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  DAILY ALERT Thursday,
October 19, 2017

In-Depth Issues:

Germany: Iran Working to Build Nuclear-Armed Missiles - Benjamin Weinthal (Jerusalem Post)
    German security officials have accused the Iranian regime of pursuing its goal to build missiles armed with nuclear warheads, the Berlin daily Der Tagesspiegel reported Friday.
    "Despite the nuclear agreement, Iran has not given up its illegal activities in Germany. The mullah regime also made efforts this year to obtain material from [German] firms for its nuclear program and the construction of missiles, said security sources."
    "Iran has clearly not given up its long-term goal to become a nuclear power that can mount nuclear weapons on rockets....Security experts say Iran is very interested in equipment to extend the range of missiles."

Top Syrian General Killed - Josie Ensor (Telegraph-UK)
    Syrian Brig.-Gen. Issam Zahreddine, the commander of Syrian troops in the battle to retake the city of Deir Ezzor, died after his convoy hit a landmine on Wednesday.
    See also Slain Syrian General Considered a War Criminal - Roi Kais (Ynet News)
    The anti-Assad opposition has accused Syrian Gen. Zahreddine of committing horrendous war crimes, including a massacre in the suburbs of Damascus in 2012.
    Al Jazeera reported that "Zahreddine is known for his cruelty. He has previously been recorded in a video posted online as boasting while the bodies of the slaughtered lay in front of him."

Poll Shows Fatah More Popular than Hamas in Gaza (An-Najah University-PA)
    According to a new survey of 1,862 Palestinian adults in the West Bank and Gaza by An-Najah University conducted Oct. 12-14, 2017, 38% identify with Fatah, 11% with Hamas, 2% with the Popular Front, and 1% with Islamic Jihad.
    75% support the accession of Hamas and Islamic Jihad to the Palestine Liberation Organization.
    Asked if the U.S. is serious this time in its endeavors to bring the peace negotiations between the Palestinians and Israelis to a successful end, 61% said no, 29% said yes.
    In the West Bank, 70% said they reject an armed intifada in the Palestinian territories, while 27% support one.
    Asked if they support the creation of a Palestinian state on the 1967 lines with some land exchange as a final solution for the Palestinian cause, 66% said no, while 26% said yes. At the same time, 67% reject the creation of a binational state.
    When Gazans were asked to whom they would give their vote for president, 41% said Fatah, while 8% said Hamas.

