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  DAILY ALERT Tuesday,
April 8, 2014

In-Depth Issues:

Assad Using Chemical Weapons Again, Israeli Official Says - Stuart Winer (Times of Israel)
    Syrian President Assad's regime used nonlethal chemical weapons in two attacks on March 27 in the Harasta neighborhood of Damascus, a senior Israeli defense official said Monday.
    The compound used in the attacks was not listed among the chemicals that Syria committed to dispose of when it signed an agreement in September 2013 to give up its chemical weapons.

Report: Russia Has No High Expectations for Upcoming Iran Nuclear Talks (Reuters)
    Russia has no special expectations for the next round of nuclear talks between Iran and six world powers in Vienna on April 8-9, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Monday.
    Ryabkov said the talks were still in early stages and that the meeting should produce a basis for further talks.

Assassinated Iranian "Nuclear Scientist" Was Nuclear Equipment Importer - Zvi Bar'el (Ha'aretz)
    On Jan. 11, 2012, a motorcyclist attached explosive devices to Iranian "nuclear scientist" Mostafa Ahmadi-Roshan's car.
    Last week, Fereydoon Abbasi, the former head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, revealed that Roshan was not a nuclear scientist at all, but rather a merchant who dealt in importing components for the nuclear industry.
    In an interview with the Iranian publication Ramz Oboor, he said, "Roshan was a deputy for trade affairs at the Kala Electronics Company, which was responsible for managing the Natanz nuclear enrichment facility...and was involved in purchasing specialized equipment."

Combat Cameramen Disprove Palestinian Propaganda - Yuval Azulai (Globes)
    Last August, IDF combat cameraman Naor Blanco joined a nighttime operation to arrest a wanted terrorist in the Jenin refugee camp.
    "Shortly after we went in, they started shooting at us from different directions," Blanco recounts. "That whole time, I held the camera and documented the battle and the exchanges of fire."
    "According to reports that had already been released by Palestinian sources, the IDF had purportedly perpetrated crimes in the nighttime operation."
    In Blanco's video of the event, which was distributed to all the media networks, "there was clear documentation of the fact that it was the terrorists who opened fire on us. The footage left no doubt that the forces that operated in the field acted with restraint, and the soldiers only fired when a life-threatening situation arose."
    "The footage included cries of 'Kill the Jews,' which could be heard constantly in the background. There is nothing better than seeing something with your own eyes, so headlines saying 'The IDF invaded Jenin' were switched within minutes and updated to say 'The IDF carried out an anti-terrorist operation in Jenin.'"
    "My footage from the field changed the entire thrust of the event's coverage."

