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September 1, 2010

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In-Depth Issues:

Senior Palestinian Official: "No Territorial Exchange, No Recognition of Settlement Blocs" (MEMRI)
    Nabil Sha'ath, a member of the Palestinian delegation to Washington, said that in the negotiations there will be no recognition of territorial exchange and of settlement blocs, the PA newspaper Al-Ayyam reported Tuesday.

Outlines of Palestinian State Emerging in West Bank - Ethan Bronner (New York Times)
    The West Bank administration has begun to resemble, tentatively, a functioning state.
    Personal checks, long shunned as being unredeemable, are now widely accepted. Traffic tickets are issued and paid.
    Economic growth in the first quarter of this year was 11% over the same period in 2009, the International Monetary Fund says.
    Israeli troops leave security in the cities to the Palestinians during the day. But a senior Israeli Army commander said they carried out four or five operations a night - down from a dozen a year ago - and that without those actions the situation would deteriorate.
    A Western security official said Israeli interventions could be cut further, but he thought that the Palestinian forces, while making progress, were not yet able to take control.

Report: Syria, Hizbullah Sign Defense Pact (Jerusalem Post)
    The Syrian army has signed a defense alliance with Hizbullah, the Kuwaiti paper Al-Rai reported Monday.
    In case of war, the two will split a "bank" of targets in Israel, and Syrian radar will supply Hizbullah with intelligence on the location of Israeli aircraft, to assist Hizbullah in aiming anti-aircraft weapons.

Body of Top Russian Spy, Who Disappeared in Syria, Found - Andrew Osborn (Telegraph-UK)
    The badly decomposed body of Maj.-Gen. Yuri Ivanov, 52, the deputy head of Russia's foreign military intelligence arm GRU, was found washed up on the Turkish coast earlier this month after he disappeared from Latakia in Syria.

