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July 2, 2010

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In-Depth Issues:

Turkey Threatens to Ban Israeli Commercial Flights (Today's Zaman-Turkey)
    Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu warned Israeli Industry Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer at a secret meeting in Brussels on Wednesday that Ankara's indignation over Israel will lead to further retaliatory measures in all fields if Israel refuses to offer a formal apology and to compensate families of eight Turks killed in the May 31 flotilla incident.
    Turkey, which has already closed its airspace to some Israeli military flights, said it would expand this ban to commercial flights as well.

U.S. Voices Concern over Syria-Iran Ties (AFP)
    The U.S. voiced concern Thursday over cooperation between Syria and Iran after reports Tehran had sent a radar system that would boost defenses against Israel.
    State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said: "We have concerns about the relationship between Iran and Syria." "We don't believe that Iran's designs for the region are in Syria's best interest."
    "Our concern, obviously, in the case with Syria is the transfer of technology to Hizbullah," Crowley added.

Dubai Admits Nuclear Material Being Shipped Through Its Ports - Richard Spencer (Telegraph-UK)
    Shipments of illegal nuclear and weapons-building material have been intercepted in Dubai and other ports in the United Arab Emirates, local authorities have admitted.
    As part of a drive to crack down on underground trade ties with Iran, in the last week authorities have staged raids on dozens of firms regarded as fronts for the Iranian Revolutionary Guard in Dubai, and frozen 41 Iran-linked bank accounts.
    Hamad al-Kaabi, ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency, said: "Security forces have interdicted scores of ships suspected of carrying illicit cargo and seized numerous sensitive shipments that could be used for the manufacture of weapons systems, including specialized aluminum sheets, titanium, high-speed computers and sophisticated machine tools."
    Dubai was founded largely on trade with Iran, and the UAE has been used as a staging post for arms shipments by Iran to armed groups it supports, such as Hamas and Hizbullah.
    "The UAE wants to show the West that it is an active partner in enforcing sanctions against Iran," said Theodore Karasik, director of research at the Dubai-based Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis.

Blair: Gaza to Get Construction Material Soon - Daniel Woolls (AP-Washington Post)
    Mideast envoy Tony Blair said Thursday he expects construction material to start flowing into Gaza in two to three weeks now that Israel has agreed to ease its blockade of the Hamas-ruled territory.
    Israel wants construction materials to enter under international supervision. Israeli military spokesman Maj. Guy Inbar said Thursday that Israel and the PA had agreed to set up two working teams to determine how to transfer more goods into Gaza through Israeli-controlled land crossings and to handle international construction projects.
    Israel has asked the PA to prioritize education, health and infrastructure projects that it wants built.

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Nile River Water War? - Robert I. Rotberg (Boston Globe)
    Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Congo, Burundi, and Rwanda are asserting their rights to more of the Nile River.
    When Britain in the 1920s controlled all of the waters of the Nile, it signed a pact that gave Egypt and Sudan rights to nearly 75% of its annual flow.
    Egypt and Sudan have refused to sign a new 2010 Cooperative Framework Agreement that would give all upstream states equal access to the resources of the river.
    Egypt has declared the Nile waters a "red line" that affects its "national security." There is discussion in Egypt about the use of air power to threaten upstream offenders, especially if Ethiopia becomes too demanding.
    Egyptian generals claim that Israel is helping upstream nations by encouraging their thirst for water and by financing the construction of four hydroelectric projects in Ethiopia.
    The writer directs the Harvard Kennedy School's Program on Intrastate Conflict and is president of the World Peace Foundation.

