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  DAILY ALERT Thursday,
June 8, 2017

In-Depth Issues:

The Surprising Opinions of Palestinians - David Pollock (New York Daily News)
    A new poll of 1,540 Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem reveals that much of the Palestinian public actually agree with several key points Trump raised in the Middle East.
    - Two-thirds of Palestinians think "the PA should give prisoners' families normal social benefits like everybody else, not extra payments based on their sentences or armed operations."
    - A majority on the West Bank (56%) say the issue of moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem is "not so important" or even "not important at all."
    - To the idea of a "regional approach" to Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking, in which "Arab states would offer both sides incentives to take more moderate positions," in the West Bank, 58% approve, in Gaza 55%.
    - "What is the one thing you'd most like the U.S. to do about the Palestinian issues these days?" A plurality (34%) of West Bankers pick "put pressure on the PA and Hamas to be more democratic and less corrupt" - more than those who prefer "pressure on Israel to make concessions" or "increased economic aid to the Palestinians."
    - Among West Bankers, 49% pick "having a good family life" as their top priority, followed by "making enough income to live comfortably" with 30%; just 12% pick "working to establish a Palestinian state."
    The poll was conducted by the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion, May 16-27.

Israel Steps Up Fight against ISIS, as Terror Group Wages 'War' for Control of Egyptian Border - Adam Kredo (Washington Free Beacon)
    Israeli military forces are quietly conducting operations to counter the threat of Islamic State terrorists along the Sinai border area with Egypt, according to senior Israeli defense officials who described ISIS as the "most quickly advanced threat we've ever had."
    The daily battle, which has received little coverage in the Western media, has become a chief concern for Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) personnel operating along the Jewish state's southern border, eclipsing even Hamas terrorists in the region. Officials estimate that there are anywhere from 1,000 to 2,000 "active members of ISIS" operating in the Sinai region.
    ISIS terrorists in Sinai also are in possession of advanced military technology, such as anti-tank missiles, mortars, and long-range rockets, according to Israeli assessments.
    "ISIS is the most quickly advancing threat we've ever had," one IDF officer working in the region said. "The rate with which they advance in resources and both capabilities and military training far outweighs and outpaces" the threats posed by Hamas and Hizbullah terrorists in Lebanon.
    The threat of ISIS has fostered increased cooperation between Israeli and Egyptian military officials. Israeli military officials are conducting scores of intelligence gathering operations along the border in conjunction with Egyptian officials, the source said.

Video: June 8, Day Four of the 1967 War (Six Day War Project - Jerusalem U)
    In just three days, Israel successfully neutralized the threat from Egypt in the South and Jordan in the East, with Arab forces in retreat in the West Bank.

The $1bn Hostage Deal that Enraged Qatar's Gulf Rivals - Erika Solomon (Financial Times)
    Qatar paid up to $1bn to release members of its royal family who were kidnapped in Iraq while on a hunting trip, according to people involved in the hostage deal - one of the triggers behind Arab states' dramatic decision to cut ties with the government in Doha.
    Commanders of militant groups and government officials in the region said that Doha spent the money in a transaction that secured the release of 26 members of a Qatari falconry party in southern Iraq and about 50 militants captured by jihadis in Syria.

