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  DAILY ALERT Thursday,
December 22, 2016

In-Depth Issues:

Israel: Hizbullah Using U.S. Armored Personnel Carriers Supplied to the Lebanese Army - Isabel Kershner and Ben Hubbard (New York Times)
    A senior Israeli military official said on Wednesday that Hizbullah was fighting in Syria using American-made armored personnel carriers that were originally supplied to the Lebanese Army.
    This might point to a broader leakage of weapons to Hizbullah from the Lebanese armed forces.
    The official said that Israel had shared this information with American officials a few weeks ago.
    See also Israel Claims Suggest Lebanese Violation of U.S. Export Law - Barbara Opall-Rome (Defense News)
    U.S. troop carriers provided by Washington to Beirut are being operated by Hizbullah in Syria in support of the Assad regime in violation of U.S. export controls.
    U.S. experts were unsure whether the APCs came from the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) or were vestiges from the Israel-allied South Lebanese Army, whose war stocks were seized by Hizbullah in 2000.
    But a senior Israeli official said, "We recognize these specific APCs according to some specific parameters. We know these were given to the LAF. It's not an assumption. These were given to them by the USA."
    Lee Smith, a senior fellow at the Washington-based Hudson Institute, noted, "The issue here is to what extent the LAF has become an auxiliary force for Hizbullah. And the fact that U.S. taxpayers are effectively supporting Hizbullah's war in Syria is appalling."

Iran Naval Bases in Syria and Yemen? - Ephraim Kam (Institute for National Security Studies)
    In November 2016, the chief of staff of the Iranian armed forces announced that Iran may establish naval bases in Yemen or Syria.
    These remarks reflect Iran's hegemonic aspirations in the Middle East.
    The establishment of Iranian naval bases relatively close to Israel gives Israel a more convenient possibility of destroying them if necessary, for example, in retaliation for an Iranian provocation.
    The writer is a senior research fellow at INSS in Tel Aviv.

