|MIDDLE EAST UPDATES FROM OCTOBER 17th 2010|
Tuesday, 26 October 2010
IDF Warns of New Gaza War If Hamas Abducts Soldier - Anshel Pfeffer (Ha'aretz)
In the wake of assessments that Hamas may be planning to attempt to capture more IDF soldiers, a senior General Staff officer warned on Sunday October 17, that Israel's response to any kidnapping would be no less severe than its 2009 military operation in Gaza.
Launch Attempt by Gaza Terrorist Squad (Israel Defense Forces)
On Sunday October 17, the Israel Air Force hit a squad of terror operatives who were preparing to fire rockets from Gaza into Israel. More than 165 rockets and mortars have been fired at Israeli territory since the beginning of 2010
Hizbullah Chief "Deceived" Iran Leader with Gun Gift (AFP)
Hizbullah chief Hassan Nasrallah deceived Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad by giving him a gun he claimed was taken from an Israeli soldier in the 2006 war, the Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahronot said Sunday The paper quoted a military spokesperson as saying the weapon was "most likely" a FNFAL 7.62 rifle that went out of use in 1974, meaning it could not have been taken from soldiers during the more recent fighting in Lebanon.
500 Arabs Enrolled in Israeli West Bank University - Yair Altman (Ynet News)
Some 11,500 students, among them 500 Arab and Druze Israelis, began the academic year Sunday Oct 17 at the Ariel University Center of Samaria in the West Bank
U.S. Deal with European Oil Firms Hobbles Iran Air - Thomas Erdbrink
A recent agreement between four of Europe's largest oil companies and the U.S. aimed at further isolating Iran has left Iran Air, the Islamic republic's national carrier, unable to refuel its planes in most of Europe
U.S.: Chinese Businesses and Banks Are Bypassing UN Sanctions Against Iran - John Pomfret
The Obama administration has concluded that Chinese firms are helping Iran to improve its missile technology and develop nuclear weapons, and has asked China to stop such activity.
PA May Ask UN to Recognize State within '67 Borders - Khaled Abu Toameh and Tovah Lazaroff
The Palestinian Authority announced on Saturday October 16, that it was studying the possibility of asking the UN General Assembly and Security Council to recognize a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders. In response, an Israeli government official said that "there is no substitute for direct talks" between the parties and signing an agreement on a final-status solution. The Palestinians often make threats to avoid direct talks with Israel, he said. "We see this as a way to apply pressure to the international community."
Israel's Demand for Recognition as Jewish State Has Changed the Balance of Forces - Avi Beker
According to a recent American Jewish Committee survey, 95% of American Jews felt the demand that Palestinians recognize Israel as the Jewish state in a final status agreement is justified. As far as American Jews are concerned, the demand that Israel be recognized as a Jewish stat e is not an attempt to hamstring the peace talks; instead, it is a legitimate core demand, germane to the resolution of the conflict. The writer served as Secretary-General of the World Jewish Congress. (Ha'aretz)
Building Resumes in Jerusalem by Maayana Miskin
The Housing Ministry has approved the construction of 240 homes in northern Jerusalem, after several months with no construction in Jewish neighborhoods east of the 1949 armistice line. While there was no official Jerusalem building freeze, and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu assured Israelis that there would be no Jerusalem freeze, in practice, no new building permits were issued for some time.
Israel Offers First Prayers for Rain by Maayana Miskin
On Thursday night, October 14, the seventh day of the Hebrew month of Cheshvan, Jews living in Israel began praying for rain. From this date, Ashkenazi Jews will change the phrase, "And give blessing" to “And give dew and rain for a blessing,” (Ten Tal Umatar) to their weekday prayers, while Sephardi Jews say a completely different prayer including the request for "dew and showers"
IAF Adding Third 'Arrow' Missile Defense Battery by Gil Ronen
The Israel Air Force is stepping up its preparations for a possible missile war with Iran and its proxies, with a new “Arrow” ground-to-air missile battery about to become operational. IDF journal Bamachaneh reported that the new battery – the IAF's third – will begin operating soon. The report did not disclose the location of the new battery but said it was in central Israel Like the other Arrow batteries, the new battery provides defense against ballistic missiles. It will integrate the Arrow system's newest interception missile, which is considered more accurate than its predecessors. In addition, it will receive the new Oren Adir radar, which has especially long range and is better than older versions at identifying the type of missile being launched at Israel.
