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  DAILY ALERT Tuesday,
August 30, 2016

In-Depth Issues:

Palestinians Silence Dissent, Abuse Journalists (AP-New York Times)
    Palestinian authorities are silencing dissent by cracking down on free speech and abusing local journalists, Human Rights Watch said Tuesday.
    Both the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and Hamas in Gaza are "arresting, abusing, and criminally charging journalists and activists who express peaceful criticism of the authorities."
    See also Palestinian Crackdown on Journalists, Activists (Human Rights Watch)

Belgian Airline Backtracks, Will Serve West Bank-Made Halva (JTA)
    Belgium's Brussels Airlines said it would resume serving West Bank-produced halva on its flights, one week after pulling the sesame snack following a complaint by a group that supports the boycott of Israel.
    Calling the manufacturer Achva, located in the Barkan Industrial Park near Ariel in the West Bank, "one of our trustful suppliers," Brussels Airlines said, "we will continue to accept Achva's products on board our flights."

Syrian Refugee Creates Website to Thank Israelis - Viva Sarah Press (Israel21c)
    Aboud Dandachi, a Sunni Muslim from the Syrian city of Homs now living in Istanbul, has created a website dedicated to the Israeli and Jewish organizations helping Syrian refugees.
    The website, Thank You Am Israel, highlights the humanitarian aid being given to displaced Syrians.
    "It is imperative that Syrians reciprocate the enormous goodwill shown towards us by Israelis and the Jewish people," he writes. "Whatever supposed reasons we may have had to be adversaries is dwarfed by the compassion shown to us during our darkest days."

Number of Arab Teachers in Jewish Schools Rises by 40 Percent (Israel Hayom)
    The number of Israeli Arab teachers working in Jewish state schools has increased by 40% in recent years, Walla reported Monday.
    The Education Ministry has sought to integrate Arab teachers of English, mathematics and science, among other subjects, into Jewish schools to reduce the surplus of teachers in the Arab sector and to promote coexistence.