The Colonial Origins of U.S. Policy on Jerusalem - Seth J. Frantzman (Jerusalem Post)
    The U.S. policy of refusing to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel is based on the colonial-era concept that the international community has more rights to the city than the people that live in it.
    The UN Partition Plan of November 1947 (Resolution 181) stated: "The city of Jerusalem shall be established as a corpus separatum under a special international regime and shall be administered by the United Nations."
    The unwillingness of the U.S. to recognize Israel's rights at least to west Jerusalem is rooted in that colonial past.
    It's one thing for the U.S. to refuse recognition of east Jerusalem as part of Israel, it's another to still view the Knesset as existing on some international landscape.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Berlin Attack: "Armed and Dangerous" Tunisian Hunted throughout Europe
    A Europe-wide manhunt has been launch for Anis Amri, an "armed and dangerous" Tunisian with ties to Islamic extremists, in connection with the Berlin Christmas market attack. Law enforcement sources said Amri appears to have left personal documents in the truck that rammed into the market on Monday. (AP-CBS News)
        See also Berlin Truck Attacker Had Ties to ISIS Cell - Katie Zavadski and Michael Weiss
    Anis Amri, the lead suspect in Monday's deadly attack in Berlin, had ties to a group of local ISIS sympathizers led by a man named Abu Walaa, who was arrested in November. Abu Walaa is an Iraqi-born preacher who serves a mosque in Hildesheim. A Facebook page devoted to him has 25,000 followers. An ISIS defector told Sueddeutsche Zeitung that Abu Walaa was an ISIS recruiter and the group's top leader in Germany. (Daily Beast)
  • UN Security Council to Vote Thursday on Anti-Israel Settlement Resolution
    The UN Security Council is due to vote on Thursday on an Egyptian draft resolution that would demand that Israel "immediately and completely cease all settlement activities" in the territories including east Jerusalem. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on the U.S. to veto the anti-Israel resolution. Israel disputes that settlements are illegal and says their final status should be determined in talks with the Palestinians.
        Israeli UN Ambassador Danny Danon said: "It is absurd that at a time when thousands are being massacred in Syria, the Security Council is devoting time and energy to convene and discuss condemning the only true democracy in the Middle East."  (Reuters-NBC News)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israeli Woman Killed in Berlin Terror Attack - Barak Ravid
    Dalia Elyakim has been identified as one of those killed in the Berlin terror attack on Monday, the Israel Foreign Ministry said Thursday. Her husband Rami is hospitalized in serious condition. (Ha'aretz)
  • If the Palestinians Get a Security Council Resolution Passed, Will It Matter? - Raphael Ahren
    The specter of yet another anti-Israel resolution at the UN is again in the headlines. Israel continues to object to any resolution in the Security Council, arguing that it is the wrong venue to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which can only be resolved through direct bilateral negotiations. Whether the U.S. will veto such a resolution will depend on its content.
        According to Alan Baker, a former legal adviser to Israel's Foreign Ministry, any text that could possibly pass would merely serve as "another point that the Palestinians will try to use in their PR fight against Israel" and "will just be added to the long list of other UN resolutions that nobody but the Israeli public and the Israeli media takes very seriously."  (Times of Israel)
  • Palestinian Shot While Throwing Bomb at Soldiers - Stuart Winer
    A Palestinian, Ahmad al-Kharoubi, 19, was shot dead Wednesday night by IDF soldiers in east Jerusalem as he threw an improvised explosive device at Israeli security forces. The incident occurred as security forces were operating to destroy the home of a Palestinian terrorist in Kafr Aqab who shot and killed two Israelis in Jerusalem on Oct. 9. (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem - James S. Robbins
    Moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem should not be controversial. The Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995, which mandated the move by May 31, 1999, passed with strong bipartisan majorities and was signed by President Bill Clinton. Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said that moving the embassy could lead to "the destruction of the peace process as a whole." But is there any peace process left to destroy? If anything, the move could revitalize the process by demonstrating to the Palestinians that history is going forward without them.
        The U.S. has been unwilling to recognize that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel since the UN partition in 1947. But much has changed in 70 years. Israel united the city in 1967 during the Six-Day War. Since then, Jerusalem has grown and modernized, sprouted suburbs and built a thriving economy. Recognizing the city as Israel's capital would simply be accepting an established fact. The writer is senior fellow for national security affairs at the American Foreign Policy Council. (U.S. News)
  • Israel Seeks U.S. Recognition of Its Control of the Golan Heights - David Wainer
    "It's very important for the U.S. to back a formal recognition of Israel's control of the Golan," Michael Oren, a deputy minister for diplomacy at the prime minister's office, said in an interview in Jerusalem. "If it weren't for Israel's presence, the Syria war would be spilling over to Jordan. So Israel's presence in the Golan is indispensable for Mideast stability."
        After years during which Syria shelled Israeli communities from the Golan, Israel captured the area in the 1967 war. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in April that Israel will never withdraw from the Golan and called on the international community to recognize Israeli control there.
        In addition to the strategic benefits, Jews have a historical connection to the Golan, Oren said. "There are something like 90 ancient synagogues that have been discovered in Israel, 34 of them in the Golan. This was always part of the Land of Israel. So let us extend our sovereignty in a formal way."  (Bloomberg)
        See also Defensible Borders on the Golan Heights - Maj.-Gen. (res.) Giora Eiland (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • America's Overriding Interest in the Israel-Palestinian Arena - Jeff Jacoby
    For decades, American administrations have leaned on Israel to accommodate their Palestinian foes, in the belief that the key to a lasting peace can be forged with Israeli concessions and goodwill gestures.
        But appeasement has not achieved peace. Israel has gone to extraordinary lengths in its desire to end the conflict - from agreeing to the creation of the Palestinian Authority, to offering shared control of Jerusalem, to expelling Jews from Gaza and handing the entire territory to the Palestinians. The results have been catastrophic. Palestinian society is more rejectionist than ever. Opinion polls consistently show large majorities of Palestinians rejecting the legitimacy of any Jewish state in the region.
        America's overriding interest in the Israel-Palestinian arena is not to ensure the creation of another dysfunctional Arab dictatorship. It is to ensure the strength and security of the world's only Jewish state, an indispensable U.S. ally in a dangerous part of the world. (Townhall)

How Did Israeli Settlements Become a Legally Contentious Issue at the UN? - Dore Gold (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

  • Right after World War II, the U.S. and its allies wanted to prevent a repetition of the practice of the Axis powers who evicted the populations from the areas that came under their control and forcibly transferred their own populations into those very same territories. For this reason, the Allies drafted the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention in the way that they did. But this is not what is occurring with Israeli settlement activity, as Israel has argued for decades.
  • There is one place, however, where this scenario is taking place right now - and it is not in the West Bank. It is occurring in Syria, where Sunni Arabs are being systematically replaced by Shiites from Iraq and other countries in order to alter the demographic makeup of the Syrian state, in accordance with the interests of Iran. Tehran wants a Shiite belt from its western border to the Mediterranean in order to establish its hegemony in the Middle East.
  • And what is the UN doing about this? It is deliberating over a new draft resolution condemning Israeli settlement activity, while ignoring the mass transfer of populations transpiring across the entire Levant. As usual, it is obsessed with Israel while ignoring the dangerous actions of Iran.
  • The Palestinians themselves agreed in the 1995 Interim Agreement that the issue of Israeli settlements in the West Bank should be addressed as an item for negotiation between the parties. It is not tenable for the Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas, to repeatedly refuse to negotiate with Israel and then expect the UN Security Council to take up his concerns in his place. The U.S., which signed the Interim Agreement as a witness, should veto the proposed draft resolution on settlements.
  • The UN, for its part, should take measures to halt the ethnic cleansing of Sunni populations across the Middle East that is occurring today. But that would require standing up to Iran and its allies, which many states sitting in the Security Council are plainly reluctant to do.

    The writer, former director-general of the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, is president of the Jerusalem Center.

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