Iran Becomes President of OPEC by Chana Ya'ar
The 12 member nations of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) have elected Iran, OPEC's second-largest oil producer and one of its founding members, to become the organization's 2011 president.
Mountain View: New, 3-D Map of Yesha, Tel Aviv by Hillel Fendel
The Yesha Council of Jewish Communities in Judea and Samaria has published a new, colorful, 3-D map of Israel, topographically depicting the dangers of a Palestinian state overlooking Tel Aviv. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then the feeling at the Yesha Council is that a 3-D map is worth a million words – and can explain with a glance how Judea and Samaria tower above the Gush Dan (Tel Aviv) area of Israel, in which live millions of Israelis. Similarly, the Golan Heights are clearly shown towering above the Galilee, just as the mountains of Jordan stand much higher than the Jordan Valley. The surrounding of Jerusalem on three sides by PA-controlled areas is also plainly depicted.
Israel-US Trade: Celebrating and Growing by Hillel Fendel
Ministry of Trade has statistics show that in the first eight months of this year, Israeli-US trade totaled $11.9 billion, up 9% compared to the same period the year before. Exports were up 9% to $8 billion, and imports were up 7% to $3.8 billion.
IRANIAN MILITARY SITE BLASTED
A top-secret Iranian military installation was struck by a triple blast on Tuesday. Oct. 12, the day before Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad arrived in Lebanon. The site held most of the Shehab-3 medium-range missile launchers Iran had stocked for striking US forces in Iraq and Israel in the event of war - some set to deliver triple warheads (tri-conic nosecones). The 18 soldiers officially reported killed (there were many more) in the blasts and 14 injured belonged to the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) main missile arm, the Al-Hadid Brigades.
Israel: Hamas Has Anti-Aircraft Missiles (AP-Los Angeles Times)
Hamas in Gaza has obtained anti-aircraft missiles, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday October 18, the first time an Israeli official has openly said Hamas possesses anti-aircraft weaponry.
World's Largest Underground Hospital Being Built in Haifa - David Ratner (Rambam Medical Center-IMRA)
The foundations were laid this week for the world's largest underground hospital. The emergency facility at Rambam Medical Center in Haifa is designed to withstand conventional, chemical, and biological attacks. The project, slated for completion in 2012, will serve as a three-floor parking lot - that in times of emergency can be transformed at short notice into a 2,000-bed hospital. Designed to be self-sufficient, the hospital will be able to generate its own power and can store enough oxygen, drinking water and medical supplies for up to three days.
U.S., Israel Agree Iran Prime Threat to Mideast - Matthew Lee
As part of the semiannual U.S.-Israel Strategic Dialogue, the two countries on Monday October 18 said Iran is among the "greatest challenges" to stability in the Middle East and they pledged to keep Iran from acquiring atomic arms.
U.S. to Lebanon: Won't Tolerate Iran on the Mediterranean
The U.S. warned Lebanon that it will not tolerate an Iranian foothold on the shores of the Mediterranean, Israel Radio reported on Tuesday October 19. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Jeffrey Feltman gave the warning to senior Lebanese officials whom he met with two days ago. (Jerusalem Post)
New Loyalty Oath to Apply to Jews as Well as Arabs - Attila Somfalvi
Prime Minister Netanyahu ordered that the proposed amendment to the Citizenship Act requiring those seeking Israeli citizenship to pledge their allegiance to a "Jewish and democratic Israel" will also apply to Jews seeking Israeli citizenship under the Law of Return. (Ynet News)
Hizbullah tells UN it isn’t welcome in Lebanon
AFP reported on Wednesday October 20, that the Lebanese Shi’ite terror militia Hizbullah has accused the United Nations of meddling in Lebanese civil affairs. The charge came in response to a UN report released on Monday in which Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned of instability in the country based on a UN report on the failure of nongovernmental security agencies in the country to disarm following UN Securty Council Resolution 1559 in 2004.
