Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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December 30, 2013

In-Depth Issues:

U.S. Did Not Want Israel to Release Palestinian Who Murdered American - Nadav Shragai (Israel Hayom)
    As Washington pressured Israel to release terrorists who murdered dozens of Israelis before the signing of the Oslo Accords, it expressed reservations about the release of one man - Othman Amar Mustafa.
    While the U.S. has no qualms about lobbying for the release of those who have murdered dozens of Israelis, it has a hard time accepting the release of a terrorist who killed an American citizen. In 1989, Mustafa killed Steven Rosenfeld, a native-born New Yorker.
    Nearly half of the 13,000 terrorists whom Israel has released since 1985 resumed terrorist activities either as planners of attacks, executors of attacks, or accessories.
    The Americans don't need the Israeli precedent to understand that of the 603 prisoners who have been released from Guantanamo Bay, 100 resumed their careers in terrorism, while another 74 are suspected of going back to terrorism.
    It's not hard to understand why the rate of terrorist recidivism is so high among the Palestinians. The terrorists are welcomed back into an atmosphere that exalts and lionizes acts of terrorism and jihad.
    Just last week, in a "cultural" event hosted by PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas, citation certificates were awarded to a number of terrorists convicted of murdering Israelis. These men were released from prison two months ago.

Hizbullah "Occupies" Lebanon - Eyad Abu Shakra (Al-Arabiya)
    Hizbullah is using its force of arms to compel Lebanon's political parties and groups to cover all of its policies which, in fact, are part of the Iranian regional project.
    Despite its escalating anti-Israeli rhetoric, Hizbullah today is killing Syrians - far from the Israeli front.

India to Buy 15 UAVs from Israel (The News-Pakistan)
    India's cabinet committee on security headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has approved the procurement of 15 Heron unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) from Israel to boost surveillance capabilities along the borders with China and Pakistan, Indian media reported.

