Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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  DAILY ALERT Thursday,
February 19, 2015


In-Depth Issues:

UN "Alarmed" by Hamas Rearming - Tamar Pileggi (Times of Israel)
    The UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Jeffrey Feltman, on Wednesday expressed "alarm" at reports of Hamas efforts to re-arm. He called the terror group's test-firing of rockets, and its attempts to smuggle in materials for potential weapons use, "dangerous developments."
    Security sources have said recently that Hamas is working to rebuild its tunnel infrastructure as well as rearm its depleted rocket arsenal.
    Gazan terrorists used tunnels for several attacks during the summer war, sometimes penetrating deep into Israeli territory. 11 Israeli soldiers died in the tunnel attacks.




Islamic State Militants Find a Foothold in Chaotic Libya (AP-Washington Post)
    Libya is providing a perfect opportunity for the Islamic State to establish a strategic foothold closer to European shores.
    Extremists loyal to the group have taken control of two Libyan cities on the coast, have moved toward oil facilities, and are slowly infiltrating Tripoli and Benghazi.
    They have siphoned off young recruits from rival militant groups linked to al-Qaeda and in some places taken over those groups' training camps, mosques and media networks.




Canada Opposes 15 Palestinian Attempts to Join UN Treaties - Mike Blanchfield (Canadian Press)
    Canada has formally objected in writing to Palestinian attempts to join 15 UN treaties and conventions.
    Canada says, "'Palestine' does not meet the criteria of a state under international law and is not recognized by Canada as a state." Canada considers any declarations "made by the 'State of Palestine' to be without any legal validity or effect."
    Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman Francois Lasalle added, "This provocative Palestinian attempt to politicize international organizations will not contribute to peace in the region."




Dan Uzan - A Jewish Hero - Yitzi Loewenthal (Times of Israel)
    I spoke with Dan Uzan, the security guard at a Copenhagen synagogue, on the last night of his life.
    The atmosphere in the street that night was tense, and as I was heading out from the bat mitzva, I said to him, "Dan, why are you here on the street, stay inside."
    His response: "We have to be proactive, make sure the police are here, and check the cars, etc." A short while later he fell in the line of duty, protecting those inside.
    The writer is director of Chabad in Denmark.




Khamenei Tells Iran Negotiator to Control Temper in Talks with Kerry - Ali Akbar Dareini (AP)
    Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has been told by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to control his temper during nuclear talks with Western diplomats, Iran's Shargh daily reported Saturday.
    Zarif said, "The exalted Supreme Leader told me not to quarrel.... He asked: 'Why do you scream?'"



