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December 22, 2017

In-Depth Issues:

Bangladesh Rejects Israeli Aid Offers for Rohingya Refugees - Itamar Eichner (Ynet News)
    The Israel Foreign Ministry established contact with Bangladesh - a Muslim country without any diplomatic ties with Israel - to offer significant humanitarian aid for Muslim refugees from the Rohingya minority who fled from Myanmar.
    Bangladesh thanked Israel for the offer, but said it cannot accept aid due to the political ramifications that could ensue.
    The Israel Foreign Ministry is exploring other routes through which to provide humanitarian assistance to the Rohingya refugees.

Bahrain Advises Against Clash with U.S. over Jerusalem - Ben Lynfield (Jerusalem Post)
    Bahraini Foreign Minister Khaled bin Ahmed al-Khalifa tweeted on Wednesday that "it's not helpful to pick a fight with the U.S. over side issues while we together fight the clear and present danger of the Theo-Fascist Islamic Republic [of Iran]."

Michael Oren: Israel Should Evict the UN from Its Jerusalem Headquarters - Raphael Ahren (Times of Israel)
    Israel's Deputy Minister for Diplomacy Michael Oren called on Thursday for Israel to evict the UN from its Jerusalem headquarters, as the General Assembly voted to reject U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital.
    Oren, a former Israeli ambassador to the U.S., said, "We must evict the UN from the scenic Government House [in Jerusalem], where its bloated staff does nothing, and give this historic site to a school, a hospital or, best yet, a new U.S. embassy."

Indian MP: India Made a Huge Mistake in Voting Against U.S. on Jerusalem - Shailaja Neelakantan (Times of India)
    BJP party MP Subramanian Swamy said India made "a huge mistake" voting in the UN against the U.S. on the Jerusalem issue, and a large number of Indians on Twitter seem to agree with him.
    Swamy said India voted against its national interest, because "Palestine has never supported India on the Kashmir question," while Israel "has stood with India always."
    He also said that West Jerusalem belongs to Israel, so he sees nothing wrong with the U.S., or India, for that matter, having their embassies there.

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Anti-Israel Protests in Berlin, by Immigrants, Dismay German Officials - Rick Noack and Luisa Beck (Washington Post)
    Sparked by President Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital, pro-Palestinian demonstrators have been burning Israeli flags in the center of Berlin while chanting anti-Semitic slogans threatening violence against Israelis.
    One protest Friday took place only 100 yards from the city's somber Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, a reminder of Germany's responsibility for the worst mass murder in history.
    What should Germany do about the attitudes of Middle Eastern immigrants who don't share a sense of responsibility for the Holocaust?

U.S. Troops to Remain in Iraq and Syria for the Foreseeable Future - Shawn Snow (Military Times)
    Despite the pending defeat of ISIS in Iraq and Syria, there are no near-term plans for U.S. troops to begin drawing down forces in the region.
    U.S. officials say removing the ISIS militants continues to progress as U.S.-backed Syrian fighters move along the eastern bank of the Euphrates.
    Coalition advisers are still training local security elements like the Raqqa Internal Security Forces to maintain stability and clear explosive devices from the city.
    In Iraq, ISIS is still clinging to territory in the Jazeera desert of western Anbar province. Its fighters are scattered along the desert in remote pockets, making locating them far more complicated.
    Meanwhile, the heavy air campaign is transitioning into a drone and intelligence collection operation to find and kill remaining ISIS fighters.
    ISIS fighters in the region number less than 3,000.

Israel's Elbit Systems Gets $46 Million NATO Contract (Reuters)
    Israeli defense contractor Elbit Systems said on Tuesday it won a $46 million contract to equip NATO's Airbus A330 tankers with direct infrared countermeasures self-protection systems, along with infrared-based passive airborne warning systems.
    The systems will allow the aircraft to operate more safely in hostile environments.

Israel's Jesus Trail: 3 Days of Trekking, Eating and Generous Strangers - Tara Isabella Burton (Wall Street Journal)
    I spent nearly as much time eating with strangers as walking during my trip earlier this year along the Jesus Trail, a 40-mile trek from Nazareth to the Sea of Galilee.
    Established in 2007, the trail links Muslim and Christian towns such as Nazareth and Cana, the Orthodox Jewish kibbutz of Lavi, and the Druse shrine at Nabi Shue'ib.

