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September 21, 2010

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Syria Received Advanced Russian Missiles - Avi Issacharoff and Barak Ravid (Ha'aretz)
    Syria has received shipments of advanced surface-to-sea and sea-to-sea missiles from Russia in the last few weeks, Western diplomats said on Sunday.
    The Syrian regime recently supplied Hizbullah with sophisticated weapons, like the Iranian-made M-600 missile, and has also begun providing Hamas with cutting-edge anti-tank weaponry that it had previously supplied only to Hizbullah.
    Syria is also funding Hamas training camps in the Damascus area.
    See also Pentagon: Gates Worried about Russian Arms Sale to Syria (AP-USA Today)
    Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell said U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates shares Israel's concerns that Russia plans to sell anti-ship cruise missiles to Syria.
    Gates told Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak at a meeting on Monday that he worried the sale could further "destabilize" the region.

Abrams: Bush Never Agreed to Take 100,000 Refugees - Gil Hoffman (Jerusalem Post)
    Former U.S. President George W. Bush did not and could not have agreed to accept 100,000 Palestinian refugees as former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert claimed Sunday, former U.S. deputy national security adviser Elliott Abrams told the Jerusalem Post on Monday.
    "No president has the power to make such a commitment. We have immigration laws and they don't allow that kind of move by a president.... Moreover, we would never have committed to a specific number anyway, nor did Olmert ask us to or raise that number," Abrams said.

Iranian Expert: Turkish IHH Established as an Islamist Jihadist Organization (Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center)
    Iranian researcher Yazdan Karimi was interviewed by the Iranian news agency Fars on Aug. 25. after a visit to Turkey. The interview was titled: "Gaza's Ship of Liberation Sailed [on Waves of] the Ayatollah Khomeini's Ideology."
    Karimi described the circumstances surrounding the establishment of the Turkish Islamist organization IHH, whose members participation in the fighting aboard the Mavi Marmara.
    He said the IHH was founded in 1992 as a jihadist Islamic organization which sent fighters to Bosnia to help the local Muslims fight the Serbs.
    He said that IHH operatives told him they believed in Khomeini's famous dictum, that if each Muslim threw a bucket of water on Israel, it would be erased.

Netherlands Cancels Tour by Israeli Mayors - Jonathan Lis (Ha'aretz)
    The Netherlands on Sunday cancelled a tour of the country by a forum of Israeli mayors because their group included representatives of Jewish West Bank towns.
    The professional delegation, funded by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, was supposed to fly to the Netherlands next month to study public policy and local governance.
    The chairman of the Union of Local Authorities in Israel, Maalot Tarshiha Mayor Shlomo Buchbut, said, "These kinds of actions only hurt the cause of advancing peace. We need to support Israel's citizens just as they are, and not to ignite political debates."

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Israeli Minister Meridor: Palestinians Need to Compromise - Dan Perry
    Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor on Monday urged the Palestinians to relax their demand that a freeze on new Jewish settlement construction be extended past its planned weekend expiration, describing the dispute as an indicator of Palestinian good faith on broader issues. "The first test for spirit of compromise on both sides is this issue of moratorium. If they say no compromise it's a bad sign."
        Meridor said that if the current negotiations on a final peace settlement broke down, there was an alternative: a "bottom-up" approach in which the existing Palestinian Authority could be extended in various ways, with "other authorities, jurisdictions and powers."  (AP-Washington Post)
  • Tracking Iran's Nuclear Money Trail to Turkey - Louis Charbonneau
    Turkey and other U.S. allies have been allowing Iranian banks with suspected links to Tehran's nuclear program to do business within their borders, frustrating Western countries trying to put a financial squeeze on the Islamic Republic. "Turkey's blossoming financial-economic relationship with Iran provides Iran with a gateway to the entire European financial system," according to an intelligence report on Turkey and Iran. For this reason, Western diplomats fear Turkey could become a gaping hole in the international sanctions regime. (Reuters)
  • Iran Leads Nuclear Drive in Middle East - Samer al-Atrush
    Egypt plans to build four nuclear power plants by 2025. Iran says it is firing up its Russian-built Bushehr nuclear reactor before the end of this year. "Countries who don't have oil are now looking for other options to generate energy," said Jordan's Atomic Energy Commission chief Khaled Tukan, where the country's first nuclear plant will be ready by 2015. Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have also expressed interest in building nuclear power stations. The UAE hopes to start its first plant in 2017. Kuwait intends to build four nuclear reactors over the next 12 years. (AFP)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • President Peres at the UN: "We Share the Burden of Saving the World from War and Hunger"
    Israeli President Shimon Peres told the UN Millennium Development Goals Summit in New York on Monday: "We developed an agriculture based on science. Our farmers produce 8-fold per acre compared with the nation's early days. The need for water was cut in half. We employed desalination, recycling, drip and electronic irrigation and bio-engineering to create new seeds and richer crops."
        "Five decades ago, an Israeli farmer produced food for 15 persons. Today, he produces for 120. The farmer's contribution to the GDP equals that of a high-tech engineer....We are also one of the only countries in the world that entered the 21st century with more trees than it had when it entered the 20th century."  (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
  • Turkish President Cancels Meeting with Israeli President After Israel Refuses to Apologize for Flotilla Raid - Yitzhak Benhorin
    Turkish President Abdullah Gul clarified Monday that he would not be meeting with Israeli President Shimon Peres in New York. Israeli sources said the Turks demanded an apology for the deadly Gaza flotilla raid as a condition for holding the meeting. Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon said that "Israel is not the one who should apologize. The Turks are the ones who should apologize."  (Ynet News)
  • IDF to Install 100 Security Cameras along West Bank Roads - Akiva Novick
    The Israel Defense Forces plans to install a new CCTV system to monitor West Bank highways 24/7. The cameras will supply command centers with a live feed, and should any threat be detected, the nearest IDF force will be alerted. (Ynet News)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

