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April 4, 2014

In-Depth Issues:

Israeli Air Force Adapts Tactics to Deal with Increased UAV Threat - Gareth Jennings (IHS Jane's Defence Weekly)
    The Israeli Air Force (IAF) is having to adapt its aerial intercept tactics to contend with a marked rise in unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) incursions over recent years, a senior official told IHS Jane's on Wednesday.
    F-16 pilot Major O said, "The main issue about drones is that they are smaller and less detectable, and they fly slower."
    "We have adapted by employing new tactics, devices, and missions.... The heat-seeking Python IV [air-to-air] missile that we use is so advanced that there are no issues with engaging drones."
    Maj. O showed a video of a UAV intercept conducted during the Second Lebanon War in 2006. The pilot "launched so late that the missile actually passed the drone before turning around...and coming back and hitting it head-on."

Abbas to the West: No Flood of Refugees to Israel; Abbas to Palestinians: Refugees Have Personal Right of Return to Israel - C. Jacob (MEMRI)
    In a March 6, 2014, meeting with Palestinian students in Ramallah, PA leader Mahmoud Abbas discussed the personal right of refugees to return to Israel.
    "You are returning to the state of Israel. After all, the refugees, numbered at five million, and their children, were all expelled from the 1948 territories. There is no refugee from Nablus or Ramallah. They are all from Tiberius, Acre, Safed, Nazareth, Jaffa or Beersheba."
    Addressing Israelis visiting Ramallah, Abbas spoke in a different tone: "There is propaganda that claims that Abu Mazen [Abbas] wants five million refugees to return to Israel."

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Foreign Investment in Israel Totaled $74 Billion in 2012 - Zeev Klein (Israel Hayom)
    Foreign investment in Israeli companies in 2012 totaled $74.4 billion, a 14.5% increase over 2011, data published Wednesday by the Central Bureau of Statistics shows.
    Initial figures for 2013 indicate that foreign investment continued to grow.

British Anti-BDS Group Employs Humor - Jenni Frazer (
    The Israeli-owned Ecostream store in Brighton on Britain's south coast has attracted weekly demonstrations from the BDS crowd, angry that products made over the Green Line should be sold in the UK.
    Most of the supporters of Sussex Friends of Israel (SFI) were galvanized by the anti-Ecostream protests that have frequently degenerated into anti-Semitic rhetoric and abuse.
    SFI has mocked the BDS protesters with cheerful humor and a friendly local saxophonist playing for the entertainment of Brighton's shoppers.
    A recent SFI campaign has been the "Pies Against Lies" initiative. "We ran an event saying 'we bring pies, they bring lies' and offered food to the passers-by," said SFI's part-time director, Neil Duncanson.

24-Hour Bird-Watching Race Underway in Israel (BBC News)
    Israel is hosting a 24-hour contest in which teams of bird-watchers race to record the largest number of bird species migrating through the south of the country.
    This year, 22 teams with members from nine countries are participating in the "Champions of the Flyway" contest.
    Southern Israel is considered "one of the world's most spectacular migration hot spots," as hundreds of millions of birds fly over Israel during their migration.
    See also A Unique Bird Race for Conservation (Champions of the Flyway)

