January 11, 2018

In-Depth Issues:

Saudi-Led Coalition Turns the Tide in Yemen Conflict - Alexandra Gutowski (Long War Journal)
    The Saudi-led coalition is finally making progress on the ground against Yemen's Houthi rebels.
    Backed by Saudi air power, Yemeni forces have made significant progress in Yemen's north, which could disrupt Houthi missile strikes on Saudi Arabia.
    While the Houthis maintain control of Sanaa, Yemen's capital, it is increasingly isolated as the coalition severs essential supply lines.
    The writer is the senior military affairs analyst at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

Iran Spends $16 Billion Annually to Support Terrorists and Rogue Regimes - David Adesnik (Foundation for Defense of Democracies)
    Iran spends more than $16 billion per year supporting foreign "resistance" organizations and clients.
    Supporting the Assad regime in Syria is estimated to cost $15 billion per year, including the costs of deploying thousands of Revolutionary Guards and 20,000 Shiite militiamen.
    Bankrolling Iraqi security forces, including pro-Iranian militias, may have cost $1 billion per year.
    Support for Lebanese Hizbullah is believed to be $800 million, while Iran spends a combined $100 million per year supporting Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Gaza.
    The writer is Director of Research at FDD.

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Vienna Police Charge 3 for Waving Israeli Flag and Offending Palestinians at Rally - Benjamin Weinthal (Jerusalem Post)
    Vienna police are pursuing criminal charges against three pro-Israel activists for waving an Israeli flag in protest of anti-Semitic slogans at an anti-Israel rally near the U.S. Embassy on Dec. 8.
  The police are seeking a 100-euro fine or two days in jail for the activists.
    The charge sheet dated Jan. 3 states that the activists "showed an Israeli flag at a rally in an extremely provocative way and manner that was visible for participants at the rally and thereby produced considerable offense and provocation among the Palestinian protesters."
    The protesters were permitted to wave the Palestinian and Turkish flags.

