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April 9, 2010

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In-Depth Issues:

Former IDF Soldier Charged with Espionage for Stealing Classified Documents - Yaakov Katz (Jerusalem Post)
    Former IDF soldier Anat Kam, 23, has been charged with espionage for copying more than 2,000 top-secret classified military documents when she worked at Central Command between 2005 and 2007, and giving them to Ha'aretz investigative reporter Uri Blau.
    Kam is under house arrest in Tel Aviv and Blau is in London, refusing to return to Israel to face investigation.
    In 2008, Kam first tried to interest another journalist in the documents, then she transferred the documents to Blau. Israel Security Agency head Yuval Diskin said Kam's motivation for stealing the documents was "ideological."
    Kam was indicted on January 14, 2010, but details of the case were only made public on Thursday.

Israeli-Made UAVs to Track Down Maoists in India (Pioneer-India)
    India's security forces will use Israel-made unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in the Maoist-infested areas of Chhattisgarh state beginning next week to get real-time information about the presence and movement of extremists in inaccessible jungles and hills.
    On April 6, Maoists attacked a convoy in Chhattisgarh, killing 76 armed policemen. It was the sixth attack by the outlawed Maoists that have left nearly 250 men in uniform dead since March 2007.

Hamas Imposes New Gaza Taxes to Pay for Burgeoning Bureaucracy - Rory McCarthy (Guardian-UK)
    Hamas has imposed a 25% tax on the cheap petrol smuggled in from Egypt. It is also taxing businesses and smuggled goods, including luxury cars brought through underground tunnels.
    Economists in Gaza say Hamas has a rapidly growing bureaucracy of around 30,000 staff whose salaries in recent months have been delayed or prioritized for the lowest paid.
    It appears Hamas is finding it increasingly difficult to bring cash from abroad into Gaza.

France Helps Build West Bank Industrial Park (AP)
    French and Palestinian officials have broken ground on a joint industrial park in Bethlehem.
    Samir Hazboun, head of the park initiative, says Peugeot, France Telecom and other French companies have plans to build facilities in the park, with the French government committing $13 million to the project.

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Israeli Legal Team Beats 44 Universities on Expertise in International Laws of War - Dov Preminger (Jerusalem Post)
    An Israeli team from the Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya, recently beat out 44 universities to take first place in the 2010 Jean-Pictet Competition on international humanitarian law held March 20-27 in Quebec, Canada.
    Team coach Ido Rosenzweig said international humanitarian law - commonly referred to as the laws of war - might be summarized as, "Do the most damage to the enemy [while] minimizing harm to civilians."

The Future of Holocaust Studies - Johannes Houwink ten Cate (Jewish Political Studies Review)
    Holocaust awareness has become a worldwide phenomenon. Among long-term trends in the field of Holocaust studies are the universalization of victimhood and the extension of the circle of perpetrators.
    Other trends include Holocaust history as local history, the integration of perpetrator and victim histories, and the explanation of perpetrator behavior in ideological terms.
    A professor of Holocaust and genocide studies at the University of Amsterdam, Houwink ten Cate worked as a researcher at the Netherlands Institute for War Documentation from 1985 to 2002.
    Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Day Begins on Sunday Evening, April 11 (Yad Vashem)

