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  DAILY ALERT Thursday,
December 1, 2016

In-Depth Issues:

How Iranian Weapons Are Ending Up in Yemen - Thomas Gibbons-Neff (Washington Post)
    In October, U.S. officials claimed to have captured five shipments of Iranian weapons bound for Yemen.
    A new report released by Conflict Armament Research on Wednesday "suggests the existence of a weapon pipeline extending from Iran to Somalia and Yemen, which involves the transfer, by dhow, of significant quantities of Iranian-manufactured weapons and weapons that plausibly derive from Iranian stockpiles."

Abbas Claims Oslo Accords Allowed 600,000 Palestinians to Return - Adam Rasgon (Jerusalem Post)
    PA President Mahmoud Abbas told the seventh Fatah General Congress in Ramallah on Wednesday: "We want to talk about [the] Oslo [Accords]. Many say that it is treasonous....But [it also allowed] 600,000 return to the homeland."

Saudis Go Online to Intercept Militant Recruits - Margherita Stancati (Wall Street Journal)
    Abdulrazaq al-Morjan, a leading member of a volunteer initiative called Sakinah, spends hours on Twitter to infiltrate networks of young Islamic radicals and stop groups like Islamic State from recruiting them.
    The most effective weapon at his disposal is knowledge of his country's conservative brand of Islam.
    The online vigilantes in Sakinah - which means "tranquility" - seek to engage would-be militants and steer them away from violent extremism.
    "We know how to bring al-Qaeda and Daesh [ISIS] in our dialogue, how to put them to shame, how to challenge them," he said.

Anti-BDS Bill Passes Ohio House - Kristen Mott (Cleveland Jewish News)
    In an 81-13 vote, the Ohio House of Representatives on Nov. 29 approved a bill to prohibit state agencies from contracting with a company that is boycotting or disinvesting from Israel.
    Rep. Kirk Schuring (R-Canton), the primary sponsor, said, "Our state's relationship with Israel generates more than $200 million of economic benefit for Ohio each year."
    "This legislation provides more opportunities for Ohio to continue its strong alliance with Israel, as well as bolster our economy here at home."

