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October 24, 2014

In-Depth Issues:

Intifada in Jerusalem Is Not Spontaneous - Nadav Shragai (Israel Hayom)
    The disturbances and continuous attacks on Jews in Jerusalem has long not been spontaneous.
    It is organized and funded by elements identified with Fatah and Hamas.
    Many of the 900 arrested enjoy legal defense funded by the Palestinian Authority.
    Many small organizations operate on the neighborhood level. They all carry the slogans of a "popular resistance" preached to them by PA President Mahmoud Abbas.

U.S. Strikes Cut into ISIS Oil Revenues - Julie Hirschfeld Davis (New York Times)
    The American military campaign against the Islamic State has begun to cut into the Sunni militant group's substantial oil revenues, the top counterterrorism official at the Treasury Department, David S. Cohen, said on Thursday, but starving its cash flow will be a slow process.
    Cohen said the group was "the best-funded terrorist organization we've confronted." The group takes in tens of millions of dollars each month, including about $1 million a day through black-market sales of oil extracted from territory it controls. The group also runs extortion and protection schemes.
    Treasury is focusing on choking off the oil revenue and leaning on countries in the region to shut down cross-border smuggling routes.
    "The middlemen, traders, refiners, transport companies and anyone else that handles ISIL's oil should know that we are hard at work identifying them, and that we have tools at hand to stop them," Cohen said.
    Cohen is also pushing to enlist other countries to join the U.S. in adopting a no-ransoms policy for kidnapped hostages. Kidnappings for ransom have netted the Islamic State at least $20 million this year alone, he said.

Islamic State Militants Used Chlorine Gas in Iraq - Loveday Morris (Washington Post)
    11 Iraqi police officers in Duluiyah, north of Baghdad, were poisoned by chlorine gas last month by Islamic State extremists, the first confirmed use of chemical weapons by the Islamic State on the battlefield.

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Saudi Arabia Jails al-Qaeda Suspects over Plot to Hit U.S. Forces (Reuters)
    A Saudi court on Tuesday sentenced 11 Saudis, one Qatari and one Afghan to prison terms of up to 30 years who had used Saudi territory "to form a terrorist cell seeking to carry out a terrorist operation in the state of Qatar against American forces, supplying the cell with arms and money for that operation, [and] recruiting people for that cell."
    The men were also convicted of "preparing to participate in a terrorist operation in the state of Kuwait targeting American forces there."

Elbit Systems Wins Contracts Worth $85M in Asia (Globes)
    Israel's Elbit Systems announced Wednesday that it has been awarded contracts from an Asian country that total $85 million for an F-5 aircraft avionics upgrade program and for the supply of electro-optic and communications systems.

