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January 17, 2014

In-Depth Issues:

UNESCO Pulls Jewish Exhibit after Last-Minute Protest from Arab League - Dovid Efune (Algemeiner)
    UNESCO, the UN Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization, has pulled a Jewish exhibit two years in the making, entitled "People, Book, Land - The 3,500-Year Relationship of the Jewish People and the Land of Israel," after a zero hour protest from the Arab League.
    The exhibit, which was created by the Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC) together with UNESCO, was to open on Jan. 20, 2014, at UNESCO's Paris headquarters.
    The invitations had gone out, and the exhibition material was in place. The display was co-sponsored by Israel, Canada and Montenegro.
    Ten days prior to the suspension of the exhibit, the U.S. declined co-sponsorship, citing "this sensitive juncture in the ongoing Middle East peace process."
    Rabbi Marvin Hier, Dean of the SWC, said, "We made a clear attempt to work with them [the Arabs at the UN]...and still, in the end, the Arabs protested and they kicked us out."
    UNESCO "is not supposed to be a place of censorship," Hier said, "It is not supposed to deny one nation the right to their history."
    "The Arab Group's protest is not over any particular content in the exhibition, but rather the very idea of it - that the Jewish people...trace their historical and cultural roots in that land for three and a half millennia."

    See also UNESCO Support a Bad Investment for U.S. Taxpayers - Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (Sun Sentinel-Florida)
    U.S. laws precludes us from funding UNESCO or any other body at the UN that recognizes a Palestinian state.
    Now the Obama administration is lobbying Congress to undermine these laws by restoring full or partial funding by asking for a waiver to this legal prohibition.
    The administration is seeking to restore almost $80 million for this fiscal year and pay nearly $250 million more in arrears to an agency that has an anti-U.S., anti-Israel agenda, that works against our interests at every turn.
    By even partially funding UNESCO, we are tacitly agreeing to undermine the peace process by granting de facto recognition to a Palestinian state without it first coming to an agreement with Israel to resolve the conflict.
    Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) is chairman emeritus of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and current chairman of its Middle East and North Africa subcommittee.

Over 1,000 Killed in Syrian Rebel Infighting (AP)
    Two weeks of fighting in Syria between the al-Qaeda-linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and other rebel forces has killed 1,069 since the clashes began Jan. 3, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Thursday.
    UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said that her office has received reports of "a succession of mass executions of civilians and fighters who were no longer participating in hostilities in Aleppo, Idlib and Raqqa by hard-line armed opposition groups in Syria, in particular by ISIL.
    She warned that such executions violate international humanitarian law.

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In Turkey, Terror Probe Infuriates Prime Minister - Abigail R. Esman (Investigative Project on Terrorism)
    On Tuesday, two senior al-Qaeda leaders were arrested in Kilis Province in Turkey during a large-scale counterterrorism sweep by Turkish police. The arrests were conducted alongside a raid on the Van province offices of the Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH).
    Hours after the arrests, the government dismissed the two police chiefs who had overseen the operation, and reassigned several others. Moreover, according to the Turkish daily Hurriyet, "bodyguards of the eight prosecutors who launched the anti-al-Qaeda operations" were also replaced.
    Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arınc criticized the raid on IHH offices, denying any connection between the organization and al-Qaeda.
    The IHH has frequently been linked to Hamas and to al-Qaeda. It is alleged to have taken part in the plot to bomb Los Angeles International Airport on New Year's Eve, 1999. Turkish authorities even launched an investigation on that point just two years ago.
    Many also know IHH for its involvement in the 2010 Mavi Marmara incident in Gaza.
    Last year, Germany banned the IHH on the basis of its terror ties.

Exposing the Israel Bashers - Abraham H. Foxman (Huffington Post)
    Well over 180 university presidents and a number of prominent academic associations say that efforts to boycott Israeli academic institutions are just plain wrong.
    They rightly say an academic boycott flies in the face of the greater good achieved through the open exchange of ideas.
    The writer is National Director of the Anti-Defamation League.

