Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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February 17, 2014

In-Depth Issues:

Palestinian Authority Allocates $46 Million More to Pay Terrorists in 2014 - Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik (Palestinian Media Watch)
    Most Western countries have laws prohibiting support for terrorists or former terrorists.
    Yet these same countries continue to fund the PA's general budget, thereby paying tens of millions of dollars to terrorists as salaries and other payments.
    The PA has announced that it will give an additional $46 million to released prisoners in 2014.
    See also Palestinian Plotted Fake Terror Attack to Get PA Salary - Marissa Newman (Times of Israel)
    See also Polish MEP to Question EU's Ashton on EU Money "Helping Fund Palestinian Terrorists" - Yossi Lempkowicz (European Jewish Press)

Iraq: An Israeli Withdrawal from the Jordan Valley Will Turn Israel's Border into a Magnet for Al-Qaeda - Pazit Ravina (Makor Rishon-Hebrew, 14Feb 2014)
    At a meeting in Rome a month ago, Western diplomats quoted sources in the Iraqi government leadership who warned: "The American plan for an Israeli withdrawal from the Jordan Valley will turn Israel's eastern border into a magnet for al-Qaeda groups."
    "Militants from throughout the Middle East are flowing into the region between Anbar province in Iraq and the eastern deserts of Syria and Jordan. Their influence will also permeate into the territory of Palestine and will change the appearance of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict."

Hamas Rejects International Peacekeepers (AP-Washington Post)
    Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said Sunday that the Islamic militant group will oppose any international force in a future Palestine and will deal with any international force in the same manner it uses against Israeli forces.

Jordan Islamists Protest as King Meets Obama (AP)
    Hours before Jordan's king met with President Obama in California, his Islamist opposition at home staged its largest protest in months to reject a peace deal as a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
    The 1,200 protesters affiliated with Jordan's Muslim Brotherhood also burned the Israeli flag.
    Jordan's Brotherhood calls for Israel's annihilation through armed struggle. The protesters also demanded that Jordan's King Abdullah II "revoke the peace treaty with the Zionists."

