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June 9, 2014

In-Depth Issues:

Abbas Is Lying to Americans, Says Former Hamas Spokesman - Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik (Palestinian Media Watch)
    Former Hamas government spokesman Ihab al-Ghussein announced on his Facebook page on June 8 that in private meetings with Hamas, Mahmoud Abbas insists that he is lying in his public statements in order to "trick the Americans."
    "You know what Mahmoud Abbas says behind closed doors? He says: Guys, let me [continue] saying what I say to the media. Those words are meant for the Americans and the occupation (i.e., Israel), not for you [Hamas]."
    "What's important is what we agree on among ourselves. In other words, when I go out [publicly] and say that the government is my [Abbas] government and it recognizes 'Israel' and so on, fine - these words are meant to trick the Americans."

"Cold-Blooded Murder" or a War on Terror? - Lt. Col. (ret.) Jonathan D. Halevi (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
    Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator, claims that all the Palestinian "victims" since the beginning of the negotiations in August 2013 "were killed in cold blood" by Israel.
    A check of the names of those killed reveals that almost all were combatants from radical and Islamic terrorist groups, including Hamas.

IDF Chief: Dramatic Armament Taking Place in Gaza - Aron Donzis (Times of Israel)
    Palestinian terrorists in Gaza are arming themselves with missiles that can reach deep into Israel's heartland, but military deterrence was working to keep war at bay, IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz told the Herzliya conference on Monday.
    Gantz said there had been "a dramatic increase in medium- and long-range rockets" in Gaza.

Israeli Company Partners with Alcoa to Extend Range of Electric Cars by 1,600 Km. (CBC News-Canada)
    Israel-based Phinergy and Alcoa Canada demonstrated an electric car this week in Montreal with a battery that extends the range of the vehicle by 1,600 km.
    The range for electric cars now on the market is 135 km. for the Nissan Leaf and 480 km. for the Tesla Model S.
    Aviv Tzidon, CEO of Phinergy, said the new battery technology can store enough energy to take a car 3,000 km. with 100 kg. of aluminum-air batteries, as compared with the Tesla Model S battery which weighs 500 kg.

