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July 16, 2010

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Despite Diplomatic Tensions, U.S.-Israeli Security Ties Strengthen - Glenn Kessler (Washington Post)
    While public attention has focused on diplomatic disputes between Israel and the U.S. over settlement expansion, security and military ties between the two nations have grown ever closer during the Obama administration.
    This week, Israel successfully conducted a test of the new "Iron Dome" mobile missile-defense system designed to shield Israeli towns from small rockets launched from Gaza. When the system is fully deployed in the next year, about half the cost - $205 million - will be borne by U.S. taxpayers under a plan advanced by the Obama administration and broadly supported in Congress.
    Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates "believes we are cooperating on military-to-military relations in an unprecedented manner," Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said.
    Military relations were very close during the Bush administration, but "in many ways the cooperation has been extended and perhaps enhanced in different areas" during the Obama administration, a senior Israeli official acknowledged.
    The U.S. efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan draw on lessons learned and equipment developed by the Israelis in their conflicts - and vice versa.
    Unmanned drones and the armoring of vehicles to protect against roadside bombs derive from Israeli technology, Israeli officials say.
    The U.S. provides about $200 million a year to two other Israeli missile-defense systems, known as Arrow and David's Sling. The costs are shared 50-50, with the understanding that the U.S. will benefit from the Israeli experience.

Poll: 46% of Israelis Say Obama Is Pro-Palestinian - Gil Hoffman (Jerusalem Post)
    After what was widely described as a "charm offensive" to reach out to Israelis by the Obama administration, a new Smith Research poll conducted this week for the Jerusalem Post found that 10% of Israeli Jews say the administration is pro-Israel, 46% said it was pro-Palestinian, 34% said it was neutral, and 10% gave no opinion.
    The previous poll in March found that 9% considered the White House pro-Israel, 48% said it was pro-Palestinian, and 30% said it was neutral.
    In June 2009, 31% considered the Obama presidency pro- Israel and 14% pro-Palestinian.

Strike at Bazaar Spreads Beyond Tehran - Nazila Fathi (New York Times)
    A strike at the traditional bazaar in Tehran continued into a second week on Thursday, spreading beyond the original gold and garments sectors and to the major cities of Isfahan and Tabriz, news Web sites reported.
    The traditional bazaars, a major economic institution in Iran, supported the 1979 revolution and have backed the Islamic government.
    "It is clear that Ahmadinejad's policies over the last five years have threatened the merchants, and many of them are willing to express their antipathy towards him now," said Arang Keshavarzian, an associate professor at New York University.

Poll: Palestinians Don't Expect New Intifada Even If Peace Talks Fail (PCPO-PA)
    The most recent poll of the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion, prepared by Dr. Nabil Kukali and released on July 12, asked:
    Do you think the present U.S. administration under President Obama would back the plan of recognizing a Palestinian state within the next two years irrespective of its approval or disapproval by Israel? Yes 13%, No 77%.
    Assuming the negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis would fail, do you expect the outbreak of a third Intifada? Yes 32%, No 51%.
    Do you think that the Palestinians must renounce their right of return, which Israel will never accept, in exchange for having an independent Palestinian state and the conclusion of a peace deal with Israel? Yes 14%, No 82%.
    Would you accept it if the Palestinian leadership would waive the right of return in exchange for financial compensation? Yes 13%, No 82%.

"Only Israel" Strikes a Chord on YouTube - David Brinn (Jerusalem Post)
    Yedida Freilich, a 22-year-old composition student at Jerusalem's Rubin Academy of Music, has become the latest YouTube phenomenon with her pro-Israel song "Only Israel."
    View Video: "Only Israel" - Yedida Freilich (YouTube)

Dutch Police Using "Decoy Jews" to Stop Anti-Semitic Attacks - Bruno Waterfield (Telegraph-UK)
    Dutch police are to use "decoy Jews," by dressing law enforcers in Jewish religious dress such as skullcaps, in an effort to catch anti-Semitic attackers.
    Lodewijk Asscher, Amsterdam's mayor, has ordered the new decoy strategy to cut the number of verbal and physical attacks on Jews, amid fears that anti-Semitic "hate crime" is on the rise.
    "Jews in at least six Amsterdam neighborhoods often cannot cross the street wearing a skullcap without being insulted, spat at or even attacked," according to local reports.