Palestinian leader threatens violence if negotiations fail
‘Work accident’ at Hamas rocket site wounds civilians Ahmed Qurei, a senior PLO official and former Palestinian Authority prime minister who helped craft the Oslo Accords of 1993, threatened to launch a new round of “armed resistance” against Israel if the current round of negotiations fail to lead to the establishment of a Palestinian State. His statements came during a seminar in Cairo last week.
New Survey Indicates Large Oil Field Buried Under Negev Sand by Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
A new preliminary geological survey indicates 26 million barrels of recoverable oil—worth $2 billion—may be sitting underneath the sandy soil in the area of two kibbutzim in the Western Negev, near Gaza. Besides the estimates of oil at a depth of 2,000 meters, or approximately a mile and a quarter, the preliminary survey also reports an additional estimate of 12 million barrels of recoverable oil at depths of up to 4,000 meters, worth $900 at current prices. The area is adjacent to the small Heletz oil field, which so far has produced more than 16 million barrels of oil. If the new field is drilled, it will be the first deep-well drilling in the area in decades.
UN Message on Negotiations was a Veiled Warning to PA by Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
A diplomatic United Nations warning, interpreted by pro-Arab media as aimed at Israel, also was a veiled message to the Palestinian Authority not to try to ask the international body to declare the PA as a country.
Israel-Greece Ties Warm as Relations with Turkey Chill by Maayana Miskin
As Israel's ties to Turkey remain distant, ties with Greece are growing warmer. Greek Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas was in Israel this Monday October 18, to meet with Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and sign an aviation treaty. In July, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu announced that Israel and Greece would undergo “a major upgrade of relations.” He spoke as Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou visited Israel in the first visit by a sitting Greek prime minister in decades.
OECD Conference Opens in Jerusalem despite PA Call for Ban by Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
Most nations in the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) are ignoring a call by the Palestinian Authority to boycott a major bi-annual tourism conference that opened in Jerusalem Wednesday October 20. At least 24 of the 33 OECD nations are attending, while Turkey, Belgium, Iceland, New Zealand, Sweden, Ireland and South Africa, are boycotting the conference following PA claims that doing so would damage its claims over northern, eastern and southern areas of the city that were restored to Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War.
Poll: 49 Percent of Palestinians Would Recognize Jewish State - Itamar Eichner (Ynet News)
49% of Palestinians living in the West Bank, Gaza, and east Jerusalem would agree to recognize Israel as Jewish as part of a peace agreement establishing a Palestinian state, while 48% object, a survey by Yediot Ahronot reported on Thursday October 19.
Clinton: Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Cannot Be Solved by Unilateral Moves
"There are those who think that if they wait, scheme, or fight long enough, they can avoid compr omising or negotiating. But I am here to say that that is not the case. That will only guarantee more suffering, more sorrow, and more victims. Violence in all forms is a dead end that perpetuates the conflict and empowers those on both sides who would exploit cynicism and discord. That is no path at all. Nor is it viable to build the institutions of a future state without the negotiations that will ultimately create it." (State Department)
Israel Warns of Unilateral Steps If PA Seeks UN Statehood - Tovah Lazaroff
Israel will pursue its own unilateral steps if the Palestinians do not return to the negotiating table and instead seek UN support for unilateral moves to declare a state within the pre-1967 lines, an Israeli government source told the Jerusalem Post Thursday October 21. "If the Palestinians think that unilateral moves are a one-way street, they are sadly mistaken. It is an option that both sides have," said the source. "Israel is against unilateral steps. Israel believes that all problems should be solved around the negotiating table, but if the Palestinians choose unilateral steps, they can expect Israel to respond in kind." (Jerusalem Post)
Why the Washington Process Collapsed - Yossi Alpher
The peace process launched in Washington on September 1 essentially collapsed before it began. The stewardship of Obama, Clinton and Mitchell clearly suffers from a failure to recognize what, if anything, is feasible and what is delusional in Israeli-Palestinian relations. However there is the widespread US public belief that the same people who most hate Israel and want to bring it down, are the bitter enemies of the United States and will stop at nothing to kill as many American civilians as they possibly can
PA continues to crack down on Hamas in the West Bank
The London-based daily al-Quds al-Arabi reported on Friday October 22, that US trained Palestinian Authority police have continued to crack down on Hamas throughout the West Bank, including the confiscation of a large cache of weapons in the PA provisional capitol of Ramallah earlier this month. Hamas officials have denied that the weapons were intended for use against the PA, insisting that they would only be used to target Israel.