Google Puts Fast Israeli 4G Chips in its Newest Notebook - David Shamah (Times of Israel)
    The Israeli start-up Altair Semiconductor has won a deal to install its 4G (LTE) communications chipset in new Chromebooks produced by Google and HP.
    The 4G communications standard is the next big thing in cellphone data communications. Currently, most people still use devices that support the 3G standard.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Netanyahu Slams EU Settlement Critics as Hypocrites - Aron Heller
    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told journalists Thursday that continued construction in existing settlements was "part of the deal" when talks began and questioned the motives of those who were outraged now. "I think this is a bogus claim," he said. "I think that this is hypocritical."
        Netanyahu questioned why the EU protested the construction of "a few houses," but did not summon Palestinian diplomats over Palestinian misdeeds. "When did the EU call in the Palestinian ambassadors to complain about the incitement that calls for Israel's destruction?"
        "I think it is time to inject some balance and fairness into this discussion. Because I think this imbalance and this bias against Israel doesn't advance peace," he added. "I think it pushed peace further away because it tells the Palestinians, 'Basically you can do anything you want, say anything you want, and you won't be held accountable.'"
        "The real issue is not the settlements, is not the Palestinian state. The real issue was and always has been the Jewish state - the persistent refusal to accept a nation-state for the Jewish people by our adversaries, whom we want to turn into peace partners."  (AP-Washington Post)
        See also Netanyahu: A Jew-Free Palestinian State Would Be Ethnic Cleansing - Joshua Levitt
    A "Jew-free" Palestinian state, now being contemplated in peace talks, would be tantamount to ethnic cleansing, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Canada's CTV. While Arabs in Israel have full civic rights, "in the Palestinian state, the way its being contemplated, no Jew can live there, it has to be Jew-free, ethnic cleansing. Well, what is that? There are Arabs who live here, but they can't contemplate Jews living there."
        "It's absurd that we're willing to recognize, that I'm willing to recognize the Palestinians, but in exchange, they're not willing to recognize the Jewish state, the nation state of the Jewish people. There's something wrong there."  (Algemeiner)
  • Iran Moves to Assert Clout on Syria - Farnaz Fassihi
    Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif is lobbying Middle Eastern heads of state to accept Tehran's position on Syria ahead of an international conference to find a diplomatic solution to the war there. Iran has steadfastly supported the Assad regime with military, financial and political backing. Although Tehran hasn't been invited to the meeting, Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps and Hizbullah train and command many of the fighters that have sustained Assad's reign.
        "There's no possibility of a peaceful resolution in Syria as long as Assad remains in power [and] there's no diplomatic way to get rid of Assad without Iran," said Karim Sadjadpour, Iran expert for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Report: UAE, Iran Reach Accord on Disputed Hormuz Islands - Awad Mustafa
    The United Arab Emirates and Iran have reached an agreement on three disputed islands near the Strait of Hormuz after secret talks with the help of the Omani government over the past six months, a high-level UAE source said.
        "A deal has been reached and finalized on the Greater and Lesser Tunbs. For now, two of the three islands are to return to the UAE while the final agreement for Abu Musa is being ironed out. Iran will retain the sea bed rights around the three islands while the UAE will hold sovereignty over the land."
        "Oman will grant Iran a strategic location on Ras Musandam mountain, which is a very strategic point overlooking the whole gulf region. In return for Ras Musandam, Oman will receive free gas and oil from Iran once a pipeline is constructed within the coming two years."
