Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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  DAILY ALERT Tuesday,
December 31, 2013

In-Depth Issues:

55 U.S. Universities Condemn ASA Boycott of Israel (JTA)
    At least 55 American universities and colleges have rejected the American Studies Association vote in favor of an academic boycott of Israel.
    The number was tracked by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.
    "This remarkable response is a clear declaration that American academia will not be party to the efforts to promote the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement," Robert Sugarman, its chairman, and Malcolm Hoenlein, its executive vice chairman, said in a statement.

How Al-Qaeda Changed the Syrian War - Sarah Birke (New York Review of Books)
    Since its appearance last April, the rebel organization known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) has changed the course of the Syrian war.
    By gaining power, it has forced the U.S. government and its European allies to rethink their strategy of intermittent support to the moderate opposition and rhetoric calling for the ouster of Syrian President Assad.
    After months of shunning Islamist groups in Syria, the Obama administration has now said it may need to talk to the Islamist Front, a new coalition of hard-line rebel groups, in part because they might prove a buffer against the more extreme ISIS.
    See also Islamic Front Spurns U.S. Outreach - Josh Rogin (Daily Beast)
    The Obama administration's outreach to the Islamic Front in Syria earlier this month failed due to a flawed plan and unrealistic goals, insiders say.
    "The Islamic Front did not meet with the United States because of certain preconditions the U.S. had insisted on, as well as the fact that the Islamic Front wholly rejects a second Geneva" conference with the Assad regime, said Mouaz Moustafa, the executive director of the Syrian Emergency Task Force.

Israel's Population Reaches 8 Million - Benji Rosen (Jerusalem Post)
    The population of Israel is 8,132,000, the Central Bureau of Statistics announced Sunday.
    75.2% of the population (6.1 million) is Jewish, while 20.6% (1.6 million) are Muslims, Arab-Christians, and Druse.

