Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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  DAILY ALERT Wednesday,
January 22, 2014

In-Depth Issues:

Israeli Arabs and Palestinians Join Rebels in Syria Affiliated with Al-Qaeda (Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center)
    About 20 Israeli Arabs have joined the ranks of the rebels in Syria, as well as 30 Palestinians from Gaza and a few from the West Bank.
    There are also several dozen Palestinians from the refugee camps in Lebanon and Palestinians from Syria and Jordan who have joined groups affiliated with al-Qaeda and the global jihad.
    The Israel Security Agency regards Israeli Arabs who go to Syria as a grave potential threat since they will acquire military skills and have their jihadist worldview reinforced.

Hamas Denies Deploying Additional Troops to Stop Attacks on Israel (Ma'an News-PA)
    The Hamas-run government in Gaza denied reports Tuesday claiming that it had deployed additional forces at the border to stop attacks on Israel.

Canadians "Taken Aback" at Arab MKs' Heckling of Harper - David Horovitz (Times of Israel)
    Many members of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper's delegation were "surprised" and "taken aback" that he was heckled by two Arab MKs during his address to the Knesset on Monday.
    "A lot of us were a bit taken aback that members of a national parliament would heckle a visiting foreign leader," Jason Kenney, Canada's minister of employment and social development, said Tuesday.
    Arab MK Ahmad Tibi had earlier heckled Prime Minister Netanyahu, claiming that his colleague Abu Arar, a Bedouin MK from Ar'arat in the Negev, did not have water or electricity in his home because of Israeli discrimination.
    Israel Channel 2 TV showed on Tuesday that Abu Arar lives in a three-story home with water, electricity, air-conditioning and a satellite dish, and his street is well lit.

Morocco Acquires Israeli UAVs - Ami Rojkes Dombe (Israel Defense)
    Israel Aerospace Industries has sold to Morocco three Heron drones, via the French company Dassault.
    The aircraft were delivered to Morocco in April 2013.

Israel Returns Remains of Palestinian Terrorists - Ori Lewis (Reuters)
    Israel has begun to exhume the remains of a number of Palestinian terrorists to return them to their families for burial, the IDF said on Sunday.