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. Senate Bans Iranian UN Ambassador - Burgess Everett
    The Senate unanimously approved a bill Monday banning Iran's ambassador to the UN Hamid Aboutalebi, who participated in the 1979 hostage-taking of Americans in Tehran, from entering the U.S. The proposal, initiated by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), would prevent known terrorists from entering the U.S. as ambassadors to the UN.
        Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said, "Iran's leadership should not have unnecessarily escalated tensions with the United States by seeking to appoint an ambassador to the United Nations who materially aided terrorists who abducted American citizens."  (Politico)
  • Former Iranian Atomic Energy Organization Director: We Hid Information from IAEA
    In a March 17, 2014, interview with the Iranian daily Khorasan, former Atomic Energy Organization of Iran director Fereydoon Abbasi, who headed the agency under President Ahmadinejad, revealed that over the years Iran had concealed from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) information on its nuclear program, on its activity at the heavy water reactor in Arak, and on the location and activity of its production workshops. (MEMRI)
  • As Mideast Hopes Dim, Some Urge Scaling Back of Lofty Goals - Nicholas Casey
    With hopes for a comprehensive peace agreement fading, some influential former officials say it is time to consider a "Plan B" with the less ambitious goal of living peacefully and leaving the tough choices for another day. With Secretary of State John Kerry's declaration last week that the peace process needed a "reality check," hopes of a grand bargain put forward when he kicked off his diplomacy nine months ago are being scaled back.
        "The gap between the most moderate position in Israel and the most moderate position in the Palestinian leadership is too far right now," said Shlomo Avineri, a former director general of Israel's foreign ministry. "It's time for the U.S. to think of a contingency plan - treating this as a conflict-management situation." His suggestion: treat the two governments like Kosovo or Cyprus, where adversaries never fully recognized each other, but modest agreements stopped the threat of another war. (Wall Street Journal)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Gaps Remain as Israelis, Palestinians Meet in Bid to Rescue Talks - Yitzhak Benhorin
    Israeli and Palestinian negotiators met again Monday as U.S. mediation efforts to prevent the collapse of ongoing peace talks showed little signs of progress. (Ynet News)
  • Israel: PA Violated International Treaties It Applied to Join - Michael Wilner
    Israel's envoy to the UN Ron Prosor accused the Palestinian Authority on Sunday of violating the protocols of the international organizations and conventions which it has applied to join. "Had the Palestinians bothered to read the applications to the various conventions they seek to join, they would understand that they are in blatant violation of the majority of their articles," Prosor said. "They tend to forget the surprising concept that joining international treaties also includes obligations."
        For example, "I remind Abbas that when he sends journalists to jail, he actually violates the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israeli Group to Sue Palestinians in Hague over Terror Ties - Lazar Berman
    As PA officials threaten to apply for membership in the International Criminal Court and UN agencies if there is no progress in peace talks with Israel, an Israel-based law center is preparing indictments against Palestinian officials for potential prosecution in the ICC. Shurat HaDin, which pursues legal action on behalf of terror victims, prepared a series of indictments alleging that senior Fatah and Hamas officials, including Hamas prime minister in Gaza Ismail Haniyeh, are liable for terrorism against Israeli civilians.
        "The Palestinians will have one tool when the negotiations will break down...using lawfare against Israel," said Shurat HaDin founder Nitsana Darshan-Leitner. "The main threat of this legal lawsuit is going to the ICC and indicting Israel for war crimes." Since the Israeli government withdrew from the ICC in 2002, it cannot bring a suit in the court. NGOs like Shurat HaDin, however, do enjoy standing in the ICC. (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • U.S. Policy and the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse - Dennis Ross
    Secretary of State John Kerry was able to get the Israelis and Palestinians to resume direct bilateral talks last summer, but they were not productive. His efforts produced the most serious, detailed discussions on the core issues since 2000, yet the gaps remained real.
        After Kerry briefed Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on the framework principles he was readying, Palestinians publicly indicated that Abbas was not prepared to accept them. From remarks presented on April 4 by Dennis Ross, a fellow and counselor at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, who served under presidents George H. W. Bush, Clinton, and Obama. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • The Erosion of the Israel-Hamas Ceasefire in Gaza - Yoram Schweitzer, Benedetta Berti, and Shlomo Brom
    Recent weeks have seen a gradual erosion of the Egyptian-brokered November 2012 ceasefire that ended Israeli military operations in Gaza against Palestinian rocket fire. While the first year following the ceasefire was characterized by a significant drop in violence, in 2014 the situation has been progressively less stable.
        So far Israel has focused its attacks mostly on Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) targets in Gaza, or any other organization that launches rockets and violates the ceasefire, signaling a desire to prevent an all-out escalation - an interest shared by Hamas. At the same time, the Israeli government has been putting pressure on Hamas to control all potential spoilers operating in Gaza, from the PIJ to the local Salafi-jihadist factions. (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv)
  • Why Palestinians Must Recognize Israel as a Jewish State - Chuck Freilich
    The Jews are unique in that they are both a religious group and a people, a nation, with a right of self-determination. The Jews' right to a nation-state was recognized by the League of Nations and United Nations. Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people and it is high time that the Palestinians reconcile themselves to this.
        Israel does not need Palestinian recognition to define itself. What it does need is for the Palestinians to irrevocably recognize the legitimacy of its Jewish character. Only when the Palestinians can bring themselves to do so will Israel be confident that they are truly ready for peace and an end to the conflict.
        Israel, the Palestinians note, did not ask Egypt and Jordan to recognize its Jewish character. This is true, the difference being that, unlike the Palestinians, they did not claim all of Israel as their own.
        Most Israelis believe that the negotiations with the Palestinians are not really over the West Bank, but over the Palestinians' ongoing refusal to accept the legitimacy of Israel's right to exist even within the 1948 borders. The writer is a senior fellow at Harvard's Kennedy School. (National Interest)

Why the Negotiations Broke Down - Ben-Dror Yemini (i24 News)

  • These negotiations were serious. The framework started coming together. So why did the negotiations break down? Because John Kerry refused to learn from the past.
  • We've seen the same framework he was planning to present in previous rounds: Bill Clinton's framework, Ehud Olmert's framework. The Palestinians said no - twice. And both times, they paid no price. Both times, the finger was pointed at Israel.
  • Then Kerry made a series of statements about the boycott that Israel would be facing if negotiations fail. Kerry didn't mean to - but he signaled the way for the Palestinians to once again raise the bar on their demands. Kerry made it clear to the Palestinians that Israel would be paying the price alone. Nothing would happen to them.
  • Some claim that Israel brought about the crisis in negotiations because of its refusal to release prisoners. That's interesting. According to the deal being formulated, the Palestinians would have gotten many more than the 26 prisoners originally slated for release, so where's the refusal?
  • Additionally, one should remember that the Palestinians announced in advance that the negotiations were about to end. Under such circumstances, refusing to make the last payment was the sensible thing to do.
  • Consider a buyer who has made three payments and is about to make the fourth, except that before doing so, he finds out that the seller has no merchandise. Would going through with the last payment be reasonable?

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