Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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July 29, 2013

In-Depth Issues:

Egyptian Security Forces Kill 10 Gunmen in Sinai (Al Arabiya)
    Egyptian security forces killed 10 militants and captured 20 others in an operation in the Sinai Peninsula over the past two days, state news agency MENA reported on Sunday.
    See also Egypt Launches Operation Desert Storm in Sinai - Abigail Hauslohner (Washington Post)
    On Saturday, Egypt's armed forces launched Operation Desert Storm in Sinai, Al-Ahram reported.
    Since Egypt's armed forces ousted President Morsi on July 3, militants have launched dozens of attacks on military and police checkpoints and bases across North Sinai, killing dozens.
    Bedouin arms dealers said militants in recent days have launched shoulder-fired, Stinger anti­aircraft missiles at military aircraft, laid improvised bombs along roads, and fired barrages of bullets and RPGs at security personnel.
    "Protests aren't really in our nature," Abu Ashraf, a powerful tribal leader and smuggler in North Sinai, said last week. "Our nature is...," he said, then stopped, smiled and pantomimed firing a gun.

Identities of Palestinian Prisoners Up for Release Revealed - Yaron Druckman (Ynet News)
    They murdered Israeli men and women as well as Palestinian collaborators and were jailed prior to the signing of the Oslo Accords or immediately after. Now, these terrorists are set to be released as part of the resumption of peace talks between Israel and the PA.
    Palestinian terrorists up for release include Issa Abed Rabo, convicted of the murder of Revital Seri and Ron Levy near the Cremisan Valley in October 1984.
    Mohamed Dawd from Kalkilya threw a Molotov cocktail at a car in 1987 killing Ofra and Tal Moses.
    Jumaa Adem and Mahmoud Kharbish hurled a firebomb at a bus in the Jordan Valley in 1988 in an attack that left five dead: Rachel Weiss and her three children, and soldier David Dolorosa who tried to save the four.
    Jamal Muhsan from Jenin stabbed Shlomo Yehia, 76, in Kadima in 1991.
    Mahmoud Moamed murdered Israel Prize Laureate Menahem Stern in the Valley of the Cross in 1989.
    Mahmoud Issa led the terror cell that kidnapped and murdered Border Guard officer Nissim Toledano in June 1993.
    See also 19 Israeli-Arab Prisoners to Be Released (Israel Hayom)
    Israeli citizens who are part of the prisoner release package include: Agbariya Hassan Mohammed, Agbariya Mustafa Mohammed Yehieh, Jabarin Mohammed Tawfik Suliman Yosef and Agbariya Hassan Mahmoud Ibrahim, members of Palestinian Islamic Jihad, who infiltrated an army base in 1992, murdering three soldiers.
    Fatah members Younis Abdel Latif Abdel Kader Maher and Younis Younis Fadel Fadel Karim kidnapped Israeli soldier Avraham Bromberg and shot him.
    Al-Khatib Abdallah Kaid Bashir, a member of Fatah Force 17, murdered Israeli civilian Chaim Hai Haktouk.
    Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) members Abu Moch Ibrahim, Biadsa Abdel Razak Ahmed Ibrahim, Dakah Nimer Assad Walid and Abu Moch Hamdoun Mohammed Rushdi kidnapped and executed Israeli soldier Moshe Tamam.
    Daagna Nofel Mohammed Mahmoud of the PFLP initiated and planned the murder of Israeli civilian Sarah Sharon.
    Hamas member Baroud Ahmed Mohamed Fares stabbed an Israeli civilian to death.
    See also List of Pre-Oslo Prisoners (Israel Ministry of Justice-CAMERA)