Israel Honors Its Fallen with an Architectural Gem (AFP-Daily Mail-UK)
    The recently opened National Memorial Hall for Israel's Fallen next to the Mount Herzl military cemetery in Jerusalem has been included on a list of finalists for the prestigious Royal Institute of British Architects' 2018 international prize.
    A curved, 250-meter wall contains thousands of bricks with the names and date of death of the more than 23,000 fallen men and women from Israel's security services killed in the line of duty.
    A small light bulb juxtaposed to each engraved brick enables it to be lit on the date of the person's death, as per the Jewish tradition to light a candle.
    It is the first time Israel has commemorated the memory of all its fallen service people in one site, said Yair Ben Shalom, director of the site for the Defense Ministry.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Trump Expected to Extend Sanctions Relief for Iran
    President Trump is expected this week to extend relief from economic sanctions to Iran as part of the nuclear deal, but is likely to pair his decision with new, targeted sanctions to punish Iran's ballistic missile testing, terrorism support and human rights violations, six people briefed on the matter said. Trump must decide by Friday to extend the nuclear-related sanctions relief for Iran's central bank or re-impose the restrictions suspended two years ago. (AP-Politico)
  • U.S. Ambassador to Israel: Hamas Praises Palestinian Terrorists and PA Provides Them Financial Rewards
    In the aftermath of a shooting in the West Bank that killed an Israeli man, U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman tweeted Wednesday: "An Israeli father of six was killed last night in cold blood by Palestinian terrorists. Hamas praises the killers and PA laws will provide them financial rewards. Look no further to why there is no peace."  (JTA)
  • U.S. House Supports Iran's Protests, Condemns Human Rights Violations - Katherine Gypson
    The U.S. House of Representatives voted 415-2 on Tuesday to approve a resolution supporting the Iranian people's right to free expression while condemning the country's leadership for crackdowns on recent protests. "With the passage of this resolution, we state that America stands with the Iranian people," Rep. Ed Royce, Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said Tuesday. "U.S. sanctions target the oppressive, destabilizing regime, not the people of Iran."  (VOA News)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • President Trump "Strongly Supports" the Taylor Force Act to Cut Aid to PA over Payments to Terrorists - Michael Wilner
    The Taylor Force Act threatens a dramatic cut in aid to the PA if it continues compensating families of Palestinians convicted in Israel of murder and terrorism, and the families of slain terrorists. Israel and the U.S. argue that the program is immoral.
        A senior White House official told the Jerusalem Post over the weekend that President Trump "strongly supports" the Taylor Force Act and that he will sign it into law once it reaches his desk. The bill has passed the full House of Representatives and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee with overwhelming bipartisan support. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israel Names Heads of Hamas Terror Operations in West Bank - Elior Levy
    Saleh al-Arouri, who was appointed in October as the deputy Hamas leader, was replaced in his role as Hamas' "military commander in the West Bank" by Maher Obeid, 59, sources in the Palestinian security forces revealed Wednesday. Obeid has visited Iran on several occasions in recent years.
        Serving under Obeid are three Hamas commanders in different sectors of the West Bank. The commander of the southern West Bank sector is Abd al-Rahman Ghanimat, who in the past led the Hamas cell responsible for several serious terror attacks including the 1997 Cafe Apropo bombing. He was released in the Shalit prisoner exchange deal.
        The commander of the central West Bank is Abdullah Arar, who was involved in the kidnapping and murder of Israeli Sasson Nuriel in 2004. He was released in the Shalit deal. The commander of the northern West Bank is Farsan Halifa, who was also released in the Shalit deal and expelled to Gaza. The three are tasked with establishing military infrastructure for Hamas in the West Bank and launching terror attacks. (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • How to Sanction Iran While Preserving the Nuclear Deal - Richard Goldberg and Dennis Ross
    President Ronald Reagan successfully negotiated a major arms control agreement with the Soviet Union, all while publicly calling it an "evil empire," promoting regime change, and applying economic pressure tied to the Soviet record on human rights. President Trump would be well within his rights under the JCPOA and international law to follow Reagan's example. Just as the Iranian regime feels free to spread its reach within the region, notwithstanding the JCPOA, so should the U.S. and Europe feel free to impose sanctions tied to human rights, terror and missiles.
        The sanctions relief provided under the JCPOA should not be interpreted as blanket immunity for Iranian officials, banks and other government instrumentalities to expand their illicit activities. The JCPOA cannot handcuff the U.S. and its allies from using all available means of state power to fulfill our international obligations on human rights, terrorism and proliferation.
        Richard Goldberg, an architect of congressionally enacted sanctions against Iran, is senior adviser at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Amb. Dennis Ross, former special assistant to President Barack Obama, is a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. (Politico)
  • Don't Withdraw from the Nuclear Agreement, Demand Its Full Implementation - Moshe Ya'alon, Daniel Shapiro, Ephraim Asculai, Emily B. Landau, Sima Shine, Avner Golov, and Leehe Friedman
    The JCPOA is an established fact and the other parties to it oppose reopening it. A unilateral American move to withdraw from the agreement would allow the Iranian regime to take advantage of the U.S. withdrawal for its own benefit. As charges against Iran regarding incomplete implementation of the agreement can already be made and pressure brought to bear even without opening the agreement and without a U.S. withdrawal, it is essential that a way be found to take action in this direction.
        The U.S. should continue to pursue a policy that will challenge the regime and require it to fulfill the agreement without reopening it, while recruiting members of the P5+1 to support these measures. (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)
  • The UN Agency that Keeps Palestinians from Prospering - Alex Joffe and Asaf Romirowsky
    Shifting funds from UNRWA and addressing other refugee crises has become likelier than at any time in the past 60 years. The titanic crisis created by the Syrian civil war, which has produced millions of actual refugees, puts the Palestinian issue in a new and dramatically diminished light. UNRWA's own mismanagement - such as reports that the agency has dramatically overcounted the Palestinians it serves in Lebanon - also makes the status quo more difficult to sustain.
        UNRWA has outlived its usefulness; the Palestinians are not "refugees" but are entitled to citizenship in the countries where they've lived for decades. Moreover, the Palestinian Authority must assume its responsibilities toward it own population. By confronting the problem of UNRWA, the Trump administration has the rare opportunity to disrupt dysfunctional patterns that are long entrenched and fantastically expensive. Mr. Joffe is a fellow at the Middle East Forum. Mr. Romirowsky is executive director of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East. (Wall Street Journal)

The Weakening of the Palestinian Camp - Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser (Israel Hayom)
  • President Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and the ensuing reactions reflected a real change in the international community's stance toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the weakening of the Palestinian camp.
  • The U.S. completely undermined the convention that the Palestinian narrative - which rejects the existence of a Jewish people and its sovereign and historical link to the Land of Israel - must not be challenged. The U.S. decision put the myth of the dreaded Arab and Muslim street backlash to the test and proved that the perceived threat was baseless.
  • The threat to slash funds to the Palestinians over their refusal to cease salary payments to terrorists or to renew diplomatic talks leads to concerns that reducing funds could cause the PA to collapse. But the PA will almost certainly not fall as a result because its existence is first and foremost a Palestinian interest.
  • The constant Palestinian demand that any final status agreement must first address Palestinian sensitivities effectively marginalizes Israel's security needs. However, this demand has not deterred President Trump's Middle East team, and it no longer enjoys the support of Arab countries.
  • The Palestinians are approaching a decisive juncture and must decide whether to cling to their rejectionist policies and armed struggle or come to terms with the new reality. If American, Israeli and Arab pressure intensifies, it is possible that Fatah will be forced to examine, for the first time, its ability to adhere to the anti-Zionist narrative, which is the primary obstacle to a peace deal.
  • Yet the chances of this happening are still very small, and Abbas' advanced age and the consequent power struggle over his successor reduce the chances even further.

    The writer, former chief of the research division of IDF Military Intelligence and director general of the Israel Ministry of Strategic Affairs, is a fellow at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.