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December 11, 2017

In-Depth Issues:

IDF Neutralizes Hamas Terror Tunnel on Gaza Border - Lilach Shoval and Gadi Golan (Israel Hayom)
    The IDF neutralized an attack tunnel on Saturday night that had been dug by Hamas several hundred meters into Israeli territory from Gaza, the IDF announced Sunday.
    The latest tunnel was uncovered with the help of advanced technological tools complemented by intelligence efforts.
    The tunnel was not detonated, but was neutralized "permanently" in a "quiet" manner, said IDF Spokesman Brig.-Gen. Ronen Manelis.
    He said the tunnel was equipped with electricity, communications equipment and a ventilation system.
    See also Israel's Tunnel-Busting Breakthrough Is Neutralizing Hamas' Strategic Weapon - Amos Harel (Ha'aretz)
    The Israeli army's discovery of a Hamas attack tunnel dug into Israeli territory - the second such find in six weeks - reflects a shift in the military balance between Israel and Hamas.
    The two tunnels were located in border areas where construction of the new anti-tunnel defensive barrier has yet to begin.
    See also More Details on Israel's New Underground Barrier - Anna Ahronheim (Jerusalem Post)
    To build the new underground barrier opposite Gaza, the IDF is using a German hydromill, a powerful drill that can destroy anything that crosses its path.
    The excavated area is then filled with bentonite, a clay-like mineral that expands and turns into an adhesive when it comes into contact with water.
    When the bentonite comes into contact with a tunnel, the bentonite drains into it, effectively destroying it.

In Sign of Warming Ties, Bahraini Delegation Visits Israel (Times of Israel)
    A delegation of religious figures from the Gulf kingdom of Bahrain arrived in Israel this week for a four-day visit to send a message of religious tolerance and coexistence.
    "The king sent us with a message of peace," a Shiite cleric said, according to a report by Hadashot TV on Saturday.

Iran-Backed Iraqi Shi'ite Militia Leader Visits Israeli Border (Reuters)
    Qais al-Khazali, leader of the Iran-backed Iraqi Shi'ite militia Asaib Ahl al-Haq, visited Lebanon's border with Israel accompanied by Hizbullah members, a video released on Saturday showed.
    Iran's Revolutionary Guards, who established Hizbullah in Lebanon in 1982, have mobilized Shi'ite militias from around the region in recent years.

Jewish Leaders Condemn Firebomb Attack on Swedish Synagogue - Tamara Zieve (Jerusalem Post)
    Leading Jewish groups spoke out after a Swedish synagogue was firebombed on Saturday and protests in other European cities against U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital included anti-Semitic chants.
    "It is unconscionable that Jews are under attack on the streets of Europe, whether by terrorists hurling Molotov cocktails or openly and brazenly calling for the mass murder of Jews in Malmo, Vienna and Paris," said European Jewish Congress President Dr. Moshe Kantor.
    Rabbi Abraham Cooper, Associate Dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, said, "Now the world witnesses 20 hooded terrorists firebomb a synagogue in Gothenburg, where Jewish youngsters inside barely escaped injury or death. What more will it take for this democracy to finally deploy the full weight of their law enforcement and judicial powers against anti-Semites and provide full protection for its Jewish citizens?"
    See also Three Arrested in Sweden Synagogue Firebombing - Christina Anderson (New York Times)

