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November 21, 2016

In-Depth Issues:

Report: Hizbullah Sending More Fighters to Syria (Fars-Iran)
    "Hizbullah has dispatched another brigade to Syria who have been deployed just outside the city of Aleppo," Russia's Izvestia reported on Saturday.

Report: 12 Members of Nuclear Negotiating Team Arrested by Iran for Espionage - Daniel J. Roth (Jerusalem Post)
    At least a dozen senior officials who were part of the negotiating team that conducted nuclear talks with the West were arrested by Iranian authorities on espionage charges, Israel's Channel 2 reported Friday, citing Iranian member of parliament Husein Al Haj.
    Iran's government-controlled media did not acknowledge the arrests, but Arab media have been covering the story extensively.

PA Becoming Isolated in Arab World - Avi Issacharoff (Times of Israel)
    A severe crisis has broken out between the Palestinian Authority and the moderate Arab world. Abbas is close to cutting off relations with the Sunni Arab states, Egypt and Saudi Arabia first among them.
    Saudi Arabia has suspended its financial aid to the PA, and Jordan could not care less about what happens in Ramallah.
    With the support of only part of Fatah, PA leader Mahmoud Abbas, 82, stands alone - against Hamas, Israel, the Arab countries, and his own enemy from within - Mohammad Dahlan. Yet there is no shortage of would-be successors.

Germany to Build Two More Submarines for Egypt (Al-Ahram-Egypt)
    Two more submarines are currently being constructed in Germany for Egypt, after it received a submarine earlier this month, German ambassador to Cairo Julius Georg Luy told the Egyptian state news agency MENA.

UN Passes Israeli Entrepreneurship Resolution - Ran Dagoni (Globes)
    The UN Second Committee (Economic and Financial) approved on Friday an Israeli-sponsored resolution for encouraging entrepreneurship by a vote of 123-30, with 8 abstentions, despite opposition from the Arab bloc.

Dramatic Rise in Aliyah from Brazil - Steve Linde (Jerusalem Post)
    "Aliya from Brazil has risen dramatically in recent years," Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky said during a visit to Sao Paulo.
    "Three years ago, we registered 200 olim from Brazil. Today, we can boast 650 from the beginning of the year, and by the end of 2016 the final number will be around 700, with reasonable basis to forecast yet another increase next year."
    "To this you have to add the rising number of young participants in Israel experience programs such as Masa, for example, with 300 young Brazilians this year alone."

