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July 26, 2013

In-Depth Issues:

Bulgaria Releases Names and Images of Two Suspects in Israeli Tourist Bus Bombing (AP-Washington Post)
    Bulgarian authorities distributed on Thursday the names and images of two wanted suspects involved in a bomb attack that killed five Israeli tourists and a Bulgarian bus driver last year.
    Meliad Farah is an Australian citizen, while Hassan El Hajj Hassan is a Canadian citizen.
    Last week, Interior Minister Tsvetlin Yovchev said there were "clear signs that say that Hizbullah was behind the bus bombing."

PA Minister Likens Agreement with Israel to Pact Muhammad Broke to Conquer Mecca - Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik (Palestinian Media Watch)
    On the eve of renewed peace talks with Israel, PA Minister of Religious Affairs Mahmoud Al-Habbash said in his Friday sermon on July 19 that when PA leaders signed agreements with Israel, they knew how to walk "the right path, which leads to achievement, exactly like the Prophet [Muhammad] did in the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah."
    Al-Habbash's sermon was delivered in the presence of PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and was broadcast on official Palestinian Authority TV.
    The Hudaybiyyah peace treaty was a 10-year truce that Muhammad, Islam's prophet, made with the Quraish tribe of Mecca. However, two years into the truce, Muhammad attacked and conquered Mecca.
    "This is the example and this is the model," said Al-Habbash.

Hamas Shuts Media Offices in Gaza over "False" News (AFP)
    Hamas authorities in Gaza on Thursday closed local offices of Al-Arabiya TV and Palestinian news agency Maan for "false" reporting of Hamas help for Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood.
    Maan reported - citing Israeli sources - that Hamas gave refuge in a Gaza hotel to fugitive leaders of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood.

Israel Freezes Cooperation with EU in West Bank - Tovah Lazaroff and Yaakov Lappin (Jerusalem Post)
    Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon ordered the IDF's civil administration to cease cooperation in joint projects with the EU in the West Bank in response to new measures the EU has taken against Israeli settlements.
    The IDF will refuse to grant new permits or renew existing permits for EU construction projects in Area C, which is under Israeli civil and military control. It also will not issue or renew any EU travel documents.

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Perspectives on Arab-Israeli Diplomacy (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
    The current efforts of the Obama administration to renew Israeli-Palestinian peace talks come after years in which the two sides have not been engaged in any negotiations.
    The 17 studies offered here by former senior diplomats, military officers, and governmental advisors on the most critical issues that will be on the negotiating table provide an insider's perspective on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the options to be considered for its resolution.

Video: Hate Is an Obstacle to Peace (CAMERA)
    Would you support negotiations with people who are seen as demons? You don't compromise with evil.
    This is how many Arabs view Jews, as they were taught to do by scores of opinion-makers and clergy.
    As Martin Luther King Jr. explained, hate makes you do irrational things. "You can't see straight when you hate."
    See also Video: Who Else Is Being Injured by the Vilification of Israel? (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

Anti-Zionists and Anti-Semites Have One Key Thing in Common - Brendan O'Neill (Telegraph-UK)
    The line between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism is getting thinner all the time.
    There is one inescapable thing that they share in common: a tendency to trace all global problems and instabilities back to the behavior and beliefs of a Jewish thing, whether the Jewish people or the Jewish state.
    Modern-day anti-Zionism has a scary habit of treating Jewish stuff or Jewish people as the source of the world's ills.
    So widespread is the idea that Israel is to blame for everything rotten in the world that a few years ago a poll of Europeans found that a majority think Israel is "the greatest threat to world peace."
    Arabs also believe Israel is the greatest threat to world peace.
    Criticisms of Zionism have eerie echoes of earlier expressions of hatred for Jews in the sense that both are about finding one thing, normally a Jewish thing, which can be blamed for all sorts of very complex global problems.