PA Security Commander Sentenced to 15 Years for Embezzlement - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    Col. Rashid Abu Shbak, who headed the PA's Preventive Security Force in Gaza between 2002 and 2006, was sentenced in absentia by a Palestinian court in Ramallah on Sunday to 15 years in prison after being convicted of embezzlement.
    The court found Abu Shbak, who has been living in Egypt for the past seven years, guilty of embezzling nearly $1 million during the years he served as commander of the Preventive Security Force.
    Abu Shbak served as deputy commander of the force for many years under ousted Fatah operative Muhammad Dahlan.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Rockets from Lebanon Smash Down in Israel; IDF Returns Fire - Mike Schwartz
    Rockets coming from Lebanon smashed into northern Israel on Sunday near the town of Kiryat Shmona, the Israel Defense Forces said. Israeli forces fired toward the source of the launch. (CNN)
        See also Rocket Fire from Lebanon - Ron Ben-Yishai
    Those launching the rockets from Lebanon on northern Israel on Sunday were apparently aiming to force Hizbullah to bolster its forces in the south of the country instead of sending them to help the Assad regime in Syria. It's fairly clear from the rocket launch site that this was not the work of professionals. Just one of the five rockets landed in Israeli territory. This was clearly not the work of Hizbullah. (Ynet News)
  • Israel's Christian Awakening - Adi Schwartz
    This year has seen the rise of an independent voice for Israel's Christian community, which is increasingly trying to assert its separate identity. An informal grass-roots movement, prompted in part by the persecution of Christians elsewhere in the region since the Arab Spring, wants to cooperate more closely with Israeli Jewish society - which could mean a historic change in attitude toward the Jewish state. "Israel is my country, and I want to defend it," says Henry Zaher, an 18-year-old Christian from the village of Reineh. "The Jewish state is good for us."
        Of Israel's 8 million citizens, about 130,000 are Arabic-speaking Christians (mostly Greek Catholic and Greek Orthodox), and 1.3 million are Arab Muslims. Fear of being considered traitors often drove Christians in Israel to proclaim their full support for the Palestinian cause. But in mixed Muslim-Christian cities such as Nazareth, many Christians say they feel outnumbered and insecure.
        Rev. Gabriel Naddaf, 40, a former spokesman of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate in Jerusalem, backs greater Christian integration into the Jewish state and increasing the number of Christians joining the Israel Defense Forces. "Israel takes care of us, and if not Israel, who will defend us? We love this country, and we see the army as a first step in becoming more integrated with the state."  (Wall Street Journal)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • List of Palestinian Terrorists Freed by Israel
    26 Palestinian prisoners are to be released on Monday night in the third phase of a four-stage series of releases agreed on when peace talks with the Palestinians were resumed. Most of the prisoners were convicted of murdering Israeli civilians, soldiers or Palestinians suspected of collaborating with Israel. They include:
        Yakoub Muhammad Ouda Ramadan, Afana Mustafa Ahmad Muhammad, and Da'agna Nufal Mahmad Mahmoud, convicted of stabbing to death Sara Sharon, 37, in Holon. Kamil Awad Ali Ahmad, convicted of kidnapping, torturing and murdering 15 Palestinians suspected of collaborating with Israel. Othman Amar Mustafa, convicted of murdering Steven Rosenfeld, 48, a U.S.-born immigrant to Israel.
        Abu Mohsin Khaled Ibrahim Jamal, convicted of stabbing to death Shlomo Yahya, 76, a gardener in a public park in Moshav Kadima. Sawafta Sudqi Abdel Razeq Mouhlas, who stabbed Yosef Malka to death during an attempt to rob his home in Haifa. Barham Fawzi Mustafa Nasser, who stabbed his former employer Moshe Edri in the back. He said he had carried out the murder to prove that he was worthy of joining Hamas.
        Mahmud Muhammad Salman, who strangled Shai Shoker to death. Mahmoud Ibrahim Abu-Ali Faiz, convicted of murdering Ronny Levy. Zaki Rami Barbakh Jawdat, convicted of murdering Yosef Zandani.
        Abu Hadir Muhammad Yassin Yassin, who shot Yigal Shahaf, 24, in the head while Shahaf and his wife were walking through Jerusalem's Old City. Muammar Ata Mahmoud Mahmoud and Salah Khalil Ahmad Ibrahim, convicted of murdering Menahem Stern, 64, an Israel Prize-winning history professor at Hebrew University. (Times of Israel)
  • Report: U.S. Framework Deal to Trade "Jewish" Israel for 1967 Lines - Elhanan Miller
    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will offer a framework agreement that proposes Israeli recognition of the 1967 lines as a basis for the future Palestinian state, in return for Palestinian recognition of Israel as the state of the Jewish people, Palestinian sources told the Saudi daily Al-Watan on Sunday. Israel "will need to live with a text speaking of the 1967 borders, and the Palestinians, for their part, will need to live with a text speaking of Israel's Jewishness," a source said. Kerry is to visit the region later this week.
        Talks have hit a roadblock, with Israel's demand to leave IDF forces in the Jordan Valley, and Palestinian demands for the release of Israeli citizens jailed for terrorist acts. (Times of Israel)
        See also Senior Palestinian Official: No Peace Deal Will Emerge
    Senior Palestinian official Nabil Shaath told Ma'an on Saturday that no peace deal would emerge after the nine-month time limit "because of what Israel and the United States are proposing." He said he expects 2014 to be dedicated to reactivating Palestinian resistance, "as negotiations have failed to make a single step forward."
        He added: "The minimum of what we were offered in the year 2000 hasn't been reached, not to mention that the U.S. has failed to exert pressure on Israel to guarantee Palestinian rights." Moreover, "we will not recognize Israel as Jewish state." "However, we should choose a smart resistance which will not cause us calamities."  (Ma'an News-PA)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Misreading the Direction of History - Shimon Shamir
    Last year, when Mohamed Morsi assumed the presidency of Egypt, the White House warmly embraced the Muslim Brotherhood regime, a policy decision that meant abandoning Washington's veteran allies in Egypt and arousing concern among its allies in the Arab world. It also meant ignoring the anti-Western essence of the Brotherhood.
        President Obama explained that "you have to be on the right side of history." His argument was that everywhere in the region Islamic movements are on the rise, they express the will of the masses and therefore democratization means Islamization; the U.S. must compromise with this change because it reflects a one-way historical process.
        It took only one year for the Muslim Brotherhood regime in Egypt to collapse when confronted by a broad popular movement that won the support of the army. Islamic forces have been checked in other countries as well, such as Jordan and Tunisia.
        It is definitely right to aspire "to be on the right side of history," but only if you are aware of its complexity and acknowledge the limitations of reading it. The writer is a professor emeritus of Middle East history, and a former Israeli ambassador to Egypt and Jordan. (Ha'aretz)
  • How the Middle East Map Changed in 2013 - Jacques Neriah
    Since the beginning of the "Arab Spring," a number of striking changes have occurred in the Arab world. First and foremost, the Arab Spring represents the end of pan-Islamism championed by Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood, and the beginning of an open war between Sunnis and Shias. The civil war in Syria triggered a negative reaction towards Iran, which became the enemy of the Sunni world and has been treated as such ever since.
        In Arab eyes, the U.S. administration committed a major error when it "betrayed" a 30-year ally - Mubarak - and favored instead the Muslim Brotherhood. Another U.S. mistake in Arab eyes was to refrain from punishing Syria for its use of chemical weapons. The Arabs suspect that the U.S. did not attack because it wanted to mend fences with Iran. In the Arab perception, the old alliance between Iran from the time of the Shah's regime and the U.S. was resurrected at the expense of the traditional alliance with the moderates of the Arab world. Col. (ret.) Dr. Jacques Neriah was formerly Foreign Policy Advisor to Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Deputy Head for Assessment of Israeli Military Intelligence. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

