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December 19, 2016

In-Depth Issues:

Iranian Commander Says After Aleppo It Is Bahrain and Yemen's Turn (Rudaw-Kurdistan)
    Deputy commander of the Iranian army Hossein Salami told IRNA news agency that the victory in Aleppo, Syria, would provide a chance to solve the crisis in Yemen and Bahrain.
    "The people of Bahrain will get their wish, the people of Yemen will be happy and the residents of Mosul will taste victory. All of this is God's promise."

Director of Israel's Mossad Meets with Trump Team - Itamar Eichner and Tzipi Shmilovitz (Ynet News)
    The director of Israel's Mossad intelligence agency, Yossi Cohen, visited the U.S. to meet with President-elect Donald Trump's staff and brief them on pressing security matters including the Iranian nuclear deal, the Syrian civil war, terror threats and the Palestinian issue.
    The security delegation included Israel National Security Council head Yaakov Nagel and was sent by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
    The two sides also discussed a forthcoming UN Security Council initiative to be put forth by the Palestinians.

ISIS Suicide Attack Kills 48 in Southern Yemen - Saeed Al-Batati (New York Times)
    A suicide bomber disguised as a disabled man in a police uniform blew himself up at a gathering of Yemeni security officers waiting to receive their salaries in Aden on Sunday, killing 48 people and wounding 84, Yemeni officials said.
    The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack, naming the attacker and publishing a photograph of him smiling with a rifle at his side and wearing an explosive vest.
    A suicide bombing near the same base on Dec. 10 targeted a gathering of soldiers, killing 57.

Israeli Fund Drive Aids Syrian Children - Tamara Zieve (Jerusalem Post)
    An Israeli grassroots fundraising initiative to help Syrian children, titled "Just Beyond the Border," raised over a quarter of a million shekels from over 1,600 donors in the first 48 hours of a crowdfunding campaign launched on Thursday.
    The funds will go toward purchasing food, medication and supplies for the winter. The aid will be transferred with the help of the Israeli Flying Aid organization.
    See also Israelis, Moved by Scenes from Aleppo, Click to Donate to their Syrian Neighbors - Naomi Darom (Christian Science Monitor)

