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  DAILY ALERT Wednesday,
May 17, 2017

In-Depth Issues:

Trump's Disclosure Endangered Spy Placed Inside ISIS by Israel, Officials Say - Brian Ross (ABC News)
    The life of a spy placed by Israel inside ISIS is at risk, according to current and former U.S. officials, after President Donald Trump reportedly disclosed classified information in a meeting with Russian officials last week.
    The spy provided intelligence involving an active ISIS plot to bring down a passenger jet en route to the U.S., with a bomb hidden in a laptop that U.S. officials believe can get through airport screening machines undetected.
    See also Israel Responds to Reports of Secret Intelligence Trump Gave to Russians - Adam Goldman (New York Times)
    In a statement to the New York Times, Ron Dermer, the Israeli ambassador to the U.S., said, "Israel has full confidence in our intelligence-sharing relationship with the United States and looks forward to deepening that relationship in the years ahead under President Trump."
    See also U.S. National Security Adviser Says Trump Did Not Cause Lapse in National Security (Reuters)
    National security adviser H.R. McMaster said on Tuesday that President Trump did not have an inappropriate conversation or one that caused a lapse in national security when he met with senior Russian officials last week at the White House.
    See also Text of McMaster's Statement - Ian Schwartz (RealClearPolitics)

Danish Girl Found Guilty of Plot to Blow Up Jewish School - Lianne Kolirin (Jewish Chronicle-UK)
    A Danish-born teenager, who converted to Islam in 2015, was found guilty on Tuesday of planning to bomb a Jewish school in Copenhagen and a public school in Farevejle, Politiken reported.
    Police discovered manuals on how to make bombs, along with chemicals, when they searched her family home.
    During her custody prior to the trial, she wrote a lengthy text explaining her actions and imagining herself as a fully-fledged jihadi.

Israel Funds Refugee Children's Soccer League in Nigeria - Itamar Eichner (Ynet News)
    Israel's ambassador to Nigeria, Guy Feldman, canceled the embassy's Independence Day reception and set up a week-long soccer league for 225 Nigerian refugee children who were displaced by the threat from Boko Haram terrorists.

Five Palestinians Arrested for Making Pipe Bombs Out of Fireworks - Judah Ari Gross (Times of Israel)
    The Israel Defense Forces broke up a Palestinian cell that made pipe bombs from fireworks and used them in several attacks in the Tulkarem area of the West Bank, an army officer said Tuesday.