Inside the Secret Tech Ventures that Are Reshaping the Israeli-Arab-Palestinian World - Richard Behar (Forbes)
    Nearly 100 times over the past two years, Israeli high-tech experts and Palestinian entrepreneurs have gotten together in the hope of making Israel's "Startup Nation" economic miracle a cross-border affair.
    And this is just one of dozens of business-driven dialogues quietly - in many cases secretly - proliferating across the Holy Land.
    Hundreds of Israelis and Palestinians are becoming actual business partners and colleagues in startups that are slowly transforming the Palestinian economy, at least in the West Bank.
    The Palestinians, flooded for years with foreign aid money that often gets misused and almost never sticks, accept partnerships with Israeli firms and Israeli offices of U.S. firms because it offers them perhaps the best chance to develop their economy.
    They are simply being sensible - taking advantage of being next door to one of the world's top high-tech countries.

Piecing Together Ancient Israel's History, One Unearthed Coin at a Time - Christa Case Bryant (Christian Science Monitor)
    Armed with a pick axe, metal detector, and wide-brimmed hat, Yoav Farhi has found more than 60 ancient coins at Khirbet Qeiyafa, an archaeological site overlooking Israel's Valley of Elah, where the Bible records the battle of David and Goliath taking place some 3,000 years ago.
    Among them are weighty coins from the time of Alexander the Great, imprinted with the face of the Greek goddess Athena.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Israel Willing to Make "Serious Territorial Concessions" to Secure Middle East Peace - David Blair
    Israel is willing to make "very serious territorial concessions" in order to achieve peace with the Palestinians, Yuval Steinitz, Israel's intelligence and strategic affairs minister, has told the Daily Telegraph. He added that a "demilitarized" Palestinian state was the "only possible solution" to the conflict. "Both sides will have to make very significant concessions and very difficult concessions. We will probably have to make very serious territorial concessions. And the Palestinians will have to make also both territorial concessions - because there will be settlement blocs - but more important still they will have to recognize the very existence of the Jewish people and the Jewish state," said Steinitz.
        "If we reach an end-of-conflict peace agreement with the Palestinians, we will have a referendum. I can tell you, I am confident that most Israelis will support it....But on one condition: that Israelis will be totally convinced that what we are getting in return is genuine, enduring peace and real security."  (Telegraph-UK)
  • Egypt's Prosecutor Orders Morsi Detained over Hamas Ties
    The Egyptian state prosecutor ordered that ousted Islamist President Mohamed Morsi be detained for 15 days for questioning on charges of collaborating with the Palestinian militant group Hamas, the official MENA news agency reported on Friday. Morsi will be asked whether he worked with Hamas in attacks on police stations and prison breaks in early 2011. State accusations against Morsi include killing prisoners and officers as well as kidnapping soldiers, said MENA. (Al Arabiya)
  • Egypt Braces for Rival Rallies, Army Signals Crackdown - Yasmine Saleh and Matt Robinson
    Army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has called Egyptians into the streets nationwide on Friday to give the military a "mandate" to confront weeks of violence unleashed by his July 3 overthrow of Islamist President Mohamed Morsi. A military official said the army had given Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood a Saturday deadline to end its resistance and join a military-set road map to fresh elections. The Brotherhood, which has manned a street vigil for almost a month with thousands of followers demanding Morsi's return, has called its own counter-demonstrations.
        Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, head of Egypt's top Islamic institute, Al-Azhar, urged Egyptians to heed the army's call. "I ask all Egyptians to rally to save Egypt," he said in a statement aired on state television. (Reuters)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Pre-1967 Lines as Basis for Talks Contravenes U.S. Commitments - Herb Keinon
    Any U.S. guarantee to the Palestinians that the upcoming negotiations with Israel will be based on the pre-1967 lines would be a violation of written U.S. commitments given to then-prime minister Ariel Sharon, former Foreign Ministry legal adviser Alan Baker wrote in a letter on behalf of the Legal Forum for Israel sent this week to Secretary of State John Kerry. Baker participated in the negotiation and drafting of agreements and peace treaties with Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and the Palestinians, including the Oslo Accords.
        President George W. Bush's letter to Sharon on April 4, 2004, which was given as a political quid pro quo in return for Israel's withdrawal from Gaza, states: "As part of a final peace settlement, Israel must have secure and recognized borders, which should emerge from negotiations between the parties in accordance with UNSC Resolutions 242 and 338. In light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli population centers, it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of the final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949." These commitments were later affirmed by votes in the U.S. Congress. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israeli Official: Turkey Wants to Humiliate Israel, Not Reconcile with It - Herb Keinon
    Turkey is not interested in a diplomatic reconciliation with Israel, but rather in humiliating it, Israeli officials said on Thursday after Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc said Israel needed to admit committing a wrongful act in the 2010 Mavi Marmara incident. One Israeli official said, "All of a sudden he says the money is not the issue. Indeed, they want to bring us to our knees and read the text that they dictate to us."
        The official said that the formula for the apology was very carefully crafted, so as not to admit any Israeli legal culpability. Now, he said, this is no longer enough for the Turks. One Israeli official said Thursday that Netanyahu did what the Americans expected him to do, and this whole episode should now be over. (Jerusalem Post)
  • IDF Nabs Palestinian Suspected of Firing at Israeli Buses in West Bank - Gili Cohen
    A Palestinian resident of the West Bank village of Awarta, suspected of shooting at buses in the West Bank, was arrested Thursday by the Israel Defense Forces. According to Col. Yoav Yarom, commander of the Samaria Regional Brigade, two soldiers have been posted on buses traveling in the area for the past three weeks in an effort to identify the gunmen responsible for firing at Israeli buses. An IDF soldier riding a bus near Hawara saw the Palestinian aiming a handgun at the bus. (Ha'aretz)
        See also 15 Israelis Injured in Arab Rock Attacks in Jerusalem - Lazar Berman
    Fifteen Israelis were injured in Jerusalem on Thursday in two separate rock-throwing incidents by Arabs at vehicles driving past the Damascus Gate near the Old City. (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

