Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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  DAILY ALERT Tuesday,
September 2, 2014

In-Depth Issues:

Islamic State Vows to Reach "Palestine" and "Kill the Barbaric Jews" - Lev Selmon (Jerusalem Post)
    The Islamic State's new English language publication, Dabiq, aimed at young Muslims in Western states, declared, "Islamic State will do everything within its means to continue striking down every apostate who stands as an obstacle on its path towards Palestine."
    "It is only a matter of time and patience before it reaches Palestine to fight the barbaric Jews and kill those of them hiding behind the gharqad trees - the trees of the Jews."

Palestinian Poll: 79 Percent Believe Hamas Won the Gaza War - Khalil Shikaki (Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research)
    According to a poll in the West Bank and Gaza conducted on Aug. 26-30, 79% believe that Hamas won the Gaza war and that Israel was responsible for the war.
    86% support the launching of rockets from Gaza; 60% say that Hamas does not launch rockets from populated areas.
    54% say they supported the killing of the three Israeli teens kidnapped in June 2014 in the West Bank, while support for their killing reached 69% among Gazans.
    72% favor the transfer of Hamas' armed approach to the West Bank.
    See also Palestinian Poll: 77 Percent of Gazans Believe Israel "Painfully Beaten" by Hamas - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    77% of Gaza residents believe that Israel was "painfully beaten" by Hamas in the Gaza war, according to a poll conducted by the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion in mid-August and published on Monday.

Gaza Patients Treated in Israeli Hospitals During Hamas Attacks - Itay Hod (Daily Beast)
    About 27,300 critical care patients from Gaza were treated in Israel in 2013. During Gaza war, about 300 emergency care patients from Gaza were received in Israel to be treated for cancer, kidney disease, heart disease, and other critical conditions.
    That created a bizarre situation in which Gaza patients were admitted to Israeli medical centers even as Hamas fired rockets at the very cities where those patients are being treated.
    See also Hamas Fires at Sick Gazans Trying to Leave for Medical Treatment - Assaf Kamar (Ynet News)