19,200 Jews Immigrated to Israel in 2013 - Sam Sokol (Jerusalem Post)
    19,200 Jews immigrated to Israel in 2013, a rise of 260 from the previous year, according to figures released by the Jewish Agency and the Immigrant Absorption Ministry on Sunday.
    There were 7,520 immigrants from the former Soviet Union, 3,000 immigrants from North America, and 1,240 from Latin America.
    3,120 French Jews moved to Israel in 2013, up from 1,916 in 2012.
    There were 510 from the UK, 265 from New Zealand and Australia, 160 from Hungary, and 74 from Turkey.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Kerry to Propose Outline for Mideast Peace Talks
    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will propose a framework for negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians to reach a final status agreement when he travels to the Middle East this week. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said Monday that the framework aims to serve as a guideline to address all core issues between the two sides. (VOA News)
        See also Netanyahu Seeks to Lower Expectations for "Framework Agreement" - Barak Ravid
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said last week that the purpose of Kerry's "framework agreement" was to prevent the negotiations from blowing up and allow them to be extended for another year. One minister said he understood from Netanyahu that both Israel and the Palestinians would be able to say they accepted the American proposal as a basis for negotiations while simultaneously stressing that they had some reservations, which they wouldn't be required to detail.
        On Monday, Netanyahu described the American paper as "principles for conducting the negotiations, not a new proposal for solving the conflict."  (Ha'aretz)
  • Jubilant Scenes as Israel Releases 26 Palestinians Convicted of Deadly Attacks - Emma Thomas
    Israel released 26 Palestinian prisoners convicted in deadly attacks against Israelis in the third of a four-stage package drawn up by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to restart Mideast peace talks. The prisoners received hero's welcomes on their return to the West Bank and Gaza with officials and jubilant relatives lining up to greet them.
        In the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Jabal al-Mukaber, the sound of kettle drums filled the air as residents braced for the return of Jamal Abu Jamal, who has spent nearly 20 years in prison for a stabbing attack. Women holding Abu Jamal's picture sang and danced and praised Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas for securing his release. (Daily Mail-UK)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Netanyahu: Palestinians Must Recognize Jewish State - Moran Azulay
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday: "The State of Israel has a strategic interest in the existence of political negotiations. Both sides have taken it upon themselves to avoid unilateral steps in the international arena."
        Netanyahu said a deal with the Palestinians would be signed "only if Israel will be recognized as the nation-state of the Jewish people, and only if the Palestinians give up their dream of the right of return or any other demand on the territory of the Jewish nation. Above all, (an agreement) will be possible if Israel will be able to defend itself in the face of any threat it faces....In any case, any agreement which will be reached will be put to a national referendum."  (Ynet News)
  • Ya'alon: Better a Boycott than Rocket Fire on Ben-Gurion Airport - Stuart Winer
    Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon on Monday issued a scathing rebuke against pressure for Israel to pull out of the West Bank without adequate security arrangements. "If the alternative to a European boycott is rockets from Nablus, Jenin and Ramallah on our cities, on our strategic home front, on Ben-Gurion Airport, then...I prefer the European boycott."
        Ya'alon also castigated Western policies towards the Middle East, which he said were based on "ignorance and unfamiliarity with the Middle East, its demographics and its mentality, its culture...naivete, wishful thinking, patronization and other conceptual mistakes."
        Ya'alon also cast doubts on Palestinian long-term intentions in the peace process. PA President Mahmoud Abbas has never actually said that signing a peace treaty will bring an end to the conflict, he said. "They are only trying to get what they can and then they will continue," adding that the biggest problem preventing reconciliation is the continued education empathizing with anti-Israel terrorism within Palestinian society. (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Radical Islam Behind Bombings in Volgograd - Ilan Berman
    In April 2009, Vladimir Putin publicly declared his government's struggle against radical Islam a mission accomplished. Yet Islamic militants have staged a savage comeback. Spearheading the violence has been the Caucasus Emirate, a ruthless terrorist group which seeks "the liberation of the Caucasus" as a prelude to the creation of a regional caliphate in Central Asia.
        Extreme fundamentalism is also on the rise in Russia's heartland, such as Tatarstan and Bashkortostan, both majority-Muslim republics near the Ural Mountains. Motorcades bearing the black banners of jihad are now a regular occurrence on the streets of cities in those regions.
        The recent bombings in Volgograd have focused world attention on the looming security challenge to the winter Olympics that begin on Feb. 7 in Sochi, 400 miles from Volgograd. Over the summer, Doku Umarov, the emir of the Caucasus Emirate, publicly vowed to attack what he has termed the "satanic" games. The writer is vice president of the American Foreign Policy Council. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Unrealistic Expectations for Iran - Mark Hibbs
    Unrealistic expectations about the Iran deal need to be revised downward. Iran and the West will continue to have major differences whether or not there is a final nuclear pact. The November deal will not lead to a transformation of the West's relations with Iran, and the act of signing a deal will not mean Washington and Tehran have somehow overcome their multiple fundamental differences and become partners. The writer is a senior associate in Carnegie's Nuclear Policy Program. (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace)
  • The Jordan Valley's Fate - Editorial
    Beginning with the 1967 Allon Plan, Israeli control over the Jordan Valley has been a centerpiece of the security establishment's conception of the Jewish state's essential defense needs. In October 1995, almost two years after signing the Oslo Accords, then-prime minister Yitzhak Rabin declared that "the security border of the State of Israel will be located in the Jordan Valley, in the broadest meaning of that term."
        63% of Israelis said they opposed an Israeli pullout from the Jordan Valley in a survey conducted in October; 74% were opposed to having international forces in the Jordan Valley instead of IDF troops. Retired Marine Corps Gen. John Allen, tasked by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry with formulating a solution in the Jordan Valley, has reportedly accepted the idea that Israeli, not American forces, must remain on the ground there. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Abbas Says Jordan Valley "a Red Line"
    PA President Mahmoud Abbas said Tuesday that the Jordan Valley was a "red line" for the Palestinians. "This land is ours and will remain Palestinian land, and everybody should know that this is a red line that can't be crossed."  (Ma'an News-PA)

Hamas: Abbas Does Not Represent the Palestinians in Negotiations - Jonathan D. Halevi (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

  • American policy regarding the peace process is based on the premise that it is possible to reach an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians represented by the PLO-Palestinian Authority (PA) under the leadership of Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen). However, the PA does not represent all of the components of the Palestinian people, nor does it have a mandate to make decisions on the core political issues in the name of the Palestinian people.
  • The Hamas movement, which in the last elections (2006) won an overwhelming majority in the Palestinian Parliament, uncompromisingly opposes any negotiations with Israel, does not accept the PA as the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, and has reiterated its firm stance that any agreement reached with Israel will be worthless and will not represent the position of the Palestinian people.
  • The American initiative ignores the fundamental situation in the Palestinian arena, and the basic fact that the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah headed by Mahmoud Abbas does not enjoy the status that would allow it to make historic decisions in the name of the Palestinian people, and certainly not decisions that are not in line with the Palestinian consensus, which supports "the return of Jerusalem to Arab and Islamic rule" and the "right of return."

    Lt. Col. (ret.) Jonathan D. Halevi, a former advisor to the Policy Planning Division of the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, is a senior researcher at the Jerusalem Center.

        See also Is Abbas Being Asked to Sign His Death Warrant? - Ali Salim
    Mahmoud Abbas undoubtedly knows that the instant he signs an agreement with Israel, the Palestinian terrorist organizations will assassinate him. No Palestinian leader will agree to the final, definite end of the conflict. If elections were held today in the West Bank, Hamas and other Salafist-jihadi organizations would win. (Gatestone Institute)

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