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  DAILY ALERT Wednesday,
June 21, 2017

In-Depth Issues:

PA Planning to Hide Payments to Terrorists - Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik (Palestinian Media Watch)
    The Palestinian Authority is planning to hide its $300 million a year in payments to terrorist prisoners and the families of "martyrs" by continuing to reward terror but in a different framework, according to Palestinian sources.
    Hassan Asfour, a former PA minister, told the independent Palestinian news website Fatah Voice on June 3, 2017: "Abbas, despite his initial objection, has begun to examine practical options to comply with the American demand."
    "Among the option of transferring the prisoners' and martyrs' salaries to a 'social insurance' body so that it will look as if it is 'humanitarian and social aid to needy families' and not 'monthly salaries to fighter families.'"

The Growing U.S.-Iran Proxy Fight in Syria - Mohamad Bazzi (Atlantic)
    Since President Trump took office, the U.S. military has struck the Syrian regime or its allies at least five times, in most cases to protect U.S.-backed rebels and their American advisers.
    Trump has been consistent in his belief that Iran, the world's main state sponsor of terrorism, poses the greatest threat to U.S. interests in the Middle East.
    What worries the Trump administration is that Iran and its allies will carve out a "Shiite crescent" extending from Iran, through Iraq and Syria, and into Lebanon, where Hizbullah is the most powerful political and military force.

Video: Israel Sends Buses to Enable Palestinian Muslims to Visit Al-Aqsa Mosque on Ramadan - Jerusalem City Councilwoman Fleur Hassan Nahoum (Zionist Federation-UK)
    At the Kalandia crossing, where Palestinians from the northern West Bank cross into Jerusalem, on the third Friday of Ramadan there are an enormous number of buses that have been sent by the Israel Ministry of Transportation and the Jerusalem Municipality to take Muslims to the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
    Israel is accused of not allowing freedom of religion, but it's quite the opposite. Israel is the only country in the Middle East that has real freedom of religion and which actively facilitates that freedom.
    Hundreds of buses will transport tens of thousands of Palestinian men, women, and children to pray during their festival at the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Robert Kraft-Led Trip to Israel Has Profound Impact on Hall of Famers - Mike Reiss (ESPN)
    18 Pro Football Hall of Famers joined New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft on a trip to Israel on June 13-21.
    Each day, the Hall of Famers heard from various people in Israel, such as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday.
    "You could hear just really how proud he is of his state and how resilient and tough they are," said Andre Reed.
    Jerome Bettis said, "One thing that was resounding was the resolve of the Jewish people."
    "The message that you get...was their love with the state of Israel, their country. But also the understanding that they were a people who were bashed and beaten, and they were able to rise and overcome it. You get that message with every single person you meet."