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • U.S.: "Hold Palestinian Leaders Accountable for Incitement"
    State Department Assistant Press Secretary Philip Crowley said Thursday: "We are disturbed by comments of Palestinian Authority officials regarding reconstruction and refurbishing of Jewish sites in the Jewish quarter of Jerusalem's Old City. Remarks by the Palestinian ministry of information denying Jewish heritage in and links to Jerusalem undermine the trust and confidence needed for substantive and productive Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. We also strongly condemn the glorification of terrorists; honoring terrorists who have murdered innocent civilians either by official statements or by the dedication of public places hurts peace efforts and must end. We will continue to hold Palestinian leaders accountable for incitement."  (State Department)
        See also Israel UN Envoy Denounces Palestinian Anti-Israel Incitement - Barak Ravid, Natasha Mozgovaya and Shlomo Shamir
    Israel's ambassador to the UN, Gabriela Shalev, blasted Thursday a Palestinian Authority decision to name the street planned to house the future Palestinian Presidential compound after Hamas terror mastermind Yihyeh Ayyash, calling it "an outrageous act which stands contrary to the spirit of the peace process."  (Ha'aretz)
  • Report: Obama Administration Denies Visas to Israeli Nuclear Scientists - Roger L Simon
    The Israeli daily Ma'ariv reported Wednesday that Israel's Dimona nuclear reactor's employees have been having problems recently getting visas to the U.S. where they have for years attended seminars in chemistry, physics and nuclear engineering. They also complain of being treated in an "insulting manner." Employees of the Nuclear Research Center also complain of an American refusal to sell them reactor components that have routinely been sold to them by the U.S. (Pajamas Media)
  • Russia Supports Iran Sanctions, But with Limits - Michael D. Shear and Glenn Kessler
    Russian President Dmitry Medvedev told President Obama Thursday in Prague that there remain limits to his country's support for sanctions on Iran. Officials said Medvedev offered a broad range of objections to sanctions, including actions that would create economic hardship for Iran, foment financial chaos or lead to regime change. White House officials said Medvedev described for Obama the "red lines" that Russia could not cross. They also said that sanctions on Iran's energy sector are "not off the table."  (Washington Post)
        See also First Talks Held on New Iran Sanctions Resolution - Edith M. Lederer
    After months of diplomatic dancing, China agreed to sit down with five major powers Thursday to discuss possible new sanctions against Iran for refusing to suspend uranium enrichment and start talks on its suspect nuclear program. (AP-New York Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Netanyahu Cancels Trip to U.S. Nuclear Summit - Barak Ravid
    Intelligence and Atomic Energy Minister Dan Meridor will take Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's place at the nuclear summit in Washington next week. A senior government official explained that Israel was "disappointed" with developments in the run-up to the conference. "The nuclear security summit is supposed to be about dealing with the danger of nuclear terror....In the last few days we have received reports about the intention of several participant states to depart from the issue of combating terrorism and instead misuse the event to goad Israel over the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty."  (Ha'aretz)
        Army Radio reported that U.S. sources informed Israel that a group of participating Arab countries led by Turkey and Egypt plan to use the summit to demand that Israel sign the NPT and allow its alleged nuclear capabilities to be placed under international inspection. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Palestinian Rocket Wounds Four Palestinian Civilians
    Four civilians were injured on Wednesday when a Palestinian rocket fired at Israel fell short and hit the Al Amal neighborhood northeast of Beit Hanoun in Gaza. Two buildings that are home to 76 civilians were partially damaged in the incident. The Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights called on the Hamas government in Gaza to take measures to protect civilians from projectile fire. (Maan News-PA)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

    U.S. Diplomacy

  • Imposed Solution in the Middle East - Barry Rubin
    There is growing evidence that the U.S. government is thinking of presenting its own comprehensive peace plan on the Israel-Palestinian issue. If the Obama administration does move in this direction, however, I predict that it will be a major failure and humiliation. The administration has just signaled to the Palestinians that they want to make the indirect talks fail, since then the U.S. government will make an "imposed" offer that will adopt almost all of their demands.
        In addition, the strategy is deeply against diplomatic norms. U.S. policy has always been to insist that the two parties will decide on the issues. For many years, Israel has been making concessions based on an understanding that there would be no attempt at an imposed solution. This, then, would be the third commitment from past years that the Obama administration would break.
        The first was that any diplomatic solution could include Israel keeping some areas - settlement blocs - across the pre-1967 borders (though a State Department note back in October 2009 hinted that would be possible). The second was agreeing that Israel could build in east Jerusalem if it stopped building in the West Bank, a promise noisily and insultingly broken recently. Why, then, should Israel trust any promise in the future made by this government? The writer is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center, IDC Herzliya. (Global Politician)
  • A Premature "Two-State" Solution - Clifford D. May
    There is no reason to believe that Palestinian security forces are ready to operate effectively on their own - though Abbas cannot be expected to acknowledge that. Nor are other Palestinian institutions mature. Establish a Palestinian state without first establishing the rule of law, guarantees of basic human rights, a relatively clean and efficient civil service, and an end to terrorist incitement in media and mosques, and the result almost surely will be a failed state. Then what? Send American troops in to stop Hamas, al-Qaeda or Iranian-backed militias from taking over? Ask the Israelis to do the job?
        Consider beginning with this small step: a referendum. Ask the Palestinians flat out: Are you prepared to accept a two-state solution? Are you willing to co-exist with a Jewish neighbor? Are you open to compromises in the interest of peace? Or would you rather continue the conflict as long as necessary to defeat the Israelis? Based on the results, determine what can be achieved and what cannot, at least for now. The writer is president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. (Scripps-Howard)
  • Obama's Diplomatic War on Israel Is Just Getting Started - Jonathan Tobin
    The idea that peace can only be obtained by the U.S. imposing it on the parties fits in with the vision that the president's staffers exude. They are not interested in the fact that such attempts have always failed because of Palestinian intransigence, or that such attempts have ultimately led to more, not less, violence. The administration's simmering resentment against Israel seems to be driving this development more than anything else. (Commentary)


