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  DAILY ALERT Thursday,
November 9, 2017

In-Depth Issues:

British Aid Minister Patel Resigns over Undisclosed Meetings in Israel - Elizabeth Piper and Andrew MacAskill (Reuters)
    British aid minister Priti Patel was forced from office on Wednesday over unsanctioned meetings with Israeli officials that breached diplomatic protocol because they were not organized through the UK's Foreign Office.

Hillel Apologizes for Canceling Israeli Deputy FM's Princeton Talk (Ha'aretz)
    The international CEO of Hillel and the director of the Hillel center at Princeton University published an apology for their decision to cancel a talk on Monday by Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely.
    See also Hillel Leaders Apologize for Nixing Israeli Official's Talk - Eric D. Fingerhut and Julie Roth (Jerusalem Post)

Saudi Arabia's "Saturday Night Massacre" Might Play into U.S. Interests - John Hannah (The Hill)
    Most of us have told our kids that the ends don't justify the means. But what if your objective is something as audacious as rapidly modernizing the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia?
    What if your aim is to break the kingdom's support for the extremist form of Islam - known as Wahhabism - that has served as the essential source material for ISIS, al-Qaeda, and the jihadist ideology that American troops have been at war with since 9/11?
    How much centralization of power would you put up with to see that revolutionary program succeed?
    Saudi Arabia, however inadvertently, has played a greater role in fueling the rise of radical jihadism than any other country in the world.
    If successful, this revolutionary program to transform Saudi society would unambiguously serve U.S. interests.
    The writer, senior counselor at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, is former national security advisor to former Vice President Dick Cheney.

Poll: Most Israeli Arabs Say They Feel Part of Israeli Society - Prof. Tamar Hermann (Israel Democracy Institute)
    54% of Israeli Arabs say they feel part of Israeli society, but 67% say Israel had no right to be defined as the national home of the Jewish people, according to a survey released Tuesday by the Israel Democracy Institute.
    69% of Jews and 74% of Arabs report that they have been employed where Jews and Arabs work together and that 90% of Jews and 95% of Arabs defined the relationship between the employees as good or very good.

