|MIDDLE EAST UPDATES FROM OCTOBER 7th 2010|
Thursday, 14 October 2010
"More than 100 Dangerous Islamists in Germany" - Stephen Brown (Reuters)
Reports of eight German militants killed in a suspected U.S. drone attack in Pakistan put a spotlight on a growing number of trained jihadists from Germany who are back in Europe and could take part in attack "The number of dangerous Islamists (in Germany) lies at more than 100," said Konrad Freiberg, chairman of the main German police union
France Arrests 12 Islamic Militants - Gregory Viscusi (Bloomberg)
French police arrested 12 people suspected of links to Islamic militant groups in southern France Tuesday October 5. French Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux told parliament, "There is a real terrorist menace in France and Europe."
Risks and Advantages in U.S. Effort in Mideast - Mark Landler
On Tuesday October 5, Prime Minister Netanyahu's senior cabinet ministers convened in Jerusalem but did not even take up a package of security guarantees being offered by the U.S. in return for Israel's extending a freeze on the construction of settlements in the West Bank by 60 days, officials said
U.S. Warns Lebanon Against Ahmadinejad Visit
The U.S. State Department said on Tuesday October 5, it had warned the Lebanese government about the risks of a visit by Iran's president to Lebanon next week. Lebanon's largest parliamentary bloc, the Western-backed "March 14" coalition, said Ahmadinejad regards Lebanon as "an Iranian base on the Mediterranean." State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said, "Iran, through its association with groups like Hizbullah, is actively undermining Lebanon's sovereignty." Lebanese political sources have said they expect Ahmadinejad to visit Hizbullah bastions in southern Lebanon. (Reuters)
PA Continues to Teach Denial of Israel's Existence - Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik
The PA continues to educate its people to envision a world without Israel, presenting Israeli cities and regions as "Palestinian." Last week, PA TV rebroadcast an educational documentary that describes the Israeli cities of Haifa, Acre, Ashkelon, Jaffa and the Sea of Galilee as Palestinian. PA TV is under the direct control of the office of PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. (Palestinian Media Watch)
Do Palestinians Want a State Alongside Israel? - Jonathan Chait
A 2009 poll shows that 71% of Palestinians deem it essential that their state comprise all of Israel and the territories
Israeli Minister Tours Mississippi Drone Factory - Emily Wagster Pettus (AP-Gulfport [MS] SunHerald)
Israel's infrastructure minister Uzi Landau said he was pleased with the quality of workers he met Tuesday October 5, while touring an Israeli-owned factory in Mississippi. Stark Aerospace, which manufactures military drones in Columbus, employs about 115 people and is a subsidiary of Israeli Aerospace Industries..
Stronger Hizbullah Emboldened for Fights Ahead - Thanassis Cambanis
Four years after Hizbullah instigated its war with Israel in 2006, it appears to be, if not bristling for a fight with Israel, then coolly prepared for one. According to Hassan Nasrallah, the group's leader, Hizbullah has increased its missile stocks to 40,000, compared with 13,000 during the 2006 war. Hizbullah rejoined Lebanon's coalition government in 2008 as a full partner with veto power. Hizbullah officials say they are ready to fight even if a war would do widespread damage.(Ed note: Hizbullah is about to condemn countless thousands of Lebanese to a violent death)
Settlement Freeze Extension in Return for U.S. Recognition of Settlement Blocs? - Shimon Schiffer
Sources close to U.S.-Israel discussions say Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is asking President Barack Obama to renew U.S. approval of the commitments given by President George Bush to former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, the foremost of which is American support for annexation of settlement blocs to Israel in the framework of a permanent peace agreement. Diplomatic sources say the prime minister is trying to obtain clear commitments from the Americans that will not be open to interpretation, and that he can use to convince cabinet ministers to extend the construction freeze for two months.