        The strategically located islands are close to the Strait of Hormuz, the world's most important oil chokepoint. The islands were occupied by Iran's Shah Pehlavi just before the declaration in 1971 of the establishment of the UAE. (Defense News)
  • Iran Hangs 40 People in Two Weeks Amid Surge in Executions
    Iran has carried out a total of 40 executions since the beginning of 2014, with at least 33 carried out in the past week alone, Amnesty International said Thursday. "The spike in the number of executions carried out so far this month in Iran is alarming. The Iranian authorities' attempts to change their international image are meaningless if at the same time executions continue to increase," said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty International's Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa. Public executions in Iran are usually carried out using cranes which lift the condemned person by a noose around the neck in front of a crowd of spectators. (Amnesty International)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Countdown to New Gaza Operation Has Begun - Amos Harel
    Since the beginning of January there have been 16 incidents of rocket and mortar fire from Gaza - an average of one a day. They have been the work of Islamic Jihad, which fired six rockets Wednesday night at Ashkelon, and other groups inspired by al-Qaeda. From the moment the pace of rocket fire from Gaza returns to one a day, the countdown begins toward the next round of fighting. Daily rocket fire prompts calls for a resolute response.
        No Hamas plan aimed at confrontation with the Israel Defense Forces is seen in Israel, but a certain level of laxity in enforcement of the cease-fire in Gaza could bring about such a confrontation. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Israel Warns Hamas over Upsurge in Rocket Fire from Gaza - Crispian Balmer
    A senior Israeli military official blamed a recent upsurge in rocket fire out of Gaza on militant groups backed by Iran. "Both sides understand that we will not return to the days prior to the 2012 operation....We won't go back to a situation where three or four times a week the red alert alarm sounds in southern Israeli towns."
        He speculated that the groups were receiving thousands of dollars from Iran for every successful missile launched. "However, Hamas has proven its ability to prevent terror attacks out of Gaza, so we can demand that they act like a ruler and maintain order."  (Reuters)
  • Israeli Foreign Minister Summons European Envoys over Anti-Israel "Bias"
    After Britain, France, Italy and Spain called in Israeli ambassadors to hear protests against Israel's construction in the major settlement blocs and Jerusalem neighborhoods beyond the pre-1967 lines, on Friday Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman summoned the ambassadors of the four European countries to admonish "the one-sided position they constantly take against Israel and in favor of the Palestinians."
        "Israel is making great effort to allow the dialogue with the Palestinians to continue and the position these states are taking, beyond it being biased and unbalanced, is significantly harming the chances of reaching an accord," he said. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Prosor: UN Continues to Oil Palestinian Propaganda Machine - Yitzhak Benhorin
    Israel's ambassador to the UN, Ron Prosor, slammed the UN's launch of the International "Year of Solidarity" with the Palestinians. Prosor said, "The United Nations continues to oil the Palestinian propaganda machine and produce highly publicized events on their behalf, rather than putting an end to Palestinian incitement."
        "The UN is now the primary platform for Palestinian propaganda. The organization allocates endless resources to advancing lies and half-truths of the Palestinian leadership instead of dealing with pressing issues facing the international community and the Middle East region."
        "The Palestinians continue to educate an entire generation to hate Israel. The terrorism from the PA's territories into Israel has doubled in the past year, and I have yet to hear the UN propose solidarity with the Israeli victims of terror."  (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

