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  DAILY ALERT Thursday,
June 22, 2017

In-Depth Issues:

FBI Investigating Michigan Airport Stabbing as Terrorism - Shimon Prokupecz (CNN)
    A Canadian man, Amor Ftouhi, 50, yelled "Allahu akbar" before he stabbed police officer Lt. Jeff Neville in the neck at the Flint, Michigan, airport in what the FBI is investigating as a terrorist act.
    According to the criminal complaint, after stabbing Neville, Ftouhi continued to yell "Allah" several times. He also said something similar to "you have killed people in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, and we are all going to die."
    Authorities who interviewed Fthoui after the attack said, "he has a hatred for the United States."

Spain Arrests Radicalized Moroccan with Suicide Bomb Manual (Reuters)
    Spanish police arrested a 32-year-old Moroccan in Madrid on Tuesday who they said was "highly radicalized," had a large collection of extreme Islamist material including a manual for suicide bombers, and tried to recruit others to carry out an Islamist attack in Spain.

Israel and Jordan Grow Closer as Iranian Foothold in Southern Syria Grows Stronger - Amos Harel (Ha'aretz)
    Israel and Jordan are concerned about the growing Iranian influence in Syria and Iraq.
    They are also concerned that Iran will deploy forces from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and Shi'ite militias, particularly Hizbullah, in the vicinity of Syria's borders with Jordan and Israel.
    According to press reports, Israel has provided Jordan with intelligence and security assistance in the face of threats by Islamic State and rising Iranian hegemony in the region.

New Israeli Drone Dome Intercepts Hostile UAVs Using Laser Beams - Amir Rapaport (Israel Defense)
    At the Paris Air Show this week, Israel's Rafael Advanced Defense Systems unveiled its new laser-interception system designed to provide air defense against hostile drones - the Drone Dome.
    The system detects, identifies, and tracks hostile drones and uses laser technology to incinerate the drone.

