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August 12, 2013

In-Depth Issues:

Iran's New Defense Minister: Behind the 1983 Attack on the U.S. Marine Corps Barracks in Beirut - Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Dr. Shimon Shapira (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
    The newly-elected president of Iran, Hassan Rouhani, has appointed Brig. Gen. Hossein Dehghan as the new defense minister.
    In the summer of 1982, Dehghan was sent to Lebanon where he served as commander of the training corps of the Revolutionary Guard and a year later was appointed commander of the Revolutionary Guard force in Lebanon.
    In September 1983, Hizbullah, with the help of the Revolutionary Guard headed by Dehghan, took over the Sheikh Abdullah barracks, the main base of the Lebanese army in the Beqaa Valley. It now became the Imam Ali barracks, the main headquarters of the Revolutionary Guard.
    From this headquarters, Iran controlled Hizbullah's military force and planned, along with Hizbullah, the terror attacks on the Beirut-based Multinational Force and against IDF forces in Lebanon.
    According to the U.S. Marine commander, the NSA intercepted the Iranian orders to strike on Sept. 26, 1983. It is difficult to imagine that such a directive would be transmitted without the knowledge of the Revolutionary Guards' commander, Hossein Dehghan.
    On Oct. 25, 1983, a Shiite suicide bomber detonated a water tanker at the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut, killing 241 Marines; simultaneously, another Shiite suicide bomber blew up the French paratroopers' barracks in Beirut, killing 58 soldiers.
    See also Rouhani's Pick for Defense Minister - Will Fulton (Al-Monitor)

PA Speaks of "Temporary" Peace Deal - Geoffrey Alderman (Jewish Chronicle-UK)
    Senior PA spokesmen Nabil Abu Rudeineh and Yasir Abed Rabbo declared separately on July 21 that any deal reached with Israel would only bind the Palestinians temporarily.
    The government of Mahmoud Abbas will not sign a final, all-encompassing peace treaty. The very most they might agree to is a hudna - a truce, a tactical device to allow them to regroup and rearm.
    Moreover, a genuine peace would include an end to the campaign of unrelenting, unabashed racism, spewed out every day by Arab media and every Friday by imams throughout the Muslim world.

Turkey to Withdraw Troops from UN Force in Lebanon (AFP)
    Turkey plans to pull out its 250-person engineering construction force from the UN peacekeeping mission in Lebanon - UNIFIL, Turkish and UN sources said Saturday.
    The decision comes as two Turkish Airlines pilots were kidnapped in Lebanon on Friday near Beirut airport.