  • Is the White House Emboldening Iran? - Michael Rubin
    Successful nuclear deterrence requires that the Iranian leadership prioritizes the lives of Iranian citizens above its geopolitical or ideological goals, and that the White House is willing to kill hundreds of thousands of Iranians should authorities in Tehran or their proxies ever use nuclear weapons. The president, however, is not. During his campaign for president, Obama criticized Sen. Hillary Clinton for declaring that the U.S. could "obliterate" Iran should the Islamic Republic use nuclear weapons. After such a reaction, neither the Supreme Leader nor any of his senior advisors believes Obama is willing to pull the retaliatory trigger.
        Realists who suggest that Mutually Assured Destruction worked should reread history. Deterrence almost broke down on several occasions, bringing the U.S. and Soviet Union to the brink of nuclear war: The Berlin crisis and the Cuban missile crisis each nearly escalated beyond control. Simply put, the world got lucky, and that was with only two main nuclear powers: Any Iranian bomb would trigger a cascade of proliferation that would lead to half a dozen nuclear Middle Eastern states.
        The Islamic Republic ascribes to a value set far different than our own. Iranians may not be suicidal, but the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps who would have custody over Iran's nuclear program may be far more willing to absorb mass death. It may be comforting to believe that the U.S. can contain or deter Tehran's worst ambitions but, absent any preparation to do so, the White House instead emboldens the Islamic Republic. Every war in the Middle East has as a common variable the aggressor's overconfidence. The writer is a resident scholar at AEI. (American Enterprise Institute)
  • The Revival of Iran's International Terrorist Infrastructure - Con Coughlin
    The revival of Iran's international terrorist infrastructure is evident in Afghanistan where NATO intelligence officers have reported a marked increase in cooperation between Iran's Revolutionary Guards and Taliban insurgents. Tehran has also revived its interest in Iraq, where the Revolutionary Guards' elite Quds force has a long history of attempting to radicalize the country's Shia community. The inconclusive election result last month has delivered the balance of power to Muqtada al-Sadr, the Iran-backed radical Shia cleric who waged war against U.S. forces at the height of Iraq's insurgency, who is living in exile in Iran.
        Saudi intelligence officials have blamed a detachment of Iran's Revolutionary Guards in north Yemen for the recent increase in al-Qaeda terror attacks against Saudi Arabia. Finally, there are Iran's well-documented ties with Hamas in Gaza and Hizbullah in Lebanon. With so much Iranian activity taking place throughout the region, the message is clear: Any attempt by the West to increase the pressure on Iran over its nuclear program will result in an explosion of violence throughout the Middle East and beyond. The problem is that doing nothing about Tehran's nuclear ambitions would be even more dangerous. The writer is executive foreign editor of London's Daily Telegraph. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Pretending to Prevent an Atomic Iran - Rich Lowry
    The rules of the great Iranian nuclear charade are simple: We pretend to punish the Iranians for the nuclear-weapons program that they pretend doesn't exist. The Obama administration is about to go to the UN Security Council for a fourth round of sanctions. Remember the first three rounds? Models of collective international action, they passed unanimously while Iran spun ever more centrifuges and enriched ever more uranium. The sanctions won't be "crippling," and will hardly even have "bite." They will be carefully "targeted," UN-speak for "limited to the point of meaninglessness."
        Absent a revolution, there are two ways for the charade to end - with a nuclear Iran, or an Israeli or American military strike. Everything else is commentary. (New York Post)

