|MIDDLE EAST UPDATES FROM OCTOBER 14th 2010|
Tuesday, 19 October 2010
Signs of Tension as U.S. Scrambles to Salvage Peace Talks - Laura Rozen (Politico)
As the U.S. scrambles to try to salvage Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, there are signs of tensions inside Obama's Middle East team. Adding to the friction are unresolved turf questions over who speaks for President Obama on Middle East peace policy - his Middle East peace envoy George Mitchell or his senior NSC Iran and Middle East strategist Dennis Ross, or, as the case seems to be, both. Mitchell is perceived at times to have had his authority in the region undercut. In one sign of friction, Mara Rudman, who has been serving as Mitchell's chief of staff, is expected to depart to take a top USAID Middle East post
Al-Qaeda's New Strategy: Less Apocalypse, More Street Fighting - S Simon and j Stevenson(WashPost)
Recent plots, including the Mumbai raid in November 2008, the Times Square car bomb attempt in May of this year and now the plot in Europe, show that al-Qaeda is not only operationally alive and well, but has transformed its post-Afghanistan tactical retreat into a formidable new strategy There is no reason to think that al-Qaeda has abandoned its all-out jihad, and it is now raising a new army designed to wage traditional urban warfare. With the help of Western members of the Muslim diaspora or converts to Islam who are difficult for Western security services to detect, al-Qaeda's leadership has embraced low-intensity urban warfare in densely populated areas. This was the mode of jihad envisioned by Abd al-Aziz al-Muqrin, the late leader of the jihad in Saudi Arabia and the author of the appropriately named turn-of-the-century al-Qaeda combat manual The War Against Cities. (Steven Simon is an adjunct senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. Jonathan Stevenson is a professor of strategic studies at the U.S. Naval War College).
Israel Aerospace Industries Unveils Tilt-Rotor UAV - Darren Quick (Gizmag)
Tilt-rotor aircraft combine the vertical takeoff and landing capabilities of a helicopter with the speed and range of a conventional fixed-wing aircraft. Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) is bringing these benefits to unmanned aerial vehicles with its new Panther and Mini Panther UAVs that were unveiled last week. The Panther is powered by three ultra-quiet electrical motors that allow the craft to loiter for approximately six hours, at an altitude of up to 10,000 feet, with an operational radius of over 60 km (37 miles ).
Palestinians Reject Israel Settlement Compromise - Adrian Blomfield
Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, offered Monday October 11, to extend a partial freeze on Jewish building in the West Bank in exchange for Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state. Within minutes of the proposal being made public, Palestinian officials had rejected it out of hand. (Telegraph-UK)
U.S. State Department: Obama Admin Committed to Israel's Democracy as a Jewish State - Natasha Mozgovaya
In response to Netanyahu's offer, a U.S. State Department official told Ha'aretz Monday October 11, : "U.S. policy has been consistent. Both President Obama and Secretary Clinton are committed to Israel's democracy as a Jewish state." (Ha'aretz)
Turkish Journalist on the Flotilla Ship: "IDF Soldiers Did Not Open Fire Until Their Lives Were in Danger"
On Sept. 24, in an interview with Israel Channel 1 TV, Turkish journalist Azefik Dinc, who was on the Mavi Marmara flotilla ship and wrote a book about it, said that no shots were fired from the Israeli helicopters and that IDF soldiers did not open fire until their lives were in danger. According to Dinc, it wasn't until the soldiers realized that some of their friends' lives were in danger that they began using live ammunition.
Dinc's descriptions completely contradict the biased testimonies of IHH activists which were the basis for a report compiled by the UN Human Rights Council. (Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center )
Ahmadinejad visit comes as fears of renewed civil war haunt Lebanon
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is poised to pay a high-profile visit to Lebanon on Wednesday October 13, a move that is sure to bring added tensions to a country already fearing renewed civil war. Ahmadinejad will tour southern Lebanon, which he recently called "Iran's border with Israel." His visit comes as fears of a renewed civil war are rising and reports are revealing that residents in Beirut are arming themselves in preparation for possible civil strife between Shi'ite loyalists of Hizbullah and Sunni and Christian supporters of Prime Minister Saad Hariri and his pro-West "March 14" coalition
The tide could turn against radical Islam Dr. Max Singer, Begin Sadat Center for Strategic Studies
The driving forces behind the growth of Islamic radicalism – the Islamic revolution in Iran and the immense Saudi funding for spreading Wahhabism – may not endure. By the end of this decade, the current strength of Islamism could be shattered. US action is not required for the Iranian regime to fall – although it could be a big help. On the other hand it is probably only the US that could convince the Saudis to hold onto their money rather than using so much to sell Wahhabism throughout the world.
Islamic states block Canada from seat on UNSC due to Israel support
Canada’s consistent support for Israel in recent years has cost it a rotating seat on the UN Security Council, as Islamic states were able to block its bid for temporary membership this week while the United States barely lifted a finger to defend its closest and oldest ally.
