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November 2, 2009

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Ahmadinejad: Iran Now Deals with West From a Position of Power - Ali Akbar Dareini (AP)
    Iran's President Ahmadinejad on Sunday compared the power of Iran's enemies to a "mosquito," saying Iran now deals with the West over its nuclear activities from a position of power.
    Ahmadinejad also said: "Given the negative record of Western powers, the Iranian government...looks at the talks with no trust. But realities dictate to them to interact with the Iranian nation."

Secret Mission Rescues Yemen's Jews - Miriam Jordan (Wall Street Journal)
    A clandestine operation has brought about 60 Yemeni Jews to the U.S. since July, and officials say another 100 could still come, as the U.S. State Department works to bring some of Yemen's last remaining Jews to America to escape rising anti-Semitic violence in the country.
    There were an estimated 350 in Yemen before the operation began, one of the oldest Jewish diaspora communities. Jews reached Yemen more than 2,500 years ago as traders for King Solomon.
    Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh has been trying to protect the Jews, but his inability to quell the rebellion in the country's north made it less likely he could do so, prompting the U.S. to step in.
    "If we had not done anything, we feared there would be bloodshed," says Gregg Rickman, former State Department Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism.
    Violence toward the country's small remaining Jewish community began to intensify last year, when one of its most prominent members was gunned down outside his house.

Report: Mossad Spied on Syria Nuclear Site Through Software - Ofer Aderet (Ha'aretz)
    Israel's Mossad espionage agency used Trojan Horse programs to gather intelligence about a nuclear facility in Syria the Israel Defense Forces destroyed in 2007, the German magazine Der Spiegel reported Monday.
    Mossad agents in London planted the malware on the computer of a Syrian official that copied the details of Syria's illicit nuclear program and sent them directly to the Mossad agents' computers, the report said.

Lebanon Nabs Al-Qaeda-Linked Militant in Rocket Attack on Israel - Jack Khoury (Ha'aretz)
    Lebanon arrested a man suspected of orchestrating a recent rocket attack on northern Israel, the Lebanese daily As-Safir reported on Saturday.
    Fadi Ibrahim, a member of the radical Sunni Muslim militant group Fatah al-Islam, an organization with ideological ties to al-Qaeda, was arrested by Lebanese Intelligence near Ein el-Hilweh in southern Lebanon.

Thousands Rally for Islamic Jihad in Gaza (AP/Jerusalem Post)
    Tens of thousands of Islamic Jihad loyalists held a rally in Gaza on Friday, holding plastic models of rockets, wearing masks and mock suicide bomber's vests, and chanting "death to Israel."
    Islamic Jihad leader Nafez Azzam called on the crowd to reject negotiations with Israel and support violent resistance.