Israel Lands Lithuania Missile-Launcher Deal - Yuval Azulai (Globes)
    Israel's Rafael Advanced Defense Systems on Monday announced a deal to provide the Lithuanian Army with advanced, remote-controlled, weapon stations enabling the launch of accurate Spike missiles, also produced by Rafael.
    The Samson Mk2 weapon stations will be mounted on 88 Boxer infantry fighting vehicles, to be provided by the Dutch-German consortium Artec.
    Rafael's share in the deal will be worth 100 million euros.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. Blindsided by Turkish Offensive in Syria - Adam Entous, Gordon Lubold and Dion Nissenbaum
    When Turkish ground forces attacked Islamic State fighters in Syria last week, the Pentagon hailed what it described as close U.S.-Turkish coordination. But the two countries weren't as aligned on the operation as their public statements indicated. Ankara pulled the trigger on the mission unilaterally without giving officials in Washington advance warning.
        When clashes started between Turkish and Syrian Kurdish fighters - who are directly backed by U.S. Special Forces - the Pentagon issued unusually blunt calls for both to stand down. U.S. officials say the Turks' decision undercut a behind-the-scenes effort to clear rival Syrian Kurdish elements out of the conflict zone first.
        Officials in Washington said they warned their Turkish military counterparts Monday that the U.S. won't provide air support to Turkish forces pushing southward, deeper into Syrian territory. The U.S. will continue to provide air support to Turkish forces moving westward into the border area threatened by Islamic State. (Wall Street Journal)
  • UN Pays Tens of Millions to Assad Regime under Syria Aid Program - Nick Hopkins and Emma Beals
    The UN has awarded contracts worth tens of millions of dollars to businessmen closely associated with Syrian President Assad whose companies are under U.S. and EU sanctions. The UN says it can only work with a small number of partners approved by President Assad. However, critics believe aid is being prioritized in government-held areas and argue UN money is effectively helping to prop up a regime responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of its own citizens. (Guardian-UK)
  • Israel Expands Police Presence in East Jerusalem to Stem Palestinian Attacks - Shira Rubin
    Israeli police are expanding their presence into east Jerusalem's Arab neighborhoods. Police spokesperson Luba Samri said police are actively recruiting Arab police officers and seeking to foster cooperation with local Arab community leaders to "enhance civilians' feeling of safety." Meanwhile, attacks on Israelis by Arabs have declined dramatically in the past two months, from 103 in June to fewer than 10 in July and August combined. (USA Today)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Sinai Attacks Decline as Egypt's Fight Against IS Yields Results - Avi Issacharoff
    There has been a steady and significant decline in terror attacks carried out by the Islamic State in the Sinai Peninsula in recent months, according to both Egyptian and Israeli sources. The Egyptian army has suffered a smaller number of casualties in 2016, and the attacks on it have been less ambitious than those IS carried out in 2014 and 2015.
        In May, as the result of precise intelligence, a large-scale aerial campaign killed nearly 100 IS operatives and injured hundreds more, dozens of them seriously. In addition, the bombings destroyed weapons storage facilities and ammunition caches which had been kept hidden for years. (Times of Israel)
  • Egypt and Jordan Fear a Hamas Victory in the West Bank - Yoni Ben Menachem
    After talks in Cairo, King Abdullah of Jordan and Egyptian President el-Sisi issued a joint statement on the Palestinian problem. The statement reflects the Egyptian-Jordanian order of priorities: first reconciliation within Fatah and only afterward reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas. The statement called on Abbas to mend fences with his bitter rival Dahlan so that Fatah can run in the elections in a unified form and prevent a Hamas victory. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
        See also Video: Anarchy in the West Bank - Yoni Ben Menachem
    On the run-up to October Palestinian local elections, the Palestinian Authority has arrested 100 suspects and in Nablus confiscated a million shekels' worth of weapons, including rockets. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
        See also Video: The Palestinian Authority Is Losing Control on the Eve of West Bank Elections - Pinhas Inbari (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • In Palestinian Local Elections, Most Locales Uncontested - Adam Rasgon
    Voting in the Palestinian municipal elections on Oct. 8 will take place only in those 196 locales where competing candidate lists were submitted. Of the 416 Palestinian municipalities, 181 turned in consensus lists, while 38 failed to file any lists. However, the election is being contested in the West Bank's most populous cities. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • What Ever Happened to the Two-State Solution? - John McLaughlin
    A combination of fractious internal politics and Mideast regional trends may now have moved the Israeli-Palestinian problem into the category of "too hard." The regional context is entirely different than in 1993, when President Clinton presided over the signing of the Oslo Accord. Back then, Arab disputes with Israel were seen as the single most important roadblock to stability and peace in the Middle East. Now they are overshadowed by the larger drama of war in Syria and Iraq, the regionwide tensions between Sunni and Shia and the general chaos that followed the 2011 Arab Spring.
        The next U.S. president will have to weigh any effort to seek a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian problem against a much broader array of competing demands in the Middle East, so the likelihood is that this will not be as high on the U.S. priority list as in the past. The writer, deputy director and acting director of the CIA from 2000 to 2004, teaches at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. (Ozy)
  • Syria: No End in Sight - Robert Richer
    U.S.-supported Syrian rebels are reducing active operations to lessen chances of a confrontation with Russian-supported, pro-Assad forces. Morale in these rebel forces is considered marginal. Increasingly active Russian air operations are not hindered by coalition rules of engagement regarding targets and/or collateral damage, and are more aggressive and less discriminate in their operations.
        Assad is empowered right now with recent successes on the ground in Syria and increasing military and political support from Putin. Assad also assesses that there is a lessening of support for his immediate stepping down from power by some of the coalition members and regional powers, who are increasingly concerned that the vacuum created by his stepping down would take Syria down the road of Libya or Iraq. The writer is former associate deputy director for operations at the CIA. (Cipher Brief)
  • Norwegian Government Joins Israel Boycott Funding Framework
    Norway has joined Sweden, Denmark, Switzerland and the Netherlands in funding the Human Rights & International Humanitarian Law Secretariat, an intermediary that distributes funds to NGOs active in boycott campaigns and other forms of demonization against Israel. It is managed by the Institute of Law at Birzeit University in Ramallah. Thirteen recipient NGOs that support the boycott of Israel have received $5.78 million over the course of four years. Some grantees have also promoted anti-Semitic rhetoric and have apparent links to the PFLP terrorist organization.
        In June, the Dutch government passed a resolution calling for a review of its funding to the Secretariat due to its support of BDS. (NGO Monitor)

The New Normal: Today's Arab Debate over Ties with Israel - David Pollock (Fikra Forum-Washington Institute for Near East Policy)

  • At the security and intelligence levels, direct contacts between Israeli and Palestinian, Egyptian, Jordanian, and other Arab officials have become so frequent and mutually useful as to be routine.
  • What is noteworthy today is that the issue of dialogue with Israel is being actively and openly debated in major Arab media. Some Egyptian writers and academics most critical of ties to Israel acknowledge that the younger generation, turned against Iran, Hamas, and the Muslim Brotherhood by their own government, is losing some of its animosity toward their Israeli neighbors.
  • While Arab publics overwhelmingly dislike Israel (and Jews), solid majorities in most recent surveys, on the order of 60%, nevertheless voice support for a "two-state solution," which implies peace with the Jewish state.
  • In the past two years, polls in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, and the UAE show that "the Arab street" is much more concerned about the conflicts with Iran, Assad, and ISIS than about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
  • The conclusion is clear: today a broader regional approach to Arab-Israeli peacemaking, rather than a strictly bilateral Israeli-Palestinian one, offers somewhat better prospects of success.
  • For an increasing number of Arabs, Israel may not be a friend, but could become a partner.

    The writer is a fellow at The Washington Institute and director of the Fikra Forum to support Arab democrats.

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