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March 24, 2014

In-Depth Issues:

Report: At Meeting with Obama, Abbas Refused to Commit to "End the Conflict" with Israel (Times of Israel)
    At his meeting with President Obama in Washington last week, PA President Mahmoud Abbas rejected Secretary of State John Kerry's framework document for continued peace talks with Israel, and said "no" on core issues, Israel Channel 2 TV reported Friday, quoting American and Israeli sources.
    Specifically, Abbas rejected Prime Minister Netanyahu's demand that he recognize Israel as a Jewish state.
    He also refused to abandon the Palestinian demand for a "right of return" for millions of Palestinians and their descendants, and refused to commit to an "end of conflict," under which a peace deal would represent the termination of any further Palestinian demands of Israel.
    See also Netanyahu: No Sign of Progress in Diplomatic Process - Herb Keinon and Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    The Palestinians are refusing to budge on the issue of recognizing Israel as a Jewish state and forfeiting the "right of return," but "we are continuing to work with the Americans," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the Israeli Cabinet on Sunday.
    See also Washington Reportedly Fears Collapse of Peace Talks (Times of Israel)
    The Obama administration is very concerned that the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks could collapse soon, and is working to find a solution that would allow the talks to continue beyond the April deadline, Israel Radio reported Sunday.

Christians Rally in Israel Against EU Silence on "Ethnic Cleansing" of Middle East Christians - Aryeh Savir (San Diego Jewish World)
    150 Christian citizens of Israel demonstrated on Sunday outside the EU's delegation in Tel Aviv against the EU's silence on "the ethnic cleansing of Christians throughout the Middle East."
    The protesters demanded that the EU act on their own cry for human rights and fight for the Christians who are quickly becoming extinct everywhere but Israel.
    Father Gabriel Nadaf, a Greek Orthodox priest from Nazareth and strong proponent of Christian enlistment in the IDF, demanded that the attacks on Christians be stopped and thanked Israel for being a warm home for Christians.
    Shadi Halul, spokesman of the Christian Lobby (CL) which organized the protest, said: "We constantly receive reports from our Christian brethren throughout the Middle East imploring that they be helped, envious of our status as Israeli citizens."