    Other Issues

  • The Decline of American Power - Fouad Ajami
    Throughout the Middle East, populations long in the path, and in the shadow, of great foreign powers have a good feel for the will and staying power of those who venture into their world. If Iran's bid for nuclear weapons and a larger role in the region goes unchecked, and if Iran is now a power of the Mediterranean (through Hamas in Gaza and Hizbullah in Beirut), area leaders are sure to do their best to secure for themselves an Iranian insurance policy.
        The Islamic world is coming to a consensus that a discernible American retreat in the region is in the works. America's enemies are increasingly brazen, its friends unnerved. Witness the hapless Lebanese, once wards of U.S. power, now making pilgrimages, one leader at a time, to Damascus. They, too, can read the wind: If Washington is out to "engage" that terrible lot in Syria, they better scurry there to secure reasonable terms of surrender. The shadow of American power is receding; the rogues are emboldened. The writer, a professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, is a senior fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Turkey's Rising Influence with Syria - Janine Zacharia
    Since Turkey and Syria eliminated border restrictions several months ago, the crowds of Syrians at the glittering Sanko Park Mall in Gaziantep in southeastern Turkey have grown tenfold. The thriving trade is a sign of Turkey's rising influence with Syria, part of its effort to reach out to neighboring countries to build economic ties it hopes will also stabilize political relationships and expand its influence in the region. Those efforts, which include business ventures with Iran, illustrate to some extent how futile U.S. efforts to isolate those countries with sanctions have become. They've also raised concerns in Washington and in Israel about whether this key Muslim member of NATO is undergoing a fundamental realignment. (Washington Post)
  • Observations:

    A Crisis in U.S.-Israel Relations: Have We Been Here Before? - Dore Gold (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

    • As a result of the June 1967 Six-Day War, Israel entered the eastern parts of Jerusalem and the West Bank in a war of self-defense. It is very important to recall that Israel entered these areas after it was attacked, and after it requested that the Jordanians not join the Egyptian war effort. There were Jordanian artillery attacks throughout Jerusalem and all of Israel, as well as movement of Jordanian ground forces into areas that were previously no-man's land.
    • There is presently a marked shift underway in U.S. policy on Jerusalem. True, no U.S. administration accepted Israel's annexation of Jerusalem in July 1967. Nonetheless, in the past we saw the U.S. and Israel coming to a modus vivendi with respect to Israeli policy in Jerusalem, when Israel built various neighborhoods in the eastern parts of the city, from Ramat Eshkol to Gilo to Ramot.
    • A neighborhood called Har Homa in southeastern Jerusalem was established in 1997 during the Clinton administration to ease the considerable shortage of housing in the Jewish sector. On two occasions, the Arab bloc initiated a draft resolution in the UN Security Council to condemn Israel for constructing Har Homa. On both occasions, the U.S. ambassador to the UN, Bill Richardson, vetoed those resolutions under instructions from the Clinton administration.
    • The Oslo Agreements in 1993 do not require a freeze on construction in the neighborhoods of Jerusalem. Furthermore, under the Oslo Agreements, Jerusalem was treated as having a completely different status than the West Bank. The city was kept under Israeli control, while seen as an issue for permanent status negotiations in the future.
    • It is possible to discern a growing view, which has been reported in the Washington Post, that the Obama administration intends to put on the table its own plan for Middle East peace, based on a nearly full Israeli withdrawal to the 1967 lines, that most Israeli planners view as militarily indefensible. As the Palestinians see this scenario unfold, their incentive to re-enter negotiations will decline as they look forward to the prospect that an American peace plan will be imposed. If indeed there is such a plan being prepared, then the recent U.S.-Israel tensions over construction in east Jerusalem may only be Act I in a much longer drama that the two countries are about to face.

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