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February 8, 2016

In-Depth Issues:

Israel Seeks to Prevent Escalation of Palestinian Terrorism - Yoav Limor (Israel Hayom)
    Since the onset of the current wave of terrorism in October, Israel has been careful to avoid harming innocent Palestinians and undermining coordination with Palestinian security forces.
   Israel seeks to maintain the Palestinian fabric of life and minimize their desire to join the violence.
    Maintaining the Palestinian Authority as a functioning entity helps to ensure that its security forces undercut terrorism of their own volition.
    See also Israeli Security Cabinet Approves 30,000 More Palestinians to Work in Israel - Amos Harel (Ha'aretz)
    Israel's security cabinet has approved allowing 30,000 more Palestinians to work in Israel, despite the escalation in terror attacks in recent months.
    In the recent escalation, only two attacks were carried out by Palestinians working in Israel. Attacks by family members of Palestinians with Israeli work permits are also considered rare.
    Some 120,000 Palestinians work for Israelis, including 58,000 with permits to work within Israel, 30,000 who work in Israel illegally, and 27,000 who work in industrial zones in West Bank settlements.
    Senior security sources have expressed support for the continued employment of Palestinians as a means of dissuading thousands of people from committing violent acts.
    Recently, Israel has begun to withdraw work permits from relatives of terrorists killed during their assaults for fear that those relatives would commit revenge attacks.
    See also Palestinian Poll: Sharp Drop in Support for Intifada - Elior Levy (Ynet News)
    According to a new survey conducted last week in the West Bank and Gaza, only 42% of Palestinians support a third intifada, down from 63% who supported it in November.
    See also Palestinian Poll Results (AWRAD)

Another Islamic State Jailer Identified as Londoner in 2009 Gaza Aid Convoy - Adam Goldman and Souad Mekhennet (Washington Post)
    A second member of a British cohort within the Islamic State that oversaw the brutal detention and beheading of Western hostages in Syria, along with "Jihadi John," has been identified as Alexanda Kotey, 32, a convert to Islam who grew up in West London.
    Kotey traveled to Gaza in 2009 on the Viva Palestina aid convoy of 110 vehicles organized by George Galloway, then a member of the British Parliament.

