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July 6, 2009

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In-Depth Issues:

Report: U.S. to Block Iran Sanctions at G8 Summit - Shlomo Shamir (Ha'aretz)
    The U.S. is opposed to enacting a new set of financial sanctions against Iran that are due to be discussed in the G8 summit next week, diplomatic officials in New York reported Friday.
    See also Despite Crisis, U.S. Policy on Iran Is Engagement - David E. Sanger (New York Times)
    See also Israel: Iran Unrest Reveals Pointlessness of Talking with Tehran - Aluf Benn (Ha'aretz)
    Israeli officials argue that Iran's fraudulent election and its brutal suppression of the demonstrations reveal the pointlessness of talking with Tehran and the need for stiffer sanctions.
    See also U.S., Israel Have Resumed Dialogue on Iran - Barak Ravid (Ha'aretz)
    American officials involved in the Iranian issue have told their Israeli counterparts that they are aware of the frustration over Washington's insistence on going ahead with the dialogue with Iran, and that they also do not believe the chances of success are high.
    Nevertheless, they said, were the U.S. to start laying the groundwork for stiffer sanctions now, this would signal to the Iranians that Obama is not serious about dialogue with Tehran, which would foil any chances of success that the dialogue might have.
    This exchange of messages has a positive side: The two countries have at least resumed serious conversation on the Iranian issue, after a hiatus of almost six months.

Al-Qaeda in Sinai Plotted Attack on Israel-Egypt Gas Lines - Avi Issacharoff (Ha'aretz)
    An al-Qaeda cell based in Sinai is suspected of planning to attack the natural gas lines running between Israel and Egypt, the Egyptian daily al-Masry al-Youm reported Sunday.
    The cell was also planning to strike Israeli ships passing through the Suez Canal.

Israel Approves PA Request for 1,000 Kalashnikov Rifles - Yaakov Katz (Jerusalem Post)
    Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak has approved the transfer of 1,000 automatic weapons to the Palestinian Authority, defense officials said Sunday, on the eve of Barak's meeting in London with U.S. Middle East envoy George Mitchell.
    Meanwhile, defense officials said the PA was having difficulty recruiting new soldiers into the battalions being trained by U.S. Security Coordinator Lt.-Gen. Keith Dayton.

