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August 17, 2010

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In-Depth Issues:

Iran Details Plans for New Nuke Sites Inside Mountains - Ali Akbar Dareini (AP)
    Iran said Monday it has decided where to build ten new uranium enrichment sites inside mountains and will start construction on the first in March, defying international efforts to curb its nuclear program.

Harvard Not Divesting from Israel - Beth Healy (Boston Globe)
    Contrary to a blog report, Harvard University said in a statement, "The university has not divested from Israel."
    The university did rebalance its endowment portfolio after a firm that manages stock indexes shifted Israel out of an emerging country index into a developed country index in May.

Report: Sharon Was Kahane Killer's Target - Gil Shefler (Jerusalem Post)
    The man who killed Meir Kahane in 1990 claims he did not carry out the shooting alone, as previously thought, but was part of a three-man terrorist cell with links to al-Qaeda.
    Its original target was then housing minister Ariel Sharon, according to a newly-leaked FBI report.
    El-Sayyid Nosair told detectives in 2005 "that Ariel Sharon was his original target and that he went to a hotel prior to Sharon's coming to visit."
    On the night he shot Kahane dead, he was accompanied by two co-conspirators to the hotel in Manhattan where Kahane was speaking - one of whom was also carrying a gun.
    The men, Bilal al-Kaisi of Jordan and Mohammed Salameh, a Palestinian currently jailed in the U.S. for his involvement in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, have never been charged for their part in the slaying.

Video: IDF Trains to Tackle More Gaza Flotillas (BBC News)
    Part 1, Part 2

New IDF Recruits Seek Combat Service - Hanan Greenberg (Ynet News)
    In the August draft of new recruits into the Israel Defense Forces, 90% of those assigned to combat units asked to be fighters, a new record.
    Lt.-Col. Eran Shani, chief of the IDF human resources branch, said that the infantry is the most sought after assignment among the combat units, and that the dropout rate during the training period has become negligible.

    See also An Iranian Jewish Officer in the IDF - Yossi Yehoshua and Reuven Weiss (Ynet News)
    The amazing story of a young Jew who instead of joining the Iranian army became an outstanding IDF soldier.