Turkey denies offering assistance to Gaza flotilla organizers
Computers confiscated by the Israel Defense Forces following the takeover of the Gaza flotilla reveal important data concerning the events from last May. It indicates that the flotilla’s organizers received assistance from the highest levels of the Turkish government, including Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Edogan. Detailed preparations and scenarios of action were also included on the computers. Under the headline “Strategy at Sea,” the organizers discussed how to counter an IDF assault. Another document, entitled “Strategy,” details poor financial state of the organization and public relations goals in the media. One of the strategies decided on was that there would be no turning back at any price, which would make the only way of stopping the IDF from using force. The Turkish government denies offering any assistance to the flotilla’s organizers.
Arrow Defense System defends Tel Aviv
Israel has begun to assemble a third battery of Arrow 2 air defense missiles at a base near Tel Aviv to defend the Gush Dan region against the threat posed by long range missiles, primarily from Iran. The system will complement the existing systems already in place to defend Netivot Air Base in the Negev and Hadera in the North. The radar controlling the system will be the Israeli built Green Pine system
US Air power increases facing Iran
The United States has posted a second aircraft carrier, the USS Abraham Lincoln, in the Persian Gulf and northern Arabian Sea. Facing Iran at the moment therefore is the USS Harry S. Truman which has four squadrons of Hornet and Super Hornet fighter-bombers plus Squadron 116 of early warning, surveillance and command craft, Squadron 131 of electronic warfare craft, two more squadrons of helicopters and one of transports. The Abraham Lincoln's arrival has raised the number of US fighter-bombers in Iran's neighborhood to 120. The significance of two massive American naval-aerial strike forces opposite Iranian shores was not lost on Tehran, our sources report. Wednesday, Oct. 20, Brig. Gen. Hussein Salami, Deputy Commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, came out with this statement: "The enemies of Iran should know the Islamic establishment's red lines and not trespass them."
More Rabbis Join Call Not to Sell Land to Arabs by Gil Ronen
Rabbis from the Our Land of Israel group have sounded their support for 18 rabbis from northern Israel who issued a call to Jews not to sell land to Arabs. Our Land of Israel has also requested that the Council of the Chief Rabbinate be convened to discuss the problem of “creeping conquest” by Arabs in mixed cities and formerly Jewish neighborhoods. This conquest, the group said, endangers security and increases intermarriage. Jews who transgress this edict are desecrating G-d's name, they said.
Largest-Ever Deal: $60b in Planes and Copters to Saudi by Hillel Fendel
The U.S. State Department announced on Wednesday October 20, the largest weapons sale in the history of the United States: $60 billion worth of combat planes and helicopters to Saudi Arabia. The Obama Administration has notified Congress of the plans for the 20-year deal. uuvIt is to include 84 F-15 fighter aircraft and over 170 helicopters, the upgrading of 70 older-model F-15 planes, and the sale of smaller air force items. The helicopter deal includes 70 Apaches, 72 Blackhawks, and 32 MH-6 Little Birds.