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  DAILY ALERT Wednesday,
December 6, 2017

In-Depth Issues:

MI5 Foils Islamist Terror Plot to Kill Prime Minister May - Ben Kentish (Independent-UK)
    Naa'imur Zakariyah Rahman, 20, from north London, and Mohammed Aqib Imran, 21, from Birmingham, have been arrested on suspicion of plotting to kill British Prime Minister Theresa May by using a bomb disguised as a bag to blow off the gates of Downing Street and then attack her with knives.
    Andrew Parker, head of the MI5 security service, told the Cabinet Tuesday that ISIS was continuing to orchestrate attacks on the UK and that the security services had foiled nine terrorist attacks in the last year.

Greece, Cyprus, Italy, Israel Sign MoU for East Med Gas Pipeline - Kostis Geropoulos (New Europe-Belgium)
    On Dec. 5, Greece, Cyprus, Italy and Israel signed a memorandum of understanding for constructing an underwater gas pipeline from the Eastern Mediterranean region to Greece and Italy, which will allow the transportation of newly discovered Cypriot and Israeli gas reserves to mainland Europe.
    Greek Energy Minister Giorgos Stathakis said that the East Med pipeline is "technically and economically viable."

Erdogan: U.S. Trial Is Conspiracy Against Turkey (AP-Washington Post)
    Turkish President Erdogan on Tuesday said the New York trial of Turkish banker Mehmet Hakan Atilla, on charges of helping Iran evade U.S. sanctions, is a U.S. conspiracy being staged to "blackmail" and "blemish" his country.
    See also Turkish Academics on Trial for Issuing Declaration for Peace (AP-ABC News)
    Trials against 150 academics kicked off on Tuesday in Istanbul. They were charged with engaging in "terrorist propaganda" for signing a declaration calling for an end to hostilities against Kurdish rebels in southeast Turkey.
    They were among hundreds of academics who issued a declaration in January 2016 denouncing government operations against Kurdish militants. Many of the academics have since lost their jobs.

Poll: Most Israelis Believe Iran Developing Nuclear Capability to Threaten Israel's Existence Profs. Ephraim Yaar and Tamar Hermann (Peace Index-Tel Aviv University and IDI)
    67% of Israelis favor conducting peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, but 71% do not believe they will lead to peace, according to a Peace Index poll conducted on Nov. 28-29, 2017, and released Monday.
    69% agreed with Prime Minister Netanyahu's position that even after having signed the agreement that limits Iran's nuclear development, Iran is close to developing a nuclear capability that will threaten Israel's existence.
    79% agreed that the presence of forces linked to Iran close to the Syria-Israel border endangers Israel's security.