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  • Clinton: Israel Putting Forth "Unprecedented" Concessions - Karen DeYoung and Howard Schneider
    Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Saturday in Jerusalem that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had offered "unprecedented" concessions on West Bank settlement construction in an effort to restart peace talks, a departure from the administration's earlier criticism of Israel and a possible signal of impatience with the refusal of Palestinian leaders to join negotiations. Meanwhile, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas rejected Israel's latest offer, relayed by Clinton, to curb most West Bank construction.
        Clinton called for a resumption of talks "without preconditions" and suggested that the Palestinian demand for a halt to West Bank construction was an unreasonable obstacle. She also said the differences between the two sides on all issues should be negotiated face to face. Her comments seemed to mark a final departure from earlier U.S criticism over settlements, which raised Palestinian expectations that a building freeze was in the offing. It appeared increasingly unlikely to achieve President Obama's stated goal of resuming direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations by the end of the year. Clinton's objective seemed less to achieve any real breakthrough than to give the impression of continued effort. (Washington Post)
        See also Clinton and Netanyahu Both Say Stopping Settlements Was Never a Precondition for Negotiations
    Prime Minister Netanyahu and Secretary of State Clinton told the press Saturday:
        Netanyahu: "I said we would not build new settlements, not expropriate land for addition for the existing settlements, and that we were prepared to adopt a policy of restraint on the existing settlements, but also one that would still enable normal life for the residents who are living there."
        "This is a new thing....There's not been a demand coming from the Palestinians that said we will not negotiate with you unless you freeze all activity....It's a change of policy, the Palestinian policy. And it doesn't do much for peace."
        Clinton: "What the prime minister is saying is historically accurate. There has never been a precondition. It's always been an issue within the negotiations."  (State Department)
        See also Clinton Praises Israel Stance on Peace Talks - Richard Boudreaux (Los Angeles Times)
  • House Resolution Calls Gaza Report Findings "Irredeemably Biased" - Glenn Kessler
    The House of Representatives on Tuesday is poised to pass a nonbinding resolution condemning a controversial UN report on alleged Israeli war crimes in Gaza that has become a major complication in Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's diplomacy in the Middle East. Israeli officials have warned that any effort by the UN to add further legitimacy to the report will undermine the administration's efforts to relaunch peace talks with the Palestinians.
        The resolution, co-sponsored by the two senior members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Howard L. Berman (D-Calif.) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), charges that the report by South African jurist Richard Goldstone for the UN Human Rights Council is "irredeemably biased and unworthy of further consideration or legitimacy," in part because it was based on "a flawed and biased mandate," and that the militant group Hamas was able to "significantly shape the findings of the investigation." Lawmakers expect it to win easy approval, while the White House has taken no position on the resolution. (Washington Post)
        See also below Observations: The Goldstone Report - The Terrorists' Magna Carta - Former Israeli Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann (Jerusalem Post)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Hamas Minister Reveals Government Support for Terrorism
    On Oct. 28, Hamas Interior Minister Fathi Hamad gave a speech describing the close ties between the ministry and the terrorist organizations operating in Gaza, and the support it gave to the various organizations. As quoted by the Hamas-affiliated Safa News Agency, the ministry "coordinates with all the factions of the resistance in Gaza" [i.e., the terrorist organizations]. The ministry makes every effort "to protect them and make it easier for them to carry out every aspect of their jihadist missions." "We routinely meet with the commanders of the factions."
        The Goldstone report had rejected Israel's position that the Hamas administration was part of the "Hamas terrorist infrastructure." Yet statements show that the Hamas Interior Ministry is in charge of supporting the terrorist organizations in Gaza and of directing their actions according to Hamas strategy. Hamad confirmed that his ministry and all its security apparatuses work day and night in coordination with all the wings and factions of the Palestinian resistance. (Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center)
  • Police Nab Alleged "Jewish Terrorist" - Yaakov Katz and Abe Selig
    The Israel Security Agency and the Israel Police announced Sunday that they had arrested American-born Ya'acov "Jack" Teitel, 37, on Oct. 7, who was allegedly behind a series of deadly terrorist shootings and bombings spanning 12 years, in which two Arabs were killed and Israeli Prof. Ze'ev Sternhell was wounded. Jerusalem Police Chief Cmdr. Aharon Franco said Teitel had confessed to a spate of attacks and reenacted them. In November 2006, he planted a bomb inside a police station in Eli that was discovered and dismantled; Teitel said he sought to deter police from providing security for a gay pride rally. He also planted a bomb at the house of a messianic Jewish couple in Ariel. Police seized a large weapons cache at the suspect's home. He was also wanted by American authorities for his alleged involvement in violent criminal activity in the U.S. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Iran's Nuclear Response Creates a Quandary - Andrew Lee Butters
    If the Obama administration had hoped to get the bulk of Iran's current stockpile of enriched uranium out of the country under a new agreement for reprocessing abroad, those hopes are fading fast. The counter-proposal offered by Iran on Thursday contained such substantive revisions that Western officials are interpreting it as a rejection.
        The aspect of the deal most welcomed by Tehran was that it represented a kind of tacit acceptance of Iran's enrichment program. Iran had managed to shift the debate from whether or not Iran should be allowed to enrich uranium to measures to safeguard its enriched uranium stockpiles from being used in a weapons program.
        Yet the proposed deal caused an uproar in Iran, where not only conservatives, but also pragmatists and opposition leaders accused the West of trying to steal the country's nuclear patrimony. "These American cowboys, old British foxes, and Zionist child murderers want to use this ploy to take Iran's uranium and not give it back," wrote a columnist in Kayhan on Monday. Some of the strongest criticism of the deal came from Mir Hossein Moussavi, the leading opposition presidential candidate in the disputed June election, who said: "If the promises given [to the West] are realized, then the hard work of thousands of scientists would be ruined."
        The Obama administration had hoped the deal would buy more time for its engagement strategy. (TIME)
  • Israelis, Palestinians Each Stake Claim to Jordan Valley - Howard Schneider
    As the U.S. tries to restart peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, the Jordan Valley, which makes up about 25% of the West Bank, is emerging as a key point of contention: Palestinians envision it as a core part of a future Palestinian state, and Israeli officials forcefully assert a longstanding claim that control over the area is vital to their security. Israeli officials and others close to Prime Minister Netanyahu have been saying that the Jordan Valley should remain in Israeli hands, controlling the international border with Jordan to make sure militant groups don't infiltrate.
        After the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, the Labor Party government viewed the Jordan Valley as a security buffer against an Arab invasion and began authorizing the first settlements to create what was intended as a permanent Israeli presence. Netanyahu has said that the "green line" that separated Israel from Arab troops before the 1967 war would not be an acceptable border. The green line is "indefensible, something that is unacceptable to me," Netanyahu said in September. "Israel needs defensible borders and also the ongoing ability to defend itself."  (Washington Post)
  • Observations:

    The Goldstone Report - The Terrorists' Magna Carta - Daniel Friedmann (Jerusalem Post)

    • To see how white is turned into black, how truth is twisted, justice perverted and falseness prevails, take a good look at the Human Rights Council and its Goldstone report. Israel, the victim of incessant rocket attacks and endless acts of terror, has been singled out for special treatment.
    • The Human Rights Council directed its mission "to investigate all violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law by the occupying power, Israel, against the Palestinian people...particularly in the occupied Gaza Strip, due to the current aggression." Israel is thus declared culpable even before the investigation begins. The member states of the European Union, Switzerland, Canada, Korea and Japan refused to support this one-sided resolution.
    • Goldstone said of the mission he led, "it is not a judicial inquiry. It's a fact-finding mission." But this claim is refuted by the report, which is highly judicial, replete with purported legal analysis of international law, detailed legal findings and reaching judicial determinations on "war crimes."
    • The mission did not even bother to hide its prejudice against Israel. The destruction of a flour mill was "wanton" and was done "for the purposes of denying sustenance to the civilian population" which "may constitute a war crime" (p. 50). Such a conclusion, of course, is contrary to the clear evidence that during the operation, as well as before and after, Israel allowed ample supply of food to be brought into Gaza.
    • The report seems to be in line with the propaganda of Hamas, which created the false impression of total destruction in the area. British journalist Tim Butcher wrote in the Telegraph on Jan. 20, 2009: "I knew Gaza well before the attacks....One thing was clear. Gaza City 2009 is not Stalingrad 1944. There had been no carpet bombing of large areas, no firebombing of complete suburbs. Targets had been selected and then hit, often several times, but almost always with precision munitions...for the most part, I was struck by how cosmetically unchanged Gaza appeared to be."

      The writer is a professor of law (emeritus) and a former justice minister of Israel.

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