PA challenges Israel to submit map of proposed borders
US scrambles to keep talks alive, sides using media to swap offers
After Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu offered this week to freeze settlements again if the Palestinian Authority would recognize Israel as a Jewish state, the Palestinians countered on Wednesday October 13 by challenging Israel to produce a map of the future borders of a Palestinian state based on the pre-1967 armistice lines, after which the PA will call Israel “whatever it wants.”
Israel runs drills while Ahmadinejad in Lebanon
Israel held an exercise in Jerusalem and the West Bank on Tuesday evening October 12, simulating a mass casualty incident which involved the participation of thousands of personnel and dozens of vehicles from the IDF, police, Shin Bet security Agency, firefighters and emergency services.
Israel's incoming tourism numbers at record levels in 2010
Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics reported on Tuesday that nearly 2.5 million tourists have visited the country since the start of 2010, 27% more than visited in the first three quarters of 2009 and 9% more than in the same period in 2008. The numbers mean Israel is on track to have a record year for visitors and might even achieve the Tourism Ministry’s goal of 3 million tourists for the year.
Obama losing popularity among American Jews
US President Barack Obama captured 78% of the Jewish vote in the presidential elections two years ago, but today his support has dropped to 51%, down from 57% in March. 95% of Americans support requiring the Palestinians to recognize Israel as a Jewish state in a final peace agreement
Israeli Minister pessimistic about peace agreement
Minister of Strategic Affairs Moshe Ya'alon on Tuesday October 12. voiced pessimism regarding peace talks with the Palestinians. "There is no chance in the coming years for a peace agreement with the Palestinians," he told Army Radio
China meddles in the Middle East
From Sept. 20 to Oct. 6, the Turkish Air Force conducted its regular annual Anatolian Eagle exercise, this time without US and Israeli participation. Israel was not invited and America opted out. However, their place was taken by Chinese Sukhoi Su-27 and Mig-29 warplanes making their first appearance in Turkish skies.
Change: Obama’s New Adviser Close to Israel by Elad Benari
President Obama’s incoming National Security Adviser is well known for his close ties to the Jewish and pro-Israel community. Thomas Donilon, who will be replacing General Jim Jones in the role, is a business lawyer and former chief of staff for Warren Christopher, who was the Secretary of State for the Clinton administration. In addition to his extensive legal and political background, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported that Donilon is also very pro-Israeli. He has close ties to Vice President Joe Biden, who is considered the White House official with the warmest ties to the Jewish community. Donilon’s wife, Cathy Russell, is chief of staff to Biden’s wife, Jill, and his brother, Michael, is a senior adviser to Biden.
Ahmadinejad 'At Home' in Lebanon, Vows to Fight 'Zionist Enemy' by T Gedalyahu
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad triumphantly arrived in Lebanon Wednesday morning October 13 and immediately met expectations, saying he feels” at home” in the country and vows to continue to fight the “Zionist enemy” and its supporters. “He cannot be allowed to return home alive,” said National Union Knesset Member Aryeh Eldad.
PA Rejects Inferred Recognition of Jewish State - Kevin Flower (CNN)
Top PA negotiator Nabil Sha'ath, an advisor to Mahmoud Abbas, distanced the PA government from comments by PLO official Yasser Abed Rabbo inferring that Palestinians might recognize Israel as a Jewish state in exchange for a future Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders. "We are not going to do it - forget it," Sha'ath told CNN,
Hizbullah Chief Echoes Iran's Call for Israel to Disappear - Mohamad Ali Harissi
Hizbullah chief Hassan Nasrallah echoed Iran's call on Wednesday October 13, for Israel to disappear, speaking during a mass rally in Beirut organized in honor of visiting Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. "President Ahmadinejad is right when he says Israel is illegitimate and should cease to exist," Nasrallah told an ecstatic crowd. Ahmadinejad, who has called Israel a "tumor," has denied the Holocaust and repeatedly said the Jewish state is "doomed to be wiped off the map." Last month he said the people of the Middle East are "capable of removing the Zionist regime" from the world scene. (AFP)
18 Iran Guards Killed by Blast at Their Base - William Yong
An explosion on Tuesday October 12, at an Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps base near Khorramabad in southwestern Iran killed 18 and wounded 14 more, Iranian state media reported Wednesday. The Revolutionary Guards said the blast was caused by a fire spreading to an ammunition store at the base, which the research group Global Security says houses underground launching and storage facilities for Iran's medium-range Shahab-3 ballistic missiles.
Why the Demand to Recognize Israel as a Jewish State Is Legitimate - Ari Shavit
The demand to recognize Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people is a legitimate one. That is why we came here. The supreme goal of Zionism is that in the Land of Israel the people of Israel will have a national home. Those who don't believe in the right of the Jewish people to a national home are racists. This is the heart of the conflict.