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Israel Cancels Fourth Prisoner Release Over Palestinian UN Step - Jonathan Ferziger
    Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, one of Israel's two chief negotiators, told Palestinian counterpart Saeb Erekat Thursday that Israel has canceled the release of 26 Palestinian prisoners in response to renewed efforts by Palestinians to gain recognition at the UN. (Bloomberg)
        See also Livni: PA Knew Israel Was Working on Agreement to Release Prisoners - Herb Keinon
    Livni said the Palestinians' unilateral application to UN conventions and treaties came at a time when they knew full well that Israel was working in a coordinated and genuine fashion to reach an agreement that would have led to the release of the Palestinian prisoners.
        Since the agreement to release them was dependent on the Palestinians upholding their commitment not to turn to international organizations, "under these conditions Israel cannot release the fourth batch of prisoners," Livni said. She called on the Palestinians to retract their move and return to negotiations. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Palestinians Set New Conditions for Peace Talks to Continue - Khaled Abu Toameh
    The Palestinian Authority has set new conditions for agreeing to extend the peace talks with Israel after April, PA officials in Ramallah said Thursday. The new Palestinian conditions include Israeli recognition of the pre-1967 lines as the future borders of a Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital and the release of 1,200 Palestinian prisoners including three senior prisoners.
        The new conditions also include a complete cessation of settlement construction, PA sovereignty over Area C in the West Bank, and a halt of Israeli military operations in PA-controlled territories. Other conditions include lifting the blockade on Gaza, as well as the return of Palestinian gunmen who were deported to Gaza and Europe.
        Fatah leader Ziad Abu Ein, quoting chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat, said that if Israel accepts these conditions and releases the fourth batch of prisoners, then the PA would agree to pursue the negotiations until the end of the year. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Palestinian Negotiator Says Reported Demands Came from Fatah, Not PA - Jack Khoury (Ha'aretz)
  • U.S. Officials: Kerry's Mideast Peace Effort May Be Reaching Its Limit - Karen DeYoung and Anne Gearan
    As Secretary of State John Kerry's tireless efforts to broker Israeli-Palestinian negotiations hit bottom Thursday, there are some around Kerry - including on his senior staff and inside the White House - who believe the time is approaching for him to say, "Enough."
        Kerry risks being seen as trying too hard at the expense of a range of other pressing international issues, and perhaps even his reputation, according to several senior administration officials. For now, one official said, Kerry needs to "lower the volume and see how things unfold."
        However much President Obama admires Kerry's stamina and the worthiness of the goal, several officials said, the president believes the effort may be reaching its limit. (Washington Post)
        See also U.S. to Evaluate Role in Middle East Peace Process, John Kerry Says
    The Obama administration will re-evaluate its role in the foundering Middle East peace talks, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Friday. A clearly distressed Kerry said it is "reality check time" for the peace process. (AP-Wall Street Journal)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • West Bank Terror Attacks More than Doubled in 2013 - Ben Hartman
    In 2013, there were 1,271 terror attacks in the West Bank, as opposed to 578 in 2012, the Israel Security Agency reported. 78% of injuries in 2013 were caused by rock-throwing or firebombs. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Palestinian Snipers Fire at Israeli Security Personnel on Gaza Border
    Palestinian snipers fired at Israeli security personnel operating near the northern Gaza border fence on Thursday. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Palestinians in Gaza Fire Four Rockets at Israel - Shirley Seidler
    Four rockets fired by Palestinians in Gaza exploded in southern Israel on Thursday evening. Within a few hours, IDF aircraft struck five targets in Gaza in response. (Ha'aretz)
  • Lawyers Arrested for Passed Messages to Hamas Prisoners - Noam Dvir
    Two law office managers and four lawyers from east Jerusalem were arrested on suspicion of abusing their attorney-client privilege by passing messages between Hamas prisoners and the organization's operatives in Israel and abroad. The lawyers passed messages about Hamas military operations, political topics, and hunger-strike efforts, and transferred funds for the prisoners.
        One of the messages from a Hamas explosives expert directed terrorists outside the prison on how to execute a number of attacks. Other messages dealt with ways to handle collaborators with Israel. (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

    Peace Process

  • John Kerry, Thwarted by the Middle East - Jeffrey Goldberg
    Well, God bless John Kerry for trying. President Obama's administration, and specifically its secretary of state, deserve credit for maintaining the belief - in a very American, very solutionist sort of way - that the application of logic and good sense and creative thinking could bring about, over time, a two-state solution to the 100-year Arab-Jewish war.
        Maybe Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will come to realize that his decision to seek international recognition of an imaginary state of Palestine is not the cleverest way to bring about the creation of an actual Palestinian state, assuming a Palestinian state is what he actually wants.
        Abbas wants the international community to hand him a perfect, ready-made Palestine. But the moral support of Bolivia and Malawi will not bring about the creation of a state. Only Israel can conjure a Palestinian state into existence. (Bloomberg)
  • Why the Peace Talks Are Collapsing - David Horovitz
    For all of Secretary Kerry's optimism, Israeli-Palestinian negotiations had been going nowhere for months before they crashed spectacularly this week. The Palestinians halted direct talks with the Israelis back in November.
        At the heart of the impasse lies a fundamental asymmetry: Israeli Jews have come to believe that their own best interests require an accommodation with the Palestinians. There is no comparable imperative on the Palestinian side - not as long as much of the international community persists in indicating to the Palestinians that they will be able to achieve full independence and sovereignty without the inconvenience of coming to terms with Israel. (Times of Israel)
  • The PA Does Not Have a Realistic Plan B - Menachem Klein
    Contrary to conventional wisdom, the PA does not have a realistic Plan B. It has not been laying the groundwork for organized non-violent protest. Moreover, because of the inevitable American veto, it does not have the option of gaining recognition for a Palestinian state through the UN Security Council.
        Worse, the PA regime does not have wide-based legitimacy or functioning democratic institutions. There is bitter public protest over the abuse of force by government security agencies and the corruption of senior members of the PA. Criticism of Abbas comes not only from his rival Mohammed Dahlan or Hamas, but from within his own inner circle. The writer is a political science professor at Bar-Ilan University. (Jerusalem Report)
  • Palestinians in Violation of Treaties Abbas Just Signed
    The Palestinians are in clear violation of at least 11 of the 15 international treaties they just signed. For example, the Geneva Conventions establish rules to regulate conduct during armed conflicts. Hamas routinely exploits schools, mosques, hospitals and cultural centers to carry out attacks that violate Article 51 of the Fourth Geneva Convention. During the imprisonment of Gilad Shalit, Hamas violated the Third Geneva Convention, including the right to unfettered Red Cross access.
        While the Palestinians just signed the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, under Palestinian law, selling property to Jews is punishable by death. Senior Palestinian officials have been heavily involved in anti-Israeli and anti-Jewish incitement for decades.
        While the PA signed the Convention against Torture, a February 2014 report by the Palestinian Independent Commission for Human Rights details numerous cases of torture and mistreatment in PA and Hamas prisons. In particular, the number of torture cases in prisons belonging to the PA's Preventative Security Service has skyrocketed. (The Tower-Israel Project)

