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June 27, 2016

In-Depth Issues:

Abbas Retracts Claim That Israeli Rabbis Called for Poisoning Water - Diaa Hadid (New York Times)
    Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday retracted an allegation he made Thursday to the European Parliament accusing Israeli rabbis of calling for their government to poison the water used by Palestinians, saying it had become "evident" that the allegation was "baseless."

Iraqi Forces Expel Islamic State from Fallujah - Loveday Morris and Mustafa Salim (Washington Post)
    Iraqi commanders said Sunday they had completely retaken the city of Fallujah from Islamic State after a month-long battle.

Riots in Jordan, Many Arrested - Roi Kais (Ynet News)
    Dozens of unemployed Jordanians are protesting the lack of job opportunities in the town of Dhiban, south of Amman, one of the poorest towns in the kingdom.
    The protest has been going on for about two months, with a large protest tent set up in the center of town.
    Violence erupted on Thursday and Friday nights as Jordanian security forces attempted to take down the tent and arrest the protest organizers.

Egypt Receives Russian P-32 Missile Boat (Al Bawaba-Egypt Daily News)
    Russia has delivered to the Egyptian navy a new P-32-class missile boat with the most modern naval armament, Egypt's military spokesperson said Saturday.
    The P-32 carries the Moskit-E (Sunburn) missile system which fires supersonic anti-ship missiles, and the new Garpun-Bal multirole radar system has been installed.

Israeli Food Aid Ends Up in Syria - Roi Kais (Ynet News)
    Israeli food is showing up in areas controlled by rebel groups that border with the Israeli Golan Heights, causing a firestorm in the Arabic media.
    Al-Quds al-Arabi interviewed the Chairman of the Free Qunietra Provincial Council, Fahad a-Musa., who said, "There is...a large amount of medicine, baby food, and other foodstuffs which get into the province from Israel."
    He also confirmed that coordination is being conducted between several armed rebel groups and Israel regarding treatment of wounded and food aid.
    The president of the Amalia aid organization, Motti Kahana, explained: "There are over 50 rebel groups fighting in southern Syria, including 40 moderate rebel groups which receive aid from five countries."

Useful Reference:

