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  DAILY ALERT Wednesday,
January 25, 2017

In-Depth Issues:

Palestinians Deny Report U.S. Assured PA It Won't Move Embassy - Avi Issacharoff (Times of Israel)
    Senior Palestinian sources denied Wednesday a report that the PA had received assurances from Trump administration officials that the promised move of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem would not take place.
    Asharq Al-Awsat had reported earlier in the day that PA officials were "relieved" by the assurances.
    Responding to the initial report, Regional Cooperation Minister Tzachi Hanegbi told Israel Radio that Israel's government was "sitting in the bleachers" on the embassy debate.
    "I assume this issue will be debated in the U.S. for some time." Still, "I have no doubt the final decision will be different from preceding administrations. It may be creative, maybe a piecemeal [move]."
    He added that even without relocating the embassy, a move by Washington to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital would be very significant.

Iraqi Shia Cleric Muqtada al-Sadr Calls to "Liberate Jerusalem" in Response to U.S. Embassy Move (Kurdistan24)
    Iraqi Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr on Tuesday called the transfer of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem "an explicit declaration of war against Islam."
    He said that if the U.S. embassy is moved, he "will call for the creation of a special military force to liberate al-Quds [Jerusalem]."

Ukraine Seizes Missile Components Destined for Iran - Jeremy Binnie (IHS Jane's-UK)
    The State Border Guard Service of Ukraine (DPSU) announced on Friday that it had found missile system components on an aircraft leaving Kiev's Zulyany airport for Iran.

World Ignores Plight of Palestinians in Syria - Khaled Abu Toameh (Gatestone Institute)
    Palestinians in Syria are being murdered, tortured, imprisoned and displaced. The West yawns. Arabs killing and torturing other Arabs is not news.
    According to Arab media, Syrian authorities are withholding the bodies of more than 456 Palestinians who died under torture in prison. Other reports suggest that Syrian authorities have been harvesting the organs of dead Palestinians, including women and children.
    Another 1,100 Palestinians have been languishing in Syrian prisons since the beginning of the war, more than five years ago.
    The Action Group for Palestinians of Syria reports that 3,420 Palestinians (including 455 females) have been killed since the beginning of the war.
    Nearly 80,000 Palestinians have fled to Europe, 31,000 to Lebanon, 17,000 to Jordan, 6,000 to Egypt, 8,000 to Turkey and 1,000 to Gaza.

