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  DAILY ALERT Tuesday,
December 19, 2017

In-Depth Issues:

A Huge Military Buildup Is Underway in Qatar. But Who Will Man the Systems? - Chirine Mouchantaf (Defense News)
    On Sunday, Britain signed a deal with Qatar to supply 24 Typhoon fighters, after agreements with the U.S. to purchase 36 F-15s and France to receive 12 additional Rafale fighters.
    One industrial source noted that Qatar's "air force will now have a total of 96 new aircraft, compared to its current Mirage-2000 fleet of a dozen. The problem faced here is the lack of Qatari armed forces personnel to operate three top-line fighter types."
    The country maintains an air force of 2,500 men.
    Pieter Wezeman, a senior researcher at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), said, "It remains to be seen how [Qatar] will be able to absorb these weapons into an effective force and how much they will be dependent on foreign support, including mercenaries."

Assad's Militiafication of Syria - Charles Lister and Dominic Nelson (Middle East Institute)
    Syrian President Assad has subcontracted the regime's critical military efforts to loyalist militias, which raises questions about the prospects for the regime's future ability to stabilize the country.
    By mid-2013, two years after the civil war began, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) had lost half of its forces, shrinking from 220,000 to 110,000.
    Estimates of SAA manpower under direct government control are now 20,000-25,000 active and offensively deployable troops.
    At the same time, however, militias fighting on behalf of the Assad regime currently number 150,000-200,000 fighters.
    Since 2012, Iran has co-opted, trained, and funded a large portion of the loyalist militias currently operating on Assad's behalf.
    Senior U.S. officials believe that 80% of Assad's military manpower is made up of foreign forces.

9 New Nazi War Crimes Cases Sent to German State Prosecutors (AP-ABC News)
    The main German federal agency that investigates Nazi war crimes has turned over nine new cases to state authorities for possible prosecution, it was reported Monday.
    The cases involve guards from Auschwitz, Mauthausen, Buchenwald and Ravensbrueck.
    Under German law, camp guards have been successfully prosecuted for accessory to murder by proving they were present and helped camps function while killings took place.

Israeli and NATO Navies Ramp Up Ties - Yaakov Lappin (BESA Center for Strategic Studies-Bar-Ilan University)
    The Israeli Navy was invited by the Greek Hellenic Navy to take part in a two-week NATO exercise in November, a symbol of a growing partnership between the Israeli Navy and NATO fleets.
    Lt. Col. Yaniv Lavi, commander of the Navy's 32nd Squadron, said NATO was interested in Israel's navy because "We have the highest number of hours that we spend on operational missions, on a regular basis....We operate all of the time in our combat sectors. This is unique."
    Lt. Col. Assaf Boneh, head of the Israeli Navy's International Cooperation Planning Branch, described growing bilateral naval ties with France.
    "The French arrive in Israel a lot. They have kind of turned Haifa into their home port.... Sometimes the French Navy is here more than the American Navy, which is our biggest partner."

