Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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  DAILY ALERT Wednesday,
September 17, 2014

In-Depth Issues:

Hamas Leader: Gazans Most Affected by Fighting Were Most Committed to Resistance - Asmaa al-Ghoul (Al-Monitor)
    Hamas Deputy Leader Mousa Abu Marzouk said in an interview with Al-Monitor:
    "People stuck with the resistance in an unprecedented way, as the citizens who were the most affected were the ones most committed to the resistance....They expected that at least there will be demands commensurate with the victory, such as lifting the siege, the seaport and airport. But we could not get that in the cease-fire. It was postponed until upcoming negotiations."
    "It was not possible to achieve more. At this stage of the battle, we couldn't have gained more. But negotiations are coming up, and the cards are still in the hands of the resistance."
    "Let me also acknowledge that an essential part of the capabilities of the resistance was from Iranian aid in the recent war and the war that preceded it. So we say that Iran's position was positive, and it deserves thanks for that."
    "As for how the resistance will rearm, everyone knows very well that we have always been able to get weapons and manage our affairs. There is no worry about that."

Hamas Cooperating with Sinai Jihadis Who Rocketed Israel - Yaakov Lappin (Jerusalem Post)
    According to Israeli intelligence evaluations, Hamas cooperated during the recent Gaza conflict with jihadi elements in Sinai who fired two rockets at Eilat on July 15, wounding four and destroying a number of vehicles.
    There are hundreds of Salafi jihadis based in Gaza, many of whom move to and from Sinai, smuggling weapons and plotting attacks.
    While enforcing truces with Israel, Hamas has often signaled to the Sinai groups that they are free to attack Israel as they please.

Poll: Most West Bank Palestinians Do Not Support New Armed Intifada Against Israel - Hussien Ahmad (An-Najah University-PA)
    49% of the Palestinian public overall supports an armed intifada against Israel vs. 44% who reject it, according to a poll conducted on Sep. 11-13 and published on Tuesday by An-Najah University in Nablus in the West Bank.
    However, in the West Bank where the intifada would take place, 54% reject an armed uprising, while 44% support this option.
    At the same time, most Palestinians - 58% overall and in the West Bank - expect a third intifada.
    If new legislative elections were held, 40% expect a Hamas bloc to win, while 26% expect a Fatah bloc to win. In the West Bank, 47% expect Hamas to win, while only 23% expect Fatah to win.
    In Gaza, 46% said they desired to emigrate abroad, compared with 21% in the West Bank.
    When asked "Are you worried about your life?" 65% in Gaza said yes, while 62% in the West Bank said no.

