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March 6, 2017

In-Depth Issues:

Iran Tests Advanced Russian S-300 Air Defense System - Roi Kais (Ynet News)
    Iran's official media reported Saturday that Iran had successfully tested the advanced S-300 air defense provided by Russia over Israel's objections.

Iranian Film Depicts Destruction of U.S. Forces in Gulf Battle (AP-CBS News)
    In the "Battle of the Persian Gulf II," a new Iranian animated film, an Iranian commander orders his forces to open fire on a much larger U.S. fleet, obliterating it with a barrage of rockets.
    In the 90-minute film, a character who closely resembles Gen. Qassem Soleimani, head of Iran's Quds Force, leads a single vessel against more than a dozen American warships.
    See also U.S. Navy Ship Has Close Encounter with Iranian Ship - David Martin (CBS News)
    The U.S. Navy surveillance ship Invincible had a close encounter with an Iranian navy frigate that came within 150 yards on Thursday in the Gulf of Oman, just south of the Strait of Hormuz.

Palestinian Poll: Only 20 Percent in Gaza Would Vote for Hamas (Jerusalem Media and Communication Centre)
    If elections to the Palestinian Legislative Council were held today - in Gaza, 40% would vote for Fatah while 20% would vote for Hamas, according to a poll of adult Palestinians conducted on Feb. 17-21.
    In the West Bank, 41% would vote for Fatah and 15% for Hamas.
    69% did not expect Fatah and Hamas to reach reconciliation in 2017.
    At the same time, 61% of Palestinians said they were optimistic regarding the future, compared with 38% who were pessimistic.

Pro-Palestinian Activists Press UK to Apologize for Balfour Declaration - Nadine Dahan (Middle East Eye-UK)
    Pro-Palestinian activists at University College London have called on the British government to apologize for the Balfour Declaration.
    "The UK should issue an apology and think about compensating the Palestinians for their losses...which are a direct result of British policy," said Salma Karmi-Ayyoub, a consultant for the Palestinian NGO al-Haq.
    The Saturday conference, organized by the Federation of Student Islamic Societies (FOSIS), and Olive, a Palestinian youth organization, was held to explore the role of Britain and the Balfour Declaration over the past 100 years.
    It aimed to "expose the illegality of the State of Israel."

