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October 13, 2009

In-Depth Issues:

Turkey Sends Ten Ministers to Syria for Strategic Talks - Herb Keinon (Jerusalem Post)
    Ten Turkish ministers are to travel to Syria on Tuesday to take part in a meeting of the newly formed Turkey-Syria High Level Strategic Cooperation Council.

    See also Turkey Plays Down Tensions with Israel - Ivan Watson (CNN)
    Turkey urged Israeli officials to use "common sense" Monday as it tried to play down diplomatic tensions between the two countries over excluding Israel from joint military exercises.

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Israeli Doctors Aid Philippines (ReliefWeb)
    An Israeli medical team of six volunteer doctors, nurses and paramedics from the organization IsraAID has arrived in the Philippines to assist in relief efforts to victims of two recent typhoons.

Gaza Children's Parliament Hands Abbas Life Sentence Over Handling of Goldstone Report - Ali Waked (Ynet News)
    The Palestinian children's parliament in Gaza, under Hamas supervision, held a public trial for PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas on Monday in which they sentenced him to life in prison after accusing him of high treason over his handling of the Goldstone report.

Useful Reference:

The Goldstone Report: A Study in Duplicity (CAMERA)
    A study by CAMERA staff lists numerous examples of factual errors and double standards in the Goldstone report.
    Evidence damning Israel is normally deemed credible, whereas evidence exonerating Israel or damning Palestinians is dismissed.
    Information by NGOs is given weight when it suggests Israeli culpability, but is ignored or minimized when it suggests Palestinian guilt.
    The report concludes: "It is not reasonably possible to determine whether [Israeli] photographs show what is alleged." On the other hand, no doubt is cast on photographs provided by Palestinians.
    See also Understanding the Goldstone Report - Richard Landes (
    See also Responses to the Goldstone Report (Global Law Forum-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Hizbullah Munitions Cache Explodes in Lebanon
    A cache of munitions exploded in the house of a local Hizbullah official in southern Lebanon on Monday, producing conflicting reports of casualties. Security officials said the blast in the village of Tayr Filsi, on the southern bank of the Litani River, killed five people, including the Hizbullah official and his son. (Reuters-New York Times)
        See also Peres: Hizbullah Turning Lebanon into Powderkeg
    "Hizbullah has turned Lebanon into a powderkeg," Israeli President Shimon Peres charged on Tuesday. "It's not Israel that is endangering Lebanon, but rather Hizbullah, just as Hamas is endangering the Palestinians." "There is no reason for Israel not to make peace with Lebanon," he said, adding that Israel's northern neighbor "could be, with the help of this peace, the Switzerland of the Middle East. But it's clear to everyone who is preventing this."  (AFP)
        See also Israel Calls for UN Investigation of Weapons Explosion in Southern Lebanon - Avi Issacharoff and Jack Khoury,
    Israel has demanded that the UN investigate an explosion at a Hizbullah house in southern Lebanon on Monday, which it said proved munitions were being stockpiled in violation of a truce. (Ha'aretz)
  • German Ship Transporting Arms for Iran
    U.S. troops boarded the German-owned freighter Hansa India in the Gulf of Suez in early October and found eight containers full of ammunition, allegedly headed to Syria from Iran. The shipment is in violation of a UN weapons embargo and has become a source of chagrin in Berlin. Investigators suspect that the arms were part of an Iranian shipment bound for either the Syrian army or for Hizbullah, the militant Islamist group. The ship has for years been under charter to the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines. (Der Spiegel-Germany)
        See also Britain Announces Trading Ban with Two Big Iranian Companies - Catherine Philp
    Britain has increased pressure on Iran over its nuclear program by announcing a trading ban with two Iranian companies that violated UN sanctions: The Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines and Bank Mellat, one of Iran's largest banks. The action brings Britain closer into line with the American sanction regime on Iran. (Times-UK)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Netanyahu: Israel Will Never Allow Its Leaders and Soldiers to Be Tried for War Crimes
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu opened the Knesset's winter session Monday by blasting the Goldstone Commission's report accusing Israel of committing war crimes during its war against terrorists in Gaza earlier this year. "This distorted report, written by this distorted committee, undermines Israel's right to defend itself. This report encourages terrorism and threatens peace," Netanyahu said. "Israel will not take risks for peace if it can't defend itself." "Israel's leaders and its army are those who defended the citizens of Israel from war criminals." "We will not allow Ehud Olmert, Tzipi Livni and Ehud Barak, who sent our sons to war, to arrive at the international court in the Hague," he added. (Ha'aretz)
  • U.S. to Egypt: Fatah-Hamas Deal Undermines Israel-PA Talks - Barak Ravid and Avi Issacharoff
    The U.S. sent a message to Egypt stating it does not support the proposed reconciliation agreement between Fatah and Hamas as it would undermine negotiations with Israel. George Mitchell, the U.S. envoy to the Middle East, met on Saturday in Cairo with the chief of Egyptian intelligence, Gen. Omar Suleiman, and told him the U.S. would not support an agreement not aligned with the principles of the Quartet, which include recognition of the State of Israel, acknowledging earlier agreements, and renouncing terrorism. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Palestinian Society Remains Addicted to Victimization - Dan Schueftan
    The recent Temple Mount riots and Mahmoud Abbas' renewed request for a UN discussion of the Goldstone report again point to the deep structural failure inherent in Palestinian political culture. The Palestinians are proving yet again that even the responsible elements among them cannot act in a constructive manner in order to build their society and promote agreement with Israel. At the moment of truth, the radicals win.
        The Palestinian handling of the Goldstone report illustrates how Palestinian society has become addicted to the pose of the ultimate victim, which involves de-legitimization of the Jewish state's existence. When Palestinian anti-Semitic propaganda regarding Israeli "crimes" was granted a tailwind courtesy of a negligent judge who works in the service of a body hostile to Israel, the Palestinians were unable to forego the party. Israel's problem is not that there's no Palestinian with whom we can discuss a constructive deal. The problem is that when a Palestinian who shows indications of political responsibility appears, he cannot speak on behalf of his people. The writer is director of the National Security Studies Center at the University of Haifa. (Ynet News)
  • How Iranian Nukes Would Reshape the Middle East - Lee Smith
    An Iranian nuclear program would rearrange the region's political, economic, and cultural furniture. If Iran gets the bomb, other regional powers will pursue nuclear programs - if they are not already doing so. Inevitably in a region as volatile as this, there will be a few small-scale nuclear catastrophes, probably rulers targeting their own people. Saddam gassed the Kurds and slaughtered the Shiites, Hafez Assad massacred the Sunnis of Hama, and mass graves throughout the region testify to the willingness of Arab rulers to kill their own people - in their hands, a nuclear weapon is merely an upgrade in repressive technology.
        An Islamic bomb is concrete evidence that Iran's strategy of "resistance" to the West is a winning one. And this will change the region's political culture from radical to many times more radical. At best, this means that even U.S.-friendly regimes will have no choice but to raise the pitch of their anti-American rhetoric to stay in step with their rivals. Consequently, the basing rights that we have throughout the Gulf states are likely to be terminated. At worst, an Iranian bomb sends a message to the more ambitious actors in the region that they should feel free to make a run at the Americans. (Slate)
  • Why Russia Is Not Afraid of an Iranian Bomb - Boris Morozov
    It is quite clear that Russia, which borders Iran on the Caspian Sea, does not fear the emergence of its new nuclear neighbor, and is even actively aiding the construction of the nuclear station in Iran. Why? The reasons are manifold: 1) Russia has traditionally maintained good sources of information within Iran. 2) Russia's strategic and tactical interests cannot be ignored. Iran is primarily a threat to Israel, Saudi Arabia and Turkey. This will increase regional tensions and strengthen Russia's position there. 3) Iran traditionally opposes radical Salafi Sunni Islamic movements such as the Taliban and Wahabiyya, which have become a serious threat in Russia's Northern Caucasus area, especially Dagestan. These common enemies unite Russia and Iran. (Adelson Institute for Strategic Studies-Shalem Center)
  • Observations:

    Conclusions about Israel's Guilt in Gaza Were Voiced Well in Advance of UN "Fact-Finding" Mission - Zion Evrony (Irish Independent)

    • The Goldstone report indicates that, in practice, a democratic state confronted with terrorist attacks against its citizens must do nothing, effectively ruling that there are no legitimate means by which states may counter the terrorist techniques evolved by groups such as Hamas.
    • The Goldstone mission was mandated by the UN Human Rights Council, which has passed 20 resolutions censuring Israel in the three years since its founding, out of a total of 25 resolutions passed by the Council. Yet the Council, which includes paragons of human rights values such as Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Cuba, currently has nothing to say about the 400,000 deaths in Darfur for which Sudan is responsible, or the 1,000,000 displaced civilians in Somalia.
    • The UN had absolutely nothing to say during the years when 12,000 Hamas rockets - more than 7,000 since Israel's withdrawal from Gaza in 2005 - landed on houses, streets, hospitals and schools, making a specialty of targeting the morning school-going period.
    • The Goldstone mission contained members who had clearly voiced their conclusions about Israel's guilt well in advance. The mission did not ask its witnesses any questions relating to Hamas terrorist activity, the storage of weaponry in civilian areas or the launching of attacks from those areas.
    • Overall, the worst feature of the Goldstone report is the moral equation it makes between a democratic state seeking to put an end to attacks against its citizens, and the terrorist group responsible for those attacks. The motives and intentions of Israel are treated as inherently suspect, and its own scrutiny and judicial mechanisms treated as flawed and inadequate. At the same time, Hamas' history of aggression is ignored, and its charter, calling for the killing of Jews and the destruction of Israel, similarly ignored.

      The writer is the Israeli Ambassador to Ireland.

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