Over Half a Million Russians to Visit Israel in 2010 - Eduard Pesov (RIA Novosti-Russia)
    "The number of Russian tourists visiting Israel this year will definitely exceed half a million," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Tuesday during a visit to Israel.
    The Israeli Ministry of Tourism reported that more than 220,000 Russian tourists have visited the country since the beginning of 2010. The figure for May alone reached 53,000, 60% more than the same month last year.
    In April 2010, Russia overtook the U.S. to become the biggest source of tourists to the country.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Obama Signs New Iran Sanctions Law - Peter Baker
    President Obama on Thursday signed into law new unilateral American sanctions on Iran that impose penalties on foreign entities that sell refined petroleum to Iran or assist Iran with its domestic refining capacity. The new law also requires that American and foreign businesses that seek contracts with the U.S. government certify that they do not engage in prohibited business with Iran. Foreign banks that deal with the Revolutionary Guard or other blacklisted Iranian institutions like Iranian banks involved in terrorism would be restricted or banned entirely from the American financial system.
        "With these sanctions, along with others, we are striking at the heart of the Iranian government's ability to fund and develop its nuclear program," Obama said. "We're showing the Iranian government that its actions have consequences. And if it persists, the pressure will continue to mount, and its isolation will continue to deepen." The new sanctions contribute to a strategy under which the U.S., Australia, Canada and Europe take individual actions on top of the measures approved by the UN Security Council in June. (New York Times)
  • UN "Concerned" by Lebanese Protests Against Peacekeepers
    Michael Williams, the UN special coordinator for Lebanon, on Thursday expressed concern over protests by villagers against UN peacekeeping troops deployed in southern Lebanon. Protestors pelted stones at UNIFIL vehicles, slightly wounding a peacekeeper in Khirbit Silm, 11 miles from the border. "Some of these (protests)...were clearly organized," Williams said, singling out one incident that he said involved around 100 people. (AFP)
        See also UNIFIL Ends Some Patrols in South Lebanon
    UNIFIL halted some patrols in southern Lebanon last week after they sparked protests in several villages, Lebanon's Naharnet reported. (Maan News-PA)
        See also French Peacekeepers Targeted in Lebanon
    Ad-Diyar newspaper on Friday quoted French embassy circles as saying that 24 of 25 attacks on UNIFIL in southern Lebanon targeted French troops over the past three days. They said among the messages these attacks carried was one of an Iranian nature, given France's stance on the Iranian nuclear issue at the UN Security Council which imposed more sanctions on Tehran. (Naharnet-Lebanon)
        See also The Risks of Foreign Peacekeeping Forces in the West Bank - Maj.-Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror
    UNIFIL in Lebanon has never caught any Hizbullah terrorists. When Hizbullah moved its artillery positions to within 50 meters of a UN position and then fired on Israeli targets, UNIFIL did nothing. But if Israel employed counter-fire against the very same Hizbullah artillery, then the UN Division for Peacekeeping Operations would issue a formal diplomatic complaint. It would be a serious mistake to believe that Israeli requirements for verifying complete Palestinian demilitarization could be guaranteed by international forces operating in the West Bank. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • U.S. Senate Calls for Release of IDF Soldier Gilad Shalit
    The U.S. Senate unanimously called for the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit just days after the fourth anniversary of his capture by Hamas. The non-binding resolution passed June 28, initiated by U.S. Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and George Voinovich (R-Ohio), demands that "Hamas immediately and unconditionally release Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit" and that the terrorist group allows "prompt access to the Israeli captive by competent medical personnel and representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross." A similar resolution passed unanimously last week in the House of Representatives. (JTA)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Abbas: Israel Must Accept 1967 Borders - Khaled Abu Toameh
    The Palestinians won't open direct negotiations with Israel unless progress is first made on the issues of borders and security, PA leader Mahmoud Abbas told U.S. Middle East envoy George Mitchell on Thursday in Ramallah. Abbas said there would be no progress in the peace process unless Israel recognized the June 4, 1967, lines as the future borders of a Palestinian state. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Netanyahu: Israel Prepared to Release 1,000 Palestinian Terrorists in Exchange for Gilad Shalit
    Prime Minister Netanyahu said Thursday: "Four years have passed since Gilad Shalit was kidnapped and the people of Israel are united in their desire to see him return safe and sound to his family, to his home, to his country." "The State of Israel has always been prepared to pay a heavy price for the release of its hostages. I know this price firsthand. I lost my brother Yoni, of blessed memory, during the operation to free the hostages of the Air France airplane in Entebbe." "The State of Israel did not hesitate to endanger its finest sons to rescue its prisoners and hostages."
        "In other circumstances, the State of Israel decided on several occasions to release terrorists and murderers in exchange for releasing Israelis. The most famous deal was the Jibril deal of 1985, in the framework of which 1,150 terrorists were released. Almost half of them returned to engage in terror and to murder dozens of Israelis at their own hands. Moreover, those released in the Jibril deal constituted the solid nucleus of the leadership of the first intifada, during which hundreds of Israelis lost their lives in suicide and terror attacks." "There were more instances, for instance, the Tannenbaum deal in January 2004, in the framework of which 400 terrorists were released....Those released in the Tannenbaum deal murdered 27 Israelis."
        "The German mediator's proposal that we decided to accept requires the release of 1,000 terrorists....However, there are prices that I am not prepared to pay that are not included in the proposed deal." "The first principle is that dangerous terrorists will not return to the areas of Judea and Samaria where they will be able to continue harming Israeli citizens....I am not prepared to return to policies that with the test of time led to the murder of dozens of Israelis." "The second principle is to prevent the release of mass murderers, because upon leaving jail they will vastly strengthen the Hamas leadership and greatly inspire new waves of terror. We are referring to arch-murderers who planned and carried out the most shocking and horrendous terror attacks in which an extremely large number of innocent Israeli citizens were murdered."  (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
  • IDF Intensifies Attacks on Gaza Terror Tunnels - Hanan Greenberg
    Since the beginning of 2010, the IDF has targeted 16 tunnels along the Gaza-Israel border in response to Palestinian rocket and mortar fire at Israel from Gaza. The tunnels are meant for use by terrorists to attack or kidnap soldiers and civilians in Israeli territory. Captive IDF soldier Gilad Shalit was kidnapped when Palestinian terrorists crossed the border through an underground tunnel. (Ynet News)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):