New Eilat Airport to Open in 2018 - Anna Ahronheim (Jerusalem Post)
    Eilat's Ilan and Assaf Ramon International Airport is set to open in April 2018.
    The first civilian airport built since Israel was founded is located 19 km. north of Eilat in the Timna Valley and will replace the current airport located within the city itself.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Palestinian Police Chief Says Hamas Must Give Up Gaza Arms - Mohammed Daraghmeh
    Palestinian police commander Hazem Atallah warned Wednesday that his forces cannot guarantee law and order in Gaza unless Hamas disarms. "It is impossible. How can I do security when there are all these rockets and guns?...It doesn't work," Atallah said. The orders "are very clear. We are talking about one authority, one law, and one gun." His comments acknowledged the most significant sticking point in the Palestinian reconciliation talks: Who will control Hamas' substantial arsenal?
        Atallah indicated that he would not accept any Hamas police into his own force, saying that he would only employ officers hired before the 2007 Hamas takeover. (AP)
        See also PA Police Chief Confirms Security Cooperation with Israel Restored - Adam Rasgon
    The Palestinian Authority has completely restored security coordination with Israel, PA police chief Hazem Atallah said on Wednesday. "Everyone is coordinating now," he said. The decision was made two weeks ago.
        In July, PA President Mahmoud Abbas announced that security coordination was halted in response to Israel's placement of metal detectors near the entrances to the Temple Mount, which were later removed. However, Atallah said security coordination between the PA police and Israel largely never stopped. "95%, if not more, of the activities of the police were working."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Egypt Warns Iran to Stop Regional Meddling
    Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi said Wednesday that Iran must stop "meddling" in the Middle East and the security of Arab Gulf countries must not be threatened, backing Saudi Arabia amid its mounting tensions with Iran. "The region has enough instability and challenges as it is. We don't need any new complications involving Iran or Hizbullah," he said.
        "Gulf security is a red line and others must stop meddling in our affairs and not work to escalate tensions. We in Egypt believe that Arab and Gulf security and any threat to Gulf nations is a threat to our own national security."  (AP-New York Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Calls to Move U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem ahead of New Deadline - Michael Wilner
    A House subcommittee held a hearing on Wednesday on moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. In December, President Trump will have to decide whether to order the move or delay it for another six months. Dore Gold, a former top aide to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, testified before the panel and highlighted Israel's protection of holy sites to Jews, Christians and Muslims alike.
        Gold told the Jerusalem Post after the hearing, "We have an administration that wants to do this. We're not pulling wisdom teeth - it's important to clarify this is in the Israeli interest....It's important for them to hear Israelis take a strong stand on this."  (Jerusalem Post)
        See also below Observations - Moving the American Embassy to Jerusalem: Challenges and Opportunities - Amb. Dore Gold (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Palestinian Nabbed with Meat Cleaver outside Jewish West Bank Town - Judah Ari Gross
    A Palestinian man was arrested near the entrance to Kochav Yaakov in the West Bank on Thursday after a search of his backpack yielded a meat cleaver and another knife. (Times of Israel)
        See also Border Police Arrested Palestinian with Knife at Cave of Patriarchs
    Israeli Border Police arrested a 17-year-old Palestinian armed with a knife at the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron on Wednesday. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Palestinians Use Child to Smuggle Cellphones to Prisoners - Raanan Ben Zur
    Guards at Israel's Ktziot Prison thwarted an attempt Wednesday to smuggle cellphones to a Fatah security prisoner when his five-year-old child who was visiting the facility was found to be carrying 10 cellphones and 3 SIM cards in his underwear. A glass partition usually divides the prisoner and his visitors, but meetings are occasionally held away from the partition for a few minutes as a humanitarian gesture. (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • ISIS Losses Have Consolidated Iran's Strength in the Middle East - Josh Cohen
    Islamic State losses have consolidated Iran's strength in the region, allowing Tehran to establish a Shi'ite "land bridge" extending through Iraq, Syria and Lebanon to Israel's northern border. Iran's expanded footprint will make it easier for Tehran to ship weapons through to Hizbullah, its proxy in Lebanon. Moreover, Iran's increasing presence in southern Syria offers Tehran the opportunity to position either its own troops or fighters from Hizbullah or other Shi'ite militias who could strike directly at the Jewish state.
        These scenarios are "red lines" for Israel. Over the last several years, Israeli jets have struck dozens of shipments of weapons such as guided missiles and anti-aircraft systems bound for Hizbullah and Israeli leaders remain committed to prevent the transfer of those weapons in the future.
        First, the U.S. must take Israeli concerns about Iran's presence in Syria more seriously. American policy-makers are better served by taking Israel's interests into account before a conflict breaks out. Second, the administration should send a clear warning to Tehran that Washington would consider unacceptable any attempt by Iran to escalate its confrontation with Israel either directly or through proxies. Third, the U.S. must push Russia to be proactive about containing Iran. (Reuters)
  • The Gap between American Rhetoric and Actions in the Middle East - Dennis Ross
    Rhetorical hostility toward Iran must be guided by intelligent policy. If we want the Europeans to join us in addressing the vulnerabilities of the Iranian nuclear deal, they have to see a clear diplomatic plan - one that doesn't just make threats but that recognizes their concerns about not renegotiating the deal. Similarly, if we want the Saudis, Emirates and others to work with us and help carry the burden of filling the vacuum after the defeat of ISIS, they must see we are taking steps to, at a minimum, contain the Iranians in Syria and in the region.
        If the Russians could transform the balance of power in Syria with just a fraction of the air power we have in the region, is it impossible for us to convey that we won't tolerate the further spread of Iranian and Shia militia presence there? Standing by as the Kurds were forced to retreat has sent a message far more powerful than the administration's words on Iran. The writer has held senior national security positions in several presidential administrations and is counselor at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. (New York Daily News)

Moving the American Embassy to Jerusalem: Challenges and Opportunities - Amb. Dore Gold (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

Amb. Dore Gold told the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on Nov. 8:

  • President Donald Trump has made a commitment to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and I believe he will stand by what he has said. The U.S. will evaluate the timing and circumstances for executing that decision in accordance with its interests.
  • The embassy question is a subset of a much more important issue: the need for Western recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital. The denial of recognition helps fuel the dangerous fantasy that Israel is impermanent and illegitimate - that the presence of the Jews is an imposition because the land is not their homeland.
  • The main international interest in Jerusalem concerns the protection of the holy sites and assuring complete freedom of access to them. The State of Israel and the people of Israel assumed responsibility for protecting Jerusalem's holy sites in 1967, when Jerusalem was re-united after the Six-Day War.
  • For etched into the collective consciousness of all of us is what happened to Jerusalem when we were absent. It is clear that only a free and democratic Israel will protect the holy sites of all the great faiths in Jerusalem. To the extent that the U.S. reinforces Israel's standing in Jerusalem, it is reinforcing the position of the only international actor that will protect Jerusalem's holy sites. 
  • After the PLO launched the Second Intifada in 2000, Palestinian security services assaulted Rachel's Tomb in Bethlehem. In 2002, armed Palestinians  forcibly entered the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem - one of the holiest sites for Christianity - seized the Christian clergy as hostages and looted church valuables.
  • Another repeated target for attack was Joseph's Tomb in Nablus, which the Palestinian side undertook to protect in the Oslo II Agreement. The site was repeatedly ransacked and torched. Indeed, aggression against holy sites has become a hallmark of many jihadi groups across the Middle East.
  • The question of the location of the U.S. Embassy is really a question of whether the U.S. recognizes Jerusalem as Israel's permanent capital - sending a signal to the world that efforts to delegitimize Israel and to rewrite the history of other religions will fail. By recognizing Jerusalem and moving its embassy, the U.S. would help promote peace and security in the region.

    Amb. Dore Gold, former director general of the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Israeli ambassador to the UN, is president of the Jerusalem Center.

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