Korean-built ballistic missiles, with about 20 (Nodongs) having a range of over 1,200 km.

Obama to Receive Award on Israel Trip - Jodi Rudoren (New York Times)
    Israeli President Shimon Peres plans to give President Obama a special award at a state dinner next month when he visits Israel.
    Obama would be the first sitting American president to receive Israel's Presidential Medal of Distinction.
    "Barack Obama is a true friend of the State of Israel, and has been since the beginning of his public life," Peres said in a statement.

Iran Grooming an Iraqi Hizbullah - Liz Sly (Washington Post)
    The Iranian-backed Shiite group Asaib Ahl al-Haq - the League of the Righteous - responsible for most of the attacks against U.S. forces in the final years of the Iraq war, has been rapidly expanding its presence across Iraq in recent months.
    The group's chief officers have returned from exile in Iran and have opened a string of political offices, establishing a social services program to aid widows and orphans, and launching a network of religious schools, echoing the methods and structures of one of its close allies, Hizbullah.
    The group has a powerful ally in Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, a Shiite.

Gaza Court Cuts Sentence in Italian Murder Case (AFP)
    A Gaza military court on Tuesday reduced the sentences from life to 15 years for Mahmud al-Salfiti and Tamer al-Husasna, convicted last year of the kidnap and murder on April 14, 2011, of Italian activist Vittorio Arrigoni, 36, a member of the pro-Palestinian International Solidarity Movement.
    The two men, both former police officers, were convicted in September 2012.
    In a video, a radical Salafist group threatened to kill Arrigoni within 30 hours if Gaza's Hamas rulers failed to free a group of jihadist prisoners. But the security forces found his body shortly afterwards in northern Gaza.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Syrian Leaders Should Face Justice at ICC, UN Says - Ian Black
    Syrian leaders should be brought before the International Criminal Court (ICC) to face justice for murder and torture, UN investigators urged on Monday. Carla del Ponte, former chief prosecutor for the international criminal tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, who is working on a UN inquiry into Syria, said high-level perpetrators had been identified and insisted The Hague court should act. "Now really it's time....We have a permanent court, the International Criminal Court, who would be ready to take this case," she said in Geneva.
        Earlier calls to prosecute senior Syrians at the ICC have not been pursued because that would require the support of all five permanent members of the UN Security Council. Russia and China have blocked any attempts to punish Damascus. (Guardian-UK)
        See also Russia: ICC War Crimes Requests for Syria "Untimely"  (Reuters)
  • Syrian Rebels Threaten to Hit Hizbullah Targets in Lebanon - Babak Dehghanpisheh and Ahmed Ramadan
    The Free Syrian Army on Tuesday threatened to carry out attacks against Hizbullah inside Lebanon after Hizbullah fired rockets from the Hermel area in northern Lebanon in support of Syrian military operations just across the border. "If the Hizbullah shelling on Syrian land, on villages and unarmed civilians, from inside Lebanese land does not stop in the next 48 hours...we will take matters in our own hands to respond to the source of the shooting and stop it inside Lebanese territory," a statement said. (Washington Post)
  • EU Blacklisting of Hizbullah Would Disrupt Financing - Nicholas Vinocur
    A decision by the EU to blacklist Hizbullah would interrupt the group's financing because much of the money it uses to fund militant operations comes from European capitals, Israel's civil defense minister, Avi Dichter, said Tuesday in Paris. "Europe, that's the real base of Hizbullah....If they won't be able to gather money or to raise finances in Europe, they are going to be in trouble."  (Reuters-Al Arabiya)
  • Egypt: We Flooded Tunnels to Cut Gaza Arms Flow - Paul Taylor and Yasmine Saleh
    Egypt will not tolerate a two-way flow of smuggled arms with Gaza that is destabilizing its Sinai peninsula, said Essam Haddad, national security adviser to President Mohamed Morsi, explaining why Egyptian forces flooded sub-border tunnels last week. "We don't want to see these tunnels used for illegal ways of smuggling either people or weapons that can really harm Egyptian security."
        He said that under a deal brokered by Cairo to end fighting in November between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, Israel and Egypt have both eased border controls to allow in construction materials. "Now we can say that the borders are open to a good extent," Haddad said. "And on the other side, we would not like to see arms smuggled through these tunnels either in or out, because we are now seeing in Sinai, and we have captured actually across Egypt, heavy arms that could be used in a very dangerous way."
        Haddad made clear that President Morsi would scrupulously respect Egypt's 1979 peace treaty with Israel, and that daily cooperation with Israel continued as normal, even though there were no contacts at a presidential level. (Reuters)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Turkey Marmara Trial a "Cynical Political Process" - Yonah Jeremy Bob
    Two days before the restart of Turkey's trial on Thursday in absentia of top Israeli military commanders regarding the May 2010 Marvi Marmara flotilla incident, a top Israeli government legal official said of the entire process, it's "political, not really judicial. It looks judicial, but it's really not." The Israeli government to date has boycotted the proceedings, referring to the trial as a "kangaroo court." The official said, "I don't think the Turkish judge will go against the Turkish government's" agenda of harming Israel's image - "there is no chance."
        He said the court was completely ignoring the neutral and authoritative UN-sponsored Palmer Report on the incident, which held that Israel's blockade was legal under international law and that in the altercations on the vessel, the Israel Navy sailors were under attack. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Jewish Agency Urges Obama to Free Pollard
    The Board of Governors of the Jewish Agency for Israel, meeting in Jerusalem on Tuesday, passed a unanimous resolution urging President Barack Obama to grant convicted spy Jonathan Pollard immediate clemency "on humanitarian grounds." Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky noted the growing consensus in favor of Pollard's release among former Pentagon and CIA officials, American dignitaries, legal authorities, the Israeli government, and American Jewish leaders. "The time has come to vigorously and loudly demand his freedom," he said. "28 years is more than enough."  (Ha'aretz)
        See also Sharansky Re-elected as Jewish Agency Chairman - Asher Zeiger (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Egypt: Is the Muslim Brotherhood's Version of Political Islam Sustainable? - Thomas L. Friedman
    Since the start of the 2011 revolution in Tahrir Square, every time the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood faced a choice of whether to behave in an inclusive way or grab more power, true to its Bolshevik tendencies it grabbed more power and sacrificed inclusion. Morsi's power grab will haunt him.
        The Brotherhood needs to understand that its version of political Islam - which is resistant to women's empowerment and religious and political pluralism - might be sustainable if you are Iran or Saudi Arabia, and you have huge reserves of oil and gas to buy off all the contradictions between your ideology and economic growth. But if you are Egypt, you need to be as open to the world and modernity as possible to unleash all of the potential for growth. (New York Times)
  • What Is Really Blocking the Peace Process? - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Today, it is clearer than ever that neither Hamas nor Fatah is interested in achieving unity - each for its own reasons. For Hamas, ending the dispute means the Islamist movement would have to cede exclusive control over Gaza - an area that has been turned into a semi-independent Islamic emirate over the past five years. For Fatah, unity with Hamas means paving the way for the Islamist movement to extend its control to the West Bank - something Abbas and his supporters are afraid of and cannot afford.
        Obama and the rest of the international community need to understand that the Palestinians already have two separate entities - with social, political and religious observance and ideologies that totally conflict.
        By the way, Fatah's public endorsement of the two-state solution does not necessarily mean it has abandoned the phased plan - namely, take whatever you can now and fight in the future to get the rest. Even if Mahmoud Abbas agrees to return to the negotiating table with Israel, it is obvious that any agreement he reaches will be automatically rejected by the radicals. (Gatestone Institute)
  • Muslim Anti-Semitism in Western Europe - Manfred Gerstenfeld
    In 2011 Mark Elchardus, a Belgian sociologist, published a report on Dutch-language elementary schools in Brussels. He found that about 50% of Muslim students in second and third grade could be considered anti-Semites, versus 10% of others. In the same year Gunther Jikeli published his findings from 117 interviews with Muslim male youngsters (average age 19) in Berlin, Paris and London. The majority voiced some, or strong anti-Semitic feelings, expressing them openly and often aggressively. These and other projects and studies reveal that anti-Semitism among substantial parts of European Muslim communities is much higher than in other populations.
        In 2009, during Israel's Operation Cast Lead in Gaza, the largest anti-Semitic riots in Norway's history took place in Oslo. All participants were Muslim. In 2012, Mohammed Merah, a Frenchman of Algerian origin, killed a teacher and three children in front of their Jewish school. In Sweden's third largest city, Malmo, the perpetrators of many physical and verbal attacks are almost all Muslims. A record number of complaints about hate crimes in 2010 and 2011 did not lead to any convictions. In Copenhagen, all major assaults on Jews were perpetrated by Arabs. (Jerusalem Post)

