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November 10, 2009

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In-Depth Issues:

Ft. Hood Shooter Attempted to Contact People Associated with Al-Qaeda - Richard Esposito, Matthew Cole, and Brian Ross (ABC News)
    U.S. intelligence agencies were aware months ago that Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan was attempting to make contact with people associated with al-Qaeda, two American officials told ABC News.
    See also FBI Dropped Probe Against Hasan Because He "Wasn't a Threat" - Devlin Barrett (AP)
    Nearly a year before Maj. Nidal Hasan went on a shooting rampage at Fort Hood, FBI terrorism investigators conducted an "assessment" of him before deciding he did not pose a threat.
    In Washington, an investigative official said Hasan had communicated 10 to 20 times with Anwar al-Awlaki, an imam released from a Yemeni jail last year who has used his personal Web site to encourage Muslims across the world to kill U.S. troops in Iraq.
    See also Ft. Hood Suspect: Muslims Should Be Released from Army as Conscientious Objectors - Dana Priest (Washington Post)

Israel Planning Cell Phone Rocket Alerts - Yaakov Lappin (Jerusalem Post)
    Within two years, the IDF Home Front Command will install a rocket alert system in Israel that will be able to calculate the precise location of an impact zone, and alert residents in an affected neighborhood via their cellphones, Col. Dr. Chilik Soffer said Thursday.
    "There are 1,260 communities in Israel. There is no longer a need to set off a nationwide alert," he said.

Abbas Hardens PA Position over Talks - Steven J. Rosen (Foreign Policy)
    It is a matter of record that Mahmoud Abbas participated in 18 years of direct negotiations with seven Israeli governments, all without the settlements freeze that he now insists is an absolute precondition to begin even low-level talks.

EU States on UN Goldstone Report: 5 For, 7 Against, 15 Abstain - Yossi Lempkowicz (European Jewish Press)
    Among the 27 EU member states, Malta, Ireland, Portugal, Slovenia and Cyprus voted last Thursday in favor of the UN General Assembly resolution endorsing the Goldstone report on Gaza.
    Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia voted against the resolution, while Austria, Britain, France, Bulgaria, Croatia, Latvia, Sweden, Romania, Greece, Belgium, Estonia, Lithuania, Finland, Luxembourg and Spain abstained.

No Archeological Digs Under Al-Aqsa Mosque - Ronen Medzini (Ynet News)
    After repeated Muslim claims that Jews are digging under the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock, participants in a tour of the area two weeks ago said they did not witness any such digging.
    Jerusalem City Council member Meir Margalit (Meretz) said, "In the name of intellectual integrity, I did not see any attempt to dig under the mosques' plaza."