Germany to Send Fighter Jets to Train in Israel - Gili Cohen (Ha'aretz)
    Almost 70 foreign planes from nine countries, along with hundreds of pilots, will take part in the biennial Blue Flag exercise in Israel in November.
    Germany, one of the participating countries, will for the first time send fighter jets to the exercise, alongside an aerial refueling plane, pilots and senior officials from its army and air force.
    In addition, India will send combat planes, France will send its Rafale fighter aircraft, and Greece, Italy, Poland and the U.S. will also send planes and crews.
    As part of the exercise, foreign crews will practice handling the threat of advanced surface-to-air antiaircraft missiles.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. Says Israeli-Palestinian Peace "Will Take Time"
    Senior Advisor to the President Jared Kushner, Assistant to the President and Special Representative for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt, and U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman met Wednesday in Jerusalem with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel and his senior advisors. The U.S. officials and Israeli leadership underscored that forging peace will take time and stressed the importance of doing everything possible to create an environment conducive to peacemaking. (White House)
        See also U.S. Insisting Palestinians End Payments to Families of "Martyrs" Who Attacked Israelis
    A senior Palestinian official said that a meeting with U.S. envoy Jason Greenblatt on Tuesday had not gone well and became tense over payments to the Martyrs' Fund for families of Palestinian militants who were either imprisoned or killed while committing attacks on Israelis. The official said the Americans "are buying" Netanyahu's complaints about Palestinian incitement, and that Greenblatt was insisting on an end to the payments. (AP-New York Daily News)
  • U.S. on Collision Course with Syria and Iran - Karen DeYoung and Greg Jaffe
    Trump administration officials, anticipating the defeat of the Islamic State in its Syrian capital of Raqqa, are planning for the next stage of the war, a fight that will bring them into direct conflict with Syrian government and Iranian forces in eastern Syria. Unprecedented recent U.S. strikes against regime and Iranian-backed militia forces have been intended as warnings to Syrian President Assad and Tehran that they will not be allowed to impede the Americans and their local proxy forces.
        Senior White House officials have been pushing the Pentagon to establish outposts in the region to prevent a Syrian or Iranian military presence that would interfere with the U.S. military's ability to break the Islamic State's hold on the Euphrates River valley and into Iraq - where the militants could regroup and continue to plan terrorist operations against the West. In a report Wednesday, the Institute for the Study of War said that the Islamic State in Raqqa had already relocated "the majority of its leadership, media, chemical weapons, and external attack cells" south to the town of Mayadin in Deir al-Zour province.
        Senior White House officials involved in Syria policy see what's happening through a lens focused as much on Iran as on the Islamic State. The Iranian goal, said one, "seems to control lines of communication and try to block us from doing what our commanders and planners have judged all along is necessary to complete the ISIS campaign."  (Washington Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Blair: Time to Break from Previous Peacemaking "Theology" - Herb Keinon
    Former British Prime Minister and Quartet Middle East envoy Tony Blair advocated a wider regional approach to solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at the Herzliya Conference on Wednesday. Blair called for a step-by step political process where confidence is built over time.
        "This is not the same as so-called 'interim solutions' is rather a recognition that without an organic evolution towards statehood, we are left with an 'all or nothing' position which so far has actually resulted not in 'all' but in 'nothing,'" he said.
        "I can tell you frankly from the conversations and interactions I have with those in the region...that this regional approach is now, virtually by consensus, accepted as the right road to travel," he said. "There is goodwill, a real sense of shared purpose and an appetite."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Turkey Aims to Tighten Muslim Grip on Temple Mount - Nadav Shragai
    Turkish foundations and organizations are funneling millions of dollars to eastern Jerusalem and the Temple Mount area to strengthen "Jerusalem's Muslim heritage and character." A portion of the funds are provided by the Turkish government, which funds the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA). Turkey's allies in the city are the head of the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel, Sheikh Raed Salah, and the former mufti of Jerusalem, Sheikh Akram Sabri, both bitter enemies of the State of Israel.
        Turkish national flags are on display everywhere in the Old City, while the intensive Turkish activity has eroded Jordan's influence and stature. Within the framework of its peace accord with Israel, Jordan was promised seniority status over Jerusalem's Islamic holy sites. (Israel Hayom)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Saudi Arabia's New Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman Is Good News for Israel and U.S. - Zvi Bar'el
    Many expect that in the not-too-distant future, Saudi King Salman, who is ill, will step down and hand the scepter to his son, the new crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, 32. Bin Salman's firm anti-Iranian positions make him an important partner for Israel and the U.S.  He also agrees with America on the need to thwart Russian influence in the region; to topple President Bashar Assad's regime in Syria; and to act firmly against ISIS and other radical organizations, from the Muslim Brotherhood to Hizbullah. During the last two years, several Arab websites have reported that bin Salman also met with top Israelis. (Ha'aretz)
  • Unlikely Allies: Israel and the Saudis - John R. Bradley
    Israel's Channel 2 interviewed Saudi policy analyst Abed al-Hamid Hakim last week in Jeddah. After word of the interview got out in Saudi Arabia, there was no serious backlash. Having worked for a number of years in the heart of the government-controlled media in Jeddah, I know that such an interview could never have taken place without the go-ahead from the very highest levels of the Saudi regime.
        An equally unprecedented column about the Jewish state duly appeared in the Saudi daily Al Riyadh, which is closely guided and monitored by the government. After praising the peace accords Israel has signed with Egypt and Jordan, Musaid al-Asimi wrote that there was no reason for Arabs to "unjustifiably demonize" Israel. Iran, not Israel, he concluded, must henceforth be considered Saudi Arabia's regional enemy. (Spectator-UK)
  • How Fear Changed Saudi Arabia - Walter Russell Mead
    Saudi Arabia used to be one of the most cautious players in the world of diplomacy. Not anymore. In the past three weeks, the Saudis have launched a coordinated diplomatic offensive against neighboring Qatar, hinted at new ties with Israel, and turned up the heat in their confrontation with Iran. Meanwhile, they continue to bomb Yemen to support their local allies in that country.
        So what is behind the new Saudi activism? Fear. It's an emotion that comes naturally to an oil-rich kingdom with a relatively small population in a neighborhood full of predatory rivals. For years the Saudis felt they could take shelter behind a strong and confident America. In Riyadh, the Age of Insecurity began when President Obama's outreach to Iran - and his willingness to overlook its unprecedented regional aggression in his quest for a nuclear deal - left the Saudis feeling isolated and betrayed.
        As American politics becomes less predictable, countries that have grounded their national strategy on the stability of an American alliance must reassess their options. The writer is professor of foreign affairs and humanities at Bard College. (Wall Street Journal)

U.S. General John Allen's Plan for Israel Is Dangerous - Maj. Gen. (res.) Gershon Hacohen (Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies-Bar-Ilan University)

  • The Trump White House is currently reexamining the Allen Plan, an Obama-era proposal that calls for a Palestinian state along the 1967 lines with no IDF presence in the West Bank whatsoever.
  • In lieu of Israel's demands regarding defensible borders, which include an Israeli military presence in the Jordan Valley to ensure the Palestinian state's demilitarization, the plan proposes a varied and complex security solution that includes a U.S. military force that would operate in the Jordan Valley.
  • The basic problem is the notion that Israel will rely for its security on foreign forces. Recall that before the Six-Day War, the security guarantee given by President Eisenhower to Ben-Gurion after the 1956 Sinai Campaign evaporated.
  • Do we want Israel to subsist under foreign protection? Or do we want Israel to be a homeland in which we alone are responsible for our own security and sovereignty?
  • Should the IDF evacuate the territories completely, as envisaged by this plan, the Palestinians would certainly employ their carefully honed talent for non-accountability and ambiguity. They would be able to let "rogue" forces do their work for them, and avoid taking responsibility. What then?
  • Moreover, there is no way to guarantee real demilitarization without a constant effort to keep the territory fully isolated and to operate within it.

    The writer served in the IDF for 42 years, commanding troops in battle on the Egyptian and Syrian fronts.

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