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News Resources - North America and Europe:
  • Pair of Deadly Terrorist Attacks Hits Iran - Thomas Erdbrink and Mujib Mashal
    ISIS assailants with rifles, explosives and women's disguises stunned Iran on Wednesday with audacious attacks on the Parliament building and tomb of its revolutionary founder in Tehran, the worst terrorist strike to hit the Islamic republic in years.
        At least 12 people were killed and 42 wounded in the pair of assaults, which clearly took Iran's elite security forces by surprise. The six known attackers also were killed, official media said, and five suspects were reported detained. (New York Times)
        See also Tehran Attackers Were from Iran - Senior Iranian Official
    The assailants who attacked targets in Tehran were from Iran, the deputy head of the National Security Council said in an interview on state television."About the identity of the attackers I should say they were from parts of Iran, and had joined Daesh (Islamic State)," Reza Seifollhai said. (Reuters)
  • Nikki Haley Calls UN a 'Bully' against Israel during Meeting with Netanyahu
    Nikki Haley, the American ambassador to the UN, arrived in Israel on Tuesday. She called the UN a "bully" against Israel, during a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem. Netanyahu thanked the envoy for "standing up for Israel" in the UN.
        "You know, all I've done, is tell the truth, and it's kind of overwhelming at the reaction," Haley said in response. She called Israel-bashing at the U.N. "a habit."
        "It was something that we're so used to doing," she said. "And if there's anything I have no patience for is bullies, and the U.N. was being such a bully to Israel, because they could." She added: "We're starting to see a turn in New York. I think they know they can't keep responding in the way they've been responding. They sense that the tone has changed." (JTA)
  • Obama Admin Did Not Publicly Disclose Iran Cyber-Attack during 'Side-Deal' Nuclear Negotiations - Susan Crabtree
    State Department officials determined that Iran hacked their emails and social media accounts during a particularly sensitive week for the nuclear deal in the fall of 2015, according to multiple sources familiar with the details of the cyber attack.
        The attack took place within days of the deal overcoming opposition in Congress in late September that year. That same week, Iranian officials and negotiators for the United States and other world powers were beginning the process of hashing out a series of agreements allowing Tehran to meet previously determined implementation deadlines.
        The Obama administration kept quiet about the cyber-attack and never publicly acknowledged concerns the attack created at State, related agencies, and within the private contractor community that supports their work. (Washington Free Beacon)
  • Turkey Apprpves Legislation for Troop Deployment in Qatar
    Turkey's parliament approved on Wednesday legislation to allow its troops to be deployed to a Turkish military base in Qatar, officials from the ruling AK Party and the nationalist opposition said. The move appears to support the Gulf Arab country when it faces diplomatic and trade isolation from some of the biggest Middle Eastern powers. (Reuters)
News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:
  • ISIS Attacked near Northeastern Israeli Border - Roi Kais
    The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that Tuesday, "unidentified" aircraft attacked ISIS forces at the Syrian-Jordanian-Israeli border. The attacks were directed against the ISIS branch in the Golan, the Khalid ibn al-Walid Army, and at least 12 members of the organization were killed and many were injured. In addition, it was claimed that the focus of the attacks was the village of al-Jamala and areas close to it in the Yarmouk basin.
        It is not clear whether these planes belong to the international coalition against ISIS. (Ynet News)
  • German Mayor Cancels BDS Events Due to Anti-Semitism - Benjamin Weinthal
    Mayor Jurgen Krogmann of the northern German city of Oldenburg pulled the plug Wednesday on two events slated to call for boycott of the Jewish state.
        The events were canceled because of concerns that "a large number of the supporters of BDS [Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions] hold anti-Semitic positions," the municipality said in a statement. "So long as it cannot be clarified that the BDS movement officially and publicly does not question Israel's right to exist, such events cannot take place in city facilities," Krogmann stressed. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Iran Striving for Land Corridor from Tehran to Beirut - Amos Harel
    The most important strategic development in the Middle East these days isn't the Trump administration's decision, which was foreseen, not to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Intelligence services in Israel and the region are now following events along the Syria-Iraq border. In both countries, Shi'ite militias, backed by Iran, are moving toward the border. If they can come together on both sides of the frontier and create a band of control, a longtime Iranian aspiration will be fulfilled: to establish a land corridor through which the Iranians can freely move forces, weapons and supplies from Tehran through Iraq to the Assad regime in Syria, and even west of there to Hizbullah in Lebanon. (Haaretz)
  • Saudi-led Squeeze on Qatar Leaves Hamas Facing Big Questions
    Hamas officials are tight-lipped about the pressure being put on Qatar, not wishing to draw attention to their own dilemma posed by the worst crisis among Gulf Arab for two decades. But Gaza-based analysts concede the situation is precarious.
        One potential fallout is a sharp cut in Qatari funding for Hamas, especially if the emirate wants to show the Saudis and others that it takes seriously the charge that it finances militant groups tied to the Muslim Brotherhood, such as Hamas.
        "It will be difficult for Qatar to resume its financial support for Gaza now because of the assault against it," said Adnan Abu Amer, an independent political analyst in Gaza. "The political support to the entire Palestinian cause is going to be affected, not only by Qatar, but in the Gulf in general, and that may leave the Palestinians alone in the face of Israel."
        "Things are foggy for Hamas now," said Ashraf Abouelhoul, an analyst for Egypt's Al-Ahram newspaper. "The fate of Hamas' leadership in Qatar is also in question. Will they leave Qatar? Where can they go? The Saudi position is very clear: Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood must leave Qatar....Hamas maybe the biggest loser of what is happening with Qatar." (Reuters)
  • Arab States Drawing Up List of Demands for Qatar - Jay Solomon
    Leading Arab states are drawing up a list of demands that Qatar must meet to return to normal diplomatic and economic relations, including steps to significantly scale back the Al Jazeera media network, said Arab and U.S. officials involved in the discussions.
        Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and their allies are also seeking guarantees that Qatar's government will stop its alleged financing of Middle East extremist groups and sever relations with the political leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood, a global Islamist movement, according to these officials.
        Senior U.S. officials said Mr. Trump told the Saudi and Qatari monarchs he is prepared to mediate the dispute between the Arab states. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Rouhani's Second Term: On a Collision Course with the Revolutionary Guards - Lt.-Col. (ret.) Michael (Mickey) Segall
    President Rouhani has no real control over foreign policy and the export of the revolution, and he does not determine Iran's foreign policy goals. Those responsibilities are in the hands of Leader Khamenei and the IRGC.
        The election campaign also put Rouhani on a direct collision course with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). That pertains particularly to sensitive issues such as Iran's missile program, its nuclear program (Rouhani's concessions during the negotiations have not been forgiven), and Iran's regional policy. It pertains to economic issues as well, including the need to subject the IRGC's shadow economy to transparency and taxation. Most of all, however, the collision course has to do with the issues on which Iranians most fervently long for a change - human rights, women's rights, individual freedom, and freedom of expression. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
        See also Iran's Executions Continue After Rouhani's Reelection - Tzvi Kahn
    Iran has executed at least 20 people since President Hassan Rouhani's reelection on May 19. This grim statistic offers continuity with his first term in office, which saw some 3,000 executions. It also suggests that Rouhani - notwithstanding his reputation as a moderate - remains unwilling or unable to reverse the regime's most egregious domestic abuses. (Foundation for Defense of Democracy)

