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by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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  DAILY ALERT Wednesday,
October 9, 2013

In-Depth Issues:

Supreme Leader Khamenei: Iranian Outreach to U.S. Went Too Far (Kayhan-Iran)
    Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has accepted responsibility for missteps during the visit of the Iranian delegation to the UN General Assembly.
    According to a report Tuesday in Keyhan, the chairman of the national security and foreign policy committee of the Majlis on Sunday asked Zarif about actions that the Supreme Leader had characterized as missteps.
    Zarif responded: "We (Zarif and Rouhani) thought that the talks (with Kerry) and the phone call (with Obama) were within the authority given to us, but it is our understanding that Hazrat Agha (Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei) has criticized us for Dr. Rouhani's phone conversation with Obama."
    "He regards that as the first misstep, and my long meeting with John Kerry...he the other misstep during our trip."

Israel Praises Egyptian Anti-Terror Operations - Barbara Opall-Rome (Defense News)
    IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz on Tuesday praised Egyptian efforts to control terror in Sinai and along its border with Gaza.
    "Sinai, a lawless area that has become a bastion for terror, is being dealt with by elements that we did not necessarily expect just two years ago or less as having a genuine interest in operating there."
    "Surprisingly, the terror that has sprouted there is being challenged every day."
    "Gaza, which got its oxygen from the terror tunnels through Sinai, is dealing with doors now closed to it," he said.
    See also White House Denies Cutting Egypt Aid (USA Today)
    The Obama administration is denying media reports that the U.S. plans to cut aid to Egypt.
    "The reports that we are halting all military assistance to Egypt are false," National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said.

Syria: The Next Breeding Ground for Global Jihad - Reuel Marc Gerecht (Wall Street Journal)
    The anti-American Sunni Islamic militancy in Syria is now hotter and more magnetic than the latent jihadism that came to power with Mullah Omar and the Taliban in 1996.
    Hard-core holy warriors won't leave Americans alone because the U.S. has declined to fight. The U.S. doesn't get to declare the battle against Islamic radicalism over.
    The writer, a former CIA operative, is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

Video - Iran and Hizbullah: Axis of Terror (Israel Defense Forces)
    The Hizbullah terrorist organization plans and executes deadly attacks against civilians around the world.
    It is sponsored, armed, and funded by Iran, which uses it to spread terror in the West.