Britain's Foreign Aid Confiscated by Al-Qaeda - Andrew Gilligan (Telegraph-UK)
    Almost half a million pounds of British aid and equipment has been "confiscated" by al-Qaeda's Somali franchise, al-Shabaab, the UK's Department for International Development has admitted.
    "At best, DfID was asleep to the loss of its property and, at worst, that its local partners were colluding with the terrorists," one aid expert said.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • 600 Hamas Operatives Said to Be in Sinai
    Some 600 Hamas operatives have entered Sinai from Gaza since the ouster of President Mohamed Morsi, Egyptian officials said. Egyptian military sources said arms used by terror operatives in Sinai come from Libya and Hamas in Gaza, Al-Ahram reported Sunday. Some of the terrorists caught were trained by Palestinian operatives in Sinai, the report added. Sources said terror groups operating in northern Sinai receive funds from Libya as well as from people in the U.S. (UPI)
        See also Lawless Sinai Shows Risks Rising in Fractured Egypt - Robert F. Worth
    In northern Sinai, mysterious gunmen attack Egyptian military and police facilities every night. On Friday, up to five militants were killed and a rocket launcher was destroyed in an airstrike. After the 2011 revolution in Egypt, the security services withdrew from Sinai, leaving a vacuum where armed Islamists thrived, and some foreign fighters filtered into the area. The militants also gained access to more sophisticated weapons from Libya.
        The biggest concern for the U.S. and Israel is "the possibility that Egypt has lost control over what's going on in the Sinai," said Michael Wahid Hanna, an expert at the Century Foundation. (New York Times)
        See also No Egypt-Israel Coordination on Sinai Airstrike
    On Saturday, an informed source denied claims of coordination between the Egyptian armed forces and Israel in an attack launched on Friday in northern Sinai against "terrorists and jihadists." "The intelligence apparatus found out that there was a plan by jihadists to target several vital spots in Sinai and to destroy the Al-Salam bridge crossing the Suez canal on the second day of Eid El-Fitr [Friday]," said the source. "Egyptian military helicopters attacked the spot, and succeeded in destroying the rockets," which he said were made in Iran. (Al-Ahram-Egypt)
        See also Egyptian Airstrike Kills 12 Militants in North Sinai - Ashraf Sweilam
    Three Egyptian military helicopters fired on militants in Sheik Zuweid in northern Sinai late Saturday, Egyptian officials said Sunday, killing at least 12 and wounding an additional dozen. (Washington Post)
  • Netanyahu to Kerry: Palestinians Inciting Against Israel - Dan Williams
    "Incitement and peace cannot coexist," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wrote in a letter to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry sent over the weekend. Netanyahu referred to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' assertion on July 29 that a future Palestinian state "would not see the presence of a single Israeli - civilian or soldier." He also cited an official Palestinian television broadcast of a goodwill visit by the Barcelona football club to the West Bank last week, during which a sportscaster described Israeli towns and cities as Palestinian - as did a singer who performed.
        "Rather than educate the next generation of Palestinians to live in peace with Israel, this hate education lays the ground for continued violence, terror and conflict," Netanyahu said. (Reuters)
  • Israel Seeks Compromise on EU Settlement Sanctions - Robert Tait
    Israel is seeking talks with EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton in an effort to water down new penalties against Jewish settlements in east Jerusalem and the West Bank. The move is aimed at finding a formula that will prevent Israel from abandoning the Horizon 2020 scientific research program. Israel, the only non-EU member of the project, is expected to contribute £515 million to the fund but is expected to receive much more in subsequent grants.
        Zeev Elkin, the deputy foreign minister, told Israel Radio on Friday: "We are ready to hold a creative dialogue with the Europeans....We are asking the Europeans also to take into consideration the legal and other problems this creates on the Israeli side. We...are ready to negotiate. But if the terms are the way they are today - unprecedented and several steps beyond anything heretofore - then we won't be able to do it." One Israeli official noted: "Europe has taken the 1967 lines and turned them into the be all and end all when even the Palestinians accept that there will be changes to the borders."  (Telegraph-UK)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel to Release 26 Palestinian Prisoners
    An Israeli ministerial committee has approved the release of 26 prisoners in the wake of the Cabinet decision to resume diplomatic negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. The list includes 8 prisoners who were due to be released in the next 3 years and 2 in the next 6 months. If any of the released prisoners return to hostile activity against the State of Israel, they will be returned to continue serving their sentences. (Israel Prime Minister's Office)
        See also Who Is Being Released?
    Israel on Monday published the names of 26 Palestinian prisoners who are to be released this week as part of a U.S.-brokered deal that led to a resumption of Mideast negotiations. 21 were convicted of killings, while others were involved in attempted murder or kidnapping. Half were serving full life terms.
        Among the victims of the prisoners slated for release was Isaac Rotenberg, who was killed in 1994 at the age of 69 by Palestinians who attacked him with axes while he was working at a construction site, said his son, Pini. Rotenberg had survived the Sobibor death camp in Nazi-occupied Poland and fought alongside partisans in World War II before moving to Israel. "It's painful to pay such a heavy price just as a concession for talks," Pini Rotenberg said.
        Other victims included Ian Feinberg, an Israeli lawyer stabbed to death in a European aid office in Gaza City in 1993, and Frederick Steven Rosenfeld, who had moved to Israel from Washington, D.C., in the late 1960s and was stabbed to death while hiking in the West Bank in 1989. "These are not political prisoners, they are terrorists and murderers who will be returning home to a hero's welcome," Gila Molcho, Feinberg's sister, told Israel Channel 2 TV. "They will be celebrating the killers of our brothers and children."  (AP-Washington Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Barak: We Mean What We Say on Iran - Fareed Zakaria
    Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak said in an interview: "With [Iran's] new president, Rouhani, everyone mentions that he was the one responsible for slowing the move toward nuclear military weapons in 2003, 2005. We have to remember why he did it....And that was the essential precondition, where he felt that when the Americans already hit Afghanistan, they already hit Iraq, and they probably…might be the next target. That's the only thing that convinced them. When we say that we are determined to prevent Iran, we literally mean it. And we expect others who say it to mean it."
        "If you decide to give some time for negotiations, do it. But put it within a time line. And the Iranians should know...that they are expected to put an end to the nuclear military program or else....There is no need to embarrass them, but they should know what will follow if they will not take decisions quite urgently to stop it."  (CNN)
  • Egypt's Military Seeks to Tame Sinai - Zvi Bar'el
    The Egyptian army needs intelligence cooperation from the heads of the Bedouin tribes in Sinai, some of whom make their living from aiding the terrorists. In a recent attack, four Bedouins were killed, with funerals that drew a lot of media attention, but in the meantime calls have not been heard for revenge against the army, or to cancel the agreements for cooperation with the military that were reached with great effort.
        Many Bedouin supported the Muslim Brotherhood's Morsi in the last election after receiving promises for development budgets - almost none of which were ever carried out. Reports in the Egyptian media say the military is paying the heads of the Bedouin tribes directly to retain their support, but the divisions between and within the different tribes make it difficult to present a united front against the jihadists, who receive their money from donors outside Egypt and from organizations affiliated with al-Qaeda in Yemen and Sudan. (Ha'aretz)
  • West Bank Stability Could "Vanish in an Instant" - Capt. Barak Raz
    The lack of "successful" terror attacks from the West Bank in recent years should never be confused with a lack of motivation or desire on the part of Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, or the dozens of other organizations that work tirelessly in order to reestablish themselves in the region. The relative calm and security stability that exists in the West Bank today has by and large resulted from an ongoing security effort headed by the IDF. This security effort includes routine security operations (which include the security fence, crossings, and riot containment) and ongoing counterterrorism operations (which include arrests and intelligence-gathering and analysis).
        While many have grown accustomed to the current situation, we mustn't kid ourselves - the violent currents are strong and they are just beneath the surface. The hard-won security stability is the product of over a decade of effective counterterrorism and routine security operations; and it can all vanish in an instant. Capt. Barak Raz has just completed two years as spokesperson for the Judea and Samaria Division of the Israel Defense Forces. (Times of Israel)

