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  DAILY ALERT Wednesday,
May 10, 2017

In-Depth Issues:

Turkey Still Allows Hamas Activity on Its Territory - Yoav Zitun (Ynet News)
    Despite its reconciliation agreement with Israel, Turkey continues to sponsor Hamas activity on its territory.
    Hamas in Turkey coordinates terror cells in the West Bank, despite the departure of Saleh al-Arouri, who headed Hamas in Turkey.
    His successors are recruiting Palestinian students, who are then sent for military training in Lebanon or Syria, and from there, return to the West Bank to carry out attacks against Israel.

Hamas Hawks Tighten Grip over Political Bureau - Kifah Ziboun (Asharq Al-Awsat-UK)
    The Hamas movement published on Monday the names of some of its newly elected political bureau members, highlighting an increase in figures from its military wing, the Al-Qassam Brigades.

FIFA to Take No Action Against Israeli Settlement Soccer Clubs (AFP-Daily Mail-UK)
    The FIFA Council meeting in Bahrain on Tuesday concluded that "at this stage it is premature for the FIFA Congress to take any decision" on the Palestine Football Association's request to take action on the issue of Israeli clubs in the West Bank.
    A FIFA commission chaired by South Africa's Tokyo Sexwale presented several potential solutions in a report in March, but these were rejected by Palestinian football chief Jibril Rajoub.

Dublin City Council Votes to Fly Palestinian Flag, Rejects Israeli Flag - Laura Lyne (Dublin Live-Ireland)
    Dublin City councilors have voted to fly the Palestinian flag over City Hall for one month.
    The decision received 42 votes in support in the 63-member council.
    An alternative proposal, to fly both the Palestinian flag and Israeli flag for one week, was voted down with 43 votes against.
    Lord Mayor Brendan Carr chose to abstain from the final vote, explaining that he met with young Palestinians and Israelis who said they did not want Irish people taking sides as they tried to establish peace.

Air India's Tel Aviv Service Delayed by Denial of Overflight Rights - Ashwini Phadnis (The Hindu-India)
    Air India has delayed the launch of its direct flights between New Delhi and Tel Aviv as Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Afghanistan have denied it overflight permission.
    Flying over West Asia is the shortest route between India and Israel. A plan to fly over Europe was dropped as it would have increased the flying time and skewed the economics of the flight.

