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  DAILY ALERT Tuesday,
February 25, 2014

In-Depth Issues:

Pew Survey: Palestinians Dislike America More than Any Other Group (Algemeiner)
    A new Pew Research Center survey showed that Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza dislike the U.S. more than any other group, with 76% describing America as an "enemy."
    There was no correlation between the amount of money America gives to the Palestinians and their opinion of the U.S.
    Alternatively, 90% of Israelis consider the U.S. as a "partner," putting Israel at the top of the pro-America list.

U.S., Saudi Arabia and Jordan Helping Syrian Rebels - Zvi Bar'el (Ha'aretz)
    Every month, between 200 and 250 Syrian rebel soldiers undergo training at the Jordanian special forces base near the city of Salt.
    The U.S. is constructing runways for reconnaissance aircraft in Jordan near the Syrian border.
    Saudi Arabia has flown weaponry and ammunition purchased in Ukraine to bases in Jordan.
    According to reports, Israel provided active assistance to a rebel attack four months ago when it jammed Syrian army communications.

Saudi Arabia's New Missile Force - Yiftah Shapir and Yoel Guzansky (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv)
    According to a recent article in Newsweek, in 2007 Saudi Arabia began to purchase CSS-5 (DF-21) ground-to-ground missiles from China. The Americans knew about the Saudi-Chinese deal and were involved in it.
    The Dong Feng 21 missile (East Wind 21) is a two-stage ballistic missile that uses solid fuel, which shortens the launch preparation time. It has a range of 1,700 km. and can carry a load of 600 kg.
    Moreover, the British reportedly sold the Saudis Storm Shadow cruise missiles as part of the Saudi program to upgrade its Tornado jets. The missile has a range of 500 km.
    The Saudis' motivation in purchasing the missiles is Iran's progress in its missile program and the growth and improvement in its ground-to-ground missile arsenal.

PA's Unpaid Electric Bills Prompt Price Hike Proposal - Adiv Sterman (Times of Israel)
    The PA was presented Friday with two options by the Jerusalem District Electricity Company, which provides power to Palestinian areas: either pay back its $110 million debt in full, or raise electricity rates to a level equivalent to that of Israel's.
    On Thursday, Yediot Ahronot reported that Israel Electricity Corporation director Yiftach Ron-Tal had demanded that the Israeli government either pay back the PA's debt or allow the company to disconnect electricity in the West Bank.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Israel Strikes Hizbullah Weapons Base near Lebanon-Syria Border - Patrick J. McDonnell and Alexandra Sandels
    Israeli planes struck a Hizbullah military base late Monday near the Lebanese-Syrian border. U.S. officials have said the Israeli bombardments in Syria were intended to destroy advanced missiles and other heavy weapons that could end up in the hands of terrorist groups, including Hizbullah. (Los Angeles Times)
        See also Hizbullah "Missile Base" Targeted by Israel (Al Arabiya)
        See also Hizbullah Downplays Reported Israeli Strike - Avi Issacharoff (Times of Israel)
  • Iraq Signs Deal to Buy Arms from Iran, Breaking UN Arms Embargo - Ahmed Rasheed
    Iran signed a deal in November to sell Iraq arms and ammunition worth $195 million, in a move that would break a UN embargo on weapons sales by Tehran. "Any transfer of arms from Iran to a third country is in direct violation of UNSCR 1747. We are seeking clarification on the matter from the government of Iraq and to ensure that Iraqi officials understand the limits that international law places on arms trade with Iran," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.
        Some in Washington are becoming nervous about providing sensitive U.S. military equipment to a country they worry is becoming too close to Iran. (Reuters)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Prime Minister Netanyahu Welcomes German Chancellor Merkel
    German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrived in Israel on Monday with a delegation of 16 German government ministers. In Jerusalem, Prime Minister Netanyahu noted: "On security, I would like to discuss the ways to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons capability. I believe that this is the greatest challenge to the security of the world."
        On peace, Netanyahu said: "The people of Israel...want a real peace; they want a peace that ends the conflict, that finally gets the Palestinians to recognize the Jewish state and one in which we have the necessary means of security to defend ourselves against any possible contingency in this turbulent Middle East."  (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
        See also Israel Is Not Alone, Has an Abiding Friend in Germany - German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier (Ynet News)
  • Italy's New PM Backs Israel, Sees Iran as Major Threat - Ariel David
    Matteo Renzi, 39, the former mayor of Florence who was sworn in on Saturday as Italy's prime minister, may bring Italy, already one of Israel's key allies in Europe, even closer to the Jewish state. "The main problem of the area is Iran - if we don't solve that one we will not be able to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict," Renzi said during a 2012 debate. Renzi also voiced doubts about the Palestinian bid for membership in the UN and criticized Italy's decision to follow other EU countries in voting in favor. (Ha'aretz)
  • 15 Hamas Members Arrested for Firebomb Attacks on Jerusalem-Tel Aviv Highway - Yaakov Lappin
    The Israel Security Agency together with the IDF and Israel Police arrested more than 15 Hamas terrorists in the West Bank in recent months for firebomb and rock attacks on Israeli vehicles on Route 443, the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv highway, security forces announced on Monday. A Hamas terrorist cell from the village of Beit Ur Tahta planned to set off bombs as IDF vehicles drove by and had already held trial runs. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • The Truth Behind the Palestinian Water Libels - Haim Gvirtzman
    Water shortages in the Palestinian Authority are the result of Palestinian policies that deliberately waste water and destroy the regional water ecology. The Palestinians refuse to develop their own significant underground water resources, build a seawater desalination plant, fix massive leakage from their municipal water pipes, build sewage treatment plants, irrigate land with treated sewage effluents or modern water-saving devices, or bill their own citizens for consumer water usage, leading to enormous waste.
        At the same time, they drill illegally into Israel's water resources, and send their sewage flowing into the valleys and streams of central Israel. In short, the PA is using water as a weapon against the State of Israel. It is not interested in practical solutions to solve the Palestinian people's water shortages, but rather perpetuation of the shortages and the besmirching of Israel. Prof. Haim Gvirtzman is a professor of hydrology at the Institute of Earth Sciences at the Hebrew University, a member of the Israel Water Authority Council, and a long-time advisor of the Israel-PA Joint Water Committee. (Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies-Bar-Ilan University)
  • Putin's Ukrainian Port at Sevastopol Is the Heart of Russia's Activity in the Eastern Mediterranean - Amatzia Baram
    Russia maintains an enormous military port in the Ukrainian city of Sevastopol, home of Russia's mighty Black Sea Fleet. All Russian activity in the eastern Mediterranean is currently dependent upon the Sevastopol port. However, it is through the Syrian ports of Tartus and Latakia that Russia is transferring increasingly large arms shipments to Assad's army and safeguarding its interests in Damascus.
        With America's recent wariness of Egypt, contacts are being pursued between Moscow and Cairo for a $2 billion arms deal that would be financed by Saudi Arabia. For Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Sevastopol port is indirectly the key to Syria and perhaps to Egypt and the entire Mediterranean in the future.
        If Ukraine degenerates into chaos, Russia's naval base in Sevastopol will be in danger. If that happens, Putin may have an interest in seeing Ukraine split, for he will have no choice but to seize control of Sevastopol and the surrounding area, or even of Eastern Ukraine, including the Crimean Peninsula where it is situated. Professor Baram teaches Middle East history at Haifa University. (Ha'aretz)
  • In Iran, It's the Guys with the Guns Who Call the Shots - Lee Smith interviews Michael Rubin
    We shouldn't become so invested in the negotiating process that we lose sight of national security. We shouldn't be afraid to walk away from the table. Rogue regimes aren't simply adversaries, they are - according to the Clinton administration - states that eschew the rules of diplomacy. Why would you negotiate with a state that doesn't abide by anything it says in negotiations or simply uses diplomacy to run down the clock?
        What makes Iran so dangerous is both its messianic ideology and the effective autonomy of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). Most Iranians are wonderful and care little for their regime. But it's the guys with the guns who call the shots. If Iran develops nuclear weapons, not only the IRGC but its most ideologically pure members would have command and control over the nuclear arsenal. Michael Rubin, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and senior lecturer at the Naval Postgraduate School, has just published Dancing with the Devil: The Perils of Engaging Rogue Regimes. (Weekly Standard)