Israel Approves New East Jerusalem Homes (AP-Washington Post)
Israel's government says it has approved the construction of 238 homes in Jewish neighborhoods in east Jerusalem, ending an unofficial freeze on new building there for nearly a year. Israeli officials said they discussed the construction in the neighborhoods of Ramot and Pisgat Zeev with the U.S. administration and cut the number of planned units to temper American displeasure.
The PA Economy: A House of Cards - David Rosenberg (Jerusalem Post)
The International Monetary Fund estimates that the West Bank's economy will probably grow 8% this year. The real reason the West Bank is booming is because of Western largesse - some $5.5 billion in three years, or an average of $456 per person per year. The lion's share of that money is going to fund the PA's budget deficit. It pays for too many teachers, government clerks, policemen and the like, not for new roads, schools or other investments that would develop infrastructure and provide the basis for long-term economic growth. It's essentially a big make-work scheme aimed at buying social and political peace.
Israeli Jews, Arabs Outlive Americans (UPI)
Israeli Jews live approximately 81 years and Israeli Arabs live 79 years, while the average American life expectancy is 78 years, says Professor Dov Chernichovsky of the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. "Life expectancy in the U.S. grew by four years since 1980...but for Israelis, both Jews and Arabs, the gain was more than seven years."
Ahmadinejad in Lebanon Targets Israel - Alia Ibrahim and Joel Greenberg
In a fiery speech in Bint Jbeil, two miles from Lebanon's border with Israel, on Thursday October 14, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad promised a cheering crowd that the "Zionists will disappear" and that "occupied Palestine will be liberated," as a pair of Israeli helicopters flew along the border within sight of the stadium where he was speaking. "Today the Zionist occupiers have no choice but to surrender to reality and return to their homes and countries of origin," he said. Mark Regev, a spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, said, "Iran's domination of Lebanon, through its proxy Hizbullah, has prevented Lebanon from being a partner in peace and turned Lebanon into an Iranian satellite and a hub of regional terror and instability." (Washington Post)
Israel Air Force Completes 4-Day Exercise with Greek Air Force - Yaakov Lappin
Eight Israeli combat helicopters - four Blackhawks and four Apaches - completed a four-day joint exercise with the Hellenic Air Force in Greece this week, which included navigating around high mountains. (Jerusalem Post)
Recognizing Israel as a Jewish State - Raphael Israeli
All the countries of the Middle East stress their Arab nationalism (even without mentioning democracy as part of their identity) without batting an eyelid. Paragraph 20 of the Palestinian National Charter, which has never been amended or annulled, states that the Jews are not a nation and therefore are not entitled to a state. It is interesting that thousands of Arabs from Jordan and Sudan come here to request political asylum in our "repressive" country, but no one is in a hurry to seek refuge in Syria or Libya. The writer is a professor of Middle Eastern studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. (Ha'aretz)
Website to show Palestinian violence against Jewish farmers
After Palestinians and left-wing Israelis publicized Jewish violence toward Palestinian farmers in Judea and Samaria, the settlers decided to show the other side of the story. On Thursday October 14, the Samaria Citizens’ Committee opened up a new site for evidence of Palestinian attacks on Jewish farmers. The Web page will document these violent incidents with pictures of copies of complaints. The initiative has been taken up to fight the distorted message of the Left, and to call for providing security to the farmers and the settlements.
European Jewish communities are in serious danger
The European Jewish Congress (EJC) is calling on European governments and the European Union to launch a campaign against intolerance and anti-Semitism. The Congress reports anti-Semitism is on the rise in Europe, and some Jewish communities are in serious danger. For example, recently a government-funded Catholic school in Antwerp hosted a ‘Palestine Day’, which included an activity for children in which they were invited to throw replicas of Jewish and Israeli soldiers into two large tanks as part of an activity entitled “Throw the Jewish soldiers into the sea.”
Job openings increase as Israeli economy improves
The number of job vacancies is on the rise in Israel. Job vacancies have increased 2.5% from August to September, “compared with the same month last year the number of job vacancies in September this year was 9% higher”, according to a report from the Central Bureau of Statistics. The largest growth in job vacancies for September can be found within the construction sector, closely followed by the education sector.
Ahmadinejad’s victory tour Editorial, Jerusalem Post
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s visit to Lebanon is no courtesy call. This trip is packed with immediate practical significance. Foremost is the contempt toward Israel. The very fact that Ahmadinejad presents himself at Israel’s doorstep speaks volumes. He is emphatically thumbing his nose at Israel, while simultaneously sending a warning against any Israeli preemptive strike on Iranian nuclear facilities.
Buyers, where art thou?
Russia's S-300 air defense systems, which Moscow refused to deliver to Iran following a new round of UN sanctions against the Islamic Republic, could be sold to Venezuela instead, a Russian arms trade expert said on Friday Russia's S-300 air defense systems, worth $800 (Mill), which Moscow refused to deliver to Iran following a new round of UN sanctions against the Islamic Republic, could be sold to Venezuela instead, a Russian arms trade expert said on Friday October 15. Useless to Venezuela,will they then be on-sold to Iran?