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,
July 17, 2013

In-Depth Issues:

This Time in Sinai, the Egyptians Mean Business - Avi Issacharoff (Times of Israel)
    Recent years have seen numerous dramatic reports of Egyptian discoveries of smuggling tunnels and interceptions of arms caches, but this month there appears to be a more serious effort by Cairo in the Sinai Peninsula.
    The Egyptian military's new campaign aims to break the back of Islamist terrorist groups in Sinai once and for all.
    Unlike previous actions, the army is combating Islamist groups in central and northwest Sinai in an effort to cripple their strongholds in Jebel Halal - the Tora Bora of Sinai.
    The Egyptian army has also cracked down on militant operations in the Rafah border area in an attempt to clear the Philadelphi Corridor between Egypt and Gaza - the heartland of the smuggling-tunnel industry.
    Until three weeks ago, over 200 tunnels operated beneath the Egypt-Gaza border. Since then, tunnel activity has dropped by over 90%.
    See also Egyptian Army Camp in Sinai Attacked with Rockets (Reuters)
    Assailants using mobile anti-aircraft rockets and machineguns attacked an Egyptian army camp in Sinai near Rafah, an Egyptian town bordering Gaza, on Tuesday, wounding two officers.

Key Christian Party in Lebanon Ends Alliance with Hizbullah - David Schenker (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
    On July 10, Lebanon's parliamentary speaker announced that retired Christian general Michel Aoun's Free Patriotic Movement would be leaving the Hizbullah-led "March 8" bloc in parliament.
    Since 2006, the FPM's alliance with Hizbullah has facilitated the Shiite militia's political dominance of Lebanon. If the new split persists, it will represent a significant shift in the country's political dynamics.
    Without Aoun's party, Hizbullah is left with a narrowly Shiite bloc at a time when Syria-related sectarian strife is spiking in Lebanon.

Blast Hits Hizbullah Convoy near Syrian Border - Bassem Mroue and Zeina Karam (AP)
    A roadside bomb struck an SUV carrying Hizbullah members near Lebanon's border with Syria on Tuesday, wounding at least two people.
    Lebanese security officials said the car appeared to have been ambushed and the bomb detonated remotely.