  • Abbas Says He Supports an International Force for the Palestinian Territories
    Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Wednesday he has sent Israel a proposal for the deployment of international forces in the Palestinian territories as part of an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal. (VOA News)
        See also The Role of Peacekeeping in a Future Israeli-Palestinian Peace Accord - Justus Reid Weiner, Avinoam Sharon, and Michelle Morrison
    Based on past experience with international peacekeeping forces in the Middle East, it may well be that primarily bilateral Israeli-Palestinian security arrangements, rather than an international peacekeeping mission, presents the best course. (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center)
  • For Hamas, Blockade-Busting Backfires - David Pollock
    The initial aftermath of the May 31 flotilla interception witnessed a few abortive signals that Hamas might gain greater global acceptance. Yet Hamas has no more international legitimacy today than it did before the flotilla episode. Symptomatic of this is the statement issued by the G-8 countries, including Russia, in closing their Canadian summit. The section on the peace process makes no mention of Hamas. Instead, it reaffirms the goal of Israel and a Palestinian state "living side by side in peace and security," welcomes Israel's decision to investigate the flotilla incident and adopt "a new policy" toward Gaza, balances "the needs of Gaza's population" with "the legitimate security concerns of Israel," and urges "the strengthening of Palestinian Authority institutions" - all at the expense, at least implicitly, of Hamas.
        Cairo remains very uncomfortable with Hamas on its border. Over the past few days, the exchange of public insults between Cairo and Hamas has grown ever more shrill. On June 28, the semi-official Egyptian daily al-Akhbar called Hamas a "suspicious secessionist movement." On the ground, security and political factors make Egypt loath to open its border with Gaza more than a crack. Consequently, the renewed opening of Rafah, Gaza's lone border crossing with Egypt, is more rhetorical than real. And the Egyptian establishment publicly blames Hamas intransigence for this predicament. The writer is a senior fellow at The Washington Institute. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
        See also Egypt-Hamas Relations: "Mutual Abhorrence" - Zvi Bar'el
    After more than six months in which Hamas has refused to sign an Egyptian-drafted reconciliation agreement with Fatah, Cairo is tired of being dragged hither and yon by the organization's caprices. Hamas, for its part, sees Egypt as a hostile party that supports Fatah and is not an honest broker. (Ha'aretz)

