Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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  DAILY ALERT Wednesday,
June 5, 2013

In-Depth Issues:

Poll: Most Israelis Against Dividing Jerusalem - Tovah Lazaroff (Jerusalem Post)
    74% of Israeli Jews reject the idea of a Palestinian capital in any portion of Jerusalem. Only 15% say they would support relinquishing sovereignty over eastern portions of the city to the Palestinians, according to a Jerusalem Post/Rafi Smith poll conducted on Monday.
    67% support a two-state solution, but only 8% want a solution based on the pre-1967 lines as proposed by the Palestinians and the Arab League.

Boston Bomber Aspired to Join Anti-Israel Movement in Gaza - Jonathan Easley (The Hill)
    Boston bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev hoped to join an anti-Israel movement in Gaza, but ended up joining Chechen rebels in Dagestan because he didn't speak Arabic, Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) told The Hill on Tuesday after returning Monday from a trip to Russia, where six U.S. lawmakers met with the director of the Committee for State Security (KGB) and other national security officials.
    Officials in Moscow flagged Tamerlan as a potential threat before his six-month trip to Dagestan in 2012. Russian officials said they requested the U.S. notify them if Tamerlan planned to travel to Russia, and that if the U.S. had complied, they might have been able to take him out before the bombing.

Canada's House of Commons Hosts Iran Accountability Week - Michael Wilner and Benjamin Weinthal (Jerusalem Post)
    Canada's Parliament last week hosted Iran Accountability Week, documenting Iran's human rights violations, particularly its clerical leadership's use of domestic and international terrorism to stymie dissent.
    Irwin Cotler, a former Canadian justice minister, said: "We are witness to state-sanctioned assaults that are tantamount to crimes against humanity, including the highest per capita rate of executions in the world; the imprisonment and silencing of more journalists and bloggers than any other country;...the targeting of religious and ethnic minorities, particularly the Baha'i and the Kurds;...and the imprisonment of opposition leaders, human rights defenders, and the lawyers who would defend them."

Iran's Reactor Said Damaged by Quakes (AP-NPR)
    Iran's Bushehr nuclear reactor was damaged by earthquakes on April 9 and April 16, with cracks several meters long appearing in at least one section of the structure, two diplomats said Tuesday.
    More than 90% of Iran is located above seismic fault lines.

As Syrians Fight, Sectarian Strife Infects Mideast - Tim Arango, Anne Barnard and Duraid Adnan (New York Times)
    The Syrian civil war is inciting Sunnis and Shiites in other countries to attack one another.
    Renewed sectarian killing has brought the highest death toll in Iraq in five years, while in Lebanon, clashes have worsened between opposing sects in the city of Tripoli.
    "Nothing has helped make the Sunni-Shia narrative stick on a popular level more than the images of Assad - with Iranian help - butchering Sunnis in Syria," said Trita Parsi, president of the National Iranian American Council.
    "Iran and Assad may win the military battle, but only at the expense of cementing decades of ethnic discord."