Pro-Iranian Houthis Advancing in Yemen - Arafat Madabish (Asharq Al-Awsat-UK)
    Houthi forces are advancing in Yemen's western Al-Hudaydah province, seeking to take control of a number of strategic areas including the port of Midi, close to the Yemeni–Saudi border, local sources told Asharq Al-Awsat. The latest incidents represent an escalation in the conflict.
    Talks between Yemen's Houthis and Sana'a broke down on Monday after the Houthis walked out over alleged "foreign intervention," in reference to a G10 statement warning that the Shi'ite movement is responsible for the deteriorating security situation in the country.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Syrian Rebels Seize UN Weapons in the Golan Heights
    Syrian rebels linked to al-Qaeda have seized UN weapons, uniforms and vehicles in the Golan Heights, Syrian UN Ambassador Bashar Jaafari said Tuesday. "The terrorists are now using United Nations cars, which hold the emblem of the United Nations forces in the Golan. They are using the uniform of the UNDOF [UN Disengagement Observer Force], the weapons of UNDOF, the positions of UNDOF to shell the Syrian army," he said. (AFP)
  • After Obama Authorizes Airstrikes, Islamic State in Syria Goes Underground - Tom Perry
    The Islamic State has gone underground in its Syrian stronghold since President Obama authorized U.S. air strikes on the group, disappearing from the streets, redeploying weapons and fighters, and cutting down its media exposure. Facing U.S. air strikes in Iraq, Islamic State fighters abandoned heavy weaponry that made them easy targets and tried to blend into civilian areas. In anticipation of similar raids in Syria, the group may already be doing the same. In Raqqa, Syria, the group has evacuated buildings it was using as offices, redeployed its heavy weaponry, and moved fighters' families out of the city. (Reuters)
  • U.S.: Iran's Current Position in Nuclear Talks "Unacceptable"
    U.S. Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman said Tuesday: "An Iran armed with nuclear weapons would have the ability to project devastating power far beyond its borders, threaten Israel, and further assist violent extremists. If Tehran developed a nuclear weapon, other countries in the region might well pursue the same goal, generating a potentially catastrophic nuclear arms race....For these reasons, President Obama has pledged that Iran will not be allowed to acquire a nuclear weapon."
        "Since late last year, I have been leading the U.S. negotiating team that is seeking a diplomatic path to that objective....America's purpose in the negotiation is to develop a plan of lasting duration that would block all of the Islamic Republic's potential paths to a nuclear weapon."
        "We remain far apart on...core issues, including the size and scope of Iran's uranium enrichment capacity. I fully expect in the days ahead that Iran will try to convince the world that on this pivotal matter, the status quo - or its equivalent - should be acceptable. It is not....The world will agree to suspend and then lift sanctions only if Iran takes convincing and verifiable steps to show that its nuclear program is and will remain entirely peaceful."  (State Department)
  • UN Brokers Agreement to Start Gaza Rebuilding
    The UN has brokered an agreement to enable the reconstruction of Gaza, giving a lead role to the PA, the UN's top Mideast envoy, Robert Serry, told the Security Council on Tuesday. Serry said the UN procedure for monitoring the import of construction materials for its own schools, clinics and other facilities, which has been going on for years, will be expanded to cover the wider reconstruction of Gaza. This will require more UN monitors. (AP-Washington Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Palestinians in Gaza Fire Mortar at Israel During Cease-Fire - Amos Harel
    Palestinians in Gaza fired a mortar shell at Israel on Tuesday, the IDF confirmed. Hamas later detained those responsible for the firing, Israeli security sources said on Wednesday. It was clear that Hamas was interested in maintaining the cease-fire, the sources added. (Ha'aretz)
  • Defense Minister Ya'alon: Gaza Fighting Won't Resume - Amos Harel
    Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said Tuesday that fighting would not resume in Gaza, despite the difficulties in reaching a permanent Israel-Hamas cease-fire agreement. He said that Israeli deterrence in the wake of the Gaza war was strong, and said he hoped that if a solution could be found via Egyptian mediation that would allow reconstruction to begin, this might ensure a relatively long period of quiet.
        Israel was already working with the UN and PA to enable increased transfer of construction materials to Gaza, Ya'alon said. However, he noted, Israel would make sure that no "dual-use materials" - that could be used to dig new tunnels or manufacture weapons - would be brought in without proper oversight. (Ha'aretz)
  • Survey: Israelis Lead Middle East in Life Satisfaction
    Israelis are better off than anyone in the Middle East and are on par with most of the Western World, according to the State of Global Well Being poll, conducted in 2013 and published on Tuesday by Gallup and Healthways. The study measures how people feel about their lives, based on: sense of purpose, social connections, community, finances and physical vigor.
        According to the study, "Israel's relatively high rates of well-being stand out compared with its neighbors in the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region, safely exceeding the regional percentages in all five elements. Israel's thriving rates in each element are more on par with the percentages in other wealthy OECD member states." Overall, Israel ranks 34th globally among 135 countries. The U.S. ranks 12th. (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Why Great Palestinian Victories Are Worse than Defeats - Edward N. Luttwak
    As soon as the shooting stopped on Aug. 26, Hamas leaders came out of hiding to declare that they had won a great victory in the 2014 Gaza war, which had been preceded by the Gaza wars of 2008 and 2012, which they had also declared to be great victories. In each war, the martyrdom-seeking Islamic warriors of Hamas were badly outclassed in hand-to-hand combat by seriously trained Israeli conscripts, while its rockets were mostly ineffectual, unlike Israeli artillery and air power.
        Israel's superior strength in war presents a very personal problem for each believing Muslim. It all starts with Islam itself, as a faith originally validated by the immense conquests of the first Muslims. The Quran is replete with categorical promises of victory for true believers, and Islam as a religion still rests on those promises. Defeats inflicted by Jews are an even more acute problem, because in the Quran they are written off as weaklings, easily defeated. Hamas' video re-enactments of the recent fighting, featuring pathetic Israeli soldiers bursting into tears before being killed or surrendering meekly to the noble warriors of Hamas, have been wildly popular.
        Rioting demonstrators in Berlin and Paris in August 2014 comforted themselves with shouts of "Remember Khaibar!" evoking Muhammad's conquest of the Jewish oasis of Khaibar in the year 629 - thus testifying to the dearth of notable Muslim victories over Jews over the last 1,385 years. The writer is senior associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. (Tablet)
  • New Reality for Israelis on Golan Heights: Islamists Now Control the Other Side - Joel Greenberg
    Islamist rebels now control areas of Syria on the very doorstep of Israeli-controlled land on the Golan Heights. "Israel might be literally the front (line) of the West toward the radical Islamic movements...if they succeed in taking control on the Golan Heights," said Yaakov Amidror, a former Israeli national security adviser.
        Analysts believe it is just a matter of time before al-Qaeda's Nusra Front and other Islamist groups on the Golan start carrying out attacks on Israel. Yoram Schweitzer, a research fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv, noted that al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri has spoken of using Syria as a staging ground for a "holy war" against Israel. (McClatchy)
        See also First, Syrian Rebels Aim to Take Damascus, Not Jerusalem - Mitch Ginsburg (Times of Israel)
  • Understanding Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi and the Phenomenon of the Islamic Caliphate State - Y. Carmon, Y. Yehoshua, and A. Leone
    The successive atrocities committed by the Islamic State create the erroneous impression that it is simply a more vicious version of al-Qaeda. Yet based on the organization's official writings and speeches by its leaders, IS places priority not on global terrorism, but rather on establishing and consolidating a state, and hence it defers the clash with the West to a much later stage.
        Whereas in al-Qaeda, emphasis is on worldwide jihad prior to the declaration of the Islamic caliphate, IS doctrine is characterized by prioritizing the establishment and consolidation of the caliphate state as the overriding objective.
        It is equally clear that, once the near and immediate enemy has been defeated, the West's turn will arrive. Moreover, if allowed to implement its strategy of stages, upon reaching the stage of war against the West, the Islamic state it is likely to command a wide range of modern military assets, possibly including planes, guided missiles, and chemical weapons. Therefore, postponing the clash with the West serves IS interests rather than the West's. (MEMRI)