Gazan Infiltrated Israel through Sinai to Set Up Terror Network - Hanan Greenberg (Ynet News)
    Abd al-Rahman Talaalqa, 25, a Gaza resident who infiltrated Israel from Egypt to set up an infrastructure for terror attacks, was arrested last month and indicted Sunday.
    An Israel Police official said he was recruited for terror activity in 2006 and underwent military training in Gaza to carry out an attack on Israeli territory.
    He was trained to produce weapons using chemical substances and to prepare car bombs and explosive belts.
    Talaalqa said he was asked to carry out attacks including kidnapping a soldier, and was ordered to collect intelligence on IDF bases, police facilities and places where soldiers gather.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Vice President Biden: Israel Has Right to Deal with Nuclear Iran
    Israel has a sovereign right to decide what is in its best interest in dealing with Iran's nuclear ambitions whether the U.S. agrees or not, Vice President Joe Biden told ABC's "This Week" on Sunday. "We cannot dictate to another sovereign nation what they can and cannot do when they make a determination, if they make a determination, that they're existentially threatened," Biden said. Israel has said a nuclear-armed Iran would be a threat to its existence, noting Iranian President Ahmadinejad's calls for Israel to be wiped off the map. (Reuters-Washington Post)
  • Leading Clerics Defy Supreme Leader on Disputed Iran Election - Michael Slackman and Nazila Fathi
    The most important group of religious leaders in Iran, the Association of Researchers and Teachers of Qum, called the disputed presidential election and the new government illegitimate on Saturday, an act of defiance against the country's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and the most public sign of a major split in the country's clerical establishment. "This crack in the clerical establishment, and the fact they are siding with the people and Mousavi, in my view is the most historic crack in the 30 years of the Islamic republic," said Abbas Milani, director of the Iranian Studies Program at Stanford University. "Remember, they are going against an election verified and sanctified by Khamenei."  (New York Times)
        See also Iranian Opposition Leader Details Election Fraud - Thomas Erdbrink
    Mir Hossein Mousavi, the leading opposition candidate in last month's disputed election, released documents Saturday detailing a campaign of fraud by supporters of President Ahmadinejad. Mousavi accused Ahmadinejad supporters of handing out cash bonuses and food, increasing wages, and printing millions of extra ballots. (Washington Post)
  • Syria Invites Obama to Visit Damascus - Sam F. Ghattas
    Syria's leader sent a July 4 message full of praise to President Obama on Friday and invited him to visit Syria - the latest signs Damascus is hedging its bets at a time when its longtime ally Iran is in turmoil. Syrian President Bashar Assad sent a telegram to Obama saying, "The values that were adopted by President Obama during his election campaign and after he was elected president are values that the world needs today." In an interview with Britain's Sky News, Assad said, "We would like to welcome him in Syria, definitely....I will ask you to convey the invitation to him."
        "All the world around Syria on which it built its policy is falling apart," said Sateh Noureddine, managing editor of the Lebanese As-Safir daily, which tilts toward Syria's Lebanese allies. "Hizbullah lost the election in Lebanon, Hamas is being subjected to unprecedented attrition and Iran is drowned in its internal crises." (AP)
        See also Iran, Syria Push Economic Ties
    Mohammad Saeidikia, the Iranian housing and urban development minister, met with Syrian Trade Minister Amer Husni Lutfi for two days in Damascus last week to develop bilateral economic ties further. Engineering companies active in Syria have set up 11 different economic projects that have generated more than $1.3 billion in the decade since they were established. Trade between both countries stands at $350 million per year. Saeidikia called for the establishment of free-trade agreements between Syria, Iran, Iraq and Turkey. Damascus recently announced the opening of a rail line from Syrian ports on the Mediterranean to Basra on the Persian Gulf. (UPI)
        See also U.S.: Obama Visit to Damascus Conditional on Changes in Syrian Behavior
    Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg said Friday at the Aspen Ideas Festival that a visit by President Obama to Damascus will not take place anytime soon. Steinberg wondered how Obama would visit Damascus if Syria continues to provide Hizbullah with arms, supports Hamas and allows fighters to cross the border into Iraq. (Naharnet-Lebanon)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Netanyahu Insists Two States Requires Defensible Borders for Israel and Full Palestinian Demilitarization
    Prime Minister Netanyahu told the Israeli Cabinet Sunday: "We have brought a national agreement on the idea of 'two states for two peoples' and the outlines of the agreement are - first of all - that the Palestinians will need to recognize the State of Israel as the state of the Jewish People. This says that the problem of the refugees will be resolved outside the State of Israel and that Israel needs - and will receive - defensible borders, and includes the full demilitarization of the Palestinian territory."  (Prime Minister's Office)
        See also Defensible Borders for a Lasting Peace - Yuval Steinitz, Yaakov Amidror, Meir Rosenne, and Dore Gold (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
        See also Defensible Borders on the Golan Heights - Maj.-Gen. (res.) Giora Eiland (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Israeli Official: Iran Can Be Stopped - Dana Zimmerman
    According to Dr. Eran Lerman, the new deputy chief of Israel's National Security Council, "Iran is like a huge, outspread octopus. But what has been going on within the country recently, the serious hit Hizbullah took in the Lebanese elections, as well as the change embodied by U.S. President Barack Obama - who is allowing Muslim figures ostentatiously to have photo ops with him, all this is an indication that Iran's power quest, which nuclear capability is meant to bolster, is not unavoidable or a sure success. It can be fought and slowed."
        Lerman also said, "Israel is not on a collision path with the U.S....The American people are still pro-Israel, and the foundations of the connection with Israel are strong. It is true that the U.S. has undergone political changes that affect their perceptions and priorities, but, in its deepest essence, nothing has changed in the relationship with Israel." (Ynet News)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Israel Radio's Iran Expert: "Mousavi Won the Election" - Ruthie Blum Leibowitz
    Menashe Amir, Israel Radio's Farsi broadcaster for the past 50 years, says opposition candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi "is certain he won the election - and I can confirm that he did. According to all the information I have received, he garnered twice the amount of votes as Ahmadinejad....The elections are a perfect example of how Ahmadinejad manipulated the system in order to declare himself the winner....Those who determine policy in Iran decided a year ago that Ahmadinejad was going to win the election."
        "On the nuclear makes no difference whether the president is Mousavi or Ahmadinejad. In any case, even Mousavi declared openly that, if elected, he would continue Iran's nuclear program, as well as its policy of supplying weapons to Hizbullah and Hamas."
        " a merciless fanatic. One of his past jobs was as a final executioner. He would fire the last bullet into the heads of people put to death. His nickname is "the man of a thousand bullets," since he used to boast that he had shot bullets into the heads of 1,000 executed people."
        "What is going on in Iran has only just begun. And if the world grasps the enormity of this moment, and does what it can to help the Iranian people in their struggle, it will not be necessary to bomb the nuclear facilities, because the Iranian people will rise and do the job themselves." (Jerusalem Post)
  • Pentagon Analyst Breaks Silence on Dropped Israel Spy Case - Jeff Stein
    Pentagon analyst Larry Franklin found himself charged with giving classified information to suspected agents of Israel. Now, breaking silence for the first time since he became entangled in the Israel-spy-ring-that-wasn't, Franklin says he gave sensitive information to a pro-Israel lobbyist in hopes that it would be passed on to the White House. He also admitted telling an Israeli official "that the Iranians were planning to kill Americans in Iraq." He didn't think the information was classified. Four years later the charges were dropped.
        Franklin says he was desperate in early 2003 to get his information about Iranian preparations to kill Americans in Iraq into the hands of a White House policy-maker. The problem was, he didn't know anyone close to White House National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice. So when AIPAC official Steven J. Rosen intimated that he had good White House contacts, Franklin "jumped at the chance" to get his report into the right hands, he said. "This was my initiative. I was not directed by him," Franklin said. (CQ Politics)
  • Observations:

    A Message to the World - Ron Ben-Yishai (Ynet News)

    • The journey of an IDF submarine through the Suez Canal attests to upgraded security ties between Israel and Egypt as well as to the growing trust between the two states. Permission was granted by Egypt during Defense Minister Ehud Barak's meetings in Cairo two weeks ago.
    • According to foreign media reports, Israeli submarines are capable of firing strategic cruise missiles at targets 1,500 kilometers away (about 950 miles).
    • The Iranians are aware of these reports, and they may conclude that Israel is capable of hitting their cities and their nuclear program with a preventative strike or a "second strike" in a surprising manner and from unexpected directions. A "second strike" would be a destructive reprisal that Israel may direct at Iran, should Tehran strike first.
    • The very fact that an Israeli submarine sailed through the Suez Canal conveys the message that, from now on, Israel and Egypt will be cooperating on issues that go beyond the sealing off of the Sinai border.
    • This message is supposed to resonate not only in Iran, but also in Persian Gulf states and in Washington. Meanwhile, the Obama administration will view the submarine's journey as proof that its effort to prompt regional cooperation in hindering the Iranian threat is starting to bear fruit.

          See also Israeli Sub Sails through Suez Canal, Signaling Reach to Iran - Dan Williams
      An Israeli submarine sailed the Suez Canal to the Red Sea as part of a naval drill last month, Israeli defense sources said on Friday, describing the maneuver as a show of strategic reach in the face of Iran. An Israeli defense source said the drill "showed that we can far more easily access the Indian Ocean, and the Gulf, than before."  (Reuters)

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