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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Iran: "We Are Witnessing the Export of the Islamic Revolution Throughout the Region" - Kambiz Foroohar and Ladane Nasseri
    Qassem Suleimani, the commander of the Quds Force of Iran's Revolutionary Guards, told a rally last week marking the 36th anniversary of the uprising that ushered in theocratic rule: "We are witnessing the export of the Islamic revolution throughout the region, from Bahrain and Iraq to Syria, Yemen and North Africa." As it attempts to negotiate a nuclear deal that would free its economy from sanctions, Shiite Iran's influence is increasingly visible from the Gulf of Aden to the Mediterranean.
        "Iran is advancing," said Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi commentator. Iran "has succeeded in Syria in maintaining Bashar al-Assad, succeeded in Iraq in having all the Shiites on its side, and it has expanded now to Yemen."  (Bloomberg)
  • Italy Fears ISIS Invasion from Libya - Barbie Latza Nadeau
    Last weekend in Italy, the threat of ISIS in Libya hit home with a new video addressed to "the nation signed with the blood of the cross" and the warning, "we are south of Rome." Libya is just 109 miles away from the island of Lampedusa and 300 miles from Sicily.
        In October, the cover story in ISIS' Dabiq magazine detailed how the group will conquer Rome, complete with a photo of a black jihadist flag flying over St. Peter's Square. "We will conquer your Rome, break your crosses, and enslave your women," said the article. "Every Muslim should get out of his house, find a crusader and kill him." Italy has only 5,000 troops that are even close to deployable, according to the defense ministry, and its military budget was cut by 40% two years ago.
        Moreover, in 2014 more than 170,000 migrants arrived from Libya and Turkey, the highest number ever recorded. The Office of Migration in Rome says there could be as many as half a million people waiting to come to Italy. (Daily Beast)
        See also Hamas Warns Italy Not to Embark on Libyan "Crusade"
    A senior member of the Palestinian Islamic group Hamas, Salah Bardawil, on Tuesday warned Italy not to embark on a military intervention in Libya, saying this would be considered "a new Crusade against Arab countries and Muslims."  (ANSA-Italy)
  • Egypt Outraged by U.S. State Department Hosting of Muslim Brotherhood
    A delegation of Muslim Brotherhood members met with officials at the U.S. State Department on Jan. 27, 2015. The Egyptian regime, outraged by the visit, accused the U.S. administration of not respecting Egyptian law that defines the Brotherhood as a terrorist organization, and of discounting the will of the Egyptian people. It also claimed that this conduct flies in the face of U.S. policy, which champions the struggle against global terrorism. (MEMRI)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Netanyahu: Israel Has Full Knowledge of "Dangerous" Iran Deal - Avi Lewis and Marissa Newman
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told visiting U.S. Senator David Perdue (R-Ga.) on Wednesday that Israel is aware of the details of the negotiations with Iran on its nuclear program. While "the Islamic Republic of Iran is relentlessly pursuing nuclear weapons with the express purpose of destroying the State of Israel, the P5+1's latest proposal won't stop them," Netanyahu said.
        "The Iranians of course know the details of that proposal and Israel does too. So when we say that the current proposal would lead to a bad deal, a dangerous deal, we know what we're talking about." Referring to his upcoming speech to Congress, Netanyahu said he was open to hearing the opinions of those who disagree with his approach, "and I would hope that they would be open to hear the arguments of Israel as well."  (Times of Israel)
  • Hamas: Quartet Links Gaza Aid to Acceptance of Two-State Solution - Jack Khoury
    Senior Hamas official Moussa Abu Marzouk said Wednesday that Middle East Quartet envoy Tony Blair has set conditions on further funding to rebuild Gaza, one of which requires the group to accept a two-state solution. (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel-India Strategic Ties Are No Longer a Secret - Amos Harel
    A photo of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visiting the Israel Aerospace Industries pavilion at the Aero India exhibition in Bangalore on Wednesday with Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon shows that the close relationship between the two countries is now out in the open. "India is a true friend to Israel, and advancing joint interests will greatly benefit both nations and their defense establishments, which have excellent relations," Ya'alon said. India has become the largest customer for Israeli defense exports over the past two years. (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Hamas-Iran Rapprochement Suffers Setback - Adnan Abu Amer
    Hamas-Iranian ties have suffered a setback during preparations for Hamas political chiefKhaled Meshaal's visit to Tehran. Leaked information was published in Tehran on Iran'sconditions for the restoration of ties with Hamas, includingMeshaal's resignation. In response, Hamas cadres expressed their annoyance at what they viewed as an unprecedented Iranian interference in the movement's internal affairs.
        Hamas sources said the main reason behind the obstructed visit is Meshaal's position on Syria. "Iran clearly wants Meshaal's long-awaited visit to result in Hamas retracting its previous position, which may reach the point of declared support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. This is hard to achieve in light of the bloodshed across Syria."  (Al-Monitor)
  • Turkey's Anti-Semitic Rhetoric - Thomas L. Friedman
    Every month we get treated to another anti-Semitic blast from Turkey's leadership. Who knew that Jews all over the world were busy trying to take down President Erdogan? Last week, it was Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu's turn to declare that Turkey would not "succumb to the Jewish lobby." This was after Erdogan had suggested that his domestic opponents were "cooperating with the Mossad," Israel's intelligence arm. (New York Times)
  • The Palestinian Victims of the West's Israel Obsession - Evelyn Gordon
    The Jerusalem Post reported last week that a leading Palestinian hospital is at risk of closure because of a $30 million debt. A major reason for this debt is that for years, the Palestinian Authority has failed to pay Mokassed Hospital for many of the patients it treats, though the PA has ample funds to pay generous salaries to thousands of terrorists sitting in Israeli jails. It's a matter of priorities.
        Another news report notes that thousands of Palestinians who bought homes in the new Palestinian city of Rawabi can't move in because the city isn't connected to the water system. Why? Because all West Bank water projects need approval by the Israeli-Palestinian Joint Water Committee, which the PA has refused to convene for the last five years. Evidently, it would rather deprive its own people of better housing than agree to meet with Israeli officials.
        Almost 40% of the PA's budget consists of foreign aid, with the vast majority coming from Western countries. The West is therefore uniquely placed to pressure the PA to alter its priorities, but it has refused to do so. (Commentary)
Observations:

Israel's Defense in a Turbulent Environment - Amos Yadlin and Carmit Valensi (Israel Defense)

  • The IDF is the strongest military in the Middle East, but the challenge is asymmetrical. The terrorist organizations have developed solutions for Israel's technological superiority through various capabilities and combat tactics (including the launching of rockets, blending into the local population and using protection and camouflage measures). Western society is highly sensitive to casualties, and even more so to casualties among the civilian population. The restrictions of international law and on-going international public criticism also hinder the ability to effectively subdue such complex threats.
  • The peace agreements have survived, but the masses are hostile: the political upheaval in Egypt and the instability in Jordan raise concerns about the future of the peace agreements with Israel. These masses are frustrated owing to the absence of any practical improvement in their own circumstances.
  • The extensive overlapping of interests between Israel and Arab countries belonging to the moderate Sunni world (Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf countries and Jordan) provides an opportunity for regional cooperation. Such a cooperative alliance will be based on a similar perspective and identical interests vis-a-vis Iran and Syria, and more recently vis-a-vis the threat imposed by Global Jihad organizations.
  • The failure of the "Kerry effort" to reach an agreement in the Israeli-Palestinian diplomatic process and the internal Palestinian split have pushed Abbas to adopt a contrarian stance and concentrate his efforts on the international arena, in a manner that bypasses the direct arrangement channel. Meanwhile, a string of declarations by several European parliaments and governments regarding their recognition of a Palestinian state has given momentum to the Palestinian effort and undermined the principle of direct negotiations.
  • Israel must ensure that the Iranian options of progressing toward nuclear power along the uranium and plutonium paths are eliminated, that the Iranian nuclear program is placed under constant monitoring, and that a long-term agreement is signed that would allow a gradual lifting of the sanctions in exchange for a complete fulfillment of the Iranian commitments. Additionally, Israel must retain a credible military option in the event that all of the other alternatives should fail.

    Maj. Gen. (res.) Amos Yadlin is the former Director of the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) and formerly the Head of Israeli Military Intelligence. Carmit Valensi is a research associate at INSS.

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