  • Other Issues

  • Israeli Volunteers Help Syria's Traumatized Refugees - Debra Kamin
    Behind the closed door at a Jordanian NGO, ten Jordanian volunteers discuss the importance of honest communication with their Israeli Arab teacher. In the swelling Zaatari refugee camp, a tent city of more than 100,000 displaced Syrians in the Mafraq region of northern Jordan, trauma is everywhere. Thanks to a team of Israeli aid workers, these volunteers are learning the skills to help treat it. Every two weeks, IsraAid has been running a course out of this office on the basics of trauma counseling.
        Thanks to a global network of Jewish donors, IsraAid volunteers have been making regular visits to Mafraq, where they deliver funds and oversee the distribution of dry goods, hygiene products and baby supplies. (Times of Israel)
  • China-Israel Relations Are Bound to Blossom - Amb. Gao Yanping
    On April 8, Israeli President Shimon Peres will embark on a state visit to China. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi visited Israel in December. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited China last May. Tens of thousands travel between China and Israel every year. The famous Chinese actor Liu Ye wrote in his microblog that "Israel is a beautiful and peaceful country, and the Israeli people are the most friendly people I have ever met."
        The friendship between the Chinese and Jewish nations dates back more than 1,000 years. From the 1880s onward, thousands of Jews went to northeast China because of rising anti-Semitism in Russia and Eastern Europe, forming the largest Jewish community in the Far East. Before and during World War II, when Jews were struggling for survival against the Nazi Holocaust, Shanghai received over 23,000 Jewish refugees and helped them make it through the most difficult times.
        Diplomatic ties were established between China and Israel on January 24, 1992. China is Israel's third-largest trading partner globally, and its biggest trading partner in Asia. The two-way trade volume has increased from $50 million in 1992 to more than $10 billion in 2013.
        For China, Israel is never a small country, but rather a happy and innovative startup nation with many cutting-edge technologies and rich experience in governing social affairs. Quite a number of Israeli companies have already invested in China and more are joining in. I have no doubt that the close cooperation between China and Israel will be conducive to regional stability, world peace and global prosperity. The writer is the People's Republic of China's ambassador to the State of Israel. (Jerusalem Post)
  • America Must Recognize Kurdistan - Sherkoh Abbas, Robert Sklaroff and Joseph Puder
    As the civil war in Syria rages on, America should support the newborn, self-ruling non-Islamist entity - Kurdistan - as a model for a coalition Syrian government. Kurds have unsuccessfully sought freedom and self-determination since dissolution of the Ottoman Empire after World War I. Kurds were promised independence in the Treaty of Sevres (1920), but the treaty was supplanted by the Treaty of Lausanne (1923), which was silent on the subject of Kurdish rights. (inFocus Quarterly-Jewish Policy Center)

Kerry's Peace Talks Have Gone Nowhere - Charles Krauthammer (Washington Post)

  • John Kerry made 12 trips to the region, aiming to produce a final Middle East peace within nine months. It is month nine. The talks have gone nowhere.
  • But there never was any chance of Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas concluding a final peace. Now in the 10th year of a four-year term, Abbas doesn't have the legitimacy.
  • With half of Palestine (namely Gaza) controlled by his rejectionist mortal enemy Hamas, he doesn't have the authority.
  • And he doesn't have the intention. Abbas openly refuses to (a) recognize Israel as a Jewish state, (b) yield the so-called right of return (which would flood Israel with millions of Palestinians, destroying the state demographically), and (c) ever sign any agreement that ends the conflict once and for all.
  • The Israelis are tired of the diplomatic Ponzi scheme in which they are required to release terrorists to keep Abbas at the table. Until when? Until every murderer has been freed - at which point Abbas will go to the UN anyway?
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