The Arab World Has Never Recovered From the Loss of 1967 - Hisham Milhelm (Foreign Policy )

  • Fifty years after Arab intellectuals started to mercilessly deconstruct their ossified political orders, reactionary and primitive religious structures, and stagnant societies, the Arab world has descended further into darkness. Physical, intellectual, and political desolation has claimed many of the once lively metropolises of the Arab region - Damascus, Aleppo, Baghdad, Mosul, Cairo, and Alexandria.
  • In 1967, as a young man, I witnessed the surprising outburst of enthusiasm that arose in the wake of the collective Arab disbelief and humiliation following the swift, crushing defeat of Egypt, Syria, and Jordan at the hands of Israel in six days. The war marked the death knell for the idea of Arab nationalism embodied by Egypt's then-president, Gamal Abdel Nasser.
  • Today, Cairo has ceased to be the cultural mecca of the Arabs, with none of its universities, research centers, laboratories, publications, studios, or galleries producing meaningful science, knowledge, or art. Beirut, the imperfect liberal oasis of my youth, is meanwhile being suffocated by an ossified, corrupt, and feudal political system and by a predatory, cunning, and ruthless paramilitary force: Hizbullah.
  • In 1979, the Middle East was shaken to its core by three major political earthquakes: the Islamic revolution in Iran, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, and the violent takeover of the Grand Mosque in Mecca.
  • But after decades of atrocious governance, rapacious authoritarianism, predatory economic monopolies, and the hollowing out of civil society, the rickety scaffolding of those new nation-states, built over ancient civilizations like Iraq and Syria, began to fray and disintegrate.
  • In the June 1967 war, three Arab states were defeated and lost territories to Israel, but their very existence was not in jeopardy. Today, the multiple wars raging in Syria and Iraq, as well as those in Libya and Yemen, are more dangerous, as they grind at the weak foundations of the states. The unraveling of Syria may well drag into its maelstrom the fractured country of Lebanon or even Jordan.
  • Despite what U.S. President Donald Trump might wish, there is no incentive for Israel to strike a historic bargain with the Palestinians now or in the near future, since the balance of power is not likely to change. The Palestinians, in turn, have grown dependent on the kindness of strangers from Europe and the United States. The Palestinian leadership exists in stagnation, after wasting many opportunities to pursue a comprehensive and protracted strategy of creative peaceful resistance to occupation that could draw the necessary support from Israelis.

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