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Poll: 72 Percent of British Jews Say Israel's 2009 Gaza Operation Was "a Legitimate Act of Self-Defense" (Guardian-UK)
    72% of Jews in Britain agree that Israel's action in Gaza in 2009 was "a legitimate act of self-defense," according to a study by the Institute for Jewish Policy Research.
    77% favor a "two-state solution," which would see the creation of a Palestinian state, as the "only way" to make peace in the Middle East.
    The survey found that British Jews strongly identify with and support Israel, with 9 out of 10 having visited the country.

Exposing How Post-Zionists Manipulate History - Avi Beker (Institute for Global Jewish Affairs)
    Israeli "New Historians" have heavily influenced academic teaching about the Arab-Israeli conflict on campuses throughout the world.
    They have disregarded and omitted the two most critical features of the 1948 Arab-Israeli war: the religious-jihadi nature of the Arab campaign and Arab rejection of the UN partition resolution.
    Their narrative changed the parameters of political negotiations: a peace agreement between the Palestinians and Israel is not meant to correct the 1967 "occupation," but to atone for the alleged atrocities of the Nakba (Palestinian catastrophe) of 1948.
    Dr. Avi Beker is former secretary-general of the World Jewish Congress.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Charity Behind Gaza Flotilla Had Support from Turkey's Governing Party - Dan Bilefsky and Sebnem Arsu
    The Turkish IHH charity that led the Gaza flotilla has extensive connections with Turkey's political elite, and the group's efforts to challenge Israel's blockade of Gaza received support at the top levels of the governing party, Turkish diplomats and government officials said. The IHH has come under attack in Israel and the West for offering financial support to groups accused of terrorism. But in Turkey the group has helped Prime Minister Erdogan shore up support from conservative Muslims ahead of critical elections next year and improve Turkey's standing and influence in the Arab world.
        The charity's mission, political analysts said, has advanced Erdogan's aim of shifting Turkey's focus to the Muslim East. The government "could have stopped the ship if it wanted to, but the mission to Gaza served both the IHH and the government by making both heroes at home and in the Arab world," said Ercan Citlioglu, a terrorism expert at Bahcesehir University in Istanbul. Many of the 21 people listed on the charity's board have or had close links to the ruling Justice and Development Party. Those ties partly reflect the common agenda of the party and the charity. (New York Times)
        See also State Department Mulls Terror Designation for Turkish Gaza "Aid" Ship Funder - Dana Blanton
    The State Department is investigating whether to designate the Turkish Muslim charity IHH, which funded and operated the Gaza-bound "aid" ship Mavi Marmara, as a foreign terrorist organization. State Department spokesman Mark Toner said at a briefing on Wednesday: "I believe we are looking at the IHH, but it's a long process to designate something a foreign terrorist organization." Sources also said that sections of the Treasury Department are actively investigating IHH with the intent to designate it as a terrorist organization, despite some opposition from within the administration.
        The State and Treasury investigations follow a letter sent to President Obama last month from a bipartisan group of 87 U.S. senators in which they called on the president to keep firm his administration's support of Israel and to investigate the Turkish group. IHH has links to terrorist groups including Hamas and al-Qaeda. (Fox News)
  • Russia to Iran: Explain Military Components of Nuclear Program - Alexei Anishchuk
    Russian President Dmitry Medvedev ratcheted up the pressure on Iran on Thursday, urging it to explain the "military components" of its nuclear program. "Iran is our rather active trading partner and has been tested by time, but that does not mean we are indifferent to the way Iran is developing its nuclear program and we are not indifferent to how the military components of the corresponding program look," Medvedev said. "In this respect, we are waiting for the appropriate explanations from Iran," he said. Russia is preparing to start up the reactors at Iran's first nuclear power station. (Reuters)
  • An Attack on Iran: Back on the Table - Joe Klein