Chechnya Leader Inaugurates $10 Million Mosque in Israel - Nir Hasson (Ha'aretz)
    The president of Russia's republic of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, on Sunday inaugurated a new, $10 million mosque in the Israeli Arab village of Abu Ghosh, near Jerusalem.
    Isa Jabar, the village's mayor, said Chechnya donated $6 million for the mosque.
    According to Palestinian-born historian Aref al-Aref, the first villagers in Abu Ghosh came from Ingusha, located between Chechnya and Georgia.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Russian Defiance Seen as Confidence Builder for Syria's Government - Anne Barnard
    The Syrian government is acting with new assurance as its ally Russia moves to take over the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine, dismissing American objections and signaling growing assertiveness against the West. As the prospect of a compromise to end the Syrian war seems increasingly remote, bonds between Moscow and Damascus are deepening. To Russian and Syrian officials, the Syrian war and the standoff over Crimea are essentially part of a single, larger battle, against post-Cold War American unilateralism.
        Perhaps having tested the political wind, shopkeepers across Damascus have painted the Syrian flag on the corrugated metal gates of their shops, a statement against opposition groups that adopted a pre-Assad Syrian banner as their symbol. (New York Times)
  • Turkey Shoots Down Syrian Plane - Liz Sly
    Turkish F-16s shot down a Syrian jet Sunday after it strayed into Turkish airspace. Syria shot down a Turkish warplane in 2012, and Turkey downed a Syrian helicopter in September 2013. (Washington Post)
  • Hamas Rally in Gaza Takes Aim at Egypt, Israel and Abbas - Nidal al-Mughrabi
    Tens of thousands of Palestinians rallied in Gaza on Sunday to show support for their Islamist Hamas government. An Egyptian court this month banned Hamas activities in the country, and Cairo has clamped down on smuggling tunnels across the Sinai-Gaza border. In response, Ismail Haniyeh, head of the Hamas government, told the rally, "The punishment of the people of Gaza must end."
        His speech was interspersed with chants of "Jihad is not Terrorism" over the loudspeakers. Haniyeh added: "We call upon the Palestinian negotiator to quit this pointless track and not to extend negotiation."  (Reuters)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • IDF Kills 3 Palestinian Terrorists in Jenin - Gili Cohen
    Three Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces on Saturday in the Jenin refugee camp in the West Bank during an IDF operation to capture a Hamas militant. Israeli forces sought to arrest Hamza Abu al-Haija, 22, a member of Hamas' Iz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, who had been involved in shootings against Israelis and placing IEDs targeting army forces.
        Abu al-Haija opened fire at the Israeli forces, wounding two Border Police officers. The forces returned fire, killing him and two others - Mahmoud Abu Zeina, a member of Islamic Jihad, and Yazan Jabarin, a member of Fatah's Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades. After the raid, Palestinians attacked Israeli forces with live fire, explosive charges, firebombs, and stones.
        Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said the raid was meant to foil an attack planned against Israeli targets. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Anarchy Returns to Palestinian Refugee Camps in West Bank - Amos Harel
    For more than a year, the Palestinian Authority security apparatus has not been in control of some of the West Bank refugee camps. The Jenin camp has once again turned into a place where armed groups operate as they see fit.
        Israeli special forces were sent into the camp following an intelligence tip that Abu al-Haija was on the verge of launching an imminent attack on either soldiers or settlers. Armed with an M16 rifle, he opened fire on the forces approaching the house in which he was hiding. He was subsequently joined by other operatives who fired on and hurled explosive devices at the troops. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Hamas Man Killed in Jenin Was "Ticking Time Bomb" - Yoav Zitun (Ynet News)
        See also Video: The Jenin Raid (Israel Police)
  • Israeli Officials Blast EU, UN for Condemning West Bank Construction - Herb Keinon
    Israeli diplomatic officials slammed the EU and UN on Saturday night for condemning plans for new settlement construction, but remaining silent in the face of maximalist Palestinian positions they say are jeopardizing the diplomatic process. "Are they really putting their fingers on the real problem with these automatic responses," one official said. He questioned why the EU did not see fit to criticize Fatah for organizing a rally Thursday in Ramallah that "celebrated rejectionism, that celebrated 'not one inch,' a position that makes peace impossible."
        "A few more housing units inside the settlement blocs will not change the final maps of peace, but it should be clear that the Palestinian refusal to show any flexibility in the talks is preventing things from moving forward."  (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • In Syria: Assad May Now Be the Greater Evil - Ely Karmon
    Seeing the Sunni jihadists in Syria as a potential base for al-Qaeda and global jihadists, the West's hesitation to earnestly support the rebel forces and the U.S.-Russian deal for dismantling the Syrian chemical arsenal have actually given the Assad regime a free hand to quell the disunited opposition forces.
        At the same time, the West tends to ignore or minimize the Syrian regime's historical record of support for terrorist forces. It also ignores the potential threat of the various Shia forces involved in the conflict alongside the Assad regime and the strong support offered by Iran.
        The latest attacks on Israel's Golan border are not simply the result of Hizbullah's desire to retaliate for Israeli attacks against the convoys of Syrian strategic weapons transferred to Lebanon, but rather the consequence of the latest military successes of the Assad regime, with the critical support of Iran and its Shia proxies.
        The lack of reaction by the West in the face of the fierce bombings of Syria's big cities, as well as the perceived success of Syria's Russian ally, have no doubt emboldened Assad, Iran and Hizbullah. The warming of the Golan border with Israel by using Hizbullah and other proxies is a sign of the degree of self-confidence the Damascus regime and its allies have reached.
        From Iran's point of view, after achieving a strong grip on Iraq, the Damascus regime now becomes a vassal that will better serve the strategic needs of its patron. Iran thus achieves a presence on the Mediterranean coast and a direct border with Israel. The writer is Senior Research Scholar at the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism (ICT) at the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) in Herzliya. (Times of Israel)
  • Dennis Ross: Recognition of Jewish State Was Raised at Camp David in 2000 - Rick Richman
    The latest Palestinian assertion (swallowed whole by the New York Times) that recognition of a Jewish state is a new issue, allegedly raised by Netanyahu to prevent peace, is a Big Lie.
        On March 19, Amb. Dennis Ross, speaking in Los Angeles, said: "When I hear it said that this is the first time this issue has been raised - the people who say that think that no one knows history....When we were at Camp David [in 2000], this issue was raised...for obvious reasons. From the Israeli standpoint, there is a need to know that the Palestinians are committed to two states, meaning in fact that one state is Palestinian and one is the state of the Jewish people. They need to know the Palestinians are not about two states, one Palestinian and one bi-national."
        In 1947, the Jews accepted the UN two-state resolution; the Arabs not only rejected it, but started a war the next day, seeking to destroy Israel. Instead, they created a "catastrophe" for themselves. More than 65 years later, the Palestinians and their Arab allies still reject a Jewish state. They need to recognize it, not only for Israel's benefit but their own: it is the necessary first step on their long road back from the self-created "catastrophe."  (Commentary)

Changing the Historical Narrative: Saeb Erekat's New Spin - Alan Baker (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

  • Palestinian leaders are manipulating the history of geographic Palestine/Land of Israel. They have manufactured a curious claim, expressed recently by Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator, that they are descended from Canaanites and are therefore the indigenous people of the area, present before the emergence of the Jewish people around the year 1500 BCE.
  • Saeb Erekat's family is Bedouin. According to Bedouin genealogy, the family is part of the Huweitat clan which originated in the Hejaz area of Saudi Arabia, arrived in Palestine from the south of Jordan, and settled in the village of Abu Dis in the early twentieth century.
  • Several leading scholars of Middle Eastern studies and Islamic history have confirmed that the Palestinians do not have ancient roots in the area and are trying to invent origins for themselves that predate the Jewish people's presence.
  • They explain that most of the Palestinians arrived as part of the waves of immigration that began in the nineteenth century at the time of the emergence of Zionism, attracted by employment opportunities and economic benefits.
  • The historical presence of the Jewish people in the "Holy Land" is well-documented, not only in the scriptures of all three monotheistic religions, and visible in extensive archeological remains, but also in historic writings by early Greek, Roman, pagan, and other visitors to the area. The fact that Christianity emanated from Judaism is further proof of the presence of a thriving Jewish community in the area.

    Amb. Alan Baker, former legal adviser and deputy director-general of Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Israel's ambassador to Canada, participated in the negotiation and drafting of the Oslo Accords with the Palestinians.

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