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  DAILY ALERT Tuesday,
May 21, 2013

In-Depth Issues:

Israel: Palestinians Politicize UNESCO Jerusalem Conservation Tour (Reuters)
    Israel said on Monday it had canceled a visit by UNESCO that was to have sent experts to Jerusalem to examine the state of conservation in the walled Old City, a World Heritage site, after the Palestinians had sought to politicize the mission.
    Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki referred to the UNESCO tour as a "probe (of) the occupation measures" in the city.
    An Israeli official said, "The Palestinians have violated all the understandings reached, and made real attempts to change the visit from a professional to a political visit, so we are calling off (the visit)."

Report: U.S. Government Funding for Mideast Political NGOs Undermines U.S. Policy (NGO Monitor)
    The U.S. government funds non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that operate in Israel and the Palestinian Authority whose activities contribute to the political campaigns designed to demonize and delegitimize Israel.
    "The National Endowment for Democracy (NED), for instance, funded by the U.S. Government, in turn funds political advocacy NGOs that demonize Israel and promote BDS (boycotts, divestment, and sanctions) campaigns targeting Israel. This activity is entirely inconsistent with U.S. policy," said Professor Gerald M. Steinberg, President of NGO Monitor.
    These include MIFTAH, a Palestinian NGO involved in anti-Israel campaigns that speak of "the slaughter of Palestinian children."
    Another group, "Windows," has a Youth Media Program which includes highly offensive comparisons between Israel and Nazi Germany.