Arab Bank Said at Trial to Have Sent $4 Million to Hamas - Christie Smythe (Bloomberg)
    Arab Bank Plc maintained accounts for senior Hamas leaders, including former spiritual leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, the former head of the Israeli military's Department of Palestinian Affairs, Arieh Spitzen, told a federal court in Brooklyn on Thursday in a U.S. trial over claims the bank helped finance suicide bombings in Israel.
    He said the bank transferred about $4 million from 2000 to 2001 to two dozen Hamas leaders and operatives through its New York branch.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Syrian Rebels Issue Demands in Return for Captured UN Peacekeepers
    Syrian rebels have issued three demands for the release of 45 Fijian peacekeepers they have held captive for five days. The al-Qaeda-linked Nusra Front wants to be taken off the UN terrorist list, wants humanitarian aid, and wants compensation for three of its fighters it says were killed in a shootout with UN officers. (AP-Telegraph-UK)
        See also UN Peacekeepers, an Empty Presence - Dr. Gabi Avital
    It is a sad sight to see the UN soldiers, who are supposed to monitor and mediate on Israel's northern border, finding themselves in fire fights, being persecuted, taken captive, and escaping to Israel. How are there still public officials who believe that UN troops should supervise the West Bank or the border crossings with Gaza? (Israel Hayom)
  • U.S. Strikes Islamic Militants in Somalia - Craig Whitlock
    The U.S. military carried out a counterterrorism strike Monday against leaders of the militant group al-Shabab in Somalia. Journalists reported that suspected U.S. drones fired missiles near the port city of Barawe. (Washington Post)
  • Europe Seeks Role in Postwar Gaza - Josef Federman
    European nations are offering to help enforce the cease-fire in Gaza. French President Francois Hollande said Thursday that Europe could help oversee the destruction of tunnels used by Hamas militants and monitor the territory's border crossings with Israel and Egypt. In Gaza, Hamad al-Rakeb, a Hamas spokesman, described Hollande's proposal as "mixing poison in the honey."  (AP)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • After the Gaza War, Will Talks Be Renewed with the Palestinians about the West Bank? - Barak Ravid
    U.S. Secretary of State Kerry sent feelers out to Prime Minister Netanyahu over the past two weeks as to the possibility of taking advantage of the end of the Gaza war to renew talks with the Palestinians. A senior Israeli official said that Kerry had even been considering coming to Israel to hold talks with Netanyahu and Abbas, but that he abandoned the idea after he realized that neither had any interest in talks at this time.
        Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ya'alon told Kerry's representative, Gen. John Allen, that their lesson from the war in Gaza is that the IDF has to have freedom of action in the West Bank and not only along the Jordan River. They made clear to Allen that the main focus of dialogue with the PA had to be mainly regarding Gaza and not a diplomatic arrangement in the West Bank. "Let's see how Abbas does first of all in Gaza and then we'll talk about other things," they told Allen. (Ha'aretz)
  • PA Chief Abbas: Hamas Leader Mashaal Is a Liar - Khaled Abu Toameh
    PA President Mahmoud Abbas complained to the emir of Qatar during a recent meeting in Doha about Hamas' attempt to stage a coup against his regime in the West Bank, the Hizbullah-affiliated newspaper Al-Akhbar reported on Monday. Abbas reportedly told the emir that Hamas has been working to bring down the PA ever since its establishment. Abbas also accused Hamas of being behind the abduction and murder of the three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank last June. Abbas was quoted as saying: "When I asked Mashaal [about the murder of the three youths], he replied: 'I don't know.' Then he told me, 'I neither deny nor confirm.' Lies and beating around the bush."
        Abbas added, "Hamas' goal is to destroy the West Bank and create chaos in order to stage a coup against us." He claimed that top Hamas operative Saleh Arouri, who is based in Turkey, and a Jordan-based Hamas operative nicknamed Jawad were behind the coup. He noted that in 2006 Hamas had tried to assassinate him by placing explosives along the route his convoy used in Gaza. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Fatah Blasts Hamas for Stealing Humanitarian Aid During Gaza War - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Fatah's Central Committee on Saturday accused Hamas of targeting Fatah members during the Gaza war and stealing humanitarian aid. It said Hamas shot and beat dozens of Fatah members, confiscated food and medicine sent to Gaza from the West Bank, distributed the aid among its men in mosques, and sold some of it on the black market. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Abbas Prepares to Get Tough on Hamas and Israel - Avi Issacharoff
    In the past two days, the PA security services have carried out a wave of arrests of Hamas operatives across the West Bank. This PA-Hamas rivalry now threatens to paralyze rehabilitation efforts in Gaza. The PA is supposed to negotiate with Hamas on allowing the Palestinian unity government to operate in Gaza. Abbas will make it clear that if his conditions are not met, there will be no wages paid to Hamas officials and the PA will not share in the responsibility for the rehabilitation of Gaza. But Hamas is in no hurry to give up its control of Gaza and clear the stage for Abbas' people.
        At the same time, Abbas intends to renew diplomatic pressure on Israel. His peace plan envisions filing a request with the Americans to pressure Israel to present a map of a future Palestinian state. Abbas' plan calls for a firm timetable for an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank and the establishment of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital. (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • The Israeli "Land Grab" and Hopes for Peace - Jonathan S. Tobin
    Israel's government declared that 988 acres of vacant land in the Gush Etzion bloc south of Jerusalem is "state land" and therefore might be used for development. But the way the story is being presented in the mainstream press is highly misleading. Though the move was condemned as one that would "dramatically change the reality" in the area, since it is already inside an area that is heavily populated by Jews, it's hard to see how it would affect the future of other parts of the West Bank.
        This isn't just any settlement bloc; it's Gush Etzion. This bloc is just south of Jerusalem and contains 22 Jewish communities with over 70,000 residents. Gush Etzion was populated and owned by Jews not only prior to 1967 but also prior to Israel's War of Independence, before it was overrun by Jordanian army units and local Palestinians after a bitterly contested siege. Its inhabitants were either massacred or taken prisoner. As such, it was the first land to be reclaimed for Jewish settlement after the 1967 war put it back in Israeli hands.
        Neither the ownership nor the future of Gush Etzion is up for debate in any peace talks. In every peace plan, the bloc remains part of Israel, a reality that most sensible Palestinians accept. Why then is the Gush Etzion land decision being represented as such a blow to a peace process? The Palestinians and their cheerleaders aren't really interested in negotiating peace, because it is still impossible for PA leader Mahmoud Abbas to recognize the legitimacy of a Jewish state no matter where its borders are drawn. (Commentary)
  • The President's Curious "Rage" at Israel - Bret Stephens
    Barack Obama "has become 'enraged' at the Israeli government, both for its actions and for its treatment of his chief diplomat, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry." So reports the Jerusalem Post, based on the testimony of Martin Indyk, until recently a special Middle East envoy for the president. Israel has just been hit by several thousand rockets and 30-odd terror tunnels, a 50-day war, the forced closure of its one major airport, accusations of "genocide," and anti-Semitic protests throughout Europe. This is the country that is the object of the president's rage.
        On July 15 Israel accepted the terms of a cease-fire crafted by Egypt. Hamas violated it by firing 50 rockets at Israel. On July 17 Israel accepted a five-hour humanitarian cease-fire. Hamas violated it again. On July 20 Israel allowed a two-hour medical window in the neighborhood of Shujaiyeh. Hamas violated it. On July 26 Hamas announced a daylong cease-fire. It then broke its own cease-fire. On July 28 Israel agreed to a cease-fire for the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr. The rocket attacks continued.
        On Aug. 1 Israel accepted a 72-hour cease-fire proposed by the U.S. Hamas violated it within 90 minutes. On Aug. 5 Israel agreed to Egypt's terms for another three-day cease-fire. Hamas violated it several hours before it was set to expire. If Hamas had honored any of these cease-fires it could have saved Palestinian lives. (Wall Street Journal)

Who Won the Gaza War? - Elliott Abrams (Weekly Standard)

  • A good measure of who won the Gaza war is who achieved their war aims. Israel's key goal was to restore quiet, and that is what this cease-fire deal does. Hamas ultimately accepted an Egyptian-brokered deal that differs little from one proffered on the battle's seventh day.
  • The second reason to give this round to Israel is the damage that appears to have been done to Hamas. Hamas rocket fire was largely blunted by Israel's Iron Dome defense system, and Hamas' great secret weapon, the attack tunnels into Israel, have been destroyed. Perhaps a thousand Hamas soldiers were killed, perhaps more, among them several key leaders.
  • A third reason to believe that Israel won the war is the focus now on how Hamas turned Gaza into a war machine. Hamas' use of mosques, schools, hotels, and hospitals to shelter its leaders, shoot rockets, and store war materiel has been vastly downplayed in the international press - but has not been absent.
  • For now, it's clear that Hamas achieved nothing of value in this war while imposing a huge cost on Gaza.

    The writer is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

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