Saudi Wahhabis Call for Destruction of Shia Shrine in Syria (Tehran Times-Iran)
    Wahhabi clerics in Saudi Arabia have called for the destruction of the holy shrine of Lady Zainab in Damascus.
    Zainab, the daughter of first Imam Ali and granddaughter of the Prophet Muhammad, is regarded as a noble figure by Shias around the world.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Bus Attack Near Egypt's Border with Israel Kills South Korean Tourists - Tamer El-Ghobashy
    An attack on a bus full of tourists near Egypt's border with Israel on Sunday killed three South Koreans and an Egyptian driver. The explosion on the bus in Taba, about 250 yards from the border crossing, also wounded 14 people. (Wall Street Journal)
        See also Egypt Blocked Israeli Ambulances from Entering Taba - Roi Kais
    Dozens of Israeli ambulances and even a medical helicopter waited for hours on the Israeli side of the Taba border crossing in the hopes of aiding the wounded in Sunday's terror attack - but Egypt would not let them enter. The Egyptian paper Al Youm Al Saaba reported that Egyptian authorities refused Israel's request to assist them. Instead, they transferred the wounded to more distant hospitals in Nueba and Sharm el-Sheikh. (Ynet News)
  • Iran to Insist on Installing Advanced Centrifuges, Retaining Arak Heavy Water Reactor
    Iranian nuclear negotiator Hamid Ba'eedinejad said Sunday: "We will definitely not agree to Iran not being allowed to replace its existing centrifuges with different kinds of advanced and new ones."
        "The Arak heavy water reactor is also one of the most important and difficult issues which will be examined and discussed in the process of negotiations and we certainly seek to retain this reactor."  (Press TV-Iran)
  • Saudis Agree to Provide Syrian Rebels with Mobile Antiaircraft Missiles - Maria Abi-Habib and Stacy Meichtry
    Washington's Arab allies, disappointed with Syria peace talks, have agreed to provide rebels there with more sophisticated weaponry, including shoulder-fired missiles that can take down jets, according to Western and Arab diplomats and opposition figures.
        Saudi Arabia has offered to give the opposition for the first time Chinese man-portable air defense systems, or Manpads, and antitank guided missiles from Russia.
        The U.S. has long opposed arming rebels with antiaircraft missiles for fear they could fall into the hands of extremists who might use them against the West or commercial airlines. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Kerry Blames Syrian Government for Deadlocked Talks - Michael R. Gordon
    Secretary of State John Kerry issued a statement on Sunday that blamed the Syrian government for the deadlock in peace talks, following two rounds of generally fruitless discussions. "While it stalled in Geneva, the regime intensified its barbaric assault on its civilian population with barrel bombs and starvation," he said. On Saturday, Kerry said that administration officials were trying to think of new policy options on Syria. (New York Times)
        See also After Second Round of Syria Talks, No Agreement Even on How to Negotiate - Anne Barnard and Nick Cumming-Bruce (New York Times)
  • Israeli Official: Boycott Campaign Won't Alter Israel's Behavior - Alex Spillius
    Europe was being "misled" by the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, whose campaign against Israel was "counter-productive," Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yosef Kuperwasser, the director general of Israel's Ministry for Strategic Affairs, told the Daily Telegraph in London on Friday. "The campaign is getting in the way of peace. They think they can get what they want without making an effort for peace....There are organizations pretending to be concerned about human rights but they are involved with a campaign to delegitimize Israel."  (Telegraph-UK)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • PA Tells Kerry: No to Framework Deal - Avi Issacharoff
    The Palestinian Authority has informed U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry that it will not accept his framework peace proposal as it currently stands, PA officials told the Times of Israel. The officials claimed that the Obama administration's current proposal, which is intended to serve as the basis for continued talks on a two-state solution, does not address vital requirements from the Palestinian side.
        "We said 'No' to him in the past, and we will say it again in the future," a senior PA administrator said. According to this official, accepting the current version of the framework accord is unthinkable for the PA. (Times of Israel)
  • Netanyahu: Iran Enjoys Benefits of Eased Sanctions without Altering Behavior
    Prime Minister Netanyahu told the Israeli Cabinet on Sunday: "It is Iran which has gained without giving anything significant. It has received a major easing of sanctions and the Iranian economy is already responding appropriately. Iran is also continuing its aggressive policy both inside Iran and outside Iran. Inside Iran, it is executing innocent people. Outside Iran, it supports the continued killings by the Syrian regime, which would be unable to act without it, without its support."
        "Iran is also continuing to arm terrorist organizations with advanced, deadly weapons and, of course, it is continuing to call for the destruction of the State of Israel. At the same time, Iran is continuing with advanced research and development of centrifuges. Iran is not prepared to concede even one centrifuge....Iran does not need any centrifuges for nuclear power for civilian purposes."  (Prime Minister's Office)
  • Israeli Minister: "America Is Our Greatest Ally" - Tovah Lazaroff
    Economy Minister Naftali Bennett defended U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's record on Israel at the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations mission in Jerusalem on Monday. Bennett said, "Kerry is not an anti-Semite; who ever suggested that is flatly wrong." "America is our greatest alley, it is our strategic friend," he added.
        The Conference of Presidents was established almost 60 years ago and serves as an umbrella organization for 51 of the largest Jewish groups in the U.S. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Handing the Middle East to Russia - Amir Taheri
    Some 40 years ago, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat ended his regime's alliance with, and reliance on, the Soviet Union, and joined the Middle Eastern bloc of nations close to the U.S. The switch led to the Camp David peace accords. The Middle East now faces a power vacuum and some in the region think Russia could and should assume that role.
        On Syria, Obama has given Russia a permanent veto over U.S. policy. Arab sources tell me that Kerry has advised them not to press on with a new UN resolution seeking greater pressure on Assad so as not to antagonize "our Russian partners."
        Last month, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the Saudi intelligence and security head, flew to Moscow for talks with Vladimir Putin. Arab sources say he evoked the prospect of giving Russia a share of the kingdom's huge arms imports and joint ventures in oil and gas projects.
        Iran has offered Russia "preferential conditions" in developing oilfields in the Caspian Sea and the Persian Gulf. President Hassan Rouhani even spoke of a Tehran-Moscow "strategic partnership" to rid "our region from the influence of distant powers," i.e., the U.S. Over the past six months, Moscow has played host to delegations from Pakistan, the UAE, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait and Iraq. Turkey, although a NATO member, has opened negotiations to purchase Russian arms.
        Egypt's new military dictator, Abdul-Fattah el-Sisi, flew to Moscow this month, the only foreign capital he has visited since his coup last July. Sisi discussed buying $2.2 billion in Russian arms - restoring the position Russia lost in the 1970s. (New York Post)
  • Suppressing the Urge to Survive - Wesley Pruden
    The Israelis have this unreasonable itch to survive. Self-preservation is the strongest human urge, but only the Israelis, alone in the world, are expected to suppress the urge and die without making a lot of unseemly fuss and noise about it. You don't have to be Jewish to share the outrage.
        Mr. Kerry has devised a formula that might look good on a State Department white paper, but it assumes that everyone will be nice. Too bad, but Israel's critics and tormentors don't do nice.
        The Palestinians could have their state on the West Bank if they would give up the fantasy of destroying the Israelis and getting it all. The Israelis would be pleased in the event to help the Palestinians make a success of nationhood. (Washington Times)

Israeli Water, Mideast Peace? - Seth M. Siegel (New York Times)

  • Water scarcity is brewing as a major threat to Middle East stability. One country in the region might have a solution to these water woes: Israel. It shares the same problems of climate and desertification as its neighbors, but it has mastered the management of water resources, such that it can endure periodic droughts while supporting a growing population.
  • Wasteful farming practices - in particular, flooding a field to irrigate it - are the biggest factor behind the regional water shortage. Starting in the 1960s, Israeli farmers abandoned this technique in favor of drip irrigation, producing crop yields vastly greater than those with conventional irrigation. Israel also treats and reuses more than 80% of its household sewage for agriculture.
  • More than half of Israel's drinking water - purer, cleaner and less salty than natural sources - now comes from desalinated seawater. Israel's self-sufficiency is also dependent on robust public education, an obsession with fixing leaks, and efforts to catch rainwater and reduce evaporation.
  • Israel has transformed water from a struggle with nature to an economic input: You can get all you want if you plan and pay for it.
  • As water problems grow, one hopes that ideology will give way to pragmatism and may open a door to an Arab and Islamic outreach to Israel. Rather than seeing Israel as a problem, Israel's antagonists would be wise to see it as a solution.

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