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  DAILY ALERT Wednesday,
October 11, 2017

In-Depth Issues:

Palestinian Rivals Talk Unity but Show Divisions - Isabel Kershner (New York Times)
    At the Palestinian unity talks that began on Tuesday in Cairo, the delegation representing Hamas is led by a man accused of plotting to overthrow the president of the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas.
    Ghassan Khatib, a Palestinian political scientist at Birzeit University in the West Bank, said, "Hamas cannot change its politics in order to be part of the PLO," led by Abbas. At the same time, "the PLO cannot accept Hamas without it changing its policies, or it will lose its international recognition."
    "What is most probably going to happen is much, much less than reconciliation, but some little bit of progress beyond the current reality."
    Shalom Harari, a former senior adviser on Palestinian affairs to Israel's Defense Ministry, said, "the maximum that can be achieved is an interim arrangement with some changes at the crossings - a mini reconciliation."

Europe Expects More Terror Attacks, Even as IS Falters - Jamie Dettmer (VOA News)
    With the collapse of Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, French and Belgian officials don't believe attacks will stop in Europe, at least not in the foreseeable future.
    One of the only ways for the terror group to remain relevant and to continue to outshine its jihadist competitor al-Qaeda is to strike the West as frequently as it can, experts say.
    Even with the loss of most of its territory IS can still wage information warfare, recruit and incite, said researcher Charlie Winter in a paper for the International Center for the Study of Radicalization and Political Violence at King's College London.
    The overall problem of radicalization remains the same today as it did before IS' battlefield defeats, officials warn.

U.S. to Renovate Temple-Era Pools near Jerusalem (AFP-Times of Israel)
    Solomon's Pools near Bethlehem, which provided water to Jerusalem around the time of the Second Temple, are to be restored under a $750,000 renovation funded by the U.S., officials said Tuesday.
    The three pools, built by Herod the Great, were key sources of water for the Temple and Jerusalem, according to archaeologists.
    "The Lower Aqueduct to Jerusalem, which the Hasmonean kings constructed more than 2,000 years ago in order to provide water to Jerusalem, operated intermittently until about 100 years ago," said Ya'akov Billig of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

Israeli Hospital Gets Grant to Help Syrian Refugees with Hearing Loss (JTA)
    Israeli philanthropist Morris Kahn has made a six-figure grant to Ziv Medical Center in Safed in northern Israel to fund treatment for Syrian children who have suffered hearing loss as a result of their country's civil war.
    The hospital, which has extensive experience treating wounded Syrian civilians, reports that one out of every three Syrian children examined by its staff suffers from hearing loss.
    The children are provided testing, treatment, surgery and rehabilitation.
    "We have treated more than 1,000 Syrians of all ages who needed our help over the past four years," said Salman Zarka, director of Ziv Hospital. "It's really important for me as a physician, as an Israeli, and as a human being."

