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January 2, 2017

In-Depth Issues:

Report: Disguised as Refugees, ISIS General Is in Europe with 400 Soldiers - Julian Robinson (Daily Mail-UK)
    The Italian intelligence services report that an ISIS general once pictured decapitating a prisoner is back in Europe with 400 of his soldiers after fleeing Syria, Italy's L'Espresso reported.
    Lavdrim Muhaxheri and his men disguised themselves as refugees in order to cross borders to get into Europe.
    Muhaxheri, also known as Abu Abdullah al Kosova, is a Kosovo Albanian designated as a global terrorist by the State Department.
    He has appeared in several propaganda videos calling Albanians to join jihad, and has uploaded photographs of himself appearing to decapitate a man, as well as a video where he kills a captive with a rocket.
    Italian prosecutors say Muhaxheri planned attacks on Israel's national soccer team during a match in Albania and Kosovo government institutions, as well as Serbian Orthodox Church sites.
    19 people were arrested when the plot was uncovered, with the trail leading back to Muhaxheri.

UK Security Minister: ISIS Wants to Carry Out Chemical Weapons Attack in Britain - Rob Merrick (Independent-UK)
    ISIS wants to carry out a "mass casualty" chemical weapons attack in Britain, the national security minister, Ben Wallace, told the Sunday Times.
    "They have no moral objection to using chemical weapons against populations and if they could, they would in this country."
    He also warned that returning jihadis pose a growing threat to Britain. Some 800 Britons went to fight in Syria and just under half have returned. About 100 have been killed.

Israel's Population Reached 8.63 Million in 2016 (Globes)
    Israel's population reached 8.63 million at the end of 2016, the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics reports.
    The Jewish population reached 6.45 million (74.8%), the Arab population 1.796 million (20.8%), while 384,000 (4.4%) are defined as others.