Lead Pilot in Israel's 1976 Entebbe Rescue Describes Mission - Aharon Lapidot (Ynet News)
    IDF Brig. Gen. (ret.) Joshua Shani, the lead pilot in Operation Entebbe, describes the 1976 hostage rescue mission in Uganda.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Israel and Turkey Agree to Resume Full Diplomatic Ties - Isabel Kershner
    Israel and Turkey agreed on Sunday to resume full diplomatic relations, ending a bitter, six-year rift between once-close regional allies, according to Israeli and Turkish officials. Negotiating teams for the two countries met in Rome over the weekend.
        Israeli minister Yuval Steinitz said that Israel and Turkey had "an interest in preventing Syria from turning into an Iranian military base" and that Israel was not easing up on Hamas by reaching an agreement with Turkey. (New York Times)
  • Democrats' Platform Draft Recognizes Palestinian Aspirations, Rejects Call for "End to Occupation" - Ron Kampeas
    The platform drafting committee of the Democratic National Committee on Friday altered their platform to declare that achieving Palestinian statehood would provide "the Palestinians with independence, sovereignty, and dignity," but rejected language proposed by James Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute, that called for "an end to occupation and illegal settlements" in an 8-5 vote. Speaking against Zogby's language were Wendy Sherman, a former deputy secretary of state, and Howard Berman, a former California congressman. (JTA)
        See also Democrats' Platform to Condemn BDS - Michael Wilner
    The Democratic Party plans to declare in its platform to "oppose any effort to delegitimize Israel, including at the United Nations or through the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement," the Jerusalem Post has learned. The party once again recognizes Jerusalem as Israel's capital and states that, while the city should remain undivided, its final status should be left to direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Money-Laundering Standards Body Suspends Some Iran Restrictions - Samuel Rubenfeld
    The Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an international anti-money-laundering standards body, said Friday it would suspend some of its restrictions against Iran for a year to monitor Tehran's progress implementing changes to its regulatory regime. However, Iran will remain on the blacklist until the full implementation is complete, and if Iran fails to demonstrate "sufficient progress" at the end of the year-long suspension, the restrictions will be reimposed, FATF said.
        The Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) said Friday that the FATF announcement doesn't signal much of a change because its assessment of the risks of Iran's illicit conduct remains the same. "This signals a recognition by the global community that Iran continues to represent a threat to the international financial system," the FDD said. (Wall Street Journal)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Car-Ramming Attack Foiled in West Bank - Elisha Ben Kimon
    A female Palestinian attempted to carry out a car-ramming attack at the entrance to Kiryat Arba near Hebron on Friday. The attacker instead struck another car, wounding an Israeli couple in their 50s. The terrorist was shot and neutralized. (Ynet News)
  • Israel Arrests Palestinian Bomber - Yoav Zitun
    The Israel Security Agency announced Sunday that it had arrested five Palestinians for a bomb attack in Hizma in the West Bank on May 10 that left an IDF officer seriously wounded. The primary attacker, Samar Mahmoud Dawd Halbiya, 36, a dentist from Abu Dis, prepared other bombs which could be activated by cell phones and stored them at his dental clinic in Aqab. He intended to carry out more attacks in the Ma'ale Adumim area. (Ynet News)
  • Israel Says Palestinians Responsible for West Bank Water Shortage - Michelle Malka Grossman and Tovah Lazaroff
    The responsibility for the water shortage in the West Bank, which has captured global headlines lately, lies with the Palestinians, the Israeli Water Authority said. The infrastructure is inadequate to meet the increasing demand, but it is difficult to upgrade the infrastructure without convening the Israeli-Palestinian Joint Water Committee that was established under the 1993 Oslo Accords. The Palestinian refusal to sit down with Israelis means that the committee has not met for over five years.
        On top of that, broken water pipes and Palestinian water theft have made the situation worse. Adding to the problem is a 20-40% increase in demand compared to last year, mostly for agricultural purposes.
        Samaria Regional Council spokeswoman Esther Aloush said that there are water shortages throughout Israeli towns in the West Bank as well, particularly in the area from Shiloh to Ariel. Last Friday three Israeli communities in Samaria were without water and another five were asked to limit their water usage. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • "Radical Islam" Is the Correct Label - Yehuda Bauer
    President Obama has explained why he doesn't like using the term "radical Islam" when talking about terror attacks perpetrated by Muslims in various countries. His argument was well-reasoned, but I don't agree with it. His principal argument is that using the label "radical Islam" will be interpreted as an attack on Islam per se, and will help extremists brand the U.S. as the enemy of 1.3 billion Muslim believers.
        In my humble opinion, the truth is the diametric opposite. When an act of terror that's perpetrated for ideological reasons is termed simply "terror," but it's clear to everyone that it was perpetrated by a Muslim due to an extremist religious ideology, it paints all Muslims as the guilty parties. But if you say it was perpetrated by people who identify with radical Islam, you're effectively saying there's also a different kind of Islam, one that isn't radical in its ideas and actions and doesn't send murderers out to commit mass terror attacks.
        Using the term "radical Islam" actually allows nonradical or antiradical Muslims - and they are the majority - to come out against such murderous acts both ideologically and practically. And in fact many do so. The writer is professor emeritus of history and Holocaust studies at Hebrew University. (Ha'aretz)
  • Turkey Will Mediate the Next Round of Fighting between Israel and Hamas - Amir Rapaport
    Many in Israel's defense establishment, including former Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon, do not believe that Turkey could regain its "friendly state" status in light of its Muslim Brotherhood ideology. On the other hand, Israel has a clear interest in establishing an anti-ISIS axis in the Mediterranean Basin, together with Greece and Turkey.
        Moreover, the Israeli interest in reconciliation with Turkey is related to Hamas in Gaza. One of the lessons of the 2014 Gaza war was that there was no mediator to end the fighting. Once the Israel-Turkey reconciliation agreement is signed, Turkey will instantly become the most effective route to convey messages to Hamas. This will not prevent the next war in Gaza, but it would enable a mechanism to end the fighting. (Israel Defense)
        See also After the Israel-Turkey Agreement, Turkey and Hamas Will Still Collaborate - Yoni Ben Menachem
    A high-ranking Hamas delegation led by political bureau chief Khaled Mashal visited Turkish President Erdogan in Ankara on June 24, 2016, to receive an update on Turkey's negotiations with Israel on a normalization agreement. Hamas and Turkey have been closely collaborating since they share a common ideology. Both Hamas and the ruling Justice and Development Party in Turkey are affiliates of the worldwide Muslim Brotherhood movement. The writer is former Director General and Chief Editor of the Israel Broadcasting Authority. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

The EU's Record on Foreign Policy Is Far from Perfect - Moshe Arens (Ha'aretz)

  • On balance the EU has been a success in dealing with economic problems, but when dealing with political problems its record is far from perfect. There is a feeling in Europe that the EU bureaucrats in Brussels have over the years assumed prerogatives on political matters that rightly belong to the democratically elected leaders of the EU member nations, and the results have not all been good.
  • An example is the confrontation that has developed in recent years between the EU and Russia. Brussels kept pushing the EU eastward, with NATO following, without considering Russia's sensibilities and fears. When they reached Ukraine, which Vladimir Putin considers Russia's backyard, the Brussels bureaucrats had dragged the EU too far, and an inevitable Russian reaction ensued. The EU, rather than being a force that relieved tensions, created unprecedented tension in Europe by initiating economic warfare against Russia.
  • In dealing with the Middle East the EU's record is even worse. The EU has simply ignored the massacres in Syria, the fighting in Libya and Yemen, the rise of the Islamic State and the human tragedy of the people living in the area. It has, on the other hand, repeatedly focused attention on Israel, the region's sole democracy and only anchor of stability. Doing little to alleviate the Palestinian refugee problem, the EU obsessively criticizes Israel for not following its preferred "solution" to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
  • The latest example of the EU's approach to the Middle East was providing Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas with an opportunity to address the European Parliament, where he accused rabbis of calling for the poisoning of the Palestinians' drinking water and insisted that worldwide terrorism would be eradicated if only Israel withdrew from the West Bank and east Jerusalem. These statements were greeted by enthusiastic applause by European parliamentarians.

    The writer served as Israel's Minister of Defense three times and once as Minister of Foreign Affairs.

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