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  DAILY ALERT Wednesday,
October 26, 2016

In-Depth Issues:

Israeli Soldier Injured by Gunfire from Lebanon - Judah Ari Gross (Times of Israel)
    An IDF soldier was injured by gunfire from a passing car across the border in Lebanon on Wednesday, the army said. Israeli soldiers returned fire.

European Parliament Resolution Condemns Iran for Anti-Semitism - Tamara Zieve (Jerusalem Post)
    With 590 in favor, 67 against and 36 abstentions, the European Parliament meeting in Strasbourg, France, on Tuesday backed an amendment to a report on Iran put forward by Dutch Liberal parliamentarian Marietje Schaake that "strongly condemns the Iranian regime's repeated calls for the destruction of Israel and the regime's policy of denying the Holocaust."

Vote in Czech Parliament Condemns UNESCO Jerusalem Resolution - Tovah Lazaroff (Jerusalem Post)
    The Czech Republic's Chamber of Deputies voted 119-4 on Wednesday to condemn the UNESCO Jerusalem resolution which "discredits" UNESCO's "neutrality" and "strengthens the international anti-Semitic tendencies."
    Israel's Ambassador to UNESCO Carmel Shama-Hacohen welcomed the vote, "which sends a sane and human message of moral truth from the parliament in Prague to UNESCO in Paris."

Will Abbas' Successor Be More Moderate? - Avi Issacharoff (Times of Israel)
    The day after Mahmoud Abbas departs, will his successor be a more moderate negotiating partner?
    Mohammed Dahlan's chances of returning from exile and taking over the leadership of Fatah and the PA are nil considering the hoard of enemies he's made in the Fatah leadership over the years.
    As for other candidates, Marwan Barghouti is sitting in an Israeli jail for five murders; Jibril Rajoub has taken a hard line against Israel in recent years; and Nasser al-Kidwa to this day accuses Israel of poisoning his uncle Yasser Arafat.

Thousands March in Gaza in Support of Islamic Jihad (AFP)
    Thousands of supporters of Islamic Jihad, including fighters from its Al-Quds Brigades, staged a public show of force in Gaza on Friday.
    Islamic Jihad leader Ramadan Shalah spoke via a video link, saying, "If the Arabs turn their backs on Palestine and embrace Israel, they can no longer condemn the resistance for taking support from Iran."
    "(Iran) is the only country which commits to the unending support of the Palestinian cause."

