Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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  DAILY ALERT Tuesday,
June 21, 2016

In-Depth Issues:

Orlando Gunman Said He Was Islamic Soldier (Chicago Tribune)
    According to transcripts released by the FBI on Monday of a 911 call made by Orlando gunman Omar Mateen and three conversations he had with police crisis negotiators, he identified himself as an Islamic soldier and told a negotiator to tell America to stop bombing Syria and Iraq.
    See also Orlando Gunman's Father Tied to Radical Islamist Groups - Abha Shankar (Investigative Project on Terrorism)
    The father of Orlando mass shooter Omar Mateen has worked for years with some of the most visible and radical Islamists in the U.S.

Car Bomb Kills Six Jordanian Troops near Syria Border (AP)
    A car bomb exploded on the Syrian-Jordanian border on Tuesday, killing six and wounding 14 Jordanian border guards near the Ruqban Syrian refugee camp, the Jordanian military said.

Cracks in the Iran-Syria-Hizbullah-Russia Axis - Lt. Col. (ret.) Michael Segall (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
    Reports from Syria are proliferating about clashes between the Syrian army and Hizbullah fighters in the Aleppo area on June 16, with 7 or 8 Hizbullah men killed, some after an attack by Syrian aircraft. (This week Hizbullah announced more than 20 of its fighters died in clashes with Syrian rebels near Aleppo.)
    Iran and Hizbullah are not happy about Russia's stepped-up efforts to resolve the Syrian crisis. Iran and Russia disagree more and more on Syria's future. The possibility of losing a sphere of influence and operational activity in Syria, mainly because of the growing Russian interest, is deeply troubling to Iran.
    A memorial ceremony was held for 13 Iranian Revolutionary Guards fighters killed (and dozens were wounded) in the battle of Khan Touman in the Aleppo area on May 6, 2016. That clash is considered one of Iran's heaviest defeats in Syria at the hands of Jabhat al-Nusra and other rebel groups.

Infographic: World Yawns as Hizbullah Arms Pour into 200 Civilian Border Villages - Dore Gold (Twitter-Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
    World yawns as Hizbullah arms pour into 200 civilian villages bordering Israel - a massive violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701 (2006).