    In late 2006, George W. Bush met with the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon and asked if military action against Iran's nuclear program was feasible. The unanimous answer was no. But when Secretary of Defense Robert Gates told Fox News on June 20, "We do not accept the idea of Iran having nuclear weapons," he was reflecting a new reality in the military and intelligence communities. Diplomacy and economic pressure remain the preferred means to force Iran to negotiate a nuclear deal, but there isn't much hope that's going to happen. So the military option is very much back on the table.
        Intelligence sources say that the U.S. Army's Central Command, which is in charge of organizing military operations in the Middle East, has made some real progress in planning targeted air strikes - aided, in large part, by the vastly improved human-intelligence operations in the region. "There really wasn't a military option a year ago," an Israeli military source told me. "But they've gotten serious about the planning, and the option is real now." Israel has been brought into the planning process. One other factor has brought the military option to a low boil: Iran's Sunni neighbors really want the U.S. to do it. (TIME)
        See also A Quiet Axis Forms Against Iran in the Middle East - Alexander Smoltczyk and Bernhard Zand (Der Spiegel-Germany)
  • U.S. Came Out Ahead with Iranian Nuclear Scientist
    The U.S. "clearly got the better end of things" in the saga of Iranian nuclear scientist Shahram Amiri, a U.S. official familiar with the case said Thursday. "We have his insights - original information on the Iranian nuclear program that proved useful," the official said of Amiri. "He made his own decisions. He chose of his own accord to come to the United States, chose of his own accord who would come with him, and chose of his own accord to leave the United States," the official said. (CNN)
        See also U.S. Says Scientist Aided CIA While Still in Iran - David E. Sanger and Mark Mazzetti (New York Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • U.S. Official: "We Will Continue to Shield Israel, Militarily and Diplomatically - Shlomo Shamir
    The U.S. will continue to maintain Israel's military advantage as well as protect it in the diplomatic arena, U.S. Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice said Wednesday during a reception for Israeli Ambassadors Gabriela Shalev and Daniel Carmon, held by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations in New York. Rice said the "United States of America remains fully and firmly committed to the peace and security of the State of Israel." "That commitment spans generations and political parties. It is not negotiable, and it never will be," Rice added, saying the U.S. would "continue to strengthen Israel's qualitative military advantage so that Israel can always defend itself, by itself, against any threat or possible combination of threats."
        "As U.S. President Barack Obama pledged, we will continue U.S. efforts to combat all international attempts to challenge the legitimacy of Israel - including and especially at the United Nations."  (Ha'aretz)
  • Israel Defends Record at UN Human Rights Council in Geneva - Tovah Lazaroff
    Israel argued this week that the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights did not apply to its treatment of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza because those areas were outside the country's national boundaries, even as it defended its record before the covenant's monitoring body in Geneva. Israel's deputy attorney-general Malkiel Blass stated that his country believed the "convention, which was a territorially bound convention, did not apply, nor was it intended to apply, to areas outside its national territory." He said that "Israel did not control these territories and thus could not enforce the rights under the covenant in these areas." Israel ratified the covenant in 1991 and takes it very seriously, according to diplomatic sources. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Egypt Blocks Jordanian Aid Convoy to Gaza
    The Jordanian Professional Associations Council on Thursday said Egypt has refused to allow their Gaza-bound humanitarian aid convoy to enter its territory. Activists had originally intended to travel from Aqaba to the Egyptian port of Nuweibeh before heading by land to the Rafah border crossing with Gaza to express their solidarity with Gazans. The convoy of 150 activists and 25 trucks left Amman on Tuesday. (Jordan Times)
  • In the West Bank, New Cars Signal Economic Growth - Avi Issacharoff
