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  DAILY ALERT Thursday,
June 20, 2013

In-Depth Issues:

New Iranian President Tied to Bombing of Argentinian Jewish Center - Alana Goodman (Washington Free Beacon)
    Iranian President-elect Hassan Rowhani was on the special Iranian government committee that plotted the 1994 bombing of the Jewish community center in Buenos Aires which killed 85 and wounded hundreds more, according to an indictment by the Argentine government prosecutor investigating the case.
    Former Iranian intelligence official Abolghasem Mesbahi testified that the decision to launch the attack was made within a special operations committee connected to the powerful Supreme National Security Council in August 1993.
    Rowhani, who was then serving as secretary of the Council, was a member of the special committee.

What Is Hizbullah and Iran Building in Africa, and Why? - Ely Karmon (Ha'aretz)
    The recent court cases in Kenya and Nigeria convicting Iranian and Lebanese nationals on terrorism charges are just the tip of the iceberg of Hizbullah's expanding network in both East and West Africa.
    Iran has successfully intimidated a number of countries outside Africa not to pursue or publicize Iranian and Hizbullah operatives involved in terrorist operations in their territories.
    Sierra Leone, Senegal, and Ivory Coast are also home to Hizbullah operatives who are heavily involved in funding and logistics.
    Iran and Hizbullah, its proxy, could easily use the African continent for attacks against American and European targets there or as a platform for operations in Europe itself.
    The writer is the Senior Research Scholar at the Institute for Counter-Terrorism at the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) in Herzliya.

IDF and Palestinian Medics Team Up to Save Palestinian Man (Israel Defense Forces)
    On Tuesday a young Palestinian man was struck by a car while riding his donkey in the village of Huwwara, near Nablus.
    One of the first on the scene was IDF paramedic 2nd Lt. Shir Schlosser.
    "Whenever we are called to an accident, we don't consider whether it was an Israeli or Palestinian man who was injured. We never discriminate between the two," she said.
    "When you're there, you only see the injured person; you don't pay attention to what's around you."
    Israeli medical forces treated over 300 Palestinians in the West Bank in 2012, most of whom were injured in traffic or work accidents or suffered from various diseases.

