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  DAILY ALERT Wednesday,
August 16, 2017

In-Depth Issues:

Abbas Congratulates North Korean Leader - Dov Lieber (Times of Israel)
    PA President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday congratulated North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un on his country's "Liberation Day," the official PA news agency WAFA reported.
    Abbas expressed his appreciation for North Korea's "firm solidarity in support of the rights of the [Palestinian] people" and for the "historic relationship between Palestine and North Korea."

Report: Iran and Russia Violated UN Weapons Sanctions - Benjamin Weinthal (Jerusalem Post)
    Citing an anonymous source in Western intelligence services, the German newspaper Welt am Sonntag reported Sunday that Tehran had secretly sent some components of heavy offensive weapons to Russia for maintenance via Syrian territory in an alleged violation of  UN Security Council Resolution 2231.
    See also Text: UN Security Council Resolution 2231 (2015) (UN Security Council)

Palestinians Say Honeymoon with U.S. Is Over - Bassam Tawil (Gatestone Institute)
    As U.S. envoys Greenblatt and Kushner prepare to return to the Middle East, Palestinians are saying that they have lost confidence in the Trump administration, accusing the U.S. of being "biased" in favor of Israel - as they have done with all previous administrations.
    A statement issued on Aug. 13 by the "National and Islamic Factions," a coalition of various Palestinian groups, including Abbas' own ruling Fatah faction, accused the Trump administration of "incitement" against the Palestinians and dismissed as a "mirage" the talk about a "regional peace" that would see Israel and some Arab countries sign peace treaties "behind the Palestinians' back."

Israel Aerospace Industries Hunts for U.S. Acquisitions - John Reed (Financial Times-UK)
    Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) plans to expand its U.S. operations in the wake of America's $38 billion, 10-year, military aid package for Israel which gives preference to U.S. manufacturers, IAI CEO Joseph Weiss said in an interview.
    IAI already has a subsidiary in Maryland, Elta Systems, which makes radar systems. Stark Aerospace, based in Mississippi, makes unmanned aerial vehicles, electro-optics, and radar equipment for the Israeli group.
    "IAI want to produce in the U.S. products whose final destination is the Israel Defense Forces," said Amir Rappoport, publisher of Israel Defense.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Israel: Iran Building Long-Range Rocket Factory in Syria
    Israel Channel 2 television reported Tuesday that Iran is building a facility in northwest Syria to manufacture long-range rockets, and showed satellite images of the site under construction. The report compared images of buildings at a rocket factory near Tehran to structures at the Syrian site and said there was a strong resemblance between them. (Reuters)
  • U.S.: Iran Cannot Use Nuclear Deal to Hold the World Hostage
    U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said Tuesday: "Today, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani threatened that Iran would break its commitments under the JCPOA if the United States chooses to take additional steps to hold Iran accountable for its destabilizing behavior outside of the JCPOA."
        "Iran cannot be allowed to use the nuclear deal to hold the world hostage. Iran, under no circumstances, can ever be allowed to have nuclear weapons. At the same time, however, we must also continue to hold Iran responsible for its missile launches, support for terrorism, disregard for human rights, and violations of UN Security Council resolutions. The nuclear deal must not become 'too big to fail'."  (U.S. Mission to the UN)
        See also Iran's President Threatens to Restart Nuclear Program - Thomas Erdbrink (New York Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel Uncovers Hamas Terrorist Payment Network - Yoav Zitun and Yishai Porat
    The Israel Security Agency and police forces uncovered a network of money transfers from Hamas in Gaza to the families of convicted terrorists, including the mother of Tarek Abu-Arafa, who took part in the 1994 kidnapping and murder of IDF soldier Nachson Wachsman. The purpose of the money transfers was to encourage more terrorism. (Ynet News)
  • PLO Condemns U.S. Lawmakers for Targeting Payments to Terrorists - Itamar Marcus
    At a meeting of the PLO Executive Committee chaired by Mahmoud Abbas, the PLO condemned the members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for their vote in favor of the Taylor Force Act, which calls to cut all funding to the PA if it continues paying salaries to terrorists and allowances to their families. The Palestinian Authority sees all Israelis as legitimate targets and therefore rewards the terrorists and families of those who are imprisoned or killed, spending $355 million a year on these payments. (Palestinian Media Watch)
  • Abbas' Political Battles Escalate - Yoni Ben-Menachem
    Reliable Fatah sources say that PA President Mahmoud Abbas' deteriorating health, coupled with the alliance Hamas has forged with his bitter political rival Muhammad Dahlan, have forced him to focus on the domestic Palestinian front. Abbas has also come to realize that no salvation for the Palestinians is on the way from the Trump administration, which, in his view, is biased in Israel's favor.
        Abbas, whose political days are numbered, is taking off the gloves against Israel, Hamas, and Dahlan. He is also planning, next month, to ask the UN General Assembly to grant "Palestine" full UN membership and to appeal to the International Criminal Court regarding the settlements. The writer is a veteran Arab affairs and diplomatic commentator for Israel Radio and Television. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Missile Countermeasures: North Korea's Threat, Israel's Experience - Michael J. Armstrong
    Israel is a leader in missile countermeasures because of its neighbors. It has experienced rocket fire for more than a decade from Hamas in Gaza and Hizbullah in Lebanon. The country hasn't forgotten Iraq's 1991 Scud missile strikes. It also worries about future attacks from Syria and Iran.
        Israel has consequently developed a set of countermeasures that provide it with a layered defense. Iron Dome intercepts short-range rockets, David's Sling handles medium-range missiles and Arrow targets long-range missiles. Arrow claimed its first interception this year, while Iron Dome has engaged hundreds of rockets since 2011. The writer is an associate professor of operations research at Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada. (UPI)
  • U.S. Should Work to Block Further Iranian Expansion in Syria - Dennis Ross
    Russia now has an air base in Syria. It is expanding its naval facility at Tartus. It has established an air defense umbrella in Syria. Today, every state in the area needs to reckon with Moscow.
        At this point, the Assad regime with the manpower of Hizbullah and Iran's other Shi'ite militia proxies are extending their control in Syria, fulfilling Iran's desire to create a land bridge from Iran through Iraq and Syria to Lebanon.
        The U.S. needs to ensure that Iran and the Shi'ite militias don't keep expanding their presence in Syria. It should convey to Russia that cooperation in Syria depends on the Assad regime and the Shi'ite militias not expanding from where they are now. The writer, a former special assistant to President Obama, is counselor at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. (Asharq al-Awsat-UK)
  • When Will the EU Stop Supporting Anti-Israel Incitement? - Itai Reuveni
    On Aug. 4, Israel's Channel 2 exposed Palestinian Ma'an TV's post of a music video and article titled "Song in Hebrew in Defense of Al Aqsa Mosque." The video shows footage of terrorist attacks committed against Israelis, accompanied by a Hebrew song with the lyrics: "I will clean my country of every Jew / I will strive for it with all my being."
        NGO Monitor research shows that Ma'an is currently the recipient of a 427,200 euro three-year grant (2016-2019) from the EU's Peacebuilding Initiative. This funding is provided regardless of the actions of members of the European Parliament, who on three occasions alerted the European Commission to Ma'an's glorification of terrorism and Holocaust denial.
        Moreover, dozens of EU-funded NGOs promote boycott campaigns against Israel. The writer is a senior researcher at NGO Monitor. (Jerusalem Post)

