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August 22, 2016

In-Depth Issues:

Hamas Set to Take West Bank Cities in Local Elections - Alex Fishman (Ynet News)
    Hamas is about to take control over municipal centers of power in the West Bank in a legal and democratic way in several weeks' time as part of its plan to take over the entire Palestinian Authority.
    The municipal elections to take place on Oct. 8 are no longer just a vote over sanitary conditions in the Palestinian cities, but rather a process with national political significance that threatens to unseat Fatah from centers of power in the West Bank.
    No one has any doubt that Hamas is about to sweep many areas and large cities.
    The municipal elections held in the West Bank and Gaza in 2004-2005 ended with Hamas coming out on top.
    Political analysts in Israel are predicting a victory for Hamas in the cities of Hebron, Jenin, Nablus, and Kalkilya.

    See also The PA, Based in Ramallah, Faces Opposition in Other Towns - Pinhas Inbari (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
    As the Palestinian Authority prepares for municipal elections in October, the rift between Fatah and the PA security forces in the West Bank is growing, with pitched battles occurring in Nablus and Tulkarem.
    How can the PA survive if its main constituent organization, Fatah, is leading the struggle against it? Who in Nablus will vote for the pro-Ramallah candidates?
    The writer is a veteran Arab affairs correspondent.

Turkey: 5 Detained for Trying to Enter Israeli Consulate (AP)
    Turkish police have detained five people who tried to break into Israel's consulate in Istanbul to protest Israeli airstrikes in Gaza.
    Anadolu said the five entered a business center housing the consulate early Monday and were detained by police who were called to the scene. Security around the building was increased.

California Passes Anti-BDS Law (
    The California legislature last week passed a bill barring all state bodies, including universities, from maintaining ties with organizations that support anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions activities.

German University Students Declare BDS Anti-Semitic - Benjamin Weinthal (Jerusalem Post)
    Students at Leipzig University in Germany passed a resolution this month "to condemn the anti-Semitic BDS campaign" and "against anti-Semitic measures such as disinviting Israeli academics."
    The Leipzig student council sees BDS as a danger to academic freedom and its goal is the "abolition of the State of Israel."
    The Young Socialists, the youth organization of the Social Democratic party, played a key role in the passage of the resolution.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • ISIS Teenager Kills 51 in Turkey Terror Attack
    At least 51 people were killed on Saturday when a suicide bomber detonated among people dancing in the street at a Kurdish wedding party in the Turkish city of Gaziantep close to the Syria border. President Erdogan said it was likely that Islamic State had carried out the attack. He later said that the suicide bomber was between 12 and 14 years old. (France 24)
        See also Israel Sends Condolences to Turkey over Wedding Bombing (Times of Israel)
  • Turkish Parliament Approves Deal to End Diplomatic Rift with Israel
    The Turkish parliament Friday approved a deal to normalize ties with Israel after a delay caused by last month's attempted coup. The agreement restores relations between the two former close regional allies after a six-year rift. (AFP)
  • Russia Presses Turkey for Access to NATO's Incirlik Air Base
    Russian officials have reached out to Turkey to request access to the American-built Incirlik Air Base as a convenient launch pad for airstrikes in Syria. Senator Igor Morozov, a member of the Russian Parliament's upper house's committee on international affairs, said the development would enable the Russian air force to engage in "constant bombing" of ISIS and other jihadist groups to bring the conflict to a resolution faster. "You’ll see, the next base will be Incirlik," he told Izvestia last week after Russian bombers started flying out of Iran. (Sputnik-Russia)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israeli Delegation Arrives in Cairo to Discuss Egyptian Initiative to Revive Peace Talks
    A high-level Israeli delegation arrived in Cairo on Sunday to meet with Egyptian officials to discuss President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi's initiative to restore peace negotiations between the Palestinians and Israelis, according to Egypt's government-run MENA news agency. (Daily News-Egypt)
        See also Israeli Delegation in Cairo to Discuss Peace Push
    Last week, PA President Abbas reportedly informed Egypt he is no longer opposed to participating in a regional or international peace summit in Cairo. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu told Egyptian Foreign Minister Shoukry in July that he would be willing to meet with Abbas in Cairo for talks hosted by President Sisi. (Times of Israel)
        See also Egypt Announces Russian Willingness to Host Israel-Palestinian Negotiations - Roi Kais and Itamar Eichner
    Egyptian President Sisi announced Sunday that Russian President Putin told him that Russia is ready to host direct negotiations between Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and PA Chairman Abbas. Sisi said everyone is invited to take part in moving along the political process. He added that it is essential that the internal divisions within Fatah be fixed, and that the reconciliation agreement between Hamas and the PA should be completed so that real efforts can be made to create a Palestinian state. (Ynet News)
  • Israel Responds Strongly to Rocket Fire from Gaza - Elior Levy
    The Israel Air Force responded Sunday to a rocket fired from Gaza at the Israeli city of Sderot. Israeli army spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner said the IDF "remains committed to the stability of the region and operated in order to bring quiet to the people of southern Israel. When terrorists in Hamas' Gaza Strip, driven by a radical agenda based on hatred, attack people in the middle of the summer vacation, their intentions are clear - to inflict pain, cause fear and to terrorize."  (Ynet News)
        See also Rockets from Gaza Endanger Fragile Peace - Yossi Melman
    Unofficially, Israeli security sources admit that Hamas units are patrolling the border to arrest those who conspire to launch rockets against Israel and to prevent the rocket attacks before they take place. Should a rocket fired from Gaza kill Israelis, the IDF will have to respond forcefully. This latest rocket is a reminder of how fragile the Gaza-Israeli border is. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Why the Ayatollah Thinks He Won - Jay Solomon
    The U.S. hoped that the nuclear deal would boost Iran's moderates, but after more than a year, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and his allies seem to be the big winners. On Aug. 1, Khamenei said that Iran's experience with the nuclear deal "showed us that we cannot speak to [the Americans] on any matter like a trustworthy party," as many in the crowd chanted anti-U.S. slogans. But for all his complaints about American treachery, Khamenei recognizes that the nuclear deal has produced significant benefits that may serve to further entrench the regime.
        As international sanctions against Iran have slackened, the ayatollah and his core allies have expanded the Iranian military and pursued new business opportunities for the companies and foundations that finance the regime's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. (Wall Street Journal)
  • U.S. Military Aid Is Greatly Appreciated in Israel - Moshe Arens
    After the Yom Kippur War, when the Israel Defense Forces had to be rebuilt and rearmed, U.S. military aid to Israel equaled 20% of Israel's gross domestic product and covered about half the Israeli defense budget. Most of the equipment the IDF acquired came from the U.S. The quality edge, so essential to Israel, was provided by American arms that were superior to the Soviet arms in the hands of Israel's enemies. This was assistance that Israel needed for its survival, both from an economic and a military point of view.
        Much has changed in the past 42 years. Israel has prospered, and in most areas, with the exception of fighter aircraft, the IDF's quality edge in weaponry is the product of Israeli research and development. At the present time, U.S. military assistance equals 1.5% of Israel's GDP and covers a little over 20% of Israel's defense budget.
        Whatever the final form and shape of the U.S. military aid package for Israel now under discussion, it will be greatly appreciated in Israel. The writer served as Israel's Minister of Defense three times and once as Minister of Foreign Affairs. (Ha'aretz)
  • What Israel Gained from the Turkey Deal and What It Means for the Region - Yossi Melman
    In the reconciliation agreement with Turkey that was finally approved over the weekend, Israel did not agree to Turkey's initial demand that it be allowed to transfer goods directly to Gaza without Israeli supervision. While Turkey committed to remove Hamas' military headquarters and activists from its territory, the Israeli defense establishment is doubtful this will happen. The Turkish parliament is passing legislation that will cancel the lawsuits it had filed against IDF soldiers who were involved in the 2010 Mavi Marmara incident.
        Turkey's achievements are mostly ones of honor. Prime Netanyahu apologized for the incident and Israel will transfer $21 million to the Turkish government to distribute to families impacted by the incident. (Jerusalem Post)