Joint Arab-Israeli Hi-Tech Incubator in Nazareth - Stacy Perman (TIME)
    New Generation Technologies is an Israeli hi-tech incubator in Nazareth that houses 18 early-stage start-ups, mostly in biotech, that specifically targets the country's Arab entrepreneurs.
    While its main goal is to translate ideas into profitable companies, it was also established as a vehicle to integrate Israel's sizable Arab minority into the nation's economy while promoting co-existence between Jews and Arabs.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • U.S., Israel Build Military Cooperation - Charles Levinson
    While U.S. and Israeli diplomatic relations weather their choppiest phase in years, behind the scenes, military commanders from the two countries have dramatically stepped up cooperation. U.S. military aid to Israel has increased markedly this year. Top-ranking U.S. and Israeli soldiers have shuttled between Tel Aviv and Washington with unusual frequency in recent months. A series of joint military exercises in Israel over the past months has included a record number of American troops.
        This month, about 200 U.S. Marines joined a battalion of Israeli soldiers for an all-night march through the Negev desert, the culmination of three weeks of joint drills - the biggest U.S.-Israeli joint infantry exercise ever. In October, a missile-defense exercise between the U.S. and Israeli militaries brought in more than 1,000 U.S. soldiers. In the exercises, the two militaries have been drilling as a coalition force, battling a common enemy for the first time, just as the U.S. does with its North Atlantic Treaty Organization allies.
        U.S. military aid to Israel reached a high of $2.78 billion in 2010, up from $2.55 billion in 2009. It is slated to jump to $3 billion in 2011. The Obama administration has also requested an additional $205 million to fund the Iron Dome short-range rocket defense shield. (Wall Street Journal)
  • White House Denies Turkey Arms Ultimatum - Laura Rozen
    The White House denied a report Monday that the U.S. has threatened Turkey with potentially withholding future arms sales because of its tougher stance towards Israel and vote against UN Iran sanctions. Obama "emphatically denied" a Financial Times story saying the president had told Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan that future arms sales would be contingent on softening his anti-Israel talk. (Politico)
  • Israel Sees Battlefield Hidden in Southern Lebanon - Matti Friedman
    Israel's military says Hizbullah is moving fighters and weapons into the villages of south Lebanon, building up a secret network of arms warehouses, bunkers and command posts in preparation for war - under the nose of 12,000 international peacekeepers. Hizbullah is armed by Iran and Syria and is more powerful than the Lebanese military.
        Israel has begun releasing detailed information about Hizbullah's new border deployment to show the reach of their intelligence and to stake their claim that if another war breaks out and many civilians die, it will be because Hizbullah placed its armaments and fighters in their midst. An IDF officer said Hizbullah now has 5,000 fighters operating south of the Litani River, an area which is supposed to be free of militant activity under the 2006 cease-fire.
        South Lebanon is festooned with posters of the bearded, turbaned Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah and local residents, mostly Shiite, tend to support Hizbullah. Hizbullah members or supporters often attach themselves to journalists entering villages, shadowing them and discouraging photography. Peacekeepers are barred from searching private property, where the Israelis say much of the evidence of the guerrillas' presence would be found. UNIFIL's performance in the face of the Hizbullah buildup undermines Israel's trust in international forces to police other volatile areas, such as Gaza and the West Bank, under a peace treaty. (AP-MSNBC)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • Islamic Jihad Terrorist Planting Bomb Killed at Gaza Border Fence - Anshel Pfeffer
    Israeli troops killed an Islamic Jihad militant on the border with Gaza during an exchange of fire on Monday after two Palestinians were seen planting an explosive device near the security fence. An IDF tank commander was lightly wounded. (Ha'aretz)
        See also Two IDF Soldiers Hurt in Gaza Mortar Strike Tuesday - Anshel Pfeffer (Ha'aretz)
  • Elevator Proposed to Ease Access to Western Wall in Jerusalem - Melanie Lidman
    The Company for the Reconstruction and Development of the Jewish Quarter in Jerusalem has proposed installing an elevator to improve access to the Western Wall for visitors with baby carriages and those in wheelchairs who now have to contend with several flights of stairs. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Arabs Call Elevator Plan "A Threat to the Al-Aqsa Mosque"
    The Al-Aqsa Foundation says the plans are a threat to the Al-Aqsa Mosque. In a statement, the foundation said the project intended to divide the mosque and prevent worshipers from reaching it, citing the plan as an attempt by Israeli forces to increase the presence of Jews in the area. (Maan News-PA)
        See also Elevator Location Is Not Near Mosque
    The elevator in the Jewish Quarter is not adjacent to the Al-Aqsa Mosque. It is way on the other side of the Western Wall plaza. (IMRA)
  • German NGO Blasts Increased German-Iran Trade - Benjamin Weinthal
    The German chapter of "Stop the Bomb" on Monday slammed Germany's government and industry for rewarding "the [Islamic] regime's rampant terror against the Iranian freedom movement." Trade boomed in May, according to the German-Iranian Chamber of Commerce in Hamburg. German exports (€295 million) to Iran increased by 26% as compared to May 2009, while imports soared by 34%. German exports to Iran climbed by 11.5% in the first five months of 2010. A German TV program reported last week that German factories had made motors for Iranian UAVs with attack capabilities also capable of reaching Israel. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Indyk: U.S. More Likely than Israel to Bomb Iran - Jeffrey Goldberg
    Martin Indyk, the former U.S. ambassador to Israel (and now the vice president of the Brookings Institution), writes: "President Obama came into office determined not to use force against Iran....By the end of his first year, however, he reached the conclusion that engagement had failed and that it was time to put force back on the table."
        "This shift in rhetoric was backed by the deployment of missile defense systems to the Gulf and a bolstering of the U.S. force presence there....It was also backed by a Pentagon study of the requirements for a U.S. strike on Iran's nuclear facilities....The conclusion of that study was that, in the words of one senior White House official, 'The Iranians are not ten feet tall - we can do this'."
        "I would argue that, if current trends continue, it's actually more likely that the United States will bomb Iran than Israel."  (Atlantic Monthly)
  • Iran, Oil, and the Carter Doctrine - Michael Makovsky and Lawrence Goldstein
    There is a growing belief in Washington that a nuclear-capable Iran can be contained, just as the Soviet Union was during the Cold War. But while the U.S. could try to impose a nuclear shield around its regional allies and to help contain Iran, it will not be effective. U.S. credibility, so integral to effective deterrence, would be seriously diminished if, after repeatedly issuing warnings to the contrary, it permitted Tehran to cross the nuclear threshold. Restoring U.S. credibility would, then, require extraordinary action, while nuclear capability would only embolden the already risk-tolerant Iranian regime. (Weekly Standard)
  • Has U.S. Policy on Israel Changed? - Zalman Shoval
    President Obama came into office with strong preconceptions about foreign policy and especially about the Arab-Israeli conflict. The main result of the administration's new policy was to encourage the Palestinians to take more hard-line positions. Palestinian Authority head Mahmoud Abbas began to insist on preconditions for direct negotiations which never existed before. The Obama administration now appears to have concluded that the tactics it employed against the Netanyahu government were self-defeating. But it is premature to establish that it has revised its overall strategic outlook. The writer served as Israel's Ambassador to the U.S. from 1990 to 1993 and from 1998 to 2000. (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Observations:

    Democracy Is Flagging in Both the Palestinian Territories (Economist-UK)

    • Western governments have hailed Palestinian Prime Minister Fayyad for his efficient rule. Still, a growing chorus of Palestinian skeptics say they have yet to see evidence of the institutions Fayyad has promised to build. Nor do they see tangible signs of his promised state.
    • Palestine's biggest symbol of sovereignty, its parliament, has been emasculated. For three years Fayyad's government has rebuffed efforts to revive it and put legislation to parliamentary scrutiny.
    • The result is that in both Palestine's cloven halves, governance is remarkably similar. Both Hamas and Fayyad rule by decree, merging executive and legislative arms into one.
    • Both promise elections sometime in the future, but in the meantime round up their opponents and silence unlicensed independent media outlets.

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