Hebrew University Students Place 2nd in International Legal Competition - Yonah Jeremy Bob (Jerusalem Post)
    49 teams from 35 countries took part in a competitive International Criminal Court contest at The Hague.
    A team of four Hebrew University students finished second.
    All of the top three finishers, India, Israel and China, are countries that have not joined the ICC.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Egypt's Sisi Sworn In as President, Promises to Defeat "Terrorism"
    Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has used his first speech as Egypt's president to promise to "defeat terrorism," saying that security is a priority and that he has no time for reconciliation with opponents. "Defeating terrorism and achieving security is the top priority," said Sisi, adding there would be "no leniency and truce with those who resort to violence." "I am looking to a new era built on reconciliation and tolerance...except with those who committed crimes or used violence as a tool."  (Al Jazeera)
        See also Israel Congratulates Egypt's Sisi on Election
    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke with Egyptian president-elect Abdel Fattah al-Sisi Friday and "congratulated him on his victory in the election," the premier's office said. A statement noted "the strategic importance of the ties between the states and of upholding the peace agreement, and wished the Egyptian people a future of stability, prosperity and peace."  (AFP)
  • Jihadist Group More Extreme than al-Qaeda in Battle to Establish Islamic State across Iraq and Syria - Patrick Cockburn
    With a multi-pronged assault across central and northern Iraq in the past four days, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) has become the most powerful and effective extreme jihadi group in the world. ISIS now controls or can operate with impunity in a great stretch of territory in western Iraq and eastern Syria.
        ISIS specializes in using militarily untrained foreign volunteers as suicide bombers either moving on foot wearing suicide vests, or driving vehicles packed with explosives. Horrifically violent, though professionally made, propaganda videos show ISIS forcing families with sons in the Iraqi army to dig their own graves before they are shot. (Independent-UK)
  • Pope Francis Peace Plea at Israel-Palestinian Prayer Meeting
    Pope Francis has urged Israeli and Palestinian leaders to show courage to seek peace in the Middle East. The Pope was speaking after hosting joint prayers at the Vatican with Israeli President Shimon Peres and his Palestinian counterpart, Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday. Peres said making peace was a "holy mission." Peres and Abbas know each other well - they signed the Oslo peace accords in 1993. (BBC News)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Netanyahu: Those Hoping for Moderate Hamas Were Wrong
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the Israeli Cabinet Sunday that "whoever hoped that the Palestinian unity between Fatah and Hamas would moderate Hamas is mistaken." "The signs are being seen more and more that the complete opposite is taking place," Netanyahu said. "Hamas is increasing its control in the Palestinian Authority areas in Judea and Samaria."
        The prime minister also welcomed a recent announcement by the Australian government that the word "occupied" would be dropped when discussing East Jerusalem. (Ynet News)
  • PA to Seek Wider Arab Reprisal Against Australia - Spencer Ho and Stuart Winer
    The Palestinian Authority intends to lobby Arab and Muslim countries to reevaluate relations with Australia after Canberra announced last week that it would stop referring to East Jerusalem as "occupied" territory, a senior PA official wrote in a letter to Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop. "Palestine will request that the Arab League and the Islamic Conference review the relations of the Arab and Islamic world with Australia in light of Australia's unlawful recognition of the illegal settlement regime in occupied Palestine," Saeb Erekat wrote in a June 5 letter.
        On Thursday, Australia's Attorney General George Brandis explained that "The description of East Jerusalem as 'occupied' East Jerusalem is a term freighted with pejorative implications which is neither appropriate nor useful....It should not and will not be the practice of the Australian government to describe areas of negotiation in such judgmental language." Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman applauded "the Australian government for its honesty and integrity in its treatment of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict....I hope that other states will discover the bravery and honesty that Australia has found."  (Times of Israel)
  • Israel Won't Negotiate with Palestinian Hunger-Striking Security Detainees - Chaim Levinson, Amos Harel and Jack Khoury
    At the recommendation of the Israel Security Agency, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has refused to negotiate with hunger-striking Palestinian detainees who are seeking an end to the practice of administration detention.
        ISA head Yoram Cohen appears to believe a compromise would leave Israel vulnerable to nonstop extortion by means of recurrent hunger strikes. The practice of administrative detention, which accounts for about 10% of all Israeli arrests of Palestinians, is deemed vital to the war on terror. It is used in cases where an indictment would require exposing intelligence sources or where the evidence is not sufficient for a criminal case.
        Cohen seems to believe the agreement he negotiated to end the last major hunger strike by Palestinian prisoners in 2012 was a mistake and that the Palestinians violated that agreement. Meanwhile, the IDF is preparing to cope with Palestinian rioting in the event that one of the hunger strikers dies. (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Israeli-Palestinian Collision Course - Editorial
    The U.S. and other countries that consider Hamas a terrorist group may find it impossible to continue aiding the Palestinians if Hamas plays a more pronounced role. There are the inescapable facts of Hamas' hatred of Israel and its heavily armed militia.
        The U.S. has to be careful to somehow distinguish between its support for the new government and an endorsement of Hamas and its violent, hateful behavior. To have some hope of doing that, the U.S. and Europe must continue to insist that Abbas stick to his promises and not allow Hamas to get the upper hand. (New York Times)
  • Palestinian Leaders Don't Want an Independent State - Efraim Karsh
    The Palestinian leadership's serial rejection of the numerous opportunities for statehood since the Peel Commission report of 1937 casts a serious doubt on its interest in the creation of an independent state. Instead of engaging in the tasks of nation-building and state creation, all Palestinian leaders without any exception have preferred to immerse their constituents in disastrous conflicts that culminated in their collective undoing and continued statelessness. At the same time, these leaders have lined their pockets from the proceeds of this ongoing tragedy.
        It can be shown that the main sources of this self-destructive conduct are pan-Arab delusions, Islamist ideals, and the vast financial and political gains attending the perpetuation of Palestinian misery. Had Hajj Amin Husseini chosen to lead his constituents to peace and reconciliation with their Jewish neighbors, the Palestinians would have had their independent state over a substantial part of mandate Palestine by 1948, if not a decade earlier, and would have been spared the traumatic experience of dispersal and exile. The writer is professor of Middle East and Mediterranean studies at King's College London and professor of political studies at Bar-Ilan University. (Middle East Quarterly)
  • Iran's Ballistic Missile Program - Azriel Bermant and Emily B. Landau
    Over the past eight months of negotiations between Iran and the P5+1, Tehran's ballistic missile program has been mainly relegated to the sidelines. Although several months ago there were indications that the U.S. might include the issue in a final deal, Iran has insisted that it will not countenance discussing the missile program.
        Iran already has operational missiles with ranges of 1500 to 2500 km. that can reach the Middle East, Turkey, and Southeast Europe. It has been working on an extended range version of the Shahab-3 and a 2000 km. medium-range missile, the Sejjil-2, and may soon be able to produce missiles with a range of 3000 km. According to a 2012 U.S. Department of Defense report, Iran may be technically capable of flight testing an ICBM by 2015. (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)

Steinitz: A Bad Deal Will Lead to an Iran with Dozens of Nuclear Bombs Ten Years from Now (Jerusalem Post)

  • Israeli Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz, speaking at the Herzliya Conference on Monday, laid out a stark scenario in which he described an Iran in possession of dozens of nuclear warheads ten years from now - the likely result of Western powers signing a "bad deal" with Iran on its nuclear program.
  • He said that in the event that the world powers sign an unsatisfactory deal with Iran that does not dismantle its nuclear program, the Islamic Republic could have 50-100 nuclear warheads by the year 2024.
  • In addition, Steinitz warned that Iran would also possess ballistic missiles with the ability to reach Western Europe and the east coast of the U.S.
  • Steinitz said in this scenario, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Algeria, Turkey, and other Middle East states would begin their own nuclear weapons programs in answer to Iran.
  • Steinitz explained that allowing Iran to remain on the threshold of making a nuclear bomb would also constitute a "bad deal."
  • A terrible agreement that gives Iran legitimacy, while leaving it a threshold state, will pave the way for other states to demand the same thing, he added.

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