Protesters March on New Zealand Parliament to Condemn UN Resolution 2334 over Israeli-Palestinian Conflict - Melissa Nightingale (New Zealand Herald)
    Some 200-300 people chanted, "Live, live, Israel, resolution go to Hell," outside Parliament on Dec. 30. New Zealand co-sponsored the UN resolution condemning Israeli settlements.
    Hawke's Bay pastor Nigel Woodley arrived in Wellington with busloads of protesters waving Israeli flags and holding signs declaring, "The land of Israel belongs to Israel" and "Israel please forgive us."
    Woodley said the Palestinians had the right to live in peace and dignity, but must allow their neighbors the same things.
    See also Government Action in UN Israel Resolution Condemned by NZ Jewish Community - Michael Daly (Stuff-New Zealand)
    Members of New Zealand's Jewish community, backed up by other supporters of Israel, have condemned the Government's role in a UN resolution attacking Jewish settlements.
    The New Zealand Jewish Council and 26 other groups, along with hundreds of individuals, many non-Jewish, have signed a letter written to Prime Minister Bill English saying, "It is extremely disturbing and devastating that it [the resolution] makes it illegal for Jews to attend Hebrew University or to pray at their most holy site, the Western Wall, the heart of Judaism."
    The letter also said the premise of the resolution violated the right of Jewish self-determination.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Gunman Kills 39 in Attack at Istanbul Nightclub - Erin Cunningham and Kareem Fahim
    Early Sunday an unidentified gunman, brandishing an assault rifle, gunned down New Year's revelers at Istanbul's Reina club on the banks of the Bosporus, killing 39, many of them foreigners, and wounding at least 70. One of the victims was Leanne Nasser, 19, an Arab Israeli teenager. Her friend Ruaa Mansour, 18, was among those injured.
        A Lebanese woman who gave her name as Hadeel said of the shooter, "We heard the guy screaming 'Allahu akbar.'" It was the fourth major attack in Turkey in less than a month. (Washington Post)
        See also lslamic State Claims Istanbul Attack - Erin Cunningham (Washington Post)
  • Iran Sanctions Relief Includes More than $10 Billion in Cash, Gold - Carol E. Lee and Jay Solomon
    In the three years since a preliminary nuclear deal was struck with Iran, Tehran has received more than $10 billion in sanctions relief in the form of cash and gold, according to U.S. officials. Some contend that the shipments of cash and gold, a highly liquid form of money, can be used to fund Iran's allies in the region, including the Assad regime in Syria, Hizbullah, and the Houthis in Yemen.
        "Forking over cash and gold to the world's leading state sponsor of terror is incredibly dangerous," said Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, who sponsored a House-passed bill to ban such payments. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Seeking a Trade, Israel to Withhold Bodies of Hamas Militants
    Israel's security cabinet decided on Sunday to withhold the bodies of Palestinian Hamas militants killed in attacks against Israeli citizens as it seeks to pressure the Islamist movement in Gaza to return the remains of Israeli soldiers and hand back missing Israeli civilians. Hamas says it is holding two Israeli soldiers whom the army declared dead in the 2014 Gaza war. The group also says it is holding two Israeli civilians who strayed into Gaza. "The security cabinet discussed ways to effect the return of fallen soldiers and of civilians held in the Gaza Strip...and decided that (the bodies of militants) should be buried, rather than returned," a statement said. (Reuters)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel, Russia Discuss Regional Security Coordination - Herb Keinon
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke on Saturday night with Russian President Vladimir Putin about regional developments "with an emphasis on Syria and a continuation of security coordination on that front, coordination that has already proven itself in the prevention of misunderstandings," the Prime Minister's Office said. The Kremlin said the two leaders also talked about the "Palestinian-Israeli peace process."
        Russia supported the anti-settlement resolution at the UN on Dec. 23, but after the vote, issued a statement criticizing the way it was brought to the Security Council. "Our experience shows convincingly that a two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is only possible through direct talks between Palestinians and Israelis without any preconditions," the statement said.
        Russia's Deputy Ambassador to Israel Alexander Dubrovin told Army Radio last week that Moscow had wanted the vote delayed, but was rebuffed on this by the other countries on the Security Council. He also said that Moscow was not happy that the resolution focused primarily on the settlements. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Netanyahu: Israel Could Face Fresh Security Council Action on Jan. 17
    Prime Minister Netanyahu reportedly expressed concern Sunday that the UN Security Council could take fresh action against Israel during a meeting on Jan. 17, three days before President Obama is slated to leave office. Netanyahu told the Cabinet on Sunday that Israel is "in the midst of an event that has still not ended," Israel's Channel 10 reported. (Times of Israel)
  • Jordan Army Chief Warns: ISIS Fighters on Golan Heights Have Anti-Aircraft Missiles - Roi Kais
    Jordan's Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Mahmoud Freihat, warned in an interview with the BBC in Arabic on Saturday that ISIS fighters on the Jordan-Syria-Israel border in the Golan Heights have anti-aircraft missiles. "Some of the areas its fighters are in are a kilometer away from the border," Freihat said. "They have tanks, armored vehicles, anti-aircraft missiles and machineguns that can hit the military posts on the frontline."  (Ynet News)
  • 3 Palestinians Arrested after Shooting at IDF Post
    Israeli security forces arrested three Palestinian residents of Yabed, west of Jenin, on Saturday who were suspected of firing at an army position in the northern West Bank on Friday evening. Another Palestinian was arrested Saturday with a knife near Deir Sharaf in the northern West Bank, who said he had intended to carry out an attack.
        On Friday, security forces shot and wounded a Palestinian woman at the Qalandiya checkpoint north of Jerusalem as she tried to carry out a stabbing attack. "She approached the security forces with a knife in her hand. She did not respond to the calls of the soldiers to stop," police said. (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Cut Aid to PA While It Keeps Paying Pensions to Terrorists - Former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott
    Australia should cut our $40 million a year in aid to the Palestinian Authority while it keeps paying pensions to terrorists and their families. Another way for Australia to demonstrate its unswerving support for Israel might be to join any move by the Trump administration to move its embassy to Jerusalem. (Spectator-UK)
        See also Incentivizing Terrorism: Palestinian Authority Allocations to Terrorists and their Families - Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • UN Abstention Reversed Past U.S. Policies on a Range of Core Issues - Omri Ceren
    The world that Secretary of State Kerry painted in his speech last week has very little in common with the one we live in. The abstention reversed past U.S. policies on a range of core issues, perhaps nowhere more dramatically than in declaring east Jerusalem occupied Palestinian territory.
        In 1994, Secretary of State Madeline Albright told the UN: "We are today voting against a resolution in the Commission on the Status of Women precisely because it implies that Jerusalem is 'occupied Palestinian territory.'...We simply do not support the description of the territories occupied by Israel in the 1967 war as 'occupied Palestinian territory'...we oppose the specific reference to Jerusalem in this resolution and will continue to oppose its insertion in future resolutions."  (Daily Beast)
  • How UN Security Council Resolution 2334 Relates to Palestinian Terrorism
    UN Security Council Resolution 2334, approved on Dec. 23, 2016, includes the issue of terrorism, but its weight is slight (as opposed to extensive dealing with the settlements, which are represented as the main obstacle to peace). Moreover, the terminology used is vague and does not explicitly refer to Palestinian terrorism or the Palestinian terrorist organizations (especially Hamas). By focusing on settlements, and not making explicit reference to Palestinian terrorism, the resolution strengthens the Palestinian claim that the settlements and not Palestinian terrorism are the main obstacles to peace and the two-state solution.
        On Dec. 28, 2016, John Kerry, the American secretary of state, represented the resolution as balanced. He said it "condemns violence and incitement." However, the resolution is not balanced. It expresses the fundamental Palestinian position focusing on the settlements, while making no clear reference to fighting Palestinian terrorism. (Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center)