April Sets All-Time Record in Tourism to Israel - Lidar Grave-Lazi (Jerusalem Post)
    A record 349,000 tourists visited Israel during April, the Tourism Ministry said on Tuesday.
    The ten countries sending the most visitors this year are the U.S., Russia, France, Germany, the UK, Ukraine, China, Italy, Romania and Poland.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Top U.S. General: Iran's Potential Role along Israeli Border Raises Concerns - Tara Copp
    Iran's potential role in enforcing a security zone in southern Syria has raised concerns for Israel, Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford said Tuesday. Under an agreement signed last week in Astana, Turkey, several large areas of western and southern Syria would become protected areas where the use of weapons, including airstrikes, would be prohibited. Russia, Iran and Turkey would be empowered to "take all necessary measures" to enforce the peace in these zones. One of the zones would be in southern Syria along the Israeli-Syrian border by the Golan Heights.
        Dunford, who was in Israel this week, said Israel is concerned about the possibility of having Iranian or Iranian-backed forces, such as Hizbullah, so close to its border. "We're concerned too," Dunford said. Israel "would want to make sure, as these zones are proposed, that their security concerns are going to be addressed."  (Stars and Stripes)
  • U.S. to Arm Syrian Kurds over Turkish Objections - Michael R. Gordon and Eric Schmitt
    President Trump has approved a plan to arm Syrian Kurds with heavy machine guns, mortars, anti-tank weapons, and armored cars so they can participate in the battle to retake Raqqa from the Islamic State, a strategy that has drawn deep opposition from Turkey. American military commanders have long argued that arming the YPG, a Kurdish militia fighting against the Islamic State, is the fastest way to seize Raqqa, the capital of the militants' caliphate. A high-level delegation of Turkish officials was informed of the decision by Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, the U.S. national security adviser, when they visited the White House on Monday. (New York Times)
  • World War II Veterans in Israel Commemorate Victory Day
    2,000 people participated in the WWII "Immortal Regiment" commemoration march in the Israeli city of Ashdod on Monday, Deputy Mayor Vladimir Gershov said. The "Immortal Regiment" commemorates WWII soldiers in marches held across Russia and other countries on May 9, celebrated as Victory Day in Russia and the former Soviet republics. In Israel, 20 Israeli cities and towns are involved in the campaign. (Sputnik-Russia)
        See also Video: WWII Veterans March through Jerusalem to Commemorate VE Day
    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford meet with WWII veterans in Jerusalem to commemorate Victory in Europe Day on Tuesday. Netanyahu told the veterans, "You saved the Jewish people as well as humanity....I admire you all greatly, and the Jewish people owe you an immense debt of gratitude."  (Reuters-Jerusalem Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Barghouti Fell for Israel's Trap When Caught Eating Food in Secret during Hunger Strike - Meir Turjeman
    Israel Minister of Public Security Gilad Erdan said that the Israel Prison Service (IPS) was aware that Palestinian hunger strike leader Marwan Barghouti was smuggling food into his cell and caught him in the act. The exact same thing happened in a 2004 security prisoners strike led by Barghouti, where he was caught eating food in secret. Erdan said, "We're going to make sure that the prisoners see the videos and understand who he really is. The strike he is leading has nothing to do with their prison conditions, and everything to do with the political interests of Marwan Barghouti."
        A senior official in the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) told Yediot Ahronot that "whoever you ask will tell you on record that the video is fake, but behind closed doors people are admitting that it's authentic. We were incredibly angry when we saw the recordings. There are mothers of prisoners who are on hunger strike as a show of solidarity with their sons, and suddenly they see that the great leader of the strike is eating in secret while they starve. He made a very big mistake."  (Ynet News)
        See also Will Candy Bar Damage Standing of Palestinian Hunger Strike Leader? - Benjamin Kerstein
    Veteran Israeli commentator Ehud Yaari said Tuesday the video of Palestinian terrorist Marwan Barghouti secretly eating during a prison hunger strike will damage his standing with Palestinians and likely "further erode his claim to lead." Yaari pointed out that "Barghouti's camp was defeated in the last Fatah primaries although he himself came first." He added that "Quite a few of the prisoners who joined the strike simply refuse to have the prison meals but buy food in the canteens."  (Fox News)
  • Israeli President to Archbishop of Canterbury: "Israel Is the Only Country in the Middle East Where the Christian Community Is Flourishing"
    Israeli President Reuven Rivlin met with Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby at his residence in Jerusalem on Monday. Rivlin warmly welcomed the archbishop and said, "Israel is the only country in the Middle East where the Christian community is flourishing." The president stressed Israel's commitment to bring an end to the conflict with the Palestinians and stated that the only way to reach an agreement required building trust between the sides.
        Referring to recent comments made by the president of Turkey, Rivlin noted, "For the last 150 years there has been a Jewish majority in Jerusalem. Even under the Ottoman Empire there was a Jewish majority in Jerusalem. Under Israeli sovereignty, we continue to build Jerusalem, the eternal capital of the Jewish people...and we will continue to ensure freedom of religion for all faiths."  (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Gaza Is a State - Samuel Nurding interviews IDF Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Giora Eiland
    Gaza is a state. It has very clear borders, a central government in Hamas, an independent foreign policy and an army. Israel does not have any territorial interest in Gaza, nor any political interest or economic interest. We simply don't want them to shoot at us.
        The international community does not recognize that Gaza is a de facto state and insists that all financial aid is given to the PA in Ramallah. But the interest of the PA is not to see Gaza prosper and succeed because that might enhance Hamas. The PA wants to make the situation in Gaza as poor as possible in order for Fatah to succeed against Hamas.
        After the 2014 war, Egypt actually blocked the border with Gaza. Then the international community made a decision to allow Egypt to lead the mechanism to rebuild Gaza and the PA was the address to send the money. Now, if there are two players who have the least interest in helping to rebuild Gaza, it is Egypt and the PA. Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Giora Eiland is a former head of Israel's National Security Council. (Fathom-BICOM)
  • Qatar Needs to Stop Funding Islamists - Dennis Ross
    Qatar has permitted the U.S. to build and operate the massive al-Udeid air base from which all coalition air operations in the region are conducted. However, few countries have done more to promote the Muslim Brotherhood, including its Palestinian offshoot Hamas, than Qatar. The Brotherhood-affiliated preacher Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who resides in Qatar, conveys his views weekly on Qatar's Al Jazeera network. Qaradawi is anti-American and considers all attacks against Israeli civilians to be legitimate. In addition, in both Libya and Syria, Qatar has provided money and material to Islamist fighters.
        Qatar's leaders clearly want the American security connection. President Trump should make it clear to them that they will have it so long as they are not threatening our interests and those of our partners in the region. The writer, counselor at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, served in senior national security positions in the Reagan, Bush, Clinton and Obama administrations. (USA Today)

The World Didn't Agree to a Nuclear-Armed Iran, Even in 10 Years - Max Singer (Wall Street Journal)

  • Critics of the Iran nuclear agreement say the deal gives Iran permission to acquire nuclear weapons after 10 years. Yet the stated premise of the plan was that Iran would never build or acquire nuclear weapons - ever.
  • An item in the deal states that the plan "will ensure the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear program." Another reads: "Iran reaffirms that under no circumstances will Iran ever seek, develop, or acquire nuclear weapons."
  • Nothing in the agreement precludes the countries that signed the deal from acting to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. Since Tehran had insisted that it did not have a nuclear-weapons program, the regime cannot claim that its pursuit of nuclear weapons was authorized by the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
  • The problem of stopping Iran is therefore not a legal one. The question is whether the U.S. and other powers have the tools to compel Iran to abort its nuclear-weapons program, and whether they have the will to use them.
  • The decisive question is how strongly the U.S. and the other democracies are determined to prevent Iran from having nuclear weapons. If they have the will to do so, they have the necessary power, and the nuclear deal is not an impediment.

    The writer, a founder and senior fellow of the Hudson Institute, is a senior fellow at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University in Israel.

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