Israel Improves Artillery Shells - Yoav Zitun (Ynet News)
    Israel Military Industries (IMI) has introduced a new, high-explosive artillery shell with five times the lethality of ordinary shells.
    Normally, shells fall diagonally, while the new IMI shell lands on a target at a 90-degree angle for increased effectiveness.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. Officials: Obama Leans Against Last-Minute Action on Israel - Josh Lederman
    President Barack Obama has nearly ruled out any major last-ditch effort to put pressure on Israel over stalled peace negotiations with the Palestinians, U.S. officials said. Frustrated by the lack of progress, Obama for more than a year had considered giving a major speech describing his vision for a future peace deal, or supporting a UN resolution laying out parameters for such a deal.
        Although the goal would be to impart fresh urgency to the moribund peace process, either step would have been perceived as constraining Israel's negotiating hand while strengthening the Palestinians' argument on the world stage. Discussions about those potential maneuvers, under way before the U.S. election, have fallen off since Donald Trump's surprise victory, officials said. Obama is now highly unlikely to approve either of those options presented to him by U.S. diplomats.
        For years, the U.S. has officially opposed any attempts by Palestinians to seek recognition for statehood or allow groups like the UN to impose solutions. "Our view hasn't changed that we believe that the preferred path for the Palestinians to achieve statehood is through direct negotiations that will lead to a just, lasting and comprehensive peace based on a two-state solution," State Department spokesman John Kirby said earlier this week. (AP)
  • Syrian Forces Detain Hundreds as Aleppo's Rebel Zones Fall - Louisa Loveluck
    Syrian forces have rounded up hundreds of young men as the government pushes its advance into rebel-held zones in Aleppo, residents and a monitoring group said Wednesday, prompting concerns about the safety of those held. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said more than 300 people from Aleppo were thought to have been taken to a nearby air base for screening and interrogation.
        Abdulkafi al-Hamdo, an English teacher, described Wednesday's bombing and shelling in rebel-held areas as relentless. The bombs were landing, he said, "like rain."  (Washington Post)
  • The Islamic State Has Been a Catastrophe for Sunnis - Liz Sly
    As the Islamic State is crushed, its fighters in retreat and the caliphate it sought to build in the image of a bygone glory crumbling, the biggest losers are the millions of ordinary Sunnis whose lives have been ravaged by their murderous rampage. The vast majority of the territory overrun by the Islamic State was historically populated by Sunni Arabs, adherents of the branch of Islam whose interests the militants profess to represent.
        Most Sunnis played no part in the militants' rise. All are paying a heavy price for the sake of those who did, accelerating a reversal in the fortunes of the majority sect of Islam that had ruled the region for most of the past 1,400 years. Sunnis comprise the vast majority of the 5 million refugees scattered around the region and in Europe. (Washington Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israeli Public Security Minister: Nearly Half of Fires Were Arson
    Israel's Minister for Public Security Gilad Erdan told the Knesset on Wednesday that 40-50% of the fires that broke out across Israel last week were the result of arson, based upon "the estimates of professionals." The Fire Services backed up his claim. (Times of Israel)
  • Will Mahmoud Abbas Pay Salaries to the Arsonists? - Itamar Marcus
    So far Israel has arrested 23 suspected arsonists connected to the hundreds of fires that raged across the country last week. According to Palestinian law, anyone imprisoned for "resisting the occupation" receives a high monthly salary, including Palestinians and Israeli Arabs. Therefore, all of those convicted and imprisoned for arson will receive PA salaries "from the day of arrest until the day of release." The writer is director of Palestinian Media Watch. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Incentivizing Terrorism: Palestinian Authority Allocations to Terrorists and their Families - Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Divers Find Roman Inscription Referring to Judea - Philippe Bohstrom
    An underwater survey by Haifa University archaeologists surveying the remains of the ancient Roman harbor at Dor, on the Mediterranean Sea, yielded a Roman inscription mentioning the province of Judea and the name of a previously unknown Roman governor who ruled the province 1,900 years ago. The inscription, carved on the stone in Greek, is thought to have originally read: "The City of Dor honors Marcus Paccius, son of Publius, Silvanus Quintus Coredius Gallus Gargilius Antiquus, governor of the province of Judea."  (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Iran's Prisoner of the Revolution - Editorial
    An Iranian revolutionary court on Sunday sentenced Ahmad Montazeri to 21 years in prison on a range of national-security charges. His sentence is a reminder that the regime remains as brutal as ever, even as it reaps the economic benefits of its nuclear deal with the West.
        Montazeri's crime was to release tapes that capture his father, the Grand Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri, denouncing the regime's repression during its first decade in power. The elder Montazeri, who died in 2009, was one of the regime's founders with Ayatollah Khomeini and was tapped to succeed Khomeini as supreme leader. (Wall Street Journal)
  • A French Turn to the Right? - Amb. Freddy Eytan
    The first and second rounds of the Republican Party primaries in France saw the humiliating defeats, respectively, of former President Nicolas Sarkozy and of Alain Juppe, who served as prime minister and foreign minister. The surprising result is the emergence of Francois Fillon as the new leader of the right and the center. The chances are good that in May 2017, Fillon will become the new president.
        Fillon seeks to restore France to a major political role in the world as the pacesetter for European countries. He would prefer to reduce the number of states in the EU and has proposed adding Russia, with a special status.
        A book Fillon just published calls for an all-out campaign against radical Islam. He promised to expel the Salafis and the Muslim Brotherhood from France and to close the mosques where incitement and terror are preached. He will take drastic measures, impose strict border control, and will not hesitate to expel any immigrant who lacks residence and work permits.
        On the Palestinian issue, he is in favor of two states for two peoples and of ensuring Israel's security, but he will seek overall regional agreements and will not impose a settlement that is unacceptable to Israel. He is well acquainted with Israel and the Jewish community and has visited Israel several times. The writer, a former Foreign Ministry senior advisor who served in Israel's embassies in Paris and Brussels, heads the Israel-Europe Project at the Jerusalem Center. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

Why Carter's Call for U.S. to Recognize State of Palestine Is a Mistake - Aaron David Miller (CNN)

  • Writing in the New York Times, former President Jimmy Carter this week called on President Barack Obama to recognize the State of Palestine. Having spent the better part of my adult professional life working to promote, facilitate and consummate negotiations between Arabs and Israelis, my advice is precisely the opposite.
  • First, any initiative undertaken during the presidential transition in the U.S. would need to address not just Palestinian needs, but those of Israelis, too. Indeed, it was Mr. Carter's own sensitivity not just to Sadat's concerns but to Begin's that produced the peace treaty with Egypt.
  • Second, U.S. recognition of Palestinian statehood would almost certainly buoy Palestinian hopes while having little appreciable impact on the realization of Palestinian statehood, ultimately increasing frustration and the risk of more violence.
  • President Obama has had his shot at Arab-Israeli negotiations. In the last couple of months of his administration he should let this issue rest and adopt the diplomatic equivalent of the Hippocratic oath and do no harm.

    The writer, a veteran Middle East negotiator, is a vice president and distinguished scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

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