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  DAILY ALERT Tuesday,
July 12, 2011

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Gas Pipeline from Egypt Sabotaged Again (AP-Washington Post)
    Masked gunmen blew up a terminal of the Egyptian natural gas pipeline to Israel and Jordan on Tuesday in the fourth such attack since the fall of the Mubarak regime on Feb. 11.
    See also Egypt to Be Sued for $8 Billion Over Gas Pipeline Interruptions - Jonathan Ferziger (Bloomberg)
    Shareholders of East Mediterranean Gas Co. will take legal action against Egypt, seeking more than $8 billion in damages for interruptions in the natural gas supply from Egypt to Israel, Nimrod Novik, a member of the EMG board, said Monday.

Syria's Army Is Key to the Country's Future - Michael Eisenstadt and Jeffrey White (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
    If current trends persist in Syria, the regime may be forced to deploy army units that are unable or unwilling to continue the brutal crackdown.
    So far the regime has relied primarily on select, largely Alawite security forces for violent suppression actions. These units have functioned as "fire brigades," rushing from one hot spot to another.
    Given that the security forces have been unable to suppress the demonstrations and mounting civil resistance, the regular army may eventually be called on to play a greater role.
    As the situation stands now, the opposition seems to be gaining strength, the regime has few additional resources to call on and lacks the flexibility to adapt, and strains on the security forces are only increasing with the passage of time.
    Michael Eisenstadt is director of the Washington Institute's Military and Security Studies Program. Jeffrey White is a defense fellow at the Institute.

Peace Index: 3/4 of Israeli Jews Pessimistic on Peace (Tel Aviv University-Israel Democracy Institute)
    According to the June 2011 Peace Index survey of Israeli public opinion, 73% of Jews do not believe that negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority will lead to peace in the coming years.
    When asked if they favored having Israel evacuate all the territories in return for a permanent peace treaty with the Palestinians, 70% of Israeli Jews were opposed, while 26% supported this.
    When asked if they favored having Israel evacuate the territories except for the large settlement blocs in return for a permanent peace treaty with the Palestinians, 61% of Israeli Jews were opposed, while 32% supported this.