The Impotence of Foreign Forces - Nadav Shragai (Israel Hayom)

  • On March 14, 2006, the Palestinians announced that Ahmed Saadat, the secretary-general of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and the killers of former minister Rehavam Ze'evi, would be released from a PA prison in Jericho. American and British security guards stationed in the prison who were charged with preventing such a scenario made a quick getaway out of fear for their lives. Only a lightning operation by the IDF led to Saadat's reincarceration in Israel.
  • That same year in Gaza, in the wake of the Hamas victory in the elections, dozens of EU security personnel whose job was to monitor the flow of weapons to the Strip fled their posts.
  • In the north, officers in the IDF Northern Command have looked on as Hizbullah operatives lobbed rockets at Israel from positions near UNIFIL posts on Lebanese soil. IDF commanders have repeatedly complained that the presence of international forces ties their hands and limits their ability to respond, thus indirectly aiding the terrorists. The abduction of three IDF soldiers on Mount Dov in October 2000 took place right under the nose of UNIFIL.
  • Former Israeli national security advisor Maj. Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror was a conscript paratrooper in the Six-Day War. He remembers a group of Indian troops clad in Sikh turbans, part of the UN peacekeeping force in Gaza, that withdrew from their positions on the eve of the war. Amidror believes that PA President Abbas' proposal that NATO forces be stationed in the West Bank and the Jordan Valley as part of an agreement with the Palestinians is "bizarre."
  • "When you are the one defending yourself, you are also the one who determines what is more important and what is less important for your security," he said. "Can one seriously expect someone in Brussels to determine what is or isn't important for our security?"
  • Three years ago, Amidror penned a paper for the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs titled "The Risks of Foreign Peacekeeping Forces in the West Bank." He said this week: "A UN force or an international force would be an obstacle that would hinder Israel's ability to defend itself....Whether that force would be deployed under the flag of the UN or under NATO, as long as those troops are deployed in a situation of conflict, they will face one fundamental problem that is faced by all peacekeeping forces: the need to maintain good working relations with violent militias and terrorist organizations."

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