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  DAILY ALERT Thursday,
August 3, 2017

In-Depth Issues:

Russia Deploys Troops in Southern Syria - Roi Kais (Ynet News)
    The Syrian army has withdrawn from Daraa and Quneitra in southern Syria and was replaced by the Russian military, news websites close to the Syrian opposition have reported.
    Russia has erected a military base in the northern suburbs of Daraa.

Iran Brags about Killing Americans - Michael Rubin (Commentary)
    Brig.-Gen. Esmail Qaani, deputy commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Qods Force, bragged to a group of Iranian veterans about how little the U.S. has been able to do to counter the growth of Iranian influence.
    He also bragged about how "America has suffered more losses from us than we have suffered losses from them."
    It was the Qods Force that smuggled explosively-formed, armor-penetrating projectiles into Iraq for insurgents to murder Americans.
    The writer, a former Pentagon official who dealt with Middle East issues, is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.

European-Funded NGOs Promote Palestinians' "Right" to Be Paid for Terror (NGO Monitor)
    As a number of European governments have joined the U.S. in demanding that the Palestinian Authority end its policy of paying salaries to convicted terrorists, a number of Palestinian non-governmental organizations (NGOs) receiving European government funding have asserted that terrorists have a "right" to receive salaries.
    These European-supported NGOs include the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR), Al-Haq, Hurryyat and Al-Dameer.

IDF Upgrades Siren System to Pinpoint Incoming Rocket Alerts - Shoshanna Solomon (Times of Israel)
    When a rocket penetrates into Israeli territory, sensors deployed along the borders send out alerts that set off alarms around the country.
    Prior to 2014, Israel was divided into 300 regions for alerts by the Home Front Command, while the newest technology divides the country into 3,000 sections, thus allowing for more selective alerts.

