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November 13, 2017

In-Depth Issues:

Germany Charges Palestinian over Hamburg Knife Attack (AFP-Daily Mail-UK)
    German prosecutors said Friday they have charged Palestinian asylum seeker Ahmad A., 26, with murder after his deadly knife rampage at a Hamburg supermarket in July killed one and wounded six.
    "The accused sought out his victims indiscriminately, retaliating against people who, in his view, represent perpetrators of injustice targeting Muslims," said prosecutors.
    "It was important to him to kill as many German nationals of the Christian faith as possible."

Mexico to Change Stance on Palestinian-Israeli Conflict Votes (IMEMC-PA)
    Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Figari Casso has told Israel's Ambassador to Mexico Yoni Peled that Mexico has decided to change its voting strategy in all upcoming votes related to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
    It will turn from voting in favor of the Palestinians to abstaining or voting for Israel, the Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahronot reported.
    Last week, Mexico voted for Israel during a debate at UNESCO.
    Prime Minister Netanyahu visited Mexico last September, and Israel sent aid there after an earthquake.

Download the Report: Students for Justice in Palestine Unmasked - Dan Diker and Jamie Berk (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
    The Students for Justice in Palestine network serves as the leading student arm of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement in the U.S.
    SJP is not, as they claim, a "grassroots" student organization; it is a terror-affiliated, anti-Semitic network that currently operates with autonomy and impunity at universities across the U.S.
    The full report is now available online.
    See also Students for Justice in Palestine, Unmasked - Dan Diker (Jerusalem Post)

Israeli Soccer Star Named China's Player of the Year (Times of Israel)
    Israeli soccer star Eran Zahavi, 30, was named the most valuable player in the Chinese Super League on Saturday after finishing the season as the top goal scorer. His 27 goals for the season were one short of tying the league record of 28.
    Zahavi has a $7 million a year contract with the Guangzhou R&F club until 2020.

Rise in Russian, Turkish Immigration to Israel (JTA)
    Immigration to Israel from Russia has increased in 2017 and has more than doubled from Turkey.
    23,415 immigrants have come to Israel from Jan. 1 to Sept. 30, the Jewish Agency for Israel reported.
    There was an 8% rise in immigration from the former Soviet Union, representing 13,192 individuals, including 5,661 from Russia and nearly 6,000 from Ukraine.
    This year more than 350 Turkish Jews came, compared to 164 in the same period last year.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Iran Building Permanent Military Base in Syria - Gordon Corera
    Iran is establishing a permanent military base inside Syria, a Western intelligence source has told the BBC. The Iranian military is said to have established a compound at a site used by the Syrian army outside El-Kiswah, 14 km. (8 miles) south of Damascus. Satellite images commissioned by the BBC seem to show construction activity at the site. Independent analysis of the images commissioned by the BBC says the facility is military in nature, noting a series of garages that can hold six to eight vehicles each. Analysts estimate up to 500 troops could be based at the site.
        The base lies about 50 km. (31 miles) from the Golan Heights. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu tweeted on Sunday: "Iran wants to establish itself militarily in Syria, right next to Israel. Israel will not let that happen."  (BBC News)
  • U.S. Says Russia Agrees to Elimination of Iranian-Backed Militias from Syria
    After a meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday, a senior State Department official said the U.S.-Russia-Jordan Memorandum of Principles (MOP) on the de-escalation of the civil war in Syria, signed on Nov. 8 in Amman, "enshrines the commitment of the U.S., Russia, and Jordan to eliminate the presence of non-Syrian foreign forces. That includes Iranian forces and Iranian-backed militias like Lebanese Hizbullah as well as foreign jihadis working with Jabhat al-Nusrah and other extremist groups from the southwest area [of Syria]."  (U.S. State Department)
        See also Joint Statement by the President of the United States and the President of the Russian Federation (U.S. State Department)
  • As ISIS Caliphate Crumbles, U.S. Builds Outposts in Western Iraq - Susannah George
    Several hundred American Marines are operating close to the battlefront in the fight against Islamic State in western Iraq near the border with Syria. The Americans directed Iraqi troops in their recapture last week of the border town of Qaim, the militants' last urban holding. Now they will lead the task of clearing the extremists from a large stretch of empty desert north of the Euphrates River. They also face the possibility of friction with Iranian-backed Iraqi Shiite militias that are increasing their own presence in the region.
        U.S. commanders say bringing the Americans out of main bases and closer to the action in the past year has paid off in the swift rollback of Islamic State. (AP-Military Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Syrian Ceasefire Deal Leaves Iran Too Close to Israel's Borders - Amos Harel
    The trilateral agreement between Russia, America and Jordan on a ceasefire in southern Syria, signed over the weekend, requires all foreign forces, including the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps and Shi'ite militias operated by Iran, to leave Syria. But it does not set deadlines, and secret understandings among the parties provide for the IRGC and Iran's proxy forces to withdraw only a short distance from the Israeli border, at least in the near term. Israeli defense figures are troubled by this and by the fact that the superpowers seem unwilling to take genuine measures to kick Iran out of Syria, in general, and southern Syria, in particular. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Israel Says Syrian Ceasefire Deal Does Not Meet Its Demands
    Israeli Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz told AP the ceasefire deal in southern Syria is a positive development, but stressed that Israel is not a party to the agreement and will defend its interests. Regional Cooperation Minister Tzachi Hanegbi told Reuters on Sunday that the pact "does not meet Israel's unequivocal demand that there will not be developments that bring the forces of Hizbullah or Iran to the Israel-Syria border in the north."  (Times of Israel)
        See also Map of "Buffer Zone" on Syrian Golan Heights
    According to Israeli sources, this is what the "buffer zone" separating Israel from Iranian proxies could look like in southern Syria. (Prime Source)
  • Israel Downs Syrian Drone with Patriot Missile - Noa Shpigel
    A Syrian drone on an intelligence gathering mission in the Quneitra area was shot down by Israel's Patriot missile defense system on Saturday after it entered the demilitarized zone and flew towards Israel. "The State of Israel views with great severity any violation of sovereignty and will respond with force to any provocation," Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said following the incident. (Ha'aretz)
  • Palestinian Snipers Sentenced to Life in Prison - Yoav Zitun
    Palestinian brothers Nasser Badawi, 24, and Akram Badawi, 34, were sentenced to life imprisonment after being convicted of a dozen shooting attacks in the area of Hebron in the West Bank that wounded two IDF soldiers and two civilians. On Nov. 6, 2015, in a building owned by their father, Akram put a sniper rifle on a third-floor windowsill facing the Tomb of the Patriarchs and started shooting at a group of Jewish worshipers, wounding two. The rifle was then hidden in a mosque, to be used in additional shootings. (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Trump Team Begins Drafting Middle East Peace Plan - Peter Baker
    After 10 months of educating themselves on the complexities of the dispute between Israel and the Palestinians, President Trump's team of advisers has begun developing their own concrete blueprint to end the conflict.
        "We have spent a lot of time listening to and engaging with the Israelis, Palestinians and key regional leaders over the past few months to help reach an enduring peace deal," said Jason Greenblatt, the president's chief negotiator. "We are not going to put an artificial timeline on the development or presentation of any specific ideas and will also never impose a deal. Our goal is to facilitate, not dictate, a lasting peace agreement to improve the lives of Israelis and Palestinians and security across the region."  (New York Times)
  • How Close to Israel Can Saudi Arabia Move? - Oded Eran
    Six years of an "Arab winter," millions of refugees, ruined cities and one-third of the Arab League states looking completely different from the way they did a decade ago, made it clear to those who had claimed that solving the conflict with the Palestinians would cure the region's diseases that Israel isn't the problem in the Middle East.
        The Iranian danger alone likely won't be enough to openly bring Saudi Arabia and Israel closer together. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman is working on fortifying his inheritance, and it's unlikely that he wants to expose himself to Arab criticism, especially Iranian, over his "betrayal of the Palestinian people." Dr. Oded Eran, a senior research fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS), served as head of Israel's negotiations team with the Palestinians in 1999-2000. (Ynet News)