Palestinian Parliament Member Filmed Throwing Rocks at IDF Soldiers - Erez Linn (Israel Hayom)
    Jamal Hawil, a Fatah member of the PA parliament, was caught on camera throwing rocks at IDF soldiers near Ramallah last weekend.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Iran Changes Course of Road to Mediterranean Coast to Avoid U.S. Forces - Martin Chulov
    Iran has changed the course of a land corridor that it aims to open to the Mediterranean coast after officials in Tehran feared that a growing U.S. military presence in northeastern Syria had made its original path unviable. The new corridor has been moved 140 miles south, avoiding the Kurdish northeast, to bypass a buildup of U.S. forces assembled to fight Islamic State. The changes have been ordered by Maj.-Gen. Qassem Suleimani, commander of Iran's Quds force, and Haidar al-Ameri, leader of the Shia-dominated Popular Mobilization Front in Iraq.
        The change of route has now pitched Iranian-backed forces into direct combat with ISIS. The newly chosen route to the Mediterranean Sea at Latakia will give Iran a supply line that avoids the heavily patrolled Persian Gulf waters. (Guardian-UK)
  • Lapid: Israel Not the Problem in Negotiations
    Yair Lapid, chairman of the Israeli opposition Yesh Atid Party, said Sunday, "Israel has been looking for an opportunity to separate from the Palestinians for years and years now. We have offered three times to the Palestinians more than 90% of the territories in order for them to build a country of their own, and three times they refused. So we are not the problem. The Palestinians are the problem. And we are willing to negotiate with no preconditions, and we are willing to talk, and we are willing to push forward for any kind of peace agreement with the Palestinians. We have never been the problem."
        "I don't think Israel can offer more. Listen. Take, for example, the disengagement [from Gaza] 2005. We left Gaza, we dismantled the settlements, the army left, we even left them with 3,000 greenhouses for them to build an economy for themselves, and instead of doing so, they fired 15,000 missiles on our children and women and elderly."
        "The question is not how you draw the map. The question is the seriousness of the players involved. We are serious. We've been serious for many, many years now, and the Palestinians were playing games."  (Fox News)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • U.S. Diplomat Named Who Told Israelis: Western Wall Is Not Yours - Raphael Ahren
    The American official who told his Israeli counterparts that the Western Wall, the holiest place for Jews to pray, is not part of Israel was named Tuesday by Israel Channel 2 TV as David Berns, the political counselor at the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem. A second U.S. official, the consulate's economic counselor, Jonathan Shrier, was also involved in the incident, which deteriorated into an angry shouting match. The incident embarrassed the Trump administration ahead of President Trump's visit to Israel next week.
        The Western Wall, part of the retaining walls of the Second Temple compound, is the closest point to the site of the Temple itself where Jews can pray. It was captured in the 1967 war and annexed by Israel as part of its united capital - a move not recognized internationally. An official at the Prime Minister's Office said that "Israel is certain that the comment contradicts President Trump's policy."
        On Monday, the new U.S. ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, arrived in the country and went immediately to the Western Wall, which he called "the holiest place in the entire Jewish world."  (Times of Israel)
        See also Video: U.S. Ambassador David Friedman's First Stop - a Prayer at the Western Wall (U.S. Embassy in Israel)
  • U.S. Ambassador Friedman: Palestinians Drop Settlement Freeze as Precondition for Talks - Tovah Lazaroff
    The U.S. has not asked for a settlement freeze and the Palestinians have dropped that demand as a precondition for talks with Israel, the new U.S. Ambassador David Friedman told the Hebrew daily Israel Hayom on Wednesday. The Palestinian insistence for the last eight years that Israel must halt all settlement activity and Jewish building in east Jerusalem was one of the core stumbling blocs to direct talks.
        During his trip, Trump won't unveil a specific "diplomatic plan" or a "road map," Friedman said. "The President has clarified that to start with, he wants to see the parties sitting together and talking without preconditions, with the hope that this will lead to peace....The U.S. won't dictate how you should live together, that is something you will have to decide on your own."
        On Tuesday night, Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Trump held a 20-minute phone call about Trump's upcoming visit to Israel. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israel Foils Terror Attack Linked to Outlawed Northern Branch of Islamic Movement - Anna Ahronheim
    The Israel Security Agency announced Tuesday the arrest of a terror cell associated with the banned northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel that was planning a shooting attack against IDF soldiers in southern Israel. The cell members were identified as Israeli citizens Muhammad Masri of Rahat, Abdullah Abu Ayyash of Kuseife and Mahmoud Luisi of Qalansawe. In 2016, they purchased a Carlo Gustav submachine gun and electronic transmitters to set off improvised explosive devices from a safe distance.
        Luisi was arrested in March 2017 after he returned from visiting Turkey where he met with senior Hamas member Majid Abu Qatish in order to secure funds as well as training for the attack. A senior member of the Islamic Movement, Faras al-Omari from Qandala, who was also arrested, was said to be the person the cell members turned to in order to receive approval for carrying out the attack. The ISA said the northern branch of the Islamic Movement continues to maintain close ties with Hamas, which poses a "grave security risk."  (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Keeping Palestinians Refugees as a Weapon Against Israel - Avi Mayer
    Palestinians marked May 15 as Nakba (Catastrophe) Day.  May 15, 1948, was the day Egypt, Syria, Transjordan, and Iraq invaded the fledgling Jewish state, determined to carry out the "war of extermination" and "momentous massacre" declared by Arab League Secretary General Azzam Pasha. Some 6,373 Israelis were killed, just under 1% of the country's total population (the equivalent of three million Americans today).
        The first Nakba Day commemorations took place in several towns in the Jordanian-occupied West Bank on May 15, 1949, and the primary target of their anger was not Israel. "The speakers in these gatherings blamed the Arab regimes and the Arab League," writes scholar Tamir Sorek.
        The long history of Arab rejectionism and the consistent refusal to countenance the notion that Jews might have national rights in their homeland have served only to perpetuate a conflict that should have ended eighty years ago. Likewise, the cultivation of a fantasy of "return" to homes that no longer exist is an act of cruelty.
        That a unique definition of refugeedom is applied to Palestinians, enabling refugee status to pass from one generation to the next in perpetuity, is scandalous. That the great grandchildren of Palestinian refugees remain trapped in refugee camps in Lebanon, denied citizenship and barred from seeking employment in a vast range of fields, is outrageous. These are all part of what one UN official called an Arab desire to "keep [the Palestinian refugee] as an open sore [and] as a weapon against Israel." The writer is spokesman to the international media for the Jewish Agency for Israel. (Times of Israel)
  • The British Royal Boycott of Israel Continues - Elliott Abrams
    We all know that relations between Israel and the Sunni Arab states have been improving for some years. It is plain silly to believe that they would be horribly upset if Prince Charles visited Israel during his next regular jaunt to Arab capitals. The decision by the British Foreign Office (FCO) reflects plain ignorance - or something far worse. it appears that Her Majesty's Government is happy to tolerate a policy that increasingly seems to be based on sheer prejudice. The writer is a senior fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at CFR. (Council on Foreign Relations)

A U.S. Agenda for the Middle East - Robert Satloff (New York Daily News)

  • The Saudis are arranging a massive gathering of Arab and Muslim potentates ranging from the king of Morocco to the president of Indonesia for President Trump's upcoming visit to Saudi Arabia.
  • The President should take advantage of his meeting with Muslim leaders to propose a new partnership to roll back the twin forms of Islamist extremism - the Sunni jihadism of ISIS and al-Qaeda, and the Iranian-led consortium of radical states, militias and proxies.
  • Such a partnership would extend both a promise of tolerance and protection to Christians in Muslim lands as well as a full-throated offer of acceptance and cooperation to Israel.
  • The President should use his considerable political leverage to advance a secure peace between Israel and the Palestinians, but the easiest part of this is to re-launch direct negotiations. To make real progress, Trump should work to bring into the process powerful regional actors, like Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
  • With the Palestinians, he should pick up a theme President George W. Bush championed 15 years ago as a requirement of U.S. partnership and then dropped - an insistence on internal reform, on everything from fighting corruption to stamping out incitement to ending the odious practice of paying terrorists and their families.

    The writer is executive director of The Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

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