Poll: 3/4 of Israelis Don't See Peace on the Horizon - Ephraim Yaar and Tamar Hermann (Peace Index)
    The Peace Index survey by Tel Aviv University and the Israel Democracy Institute, conducted on July 25-27, 2017, asked Jewish and Arab Israelis, "Do you believe that negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority will lead in the coming years to peace?"
    22% said yes, 75% said no.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S., European Allies Urge UN to Take Action after Iranian Rocket Launch - Michelle Nichols
    The U.S., Britain, France and Germany warned the UN on Wednesday that Iran had taken "a threatening and provocative step" by testing a rocket capable of delivering satellites into orbit and asked the UN chief to investigate. In a report submitted to the UN Security Council's Iran sanctions committee, the four countries described the July 27 launch as inconsistent with a 2015 UN Security Council resolution.
        "The technologies necessary for the conception, the fabrication and the launch of space launch vehicles are closely related to those of ballistic missiles, in particular to those of an intercontinental ballistic missile," the four powers wrote. "We call on Iran to immediately cease all activities related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons."  (Reuters)
  • Israel Completes New Stretch of Security Barrier Sealing Southern West Bank
    The Israel Defense Ministry said Wednesday it has completed a further 42-km. (26-mile) stretch of the West Bank security barrier between Tarkumia and Meitar. Israel says the barrier, which it began building after a wave of Palestinian attacks in 2002, is crucial for its security. (AFP)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Palestinian Stabs Israeli at Supermarket - Revital Hovel
    An Israeli man was critically wounded in a stabbing attack at a supermarket in Yavneh by Ismail Abu Aram, 19, an employee of the supermarket from the West Bank village of Yatta. The victim was stabbed numerous times in the head, neck and chest. (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel Uncovers Gaza-Turkey-West Bank Terror Money Trail - Anna Ahronheim
    A money laundering channel used by Hamas officials in Gaza to transfer funds to the West Bank via Turkey has been exposed, the Israel Security Agency said Thursday. "The exposure of the infrastructure indicates the constant motivation of Hamas activists in Turkey and the Gaza Strip to increase terror from Hamas in the West Bank," the agency said. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Moderate Sunni Arab States Will Not Force Palestinians to Make Peace - Jonathan S. Tobin
    Many in the U.S. foreign policy establishment believe the influence of moderate Sunni Arab states that want to normalize relations with Israel can help to steer the Palestinians toward a two-state solution. But as the recent crisis over the Temple Mount demonstrates, instead of Jordan and its moderate monarch leading the Palestinians to be more reasonable, it was the Palestinian street - fueled by lies spread by the Palestinian Authority and Hamas - that forced Jordan to escalate the conflict.
        As long as the political culture of the Palestinians and the Arab and Muslim worlds is dominated by a belief in Israel's illegitimacy and hatred for Jews, even the best-intentioned Arab leaders will find themselves incapable of breaking free of this dynamic.
        The toxicity of the rejectionist Palestinian ideology was far more powerful than Jordan's strategic interests or the desire of its ruler - and those of other moderate Arab governments - for peace. That's why the expectation that the Saudis, Jordan or Egypt can exert enough influence to force the Palestinians to make peace is so unrealistic. (Israel Hayom)
  • The Beginning of Operation Good Neighbor on the Syrian Border - Lt. Col. A [name withheld]
    At 3:00 a.m. in the freezing cold of the Golan Heights, we noticed them walking along the fence. Then 25 Syrian children, holding their mothers' hands, passed through the gates. You could see the suspicion in their eyes as they met IDF soldiers for the very first time, we who had been so demonized by their culture. After many conversations with Syrians, I have come to realize that up until the day they received our help, many Syrians genuinely believed IDF soldiers had horns and tails.
        Since then, every day and every night, 24/7, we operate a system that does only good. We provide flour, baby food, medical supplies and medicine in huge quantities. We have been given the opportunity to reshape reality and to be remembered as the ones who did the right thing. That very first moment at the fence was historic - a moment of Israeli pride and Jewish compassion.
        A week into the winter, during a severe rainstorm, we decided, at the request of the Syrians, to go forward with a plan to take in sick children although the harsh weather dictated otherwise. At the end, I stood with a Syrian doctor in one of the villages in the area, the two of us soaking wet. "I told you it would be difficult," I said. He replied, "Every day hundreds of bombs fall on the Syrian people - a little rain will not break us. Every time you accept us, we will come."
        The author is the commander of the IDF's Operation Good Neighbor, providing humanitarian aid to Syrians harmed in their country's civil war. (Times of Israel)
  • Book Review: The Rise and Reign of Mahmoud Abbas - Adam Rubenstein
    Grant Rumley of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and Amir Tibon of the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz are the authors of The Last Palestinian: The Rise and Reign of Mahmoud Abbas. They portray Abbas as a corrupt strongman who has overstayed his welcome. By 2009, the ascendant economist-turned-reformer Salam Fayyad, who had been friends with, and a deputy to, Abbas, recognized the need to end corruption in the Palestinian Authority. The two began to feud.
        Abbas "would become so obsessed with [Fayyad's] challenging his rule that he would attack anyone associated with Fayyad's reform movement." Abbas seems unwilling to reform the "corruption and nepotism - which [are] rampant and deeply ingrained in Ramallah."
        After his loss to Hamas in the Palestinian legislative elections of 2006, Abbas responded by moves to internationalize the conflict with Israel, boosting his standing at home and pushing peace further away.
        Abbas' story, the authors argue, is a tragic one. He appeared to be the man with the greatest political potential on the Palestinian side to make peace with his neighbors. Instead, he has turned into a power-consolidating silencer of dissent who eulogizes some of the more contemptible impulses of Palestinian nationalism. (Wall Street Journal)

The Temple Mount Crisis Ended Trump's Palestinian Honeymoon - Raphael Ahren (Times of Israel)

  • President Trump and his special envoy, Jason Greenblatt, had been going to great lengths to show their intention to approach the Israeli-Palestinian conflict evenhandedly. But in recent days, the Palestinians' relationship with the Trump administration, which started off surprisingly amicably, has soured - largely in the wake of last month's tensions over the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
  • In leaked comments, President Trump's Middle East point man, Jared Kushner, seemed sympathetic to Israel's position on the crisis, while a senior Palestinian source told Al-Monitor, "Greenblatt picked a side and represented Netanyahu throughout the crisis."
  • Kushner, speaking to Congressional interns this week, defended Israel's decision to erect metal detectors following the terror attack at the Temple Mount as "not an irrational thing to do," noting that two Israelis had been killed with guns brought into the site.
  • The next thing that happened is that the Palestinians "start inciting" and claiming Israel wanted to change the status quo, said Kushner. "And Israel was saying we don't want anything to do with that, we just want to make sure people are safe." Kushner went on to criticize Palestinian clergy who told worshipers their prayers wouldn't be accepted if they passed through the Israeli metal detectors.
  • Discussing an eventual peace deal, Kushner said, "We're thinking about what the right end state is, and we're trying to work with the parties very quietly to see if there's a solution. And there may be no solution."
  • A senior official in Jerusalem noted on Wednesday that the Palestinians "are seeking every excuse not to engage in genuine direct peace negotiations."

        See also Transcript: Jared Kushner on Middle East Peace (Wired)

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