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Suicide Bomber Shot at Brussels Railway Station
    Belgian soldiers shot a would-be suicide bomber at Brussels central train station on Tuesday. The Belgian newspaper La Libre Belgique, quoting prosecutors, reported that the man was wearing a bomb belt and detonated a device when he attracted the attention of soldiers in the station. He died, but no one else was injured.
        Nicolas Van Herrewegen, a railway sorting agent, told AFP that the man "cried 'Allahu Akbar' and he blew up a wheeled suitcase."  (BBC News)
  • U.S. Shoots Down Iranian Drone in Syria - W.J. Hennigan
    A U.S. F-15 fighter jet Tuesday shot down an armed Iranian drone supporting Syrian government forces in southern Syria. The Shahed-129 drone was approaching a military base at the Syrian town of Tanf that U.S., British and Norwegian special operations forces use to train and equip rebel groups fighting the Syrian government and Islamic State. On June 8, a U.S. fighter jet shot down another Iranian-made drone that dropped a bomb near forces patrolling the base at Tanf. (Los Angeles Times)
  • World's Democracies Snub Annual Israel-Bashing Debate at UN Human Rights Council in Geneva - Ben Cohen
    The world's democracies collectively snubbed the UN Human Rights Council's annual condemnation of Israel in Geneva on Monday, when none of their representatives attended the council's debate on the "Human rights situation in Palestine."
        Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, said their absence signaled a "significant stand by the Western democracies against prejudice." He observed that "the U.S., Canada, Australia, all European Union member states, Japan, and other established democracies have boycotted this debate" because it "singles out one specific state, the Jewish state, for differential and discriminatory treatment."  (Algemeiner)
        See also below Observations: Haley Calls for UN to Designate Hamas as Terrorist Organization (U.S. Mission to the UN)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • IDF: It's Israel's Interest to Provide Power to Gaza, But Not While Hamas Digs Terror Tunnels - Gili Cohen
    IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot said Tuesday: "We have an interest that there will be electricity in the [Gaza] Strip 24-hours-a-day, that there will be clean water and employment....That's an Israeli interest. But it seems to me like a paradox that we would pay for the...electricity while they make resources available to dig tunnels into Israeli territory."
        He also noted: "The current focus on defeating ISIS misses the point. There is an interest to push Iran back to within Iran and reduce its regional influence."  (Ha'aretz)
  • Kahlon: Palestinians Not Ready for Peace Deal - Barak Ravid
    Israeli Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon said Tuesday: "Everyone understands that in the end there will be two states....At the end of this process, that's what will happen in our region. I don't see it happening tomorrow....I think that the Palestinians aren't ready for a political agreement. I got that impression from conversations with them....They themselves say: Let's get through these years. We have internal problems, problems with Gaza, etc. I don't see them going now in the direction of an agreement."  (Ha'aretz)
  • PA Education Minister Resists Calls for Curriculum of Peace and Tolerance
    Assurances were made that there will be significant improvements in the Palestinian school curriculum that teaches children to become expendable martyrs, reject negotiations and embrace commitment to continuous war. However, PA Education Minister Sabri Saidam appears dead set on maintaining the radical curriculum. The curriculum is carefully crafted by the Palestinian Ministry of Education to alternately combine violence with international pressure against Israel.
        Saidam posted on his official Facebook page last Friday a status that read: "May Allah have mercy on the Martyrs of Jerusalem and all of Palestine" - referring to the terrorists responsible for the murder of border policewoman Hadas Malka in Jerusalem that same day. The PA Minister of Education himself promotes martyrdom. (Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education)
  • IDF Soldiers Foil Palestinian Knife Attack - Gili Cohen and Yotam Berger
    A knife-wielding Palestinian from the West Bank charged at IDF soldiers near the village of a-Ram, north of Jerusalem, on Tuesday before being shot dead. (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Poll: Gazans Want the PA to Take Over - David Pollock
    Reliable data from a new survey conducted in Gaza on May 16-25, 2017, by a professional, independent Palestinian pollster demonstrate that only 14% of Gazans self-identify as Hamas supporters. Fatah garners 41% of Gazans' self-professed affiliation. 77% of Gazans agree that "the PA should send officials and security officers to Gaza, to take over the administration there."
        80% of Gazans want Hamas to "preserve a cease-fire with Israel. 62% say that "Hamas should stop calling for Israel's destruction, and instead accept a permanent two-state solution based on the 1967 lines."
        2/3 of Gazans report a monthly family income of under $330, compared with just 8% of West Bankers. This helps explain why 69% of Gazans want more jobs in Israel. If the Palestinian leadership is able to negotiate a two-state solution, 47% of Gazans - up 13 points since 2015 - said "that should end the conflict." The writer, a fellow at The Washington Institute, served as senior advisor for the Broader Middle East at the State Department. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • U.S. Abstention on UN Security Council Resolution 2334 on Israel's Settlement Activities Distances Peace
    UN Security Council Resolution 2334 reflects the modern rise of Palestinian lawfare: using law "to achieve...warfighting objective[s]" against Israel, according to a confidant of PA President Mahmoud Abbas. Having failed over the last half century to shift the balance of power through negotiations and armed resistance, the PA has turned to new battlefronts - including the Security Council and the International Criminal Court (ICC) - where it deploys international law to advance its territorial claims and further Israel's political isolation.
        Prior to 2334, the U.S. had consistently opposed PA lawfare. Its abstention on 2334 constitutes an unwelcome reversal, likely to entrench PA maximalism and thwart America's stated aim of "mov[ing] the parties closer to an agreement." By abstaining on 2334, the U.S. countenanced Palestinian irredentism. The result was to render peace an ever-distant dream. (Harvard Law Review)
  • Clarity in Fighting Terrorism - Amb. Mark Regev
    On Friday in Jerusalem, three Palestinian terrorists perpetrated a coordinated terror attack, using automatic weapons and knives. One of the terrorists stabbed to death Israeli border police officer Hadas Malka. The Palestinian Authority, headed by President Mahmoud Abbas, will now bestow generous salaries upon the terrorists' families, thus creating an incentive for the next attack.
        In London on Sunday, we witnessed people taking to the streets for the annual "Al Quds Day March." The flags of the terrorist group Hizbullah were proudly on display. Hizbullah takes its orders from the ayatollahs in Iran. No amount of misreporting or disclaimers can change the fact that terrorism is terrorism. Terrorism must be condemned in London. Terrorism must be condemned in Jerusalem. The writer is the Israeli Ambassador to the UK. (Jewish News-UK)

Haley Calls for UN to Designate Hamas as Terrorist Organization (U.S. Mission to the UN)

U.S. UN Ambassador Nikki Haley told the Security Council on Tuesday:

  • "Hamas is one of these forces of terror that yet again showed its true colors to the world earlier this month. It is a terrorist organization so ruthless that it will not hesitate to put the lives of innocent children on the line. A few weeks ago, UN officials discovered a tunnel underneath two schools run by the UN in Gaza. It was the exact type of tunnel that Hamas has used for years. These tunnels are what Hamas uses to smuggle in the materials they need to make rockets. Or to sneak into Israel to attack civilians or kidnap them in the dead of night."
  • "What is happening to the people of Gaza is heartbreaking. And it is so preventable. Gaza is prime real estate on the Mediterranean Sea. It has enormous potential. But the potential is being squandered by the terrorists who govern it."
  • "Make no mistake, Israel did not cause the problems in Gaza, even though it is often the usual suspect around here. Ten years ago, every Israeli soldier was withdrawn from Gaza, and for the last 10 years, there has not been a single Israeli settler in Gaza....We should never forget the responsibility for this humanitarian crisis rests squarely with the one group that actually controls Gaza: Hamas."
  • "I saw how this works firsthand. I walked through one of the terrorist tunnels coming out of the Gaza Strip, which Israel discovered and since secured. The top and sides of this tunnel were lined with solid, sturdy concrete. We know how badly Palestinians in Gaza need concrete to rebuild their homes. But here, in this tunnel, we see how Hamas uses the concrete Gaza receives - not to help the people, but to fortify its terrorist infrastructure."
  • "This Security Council must stand up to condemn Hamas' terror....We should condemn Hamas in this Council's resolutions and statements. We should name Hamas as the group responsible when rockets are fired from Gaza, or when fresh tunnels are discovered. And we should designate Hamas as a terrorist organization in a resolution, with consequences for anyone who continues to support it. That is how we can help build a more peaceful Middle East."

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