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. Vetoes UN Resolution Condemning U.S. Recognition of Jerusalem - Pamela Falk
    The U.S. vetoed a UN Security Council draft resolution Monday proposed by Egypt and approved by the other 14 council members that called for the reversal of President Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said after the vote, "We call on all learn the hard lessons of the past and work to bring Israel and the Palestinian people in good faith to the peace table."
        Israel's Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon thanked Haley for a "courageous stance." "Every other country in the world has the right to designate its capital city. But when it comes to Israel, somehow this most basic national right is questioned and condemned," he said. (CBS News)
        See also below Observations: U.S. Vetoes UN Jerusalem Resolution "in Defense of American Sovereignty" - Amb. Nikki Haley (U.S. Mission to the UN)
  • New U.S. Security Doctrine Emphasizes that Israel Not the Root of Mideast's Problems
    A blueprint for U.S. national security presented by President Trump on Monday notes: "For generations the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians has been understood as the prime irritant preventing peace and prosperity in the region. Today, the threats from jihadist terrorist organizations and the threat from Iran are creating the realization that Israel is not the cause of the region's problems. States have increasingly found common interests with Israel in confronting common threats."
        As a "priority action," "we will work with partners to deny the Iranian regime all paths to a nuclear weapon and neutralize Iranian malign influence."  (White House)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Hamas Moves to Curb Gaza Rocket Fire into Israel - Amos Harel
    Hamas in Gaza has in recent days arrested many Salafi militants responsible for the recent rocket launches at Israel. Hamas has sent a message through Egyptian intelligence that it seeks to avoid an escalation of the recent violence with Israel. Since Dec. 6, nearly 30 rockets have been fired at Israel, but around half fell short and landed in Gaza. (Ha'aretz)
        See also IDF Strikes Gaza after Terrorist Rocket Hits Israeli Home - Lilach Shoval
    The Israel Air Force hit several Hamas targets in Gaza overnight Monday after rockets fired from Gaza hit a home in Israel. "We will not tolerate any attempt to harm Israeli citizens. Israel holds the Hamas terrorist organization solely responsible for what transpires in Gaza," the IDF Spokesperson said. (Israel Hayom)
        See also Video: IDF Retaliatory Attacks on Hamas Targets - Yoav Zitun (Ynet News)
  • Palestinians Are Destroying King Herod's Palace in Jericho - Nadav Shragai
    The Palestinians received the excavated site of King Herod's Third Palace near Jericho as part of the Oslo Accords. Recently it was discovered that the Palestinians had built housing around it, with some of the homes constructed on the grounds of the palace itself. The remains of the palace are being systematically demolished to construct a road. The historic edifice is being stripped of its stone, and the supporting pillars and arches have been defaced. Most of Herod's palace lies within Area A of the West Bank, where the Palestinian Authority has exclusive control. (Israel Hayom)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Abbas Is Damaging the Peace Process by Denying Jewish History in Jerusalem - Elliott Abrams
    Archaeologists keep finding more and more aspects of the Jewish past in Jerusalem in the biblical period. Like his predecessor Yasser Arafat, PA President Mahmoud Abbas is now denying any Jewish history in Jerusalem at all. I've known Abbas for 15 years and it is painful to see this man, generally viewed as a "moderate voice," descend to these depths.
        He has done it before, and then pulled back when called on it: see his speech to the European Parliament in 2016, when he said Israeli rabbis were calling for the poisoning of water wells in the West Bank and then issued a statement saying he'd been misinformed.
        Abbas is now presenting Jerusalem as a Christian/Muslim city whose only connection to the Jews is that they are lying about it and defiling it. It has never been clear to me what he expected to gain from such vile statements. If Abbas is the only, indeed best possible, Palestinian partner for peace and these are his views, what chance is there for a successful negotiation?
        The "peace process" is damaged not by decisions like the President's, which was so carefully worded and explained, but by the kind of language Abbas used. You cannot say those things and then hold yourself out as a leader committed to peace and harmonious coexistence. The writer, a senior fellow at the CFR, handled Middle East affairs at the U.S. National Security Council from 2001 to 2009. (Council on Foreign Relations)
  • Half of Jerusalem's Arabs Work in Jewish Areas of the City - Matti Friedman
    Jerusalem is always said to be on the brink of catastrophe. Every act of bloodshed here is heavily covered by the media, which creates the impression that Jerusalem is a violent place, but that's misleading. If you count every violent fatality this year in this city of 860,000 - not just political violence but apolitical homicides, too - the number is 27, less than a quarter of the homicide number last year in Jacksonville, Fla., a city the same size.
        In the Talpiot industrial zone in Jerusalem, an Israeli area, of the 50 workers I counted at one of the big supermarkets, at least 2/3 were Palestinian. One cashier, a Jewish woman with a modest hair covering, was serving three Muslim women with modest hair coverings. At a SuperPharm nearby, an Arab female pharmacist was serving a Jewish woman with a prescription. It's remarkable how unremarkable it's become to see Palestinian customers or salespeople in a Jewish part of town.
        Jewish Jerusalem is drawing more and more workers from the city's Arab areas, and mixing in the workplace has dramatically increased. Nearly half of the city's Arab workers are now employed in Jewish areas and the number is rising. So is the number of Palestinian students enrolled at Israeli universities. Palestinians and Israelis might not like each other, but their fates are becoming more tightly entwined, and everyone has more to lose if things fall apart. (Globe and Mail-Canada)