20 Latin American University Rectors Visit Israel - Lidar Grave-Lazi (Jerusalem Post)
    A delegation of 20 rectors from Latin American universities visited Israel last week for a conference at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, organized by the Truman Research Institute for the Advancement of Peace and the Israel Foreign Ministry.
    The countries involved included Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, and Venezuela.
    Hector Floriani, rector of the National University of Rosario in Argentina, said he was "very enthusiastic" about the possibility for collaboration with Hebrew University.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • UK Announces New Structure for Palestinian Authority Funding - Marcus Dysch
    The British government announced Friday it will continue to provide taxpayer-funded aid to the Palestinian Authority, with a series of "critical changes" to how the system has previously been run. From now on, British aid will focus "solely on vital health and education services," with funding going towards "the salaries of health and education public servants on a vetted list." No more UK funding will be available to PA workers in Gaza, and Britain will assess the PA's "fiscal and public financial management reforms" with targets set in order to secure future payments.
        Paul Charney, British Zionist Federation chairman, said: "The scandal of salaries for terrorists has been an issue that the Zionist Federation has campaigned on for a long time....Today's dramatic shift in funding priorities means that finally DfID [Department for International Development] is acknowledging that there is a fundamental problem with the Palestinian Authority's lack of accountability and support for violence."
        Last Monday, Prime Minister Theresa May said: "Let me be clear: no British taxpayers' money will be used to make payments to terrorists or their families."  (Jewish Chronicle-UK)
  • UN Secretary-General Says UN Has "Disproportionate" Focus on Israel - May Bulman
    Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the UN Security Council on Friday, "Over the last decade I have argued that we cannot have a bias against Israel at the UN. Decades of political maneuvering have created a disproportionate number of resolutions, reports and committees against Israel. In many cases, instead of helping the Palestinian issue, this reality has foiled the ability of the UN to fulfill its role effectively."
        In response, Israel's Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon noted: "Over the past decade...the UN passed 223 resolutions condemning Israel, while only eight resolutions condemning the Syrian regime as it has massacred its citizens over the past six years. This is absurd."  (Independent-UK)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Terrorists Kill 10 in Jordan Attacks
    Seven policemen, two civilians, and a Canadian citizen were killed, while 22 other civilians and police officers were injured, when four gunmen stormed the Jordanian city of Karak on Sunday, official sources said. The four terrorists were killed. A witness said four men entered the city in a vehicle and clashed with police. "They were firing randomly and many people were injured." Prime Minister Hani Mulki said the incident started in Qatraneh, north of Karak, when the assailants opened fire at a police patrol. Later, they targeted other patrols. (Jordan Times)
  • Mystery Surrounds Murder of Tunisian Aviation Engineer - Yossi Melman
    On Friday, aviation engineer Muhammad Zawari, 49, a supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas, was found dead in his bullet-riddled car in the Tunisian city of Sfax. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Tunisian Engineer Manufactured Drones for Hamas
    Hamas' Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades confirmed Saturday that Tunisian aviation engineer Muhammad Zawari was one its leaders and manufactured drones for Hamas. (Ma'an News-PA)
        See also 8 Tunisians Held over Hamas Drone Expert's Killing - Jack Khoury (Ha'aretz)
  • Israeli Driver Wounded in West Bank Shooting Attack - Yoav Zitun
    An Israeli man was lightly wounded in a shooting attack in the Benjamin region of the West Bank at 12:45 a.m. Monday while driving between Ofarim and the Arab village of Abud. Last Wednesday night, an Israeli car in the same area was shot at. (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Iran Is Changing Syria's Demographics - Martin Chulov
    Within hours of Turkey and Russia announcing a deal to allow refugees to leave Aleppo, Iran had sabotaged it, demanding the lifting of a siege of two Shia villages north of Aleppo, Fua and Kefraya. Aleppo is a crossroads in Iran's project to build a land corridor to the Mediterranean coast. Iran also negotiated about the fate of the opposition-held town of Zabadani, west of Damascus. Iran proposed a swap of the town's Sunnis, who would be sent to Idlib province, for the residents of Fua and Kefraya, who would be relocated to Zabadani. "The Iranians want no Sunnis between Damascus and the Lebanese border," said a senior Lebanese official Friday. "There is a very clear plan to change the sectarian tapestry of the border."
        In the Damascus suburb of Darayya, where opposition communities surrendered in August and accepted being flown to Idlib, 300 Shia families from Iraq have moved in. Further to the west, near the Zainab shrine, Iran has bought substantial numbers of properties, and also sponsored the arrival of Shia families. (Observer-UK)
  • Is Iran 100 Times Worse than Israel? - Baria Alamuddin
    As reports flooded out of Aleppo last week concerning dozens of citizens shot in the streets by out-of-control regime forces, Iran and Hizbullah have been congratulating each other for their role in bombing citizens of this mighty Arab city to their knees. While the Russians and even Syrian President Assad had not opposed the departure of civilians, the Iranians blocked the deal. Humanitarian efforts were held up for days to negotiate a deal of safe passage for Iran proxy militias elsewhere. The presence of Qassim Soleimani, the head of Iran's Quds Force, in eastern Aleppo shows the degree to which Iran is micromanaging this slaughter.
        The capture of Aleppo brings Iran several steps closer to dominating a massive area of contiguous territory all the way to the Mediterranean. This is a land grab on a massive scale in the cause of Iranian regional hegemony. The combined land mass of Syria, Iraq and Lebanon (states that Iran boasts it now dominates) is 632,700 sq. km. This is just over 100 times larger than the Palestinian territories (6,220 sq. km.). So is Iran or Israel the bigger occupier of Arab lands?
        If we only attribute 250,000 of the 400,000 Syrians who have lost their lives to Iranian munitions, this is still 100 times more than the number of Palestinians killed by Israel since 2011. In widening its stranglehold on Arab states, Iran is objectively 100 times more dangerous and 100 times more of an immediate threat. (Arab News-Saudi Arabia)
  • Lapid: Abbas Is Not a Partner for Peace, a Different Mechanism for Peace Talks Is Needed - Yair Lapid interviewed by Ruth Eglash
    Q: Do you believe Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is a partner for peace?
    Lapid: Many times, President Abbas has proved not to be a partner for peace. Three times over the past 15 years, the Palestinians were offered more than 90% of what they are asking for and three times they said no. They must understand they are not going to get everything they want. The Palestinians have this mantra, that Abbas is the last of the Tunis generation [those who founded the Palestine Liberation Organization], that he is the last person capable of signing a deal with Israel. But it is the other way around - because he is part of the Tunis generation, he cannot sign anything.
        Since the Oslo accords, there have been 11 rounds of bilateral talks and all of them came out to the same nothing. If we are going to do this, then there needs to be a different mechanism. I have been pushing a regional conference that will include many of the players who are involved anyway - Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States. Yair Lapid, head of the Israeli opposition Yesh Atid party, is a former finance minister. (Washington Post)

Aleppo: Reflection of World Politics - Prof. Eyal Zisser (Israel Hayom)

  • Syrian President Assad's victory in the battle for Aleppo is a victory for Russian President Vladimir Putin, Iran's Revolutionary Guard, and Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hizbullah. All three joined to form an unholy alliance, which assured Moscow a triumphant return to the Middle East stage, and Iran the status of regional power with considerable influence.
  • Moscow and Tehran are in fundamental disagreement over the long-term future - who will rule over Syria and who will dictate Assad's steps. For now, however, and certainly in the coming years, their partnership of mutual interests will prevail and even grow.
  • Aleppo's fate is clear proof that the international community does not exist, and apparently never did, certainly not as far as the civilian population is concerned when it is targeted by a dictatorial regime and its powerful allies.
  • Aside from several limp condemnations or expressions of grief from leaders in Europe and the U.S., the world is silent. For Israel, the lessons to be learned from the fighting in Syria are clear: It must never pin its hopes and stake its future on help from the international community.
  • The world supports the strong and the victorious. Therefore, it would behoove Israel to strengthen itself in earnest, as a necessary guarantee of its ongoing existence and growth in our region.

    The writer, Vice Rector at Tel Aviv University, is former director of its Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies.

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