Video: NFL Films Joins Hall of Famers on Inspiring Trip to Israel - Ed Sherman (
    "NFL Films Presents: Touchdown in Israel" documents New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft taking 18 Hall of Famers on a spiritual journey to the Holy Land last summer.
    The one-hour film, which airs Friday on NFL Network, shows the impact a visit to Israel had on these great players.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S.: Palestinian Unity Government Must Recognize Israel, Disarm Hamas
    In the first detailed U.S. response to last week's Palestinian unity deal, Jason Greenblatt, President Trump's special representative for international negotiations, said Thursday: "Any Palestinian government must unambiguously and explicitly commit to nonviolence, recognize the State of Israel, accept previous agreements and obligations between the parties - including to disarm terrorists - and commit to peaceful negotiations. If Hamas is to play any role in a Palestinian government, it must accept these basic requirements."  (AFP)
  • U.S. Amb. Nikki Haley Tells UN: "Nearly Every Threat to Peace and Security in the Middle East Is Connected to Iran"
    U.S. UN Ambassador Nikki Haley told the Security Council on Wednesday: "We can't talk about stability in the Middle East without talking about Iran. That's because nearly every threat to peace and security in the Middle East is connected to Iran's outlaw behavior....Iran must be judged in totality of its aggressive, destabilizing, and unlawful behavior. To do otherwise would be foolish."
        "The Security Council has repeatedly passed resolutions aimed at addressing Iranian support for terrorism and regional conflicts. But Iran has repeatedly thumbed its nose at those efforts. Worse, the regime continues to play this Council. Iran hides behind its assertion of technical compliance with the nuclear deal while it brazenly violates the other limits on its behavior. And we have allowed them to get away with it. This must stop."  (U.S. Mission to the UN)
  • As Iraqi Forces Consolidate Control of North, Kurds Flee - Isabel Coles and Ali A. Nabhan
    Thousands of Kurdish civilians fled their homes in northern Iraq on Wednesday, fearing harassment by government forces and Shiite militias. South of Kirkuk, the entire Kurdish population of Tuz Khurmato left the town as local Turkmen - many of whom belong to government-backed Shiite paramilitary groups - ransacked and torched their homes. "People are afraid," said Feraydoun Ahmed, 50, who fled with his family from Kirkuk. "We are scared they (Iraqi forces) will harass our families." On the main road out of the city, Iraqi forces blocked the way with armored vehicles, holding back hundreds of cars. (Wall Street Journal)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Netanyahu and Putin Discuss Iran Nuclear Program, Syria - Barak Ravid
    Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke by phone with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, at the initiative of the Israeli side, to discuss the Iran nuclear program, the situation in Syria, and the referendum in Iraqi Kurdistan, the Kremlin said on Wednesday. (Ha'aretz)
  • IDF Thwarts Palestinian Stabbing Attack in West Bank
    A Palestinian armed with a knife attempted to attack IDF troops in Gush Etzion on Wednesday before being shot and wounded. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israeli President Rivlin: "Israel Is Not Compensation for the Holocaust" - Greer Fay Cashman
    President Reuven Rivlin welcomed 130 Christian broadcasters from 30 countries at the President's Residence on Wednesday. Rivlin explained that he was "a seventh generation Jerusalemite," whose forebears arrived in 1809. That his own family and many others came to the Land of Israel well over a century before the Holocaust is proof that Israel was not created as compensation for the outrages of the Holocaust. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Unity Deal Could Allow Hamas Leader to Become PA President - Daniel Siryoti
    A cunning plan to pave the way for senior Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal to win the Palestinian Authority presidency to replace the aging Mahmoud Abbas may have been the true aim behind Hamas' willingness to sign a reconciliation deal with Fatah, according to senior Palestinian and Egyptian intelligence officials.
        Mashaal, who headed the Hamas political bureau for almost two decades, has made no effort to disguise his ambition to clinch the PA presidency. He is said to back reforms to the Hamas charter to allow the organization to join the Palestine Liberation Organization - a move that would allow a Hamas candidate to compete in elections for the presidency.
        "Mashaal saw an opportunity to realize his ambition of inheriting the Palestinian presidential seat because of the rift in the Fatah leadership after Marwan Barghouti's imprisonment in Israel, and the fact that polls conducted by Palestinian bodies show a dramatic drop in the support for Barghouti as Abbas' successor," a senior Egyptian official told Israel Hayom. (Israel Hayom)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • U.S. Treasury Ramps Up Sanctions on Iran - Sigal Mandelker
    The Iranian regime is wreaking havoc on the Middle East and beyond. Iran continues to pursue ballistic missile capabilities in defiance of UN Security Council Resolution 2231. Iran finances and supports Hizbullah, Hamas, and the Taliban, as well as Bahraini, Iraqi, Syrian, and Yemeni militant groups. The President's Iran strategy focuses on far more than just the nuclear deal. It is a broad and comprehensive strategy to counter Iran's support for terrorism, ballistic missile development, and human rights abuses.
        Over the last 10 months, the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has issued seven tranches of sanctions, designating 72 targets in China, Iran, Lebanon and Ukraine in connection with the IRGC, Iran's ballistic missile program, support for terrorism, and human rights abuses. And we are continuing to ramp up the economic pressure on Iran's illicit networks using all of the tools and authorities at our disposal. The President also authorized us to take additional action against the IRGC's officials, agents, and affiliates later this month.
        We will continue to aggressively target other organs of state power in Iran that foment instability and support terrorism. U.S. Treasury Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Sigal Mandelker, a child of Holocaust survivors, addressed AIPAC on Oct. 16, 2017. (U.S. Treasury Department)
  • Iran Steps Up Its Economic Domination in Syria - Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Dr. Shimon Shapira
    Iran is stepping up its economic involvement in Syria. Iranian leaders envision the construction of a railway from Tehran to the Mediterranean Sea. Syria has also signed agreements to import five power plants from Iran to rehabilitate the power sector. Iran announced plans to build a refinery near Homs and to rehabilitate two additional refineries.
        The Iranian takeover of the Syrian economy will probably be relatively rapid, given Syria's desperate need to rehabilitate its economy. Iran's main competitor in rebuilding Syria is Russia, but the Russians demand payment for their investments. The writer, a senior research associate at the Jerusalem Center, served as Military Secretary to the Prime Minister and as Israel Foreign Ministry Chief of Staff. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Why There Is No Peace in the Middle East - Philip Carl Salzman
    Peace is not possible in the Middle East because values and goals other than peace are more important to Middle Easterners. Loyalty to kin, clan, and cult are the cultural imperatives. Some prefer to attribute the problems of the Middle East to outsiders, such as Western imperialists, but it seems odd to suggest that the local inhabitants have no agency and no responsibility for their activities.
        Honor comes from winning. Having lost in a political struggle results in loss of honor. Losing is regarded as deeply humiliating. Only the prospects of a future victory and the regaining of honor drives people forward. An example is the Arab-Israel conflict, in the course of which the despised Jews repeatedly defeated the armies of Arab states. The only way to regain honor is to defeat and destroy Israel. This is why no agreement over land or boundaries will bring peace: peace does not restore honor. The writer is professor of anthropology at McGill University in Canada. (Gatestone Institute)

Why Real PA Unity Won't Happen - Hillel Frisch (Jerusalem Post)

  • The conflict between the PA and Hamas boils down to beards. Hamas security personnel are almost always bearded, while the PA's security personnel sport no beards. A bearded security officer means that the political entity he serves is or aspires to be a theocratic state. A non-bearded member of an official security force means that the state he serves is secular and most certainly anti-theocratic.
  • Even absent the crucial religious element, the PA/Fatah-Hamas standoff is a bitter zero-sum game and the prospects of true Hamas-Fatah unity are negligible.
  • In Egypt during the "Arab Spring," it was clear from the beginning to the Egyptian army that the Muslim Brotherhood must be confronted at all costs. The episode ended in zero-sum fashion with President Sisi emerging all-powerful, and Muslim Brotherhood President Morsi locked in jail.
  • The common denominator is that one side was totally victorious and the other totally defeated. Only a similar showdown in Gaza can decide between PA and Hamas rule.
  • But it is doubtful whether the Fatah-led PA can muster the strength to make a true bid for absolute power in Gaza, and even more unlikely that it will win a shootout.

    The writer is a professor of political and Middle East studies at Bar-Ilan University and a senior fellow at the Jerusalem Institute for Strategic Studies.

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