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  DAILY ALERT Wednesday,
March 27, 2013

In-Depth Issues:

Turkey Demands $1 Million for Each Flotilla Fatality - Lilach Weissman (Globes)
    While Turkey is demanding $1 million for the families of each person killed in the Marmara incident, Israel is prepared to pay $100,000.
    The two countries have agreed to set up a joint committee to discuss the amount of compensation.

Swiss Government Fires Employee for Praising Death of Jews - Benjamin Weinthal (Jerusalem Post)
    The construction department of the St. Gallen canton (population 480,000) in Switzerland dismissed employee Maurus Candrian because he sent an email to the Israeli Embassy praising the deaths of Jewish tourists in the July 2012 Burgas terrorist attack.
    "That is a good day in my life. I am proud of the heroes who killed Jews," he wrote.

Don't Believe Hack Claims Against Mossad's Website, Expert Says - David Shamah (Times of Israel)
    The hacker group known as Anonymous and affiliates proclaimed over the weekend that they had broken into the Mossad's servers and stolen the names and personal details of top IDF officials, politicians and Mossad agents.
    "Whatever they stole, it probably wasn't secure details of top Israeli brass, either from the army or the Mossad," said Tel Aviv University Middle East Internet expert Dr. Tal Pavel.
    Pavel downloaded and analyzed the files (they were posted on hacker sites), and found that "there are many records that list the names of businesses associated with the individual, including shoe manufacturers, food companies, auto supply stores, high schools, municipalities, synagogues, and even NGOs," many of which work with Palestinians.
    A good chunk of the names list home or business addresses in Arab communities in Israel, including Taybeh, Umm al-Fahm, and Kafr Kassem. "It's extremely unlikely that thousands of Israeli Arabs are also Mossad agents," he said.

BBC Bests New York Times on Coverage of Israeli Apology to Turkey (CAMERA)
    The New York Times informed readers that Israel apologized "for a deadly commando raid" and expressed regret "for the raid." But Israel did not apologize "for the raid" itself, but rather for operational errors potentially tied to loss of lives during the incident.
    The BBC offered a more accurate summary: "Israel's prime minister has apologized to Turkey for "any errors that could have led to loss of life" during the 2010 commando raid on an aid flotilla that tried to breach the Gaza blockade.
    The Times also avoided pointing out that the loss of lives on the boat were part of an intense and violent battle between Israeli troops and the activist passengers who attacked them as they boarded the ship.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • "Most Substantive" Iran Nuclear Talks to Date, But Narrow Area of Agreement - Laura Rozen
    Iranian nuclear experts deeply engaged on the substance of a revised international proposal, and said they are considering suspending 20% enrichment for six months and converting their 20% stockpile to oxide for medical use at technical talks with six world powers held in Istanbul last week, diplomatic sources told Al-Monitor Tuesday. However, the Iranians raised numerous objections to other elements in a revised international proposal presented in Kazakhstan last month. (Al-Monitor)
        See also below Observations: Stopping an Undetectable Iranian Bomb - David Albright, Mark Dubowitz and Orde Kittrie (Wall Street Journal)
  • Iran Condemns Arab League for Handing Syria's Seat to Opposition
    Iran lambasted the Arab League on Tuesday for allowing Moaz Alkhatib, the leading figure among Syria's opposition coalition, to fill Syria's vacant seat at the organization's annual summit. The Arab League also endorsed the provision of military aid to Syrian rebels. (Reuters)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel to Renew Transfer of Tax Funds to Palestinian Authority - Barak Ravid
    Prime Minister Netanyahu announced Monday that Israel will renew the transfer of the tax funds it collects for the Palestinian Authority, in response to requests from Washington. Israel froze the tax revenues after Palestine earned recognition as a nonmember observer state at the UN in November. Close to a billion shekels were confiscated to offset the PA's debt to the Israel Electric Corporation and other Israeli businesses. (Ha'aretz)
  • IDF: Palestinian Violence in West Bank Has Increased - Tovah Lazaroff
    Palestinian violence in the West Bank has increased, IDF Central Command head Maj.-Gen. Nitzan Alon told Israel Channel 2 TV in an interview aired Tuesday. "For months we have identified trends of a potential escalation....There are scores of intelligence reports of attempts to execute terror attacks." On Tuesday, the IDF stopped a Palestinian in the Jordan Valley who carried four improvised explosives. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israel Refutes Palestinian Accusations over Water - Sharon Udasin
    While the Palestinians on Friday blamed Israel for the Palestinian water shortage, the Israel Water Authority responded that Israel more than complies with its obligations under the [Oslo] agreement, and it is the PA that does not. "The State of Israel meets all its obligations under the agreement and among other things even supplies the Palestinians with 22 million cubic meters beyond its obligations and at a special price," the authority said.
        Palestinians have drilled at least 300 wells without the required approval of the Joint Water Committee. In addition, the PA largely does not treat its waste-water, and Palestinian sewage is penetrating and polluting the groundwater. Furthermore, water rates charged by the PA are much lower than Israeli rates. Israeli residents of the West Bank cities of Ariel and Ma'ale Adumim, for example, pay nearly double the prices that Palestinians do. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Iran's Foes Are Israel's Friends - Editorial
    The rapprochement between Jerusalem and Ankara has profound implications, not just for the conflict in Syria, but also for containing Iran's nuclear ambitions and regional designs. A UN investigation found Israel's blockade was legal and its forces justified in defending themselves against "organized and violent resistance." Yet the ensuing standoff has been a major impediment in confronting the Syrian crisis and has given comfort to Syria's ally Iran.
        Netanyahu has had to swallow a bitter pill, but the reconciliation with his Turkish counterpart Erdogan is a strategically smart decision for which they both deserve great credit. (The Australian)
  • Arms for Syria's Rebels: Shaping the War's Outcome - Jeffrey White
    Rebel actions have maintained continuous pressure on regime forces across most of the country, with the war being fought, at varying levels of intensity, in thirteen of Syria's fourteen provinces (only coastal Tartus is essentially unaffected). Reinforcing the rebels with military assistance increases the likelihood of regime defeat at the local and provincial level.
        The rebels have begun chipping away at the regime's airpower advantage through attacks on airfields in Idlib, Aleppo, Deir al-Zour, Homs, Raqqa, and Rif Damascus provinces, as well as by using antiaircraft guns and antiaircraft missiles captured from the regime and acquiring some man-portable air-defense systems (MANPADS) from external sources. These actions have destroyed increasing numbers of combat aircraft.
        An outcome the U.S. does not (or should not) want is the deliberate retreat by regime forces to key areas of the country (including the Alawite coastal areas and perhaps the Damascus area), allowing remnants of the regime to stay around indefinitely. The writer, a former senior defense intelligence officer, is a defense fellow at The Washington Institute. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • Obama - Friendship and Empathy - Moshe Arens
    Barack Obama arrived in Israel a great deal wiser about the complexities of the Middle East than he was four years ago. No doubt, there has been a reset in the U.S.-Israeli relationship. Obama sees the splendor of Israel and recognizes the historical connection between the Jewish people and the Land of Israel. He knows that Israel was not established because of the Holocaust, but rather to prevent another Holocaust, as he stated during his visit to Yad Vashem.
        He even counseled Mahmoud Abbas to drop the requirement that settlement activity cease as a condition for resuming talks. The writer served as Israeli Minister of Defense three times and as Minister of Foreign Affairs. (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel and Turkey: Not Yet a Reconciliation - Ely Karmon
    Although diplomatic and economic relations between Israel and Turkey could be reestablished quite quickly, sensitive military and strategic cooperation is much more difficult to achieve in view of the deep changes in the ranks of the Turkish military and intelligence echelons and of mutual mistrust - which will not disappear overnight.
        The first test for Erdogan's real intentions will be his expected visit to Gaza in mid-April, where he is sure to be received as the next Sultan. The crucial question is how much support Erdogan will give to Hamas, which has not renounced its goal of liberating all of Palestine through the armed struggle. Turkey's leadership has neither criticized Hamas' violent activities nor succeeded in influencing its strategy, while protesting loudly Israel's retaliatory actions. The writer is Senior Research Scholar at the Institute for Counter-Terrorism at the IDC in Herzliya. (Ha'aretz)
        See also The Apology: A Turkish-Jewish Perspective - Igal Aciman (Jerusalem Post)

