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December 11, 2008

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In-Depth Issues:

Report: Iran Manufacturing Improved Missiles (Ynet News)
    Iran has begun production of the Shahab B3 missile with a range of 2,000 km (1,242 miles), that is capable of reaching Israel, a Western intelligence source reported Wednesday.
    Iran has the ability to manufacture some 75 Shahab B3 rockets per year.
    The Shahab B3 is armed with a one-ton warhead and has an accuracy of about 300 meters (984 feet). It is equipped with advanced navigation systems capable of changing the missile's direction even after being launched.
    Iranian Defense Minister Brig.-Gen. Mostafa Mohammad Najjar claimed, "This is a two-stage missile carrying two engines with combined solid fuel."

Report: Iran Deploys Troops, Missiles to Eritrea - Joseph Grieboski (Cutting Edge News)
    Iranian ships and submarines have deployed an undisclosed number of Iranian troops and weapons at the Eritrean port town of Assab, according to opposition groups, foreign diplomats, and NGOs in the area.
    The military basing came after Iran signed an accord with Eritrea to revamp the Russian-built refinery used by the Eritrean Oil Company.
    See also Is Iran Setting Up Bases around the World? - Lenny Ben-David (I*Consult)

U.S. Sharpens Focus on Lashkar-e-Taiba - Greg Miller (Los Angeles Times)
    The terrorist attacks in Mumbai are prompting concern among U.S. intelligence officials that Lashkar-e-Taiba is emerging both as a more potent threat to American interests and as a potential successor to al-Qaeda.
    Senior U.S. intelligence officials said the attacks had triggered a reexamination by CIA analysts of the Pakistani group's potential to follow the strikes last month in Mumbai with a long-term campaign against Western targets.
    However, counter-terrorism experts said Lashkar's reach still appears to be limited.
    Seth Jones, a counter-terrorism analyst at Rand Corp., said, "It's one thing to get on a boat from Pakistan and move to India. It's a whole different step to build an infrastructure and cells capable of conducting operations in a Western country."

Israel Issues Travel Advisory for Goa in India - Roni Sofer (Ynet News)
    Israel's Counter Terrorism Bureau issued a travel advisory on Wednesday, warning Israelis not to visit India's Goa region.
    The bureau defined the warning as "very concrete" and recommended that any trips to the area be postponed to the end of December.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Obama Wants to "Reboot America's Image" in the Muslim World - Jennifer Loven
    President-elect Barack Obama said in an interview published Wednesday that he will try to "reboot America's image" among the world's Muslims and will follow tradition by using his entire name - Barack Hussein Obama - in his swearing-in ceremony. Obama said his message would be twofold: that his administration will be unyielding in stamping out terrorist extremism but also "unrelenting in our desire to create a relationship of mutual respect and partnership with countries." Obama promised during his campaign that one of his top priorities would be to work to repair America's reputation worldwide, and that one element of that effort would be a speech delivered in a Muslim capital. (AP)
  • Israel Rejects Claims by UN Human Rights Monitor
    Israel adamantly rejected on Wednesday accusations by the UN monitor of human rights in the Palestinian territories that the Jewish state is committing a "crime against humanity." UN expert on human rights Richard Falk had discredited himself by the accusations, which were related to Israel's blockade of Hamas-ruled Gaza, the Israel Foreign Ministry said. "The credibility of this expert has suffered a major blow with this announcement, which consists more of anti-Israel propaganda than truth," said spokesman Yigal Palmor. "The situation in Gaza is the direct result of the violence inflicted by Hamas, not only on Israeli civilians but the Palestinian population." Palestinian militants have fired thousands of rockets and mortars on nearby Israeli communities. (AFP)
        See also below Commentary: Human Rights and Wrongs - Editorial (Jerusalem Post)
  • Florida State Senator Presses Swiss Firm to Stop Doing Business with Iran - Asjylyn Loder
    State Sen. Ted Deutch has a vision where Florida puts a stop to Iran's nuclear ambitions. A $125-million fuel depot is being built in Port Canaveral by Vitol, one of the world's largest oil traders. Deutch has asked Florida Gov. Charlie Crist to broker a meeting with executives from the Swiss company, that supplies one quarter of Iran's fuel and is building the largest private investment in Port Canaveral's history. Deutch hopes to leverage public opinion to persuade Vitol to stop selling gasoline to Iran.
        "We have one chance in history to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, and this is it," said Deutch. His campaign is part of a growing effort by states throughout the country to penalize companies that do business with Iran. (St. Petersburg Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • International Atomic Energy Agency: An Iranian Bomb Within Months - Nadav Eyal
    A senior official at the International Atomic Energy Agency told Maariv in an interview that while the Iranians do not possess enough fissionable material today, in only a few months they will have enough nuclear fuel to produce at least one nuclear bomb. An IAEA source added that Iran's Natanz facility could be switched from civilian to military purposes in a short time. (Maariv-Hebrew)
  • UN General Assembly Chief Tries to Block Israeli Envoy's Address - Shlomo Shamir
    The President of the UN General Assembly, Miguel Brockmann, tried to prevent Israel's ambassador, Professor Gabriela Shalev, from speaking at a special commemorative session marking 60 years since the UN adopted and proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, scheduled for Wednesday. Brockmann tried to cancel speeches that were to be given by representatives of the regional group known as "Western European and Others," after he learned that Israel's ambassador was to represent the group as its rotating chairman. However, European representatives rejected the motion to cancel the meeting, and voiced outrage at his attempt to prevent the address. In response, Brockmann added speakers known to be hostile toward Israel. (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel Approves Funds Transfer to Gaza - Roni Sofer
    Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Wednesday approved the transfer of $25.5 million from West Bank banks to Gaza. The move was approved due to a cash crisis in Gaza which has caused a number of banks to shut down. The funds are intended to pay the salaries of 70,000 Palestinian Authority employees in Gaza. (Ynet News)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Human Rights and Wrongs - Editorial
    Israel is trying to protect itself from Gaza. We unilaterally pulled out our citizens and army from Gaza in 2005. Rather than use our departure to begin building a Palestinian state, Hamas vowed to keep "resisting" and never accept a Jewish state in the region. In just the past three weeks, Hamastan has fired some 170 rockets and mortars at Israeli population centers. Every day, Hamas forces, trained by Iran, place bombs along our border and tunnel toward our territory in preparation for their next onslaught. They kidnapped and still hold IDF soldier Gilad Shalit. We do not claim that life in Gaza is easy, but so much of its misfortune is self-inflicted. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Security First: U.S. Priorities in Israeli-Palestinian Peacemaking - J. D. Crouch II, Montgomery C. Meigs, and Walter B. Slocombe
    Security First: U.S. Priorities in Israeli-Palestinian Peacemaking is the report of a team of independent experts commissioned to examine security issues in the Israeli-Palestinian relationship. The new Obama administration should focus its early efforts on expanding and improving the U.S.-led program to train PA security forces so they are willing and able to fight terrorism. Only by proving its bona fides in countering terrorism can the PA give Israel confidence eventually to draw down its own forces in the West Bank.
        Alternative ideas to circumvent the PA's current ineffectiveness, such as the deployment of international or NATO troops, are impractical and potentially counterproductive. "The sine qua non of a durable peace agreement remains the development of a Palestinian security system capable of not only enforcing law and order but combating terrorist networks and cells." (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • Observations:

    Perspectives on the Hebron House Dispute

    • A Disgrace for Everyone Concerned - Evelyn Gordon
      The events surrounding the eviction of Jewish residents from a Hebron home last week were a disgrace for everyone concerned - the police, the army, the government and the broader settler community. Topping the list, of course, are the Jewish thugs who rampaged through Hebron to protest the eviction, attacking soldiers, policemen and Palestinians and vandalizing property. Compounding the offense was the excessive force used during the eviction. (Jerusalem Post)
    • Crossing All the Lines - Nadav Shragai
      Hebron in the eyes of the state prosecutors and the High Court of Justice is an Arab city where a few hundred Jews reside until "the final status agreement" is struck. Hebron in the eyes of the settlers is the city of our forefathers in which Jewish settlement has existed "from time immemorial" and will exist "forever." David Ben-Gurion, the main figure who merged the two worldviews of secular and religious Zionists, thought that "we will make a huge, tremendous error if we do not settle Hebron."
          Morris Abraham of New York, a descendant of Jews who were banished from Hebron following the 1929 massacre, gave up his retirement funds to buy the building in Hebron, to link Kiryat Arba with the Tomb of the Patriarchs. Faid Rajbi, the ostensible seller, who now claimed that he never sold the house, is seen in a video tape counting his money. The Palestinian Authority hands down the death sentence to anyone who "commits the crime" of selling land to Jews.
          At the time of the evacuation of the building last week, Jewish fanatics from the fringes of the settler camp, whose place is in prison, vandalized Muslim tombstones and harmed Arabs and Israel Defense Forces soldiers. (Ha'aretz)
    • The State, Not the Court, Ordered the Settlers to Leave - Dan Izenberg
      There is a misconception about the High Court of Justice's ruling on the disputed building in Hebron. The common description of the event in the press was that the court ordered the settlers to leave the building. But the court didn't instruct the state to evict the settlers. It didn't have to, because it was the state that ordered the settlers to leave the building in the first place. What the court did was to uphold the state's decision after that decision was challenged by the settlers. The court did not even try, nor was it authorized, to settle the dispute over who owned the building. (Jerusalem Post)

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