Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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July 1, 2013

In-Depth Issues:

Morsi Will Not Step Down without a Fight - Ariel Ben Solomon (Jerusalem Post)
    Former Israeli ambassador to Egypt Zvi Mazel noted that Egyptian Defense Minister Abel-Fattah el-Sisi is not a Muslim Brotherhood member despite being a pious Muslim and he has showed full independence.
    Once President Morsi came into power, he saw he could not control the army or promote Muslim Brotherhood officers because Mubarak had done a good job filtering them out of the military.
    The regime has been seeking to build the foundations for an Islamic state, but at the same time it completely neglected the economy, said Mazel.
    "There are around 500,000-700,000 very brainwashed Muslim Brotherhood members and they are ready to die for the Muslim Brotherhood," he concluded.

Poll: Israelis Support Peace Talks, Oppose Gestures to Bring Palestinians to the Table (Israel Hayom)
    A poll of Jewish Israelis conducted by Israel Hayom revealed on Friday that 57% support the resumption of peace talks with the Palestinians.
    69% opposed offering the Palestinians goodwill gestures such as the release of prisoners.
    Ultimately, 55% did not believe that a permanent peace agreement was even possible.

How Close Is Iran to Having a Nuclear Bomb? (Economist-UK)
    British and American intelligence sources think Iran is about a year away from having enough highly enriched uranium to make a bomb, and rather further from mastering the technologies to make a nuclear warhead small enough to fit into a missile.
    But David Albright, a former UN weapons inspector who is president of the Institute for Science and International Security, thinks that by mid-2014 Iran will have the capacity to produce enough fissile material for a single bomb in one or two weeks, should it choose to do so.

Israel Prevents West Bank Terror Attack - Itamar Fleishman (Ynet News)
    Three Palestinians were arrested near the village of Al-Khader in the West Bank on Thursday carrying sniper rifles, silencers, and telescopic sights. They admitted they were planning a terror attack.
    The weapons were discovered during a search in the village after a firebomb was hurled at a Border Guard vehicle.
    Security forces in the West Bank are extra vigilant in light of six shooting attacks that have occurred recently. There is specific concern over the use of silencers.