Israeli Teen Rewarded for Finding WhatsApp Bug - Liel Leibovitz (Tablet)
    Yuval Shprintz, a high school senior, is 17, lives in Tzurit, a small moshav in northern Israel, and is interested in information security.
    He was toying with WhatsApp, the instant messaging platform owned by Facebook, when he stumbled on a major security breach.
    Shprintz alerted Facebook of the problem using its bug bounty program, and in December he received a check for $1,250.
    "We're grateful that this has been brought to our attention," Facebook said. "We've quickly fixed the problem."

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • UN Votes 128-9 to Criticize U.S. Decision on Jerusalem - Louis Nelson
    The UN General Assembly on Thursday adopted a resolution criticizing the U.S. decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital. The nonbinding resolution was adopted with 128 nations in favor, 9 against, 35 abstained, and 21 countries did not vote.
        U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said, "The United States will remember this day in which it was singled out for attack in the General Assembly for the very act of exercising our right as a sovereign nation.... When a nation is singled out for attack in this organization, that nation is disrespected. What's more, that nation is asked to pay for the privilege of being disrespected. In the case of the United States, we are asked to pay more than anyone else for that dubious privilege."
        "Unlike in some UN member countries, the United States government is answerable to its people. As such, we have an obligation to acknowledge when our political and financial capital is being poorly spent. We have an obligation to demand more for our investment. And if our investment fails, we have an obligation to spend our resources in more productive ways."  (Politico)
        See also Text: Amb. Nikki Haley's Speech Ahead of UN Vote
    "To its shame, the United Nations has long been a hostile place for the State of Israel....It's a wrong that undermines the credibility of this institution, and that in turn is harmful for the entire world."
        "Israel has chosen to remain in this institution because it's important to stand up for yourself. Israel must stand up for its own survival as a nation; but it also stands up for the ideals of freedom and human dignity that the United Nations is supposed to be about."  (U.S. Mission to the UN)
  • Haley Invites Countries that Didn't Vote Against U.S. to Friendship Reception
    U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley sent an invitation Thursday to the 65 countries that didn't vote against the U.S. in the UN General Assembly vote to denounce President Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital. The invitation invites them to the Jan. 3 reception "to thank you for your friendship to the United States."  (Fox News)
        See also U.S. Exploring Options after UN Vote - Max Greenwood
    President Trump's foreign policy team is exploring possible responses to a UN vote Thursday condemning the U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Thursday, "The president's foreign policy team has been empowered to explore various options going forward."  (The Hill)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Netanyahu: "Jerusalem Is Our Capital, Always Was, Always Will Be"
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded to Thursday's UN General Assembly vote: "Israel completely rejects this preposterous resolution. Jerusalem is our capital. Always was, always will be. But I do appreciate the fact that a growing number of countries refused to participate in this theater of the absurd. So I appreciate that, and especially I want to again express our thanks to President Trump and Ambassador Haley for their stalwart defense of Israel and their stalwart defense of the truth."  (Prime Minister's Office)
  • Why the UN Defeat Isn't as Bad as It Looks - Raphael Ahren
    On Thursday, the UN General Assembly voted to reject U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital and called on countries not to move their diplomatic missions to the city. Nine countries - the U.S., Israel, Togo, Guatemala, Honduras, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, and Marshall Islands - voted no. There were 35 abstentions and 21 countries absent.
        The fact that a total of 65 nations did not actively vote against the U.S. was "hugely significant," Israel Foreign Ministry spokesperson Emmanuel Nachshon said. On Nov. 30, 2017, 151 countries voted in favor of a General Assembly resolution to disavow Israeli ties to Jerusalem that condemned Israel in much harsher terms. (Times of Israel)
        See also Analysis of the UN Vote on Jerusalem - Herb Keinon
    Of the 28 EU countries, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Latvia, Poland, and Romania abstained and Lithuania did not show up. 15 African states abstained, Togo voted for Israel, and Kenya and Zambia did not show up. In Latin America, Argentina, Colombia, Mexico, Panama and Paraguay abstained. Among the Caribbean countries, once reflexively voting against Israel, Antigua-Barbuda, the Bahamas, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica, and Trinidad-Tobago abstained.
        With the exception of Syria and Yemen, no other Arab countries took the podium to slam Israel, a role instead played by Turkey, Venezuela, Pakistan, Indonesia, Cuba, Iran, Malaysia and North Korea. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also List: How Countries Voted on Jerusalem UN Resolution (CTV-Canada)
        See also Ron Prosor: Significant Number of States Stood with Truth, Morality, and Justice - Joshua Davidovich
    Former Israeli ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor wrote in Israel Hayom on Friday: "There are those who might see the vote tally yesterday and conclude it was a loss for Israel and the U.S., but that would be a mistake. The automatic majority against Israel passes 22 resolutions a year by a wide margin and will continue to do so. The fight in the General Assembly isn't over whether a resolution will pass or not. That's a lost battle. The fight is over how much it will be by and on the quality of the side standing with truth, morality and justice, and yesterday, that side was significant."  (Times of Israel)
        See also UN Vote on Jerusalem Highlighted Pockets of Support for Israel - Rory Jones
    The voting pattern on the resolution admonishing the U.S. move to recognize Jerusalem highlighted pockets of diplomatic support for Israel. The result was less unanimously against Israel than the vote on many other UN resolutions on Israel. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Palestinian Reconciliation "Collapsing" over Weapons Dispute, Hamas Leader Says - Dov Lieber
    Hamas Gaza chief Yahya Sinwar said Thursday that the Palestinian reconciliation process is failing. "Whoever doesn't see that reconciliation is collapsing is blind," said Sinwar. "Some people want reconciliation on Israeli and American terms, which means handing over weapons and the tunnel and rocket capabilities."
        An Egyptian-brokered agreement set a Dec. 1 deadline for Hamas to fully transfer power in Gaza to the PA, but Hamas police still patrol the streets, while crippling electricity shortages endure.   (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

