Prepared for the
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by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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July 22, 2013

In-Depth Issues:

European Union Adds Hizbullah to Terror List - James Kanter (New York Times)
    EU foreign ministers Monday added the military wing of the Lebanese Shiite militant group Hizbullah to a list of terrorist organizations.
    The decision required the unanimous consent of the bloc's 28 members. Sanctions are expected to include travel bans and asset freezes.

Militants Kill Six Egyptians in Sinai (Reuters)
    Two Egyptian civilians, two army officers and two policemen were killed and 11 others wounded in at least 10 attacks against police stations and security and army checkpoints in Rafah and El-Arish in Sinai, medical sources said Monday.

World Bank: Iran Failing to Pay Back Development Loans - Ian Talley (Wall Street Journal)
    The World Bank's International Bank for Reconstruction and Development said Thursday that Iran is more than six months overdue on $81 million in development loans.
    Iran's total outstanding debt to the bank is $697 million for old, closed development loans made years ago that are now coming due.

Hamas Test-Fired Rocket toward Ashkelon - Mitch Ginsburg (Times of Israel)
    On June 19, Ashkelon awoke to the sound of an air-raid siren. The rockets fell in open ground on the Gaza side of the fence.
    A source in military intelligence said the rockets were part of a trial launch by Hamas, meant to extend the range of its M-75 rocket.
    Hamas has carried out further tests in the direction of Sinai and the Mediterranean Sea.

London Mayor Tells Transport Co. to Rewrite "Anti-Israel" Emirates Airline Cable Car Contract - Pippa Crerar (Evening Standard-UK)
    Mayor Boris Johnson asked Transport for London (TfL) to rewrite its contract for the Thames cable car after it emerged that the deal with the Dubai-owned Emirates airline prevents TfL from entering into contracts on the cable car with Israeli-owned or backed businesses.
    Johnson intervened last week to ask TfL to remove the offending clauses, which will be rewritten.