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. Announces Resumption of Israeli-Palestinian Direct Final Status Negotiations
    State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki announced Sunday: "Secretary Kerry spoke with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and personally extended an invitation to send senior negotiating teams to Washington to formally resume direct final status negotiations. Initial meetings are planned for the evening of Monday, July 29, and Tuesday, July 30, 2013."
        "The meetings in Washington...will serve as an opportunity to develop a procedural workplan for how the parties can proceed with the negotiations in the coming months."  (State Department)
        See also Israel, Palestinians Dispute Format of Washington Peace Talks - Dan Williams and Ali Sawafta
    Israeli and Palestinian officials put forward clashing formats for peace talks due to resume in Washington on Monday. Silvan Shalom, a member of the Israeli cabinet, told Israel's Army Radio, "All of the issues that are at the core of a permanent accord will be negotiated simultaneously." Yasser Abed Rabbo, a top PLO official, told Voice of Palestine radio the talks "will begin, in principle, on the issues of borders and security."
        "Had the matter of borders and territory been given over, what incentive would they (Palestinians) have had to make concessions on the matter of refugees or Jerusalem?" Shalom asked. (Reuters)
  • Israel Approves Prisoner Deal in Push to Revive Palestinian Talks - Edmund Sanders
    The Israeli government agreed Sunday to release 104 Palestinian prisoners over the next nine months as a gesture to lure Palestinian leaders back to the negotiating table. Prisoners are likely to be released in four stages, beginning next month and ending early next year. (Los Angeles Times)
        See also Gradual Release of Prisoners to Keep Palestinians at Negotiations - Herb Keinon
    The idea behind the gradual release of prisoners, according to Israeli officials, is to ensure that the Palestinians uphold their commitments during the initial nine months of negotiations not to take unilateral actions against Israel in the UN, and not to immediately walk away from the negotiating table. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Egypt Warns Pro-Morsi Protesters after 72 Killed in Weekend Clashes
    Egyptian Interior Minister Mohammed Ibrahim on Sunday pledged to deal decisively with any attempts to destabilize the country after 72 died in weekend clashes in the deadliest outbreak of violence since the July 3 military coup. The Cairo violence took place when pro-Morsi protesters moved onto a main boulevard, only to be confronted by police and unidentified armed men in civilian clothes.
        On Friday, millions again took to the streets in a show of support for Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, the military chief who ousted Muslim Brotherhood President Mohamed Morsi. (AP-Washington Post)
        See also Bloodshed Rises in Streets of Egypt - Jeffrey Fleishman (Los Angeles Times)
  • Syrian Government Blamed for Ballistic Missile Attack in Aleppo - Ben Hubbard and Hwaida Saad
    A missile attack by government forces on the Bab al-Neirab neighborhood in Aleppo, home to the headquarters of a number of rebel brigades, killed at least 29 people, including 19 children, Syrian monitors said Saturday. Assad's forces have stepped up the use of such missiles, which often reduce city blocks to rubble, a strategy that analysts say suggests that the military lacks sufficient infantry to accomplish its goals. (New York Times)
        See also Syrian Soldiers' Mass Execution Reported - Hania Mourtada and Rick Gladstone
    Islamist extremists in Syria killed 150 soldiers in an Aleppo suburb this week, including 51 who were executed after they had surrendered, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which sympathizes with the opposition. A video dated Wednesday showed what appeared to be an execution ground, with dozens of lifeless bodies clumped against a wall pockmarked with bullet holes. Rami Abdulrahman, the Syrian Observatory founder, said the killers were members of the Nusra Front and Ansar al-Khalafa al-Islamiya Brigade. (New York Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israeli Minister: Prisoner Release Prevents Serious Diplomatic Crisis with the U.S. - Barak Ravid
    Interior Minister Gideon Sa'ar says he supported the prisoner release at the cabinet meeting Sunday to prevent a serious diplomatic crisis with the U.S. "If there is no majority for the proposal [in the cabinet], it doesn't only mean that we refuse to release the prisoners. It means that we refuse to renew negotiations and that Israel will be blamed....Not only does it let the Palestinians get to work at the UN immediately, it could also absolve our relatively few friends in the international community who are still standing alongside us and casting a veto at the UN or blocking boycotts," Sa'ar said.