    Other Issues

  • Israel's Foes Embrace New Tactics - Charles Levinson
    Hamas and Hizbullah, groups that have long battled Israel with violent tactics, have begun to embrace civil disobedience, protest marches, lawsuits and boycotts - tactics they once dismissed. "When we use violence, we help Israel win international support," said Aziz Dweik, a Hamas leader in the West Bank. "The Gaza flotilla has done more for Gaza than 10,000 rockets." Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah called on supporters to participate in the next flotilla bound for Gaza. Ghaleb Abu Zeinab, a member of the Hizbullah politburo in Beirut, said it was the first time Nasrallah had publicly embraced such tactics against Israel. "We saw that this kind of resistance has driven the Israelis into a big plight," he said.
        A senior Israeli foreign ministry official said Israel recognizes "changes in the tactical thinking of Hamas and other resistance movements." The official said the groups are no less committed to Israel's destruction, but have simply concluded they are more likely to defeat Israel by encouraging its international isolation instead of through military force. "People who are provoking violence are using peaceful protest as a cover," said Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Coordinated U.S.-EU Iran Sanctions Strategy Needed - Stuart E. Eizenstat
    Can the EU and the U.S. use the legal umbrella of UN sanctions to create a coordinated sanctions strategy to put the squeeze on Iran? The EU must put aside its traditional commercial relations with Iran and take firm action to prevent Tehran from going nuclear. Iran skillfully exploits the differences in various countries' sanctions regimes to finance its nuclear activities. Thus it is crucial that the EU and U.S. harmonize the disparities between their sanctions regimes, and then push their allies to adopt the same policies. Harmonized transatlantic sanctions offer the last, best chance of avoiding two unpalatable alternatives: Bombing Iran's nuclear infrastructure, or conceding that Iran will become a nuclear weapons state. The writer was ambassador to the EU in the Clinton administration. (Wall Street Journal)
  • A Quiet Diplomacy on the Mideast Peace Path - Martin Indyk
    President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu are beginning to develop a constructive working relationship sensitive to the legitimate concerns of the other. There appears to be a recognition by Obama and Netanyahu that neither can achieve their purposes unless they work with, rather than against, each other.
        The flotilla incident was an important test of this newfound comity. Obama was forced to choose between condemning Israel, thereby winning brownie points with the Muslim world, and standing up for an embattled ally's right to defend itself. Working closely with Netanyahu - they spoke at least three times on the phone during the crisis - Obama forged an approach that prevented a rupture in Turkish-Israeli relations, headed off condemnation in the UN Security Council, shaped an investigation palatable to Israel and is easing the Gaza blockade closure in ways that meet the requirements of normal life for Gazans while honoring Israel's legitimate security concerns. The writer is vice president for foreign policy at the Brookings Institution. (Washington Post)
  • Turkey's Embrace Troubles Hizbullah - Michael Young
    Since 2005, Iranian President Ahmadinejad has used the Palestinians as a battering ram to enhance Iran's legitimacy among the Arabs. But now Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan has stepped in and the Arabs, their sectarian impulses kicking in, have elected Turkey as their foremost champion.  However, saying yes to Turkey has become shorthand in Lebanon and the region for saying no to Iran and its allies.  What does it mean for Hizbullah if Turkey displaces Iran as the main spokesmen for the Palestinian cause? It means that Hizbullah's freedom to use Lebanon on Iran's behalf as an instrument of deterrence against Israel is lessened. (Daily Star-Lebanon)

