Posted by Albert Gersh - July 17, 2013
- Bulgaria reemphasizes Hezbollah bombing as E.U. meets to consider blacklisting
- Gunfire and mortars shot into Israel, underscoring risks of Syria spillover
- Egypt's new cabinet begins work, Muslim Brotherhood vows continued efforts against military-backed government
- In feud over unpaid bills, Palestinian hospitals refusing care to PA personnel
What we’re watching today:
- Bulgarian Interior Minister Tsvetlin Yovchev today emphasized that Sofia had in recent months uncovered additional evidence implicating Hezbollah in the July 2012 bus bombing in Burgas, Bulgaria that killed five Israelis and a Bulgarian. His statements come on the eve of the bombing's July 18th anniversary, and as European Union officials are scheduled to meet again to discuss blacklisting the Iran-backed group as a terror organization. There has been substantial pressure on the E.U. to acknowledge that a group that kills E.U. citizens in terror attacks on E.U. soil is in fact a terrorist group. The Bulgarian investigation, coupled with the Cypriot conviction in March of a confessed Hezbollah member on terror-related charges, has heightened that pressure. Diplomats from countries seeking to overcome internal E.U. resistance have become increasingly public about their frustrations regarding the reluctance of some fellow member states to blacklist Hezbollah, with one official bluntly telling AFP this week that "the evidence that it [Hezbollah] committed terrorism on EU soil is strong."
- Multiple incidents of cross-border fire deepened tensions along the Israeli-Syrian border Tuesday, with unidentified gunmen firing on Israeli troops and dozens of blasts being linked to mortars fired across the border. The incidents underscored months of concerns that a power vacuum being created along the Israeli-Syrian border risked triggering escalating military incidents. In recent months, several countries comprising the United Nations peacekeeping force in the region (UNDOF) have withdrawn their contributions, while Syrian troops withdrew in substantial numbers. Multiple sides engaged in the Syrian conflict, including both the Bashar al-Assad regime and the opposition seeking its overthrow, have in recent months threatened to attack Israel. The regime has also reportedly empowered sub-state actors, including Palestinian terrorist groups and the Iran-backed terror group Hezbollah, to launch attacks against the Jewish state. Following Tuesday’s attacks, Israel’s envoy to the United Nations called on the international body to condemn the violations. In another incident along a Syrian border, Turkish troops returned fire after errant bullets from Syria struck several homes and a police station.
- Egyptian President Adly Mansour swore in the country’s new cabinet on Tuesday, formally rolling back what critics had blasted as the "Brotherhoodization" of Egypt's political institutions. For its part the Brotherhood vowed again to resist efforts aimed at reconciliation in the aftermath of the Brotherhood-linked President Mohammed Morsi being removed from power by the Egyptian military. Thousands of Morsi supporters protested outside Cairo’s main government office buildings today as the new cabinet attempted to begin its first day of work. New polling released this week shows that the Egyptian military continues to enjoy broad and deep support with the Egyptian public, results that are consistent with polling conducted by The Israel Project last fall.
- Private Palestinian hospitals in the West Bank are refusing to provide medical services to Palestinian Authority (PA) personnel because the government has been unable or unwilling to pay outstanding bills for past work. The news comes in the aftermath of a similar announcement by private West Bank gas stations, which have begun refusing to accept tenders in exchange for fuel. Observers have long feared that financial mismanagement by Palestinian officials, coupled with endemic corruption, would prevent the emergence of a stable Palestinian economy - a critical prerequisite in efforts to achieve a viable Palestinian state. A Palestinian man recently set himself on fire in front of the PA's West Bank finance ministry to protest financial and economic conditions in the Palestinian-run territory.
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