Israel as a Strategic Asset of the West - Col. Richard Kemp (Jewish Political Studies Review)

  • In 1938, the Jews in what was then Mandatory Palestine established the village of Hanita, on the Lebanese border, against the wishes of the ruling British. Two years later, in 1940, the very same British authorities asked the Jews of Hanita for help as they planned to invade Syria to prevent the Vichy French government there from allowing a German army to build up there. Bridges over the Litani River were vital for the operation, and the Jews were asked to capture and hold those bridges to prevent their destruction by the Vichy forces.
  • Fifty young Jewish farmers from Hanita held the bridges for seven hours and repulsed ten mass attacks before regular Australian troops arrived. This was the operation in which Moshe Dayan lost his left eye, and his forces suffered over 50% casualties. The Israeli pioneers proved to be a vital strategic asset to Great Britain, as did the Jewish Legion of the British Army, which helped defeat the Ottoman Empire at the Battle of Megiddo in 1918.
  • In World War II the British Eighth Army included 30,000 Jewish volunteers, many of whom carried out extraordinary acts of heroism and devotion to duty in the face of horrific adversity.
  • Moreover, the Jews of Palestine contributed much more to the Allied war effort than all of the Arab nations combined. The British army was supported in Palestine by 200,000 Jewish industrial workers and farmers and thousands more doctors, dentists and nurses. 7,000 factories and vast acres of agricultural land were placed at the disposal of British Empire Forces.
  • In 1981, an Israeli strike destroyed the Iraqi nuclear reactor under construction in Baghdad, an attack that was condemned at the time but was later recognized as being an important factor in enabling the U.S.-led coalition to remove Iraqi forces from Kuwait. In 2007, the Israeli Air Force destroyed the Syrian nuclear reactor in Deir ez-Zor region, preventing the Assad regime from acquiring atomic weapons or transferring nuclear material to Hizbullah and Iran.
  • After 9/11, Western nations found themselves increasingly dependent on Israel's vast operational and counterterrorism experience, incomparable intelligence resources and highly developed technological sophistication.

    The writer is former Commander of British Forces in Afghanistan.

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