    UN Vote on Jerusalem

  • UN Attacks America over Jerusalem - Editorial
    U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley stood tall at the podium before the Parliament of Man and rejected the UN General Assembly's descent into the insanity of mob rule on a vote that absurdly labeled "null and void" the Trump administration's correct decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and place the American embassy there. Not satisfied with the evil anti-Semitism of using Israel, the world's only Jewish state, as the perennial whipping boy, the UN pack has turned on America.
        The two-thirds of the body that supported this act encompassed countries that should know better, like Britain, France, Germany and Japan. High praise to Canada, Mexico, Australia and Argentina, among others, for refusing to go along. And also the Poles, Czechs, Romanians and Hungarians.
        Haley told the delegates that the decisions of the U.S. are for the U.S. to judge, not the UN. They tried to hurt the U.S. and Israel - and will end up hurting the UN. (New York Daily News)
  • Conference of Presidents Leaders Denounce Shameful UN Resolution on Jerusalem as Israel's Capital
    Leaders of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations Thursday denounced the resolution on Jerusalem adopted by the UN General Assembly as the latest example in a long history of counterproductive measures that undermine the prospect of negotiations with Israel. The leaders commended the responsible actions of those countries voting against the resolution, and noted the important message sent by the sixty-five countries that opposed it, abstained, or did not cast a vote.
        Stephen M. Greenberg, Chairman, and Malcolm Hoenlein, Executive Vice Chairman & CEO of the Conference of Presidents, said, "The shameful, one-sided, anti-Israel UN General Assembly resolution adopted today is another stain on the United Nations that willfully disregards historic facts, distorts the present day reality, and reinforces Palestinian resistance to negotiations with Israel....This resolution adds to the long record of biased anti-Israel resolutions adopted in the General Assembly, by UNESCO, the Human Rights Council and other UN bodies."
        "We are once again grateful to the U.S. and Ambassador Nikki Haley for displaying steadfast moral leadership in defense of what is right and in the U.S. national interest, and in support of Israel."  (COP-Hamodia)
  • An American Paradigm Shift - Lior Weintraub
    Unlike past votes on anti-Israel resolutions, this time the resolution had nothing to do with Israel's actual conduct, but everything to do with its very existence and with the U.S. decision to implement the Jerusalem Embassy Act, which has received bipartisan consensus for more than two decades.
        In 2011, when Israel was trying to derail the Palestinians' statehood bid at the UN, I attended a high-level meeting between Israeli and American officials. When the Israelis asked the U.S. State Department to help torpedo the Palestinian effort, one American official responded: "The United Nations General Assembly gives the U.S. only one vote, just like all other states, and we have very limited clout." The subtext was that the U.S. was unwilling to have Israel's back in diplomatic forums.
        But even though the Palestinians had eight years to advance the peace process with the friendliest administration they could imagine, the peace process remained at an impasse.
        Today we are in a different era. It is clear that the Trump administration is going out of its way to signal that there is no daylight between Israel and the U.S. on the most sensitive issues, both military and political. The Americans are driving home the message that the world's strongest superpower is offering unequivocal support for its allies. This will bolster Washington's credibility in the international system. The writer, former chief of staff at the Israeli Embassy in Washington, is vice president and director of the Israel office of The Israel Project. (Israel Hayom)