Livni: UN Intervention in Israel's Right to Combat Terror "Unacceptable" - Shlomo Shamir
Israeli opposition leader Tzipi Livni on Wednesday October 6, accused the UN of intervening in Israel's affairs through its probe into an Israeli raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla. "Any international intervention in military operations carried out by Israel is unacceptable, just as it would be unacceptable to any other country fighting terrorism," Livni told UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in New York. "Israel is investigating the events of the flotilla itself, and that is enough," she said. (Ha'aretz)
Looking Beyond a Two-Month Settlement Construction Freeze - Leslie Susser
According to confidants, the Israeli prime minister fears that as soon as any new 60-day freeze ends, the Americans will put a "take it or leave it peace plan" of their own on the table. With the U.S. midterm elections over, Obama might feel able to publicly present parameters for a peace deal that Netanyahu would find impossible to accept. Israel might then find itself totally isolated and under intolerable international pressure. That is a scenario Netanyahu hopes the current negotiations with the Americans will help him avoid. (JTA)
Political storm erupts in Israel over proposed loyalty oath
Heated debate has erupted in Israel after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decided yesterday to present a controversial bill to the cabinet on Sunday October 3, which would require those applying to become naturalized citizens to declare an oath of loyalty to Israel as a “Jewish and democratic state.” The oath will not be required of those who are already Israeli citizens, but rather to newcomers
Israel, US worried over growing trilateral alliance between Turkey, China, Iran
The growing military cooperation between Turkey, China and Iran is a matter of growing concern for both Israel and the US. Up until two years ago, the Israel Air Force was Turkey’s major partner for joint air force exercises. Last week, however, Turkey made a strategic decision to partner with China. The two are also involved in projects to build oil pipelines from Iran, along with other pending economic deals and weapons sales.
Terrorists' Goal is Three-Way Missile Attack on Tel Aviv by Maayana Miskin
IDF Intelligence chief General Amos Yadlin said Monday afternoon October 4, that the ultimate goal held by anti-Israel terrorists is to attack Tel Aviv and the Gush Dan region, the heart of Israeli commerce and Israel's most concentrated population area, from three fronts. Iran, Syria and Hizbullah hope for a chance to rain missiles on central Israel from three directions, he said. Yadlin also spoke of the chances for Middle East peace. The biggest obstacle to peace is Iran, he said. The Islamic Republic funds terrorist groups that upset regional stability and undermine peace talks. Iran gives Hizbullah $1 billion every year, and also gives Hamas and Islamic Jihad annual donations of $100 million and $50 million respectively. Hizbullah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad all list the destruction of Israel as one of their primary goals and are all opposed to peace talks between Israel and Arab states or the Palestinian Authority.
Terrorists Resume Kassam Attacks by Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
Terrorists in Hamas-controlled Gaza resumed rocket attacks on Israeli civilians Wednesday afternoon October 6, firing two missiles. More than 150 rockets and mortars have been fired at Israeli civilians since the beginning of 2010, and more than 440 rockets were fired at Israel since the end of Operation Cast Lead. Two weeks ago, the Air Force targeted and identified hitting a number of terrorists preparing to fire rockets from the central Gaza region.
Lebanon Transformed: A Hizbullah Nation, Iranian Proxy by Chana Ya'ar
A new Hizbullah country seems to be developing in place of the sovereign nation of Lebanon, and its population is preparing for another war with Israel. Hizbullah may be feeling particularly bold due to the impending arrival of its prime patron, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who is set to arrive October 13 on his first state visit to the country since entering office in 2005. Iranian money has financed reconstruction projects in Lebanon, including a set of multi-million dollar apartment complexes in a Beirut Hizbullah stronghold that was reduced to rubble during the 2006 Second Lebanon War. A network of new roads honeycombing southern Lebanon and connecting Hizbullah-linked border villages with interior communities was also designed and paid for by Iran
Hizbullah Honeycombs the South The terrorist organization has infiltrated most, if not all, of the towns and villages in the southern region of the country, building a comprehensive, integrated network of weapons facilities and other military infrastructure. Hizbullah has been digging tunnels, preparing communications infrastructure and making other preparations for war since the end of the previous conflict, according to an officer in the IDF Northern Command. The group is placing its military positions, weapons and explosive charges next to schools and hospitals in order to maximize civilian casualties in any future conflict with Israel, thus creating a public relations nightmare for the Jewish State. For years, Hizbullah has stockpiled mortars, missiles and other arms in the buildings of quiet villages nestled in the hills of southern Lebanon. The IDF is aware of the strategy and has marked the targets in anticipation of any future conflict.
IAF Gaza Air Strikes Wound 4 Terrorists by Chana Ya'ar
Four terrorists were wounded in IAF air strikes before dawn Thursday morning October 7,
as Israeli fighter jets attacked three targets in Gaza in retaliation for a Kassam rocket attack launched from the region Wednesday. The F-16 warplanes fired missiles at a Hamas police station in northern Gaza City, a training camp for Hamas terrorists and an empty area south of the city, according to media sources.
In Hunt for Dubai Hit Men, Trail Goes Cold - Chip Cummins and Alistair MacDonald (Wall Street Journal)
Dubai police thought they could link Israel to the assassination of Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in January 2010 after finding dozens of forged passports, but eight months later the trail has gone cold, a Wall Street Journal examination shows. A string of apparent dead ends has frustrated international investigators, lengthening the odds that anyone will be caught or that definitive proof of Mossad involvement will emerge.