EU Support for Palestinian Security Reforms Has Not Increased Prospects for a Democratic and Viable Palestinian State as Intended - Filip Ejdus and Alaa Tartir (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace)

  • The international community fears that another intense round of violence and confrontation in the West Bank could, as in the past, threaten billions of dollars of investments in the Palestinian state-building project over the last decade. The international donor community remembers well when EU-funded premises, equipment, and PA infrastructure were flattened during the second intifada.
  • The EU, which is the biggest donor to the PA, has invested in the EU Police Mission for the Palestinian Territories (EUPOL COPPS), which prides itself on reforming and overhauling major elements of the Palestinian security establishment and enhancing effective policing.
  • From the political point of view, however, the mission has achieved little. Over the last decade, the mission has indeed carved the EU a niche in Palestinian security sector reform and increased its visibility in the Middle East peace process. Nevertheless, the EU's strategy to use EUPOL COPPS to pave the way for a democratic and viable Palestinian state by building its security capacities has fallen short.
  • While the EU generally refrains from supporting security services with a reputation for human rights abuse, such as the U.S.-sponsored Preventive Security agency and the General Intelligence Service of the PA, the EU-supported Palestinian Civil Police (PCP) has also been implicated in the excessive use of force against peaceful demonstrations.
  • If the current authoritarian backslide of the PA continues, the EU and its mission will be increasingly criticized for financing, professionalizing, and legitimizing a highly politicized and democratically unaccountable police force. This is far from the EU's envisioned approach to security sector reforms.

    Filip Ejdus is Marie Curie Fellow at the School of Sociology, Politics, and International Studies at the University of Bristol. Alaa Tartir is a research associate at the Center on Conflict, Development, and Peacebuilding (CCDP) at the Graduate Institute, Geneva.

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