    Peace Process

  • Aiming for Israeli-Palestinian Peace - Elliott Abrams
    A comprehensive Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement is not possible right now and there's a better way forward. Realistic moves on the ground that help prepare the Palestinian people for statehood are in fact a better bet than the search for that elusive handshake on the White House lawn.
        Supporting the construction of a Palestinian state from the ground up, strengthening Palestinian institutions, and seeking pragmatic Israeli-Palestinian cooperation should be the center of U.S. policy now, not the handmaiden to a policy aimed at a comprehensive but currently unattainable final peace agreement. The writer, a former U.S. deputy national security adviser, is a senior fellow for Middle Eastern studies at CFR. (Council on Foreign Relations)
  • Lessons to Be Learned from the Kerry-Ya'alon Incident - Herb Keinon
    What was lost in the Kerry-Ya'alon incident was what Ya'alon said: that Kerry is obsessed with the Israeli-Palestinian issue; that the negotiations are being conducted not between Israel and the Palestinians, but by each side with the Americans, not a healthy way to negotiate; and that the security arrangements the U.S. is recommending are simply not acceptable.
        Ya'alon's comment that it was unwise to run the negotiations through the Americans, rather than directly between the sides, is not outlandish, nor is his claim that Israel seems to have made all the concessions up until this point. Is a pledge not to wage diplomatic war with Israel in diplomatic forums around the world - what the Palestinians "gave" to enter the talks - equal to Israel's release of 104 convicted terrorists? And as to Ya'alon's remark about the unacceptability of the U.S. security plan, is it not his job, as defense minister, to voice his reservations?
        No one should be mistaken: What Ya'alon said rather inelegantly, many other Israelis are thinking. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Kerry's Peace Process Double Standards - Khaled Abu Toameh
    It is interesting how one comment from an Israeli minister has managed to strain relations between the U.S. Administration and Israel, while fiery rhetoric and street demonstrations against Kerry and Obama in the Palestinian territories and Arab capitals are completely ignored by Washington. Officials representing the Palestinian Authority have been denouncing Kerry almost on a daily basis over the past few weeks. But these condemnations do not seem to bother the State Department.
        Just last month, Yasser Abed Rabbo, the PLO's Secretary-General and one of Abbas' closest advisors, said, "Kerry's framework agreement is very dangerous." Why, then, is Kerry not just as offended by the Arab condemnations? If Kerry really cares about the peace process, he also needs to ask the PA and Arab governments to lower the tone and stop inciting against him and the U.S. (Gatestone Institute)
  • Sharon's Legacy of Defensible Borders - Dan Diker
    Will Sharon be remembered as a security hawk who morphed into a political dove? Did Sharon's insistence on establishing the security fence in the West Bank near the pre-1967 lines reflect his intention to establish Israel's eastern border?
        Col. (res.) Danny Tirza, former IDF chief of regional strategic planning and the architect of the security fence, told Army Radio on January 12 that Sharon never intended the fence to be a political border. Rather, Sharon considered the security barrier a last line of defense against terrorist infiltrators. Tirza added that Sharon's security considerations in determining Israel's eastern border included his commitment to defensible borders and retaining the Jordan Rift Valley, including the West Bank hill ridge.
        Dr. Raanan Gissin, Sharon's former media adviser and longtime friend, told this writer on January 12 that many observers and analysts confuse what he called Sharon's tactical moves, such as the Gaza withdrawal, with his strategic commitment to Israel's security. Gissin said, "Sharon knew that Israel would need to keep the Jordan Valley and the West Bank hill ridge, because that was a strategic necessity to defend the country."  (Jerusalem Post)

  • Iran

  • The Internal Iranian Struggle in the Aftermath of the Geneva Nuclear Agreement - Lt. Col. (ret.) Michael Segall
    In the short time President Hassan Rouhani has been in office, the Revolutionary Guard commanders have had considerable success in constraining his hesitant efforts toward a domestic transformation, while repeatedly warning that they will not accept the use of the nuclear agreement to facilitate far-reaching domestic, regional, and international changes (mainly toward the U.S.) that would divert Iran from the path they have ordained for it.
        In any case, Rouhani is part of the establishment, and his room to maneuver in effecting major domestic changes is limited to begin with. His charm offensive in the West does not add up to a real change in Iran, given the strong status of the Revolutionary Guard. The writer is a senior analyst at the Jerusalem Center and the Terrogence Company. (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Iran Goads the Gullible West - Melanie Phillips
    One of the more notable characteristics of the world jihadi community is how proud - indeed, positively boastful - they are about their murderous intent - presumably because they really do believe they are fulfilling a sacred mission. From Gaza to Mogadishu, from Ramallah to Tehran, those bent on holy war repeatedly announce their support for and encouragement of the defeat of the West, the murder of Jews, and the destruction of Israel. Yet the West's politicians and media ignore the open expressions of incitement or aggression by such people even when they are spoken in plain English.
        Examples of this by the Palestinian Authority abound, including the refusal to accept Israel as a Jewish state; the intention of ethnically cleansing a future Palestinian state of Jews; and the true purpose of such a state as a staging post for the ultimate elimination of Israel. None of these statements causes the U.S., Britain or the EU to miss a beat in continuing to treat the PA and Fatah as "moderates," and the Israelis as the true impediments to a peaceful solution.
        Now this same Western cartel of cant is plugging its ears as Rouhani boasts that the Geneva nuclear deal means 'the surrender of big powers before the great nation of Iran." Then Iran's soft-talking, moderate and charming foreign minister Zarif laid a wreath at the grave of Imad Mugniyeh, the fiendishly effective Hizbullah military commander who was responsible for the murders of countless Americans and other Westerners at the behest of the Iranian regime. Such gestures tell us about Iran's real intentions. (Melanie Phillips Electric Media)