Russia Orders 500 Million Bugs from Israel for $1 Million - Michelle Malka Grossman (Jerusalem Post)
    Israel's Bio-bee company at Kibbutz Sde Eliyahu is sending 500 million bugs to Russia to fill a $1 million order, it was announced on Sunday.
    Bio-bee is sending Phytoseiulus persimilis and Amblyseius swirskii mites, which act as "natural pesticides" for tomatoes, cucumbers and roses.
    An order of bumblebees also will be sent to improve crop yields.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • EU Foreign Ministers Back French Mideast Peace Initiative
    The foreign ministers of 28 EU countries on Monday approved a resolution backing the French initiative for "a just, sustainable and comprehensive resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict...with a view to an international conference planned to be held before the end of the year."  (JTA)
        See also Israel Calls EU Backing of International Conference "a Regrettable Step Backwards in the Pursuit of Peace"
    In response to the EU foreign ministers' resolution backing the French initiative, Israel's Foreign Ministry said Monday: "Peace with the Palestinians will only be achieved through direct, bilateral negotiations with no preconditions. International conferences like the one welcomed by the European Council today drive peace further away by allowing the Palestinians to continue avoiding both direct negotiations and compromise. This is a regrettable step backwards in the pursuit of peace to which Israel remains fully committed."  (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
  • Smugglers in West Bank Open Door to Attackers and Jobseekers in Israel - James Glanz and Rami Nazzal
    A thriving smuggling industry allows untold numbers of Palestinians to pass over, under, through or around the West Bank security barrier - for a price. Palestinian workers earn double or quadruple the wages they can in the West Bank. Punishment for those caught is generally being sent back to the other side. Attackers like the two Palestinian men who fatally shot four people this month at a Tel Aviv cafe sneak through as well. Between Oct. 1, 2015, and Feb. 1, 2016, 21 Palestinians who attacked Israelis had entered the country illegally. (New York Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Palestinians Attack Motorists on Jerusalem-Tel Aviv Highway - Elisha Ben Kimon
    A group of Palestinians poured oil on a Jerusalem-Tel Aviv highway and threw stones and firebombs at passing cars overnight Monday, wounding two tourists and one Israeli. Israeli forces arriving at the scene shot dead one Palestinian attacker and wounded others. Two additional Palestinians were arrested. (Ynet News)
  • IDF Destroys House of Palestinian Terrorist Who Killed American West Point Graduate, Combat Veteran
    Israeli forces on Monday destroyed the house of Bashar Massalha, the Palestinian terrorist who killed American tourist Taylor Force and injured ten others in an attack in Jaffa earlier this year. Force graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and served in Iraq and Afghanistan. (Jerusalem Post)
  • UN Using Western Funds to Attack Israel
    Former Israeli finance minister Yair Lapid on Monday accused the UN of becoming a "collaborator of Islamic fundamentalism," and called on the U.S. and EU to place conditions on continued funding for the world body, in order to stop its campaign to delegitimize Israel. "The U.S., Japan, France, Britain, Italy and Germany are funding more than 65% of the organization's budget," he stated. "All that is required of these counties is that they speak up and say they refuse to let this situation continue....It is unacceptable that the United Nations takes American money, American resources and American support and utilizes them in a propaganda campaign that backs the destruction of the Jewish state."
        "More than a million civilians live in Israel who were persecuted or expelled from Arab lands for being Jewish," he added. "Why doesn't anyone treat them as refugees eligible for compensation? Why is it that only Palestinians can be born in one country and immediately receive refugee status from a country that was never there?"  (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Syria after Five Years of Conflict - Robin Wright
    Robert Ford, the last American ambassador to serve in Syria, recently discussed the Syria quagmire in an interview. "The cessation of hostilities in Syria has broken down completely. The bombings of hospitals in Aleppo and Idlib are a violation of every human norm - and that's not including the barrel bombs and the chemical weapons. The effort to get a political deal is going nowhere. The Assad government has refused to make any serious concessions. It won't let in food aid, in violation of UN resolutions. And the Americans are watching it all happen."
        "Without greater pressure on the Assad government, it will be impossible to secure the compromises necessary to win a political agreement and end the war....The Administration needs to reconsider tactics to generate that pressure."
        "The war has spiraled from a popular uprising demanding changes in the Syrian security establishments to an international conflict that has drawn in regional and international powers and destroyed large portions of Syria. It has also destabilized countries in Europe as well as spawned the most virulent form of Islamist extremism yet seen."
        "The Syrian Sunni Arab community views the Assad government as a greater problem than the Islamic State. Syrian human-rights organizations have pointed out that that government has killed seven times more civilians than ISIS has."  (New Yorker)
        See also The Syrian Catastrophe - Editorial
    Assad's war on his own countrymen has left more than 250,000 dead and created millions of refugees. A Pew Research Center analysis says the percentage of the Syrian population displaced from their homes has reached 60%. Almost every day brings some new crime. Syria's chaos has also incubated the rise of Islamic State, set America against its traditional allies, sent refugees pouring into Europe, invited the Russians back into the region, fed Iran's influence in a nervous Arab world and spread instability across the region. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Former U.S. Defense Secretary Panetta: Obama Questioned Necessity of Israel's Qualitative Military Edge - Michael Wilner
    According to U.S. law, the Defense Department must ensure that weapons sales to Mideast nations must comport with an American guarantee of Israel's qualitative military edge in the region. On Monday, former U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told the Washington Institute for Near East Policy that at a time when the U.S. was seeking to complete a significant sale of fighter jets to Saudi Arabia, "We were going through a lot of order to make sure that you protect Israel's qualitative edge."
        "The president kept asking, 'why can't we get this damn sale done?'" The president, Panetta said, then "reflected some anger about why the hell do we have to do this [protect Israel's qualitative military edge] in the first place. And I said, 'because we made that obligation, and because it is important, particularly with our relationship with Israel, that we protect that.' And look, I think he understood that."  (Jerusalem Post)

Will the Next Intifada Target the Palestinian Authority? - Avi Issacharoff (Times of Israel)

  • Considering all the incitement and hate speech filling Palestinian social media, things are relatively quiet throughout the West Bank. While stones and firebombs have been thrown, there are almost no organized demonstrations or riots except for specific memorial days. The Israel Security Agency reported 67 significant terror attacks in May (including firebombs), while there were 483 in October 2015. On the Palestinian street, public hatred of Israel and of the Palestinian Authority as well appears to be greater than ever. But things have calmed down on the ground and the number of terror attacks continues to drop.
  • One Palestinian commentator told the Times of Israel, "There is a difference between praising the Al-Quds Intifada or the attacks in Tel Aviv and the willingness to engage in a terror attack. Most of the public, and even most of the young people, prefer to continue working or studying and not be killed. What for? They also realize that the possibility that a stabbing attack will lead to change is close to zero. Also, today anyone who writes on Facebook or anyplace else that he wants to perpetrate a terror attack is arrested right away."
  • His colleague sees things a bit differently. Why is the situation in the West Bank so calm? "There are quite a few reasons for that. First, the realization that stabbing or ramming attacks bring no benefit. Nothing. So there's more support now for shooting attacks and even for suicide attacks."
  • "Second, this is the Palestinian Authority. The young people see it as part of the problem, not part of the solution. In other words, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas himself came out against these terror attacks when he said that the security services were holding inspections at schools and confiscating knives. Also [intelligence chief Majid] Faraj made similar statements. So people are thinking twice. What benefit will come from something like this if the Palestinian leadership itself is working against anyone who plans or wants to perpetrate terror attacks?"
  • "The situation is still very explosive. The motivation of these young people to fight against Israel and Israelis still exists. But as I see it, the next stage we see will be an outbreak against the Palestinian Authority itself, and against Israel at the same time. The hostility that the young people felt toward the "occupation" is changing its form, and now it is against the PA. They see the PA as a heavy burden that damages the effort toward change and does not benefit it. They follow the incitement on social media, including against Abbas, and it influences them."

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