Photos: Aerial Shots of Israel from 1937 - Dr. Gil Weissblei (Ha'aretz)
    Israel's National Library houses a collection of photographs of Israel taken 80 years ago.
    The writer works in the photographic archive at the National Library of Israel.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Iran Indicts Nuclear Negotiation Team Member - Amir Vahdat and Jon Gambrell
    Iran's judiciary has indicted a member of the country's team that negotiated the nuclear deal with world powers, judiciary spokesman Gholamhosein Mohseni Ejehi said Sunday. It is believed to be Abdolrasoul Dorri Esfahani, an Iranian-Canadian national previously detained by authorities on suspicion of espionage.
        Several Iranian-Americans have been detained in the wake of the nuclear deal, including Iranian-American businessman Siamak Namazi and his octogenarian father, Baquer Namazi, who are serving 10-year prison sentences for "cooperating with the hostile American government." Also detained is Robin Shahini, who is serving an 18-year prison sentence for "collaboration with a hostile government." In most of the recent cases, dual nationals have faced secret charges in closed-door hearings before Iran's Revolutionary Court. (AP-Washington Post)
  • Former Palestinian Foreign Minister Nabil Shaath: Saudi King Abdullah Financed the Second Intifada
    Former Palestinian Foreign Minister Nabil Shaath told Egypt's ON TV on Feb. 7 that in 2000, Saudi King Abdullah, then the crown prince, gave the Palestinians half a billion dollars to keep the Intifada going. Shaath said that in early October 2000 he was invited to Saudi Arabia where he met with Abdullah.
        "When we were alone, he asked me just one question: 'How much do you want?...You are in the midst of an Intifada. It may last two or three years. They will freeze all your assets. How will you continue this Intifada? It takes money.' So I named the largest figure I could think of: one billion dollars. I said that one billion dollars could keep us going for two or three years. 'It's on me,' he said."
        "He summoned the Arab summit two weeks later, in October. As soon as I got to the venue of the summit, in Cairo, he grabbed my hand and pulled me to an adjacent room. He said: 'I will demand one billion dollars from the Arab League. They should all bear the responsibility. I will declare that I will pay half and will collect the other half.'...That's what he did. That was the money that enabled us to survive in the three years of the Intifada."  (MEMRI TV)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Netanyahu: Iran Seeking to Establish a Front Against Israel on the Golan Heights
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the Israeli Cabinet on Sunday, "Iran is trying to establish itself permanently in Syria, with a military presence on the ground and at sea, and also a gradual attempt to open a front against us on the Golan Heights." Netanyahu said that during his meeting with President Putin in Moscow on Thursday, "I will express to President Putin Israel's sharp and vigorous opposition to this possibility."  (Prime Minister's Office)
        See also Netanyahu: Iran Responsible for 80 Percent of Israel's Security Concerns - Herb Keinon
    Iran is responsible for more than 80% of Israel's security problems, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday at a ceremony in the Foreign Ministry marking 25 years since the bombing of the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires. He said that it was clear from the very beginning that Iran was behind that bombing, which killed 29 people, including Israeli diplomats, and injured 250 more. "Iran initiated and planned it, and Hizbullah, which does what it [Iran] says, carried it out."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Palestinian Terrorist Killed in Shootout in West Bank - Yoav Zitun and Elior Levy
    Basel Al-Araj, 31, the head of a terror cell that planned attacks against Israelis and who was in charge of procuring weapons for the attacks, was killed during a shootout with Israel's Border Police in Al-Bireh, near Ramallah, after he opened fire at officers who were attempting to apprehend him early Monday. Security forces found two M16 rifles and a Carlo submachine gun in his home. (Ynet News)
  • Stabbing Attack Prevented at West Bank Junction
    Israeli Border Police officers prevented a stabbing attack at Tapuah Junction in the West Bank on Sunday. A Border Police lookout identified two suspects moving in the open area nearby. Border policemen approached them and found a knife on one of them. (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Jerusalem Already Has Plenty of Embassies - for the Palestinians - Eylon Aslan-Levy
    Lost in the controversy over moving the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem is the fact that the U.S. is one of nine countries that already has a de facto embassy in Jerusalem - to the Palestinians. The U.S. consulate-general in Jerusalem, just around the corner from the Prime Minister's residence - handles diplomatic relations with the Palestinian Authority. While the consulates of the UK, Turkey, Belgium, Spain and Sweden are in eastern Jerusalem, the consulates of the U.S., France, Italy, and Greece are in western Jerusalem.
        None of these countries recognize Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem and say they cannot host embassies there lest it give the impression that they recognize Israel's sovereignty in the city. At the same time, the Palestinians enjoy the privilege of diplomatic missions in the very same city.
        Moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem would be recognition that since the Palestinians already enjoy diplomatic missions in Jerusalem, the denial of the same to the country that controls that city is an act of inconsistency. Moving the U.S. embassy would right a historic wrong. (The Tower)
  • Indian Prime Minister's Forthcoming Trip to Israel Reflects a Sea-Change in Relations - Editorial
    Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will make an historic state visit to Israel later this year. No serving Indian prime minister has ever visited Israel. There are also increasing signals that Modi's visit will not include a stopover in the Palestinian Authority. Such a decision would fit in with Modi's general attitude that Indian foreign policy should reflect the rising global profile of India, adhere strictly to the national interest, and be less concerned about ideological and symbolic actions.
        There is an additional problem: the original secular Palestinian nationalism is increasingly being supplanted by an Islamic identity that New Delhi finds unpalatable.
        Israel is now one of the three largest suppliers of weapons to India and a major source of assistance in the country's counterterrorism programs. Modi's visit will hopefully bring diplomacy into alignment with political reality, introducing policy changes that should have been carried out many years ago. (Hindustan Times-India)

Palestinian Authority Must Stop Rewarding Acts of Terrorism - Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Amos Yadlin and Lt.-Gen. (ret.) Moshe Ya'alon (Jerusalem Post)

  • A Palestinian Authority ministry provides monthly cash transfers ("salaries") to convicted terrorists that positively correlate with the length of sentence (and, hence, severity of the attack on Israel).
  • In 2004, the PA policy of sponsoring convicted terrorists was enshrined in law, and by 2010 the yearly salary for those serving 30-year sentences was nearly 20 times the average per capita income in the West Bank, and the ministry's budget surpassed $100 million.
  • In terms of simple economics, the PA's rewards for prisoners create financial incentives for impoverished Palestinians to take up arms. This complements other PA policies that endow with honor those who commit acts of terrorism by naming public spaces after them, extolling their virtues in public speeches, describing those who are killed while carrying out attacks as martyrs in PA-controlled media, and providing stipends for their relatives.
  • The PA also pays those with Israeli citizenship a premium for acts of terrorism - tantamount to sponsoring an insurrection inside of Israel.
  • The PA offers preference for government jobs to those who have killed or tried to kill Israelis. Stacking the government with individuals who see violence as a solution to the conflict will likely steer PA government policy away from moderation and compromise.
  • Israel has a moral imperative to do everything in its power to bring an end to the PA policy of financially incentivizing the murder of Israelis.

    Amos Yadlin, former chief of Israeli military intelligence, heads Tel Aviv University's Institute for National Security Studies. Moshe Ya'alon is a former Israeli defense minister and IDF chief of staff.

        See also Incentivizing Terrorism: Palestinian Authority Allocations to Terrorists and their Families - Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

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