Could US Bankrupt Hamas

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Today’s Top Stories

1. Jonathan Schanzer (National Post) urges Washington to bankrupt Hamas. If Uncle Sam engages in a little arm-twisting with Qatar, Turkey, and the Palestinian Authority, the Egyptian army will take care of the rest.

The Egyptian Army’s ongoing operations against the subterranean tunnels connecting Egypt to the Gaza Strip, which have long served as key arteries for bulk cash smuggling, are wreaking havoc on Hamas’s finances. One senior Israeli security official told me that, in the current environment, an additional reduction of 20-30% in Hamas’ revenues could “destroy” the movement . . .

Ala al-Rafati, the Hamas economy minister, recently told Reuters that these operations cost Hamas $230-million — about a tenth of Gaza’s GDP.

2. International diplomacy trying to defuse Egypt’s military/Muslim Brotherhood standoff collapsed. Now what?

3. The likelihood of a Syrian sectarian bloodbath rose another notch: Islamic rebels captured several villages along the Syrian coast and clashed with soldiers in the suburbs of Latakia.

That’s a big development because Latakia is considered an Alawite stronghold — should Damascus fall, it’s believed Bashar Assad would flee there. More at the Daily Star andAsharq al-Awsat.

Meanwhile, another village in the rebels’ sights, Reuters reports, is the Assad family hometown, Qardaha.

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4. A German daily ruffled feathers depicting Israel trying to poison the peace dove. I elaborated on this cartoon earlier today: German Cartoon: It’s the Intent, Stupid:

Stuttgarter Zeitung

Israel and the Palestinians

PLO cadres are scratching their heads after Mahmoud Abbas cancelled a planned meeting and flew off to Saudi Arabia for surprise talks with King Abdullah bin Abdel Aziz. The tea leaves are meager. Draw your own conclusions.

The sources said that Abbas may have called off the meeting due to growing opposition in the PLO and Fatah to his decision to resume the peace talks without a settlement freeze and Israeli acceptance of the pre-1967 lines as the basis for a two state solution.

Donald’s bad enough; Mickey, Daisy, and Goofy’s radio silence worries me too. Gawrsh!

Washington Times

The Times of Israel reports that Israel and the EU are headed for a showdown over settlement guidelines. I don’t see any indication of either side blinking.

But their main points will not be changed and will take effect by January 2014 as planned.

The EU’s directive, published last month, mandates a denial of European funding to, and cooperation with, Israeli institutions based or operating over the Green Line, and a requirement that all future agreements between Israel and the EU include a clause in which Israel accepts the position that all territory over the Green Line does not belong to Israel.

Ambassador Michael Oren and Micah Stein weighed in on the NY Times glorification of Palestinian rock throwers.

Please, Tom Friedman, don’t let Eric Burdon be misunderstood.


Rest O’ the Roundup

Amos Yadlin: American opposition to an Israeli strike on Iran is softening.

Four IDF soldiers injured in explosion along Lebanese border. Details at the Times of Israel.

The CIA’s number 2 man, Michael Morell, told the Wall St. Journal (click via Google News) that the Syrian civil war is the top threat to US security.

It’s probably the most important issue in the world today,” he said, “because of where it is currently heading.” Its current track is toward the collapse of its central government, he said.

He said there are now more foreign fighters flowing into Syria each month to take up arms with al Qaeda-affiliated groups, than there were going to Iraq to fight with al Qaeda at the height of the war there.

The Syrian government’s weapons, Mr. Morell said, “are going to be up for grabs and up for sale” as they were in Libya. The violence in Syria has the potential to spill over into Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq.

For commentary/analysis, see Dan Margalit (Egypt/Turkey parallels)and Sarah Birke (Hezbollah).

For more, see yesterday’s Israel Daily News Stream.

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