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July 6, 2010

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Report: BP Stops Refueling Iranian Passenger Planes - Richard Spencer (Telegraph-UK)
    BP has told its airport fuel depots to stop supplying Iranian passenger planes, after the U.S. threatened to penalize foreign companies selling petrol to Tehran.
    Iranian authorities said its planes had been refused fuel in Britain, the United Arab Emirates, Germany and Kuwait in recent days.
    The Daily Telegraph has been told that BP stopped its contract to provide fuel to at least one Iranian air company in Dubai, an important hub for Iranian travel, three days ago.
    BP is also understood to have sent orders to its European subsidiaries and partners telling them to withdraw services from Iranian airlines.
    See also Iran Says Planes Are Getting Fuel - Robin Pomeroy (Reuters)

Israel Prepares for Next War with Hizbullah - Amos Harel (Ha'aretz)
    Four years after the Second Lebanon War, the Israeli army is training intensively in combat tactics suited to Hizbullah's extensive system of bunkers and emplacements in southern Lebanon.
    The Israeli training site is saturated with false explosive devices and camouflaged emplacements.
    Success in the next round will require both combing through and taking control of terrain - to whatever extent that time allows - and striking at essential targets of Hizbullah and the Lebanon government.
    As part of the lessons it learned from the 2006 war, Hizbullah moved its "center of gravity" from nature reserves in open areas to compounds in the heart of villages and forests.
    Hizbullah assumes that by fighting from within populated areas, it will wear down Israel, which will be apprehensive about killing civilians.
    Israel, which appears to enjoy high-quality intelligence on events in Lebanon, is collecting information about these "urban reserves" as well.
    At the same time, the Dahiya doctrine has also been developed, by which the IDF has threatened to respond to rocket fire originating from Shi'ite villages by unleashing a vast destructive operation - as it did against the Dahiya Shi'ite quarter in Beirut in 2006.
    The Israeli threats and the scars of the war, which Hizbullah feels far more acutely than it would ever publicly admit, are apparently still able to preserve the status quo in the north and thereby avert another war.