Iran's New Qiam Missile - Michael Elleman (International Institute for Strategic Studies)
    On 20 August, Iranian Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi announced that Iran had test-fired a new surface-to-surface missile, the Qiam (Rising).
    If the test was recent, it was in violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1929, adopted on 9 June, which explicitly states that: "Iran shall not undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using ballistic missile technology."
    Photographs of the Qiam show a liquid-propellant missile with overall dimensions consistent with Iran's existing Shahab-2 (Scud-C), but with a newly designed nose-cone.
    The emergence of Iran's robust engineering culture, which is roughly on par with India's capabilities two decades ago, shows that sanctions and export control regimes have not been able to halt progress.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Four Israeli Civilians Shot Dead in West Bank - Janine Zacharia and Samuel Sockol
    Four Israeli civilians traveling in a car near the West Bank city of Hebron were shot dead Tuesday night as the Obama administration prepared to host Israeli-Palestinian peace talks in Washington. Hamas asserted responsibility for the attack. (Washington Post)
        See also West Bank Shooting of Israelis Underscores Security Needs, Netanyahu Says - Gwen Ackerman and Calev Ben-David
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said a West Bank shooting attack that killed four Israelis underscored his nation's security needs ahead of a new round of Mideast peace talks. "I will set clearly the security needs that are required precisely to address this kind of terror," Netanyahu said in Washington. (Bloomberg)
        See also The Murder Victims - Aviel Magnezi
    Yitzhak Imes, 47, his wife Talya, 45, Kochava Even-Haim, 37, and Avishai Shendler, 24, were all from Beit Hagai. Talya and Yitzhak were survived by six children, including a one-and-a-half-year-old infant. Kochava Even-Haim, a teacher in Efrat, was survived by her husband and eight-year-old daughter. Avishai Shendler had recently moved to Beit Hagai with his wife. (Ynet News)
        See also Medic Discovers Wife's Body at Scene of Attack - Yaakov Lappin
    Zaka volunteer Momy Ben-Haim was dispatched to the scene of the terrorist attack with his colleagues. "We saw a crying volunteer, and at first we did not understand what was happening - he has seen many disasters before," Zaka volunteer Isaac Bernstein told the Jerusalem Post. "Then he started shouting, 'That's my wife! That's my wife!' We took him away from the scene immediately."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Rival Palestinian Governments Clamp Down on Critics - Karin Laub and Diaa Hadid
    Reports by Palestinian rights groups highlight a surprising symmetry in the abuse that the U.S.-backed government of PA President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank and his Iranian-supported rivals Hamas in Gaza inflict on each other. Both governments carry out arbitrary arrests, ban rivals from travel, exclude them from civil service jobs and suppress opposition media, the rights groups say. Torture methods in West Bank and Gaza lockups include beatings and tying up detainees in painful positions. The crackdowns have become more sweeping in recent months. (AP-Washington Times)
  • UK Demands Release of Israeli Soldier Gilad Shalit
    Britain on Saturday demanded the release of Gilad Shalit as the Israeli soldier marked his 24th birthday in Hamas' captivity after having been captured in a cross-border raid on June 25, 2006. The Foreign Office said: "His detention is unjustifiable and unacceptable. The British Government demands his immediate and unconditional release." Shalit has not been allowed any visits by the Red Cross. (CNN)
  • NY Synagogue Plot Suspect: I'll Kill 10 Million Jews - Tom Hays
    A man accused of plotting to bomb New York synagogues and shoot down military planes ranted against Jews, according to audio tapes played Monday at his federal trial. The tapes were secretly recorded by a paid informant testifying against James Cromitie and three other men who were arrested in 2009. "Muslims want to take the U.S. down," Cromitie says on one tape. "Believe me, we can do it with our regular Muslims here." Prosecutors allege that the men hatched the scheme to blow up two synagogues in the Bronx with remote-control bombs. (AP)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • West Bank Attack a Reminder of Hamas Power - Avi Issacharoff and Amos Harel
    Hamas sent a painful reminder to the U.S. administration and the Israeli government that in order to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, they must also be made party to any deal. Hamas and Islamic Jihad have a long tradition of shooting attacks on cars on the eve of important peace summits. (Ha'aretz)
  • IDF General: "No Justification for Gaza Aid Flotilla" - Anshel Pfeffer
    "There was no justification for the flotilla, because there was no humanitarian crisis in Gaza," IDF Maj.-Gen. Eitan Dangot, the coordinator of government activities in the territories, told the Israeli committee investigating the flotilla incident on Tuesday. Dangot said that Gazans have all the goods necessary to maintain a basic lifestyle.
        "There isn't hunger in Gaza, now or in the past," he said. According to Dangot, the Mavi Marmara, the ship on which nine Turkish activists were killed during clashes with Israeli naval commandos, did not bring any humanitarian supplies. He told the committee that ten days before the flotilla incident, he met with the Turkish ambassador in Israel and suggested to him that the aid be delivered to the Israeli port of Ashdod, where it could be speedily transferred to Gaza. (Ha'aretz)
  • U.S. May Give Israel Arms in Exchange for Concessions - Yaakov Katz and Herb Keinon
    Ahead of the peace talks, the IDF's Planning Branch formulated a paper outlining Israel's security requirements that refers to three requirements necessary for any withdrawal from the West Bank: a commitment that rockets would not be smuggled into the West Bank, a commitment that the Palestinians will not resume terrorist attacks against Israel, and a commitment that if Iraq were to one day pose a military threat to Israel again, the Palestinians would not allow it or any other country to deploy military forces in the West Bank.
        In talks Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defense Minister Barak have held with U.S. officials, there appears to be a readiness by the U.S. to offer Israel an arms package if the direct talks result in a peace deal with the PA, that may include additional F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jets and additional funding for missile defense systems. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • A Peace Plan within our Grasp - Hosni Mubarak
    As president of Egypt, I have endured many ups and downs in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Egypt's decision to be the first Arab state to make peace with Israel claimed the life of my predecessor, Anwar el-Sadat. The biggest obstacle that now stands in the way of success is psychological. For the talks to succeed, we must rebuild trust and a sense of security.
        Egypt stands ready to resume its efforts to resolve the many difficult issues surrounding Gaza: mediating a prisoner exchange between Israel and Hamas, which controls Gaza, bringing an end to Israel's blockade and fostering a reconciliation between Hamas and its rival Fatah, which controls the West Bank. The Palestinians cannot make peace with a house divided. If Gaza is excluded from the framework of peace, it will remain a source of conflict, undermining any final settlement. (New York Times)
        See also Obama Peace Talks Won't Succeed - Yossi Beilin
    The peace talks in Washington won't succeed in finding a permanent solution to the conflict. The U.S. should change the goal of the talks to deal with what the parties are prepared to implement, and not with what they are forced to do as a result of American pressure. Netanyahu wasn't voted in to divide east Jerusalem. The distance between his positions and the minimum claims of the pragmatic Palestinian camp can't be bridged.
        Abbas can't implement a peace agreement with Israel because as long as Hamas retains control of Gaza, Gaza won't be part of the solution. We need to pursue a different line of thought, which will lead us, at this stage, to a partial agreement. The writer, a former Israeli cabinet minister, was an architect of the Oslo accords. (Bloomberg)
  • Accepting a Judenrein Palestine - Max Singer
    In those parts of the Palestinian Mandate occupied by Arab armies in 1948, including the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem, all Jewish residents were removed and Jewish religious sites were systematically destroyed. Far from questioning the morality and justice of the apparent Palestinian demand that their state should be free of Jews, the Western world has accepted the Arab argument that Jewish "settlements" on land that is expected to become part of the Palestinian state are an obstacle to peace. What is the special justification for Palestine, unlike the rest of the world, to be rigorously free of Jews? Why shouldn't Jews live in Palestine as Arabs live in Israel?
        When Palestine is like a European country, Israel should live with it as European countries live with each other - but that is not now, nor will this peaceful coexistence immediately follow the end of the current peace process. The writer is a founder and senior fellow of the Hudson Institute. (Wall Street Journal)
  • Observations:

    The Resumption of Direct Talks between Israel and the Palestinians (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

    • On Thursday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will relaunch direct negotiations in Washington, in the presence of U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Israel welcomes the U.S. invitation to resume direct talks with the PA, without preconditions, having called for direct negotiations for a year and a half.
    • From Israel's perspective, a workable peace agreement should address three basic principles: security, recognition of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people, and a complete end to the conflict.
    • Israel needs concrete security arrangements on the ground, in order to prevent rocket-launchings from the West Bank towards the center of the country, as occurred after Israel evacuated Gaza. It's vital that any future Palestinian state be demilitarized, and that the peace agreement include an Israeli presence on the Palestinian state's eastern border.
    • For Israel, it is essential that the Palestinians recognize Israel's legitimacy as the nation-state of the Jewish people. Israelis will be asking themselves what sort of peace is being offered if their neighbors still consider them an illegitimate part of the region.
    • Israel calls upon its Palestinian partners to stop their campaign of anti-Israeli incitement and delegitimization, and to instead, educate their people towards peace. The PA can cease to ignore the existence of the State of Israel in their textbooks and school curricula, stop promoting the veneration of terrorists who murdered innocent Israeli civilians, end preaching the mass return of Palestinian refugees to Israeli cities, and remove all anti-Semitic expressions in the media and in their educational and religious institutions.

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