Car in Palestinian PM's Convoy Hits Israelis (Ynet News-Jerusalem Post)
    A PA security jeep in the convoy of Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah crossed the separation line while trying to pass another car and collided head-on with a vehicle carrying an Israeli family of six on Saturday at the Tekoa junction southeast of Bethlehem.
    The Israeli father was seriously injured and the children sustained injuries as well.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • In Egypt, Hundreds of Thousands Protest against President Morsi - Jeffrey Fleishman and Ingy Hassieb
    Protesters against President Mohamed Morsi filled streets and squares on Sunday, yelling "Leave, leave!" on the first anniversary of his inauguration. The breadth of the protests was a stunning rejection of Morsi, yet the demonstrations were largely peaceful, often festive.
        The state news agency said about 500 young men hurling stones and firebombs set ablaze the headquarters of Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood party in Cairo. The police, long suspicious of Islamists, have refused to protect Brotherhood headquarters. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Kerry: "Real Progress," But No Israel-Palestinian Agreement - Karen DeYoung and William Booth
    Secretary of State John Kerry left the Middle East on Sunday after three days of intensive shuttle diplomacy without achieving an Israel-Palestinian agreement to begin peace talks, but said, "We have made real progress on this trip, and I believe that with a little more work, the start of final status negotiations could be within reach....We started out with very wide gaps, and we have narrowed these considerably."
        At a weekly cabinet meeting, Netanyahu said, "Israel is ready to begin negotiations without delay, without preconditions. We are not putting up any impediments on the resumption of the permanent talks and a peace agreement between us and the Palestinians."  (Washington Post)
  • U.S. Official Seeks New Ways to Guarantee Israel's Security - Anne Gearan
    Retired U.S. Marine Gen. John R. Allen, who is serving as a special adviser to both Secretary of State Kerry and Defense Secretary Hagel, has been seeking to identify Israel's potential security gaps and remedy what Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had complained were outdated or incomplete assurances of cooperation and equipment from the U.S., officials said.
        Allen and his Israeli counterparts are seeking "effective, innovative and feasible options that could be proposed to political leaders," said a senior Obama administration official, who provided the first detailed account of Allen's mandate and progress. Addressing Israel's concerns about security threats coming from an independent Palestinian state next door at the front end of negotiations is the underlying premise of Allen's work.
        Israel's intelligence minister, Yuval Steinitz, who participated in meetings with Allen, said that Israel "had very bad experiences, even with massive deployments of UN forces. We can't trust only technology and international troops." Steinitz emphasized that Israel, "for real security," would need to maintain control of the Jordan Valley, as well as the air and sea space around any future Palestinian state, "for decades."  (Washington Post)
        See also Israel's Critical Security Requirements for Defensible Borders - Lt.-Gen. (ret.) Moshe Yaalon et al (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Palestinians Demand Israeli Concessions before Returning to Talks - Attila Somfalvi
    In discussions with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry over the renewal of peace talks with Israel, the Palestinians are insisting that Netanyahu declare a construction freeze in the West Bank settlements, but Israel is currently not expanding settlements and the U.S. has assured the Palestinians it would not do so in the near future.
        The Palestinians are also demanding that Israel agree to release prisoners, including some with blood on their hands, as well as recognize the 1967 borders as a baseline for negotiations. A senior Israeli official said the government would agree to release prisoners, but not as a condition for resuming negotiations. In addition, Israel will not agree to release all the prisoners the Palestinians are demanding. (Ynet News)
  • Launching Talks Is the Easy Part - Herb Keinon
    Over the last 20 years of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, launching talks was the easy part. Ehud Barak and Yasser Arafat were able to launch talks, as did Ehud Olmert and Mahmoud Abbas. They launched the talks and had dozens of fruitful and convivial discussions. But they couldn't conclude an agreement.
        The over-used mantra that "everyone knows what an agreement will look like" is empty. If everyone knew what an agreement would look like, it would have been reached long ago. The parameters are not agreed upon, and it is reckless to promote the expectation that if you just sit down and talk again, everything will work out. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • A Light Fails in Egypt - Walter Russell Mead
    Morsi's biggest problem never was the liberals of early Tahrir Square; Western-oriented secular liberalism has a long way to go before it can become a significant ideological force among the masses in Egypt. His greatest ideological opponents are cynicism and despair and he is in such deep trouble today because the collapsing economy and the general paralysis make him look like another snake oil salesman selling a fake route to progress.
        Salafis, the ultra-Islamists, think Morsi's problems stem from his failure to roll out the full glory of Islamist governance. But should their harder and purer faith carry the day, sooner or later the Salafis will come to the place in the road where Morsi stands. There is little reason to believe that more radical Islamist ideas and practices can heal what's wrong with Egypt's economy.
        Though the Morsi government is losing its ability to govern by hope and by faith, that doesn't mean it will fall. A lot of people hate the government and blame it for making everything worse, but they cannot agree among themselves on an alternative course. (American Interest)
  • Egyptian Discourse on Gaza - Udi Dekel and Orit Perlov
    On May 16, 2013, seven Egyptian soldiers were kidnapped in El Arish in northern Sinai by a Salafi jihadist group affiliated with al-Qaeda. Many activists in the Egyptian social media have begun to view Gaza as the source of Sinai's security problems, pointing the finger at Gaza for every terrorist attack or kidnapping. Immediately after the abductions, calls emerged for the immediate closure of the Rafah crossing and a large-scale operation against the smuggling tunnels connecting Gaza and Egypt. The public resentment was such that Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh felt obligated to condemn the kidnappings, proclaiming Hamas' respect for Egyptian sovereignty in Sinai and refuting Palestinian involvement.
        Soaring Gazan expectations that the Muslim Brotherhood's rise to power in Egypt would bring an improvement in their standard of living was soon followed by disillusionment, disappointment, and frustration. They now accuse Morsi of being worse for Gaza than Mubarak. (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)
  • Building in Jerusalem Won't Prevent Peace - Jonathan S. Tobin
    The permits for constructing 69 apartments in the Har Homa neighborhood of Jerusalem was treated as a big deal in Friday's New York Times, which was quick to compare it to the 2010 episode in which the Obama administration picked a fight with Netanyahu over a routine announcement about a housing start in a 40-year-old Jewish neighborhood in Jerusalem. The administration claimed it was an "insult" to Vice President Joe Biden, who happened to be passing through the city at the time.
        The Palestinian claim that any building in parts of Jerusalem that were once illegally occupied by Jordan from 1949 to 1967 - and during which Jews were banned from even worshiping at the Western Wall - is an obstacle to peace simply doesn't make any sense. Even under a peace plan proposed by Netanyahu's predecessor Ehud Olmert, Israel would retain Har Homa and other Jewish neighborhoods of Jerusalem. What does it matter to the Palestinians how many Jews live in the areas they won't get?
        The Palestinians want Jews out of Har Homa for the same reason they want them out of most other parts of the country, since what they desire is a Palestinian state free of Jews. Treating building even in those areas that no one thinks would be handed over to the Palestinians under any circumstance as off limits is not about making peace. It's about delegitimizing Israel. (Commentary)

Strategic Shifts in the Middle East - Yuval Steinitz (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

  • Israel hopes for the resumption of negotiations with the Palestinian Authority. It is prepared to see the establishment of an independent Palestinian state and to make painful concessions once it is clear that it will get real, enduring peace in return. While Israel does not have preconditions for negotiations, any authentic resolution of the conflict will require both genuine peace and genuine security for Israel.
  • Genuine peace requires Palestinian recognition of Israel's right to exist and not just of the fact of its existence. It means recognizing the right of the Jewish people to maintain their own Jewish state, alongside a Palestinian state for the Palestinian people. So far, such acceptance of Israel as the state of the Jewish people remains lacking.
  • On the Syrian situation, Israel has a clear-cut policy of noninterference. Israel is, however, very concerned about the possible transfer of specific kinds of highly advanced weapons to terrorist organizations, especially Hizbullah, and also about the fact that such weapons, such as the Russian-made S-300 anti-aircraft system, could fall into Iranian hands. Israel is engaged in close dialogue with Russia and vehemently opposes the provision of such weapons to Syria.
  • The Iranian nuclear program has reached emergency proportions. Although the Iranians have not yet produced their first bomb, their nuclear industry was not built from the outset with the aim of making only a few bombs and keeping them in a shelter. Rather, it was designed to produce hundreds of nuclear bombs within a decade or two, bombs that are to be mounted on hundreds of long-range ballistic missiles. This is a threat of a totally different magnitude than that posed by either North Korea or even Pakistan. It would be a game-changer that would not just alter the course of Middle Eastern history but of history as a whole.
  • In the next few months, the Western world must decide how to prevent the nuclearization of Iran; otherwise it will be too late. The only diplomatic approach that will work is one that is accompanied by a credible military threat. The Iranians understand that they are very vulnerable to a decisive, accurate airstrike by NATO or the U.S.. There is a good chance that if the Iranians are issued a credible threat of a military strike, they may reconsider their behavior and opt for a genuine compromise - but the time left to make such a move is quite short.

    Prof. Yuval Steinitz is Israel's Minister of International Relations, Intelligence, and Strategic Affairs.

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