Turkey Pulls Out of Joint Navy Exercise - Yaakov Katz (Jerusalem Post)
    The Turkish Defense Ministry informed the IDF over the weekend that it will not participate in the naval search-and-rescue exercise planned for next month. The annual exercise began 10 years ago and included the Israeli, Turkish and American navies.
    See also Turkish Airlines to Reduce Flights to Israel (Jerusalem Post)
    Turkish Airlines announced Sunday that it will be reducing the frequency of weekly flights to Israel by 10% and use smaller aircraft, due to the decreased amount of Israeli tourists visiting Turkey.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Sanctions Impacting Iran Nuclear Program - Luke Baker
    Sanctions imposed on Iran over the past four years are having a direct impact on its nuclear program and causing widespread bank liquidity problems, according to the National Council of Resistance of Iran, a Paris-based Iranian opposition group. NCRI said that at Natanz, Iran's main enrichment facility, efforts to increase the number of centrifuges have been set back by a lack of high-strength steel once imported from Britain.
        Its report cited an assessment made by senior directors at Iran's oil ministry in March on the impact sanctions were having on banking. "The biggest issue we face is liquidity....Currently, even many of the smaller and low-ranking banks are refusing to engage in deals with us....These even include banks in Turkmenistan, to the extent that in order to make purchases we have to send suitcases full of money."  (Reuters)
  • Israel Allows Construction Materials for Gaza Projects - Majeda El Batsh
    Israel on Monday gave the go-ahead for the international community to import construction materials into Gaza, but only for projects approved by the Palestinian Authority and implemented and supervised by the international community. The Israeli government said in a statement that while the building materials "are liable to be used for Hamas military purposes (building bunkers, fortifying positions and digging tunnels), Israel will permit their entry into Gaza so as to facilitate construction projects."
        The U.S., EU and Britain welcomed the move. "This is an important step in implementing the new policy announced by Israel two weeks ago," said Tommy Vietor, a White House spokesman. EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton hailed the move as "another significant step forward in the review of its (Israel's) policy on Gaza."  (AFP)
        See also Israel's Civilian Policy Towards Gaza (Israel Ministry of Defense)
  • European Envoys Accept Israel Offer to Visit Gaza
    A delegation of European foreign ministers on Monday accepted Israel's invitation to visit Gaza. In a joint letter, the foreign ministers of Italy, Great Britain, France, Spain and Germany thanked Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman for the invitation, and called new measures to ease the embargo on Gaza "a noteworthy and encouraging sign."  (Reuters)
  • U.S. Effort to Leverage Syria Is Flagging - Nicholas Blanford
    More than a year after the U.S. launched a cautious effort to reengage with Syria, wooing it away from Iran and the Iranian-backed Shiite Hizbullah, the process appears to have reached an impasse. Far from loosening its ties to Hizbullah, which the U.S. classifies as a terrorist organization, Syria seems to be drawing ever closer to the group in military cooperation.
        In April, reports surfaced that Syria had transferred Scud ballistic missiles to Hizbullah's control. On Thursday, the Wall Street Journal reported that Iran had delivered to Syria a new sophisticated radar system. "In a post 9/11 world, this is not what we expected after 14 or so senior [diplomatic] visits to Damascus in the last year," says Andrew Tabler, a Syria expert at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. (Christian Science Monitor)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Obama, Netanyahu Meet at White House Today - David Horovitz
    This White House meeting will be presented as the latest step in the gradual warming of relations between two leaders who had plainly been at odds. Washington recognizes that Netanyahu's easing of movement for Palestinians in the West Bank has contributed to the dramatic improvement of the economy there. The administration knows that he has honored his settlement moratorium, with no housing starts recorded at West Bank settlements in the first months of this year, and very little new being built even in Jewish areas of east Jerusalem. Moreover, it fully shares Netanyahu's desire to move from the unproductive, indirect "proximity" framework and into direct talks.
        But the two leaderships still disagree in assessing the peacemaking credentials of the Palestinian Authority under Mahmoud Abbas. Obama believes Abbas is for real, and Netanyahu does not. The Palestinian public is still being fed regular PA TV broadcasts asserting Palestinian rights to all of Israel. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israeli Guidelines for Gaza Imports Follow International Standard - Roni Sofer
    The Foreign Ministry on Monday published a list of items Israel will not allow into Gaza, which follows Wassenaar Arrangement guidelines, as well as Israeli law. The Wassenaar Arrangement on Export Controls for Conventional Arms and Dual-Use Goods and Technologies includes export controls subscribed to by 40 nations. Goods banned according to the Wassenaar Arrangement includes weapons as well as dual-use goods which could be used to develop, produce or boost military capabilities. (Ynet News)
        See also Lists of Dual Use Goods and Technologies and Munitions List (Wassenaar Arrangement)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Obama, Netanyahu Meet Amid Questions over U.S.-Israel Relations - Anne E. Kornblut
    Two months after a tense meeting at the White House, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Obama are set to meet on Tuesday with a deceptively simple mission: getting their picture taken together in a public show of unity. Obama was cool toward Netanyahu during their last meeting and the two were never photographed, which in diplomatic code sent a chilly message. This next meeting has been promised as "a makeup visit," one senior Democratic lawmaker said.
        David Makovsky of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy said, "I think the blowup in March between Obama and Netanyahu has led each side to realize that they've gone too far, and they've got to dial it down. Because there's too much at stake."  (Washington Post)
        See also Netanyahu Comes to Washington - Brig. Gen. Michael Herzog
    The Palestinians want an Obama plan or a UN-imposed solution to the conflict and have set a host of preconditions that must be met before negotiations begin.
        The Obama administration's focus on engaging the Muslim world has left Israel doubtful that Washington will continue to fully support its security interests. Netanyahu has to be confident not only that there is a Palestinian partner on the other side, but that America will provide a safety net should the process fail. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
        See also U.S. Gives Palestinian Leadership a Free Pass - Ari Harow
    Prime Minister Netanyahu has proven over the past 15 months his willingness to take extraordinary steps to return the Palestinians to the negotiating table. He has established the government's desire to see the implementation of a two-state solution, removed hundreds of roadblocks to ease Palestinian movement, and agreed to a freeze of all new construction in the West Bank.
        While the White House has publicly endorsed all these initiatives, these trust-building gestures have only inspired increasing calls for additional concessions. To date, the U.S. administration has largely given the Palestinian leadership a free pass, conveying that the onus of real responsibility falls on Israel alone. The writer served as director of Prime Minister Netanyahu's bureau. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Egypt Is Afraid of the Palestinians on Its Border - Moshe Arens
    If Egypt allowed supplies to enter Gaza through the Rafah crossing on the Egypt-Gaza border, there would have been no excuse for the Gaza flotilla. But Egypt is afraid of the Palestinians on its border. The Egyptians will not allow Palestinian refugees to enter Egypt, nor do they want to assist the Hamas rulers of Gaza in any way. Egyptian rulers over the years have done little to help the Palestinians in Gaza, out of fear that they may be reinforcing Hamas, an ally of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. (Ha'aretz)
  • Observations:

    Are Palestinians Building a State? - Nathan J. Brown (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace)

    • The international community's admiration for Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and his efforts to rebuild the West Bank obscures a dangerous regression in democracy and human rights. PA security services continue to act outside the law under the guise of cracking down on Hamas.
    • To the extent that Fayyadism is building institutions, it is unmistakably doing so in an authoritarian context. There is no way Fayyad's cabinet could have been created or sustained in a more democratic environment.
    • While Fayyad's cabinet has managed to make a few existing institutions more effective and less corrupt, there has been regression in other governing bodies.
    • Ironically, there was more institution-building and civil society development under Yasser Arafat than there has been since the West Bank-Gaza split in 2007.

      The writer is a professor of political science and international affairs at George Washington University.

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