For Some Palestinians, Settlements Are Good News - Jason Koutsoukis (Sydney Morning Herald-Australia)
Some 25,000 Palestinians depend on Jewish settlements in the West Bank for a living. Haitham Asfour, a Palestinian construction worker, said he can earn $85 to $100 a day when he is working in the settlements, double what he gets building homes for Palestinians.
Demand for Birthright Trips on the Rise (Ynet News)
Demand among young Jews in the diaspora to participate in Taglit-Birthright educational tours of Israel rose by 11% compared to last year. Birthright received 23,623 applications for 9,576 places on its forthcoming winter trips.
How Arms Deals Are Shaping the Mideast - Kristen Chick
From 2005 to 2009, the U.S. sold up to $37 billion in arms to Gulf states, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, and Kuwait, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office. The recent U.S.-Saudi deal, which is expected to be submitted to Congress for approval soon, could be worth as much as $60 billion. In addition, U.S. officials are discussing a $30 billion package to upgrade Saudi Arabia's naval forces. The U.S. is also expected to agree next year to sell the Theater High Altitude Area Defense missile defense system to the UAE for about $7 billion. The U.S.-Saudi deal could spur new job growth, supporting at least 75,000 jobs at Boeing and United Technologies. (Christian Science Monitor)
IDF Kills Two Hamas Terrorists in Hebron - Anshel Pfeffer and Avi Issacharoff
IDF forces killed two members of Hamas' Izzadine al-Kassam terror brigades in Hebron on Friday October 8, responsible for a shooting attack which killed four Israeli residents of Beit Hagai six weeks ago. (Ha'aretz)
The Peace Talks That Kill - Thanassis Cambanis
In the years I've spent covering the region, I've been hard pressed to see any tangible peace dividend from the many rounds of Middle East peace talks. Not a single person I interviewed in the Middle East during the last two months expected anything to come of the current talks. The main benefit of a peace process, in this view, is that Washington wants one, and so long as it doesn't cost anything, Washington's allies in Ra mallah and Jerusalem are happy to oblige. The writer has covered the Arab world since 2003, including four years as the Boston Globe Baghdad and Middle East bureau chief. (Daily Beast)
IAF Hits Gaza Terrorist's Car to Foil Plot by Maayana Miskin
The Air Force carried out a strike Thursday night October 7 against a Gaza terrorist who, according to intelligence information, was plotting an attack inside Israel. Three men were wounded in the strike. The target was Ahmed Al-Ashkar of the "Eagles of Palestine" terrorist group, a small organization formed by former members of the People's Front for Palestine. The strike targeted Ashkar's car as it travelled between Al-Zahra and his hometown of Nuseirat.
Arab League Gives U.S. More Time to Salvage Mideast Peace Process - Ed Sanders (Los Angeles Times)
Arab League members decided Friday in Libya to (generously) give the Obama administration one more month to get Mideast peace talks back on track.
Poll: America Is a Pro-Israel Nation - William Kristol (Weekly Standard)
Consider the results of a new poll done October 3 to 5 by McLaughlin and Associates for the Emergency Committee for Israel. 93% of those polled say the U.S. should be concerned about the security of Israel, with 54% saying the U.S. should be "very concerned" about Israel's security. 53% say they would be more likely to vote for a candidate they saw as pro-Israel, 24% less likely. 53% say they could not vote for a candidate if he were anti-Israel, even if that candidate agreed with them on most other issues.
Hizbullah Training at Syria Missile Base, Satellite Images Show - Avi Scharf (Ha'aretz)
The Syrian army has a Scud missile base near Damascus, according to recent satellite photos. The photos also suggest that Hizbullah forces are being trained in the Scuds' use at the base. The photos, taken on March 22, show five 11-meter-long missiles (the length of both the Scud B and the Scud C) at the Adra base. In May, the Sunday Times of London reported that shipments of weapons from the Adra base were going to Hizbullah, and that Hizbullah had been given a section of the base for barracks, warehouses and a fleet of trucks to transport weapons to the Lebanese border.
Hamas Increasingly Unpopular in Gaza - Louisa Waugh (HeraldScotland-UK)
Alongside the fragile economy, there is another undercurrent pervading Gazan street life; an atmosphere of tension and unease about the increasingly unpopular Hamas regime. Many Gazans claim Hamas is becoming more radical and oppressive. Thousands of Gazans who used to work for the Palestinian Authority in Gaza were subsequently sacked by Hamas, and are still effectively blacklisted from any professional jobs there. Hamas is also pursuing a more rigorous Islamic agenda, raiding venues where mixed parties are suspected.