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • For Iran, Exerting Force While Making Nice Is Part of the Plan - Thomas Erdbrink
    Just as opponents of the nuclear deal with Iran had warned, Tehran seems to be moving aggressively to expand its regional influence while working to counter American interests throughout the Middle East. Iranian generals are directing the ground war in Syria. Iranian advisers are training Shiite militias fighting in Iraq and Syria. Iranian arms and other support help the Houthi rebels in Yemen. Yet, just as proponents of the deal had promised, Iran is also slowly opening up, cutting deals with Western businesses and welcoming hordes of European tourists.
        On the battlefields of Syria, Iranian advisers and "volunteers" - often Afghans and Shiite militias - are fighting and dying alongside Syrian government troops to drive rebels out of Aleppo. Near Mosul, Iraq, the Popular Mobilization Forces, another name for dozens of Shiite militias, are taking cues from advisers associated with the Quds Force of the Revolutionary Guards. At the same time, Ayatollah Khamenei said last week that "problems between Iran and the United States will never be resolved."  (New York Times)
  • Report: Iranian-American Held in Iran Gets 18-Year Sentence
    Robin Shahini, 46, an Iranian-American held in Tehran, has reportedly been sentenced to 18 years in prison for "collaboration with a hostile government." Shahini, who traveled to Iran to see his mother who was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, was detained on July 11. He left Iran in 1998 and has lived in San Diego for 16 years.
        The U.S. State Department said, "We reaffirm our calls on Iran to respect and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms, cease arbitrary and politically motivated detentions, and ensure fair and transparent judicial proceedings." Iran does not recognize dual nationalities, meaning that those it detains cannot receive consular assistance. (AP-New York Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Anti-Abbas Clashes Erupt in West Bank - Avi Issacharoff and Dov Lieber
    Clashes erupted in Palestinian refugee camps in Ramallah, Nablus, and Jenin Tuesday night between youths and Palestinian Authority security forces. The clashes in the al-Amari refugee camp near Ramallah involved suppression of a protest over the recent expulsion from the Fatah party of Palestinian lawmaker Jihad Tummaleh by PA President Mahmoud Abbas. (Times of Israel)
        See also The Fraying Palestinian Political Entity in the West Bank - Pinhas Inbari (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Temple Mount Archeologist: UNESCO Resolution an Affront to Science and History - Daniel K. Eisenbud
    On the eve of UNESCO's Wednesday vote in Paris to ratify a resolution denying Jewish ties to Judaism's holiest site, Temple Mount Sifting Project co-founder and archeologist Dr. Gabriel Barkay dismissed the vote as an affront to science and history. Citing volumes of evidence of the First and Second Temples in the Bible, Mishna and by historian Flavius Josephus, Barkay said every synagogue in the world faces the direction of the Temple Mount. "It is a disgrace to anybody who thinks of themselves as a civilized, intelligent person," Barkay said. "It also undermines the connection of Christianity to Jerusalem."
        "Archeological sites in Syria are blown up and demolished [by Islamic State], and sites in Iraq are being bulldozed away, and what UNESCO is busy with is declarations about Jerusalem and its connection to Jewish heritage," he said. "The Arabs and their supporters have so many more voices, so they can come to the decision that the earth is flat, and they will have a majority."  (Jerusalem Post)
        See also UNESCO Passes New Resolution Ignoring Jewish Ties to Jerusalem Holy Sites
    The UN's cultural organization on Wednesday passed another resolution on Jerusalem's Old City that ignores the site's Jewish history. UNESCO's World Heritage Committee approved the resolution by 8 votes to 2 with 8 abstentions. (i24news)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Obama Shouldn't Tie His Successor's Hands on Israel-Palestinians - Alan M. Dershowitz
    The Obama administration is sending strong signals that it may make a major push to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at the UN. President Obama should resist any temptation to change longstanding American policy - that only direct negotiations between the parties will achieve a lasting peace - during his final weeks in office. In particular, Obama should veto an expected French resolution in the UN Security Council establishing an international peace conference under the auspices of the UN.
        The UN has disqualified itself from playing any constructive role in the peace process. Last year alone, at least 20 separate resolutions were adopted by the UN General Assembly, which singled out Israel for special criticism. The UN has done nothing to reassure Israel that the organization is capable of offering an unbiased forum for negotiations. In light of such behavior, the U.S. should not trust that Israel would receive a fair hearing at any UN-sponsored peace conference.
        The only way forward for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process is bilateral negotiations between the two parties. Resolutions like the proposed French resolution undermine such efforts by encouraging the Palestinians to believe that direct negotiations - and the mutual sacrifices they would entail - are unnecessary. The writer is professor emeritus of law at Harvard University. (Boston Globe)
  • With UNESCO Vote, Palestinians' Bid for Attention Backfires - Cnaan Liphshiz
    If the latest draft resolution at UNESCO on "Occupied Palestine" succeeded in reclaiming the world's attention, then it was a Pyrrhic victory. The resolution's erasure of Jewish ties to Jerusalem ignited a diplomatic dispute that is dividing UNESCO, embarrassing some of its member states and exposing the Palestinians to rebuke not only by Israel, but even by passionate supporters of their cause who are angered by what they perceive as an anti-Jewish bid to rewrite history.
        UNESCO director-general Irina Bokova of Bulgaria penned an unprecedented rebuke of the draft resolution passed by her own organization. "To deny, conceal or erase any of the Jewish, Christian or Muslim traditions undermines the integrity of the site, and runs counter to the reasons that justified its inscription on the UNESCO World Heritage list." Even Americans for Peace Now criticized the UNESCO resolution's "exclusionary and inflammatory language."
        Daniel Schwammenthal of the American Jewish Committee's Transatlantic Institute called the rebuke of the Palestinian gambit an expression of growing resentment internationally of Palestinian attempts after 2011 - the year Palestine was accepted into UNESCO - to "abuse, hijack or disrupt the work of international forums that have nothing to do with their conflict with Israel." Ultimately, "it wasn't Israel that got a black eye at the UNESCO vote but the United Nations, whose reputation was once again stained; the countries that supported an outrageous lie; and primarily the Palestinians, who are using up international support to deepen the distrust of the only people who can give them a state, the Israelis."  (JTA)

The Israeli-Palestinian Arena: A Regional Approach Has the Most Potential - Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Michael Herzog (Fathom-BICOM)

  • The last effort at a comprehensive Israeli-Palestinian peace solution - the Kerry-led negotiations in 2013-2014 - collapsed. The U.S. proposal of parameters in March 2014 to this day awaits a Palestinian response.
  • Israelis rightly push back when Palestinians reject a peace proposal only to subsequently demand that it serve as the baseline for the next round. I have seen this time and again.
  • I don't see the value in forcing the parties to go back to the negotiating table at this moment. The two sides remain far apart regarding their red lines on core issues such as Jerusalem and refugees, so even if they were to return to negotiations the talks would likely fail.
  • Israel and some of the major Arab states have been drawn closer together by strong converging interests, namely the threats of extreme violent Islamist jihadism, an empowered Iranian-led axis, regional instability as a whole, and the weakening U.S. role.
  • In this context, some of the major Arab stakeholders are willing to play a role in providing both space and cover to Israelis and Palestinians in advancing the two-state solution.
  • Out of all the existing initiatives currently on the table, the regional approach has the most potential. The parties should be willing to invest in it and the U.S. and Europe should support it.

    The writer, a participant in nearly all Israeli-Palestinian negotiations since 1993, is a former chief of staff to Israel's minister of defense.

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