Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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  DAILY ALERT Thursday,
May 18, 2017

In-Depth Issues:

Israel: No One Is in Danger from Trump Intelligence Incident - Barak Ravid (Ha'aretz)
    Ron Dermer, Israel's ambassador to the U.S., and Israeli intelligence officials have been conducting talks since Tuesday with White House and U.S. intelligence operatives to determine if intelligence supplied by Israel to the U.S. regarding a planned ISIS attack was leaked by President Trump at his meeting last week with Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov.
    An Israeli official said that Israel's assessment is that even if Trump passed on Israeli intelligence, no one is in danger, nor is the incident expected to have any significant influence on Israeli-American intelligence cooperation.
    "Things like this have happened in the past," the official said. "This is an opportunity to talk to the Americans, make order and set boundaries together."

    See also Report: Israeli Intelligence Info Came from Islamic State "Capital" in Syria - Judah Ari Gross (Times of Israel)
    Highly classified intelligence concerning Islamic State activities reportedly divulged by President Trump to Russian diplomats came directly from Raqqa in Syria, Israel's Channel 1 reported Wednesday.
    The source of the information was IDF Military Intelligence, whose head, Maj. Gen. Herzl Halevi, is in the U.S. this week.
    The information dealt with an Islamic State plot to bring down a passenger jet flying between Europe and the U.S. using a bomb hidden inside a laptop.

    See also The U.S.-Israel Intelligence Relationship - Ronen Bergman (New York Times)
    In recent months, Israel has passed on to the U.S. a great deal of highly sensitive and detailed information about the close coordination between the armed forces of Syria, Iran, Hizbullah and Russia, under Russian command.

    See also Israeli Source Seen as Key to Countering Islamic State Threat - Shane Harris (Wall Street Journal)
    The information that President Trump shared with Russian officials came from an Israeli source described by multiple U.S. officials as the most valuable source of information on external plotting by Islamic State.
    However, one official doubted that the Russians would be able to identify the nature of the source based on Trump's statements.

