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August 17, 2009

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Report: Test Missile Landed in Syrian Market (UPI)
    Part of a Scud missile jointly developed by North Korea, Syria and Iran landed in a Syrian market in May, killing more than 20 people and injuring more than 60, Japan's Kyodo News reported, quoting a Western diplomatic source.
    The missile strayed off course and landed in the market in Manbig, near the border with Turkey in northern Syria.
    The three countries are cooperating in trying to improve Scud missiles, developed by the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

Recession in Israel Is Ending - Tal Levy (TheMarker-Ha'aretz)
    Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics reported Sunday that Israel's Gross Domestic Product expanded 1% in the second quarter of 2009, after two consecutive quarters of contraction.

Israel Sends Emergency Aid to Typhoon-Struck Taiwan (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
    On Thursday the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs sent a shipment of water-purification equipment to the victims of a typhoon in Taiwan.
    Water purifiers, containers, and hundreds of easy-to-use personal water-purification kits were sent to Kausiung in southern Taiwan, one of the worst-struck areas.

Hamas Steals Cement Meant for Renovating British War Cemetery in Gaza - Yaakov Katz (Jerusalem Post)
    In July, Defense Minister Ehud Barak approved a one-time transfer of more than 300 tons of cement to Gaza to rebuild a damaged flour mill, a sewage treatment facility and the British war cemetery.
    According to IDF Southern Command intelligence, cement for the renovation of the cemetery was partially confiscated by Hamas to rebuild its bunker systems and bases.
    IDF sources said that Hamas' seizure of the cement raised a red flag for additional transfers.

Author of Human Rights Watch "White Flag" Report Supported Munich Massacre of Israeli Athletes - Ben-Dror Yamini (Maariv-Hebrew)
    Joe Stork, who presented last week's Human Rights Watch report accusing Israel of killing 12 Gazans who had raised a white flag, is a veteran anti-Israel activist who supported the Munich massacre of Israeli athletes.
    He has called many times for the destruction of the State of Israel and is a long-time supporter of Palestinian terror.

Canadian Church Group Rejects Israel Boycott (JTA)
    Canada's largest Protestant denomination, the United Church of Canada, rejected a series of resolutions calling for a boycott of Israel, financial divestment, and sanctions.
    The CEO of the Canadian Jewish Congress, Bernie Farber, commended the church for rejecting the "misguided and destructive" proposals.

