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,
October 1, 2014

In-Depth Issues:

Hamas Renews Rocket Production - Or Heller (Israel Defense)
    Hamas has returned to manufacturing rockets inside Gaza, after some 50% of its rocket lathes were destroyed during the recent fighting.
    Hamas has fired five test rockets into the sea since the war ended a month ago.

Israel Removes Buried Explosive Spy Gear in Jordan - Dana Al Emam (Albawaba-Jordan)
    Jordan's armed forces are working to remove old Israeli spyware in six locations in the kingdom, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs-of-Staff Gen. Mashal Al Zaben said on Tuesday. "For over a year-and-a-half, JAF has been involved in an operation to identify and remove the devices."
    The spying devices, rigged with explosives, were planted in 1969 after the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.
    Zaben noted that the Ajloun site, near Ajloun National University, was the last site on the list, and was treated by the Israeli side working at the location under JAF supervision. "With ultimate security measures in place," there was no collateral damage caused when the explosive device was detonated.

Police Suspect Palestinians in Israeli Death at Construction Site - Yaniv Kubovich (Ha'aretz)
    Israeli police are investigating the death of Netanel Arami, 26, the owner of a rappelling company, who died after falling from the 11th floor of a building under construction.
    Police investigators found that the cable he was tied to had been deliberately cut. The only other people in the vicinity at the time of Arami's death were Palestinian workers.

Azerbaijan: Israel's Closest Muslim Ally - Zulfugar Agayev (Bloomberg)
    What started as a marriage of convenience has netted Israel its closest Muslim ally. The majority Shiite nation of Azerbaijan provides about 40% of Israel's oil. Israel reciprocates by selling sophisticated arms including missile systems and drones.
    President Ilham Aliyev, whose family has run the country for four decades, has forged close ties with Israel in the face of criticism from neighboring Iran. The two countries share a 756-km. border, and almost a quarter of Iran's 75 million people are ethnic Azeris.

Israel Gas Deal Will Save Jordan $986 Million Annually - Mohammad Ghazal (Jordan Times)
    The Jordanian government said Thursday the state-owned National Electric Power Company is expected to buy 250-300 million cubic feet per day of natural gas from Israeli gas fields, which experts said will save around $986 million annually on Jordan's energy bill.