All 50 U.S. Governors Sign Anti-BDS Pledge (JTA)
    All 50 U.S. governors have signed a pledge to reject the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel.
    Organized by the American Jewish Committee, the statement declares that "the goals of the BDS movement are antithetical to our values and the values of our respective states, and our support for Israel as a vital U.S. ally, important economic partner and champion of freedom."
    At least 16 states have passed legislation targeting BDS, banning state entities from investing in businesses that boycott Israel.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Video: Erdogan Security Forces Launch "Brutal Attack" on Demonstrators in Washington - Nicholas Fandos and Christopher Mele
    Turkish government security forces and several armed individuals violently charged a group of protesters outside the Turkish ambassador's residence in Washington on Tuesday. Videos showed men in dark suits punching and kicking protesters, some lying on the ground. Eleven people were injured, including a police officer. Two Secret Service agents were also assaulted. The confrontation came after President Erdogan's visit to the White House on Tuesday. Erdogan and his security guards have since left the country.
        Metropolitan Police Chief Peter Newsham said Wednesday, "Yesterday we witnessed what appeared to be a brutal attack on peaceful protests." The State Department condemned the attack as an assault on free speech and warned Turkey that the action would not be tolerated. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said, "This is the United States of America. We do not do this here. There is no excuse for this kind of thuggish behavior."  (New York Times)
  • Abbas Presses Demand that Britain Apologize for Balfour Declaration
    Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, speaking on May 15 during a visit to India, said: "Today we mark the 69th anniversary of the...1948 Nakba." The "historic injustice caused to our people actually began with the regrettable Balfour Declaration. From here, I call on the British government to bear historic and moral responsibility and not to mark or celebrate the 100th anniversary of this refuted declaration, but to hasten to apologize to our Palestinian people."  (MEMRI)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Netanyahu to Unveil Economic Incentives for Palestinians on Eve of Trump Visit - Alexander Fulbright
    Ahead of President Donald Trump's visit to Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is preparing a package of economic incentives for the Palestinians, Israel's Channel 2 reported on Wednesday. In addition, Israel's Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon held talks in Jerusalem on Wednesday with his Palestinian Authority counterpart Shukri Bishara. Among the measures they discussed were opening the Allenby Bridge crossing between the West Bank and Jordan 24 hours a day and progress on industrial zones near Jenin and Tarkumiya (west of Hebron). (Times of Israel)
        See also A Proposal for a Trump Initiative for the Economic Development of the West Bank and Gaza - Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Dr. Shimon Shapira and Col. (ret.) Dr. Jacques Neriah (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Israeli Opposition Leaders Tour Settlement Blocs in Message to Trump - Gil Hoffman
    Opposition Zionist Union party leaders including Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni, together with five other Knesset members, visited the settlement blocs of Ma'ale Adumim and Gush Etzion on Thursday in a message to President Trump ahead of his visit to Israel. "Ma'ale Adumim was built by Yitzhak Rabin in his first term as prime minister," Herzog said. "A month before Rabin's assassination, he promised at the Knesset that Ma'ale Adumim will be part of Israel in any agreement. We are here because we believe in a diplomatic agreement, keeping the settlement blocs."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Netanyahu Tells Denmark's Foreign Minister: "Stop Aid to Organizations that Support BDS" - Itamar Eichner
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked visiting Danish Foreign Minister Anders Samuelsen on Tuesday to stop aid to Palestinian organizations that support the BDS movement. Netanyahu also said the real reason for the lack of a solution to the Palestinian issue was incitement. (Ynet News)
        See also Denmark to Allocate Another $8 Million to Radical Anti-Israel NGOs
    Danish Minister of Foreign Affairs Anders Samuelsen is to announce on Thursday in Ramallah an additional $8.3 million in Danish funding to the Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law Secretariat, which distributes funds to numerous anti-Israel organizations. The Secretariat is a joint funding mechanism of the Danish, Dutch, Swedish, and Swiss governments, operating out of Bir Zeit University in the West Bank.
        A large portion of the Secretariat's budget is distributed to radical Palestinian NGOs that incite violence and terrorism; are active in global BDS campaigns against Israel; engage in legal warfare attempting to indict Israeli officials at the International Criminal Court; and employ demonizing rhetoric, accusing Israel of "apartheid" and "war crimes."  (NGO Monitor)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Israeli Perceptions of Vulnerability - Gerald Steinberg
    The combination of six decades of war and terror, Iran's shrill threats of annihilation, and discriminatory boycott campaigns reinforce the dismal lessons of Jewish history for Israel. For most Israelis, the main obstacles to peace include terror and the Palestinian rejection of Jewish historical claims and the right to sovereign equality, independent of border concerns. The "average Israeli" pays close attention to the widely heard chant "from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free," which leaves no place for the Jews. But the problem is more than words: the rhetoric is accompanied by rocket attacks from Gaza and terror from the West Bank.
        Israelis have also not forgotten the mass terrorism that occurred in the wake of the 1993 Oslo agreements that created the Palestinian Authority. Viewing the massive violence in Syria and Iraq, the presence of ISIS in Sinai, and the strengthening of the Iran-Hizbullah regional alliance, Israelis - including those who support a two-state solution in theory - perceive withdrawal to the pre-1967 lines and a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza as a dangerous fantasy.
        Israeli policies with respect to Palestinians and the West Bank will continue to be framed by history and perceptions of vulnerability. This will only change when the Palestinian side - and the wider region - address them directly. The writer is professor of political studies at Bar-Ilan University, and founder of the Program on Conflict Management and Negotiation. (Georgetown Journal of International Affairs)
  • Water Mismanagement Is Iran's Biggest Problem - Seth M. Siegel
    The lifting of sanctions following Tehran's nuclear agreement with the West has yet to yield benefits. Unemployment is high, and oil prices are low. However, the largest long-term threat to Iran's stability relates to its gross water mismanagement.
        Companies owned by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) were given control over major engineering projects. Recklessly, these companies began damming major rivers to give water preferences to powerful landowners and favored ethnic communities, while also transferring billions from the public treasury to IRGC leaders. At the same time, the regime allowed farmers to drill wells without controls or concerns about sustainability.
        After years of damming rivers and over-drilling wells, aquifers began to go dry and lakes shriveled. Iran's once massive Lake Urmia, a 2,000-square-mile expanse, contracted 90% between 1985 and 2015. With farmland ruined, topsoil blown away and insufficient water to grow crops, millions of farmers and herders have left the countryside, while deserts have expanded. (Washington Post)

Is There a Palestinian Partner? - Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser (Ha'aretz-Hebrew-13May2017)

  • An editorial in Ha'aretz on May 10 declared that there is a Palestinian partner for a "two states for two peoples" solution.
  • The truth is that Abbas supports a "two-state solution," but firmly opposes "two states for two peoples." His opposition stems from the fact that the heart of the Palestinian narrative asserts that the Jews are not a people or a nationality, but members of a religion, and therefore they have no right to self-determination or to their own nation-state, certainly not in Palestine, for which they have no basis to claim sovereignty.
  • True, when Abbas is pushed into a corner, he is willing to use the phrase "two states for two peoples," but Abbas means a state for the Palestinian people (on the 1967 lines with limited land swaps, including a capital in east Jerusalem), and a country without an ethnic identity - a state for the "Israeli people," i.e., a state of all its citizens. In fact, he uses the expression "the Israeli people" quite often.
  • For both Abbas and Hamas (according to Hamas' new political document), a Palestinian state within the 1967 lines is a step towards realizing the Palestinian vision of establishing a Palestinian state over the entire territory of the British Mandate for Palestine. This is the "phased plan" of 1974, which the Palestinians never abandoned. Their commitment to this vision is uncompromising. It is part of the education that they give to their children.
  • At his meeting with President Trump, Abbas presented the original map of partition proposed by the Peel Commission in 1937 (which allotted 85% of the country to the Arabs). The problem is that it was the Palestinians who rejected any partition proposal that meant the establishment of a Jewish nation-state on a single grain of soil of Palestine. They continue to reject it even today.

    The writer was formerly Director General of the Israel Ministry of Strategic Affairs and head of the Research Division of IDF Military Intelligence.

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