Abbas Weighs Unilateral Declaration of Palestinian State - Salah Nasrawi and Karin Laub
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday October 9 sought Arab backing for possible fallback options in case peace talks with Israel collapse, including urging the U.S. to unilaterally recognize a Palestinian state.
Israel: PA Threat to Declare State Unilaterally a "Mirage" - Herb Keinon
Israeli government officials Saturday night October 9, dismissed as "unrealistic" and a "mirage" Palestinian threats to get the U.S. or the UN Security Council to recognize an independent Palestinian state within the pre-1967 lines if the peace talks collapse. (Jerusalem Post)
Cabinet Approves Citizenship Oath Change for New Citizens - Attila Somfalvi
The Israeli Cabinet Sunday October 10, voted 22-8 in favor of a draft amendment to the Citizenship Act which will obligate new non-Jewish citizens of Israel to pledge allegiance to a "Jewish, democratic state." (Ynet News)
Saudi Arabia and the New Strategic Landscape - Joshua Teitelbaum
Since the end of the Cold War, a new strategic landscape has appeared in the Middle East. No longer dominated by a U.S.-Soviet rivalry, this new landscape is dominated by U.S.-Iranian confrontation. In this struggle, the U.S.' most important Arab ally, Saudi Arabia, plays a key role. - Lenny Ben-David (Jerusalem Post)
The Jerusalem Car Accident Video - Lenny Ben-David (Jerusalem Post)
A YouTube film clip spreading around the world showing an Israeli car hitting two Arab children in the Silwan neighborhood of Jerusalem on Friday October 8, was horrifying. The children were part of a gang attacking the driver with rocks. The boys, emboldened by some militant organizer, covered their faces to avoid identification Every photographer at the scene bears responsibility for the children's injuries. They were tools in the hands of a dangerous propagandist, and their presence incited the kids. Then the cameramen stood by as a child laid injured. Until the photographers fess up as to who dispatched them, they should be treated as accomplices to the crime of endangering the children.
US Could Sue Israel over Hike in Oil Royalty Fees by Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
As a huge oil rig approaches Israel for drilling, an Israeli judge says the US could sue Israel if it hikes royalty fees for oil and gas to be brought from recent huge discoveries that could make the Jewish State self-sufficient in energy. A Sedco Express drilling rig leased by Noble Energy is southeast of Crete and is moving slowing to Israel to drill at the Leviathan field. If Noble's rights are impinged, the U.S. government will have to decide whether to act on behalf of Noble in order to receive full compensation for the damages caused to it. The sides agreed in a contract between them, that a disagreement like this will be handled by the international court of justice.” Noble is a leading partner in the consortium that has discovered trillions of cubits of natural gas, with the possibility of large oil reserves underneath the gas, off the Mediterranean Coast.
Lawsuit Targets PA Arabs who Work for Jews by Maayana Miskin
\A lawsuit filed last week in a Palestinian Authority court targets PA Arabs who work for Israeli Jews in Judea and Samaria. The suit was filed by "public figures" in the town of Tubas, according to the Bethlehem-based Maan news agency. The plaintiffs hope the court will declare that Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria are illegal, and that PA workers employed there have violated their right to property.
Nasrallah Comes Out from Hiding, Praises Ahmadinejad by Maayana Miskin
Hizbullah head Hassan Nasrallah called Saturday October 8 for residents of Lebanon to turn out en masse to greet Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad when he arrives in the country on Wednesday. "I urge the Lebanese people and the Palestinians to welcome the president of Iran and to take part," in the events surrounding his visit, the terror chief said.
Report: Abbas Wants UN Forces in Jerusalem by Maayana Miskin
Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas delivered a vitriol-laden speech to the Arab League on Saturday October 9, in which he attacked Israel for "Judaizing" Jerusalem, according to the PA-based Wafa news service. Abbas called to involve the world in forcing Israel to split the city. The PA and the Arab League have demanded that all parts of Jerusalem east of the 1949 armistice line - including those that are historically Jewish, and including the Temple Mount, Judaism's holiest site - be turned over to the PA as the capital of a new Arab state in Judea and Samaria. Abbas proposed that Arab leaders turn to the United Nations to get a condemnation of Israeli activities in Jerusalem, and to force a stop to Jewish growth in the capital. Among the things Abbas hopes to see condemned are the construction of new homes for Jews in northern, eastern, and southern Jerusalem, and the destruction of Arab homes built without a permit. In addition, Abbas called for international observers to come stop the "Judaization" process.