Stopping an Undetectable Iranian Bomb - David Albright, Mark Dubowitz and Orde Kittrie (Wall Street Journal)

  • A key challenge for U.S. President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is how to stop Iran's rapid advance toward "critical capability." This is the point at which Iran could dash to produce enough weapons-grade uranium or separated plutonium for one bomb so quickly that the International Atomic Energy Agency or a Western intelligence service would be unable to detect the dash until it is over.
  • Once Tehran is perched at critical capability, it could use the threat of an undetectable breakout to enjoy many of the strategic benefits of having a bomb without crossing Mr. Obama's red line. Once Iran has produced sufficient fissile material, it will be much more difficult for the West to stop Iran from completing the process of actually building nuclear weapons.
  • Tehran has in the last year installed about 5,000 additional IR-1 centrifuges, the biggest increase in years. It has also begun installing IR-2m centrifuges, which are reportedly three to five times as productive. All of Iran's centrifuge installation and uranium enrichment-related activity violates multiple UN Security Council resolutions.
  • We estimate that Iran, on its current trajectory, will by mid-2014 be able to dash to fissile material in one to two weeks unless its production of 20%-enriched uranium is curtailed. If the number or efficiency of Iran's centrifuges unexpectedly increases, or if Tehran has a secret operational enrichment site, it could reach critical capability before that date.
  • At nuclear talks in Kazakhstan in February, Western negotiators reportedly focused on persuading Iran to curtail its production of 20%-enriched uranium and to export some of its existing stock. These goals are important but insufficient. As Iran increases the quality and quantity of its spinning centrifuges to the point of critical capability, a moratorium on 20%-enriched uranium will matter less and less.
  • Given Iran's current course, the U.S. and its allies should immediately impose maximum pressure on Iran, including by intensifying economic sanctions and cracking down on Tehran's illicit imports of centrifuge equipment and materials.
  • In addition to curtailing Iran's production and stockpile of 20%-enriched uranium, any interim deal must verifiably prohibit Iran from upgrading the type and increasing the number of its operational centrifuges. More frequent IAEA inspections at key Iranian sites are also essential.

    Mr. Albright is president of the Institute for Science and International Security. Mr. Dubowitz is executive director of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Mr. Kittrie is a law professor at Arizona State University.

Today's issue of Daily Alert was prepared in Israel on Chol Hamoed Pesach.
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