U.S. Vetoes UN Jerusalem Resolution "in Defense of American Sovereignty" - Amb. Nikki Haley (U.S. Mission to the UN)

After the UN Security Council vote on the Jerusalem resolution on Monday, U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said:

  • "The fact that this veto is being done in defense of American sovereignty and in defense of America's role in the Middle East peace process is not a source of embarrassment for us; it should be an embarrassment to the remainder of the Security Council."
  • "The President took great care not to prejudge final status negotiations in any way, including the specific boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem....It is highly regrettable that some are trying to distort the President's position to serve their own agendas."
  • "What is troublesome to some people is that the United States had the courage and honesty to recognize a fundamental reality. Jerusalem has been the political, cultural, and spiritual homeland of the Jewish people for thousands of years. They have had no other capital city. But the United States' recognition of the obvious - that Jerusalem is the capital and seat of the modern Israeli government - is too much for some."
  • "Back in 1980, when Jimmy Carter was the American President, the Security Council voted on Resolution 478, which called upon diplomatic missions to relocate from Jerusalem....Then-Secretary of State Ed Muskie said...'In our judgment, this provision is not binding. It is without force. And we reject it as a disruptive attempt to dictate to other nations.'...The United States will not be told by any country where we can put our embassy."
  • "The United States has done more than any other country to assist the Palestinian people. By far. Since 1994, we have given over $5 billion to the Palestinians....Last year, the United States voluntarily funded almost 30% of UNRWA's budget. That's more than the next two largest donors combined.... When the American people see a group of countries whose total contributions to the Palestinian people is less than 1% of UNRWA's budget...accuse the United States of being insufficiently committed to peace, the American people lose their patience."
  • "What we witnessed here today in the Security Council is an insult. It won't be forgotten. It's one more example of the United Nations doing more harm than good in addressing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Today, for the simple act of deciding where to put our embassy, the United States was forced to defend its sovereignty. The record will reflect that we did so proudly."
    See also UN Gives a Pass to Palestinian Leaders Who "Rejected One Peace Proposal after Another" - Amb. Nikki Haley (U.S. Mission to the UN)

Prior to the UN Security Council vote on the Jerusalem resolution on Monday, U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said:
  • "This week marks the one-year anniversary of the passage of Resolution 2334. On that day, in this Council, in December 2016, the United States elected to abstain, allowing the measure to pass....Given the chance to vote again on Resolution 2334, I can say with complete confidence that the United States would vote "no."...It was Resolution 2334 itself that was an impediment to peace."
  • "This Security Council put the negotiations between Israelis and the Palestinians further out of reach by injecting itself, yet again, in between the two parties to the conflict. By misplacing the blame for the failure of peace efforts squarely on the Israeli settlements, the resolution gave a pass to Palestinian leaders who for many years rejected one peace proposal after another. It also gave them encouragement to avoid negotiations in the future....And the Council passed judgment on issues that must be decided in direct negotiations between the parties."
  • "Talking in New York cannot take the place of face-to-face negotiations between the regional parties. It only sets back the cause of peace, not advance it. As if to make this very point, Resolution 2334 demanded a halt to all Israeli settlement activity in east Jerusalem - even in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City. This is something that no responsible person or country would ever expect Israel would do."
  • "To the United Nations' shame, this has been a disproportionately hostile place for the Middle East's most enduring democracy. The United States refuses to accept the double standard that says we are not impartial when we stand by the will of the American people by moving our U.S. embassy, but somehow the United Nations is a neutral party when it consistently singles out Israel for condemnation."

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