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June 30, 2010

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Report: PA to Receive 50 Russian Armored Troop Carriers (Maan News-PA)
    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov announced Tuesday that 50 troop carriers would soon be delivered to the Palestinian Authority.
    "Moscow provided them a few years ago but Israel refused to hand them over," Lavrov said in Ramallah. "The vehicles arrived in Jordan and we hope they will arrive [in the West Bank] in the next few days."

Poll: Most Palestinians Won't Grant Legitimacy to Agreement with Israel in Proximity Talks (Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research)
    According to a poll conducted jointly by the Truman Institute at Hebrew University and the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research in Ramallah between June 6 and 16, 55% of Palestinians will not grant legitimacy to an agreement reached in the proximity talks with Israel, while 35% will.
    If the proximity talks fail, 65% of Palestinians would ask the UN Security Council to recognize a Palestinian state, while 60% support declaring a Palestinian state unilaterally.
    31% of Israelis support yielding to American pressure to accept and implement the Arab (Saudi) Peace Initiative, while 60% oppose it.
    Two-thirds in both the Palestinian and Israeli publics think the chances for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state next to the State of Israel in the next five years are non-existent or low.

Turkish Tourism Industry Incurs Losses with Israeli Cancellations - Dincer Gokce (Hurriyet Daily News-Turkey)
    The Turkish economy has lost at least $400 million due to reservation cancellations from Israeli tourists, according to tourism agencies.
    The Israel Travel Agents Association has announced that it cancelled 100,000 reservations out of a total of 150,000.
    "Our company's main business channel has been cut," said Levent Guner, owner of Levantin Tour. "Who will retrieve my 3.5 million-lira loss?"
    Levantin Tour had aimed to bring 17,000 tourists from Israel to Turkey this year but has only brought 200 tourists. The company has paid $1.1 million to hotels for cancelled reservations.

Palestinian Jailed by PA for Selling Land to Israel (Maan News-PA)
    The Palestinian Authority Court of First Instance on Tuesday sentenced A.F., 44, from Kalkilya to 10 years imprisonment on charges of selling land to Israel.
    Selling land to Israelis is considered collaboration with an enemy state.