Is Abbas Serious about Going to the International Criminal Court? - Alan Baker (Jerusalem Report)

  • The latest ploy by PA President Mahmoud Abbas for frightening the Israelis, which is fixated on "internationalizing the conflict" by "going back to the UN," joining various international conventions and taking Israeli political and military leaders to the International Criminal Court (ICC), involves a large degree of self-delusion.
  • Abbas' threat to go to the ICC and have Israeli leaders and military officers tried for war crimes appears almost certain to backfire. Even if the ICC prosecutor accepts a Palestinian request for standing in the Court, the Court's rule of "complementarity" prevents the Court's exercising its jurisdiction if the case in question is already subject to investigation and potential juridical process by the nation-state of the accused.
  • Even more noteworthy is the likelihood that the Palestinian leadership, in giving the Court jurisdiction over the territories, including Gaza, would be placing itself - as well as senior Hamas commanders and tacticians - at the mercy of anyone who chooses to initiate claims against them for serious war crimes and terrorism.
  • These crimes include willful and large-scale targeting of Israeli civilians, towns and villages, and the willful and systematic use of their own civilians and civilian structures, including homes, schools, hospitals, mosques, clinics and UN properties, as civilian and human shields - all serious war crimes.
  • The International Criminal Court has hardly got off the ground as a viable international juridical body. The last thing it needs is to be labeled as one more UN-style "Israel-bashing" institution, manipulated by the Palestinians.

    The writer, a former Foreign Ministry legal advisor and Israeli ambassador to Canada, is director of the Institute for Contemporary Affairs at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

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