The Palestinian Authority's Responsibility for the Outbreak of the Second Intifada: Its Own Damning Testimony - Lt. Col. (ret.) Jonathan D. Halevi (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

  • On February 11, 2013, on Israel's Channel 10 television program "The Source," it was claimed that there was not even an "iota of evidence" that the Palestinian Authority leadership, and Yasser Arafat in particular, planned and initiated the Second Intifada, which began in September 2000 and resulted in the deaths of more than 1,000 Israelis by 2005.
  • Rather, it was claimed that this was a spontaneous popular uprising that ran counter to the interests of the Palestinian leadership. As a consequence, Arafat appears to be exonerated by the narrative presented. The program also reopened the old debate over whether the Second Intifada was ignited by Ariel Sharon's September 2000 visit to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
  • Yet, extensive testimony at the time and in retrospect demonstrates the Palestinian Authority's role in initiating and managing the Second Intifada as an extensive terror onslaught, designed to impose a unilateral, unconditional withdrawal upon Israel, and improve conditions in anticipation of the battle for realizing Palestinian demands for the return of the refugees.
  • The final decision to initiate the Second Intifada was made by Yasser Arafat immediately upon the conclusion of the second Camp David summit, which ended on July 25, 2000. Directives were disseminated to the national security forces, instructing them to prepare for the immediate option of initiating a violent campaign against Israel.
  • This study presents the handwriting that was on the wall, with statements referring to a return to conflict by Yasser Arafat, Marwan Barghouti, Sakhr Habash, Imad Falluji, Suha Arafat, Ahmed Ibrahim Hiles, Raed Muhammed, Jihad Al-Amarin, Yasser Khalil, and Nabil Shaath, as well as in official Palestinian Authority publications. The study concludes with the text of the first proclamation by the National and Islamic Forces, the umbrella group that coordinated the operations of Fatah and Hamas against Israel.
  • Yasser Arafat and important segments of the Palestinian leadership at that time were directly responsible for what happened during the Second Intifada and no amount of revisionist history can exonerate Arafat for standing behind one of the bloodiest periods in Israel's modern history.

    The writer, a senior researcher of the Middle East and radical Islam at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, is a former advisor to the Policy Planning Division of the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

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