Israel Border Police Save Life of Palestinian in West Bank - Becky Brothman (Jerusalem Post)
    Israel Border Police on Tuesday saved the life of a Palestinian man who fell unconscious in Hebron.
    The man in his 20s stopped breathing in a house near the Cave of the Patriarchs, and Palestinians came to a checkpoint to ask for help.
    A team of soldiers and a medic arrived at the scene and immediately began life-saving treatment. The man returned to consciousness and was transferred to the Red Crescent.
    The man's family thanked the officers for their actions.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. to Recognize Jerusalem as Israel's Capital - Mark Landler and David M. Halbfinger
    President Trump told Israeli and Arab leaders on Tuesday including PA President Mahmoud Abbas and Jordan's King Abdullah II that he plans to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. He is expected to announce his decision on Wednesday. Officials said Trump assured Abbas that the administration would protect Palestinian interests in any peace negotiation with Israel and invited the Palestinian leader to visit him in Washington for further consultations.
        In his phone calls with Arab leaders, Trump is making the case that settling the question of the American Embassy could actually hasten the peace process by removing a thorny political issue that recurs every six months. (New York Times)
        See also Trump to Recognize Jerusalem as Israel's Capital, White House Confirms - Eric Cortellessa
    "On December 6, 2017, President Trump will recognize that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel," a White House official confirmed Tuesday. President Trump "views this as a recognition of reality, both historic reality and modern reality. While President Trump recognizes that the status of Jerusalem is a highly sensitive issue, he does not think it will be resolved by ignoring the truth that Jerusalem is home to Israel's legislature, its Supreme Court, the Prime Minister's residence, and as such, it is the capital of Israel."
        White House officials added that Trump "recognizes that the specific boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem are subject to final-status negotiations for such an agreement" and that this action does not change the "status quo of the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif."
        "The president has instructed the State Department to develop a plan for moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem with the minimal additional burden on American taxpayers," one official said. Another said, "There is no facility they can move into in Jerusalem, as of today. It will take some time to find a site, address security concerns, design the new facility, fund the new facility, and build it, so that this is not an instantaneous process." Trump will not, however, "specify a timetable" for that process.
        "President Trump remains committed to achieving a lasting peace agreement between Israelis and Palestinians and is optimistic that peace can be achieved," an official said. "Delaying the recognition to Jerusalem as the capital of Israel has done nothing to achieve peace for more than two decades." An official added, "President Trump is prepared to support a two-state solution to the dispute between Israelis and Palestinians, if that's what's agreed to by the two parties."  (Times of Israel)
        See also President Trump Calls Middle East Leaders
    President Trump spoke separately on Tuesday with the leaders of Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Jordan, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia. The President reaffirmed his commitment to advancing Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and the importance of supporting those talks. He underscored the importance of bilateral cooperation with each partner to advance peace efforts throughout the region. The leaders also discussed potential decisions regarding Jerusalem. (White House)
  • House Passes Taylor Force Act Targeting Palestinian Funding for Killers of Israelis
    The U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed the Taylor Force Act in a voice vote on Tuesday. The bill would reduce U.S. funding for the Palestinians unless their official bodies stop subsidizing families of killers of Israelis. It would leave in place funding for Palestinian security forces and a handful of humanitarian enterprises. The Senate is considering an identical bill.
        American Jewish Committee executive director David Harris said, "The House has taken a crucial step towards ending the PA's intentional misuse of foreign assistance to financially reward Palestinian terrorists and their families." The AJC cited a recent Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs finding that in 2017, the Palestinian Authority allocated more than $344 million for payments to Palestinian prisoners and their families, and to the families of deceased terrorists. (JTA)
        See also Palestinian Payments to Incarcerated Terrorists and Martyrs' Families Rise in 2017 - Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel Was Active Partner with Trump Team on Jerusalem Move
    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his aides have been active partners working in coordination with President Trump and his administration in the lead-up to the president's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital and declaring his intention to relocate the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, Israel's Hadashot TV said Tuesday. Netanyahu's team has been "encouraging, supporting, [and] reassuring" the Trump team over the likely fallout, the report said.
        Israel's Channel 10 reported that Trump "accepted the Israeli argument that said, Let's separate the issue of Jerusalem recognition from the peace process. Prime Minister Netanyahu and Ambassador Dermer succeeded in convincing President Trump that this is a case of righting a historical wrong."  (Times of Israel)
  • Israel May Have Targeted Advanced Missiles for Hizbullah in Syria - Ron Ben-Yishai
    The military facility near Damascus which was attacked Monday is known to Western intelligence services as one of the main development and production centers of the Syrian government's Scientific Studies and Research Center (CERS). The center is in charge of developing sophisticated weapons for the Syrian regime and may have been in the process of improving the precision of Hizbullah's missiles. A shipment of such weapons may have been making its way to Hizbullah.
        The big balls of fire that rose over the area after the strike indicate that the target was weapons, perhaps missiles, which were ready for delivery. Israel's mostly covert "war between wars" has so far prevented the transfer of large quantities of precision-guided missiles to Hizbullah, thereby helping to postpone the next war. (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • The U.S. Is Not Allowing the Palestinians to Control the Terms of the Peace Process - Fred Lucas
    Donald Trump vowed that, if elected, "We will move the American Embassy to the eternal capital of the Jewish people, Jerusalem." Jonathan Schanzer, vice president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, said, "The president has committed to ultimately making a shift, and this is the groundwork for that shift, not all at once, but helping the region acclimate."
        The administration likely has other plans, Schanzer said, and stressed it's not as simple as Trump keeping a campaign promise or potentially disrupting the peace process. "There could be other things the president is offering the Palestinians in a larger package. This could be a regional architecture. It's not peace, but it's a second cousin. Some Arab states are already willing to help Israel if Israel will help them with Iran."
        "The Palestinians may be pushed to a place they aren't familiar with. The U.S. is not allowing them to control the terms. And if there is a regional diplomatic architecture, the Palestinians will not want to be left behind."  (Newsweek)
  • Where Was the Fallout When Russia Recognized Jerusalem as Israel's Capital? - Eyal Zisser
    Russia announced in April that Jerusalem and not Tel Aviv is the capital of Israel. Yet Arab leaders, from the presidents of Syria and Egypt to the king of Saudi Arabia, make pilgrimages to the Kremlin to meet with Putin. Just a few weeks ago, Putin hosted a summit in Sochi with the presidents of Iran and Turkey. None of these leaders remonstrated with Putin's declaration that Jerusalem is Israel's capital, and the matter did nothing to weaken Russia's standing in the region. The writer, vice rector at Tel Aviv University, is former director of its Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies. (Israel Hayom)
  • Of Course Jerusalem Is Israel's Capital - Shmuel Rosner
    For 3,000 years, Jerusalem has been the center of the Jewish people: a physical center for nearly 1,000 years when a temple was standing, and a center for prayer from afar after the Jews were dispersed around the globe. Every year, at the very end of Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year, and at the end of the Passover Seder, Jews recite, "Next year in Jerusalem." "Next year, an American Embassy in Jerusalem" was never in our prayers, but it's still something we welcome as a sign of support - and a recognition of reality.
        Jerusalem is unmistakably Israel's capital, whether outsiders accept this fact or not. President Truman's recognition of Israel on May 14, 1948, was also met with violence - and it is still remembered as a great American moment. (New York Times)
        See also President Truman's Decision to Recognize Israel - Amb. Richard Holbrooke (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

U.S. Recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's Capital Is a Positive Step - Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Amos Yadlin (Twitter)

  • U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital is a positive step and an important one in the face of Palestinian efforts to undermine the Jewish people's historical connection to the city of David.
  • Ben-Gurion said in 1949, "If the Land of Israel is the heart of the Jewish nation, then Jerusalem is its heart of hearts." Then he moved the government and the Knesset to Jerusalem.
  • The Palestinians, Arabs, and Turks are making empty threats. The people of the Middle East, including Palestinians, will not go to the streets on this issue as they are focused on other issues closer to home.
  • Saudi Arabia is focused on Iran, Yemen, Hizbullah; Iran is busy setting up shop in Syria; Egypt and Lebanon are thinking about elections in May.
  • Will it disrupt the peace process? If there is any such process moving in the direction of Israeli-Palestinian peace, that is news to me.
  • Surrendering to the Palestinians and the Arabs on the subject of (West) Jerusalem as Israel's capital amounts to giving them a veto and the ability to blackmail the U.S. and Israel with their threats of violence, in trying to inflict upon us any future parameter they don't like.

    The writer, former chief of Israeli military intelligence, heads the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University.

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