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Israel Urges EU to Back U.S. Mideast Peace Moves - Lorne Cook
    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged the EU on Monday to back a new U.S. peace initiative in the Middle East during an official visit to Brussels. "We should give peace a chance. I think we should see what is presented and see if we can advance this peace," he said.
        "What President Trump has done is put facts squarely on the table. Peace is based on reality," Netanyahu insisted. "Jerusalem is Israel's capital, no one can deny it. It doesn't obviate peace, it makes peace possible."  (AP-Washington Post)
        See also Netanyahu Pushes Back Against EU Pressure on Jerusalem - Nikos Chrysoloras and Marine Strauss
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday in Brussels before a meeting with EU foreign ministers: "Israel is the strongest power in the Middle East that is preventing the spread of militant Islam, not only preventing ISIS attacks in Europe but also preventing the collapse of many parts in the Middle East adjacent to Israel that otherwise would be taken over by these militant Islamists, driving many, many millions into Europe."
        He called UN and UNESCO decisions on Jerusalem "laughable," and said, "I believe that all or most of the EU countries will move their embassies to Jerusalem, recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital, and engage robustly with us for security, prosperity, and peace."  (Bloomberg)
  • Video - Israeli Diplomat: Palestinian Negotiators Must Enter the "Box of Realism" - Fareed Zakaria interviews Dore Gold
    Former Israel Foreign Ministry Director-General Dore Gold said on Sunday: "In order for negotiations to succeed, and I've been involved in a series of negotiations from the days of the Hebron Accord to the Wye Agreement and onward, you have to get the parties into what I call 'the box of realism.' And, unfortunately, those who have been engaged in peace negotiations on the Palestinian side haven't been there."
        "Partly, it's not their fault. Partly, it's the fault of the international community which has organizations like UNESCO, which in May 2017 adopted yet another resolution which disqualified Israel - cut off the historical and legal ties of Israel to Jerusalem. And in a certain sense, what President Trump has done, he has introduced an important correction - I may say a brave correction - in that whole history of UNESCO resolutions that aren't based on international law, they're not based on truth, they're based on political power being exercised against the State of Israel."  (CNN)
        See also Video: The Evidence that Jerusalem Is Jewish - Dore Gold (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Palestinian Stabs Israeli Security Guard in Jerusalem - Nir Hasson
    Yassin Abu Alkra'a, 24, a resident of the West Bank, stabbed security guard Asher Elmaliach, 46, at the entrance to Jerusalem's central bus station on Sunday. The victim is in critical condition. The terrorist posted on Facebook prior to the attack, "for Allah and for the honor of Al Aqsa we will shed our blood." The attacker was apprehended. (Ha'aretz)
  • Palestinians Keep Protests within Bounds
    Despite some fiery rhetoric, Palestinian demonstrations against Trump's declaration on Jerusalem have been nowhere near the scale of the two intifadas. All in all, it has involved a few thousand people in the West Bank and Gaza. The recent confrontations are not the result of a spontaneous, popular outburst, but the fruit of an almost unprecedented propaganda effort by the Palestinian Authority. Yet the PA leadership is still being careful not to let things get out of hand. (Walla! News-Globes)
        See also Trump's Decision on Jerusalem Nothing to Get Killed Over - Ron Ben-Yishai
    President Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital did not whip up quite the furor in the Arab and Muslim street envisioned by Hizbullah and Hamas leaders. The Arab street's reaction, in fact, was relatively moderate and subdued. Palestinians know the decision has no practical significance capable of changing reality on the ground, so there's nothing to get killed over.
        The main reason is that Trump's announcement was not perceived as a religious matter - a threat to Islam - but a national-political issue. It's not something people are willing to be martyred over. The Palestinian backlash to Trump's speech did not carry enough energy to jumpstart truly dangerous violence.
        Almost all of the people reported by the Palestinians to have been wounded in clashes Friday were hurt by inhaling tear gas and burning tire fumes and not by Israel's security forces. (Ynet News)
  • IDF Bombs Hamas Positions in Gaza after Rocket Attacks - Judah Ari Gross
    An Israel Defense Forces tank and aircraft carried out strikes on two Hamas positions in Gaza on Thursday in retaliation for Palestinian rocket attacks. Three rockets were fired at Israel, but only one reached Israeli territory. The al-Qaeda affiliated Tawhid al-Jihad took responsibility for the launches. (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Europe, Be a Fair Friend - Fiamma Nirenstein
    As Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with EU foreign ministers on Monday, Europe, too, should recognize reality and that the time has come to change course. The road of truth is the one that will lead to peace. European actions will never encourage the Palestinians to abandon their aggression, cease their absolute denial of Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state, or stop following their unproductive road of criminalizing and delegitimizing Israel.
        Zionism itself was conceived in Europe, and almost all of Israel's Founding Fathers spoke European languages and grew up in European countries. Europe, in fact, is the continent that championed the Balfour Declaration. It led the way for the League of Nations to ratify a state for the Jewish People, and later for the historic 1947 UN General Assembly vote.
        Yet, for years, the relationship between Europe and Israel has been strained. Europe tends to criticize Israel for simply defending itself against the continual threats and terrorist attacks it faces on all its borders and inside its cities. Europe, too, often disregards Israel's attempts to bring about peace, such as its disengagement from Gaza.
        Remember, Europe: Israel's fight for its survival and the survival of the Jewish people is also your battle. In addition, Israel has a love for democracy and social justice just like you. If you want to be part of a peace process, help us to stop the Palestinians from using incitement, criminalization, and demonization; stop them from fueling terrorism and violence; and invite them to come back to the negotiation table.
        The writer, a former member of the Italian Parliament and Vice President of the Committee on Foreign Affairs in the Chamber of Deputies, is a fellow of the Jerusalem Center. (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Trump Is Right on Jerusalem - Former Rep. Steve Israel
    President Trump's recognition of Jerusalem is correct. There has always been strong bipartisan agreement on relocating the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. I co-sponsored legislation supporting the move based on the fundamental belief that Jerusalem is the eternal and undivided capital of Israel, and that Israel's adversaries have no right to exercise veto power over where we choose to locate our embassy.
        Trump hasn't closed the door to negotiations on a two-state solution. He's created an opening by suggesting to Palestinian leaders that time is not their ally, and that it's in their interest to get serious about negotiating before time and policies pass them by. Instead of inciting violence that will end lives, they'd be better off restarting negotiations to ensure their future.
        We shouldn't wait any longer to afford Israel the same diplomatic recognition that we extend to every other ally with which we maintain diplomatic relations, and that is locating our embassy in its capital city. The writer served as a U.S. Congressman (D-N.Y.) from 2001 to 2017. (The Hill)
        See also This Time, Trump Is Right - Nahum Barnea
    The world didn't like President Trump's speech. With all due respect, this time they are wrong. Trump is right about the case in question. The world's 70-year refusal to officially recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital was a foolish mistake. It's time to fix that mistake. The argument that the speech harms the peace process is baseless, as there is no peace process going on.
        The person who turned Jerusalem into Israel's capital wasn't Donald Trump. It was Israel's first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion. And he did it despite the world's criticism. The writer, a veteran Israeli journalist, won the Israel Prize in 2007. (Ynet News)
  • Jerusalem Denial Complex - Bret Stephens
    Pretending that Jerusalem isn't what it is, is a formula for continued self-delusion. What Jerusalem is, is the capital of Israel, both as the ancestral Jewish homeland and the modern nation-state. When Richard Nixon became the first American president to visit the country in 1974, he attended his state dinner in Jerusalem. It's where President Anwar Sadat of Egypt spoke when he decided to make peace in 1977. It's what Congress decided as a matter of law in 1995. When Barack Obama paid his own presidential visit to Israel in 2013, he, too, spent most of his time in Jerusalem. So why maintain the fiction that Jerusalem isn't the capital?
        Recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital belatedly aligns the U.S. with the country toward which we are constantly professing friendship even as we have spent seven decades stinting it of the most basic form of recognition. Recognition also tells the Palestinians that they can no longer hold other parties hostage to their demands. Nations pay a price for the foolhardiness of their leaders. (New York Times)