    New car dealerships are springing up in the West Bank, reflecting the economic growth. Today the streets are lined with just-bought models. Banks are offering car loans to anyone who has a job. They can pay 10% down and borrow 90% of a new car's cost. But cars are only part of the economic development story. A shopping mall has opened on the ground floor of a new Nablus office building. The city center is thriving, the open-air markets, clothing stores and cafes are bustling. (Ha'aretz)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Reinventing the Wheel in the Middle East - Glenn Kessler
    Just days after President Obama called for direct talks to begin between Israelis and Palestinians, PA President Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday appeared to reject the idea, saying it would be "pointless and futile" unless the two sides first reach agreement on the parameters of the talks. For many outside observers, that sounds like arguing about the size of the table. Why not start talks immediately, without preconditions, as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he wants to do? After all, everyone knows what needs to be discussed.
        The difficulty ahead is best illustrated by comparing the situation today with the last time serious talks were launched, at Annapolis in late 2007. Then, Abbas and Ehud Olmert, Israel's prime minister at the time, had already spent months meeting with each other and building an atmosphere of trust. Lower-level Israeli and Palestinian officials had also met repeatedly and were prepared for real talks. The two sides actually discussed some of the most sensitive issues between them. Even then, they did not reach a deal. Yet, despite special envoy George Mitchell's repeated trips to the region, that level of trust does not exist between Netanyahu and Abbas. That is the missing ingredient. (Washington Post)
  • Hizbullah Is Readying Lebanon for War - Michael Young
    In the recent tension in southern Lebanon between villagers and the UN force UNIFIL, Hizbullah saw an opportunity to send a warning to the international peacekeepers that their freedom to maneuver was limited. Initially, the Lebanese army and government failed to back up the UN. After the angry response of states contributing soldiers to UNIFIL, Lebanon backtracked, vowing to continue cooperating with the UN. However, the incidents confirmed that Hizbullah has substantial control over the Lebanese army, particularly the army's intelligence services. Hizbullah's freedom to act both politically and militarily is essential to its role as an extension of Iran on the Israeli border. At a broader level, the quarrel with UNIFIL may also be seen as an Iranian reply to the recent passage of Security Council sanctions against Tehran. The writer is opinion editor of the Daily Star in Beirut. (The National-Abu Dhabi)
  • Why Israel's Enemies Are the Darlings of Western Intellectuals - Lee Smith
    Media consumers in the U.S. are by now well aware that Hizbullah and Hamas provide "social services" for their communities. For those who push such palliatives on their audiences - "Yes, they do chant 'kill the Jews!' and they do act on their rhetoric, but they also educate poor kids in clean, well-lit schools" - respect for the resistance is a polite way of indicating one's tolerance for murderous anti-Semitism. A common explanation for the turning away of the intellectuals from Israel is that the Jewish state forfeited the world's sympathy once it was no longer perceived as the underdog in its conflict with the Arabs. Israel's sin, in this reading, is that it didn't lose.
        You could argue that Israel is a nation of obvious appeal to the intellectual classes, even on their own terms. For instance, the rebirth of Hebrew as a living national language was the work of intellectuals. Zionism itself is an idea. If you were a person of faith, you'd simply take the restoration of the Jews as proof that God is real and acts in history. But as a man of reason, you'd see the rebirth of Israel as evidence of human progress: After 2,000 years of wandering and suffering, the Jews have a modern nation-state - things do get better. (Tablet)
  • Syrian Human Rights Record Unchanged under Assad - Ian Black
    Syria's record on freedom and human rights has failed to improve in the ten years since President Bashar al-Assad came to power, according to a report released Friday by Human Rights Watch that reviews Assad's record on political and human rights activity, freedom of expression, torture and the treatment of the country's Kurdish minority. In the last few weeks, Syrian courts separately sentenced two leading human rights lawyers, Haytham al-Maleh, 78, and Muhanad al-Hasani, 42, to three years in jail for criticizing the country's human rights record.