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  • Gulf Arab Money Behind Israeli Land Purchases in Galilee
    Vast tracts of Israeli agricultural land in northern Israel's Galilee area have been bought up by Arabs with financial backing from the Gulf, Israeli public radio reported on Saturday. (AFP)
  • Iran Slams Neighbor States for Serving Israel's Interests
    Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Sunday strongly criticized certain neighboring states for adopting policies which serve the interests of the "Zionist regime," the semi-official Fars news agency reported. "We are sorry for those countries around us and those neighbors who are at the service of the Zionists and are providing means for Israel's hegemony over the world," Ahmadinejad said. "They don't understand that they are facilitating the Zionists. We hope they could wake up," he added. This week the U.S., Israel and Turkey are holding joint military exercises in the Mediterranean, and not for the first time. Israel and Azerbaijan's growing relationship is also a source of concern for Iran. (Peoples Daily-China)
        See also Iran Bahais Charged with Spying for Israel
    Seven leaders of the Bahai faith in Iran are to go on trial on Tuesday on charges of spying for Israel and of "insulting sanctities." The Bahai faith is banned by the Islamic revolutionary leadership of Iran which considers it heretical. Bahais claim some 300,000 members in Iran, where the faith originated. Hundreds of Bahai followers have been jailed and executed since Iran's Islamic revolution in 1979, the Bahai International Community says. (BBC News)
  • Iranian Hard-Liner Named Intelligence Agency Chief - Borzou Daragahi
    President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Sunday named a hard-line loyalist with strong ties to the Revolutionary Guard and the pro-government Basiji militia to oversee the country's vast intelligence infrastructure. Ahmadinejad has already taken de facto control of Iran's Intelligence Ministry after purging it of officials deemed insufficiently loyal. On Sunday, he nominated Heydar Moslehi, a mid-ranking cleric, to lead the ministry, which controls a vast trove of data on Iranians as well as an extensive human and electronic surveillance infrastructure. Moslehi served as an advisor to Ahmadinejad on clerical affairs and is close to Supreme Leader Khamenei. (Los Angeles Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Hamas, Islamists Clash in Gaza: 28 Palestinians Killed, 120 Wounded - Khaled Abu Toameh
    28 Palestinians were killed and more than 120 were wounded over the weekend in fierce clashes between Hamas militiamen and security forces and members of the Jund Ansar Allah ("Soldiers of the Companions of God") group. Taher a-Nunu, a spokesman for the Hamas government, said Jund Ansar Allah was responsible for a spate of bombings against coffee shops, hair salons, Internet outlets and restaurants throughout Gaza over the past few years.
        Hamas said it took action after the group's leader and founder, Sheikh Abdel Latif Mousa, also known as Abu Nur al-Maqdisi, declared during Friday prayers in Rafah the establishment of an Islamic emirate in Gaza. Mousa and some of his followers killed themselves by detonating explosive belts wrapped around their waists. Hamas said one of its top military commanders, Muhammad al-Shamali, was killed in the fighting. Shamali, who was in charge of Hamas' armed wing, Izzadin Kassam, in the southern Gaza Strip, is believed to have been involved in the abduction of IDF soldier Gilad Shalit in 2006. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Victims of Friday's Rafah Clashes Identified
    The 24 slain Palestinians included six members of Hamas' forces, 12 Jund Ansar Allah members, and six civilians including at least three young children. (Maan News-PA)
  • IDF Troops Wound Egyptian Border Policeman After He Opens Fire at Them - Yaakov Katz
    IDF troops shot and wounded an Egyptian border policeman Monday after the man opened fire at them along the Israeli-Egyptian border near Eilat. The IDF and Egyptian forces conducted a joint investigation which showed that the border policeman had not infiltrated Israeli territory, but had also failed to identify himself after being called to do so by the Israeli soldiers. The IDF has been on high alert on the Egyptian border, fearing attempted infiltrations of terrorists from Sinai. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • The Fatah Conference: Pursuing Peace Without Relinquishing the Right to Armed Struggle - C. Jacob
    At the Sixth Fatah General Conference, no changes were made to Fatah's internal charter, posted on the conference website, which includes the following: "Section 19: Armed struggle is a strategy, not a tactic. The armed revolution of the Arab Palestinian people is a crucial element in the battle for liberation and for the elimination of the Zionist presence. This struggle will not stop until the Zionist entity is eliminated and Palestine is liberated."
        The political plan ratified by the Fatah conference adopts peace as a strategic option, but states that pursuing the armed struggle against the occupation is a legitimate right. According to the plan, "Fatah launched the armed struggle for liberating the homeland. This method, and other methods of legitimate resistance [muqawama], are the right of the Palestinian people, recognized by international law, as long as our land is under occupation." "Our revolutionary struggle began with the armed struggle against the armed robbery of our lands, but it has never been limited to armed struggle alone." "The Palestinian people's right to carry out armed struggle against the armed occupation will remain an inalienable right confirmed by international law. The method, timing, and place of struggle are determined based on the capability of the individual and of the public, on external and internal circumstances, on the balance of power." (MEMRI)
        See also Fatah's New Status Quo Leaders - Barry Rubin
    At the Sixth Fatah Congress, the candidate who came in first, with two-thirds of the vote, was Abd al-Mahir Ghuneim, who is increasingly being spoken of as Abbas' successor. Ghuneim is an unrepentant hardliner and an open opponent of the Oslo agreement, much less of a negotiated peace agreement with Israel. If he becomes Fatah's leader (and hence leader of the PA and the PLO as well), any compromise with Israel would become unimaginable. However, there are several individuals in the new leadership who have many Israeli contacts, and who can pick up a phone and call or be called by their Israeli counterparts.
        It is also important that most of Fatah's new leaders have a strong distaste for Hamas, which makes rapprochement between the two groups unlikely. This is neither a group that will make peace with Israel nor one that will ally itself with Hamas. It is a group with which Israel can work on status quo issues, though not on a comprehensive agreement. (Japan Times)
        See also Fatah Congress: Will New Resolutions Mean a New Direction? - Mohammad Yaghi
    Fatah renewed its commitment to achieve a peaceful settlement with Israel through negotiations, a departure from old principles that relied heavily on armed struggle. The party also maintained its commitment to reunite Gaza and the West Bank, and to achieve new presidential and legislative elections through dialogue with Hamas. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • Observations:

    Democratic Congresswoman Berkley: Ensure Normal Life in Settlements Near "Green Line" - Herb Keinon (Jerusalem Post)

    • Shelley Berkley, 58, a six-term Democratic congresswoman from Las Vegas and a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, says that the U.S. administration's public "dressing down" of Israel over the settlement issue has been counterproductive.
    • She also has little faith that either PA leader Mahmoud Abbas, or the moderate Arab world, will deliver the goods that Obama expects. "Year after year we seem to be stuck in the same situation, and I think he [Abbas] has done very little over the years in preparing his own people for peace," she said, pointing to the Fatah conference in Bethlehem as an example.
    • "I don't think it was particularly productive to publicly dress down our most reliable ally," she said. "I think it puts both countries, who are in fact very close friends, strategic partners and allies, in a bit of a bind. And I think the Palestinians and the Arabs are using this to create a division that might not necessarily be there."
    • "I believe Israel has given up a great deal over the years for peace," Berkley said. "It gave up the Sinai to have peace with Egypt. It withdrew from Lebanon and got Hizbullah. It unilaterally left Gaza. So to suggest that natural growth in the settlements is the cause for Palestinian inaction is, I think, absurd. There is nothing in history to demonstrate that if all the settlements went away tomorrow, the Arabs would then be any more willing to recognize Israel's right to exist."
    • She said it was "appropriate" to ensure normal life in settlements near the Green Line that would remain part of Israel in any agreement.

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