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Israeli Intelligence Alerted U.S. to Russian Hackers - Ellen Nakashima
    In 2015, Israeli spies found hacking tools on the computers of the Moscow-based Kaspersky Lab cybersecurity firm that could only have come from the U.S. National Security Agency. Israel notified the NSA, where alarmed officials immediately began a hunt for the breach. Last month, the Department of Homeland Security instructed federal civilian agencies to identify Kaspersky Lab software on their networks and remove it. (Washington Post)
  • U.S. Officials Warn of Potential Hizbullah Threat to U.S. Homeland - Jeff Seldin
    Nicholas Rasmussen, director of the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), said Tuesday that while there were no imminent threats, Hizbullah was actively trying to target the U.S. "We in the intelligence community do in fact see continued activity on behalf of Hizbullah here inside the homeland. Hizbullah is determined to give itself a potential [U.S.] homeland option as a critical component of its terrorism playbook."
        While some countries view Hizbullah both as a terror group and as a political party, State Department Counterterrorism Coordinator Nathan Sales said Tuesday, "Make no mistake, Hizbullah has no political wing. It is a single organization, a terrorist organization, and it is rotten to its core."
        The State Department announced on Tuesday a $7 million reward for information about Talal Hamiyah, who runs Hizbullah's External Security Organization, and $5 million for information about Fu'ad Shukr, a senior operative who helped plan the 1983 bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon. (VOA News)
        See also The Iranian Regime Has Built and Bankrolled Hizbullah - Amb. Nathan A. Sales
    U.S. Coordinator for Counterterrorism Nathan A. Sales said Tuesday: "Hizbullah hasn't developed its military and terrorist capabilities on its own. It has become the global threat it is today for one reason: Tehran's deep and abiding assistance. The Iranian regime has built and bankrolled Hizbullah to foment instability throughout the region and across the world. This has all come at the expense of the Iranian people, whose resources are being diverted to support Hizbullah's bloody cause."  (U.S. State Department)
  • Israel Says Hizbullah Runs Lebanese Army - Dan Williams
    Israel said on Tuesday that Hizbullah had gained control over Lebanon's U.S.-sponsored military, signaling both would be in Israeli gunsights in any future war. Outlining potential threats in Lebanon, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said, "We are talking about Hizbullah and the Lebanese army, and to my regret this is the reality. The Lebanese army has turned into an integral part of Hizbullah's command structure. The Lebanese army has lost its independence and become an inseparable part of the Hizbullah apparatus."
        Lieberman said on Israel's northern front, "In anything that transpires, it will be one theater, Syria and Lebanon together, Hizbullah, the Assad regime and all of the Assad regime's collaborators."  (Reuters)
  • Russian Jet Crashes at Air Base in Syria - Will Stewart
    A Russian Sukhoi-24 jet crashed during takeoff at Hmeymim air base in Syria on Tuesday, killing the two-man crew. (Daily Express-UK)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Photos: Tens of Thousands Participate in Annual Jerusalem March - Adi Rozenberg
    Tens of thousands of participants from 80 different countries took part Tuesday in the annual march in Jerusalem. Tourists, IDF soldiers, representatives of the security and rescue forces, street artists, dancers, musicians and dozens of groups representing public bodies were seen walking side by side.
        "The Jerusalem march is a tradition which has lasted for more than 60 years. Every year it is exciting again, though as this year we celebrate 50 years of unification, it is even more exciting than ever," said Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat. (Ynet News)
        See also Photos: 60,000 Participate in Annual Jerusalem March - Udi Shaham (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Photos: Tens of Thousands Throng Jerusalem for Sukkot March (Times of Israel)
  • 6,000 Christians from 100 Countries Attend Jerusalem Feast of Tabernacles Celebration - Yori Yalon
    More than 6,000 Christians from over 100 countries were in Jerusalem on Monday to attend the annual Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot) celebration hosted by the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ). ICEJ Executive Director Dr. Jurgen Buhler said, "Thousands of Christians from around the world...who come to Israel within the framework of the Feast of Tabernacles event return to their countries and become the best ambassadors Israel has in those places."  (Israel Hayom)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • (Mis)Reading the IAEA Reports on Iran's Nuclear Program - Tzvi Kahn
    The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Yukiya Amano, admitted last week that the UN watchdog has proven unable to verify Iran's compliance with Section T of the 2015 nuclear deal, which prohibits activities that could contribute to the development of a nuclear explosive device. Contrary to media reports, the IAEA has never fully certified Iran's compliance with the JCPOA.
        Since the JCPOA's implementation in January 2016, none of the IAEA reports state that Iran has complied with the JCPOA. Moreover, IAEA reports have failed to include key information on a range of compliance issues, including centrifuge R&D, nuclear weaponization activities, IAEA access to military sites, illegal procurement efforts, and the exact amount of heavy water under Iran's control.
        As Amano said in March 2017, "it is the responsibility" of each JCPOA member to reach an "interpretation" and a "judgment" of "whether or not (Iran is) in compliance." The writer is a senior Iran analyst at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. (The Hill)
  • Guardian Gives Anti-Israel Play Four Stars - Richard Millett
    The Guardian's Michael Billington gave "My Name Is Rachel Corrie" four stars in his review of the anti-Israel play now showing at the Young Vic in London. The play was co-written by Guardian editor-in-chief Katherine Viner. Corrie was killed in Rafah in Gaza in 2003 while standing in front of an Israeli bulldozer that was about to demolish a house that was shielding a Hamas weapon supply tunnel from Egypt into Gaza.
        Her death was at the height of the Second Intifada when Hamas was blowing up Israeli citizens inside Israel using suicide bombers. There is no mention that at the trial of the driver of the bulldozer he was found innocent by the court because there was no way he could have seen her standing in front of the bulldozer based on how high up he was in his carriage.
        The Young Vic refused a request to have photos of 19 murdered Israelis named Rachel, with descriptions of how they were blown to pieces by Palestinian terrorists, in the foyer during the running of "My Name Is Rachel Corrie."   (UK Media Watch)

Preparing an Alternative Strategy before Withdrawing from the Nuclear Agreement with Iran - Amos Yadlin and Avner Golov (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)

  • The nuclear agreement with Iran, the JCPOA, is indeed problematic and in the long term embodies a strategic risk to the U.S. and Israel. Suitable strategic conditions should be created for a future withdrawal from the agreement, if necessary, and leverage built for a better option.
  • The agreement facilitates the gradual creation of a more dangerous reality in which Iran will establish itself at the nuclear threshold. Therefore, the right time to re-open or withdraw from the agreement is not today, but shortly before the removal of the restrictions on the Iranian nuclear program (in 2023-2025). Until then, the focus should be on comprehensive and intrusive inspections of the Iranian nuclear program. Iran must remain at least one year away from the ability to produce nuclear weapons.
  • In addition, Iran must be blocked from activities not covered by the JCPOA that harm American and Israeli interests: the long-range ballistic missile program, support for terror organizations, and other subversive activity in the region.
  • Amending the agreement is the option that should be pursued in the medium to long term, but only after creation of international conditions to exert pressure on Iran to accept the proposed restrictions. For that purpose, the U.S. must launch an international diplomatic campaign to create a coalition with its allies in Europe and Asia that can achieve consensus regarding the required amendments to improve the agreement.
  • Postponing a decision regarding the future of the JCPOA does not denote passivity toward Iran. Action must be taken against all negative Iranian activities that are not covered by the agreement. The U.S. could work to promote a new Security Council resolution that will forbid Iran to test missiles and cruise missiles that could in the future carry nuclear warheads. It can seek to thwart Iran's subversive activity in Syria, Yemen, Lebanon, and Iraq and impose additional sanctions on the Iranian regime for its support for terror, missile tests that are contrary to a UN Security Council resolution, and human rights violations.
  • At the same time, the U.S. and Israel (which is not a party to the JCPOA) must promote a "parallel agreement" that defines what would be considered flagrant breaches of the agreement, and reach agreement regarding actions to be taken in response to these breaches. This parallel agreement should address a plan to build independent Israeli capabilities to react to an Iranian attempt to acquire nuclear weapons.

    Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Amos Yadlin, former chief of Israeli military intelligence, heads the INSS, where Avner Golov is a research fellow.

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