Video - Israeli Expert: Arab Regime Crackdowns Are Pushing New ISIS Recruiting (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

Assessing the strength of the Islamic State, Col. (ret.) Dr. Jacques Neriah, former Deputy Head for Assessment of Israeli Military Intelligence, said:

  • "A huge coalition of forces, air forces, and other countries are participating in trying to quell the Islamic state. But they haven't reached the final goal because they don't have boots on the ground. Now with 30,000 fighters, it seems that the Islamic State is still there to accompany us for the next couple of years at least."
  • "In Saudi Arabia, it's almost impossible to stabilize the kingdom. Every two weeks you have suicide bombers. And what is the most aggravating fact in what is happening in Saudi Arabia is that most of the suicide bombers originate from Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Uzbekistan."
  • "This is very difficult and very problematic because in this area of the world you have four to eight million Asians working in the Gulf States and Saudi Arabia, meaning that the Islamic State can infiltrate these populations and try to recruit them against the local government."
  • "We are confronting a situation where the Arab states have understood that they have to react. The reaction in most of the Arab states is in harsher measures against most of the population. Repressive regimes have replaced the moderate Arab regimes. If you look at what is happening today in Egypt and Saudi Arabia, compared to how they were three or four years before, there is a huge change in the way that the regime looks at its own citizens."
  • Q: Doesn't this play into the hands of ISIS?
    Neriah: "Exactly so. When you push the population and try to stop them criticizing the regime by first saying that 'You cannot spread rumors.' If you spread rumors you will spend ten years in jail. You cannot have any meeting beyond ten people in the streets. If they are pupils having a meeting in the street or saying they didn't get the marks they should have in school, they're put in jail. There are thousands and thousands of anti-regime militants that are awaiting trial and they could wait for five or ten years in jail."
  • "So this is what's happening and this is the fertile terrain where ISIS works. This is where ISIS can recruit very easily and try to bring those people to work against the regime."

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