Israeli Rhythmic Gymnasts Take World Championship Silver - Uri Tashir (Ha'aretz)
    Israel's national rhythmic gymnastics team took home the silver medal Sunday in the World Championship in Izmir Turkey.
    The five Israeli girls ages 16 and 17, who worked 10 hours a day to create a faultless performance, were ranked second in the world.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. Continues Airstrikes Against ISIS - Felicia Schwartz
    The U.S. continued military operations against Islamic State militants on Monday and Tuesday, conducting 11 strikes in Syria and another 11 in Iraq, military officials said. (Wall Street Journal)
        See also British Jets Strike IS Targets in Iraq
    RAF jets have carried out their first strikes on Islamic State targets in northwestern Iraq in support of Kurdish units, attacking a "heavy weapon position" and an armed pick-up truck. (BBC News)
        See also Photos after U.S. Airstrike on Khorasan Group - a Unit of the Nusra Front - Jenan Moussa
    Al Aan TV has received access to the bombed out headquarters of the Khorasan group in Syria. Sources say that thirteen members of the Wolf unit of the Nusra Front lived in the compound, which was hit by U.S. airstrikes. Most of them are non-Syrian al-Qaeda members who have a history in Pakistan and Afghanistan and are now present inside Syria. 50 members of the Nusra Front died in the air raids, 200 escaped alive. (Al-Aan TV-Dubai)
        See also Report: Islamic State Beheads Captured Kurdish Fighters
    The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Wednesday that nine Kurdish fighters captured during fighting over the northern Syrian town of Kobani were beheaded by Islamic State militants. (AP-Fox News)
  • White House Exempts Airstrikes in Syria and Iraq from Tight Standards on Civilian Deaths - Michael Isikoff
    The White House has acknowledged that strict standards President Obama imposed last year to prevent civilian deaths from U.S. drone strikes will not apply to U.S. military operations in Syria and Iraq. Dozens of civilians, including women and young children, were reported killed when an errant Tomahawk cruise missile destroyed a home for displaced civilians in Kafr Daryan in Syria's Idlib province on Sept. 23.
        Images of badly injured children appeared on YouTube, helping to fuel anti-U.S. protests in a number of Syrian villages last week. The village has been described by Syrian rebel commanders as a stronghold of the al-Qaeda-linked Nusra Front where U.S officials believed members of the Khorasan group were plotting attacks against international aircraft.
        Caitlin Hayden, a spokesperson for the National Security Council, said that a much-publicized White House policy that President Obama announced last year barring U.S. drone strikes unless there is a "near certainty" there will be no civilian casualties - "the highest standard we can meet," he said at the time - does not cover the current U.S. airstrikes in Syria and Iraq. Hayden added that U.S. military operations against the Islamic State, "like all U.S. military operations, are being conducted consistently with the laws of armed conflict, proportionality and distinction."  (Yahoo News)
        See also Report: U.S. Airstrikes in Syria Kill Civilians
    U.S.-led air strikes in the northern Syrian town of Manbij controlled by the Islamic State killed only civilians, not fighters, Rami Abdulrahman, who runs the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said Monday. (Reuters)
  • White House Official: Nuclear Deal Could Portend Iran Ties
    Philip Gordon, the White House coordinator for the Middle East, said Saturday that a nuclear deal with Iran could start the way toward a possible resumption of ties. "A nuclear agreement could begin a multi-generational process that could lead to a new relationship between our countries," he told the National Iranian American Council. Gordon made clear that Iran had much to do in order to remove its pariah status, but his casting a nuclear deal as part of a normalization process and not an end in itself represented a shift. (JTA)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Netanyahu to Tell Obama of Arab States' Role in Peace Process - Rebecca Shimoni Stoil
    Prime Minister Netanyahu will speak with President Obama about the "possibility of involving the Arab states in the peace process" between Israel and the Palestinians, the prime minister told 300 American Jewish leaders on Tuesday. Letting Arab states participate in developing a solution would "promote peace" with the Palestinians.
        Netanyahu held up a photograph of a man with a gun standing over a kneeling, hooded man wearing an orange shirt, reminiscent of videos released of IS executions. "ISIS and Hamas are different because ISIS beheads people and Hamas shoots them in the head," he said. (Times of Israel)
  • Defense Minister Ya'alon Rules Out Notion of West Bank Withdrawal - Yaakov Lappin, Yonah Jeremy Bob and Tovah Lazaroff
    Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon told the Institute for National Security Studies on Tuesday that in the aftermath of the Gaza war, talk of any Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank is irrational. If there was a withdrawal, how would the IDF defend Ben-Gurion Airport or Tel Aviv, he asked, adding that a mortar could be used to attack the airport from the nearby West Bank hilltops. If the IDF leaves, Hamas will take over and other terrorists groups such as the Islamic Jihad, al-Qaeda and Islamic State would operate in the West Bank, he added.
        "When we talk about a new diplomatic horizon, we have to look for new directions," Ya'alon said. "The changing Middle East offers new regional opportunities. That is where we should seek new diplomatic horizons and not in the same concepts that have collapsed time after time."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Top Israeli Official Meets Palestinian Prime Minister over Gaza - Elior Levy and Attila Somfalvi
    A top Israeli official met Tuesday with Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah to discuss cooperation between the sides as well the rehabilitation of Gaza, top officials from Israel and the PA confirmed. A senior Israeli political official said, "The goal is to make sure that there is oversight about what is happening in Gaza, and that can be done either with the UN or the Palestinian Authority. For the PA to do that, we need to coordinate our moves and change the situation on the ground for regular Gazans. The goal is to cement the cease-fire."  (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Paradigm Change for Solving the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict - Editorial
    Prime Minister Netanyahu broke new ground in his speech Monday before the UN General Assembly, speaking of a "historic opportunity." Countries in the region that were antagonistic toward Israel - ostensibly because of its conflict with the Palestinians - increasingly realize that they share common interests with the Jewish state. Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE all see a nuclear Iran, an exultant Islamic State, and a reactionary Muslim Brotherhood as direct threats.
        Jews share with the Christians, Kurds and Yazidis of the region similar threats and interests as well. For all these groups, defeating militant Islamists is an existential imperative.
        Rapprochement with the Arab world could also radically transform the paradigm for reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians. Increasing cooperation between Israel and its neighbors can serve as a catalyst for a new, more creative solution that will enable Palestinians and Israelis to live together in peace.
        We Jews - like the Kurds, the Christians, the Yazidis and other non-Muslim faith and ethnic groups - are an integral part of this region. Our roots go back over 3,000 years. It is only logical that a solution will be found to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that includes input and support from the entire region in an atmosphere of mutual respect and cooperation. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Islamic State's Bloody Message Machine - Walter Pincus
    The Islamic State may practice medieval barbarism in Syria and Iraq, but its worldwide media operations are 21st century. It's active on social media, it has pamphlets, weekly illustrated magazines, billboards, T-shirts, baseball hats and even propaganda offices in Syria and Iraq. Its recent output of videos has been prodigious.
        The three professionally staged beheadings of two American journalists and a British aid worker shocked the world. Whatever their original purpose, they instead generated U.S. public demand for immediate action against the Islamic State and greater international support for President Obama's decision to expand the bombing to Syria.
        In a Sept. 21 speech, the Islamic State's chief spokesman, Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, says Americans "will pay the price as you walk on your streets, turning right and left, fearing the Muslims. You will not feel secure even in your bedrooms. You will pay the price when this crusade of yours collapses and thereafter we will strike you in your homeland."  (Washington Post)

Why Does State Dept. Defend UNRWA's Artificial "Refugee" Designations? - Steven J. Rosen (Gatestone Institute)

  • UNRWA, the UN agency that manages the Palestinian refugee issue, follows rules that contradict U.S. law, and its practices result in perpetuating and multiplying the refugee problem rather than resolving it. Yet the U.S. Department of State gives unquestioning support to UNRWA's refugee designation rules.
  • For example, almost two million Palestinians who have for decades enjoyed Jordanian citizenship are routinely counted as "refugees," in spite of the fact that, under U.S. law, a person who has citizenship in the country where he resides, and enjoys the protection of that state, cannot lawfully be eligible for refugee status.
  • Another two million Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, by their own account, lived in the declared Palestinian state as its citizens under a Palestinian government, but are registered as "refugees" by UNRWA. By American legal standards, these Palestinians are "firmly settled" and therefore ineligible for "refugee" status.
  • Under U.S. laws and regulations, only an individual who was personally displaced, or is a spouse or an underage dependent of such an individual, can be eligible for refugee status or derivative refugee status. Grandchildren and great-grandchildren are specifically not entitled to inherit refugee status. But under UNRWA practices, any descendant of a male refugee, no matter how many generations and decades have passed, is automatically entitled to be counted as a "refugee."
  • More than 95% of today's "refugees" were not even alive when Israel was born in 1948 and were never personally displaced by Israel's creation. UNRWA beneficiaries may be needy people deserving of assistance, but they are not "refugees." Supporting UNRWA's schools and hospitals, and its stabilizing role, does not require that the U.S. government continue to call UNRWA beneficiaries "refugees" when they are not.

    The writer is Director of the Washington Project of the Middle East Forum.

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