    Renewed Israeli-Palestinian Negotiations

  • What Makes John Kerry Think He Can Secure Peace in Israel? - Aaron David Miller
    Having analyzed and worked on the Arab-Israeli peace process for more than 40 years, my initial reaction to Secretary of State John Kerry's success in getting the Israelis and the Palestinians to resume talks was predictably negative: He may get them to the negotiating table, but he cannot keep them there, let alone reach an agreement. The last time I had a role in this movie - the historic Camp David summit of July 2000 - the effort failed, triggering the worst Israeli-Palestinian violence in half a century.
        But there are some factors that might explain the secretary's willingness to defy the odds - and why we shouldn't discount his efforts just yet. With Syria offline because of its civil war, Iran's peace-process meddling constrained by its rift with Hamas, and the end of the Muslim Brotherhood's rule in Egypt, the traditional spoilers don't seem as empowered as in the past. The writer is a vice president and distinguished scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center. (Washington Post)
  • Abbas Says "Yes" to Kerry - Amira Hass
    For several weeks, the assumption has been that, despite widespread opposition among the Palestinian public and the PLO, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas would accept Secretary of State John Kerry's plan for resuming negotiations - without a settlement construction freeze or Israel's acceptance of the 1967 borders.
        The only public promise Kerry made to the Palestinians had to do with funds to boost the Palestinian economy - a kind of Marshall Plan. As far as is known, the plan is largely based on ambitious development program presented to him by Dr. Mohammad Mustafa, head of the Palestine Investment Fund and a close associate of Abbas. A few more months or years of possible calm, resulting from the talks and international funds, will greatly benefit the Palestinian private sector, which has ties to the Palestinian leadership. (Ha'aretz)
  • Washington Is a Cemetery for Negotiations - Nahum Barnea
    Three diplomatic agreements have been reached between Israel and its neighbors: The peace treaty with Egypt; the mutual recognition between Israel and the PLO; and the peace treaty with Jordan. The talks that led to the signing of these agreements were conducted behind the back of the American administrations. America was asked to join later as the financer, guarantor, mediator and host. Each time America initiated a move it failed. (Ynet News)

