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December 26, 2016
Special Edition

In-Depth Issues:

Hamas Engineer in Tunisia Planned Attack on Israeli Gas Platforms - Ronen Bergman (Yediot Ahronot-Hebrew)
    According to new information revealed in Tunis, Hamas engineer Muhammad Zawari, who was working on developing remote-controlled submarines, was planning a secret operation to attack Israel's gas platforms in the Mediterranean.
    Zawari was found dead in his bullet-riddled car in the Tunisian city of Sfax on Dec. 16.
    See also Video: Hamas Chief Engineer's Drones and Underwater Missiles - Roi Kais (Ynet News)
    A TV station in Tunisia recently aired footage of drones and "remote-controlled submarines" at the workshop of Hamas chief engineer Muhammad Zawari.
    According to foreign sources, Zawahri helped Hamas develop drones and improve upon them for years, and he trained Hamas fighters in Gaza on how to operate them.

ISIS Releases Video Showing Berlin Attacker Anis Amri Swearing Fealty to Caliph Baghdadi (MEMRI)
    On Dec. 23, 2016, the Islamic State news agency A'maq released a video featuring Anis Amri, the Tunisian national who rammed a truck into a Christmas market in Berlin, swearing fealty to ISIS and urging "monotheists" all over the world and in Europe to immigrate to the Islamic State and also to carry out attacks where they are located.
    Amri appeared in the video reciting the vow of fealty to the Caliph of the Islamic State, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi.
    Addressing the "Crusaders," he said: "By the name of Allah, we have come to slaughter you."

Israel: U.S. Helped Craft, Push UN Censure (Fox News)
    David Keyes, spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, spoke with Fox News on Sunday about the recently passed UN resolution condemning settlement activity.
    "We have rather ironclad information from sources in both the Arab world and internationally that this was a deliberate push by the United States and in fact they helped create the resolution in the first place."
    Keyes said that Israel was "deeply disappointed" by the Obama administration's abstention. "I think what we're seeing is an abandonment of Israel, and an abandonment of a long-standing American policy."

    See also Israelis Were Wary of Post-Election "Kill Zone" - Jay Solomon (Wall Street Journal)
    Resolutions at the UN concerning the Israeli settlement issue had been circulating for around a year, according to U.S. and Arab diplomats.
    Obama administration officials said their plans were complicated by the U.S. presidential elections. The White House didn't want to undermine the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton.
    Israel's government became increasingly convinced Obama might take action after Donald Trump's surprise victory.
    Israeli officials have described the time before the president-elect's Jan. 20 inauguration as the "kill zone," when the Obama administration could take steps that would be difficult to reverse.
    A senior Israeli official said its government got wind that Secretary of State John Kerry conveyed to Palestinian lead negotiator Saeb Erekat at a meeting on Dec. 12 at the State Department that the U.S. was likely to abstain on the UN resolution.
    "Kerry was colluding with the Palestinians to put the resolution in motion," said the Israeli official.