  • U.S. Recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's Capital

  • The Palestinian Cause Has Lost Its Resonance
    President Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital has also highlighted the decrepit state of the Palestinian national movement. Protests against the decision were relatively small - only a few thousand Palestinians turned out at their peak.
        The Palestinians feel alone and despondent. Their cause has lost its resonance in a Middle East convulsed by civil wars and proxy battles between Iran, a Shia power, and Saudi Arabia, the region's Sunni champion. In the West Bank, young people dream of leaving for a better life in the West or the Gulf states. On the streets of Gaza, where Hamas once enjoyed broad support, it is now common to hear criticism of the group, and even nostalgia for the days when Israel controlled the territory.
        Mr. Abbas has little legitimacy to negotiate on behalf of his people, two-thirds of whom want him to resign. But Hamas has done no better. Hamas' three wars with Israel have brought only misery to the territory, where half the population is unemployed. (Economist-UK)
  • Needed: A Post-Peace-Process Generation of Palestinian Leaders - Ronald Tiersky
    The Palestinian cause has effectively worn out its welcome. For no government in the Middle East or outside of it is the Palestinian right to a state a priority. For the U.S., settling the Israeli-Palestinian conflict used to be a priority because Arab Sunni countries were a big source of oil. However, America's shale-based energy revolution decreases the Middle East's importance to America's vital interests.
        The peace process has not broken down. There simply is no peace process, and has not been for years. Sporadic factitious negotiations are not a peace process. Arguably, over the past few decades the worst enemy of the Palestinian people has been their own leaders. The Palestinians need a post-peace-process generation of leaders, people ready to accept geopolitical and historical reality in order to turn their outlook from hopeless to hopeful. The writer is professor of political science at Amherst College. (RealClearWorld)
  • Inciting Hatred on the Basis of Religion Will Not Establish a Palestinian State - Rami Aziz
    The mishandling of the Palestinian issue by the Palestinians themselves, and the permitting of a number of different countries and groups to use their issue on the basis that it represents a religious war between Muslims and Jews, has not only damaged the issue but completely derailed it. The inciting of hatred and resentment against the other on the basis of religion has not and will not succeed in establishing a Palestinian state.
        As for those who try to exacerbate the situation by selling lies about religious sites and Al-Aqsa Mosque, the U.S. president's recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel has stressed the U.S.' respect for the current situation in the Haram al-Sharif (Temple Mount) and Prime Minister Netanyahu has explicitly stressed that there would be no change to the status quo of the holy sites. For decades, since the return of Jewish control over Jerusalem, millions of Muslims have visited and prayed in Al-Aqsa Mosque freely without anyone stopping them.
        It was in Jerusalem where President Sadat gave his famous speech 40 years ago and not in Tel Aviv or Haifa. So why is it astonishing that the U.S. recognized Jerusalem as the capital, when it in reality already was the capital? The writer is an Egyptian researcher and political analyst, working on his doctorate from the University of Rome. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • Jerusalem: An Opportunity for Islamic Reformation? - Nonie Darwish
    Under Sharia, Muslims have the right to take over land from non-Muslims, but the reverse is considered an attack on Islam. That is where the problem of Jerusalem stems from. It is time for Muslims to accept the facts about Jerusalem and right historical wrongs. With the announcement by President Trump to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, the Arab world has a great opportunity to prove that Islam is a religion of peace and co-existence as they claim. Will Arabs take this opportunity? Or will they continue their tradition to keep missing every opportunity to make peace with humanity?
        Despite the cries that Islam is a religion of peace, the Islamic terror threat is everywhere; Muslims still teach hatred of Jews and Christians and they still preach jihad and killing the enemies of Allah. How can any sane person trust that Islam is moderate and is serious about wanting peace when the Muslim world is exploding with terror? Let Muslims start by ending the denial of the history of others, especially of Jews. The writer is an Egyptian-American human rights activist. (Gatestone Institute)
  • Is It Really about Jerusalem? - Bassam Tawil
    The protests in the aftermath of President Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital provide further evidence that many Arabs and Muslims still have not come to terms with Israel's right to exist. Trump's announcement is just another excuse for them to vent their long-standing hatred for Israel and the U.S.
        Last week, PA President Abbas spoke before the Organization of Islamic Cooperation in Turkey and claimed that the Jewish history of Jerusalem is false. He was simply reiterating official, long-standing PA policy. Where has the West been when Palestinian leaders have declared outright, decade after decade, that Israel has no right to exist and Jewish history is nothing more than lies?
        Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims are furious not because of any purported change in the status of Jerusalem. They know full well that Trump's announcement will not change anything on the ground and is mostly symbolic. But the protesters were chanting: "Palestine is 100% Arab and both parts of Jerusalem, east and west, will be the eternal capital of Palestine!" They cannot stomach the fact that Israel exists, period. The conflict is not about an embassy or a settlement or a fence, but about the very presence of Jews in this part of the world. (Gatestone Institute)