Open Letter to Tehran - Mohamad Chatah (Wall Street Journal)

Mohamad Chatah, a former Lebanese finance minister, wrote the following open letter last week to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. Chatah was killed by a car bomb in Beirut Friday before he could gather signatures from members of the Lebanese parliament.

  • Iran's Revolutionary Guard continues to maintain a strategic military relationship with Hizbullah, a military organization that Iran's Revolutionary Guard was instrumental in establishing 30 years ago. Today, 23 years after the end of the civil war and the disbanding of all other Lebanese militias, Hizbullah continues to maintain an independent and heavily armed military force outside the authority of the state. This is happening with the direct support and sponsorship of your country.
  • The presence of any armed militia in parallel to the legitimate armed forces of the state and operating outside the state's control and political authority is not only in conflict with the Lebanese constitution, but also with the very definition of a sovereign state - any state. Hizbullah's blatant protection of five of its members who had been indicted by the Special international Tribunal for Lebanon in the case of the late Rafiq Hariri assassination has compounded the suspicions and mistrust.
  • Over the past year, Hizbullah's direct participation in the conflict in Syria has greatly aggravated Lebanon's already precarious situation. It is, in effect, an invitation to those on the receiving end of Hizbullah's bombs and bullets in Syria to bring the war back to Hizbullah's homeland - our common homeland. Regrettably, this is happening with the support of, and in coordination with, the Islamic Republic of Iran.

        See also Who Killed Mohamad Chatah? - Lina Khatib
    The assassination of former Prime Minister Saad Hariri aide and former minister Mohamad Chatah in Beirut on December 27 is about more than internal Lebanese affairs. Saudi Arabia's allies in the country, the March 14 Alliance, are fragmented, weak, and have been the targets of a series of political assassinations that began with the killing of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in 2005.
        On the other hand, Iran's allies, namely Assad's regime and Hizbullah, feel that they are winning the day. Iran, meanwhile, sees in negotiations with the U.S. a glimmer of hope in achieving global recognition for its position as a regional leader in the Middle East with a "legitimate" stake in other countries' affairs.
        Chatah's assassination, as a key March 14 figure, is also about political pressure on a regional scale, with Iran asserting itself in the face of Saudi Arabia. The writer is director of the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut. (Al-Jazeera)
        See also Lebanese Ex-Minister Buried to Anti-Hizbullah Chants - Erika Solomon and Laila Bassam (Reuters)
        See also Saudi Arabia to Inject $3 Billion into Lebanese Army - Susanna Capelouto (CNN)

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