Imperus of Canada Acquires Israeli Gaming Firm for $100M (The Marker-Ha'aetz)
    Diwip, a Tel Aviv-based social gaming company, has been acquired by Canada's Imperus Technologies, for a purchase price as high as $100 million.
    Diwip claims to have 24 million registered customers across its numerous games.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Israel Voices Alarm about U.S. Position in Iran Nuclear Talks - Jay Solomon
    Israeli officials are increasingly voicing alarm about the Obama administration's negotiating position with Iran as diplomacy aimed at curbing Tehran's nuclear program nears a Nov. 24 deadline. A steady stream of Israeli officials have visited Washington in recent weeks, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon, and publicly expressed fears that the U.S. is preparing to accept a deal with Iran that they don't believe goes far enough in denying Iran the capability to produce atomic weapons.
        Israel, along with many of the U.S.'s Arab allies, has been calling for a complete dismantling of Iran's nuclear infrastructure as part of any agreement with Tehran that would also see an easing of international sanctions on the country. Mr. Netanyahu's government also has argued that Iran's ballistic missile program needs to be discontinued as part of the talks.
        U.S. and European officials involved in the negotiations, however, have indicated Iran will be able to maintain thousands of centrifuge machines used to produce nuclear fuel as part of any final agreement. They've also said the status of Tehran's missile program has largely been taken off the negotiating table. (Wall Street Journal)
  • White House Seeks Support from Allies, Congress for Potential Iran Deal - Jay Solomon and Carol E. Lee
    The Obama administration is promoting a possible nuclear agreement with Iran to allies, Congress and U.S. policy makers in an effort to win support ahead of a late November deadline. Significant divisions remain between Tehran and global powers in negotiations to constrain Iran's nuclear program, but senior officials said important progress has been made in recent talks. (Wall Street Journal)
        See also U.S.: "We Have Made Impressive Progress" in Iranian Nuclear Talks
    U.S. Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman said Thursday: "If Iran truly wants to resolve its differences with the international community and facilitate the lifting of economic sanctions, it will have no better chance than between now and November 24th. This is the time to finish the job. Will that happen? I don't know. I can tell you that all the components of a plan that should be acceptable to both sides are on the table. We have made impressive progress on issues that originally seemed intractable. We have cleared up misunderstandings and held exhaustive discussions on every element of a possible text."   (State Department)
  • Yemen: Houthis Storm Interior Ministry, Set Up Iranian Cultural Centers in Hajjah - Hamdan Al-Rahbi
    Houthi fighters stormed Yemen's Interior Ministry in Sana'a on Wednesday. The Houthis are continuing to advance in a number of other Yemeni provinces while meeting little or no resistance from government forces. Meanwhile, Iranian culture centers are being established in Yemeni provinces under Houthi control, including Hajjah province which borders Saudi Arabia, with the objective of spreading Shi'ism. (Asharq Al-Awsat-UK)
  • Israel's Defense Minister: Mideast Borders "Absolutely" Will Change
    Israel's Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon says, in an interview with NPR, that a future map of the Middle East will look very different than the one that exists today. "Egypt will stay Egypt," Ya'alon said. In contrast, "Libya was a new creation, a Western creation as a result of World War I. Syria, Iraq, the same - artificial nation-states - and what we see now is a collapse of this Western idea....Can you unify Syria? [President] Bashar al-Assad is controlling only 25% of the Syrian territory."  (NPR)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Abbas' Fatah Honors Jerusalem Hit-and-Run Terrorist - Elhanan Miller
    Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah movement published a poster Thursday celebrating Palestinian terrorist Abdel Rahman al-Shaludi, who killed three-month-old Chaya Zissel Braun and injured eight other Israelis in a hit-and-run car attack in Jerusalem on Wednesday. "The Silwan branch of Fatah honors the heroic martyr Abdel Rahman al-Shaludi, who executed the Jerusalem operation which led to the running over of settlers in the occupied city of Jerusalem," read the notice, posted on Fatah's official Facebook page. (Times of Israel)
        See also Hamas Confirms Driver in Jerusalem Attack was Group Member - Qais Abu Samra
    The Palestinian driver who ran over and killed an Israeli baby and injured eight other people in Jerusalem on Wednesday was a member of Hamas, the group said Thursday in a statement. (Anadolu-Turkey)
  • Ya'alon: Terror Attacks Result of Palestinian Education System
    Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said Thursday in Washington: "For the Palestinians, the conflict will not end at the 67' lines. The heart of the conflict is the lack of desire to acknowledge us and our right to exist as a Jewish state. The Palestinian educational system and rhetoric are the causes of the events occurring in Jerusalem."
        "Yesterday we saw the result of this in the murder of a baby girl in Jerusalem by a young man with a Hamas background and a history of security offenses. Why did this happen? It happened because in PA preschools, children as young as three are taught, for example, to wear an explosive belt in order to kill Jews. As long as the situation is like this, and young Palestinians are taught to kill Jews, there will not be real peace here."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Steinitz: Israeli Withdrawal from West Bank Would Be "Committing Suicide"
    Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz told Bloomberg TV on Tuesday: "After the extremely negative experiences following [Israel's] complete withdrawal from Gaza nine years ago, it would be difficult to take similar risks with the West Bank - especially when taking into account jihadist groups popping up [throughout the Middle East], taking large areas under their control....If what happened in Gaza, in Iraq, in Syria and Libya would repeat itself in the West Bank, this would be committing suicide."  (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • The Middle East in Chaos - Reuel Marc Gerecht
    Modern Middle Eastern states, with the limited exceptions of Iran, Egypt, Morocco, and Turkey, were created intentionally or by default by Europeans and Westernized native elites who dropped older imperial or tribal ideals for more empowering modern imports.
        Despite the best efforts of Western or Western-inspired modernizers, everywhere in the Middle East, for everyone, religion is the primary identity - cherished and nurtured by fundamentalists and the common faithful or constrained, submerged, and coopted by nationalists and secularists.
        Secular military dictatorship among Muslims has been a double-edged sword: It helped to build nationalist consciousness; but its injustices and brutality degraded the legitimacy of the state, collapsed traditional mores, and fueled the growth of Islamic fundamentalism.
        The promise of a new conquest society by self-appointed caliph of the Islamic State, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, offers a tempting chance to get even for young men who've not hitherto enjoyed much fortune, in the Middle East or in the West. Add the Islamic State's anti-Americanism, and it's not surprising how well the organization has done.
        And then there are the nuclear negotiations, where the White House keeps giving ground to Iran's continuing progress toward a bomb. The Islamic Republic's pursuit of nuclear weapons is a strategic game-changer. All of the region's problems, especially those that hurt us, will worsen when the mullahs go nuclear. The writer is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. (Weekly Standard)
  • Twenty Years of Israeli-Jordanian Peace - David Schenker
    October 26 marks the 20th anniversary of the Israeli-Jordanian peace treaty. While the treaty was celebrated by Israelis, it has not been popular with the Jordanian public. In a 2011 poll, 52% of Jordanians said their government should cancel the agreement.
        Once the treaty was signed, it opened the floodgates of U.S. economic and military assistance to Jordan. In 1993, Washington provided Amman with just $35 million in economic support; the 2014 figure is $700 million. Moreover, last year, U.S.-Jordanian trade reached $3.3 billion, a nearly tenfold increase from 1994.
        Similarly, Jordan received just $9 million in U.S. Foreign Military Financing in 1993, compared to $300 million this year. Washington has provided 58 F-16s and a state-of-the-art counterterrorism facility - the King Abdullah Special Operations Training Center (KASOTC) - constructed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 2006-2007. The writer is director of the Program on Arab Politics at The Washington Institute. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • No Shift with New Head of Iran's National Security Council - Mona-Lisa Freiha
    After Ali Shamkhani was appointed as the Secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council in September 2013, there was much speculation about a new Iranian policy towards the Arabs. Shamkhani's historical relations with the Gulf states, especially Saudi Arabia, gave rise to some optimism that the wall of hostility between the Sunni kingdom and the Shiite Islamic republic may be torn down. Moreover, his old connections in Iraq and his contacts with the authorities in Baghdad, Najaf, and Irbil to end the Iraqi government crisis last August, fed the rumors that he had been put in charge of the Iraqi file.
        The devastation that befell the Iranian-led axis, stretching from Iran to the Mediterranean via Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon, gave the impression that the man's appointment was a manifestation of political realism, indicating that Iran was heading towards abandoning Revolutionary Guard al-Qods Brigade commander Gen. Qassem Soleimani's military and security approach to the region's issues, in favor of a calmer political approach. But the course of events has proven that the Iranian position only changed due to developments on the ground and ISIS's invasion, more than due to any substantive shift in policy. And the situation in Syria is no different, with Tehran still clinging to the same policy towards the regime as before.
        The renewed verbal exchanges between Riyadh and Tehran are evidence that this old warrior is still determined to pursue politics in his military uniform, and that he stands in the line of defense behind the immediate line of fire - one where he continues to be in charge. (An-Nahar-Lebanon-Middle East Mirror)