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • In Trump Era, Israel Sees Opportunity to Shift U.S. Approach to Iran - David Wainer
    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is formulating a strategy that will lead to a more concerted global effort to keep Iran's regional aspirations in check, a senior Israeli official said. "The urgent task is to stop Iran from becoming a superpower in the region," said Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Yaakov Amidror, Netanyahu's former national security adviser. "The prime minister will argue, first and foremost, that the U.S. should work to diminish the partnership between Russia and Iran in the region."
        According to Robert Satloff, executive director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Israel wants to see a reset of America's view of Iran, to see it as a major promoter of regional instability that must be contained. "The first request will be for Trump to see Iran as part of the problem rather than as part of the solution in the region," Satloff said. "The argument will be to work hand in hand with Israel on tightening the noose around Iran rather than sever the [nuclear] deal and open up a Pandora's box between America and global powers, freeing Iran from whatever constraints that currently exist."  (Bloomberg)
  • In Syria's Aleppo, Shiite Militias Point to Iran's Unparalleled Influence - Hugh Naylor
    Leading the charge against rebel holdouts in the Syrian city of Aleppo are thousands of Shiite militiamen from Lebanon, Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan who are loyal to Iran. These religiously motivated fighters, who have reinforced Syria's badly weakened military, are playing an increasingly critical role in trying to seize opposition-held eastern Aleppo. "They are building a force on the ground that, long after the war, will stay there and wield a strong military and ideological influence over Syria for Iran," said Phillip Smyth, an expert on Shiite militias at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
        In Aleppo, Hizbullah and Iranian Revolutionary Guards play prominent leadership roles, directing the foreign Shiite militiamen, many of whom are recruited by, and trained in, Iran. (Washington Post)
  • Infighting Clouds Palestinian Authority's Future - Mohammed Daraghmeh
    Fierce shootouts between Palestinian security forces and Fatah-aligned gunmen have erupted in recent months at the Balata refugee camp near Nablus in the West Bank. Much of the violence is directed at a Fatah leadership seen as corrupt and out of touch. "I no longer want to fight Israel. I'm not willing to die for these officials who are only taking care of their families and letting us suffer," said Hatem Abu Riziq, 30, who spent 7 years in an Israeli prison for assisting in a suicide bombing. The internal violence has left about a dozen Palestinians dead this year. (AP-ABC News)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Netanyahu: Abbas Is Not Preparing Palestinians for Reconciliation with Israel
    On the 39th anniversary of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat's historic visit to Jerusalem, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the Israeli Cabinet on Sunday: "A peace agreement was achieved between Israel and Egypt through direct negotiations; this agreement has stood for almost 40 years, currently under the courageous leadership of Egyptian President al-Sisi. I note this because here one can see the contrast with what is occurring vis-a-vis the Palestinians."
        "Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas] refuses to come to direct negotiations without preconditions, is also continuing to incite his people regarding the idea of a right of return and erasing the State of Israel, and, to my regret, is not taking the right steps to start calming things and preparing public opinion for reconciliation with the State of Israel, which we see among certain Arab countries."  (Prime Minister's Office)
        See also Abbas Advisor: Fatah to Activate Mass Popular Resistance - Adam Rasgon
    Husam Zomlot, PA President Abbas' adviser for strategic affairs, told the Jerusalem Post, "We plan to activate fully popular resistance at the Fatah Congress," set to take place on Nov. 29. "We need to expand popular resistance and build a larger protest movement against Israel."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Security Expert: Pressure Social Media to Block Terrorist Incitement - Yonah Jeremy Bob
    Countries grappling with terrorists who use Facebook and Twitter to incite should unite to formulate new international standards against such activity in consultation with the leading social media giants, Institute for National Security Studies expert Col. (res.) Gabi Siboni told the Jerusalem Post.
        He noted that terrorists are using social media to incite violence against Israel at the same time that human rights defenders are using it to limit Israel's "freedom to act in self-defense." Siboni suggests Israel must act to proactively block terrorists' use of social media and to reduce the impact of incitement before it turns disgruntled persons into lone wolf attackers. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Egypt-Israel Relations "at Highest Level" in History - Zena Tahhan
    Although many Egyptians continue to regard Israel as a threat and sympathize with the Palestinian cause, the relationship between the two countries has become markedly explicit under President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. "Egyptian-Israeli relations are today at their highest level in history," Nathan Thrall, senior analyst for the International Crisis Group, told Al Jazeera.
        In 2016, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry visited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Egypt also reinstated its ambassador, following Morsi's decision to pull out the envoy in 2012. (Al Jazeera-Qatar)
  • Iran Deal Was Vulnerable All Along - Suzanne Maloney
    The uncertainty around the fate of the Iran nuclear deal underscores the agreement's implicit vulnerabilities, particularly its reliance on executive authority in the absence of broad domestic buy-in or a wholesale resolution of the underlying antagonisms. The American commitment to the JCPOA hangs from the narrow thread of executive authority: the president's power to temporarily waive or suspend economic sanctions on Iran.
        Trump wouldn't have to touch the deal to imperil it. He'll have his pick of coercive economic measures to wield against Iran, with nearly three dozen bills circulating in Congress penalizing Tehran for its missile program, regional power projection, and human rights abuses. New sanctions could stymie Iran's efforts to attract foreign investment and rebuild trade ties with Europe and Asia. The writer is deputy director of the Foreign Policy program at Brookings. (Brookings Institution)

How Israel Surprised the World During Its President's Visit to India - Kanchan Gupta (Daily Mail-UK)

  • President Barack Obama skipped his scheduled visit to the Taj Mahal in Agra last year because American sharpshooters were not allowed on the premises of the monument. The U.S. security agencies assessed that the American President was unsafe in a Muslim-dominated area.
  • If Muslim dislike was the reason that kept Obama away from the Taj Mahal, it should have surely stopped Israel's President Reuven Rivlin from even considering a visit to Agra. But Rivlin did visit Agra and was photographed, along with his wife, in front of the Taj Mahal.
  • Another notable surprise was Rivlin's visit to Teen Murti to pay homage to Indian soldiers who fought for and fell at Haifa. Most Indians would not know the history of the Teen Murti monument; the Israelis do. During World War I, Haifa was captured by the British 15th Imperial Cavalry Brigade comprising regiments of the Hyderabad, Mysore and Jodhpur Lancers.
  • Over 25 years of diplomatic relations, Israel has given to India unquestioningly. We desperately needed ammunition during the Kargil conflict, Israel shipped the shells to us overnight. We needed air-surveillance platforms, Israel provided them to us. With Russia faltering as India's primary supplier of weaponry, Israel stepped into the gap. A lot more can be added to the list - from agricultural and water technology to high-end satellite technology and sensors on borders to monitor movements.
  • A gaggle of extremists and Marxists issued a statement condemning Rivlin's visit to India. The statement hilariously demanded that India should join the "Boycott, Divest, Sanction" movement against Israel - a movement which has little to do with Palestinian aspirations and is really about anti-Semitism.

        See also India-Israel Relationship Is on the Upswing - Editorial
    The current visit of Israeli President Reuven Rivlin to India highlights how both nations are emerging from the closet to become natural allies. India does not need to be cautious about its growing nearness to Israel, just for fear of offending its Arab allies in the West Asia. After all, India's connectivity with the Arab nations in the region has blossomed under Prime Minister Narendra Modi's leadership. (The Pioneer-India)

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