  • Other Issues

  • House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Introduces Legislation to Combat Palestinian Incitement - Joshua Levitt
    House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA) has introduced legislation to curb anti-Israeli incitement to violence via PA-controlled media outlets. Royce said, "As Secretary of State John Kerry engages in negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians, Congress will make it clear to the Palestinian Authority that continuing anti-Israel incitement to violence through PA-controlled media outlets must cease."
        "No more Palestinian Authority-funded Facebook pages or children's magazines holding up Hitler as a positive role model. Not only must the PA cease incitement, it should engage in a clear, conclusive and deliberate effort to officially and publicly repudiate the providers of such hatred. The prospect of a real, lasting peace can only be built on the foundation of a culture of tolerance - one that renders such rhetoric politically unacceptable."
        On Wednesday, the Consolidated Appropriations Act was amended to include a line that requires the Obama Administration to certify that the PA is "acting to counter incitement of violence against Israelis and is supporting activities aimed at promoting peace, coexistence, and security cooperation with Israel."
        On Tuesday, Royce introduced the related H.R. 3868, the Palestinian Peace Promotion and Anti-Incitement Act, which amends the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 to prohibit Economic Support Fund assistance to the PA. To qualify for the aid, it requires a certification that the PA is no longer engaging in a pattern of incitement against the U.S. or Israel and is engaged in peace preparation activities to promote peace with Israel. (Algemeiner)
  • Israel, Palestine: Who's Indigenous? - Ryan Bellerose
    I am a Metis, one of the recognized aboriginal peoples in Canada, a native rights advocate, and a Zionist. There is a very clear guideline to being an indigenous people, as detailed by anthropologist Jose R. Martinez-Cobo (former special rapporteur of the Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities for the UN).
        Israel is the world's first modern indigenous state: the first time in history that an indigenous people has managed to regain control of its ancestral lands and build a nation state - a great example for indigenous peoples to emulate.
        Palestinians have what are called "rights of longstanding presence," and although these are legitimate rights, they do not trump indigenous rights. If indigenous people allow the argument that conquerors can become indigenous, we are then delegitimizing our own rights. If conquerors can become indigenous, then the white Europeans who came to my indigenous lands in North America could now claim to be indigenous. (Israellycool)

Iran Atomic Chief Defends Geneva Nuclear Deal in TV Interview (BBC Monitoring Middle East - Political - 15 Jan 2014)

  • On Jan. 15, the Iranian state-owned TV Channel Two broadcast an interview with the director of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), Ali Akbar Salehi.
  • Salehi said that research and development was the best part of the Geneva agreement. He said that Iran introduced "a new-generation centrifuge" to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) a few weeks ago; an issue which he said was protested by the P5+1. He said their objection had no foundation and noted that the negotiating team convinced the other side about the subject during expert talks and thanked the negotiating team for their effort.
  • Salehi said that in a six-month period, Iran has "voluntarily" agreed to suspend 20% uranium enrichment. "Suspension of 20% enrichment does not mean that those centrifuges which used to produce 20% would stop working, just that their production line will become 5%." Salehi added that it meant that the production of 5% enriched uranium would go up.
  • On Arak's heavy water reactor, Salehi said that Iran had only agreed not to install "major equipment," such as "the main pumps, control rooms and hot cell." He said that activities in Arak's 40-megawatt reactor were so extensive that no problems would arise for Iran because of that agreement. "Much of this equipment that we have agreed not to install during these six months was not meant to be installed anyway," he said.
  • The interviewer asked Salehi how long it would take for Iran to produce nearly 200 kg. of 20% uranium again, to which Salehi replied, "about one year." Salehi then reiterated that Iran was never in need of 20% enriched uranium, and that the Arak reactor already had enough reserves of fuel for the next four or five years.
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