The Fatah-Hamas Unity Deal

The Fatah-Hamas Unity Deal

April 29, 2011

This Update deals with the implication of the surprise Fatah-Hamas Palestinian unity deal, announced on Wednesday.

First up, summarising what is known and not known about the details of the deal, and their possible ramifications, is a useful briefing paper from the British-Israel Communications and Research Centre (BICOM). The paper points out that while the deal is ostensibly based on an Egyptian-brokered agreement rejected by Hamas in 2009, it is clear that further modifications have been introduced, but it is not publicly known what they are. It goes on to outline the dilemmas the agreement will pose for both Israel and other international players.

Syria's unrest

Syria’s unrest, Egypt’s political transition

April 15, 2011

This Update concentrates on both the increasingly widespread protests in Syria, and the state of the political transition in Egypt, looking especially at the role of the Muslim Brotherhood there.

First up is a BICOM (British-Israel Communications and Research Centre) briefing on the state of the significant unrest in Syria. The paper reviews the conditions in Syria and predicts that a protracted period of strife looks likely. It goes on to examine the possible implications of the unrest, as well as any regime change, for both Israel and any peace prospects.

School Bus attack near Gaza/ Responding to Palestinian Unilateralism

April 8, 2011

As readers may or may not have heard, there was a particularly heinous attack from Gaza on an Israeli school bus yesterday, which fortunately did not kill anyone, but did wound one child severely, as well as the bus driver. Reports says Hamas’ military wing claimed responsibility. This was accompanied by a large rocket and mortar barrage on Israel from Gaza.

Goldstone’s Recantation

April 7, 2011

As most readers are probably aware, Justice Richard Goldstone, the head of the UN Human Rights Council’s much-discussed “Goldstone Commission” into the 2008-2009 Israel-Hamas conflict in Gaza, published a recantation in the April 1 Washington Post of many of the report’s key findings. This Update deals with the implications of his volte face.

The Syria Situation/ Israel and the Obama Administration

April 1, 2011

This Update contains new expert analyses of the developing situation in Syria, where President Bashar al-Assad, responding to escalating unrest, first sacked the cabinet, but then unexpectedly failed to end a 45-year-old legal “state of emergency”.

Unrest Spreads to Syria/ Escalation Around Gaza

March 29, 2011

This Update concentrates on the possibly highly significant outbreak of widespread unrest in Syria, and the growing Israeli-Palestinian violence, especially around Gaza.

We begin with a report on the unrest in Syria from Roee Nahmias, an Israeli journalist specialising in Lebanon and Syria. He points out the current unrest is the most significant in Syria since the Hama massacre of 1982, and the first time Bashar al-Assad has had to use significant force to put down opposition, and thus a test of his willingness to shed blood.

The Libyan Revolution Facing Defeat/ More on Mideast Democracy

The Libyan Revolution Facing Defeat/ More on Mideast Democracy

March 18, 2011

With news this morning that the UN Security Council has passed a resolution calling for a no-fly zone over Libya, as well as allowing “all necessary measures… excluding a foreign occupation force” to protect Libyan civilians, this Update features a look at the military situation in Libya and the case for additional measures along the lines of those just approved.

The Itamar Attack/ Libya and US Foreign Policy

March 16, 2011

This Update focuses on the implications and aftermath of the Itamar terrorist attack on Friday night, when assailants entered a home in the West Bank settlement of Itamar and murdered five members of the Fogel family, including a three-month-old baby and two other children. This horrific attack has political implications, because, as Jennifer Rubin of the Washington Post documents, the Palestinian Authority’s initial response appeared half-hearted, leading to both an American implication that more was expected, and some critical words from Israeli PM Binyamin Netanyahu. Moreover, official Palestinian media claimed that it was not Palestinians who carried out the attack.

Iran and the Middle East wave of protest

March 11, 2011

Today’s Update features some views on Iranian reactions to the protests across the Middle East, as well as internal divisions within the Iranian regime.

First up is Iranian-American journalist Azadeh Moaveni, who is not only familiar with the Iranian scene, but also previously reported from Egypt. She notes some contrasts between the protest movements in Egypt and Tunisia and the Iranian one – primarily, she sees the Iranian protest movement having a more coherent vision of their demands than those put forward by the Arab peoples.

International Intervention in Libya?

March 4, 2011

Today’s Update deals with the international debate over whether outside parties can or should intervene in the conflict in Libya between long-serving eccentric dictator Muammar Gaddafi and the rebels seeking his overthrow.

First up, reviewing the strategic realities of the current conflict is Michael Knights, a military expert at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. He reviews the course of the fighting so far, and the relative success the Gaddafi forces have had in using their greater mobility to squeeze rebel pockets in Western Libya (though they remain unable to dent the rebel-held towns of the East.)

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