An Act of Diplomatic War? - Benny Avni (New York Post)
    For months, as the Palestinian-initiated UN Security Council resolution was brewing, America declined to reveal its intentions.
    But when Egypt withdrew from presenting the resolution on Thursday, Obama's lieutenants got busy, leaking anonymously that they were going to let the resolution pass.
    Obama passed the baton of handling Israeli-Palestinian relations to the UN. And there, the wolves gladly picked it up.
    Under the resolution, if the mayor of Jerusalem decides to repaint a wall in the historic Old City's Jewish Quarter, he may be tried at The Hague for a "flagrant violation of international law."
    And the resolution mandates a UN report on its implementation every three months until eternity - assuring lasting harm.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Israel Summons U.S. Ambassador over UN Vote - Ruth Eglash
    The U.S. ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro, was requested Sunday to attend a meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over America's failure to prevent a UN Security Council resolution harshly criticizing Israel from passing, a senior official in the prime minister's office said. Breaking with a long-standing policy of blocking resolutions dealing with Israel, the U.S. did not use its veto to stop its passage on Friday, opting to abstain instead. Israel summoned all envoys from countries that have diplomatic relations with it and which voted in favor of the resolution.
        "From the information we have, we have no doubt that the Obama administration initiated it, stood behind it, coordinated on the wording and demanded that it be passed," Netanyahu said. "Over decades, American administrations and Israeli governments had disagreed about settlements, but we agreed that the Security Council was not the place to resolve this issue," he said. "As I told John Kerry on Thursday, friends don't take friends to the Security Council."
        Dore Gold, president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and until recently the director general of Israel's Foreign Ministry, said it was possible to bring another resolution to supersede the previous one. This happened, he said, with a 1975 UN decision stating that Zionism is racism. It took nearly 20 years and a unique set of political circumstances, including the support of former U.S. president George H.W. Bush, to change that decision, Gold said.
        "I can't speculate about the Trump administration, but I think his instincts about how this resolution damages peacemaking and negotiations are absolutely correct," said Gold, who served as Israel's ambassador to the UN from 1997 to 1999. (Washington Post)
        See also Netanyahu Lights Menorah at Western Wall in Jerusalem, Labeled "Occupied Palestinian Territory" by UN - Herb Keinon
    In a Facebook post, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu slammed the leaders of countries of the world that sent Israel Hanukkah greetings a day after voting for a resolution that characterized the Old City of Jerusalem, where the Temples stood, as occupied Palestinian territory.
        "I am not sure they understand the meaning of the holiday," the prime minister wrote, adding that the battles that led to the victory of the Hasmoneans over the Greeks celebrated in Hanukkah took place on "both sides of the Green Line in the hills of Modi'in. How is it possible to offer us best wishes for Hanukkah and at the same time deny our deep connection to the Western Wall in Jerusalem and other places in our land?" he asked.
        In response to the UN resolution, Netanyahu and a number of his ministers went to the Western Wall on Sunday night to light the Hanukkah menorah there. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Reform Rabbis: U.S. Abstention at UN "Leaves Us Dismayed, Disappointed and Angry" - David Suissa
    The Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR), the principal organization of Reform rabbis in the U.S., in a statement signed by President Rabbi Denise Eger and Chief Executive Rabbi Steven A. Fox, expressed "strong disagreement" with the UN Security Council resolution, saying that the U.S. abstention "leaves us dismayed, disappointed and angry."
        The CCAR concurred with many others that "peace negotiations belong between the two parties involved" and that "the United Nations is not the arena in which to address these complex issues," adding that "the UN's obsessive and relentless criticism of Israel, while ignoring the unspeakable repression committed by illegitimate regimes and terrorist organizations worldwide, falsely and maliciously labels Israel uniquely as a pariah state."  (Los Angeles Jewish Journal)
        See also Text: Central Conference of American Rabbis Opposes Anti-Israel Resolution Approved by UN Security Council (Central Conference of American Rabbis)
  • Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz: U.S. Abstention at UN Is "Reckless," "Baffling" and "Unacceptable"
    U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), former chairperson of the Democratic National Committee (2011 to 2016), said in a statement following Friday's UN vote: "I condemn in the strongest of terms the United Nations Security Council's passage of this one-sided, anti-Israel resolution, as well as the United States' reckless abstention....I opposed this resolution because our nation has consistently supported direct, bilateral negotiations as the only viable method to achieve a lasting peace. In fact, this irresponsible action moves us further away from peace and hastens the likelihood that we lose the trust of our allies around the world."
        "Let me be clear: the only way to resolve this conflict is - and will always be - through direct, bilateral negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. It is baffling and unacceptable that the Obama Administration would abstain on this blatant attempt to internationalize this conflict and perpetuate the UN's atrocious and biased record against our only true and dependable ally in the Middle East, the State of Israel. Simply put, today's vote did nothing to bring us any closer to a lasting peace. Instead, it has accomplished just the opposite."  (Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • U.S. May Back Additional UN Security Council Moves Tied to Paris Peace Conference - Barak Ravid
    A senior official in Jerusalem said that during Sunday's security cabinet meeting, an assessment was presented that during a foreign ministers' meeting scheduled for Jan. 15 in Paris, decisions on the peace process will be made that will immediately be brought to the UN Security Council for a vote before Jan. 20. "Israel believes this is an operative plan and the assumption is that the Americans are leading it all, together with the French," the official said. (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel Plans Moves at UN after Anti-Israel Resolution - Itamar Eichner
    Israel plans to target the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), which Jerusalem says is investing a great deal of manpower and resources to undermine and harm the State of Israel. According to the Israeli government, there is evidence to indicate teachers and other workers in the agency regularly incite the Palestinian population against Israel.
        Israel will also seek to adjourn the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (CEIRPP), which Jerusalem says is a UN body whose entire purpose is to "preserve the Palestinian narrative." Israel will also work to cancel appointments of anti-Israel officials at the UN who regularly make statements against Israel, at times using anti-Semitic language.