  • Beyond Iran Sanctions - Juan C. Zarate
    The U.S.-led financial-sanctions campaign currently under way against Iran is biting, but it isn't enough. The sanctions can exacerbate internal regime fissures and increase the isolation of the regime; they can also buy time by delaying supplies Iran needs for its nuclear program, interrupt flows of funds sent to terrorist proxies, and serve as a diplomatic chip if the regime ever comes to the table. But we need to use this pressure as a starting point, and use multiple lines of pressure at once against Tehran.
        The U.S. Treasury should enforce sanctions on any entity doing business with the IRGC or the 16 designated Iranian banks. This could be followed by the designation of Iran and its central bank as "primary money laundering concerns" under the Patriot Act, signaling to the international financial community not to trust any Iranian commercial activity. Indeed, the Treasury added the German-based European-Iranian Trade Bank AG to its blacklist just last week.
        The U.S. should also promote international scrutiny on Iran's support for terrorist proxies and militias, and request that the UN committees responsible for dealing with terrorism report on Iranian support for the Taliban and explain what the Iranians are doing with senior al-Qaeda leadership in Iran. The writer, a former assistant secretary of the Treasury for terrorist financing and financial crimes, is now a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. (National Review)
  • Our Man in Palestine - Nathan Thrall
    PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad has said that his plan to build a new state "is intended to generate pressure" on Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, and the direct talks recently started by the two parties have a late summer 2011 deadline that coincides with Fayyad's. Mike Herzog, former chief of staff to Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, told me, "Ultimately, I think Fayyad calculates that political negotiations will not succeed and his plan [to establish a state] will be the only game in town." The danger, for Israel and the Palestinian Authority alike, is what will happen if negotiations fail and Fayyad's plan does not produce significant concessions from Israel. "We are not going to withdraw from certain areas just because there was a declaration or a UN resolution," Herzog said. (New York Review of Books)
  • Gaza's Police Force: Between Hamas and a Hard Place - Abigail Hauslohner
    When Gazans speak positively of Hamas, they tend to focus on how well run street security is. When Hamas' rival Fatah dominated the Palestinian Authority in Gaza, chaos ruled the streets. But many Gazans also say the changes since 2007 on the streets have come at a price. "The police now are stronger and more violent," says Ramy Mansour, a tailor. Mansour's ire is focused on the largely plainclothes division known as Internal Security. "The fear is based on the long period that you could potentially be detained - and the torture," explains Abu Anas, a minibus driver.
        And there is a third security force that Gazans fear: Hamas' highly secretive Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades, which carries out violent attacks on Israel. Referring to both the uniformed police and the plainclothes Internal Security, one civilian says, "They're all Qassam." Interior Ministry spokesman Ehab al-Ghossain confirms, "Many of the Qassam operate within both the Qassam brigades and the Internal Security."  (Time)
  • Observations:

    Just Say Yes to a Jewish State - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Prime Minister's Office)

    Prime Minister Netanyahu told the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations in a conference call on Monday:

    • "A few weeks ago, we began direct negotiations on the final status issues. Now I'm eager to continue them, and eager to complete them. We've been calling for direct negotiations for 18 months. We have asked that these negotiations be conducted without preconditions.... There was an understanding that we don't turn our disagreements into preconditions for talks. Because if we do, we'll never get anywhere."
    • "It's time for the Palestinians to do something they have refused to do for 62 years. It's time for them to say yes to a Jewish state....I recognized the Palestinians' right to self-determination and sovereignty. They must finally recognize the Jewish people's right to self-determination and sovereignty."
    • "Why is this recognition important? It's important because the Palestinian leadership must begin to make clear to its own people that they are making a permanent peace with the Jewish people, a people that has a right to be here, a right to live in its own state and in its own homeland."
    • "A peace agreement by itself does not preserve the peace. We need to understand that the only peace that will hold in the Middle East is a peace that can be defended. I have made clear that in order to defend the peace we need a long-term Israeli presence on the eastern side of a Palestinian state - that is, in the Jordan Valley. I have also said that while I respect the Palestinians' desire for sovereignty, I am convinced that we can reconcile that desire with our need for security."
    • "I don't believe that, under these circumstances, international troops will do the job....You can see what happened to the international forces that were placed, for example, in Gaza before Hamas took it over. There were European forces; they were called EU BAM, and when Hamas took over Gaza, and the fighting started, these forces simply disappeared. They evaporated very quickly."
    • "The only force that will be prepared to sustain a long-term commitment is a force that is absolutely convinced that it is defending its own people from attack. And if we have learned anything from history, it's that the only force that can be relied on to defend the Jewish people is the Israel Defense Forces."

          See also Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People: From the San Remo Conference (1920) to the Netanyahu-Abbas Talks - Joshua Teitelbaum (ICA-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

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