On Israel, a Resolution to Repudiate - Abraham D. Sofaer (Investor's Business Daily)

  • On Dec. 23, 2016, the U.S. abstained and allowed the Security Council to adopt Resolution 2334 demanding that Israel stop all settlement activity. This resolution provides legal authority under Chapter VI of the UN Charter for the Security Council or individual states to take Israel to the International Court of Justice, and sets the basis for the Council to enforce its commands by imposing sanctions under Chapter VII - including even the use of force.
  • The resolution will be invoked by states, the Palestinian Authority, Hamas and every anti-Israel public and private group in the world to justify lawsuits, boycotts, trade restrictions and outright acts of terror.
  • Mr. Trump will hear from diplomats and foreign ambassadors that he cannot undo a Security Council resolution. That is nonsense. He can, as president, repudiate any international agreement. A vehicle for President Trump's action in this regard is operative paragraph 12, requesting the Secretary-General to report to the Council "every three months on the implementation of the provisions of the present resolution."
  • President Trump should inform the Secretary-General before his first report on March 23, 2017, that the U.S. repudiates Resolution 2334 - that the U.S. will veto any effort to enforce its conclusions. He should also seek legislation imposing trade sanctions on states that rely on the resolution to discriminate against Israel, as the U.S. did successfully against the Arab boycott.
  • The Obama administration has preached about what it insists must be done regardless of what is possible in light of Palestinian hostility and the fact that Gaza is in terrorist hands. President Reagan regarded the settlements as "legal," and most other presidents have refrained from such ineffective hectoring. Mr. Obama also ignored the Bush letter of April 14, 2004, that recognized Israeli control of the major Jerusalem settlements as the likely outcome.
  • The abstention, in short, was a shameful act openly touted as punishment for Israel's failure to abide by a U.S. policy that set back the prospects of peace. The Trump administration must repudiate Resolution 2334 in order to preserve the possibility of a two-state solution, by recognizing that Israel's settlements are not an obstacle to peace if peace were genuinely pursued.

    The writer, the George P. Shultz Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, served as legal advisor to the State Department from 1985 to 1990.

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