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • France, Britain Say Sarin Gas Used in Syria
    France said Tuesday it has confirmed that sarin nerve gas was used "multiple times and in a localized way" in Syria. Britain also said that tests it conducted on samples taken from Syria were positive for sarin. (AP-CBS News)
  • Syrian Rebels Leave Qusayr after Army, Hizbullah Onslaught - Khaled Yacoub Oweis
    Syrian rebels withdrew from the Syrian town of Qusayr after an onslaught by the Syrian army and Hizbullah fighters killed hundreds of people, a rebel statement said Wednesday. (Reuters)
  • Egypt Court Sentences American Pro-Democracy Workers to Prison - Jeffrey Fleishman
    A Cairo criminal court Tuesday sentenced at least 16 Americans to prison on charges of operating illegally funded pro-democracy organizations. Many of the Americans, most of whom fled the country last year, were sentenced in absentia to five years in prison on accusations of agitating unrest.
        Most of the Americans belonged to Freedom House, the International Republican Institute and the National Democratic Institute. The only American to appear in the Cairo courtroom - Robert Becker - was handed a two-year jail term. Becker, who worked for the National Democratic Institute, decided to remain in Cairo in solidarity with his Egyptian codefendants. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Israel: Palestinians Unwilling to Resume Peace Talks Despite U.S., Israel Push
    Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Zeev Elkin said on Wednesday that the Palestinians are unwilling to talk peace despite a renewed push by the U.S. and Israel to restart long-stalled negotiations. Instead, Palestinians are opting to pursue a strategy of international recognition alone, he said.
        "Israel is ready and willing to resume direct peace talks at any moment, it can be done today, tomorrow, in Jerusalem, in Ramallah, in Rome, anywhere in the world," Elkin told Israel Radio. "The world is waiting now for Abu Mazen [Abbas]....Abu Mazen hopes to continue the unilateral track as long as he thinks the international community supports it....Today the world understands more and more that this is where the problem is and is adopting our formula of peace talks without preconditions."  (AP-Washington Post)
  • Resistance Seen in EU to Blacklisting Hizbullah - Laurence Norman
    The British-led push to add Hizbullah's military wing to the EU's list of terrorist organizations ran into resistance from about six countries Tuesday in the first formal talks on the issue in Brussels. France, Germany and the Netherlands quickly came out in support of the British push. Countries that appeared reluctant included Finland, Austria and Ireland. "My guess is it's going to take some time" to reach a decision, said one EU diplomat. All 27 EU member states must agree for Hizbullah to be added to the list. (Wall Street Journal)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel Opposes International Forces as Part of Peace Deal - Herb Keinon and Michael Wilner
    International Relations Minister Yuval Steinitz made clear Tuesday that Jerusalem would oppose any attempt to introduce international forces into any peace deal. "Some people are speaking about international forces, maybe [in] the Jordan Valley or the hills and border areas, that will take care of Israel's future security," he said at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, adding that he would "vehemently" oppose any deployment of international forces instead of the IDF.
        "The Palestinians should be able to control their lives, and we should be able to control our security in our own hands. For us, security means survivability, and we have had very negative experiences with international forces so far."
        He pointed to two examples in the last decade in which international forces failed to provide Israel with security as promised. The massive UNIFIL force that entered southern Lebanon following the Second Lebanon War in 2006 was unable to prevent tens of thousands of missiles from reaching Hizbullah. In Gaza, where the Palestinian Authority, Egypt and the EU all had security personnel in place following Israel's 2005 disengagement, they failed to prevent Hamas' takeover of the territory and the introduction of thousands of missiles there.
        These two negative experiences with international forces "cannot repeat in the West Bank." The only demilitarization Israel could trust would be "supervised and enforced by Israeli forces." He called for "a total demilitarization of the Palestinian state, and our [Israel's] capacity to preserve, control and secure this demilitarization, come what may."  (Jerusalem Post)
        See also The Risks of Foreign Peacekeeping Forces in the West Bank - Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Yaakov Amidror (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
        See also Steinitz: S-300s Sold to Syria May End Up in Iran - Herb Keinon
    "Why should anyone supply Assad with advanced ballistic or anti-aircraft or anti-ship rockets at this very time?" International Relations Minister Yuval Steinitz asked Tuesday. "Maybe, because of the disorder in Syria, [or because] of the very heavy dependence of Syria on the Iranian assistance, some of those weapons might unfortunately find their way to the Iranians. This is very bad, and against the weapon embargo on Iran." "We have reason to believe that there is still room to convince the Russians on this matter," he added. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Erdogan Over the Edge - Claire Berlinski
    Over the past decade, Istanbul has seen a massive construction boom. Lovely old buildings have been razed by the hundreds. The protests were about a people exhausted by Istanbul's uncontrolled growth; by its relentless traffic; by the incessant noise; by massive immigration from the countryside; by predatory construction companies - widely and for good reason believed to be in bed with the government - which have, over the past decade, destroyed a great deal of the city's loveliness and cultural heritage.
        But most of all, they are about a nation's fury with Prime Minister Erdogan's growing authoritarianism, symbolized by Istanbul's omnipresent police, the phalanxes of Robocops. The writer is an American journalist who lives in Istanbul. (City Journal)
        See also Erdogan's Grip on Power Is Rapidly Weakening - Ozlem Gezer, Maximilian Popp and Oliver Trenkamp
    Increasingly, Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan is looking like an autocratic ruler whose people are no longer willing to tolerate him. He began governing in the same autocratic style for which he had bitterly criticized his predecessors. Demonstrations have been reported in more than 40 cities. In Istanbul, people have begun whispering that the military is distributing gasmasks - but to the demonstrators rather than to the police. The message: The military supports the protests.
        Turkish law prohibits Erdogan from running for another term. However, he appears to be leaning toward the model followed by Russian President Putin and is seeking to increase the powers of the Turkish presidency, preparatory to taking over the position himself in 2014. (Der Spiegel-Germany)
  • Egypt's Civil Society Faces Continued Crackdown - Editorial
    Western governments retain leverage, including hundreds of millions of dollars in economic aid pledged to the Morsi government by the Obama administration. It's essential that the U.S. show with actions as well as words that the suppression of Egypt's civil society is unacceptable. (Washington Post)
        See also Egypt's NGO Convictions Demand an Assertive Response - Eric Trager
    Washington should condition any future economic aid to Egypt - including support for Cairo's bid to secure an International Monetary Fund loan - on Morsi pardoning the convicted NGO workers. The Muslim Brotherhood has no interest in adding an international crisis to its many domestic crises and would likely respond by trying to appease Washington. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • Tests Ahead for New Palestinian Prime Minister - David Makovsky
    Going forward, international donors will be focusing on new PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah's progress in three main spheres: budgetary transparency, stewardship of the economy, and continued security cooperation with Israel. By placing the PA's main account under international audit, former Prime Minister Salam Fayyad made it virtually impossible to divert aid. If Hamdallah takes a different course, Europe and Washington are bound to reduce their contributions. The writer is director of the Project on the Middle East Peace Process at The Washington Institute. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)

Civilian Casualties of a Military Strike in Iran - Ephraim Asculai (Strategic Assessment-INSS-Tel Aviv University)

  • Labeling the Bushehr reactor as a main target for a strike is pure demagoguery, as no one in his right mind would consider striking an operating nuclear power reactor.
    • First, the environmental consequences could be horrendous.
    • Second, the utilization of this reactor for military purposes is not straightforward, while the subsequent stages for fissile materials production are also vulnerable and carry less potential for environmental consequences.
    • Third, Iran is contractually obligated to return the irradiated fuel to Russia, so why attack this installation?
  • The more important possible targets of a military attack are the uranium enrichment facilities at Natanz and Fordow.
  • At normal room temperature uranium hexafluoride (UF6) is a solid. Under normal conditions, if the container is ruptured, very small quantities of gas will escape to the environment and can cause injuries or even death to the workers at hand, but not to anyone beyond an immediate, circumscribed distance from the source.
  • Since the UF6 is stored underground, even if there is a direct hit on a container, it is doubtful that a significant part of its inventory would leak to the outside atmosphere.

    The writer is a senior research fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS).

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