  • Weekend Feature

  • Worcester Police Chief Studies Counterterrorism in Israel - George Barnes
    On Tuesday, Worcester Police Chief Steven M. Sargent returned from Israel after attending a weeklong counterterrorism seminar sponsored by the Anti-Defamation League of New England. The ADL has been sending law enforcement officials to Israel for training since 2004. Chief Sargent said that what he learned there will allow the Worcester Police Department to improve policies and procedures it already has in place to deal with unexpected situations and emergencies.
        He said a major benefit of the seminar was meeting with other police chiefs and federal officials who attended the seminar. He said there were representatives on the trip from the Secret Service, New England Homeland Security, the U.S. DEA, the state police, and police chiefs from five cities and two universities. What they all heard and related to was an emphasis on understanding possible threats and being prepared for any emergency. (Worcester, Mass. Telegram)

Jerusalem Is Israel's Capital - Danielle Pletka (Newsday)

  • In foreign policy, conventional wisdom has an almost biblical force. The holy of holies is: Do not appear to prejudge the outcome of peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians. But Jerusalem actually is the capital of Israel. It is the seat of the Israeli prime minister, its parliament, its Supreme Court and its president. It is established practice for sovereign nations to choose their own capitals.
  • The Palestinians are cross. Hamas and others promptly declared Days of Rage to do what they do on most days that end in "y," terrorize civilians and destroy property. Moving a building is not a pretext for violence, and all who accept the notion that terrorism has a justification are part of the problem.
  • Some suggest that behind the Trump administration's thinking on Jerusalem is the notion that upending the status quo and going back to the table on the basis of reality could be a path forward. Maybe. Certainly, the status quo has resulted in little more than dazzling prosperity for Israel and growing misery for Palestinians.
  • Ultimately, it will not be the location of the U.S. embassy that will shape the fate of the region. Rather, it will be the birth of a partnership between the two sides in the belief that all will be better off at peace.

    Danielle Pletka is senior vice president for foreign and defense policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute.
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