  • Jerusalem, Israel's Capital

  • Capital Offense - Editorial
    Since the 1947 UN Partition Resolution placed Jerusalem under international control, U.S. presidents have declined to take a position on the status of the city. The parts of Jerusalem that fell under Israeli control in the wake of the War of Independence were never recognized by the U.S. as part of Israel. The U.S., Israel's most important ally, stubbornly insists on maintaining an anachronistic foreign policy that relates to Israel as if the year were 1947. That policy must change.
        Ostensibly, the State Department's position on Jerusalem is that any change in U.S. policy could "provoke uproar throughout the Arab and Muslim world and seriously damage our relations." But caving in to extremists only encourages more extremist behavior by proving that intimidation works.
        A radicalized Palestinian leadership - backed by bellicose Arab nations - rejected the 1947 UN Partition Plan that would have given them a Palestinian state. Instead, the Palestinians made the historic mistake of attempting to snuff out the fledgling Jewish state at birth. They refuse to face the consequences of their acts of violence. So does the U.S.
        The time has come for President Obama to amend America's policy. Whatever the final borders with a future Palestinian state, Jerusalem will remain Israel's capital. U.S. policy should recognize this. (Jerusalem Post)
  • U.S. Refusal to List Jerusalem as Israel on Passports Is Offensive - Abraham Foxman
    A U.S. federal appeals court ruled this week that allowing "Jerusalem, Israel" on passports of U.S. citizens born in Jerusalem would infringe on the U.S. president's power to recognize foreign governments. This should not be a question of legalities or separation of powers. It should be a question of sensible public policy. Jerusalem was always the capital of Israel. Yet the U.S. has been unwilling for 65 years to grant its number-one ally the courtesy and respect to say, "This is your capital." The writer is national director of the Anti-Defamation League. (Ha'aretz)

  • EU Restrictions on Israel

  • New EU Restrictions on Israel Are about Foreign Policy, Not Law - Eugene Kontorovich
    The European Commission has published administrative guidelines that severely restrict its dealings with any Israeli company, municipality or NGO based in, or even involved in, activities east of the 1949 Armistice line, including most of Jerusalem. European officials claim international law and a concern for Palestinian self-determination demand such action. The rules also bar funding of any organization connected to the Golan Heights, which has nothing to do with "settlements" in the West Bank.
        The Europeans regard Israel as an occupier in the West Bank, despite the illegitimacy of the previous Jordanian presence there. They also see Jewish communities there as violating the Geneva Conventions prohibition on the "occupying power...transferring its civilian population," despite the fact that Jews living in the West Bank were not "transferred" by Israel in any meaning of the word; they just moved themselves.
        Article 15 of the EU guidelines exempts groups that "promot[e] the Middle East peace process in line with EU policy." The exemption reveals the true purpose of the rules: to promote European foreign policy, not to vindicate international law. Indeed, the essence of the rule of law is about applying general rules to similar cases, regardless of one's sympathies. The application of unique rules to the Jewish state is the opposite of lawful. The writer is a professor at Northwestern University School of Law, specializing in international law. (Times of Israel)
  • The EU Tightens Economic Restrictions on Israel - Daniel Hannan
    In its latest guidelines, the EU in effect restricts its economic dealings with Israel to the pre-1967 border. It's a bizarre decision, even by Brussels standards. By blundering in, the EU risks repeating the mistake it made in Cyprus and disincentivizing serious bilateral talks. No one seriously expects that a deal can be reached on the basis of an unaltered 1967 line (or rather, unaltered 1949 line). By putting that idea back on the table, the EU is making compromise more difficult. This isn't really about peace, though. It's about the EU's natural inclination to one side of the dispute. (Telegraph-UK)