        Repression has continued despite a thaw since 2007 in relations with both the U.S. and EU. Media censorship remains prevalent and covers websites such as Facebook and YouTube. Journalists and bloggers are arrested and tried in a state security court. Politically, Syria remains a de facto single-party state with only the Ba'ath party able to operate freely. (Guardian-UK)
  • France Finds Slander Spreading from Al-Dura Hoax Against Israel
    A photographer stages a hoax, making the IDF seem to have murdered an Arab boy, Mohammed al-Dura, in 2000 at the beginning of the Second Intifada. French journalist Charles Enderlin airs the film on France 2 TV. Philippe Karsenty investigates privately, confirms the hoax, and accuses Enderlin of fraud. Enderlin sues Karsenty for slander. Karsenty wins the verdict, based on the truth that the alleged murder is a hoax. Canal+ TV airs its own program, impugning the integrity of Karsenty. Karsenty sues Canal+ for slander and wins on June 10, again confirming the hoax. (
        See also The Al-Dura Hoax: Truth, Finally, May Be Coming - Chris Dreyfus (Pajamas Media)
  • Europe's Backlash Against Islamization - Ryan Mauro
    One by one, the countries of Europe are placing restrictions on wearing the burqas and niqabs in government buildings or even in public. In April, Belgium became the first to pass an all-encompassing ban, and the French Council of Ministers followed by passing a similar ban that the National Assembly has just approved. Now, the Senate in Spain has passed a motion calling on the government to completely ban the wearing of the veil in public.
        Political parties that express a hard line on assimilation and Islam are gaining in the polls. A new Pew poll found that bans on face veils are supported by 82% of the French, 71% of the Germans, 62% of the British and 59% of the Spanish. The Freedom Party of Geert Wilders came in third in last month's general elections in the Netherlands, expanding their number of seats from nine to 24.
        At the same time, some Muslims feel directly threatened by Islamism. This is causing a surprising amount of European Muslims to take a stand in favor of integrating their communities into Europe's secular democratic society. In France, the Conference of French Imams has publicly supported banning the burqa. (FrontPageMagazine)
  • Confronting History's Longest Hatred - Rabbi Abraham Cooper
    The last aging survivors of Auschwitz see everywhere evidence that virulent Jew-hatred did not die with Hitler. There's a campaign to scrap International Holocaust Memorial Day (Jan. 27) and merge it with a commemoration for victims of communism. When an Israeli medical team raced half way around the world to save over 1,000 earthquake victims, a YouTube video warned Haitians the real purpose of the field hospital was to steal their body parts. Meanwhile, the Turkish blockbuster film "Valley of Wolves" depicts the Iraq War as a conspiracy by Israelis and Americans to harvest organs of Iraqi women and children.
        Imagine the implications of a UK jury's recent decision - with the encouragement of the judge - to acquit five defendants who proudly admitted sabotaging a factory filling a military equipment order from Israel. Or in Montreal, where a local Muslim group sought volunteers to compile lists of Jewish university faculty members with any links to Israel. How did the UN respond to the genocidal rants of the Iranian President? By inviting him to keynote the UN Human Rights Summit in Geneva. The writer is associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center. (Washington Post)
  • Five Minutes to Midnight in Britain's Battle Against Radical Islam - Ilan Evyatar
    Douglas Murray is the director of the Center for Social Cohesion, a London-based think tank that studies radicalization and extremism in the UK, and he is an outspoken critic of the British government's response to the challenge of radical Islam. He notes, "It is astonishing that no major politician since [Tony] Blair has understood Israel's right to defend herself. They consistently speak about such a right in theory, but whenever in practice, whether it's Gaza or the flotilla, they don't, and they condemn Israel on it....Churchill's famous description of an appeaser [is] someone who feeds the crocodile and hopes it will eat him last. Some major leader has to explain in relation to Israel and Britain that this crocodile would eat us next, not last. Therefore, it would be a very, very stupid thing, for your own security, as well as your own sense of what's morally right, to keep sacrificing Israel in this way."  (Jerusalem Post)