Tel Aviv University Professor Shares Nobel Prize for Physics (Ha'aretz)
    Belgian Jewish physicist Francois Englert and his British colleague Peter Higgs won the Nobel Prize for physics on Tuesday for predicting the existence of the Higgs boson particle that explains how elementary matter attained the mass to form stars and planets.
    Englert, a Holocaust survivor who is married to an Israeli, has maintained a deep connection with Tel Aviv University for some 30 years.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Iran Readies Offer to Limit Its Nuclear Program - Jay Solomon
    Iran is preparing a package of proposals to halt production of near-weapons-grade nuclear fuel, a key demand of the U.S., according to officials briefed on diplomacy ahead of talks in Geneva next week. Tehran is expected to offer to stop enriching uranium to levels of 20% purity. Iran is also considering offering the closure of an underground uranium-enrichment facility near Qom. In return, Tehran will request that the U.S. and EU begin scaling back sanctions.
        "The Iranians are preparing to go to Geneva with a serious package," said a former Western diplomat who has discussed the incentives with senior Iranian diplomats in recent weeks. "These include limits on the numbers of centrifuges operating, enrichment amounts and the need for verification." But by falling short of a complete shutdown of enrichment, the anticipated Iranian offer could divide the U.S. from its closest Middle East allies, particularly Israel and Saudi Arabia. (Wall Street Journal)
        See also Steinitz: Iran's Proposals Are a "Joke"
    The reported proposals that Iran intends to present at upcoming nuclear talks are a "joke," Israeli Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz said on Wednesday. "Closing the Qom facility means Iran will be able to produce five instead of six nuclear bombs in the first year, and giving up enrichment at 20% is less meaningful now that Iran has 20,000 centrifuges."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israelis, Palestinians Intensify Talks Despite Skepticism - Crispian Balmer and Ali Sawafta
    Israeli and Palestinian negotiators held a new round of talks on Monday, picking up the tempo of their meetings at the request of the U.S. in the face of widespread skepticism that they will ever reach a deal. The two sides resumed direct peace negotiations in late July and have conducted a series of discussions far from the gaze of the media over recent weeks, without any outward hint of the slightest breakthrough.
        However, a senior Palestinian official told Reuters that the talks were intensifying, with the negotiating teams agreeing to meet for up to eight hours a day and to see one another more regularly. "As the Americans requested, we are upping the tempo of the discussions," the official said. "So far we have achieved nothing."  (Reuters)
        See also U.S. Middle East Peace Envoy Expands Staff - Laura Rozen
    Middle East peace envoy Martin Indyk is expanding his team as the U.S. prepares to intensify its role facilitating Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. (Al-Monitor)
  • Turkish President Says Israel's Apology Was "Too Late"
    Turkish President Abdullah Gul told the Israeli daily Yediot Ahronot that Israel apologized to Turkey "too late" after Israeli navy commandoes stormed a Turkish ship on its way to Gaza in May 2010, and nine Turkish activists were killed. "Israel responded to part of our expectations when it apologized. But this step was taken at a late stage; Israel apologized too late. Some of our expectations have not yet been met," Gul said.
        A Turkish diplomatic advisor was reported as saying, "As long as Erdogan is the prime minister of Turkey, there will not be a change for the positive in relations with Israel."  (Zaman-Turkey)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Turkish PM Erdogan Hosts Hamas Leader Mashaal - Herb Keinon
    Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal traveled Tuesday to Turkey for his third visit since September 2012 to meet with Prime Minister Erdogan. A September Pew Research Center poll of Muslim publics found that 73% of Turks held an unfavorable view of Hamas, as opposed to only 5% that viewed the group favorably. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israel Protests to UN over Iran Disarmament Role - Barak Ravid
    Israel on Tuesday protested the appointment of Iran as special rapporteur of the UN General Assembly's Committee on Disarmament and International Security.
        Israel's ambassador to the UN, Ron Prosor, wrote to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon: "It is inconceivable that a state under Security Council sanctions for suspected WMD proliferation activities would be allowed to hold this position. Permitting Iran to serve on the UN's leading disarmament committee is like appointing a drug lord CEO of a pharmaceutical company. How is it possible to entrust the reporting on disarmament to a country that itself is likely to be the subject of the report?"
        "Rather than provide a global stage for Iran's defiance and deception, the UN should shine a spotlight on the regime's ongoing pursuit of nuclear weapons and its support for terrorism across the globe."  (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Hamas and Hizbullah Face Reform or Collapse - Orit Perlov
    Discourse on Palestinian and Lebanese social networks over the past six months indicates a surprising trend. Violent resistance against Israel by Hizbullah and Hamas has lost its legitimacy in both Lebanese and Palestinian society. Both movements were founded in the 1980s as Islamic resistance movements based on the principle of violent struggle against the "Zionist occupation."
        Since the onset of the Arab Spring, these two movements have lost much of their political power, the support of Arab public opinion, and most important, their domestic support. There has been a shift in focus by Arab civil societies from outside to inside - from foreign policy to domestic affairs. Nationalism and Islamism have been replaced by a demand for democratization, rights, and freedom.
        Trend analysis of the social networks reveals that for the first time, the "enemy from within" (Hizbullah and Hamas) is regarded as more dangerous than the "enemy from without" (Israel). Civil society in Lebanon, including parts of the Shiite population, now reflects overwhelming opposition to Hizbullah's policy in Syria and Lebanon. In Gaza, Internet discourse reveals that for the first time, a majority of the population want to overthrow the Hamas regime. The writer, a research fellow at INSS, is the former co-editor of the Israel Foreign Ministry website in Arabic. (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)
  • Nuclear Deal with Iran Possible, But Not Normal Ties with U.S. - Abolhassan Bani-Sadr
    Since the hostage crisis 34 years ago, the Iranian regime has made the U.S. a linchpin of its domestic and international politics. For a still-powerful faction within the leadership, normalization would spell the end of the regime. They will thus try to oppose it in any way they can.
        One of the fears expressed in Rouhani's speech was the open admission that sanctions have been effective in deeply damaging the economy. Another was the admission that the factor of "time" is working against Iran.
        The Iranian regime is not a "regional power" but is actually quite weak. In order to maintain its current geo-political position, Iran has had to take a large amount of money from its impoverished economy and spend it on Syria and Hizbullah. Moreover, the main cause of Iran's current disastrous economic situation is not the result of sanctions, but of sheer ineptitude in management as well as massive financial corruption by the Revolutionary Guards and other actors within the military-financial mafia.
        The current attempt to shift Iran's nuclear policy is the latest desperate move by a regime seeking to ensure that any path toward normalization will be accompanied by a U.S. guarantee not to follow a policy of regime change. The nature and history of post-revolutionary Iran tells me that the chances of normalizing relations between Iran and the U.S. are not very high. At the same time, the chances of reaching the deal over the nuclear issue are well within reach. The writer, who served as president of Iran (1980-1981), lives in exile outside Paris. (Christian Science Monitor)
  • The Rouhani Phenomenon - Aaron David Miller and Mitchel Hochberg
    The emergence of Rouhani is the perfect play against the U.S., because his election as president really does reflect reformist tendencies within the Iranian public and polity. Sanctions are ruining the economy and hold the potential to create serious popular discontent. Why not send abroad a smiling, attractive, and forthcoming president who can tone down the anti-Israeli rhetoric, accept the Holocaust, and deny Iran has a nuclear weapons program, even while Tehran continues to pursue said program?
        The Iranian leadership can lie, dissemble, and pursue this two-track strategy without blinking an eye and without fear of any domestic backlash, all in an effort to see what kind of sanctions relief it can achieve and what it has to pay for it. If the price isn't right, it can recalibrate and effortlessly return to the hard-line rhetoric of Rouhani's predecessor. (Foreign Policy)

Israeli-Egyptian Peace Holding after Forty Years - Ehud Yaari (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)

  • Over recent decades, Egypt has stuck to its traditional anti-Zionist stance while maintaining the March 1979 peace treaty.
  • Efforts to widen various forms of nonmilitary cooperation have invariably met with failure. Israeli assistance with modernizing Egyptian agriculture, sponsored by visionary politician Yousef Wali, was gradually abandoned in the face of strong anti-Israel sentiment. Terrorism-related travel warnings have slowed Israeli tourism to Egypt to a trickle of mainly Arab Israelis vacationing at Red Sea resorts.
  • The peace treaty's most salient benefit is the military and intelligence cooperation between the two countries, which reached unprecedented levels this year. Today, Israeli and Egyptian officers hold almost daily meetings and have established an efficient system of communications.
  • This cooperation stems from a mutual interest in curbing the terrorist factions that have emerged in Sinai. Now that Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood have been ousted, both Israel and Egypt view the Hamas administration in Gaza as an adversary to be contained.
  • The unprecedented deployment of Egyptian troops in central and eastern Sinai through the Agreed Activities Mechanism has shown that the two countries do not need to resort to the highly risky exercise of revising the peace treaty.

    The writer, an international fellow with The Washington Institute, is a Middle East commentator for Israel's Channel Two television.

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