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  DAILY ALERT Wednesday,
December 13, 2017

In-Depth Issues:

Trump's Jerusalem Move Hasn't Sparked an Intifada - Rachel Elbaum (NBC News)
    Less than a week after President Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital, Palestinian protests have largely fizzled out.
    On Monday, fewer than 20 demonstrators gathered outside the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem and chanted pro-Palestinian slogans, but they were outnumbered by journalists.
    See also Trump's Jerusalem Move Didn't Destabilize the Middle East - Sarah Wildman (Vox)
    After President Trump's decision on Jerusalem, the predicted tidal wave of regional instability has so far failed to materialize.
    Analysts say part of the reason is that the primary feeling among Palestinians right now is not rage, but rather despair and fatigue.
    "Many Palestinians who went through the Second Intifada don't want to repeat it," says Ghaith al-Omari, a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
    Plus, Omari adds, Palestinians sense there is a lack of direction from their political leaders, and are thus reluctant to protest without a clear purpose.

The Times Square Intifada - Liel Leibovitz (Tablet)
    Congregating last weekend in Manhattan's Times Square, pro-Palestinian activists protesting Donald Trump's Jerusalem declaration gave us a useful lesson in the true aims of their movement: violence against Jews.
    A video capturing the demonstration begins with the cheer, "We don't want no two state, we want '48." What comes next is, "With spirit and blood we'll redeem al-Aqsa!" and "There is only one solution, Intifada revolution!"
    This is followed by, "Jews, remember Khaybar, the army of Muhammad is returning." Khaybar was an oasis not far from Medina where, in 628 CE, Muslim armies slaughtered and subdued the Jews.
    This is not a human rights campaign. This is not a movement interested in coexistence. And this is not a movement that bothers with any meaningful distinctions between Israelis and Jews. This is a movement dedicated to violence.

"Mishandled Explosives" Kill 2 Palestinians in Gaza (Al Jazeera)
    Two Palestinian Islamic Jihad militants on a motorcycle were killed on Tuesday in an explosion in Gaza which the group says was caused by the men mishandling explosives.
    The Palestinian news agency WAFA said dozens of passers-by were also injured.