Convicted Collaborator with Israel Confessed under Torture, Lebanese NGO Says - Samya Kullab (Daily Star-Lebanon)
    The Lebanese Center for Human Rights (LCHR) said Thursday that the charges against Faisal Moqalled, convicted for collaborating with Israel in 2009, were fabricated by Hizbullah and Lebanese Army Intelligence.
    Moqalled admitted to collaborating with Italian intelligence services to monitor terrorism plots in Europe while working as a ship captain in Cyprus, but throughout his incarceration has denied having links to the Israeli Mossad.
    LCHR maintains that Moqalled's confession was extracted under torture by Army Intelligence in 2006 and in the absence of counsel.
    Moqalled was charged with entering Israel in May 2005 aboard El Al Flight 313 from Paris to Tel Aviv, a flight LCHR said did not exist.
    LCHR found that 66% of detainees in the last two years have been subject to torture and ill treatment by security authorities.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Kerry Announces Deal to Revive Mideast Talks - Michael R. Gordon and Jodi Rudoren
    Israeli and Palestinian leaders have "established a basis" to resume direct peace negotiations for the first time in three years, Secretary of State John Kerry announced Friday. He said that if "everything goes as expected," Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator; Tzipi Livni, the Israeli minister in charge of the peace process; and Isaac Molho, Prime Minister Netanyahu's special envoy, would join him for talks in Washington "within the next week or so."
        On Saturday, Israel's Minister of Strategic Affairs Yuval Steinitz told Israel Radio, "There will be some release of [Palestinian] prisoners," carried out in phases. According to Israeli news reports, both sides have agreed to negotiate for at least six months. (New York Times)
        See also below Observations - Netanyahu: Resumption of the Diplomatic Process Is a Vital Strategic Interest for Israel (Prime Minister's Office)
  • Top Aide to Palestinian President Says Path to a Resumption of Mideast Talks Still Blocked
    Nabil Abu Rudeneh, a spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, said in a statement Sunday that for actual peace talks to resume, Israel must first accept its pre-1967 war frontier as a baseline and halt settlement building. He said that Abbas agreed to send a delegate to Washington to continue lower-level preliminary talks with an Israeli counterpart about the terms for negotiations. The Washington talks are meant to "overcome the obstacles that still stand in the way of launching negotiations," he said.
        Palestinians say three issues need to be settled before talks can begin - the baseline for border talks, the extent of a possible Israeli settlement slowdown, and a timetable for releasing long-detained Palestinian prisoners. Israel has been insisting that peace talks resume without preconditions and that all issues should be resolved through dialogue. (AP-Washington Post)
        See also Abbas Spokesman Says No Deal Yet to Restart Talks - Elhanan Miller
    Abbas spokesman Yasser Abed Rabbo told Palestinian radio Sunday that the PA leadership was currently engaged in dialogue with the American administration, and would only announce the resumption of negotiations depending on the outcome of those talks. (Times of Israel)
  • Egypt's Old Guard Is Back - Abigail Hauslohner
    Egypt's new power dynamic, following the July 3 coup that ousted Morsi, is eerily familiar. Gone are the Islamist rulers from the once-banned Muslim Brotherhood. Back are the faces of the old guard, many closely linked to Mubarak's reign or to the all-powerful generals. And for a seemingly broad array of Egyptians, that's exactly the way they want it. In Egypt's new cabinet, Mubarak-era figures abound and Islamists are absent.
        Egyptians who once demanded punishment for the remnants of Mubarak's regime say that a year of disastrous Brotherhood rule has put everything in perspective. (Washington Post)
  • UN Calls on Israel to Pay Damages for 1996 Lebanon Incident - Adam Kredo
    Included in the UN General Assembly's latest "peacekeeping budget," passed last month, is a call at the behest of Syria for Israel to pay $1.1 million for damages to UN property in Qana village in southern Lebanon during its 1996 campaign to stop Hizbullah terrorists.
        Ron Prosor, Israel's ambassador to the UN, called the accusations baseless and a waste of time. "It comes as no secret that scoring cheap points at Israel's expense is almost a sport at the United Nations....Israel is once again being singled out for condemnation....I wonder when the UN will level fines against Lebanon and Syria for the extensive destruction and devastation they have caused on our borders," Prosor said. (Washington Free Beacon)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Peace Talks Boost Security - Ron Ben-Yishai
    The renewal of negotiations between Israeli and Palestinian officials creates a sense in the Palestinian street that there is a diplomatic horizon. A senior IDF official said the PA is still fulfilling an important role in calming the street. Progress in the peace negotiations will encourage PA officials to stop calling for a "popular uprising," at least initially.
        However, every round of talks between Israel and the Palestinians has led to a wave of attempts by Islamist and jihadist elements to undermine the negotiations by firing rockets and carrying out terror attacks. If progress is made, we must prepare for numerous, sophisticated attempts by terrorists in Gaza and the West Bank to bring about the collapse of the negotiations. (Ynet News)
        See also Preventing an Early Explosion - Ron Ben-Yishai
