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  DAILY ALERT Tuesday,
March 8, 2016

In-Depth Issues:

UK Anti-Terror Chief: ISIS Planning "Enormous and Spectacular Attacks" in Britain - Vikram Dodd (Guardian-UK)
    Islamic State wants to inflict an "enormous and spectacular" terrorist atrocity on Britain, Mark Rowley, who leads on counter-terrorism for Scotland Yard, said Monday.
    "In recent months we've seen a broadening...from that narrow focus on police and military as symbols of the state to something much broader. And you see a terrorist group which has big ambitions for enormous and spectacular attacks, not just the types that we've seen foiled to date."
    There were 339 arrests in the UK under counter-terrorism laws in 2015, 77% of which were British nationals.
    The ringleader of the Paris attacks, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, visited Birmingham and London months before spearheading the carnage in the French capital. Found on his phone were pictures taken during his visit to fellow jihadis.

Australian Navy Seizes Iranian Weapons Ship near Oman - Joshua Berlinger (CNN)
    The Australian Navy said that one of its ships patrolling near Oman, the HMAS Darwin, intercepted a fishing vessel carrying 1,989 AK-47 assault rifles and 100 rocket-propelled grenades.
    According to a U.S. assessment, the weapons were sent from Iran and were likely intended for Houthi rebels in Yemen, Lt. Ian McConnaughey told CNN.
    The weapons were seized in accordance with international maritime law.

U.S. Airstrikes Kill 150 Islamist Fighters in Somalia - Helene Cooper (New York Times)
    U.S. aircraft on Saturday struck a training camp in Somalia belonging to the Shabab Islamist militant group, killing 150 fighters.
    The fighters had just completed "training for a large-scale attack" against American and African Union forces, said Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman.

Rare First Temple-Era Seal Found in City of David in Jerusalem (City of David)
    A rare seal from the First Temple Period bearing the name of a woman - Elihana bat Gael, written in ancient Hebrew letters - was discovered in excavations the Israel Antiquities Authority is conducting in the City of David in the Walls around Jerusalem National Park.
    A second seal was found bearing the inscription "Sa'aryahu ben Shabenyahu." Both were found inside a large building dating to the time of the First Temple, which was exposed in excavations.

Photos: Sisters in Arms in the IDF - Yoav Zitun (Ynet News)
    Ahead of International Women's Day on March 8, the IDF released photos of women fighters over the years.