Poll: 70 Percent of Palestinians Want Abbas to Resign (PCPSR)
    70% of Palestinians want President Abbas to resign (including 64% in the West Bank and 80% in Gaza), while 26% want him to remain in office, according to a poll conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research in the West Bank and Gaza on Dec. 7-10, 2017.
    61% of the public in the West Bank say that people cannot criticize the PA without fear. Perception of corruption in PA institutions stands at 77%.
    Only 22% support disbanding the armed wings of the various Palestinian factions in Gaza, while 72% want these armed groups to remain in place.
    76% say the Arab world is too preoccupied with its own concerns and that Palestine is no longer the Arabs' primary cause. 71% believe there is already a Sunni Arab alliance with Israel.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Haley: We Don't Need Other Countries Telling Us What's Right or Wrong - Olivia Beavers
    U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley on Sunday pushed back on criticism from world leaders who have condemned President Trump's decision to begin the process of moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, saying, "We have the right to do whatever we want in terms of where we put our embassies. We don't need other countries telling us what's right and wrong."
        Haley defended Trump's decision as a way to help "move the ball" on peace negotiations, "and now, hopefully, we can see the peace process really come together."  (The Hill)
  • India, China and Russia Refrain from Seeking East Jerusalem as Palestinian Capital - Anirban Bhaumik
    India, Russia and China refrained from seeking east Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine after foreign ministers of the three countries met in New Delhi on Monday. The joint statement issued after the meeting called for "negotiations aimed at creating an independent, viable, territorially contiguous Palestinian State living side by side in peace and security with Israel within mutually agreed and internationally recognized borders," with no reference to east Jerusalem.
        The last joint statement issued by the foreign ministers of the three nations at their meeting in Moscow in April 2016 had categorically called for east Jerusalem to be the capital of the future state of Palestine. (Deccan Herald-India)
  • Tillerson: Embassy in Jerusalem Is at Least Three Years Away
    Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson said Tuesday regarding the move of the American Embassy to Jerusalem that "it's not going to be anything that happens right away....We will begin taking the actions necessary to move the embassy. But we've got to secure a site that's suitable. We've got to develop building plans...Then we have to build the building, and then we make the move....So it's probably no earlier than three years out."  (State Department)
  • U.S. National Security Adviser: Qatar and Turkey Are New Sponsors of Radical Ideology - Joyce Karam
    U.S. National Security Adviser Gen. H.R. McMaster criticized Qatar's and Turkey's "new role" in sponsoring and funding extremist ideology on Tuesday at a meeting sponsored by Britain's Policy Exchange in Washington. He said, "radical Islamist ideology is obviously a grave threat to all civilized people." While he made reference to Saudi Arabia's support for radical Islamist charities, madrassas and other social organizations decades ago, he said it "is now done more by Qatar, and by Turkey."
        On Iran, McMaster described the government in Tehran as a "rogue regime also and a revisionist regional power." He said, "we need to counter destabilizing activity especially in Syria," as well as block support for Iran's proxies and its paths to nuclear weapons. (The National-Abu Dhabi)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel Foils Hamas Plot to Kidnap Israelis in West Bank
    A Hamas plan to kidnap Israelis in the West Bank during the Hannukah holiday was thwarted by Israeli security forces, the Israel Security Agency said Wednesday. A Hamas terror cell from the village of Tell near Nablus planned to abduct a soldier or an Israeli civilian from a bus stop in the Samaria region.
        Hamas member Muad Ashtiyya, 26, planned the attack, purchased weapons to carry it out, and recruited Mohammad Ramadan and Ahmad Ramadan, both 19, to join the cell. The cell members were in contact with Omar Atzida, a member of the Hamas command in Gaza. (Ynet News)
  • Israel Responds to Gaza Rocket Fire with Airstrikes - Yoav Zitun
    In response to rocket fire at Israel from Gaza on Tuesday, the Israel Air Force attacked a Hamas military complex in Gaza. Israeli defense officials believe Islamic Jihad is behind the rocket fire in recent days. (Ynet News)
  • Strongest Reaction to Trump's Declaration on Jerusalem Is from Iran and Turkey rather than Arab States - Hillel Frisch
    The strongest reactions to President Trump's declaration on Jerusalem emanated from Iran and Turkey rather than from Arab states or even segments of Palestinian society, reflecting the centrality of the Iranian-Arab conflict compared to the former Israeli-Arab divide.
        Many Palestinian youth will only take the risk of confronting the IDF if they feel that those calling for such sacrifices are placing themselves at risk, which the PA and Hamas aren't. The PA and Hamas are preserving their troops for the showdown between them rather than wasting them against Israel. The writer, a professor of political and Middle East studies at Bar-Ilan University, is a senior fellow at the Jerusalem Institute for Strategic Studies. (Jerusalem Post)
  • To Defeat Israel by Force of Arms Is an Illusion - Amira Hass
    Hamas invested a lot in fostering popular illusions about its ability to weaken, if not defeat, Israel by force of arms and tunnels. The uncovering of another tunnel on the Gaza-Israel border is testimony that the military and technological ingenuity of Hamas will always trail that of Israel. It is national irresponsibility for Palestinians to hallucinate about a successful struggle using inferior weapons, without a united leadership. (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Burning the Israeli Flag Has Nothing to Do with Freedom of Speech - Ines Pohl
    Palestinians in Germany are free to protest in front of the U.S. embassy in Berlin to vent their anger over plans to move the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. But our history does not oblige us to be tolerant of anything and everything.
        Germany is responsible for the murder of at least 6 million Jews during the Holocaust. And no matter how much time has passed since, Germany will always have a unique obligation to fight anti-Semitism. A country that has committed such a crime must not turn a blind eye to any anti-Semitic actions - and particularly those within its own borders.
        This is why burning the Israeli flag in Germany is utterly unacceptable. Those who have come to Germany seeking safety and a new place to call home must abide by this fact. There are fundamental values in German society that are non-negotiable. The writer is editor-in-chief of Deutsche Welle. (Deutsche Welle-Germany)
  • The Heart of the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict - Douglas J. Feith
    Actually, recognition of Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem is unlikely to have a major effect on peace one way or the other. First of all, there has been no serious diplomacy for years. And secondly, the conflict is about much more than Jerusalem.
        Let's be clear on why there is an Arab-Jewish conflict over Palestine - and why it has lasted for more than a century. At the heart of the matter is the conviction that all of Palestine, like all of the rest of the Middle East, belongs exclusively to the Arabs and it is an unendurable and uncompromisable injustice for Jews to exercise sovereignty on Arab land.
        Tactically useful peace agreements may be permitted, but permanent peace with Israel is not. This is a philosophical point rooted in both religious and nationalistic principles that are widely held as sacred in the Palestinian community.  U.S. officials will be able to help end the Palestinian-Israeli conflict only if they actually grasp what the conflict is about. The writer, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, served as the U.S. undersecretary of defense for policy in 2001-2005. (Foreign Policy)
  • Muslims Ignored Jerusalem for Centuries - Jeff Jacoby
    There isn't a member of the Arab League or the Organization of Islamic Cooperation whose right to designate its own capital city is challenged by anyone. In every nation governed by Arabs or Muslims - or, for that matter, by Scandinavians or Africans or Christians or Latin Americans - foreign embassies are located in the capital. Every one, without exception. Only Israel has been treated differently.
        Mohammed never saw Jerusalem or walked its streets; his Arab followers didn't conquer Jerusalem until six years after his death. During the centuries when various Islamic dynasties controlled Jerusalem, none established Jerusalem as its capital.
        After 1948 when east Jerusalem and the Temple Mount were under Muslim rule, they were ignored by the Arab and Muslim powers. No foreign Arab leader ever paid a visit, not even to pray at the al-Aqsa mosque. Palestinians placed so low a priority on Jerusalem that the Palestinian National Covenant of 1964, the PLO's founding charter, makes no reference to it. Only when the Jews returned after the Six-Day War did the Arabs grow passionate about Jerusalem. (Boston Globe)