Time Is on Whose Side? - Doron S. Ben-Atar (Jerusalem Post)
    Recent demographic studies contradict the demographic timebomb thesis. Arab birth rates are declining sharply, whereas Jewish ones are on the rise.
    Moreover, the withdrawal from Gaza means that if Israel established sovereignty over the entire West Bank, Arabs would constitute only about 30% of the newly formed body politic.
    The writer is a history professor at Fordham University.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • U.S. Accuses Syria of Unleashing Mob Attacks on U.S., French Embassies - Brian Bennett and Borzou Daragahi
    The Obama administration angrily accused Syrian authorities of instigating attacks on the U.S. and French embassies in Damascus on Monday. U.S. Marine guards fired multiple volleys of tear gas, but pro-government demonstrators were able to climb a fence, scale the roof of an embassy building, knock out security cameras, smash windows and raise a Syrian flag, U.S. officials said. Syrian soldiers stood by and did not help disperse the crowd. Protesters tried to break into the French mission with a battering ram, and three employees were hurt. (Los Angeles Times)
        See also Syrians Incited to Attack Western Embassies - Liz Sly and Joby Warrick
    According to one State Department official, the demonstrations were staged after a program broadcast Sunday on the private pro-government al-Dunia television network, owned by Rami Makhlouf, Assad's tycoon cousin. In the program, Syrians were urged to express their anger at the U.S. and French ambassadors' visits to Hama. Protesters arrived in buses. (Washington Post)
        See also Clinton: Assad Is Not Indispensible
    Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Monday: "The United States strongly condemns Syria's failure to protect diplomatic facilities in Damascus, including the American and French embassies and our ambassador's residence....The Assad regime will not succeed in deflecting the world's attention from the real story unfolding in Syria...the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people for dignity, universal rights, and the rule of law."
        "President Assad is not indispensible, and we have absolutely nothing invested in him remaining in power. Our goal is to see that the will of the Syrian people for a democratic transformation occurs."  (State Department)
  • Mediators Unable to Break Deadlock on Restarting Israeli-Palestinian Talks
    The U.S. and its partners in the international diplomatic Quartet on the Middle East failed on Monday to reach agreement on how to restart Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. A senior U.S. official said significant gaps are still impeding progress among both the mediators and the parties themselves. (AP-Washington Post)
  • Witness: U.S. Activist Death in Israel Was Accident - Jaafar Ashtiyeh
    A key witness in a civil case brought by the family of U.S. activist Rachel Corrie, killed by an Israeli bulldozer during a demonstration in Gaza in 2003, said on Sunday that she had caused her own death. Retired Col. Pinhas Zuaretz, a former brigade commander in Gaza, said a military police investigation found no fault with the behavior of the bulldozer driver or the officers supervising him.
        He said the massive, armored D9 bulldozer was demolishing buildings from which shots had been fired at Israeli soldiers in a highly dangerous zone near the Gaza-Egypt border. He said the bulldozer operator did not see Corrie because she was behind a pile of rubble, and that a concrete pillar among the debris had struck and killed her. "She was killed in an accident caused by her own negligence," he said. (AFP)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Ya'alon: September Is All About Scare Tactics - Attila Somfalvi
    In an interview on Monday, Vice Prime Minister and Minister for Strategic Affairs Moshe Ya'alon said that even Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is not interested in a UN declaration of the establishment of a Palestinian state. "He knows what it means to deal with Hamas without IDF assistance," he said. "Abbas would not wish for an operative decision in the UN that impedes the IDF's freedom of action in the West Bank." Ya'alon admitted that he didn't know if negotiations would resume or not: "In certain conditions he may join negotiations, but those conditions shouldn't be Israeli concessions."
        As for relations with Turkey, Ya'alon noted that the pressure was on the Turks. "The [UN] Palmer report doesn't benefit the Turks. That's hard for Erdogan to accept. I told the Turks outright: 'We have nothing to apologize for in light of provocations from a Turkish organization which could have been stopped by the Turkish government.' I suggest that we stand firm, we have no reason to fold."  (Ynet News)
  • Prime Minister Netanyahu Meets with Greek President Papoulias
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Greek President Karolos Papoulias on Monday and thanked him for Greece's great help during the Carmel wildfire and in stopping the flotilla.
        Regarding the negotiations with the Palestinian Authority, Prime Minister Netanyahu said that he was ready to sit down with the Palestinians tomorrow morning and begin direct negotiations and expressed his regrets that they were refusing. (Prime Minister's Office)
  • Israel Offers Cyprus Aid After Blast - Herb Keinon
    Prime Minister Netanyahu directed all the relevant bodies Monday to give any aid to Cyprus that Nicosia might request, following a massive blast at a naval base there that killed 12 people, wounded 62, and knocked out the island's main power station. The blast was caused when confiscated Iranian armaments stored at the base exploded. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Iran's Nuclear Threat Is Escalating - British Foreign Secretary William Hague
    On 8 June, the head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, Fereydoun Abbasi Davani, announced plans to triple Iran's capacity to produce 20% enriched uranium, making even clearer the fact that Iran's nuclear program is not designed for purely peaceful purposes. Since civilian nuclear power stations need uranium enriched to about 3.5% for fuel, plans to enrich any further rightly prompt questions.
        Enrichment from natural uranium to 20% is the most time-consuming and resource-intensive step in making the highly-enriched uranium required for a nuclear weapon. When enough 20% enriched uranium is accumulated, it would take only two or three months of additional work to convert this into weapons-grade material. (Guardian-UK)
  • The New Flare-Up between Israel and Lebanon Over Gas - Jacques Neriah
    The potential oil and gas fields off the Lebanese and Israeli coasts look set to become a source of conflict in the years ahead. The maritime border between Israel and Lebanon has never been delineated because the two states are still formally at war. The area has also become a potential theater of confrontation between Israel and Hizbullah.
        Hizbullah already boasts an amphibious warfare unit trained in underwater sabotage and coastal infiltration. Its ability to target shipping - and possibly offshore oil and gas platforms - was exposed in the war with Israel in 2006 when Hizbullah came close to sinking an Israeli missile boat with an Iranian version of the Chinese C-802 missile.
        Prime Minister Netanyahu has declared that the offshore gas fields were a "strategic objective that Israel's enemies will try to undermine" and vowed that "Israel will defend its resources." Any damage incurred due to Hizbullah's activities would generate retaliation aimed against the infrastructure of the Lebanese state. (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Misconceptions about the Palestinian Bid for UN Recognition in September - Yonatan Touval
    The UN will not vote on recognition of a Palestinian state because it can't. According to international law, only states can recognize other states. The Palestinians are unlikely to declare their independence any time soon. They have stated they have no intention of declaring a state absent a final-status agreement.
        While it is possible for the Palestinians to seek full membership in the UN, it is hard to see how they could do so without first declaring statehood (which they are loathe to do). While states need not necessarily be members of the UN - classic examples are Taiwan today or Switzerland until 2002 - only states can become full members of the UN. The international community should do its utmost to spare the Palestinians an awkward letdown at the UN this September. (Ha'aretz)

It's Time to Park the Peace Process - Gideon Rachman (Financial Times-UK)

  • A meeting of the Quartet on Monday saw yet another effort to drag the unwilling parties back to the negotiating table. Yet with the Middle East in turmoil, starting a new round of Israeli-Palestinian talks is completely pointless.
  • Some European diplomats cling to the idea that the Palestinian issue remains at the heart of the instability in the Middle East. But that is a theological position that can only be upheld by resolutely ignoring actual events. If there is one thing that the uprisings across the Middle East have in common, it is that they have very little to do with the Palestinians.
  • The main bearing that the Arab spring has had on the Palestinian issue is to change the calculations of both sides to the conflict, in ways that make them even less likely to risk negotiating a peace settlement.
  • It is simply too risky for the leadership of Fatah, the Palestinian faction in control of the West Bank, to enter into tortuous negotiations with the Israelis that will inevitably lead to accusations that they are selling out their own people.
  • Israel's regional policy was built around a peace treaty with Egypt, cordial relations with Turkey, a cold peace with Syria and a shared interest with Saudi Arabia in the containment of Iran. The upheavals across the Middle East raise questions about the durability of all of these arrangements.

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