Video: Who Else Is Being Injured by the Vilification of Israel? (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
    It is generally thought that the systematic diplomatic attacks against Israel in international institutions, many times through outright lies, are unfortunate, but they are really Israel's problem.
    However, ultimately over time they erode the credibility of bodies like the UN, which often embrace these false charges, only to find later that they are baseless.
    In the meantime, other, more pressing, international conflicts are completely ignored.
    This video graphically presents the problem.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Egypt's New Government Doesn't Include Muslim Brotherhood - Kareem Fahim
    Adli Mansour, Egypt's interim president, swore in a new cabinet on Tuesday dominated by liberal and leftist politicians, sweeping away the brief era of Islamist political rule built by the country's deposed president, Mohamed Morsi. Not one of the 34 cabinet members belongs to the Muslim Brotherhood. The cabinet includes three women and three Coptic Christians. A spokesman for Mansour said that positions had been offered to members of the Brotherhood and the Islamist Al Nour party. (New York Times)
  • Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood: New Cabinet "Illegitimate"
    Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood denounced as "illegitimate" a new cabinet sworn in on Tuesday. "It's an illegitimate government, an illegitimate prime minister, an illegitimate cabinet. We don't recognize anyone in it. We don't even recognize their authority as representatives of the government," said spokesman Gehad El-Haddad. (Reuters)
        See also Muslim Brotherhood Rejects Call for National Reconciliation
    The Muslim Brotherhood rejected on Tuesday a call by presidential media advisor Ahmed al-Meslemany to take part in national reconciliation meetings with all political forces. Spokesperson Gehad al-Haddad said, "We insist that Mohamed Morsi be released and reinstated to his post [as president]."
        Spokesperson Ahmed Aref said, "We will continue our rallies in the squares to reject the coup....We ask that whoever opposes us not trivialize us as a weak enemy. We have accumulated much experience since our founding more than 80 years ago. We have been through hardship that others cannot even imagine. We have strong institutional work based on preaching and educational values, and thus we can be a bitter enemy."  (Al-Masry Al-Youm-Egypt)
        See also Brotherhood Calls for More Mass Demonstrations - Noah Browning and Peter Graff
    Supporters of deposed Egyptian President Morsi called on Wednesday for more mass demonstrations, declaring a "day of steadfastness" to protest against the formation of a new interim cabinet. The Brotherhood has maintained a vigil into its third week, with thousands of supporters camped out in a Cairo square vowing not to leave unless Morsi is restored. It has called protests attracting tens of thousands of people every few days. Running street battles on Tuesday were the deadliest in a week. (Reuters)
  • In Syria, Infighting between Al-Qaeda Groups and Mainstream Rebels Undermining Revolt
    On Syria's front lines, al-Qaeda fighters and more mainstream Syrian rebels have turned against each other in a power struggle that has undermined the effort to topple Syrian President Bashar Assad. After violent clashes and the assassination of two rival commanders, one of whom was beheaded, more moderate factions are publicly accusing the extremists of trying to seize control of the rebellion.
        The moderates once valued the expertise and resources that the foreign fighters brought to the battlefield, but now question whether such military assets are worth the trouble - not to mention the added difficulty in persuading the West to arm them. (AP-Washington Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Netanyahu to EU: "We Will Not Accept any Outside Dictates about Our Borders"
    Responding to the EU's intention to add conditions on contacts with Israel in the future, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday: "As the Prime Minister of Israel, I will not allow the hundreds of thousands of Israelis who live in Judea and Samaria, on the Golan Heights and in Jerusalem, our united capital, to be harmed. We will not accept any outside dictates about our borders. This issue will be decided only in direct negotiations between the sides."  (Israel Prime Minister's Office)
        See also Israel Will Work to Block EU Move - Moran Azulay
    A source in the Foreign Ministry said, "Netanyahu will demand clarifications from (EU foreign policy chief Catherine) Ashton and will work to block the move."
        Finance Minister Yair Lapid said: "This decision signals to the Palestinians that there is no economic or international price to be paid for their continued refusal to resume negotiations; it leads them to believe that Israel will succumb to international and economic pressure." Lapid intends to "appeal to our friends in the European Union and explain to them that their decision damages the very end they are attempting to achieve, as it pushes peace farther away instead of bringing it closer."  (Ynet News)
  • EU Guidelines on Relations with Israel Reflect Delegitimization Campaign
    The guidelines issued by the European Union to ban EU funding and cooperation with Israeli institutions beyond the 1949 Armistice Line reflects a policy dictated by political NGOs which are involved in the delegitimization campaign against Israel. "The new EU guidelines are evidence of the influence of political NGOs - some funded by the EU - on the EU's policies," NGO Monitor president Prof. Gerald Steinberg noted. "We have seen the EU rely on political NGOs' reports without checking their veracity."
        A report issued last year, "EU Documents Repeat False NGO Claims," showed the direct connections between the NGOs secretly funded by the EU and EU policy recommendations based on their distorted and one-sided reports. Many of the falsehoods focused on Jerusalem and "Area C" in the West Bank, precisely the issues dealt with in the EU's new guidelines. (NGO Monitor)
  • IDF Patrol Comes under Fire on Golan Heights - Yaakov Lappin
    An IDF force on a routine patrol of the border with Syria on the Golan Heights came under fire and shot back at a group of unidentified suspects. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Syrian Mortar Shells Land in Israel's Golan Heights - Gili Cohen
    Mortar shells fired during battles between the Syrian army and rebels on the Syrian side of Golan Heights landed in Israeli territory on Tuesday. After rebels attacked Assad's forces in the Al-Madrya area, they responded with mortar shells. Dozens of shells were fired during the battle. The IDF has filed a complaint with the UN, claiming that Syria has violated the terms of the 1974 ceasefire. (Ha'aretz)
  • Jew Stabbed by Arabs in Jerusalem - Noam Dvir
    A 33-year-old Jewish man from Jerusalem was stabbed Tuesday by two Arab youths near the Damascus Gate of Jerusalem's Old City. (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Boycotting a Better Future - Ron Prosor
    In December 2012, Israel introduced a UN General Assembly resolution titled "Entrepreneurship for Development" as part of its broader initiative to promote growth in the developing world. It passed with over 70% of member states raising their hands, including many countries without diplomatic ties to Israel. Not only did the entire Arab bloc vote against the measure, however, it waged a determined effort to undermine it from day one.
        On June 26, a group of Arab states boycotted a UN conference, co-hosted by the Israeli delegation, based on our December resolution. One would think that it's hard to find fault with bringing entrepreneurial innovation, creativity, and ingenuity to bear on some of the world's most pressing problems. Yet, the Arab bloc sought to undermine this event for one simple reason - Israel was one of the co-hosts.
        In just 65 years, Israel has become a recognized leader in innovation and is eager to demonstrate that its evolution from a relatively poor country to a prosperous member of the OECD can be replicated by other states. Ironically, few regions could benefit more from entrepreneurship than the Arab world, where 20% of the population lives on less than $2 per day. The writer is Israel's ambassador to the UN. (Foreign Policy)
  • In Israel, No Silver Linings - Michael Gerson
    Israel is the relatively quiet eye of the Middle Eastern storm. But there are vistas of conflict on nearly every side. The triumph of Bashar al-Assad in Syria, according to Sallai Meridor, the former Israeli ambassador to the U.S., would "not be the devil we know, but a much worse devil, an agent of Iran and Hizbullah." Israel's cold peace with Egypt is fragile, and a distracted Egyptian military could allow jihadists to cause trouble in the Sinai. "We look at Jordan," says Meridor, "and pray."
        Not all the consequences of regional chaos are immediately bad for Israel. The Syrian military has been decimated as a fighting force. Hizbullah, by joining Assad's anti-Sunni holy war, has lost its luster in the Arab world. But the general Israeli attitude is worry and wariness - the understandable attitude of a people with a long history of heroism but not much experience with happy endings. (Washington Post)

The Boring Palestinians - Bret Stephens (Wall Street Journal)

  • For all its presumed importance, the Palestinian saga has gotten awfully boring, hasn't it? The grievances that remain unchanged, a cast of characters that never alters. We get it. We just don't give a damn anymore.
  • The region is moving tumultuously forward. Israel is dynamic, threatened, innovative, evolving. Egypt careens between revolution and restoration. Lebanon is on the brink, Iran is on the march, Syria is in its agony. Only the Palestinians remain trapped in ideological amber.
  • Palestinians will say it's on account of their supposedly unique experience of injustice and oppression. Professional peace processors think it's because of the supposed centrality of the Palestinian drama to all other Middle Eastern conflicts.
  • Take the most jaundiced view of Israeli behavior toward the Palestinians over the past dozen years: Does it hold a candle to what Bashar Assad does in any given week to his own people in Homs and Aleppo?
  • Take the most exaggerated view of the dearness of Palestine to Egyptians on the streets of Cairo or Turks in the squares of Istanbul: How does their sympathy for Gaza compare with their outrage toward their own governments?
  • Is it any wonder that, given the choice between a long-term moral threat to their character as a state and a near-term physical threat to their existence as a nation, ordinary Israelis should be more concerned with the latter?

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