Can Iran and Its Proxies Be Restrained in Syria? - Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

  • According to Lebanese and Syrian sources, in early December Israel attacked military facilities in Syria apparently used by Iran, including a weapons production compound and a military base, part of an intensifying battle over the future rules of the game in Syria.
  • Iran has made considerable progress towards the goal of controlling Syria to serve its interests in gaining hegemony in the region and strengthening its offensive capability against Israel.
  • Faced with this reality, Israel understands what has to be done - by itself - to protect its interests:
    1. Deny the Iranians and their Hizbullah proxy any permanent presence near the Israeli border in the Golan Heights.
    2. Foil Iranian attempts to supply Hizbullah with advanced weapons produced now in Syria or transferred by air, sea, or via the new ground corridor from Iran.
    3. Prevent Iran from building a permanent military and military industrial (including unconventional) presence in Syria.
  • Through repeated attacks, Israel shows that it maintains an impressive intelligence dominance on the battlefield that enables it to act against targets in a timely and accurate manner.
  • Even though it acts in accordance with its own interests, Israel proves to be the most valuable asset of the pragmatic camp in the region in the effort to prevent Iran and other radical elements from spreading their influence.
  • This last factor illustrates how important the strategic value of Israel is for the West, as well as for the pro-Saudi/pragmatic Arab camp.

    The writer is former chief of the research division of IDF Military Intelligence and director general of the Israel Ministry of Strategic Affairs.

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