U.S.: Israel, Like All Nations, Has the Right to Determine Its Capital City - Amb. Nikki Haley (U.S. Mission to the UN)

U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley told the Security Council on Friday:

  • "The Jewish people are a patient people. Throughout 3,000 years of civilization, foreign conquest, exile, and return, Jerusalem has remained their spiritual home. For nearly 70 years, the city of Jerusalem has been the capital of the State of Israel, despite many attempts by others to deny that reality."
  • "The American people are less patient. In 1948, the United States was the first nation to recognize the independent State of Israel. In 1995, the U.S. Congress declared that Jerusalem should be recognized as the capital of Israel, and that the U.S. Embassy should be located in Jerusalem."
  • "Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama all agreed with that position, but they did not act. They delayed, in the hopes that a peace process would produce results - results that never came....This week, President Trump finally made the decision to no longer deny the will of the American people....The President has announced that the United States recognizes the obvious - that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel."
  • "Israel, like all nations, has the right to determine its capital city....It is simple common sense that foreign embassies be located there. In virtually every country in the world, U.S. embassies are located in the host country's capital city. Israel should be no different."
  • "Our actions are intended to help advance the cause of peace. We must recognize that peace is advanced, not set back, when all parties are honest with each other. Our actions reflected an honest assessment of reality."
  • "To those who do not act in good faith - to any person, leader, country, or terrorist group that uses this week's decision as a pretext for violence - you are only showing yourselves to be unfit partners of peace."
  • "Over many years, the United Nations has outrageously been one of the world's foremost centers of hostility towards Israel. The UN has done much more to damage the prospects for Middle East peace than to advance them. We will not be a party to that. The United States no longer stands by when Israel is unfairly attacked in the United Nations. And the United States will not be lectured to by countries that lack any credibility when it comes to treating both Israelis and Palestinians fairly."

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