        "That doesn't mean I think there's a great chance to achieve a final-status agreement with the Palestinians...but we want to preserve Israeli's international status and prevent it from suffering a diplomatic and economic blow."  (Ha'aretz)
        See also below Observations: Prime Minister Netanyahu Explains Release of Palestinian Prisoners (Prime Minister's Office)
  • The Decision to Release Palestinian Prisoners - Ron Ben-Yishai
    Prime Minister Netanyahu's decision to release Palestinian prisoners stems from strategic and security-related considerations. There is no doubt that the increase in the number of prisoners slated for release constitutes a capitulation to American pressure.
        The most important reason behind the decision has to do with the Iranian nuclear program. Over the next few months, apparently by next spring, Iran will become a country on the brink of weapons capability. During this time Israel will be able to stop the Iranian nuclear program, should it receive support and legitimacy from the West, and mainly from the U.S. The release of Palestinian prisoners is a reasonable price to pay for something that is so crucial for the State of Israel, according to Netanyahu's security doctrine. (Ynet News)
  • Palestinian Prisoner Release - Here We Go Again - Herb Keinon
    At the end of the day, with all the pain and agony that it entails, Israel will release Palestinian terrorists who murdered scores of innocent people. And these murderers will be hailed as heroes in Hebron and Ramallah and Jenin. Parades will be held in their honor, flowers thrown at the bus carrying them home, poems written about their "glorious" exploits. It matters how they are received. It sets tone and atmosphere. It says something about our peacemaking partners.
        The Palestinians, backed by the world, consistently demand that Israel build up their confidence. But how about Israeli confidence? What is being done to rebuild an Israeli confidence trampled by the Second Intifada and stomped upon by the thousands of rockets that fell on Israel after it withdrew from Gaza in 2005? If the Palestinians are indeed serious about the upcoming round of talks, they need to not celebrate the release of terrorists who threw petrol bombs into buses and incinerated innocent men, women and children. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Would Americans Release Terrorist Killers? - Jonathan S. Tobin
    Americans should pause and wonder whether they would ever give a moment's consideration to doing what their government is twisting Israel's arm to do. Would we ever think of releasing any of those convicted and currently serving long jail sentences for involvement in the 9/11 attacks or any other terrorist assault on the United States and its citizens? Not a chance.
        The American position is, as the Obama administration likes to put it, that anyone who attacks U.S. citizens will be chased down to the ends of the earth and either be snuffed by a drone attack that has the personal approval of the commander in chief or be locked away for good if they are captured. How can Americans justify demanding that Israel do something they would never do themselves. (Commentary)
  • Kerry's Peace Process - Walter Russell Mead
    Signing a deal with the PA will not stop rockets coming from Gaza, will not stop Palestinian exiles from continuing a campaign of delegitimization against Israel, will not stop foreign powers like Iran supporting rejectionist factions of the Palestinians with weapons, money and diplomatic cover, and will not end Hizbullah's terror campaign against Israelis and Jews worldwide. Given all that, it is hard for many Israelis to see enough benefit to justify serious territorial concessions for a Potemkin peace. (American Interest)

Prime Minister Netanyahu Explains Release of Palestinian Prisoners (Prime Minister's Office)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu released an open letter to the citizens of Israel on July 27, prior to resuming the diplomatic process with the Palestinians.

  • "From time to time, prime ministers are called on to make decisions that go against public opinion - when the matter is important for the country."
  • "At the present time, very important for the State of Israel to enter into a diplomatic process...both in order to exhaust the chance of ending the conflict with the Palestinians and in order to establish Israel's position in the complex international reality around us."
  • "I did agree to release 104 Palestinians in stages after the start of the negotiations and in accordance with the circumstances of their progress. This is an incomparably difficult decision....It collides with the incomparably important value of justice."
  • "People in positions of leadership need to choose between complex choices and sometimes the necessary decision is especially difficult when most of the public opposes it."

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