Palestinian Farmers Participate in Conference in Israel - Noam Witman (Israel Defense Forces)
    Some 50 farmers from Gaza attended an international agricultural conference and exhibition in Tel Aviv last week.
    "If agriculture is better in Gaza, this will also help agriculture on our land," said Uri Madar, agricultural officer in the Gaza Coordinating and Liaison Administration.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Palestinians Toughen Line on Israel Talks - Mohammed Daraghmeh
    Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah movement on Wednesday signaled a tough line on talks with Israel, casting new doubt on U.S. efforts to revive long-stalled negotiations. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is returning to the region on June 27-29.
        After Abbas briefed Fatah leaders on Wednesday, his adviser Nabil Abu Rdeneh said Fatah "affirmed its rejection of the pressures on Abbas and the leadership," an apparent reference to the Kerry mission.
        Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said, "It seems that the Palestinians still insist on reaching the last stage without bothering to go through chapter one, two and the rest. There are no shortcuts, and the only way to start negotiating is at the beginning."  (AP)
  • Britain Fails to Get EU Backing for Hizbullah Blacklisting - Justyna Pawlak
    A British drive to put Hizbullah's armed wing on the EU's terror list ran into resistance on Wednesday when discussed for a second time by a special EU group. Diplomats say a majority of the 27 EU member states, including France and Germany, back the British proposal. But unanimity is needed and Austria, the Czech Republic and Italy are among EU governments that have voiced reservations. (Reuters)
  • Fears Grow Over Iran's Ties to Yemeni Militants - Maria Abi-Habib
    Iran is taking advantage of the confusion surrounding Yemen's transition of government to gain a new foothold in the country, Yemeni and Western officials say. Iran is training militants who are aligned with the Hirak separatist movement in southern Yemen, and has directed arms, including heat-seeking missiles, to these militants. The U.S. relies on Yemen's government as both a hedge against Iran and a partner against al-Qaeda-linked militants in Yemen.
        "If the south of Yemen were to break away and become an ally of the Iranians, it would be a major strategic gain for Tehran," said Bruce Riedel, a senior fellow and director of the Brookings' Intelligence Project. "It might more than compensate for the loss of Syria if Assad's government falls."  (Wall Street Journal)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel Arrests Attackers of Jewish Pilgrims at Joseph's Tomb - Lilach Shoval
    Three Palestinian Authority security officers who attacked Jewish pilgrims at Joseph's Tomb in April 2011 and killed Ben-Yosef Livnat were apprehended in May after being released from Palestinian jail, Israeli officials said on Wednesday. Livnat, the nephew of Culture and Sport Minister Limor Livnat, was killed when a group of Israelis tried to cross a Palestinian checkpoint en route to Joseph's Tomb on the outskirts of Nablus in the West Bank. Several others in the group were injured. The three detainees confessed that they deliberately fired on the Israelis. (Israel Hayom)
  • National Service in Arab Sector Up 76 Percent - Ariel Ben Solomon
    A record-high 3,000 Israeli Arabs volunteered for national service this year, an increase of 76% over last year, when 1,700 participated. 90% of Arab volunteers serve in the Arab sector, in schools, daycare centers and programs against drugs and violence.
        Sar-Shalom Gerbi, director of the Civil and National Service Administration, said many endure intimidation and attacks because of their service. While Arab political leaders are very strongly against Arab participation in national service, "most of the population is very much for it," Gerbi noted. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Preconditions Have No Basis in Law or Fact - Alan Baker
    All the agreements between Israel and the PLO are based in their preambular paragraphs on the call by the international community, in UN Security Council Resolution 242 of 1967, for "secure and recognized boundaries." The Palestinian leadership has repeatedly committed and agreed to this formula, which basically means that the pre-1967 military armistice demarcation lines - never intended to become borders - would be replaced by agreed-upon borders answering the Security Council criteria.
        Palestinian leaders such as Nabil Shaath, Saeb Erekat and Mahmoud Abbas are now attempting to manipulate the legal and historic record by demanding that Israel commit, in advance, to the "1967 borders." This Palestinian precondition has no basis whatsoever in law or in fact.
        The other Palestinian precondition, that Israel freeze settlement activity, also has no basis in the agreements between the PA and Israel. The Israel-Palestinian Interim Agreement (commonly termed Oslo II) specifically permits construction by each side in the areas under its jurisdiction. The Palestinians cannot now unilaterally remove this issue from the negotiating table and turn it into a separate and independent precondition for further negotiation.
        Continued settlement activity pending the outcome of permanent-status negotiations is neither a violation of the Oslo Accords nor of international law. The sooner the Palestinians cease trying to unilaterally undermine, manipulate and bypass the negotiating process, and give up their preconditions, the sooner the issue of settlements will be settled. The author, former legal adviser of the Israel Foreign Ministry and presently director of the Institute for Contemporary Affairs at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, participated in the negotiation of the Oslo Accords. (Jerusalem Post)
  • "Khaybar" - A Middle East Reality Check - Jonathan S. Tobin
    The political culture of the Palestinians makes peace improbable if not impossible. If Palestinians have never found the will to recognize the legitimacy of a Jewish state no matter where its borders are drawn, it is in no small measure because doing so is viewed as treason to the general anti-Zionist cause.
        "Khaybar," a new blockbuster miniseries slated for broadcast throughout the Muslim world in July as part of the Ramadan holiday, tells us more about what the contemporary Arab world thinks about Jews than canned statements about peace intended for the Western press. The series centers on the historical conflict between early Muslims and Jewish tribes in the Arabian Peninsula during the Prophet's lifetime. Yusri Al-Jindy, the writer of "Khaybar," told Egypt's Al-Masry Al-Youm on Jan. 16, "The goal of the series is to expose the naked truth about the Jews and stress that they cannot be trusted."
        "Khaybar" has resonance with those seeking to destroy Israel because the Jewish tribes of the Medina area were conquered, treated with great cruelty, and eventually expelled from the region in the year 642. The popularity of such shows should send a chill down the backs of those who continue to argue that Palestinians and the Arab world are ready to give up their hundred-year-old war to eradicate the Jewish presence in the region. (Commentary)
  • The Arab Awakening and the "Cascade" of Failing States - Yoel Guzansky and Benedetta Berti
    The post-revolutionary stabilization period is likely to both exacerbate preexisting cleavages as well as weaken central authority. As such, the short term may indeed be characterized by weak or failing states. This cascade of state weakness also extends to states that have not been at the center of the protests of the Arab Spring, such as Iraq.
        Failed states present international and regional terrorist organizations with a convenient base of operations and are more likely than other states to host terrorist organizations on their soil. Moreover, as the situation in Libya shows, a weak or failing state can also heighten the regional threat stemming from the proliferation of conventional arms. Yoel Guzansky, the former Iran coordinator at Israel's National Security Council, is a research fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University, where Benedetta Berti is also a fellow. (Harvard Journal of Middle Eastern Politics and Policy)

Fiasco on the Golan: UN Lays Bare Its Peacekeeping Irrelevance for Israel - James Kirchick (Ha'aretz)

  • Last Wednesday, the government of Austria began withdrawing its 377 soldiers serving in the Golan Heights as part of the UN Disengagement Observer Force, or UNDOF, which has policed the disputed boundary between Syria and Israel since 1974. In response, UN Secretary-General Ban-Ki Moon has been panhandling the international community for handouts in the form of replacement forces. One might ask what is the purpose of a "peacekeeping" mission that flees the scene at the slightest indication of peacebreaking.
  • It is not UNDOF that has kept the Golan quiet for most of the past four decades. The maintenance of peace and security is due almost entirely to Israel's unquestioned military supremacy. When Israel is strong and the Arab states fear its awesome power, they either sign peace treaties (Egypt and Jordan) or limit their hostility to bombast and support for subnational terrorist organizations (Syria).
  • The UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) was established in 1978. Its latest mandate, UN Security Council Resolution 1701, calls for the disarmament of all militias. In the years since the 2006 Hizbullah-Israel war, the Shi'ite terrorist group has drastically increased its armed presence in southern Lebanon, all under the eye of the UN, which is obligated to stop such transgressions. Yet, as former Israeli UN Ambassador Dore Gold told me, "The chances of UNIFIL doing that are like the chances of snow falling in the Sinai in summertime."
  • Whether it was in the Sinai in 1967, Lebanon in 2006, or the Golan today, the international community has repeatedly backed down in the face of belligerence. This record has implications for any future peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, bolstering the Israeli demand for an IDF presence in the Jordan Valley. Why should Israel be expected to hang its future security on the empty promises of those who have failed it so many times in the past.

    The writer is a fellow with the Foreign Policy Initiative.

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