Twitter Says It Shut Down 125,000 Accounts Promoting ISIS - Ellen Nakashima (Washington Post)
    Twitter has suspended more than 125,000 accounts for promoting terrorism related to ISIS since the middle of 2015, the social media firm announced Friday.
    Twitter noted it has increased the size of its teams that review reports of abuse and said that has reduced response time significantly.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • FBI: Palestinian Muslim Plotted ISIS Attack on Detroit Church - Niraj Warikoo
    Khalil Abu-Rayyan, 21, of Dearborn Heights threatened terror attacks in support of ISIS with targets including police and a Detroit church, according to a federal criminal complaint unsealed Thursday. In his affidavit, FBI Special Agent Alan Southard said, "Since May of 2015, the FBI has been conducting an investigation of Khalil Abu-Rayyan regarding increasingly violent threats he has made to others about committing acts of terror and martyrdom - including brutal acts against police officers, churchgoers and others - on behalf of the foreign terrorist organization Islamic State."
        Abu-Ryyan said he didn't carry out the shooting at the church because a gun he bought in October "only held six shots and he would have to keep on reloading." He also said, "I would gladly behead people if I needed to....It is my dream to behead someone." In one Twitter profile, Abu-Rayyan described himself as Palestinian and Muslim. (Detroit Free Press)
  • Iranian Regime Reaps Benefits from Sanctions Relief - Thomas Erdbrink
    Behind the headlines announcing big business contracts in Iran with European companies, it is becoming increasingly clear that the only deals being struck have been with state-backed conglomerates tightly controlled by companies linked to state organizations like the Revolutionary Guards. As a result, little or nothing is trickling down to Iran's private sector.
        At the same time, almost all international banks continue to shy away from the Iranian market because of unilateral American regulations that label Iran as a state sponsor of terror. (New York Times)
  • Hamas Executes a Former Commander
    Hamas said Sunday that it has executed one of its own commanders, Mahmoud Eshtewi, over unnamed "moral and behavioral violations." Eshtewi was detained in January 2015. Eshtewi's relatives said he was not found guilty of spying. (AP)
        See also Red Cross Office in Gaza Closed Due to Violent Protests
    The International Committee of the Red Cross said Sunday it is temporarily closing its Gaza office after protesters repeatedly tried to storm it. Dozens of Gazans have protested daily at the office in recent weeks in solidarity with a Palestinian hunger striker detained by Israel. They tried to enter the building forcefully on Sunday, smashing garage windows and causing other damage. (AP)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Soldier Stabbed in Ashkelon Sunday - Judah Ari Gross
    An Israeli soldier was stabbed at the central bus station in Ashkelon on Sunday morning by a Sudanese migrant. Another soldier ran after the attacker for nearly 1.5 km. before getting close enough to shoot him. (Times of Israel)
        See also Jewish Woman Stabbed by Terrorist in Bedouin Town Saturday
    Shlomit Gonen, 65, a grandmother from Kibbutz Mishmar Hanegev, was stabbed Saturday evening by an Arab in the Bedouin town of Rahat, in southern Israel, as she was shopping with family members. (Times of Israel)
        See also Rahat Mayor Visits Stabbing Victim, Expresses Solidarity
    Rahat Mayor Talal al-Krenawi on Sunday paid a visit to the Jewish Israeli woman stabbed in the Bedouin city on Saturday. "Shlomit's stabbing was a stabbing of every Rahat resident," al-Krenawi said. "Every educational institution in Rahat this morning spoke out against violence."  (Times of Israel)
  • Palestinian Arsonists Set Fire to Torah Scrolls in West Bank
    Palestinians overnight Friday set fire to Torah scrolls inside a tent which had been used as a synagogue at the Givat Shorek outpost next to Karmei Tzur in the West Bank. The suspected arsonists piled up the Torah scrolls and set them alight. Police said that footprints were found leading to a Palestinian village near the town of Halhul. The tent, which was unmanned at the time, overlooks the site where the bodies of three Israeli teens were found after they had been abducted and murdered by terrorists in June 2014. (Times of Israel)
  • Abbas Signals Solidarity with Terrorism - Avi Issacharoff
    On Wednesday, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas met with parents of several Palestinian terrorists who had murdered Israelis and promised to rebuild the families' homes, which Israeli security troops had demolished. Abbas' words and deeds are interpreted in Palestinian and Israeli society as acts of solidarity and support for the terrorists' actions. Both official and unofficial Palestinian media convey the message that the terrorists are "heroes" and Abbas is seen embracing the families of these "martyrs."  (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • The Islamic State Is Still on the Rise - David Ignatius
    In the 18 months that the U.S. has been working to "degrade and ultimately destroy" the Islamic State, it has grown to become a global force that can strike targets in Europe, Asia, Africa and America. The "caliphate" that in June 2014 was localized in Iraq and Syria now has nearly 50 affiliates or supporting groups in 21 countries. It has declared 33 "official provinces" in 11 of those countries.
        What seems to engage Obama most is countering the jihadists' narrative that this is a war between Islam and the West. But there's little evidence that his message of outreach to Muslims is checking the Islamic State's growth. (Washington Post)
        See also Islamic State Faces Problems Because of Money and Desertions - Hugh Naylor
    Islamic State's once-vaunted militia army has been hobbled by worsening money problems, desertions and a dwindling pool of fighters. Only a year ago, the Islamic State was seen as a juggernaut, but in recent months, its momentum has been reversed. U.S. military officials estimate that the group has lost 40% of the territory it held in Iraq and 20% in Syria. Kurdish and Arab forces, including Iraq's increasingly competent military, have advanced against the group with the help of airstrikes from a U.S.-led coalition. (Washington Post)
  • The Illegality of BDS in New York State
    Proponents of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel claim that such actions are protected by the First Amendment, and that the application of state anti-discrimination laws to prohibit or penalize BDS activities is unconstitutional. In the context of BDS activity perpetrated in New York State, existing state law expressly prohibits discriminatory commercial conduct aimed at disadvantaging others because of their national origin. The statutory prohibition is limited to business activity and does not forbid advocacy, picketing, or other forms of speech.
        Section 296 (13) of New York State's Human Rights Law, commonly referred to as the "Arab Boycott Law," was enacted to curtail Arab boycotts of Jewish-owned businesses. Courts have steadfastly affirmed that section 296(13) must be read broadly to include and prohibit discrimination in all forms of commercial activity and business practices. It is irrelevant that the impetus for the boycott may be disagreement with the actions of the Israeli government. (Lawfare Project)

America Makes a Pro-Iranian U-Turn in the Middle East - Tony Badran (Tablet)

  • The first thing the Obama Administration did following the recent burning of the Saudi embassy and consulate in Iran by a state-sponsored mob was to launch a media campaign pushing the message that the problem was actually Saudi Arabia.
  • The foundation of the new American-approved security framework for the region is the legitimization of Iranian spheres of influence, especially in Iraq and Syria. President Obama has repeatedly described this new structure as establishing "equilibrium" between "the Shiites," which means Iran, and "the Sunnis," primarily meaning the Saudis.
  • Iran has naturally been seizing the opportunity to leverage U.S. support to advance its own regional interests, which happen to run squarely against the traditional American alliance system. Iran is a revolutionary actor, whose expressed objective is to overturn the existing order and replace it with Iranian hegemony.
  • Iranian impunity is not a function of Iran's actual military power vis-a-vis the U.S. Rather, it emanates from the Iranian understanding that Obama wants to extricate the U.S. from the region, has no interest in maintaining the old American order, and is therefore willing to recognize Iran's position at the head of the regional table.
  • Hence, the administration has found itself repeatedly acting as Iran's lawyer, excusing and justifying its behavior, legitimizing its ambitions, and instead lashing out at old regional allies like Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey.
  • Yet there is nothing very appealing to most Americans about the prospect of making a pro-Iranian U-turn in U.S. foreign policy.

    The writer is a research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

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