    Weekend Features

  • Queens of the Desert - Shosh Mula
    The women of Nahshol, a female-only Israel Defense Forces unit dedicated to combat intelligence missions, combine the fighting capabilities of combat forces with advanced intelligence-gathering skills. The unit monitors enemy movements and thwarts terror activity along Israel's southern borders. A sign at the entrance to their base sums up their combat doctrine: "Seeing without being seen." The soldiers are deployed in ambushes and specialize in building camouflaged positions in the field. They are tasked with spotting enemy forces and guiding IDF troops and gunships to their target.
        "Our fighters are able to operate in any terrain: On mountain peaks, at the base of mountains, on rocks, in desert sands, in open areas, and in residential zones," says platoon commander Maj. Ortal Amar. The unit was formed as a pilot project four years ago and became part of IDF operations as a result of its success. The unit's squads operate around the clock. "This experience is unique in the world," says Lt. Dor Nasmian. "Lying in ambushes for days with fellow fighters...beyond the satisfaction of protecting the state, we gain friends for life."  (Ynet News)
  • Scarred by Terrorism, Israelis to Compete in Triathlon - Lauren Greenberg
    On a mission in the West Bank city of Nablus with his paratrooper unit, Elad Belachsan, now 27, was near the front of the group when a bomb exploded, paralyzing his left leg. Next week, some six years later, Belachsan will be competing in the New York City triathlon. A swimmer on the Israeli national paralympics team, Belachsan will compete in the swimming portion and in the bicycling event, where he will use a hand-powered bicycle. "It's a great challenge, to see the limits of your body and to extend them," Belachsan said. "Since I can't walk normally, I am always looking for new challenges to show myself that my body is able to do this."
        In the July 18 triathlon, Belachsan will be joined by his brother-in-law, Yeshurun Gavish, 29. Gavish, too, has been scarred by terrorism. In 2002, he lost his parents, oldest brother and grandfather when a terrorist broke into his home in the West Bank settlement of Elon Moreh and shot them dead. Gavish had left the house just minutes before. He said sports has helped him to deal with his loss. The triathlon "is an opportunity to feel normal and get out of the sadness. And it's also therapeutic."  (JTA)
  • Diary Reveals Zionist Leader Jabotinsky's Plan to Murder Hitler - Shlomo Nakdimon
    In December 1939, four months after the beginning of World War II, Zionist leader Ze'ev Jabotinsky paid a visit to retired British colonel Richard Henry Meinertzhagen, who served as an advisor at the War Office in London and knew Jabotinsky from his service in the British army in World War I. The colonel documented his conversation with the Zionist leader in his private diary:
    Jabotinsky: I have brought a plan to bomb Hitler and the entire Nazi leadership.
    Meinertzhagen: An ambitious plot.
    Jabotinsky: An attainable one.
    Meinertzhagen: Do elaborate.
    Jabotinsky: A number of high-ranking Nazis in Munich must be assassinated. Their funeral will require the arrival of their senior comrades, including Hitler. Bombs containing 100 kilograms of explosives will be concealed in one of the coffins. As all the Nazis gather around the grave, 100 kilograms of bombs will explode and they'll all move on to the next world.
    Meinertzhagen: Who will activate the bomb system?
    Jabotinsky: The Jewish gravedigger in Munich. He's a friend of mine.
    The colonel, who was impressed by the plan, presented it to the Foreign Office in London. The response was recorded in one short line in his diary: The Foreign Office frowned and the Nazis were saved. (Ynet News)
  • Observations:

    U.S. Policy on Hizbullah: The Question of Engagement - Ash Jain (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)

    • Hizbullah remains as committed as ever to its role as an armed resistance movement. In its updated manifesto, released in 2009 and seen by some observers as a sign of moderation, Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah reaffirmed his rejection of Israel ("we categorically reject any compromise with Israel or recognizing its legitimacy").
    • Terrorism, violence, and intimidation remain key strategic assets for Hizbullah, not just against Israel, but against the state of Lebanon itself.
    • Hizbullah remains committed to challenging the U.S. and its interests in the region. Its 2009 manifesto reemphasized the movement's anti-American foundations, expanding the rationale for resistance as a response to U.S. "terror" and plans for "dominating the nations [of the Arab and Islamic world] politically, economically, culturally and through all aspects."
    • U.S. engagement would only boost Hizbullah's domestic and international legitimacy, and weaken what is left of the democratically elected pro-Western government in Beirut. More broadly, such a fundamental shift in policy would signal Washington's diminishing resolve to confront terrorism and undermine its stance against rewarding terrorist groups.
    • U.S. officials should instead look to intensify efforts aimed at constraining Hizbullah's activities and limiting its destabilizing influence. Hizbullah will only increase in strength unless concerted action is taken against it.
    • The U.S. should mount a campaign to impose UN sanctions on Syria for clear violations of Security Council Resolution 1701, which prohibits arms transfers to Hizbullah. Likewise, it should press for sanctions against Iran for violating Resolution 1747's prohibition on arms transfers.

      The writer, a former member of the State Department's Policy Planning Staff, is a visiting fellow at The Washington Institute.

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