  • EU Blacklists Hizbullah

  • Europe vs. Hizbullah's Military Wing - Benedetta Berti and Yoram Schweitzer
    The EU's labeling of Hizbullah's military wing does not constitute a watershed event for either the EU or Hizbullah. Still, this decision sends a strong political signal regarding the EU's growing impatience toward Hizbullah's international terror activities of recent years, and even more so, its blatant involvement in Syria in support of the Assad regime. (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)
  • Did the EU Really Curb Hizbullah Funding? - Soeren Kern
    In a classic European fudge, EU governments agreed only to blacklist the "military" wing of Hizbullah. Now the onus will be on European counter-terrorism police to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that Hizbullah monies - which are often raised by entities masquerading as charities - are being expressly destined for terrorist activities rather than for "political" purposes. Because of this legal uncertainty, it remains unclear if the EU will actually target any of Hizbullah's assets or individuals in Europe.
        As Israel's Ambassador to the UN, Ron Prosor, put it: "Calling Hizbullah a charity is like calling al-Qaeda an urban planning organization because of its desire to level tall buildings." The writer is a senior fellow at the Madrid-based Grupo de Estudios Estrategicos - Strategic Studies Group. (Gatestone Institute)
        See also EU Blacklists Hizbullah - Sort of - Nicholas Blanford (Christian Science Monitor)
  • Give Full Support to EU's Ban on Hizbullah - Eamon Delaney
    Irish Defense Minister Alan Shatter believes there is no "difference between the armed and political wings of Hizbullah." On a recent visit to Lebanon, he made a specific comparison with Northern Ireland, where there were "two different wings" of the Republican movement in Sinn Fein and IRA. Surely the pertinent point here is that we only dealt with Sinn Fein in a serious way precisely because its other wing, the IRA, had stopped violence and appeared to be on the way to decommissioning its weapons. Hizbullah has done no such thing. Far from it.
        Clearly we should have stood with our European allies, and the bigger EU states, in banning this evangelical terror outfit and stop this pussy-footing around with the idea that they are a legitimate "'liberation movement" ready to sit down with its enemies. Hizbullah is also a total proxy for Iran. (Independent-Ireland)

  • Egypt

  • The Democracy-Elections Trap in Egypt - Leslie H. Gelb
    Following the ouster of Hosni Mubarak, President Obama and the foreign-policy crowd began demanding immediate elections. The absolutely predictable winner soon thereafter was the organizational juggernaut of Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood, which proceeded to turn their majority into an effective weapon against democracy. If elections were held once again six months or a year from now, the likely outcome would be the same. The MB is the only political organization capable of turning out a massive number of voters.
        Have no doubt about what Morsi was doing. He immunized his decisions from judicial review. He was squeezing and suppressing the rights of women and causing heartburn among non-Muslims. He strangled the free press and packed the organs of government with fellow Muslim Brothers.
        Remember, President George W. Bush and his advisers pushed the people of Gaza into quick elections in 2006 that were won by Hamas, by far the best organized party. After Hamas won, it used its majority to set up a dictatorship.
        Elections advance democracy only when they are built on solid laws, a free press, sharp constitutional restraints on governmental power, and the firm rights of individuals. Without these underpinnings, elections are usually a sham. The writer is president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations. (Daily Beast)