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Iran Ignoring Efforts to Salvage Nuclear Deal - David E. Sanger
    The Obama administration, attempting to salvage a faltering nuclear deal with Iran, has told Iran's leaders in back-channel messages that it is willing to allow the country to send its stockpile of enriched uranium to any of several nations, including Turkey, for temporary safekeeping. But the overtures made over the past two weeks have all been ignored, administration officials said. Members of the administration said over the weekend that they had all but lost hope that Iran would follow through with an agreement reached in Geneva on Oct. 1. "It's evident that they simply cannot bring themselves to do the deal," one senior administration official said Sunday.
        Mr. Obama's aides say he is still willing to wait until year's end before concluding that Iran is rejecting his offers of diplomatic engagement. (New York Times)
  • New Lebanon Government Includes Hizbullah - Borzou Daragahi and Meris Lutz
    After a months-long deadlock, Lebanon's rival political camps agreed to a unity government that includes both American-backed Prime Minister Saad Hariri and Hizbullah, that the U.S. considers a terrorist organization. (Los Angeles Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Obama, Netanyahu Discuss Stalled Middle East Peace - Yitzhak Benhorin
    President Barack Obama held talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House on Monday. The one-hour, 40-minute session discussed how to move forward on Middle East peace as well as Iran and security issues. The meeting was also attended by National Security Adviser Gen. Jim Jones, White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, special U.S. envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell, and Director for Near Eastern Affairs at the National Security Council Dan Shapiro. Participants on the Israeli side included Defense Minister Ehud Barak, National Security Council head Uzi Arad, Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren, and Netanyahu adviser Yitzhak Molcho. (Ynet News)
  • India Deepens Defense Ties with Israel - Yaakov Katz
    Indian Chief of Staff Gen. Deepak Kapoor arrived in Israel on Saturday for a four-day visit amid Israeli efforts to bolster military ties. Israel last year overtook Russia as the number-one supplier of military platforms to India. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also India Buys Upgraded Israeli Air Defenses for $1.1B - Dan Williams
    Israel has signed a $1.1 billion contract to supply an upgraded tactical air defense system to India, with delivery expected by 2017, an Israeli official said on Monday. Made by Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd., the Barak-8 is designed for use aboard ships and can shoot down incoming missiles, planes and drones. (Reuters)
  • Arms Ship Part of Iranian Campaign to Support Radical Forces - Marina Rozhansky
    IDF intelligence analyst Col. Shachar Levy told foreign diplomats on Nov. 5 that the Israeli interception of the ship with Iranian weapons was not just a case of " arms smuggling but [part of] a highly orchestrated strategic campaign of delivering arms to radical forces in the Middle East. This by itself is only one element of a multidimensional effort by Iran to build, to arm and re-arm, and to finance, to train, to supply operational guidance and doctrinal guidance, to give know-how and intelligence to radical forces in the area, while trying to galvanize what it calls the 'axis of resistance.'"
        "Arms are delivered by Iran by air, land and naval groups, using a vast range of mechanisms, all of which are clandestine." Another example "is the explosion of a train in Turkey in May 2007 which carried Iranian weapons to Hizbullah. It may have been the PKK that actually did it, but what was exposed was a very vast delivery of rockets, mortar shells, rocket batteries, bullets for sniper rifles." "In March 2008, you had an IRISL ship with 80 rockets, RPGs, 120 millimeter mortar shells, 122 millimeter systems....It was able to outmaneuver a NATO vessel and enter a Syrian port." "The Monchegorsk, in January this year...carried some 1,300 tons of arms to Syria and Hizbullah. It was stopped in Limassol for inspection, and the arms were taken off."
        "We currently identify more than 20 training camps within Iran....In some of these training have Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Syria and Hizbullah and even Iraqi terror groups training together."  (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
        See also Iranian Rockets Captured by Israel Identical to Rockets Fired at U.S. Bases in Iraq - Bob Owens (Pajamas Media)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Iran's "Great Satan" Addiction - David Ignatius
    It has been more than a month since what was touted as a breakthrough meeting with the Iranians in Geneva over their nuclear program. But the Iranians now seem to be backpedaling - disavowing the tentative agreement that their own negotiators had signaled they supported. Abbas Milani, a Stanford professor who closely follows events in Iran, says: "They clearly want to back out of the deal." As the Obama administration, which had made engagement with Iran one of its signature issues, is discovering, getting to "yes" with Tehran for now seems all but impossible. Reading the Iranian press, you get the sense that for Iran's ruling elite, engagement with America remains a bridge too far. "America is still the Great Satan. Negotiations are meaningless," thundered the hard-line weekly Ya-Lesarat. (Washington Post)
        See also The West Must Stop Pretending that Iran Might Compromise - Editorial
    The single greatest threat to peace and stability in the world is Iran's headlong rush to gain nuclear weapons to cow their Mideast neighbors, export Shiite fundamentalism and obliterate Israel. At what point will the world take "no" for an answer? (New York Daily News)
  • A Practical Approach to a Palestinian State - Elliott Abrams
    In the West Bank, the economy is improving, law and order are maintained, the Palestinian Authority is fighting Hamas, Israeli-Palestinian security cooperation is growing, and mobility for the population is increasing. In recent months Israel removed more checkpoints and expanded the hours of the Allenby Bridge to Jordan. It isn't paradise, but it isn't Gaza either.
        The way for the Palestinians to get a state is to go ahead and build it. If and when the institutions are there and functioning, from police and courts to a parliament, negotiations will reflect that fact. The argument that settling the borders and removing Israeli troops must come first is a path to failure. Israel will not and should not leave until it is clear that the West Bank will not be a source of terrorism against Israel, as Gaza and South Lebanon became when Israel left there.
        Such a practical approach would enhance the status and power of Palestinian moderates who are working to improve life in the West Bank, rather than enhancing the status and power of old PLO officials who thrive on endless, useless negotiating sessions. It would put a premium on practical Israeli-Palestinian cooperation, rather than elevating precisely the final status questions that most bitterly divide them. It would increase the gap between the West Bank and Gaza, thereby showing Palestinians that Hamas rule brings only despair and poverty. The writer, former deputy national security adviser handling Middle Eastern affairs in the George W. Bush administration, is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. (Weekly Standard)
        See also Deciphering U.S. Middle East Policy - Elliott Abrams (National Review)
  • The Latest Victory in an Intelligence War - Linda Gradstein
    Israel's national obsession with Iran bore fruit last week when an Israeli naval crew captured a ship in the Mediterranean that contained thousands of rockets from Iran bound for Hizbullah in south Lebanon. "Israel sees Iran as the next Holocaust and they take that threat very seriously," said Hirsh Goodman of the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University.
        "We are witnessing a major recovery of Israeli intelligence in the last few years vis-a-vis Iran, Hizbullah and Syria," said Ronen Bergman, a journalist and author of The Secret War with Iran. A former commander of the Israel navy, Maj.-Gen. Yedidya Ya'ari, told Ha'aretz that Israel's naval commandos have developed capabilities allowing them to take over naval vessels "in principle, anywhere in the world."  (Toronto Star)
  • Observations:

    Israel Seeks a Peace Treaty with the Palestinians Soon - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Prime Minister's Office)

    Prime Minister Netanyahu addressed the Jewish Federations of North America in Washington on Nov. 9:

    • "We need to move towards peace with a sense of urgency and a sense of purpose....My goal is not to have endless negotiations. My goal is not negotiations for negotiations sake. My goal is to reach a peace treaty, and soon."
    • "The Palestinians...must abandon the fantasy of flooding Israel with refugees, give up irredentist claims to the Negev and Galilee, and declare unequivocally that the conflict is finally over."
    • "Israel is powerful but small. No matter where our final borders are drawn, Israel will remain exceedingly small....The Arab world is 500 times the size of Israel....Jordan, our neighbor to the east, is almost four times as big."
    • "Because of our small size and the radical and violent neighborhood in which we live, Israel faces security threats like that of no other nation....Israel's security therefore requires that any territory vacated in a future peace agreement must be effectively demilitarized....We have to ensure that weapons do not flow into the Palestinian areas in the West Bank, which overlooks Tel Aviv and surrounds Jerusalem."
    • "The UN report on Gaza, which falsely accuses Israel of war crimes for legitimately defending itself against real war criminals, in effect seeks to deprive us of the right of self-defense....Only an Israel that can defend itself is an Israel that can take further risks for peace."

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