Israel to Preside over World Disarmament Organization for Month - Herb Keinon (Jerusalem Post)
    Israel's ambassador to UN organizations in Geneva Eviatar Manor will preside for one month at the UN-linked Conference on Disarmament starting on Monday.
    Israel previously assumed the role of president in June 2003.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Israel: Geneva Deal Doesn't Stop Iran's Bid for a Bomb
    "The interim agreement which went into force today does not prevent Iran from realizing its intention to develop nuclear weapons," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the Knesset Monday. "This objective is still before us."
        Netanyahu compared Iran's bid for a nuclear weapon to a train which needed to pass three stops en route to obtaining a military capacity. "The Geneva agreement cancelled the 20% stop but left the train on the track and even permits Iran to upgrade and improve the engine, so that one day, Iran will be able to rush forward to the final stop, in a short time and on an express track, without slowing down for the interim stops." "In a permanent agreement, the international community must get the Iranian nuclear train off the track. Iran must never have the ability to build an atomic bomb."
        Netanyahu added: "The time has come for the international community, which has been making things easier for Iran and giving it legitimacy of late, to also demand that it halt its calls for the destruction of Israel and stop funding terror organizations: Hamas, Hizbullah and Islamic Jihad."
        Visiting Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said, "We truly hope that it is possible to walk the Iranian government back from taking the irreversible step of manufacturing nuclear weapons. But for now, Canada's own sanctions will remain fully in place....Should our hopes not be realized, should the present agreement prove ephemeral, Canada will be a strong voice in the world for renewed sanctions."  (AFP)
  • Syria Peace Conference Begins - Liz Sly and Anne Gearan
    The one-day peace conference session on Syria in Montreux, Switzerland, on Wednesday is expected to be more style than substance. Representatives of more than 30 countries will hear speeches supporting the goal of a negotiated settlement to the war, then depart. The real work will begin in Geneva on Friday, when it is hoped that the two opposing sides will hold their first face-to-face talks, in the presence only of UN mediators.
        Few expect concrete results from this round of diplomacy, widely referred to as "Geneva 2." "Everyone knows that the most likely outcome of Geneva 2 is Geneva 3, Geneva 4 and so on," said Salem Zahran, a journalist close to the Assad regime. (Washington Post)
        See also Kerry: Syria's Assad Cannot Be Part of Transition
    Syria's Bashar al-Assad can have no place in a transition government because he has lost the legitimacy to lead, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Tuesday. "We see only one option, negotiating a transition government born by mutual consent. That means that Bashar al-Assad will not be part of that transition government. There is no way, no way possible, that a man who has led a brutal response to his own people can regain legitimacy to govern."  (Reuters)
        See also The Syrian Constellation before the Geneva 2 Peace Talks - Pinhas Inbari (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Abbas Rejects Extending Peace Talks with Israel - Khaled Abu Toameh
    PA President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday rejected the idea of extending the peace talks with Israel beyond the agreed nine months, a period that expires in April. Chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat said the Palestinians would not agree even to a one-day extension. (Jerusalem Post)
  • IDF Targets Gaza Terrorist Involved in Firing Rockets During Sharon's Funeral
    The IDF Tuesday successfully targeted terrorist operative Ahmad Za'anin, a key Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine member in Gaza, who was involved in launching rockets during the funeral of former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on January 15. Za'anin was planning further attacks on Israeli civilians in the coming days. (Israel Defense Forces Blog)
  • Israel at UN Slams Continuing Palestinian Incitement
    Israel's Ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor told the Security Council on Monday: Most Israelis will never forget the sight of King Hussein [of Jordan] consoling the Israeli families whose children had been killed in a terrorist attack.
        Contrast this picture, with a picture from just a few weeks ago when released terrorists were given a heroes' welcome by the Palestinians and embraced by President Abbas. Murderers were met with fireworks and festivities and showered with candies and congratulations. The Palestinian Authority is rewarding terrorists with tens of thousands of dollars. The motto of the PA's pension plan seems to be "the more you slay, the more we pay."
        Palestinian children are besieged by messages of hate. They are born in hospitals named after violent Palestinian groups, attend schools named after terrorists, and are taught from textbooks that describe Zionism as racism. (Israel's Permanent Mission to the UN)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Israelis Wary over Interim Nuclear Deal between Major Powers and Iran - Kate Linthicum
    Emily Landau, director of the Arms Control and Regional Security Project at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv, said the Iranian threat cannot be underestimated. She pointed to a statement from Iran's top nuclear negotiator that the country's reduced capabilities under the agreement could be quickly reversed. "You have to take those words seriously because this is a true indication of how Iran is viewing this," she said.
        Ultimately, Landau said, "it's not Israel's role or responsibility to deal with Iran's nuclear program....Israel finds itself in the position where it will suffer the most from the consequences of the failure of the international community to deal successfully with Iran through negotiations. And those states that are negotiating are the ones that are going to suffer the least."  (Los Angeles Times)
  • Avoiding Assad's Forced Solution to the Syria Crisis - Andrew J. Tabler
    Damascus hopes to change the framework of the Geneva 2 talks from arranging a genuine transition to accepting a forced settlement centered on Assad's upcoming "reelection" for a third seven-year term (his current term ends on July 7). The mechanism for channeling the Syrian people's aspirations toward a settlement that ends the war will not be an election under Assad's rule. Washington and its allies must not indulge Assad's fantasy that his phony election process can yield a "political solution." The writer is a senior fellow in the Program on Arab Politics at The Washington Institute. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • Western Businesses Line Up for Post-Sanctions Business with Tehran - Editorial
    A growing number of European governments and businesses are moving to cash in on the opening created by the interim agreement with Iran. In the two months since the accord was struck in Geneva, Tehran's trading partners have lifted sanctions, sent delegations, agreed to export deals and signaled their readiness to expand ties across nearly every major industry.
        All of these people are anticipating a new Iranian gold rush. A World Bank study released last week projects that the Iranian economy will grow by 1% in 2014, after two consecutive years of contraction. The rial is climbing against the dollar, the Tehran stock exchange is up, and inflation is down.
        Now that it's underway, the momentum to dismantle sanctions has its own political logic that will add to the pressure on Western leaders to sign a final accord, even a bad one. And if there is no deal because Western nations divide over the terms, then the sanctions are likely to break down anyway. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Kerry Is Going Through a Learning Process - Joel Greenberg
    Israeli officials "don't understand why Secretary Kerry is putting this kind of focus on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict when both sides could have told him that there was little chance for a breakthrough, and when the region around us is on fire," said Jonathan Spyer, a senior research fellow at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya. Spyer said Israeli officials were asking themselves why Kerry was "investing all this time, exerting pressure, and why Israel is forced to release murderers of Israelis in pursuit of a process which seems quite obviously doomed to failure."
        "John Kerry is going through a learning process the rest of us learned 10 years ago, and Israel is required to pay a heavy price," Spyer added. (McClatchy)

Refugees Who Insist on the Impossible - Jonathan S. Tobin (Commentary)

  • The UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) has a budget problem, and as a result its workers are on strike in the West Bank.
  • While the refugees demand that the corrupt Palestinian government take care of them while UNRWA is on strike, they are resolutely against being governed by it. Doing so would mean giving up their special status and taking up the more prosaic identity of Palestinian Arabs living on the territory of the putative Palestinian state.
  • Leaving the camps would mean a better life. But it would also entail giving up their precious fiction that the descendants of the Arabs who fled the land of what is now Israel will someday return to it and thus erase the Jewish state.
  • Since 1945, wars have created tens of millions of refugees around the world. Almost all have been resettled in new homes. But only the Palestinians, for whom UNRWA was specifically created, were not given the aid they needed to develop skills and get on with their lives.
  • The answer is not more money for UNRWA and its employees nor for a Palestinian Authority that has no interest in helping them. The only answer is the abolition of UNRWA and its replacement by an agency dedicated to giving Palestinians the same resettlement help other refugees have received.
  • Until that happens, the refugees - still the driving force of Palestinian politics - will ensure peace with Israel can never be achieved.

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