        Israel will promote a UN resolution that would set rules of conduct for UN employees to make them accountable for any statements that exceed their mandate, including ones that incite to violence or are anti-Semitic. Israel will work to cancel the funding for a March 2016 decision made by the UN Human Rights Council to compile a "blacklist" of businesses operating in Israel. Israel hopes the new U.S. administration will be able to help facilitate these moves. The U.S. funds 22.4% of the UN budget. (Ynet News)
  • Palestinian Stabs Israeli in West Bank Attack
    Rafi Lisker and his wife Shosh, both in their 50s, were walking down the main street in Efrat around 6:30 p.m. on Friday when they were jumped by a terrorist. "I didn't even notice him, just felt a punch to the shoulder. My wife screamed, and I realized he was a terrorist, but by then he had stabbed me three times," Lisker told Israel Hayom. The terrorist fled the scene. (Israel Hayom)
        See also Shots Fired at Beit El on Sunday - Elisha Ben Kimon
    Terrorists in a vehicle fired rounds in the direction of Beit El in the West Bank on Sunday. Shell casings were located at the scene, but no injuries were reported in the attack. In the last two weeks, a number of shooting attacks have taken place in the West Bank. (Ynet News)
        See also Arab Woman Arrested for Planning Knife Attack in Jerusalem's Old City - Daniel K. Eisenbud
    Israeli Border Police arrested an Arab woman, 35, in the Old City of Jerusalem on Saturday night. Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said she was spotted "behaving suspiciously while her hand was in her bag....When arrested, police found the knife in her bag. During questioning she admitted she planned on carrying out a knife attack."  (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Video: UN Resolution Contravenes the Oslo Agreement and Empowers Israel's Enemies - Amb. Alan Baker
    "The U.S. abstention on this recent resolution in the Security Council is irresponsible to the point of being scandalous, because this resolution reaffirms the fact that the territories occupied by Israel and east Jerusalem are Palestinian. Now this runs directly against American policy and against the obligations according to the Oslo Accords, that issues of Jerusalem, issues of borders, and issues of the final status of the territories are to be negotiated."
        "The resolution repeats a lot of previous resolutions, a lot of previous determinations regarding the validity of settlements, regarding the status of the territories. But there are one or two paragraphs in here that seem to be direct quotes from [Vice President] Joe Biden, from [Secretary of State] John Kerry, from [President] Barack Obama, whether it refers to the 1967 lines or refers to the one-state solution or refers to the non-sustainability of the present situation - these are direct quotes from these people. So it shows that they have had direct involvement in actually drafting this resolution."
        "Why would the Palestinians want to negotiate with Israel on these things if they've got a Security Council resolution that basically determines that east Jerusalem and all the territories belong to them? Why should they go and negotiate - and compromise, because negotiating includes compromising? Why should they do this when they know that they can run to the international community and get whatever they want?"
        Amb. Alan Baker, former legal adviser and deputy director-general of Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, participated in the negotiation and drafting of the Oslo Accords with the Palestinians, as well as agreements and peace treaties with Egypt, Jordan, and Lebanon. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • We Are Not Occupiers in Our Own Land - Nadav Shragai
    As Simon the Hasmonean put it some 2,200 years ago: "We have not taken foreign territory or any alien property, but have occupied our ancestral heritage, for some time unjustly wrested from us by our enemies; now that we have a favorable opportunity, we are merely recovering our ancestral heritage" (Maccabees 1, 15:33-34).
        Our friends must finally hear that the historical, religious, legal and emotional links the nation of Israel has to Hebron, Beit El, Shiloh, and Jerusalem are no less than that of the Palestinians. They must hear that we are not occupiers in our own land, and that we are connected to it with bonds of love, the Bible, heritage and nature; that the settlements in Judea and Samaria, as elsewhere in the Land of Israel, are the realization of justice and natural rights. The writer, a journalist and commentator at Ha'aretz and Israel Hayom, has documented the dispute over Jerusalem for thirty years. (Israel Hayom)
  • Defective Law and Moral Incoherence in the UN Security Council Resolution - Dr. Richard L. Cravatts
    Professor emeritus Jerold Auerbach of Wellesley College has written that "Israeli settlement throughout the West Bank is explicitly protected by international agreements dating from the World War I era, subsequently reaffirmed after World War II, and never revoked since....The [Mandate for Palestine] recognized 'the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine' and 'the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country.'...This was not framed as a gift to the Jewish people; rather, based on recognition of historical rights reaching back into antiquity, it was their entitlement."
        Legal scholar Eugene V. Rostow, one of the authors of UN Security Council Resolution 242 written after the 1967 war to outline peace negotiations, said, "The Jewish right of settlement in Palestine west of the Jordan River, that is, in Israel, the West Bank, Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip, was made unassailable. That right has never been terminated and cannot be terminated except by a recognized peace between Israel and its neighbors." Moreover, Rostow contended, "The Jewish right of settlement in the area is equivalent in every way to the right of the existing Palestinian population to live there."
        The settlement debate is part of the decades-old narrative created by the Palestinians and their Western enablers to write a false historical account that legitimizes Palestinian claims while air-brushing away Jewish history. The writer is immediate Past-President of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME). (Times of Israel)

UN Resolution Applies to Historically Jewish Areas in Jerusalem - Alan Dershowitz (The Hill)

  • The media reported that the UN resolution was only about the expansion of new settlements. But the text of the resolution itself goes well beyond new building and applies equally to historically Jewish areas that were unlawfully taken by Jordanian military action during Israel's War of Independence and liberated by Israel in a war started by Jordan in 1967.
  • The text of the Security Council Resolution means that Israel's decision to build a plaza for prayer at the Western Wall - Judaism's holiest site - constitutes a "flagrant violation of international law." If it does, then why did President Obama pray there and leave a note asking for peace?
  • Under this resolution, the access roads that opened up Hebrew University to Jewish and Arab students and the Hadassah Hospital to Jewish and Arab patients are illegal, as are all the rebuilt synagogues - destroyed by Jordan - in the ancient Jewish Quarter of the Old City. Is it really now U.S. policy to condemn Israel for liberating these historically Jewish areas in Jerusalem?
  • This resolution declares the status quo - the reality on the ground that acknowledges Israel's legitimate claims to its most sacred and historical Jewish areas - to be a flagrant violation of international law.

    The writer is professor emeritus at Harvard Law School.

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