    A low-profile dialogue is beginning, without preconditions or bombastic declarations. This is expected to prevent a large "explosion" in the event that the talks fail. (Ynet News)
  • Hamas Rejects Kerry's Announcement: Abbas Has No Authority to Negotiate
    Hamas dismissed Secretary of State John Kerry's announcement of the resumption of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians and slammed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas: "He has no legitimacy to negotiate in the name of the Palestinian people on the core issues."  (Ynet News)
        See also Iran Opposes Israel-Palestinian Peace Talks (AFP)
  • Israel to Release 85 Palestinian Prisoners - Shlomo Cesana, Daniel Siryoti and Efrat Forsher
    Israel has agreed to gradually release 85 Palestinian terrorists who were imprisoned prior to the 1993 Oslo Accords. The first phase of the release will take place in four to six weeks. The terrorists in question were convicted of multiple counts of murder and sentenced to more than one life sentence. All of them have so far served between 20 and 28 years of their sentences. (Israel Hayom)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Kerry's Mideast Announcement - Arshad Mohammed
    When Secretary of State John Kerry announced on Friday that Israel and the Palestinians had tentatively agreed to resume peace talks, he did so standing alone in Amman with neither of the parties at his side. A former senior U.S. official said, "In a way, the announcement reflects...the degree of investment on both sides and the amount of risk that they are prepared to take, which is apparently not much."
        "I am not among those who see this as a major breakthrough," said Khaled Elgindy of the Brookings Institution's Saban Center for Middle East Policy in Washington. "From the Palestinian standpoint, the objective is not to be blamed for failure of this process, so they are willing to go along, [but] they are not holding their breath."  (Reuters)
  • The High Price of Kerry's Victory - Jonathan S. Tobin
    Ahmed Majdalani, a PLO executive committee member, told AP that Kerry would endorse the 1967 lines as the starting point of negotiations and assured the Palestinians that Israel would free some 350 prisoners gradually in the coming months. Thus, the Palestinians have already made it abundantly clear that they won't actually negotiate in good faith but will only show up expecting the U.S. to deliver Israeli concessions to them on a silver platter.
        The Palestinians had no interest in returning to negotiations they've been boycotting for four and a half years. But both Israel and the Palestinians didn't wish to obstruct Kerry's desire for talks. He might have left off once the Palestinians demonstrated their lack of interest, but since he persisted, they felt they had no choice but to show up.
        Abbas and the PA are too weak to agree to any deal that would conclusively end a conflict that neither Hamas nor much of Fatah actually wants to end. Recognizing the legitimacy of a Jewish state, no matter where its borders might be drawn, is something that no Palestinian leader can afford to do at this point in history. The culture of Palestinian politics that has revolved around the delegitimization of Israel and Jewish history makes it impossible. That's why they've already rejected three Israelis offers of a Palestinian state. (Commentary)
  • Europe's Stance on Settlements Is a Blunder - Yair Lapid
    The campaign of delegitimizing the Jewish state - a campaign financed primarily by Arab oil - has gained momentum in recent years. The only thing that can stop it is the resumption of peace negotiations. In one fell swoop, the misguided folks in Brussels have emboldened the extremists, allowing them to triumphantly claim to Abbas: "You see, we were right all along. You must not negotiate. We don't have to do anything. The international community will do our job for us."
        The world shouldn't make things easier for extremists. It's challenging enough to pursue peace in this problematic neighborhood of ours. We do not need our friends overseas to make it even more difficult. The EU would do well to revoke its decision. The writer is Israel's Minister of Finance. (New York Times)

Netanyahu: Resumption of the Diplomatic Process Is a Vital Strategic Interest for Israel (Prime Minister's Office)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the Israeli Cabinet on Sunday:

  • "We are now making an effort to resume the diplomatic process. I see this as a vital strategic interest of the State of Israel."
  • "If it [an agreement] will be [reached], it will be put to a referendum....It must be put to the people for a decision."
  • The goal is to prevent "the creation of a bi-national state between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, alongside preventing the establishment of another Iranian-sponsored terrorist state."
  • "Our negotiating partners will also need to make concessions that will allow us to maintain our security and uphold our vital national interests."
  • "These will not be easy negotiations, but we will enter into them with integrity, sincerity and the hope that this process will be conducted responsibly, seriously and substantively, and...discreetly."
  • "Throughout this process, I will strongly uphold...the security needs of the State of Israel and other vital interests."

        See also PA Will Hold Referendum on Any Peace Proposal
    PA President Mahmoud Abbas told the Jordanian newspaper Al Rai on Friday that any agreement reached with the Israelis will be brought to a referendum. (Jerusalem Post)

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