Weizmann Institute Ranked 2nd in "Best Places to Work in Academia" (Weizmann Institute)
    Israel's Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot placed second in the international list (outside of the U.S.) of "Best Places to Work in Academia" of The Scientist magazine.
    The institute has been ranked 1st twice and this is the third time it has ranked 2nd in the international list.
    Institute research efforts include new ways of fighting disease and hunger, examining leading questions in mathematics and computer science, probing the physics of matter and the universe, creating novel materials and developing new strategies for protecting the environment.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Obama and Saudi King Discuss Mideast Peace Process - Anne E. Kornblut
    President Obama met Saudi King Abdullah on Tuesday at the White House. They discussed the need for the Middle East peace process to move "forward in a significant and bold way," Obama said. With the Middle East peace process at an impasse, officials did not report breaking any new ground ahead of a meeting next Tuesday between Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The White House said Obama and Abdullah did discuss "efforts to prevent violent extremism," what the Bush administration once called "radical Islam."  (Washington Post)
        See also Saudi Arabia Wants U.S. to Pressure Israel - Howard LaFranchi (Christian Science Monitor)
        See also Saudi Textbooks: Still Teaching Hatred - Nina Shea and Bonnie Alldredge
    Nearly two years after the deadline by which the Saudi kingdom's educational curriculum was to have been completely reformed, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom told the president last week, "This promise remains unfulfilled." Saudi textbooks - used not only in Saudi Arabia but in Saudi-funded schools around the world - teach that Jews and Christians are "enemies," and they dogmatically instruct that various groups of "unbelievers" - apostates (which includes Muslim moderates who reject Saudi Wahhabi doctrine), polytheists (which includes Shiites), and Jews - should be killed.
        Given that most of the 9/11 terrorists and bin Laden himself were Saudi-born and educated, it has to be acknowledged that Saudi education poses a direct danger to American national security. Nina Shea is director of the Hudson Institute's Center for Religious Freedom. Bonnie Alldredge is a research assistant at the center. (National Review)
  • Israeli Opposition Leader Tzipi Livni: "There Is No Humanitarian Crisis in Gaza" - Deborah Solomon
    Q: The Israeli security cabinet just voted to ease the three-year blockade on Gaza....What does that mean in practical terms?
    Livni: The reason for the blockade on Gaza was not to punish the Palestinians but to continue to delegitimize Hamas. There is no hope for peace with Hamas, and we need to continue the peace process with the legitimate Palestinian government.
    Q: Many Americans agree Hamas is a disaster, but might Israel do more to show concern for the Palestinian people and the problems they face?
    Livni: I know that there is no humanitarian crisis.
    Q: Why do you say that?
    Livni: The crossings are open for humanitarian needs. I suggested in the past to put cameras online, on the Internet, for the world to see all the goods entering Gaza. This was my suggestion when I was foreign minister.
    Q: You're the leader of the centrist Kadima Party, which is an opposition party. Yet you don't sound very opposed to the views of the ruling party.
    Livni: On the right of Israel to exist and to defend itself, there is no opposition in Israel. (New York Times Magazine)
  • Iranian Diplomat in U.S. Opens Window on Tehran - Jay Solomon
    Hossein Mousavian, a former lead Iranian nuclear negotiator, has taken up residence at Princeton University, marking the highest-ranking member of Tehran's political elite to relocate to the U.S. since last year's political uprising against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. He played a key role in the Iranian negotiating team that agreed in 2003 for Tehran to suspend the enrichment of uranium at its nuclear sites. He was briefly jailed in 2007 for alleged espionage, and was banned by Tehran from holding any diplomatic posts. U.S. and European diplomats view Tehran's purge of Mousavian as part of a dangerous political realignment inside Tehran, which has resulted in the removal of most moderate, Western-oriented leaders and bureaucrats. (Wall Street Journal)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Palestinian Rocket from Gaza Damages Building in Israel - Ilana Curiel
    A rocket fired by Palestinians in Gaza severely damaged a packing house in an Israeli community early Wednesday. Avi Aptelboim, head of the community's emergency squad, reported: "The packing-house sustained heavy damage....There were no injuries, thank God." Sdot Negev Regional Council head Meir Yifrach said, "We have not reached peace and quiet and...there is no state of calm yet....Hamas continues to arm itself."  (Ynet News)
  • Israel Boosts Number of Aid Trucks Allowed into Gaza by 50 Percent - Amos Harel
    Brig. Gen. Eitan Dangot, the coordinator of government activities in the territories, notified the PA on Tuesday that starting Wednesday, Israel will let in 150 aid trucks per day into Gaza, a 50% increase. Within weeks Israel plans to increase the number to 250 trucks, which will enter through the Kerem Shalom crossing. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Israel to Allow New Goods into Gaza (Maan News-PA)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Why Deport a Friend to Middle East Peace? - Mosab Hassan Yousef and Gonen ben Itzhak
    Gonen ben Itzhak is an Israeli, the son of a retired Israel Defense Forces general who was in charge of defeating the first intifada some 20 years ago. Mosab Hassan Yousef is a Palestinian, the son of a founder of Hamas whose father was one of the leaders of that intifada. As detailed in the book Son of Hamas, we became partners in the fight against terrorism; Mosab became an undercover agent for the Shin Bet, Israel's security service; Gonen became his Shin Bet handler. In the nine years we worked together, the two of us, once sworn enemies, embraced mutual recognition. As we worked together to prevent the deaths of hundreds of Israelis and Palestinians, the two of us became friends.
        We were shocked when, in 2009, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security opposed his request for political asylum, all the more so when it threatened to deport Mosab in the name of protecting American security. If this decision is upheld, it will signal to the world that America does not stand by those who sacrifice to oppose terrorism. (Washington Post)
  • How Saudi Arabia and the United States Have Grown Apart - Simon Henderson
    There are clear indications that Saudi King Abdullah, who visited the White House Tuesday, has put distance into the kingdom's relationship with the U.S. Though for many years the kingdom was the largest foreign supplier of oil to the U.S., it has now slipped behind Canada and Mexico. With the years of ritual denunciations from both Bush and Obama regarding U.S. "dependence on foreign oil," the net result is less U.S. influence in Saudi Arabia.
        On Iran, there is a widening if not unbridgeable gap between the two countries. The kingdom's own signals might well include the June 12 London Times story which reported that the kingdom would allow Israeli jets to fly over its territory to complete a bombing raid on Iran's nuclear facilities. Although officially denied by Saudi officials, the Times stood by its report. Its editor would not run such a story without being confident of the sources. The kingdom's own pursuit of (peaceful) nuclear energy is a clear sign that Riyadh thinks that the U.S. cannot or will not stop Iran's program. The writer is director of the Gulf and Energy Policy Program at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. (Foreign Policy)
  • Erdogan Threatens Both Israel and the PA - David P. Goldman
    Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Recep Erdogan sees an opportunity to become the Mideast's regional hegemon, as well as Russia's strategic partner in oil and gas transmission. And to succeed he wants to rally the region's extremists to his neo-Ottoman cause. Turkey's public embrace of Hamas - which the EU and the U.S. consider a terrorist organization - has undercut traditional U.S. allies such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia. The biggest loser might be the Palestinian Authority. PA leader Mahmoud Abbas was cut off at the knees when the White House announced a $400 million Gaza aid package that will help resuscitate Hamas. Visiting the White House days later, Abbas reportedly begged Obama not to lift the Gaza blockade, which was sponsored by the Bush Administration after Hamas gunmen slaughtered Abbas' security people during the June 2007 Gaza coup. (Tablet)
        See also Turkey Vital Ally for Israel - Farooq Mitha (Miami Herald)  
  • Observations:

    No to Strategic Suicide - Emily B. Landau (

    • The 2010 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference in May included a call for a conference on a Weapons of Mass Destruction Free Zone in the Middle East to be convened in 2012. Israel has chosen not to be a member of the NPT because the NPT is incapable of addressing the security concerns that underscore the rationale for its nuclear deterrent. The logic of targeting nuclear weapons without regard to the context of interstate relations cannot be accepted.
    • For Israel, the nuclear question cannot be approached before regional conditions are very much improved. The Obama administration has expressed strong support for this position. No discussion can take place on a Weapons of Mass Destruction Free Zone without movement toward comprehensive peace in the region.
    • Calls for Israel to join the NPT are a euphemism for calls for Israel to immediately disarm the nuclear capability it is assumed to have. There is no basis for expecting Israel to participate in such strategic suicide.

      The writer is senior research associate and director of the Arms Control and Regional Security Project at the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University.

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