Microsoft Invests in Israeli Cyber Security Company (Globes)
    Israeli cyber security company illusive networks on Tuesday announced a strategic investment by Microsoft Ventures.
    illusive networks deception technology is deployed across dozens of leading institutions and companies worldwide.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • State Dept. Reviewing Decision to Send Palestinians $221 Million
    The State Department is reviewing a last-minute decision by former Secretary of State John Kerry to send $221 million to the Palestinians on Friday over the objections of congressional Republicans. The department said Tuesday it might make adjustments to ensure the move comports with the new administration's priorities. (AP-CBS News)
  • PLO Official: U.S.-Sponsored Bilateral Negotiations Are No Longer Acceptable - Kifah Ziboun
    Palestinians will not accept a return to direct U.S.-sponsored bilateral negotiations, according to PLO Executive Committee member Wasil Abu Yousef. He said they now demand international guarantees within a time-frame that ensures the Palestinian people receive a state with eastern Jerusalem as its capital.
        His statement comes after U.S. President Donald Trump spoke by phone with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Trump expressed his support for direct talks between Palestinians and Israelis, and described it as the only solution for peace. The Palestinians are seeking international involvement similar to the "5+1" talks on the Iranian nuclear issue. (Asharq Al-Awsat-UK)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Gen. Patraeus in Israel: U.S. Must Keep Military Option in Iran Open - Yoav Zitun
    Former CIA director General David Petraeus told the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv on Tuesday, "The U.S. must prepare for action against Iran, if necessary." Petraeus commented, "I told Trump that we need to repeat what we want - for Iran not to have nuclear weapons and for the Islamic Republic to stop striving for a Shiite hegemony in the region. If you ask the Gulf states, their first problem is Iran, and only afterwards comes ISIS, Yemen, the Muslim Brotherhood, and then the Palestinian problem - which was in first place for many years."
        "The U.S. must declare that it will not enable a nuclear Iran, and that the American military will be ready for action in the region, if and when. In addition, the U.S. should work on a joint operation with its allies if necessary."  (Ynet News)
  • Knesset Inaugurates Jewish-Muslim Ties Caucus - Udi Shaham
    The Jewish-Muslim Ties Caucus was inaugurated at the Knesset on Tuesday, initiated by MK Zouheir Bahloul (Zionist Union) and MK Yehuda Glick (Likud). "When we meet and try to create this form of productive dialogue...I see it as a ray of hope that could revive faith in coexistence in our shared land," Bahloul said. The conference was attended by clerics and dominant figures from the two religions, including Chief Qadi of the Sharia courts in Israel, Dr. Ziad Zahalka, and head of the Ahmedi group in Israel, Sheikh Mohammad Sharif. Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein congratulated the Knesset members for the initiative. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • The Losers of 2016: The Palestinians - Walter Russell Mead
    In 2016, the Palestinians had one symbolic victory at year's end: the passage of a UN resolution (passed with a crucial abstention from the U.S.) condemning Israeli settlements in the West Bank. But the fact that this toothless declaration from a UN echo chamber, passed with the help of a lame duck American administration, counts as the Palestinians' main accomplishment only underscores how much trouble their cause is in.
        The gap between the capabilities of the Palestinian movement and the Israeli state widens every year. The Palestinian Authority could not pay its bills without annual subsidies from donor governments. The Palestinians remain dependent on the kindness of strangers; their movement is financially and politically beholden to outside forces. Their supporters are as sympathetic as ever, but their friends in Europe and the Arab states are weak and getting weaker, and as they respond to other threats and priorities, they have less and less help to give the Palestinians.
        For the Arabs, the double whammy of low oil prices and a rising threat from Iran reduce the ability of the Gulf states to help the Palestinians and reduce their appetite for a confrontation with Israel over Palestinian issues. The Gulf Arabs see the Israelis as a vital regional strategic partner if Iran is to be contained. Egypt welcomes Israeli security assistance against Islamic radicals and movements like Hamas. Jordan needs good relations with Israel to survive. (American Interest)
  • Internal Palestinian Conflict Makes Peace Deal with Israel Impossible - Jonathan Schanzer
    Before mediating an agreement between the Palestinians and Israelis, someone needs to first broker a peace deal between the Palestinians themselves. Israel is currently sandwiched between two separate Palestinian statelets: a Palestinian Authority-run West Bank and a Hamas-run Gaza. Both regimes insist that they speak on behalf of the Palestinians.
        Egypt, Syria, Yemen, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Russia have all tried to broker power-sharing agreements between the two Palestinian parties. These governments understand that the low-intensity conflict between the two Palestinian territories makes a peace agreement with Israel impossible. Any diplomatic effort to end the conflict between Palestinians and Israelis must first solve the Palestinian internecine conflict. The writer is vice president for research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. (Politico)
  • A Palestinian National Unity Government? - Yoni Ben Menachem
    Last week, representatives of all the Palestinian factions concluded a three-day meeting in Moscow to reach a national reconciliation. At the conclusion, senior Fatah and Hamas officials announced progress on setting up a national unity government. However, Palestinians have already witnessed 12 years of meetings, statements, and press conferences by the Palestinian factions on national reconciliation, but nothing has happened on the ground.
        The fact that the official PA media has ignored the "Moscow statement" indicates that PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas is not overly impressed with it. PA sources assess that the statement was mainly intended to please the Russian foreign minister and enable him to portray the Moscow meeting as an "achievement."  (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
        See also Palestinians Skeptical about Moscow Reconciliation Deal - Alaa Tartir (Al Jazeera)
  • In Arab Countries, Sectarian and Tribal Loyalties Preclude State Citizenship - Hussein Shobokshi
    In the Arab world, societies have clearly failed to establish the idea of citizenship for all without discrimination. Two fundamental forces - sects and tribes - are sometimes stronger than the sense of collective national belonging.
        In his book Deadly Identities, the French writer of Lebanese origin Amin Maalouf refers to important points through which the identity of free and confident societies is formed. These societies are not afraid of assimilation as opposed to closed societies that fight and suspect everything that does not resemble them. The writer hosts the weekly current affairs program "Al-Takreer" on Al-Arabiya. (Asharq Al-Awsat-UK)

The Elements of Diplomatic Deal-Making - Gerald M. Steinberg (Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies-Bar-Ilan University)

  • Diplomatic deal-making requires mastery of four basic elements: integration of diplomacy with the credible threat of force; the rewarding of friends and the punishing of enemies (rather than the opposite); a diplomatic focus on interests rather than emotions; and a refusal to condescend to the citizens who will be affected.
  • Throughout the Obama presidency, the essential role of power in international diplomacy was largely ignored. When Obama went to Cairo in March 2009, he called for freedom, democracy, and friendship between the U.S. and the Arab world. But there was no action plan behind the speech - no carrots and no sticks.
  • In all of Obama's Middle East activities, interests and power were largely ignored. In the few instances in which Obama threatened to use force, there was no follow-through. (The killing of Bin Laden was a one-time attack against an individual, not an ongoing strategy against a state or terror group.)
  • For John Kerry and Barack Obama, their main diplomatic "success" was the agreement with the Iranian regime on their illicit nuclear program. To avoid friction and maintain good feelings, the U.S. allowed Iran to continue many of its ongoing weapons-related activities, including upgrading centrifuges, testing new and better ballistic missiles, and supporting terror, including Hizbullah's butchery on behalf of the Assad regime in Syria.
  • Diplomats who arrogantly tell people they are wrong, and that they know better than the people what is good for them, get little traction. No country's citizens relish being patronized by outsiders.
  • In their last-minute initiatives, including the American decision to abstain (and thus passively support) UNSCR 2334 and the subsequent speech on the evil of settlements, Obama and Kerry repeatedly instructed Israelis that the policies they recommended were for Israelis' own good. The message was that Americans could define Israeli interests better than the country's elected leaders.

    The writer is a professor of political studies at Bar-Ilan University, founder of the graduate program on conflict management and negotiation, and president of NGO Monitor.

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