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January 6, 2010

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In-Depth Issues:

Iraq to Demand Compensation from Israel over 1981 Nuclear Reactor Strike (DPA)
    Iraqi "Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs petitioned the United Nations and the UN Security Council to demand that Israel pay compensation...for the 1981 bombing of an (Iraqi) nuclear reactor," parliament member Mohammed Naji Mohammed told al-Sabah in remarks published Tuesday.
    The lawmaker is leading a campaign to seek billions of dollars in reparations for an Israeli airstrike on the Osiraq nuclear reactor during the rule of Saddam Hussein.

Terrorist Commander Killed in Gaza Airstrike - Ali Waked (Ynet News)
    Jihad Smyre, a regional commander of the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC), was killed and four others wounded in an Israeli airstrike in Khan Yunis in Gaza on Tuesday.
    Abu Mujahed, spokesman for the Hamas-allied PRC, said militants opened fire on Israeli forces on the Israeli side of the border. An Israeli aircraft then fired a missile at the gunmen.
    The PRC had also claimed responsibility for Monday's mortar attack on Israel.
    See also Rocket Attack Thwarted by Israel Air Force (Israel Defense Forces)

Hamas: Torture Continues in PA Prisons - Khaled Abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post)
    Hamas on Tuesday strongly denied claims by the Palestinian Authority that its security forces have stopped torturing inmates in its prisons.
    Muhammed Mutlak Abu Juhaisheh, a Hamas legislator from the West Bank, said that he was continuing to receive complaints on a daily basis about torture in PA prisons.

PA Crews Help Put Out Israeli Bus Fire in West Bank (Maan News-PA)
    Palestinian rescue crews assisted Israeli first response teams in putting out a blaze in an Israeli bus en route to the West Bank settlement of Nokdim, where Israel's Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman lives.
    The bus caught fire near Mount Herodion east of Bethlehem.

Tennis Protest Against Israeli Player Backfires (NZPA-New Zealand)
    Israeli Shahar Peer was the target, but it was her tennis opponent who ended up struggling with a small but noisy protest outside the ASB Classic in Auckland Wednesday.
    Slovakian Magdalena Rybarikova said, "It was tough to play during the protest....I lost the first set because I was not concentrating. I was thinking about that and not my tennis."
    The protesters, who are against Israel's policies, could be clearly heard on the court, shouting with the help of a megaphone and accompanied by drums.
    Peer described the loudness of the chanting as "really, really bad," but said it also motivated her: "When I was hearing that, it made me play better to prove I can also play with the noise."
    "I also want peace in the world," she said. "But I don't think this is the place for this protest."