Defensible Borders in the Age of the Islamic State - Dore Gold (Mosaic)

  • The terrorist threat to Israel from the east is unlike anything Israel has seen before in terms of scale and character. Today, organizations like the Islamic State (IS), in possession of robust weaponry that includes sophisticated anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles, have defeated whole divisions of the Iraqi army and confiscated vast amounts of equipment and money. This year, operating with battalion-size formations, IS and its ideological cousin the al-Nusra Front have defeated Syrian armored forces and made deep inroads into the heart of Iraq.
  • More fundamentally, at present, no one has sovereignty over the West Bank. The last sovereign power there was the Ottoman Empire. After World War I, the West Bank became a part of British Mandatory Palestine, which was designated to become the Jewish national home.
  • The 1948 Arab war to annihilate the newly established State of Israel ended with the West Bank in Jordanian hands, and there it remained until 1967. In June of that year, Jordan joined an Arab war coalition, led by Egypt, that was aimed explicitly at finishing the job begun in 1948. That war ended with Israel in control of the West Bank.
  • Because Israel had acted in self-defense in 1967, noted scholars of international law, including Stephen Schwebel, who later served as president of the International Court of Justice, and Eugene Rostow, a former dean of Yale Law School and Undersecretary of State in the Lyndon B. Johnson administration, recognized its claims as stronger than those of any other party.
  • Indeed, UN Security Council Resolution 242, adopted in the aftermath of the June 1967 war, affirmed that Israel was not required to withdraw fully from the West Bank or return to the pre-1967 lines, but rather was entitled to "secure and recognized boundaries" that were still to be determined through negotiation.
  • In short, the West Bank remains disputed territory to which both Israel and the Palestinians have claims. The West Bank is not "Palestinian" territory; there was no Palestinian state there prior to 1967, and the Palestinians never had sovereignty there. Israel has legal rights that need to be acknowledged, and security concerns that must be incorporated into any understanding of where the final borders will lie.

    The writer is president of the Jerusalem Center of Public Affairs.
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