No One Wants to Compromise with a Thief - David Suissa (Los Angeles Jewish Journal)

  • No one wants to negotiate - let alone compromise - with a thief. As long as you enter negotiations with the mark of "thief" on your forehead, good luck trying to get the other side to compromise.
  • A crucial truth of the Middle East is that honor trumps all. If you don't defend your honor, you're worthy of contempt, not respect. For several decades now, the Palestinians have successfully sold the world and themselves on the narrative that Israel stole their land.
  • A petition signed by 1,000 jurists from around the world was delivered to EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton asserting that the EU is wrong in holding that Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria are illegal, and that the term "1967 lines" does not exist in international law. Among the signatories are former Justice Minister Yaakov Ne'eman, former UN Ambassador Meir Rosenne, Britain's Baroness Ruth Deech, and law professors Eliav Shochetman and Talia Einhorn, as well as legal scholars from more than 20 countries around the world.
  • If you have a legal right to the land, it makes your concessions worth something. The concessions of a thief are worthless.
  • Israel's former ambassador to Canada and legal adviser to the Foreign Ministry, Alan Baker, explained: "It is true that most of the world thinks so [that the settlements are illegal], but that does not make it true legally. Legally, the clause in the Geneva Convention that they use to say that settlements are illegal was not intended to refer to cases like our settlements, but to prevent the forced transfer of populations by the Nazis. This is not relevant to the Israeli settlements."
  • A three-person committee headed by former Supreme Court Judge Edmond Levy pronounced last year that Judea and Samaria were not occupied territory. The Levy committee showed there's plenty of evidence supporting Israel's legal right to settle the disputed land - including binding international agreements that predate the UN and were never abrogated.

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