    Weekend Features

  • Living in Fear - Jacob Shrybman
    Iris Twito, the mother of two sons injured by Kassam rockets in the city of Sderot, told the Sderot Media Center following the Gaza aid flotilla fiasco: "The entire world hates us, but they don't know what we've been through." The Twito family is a living testament for why there is a naval blockade on Gaza.
        Three years ago, Iris' sons Osher and Rami were walking to an ATM when a rocket struck meters away. The exploded shrapnel sliced through the boys' legs. Osher, then 8, was in a coma for two weeks and his left leg had to be amputated. "The government of Israel needs to ensure security for all Israelis and make sure that other Israelis are protected from the kind of tragedy that struck our family," said Iris. (Front Page Magazine)
  • The Man Who Saved Tel Aviv - Tom Tugend
    Ex-U.S. Marine and Israel Air Force fighter pilot Lou Lenart, 89, arrived in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., as Layos Lenovitz, a 10-year-old farmboy from a small Hungarian village. Lenart joined the U.S. Marines in 1940 at the age of 18, and after a year-and-a-half of infantry training he talked his way into flight school. Lenart flew an F4U Corsair in the battle of Okinawa and took part in numerous attacks on the Japanese mainland. After World War II Lenart learned that 14 relatives in Hungary had been killed in Auschwitz, so it took little added incentive for the ex-captain to clandestinely join the effort to smuggle war planes into prestate Israel. But when Lenart landed at a makeshift airfield in May 1948, the State of Israel was a week old and invading Egyptian forces were moving up the coast to Tel Aviv.
        On May 29, 10,000 Egyptians with tanks and artillery were 16 miles south of Tel Aviv, and in a desperate move Israel unleashed its entire air force: four Czech-made planes. The Egyptian troops, who had been assured that the Israelis had no aircraft, were so surprised and unnerved by the attack that they halted their advance on Tel Aviv. Among the four pilots manning the planes were Ezer Weizman, later president of the state, and Lenart, the only living survivor among the four. After the war, Lenart participated in the airlift of Iraqi Jews to Israel, flew for El Al Airlines, and became a movie producer, dividing his time between Tel Aviv and Los Angeles. (JTA)
  • Observations:

    Meaning of the Holocaust Being Distorted and Demeaned - Marvin Hier (Los Angeles Times)

    • Over the last few years, U.S. political discourse has been saturated with opponents accusing each other of Nazi-like policies or behavior. The Holocaust was a watershed event in the history of mankind, in which 6 million Jews - one-third of the world's Jewish population - were exterminated. But today the word is used in ways that cheapen it.
    • A congressman referred to the need for universal healthcare, saying Americans die every year because they lack insurance. "I apologize to the dead and their families that we haven't voted sooner to end this holocaust in America." A presidential candidate, speaking out against abortion, referred to "the holocaust of liberalized abortion." A syndicated columnist applied the term to the Gulf oil disaster, calling it an "ecological holocaust." "Whatever mishap occurs now, they call it 'holocaust,'" said Elie Wiesel, Nobel laureate and chronicler of the Holocaust, noting how "a commentator describing the defeat of a sports team, somewhere, called it a 'holocaust.'"
    • There are many injustices and manifestations of evil in our world, and standing up to them is not only our right but our obligation. But that does not include distorting and demeaning the great evil that was the Holocaust. The Holocaust had one purpose: the total annihilation and extinction of a race. The Holocaust was the story of ordinary Germans, who listened to Bach and Beethoven, who loved their families, but who for six years rounded up men, women and children and escorted them to the gas chambers.
    • As the commandant of Auschwitz, Rudolf Hoss, wrote in his confession: "Once, a woman with four children, all holding each other by the hand to help the smallest ones, passed by me. She stepped very close to me and whispered, pointing to her four children, 'How can you murder these beautiful, darling children?'" That's what a holocaust is.

      Rabbi Marvin Hier is the Founder and Dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

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