Druze Women to Operate New Israeli Drone Parts Factory - Lior El-Hai (Ynet News)
    A new factory to produce drone components in the Israeli Druze village of Isfiya was officially inaugurated last Tuesday. Most of the factory workers are Druze women.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • White House Working on Renewed Mideast Peace Push - Carol E. Lee and Rory Jones
    The White House is working on plans for reviving Middle East negotiations before President Obama leaves office, including a possible UN Security Council resolution that would outline steps toward a deal between the Israelis and Palestinians, according to senior U.S. officials. Former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush both pushed for an agreement late in their second terms, but neither was able to bridge longtime divisions between the two sides.
        Mounting a push for a Security Council resolution would be a significant shift in U.S. policy, one that could further strain relations between Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Netanyahu's Office Denies U.S. Surprise at Cancelled D.C. Trip - Daniel Estrin
    Israel on Tuesday refuted a White House claim that Prime Minister Netanyahu "surprised" the Obama administration by cancelling a planned visit to Washington, saying that the White House knew Netanyahu was considering not coming. Netanyahu's office said he would not travel to the U.S. in March because he did not wish to come at the height of U.S. presidential primaries. (AP-ABC News)
  • PLO Official: Palestinians Joining Exodus to EU - Andrew Rettman
    Palestinians are joining the Middle East exodus to Europe in ever greater numbers, Saeb Erekat, secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), told EUobserver, saying that "thousands" had already left for Europe. Easo, the EU asylum agency in Malta, said up to 19,000 Palestinians applied for asylum in the EU last year, compared with 15,680 in 2014 and 9,590 in 2013. (EUobserver-Belgium)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Palestinian Stabbing Attack in Jerusalem Foiled - Roi Yanovsky
    A Palestinian woman tried to stab Israeli police officers in Jerusalem's Old City on Tuesday, before being shot and killed. (Ynet News)
  • A West Bank Village, Home to 12 Recent "Martyrs," Has Suddenly Gone Quiet - Avi Issacharoff
    Sa'ir, near Hebron, was home to 12 Palestinians who died in violence against Israel over the past five months, the highest number killed in any West Bank town in proportion to the population (18,000).
        Why have the attacks from Sa'ir halted of late? Sa'ir Mayor Ka'id Jaradat of Fatah said, "I'm raising my son to become an engineer, let's say, or a teacher. He should live in peace with his family, not go out to shoot anybody or engage in a terror attack. That was our message to everybody here in the village after all those martyrs."
        "The (PA) governor of Hebron came to the village, and we arranged a large meeting with all the dignitaries, clerics, teachers, school principals, representatives of the security agencies. Our message to all of them was: 'We want our children alive.' My message as a leader and representative was, 'I don't want the young people to commit attacks. I want them to live. Let's keep our blood. We don't need or want there to be martyrs every day.' We conveyed this message to the young people via the schools and the mosques. We've tried to calm things down."
        "The teachers and the principals did not speak out against the martyrs. We never intended anything like that. But they did convey the message that a pupil who does well in his studies, who gets a full education, is the one who shows true steadfastness. He is actually the one who is protecting the Palestinians' right to this land. In other words, those who remain are the successful ones. Not those who die. Those who die are gone, finished."  (Times of Israel)
  • Is the Palestinian Teachers Strike a Call for Democracy? - Amira Hass
    The Palestinian teachers strike which began on Feb. 7 continues in the West Bank as the Palestinian Authority refuses to negotiate with the teachers' elected representatives. Some say the protest was sparked by the announcement, a few months ago, that the government promoted 180 senior civil servants and raised the monthly wages of Palestinian VIP escorts by 400-600 shekels.
        The PA's legislative council has been paralyzed since 2007, and there is no supervision over the executive authority. Fatah is dominant in all government institutions (including the trade unions); one man makes all the decisions and sets the policy: President Mahmoud Abbas. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Palestinian Teachers Blowing the Whistle on PA Corruption - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Striking Palestinian teachers are blowing the whistle on PA corruption. They have accused the PA of wasting donors' funds and deceiving them by inflating the number of teachers on the list of employees. They also accuse the PA of lying to the donors about their salaries, saying the PA tells donors it is paying higher salaries to the teachers than they actually receive. In other words, the striking teachers are exposing the PA as playing Western donors for suckers. (Gatestone Institute)
        See also West Bank Teachers Strike Gains Momentum, Challenging the Government - Diaa Hadid and Rami Nazzal (New York Times)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • The Nuclear Deal Hasn't Softened Iran's Hard-Line Policies - Dennis Ross
    Since the nuclear deal was signed, Iran's supreme leader Ali Khamenei has continued to rail against "American influence" and backs the aggressive use of Hizbullah and other Shiite militias to extend Iran's reach throughout the region. It is Qassem Soleimani, the leader of the IRGC Qods Force, not President Hassan Rouhani, who shapes and implements Iran's policies in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen, and the granting of $7,000 to every Palestinian "martyr."
        If we truly want to see the more pragmatic constituency in Iran strengthened over time, we need to raise the costs to Iran for its destabilizing and threatening policies in the region - we need to show that what Solemani is doing around the region is costing Iran and blunting its future development.
        If Iranians could vote for genuine reform, they would do so; unfortunately, opening up the political system, limiting the power of the mullahs and the Revolutionary Guard, and stopping aggressive and costly support for Shiite militias in the region are never on the ballot. The writer, counselor at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, served in senior positions in the George H.W. Bush, Clinton and Obama Administrations. (Politico)
  • Truth vs. Myth in the BDS Movement - Shimon Koffler Fogel
    Canada's House of Commons last month voted overwhelmingly (229 to 51) in support of a motion condemning the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel. Claims that the aims of BDS are consistent with Canada's official Middle East policy are fundamentally wrong. Canada does not call for a Palestinian "right of return" to Israel. It does call on Israel and its Arab neighbors, including the Palestinians, to reach peace through negotiations.
        According to UN Security Council Resolution 242 (which has long been the internationally accepted cornerstone of all Arab-Israeli peacemaking efforts), any Israeli withdrawal from land taken in the course of its self-defense during the 1967 war must occur only in the context of the Arabs/Palestinians providing recognition of Israel, secure and recognized boundaries, and the "termination of all claims or states of belligerency" against Israel. The writer is CEO of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs of Canada's Jewish Federations. (Huffington Post-Canada)

We Palestinians Hold the Key to a Better Future - Bassem Eid (Times of Israel)

  • I am a proud Palestinian who grew up in a refugee camp. I want peace and prosperity for my people. I want an end to the misery and destruction.
  • After 66 years of mistakes and missed opportunities, it is time for us Palestinians to create the conditions for peace and to work for a better future. It is time that we stopped pretending that we can destroy Israel or drive the Jews into the sea. It is time that we stopped listening to Muslim radicals or Arab regimes that use us to continue a pointless, destructive, and immoral war with Israel.
  • In Gaza, our schools are controlled by Muslim fanatics who indoctrinate our children, and Hamas uses our civilians as human shields in a losing battle against Israel. In the West Bank, the only good jobs are with Israeli companies, and the BDS movement is doing its best to take those jobs away from us.
  • Abbas runs a corrupt dictatorship that uses international funds to consolidate its own administration rather than to develop the Palestinian economy. In east Jerusalem, most Palestinians would prefer to live under Israeli rule than under PA rule.
  • Despite what we tell ourselves, Israel is here to stay. What's more, it has a right to exist. It is the nation of the Jews but also a nation for Israeli Arabs who have better lives than Arabs anywhere in Arab countries. We must accept these facts and move on. The anti-Semitism promoted by Hamas, Fatah, and the BDS movement is not the answer for us Palestinians.
  • We know that Israelis want to live in peace, and that the vast majority of Israelis are friendly and neighborly. We know that Egypt was able to secure a very favorable peace deal with Israel because Egypt agreed to accept Israel and to give up on violence.

    The writer is the founder and former director of the Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group.

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