When Peace Treaties Clash with Popular Sentiment in Israel's Arab Neighbors - Rami G. Khouri (Daily Star-Lebanon)
    The newly elected lower house of the Jordanian parliament last week asked the government to expel Israeli Ambassador Daniel Nevo, and to recall Jordan's ambassador to Israel, Walid Obeidat.
    Neither of those things is going to happen, but the political dynamics of the process are intriguing.
    The lower house that was elected last November, in a vote boycotted by the Muslim Brotherhood's party, was thought to be dominated by pro-government tribal interests, and thus would be little more than a rubber stamp body.
    The old formula of Arab governments issuing statements condemning Israeli actions, writing to the UN, or asking the Arab League sub-committee on agricultural exports to meet in emergency session is unlikely to suffice in emerging new conditions where Arab citizens expect their views to shape government policies.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Egyptian Army Boosts Forces in Sinai after Kidnapping - Yousri Mohamed
    The Egyptian army sent reinforcements into the Sinai Peninsula on Monday after President Mohamed Morsi said there would be no talks with militant Islamists who abducted seven members of the security forces last week. Witnesses saw armored personnel carriers moving east on Monday over the Suez Canal towards North Sinai where militants staged the abduction and where gunmen assaulted a police base on Monday. Morsi has promised not to submit to blackmail by kidnappers demanding the release of jailed Islamists. (Reuters)
  • State Department Notes Continued Rise in Anti-Semitism
    The State Department's International Religious Freedom Report for 2012, released Monday, "documents a continued global increase in anti-Semitism. Holocaust denial and glorification remained troubling themes, and opposition to Israeli policy at times was used to promote or justify blatant anti-Semitism." "Of great concern were expressions of anti-Semitism by government officials, by religious leaders, and by the media, particularly in Venezuela, Egypt, and Iran."  (U.S. State Department)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • IDF Retaliates for Syrian Gunfire - Yoav Zitun
    After gunfire from Syria for the third consecutive night hit an IDF unit in the Golan Heights on Tuesday, the IDF retaliated by destroying the post from which the shots were fired. The IDF estimated that due to a recurring pattern of gunfire from the same area, the Syrian gunfire was intentional. (Ynet News)
        See also IDF Denies Syrian Claim that Israeli Vehicle Was Destroyed in Golan - Yaakov Lappin
    The IDF denied on Tuesday a claim by Syrian state television that Syria's armed forces had destroyed an Israeli vehicle on the Golan Heights. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Syrians Display IDF Jeep "Captured" from Rebels - Lazar Berman
    Syrian news outlets reported Monday that the army had captured an IDF jeep from rebels near the Lebanese border, saying it was proof that Israel was aiding the rebel forces. An IDF spokesperson said the vehicle had belonged to the now-defunct South Lebanon Army, and had been left in southern Lebanon after the Israeli withdrawal from its former "security zone" there in 2000. (Times of Israel)
  • PA Skeptical of Kerry's Efforts to Revive Peace Process - Khaled Abu Toameh and Herb Keinon
    The Palestinian Authority does not believe that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry - who is returning to the region on Thursday - will carry new ideas that will lead to the resumption of peace talks with Israel, a PA official in Ramallah said Monday. This will be Kerry's fourth visit since he accompanied President Obama to Israel in March.
        An Israeli official said of Kerry's efforts, "There is a very serious effort going on to restart the talks....We sincerely hope the effort will succeed, and we hope the Palestinians will be a partner in the process." The official said the Americans are working on a formula that will make possible the resumption of peace talks, and are working in parallel on a "political and economic framework."  (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Why Is Russia Still Arming Syria? - Editorial
    The slim hope generated two weeks ago when the U.S. and Russia announced plans for an international conference aimed at ending Syria's civil war is fast fading - and Russia is a big reason. Instead of using its leverage to move President Assad toward a negotiated solution, Russia recently sent him advanced antiship cruise missiles, and there is fresh talk now of advanced S-300 air defense weapons. As long as Assad can count on military and political support from Russia, he has no incentive to agree to a cease-fire or a political transition. (New York Times)
  • Elections Won't Change Iran - Ray Takeyh
    While the race to succeed Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as Iran's president is infused with intrigue and drama, lest anyone confuse Iran's contest for real democracy, the regime has ample mechanisms at its disposal to ensure the "election" of its preferred candidate. Ultimately, the decision about who will govern is likely to be made in the Islamic Republic's back rooms rather than its voting booths.
        The politician who has generated the most excitement in Western chancelleries is former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. As president, when confronted with conservative resistance he quickly retreated. He remained devoted to terrorism as an instrument of statecraft. As the father of Iran's bomb, he did much to reconstitute the nuclear program while speaking the language of moderation.
        Ayatollah Khamenei may yet settle on his nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili, who is known to be slavishly devoted to the supreme leader, a stern ideologue and a man of limited intelligence. In the deformed political society that Khamenei has created, such qualifications constitute ideal credentials for promotion to the office of the presidency. The writer is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. (Financial Times-UK)
  • Iran Fears Growing Israel-Azerbaijan Cooperation - Michael Segall
    Iran's progress in its nuclear program and the failure of the nuclear talks with the West have raised Tehran's threshold of sensitivity about a military attack on its nuclear facilities, and it increasingly fears that Azerbaijan is turning into a base for such a strike. Iran continues its covert subversive activity in Azerbaijan including through Lebanese Hizbullah, which is providing assistance to local terrorist and espionage cells.
        Iran's aim is to build an infrastructure for retaliation there in case it is attacked, and also to try and influence Azerbaijan's domestic political arena. Azerbaijan has exposed and arrested a number of Iranians, Hizbullah operatives, and local activists on suspicion of involvement in terror and subversion. IDF Lt.-Col. (ret.) Michael (Mickey) Segall is a senior analyst at the Jerusalem Center. (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Pro-Palestinian Ads Misrepresent Apartheid - Rev. Dr. Kenneth Meshoe
    As a black South African who lived under apartheid, I was deeply disturbed to learn about the posters in San Francisco accusing Israel of apartheid. Those who make the accusation expose their ignorance of what apartheid really is.
        In Israel, equal rights are enshrined in law. Black, brown and white Jews and the Arab minority mingle freely in all public places, universities, restaurants, voting stations and public transportation. All people have the right to vote. The Arab minority has political parties, serves in the Israeli parliament (Knesset) and holds positions in government ministries. In hospitals, Palestinian patients lie in beds next to Israeli Jews, and doctors and nurses are as likely to be Israeli Arabs as Jews.
        I believe that it is slanderous and deceptive for Israel's self-defense measures against the terrorists' campaign of suicide bombing, rocket attacks and other acts of terrorism that have occurred, and continue to occur, to be labeled as apartheid. The writer is a member of the South African Parliament. (San Francisco Examiner)

The Arab League's New Peace Proposal - Zalman Shoval (Jerusalem Post)

  • Even a perfunctory examination of the "Arab Peace Initiative," which the Arab League adopted on March 28, 2002, shows that it was no more than a list of take-it-or-leave-it demands requiring Israel to commit itself in advance to "full withdrawal from all territories occupied since 1967, including the Syrian Golan Heights"; east Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state; and the "right of return" of Arab refugees.
  • Future political historians will probably be frustrated when they attempt to unravel how the idea of "land swaps" between Israel and the Palestinians ever achieved traction. After all, this wasn't what UN Security Council Resolution 242 had said about Israel's future borders.
  • Resolution 242 never intended that Israel should return to the vulnerable pre-'67 cease-fire line. The UK's Lord Caradon, the resolution's co-author, said "it would have been wrong to demand that Israel return to its positions of 4 June 1967."
  • On June 5, 1967, Jordanian artillery began to shell west Jerusalem and Jordanian soldiers occupied the UN observers headquarters. It was an unprovoked act of aggression against the State of Israel. Arthur Goldberg, the U.S. ambassador to the UN and the resolution's other co-author, said: "It is clear that Israel exercised the right of self-defense in the 1967 war."
  • One may, therefore, be justified in asking why Israel should now be required to compensate the aggressor with land?

    The author is a former Israeli ambassador to the U.S.

        See also The Arab Peace Initiative: A Primer and Future Prospects - Joshua Teitelbaum (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

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