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August 2, 2010

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In-Depth Issues:

Abbas: Palestinian State Must Be Jew-Free - Jonathan D. Halevi (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs-Hebrew)
    Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas revealed his version of his contacts with Israel during the Olmert government and his basic principles for a political agreement. On July 28, as reported by the Palestinian WAFA news service, he told journalists in Cairo:
    "I'm willing to agree to a third party that would supervise the agreement, such as NATO forces, but I would not agree to having Jews among the NATO forces, or that there will live among us even a single Israeli on Palestinian land."
    See also Original Arabic Text (Palestine Media Center)

Israel: New Turkish Intelligence Chief May Disclose Israeli Secrets to Iran - Amos Harel (Ha'aretz)
    Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Sunday voiced concern that the appointment of new Turkish intelligence chief Hakan Fidan, who is close to Iran, could result in Tehran gaining access to Israeli secrets.
    "In recent weeks a man who is a supporter of Iran was appointed to head Turkey's Mossad. There are a fair number of our secrets that are in [Turkish] hands. The thought that in the past two months they could have been open to the Iranians is quite disturbing," Barak said.

Adm. Mullen: U.S. Has Plan Ready for Iran Attack - Sean Lengell (Washington Times)
    Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press" that the U.S. is prepared to use force to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons.
    "Military options have been on the table and remain on the table," Adm. Mullen said.

U.S. Congress May Boost Israeli Missile Defense Funding - Hilary Leila Krieger (Jerusalem Post)
    Last week, the U.S. House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense added $95.7m. to the original White House funding request for Israel's long-range Arrow and medium-range David's Sling missile defense programs, with $422.7 million now slated for 2011.
    The package is more than twice as much as last year's total.
    Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren responded, "The embassy of Israel deeply appreciates this latest expression of the congressional commitment to Israel's security and to the development of systems that will enhance the defense of both Israel and the United States."