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Iran Shielding Its Nuclear Efforts in Maze of Tunnels - William J. Broad
    Over the past decade, Iran has quietly hidden an increasingly large part of its atomic complex in networks of tunnels and bunkers across the country. In doing so, American government and private experts say, Iran has not only shielded its infrastructure from military attack in warrens of dense rock, but it has further obscured the scale and nature of its notoriously opaque nuclear effort. The discovery of the Qum uranium enrichment plant buried inside a mountain only heightened fears about other undeclared sites.
        Google Earth, for instance, shows that the original hub of the nuclear complex at Isfahan consists of scores of easily observed buildings. But in recent years Iran has honeycombed the nearby mountains with tunnels. Satellite photos show six entrances. (New York Times)
  • China Insists It's Not "Right" Time for Sanctions on Iran - Colum Lynch
    "This is not the right time or right moment for sanctions, because the diplomatic efforts are still going on," China's UN envoy Zhang Yesui said Tuesday as his government assumed the rotating monthly presidency of the UN Security Council. Council diplomats say that China, which is expanding its commercial ties with Iran, has hardened its resistance to sanctions in recent months.
        The Obama administration has been preparing a package of targeted sanctions against the Revolutionary Guard Corps and other Iranian institutions it deems responsible for acquiring nuclear and ballistic-missile technology. U.S. and European diplomats have acknowledged that China and Russia are likely to approve only the mildest of new sanctions. One Security Council envoy said the U.S. and its Western allies are planning to unveil a second round of their own sanctions against Iranian officials. (Washington Post)
  • Egypt Police Clash with Gaza Convoy Members
    Egyptian security forces clashed on Wednesday with members of a convoy led by British politician George Galloway trying to take relief supplies to Palestinians in Gaza. A Reuters correspondent in the port city of El Arish, 25 miles from Egypt's border with Gaza, saw security forces throwing stones at about 520 people traveling with the convoy. Police used water cannon to force the protesters to leave Arish harbor, which they had occupied, a security source said. Around 40 members of the convoy had minor injuries while around 15 police officials were hurt, witnesses said.
        Egypt's Interior Ministry said protesters had broken a gate into the port complex, while others scaled its walls. Some of the protesters "lit cardboard boxes and prevented firemen from reaching them and moved cars from the convoy to block the port gate," the ministry said. The activists struck a deal with police to trade four police officers who had been held by the protesters for a few hours in exchange for seven members of the convoy detained by police. (Reuters/New York Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Israel: Stop "Coddling" PA - Herb Keinon
    The international community has to stop "coddling" the Palestinians and tell them unequivocally that they need to return to the negotiating table, Prime Minister Netanyahu told a visiting U.S. congressional delegation on Tuesday. A senior Israeli official added: "Everyone wants the current impasse to break, and no one sees a continuation of the current situation desirable." Israel's expectation was that various countries - including leading players in the Arab world - would begin saying that to the Palestinians. According to Israeli sources, the U.S. is working hard to get key Arab players to support Abbas if and when he decides to return to talks. (Jerusalem Post)
  • IDF Tightens Legal Supervision of Military Operations - Anshel Pfeffer
    IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi has issued an order requiring the Israel Defense Forces to consult with the army's legal advisers while military operations are underway and not just when they are being planned. However, in an effort to keep the legal advisers from disrupting the combat, they will work only with the divisional headquarters while operations are underway - rather than with brigade or battalion headquarters. Meanwhile, greater emphasis has been placed on training officers in the rules of war and international law, as part of officer training courses at the level of company, battalion and brigade commanders. (Ha'aretz)
  • UK Attorney-General Determined to Modify Britain's Universal Jurisdiction Law - Dan Izenberg and Herb Keinon
    Britain is determined to find a way to modify its system of universal jurisdiction so that visiting Israeli leaders will not face arrest, British Attorney-General Baroness Scotland of Ashtal said Tuesday at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. "The foreign determined that Israeli leaders should always be able to travel freely to the United Kingdom," she said, referring to a recent incident in which a warrant for arrest was issued against Kadima chairwoman Tzipi Livni. The baroness earlier told Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon that she was aware of the importance of finding an urgent solution to the issue. (Jerusalem Post)
  • PA Prime Minister Helps Burn Jewish Settlement Products - Ali Waked
    Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad on Tuesday took part in a demonstration in which he threw products made in Jewish settlements, which were confiscated from Palestinian stores, into a fire. PA Economics Minister Hassan Abu Libdeh said the Western-backed Palestinian government had already confiscated $1 million worth of food, cosmetics and hardware, and the goal is to eliminate all settlement-made goods from Palestinian store shelves.
        Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said the Palestinian boycott would only damage peace prospects: "I don't think by concentrating their efforts on boycotts they will achieve any of the political goals, if these still include reaching a peace agreement with Israel." Israel's Histadrut labor federation said a boycott would harm the Palestinians more, as many of them are employed by Israeli factories in the West Bank. (Ynet News)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Why Europe Remains Unwilling to Walk in Israel's Shoes - Shimon Stein
    The fundamental disagreements between Israel and the EU regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are linked to the lesson taken by European states from the profound trauma of World War II. The preference for multilateral frameworks, the adherence to the principles of international law, the rejection of the use of force to change political realities, the sanctification of human rights as an absolute value (that is sometimes applied in a manner that leaves a sense of double standards), and empathy toward those who are perceived as being weak - all these are part of the principles by which the EU states conduct themselves.
        The threat of terror, which has become an inseparable part of Israel's reality, and Israel's responses - which are covered obsessively - bumps up against a European reality that with a few exceptions has not experienced the horrors of terror. It follows from this that Israel's responses to terror, which result in unintended harm to civilians, are met by a lack of understanding. The writer is a former Israeli ambassador to Germany. (Ha'aretz)
  • Who Is an Immigrant? - Assaf Wohl
    Recently Knesset Member Jamal Zahalka called TV interviewer Dan Margalit "an immigrant." This comes on top of Knesset Member Ahmad Tibi's statement that the Jews are immigrants. Yet Kfar Qara, where Dr. Zahalka resides, was only established in the 18th century, while Arabs only arrived at Taibe, where Dr. Tibi hails from, in the 17th century from Saudi Arabia and Egypt, as attested to by the last names of some residents. By the end of the 19th century, only about 140,000 non-Jews resided in the Land of Israel, while by 1948 this number grew tenfold, mostly because of Arab immigration.
        Under Arab villages in the Galilee one can find synagogues from the Second Temple period. Pharaoh Merneptah noted the existence of Israelites in Canaan about 3,225 years ago. (Ynet News)
  • Observations:

    U.S. Criticizes Jerusalem Building Project on Mount of Olives - Tovah Lazaroff and Hilary Leila Krieger (Jerusalem Post)

    • The U.S. accused Israel on Wednesday of damaging the peace process when it approved the construction of four new buildings in eastern Jerusalem's Mount of Olives on Monday. "We have noted that these types of announcements and activity harm peace efforts," a U.S. State Department official told the Jerusalem Post.
    • A source in the Prime Minister's Office said that in Jerusalem, just "like in every Israeli city, the planning and zoning regulations are the prerogative of the municipal government, and it requires no involvement of the Prime Minister's Office."
    • Stephan Miller, spokesman for Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, said that residential zoning for this area was approved in 1990, so Monday's decision was "nothing new." Another municipal spokesman added that this specific plan had received its first approvals in 2003. The approval of projects such as this, Miller said, was a normal move in the life of a growing city such as Jerusalem. He added that the land was privately owned.
    • The Knesset is considering a measure that would establish a special authority to manage the Mount of Olives, sponsored by members from a wide range of coalition and opposition parties. "The Mount of Olives is the oldest Jewish cemetery in the world," the Knesset members wrote in their introduction to the proposed legislation. "It has been a national site for the Jewish people since the days of the First Temple and, in addition to serving as a preeminent historical site of great importance to the Jewish people, it is a holy site."
    • Jerusalem city councilman Yair Gabai noted: "Just as the American administration will not prevent a person in Washington from building in his city based on race, skin color or religion, so we are sure that the Americans will maintain similar values and endorse construction in this project. Jews will continue building all around Jerusalem." (Ynet News)
    • Dozens of decisions were passed at the meeting of the local committee for planning and construction in Jerusalem. Deputy Mayor Kobi Kahalon explained: "Whoever deserves to build must build, and no one can impose policy. At this meeting we also approved 20 plans for Arabs in eastern Jerusalem. We are not discussing political issues, and the issue is purely on substance." (Ha'aretz)
    • See also The Mount of Olives in Jerusalem: Why Continued Israeli Control Is Vital - Nadav Shragai (ICA-Jerusalem Center)

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