  • Weekend Features

  • The Poverty of Boycotting Israel - Qanta Ahmed
    Boycotting Israel, whether academic or cultural, is not an act of moral indignation but an act of moral turpitude. Boycotting Israeli entities penalizes apolitical individuals, their institutions, their innovations and ultimately, stymies a global market of ideas which benefits humanity.
        I recently visited Israel to meet Israeli academia, and examined how a boycott particularly damages Israeli Arabs. I spoke to Arab Muslim undergraduates at Haifa's Technion University, whose Beatrice Weston Unit for the Advancement of Students tackled the high drop-out rate among Arab students, improving the retention rate by over 50% in less than a decade.
        Muslim undergraduate Maysoun Hindawi explained that Arab Muslim students are often the first in their families to enter higher education, and, in the case of women, may be breaking stereotypical gender roles in conservative families who may not approve of a female student living on campus. Arab Muslim students must also overcome a leadership gap created by the military service that their Jewish peers have gone through.
        Calls for an academic boycott would particularly imperil the future of these Arab Israeli students and the progressive opportunities they are offered. The major costs of an Israeli boycott will be born by Israel's own minority population, including Israeli Muslims of Palestinian heritage. This is a population which is for the first time becoming highly educated, advancing in the workplace, and collaborating with their fellow Israeli Jewish citizens. The writer is associate professor of medicine at the State University of New York. (Ha'aretz)
  • Israeli and Palestinian Bands Unite to Tour Europe - Harriet Sherwood
    United by a love of heavy metal rock'n'roll - plus a belief that music is above politics, religion and conflict - the Israeli band Orphaned Land is joining forces with the Palestinian group Khalas to take a message of coexistence across Europe. The bands will perform in six countries, including Britain, this autumn and will share a tour bus for three weeks.
        Orphaned Land's lead singer, Kobi Farhi said, "Sharing a stage and sharing a bus is stronger than a thousand words. We'll show how two people from different backgrounds who live in a conflict zone can perform together." Khalas lead guitarist Abed Hathut added, "there is no bigger message for peace than through this tour." "One day our children will form a band together," said Farhi. (Guardian-UK)
        See also How Entertainers Are Bullied into Not Performing in Israel - Abraham Cooper and Harold Brackman (Forbes)

Needed: A Paradigm Shift in the Middle East Peace Process - Shlomo Avineri (Fathom-BICOM)

  • The last time serious negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority took place under the Olmert government no agreement was reached, despite almost two years of continuous meetings by top officials. When negotiations reached the core issues - borders-settlements, Jerusalem, refugees and security - the gaps were too wide to overcome. This is significant, as both sides at that time represented the most conceivably moderate positions, and went into negotiations with a sincere commitment to a two-state solution.
  • On Jerusalem, no formula acceptable to both sides could be found. And for the Palestinians, the "right of return" of 1948 refugees and their descendants continues to be a major building block of their national narrative.
  • For Israel, the government insisted on some presence in the Jordan Valley and a complete demilitarization of the future Palestinian state, which was rejected by the Palestinians as emasculating its sovereignty and independence. Moreover, no territorial swaps could address the issue of settlements and borders. As the Palestinians insisted on a full return to the 1967 lines, no Israeli government could conceivably evacuate a quarter of a million settlers.
  • These fundamental disagreements have not gone away. Even if negotiations are resumed, it is inconceivable that what was not acceptable to Olmert would be acceptable to Netanyahu. Or that the PA, emboldened by its support at the UN General Assembly, will be more flexible now than it was four years ago.
  • To maintain, as one sometimes hears, that "everybody knows" what the ultimate agreement would look like overlooks the history of the conflict as well as the last twenty years. Since Oslo, all negotiations have failed. Perhaps the Europeans agree how to solve the conflict, but neither side in the conflict does.
  • What is needed is a paradigm change - a realization, like in Cyprus, Kosovo and Bosnia, that at the moment there is no possibility of reaching a final status agreement. Yet there are numerous ways to diminish the conflict, to achieve partial agreements and to create a less tense atmosphere, which may eventually help in bridging gaps.
  • The time has come for the international community to lower its sights and attempt to reach attainable goals, not well-meaning but at the moment utopian ones which attempt to resolve the entire conflict.

    The writer is professor of political science at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a former director-general of Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
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