Explosion at Gaza Home of Hamas Commander Wounds 24 Palestinians (BBC News)
    A large explosion at the home of senior Hamas military commander Alaa al-Danaf in Gaza injured more than 24 people on Monday. The explosion destroyed the house and badly damaged several nearby houses.
    Israel's military denied any involvement. Militants have sometimes been killed unexpectedly while preparing bombs.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Rockets Hit Israel and Jordan Resorts; Four Hurt in Aqaba
    Rockets from Egypt's Sinai struck Israel's and Jordan's Red Sea port resorts on Monday. In the Jordanian port of Aqaba, "the Grad rocket landed in a public street near a major five-star hotel and caused four injuries, with three persons lightly wounded and the other casualty in serious condition," a Jordanian interior ministry source said. (Reuters)
        See also Rockets Fired toward Eilat and Aqaba - Ahuva Mamos
    Five rockets were fired toward Eilat and Aqaba Monday; there were no reports of injury or damage in Eilat. One of the rockets landed in an open area in Eilat, three more landed in the Red Sea, while a fifth rocket hit Aqaba. (Ynet News)
  • After Ashkelon Missile Attack, IDF Airstrike Kills Senior Hamas Rocket Maker - Ibrahim Barzak
    In response to a rocket attack from Gaza on the Israeli city of Ashkelon on Friday with a military-grade Grad rocket, Israeli planes fired missiles at five targets across Gaza, killing a senior commander of the Hamas military wing. Issa Batran, 42, was identified as a senior rocket-maker. (AP-Washington Post)
        See also Gaza Rocket Hits Educational Institution Near Sderot - Shmulik Hadad
    A Kassam rocket fired by Palestinians in Gaza Saturday hit the roof of a building in Sderot. One firefighter reported seeing smoke billowing from the building. "I have no doubt that had there been people in the building, it would have been a major disaster. It's a miracle," he said, adding that "serious" damage was caused to three rooms. (Ynet News)
        See also Hamas Rocket Hits Children's Rehabilitation Center - Noam Bedein
    On Saturday night a Palestinian rocket scored a direct hit on the children's hydrotherapy rehabilitation center, located in the heart of Sderot's Sapir College. The center provides therapy and workshops for special-needs children and is used by children from the entire country. The facility was decimated. On any other day, a catastrophe would have taken place. During weekdays, the center is packed with hundreds of children and therapists. (Sderot Media Center); View Video (YouTube)
        See also Israel: Hamas Responsible for Gaza Rocket Attacks
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the Israeli Cabinet Sunday: "I view Hamas as being directly responsible for any attack on the State of Israel that originates in the Gaza Strip, and this is how the international community must see things. Israel reserves the right to defend its citizens and we will continue to take all necessary measures in order to defend the State of Israel, Israeli citizens and Israeli children."  (Prime Minister's Office)
  • Report: Hizbullah Busting Alleged Israeli Spy Cells Using Tools Provided to Lebanese by the West - Borzou Daragahi
    In April 2009, the chief of Lebanon's U.S.-backed Internal Security Forces, Achraf Rifi, warned Hizbullah security chief Wafiq Safa that two trusted, mid-ranking Hizbullah commanders were working as informants for Israeli military intelligence. The two were never heard from again. The Lebanese government is helping Hizbullah bust alleged spy cells, sometimes using tools and tradecraft acquired from Western nations eager to build up Lebanon's security forces.
        "There are deep Israeli worries that anything the West gives the Lebanese armed forces and the Internal Security Forces could be used against them," said Mara Karlin, a former Lebanon specialist at the U.S. Defense Department. Since 2006, Washington has given nearly $500 million in military aid to Lebanese security forces. Lebanon has redirected for use against Israel signal-detection equipment donated by France and intended to fight Islamic militants. Israeli analyst Ronen Bergman said the U.S. gave Lebanon's army sophisticated electronic equipment that allowed it to identify and trace even encrypted communications. (Los Angeles Times)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • U.S. Denies Threat to Cut PA Ties - Natasha Mozgovaya and Jack Khoury
    The U.S. State Department said Saturday that reports that the Obama administration threatened to cut off ties with the Palestinians unless they entered direct talks with Israel bordered on "absurdity." A White House source told Ha'aretz that the claim made by Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, was "not true."  (Ha'aretz)
  • Jerusalem Mayor Calls UN Building Halt Request "Racist, Illegal" - Abe Selig
    Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat condemned the "racist" suggestion of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who on Friday asked that Israel restrict Jewish construction in the eastern half of the city, the mayor's spokesman, Stephan Miller, said Sunday. "Mayor Barkat condemns the notion of any freeze of construction for anyone in the city of Jerusalem - a notion that would be deemed illegal in the State of Israel and in any Western democracy....The municipality will continue to issue building permits to Jews, Christians and Muslims alike throughout the entirety of Jerusalem." (Jerusalem Post)
        See also The Mayor's Vision for Jerusalem - Nir Barkat
    Jerusalem has a population of 800,000 people today, which will grow to a million people twenty years from now. The current population ratio is one-third Muslim, two-thirds Jewish, and two percent Christian. In the next twenty years, we anticipate a need for 50,000 apartments - one-third for the Arab population and two-thirds for the Jewish population. Jerusalem must stay united. There is not one example in the world of a divided city that ever worked. (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Hamas Has No Interest in Anything Except Dead Israelis - Adrian Michaels
    The largest rocket yet let loose out of Hamas-controlled Gaza since the Israeli offensive at the start of last year hits the city of Ashkelon, miraculously not killing anyone but not through want of trying. Hamas has said it is trying to stop groups within Gaza from launching such rockets. It really needs to try an awful lot harder.
        What should we make then of Hamas and its ceaseless efforts to eradicate Israelis and Israel the next time people are advocating bringing it into peace talks? Or what should we think about Israel's argument that it is trying to stop materials that get into Gaza that can be made into weapons, hence the "inhuman" blockade of "prison camp" Gaza? To read most commentary on the subject you'd be forgiven for thinking that Israel is the sole villain in this never-ending multi-act play. It isn't. The writer is Group Foreign Editor at the Telegraph Media Group. (Telegraph-UK)
  • The Colonialist Origins of the Arab States - Dore Gold
    The argument claiming that Israel has colonialist roots due to its connection with the British Mandate is ironic, as most Arab countries owe their establishment to conquest and control by the European powers. Prior to the First World War, countries such as Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan did not exist at all and were merely provinces of the Ottoman Empire. They became states only as a result of European intervention.
        Such, for example, was the case of Iraq and Jordan, where the British transferred rule to the Hashemite royal house. Saudi Arabia and the small Gulf states arose as a result of special agreements that their leaders signed with British India between the years 1880 and 1916, incorporating British recognition for the legitimacy of rule by Arab families over places that subsequently became the states of Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar. A similar agreement between Britain and the Al-Saud family in 1915 laid the groundwork for the rise of Saudi Arabia in 1932.
        During Israel's War of Independence, the Arab states benefited directly from arms, training, and even manpower from the colonialist powers. In the initial stages, the Arab Legion attacked Jerusalem with the assistance of British officers. Royal Air Force planes defended the Egyptian skies over Sinai and in 1949 aerial incidents were recorded between Israeli and British aircraft. To say that Israel is a result of colonialism is to ignore the history of the Middle East in the 20th century. It also disregards the fact that Israel constituted an anti-colonialist entity that helped remove the British and French Empires from the Middle East. (Yisrael Hayom-Hebrew, 30July2010)
  • Observations:

    The Palestinians, Alone - Efraim Karsh (New York Times)

    • It has long been conventional wisdom that the resolution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is a prerequisite to peace and stability in the Middle East. What, then, are we to make of a recent survey for Al Arabiya television finding that a staggering 71% of the Arabic respondents have no interest in the Palestinian-Israeli peace talks?
    • The truth is that while the "Palestine question" has long been central to inter-Arab politics, Arab states have shown far less concern for the well-being of the Palestinians than for their own interests. For example, it was common knowledge that the May 1948 pan-Arab invasion of the nascent state of Israel was more a scramble for Palestinian territory than a fight for Palestinian national rights.
    • As the first secretary-general of the Arab League, Abdel Rahman Azzam, admitted to a British reporter, the goal of King Abdullah of Transjordan "was to swallow up the central hill regions of Palestine, with access to the Mediterranean at Gaza. The Egyptians would get the Negev. Galilee would go to Syria, except that the coastal part as far as Acre would be added to Lebanon."
    • From 1948 to 1967, when Egypt and Jordan ruled the Palestinians of Gaza and the West Bank, the Arab states failed to put these populations on the road to statehood. They also showed little interest in protecting their human rights or even in improving their quality of life - which is part of the reason why 120,000 West Bank Palestinians moved to the East Bank of the Jordan River and about 300,000 others emigrated abroad.

      The writer, a professor of Middle East and Mediterranean studies at King's College London, is the author, most recently, of Palestine Betrayed.

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